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BlizzCon 2011 Tix Go On Sale Tomorrow, Rapture May Interfere

Newsflash, Blizzard: A lot of people (who probably wouldn't be attending BlizzCon anyway) in the California area are very aware of May 21, as it's the day that Armageddon officially begins. And I'm not talking about a level-mod or Diablo 2 marathon gaming session- literally, the End of Days. Not this End of Days though, unless that Jeffersonian scandal of his was some act of divine intervention to clear his schedule in time to save the world.


I digress.




Anyway, in case the Earth isn't consumed by heavenly fire tomorrow morning (On that note, does Armageddon have a time zone? Does that mean midnight tonight? Could a cosmic-level event really be dependent on an arbitrary measuring system created by humans? I think I'd be more trusting of this if it coincided with the passing of a meteor, or an eclipse. Or, I don't know, even a solstice. C'mon Zealots, step your game up), BlizzCon tickets will be on sale for a limited time only. More information below from the blog post and more information on what could just be a religious conspiracy to sell T-Shirts.


Continue reading 'BlizzCon 2011 Tix Go On Sale Tomorrow, Rapture May Interfere' (full post)

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 6: Samsung & Acer Chromebooks Ship June 15

This is what we've all been waiting for- everyone watching this keynote wanted to hear about the Chrome OS Netbooks, now dubbed "Chromebooks". All morning, Sundar Pichai has been speaking briefly before turning it over to various other Google reps, but the last part of today's keynote was his time to shine. He had the good fortune of being able to announce to the world that Google Chrome OS Chromebooks will be shipping June 15 of this year. Seeing as how my birthday is a mere month after that, I might be Daddy needs a Chromebook.




Also, I wasn't lucky enough to be in the audience when Pichai announced that everyone in the audience was getting a voucher for a free Chromebook. Bastards! At least they still have to wait for June 15 like the rest of us though. These lucky people, and the rest of us who will shell out the dough for these devices have, as of right now, two choices (seen above), Samsung or Acer.


The Samsung Chromebook has a 12.1", 300-nit display, with an 8-hour battery, headphone jack, built in Wifi, and 3G available from Verizon, who will undoubtedly brutally rob us on data packages. Pichai noted that it came in "two colors" (2nd big Apple stab!) to the delight and laughter of the audience.


The Acer Chromebook is a bit smaller, with 11.6" display and only 6.5 hour battery, but it has a full keyboard (not sure what this means for the Samsung- does it have a half-keyboard?)


Continue reading 'Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 6: Samsung & Acer Chromebooks Ship June 15' (full post)

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 5: Chrome OS

Koblin relinquished the stage to Sundar Pichai once again, and he began with the following:


People spend all of their time on the web, within a browser. That's why we created Chrome OS.

I think this was the moment as the Keynote was nearing its finish that everyone in the audience started to get very, very excited. We've all been waiting for word on Chrome OS netbooks after the CR-48 pilot program was announced six months ago. Of course, Pichai referred to it this part of the speech as a "Chromebook". Awesome. Pichai invites Kan Liu to the stage, who demos some of the new features of Chrome OS when it comes to multitasking.




He shows off playing videos and songs in Gmail that don't interfere or complicate the UI or UX using "instant pull-out boxes". He plugged in a micro-SD card, which means that Chromebooks are going to have added data capabilities for information storage like photo, music, and video. Not that you really need one with things like Google Music Beta and Google Movies, the renting service announced yesterday. Not that Chrome OS won't work with things like Netflix, Hulu, etc.


Oh, and:




Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 4: Three Dreams Of Black HTML5 With Dangermouse

After Peter Vesterbaka of Rovio left the stage (tough act to follow), Aaron Koblin of the Chrome team got up and showed everyone some pretty amazing HTML5, javascript and WebGL demos using the new and improved Chrome. The project, called Three Dreams of Black, is a musical mixed-media compilation similar to the work that Arcade Fire had previously done wth HTML5 and Chrome in the past. This particular project was directed by Chris Milk and uses music from DJ Dangermouse's newest collaboration album, called RO.ME.




This is one of the trippiest things I've seen in a while. The music is great (as expected), and the 3D rendered environment is completely navigable and customizable. There's even a bit of a narrative in the experience that you can follow, but honestly the visual effects are so engaging that it could have as much narrative as a Blue's Clues episode and you'd still be enthralled. Dragging the mouse around the experience not only shifts perspective but creates all sorts of cool stuff in real-time, while watching.


I'm literally painting with geometry. I'm painting with shader effects.

New animals spawn, grass grows on the sides of buildings, a swath of rippling black cuts across a landscape (yet devoid of sinister intent). Amazing. You can even go into the back-end of the experience and customize the various models, including building your own. It's, once again, all open source!


Continue reading 'Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 4: Three Dreams Of Black HTML5 With Dangermouse' (full post)

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 3: ANGRY BIRDS FOR CHROME

Peter Vesterbacka, CEO of Rovio, the firm that gave us the most popular mobile gaming application of all time, got on stage at Google I/O today and told everyone exactly what they wanted to hear:


We wanted to bring Angry Birds to the web for a long, long time, but we didn't want to compromise performance. We aren't making fish in a bowl -- it's all about Angry Birds. Really, really Angry Birds. We've been so angry, because we've never been able to bring Angry Birds to the web.



As we already told you , Angry Birds is now available for download in beta at the Chrome web store, right here. It runs on Firefox 4 and IE 9, but it was originally designed for Chrome, and that's what I recommend anyway after seeing this Keynote.


The Web Angry Birds was built in WebGL, but no worries, it still runs on Canvas. From the keynote, it appears that there's a simple click-and-shoot interface replacing the touch with which we're all so familiar, but I imagine the transition will be easy. I just now installed it, only took a few seconds.


Vesterbacka spoke at great, broken, length on how excited Rovio was to release AB for the web, jocularly citing how much they love the Chrome in-app purchase flat rate of 5%.


Continue reading 'Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 3: ANGRY BIRDS FOR CHROME' (full post)

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 2: Chrome In-App Payments

I might have seen this one coming, but it was still great to witness. Pichai relinquished the stage to Vikas Gupta, one of the Google Chrome Product Managers on the payments team, who spoke briefly about the benefits of in-app web purchases to businesses, versus mobile. We've already seen a bunch of stats showing that web users (unsurprisingly) are more likely to make purchases in their browsers than on their phones, but the trick is to make the UX as seamless as possible so that "the rhythm" of their browsing experience does not get interrupted.




Vikas gave a nod to a really cool Chrome web application called Graphicly (which I have just installed on my Chrome as of the writing of this post) that helps users read and discover comics and graphic novels on the web. With 600,000 people viewing this Keynote, I can only imagine what this kind of publicity will do for Graphicly. Then again, you should all be reading more comics anyway.


How easy is it as a developer to implement in-app payments in your Chrome web-app? Try one line of code. Boom. Done. After Vikas made a thinly-veiled stab at Apple's developer-back-breaking in-app purchase rate of 30% (without actually naming Apple, but did anyone really not get the ref?), he announced that because Google loves their developers and they want to continue to foster their community.... *drum roll*.....


Continue reading 'Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part 2: Chrome In-App Payments' (full post)

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part I: Chrome Just Keeps Getting Better

And now for the second day of Google I/O 2011, which of course brings another keynote speech to kick off the day. Yesterday we saw Android @ Home, Project Tungsten, and some pretty cool NFC demonstrations. Today Vic Gondutra started us off setting the stage (literally) for today's big topic: Chrome. After rehashing the awesome Samsung Tab that everyone in the audience received yesterday, he mentioned that they also came with Verizon Wireless Hotspots, capable of 20mps download.




He gave the stage over to Sundar Pichai, SVP of Chrome, who briefly spoke about how awesome Chrome is- the proof of which is that Chrome has doubled their user base since last year's I/O, 160 million up from 70. He gives the stage over to Ian Ellison Taylor of Chrome, who educates the audience on some of the cool dev features, like Speech, Javascript and GPU acceleration.


Chrome now runs javascript almost exponentially better than it, or other browsers for that matter did in 2008.In addition to the javascript improvements, Chrome's GPU acceleration allows it to run tons of objects before the frames per second drop below 60. Taylor showed the ever-popular Fish Demo, starting with a 100 fish and going to 250, 500, and then 1000 before the FPS even flinched. When he ran it on WebGL, the FPS stayed above 60 all the way up to 10,000 fish swimming around.


You didn't have to do anything, (Chrome) just got faster.

Continue reading 'Google I/O Day 2 Keynote wrap-up Part I: Chrome Just Keeps Getting Better' (full post)

Google I/O: Springpad, Golf Tour, New York Times Talk Why Chrome Web Store Works

Google's Chrome Browser has a growing number of applications available on its web store and it's only logical that Google has devoted an entire schedule block to concentrating on the benefits and capability of a browser that now has 120 million users, and counting. Google gathered representatives of three different companies to tell their success stories regarding their Chrome web apps. First up was Jason Horman Chief Architect of Springpad, the online task tracker.




Springpad is a task application that tracks your tasks, movies, books etc. in order to compile databases for your life. It started off as a website service linked to a mobile application they released a while back. The success of their mobile app in contrast with what Horman described as a service that relied too heavily on the website led Springpad to develop a web app using Chrome. Horman noted how seamless the transition was between mobile and web, and that Chrome facilitated maintaining a similar UX. Springpad doubled its web app users for its first few months in just two months, and has seen a 500% increase in the amount of "saves" since its initial web app launch. 50% of daily time on the app altogether is spent through Chrome, with an average of 30 minutes a day.


Continue reading 'Google I/O: Springpad, Golf Tour, New York Times Talk Why Chrome Web Store Works' (full post)

Google I/O: Android @ Home & Project Tungsten

10:08 US PST:


I am floored. Absolutely floored. Engadget livebloggers were unnerved by the people weeping in the audience, but I completely understand it now. Joe Brit and Hugo just finished up the Keynote by giving everyone in the audience the new Samsung Tablet, but let's talk about what Joe Brit revealed: The new Android @ Home network, which allows you to use your house as an android accessory. We're not just talking TVs and communicating with wireless capable devices- in fact, the complete opposite. This is cutting-edge NFC that lets a CD talk to a box, or your phone to turn lights on and off.




I'm thinking thermostats, toasters, refrigerators-pretty much the sky is the limit right now. Google has partnered with Light Signs, a company that will be providing LED light bulbs controllable by Android by the end of the year.


We'd like to think of your entire home as an Android accessory

You take the last word out of that sentence and that's where we're headed with this. Brit talked about the development possibilities, including an alarm clock that slowly raises the lights in your room. Or designing a gaming experience that interfaces with your home to provide more immersive sensations. Imagine, you're in Hoth on a Star Wars level and the temperature drops in your room. Or lights flash every time you frag someone in Quake (which they demoed during the speech)


Continue reading 'Google I/O: Android @ Home & Project Tungsten' (full post)

Google I/O: Android Ice Cream Sandwich Announced for Q4

09:33 US PST:


Mike Claron of the Android Engineer team just announced the delicious (seriously, they name all their OS's after food) new Android OS for Q4: Ice Cream Sandwich. Cleron explained that Google wants 1 OS that runs everywhere, something is almost as awesome as the new logo for the aforementioned OS:




This OS is going to be on tablets, phones, expandable laptops, netbooks- everything. ICS will have the holographic UI, the launcher, enhanced multitasking, richer widgets, advanced applications, "everything" (there's that word again. Anyone else feeling Orwellian?). This is part of Google's initiative to invest heavily within the development framework, including al new APIs. And it's all open source!


Claron debuted a facial tracking interface as part of ICS's new features. Not only does this track your eyes, it knows where your nose is. And your mouth. It will shift perspective according to where you're looking (Minority Report. Boom), and in video chat, it automatically zooms in on who's talking. I'll be damned.


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