WoW tips over 10 million subscribers again as new expansion launches

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Nov 19, 2014 9:34 PM CST

The latest expansion to World of Warcraft has launched, with Warlords of Draenor increasing the subscriber base of Blizzard's MMORPG, even amongst the various server problems the game has experienced.

Blizzard sent out a press release earlier today, announcing that the Warlords of Draenor expansion had sold over 3.3 million copies in its first 24 hours alone, pushing the total World of Warcraft subscriber base past 10 million. Before this, the expansion base of WoW had slipped to 6.8 million, but as the expansion release got closer, the subscriber base began to climb back up.

The previous expansion, Mists of Pandaria, had the subscriber base hit over 10 million, with both expansion boosts to its subscriber base down from the peak of 12 million back in 2010.

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The iGame Z97 is a water-cooled motherboard that looks sleek as hell

Anthony Garreffa | Motherboards | Nov 19, 2014 7:22 PM CST

We don't see many water-cooled motherboards, but here we are: the iGame Z97 motherboard is a concept board that shows off a beautiful, sleek motherboard, cooled with liquid.

The company is closer to releasing the board, with a release date that is still "unknown" for the iGame Z97 Ymir X - a confusing name, but it doesn't take anything away from its beauty. We have 16-phase IPP high-profile power, a silver and all-metal look, with a brushed surface. We have four DDR3 slots, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, four PCIe 2.0 single-land slots, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, mSATA and mPCIe, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, Killer NIC E2200, four USB 3.0 ports, and more from the front header, 8-channel HD audio, and more.

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Firefox's default search engine is Yahoo, which replaced Google

Anthony Garreffa | Software & Apps | Nov 19, 2014 6:50 PM CST

Mozilla and Yahoo have announced a new "strategic five-year partnership that makes Yahoo the default search experience for Firefox in the United States on mobile and desktop", with the companies adding they will explore other potential "future product integrations and distribution opportunities to other markets".

Until now, Google was the default search engine in Firefox, Mozilla's popular web browser, which will be replaced with Yahoo. There was a time when Firefox was the biggest competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but now Google is the competitor with Chrome. Firefox has around 16% of the browser market in the US according to StatCounter.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took to the company blog, talking about the new partnership: "At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search - it's an area of investment and opportunity for us. It's also a key growth area for us - we've now seen 11 consecutive quarters of growth in our search revenue on an ex-TAC basis. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications, and digital content. I'm also excited about the long-term framework we developed with Mozilla for future product integrations and expansion into international markets".

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Police adopting officer body cams, and don't inform while recording

Michael Hatamoto | Wearable Computing & Fashion | Nov 19, 2014 5:22 PM CST

A growing number of police agencies are adopting body cameras that officers wear while on patrol, providing a better account of what happens during interactions with the public. The cameras, about the size of a pack of cigarettes and worn on an officer's chest, can record at angles civilian cell phones and police cruiser in-dash cams can miss.

"In a couple of decades... every public safety employee, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody will have them," said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) chief. "I think it improves behavior on both sides of the camera, which is our goal."

In addition to police officers behaving more appropriately, citizens - and potential suspects - could behave better if they know they are being recorded. However, there are privacy concerns because police officers are not required to inform people if they are recording.

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Google Android 5.0 Lollipop update frustrating some users

Michael Hatamoto | Software & Apps | Nov 19, 2014 1:48 PM CST

It would appear some Google Android 5.0 Lollipop early adopters are having trouble with their update, with Google Nexus 7 tablets running slowly and crashing. Apps built by Adobe Air are being automatically uninstalled and users cannot reinstall the missing apps - Adobe has escalated the problem with Google, trying to find a solution as quickly as possible.

Google has promoted Android 5.0 as a "quantum leap forward" and demand for the mobile OS has accelerated. However, user problems might have other Android supporters rethinking updating their smartphones and tablets until these problems are resolved.

Google Nexus, LG Electronics, NVIDIA and Motorola have rolled out Android Lollipop updates for their mobile devices, but with apps crashing or freezing, it's possible to hear even more user complaints in the near future. If nothing else, Google is likely working quickly to ensure these problems are fixed as more devices are expected to receive the update.

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Scammers take advantage of Walmart, get PlayStation 4 consoles for $90

Michael Hatamoto | Gaming | Nov 19, 2014 1:23 PM CST

Walmart is desperate to compete with Amazon, Best Buy, and other rivals ahead of Christmas, and have been getting tricked by a price-matching scam. People are creating fake Amazon selling accounts and listing Sony PlayStation 4 units as low as $50, taking a screenshot of the online price, and taking it to a local Walmart to claim their prize. Other sneaky customers were picking up PS4 bundles for $100, but it looks like Walmart has wised up and has altered its price matching policy.

Previously, Walmart was getting scammed into selling $60 Nintendo Wii U and 3DS bundles, thanks to a mistake on the Sears website. Customers quickly jumped on the erroneous listing, and found that Walmart met the price match even with a wrong price on a rivals website.

"We're committed to providing low prices every day," the Walmart website proudly boasts. "On everything. So if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we'll match it. Right at the register."

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Starbucks wireless charging technology hitting SF Bay Area locations

Powermat wireless charging stations will be introduced into 200 San Francisco Bay Area Starbucks locations, as the company plans to launch nationwide rollout before heading to Europe and Asia within 12 months. The chargers will be built directly into tables and bars inside of Starbucks, and the popular coffee chain hopes to win over patrons with the wireless charging offering.

It was announced earlier this year that Starbucks was testing the wireless charging stations in the Bay Area, but trying to find them in-store proved difficult for many guests. The Power Matter Alliance produces the Powermat technology, and is supported by Starbucks, Google and AT&T.

"The availability of Powermat Spots in Starbucks is transformative for San Francisco Bay residents who no longer have to worry about making it through their day with limited battery power," said Ran Poliakine, Powermat Technologies CEO, in a press statement. "They know that the nearest charge is only as far away as the nearest Starbucks."

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Ad2Games: Video game market estimated to reach $30.7B by 2017

Michael Hatamoto | Gaming | Nov 19, 2014 10:26 AM CST

The online PC gaming industry will grow from $24.4 billion this year up to an estimated $30.7 billion in 2017, the performance marketing agency Ad2Games and analyst firm Newzoo recently reported. The PC and MMO game market will account for 31 percent of international video game revenue, with Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America expected to see 95 percent of growth over the next three years.

Trying to expand to attract - and retain - new gamers proves to be extremely expensive, with costs as low as 37 cents up to $5.63 per user, the report indicates.

The sector will see 7.9 percent year-over-year growth over the next three years, while free-to-play video games continue to woo new gamers. These types of games

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90% of US households have at least three Internet-connected devices

More than 90 percent of US households currently have at least three or more Internet-connected devices, according to a recent report published by Ericsson. The average household has 5.2 connected devices per household, and that number will increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to be common place.

The Ericsson survey also found that 97 percent of households have at least one mobile phone, while mobile phone saturation continues to increase. By 2020, 90 percent of the global population over six years of age will own a mobile phone - and many phone owners will be using smartphones.

At the end of 2013 there were 1.9 billion smartphone subscriptions, and that number is expected to increase up to 2.7 billion by the end of this year. Analysts believe that number will increase 15 percent each year through 2020, as smartphones become more affordable.

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Computer-based animation being pushed to its limits with 4K

Michael Hatamoto | Internet & Websites | Nov 19, 2014 6:22 AM CST

The expansion of 4K content and high frame rate movies present graphically appealing content, but digital animation studios are struggling, a recent industry expert noted. Production schedules could be impacted due to high-resolution images, forcing studios to reconsider how they create films.

"They are both going to present a huge challenge," said Bruno Mahe, Illumination Mac Guff technical head recently told the BBC. Traditional animated films are viewed at 2K resolution with 24 frames per resolution, but 4K boosts the videos up to 4K resolution and 48fps - and it isn't an easy transition.

In addition to slowing down production, studios also need increasingly powerful render farms to produce images and send them to other animation facilities.

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