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Posts tagged tech

From Game Boy to skyscraper: Playing the world’s largest game of Tetris

I don’t know how I missed this video from Ars Technica earlier this month but I did. And I’m sorry. And I’m making up for it right now.

It's time for the FCC to stand up for Americans instead of ruining the internet 

Oh boy. TC Sottek just published an editorial on the failure of the FCC. Earlier today the WSJ reported that the FCC is planning on proposing new ‘net neutrality’ laws that fly in the face of everything that net neutrality is.

The internet is fucked, and the US government is making it worse.

Political cowardice caused the FCC to lose its first battle for net neutrality regulation: the rules that keep the internet as you know it free and open. The idea of net neutrality is that all traffic is created equal — whether you’re a movie streaming from Netflix, or a WhatsApp message, or a Tweet, or a bulletin board message. But according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, instead of trying to correct the errors it made in open internet rules the first time around, the FCC will consider enacting new rules that directly destroy the principles of net neutrality. The proposal would allow profit hungry behemoths like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to become gatekeepers that give preferential treatment to companies that pay the most for special access to customers.

I know I freaked out when Netflix decided to pay Comcast to ensure it’s customers could stream movies, but it was for good reason. With this new agreement corporations can pay to get preferential treatment. It’s basically the worst idea ever. Read TC’s editorial. 

Taking 5: Xbox One and Backwards Compatibility

Earlier this month Xbox partner development lead Frank Savage let it slip that there are some plans for the Xbox One to get some backwards compatability. From Joystiq:

"There are [plans], but we’re not done thinking them through yet, unfortunately," said Savage, as reported by Kotaku Australia. “It turns out to be hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff on the X86 stuff. So there’s nothing to announce, but I would love to see it myself.”

So here’s the thing. I don’t really want (or expect) 60 dollar retail Xbox 360 games playable on my Xbox One. As… fanboy(?)  as it sounds, I do have a perfectly good Xbox 360 sitting right next to my Xbox One, and if I really have the need to play Halo 4 or The Club I can very easily turn it on. Actually, I was playing the BioShock Infinite DLC over the weekend.

What I DO want, and what I think would be really important to people, is if XBLA games were backwards compatible. XBLA games are a great way to augment the library on new hardware. I (like many people I know) purchased a lot of XBLA games. Most of which are highly repayable, and really helped define the last console generation.

I’ve actually been putting some really solid time into Geometry Wars 2 (it’s basically a perfect game. The game modes, the music, and the visual aesthetic compliment each other so well, no other game I’ve played is this well put together). It’s a great way to wind down after a 14 hour day on set (as my day job I’m a commercial producer) or after a couple of really intense games of Titanfall.

I guess what I’m saying is even if it’s “hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff” and doing so uses a lot of computing power, it shouldn’t affect most XBLA titles. So I hope we see some backwards compatibility on Xbox One and I hope I can migrate some of those titles over.

-Creighton

iOS 8 Feature Requests

I usually write this post closer to WWDC, but iOS 7 is in need of a lot of work so I’m posting early. I’m not even going to request defaults for email, browser, and maps. There’s no point dwelling on things that are never, ever going to happen. Let’s jump in.

- Shake to Undo
Really? You’re still here? My iOS 5 request list asked if there was a better, cleaner way to handle undo and yet, it’s still hanging around. There HAS to be a better way than shaking the phone to deal with undo. But maybe not? It’s been in iOS for so long I’m almost convinced there’s no better way. Almost.

- Smarter About Pausing Music
Sometimes the volume should be just lowered not totally stop. If I’m listening to music and then I quickly want to record a video of something. My music doesn’t need to turn completely off and remain off until I launch into the Music App again and hit play. Apple can be smarter about that.

- New Multitasking
I wrote about this a few weeks ago. I think having access to your dock in the multitasking screen would be awesome.

image

- Folders
Folders have become abysmal in iOS 7. Only 9 items on screen at a time? And you can actually trap apps on their own page without knowing it. I never particularly liked the old folders, but some kind of hybrid of old folders with pages is a great place to start.

- Lock Screen
We should be interacting more with the lock screen. The lock screen as it is now seems too much like it’s been hacked together from what the original lock screen was and made to work as notifications became more important. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

  • I should be able to reply to a text message from the lock screen. 
  • I should be able to launch into the dock apps from the lock screen (much the way TouchWiz and Sense work). That way from lock screen and from multitasking you can always get to your most important apps.
  • We don’t need a clock to take up 1/3 of the lock screen.
  • Notifications that are outdated should go away. My transit app displays that there were delays on the 6 train this morning, even after it’s been corrected.

- Touch ID
Open up Touch ID so it can manage passwords on websites or within apps. I have to type in a ridiculous password every time I need to go into my banks app. Would love to bypass that with my fingerprint.

I would bet 1000 dollars that this is coming in IOS 8. It’s the natural iteration of Touch ID and a way for people to get excited about it. Especially since it’s very likely that more devices are going to get Touch ID this year. Expect it in all new iPhones and iPads in the fall.

Read more

Introducing Steam Gauge: Ars reveals Steam’s most popular games 

Kyle Orland just dropped a bomb revealing two month look at Steam sales and games played. It’s incredible. Go read the whole thing. Here’s just a sample.

As you can see, just because a game is registered to a lot of Steam accounts doesn’t mean it’s popular. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, for instance, is the third-most popular game on the service by ownership, registered to about 12.8 million Steam accounts by our count. But the tech demo, which shows off some deleted content from Half-Life 2, has only been actively loaded up by about 2.1 million of those owners, placing it behind 35 other Steam games by that metric.

WWDC starts June 2nd.

Updated Multitasking Screen In iOS 7

When iOS 7 launched this fall one of the biggest oooh and aaah moments was when people saw the new multitasking screen. In practice, it’s not very much different than the old one (that just popped up on the bottom), but users could now see their apps in their paused status. It looked pretty cool, but it didn’t really add that much more functionality.

More and more, I find myself in an app and wanting to jump into one of the apps in my doc, (honestly, it’s usually Chrome or Mail).

Scenario: I’ll take a picture with ProCamera. The moment passes and I want to search something. I could swear that I was just in Chrome so I double tap the home screen to swipe left. Turns out, I haven’t been on Chrome in a while so I end up swiping a bit one way, then I go back the other way, all the way back to my home screen and launch Chrome from my dock.

Is part of this a personal problem? Absolutely. I can’t remember which apps I was just using. But including the dock on the multitasking screen only adds functionality. Easily move the preview icons to the top of the screen, instead of the bottom, and add the dock.

It turns the double tap into a launcher. It also makes the dock even more important. Suddenly your dock apps become the apps you want to launch quickly, from any screen not just from any home screen. I know I would move Tweetbot there in place of Music. Music has just been there for so long that it’s muscle memory.

Using the multitasking screen to launch dock apps would be faster than springing out to a home screen and then jumping back into an app. 

As it stands now, I can double tap my home button see a couple of recently used applications. Adding the dock isn’t really that much of a stretch.

-Creighton

Android Wear

A day late because I was crazy busy yesterday but HOLY MOLEY. If the new watches from LG and Motorola (featured in this video) are half as good as they appear to be that is a giant leap for smart watches.

[via The Verge]

The internet is fucked 

Nilay Patel explains why Netflix paying Comcast and Verizon is bad for the internet, why they feel they had to do it, and (more importantly) how we’ve gotten to this place.

Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.

And we’re fucking everything up.

In the meantime, the companies that control the internet have continued down a dark path, free of any oversight or meaningful competition to check their behavior. In January, AT&T announced a new “sponsored data” plan that would dramatically alter the fierce one-click-away competition that’s thus far characterized the internet. Earlier this month,Comcast announced plans to merge with Time Warner Cable, creating an internet service behemoth that will serve 40 percent of Americans in 19 of the 20 biggest markets with virtually no rivals.

And after months of declining Netflix performance on Comcast’s network, the two companies announced a new “paid peering” arrangement on Sunday, which will see Netflix pay Comcast for better access to its customers, a capitulation Netflix has been trying to avoid for years. Paid peering arrangements are common among the network companies that connect the backbones of the internet, but consumer companies like Netflix have traditionally remained out of the fray — and since there’s no oversight or transparency into the terms of the deal, it’s impossible to know what kind of precedent it sets. …

If you read one article today, it should be this one.

Netflix Agrees to Pay Comcast to End Web Traffic Jam 

Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and TV shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix’s dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said.

In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households.

No. No, no, no, no. This is not how it is supposed to work. How can anyone expect to innovate and compete when giant companies are paying for access. Netflix is just as wrong as Comcast is in this case. They’re setting a terrible precedent.

[edit 1: thanks to makesu1der for the grammar check] 

[edit 2: so, this article is completely readable in my twitter app (Tweetbot) but it’s behind a paywall on an actual computer. I can’t figure out why. I can only point you to my pervious article.] 

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