All posts by Matthew

Metal Gear Solid’s Zombie Survival Spin-Off, Metal Gear Survive

Konami has finally revealed the launch date for Metal Gear Survive, the upcoming zombie survival spin-off of Metal Gear Solid. The game will come out on February 20th in North America and February 22nd in Europe on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Fans who preorder the game will gain accessed to a “Day 1 Survival Pack Bonus,” which simply grants the player some free in-game apparel.

Metal Gear Survive was originally scheduled to launch in late 2017, but it was delayed for unknown reasons earlier this year. The game takes place in an alternate reality populated by crystalline zombies known as “creatures.” Directly following the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, its protagonists are transported into this dimension by a mysterious wormhole in the sky, and the plot follows them as they attempt to return to their own world.

What do you guys think? Are you at all excited for this title, and do you see yourself placing a preorder to take advantage of the Day 1 bonuses? Let us know in the comments below!

Turn Your World Upside Down With the Stranger Things Skin Pack in Minecraft

It’s the end of October, and that means two things: Halloween is just around the corner and Stranger Things 2 has finally arrived! For those excited about the newly released season of the Netflix original series, the excitement doesn’t have to stop after the last episode because you can now download all new skins of your favorite Stranger Things characters to Minecraft! You can check them out in the video above!

What do you think of these skins? Are you enjoying Stranger Things 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Production of the Kinect Has Finally Come to an End

The Kinect has been a staple for Xbox systems since its launch in 2010, bringing Microsoft into the world of motion controls. The device had its ups and downs throughout the years, but it was widely dismissed by a majority of gamers for being dysfunctional and gimmicky. Now, we can officially say goodbye to this piece of gaming history, as Microsoft has officially ended production. Microsoft issued a statement on this decision:

“Manufacturing for Kinect for Xbox One has ended but it is not the end of the journey for the technology. Kinect continues to delight tens of millions of Xbox owners and Kinect innovations live on in Xbox One, Windows 10, Cortana, Windows Mixed Reality and future technologies.” —
Microsoft

While Kinect may be dead for now, it seems Microsoft wants to expand on its technology in the future. What would you like to see come from this? Are you glad Kinect is done for? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Source: Fast Company

Overwatch is Getting a New Map and a New Hero, an Irish Support Healer Named “Moira”

 

Blizzard just revealed a new Overwatch hero at Blizzcon 2017. Her name is Moira, and she is an Irish research scientist and support healer who harnesses the power of shadows in battle. We don’t have a release date for her so far, but Blizzard has given us a backstory trailer for her, detailing her past as a scientist.

On top of that, the company announced a new map for Overwatch: “Blizzard World,” a theme park full of references to past Blizzard games, like Diablo and World of Warcraft. Blizzard World is described as a “part Payload, part Assault” map, and it will become available early next year.

You can watch the origin story trailer for Moira above!

What do you guys think? Are you excited to play as Moira? Who do you think looks best of the new heroes? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: IGN

EA is Getting a Ton of Backlash for Features in Star Wars Battlefront II

 

Many Star Wars fans are rejoicing because the deluxe version of Star Wars Battlefront II will be available to play tonight. While many fans are excited to get their hands on the newest entry in the series, there has been a lot of negative outcry toward the game over microtransactions. EA is no stranger to controversy when it comes to potential greed, but this situation has people riled up unlike any before it.

In Battlefront II, players will earn credits every time they play a multiplayer match. These credits can be used to unlock vehicles, weapons, and characters to play as. This sounds pretty standard at first, but one Reddit user by the name of TheHotterPotato discovered a horrible truth under it all.

Major characters in the Star Wars universe such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader cost 60,000 credits. In TheHotterPotato’s experience, around 275 credits were earned after each match. When calculating everything, it was discovered around 40 hours of gameplay were needed just to unlock one of these characters. This also means that you would have to save for this one character in mind, not buying anything else along the way. Alternatively, players can buy loot boxes in the hopes of getting crafting materials to get the characters they want sooner.

This information caused a wave of anger in the Battlefront community. Shortly after, EA gave an official response to the controversy:

The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.

As for cost, we selected initial values based upon data from the Open Beta and other adjustments made to milestone rewards before launch. Among other things, we’re looking at average per-player credit earn rates on a daily basis, and we’ll be making constant adjustments to ensure that players have challenges that are compelling, rewarding, and of course attainable via gameplay.

We appreciate the candid feedback, and the passion the community has put forth around the current topics here on Reddit, our forums and across numerous social media outlets.

Our team will continue to make changes and monitor community feedback and update everyone as soon and as often as we can. — EA Community Team

This response was not what the fans were looking for. In just a few hours, this statement became the most downvoted post on Reddit, currently sitting at a score of -333,000 points. This far surpasses the previous post to hold the record, paling in comparison at -24,000 points.

As the controversy raged on, many swore to boycott the game. But just a few hours ago, EA dropped the in-game prices of the characters by 75%. The substantial discount reduces the amount of time spent tremendously. Unfortunately for many, the damage is already done.

Will you be picking up Star Wars Battlefront II? Do you think EA is pushing microtransactions too hard? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Sources: Reddit (1,2) PC Gamer

Cuphead’s Creators “Guarantee” That Cuphead Will Return Someday

Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, creators of the popular indie title Cuphead, confirmed during an interview with IGN that they definitely plan on bringing Cuphead back in a future game. Cuphead was one of the greatest indie breakthroughs of the year, and its challenging bosses and charming visuals left tons of fans begging for more content once it ended.

When asked whether Cuphead has a chance of returning someday, Jared Moldenhauer immediately responded that fans are “guaranteed you’ll see Cuphead at some point,” but he admitted that he and his brother have not yet had time to discuss any concrete plans. So far, we do not know if a Cuphead sequel is coming in the foreseeable future, nor do we know if a sequel is what the two brothers have in mind, but at the very least Cuphead fans can be sure to have more Cuphead content relatively soon.

What do you guys think? Are you excited for more Cuphead content, or should the brothers expand their horizons? Personally, I think the game lends itself very well to a sequel and that it would be a great idea for the developers to pursue, after the awesome success of the original Cuphead.

Source: IGN

Tech Fix: A New Phone Comes Out. Yours Slows Down. A Conspiracy? No.

It happens every year: Apple releases new iPhones, and then hordes of people groan about their older iPhones slowing to a crawl.

Just look at the recent data. Between September and early November — when Apple made the iPhone 8 available, followed by the iPhone X — Google searches for the keywords “iPhone slow” jumped about 50 percent.

The phenomenon of perceived slowdowns is so widespread that many believe tech companies intentionally cripple smartphones and computers to ensure that people buy new ones every few years. Conspiracy theorists call it planned obsolescence.

That’s a myth. While slowdowns happen, they take place for a far less nefarious reason. That reason is a software upgrade.

[READ NEXT: The iPhone 8 Reviews: What the Critics Say]

“There’s no incentive for operating system companies to create planned obsolescence,” said Greg Raiz, a former program manager for Microsoft who worked on Windows XP. “It’s software, and software has various degrees of production bugs and unintended things that happen.”

Here’s what happens: When tech giants like Apple, Microsoft and Google introduce new hardware, they often release upgrades for their operating systems. For example, a few days before the iPhone 8 shipped in September, Apple released iOS 11 as a free software update for iPhones, including the four-year-old iPhone 5S.

The technical process of upgrading from an old operating system to a new one — migrating your files, apps and settings along the way — is extremely complicated. So when you install a brand-new operating system on an older device, problems may occur that make everything from opening the camera to browsing the web feel sluggish.

“It’s like changing the plumbing of the house without changing anything else,” said Scott Berkun, an author and a former manager for Microsoft who oversaw engineers that worked on Windows operating systems and web browsers.

The good news is that because tech companies are not intentionally neutering your devices, there are remedies for when you think your three-year-old iPhone or your seven-year-old Windows computer has become slow or short-lived. Here’s a guide to speeding up your troubled gadgets, based on interviews with information technology professionals and operating system experts.

Start Fresh

Tech companies make it simple to upgrade to a new operating system by pressing an “update” button, which seamlessly migrates all your apps and data over. While that’s convenient, it isn’t the best way to ensure that things will continue running smoothly.

A better practice is backing up all your data and purging everything from the device before installing the new operating system. This “clean install” works more reliably because the engineers developing operating systems were able to test this condition more easily, Mr. Raiz said.

[READ NEXT: What You Need to Know About The iPhone X]

Let’s say, for example, you have an iPhone 6 with 100 apps installed, four email accounts and 2,000 photos. It is more likely that a quality-assurance engineer tested installing a new operating system on a blank iPhone 6, rather than an iPhone 6 with the same setup as yours.

So if you want to minimize the chances of something going awry, resist the easy update path and opt for a clean install. For smartphones, I recommend backing up your data to your computer. For computers, you could back up your data to an online service or a portable drive. After the operating system installation is complete, you can then safely restore your data and apps to the device from the backup.

Remove the ‘Cruft’

Sometimes you can do some light maintenance to speed up your device. Over the long term, an operating system accumulates system files, settings, logs and other data; I.T. experts call this “cruft.” This can bog down your device.

For computers, there are some apps for cleaning up your system. Mac users can download a free app called Onyx, and Windows users can run a cleanup utility included in the system. For iPhones and Android devices, you can open the settings app and select reset settings. (Just make sure you back up first in case there are important settings you may lose.)

[READ NEXT: The iPhone X is Cool. That Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready for It]

Be Mindful of Your Storage

Here’s something many people don’t realize: Just because your iPhone or Samsung phone has 64 gigabytes of storage doesn’t mean you should fill it all the way up. The device will generally run faster if more of its storage is available.

That’s partly because your device needs space to move data around and download software updates. But it’s also related to how the storage technology works inside smartphones and modern laptops.

Smartphones and newer laptops rely on flash storage, which stores data in the cells of semiconductor chips. When data is stored on a flash drive, it is scattered across the drive. So when you are pulling data to open an app or a document, you are retrieving it from multiple parts of the drive. If lots of space is occupied, the data gets crowded and the device may feel sluggish.

“If you fill these things up, it doesn’t get to operate as well,” said Brian Denslow, a technician for TechCollective, an information technology consulting company in San Francisco. Mr. Denslow said a good rule of thumb is to buy more storage than you think you will use. If you think you are going to use 64 gigabytes on an iPad, for example, buy the 256-gigabyte model.

I also recommend freeing up a huge amount of space by managing your photo library in the cloud. You can upload all your albums to a service like Google Photos and periodically purge all the images from the device itself. I did this recently on my iPhone 7 that was nearly full and seemed to be slowing down; purging the photos freed up about 50 gigabytes of data, and the iPhone feels as good as new.

Invest in Your Infrastructure

Your device may seem slower for reasons unrelated to the device. Mr. Denslow, the technician, said many apps relied on an internet connection, so a shoddy Wi-Fi router might be the real bottleneck.

To get a nice boost, invest in a modern Wi-Fi system. I recommend products like Google WiFi and Eero, which are so-called mesh networking systems that help you seamlessly set up multiple Wi-Fi stations to get a strong signal throughout the home. They are pricey, but upgrading your infrastructure will do more than buying a new phone.

“Instead of spending $1,000 on a phone every year, spend $500 on networking,” Mr. Denslow said. “It’s not sexy, but it provides more benefits over a long period of time.”

[READ NEXT: The iPhone 8: A Worthy Refinement Before The Next Generation]

Consider Upgrading

At the end of the day, there are many reasons your device may feel slow. New operating systems carry more powerful features that were designed to work better on new devices. In addition, developers of third-party apps typically prioritize making software for newer handsets, and sometimes they even discontinue support for old gadgets. If there are important tasks that your older device cannot do proficiently, consider an upgrade.

Mr. Raiz, the former Microsoft program manager, said he had recently encountered problems after updating his iPhone 6S to iOS 11. Some functions, like the ability to search for an app, no longer worked. Resetting the device’s settings fixed the problem, but he said he would most likely buy a new iPhone soon anyway to keep up with the latest technologies.

“There’s only so much you can do if your device is multiple release cycles behind,” he said.

[Want more advice and tips on the technology changing how you live? Sign up for the Personal Tech Newsletter here.]

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B6 of the New York edition with the headline: Phone Crawling? There Are Ways To Speed It Up. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Tech Tip: Enlarge the Screen in Windows 10

Q. I recently discovered the keyboard shortcut in Windows 10 that automatically zooms in the whole screen, but it’s often a little too close-up. Is there a way to adjust this zooming?

A. Pressing the Windows and plus (+) keys together automatically activates the Magnifier, the built-in Ease of Access utility for enlarging the screen, and yes, you can adjust the level of magnification. (For those who have found the shortcut by accident, pressing the Windows and Escape keys turns off the Magnifier.)

To change the magnification level, press the Windows, Control and M keys to open the Magnifier settings box. (You can also take the long way by going to the Start menu, clicking the gear-shaped settings icon on the left side, choosing the Ease of Access icon and then selecting Magnifier.) When the settings box opens, go to the Magnifier options area and under “Zoom level increments,” select a smaller percentage than the default 100 percent.

Choosing a lower number — like 25 percent — gives you smaller degrees of magnification for zooming. For example, instead of zooming in by 100 percent each time you press the Windows and + keys to turn on the Magnifier and then increase the zoom level of the screen, you can zoom in more gradually in 25-percent increments as you repeatedly press the keyboard shortcut.

Photo

The settings box for the Windows 10 Magnifier utility has a handy list of keyboard shortcuts for using the tool.

Credit
The New York Times

The Magnifier utility has quite a few shortcuts of its own, which can save you from fiddling with the mouse while you enlarge parts of the desktop for easier reading. To see the list of commands, scroll down to the Keyboard Shortcuts section of the Magnifier settings box.

Mac users have a similar screen-magnification tool that comes with macOS. To turn on the Zoom feature and adjust its behavior, click the System Preferences icon in the Mac’s desktop dock and in the System Preferences box, click Accessibility. On the left side of the Accessibility box, click Zoom to get to the feature’s settings.

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Tech Tip: When Dinosaurs Roam in Chrome

Q. My network router often flakes out and I get the “There is no internet connection” error screen in Google Chrome. I was staring at the error screen the other day, and it looked like the little dinosaur winked at me. Is that for real or a bug?

A. The error page you see when Google Chrome cannot get to the internet does indeed feature a small graphic of a Tyrannosaurus rex that occasionally blinks. However, with a little help from you, the little dinosaur can do much more in your browser window.

For the past several years, the dinosaur has been part of a game hidden inside Google Chrome, perhaps as a gift from a programmer sympathizing with the lack of internet access. To activate the game when you get the connection-error message, press the space bar. The dinosaur then takes off across the screen in the style of one of those old-fashioned eight-bit “endless runner” games.

As the T. rex gallops along, press the Up arrow key to jump over cactuses and other obstacles. A special blip sounds as you pile up each set of 100 points. After 500 points, pterodactyls enter the game, and you must press the Down arrow key to avoid them. If the dinosaur wipes out, click the replay button on the Game Over screen to make another run.

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When you get Google Chrome’s connection-error screen, tap the space bar to set the dinosaur running through the game and press the Up arrow key (or space bar) to make it jump.

Credit
The New York Times

If you like runner games, you do not have to wait for Google Chrome to go offline to play. Variations of the T. rex runner game can be found online or as an app. You can also manually switch to the game, even if your internet connection is working perfectly fine. Just enter “chrome://network-error/-106” in the address bar (without the quotation marks), press the Enter key and tap the space bar to get those little dino legs moving.

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Tech Tip: The Key to Getting Shadow-Free Mac Screenshots

 

Q. How do you take a screenshot of just a single window on the Mac, and is there a way to get rid of that fake shadow around it?

A. While the keyboard shortcut of the Command, Shift and 3 keys pressed together takes a picture of the Mac’s entire screen, pressing the Command, Shift and 4 keys allows you to select a specific area of the screen to capture. If you press the Command, Shift and 4 keys and then press the space bar immediately, you can click the highlighted window to take a cropped screenshot of just that window.

Photo

If you prefer your screenshots without the 3-D shadow effect, hold down the Option key when you click to capture the image.

Credit
The New York Times

The Mac’s operating system automatically adds the shadow around the edges of the window to the screenshot, but if you prefer a flat, shadow-free image of the window, you just have to hold down another key. Press the Command, Shift and 4 keys, tap the space bar and hold down the Option key as you click to snap an image of the selected window. The resulting file is saved to the Mac’s desktop or a new location you previously chose.

Windows 10 users have several ways to take screenshots of all or part of their desktops. Pressing the Windows key and the PrtScn key snaps the full desktop, while pressing the Alt and PrtScn keys usually captures the active window; key combinations may vary based on the computer hardware. The screenshots can then be pasted into documents or new files in the Microsoft Paint program — or found in the Screenshots folder in the Windows Pictures library. The built-in Snipping Tool, which can be summoned from the Start menu search bar, provides four ways to capture screen images.

Third-party screen-capture apps for both platforms are also available.

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