Think you know about Assassin's Creed? Have you travelled the world with Ezio? Then prove it by taking our Assassin's Creed Travel Quiz.
The Assassin's Creed series has come a long way from it's beginnings running around the rooftops of 12th century Palestine. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, which is actually the sixth (or maybe seventh, depending on how you count) game in the series keeps the core mechanics the same - but takes the series in a more swashbuckling direction. Should you be settling down for a TV Party tonight with the game? Read on to find out.
The game is set during the Golden Age of Piracy in the 18th century - a couple of generations before the events of Assassin's Creed 3. You play as Edward Kenway - the father of Haytham Kenway and grandfather of Conor, who are the playable characters in the previous game.
Kenway is a privateer, who heads to the Caribbean to make his fortune, but on the way gets mixed up in piracy, and after a fatal encounter with an Assassin is embroiled in the war with the Templars, and their quest to find the 'Observatory' that would grant them some severely draconian magical powers. What's particularly apparent about Kenway is that unlike his grandson, he seems like less of a personality vacuum - and like Ezio from AC2, is a more engaging character.
So far, so Assassin's Creed - and this is a good thing. I was a bit nervous when the game was first announced it would be pirate based. "What a bunch of sell-outs", I thought - clearly pirates are too commercial and they're just trying to cash-in on Pirates of the Caribbean? I prefer my pseudo-historical adventure games to be based on more obscure time periods, like, say, Renaissance Italy.
Anyway - it turns out my fears were unfounded. Luckily the game retains the same sort of tone as the earlier games, and a sense of history in keeping with the historical time period. Though there's many of the standard pirate tropes - hell, even Blackbeard makes an appearance - it still feels 'real' rather than 'panto' (umm, relatively speaking).
In terms of jolliness, the pirates in the game are about mid-way between Captain Pugwash and Captain Phillips.
The traditional game
So what of the gameplay? Well - if you haven't liked the Assassin's Creed series until now, this probably isn't going to change your mind. Though why fix what isn't broken?
Apart from the significant sailing sections (more on those in a bit), when you're on land, it'll all feel very familiar. Air assassinations, hiding in bushes to kill targets, tailing moving targets to listen into conversations - it's all pretty much the same as before.
One nice improvement is the adoption of the "standard" style of how guns should work - rather than just have the Y button assigned to fire a gun at, er, pretty much the person nearest to you, you can instead freely aim with the left trigger and shoot with the right trigger - just like GTA5, Max Payne 3, and pretty much every other game involving a gun in the last two years. Maddeningly though, gun/non-blade selection is still done through an awful D-Pad selection, rather than the more modern "L-button-and-a-wheel" type weapon select we've seen most recently in GTA5.
Don't worry though - guns aren't too pivotal - back in the Golden Age guns were just about crappy enough to not have a huge impact, so you'll still be using your hidden blades to a satisfyingly stealthy extent.
As ever with AC, there's a large emphasis on side-missions and collecting things - so if you don't want to race through, you can spend hours searching out every last bonus assassination mission and treasure box. One nice addition is finding buried treasure maps on corpses - which give you a rough location and an illustration of roughly where the treasure is.
Hunting also makes a return - with different materials able to be crafted together to make better kit and ammunition. My favourite new crafting addition is the berserk darts. You can sit in a bush and shoot someone with it, and they'll proceed to start a fight with the people around them. It's immensely satisfying to watch.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing to collect though is sea shanties. If you don't like sea shanties, you're going to have a bad time with this game. In the previous game you may remember you'd occasionally see letters drifting through the air and you'd have to chase after them before they flew away - in this game, you'll collecting shanties. Why? So when you're sailing the high seas, the men on your ship as you'll be ready for a Nervous Breakdown as they head into another chorus of Old Billy Reilly
With all of this to do though, it can often feel like a collecting game and something that's not driven by the plot. In fact, at one point one of these missions Kenway himself says "It feels like I'm running errands, not living my life". I'm not sure if this was a meta-criticism from the developers but it made me laugh as I ran around chasing after yet another bloody sea shanty.
Don't get me wrong though - this isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're the sort of person who enjoys exploring every aspect of a richly designed world then there's many, many hours of gameplay here.
Assassin's at sea
The big new thing gameplay mechanic in the game is sailing. Assassin's Creed 3 had a few sailing missions - but this has now been developed into the major way of traversing the overworld. It's like Zelda: Wind Waker with more gruesome deaths.
The sailing - the handling of the boat, the naval combat and and all that is surprisingly accomplished. It's fun to sail around and behave like a pirate. Fire on ships, loot their cargo, even sale up close and jump aboard and start a swordfight. Great.
It's not just used to get from city to city either - there's naval assassination missions, and every area has a fort that must be assaulted by sea first, to break it's defences, before going in on foot once it is sufficiently Damaged.
So fair play to the developers for building what would be - without Assassin's Creed - on it's own a very accomplished naval warfare game. The thing is though... well... it's not really Assassin's Creed, is it? Obviously games must evolve to stay fresh - but at the same time, what happened to running about on tightly-packed European (or Middle Eastern) rooftops and sneaking about? It's surely quite hard to be stealthy in a pirate ship?
I guess the game is suffering from the Tomb Raider problem. Whilst the first game was about raiding tombs - as the series went on it really should have been called "Lara Croft". Whilst this is no bad thing if it's fun to play, it's definitely different from the core experience. In AC4, there's a whole whale-hunting mini-game which whilst it is assassinating whales, it's not quite as rewarding as knifing a templar in the back.
But hey - maybe the sea stuff will grow on me? I suspect I'm just bitter about having better ideas about where the game should be set.
So what of the story in the outside world? We all know that Assassin's Creed takes place in a 'simulation' run by modern day Templar-front Abstergo . In this latest game, following the, er, end of Desmond's story, the game picks up in the offices of "Abstergo Entertainment", who use the Animus to make historical simulation games. You play these sections (in the first person) on an initially unexplained mission to gain as much intelligence on what they're up to as possible - all whilst working there investigating Kenway's history.
For all of the flaws of Desmond's plot (especially the end), the new outside world hasn't really grabbed me. It all seems like an excuse for the AC4 developers to make some too-clever-by-half jokes about games development (at one point it shows a clip of the first game, and complains it's not a commercial enough setting). But I'm sure it sounded like a great idea on paper.
Multiplayer also makes a return from AC3. The premise of the main multiplayer game is that you and the other players must hide amongst a bustling scene, stake out your designated target player and kill them - with penalties for killing civilians.
It's fun to play too - the trick is to be sneaky as running about will not only show the others that you are in fact a human-controlled character, but also the whispering noises your target will hear when you're close will get louder. There's various different configurations for it - including time limits and the like. It's a nice change of pace from the likes of Call of Duty - especially if, like me, you're a bit crap and tend to get killed every 10 seconds on shooting games.
There's also a fairly extensive custom rules modes - so, for example, you can have only gunshot kills win points. In my experience, this tends to make the game more frantic - as running around with a gun suddenly seems like a sensible thing to do.
So does Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Rise Above the earlier games in the series? Or is it a Wasted opportunity?
As I said earlier - if you didn't like the AC series before, this isn't going to change your mind - though if you're a fan, then it is definitely worth checking in with the latest in the series. Despite all of the sometimes unnecessary bells and whistles, the core gameplay is still great - and the pseudo-historical narrative is enjoyable for history junkies and people looking for something a bit different alike.
So yes - I think we can safely say that it's yo ho ho and a bottle of fun indeed.
Now can we please have Assassin's Creed 5 set in revolutionary Paris?
If there's one thing that my trip with Ford to Belgium taught me it's that technology is set to play an increasingly important - perhaps vital - role in driving over the coming years.
And we're not just talking advanced entertainment systems in our cars here, like Ford's voice activated control (SYNC). Or on demand audio from companies like Spotify which are already found in several of the company's vehicles. Nor are we talking electric cars like the Ford Focus Electric which I got to test around the company's test track.
Instead one of the biggest growth areas is in automated systems for improving control and safety and making aspects of driving, especially parking, easier. Like many car manufacturers, Ford is realising that as the roads are getting fuller and people are getting older the need to have these types of systems in place in case of accidents is getting ever greater.
"We're not saying we're building cars for old people. That wouldn't be the best marketing strategy," jokes head of global consumer trends and futuring for Ford in the US, Sheryl Connelly. "But certainly we consider reduced response time when designing our vehicles."
According to Connelly the first person to live to 150 years old may have already been born which is perhaps a scary thought if that person is still driving when they are into their second century given my experience of some elderly drivers.
Demonstrated at the Ford Futures event at the Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium were a range of technologies in various stages of development - from concept to production - which have been designed not only to meet the needs of older people but anyone who wants to stay safe on the road.
And while nothing can beat the thrill and adrenalin of racing around in a soon to be released Ford Mustang GT500 (picture left) at speeds of over 150 miles per hour - which was easily the highlight of my Belgian visit - equally interesting, although a little depressing, are some of the technologies which ultimately are likely to take the adrenalin out of driving.
Take the ECG seat. Ford is now working on a car seat with a built in ECG (Electro Cardiogram) monitor that measures the driver's heart rate over a period of time and transmits any worrying signs to a medical centre. The idea is that the technology could be used to spot any medical condition which may impair the driver's ability behind the wheel and could even trigger the car's safety systems in case the driver has a heart attack while driving.
Perhaps most interesting of all is Ford's obstacle avoidance technology which we tried out at several speeds between 30 and 50 miles per hour. This automatically works by using sensors around the car to tell the onboard computer when it is too close to an oncoming vehicle (an image of the car's 'safety zone' is shown on a big screen next to the driver).
Though early days, the prototype works by automatically steering the car into another lane if the car gets too close to the vehicle in front of it - perhaps because of a medical emergency or just slow reactions from the driver.
Initially it's a little scary to think that a computer could take over the car's steering wheel, but I can see it could have a practical use in an emergency situation providing you could trust it enough not to steer you into the path of oncoming vehicles! Ford claims the technology could even be used to automatically alert the emergency services of an accident involving your vehicle using the European wide 112 number. (See YouTube video below to see how the technology works).
One area where Ford, like other manufacturers, is keen to develop technology to make our lives easier - if not necessarily safer - is parking. Already the company has a Parking Assist function to help you reverse into a parking space without having to use the steering wheel.
Soon this will be enhanced with a perpendicular parking facility that will, it claims, make it easier to park in narrow spaces in car parks or a garage by using the car's sensors to gauge the width of the space. The company is even hoping to take this one step further with 'remote control' parking.
Demonstrated to journalists was a system that will, subject to regulatory control, park the car in a garage at the touch of a button on a handset. I'm not sure what would happen though if the system malfunctions and the car backs into oncoming traffic because of interference from the neighbour's microwave oven or mobile phone. I think somehow it might be some time before that particular level of functionality comes to the market.
Don't have a cow
Finally, there's car-to car and car-to-infrastructure communication which works by using wi-fi and cellular technologies to inform drivers of any obstacles in the road. Called V2X, it can be used to deliver warnings to other drivers if, for example, a car has crashed or broken down in the road. The prototype we saw even had what I called the 'cow button' which could be used to warn other drivers of livestock in the road!
However arguably more worrying is that the very same technology could also be used by authorities to monitor the location and speed of your vehicle. Already in development is the ITS Corridor connecting Rotterdam to Vienna which will be used to inform drivers of roadworks en route. And while Ford claims this data will be transmitted to cars anonymously how much longer before data is collected from the cars carrying the equipment to automatically issue speed tickets?
It's all a far cry from the days you could drive your Ford Capri or Mustang up and down the motorway or highway without a care in the world. Pretty soon everything we do and everywhere we go in our vehicle will be tracked, monitored and measured. And while I'm not really sure that's progress it's probably going to be make driving safer - as well as a little more boring.
See the car that steers itself in the YouTube video below:
You know what it's like - you spend long enough in one place and eventually you'll want a change of scene. I don't know about you, but since GTA5 was released - I've spent far more time than be healthy pounding the streets of Los Santos. Maybe it's time for a holiday - so here's five more games to try once you're bored of GTA5.
Samsung claims the 20.3MP APS-C Sensor produces images which are bright and detailed, even in low light conditions, while the DRIMe IV Image Signal Processor delivers both speed and accuracy.
Its Advanced Hybrid Auto Focus (AF) System ensures accurate phase and contrast detection, Samsung claims, so you can capture crisp, vibrant shots, while the 1/6000 sec shutter speed and 8.6fps shooting means you can capture the action as it is happening.
Lenses include compact pancake lenses and an ultra-wide fisheye, to longer prime and zoom lenses. True 3D Creator allows you to shoot images and movies in 3D with Samsung's 45mm 2D/3D lens.
Featuring Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the camera can choose between a large number Android apps while 30 Smart Mode options mean you can choose the optimum settings for the environment you are capturing. Multi Exposure merges two different shots together to produce one distinctive image, while Animated Photo connects continuous shots of up to five seconds, creating a moving GIF file.
For added realism, Sound & Shot stores sound and voice together as the picture is taken, so moments are captured exactly as they happen.
The Galaxy NX will be available to buy in the UK as a 4G variant that supports 3G from selected online and high street retailers this summer. More information can be found here: www.samsung.com/uk/GalaxyNXCamera/.
In case you haven't heard the news Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has launched a video recording app that is set to take on the Twitter owned Vine. Yes Vine remember that? The six second video app? In case you've forgotten here is a classic Vine to jog your memory.
However it looks like Instagram has monitored Vine very carefully and learned some key lessons, and its offering is way superior.
In terms of ease of use there isn't a huge amount to chose between them, but in other key areas Instagram massively scores over its rival.
1 You get longer to shoot - With Vine you have to cram the video into six seconds, Instagram gives you fifteen. I have always thought that six was too short, 15 feels about right.
2 Instagram is better in low light conditions - Vine frankly is very poor when the lights are low. At least with Instagram it adjusts focus and exposure to optimise the picture no matter where you are shooting it.
3 Instagram has those famous filters - Yep you get 13 of the filters that you know and love which you can use to add a little retro quality to your video.
4 It also has a post shooting image stabilisation option to reduce the camera shake on your vid.
5 Instagram is available for Android users from day one - With Vine it felt like a bit of an afterthought.
It isn't just us who prefers the newbie
"Vine is like fast food, while Instagram video is more like eating in a nicer restaurant," said Ovum analyst Jan Dawson.
However I am sure it won't be long before Vine has more advanced features to rival Instagram. But by then will it be too late?
See our first Instagram video here (a clip of our dog jumping onto a trampoline!)Article originally published here
Samsung Electronics has unveiled two new tablets, the ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3. Both are powered by Windows 8, with the ATIV Q able to run Android apps while the the ATIV Tab 3 is billed as the world's thinnest tablet.
A convertible device with the ability to change modes between Windows and Android (Jellybean 4.2.2), the ATIV Q (right) can be used as a notebook or tablet. It sports a hinge design that allows you to transform it into four functional modes. You can lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode; raise the display upright to type just as you would a laptop; float and adjust the display to a comfortable viewing angle; or flip the display to place in the stand mode to watch movies.
Boasting a 13.3 inch touch screen, the ATIV Q offers QHD+ (3200x1800) resolution which Samsung claims is 2.8 times higher pixel density (275ppi) than full HD displays.
A tablet with the power of a PC, the ATIV Tab 3 is, claims Samsung, the world's thinnest Windows 8 tablet - as thin as many popular smartphones. Measuring 8.2 millimetres thick and weighing 550g, the ATIV Tab 3 offers 10 hours of battery life.
The ATIV Tab 3 runs Windows 8, has the ability to run all Windows apps and programmes and comes preloaded with Office Home & Student.
The ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 will all be available to buy in the UK from selected retailers later this year.
Says Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland:
"We're committed to offering our customers choice and convenience in personal computing, and the convertible nature of both these new tablets delivers the freedom and versatility our customers demand. These innovative devices have been designed with busy people in mind, and the adaptability they offer is better suited to busy lives than any tablet on the market."
For more information go to www.samsung.com/uk/ATIVBookQ
These closed-back 'around-the-ear' headphones have been created for music lovers wanting a bold and elegant appearance, without compromising on sound quality.
Designed with style in mind they feature, soft, breathable leather ear cushions, a durable design for a custom fit and integrated smart remote making these perfect for use on the go.
The collectable headphone box set includes the V&A exhibition's 'David Bowie is' book, providing music fans with a real insight in to Bowie's creative work and inspiration.
Usually costing £259.99, this Bowie inspired package could be yours for nowt. All you have to do is tell us Which is your favourite David Bowie track and why? Either email your answer to email@example.com or leave your thoughts on our Facebook wall here.
Closing date is Friday July 12. The winner will be chosen by the editor. Entries must be UK only. Full competition terms and conditions can be found here.You can get more information about the Sennhesier Special Edition Momentum headphones here.
We all know that if you want to get fit you need to eat well and exercise. We also know that you won't see results overnight and no product on earth can turn you into Vin Diesel. What many of us don't know is the science behind building muscle and how you can help your body along.
Quick breakdown of the facts:
• Muscle building is a natural process and is your body's reaction to damage from strenuous activity
• The body will overcompensate to reduce the risk of this damage happening again by building more muscle than needed
• By gradually increasing the workload for your muscles through increased repetitions, heavier weights or frequency of exercise you can build your muscles up
• Your body uses amino acids to build muscles
• Amino acids are the structural units that make up protein
• To give your body the amino acids it needs to build muscle you need to increase the amount of protein you take on board
• The process of building muscle slows if you do not have sufficient protein
The level of protein you require can be obtained through changing your diet to focus around eating turkey, chicken and fish. These have to be eaten in larger quantities and regularly.
If you are like 90% of the population and not quite ready to relinquish potatoes, pasta and rice in favour of high protein foods, then you can supplement your intake with protein shakes.
Protein shakes are often based around whey protein and this is because it contains high levels of all the essential fatty acids (amino acids) that your body cannot synthesise and must be added through diet.
You will need to have 2 - 4 protein shakes per day depending on the level of exercise you are doing.
This can begin to be expensive, but you don't want your hard work going to waste.
Pro-10 offers high quality whey protein, but they have reduced the price to only £12.99 per 1kg. Gram for gram that is the same price as organic chicken breast. Each week special offers enable you to try new supplements or bundle packs, and they are launching over 40 new products over the next 6 months.
There is no witchcraft involved with protein shakes and if you want to see the best results from all your hard work then take advantage of our 10% discount to give it a try. Visit www.Pro-10.com and enter TECH10 at the checkout to receive your discount. Valid until the 17th August 2012.
Today at WWDC 2012 Scott Forstall, the senior VP of iOS Software at Apple, unveiled iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's operating system.
We were surprised to see that the new MacBook Pro announcements didn't overshadow Apple's software developments, as iOS 6 comes packed full of cool new features and updates. Here are a few of the most important changes we can expect to see:
Siri gets a revamp
Despite the fact Siri is a pretty ground-breaking feature, no one can deny there have been a LOT of issues with Apple's elusive voice activated assistant since it was launched last year.
So, it's exciting to see a whole raft of new changes are being introduced with iOS 6, such as integration with sites like Yelp and Rotten Romatoes for better restaurant and movie reviews, the ability to tweet just by talking to your phone (this could be VERY dangerous/annoying), lots of new languages added, a better understanding of sports with game summaries and stats and finally Siri will be coming to the new iPad too. It's about time.
Apple Maps! Apple Maps!
We've heard rumours for months now that Apple has been busy working on its own mapping solution and it finally arrives with the iOS 6 update.
So there's not that much to report on here, it's not like there was a way to blow Google out of the water. A map is a map after all. However, the interface looks a little different and there are some cool new features, such as local search information, live travel updates, business profiles and custom mapping.
It looks like Apple will be competing with Google in a big way when it comes to mapping as it's already experimenting with 3D views of interesting sites, just like the big G.
You'll be able to have both "VIP" and "Flagged" mailboxes, which will make sorting through all of your emails much, much easier.
DEEP Facebook integration
We've seen this kind of integration with Twitter in iOS 5, but now Facebook gets a piece of the action too.
Apple admitted that it's been working "very closely" with the Facebook team to get the integration just right, so expect a single log-in and the ability to share all kinds of content, like apps, photos and movies, through Facebook.
We also love the fact that events and birthdays will automatically sync up to your iPhone's calendar too, which is a welcome touch (assuming you don't hate all of your Facebook friends of course).
"Do Not Disturb" mode
The new "Do Not Disturb" mode will be a way of collecting all kinds of notifications until later. So you'll be able to read your messages, emails and see any calls as soon as you switch "Do Not Disturb" off, but while it's on you won't be irritated by anything at all.
There are some interesting and necessary settings for the new mode too, which will allow you to let certain calls or repeated calls through to you.
Facetime goes cellular
Facetime will be able to run via 3G and 4G connections after the update and you can choose which device you'd like to answer your calls on.
Safari gets offline reading
When browsing the web with Safari you can save pages to an offline reading list, which will make the whole experience similar to the likes of Instapaper.
Do more with your photos
You'll be able to quickly upload photos from Mobile Safari and with Photo Stream you'll be able to share photos with friends, which are synced to all of your devices.
Passbook keeps all of your important things safe
Passbook is kind of like an app that's designed to keep all of your important ticket information, passes and other bits of valuable information safe and sound. So keep your Starbucks balance, flight details and movie tickets all under one super safe umbrella. Unless you lose your phone of course...
OK, I NEED it now
We know, we know, they're a pretty impressive set of changes, right? We're pretty sure it'll feel like you've got a completely new phone in your hand. But, you're going to have to wait a few months as developers will have access to iOS 6 today, but regular users won't be able to get their grubby mits on it until the autumn.
iOS 6 will be available for the iPhone 3GS and later (sorry if you've still got a 3G, sort it out though, yeah?), as well as 2nd and 3rd generation iPads and the 4th generation iPod Touch.
[Image via GSMArena]
Potentially huge news today as the European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of a pub landlady from Portsmouth who has been showing live football from foreign channels in her establishment, rather than subscribing to Sky.
The ECJ said that national laws which prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards are contrary to the freedom to provide services.
What this means is that pubs across the UK can bin their Sky subs and now get their Prem footage from Greek TV stations at a tenth of the cost. But it isn't just pubs who can benefit. Football fans can also take this route and save a few quid too.
Ultimately it is very difficult to say at this point how the ruling will affect the English game. It could force Sky to lower its subscription costs and thereby pay less to the clubs. They would then have less money to pay players and it might mean that the gap between the super rich billionaire-owned clubs and everyone else starts to become huge. Anyway we'll see.
If you are considering ditching Sky, be warned though, tuning into Greek (or any other type of foreign TV) isn't exactly plug and play. But if you do fancy giving it a whirl here's how you do it. It's relatively inexpensive to set up, and offers many matches not available on Sky Sports, particularly 3pm Saturday kick-offs.
It's a moderately complex process, but this beginners guide will point you in the right direction for viewing football via foreign sports channels, and offer some links to where to find more info should you want to delve a little deeper into international satellite TV.
What You Will Need:
A satellite dish - This is used to pick up the broadcast signal and pipe it into a set-top box. You need one at least 78cm in diameter, but a bit bigger than that, around 100cm, is probably optimal for residential use. Signals from European channels tend to be weaker than UK ones, hence the need for a larger dish.
Dishes can be manually pointed at the orbiting broadcast satellites, or you can purchase a motorised one that does the hard work for you, particularly useful if you plan on accessing channels from multiple satellite sources (more on that later). We'd recommend the
110cm Hi-Gain Satellite Dish from System Sat (£60, Amazon seller) or the 80cm Satgear Anthracite Satellite Dish (£31.95, Amazon seller).
A satellite receiver - These are designed to pick up European channels, perfect for getting Premier League matches, as well as La Liga, Serie A football and other European competitions. There are plenty of receivers to choose from, but a quick search around the web shows Technomate branded ones such as the TM-3000D (£53.75, Amazon seller) to be well recommended.
A universal LNB and cable - The LNB (Low Noise Block-downconverter) sits on an arm pointing at the dish, and is used to focus the satellite signal, converting it a lower frequency which your receiver can take via coaxial cable.
A viewing card or Cam - These are used like a Sky Viewing card, and are needed to de-scramble encrypted signals. Different cards and Cams provide access to different channels, and are also needed If you're looking to access Pay-TV channels.Spend a bit of time researching the channels you're after before buying a card or Cam, but one good place to pick them up is www.pulsat.com. They also provide receivers too.
How To Set It Up:
Setting up a satellite dish can be a potentially frustrating process, though the actual steps aren't necessarily that complex to carry out. Either way, if you're not particularly comfortable with installing equipment (or are afraid of heights if you're planning on wall mounting your dish on an outer wall), you're probably best off getting a professional to come around and install it. Megasat offer a UK wide installation service, but for a comprehensive list of engineers check out the Confederation of Aerial Industries trade lobby website.
Alternatively, there's the good-old-fashioned DIY method. Thankfully you don't necessarily have to wall mount a dish, so long as you've got a bit of open ground in your garden that can house it and point between East and West without being obscured by trees or towerblocks. Either way however, wall mounting is preferable, even if merely not to clutter your finely-mowed lawn.
From here you need to point the dish towards one of the satellites throwing out the appropriate footy channels. The best for receiving Premiership Football on are Hispasat, Astra 1 and Hotbird. A great list of channels and kick-off times can be found on Liveonsat.com, which also handily shows which satellites you'll need to be pointing your dish at to view the appropriate channels. Many matches will be broadcast on free-to-air channels, though some will require a viewing card, as mentioned earlier.
If you've nabbed yourself a nifty motorised satellite dish, it can be programmed to automatically point at numerous orbiting satellites. It's a process that can take some hours to fine tune, but it saves a lot of manual faffing about.
Otherwise, it's time to grab your compass, and maybe even a satellite signal strength monitor, and get tweaking your satellite direction. A whole list of satellite positions and the channels they pick up can be grabbed from www.satellitetvlinks.net (to whom we are indebted to for help in researching this post), but the main three we mentioned earlier are positioned at:
Hotbird: 13 degrees East
Astra 1: 19.2 degrees East
Hispasat: 30 degress West
Remember, if you haven't grabbed a motorised dish you'll have to manually realign it every time you want to pick up channels from a different orbiting satellite. Alternatively, look into grabbing a dish with multiple LNBs built in and then align each of those individually, or buy a compatible multi-LNB arm and attach it to your dish. Most decent receivers will have a little signal strength icon that will help you fine tune the dish placement to the best possible angle.
Hi, just giving you an early heads up on a very exciting project from Shiny Media that is due to launch in April.
Technode - a new kind of technology magazine/
How is it available? - It will be available for FREE in the following versions
1 iPad version via its own iPad app with added video and interactivity.
3 Printed magazine version - this will be available via Magcloud and will cost around £5 per issue.
What's in the first issue? - It focuses largely on gadgets - so there are stories on - the top 20 gadgets of summer 2011, the three key gadget trends for the year (3D, in car gadgetry and tablets), 4G mobile phones. There are also features on how technology is changing art, how social networking is making us all liars and more.
Why is it different from most other iPad mags? - 1 It is free. 2 It is designed from the ground up as an iPad mag and doesn't just ape a print mag.
We'll let you know as soon as it is available. In the meantime you can keep up with the latest news by following Technode on Facebook here
Here at TechDigest we are big fans of the LG Optimus 7 phone, its unique features and innovative Windows® Phone 7 operating system. So we are really excited to be able to offer six of the phones as competition prizes to TechDigest readers.
We have made entering the competition very simple. All you need do is go here add your name and email and take a quick survey. Your name will then be automatically included in the draw for the phones which will take place in four weeks time.
So what's so good about the LG Optimius 7?
In addition to its Windows® Phone 7 technology it has a fabulous 5.0 Megapixel camera with some very cool image related features such as intelligent shot and panorama mode, High definition video shooting, voice to text and compatibility with all your favourite social networking sites. The phone also has the wonderful augmented reality camera (Scan Search) which is the easiest way to search your surroundings. In fact the Optimus 7 is the only device supporting AR functionality that uses the Windows Phone 7 platform"
The phone also boasts Play To, LG's own multimedia file sharing technology based on DLNA that lets users enjoy content on the phone across all today's digital platforms for a seamless entertainment experience, all at the flick of a finger.
So your chance to win one of six LG Optimus WP7 devices simply go here.
For full details and T&Cs visit here.
Sponsored post from LG
There are some people who say that there is no real reason to buy an iPad as all the core things it does are covered by laptops, smartphones, games consoles and ereaders. Well I say that those people are somewhat lacking in imagination. Here then are five definitive roles that an iPad can play in your life
1 It is the ultimate toilet gadget - Yes this is the gadget that men who enjoying prolonged sessions on the old seat have been waiting for. It is easy to hold and is ideal for a quick bit of web browsing or gaming to distract your mind while the rest of your body focuses on something else. The wipe clean screen could prove to be a bonus here too.
Accessory opportunity - All we need now is the iPad toilet roll holder - surely one of the accessory makers is working on that now?
2 It is perfect for watching video in bed - Your laptop doesn't work that well in bed and your smartphone's screen is too small. The iPad is perfect especially if you arch your legs so it can rest against them. It is even more of a useful gadget now that the BBC iPlayer is available on the iPad.
Accessory opportunity - How about an iPad lap tray - you can then have breakfast in bed while watching the iPad which is on a stand integrated into the tray.
3 You need never talk to your children again - It might be a bit pricey but the iPad is brilliant for kids. They instantly get touch screen, will very quickly get addicted to Paper Toss and can do all manner of creative things using Adobe's Ideas. The long battery life coupled with its superb video performance means that it is the business for keeping kids quiet on long car journeys.
Accessory opportunity - Plenty. Disney Princess themed cases anyone?
4 It is the only gadget you need to take on a plane - Forget the rubbish in-flight entertainment with the iPad you can watch your own movies, listen to music, read mags you have downloaded, play games and shedloads more. They'll be dolling them out in first class flights very soon.
Accessory opportunity - Well not so much an accessory but a gimmick. How about a free iPad with every long haul flight BA? That'll get the punters back.
5 It is the ultimate camping gadget - Who wants to sit around a campfire singing Ging Gang Goolie, when you can be tracking the stars and planets using GoSkyWatch or working out your route using one of the many GPS add-ons we'll be seeing shortly.
Accessory opportunity - A direct to Nandos navigation app would be perfect for when the outdoor life gets too much.
Apple fans are a hardy lot, and a somewhat crazy bunch too. Queues of Apple fanboys and fangirls were wrapping around the block outside the flagship Regent Street store this morning, eager to be among the first in the UK to get their hands on the iPad.
There were plenty of great stories, with many camping out all night, but our favourite was from student Kendam. After sleeping on the streets all night to grab his Apple wonder tablet, he had to rush off straight away to sit his final uni exam, just an hour after leaving the store.
Whatever you think about Apple's new toy, you certainly cant knock its fans' conviction! Good luck Kendam!
Thumbnail pic @bwas from Twitter
Fancy a new 32 Gig iPod Touch? Well you could be in with a chance of winning one if you take our survey.
We just want to find out a little bit more about you. As well as giving you the chance to tell us what you think of us.
There are only a few multiple choice questions - so it will take you no time at all.
Survey closes on April 12th 2010.
For details on terms and conditions go here.
The Consumer Electronics show, the behemoth of tech, the Valhalla of gadgetry, has come and gone for yet another year. But this time, rather than arriving with a bang, it slinked into sight with something more like a whimper.
CES 2010 had really had the wind knocked out of it before it had even got into the ring this year. All eyes were already on Apple and their rumoured Tablet in the run up to the event, despite the fact that Apple are traditionally a no-show at CES, instead planning their own top-secret unveiling at the end of January. Likewise, Google delivered a sucker-punch in the shape of the Nexus One, their flagship handset revealed at their own event on the eve of CES 2010's opening.
To make matter's worse, Microsoft's opening keynote speech (delivered by walking personality drain Steve Ballmer) was pretty darn dull. First a power cut, then a load of waffle on the 2 month old Windows 7, Ballmer hardly seemed to be trying to keep our attention. Though the Christmas release date for Project Natal was welcome news, it revealed nothing new about the device, whilst the partnership with Hewlett Packard for the new Slate device seemed merely like a case of keeping-up with the Joneses. Or should that be the Jobs-es?
But the Las Vegas event wasn't without its highlights. Far from it in fact. Maybe it's the recession, or the generally pocket-pinching mood in the air these days, but for once the most sought after tech wasn't in the realms of dreamy aspiration, but was actually fairly affordable.
Take for instance the brand new 3D TVs on show, of which the Sony BRAVIA XBR-52HX900 (video above, courtesy of Ashley) was the pick of the litter. Finally shaping up to the standards set by its cinema siblings, company reps promised that the average 3D TV will cost little more than a top-end Full HD set. Skype and video calling in many TV sets too will help turn your living room into somewhere the Jetsons could only dream of.
E-readers are also looking to be both big and affordable in 2010. As a comic book fanatic I'd have liked to have seen more attempts at a colour screened e-reader (I'm not including the MSI offering, which is really just a dual-touch screened PC, super-cool as it is). Plastic Logic's Que Pro e-reader looked great though, with a massive, durable screen, and was far lighter than the hundreds of books you'd be able to store on the tabloid-sized device.
There were, of course, tablets aplenty. The dual-booting Viliv P3 may be an underdog in the category, but seemed way more exciting than Microsoft's offering. The offer of both Windows and Android on the same device showed a respect for user choice not often seen in the back-slapping world of consumer tech.
There was still time for fun too. The Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter was fun and fresh, combining real-world toys with augmented reality controls. A little less high-tech but full of retro-chic was the Lasonic i931 iPhone dock/ghetto blaster mash-up. Odd's on its at the top of Flava Flav's Christmas list. And there was still some time for the weird and the plain old dumb, too.
Though less prevalent than other years, there were some great examples of brand new tech on show that were genuinely exciting. A real head-turner and my favourite item of the show was the Light Blue Optic Light Touch. Using a pico projection engine and a touch sensitive sensor, it'll turn any flat surface into a touchscreen. It works ridiculously well despite still being in the development stages, and has almost unlimited potential.
Some detractors say that, recession or not, CES looks to be on its last legs. It's sad, but not unlikely, when you consider the audiences that companies like Apple and Google can command for just a single product launch. However, for emerging companies like Light Blue Optics CES is still vital to gain some exposure, not to mention the fact that such a prominent date in the calendar forces the tech giants to have made some significant, competitive advances in their gear, year-on-year.
So here's hoping the old dog's got a bit of life left in it yet. Hopefully next year will kick off the recessionary cobwebs and kick the show back into high-tech gear. It wouldn't take much to tempt us back to the City of Sin once more.
Microsoft have caused quite a stir this week, banning over 600,000 Xbox Live users for having modded their consoles. The move is an attempt to deter piracy and cheating in online games, two problems that obviously and validly need addressing. But have the bans hurt users with more innocent intentions for their modifications? Read on to find out.
Piracy in the games industry is no new thing; I can remember way back to weekend car boot sales in the early 1990s where dodgy Del Boy types would be selling knocked off Amiga 500 floppies for peanuts. Sales of software for the original PlayStation were marred by piracy-enabling mod chips, and the Dreamcast too was ridiculously easy to exploit, requiring just a boot-disc to play copied games.
Widespread peer-to-peer piracy is rife too, with illegal downloads being cited as a major contributor to ever declining PC software sales.
Despite the might of Microsoft behind it, the Xbox 360 is no better defended against piracy-enabling mods. Specialist services will modify your Xbox 360 for under £100, allowing a user to download and burn their own software. Though Tech Digest does not condone piracy, it is easy to see how strong the temptation of buying cheap knock-off games or downloading them for free could be, especially with games like Modern Warfare 2 commanding an extortionate £54.99 price tag.
Though the gaming industry is becoming increasingly wealthy, piracy costs companies billions of pounds in revenue. While larger publishers may be able to bear the brunt of such losses, small independent companies literally go hungry without legitimate software sales. It results in companies less prepared to go out on a limb and innovate with new creative games, instead focussing on an established series or intellectual property. Cue boring sequels, dire-movie cash-ins and derivative Halo-clones.
Even giants like EA are looking to cut as many as 1,500 jobs in the new year, which will cause a dozen games in the development stages to be canned indefinitely.
However modding does not necessarily equate to piracy.
Here is where the argument gets interesting. Piracy is bad, no question about it. But banning a console modded to increase hard drive space, when the only official alternative is a measly 120GB drive? That can't be fair, right? Microsoft seem very keen to limit the choices available to users to just Bill Gates branded gear; just look at the recent lock-out of third party memory units.
Also, having shelled out for the inflated price of a game, shouldn't a user be allowed to back up their copy? Discs are still a fairly fragile, scratch prone medium. If something so fragile as a disc breaks, should the consumer really have to buy a brand new game? Sure, there is the increasingly available option of legal digital downloads, but, just like with digital music downloads, I think I speak for many people when I say that I like the ritual of walking into a shop, handing over my money and coming home with something physical in my hand.
Modded consoles also open up the Xbox 360 to the homebrew community, with gangs of bedroom designers the world over teaming up to try their hands at game making. This is often a well of creativity and a great entry point for designers with untapped talent. It's easy to forget that massively popular games like Counter Strike started life as software mods themselves.
But perhaps the homebrew community wouldn't seem so vital to creative design if game companies had the money saved from piracy to invest in it themselves. It's a vicious cycle.
Piracy will never go away, but how we deal with it is important not just in terms of punishing cheats and thieves, but also in how we go about protecting consumer rights and defending those who just like to innocently tinker under the bonnet of their favourite toys.
Live Macworld 2009 Keynote coverage. All times are GMT. Reverse chronological:
With thanks to Engadget, Gizmodo, Macworld, Electric Pig.
6.30pm That's it. Tony Bennett takes to the stage to play the keynote out...
Have sold over 6 billion songs, iTunes world's largest media library, 75m accounts.
More flexible pricing. A $0.69 price point and a $1.29 tier also. UK tbc.
2. iTunes Plus
Apple has worked with "all the major companies". From today, 8 million songs will be DRM free right away, 10 million by end of first quarter 2009.
3. iTunes available on iPhone over 3G
Preview and purchase music anywhere using iPhone, sync on computer at home.
More over the jump: 17-inch MacBook Pro, iWork '09, iLife '09...
As the name suggests, GTS World Racing is a driving game in which you race a coupe, sports car, or Formula One car around a variety of international tracks using the built-in accelerometer to control the car.
I've been playing with a pre-release version of the game for a couple of hours, and it's a slick application with lots of potential.
Though I love the genre, I'm not a driving game fanatic, and so it's difficult for me to compare it to some of the other big names in racing. I found the cars pretty easy to control from the start, as using the accelerometer (just as in Monkey Ball Island) is intuitive.