Tag Archives: games

Ghostbusters

Masaya Nakamura, known to many as the Father of Pac-Man, died earlier this week at the age of 91. In 1980, his company, Namco, released the original Pac-Man game by designer Toru Iwatani — and we’ve been busting ghosts ever since. The influence of Pac-Man on popular culture these past 30-odd years is hard to underestimate, but if you’re feeling nostalgic, fire up the Android, iOS and Windows app versions of the game.

If you prefer a desktop experience, download the ROMs to play on an emulator with your PC or Mac. The Internet Archive’s software repository has several versions of Pac-Man for your web browser. Google even did a browser-playable Google Doodle of the game for its 30th anniversary in 2010. You can buy the chomping yellow fellow for consoles or even in standalone gadgets.

Many live-action versions of the game have popped up over the years, with people running through the streets. (The Pac-Manhattan event here in New York City is a big one.)

And if you grew up playing Pac-Man in the big console cabinet at the video arcade in the mall, you can relive those days, too — for about $3000, Amazon will ship a 237-pound working replica to your home.

PTJ 219: Blue Skies

Samsung thinks it’s solved the mystery of the exploding Note 7, Sprint grabs a new business partner, SpaceX returns to work and oh, cars might fly soon. On this week’s episode, El Kaiser and J.D. dive into a pile of tech-news headlines before Apple-watcher Don Donofrio drops by to discuss the company’s 2016 efforts.

PTJ 198: PokéZombie Apocalypse

Pokémon, those whimsical little Japanese pocket monsters, are celebrating their 20th anniversary in style by taking over much of the mobile world this month with the release of the augmented reality smartphone game, Pokémon GO. But while millions of people downloaded the game to their Android handsets and iPhones in the first week of release, security experts and privacy advocates have voiced concerns. Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by Pop Tech Jam HQ to discuss how Pokémon GO works, what to worry about and why it became so popular so fast. El Kaiser and J.D. also discuss the non-Pokémon headlines of the week, including Twitter’s big plans for this month’s political conventions and some truly classic code.

PTJ 192 News: Someone to Watch Over Me

Another developers’ conference has come and gone as Google wrapped up its 2016 I/O conference last week — so let’s circle back to the highlights!

As expected, Android N got a further reveal from the version developers have been playing around with for the past couple months.  Google even invites Android fans to help choose the final name of the software by asking for snack ideas that start with the letter N and it set up a website for submissions. Android N will also support a new virtual reality platform coming out this fall called Daydream.

googlehomeAlso in the announcement pile: The company’s personal data-hoovering predictive helper program Google Now looks like it could be morphing into: Google Assistant (or as some would have it, just Google). No matter the name, it’s artificial- intelligence software that responds to natural language questions. Google also announced its Google Home smart speaker, clearly a rival to Amazon Alexa. As you might have guessed, Google Home is powered by . . . the new Google Assistant.

The Google Assistant shows up in the company’s new Allo messaging app, too. There’s also a new video-chat app called Duo, and both new apps are coming for Android and iOS. Android Wear 2.0 for smartwatches and other wearables also got a preview and the company introduced Android Instant Apps which can run off the web and save you the trouble of installing them on your device. Also, the Google Play store is coming to Chromebook laptops and the company updated I/O attendees on its Project Tango .

Facebook, which has gotten into live videostreams in a big way the past few months, updated that platform this week to allow its broadcasters to maintain continuous live streams, so hello more puppy and baby goat cams. As The Verge site points out, this puts Facebook in direct competition with YouTube. And also in Facebook Live news, the company told a reporter over at TechCrunch that it plans to over the audience engagement meter from a live stream on the recorded version.

chewbacca-mom-get-the-look-ftrIt’s not all Chewbacca Moms and kitten cams in Facebookland, however. The company is still smarting over the charges of bias against conservatives in its Trending News Topics content, responded with a letter to Senator John Thune after a meeting last week.  Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch addressed the matter in  blog post as well. (And for those of you still suspicious about algorithms, check out the “Machine Bias” story put up on the Pro Publica this week.)

As predicted, Twitter is pretty much going to give you all 140 characters to use for the text of your Tweet. Spotify is also giving a little back to its users in the form of an upgraded family plan that lets up to six family members enjoy the premium service, all for $14.99 a month. The new plan is available to Spotify users around the globe except, as an asterisk on the announcement indicated, *Excluding Canada. Do not be mean to Canada, Spotify.

ocanada

Good and bad news for Microsoft this week. On the good side, the company announced it has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 businesses to help them scale their products to increase affordable Internet access in worldwide communities. But on the bad-news side of the fence, a new report from the Gartner research firm concerning global smartphone sales for the first quarter of 2016 shows that Windows Phone sales have dipped below one percent. Some tech blogs already pronounced Windows Phone dead back in January and the sales numbers here seem to back that up.

After nearly 20 years, Blizzard Entertainment has moved past games based on Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft and has released an all-new game called Overwatch for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Early reviews for the game note that it moves away from having players just kill the hell out of each other to more team-based competition and gamers can play one of 21 different characters. The pre-fab characters feature a mix of multiethnic, multispecies male and female characters, all with unique abilities and all out to restore peace to a war-torn world. That’s a skill that could come in handy these days.

overlook

And finally, summer is unofficially here as of this weekend and with it, summer movies. While we’ll discuss the geekworthy upcoming releases in the next segment, Netflix has announced that its refreshed its film catalog just in time for the start of the lazy hazy slacking season.

PTJ 168: Watching Apple TV

Anybody with visions of cord-cutting probably has either a TV antenna (and a house wthin range of digital television signals) or a set-top box for streaming video. If you fall in the a latter camp, choices abound — Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Google Chromecast,  Roku’s line of boxes — so many ways to snag your shows. Oh, and there’s also the latest edition of the Apple TV, which now brings apps and games to the video party as well. On this week’s episode, Don Donofrio drops by PTJ HQ to discuss the pro and cons of Apple’s latest little black box.

Video Or It Didn’t Happen

exec-dennisEver wish you could celebrate and share your personal gaming triumphs with others who didn’t happen to be around for the moment of glory? If so, check out the new Plays.tv service that was publicly launched today by the gaming company Raptr.

The Plays.tv software (shown below) includes a video recorder that starts up when you begin playing so you can capture clips of your best moments — and show them off to the world on the Plays.tv site or your favorite social-media outlet. We get the details directly from the source on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, when Raptr chief executive (and former professional gamer) Dennis Fong joins us. Grab the episode now and listen in to the conversation!

9.Sharing Video to Plays_Facebook_Twitter

PTJ 124 News: The Long View

The Consumer Electronics Show has lumbered into Las Vegas for its annual Unveiling O’ the Gadgets. As suspected, lots of smarthome systems, fancy TVs and wearables are in the spotlight. We’ll have a full rundown of the show next week, but some bullet points include:

Netflix has long had its suggested videos area to help you find things to watch based on your viewing preferences, and now the streaming service is going to start anointing new television sets as worthy. (It was just four years ago at CES 2011 when Netflix announced some manufacturers were adding a Netflix button to their remote controls.) Roku is also one of the companies that will offer Netflix recommended models in its Roku TV line of sets, the latest of which will also support 4K Ultra HD streaming content.

roku

ESPN is following HBO out into the world of untethered-to-a-cable subscription apps. The sports network will be among the channels available on the new Sling TV service from the DISH network.

Facebook has just acquired Wit.AI, a company that turns spoken words into instructions that robots can understand. Perhaps in the near future,  the Roomba will be able to handle your status updates as well…

Gogo, which provides inflight Internet services to many airlines, does not want its users to stream video and hog bandwidth enroute and has gone so far as to issue a fraudulent HTTPS certificate to anyone onboard who dares to visit YouTube during their flight. The company was busted by Adrienne Porter Felt, an engineer on the security squad for Google’s Chrome browser, and she even posted a screenshot to her Twitter feed of the fake certificate. Gogo’s chief technology officer Anand Chari then posted a statement on his company’s blog explaining Gogo’s actions. And so it goes.

Another week, another lawsuit against Apple. This time, two plaintiffs are suing the company because they say their 16-gigabyte iOS devices do not really come with 16 gigabytes of storage, and that the iOS 8 system takes up even more precious space. Apple had no comment.

For those who like to complain, the Federal Communications Commission has launched a new site called the Consumer Help Center. You can use it to file complaints about various FCC-regulated industries.

FCC

Yahoo Mail has updated its app for iOS and now it can track your packages for you. Here’s hoping the hackers don’t get ahold of this.

Behind every flop, there’ a story, and Fast Company has a very detailed long read about the development and fallout of Amazon’s failed Fire Phone. The site has an additional post about post-Fire Phone changes at Lab126, the quasi-secret R&D arm of Amazon that develops the company’s hardware.

The Internet Archive has now added more than 2,300 old MS-DOS games to its Software section. Duke Nukem 3D, Cannon Fodder 2 and Prince of Persia are among the early 1990s titles you can play with emulation software right in your browser.

DOS

And finally, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. To celebrate, NASA has released a new high-def version of the classic “Pillars of Creation” image from the Eagle Nebula that was originally photographed in 1995. Although the Hubble won’t last forever and eventually degrade, NASA has its successor: the James Webb Space Telescope is in the works and the agency hopes to launch it this decade — and there’s an eye in the sky that we don’t actually mind one bit.

PTJ 102: Making The Leap From Windows to OS X

This week on a super-sized edition of the best geek culture web radio show on the planet we answer a question from a longtime listener who is about to make the dramatic leap from a Windows PC to a shiny new Mac. J.D. and El Kaiser offer suggestions on how to make the transition painless.

In the news, Apple edges closer to official i-branded wearable tech; a forensic scientist and hacker claims there are a slew of attack points, system backdoors and surveillance mechanisms purposely built into iOS devices; The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed its own browser plug-in that prevents third party online snoops;  Facebook tests new “buy now” and “save for later” features; The FCC closes out the first round of public comments on its proposed new rules for Net Neutrality;  Samsung gets into the luxury headphone game; and The Simpsons get the marathon treatment.

Moving to Mac

So, after all these years, you’ve decided to leave the familiar Windows PC behind and switch to the Mac.  Whether it be corporate migration, fear and annoyance with Windows 8/ditching Windows XP (at last), or just the need for a change, the process isn’t as drastic as it used to be. Let’s break it down: After you get the new Mac, you have three basic steps to make it feel like home.

Step 1: Move Your Stuff

You can physically schlep your files from the PC to Mac in a number of ways, including copying folders and files to an external hard drive for a SneakerNet transfer, or moving them over a network. But Apple, wanting to make PC refugees as happy as possible, has its own free Windows Migration Assistant program (shown below) and detailed instructions for using it on its site. The Assistant moves basic stuff like contacts, calendar info, mail accounts, browser bookmarks and more — but not Windows programs. (These won’t run on OS X anyway unless you get fancy, as we’ll discuss in a bit.)

WMA

You can also use the Migration Assistant to move files and folders. Common file formats, like JPG photo files, text files and unprotected MP3 audio files work well on both platforms. The Assistant can even put your pictures into the free iPhoto program that comes with the Mac, but if you prefer other photo-editing and organizer programs like Google’s Picasa or Adobe Photoshop Elements, there are OS X  versions to download or buy.

Likewise, if you need Microsoft Office, you can either buy the Mac version, use Office 365 or get one of the various other programs out there that can open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Apple’s iWork productivity suite is now free with every new Mac and can handle a lot of Office chores.

Apple’s iTunes program can’t plan Windows Audio Media files, but iTunes can convert unrestricted WMA files to iTunes-friendly formats. If you were using iTunes for Windows, you can transfer all your ripped and purchased iTunes content between computers.

Many apps and services are cross-platform — Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon’s Kindle Reader, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and so on. You can download new versions from the sites themselves. The Mac App Store may also have useful software.

The bummer for most people is that PC games will not work on the Mac and the Mac has never quite caught up with Windows in that area. (Some say Macs are getting better for games, though, and Steam might help ease the pain of PC-game withdrawal.)

Step 2: Get to Know Mac OS X

Let’s face it, over the years, both Windows and OS X have gotten similar: Taskbar/Dock, Programs/Applications folder, Recycle Bin/Trash Can — navigating the desktop is not that hard to do anymore between the two systems. Mac keyboard shortcuts may differ, as well as the placement of desktop icons, but these are often minor things to relearn.

pchabits

Apple’s site has tons of basic info about getting used to Mac OS X and even an “On Windows, I used to…” page.  Many people around the Web have posted their personal tales of switching from PC to Mac. Resources abound online, so read up.

Step 3: Fine-Tuning, Workarounds and … Windows on a Mac?

Once you get your stuff moved over and become somewhat used to navigating the Mac interface, you’ll probably find some things you need to tweak. You may also find you need some programs that just aren’t available for the Mac.

As for the tweaking, the Mac OS comes with a ton of printer drivers already installed, but you may need to snag more obscure ones or utility software from the manufacturer’s site. Many new Macs don’t include disc drives or Ethernet jacks anymore, so if you need these, external add-ons are available. Of course, you’ll want to get a backup drive for your system, but you get free backup software with Mac OS X called Time Machine.

If there are some Windows programs you still need to use, you have options. Programs like Citrix will let you tap into some Windows servers and systems virtually from your Mac. Apple’s free Boot Camp software (below) basically lets you partition your Mac’s drive and carve out space to install a copy of Windows side-by-side on the same machine. Virtualization software like the $80 Parallels Desktop can also run Windows on your Mac, but without all that partitioning business. Note that you do have to buy the copy of Windows, however. (Microsoft software sold separately. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary.)

bootcamp

After years of Windows, it may take a few weeks to get used to OS X — especially if you’ve never used a Mac, but go on in and get comfortable. To help you relax, check out these OS X Easter Eggs left by kindly Apple software engineers. You can play a round of Tetris, see the legendary Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe — and if you miss it from Windows — watch the ASCII version of Star Wars over a Telnet connection in the Mac’s Terminal window. Feels like home already now, doesn’t it? And if it doesn’t…well, Windows 9 is due out next year!

PTJ 80: We Heart Latvia

If you’ve listened to the show for any length of time you’ll know that the software development company BROS is directly responsible for Pop Tech Jam making its way through the Intertubes and into our preferred listening devices.  Founder and lead bro Christian Serron joins Pedro to discuss the burgeoning tech sector in Uruguay and to finally reveal why he helped unleash J.D. and El Kaiser on the podcast world… again.  If the Polar Vortex is keeping you indoors (or if you just enjoy playing classic video games) J.D. tells us where we can find some venerable titles for our mobile devices. In the news South Korea still has the need for speed when it comes to connection speed; Android continues to dominate in Europe; Blackberry rolls out a new version of their Blackberry 10 OS; Google buys artificial intelligence research company Deep Mind; and Facebook turns 10.