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.
January 2014 brought several winter blasts to the Midwest, South and Northeast — and a lot more indoor time for many people. But winter’s not over yet and if you’re running out of new games to play while you’re stuck inside during the next blizzard, consider taking a stroll through your app store for some old favorites in new formats.
For example, remember Myst, the ground-breaking interactive adventure puzzle game with the lovely graphics that first appeared on the Mac in 1993 and went on to conquer just about every other platform in the years to come? There is now an official version of Myst for the iPhone and it costs a mere $5. You can also get the game’s sequel, Riven, for $4 in the App Store. And while there’s no official version of Myst for Android, developers for that platform have created similar puzzle games for the touchscreen. And fans of Myst, be sure to check out The Room, a tactile 3D puzzler from Fireproof Games for iOS, Kindle Fire and Android that costs just a few bucks. (A sequel, The Room 2, is also out for iOS now and headed to Android soon.)
Want a little something from the FPS Department? Going old school, you can find Castle Wolfenstein and Doom for iOS as well as the various Android versions and ports of the game, like AnDoom and DoomGLES. More recently, there’s also Call of Duty: Strike Team for iOS and Android.
Seeking adventure? There’s Baldur’s Gate for iPad as well as Balder’s Gate II or Final Fantasy V for Android and iOS. Ravensword: Shadowlands (which has been described as an equivalent to The Elder Scrolls) awaits on Android and iOS.
Now, if you have fond memories of a particular game but don’t see a version of it in your app store, check out the Games Finder site, which offers reviews and information on games that are sort of like other games. The Games Like Directory page can point you to an alphabetical list of games like RuneScape, Age of Empires, Harvest Moon, Diablo, World of Warcraft and more. Some games may be for mobile devices and some may be for the computer, console or a web browser, but it’s a great place to start your quest. (And for fans of Gears of War, Shadowgun for Android and iOS, has often been mentioned as a viable substitute.)
And remember, if you want to go way back, you can find many iconic arcade games available as mobile apps now, like Midway Arcade for iOS, NAMCO Arcade for iOS and Atari’s Greatest Hits for Android. If you’re browser bound, don’t forget the Console Living Room section of the Internet Archive (which also virtually houses the Classic PC Games collection), where you can really rock your Atari 2600 memories with dozens of old cartridge classics running in emulation. There’s nothing like warm memories of 8-bit glory to make you forget about Mother Nature pitching a hissy outside.
Is Apple working on a wearable computer? The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and several blogs reported rumors this week that the company is developing a curved glass smart watch and possibly a smart TV. Skeptics, (including the former Fake Steve Jobs blogger, Dan Lyons) suggest the sudden flood of rumors might be an attempt to boost that sagging stock price. Will this latest round of smartwatch attempts (including the Pebble Kickstarter project) gain traction this time around?
Here in New York City this week, Inkling showed off its new Habitat software for making digital books, as well as a tool called the Inkling Content Delivery Platform for searching through books. Inkling’s new software and services makes e-book collaboration quick and relatively easy and could challenge Amazon and Apple in the e-textbook space.
Some children are quick studies as it is — a spokesman for the AVG antivirus company told the BBC that it’s found kids are writing their own malicious software to hack accounts on gaining sites and social networks to do things like steal virtual currency. But learning code and mastering technology is part of a well-rounded education these days and a study at the University of California-Irvine has shown that medical students in an innovative, iPad-based educational program scored an average of 23-percent higher on their national exams than students using traditional study materials.
On the mobile front, Apple released a new update designed to fix 3G issues and other problems on the iPhone 4S. Android 4.2.2. is also now available for phones and tablets that can run it. Google’s update fixes Bluetooth audio-streaming issues. The BlackBerry Z10 and new system software are getting good early buzz in Europe and Canada, but Home Depot has said that it’s dropping the platform.
Microsoft is keeping busy and is said to be working on interactive TV content for the Xbox Live platform. There also seems to be something of a demand for the new 128-gigabyte Microsoft Surface Pro, the thousand-dollar tablet that can actually run Windows programs. While Windows 8 has taken its knocks, primarily from non-touchscreen laptop users, the system still has one big fan — former chairman Bill Gates who called the system a “huge advance.” Gates made the remarks in an Ask Me Anything interview over on the Reddit site.
And finally, American Express is rolling out a new program that lets cardholders link up their plastic with their Twitter accounts and buy things with tweets. To use it, an American Express cardholder needs to register their cards to sync with their Twitter accounts on a page on the Amex Web site. A $25 Amex Gift Card can also be had for the low, low discount price of $15 by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard25 with a synced account. The deals and products for purchase-by-tweet are still limited, but as The Consumerist dubbed it, Twitter is turning Hashtags into Cashtags. This sort of thing could be a dangerous thing for impulse buyers who are constantly on Twitter, especially if the technology somehow finds its way into a wearable computer…like a smartwatch.