Saturday, 25 May 2013

Saturday 25th May 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 25th May 2013 (I haven't done one of these in a while) and...

Earlier this week XBOX released their next generation games console to compete with the unsuccessful Wii U and the PlayStation 4 (which still hasn't been fully announced yet). However gaming is only one thing which the XBOX one does. It is also lets you watch TV with apps along the side, use Skype and many more apps.
The XBOX One looks similar to Windows 8 and it has some of the features to like the notifications and the snap mode so you can do two things at once.
The biggest gimmick is the voice control; to turn the console on you say 'XBOX on' and then to snap two apps you say "XBOX snap Internet Explorer" (or whatever other app you want to use).
The hardware of the XBOX has been redesigned too. It looks like you can now only store it horizontally and it looks extremely similar to a video tape player from a decade ago. The Kinect has also been redesigned: it now monitors a lot more things such as heart beat and facial expressions, it can watch up to 6 people, it works in the dark and can record in 1080p HD.

Wyvern TV #11
To find out what's been going on in West Darlington, DSMS, Cockerton and Branksome recently watch the latest Wyvern TV...

Wyvern TV #11

The April Episode of the Wyvern TV, I know it's half way through May but the news is still relevant.
0:30 - Intro
0:44 - Kenya
2:10 - How well DSMS is doing and the Value Added League
2:58 - Interview with Deputy Head-Teacher Mr Johnsons
6:25 - Aberdeen Puppies
7:30 - Sport
8:26 - Ending

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Google I/O 2013

At 5PM GMT on Wednesday 15th May 2013 it was Google I/O which is a yearly conference where Google announces some of it's coolest and most stylish new services and products. The glass wearing, code writing Google fans have been anticipating this event for a while now because Google is now the second most richest technology firm and they have recently sold over 900 million Android devices!

The first thing that Google announced was a ton of new API's for maps. Android location services now can tell what mode of transport you are using (whether car, bike or walking) and it will use less than 1% battery per hour which will go down extremely well with consumers.

They talked about Android like it was a plague trying to infect everyone on the globe!

Google then announced more changes to Google Play. Apps can automatically be downloaded onto your Android tablet if you are signed into the website with your Google+ account. They also are launching a service which syncs all of your notifications through your Android devices so you aren't dismissing the same messages twice. This is great news however I'd be extremely concerned if somebody hacked my Google account.

They then started talking about games. Apps will now sync your progress so you can stop playing Angry Birds on your Nexus 4 and then continue playing it from the same level on your Kindle Fire. They made this sound like a huge achievement however it has been possible on Apple devices for the last two years.

As expected, Google then announced a music streaming service to compete with Spotify and XBOX Music. You can play a track and then click the radio button to form a list of similar songs it will play after the current song has finished. If you don't like a song that is going to play though you can simply swipe it away.
Although the design of native Android apps has been poor in the past Google Music looks fluid and clean.
Google Music will cost $9.99 a month and you get a one month free trial.

Chrome was the next talking point. Over 750 million people now use Google Chrome and Chrome on mobile devices is growing steadily. The Chrome team are making a number of improvements and updates to make the web faster. They have been developing some complex new features however if they work - they work really well.
They showed a demo of a racing car game that they played over a number of screens. Everything synced perfectly and worked as it should. It looked amazing.

After that they randomly gave all the people at the conference a new Chomebook Pixel.

Then they swiftly moved on to Google Apps. Over 25 million schools and businesses now use Google apps and Google wants to meet the need of educators with an update to the popular service. The Play Store now caters directly for teachers - giving them the option to recommend educational apps and download them. Suppose they wanted to find an app to help teach primary school geography, they could easily be able to find a list of relevant apps recommended by fellow teachers. Because apparently 'teachers trust teachers'. This service is launching at the end of 2013.

Google+ was next on the agenda and they announced 41 new features for the social networking platform including updates to your news stream, photo albums and hangouts.
Google has completely changed the design of Google+ for the desktop. It now has more depth and content. Depending on your screen size it will either have 1, 2 or 3 columns of updates and all of your options are now along the top in the new Google bar.
It is super interactive which is terrible if you have a slow computer. Almost everything is animated.
Google+ Hangouts has now expanded into a modern chat application. It is basically like any other chatting app on mobile, tablet or desktop apart from it gives you the option to host a free video chat (Hangout) with all of the people in the chat. Like most of the software and web updates, that will also be available today.
(I don't know how this will work with though because Microsoft yesterday announced that their email service, Outlook, will later this week be supporting Google Chat. Communications breakdown between the two companies or has Google done Microsoft a favour allowing them to integrate their new chatting platform? We'll need to wait and see!)

Last topic regarding Google+ was the announcement about 'Photos'. Google recently shut down Picasa Web Albums which was a huge disappointment however they have made that up with the new announcement with Google+ Photos. You can now upload pictures at full size without having to pay extra (up to 15GB) and it can select your best pictures for you to share. This means after your holiday it will dismiss your blurry and duplicated images so you only share your very best with your friends.
It will also auto-enhance your photos. Which some people might like but I personally hate it because it makes colours and scenes look fake.
And Google now even makes automatic GIF's out of your photos.... Oh great!

Google then unfortunately announced the end of Google Search.... as we know it. :)
They are now supporting Polish, Turkish and Traditional Chinese languages. They are adding more graphs and charts into your search results so information is there when you want it.

They've also done something quite gimmicky:  Google Voice Search is already built into Google Search when you click the button, but now you don't even need to do that! As soon as you need to use the voice search you just say out loud 'OK Google'. Like Google Glass, this will activate the search for whatever you say next and speak your answer to you. Personal searches have also been added, so you can speak to Google and ask it to send an email, show you some of your photos, remind you when your flight is. You can even ask it to book you some free tickets to the moon! It won't be able to do it however it will understand what you are saying.

Google Maps is the best online mapping system and it has been since 2005. It now allows you to see cities in 3D, through street view or even through public photos which the general public have uploaded. So what can they do to improve the service?
Well, they have completely redesigned Google Maps so there is more space for maps and less useless white space.
They are introducing a new rating system where everything from shops to tourist attractions will be rated on a scale from 0-5 depending on users reviews and you can now see a lot more information about attractions such as their website and photos from Google Images.
The best feature though has to be the built in networking. You can ask your friends for recommendations of attractions and places to eat and then you can also mark your favourite places.
You build your map of your landmarks not the mainstream ones.

Google Earth has also been put on the Internet and built into Google Maps so you can see landscapes and buildings in 3D without the need for any additional softwares or plugins. Another extremely cool feature is if you zoom all the way out. You see the round earth with real time clouds floating around it. Keep zooming out though and you see the Earth spinning around the sun, in the solar system, in real time too. It looks outstanding!

These are things that are going to come in useful for millions of people however they are going to be taken for granted because they seem so automatic.

Then it was over. After 3 hours of amazing, unusual and unexpected announcements the world was left wondering where Google will possibly go next. One thing is for sure though, it's going to be amazing!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Saturday 4th May 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 4th May 2013 (May the Fourth be with you) and...

Historic legends given makeover

It is only a few weeks before the launch of new TV program called ‘Secret Lives Of’ when each week they focus on a historic figure and the mystery in their lives. To promote the program, earlier this week photos of historic figures were drawn like they lived in the 21st century. (left)

Lego Marvel Super Heroes
No matter what games console you have, the Lego games are brilliant (even if you own a Wii U). I've played the Indiana Jones and Star Wars Lego games on my original Nintendo Wii and I've played Lego Harry Potter on my iPad (although I wouldn't recommend this as it takes up loads of storage space) and both the experiences were great.
We found out earlier this week they will be releasing a Lego Marvel Super Heroes game for every games console from XBOX 360 to PS Vita.
The new game will feature Spider Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Wolverine (from the X men) and Iron Man. The game looks amazing.
There is currently a DC Super Heroes game which features Batman and Superman however the Marvel Super Heroes are a lot better - they've even had their own movie (the Avengers)!

On another note:
Writing this report I've realised how well Lego has done. They've realised over the last few years that people no longer want to play with small plastic blocks if they are over the age of 7 and that is why they have been extremely intelligent and they entered the video gaming industry. It has been a massive success for them as they have made games for Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and many more huge titles.

People now trust Google more than they trust religion and smartphones have been proven to be as addictive as Cocaine. What a world we live in. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Mayan 'End of the World'

On the night of the Boston bombings people on Twitter and Tumblr were talking about the Mayan end of the world which was predicted for the 21st December 2012. The people on social networks were saying that maybe the Mayans didn't mean an end of the world physically but an end of community and friendship; the world isn't going to end from a natural disaster instead it will be because of war and terrorism.
I completely disagree, yes - there was a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon however there was hundreds of race organisers and police who went straight in to help those near the explosions. This, if nothing else, proved that there are teams and people do care. There is a lot less hatred than what people make out there is. It seems, the stupid acts of a handful of people make the whole human race look bad!