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Call of Duty: Wallet at War

posted Saturday Jun 4, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Call of Duty: Wallet at War

Activision is looking to do something that so far only the PC gaming industry has been successful at: that of course is subscription-based gaming. Now there are some distinct differences between their subscription-based service and that of World of Warcraft, which serves as a good basis for comparison. If that seems confusing, just ignore the fact that CoD and WoW are on different platforms.

The release of Activision's 'Call of Duty Elite' service is scheduled to launch this fall and will probably coincide with the November 8th release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 since that is the game the Elite service is going to work with. Players are already used to shelling out $60 on a new title and the concept of DLC seems to be going over well so why would Activision try to milk the franchise even more with a subscription service? The short answer is, because they are Activision. Those of you who understand what I mean will be able to stop reading here.

For those who need more on the concept, including possible price-point, hit the break.

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Microsoft Lets Us Peek Through the Curtains With Windows 8

posted Saturday Jun 4, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Microsoft Lets Us Peek Through the Curtains With Windows 8

In an keynote at the D9 Conference Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky gave us a quick look through the glass of Windows 8. The user interface certainly seems to resemble Windows Phone 7 and will support touchscreen capabilities, as you would expect. A demonstration given by Sinofsky in the following video shows us that Windows 8 actually runs concurrently with Windows 7, giving you the ability to use the traditional interface and the new interface together, separately and at the same time. I could try to describe it here but Sinofsky does a way better job than I could.

I will say this, though. Even just getting this little peek is exciting but one of the things I'm most excited about comes from a development standpoint. Windows 8 is being designed for desktops, laptops and tablets alike. Imagine being able to develop an app in an awesome IDE like Visual Studio and you only have to do it once because you will know how the app will behave across all Windows devices. What a concept.

Don't take my word for it. Check out Sinofsky's demonstration below.

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WOW Is More Than a Virtual Prison for Some

posted Sunday May 29, 2011 by Jon Wurm

WOW Is More Than a Virtual Prison for Some

Here is some confirmation on what WOW players have known all along. Gold farming has plagued the economies of countless servers causing inflation of goods and services as well as tempers. It's bad enough when a real player ninja loots you or steals your kill but when a gold farmer does it... that's enough to send you off the deep end. Ironically, it might be the reason they go off the deep end as well.

When most WOW players think of gold farmers, they tend to think they are paranoid shut-ins that get off on exploiting video games from their own free will and are compensated monetarily for their unjust efforts. Many Chinese gold farmers are not that lucky according to Liu Dali who used to be a prisoner at Jixi labor camp located in northeast China.

Basically, in some prisons, the guards are forcing prisoners to play MMOs like WOW to farm gold which they then sell for a profit. The way it worked at Jixi was the prisoners would work doing manual labor during the day then play these games in 12 hour shifts at night. Each prisoner had a quota and were physically beaten with plastic pipes if they failed to attain it.

If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things.

The guards would make around $930 USD a day and the prisoners would make $0 with potential benefits of not being beaten. Details on other benefits were not available but at least they are allowed to take breaks outside in the rock yards for some physical stimulation before going back at it. I'm not saying this is OK but I am not surprised. There seems to be a reoccurring theme of exploitation in China that leads me to believe many people there are more or less prisoners anyway. Foxconn is just one other example. I will say that I don't agree with their exploitation but a full discussion of the ethics involved goes beyond the scope of this article.

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Microsoft Spill the Beans About Win Pho 7 'Mango' Update

posted Sunday May 29, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Microsoft Spill the Beans About Win Pho 7 'Mango' Update

On the 24th of May, Microsoft mobile-products chief Andy Lees discussed the Windows Phone 7 'Mango' update at an event in New York. Basically, it's about being social and creating people-centric solutions though an aptly named 'People' hub. At least Andy Lees, the president of Microsoft mobile communications thinks so.

We wanted to provide the customer with less clutter, more clarity. This builds upon our mission to make the smartphone smarter and easier. With Windows Phone Mango, we're taking a people-centric approach to communications.

Some key elements involve the usual social suspects like Facebook integration as well as Bing and, of course, the recently acquired Skype. While these elements will change, the main point Microsoft wants to get across is that apps, as many are used to them, will act more as part of the OS which is quite different from what users of iOS and Android, most of the mobile market, are used to experiencing. The API will be available immediately and we can expect the Mango update to roll out this fall.

For a Microsoft presentation about their ripening WinPho 7 update, hit the break.

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Google Is Getting Sued by Paypal Over Who Pays With Digital Wallets

posted Sunday May 29, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Google Is Getting Sued by Paypal Over Who Pays With Digital Wallets

It's about time our wallets and purses started to shrink a little bit and at the rate mobile payments are gaining popularity you think they would have disappeared by now. I first heard reports of industry giants like Google and PayPal approaching this with the use of NFC last October, so I am a bit surprised it took this long for a huge lawsuit to pop up. I am not surprised, however, that intense competition in the market has led to some alleged breach of contracts and employee poaching concerning two key employees who moved from PayPal to Google and took their secrets with them.

PayPal generally takes a stance of avoidance when it comes to lawsuits but the company said that, given the circumstances, you got to do what you got to do, it's the law. Amanda Pires, the senior director at PayPal for global communications said,

Sometimes the behaviors of people and competitors make legal action the only meaningful way for a company to protect one of its most valuable assets — its trade secrets. We treat PayPal's 'secrets' seriously, and take it personally when someone else doesn't.

Find out who did what and hit the break.

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Lisa Lampanelli Turns Westboro Baptist Church Protest Into Good

posted Sunday May 29, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Lisa Lampanelli Turns Westboro Baptist Church Protest Into Good

It's not every day that you can hear a story including "Westboro Baptist Church" and feel good about it. This is one of those stories. Lisa Lampanelli, the Queen of Mean, the ruler of Comedy Central Roasts and an outspoken supporter of gay rights, performed in Topeka, Kansas last weekend. For those who do not know, Topeka is the home of the hate-spewing loudmouths that call themselves a church.

WBC members had decided to protest Lisa's show in their city because of her support for equality. Somehow, Lisa got wind of this and made a decision to either end the protest or turn it into a positive - she announced that, for every protester who showed up, she would donate $1000 to the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the oldest AIDS prevention, treatment and care provider in the US.

She told TMZ,

It's gonna be hilarious to write out the checks to the GMHC and have them send thank you notes to the WBC for their 'generous contributions.' I'd love to see their inbred faces when they open those thank you notes! Hopefully their jaws will drop so fast that their three remaining teeth and cro-magnon foreheads will plummet to the floor.

Despite the counter-attack from Lampanelli, there were still 44 protesters who showed up to her show. That means $44k donated to a gay charity in honor of WBC. That just made my day.

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