Reviews

Want to survive a zombie apocalypse? Here’s an app to run from the undead

zombieDo you need an extra nudge to start jogging? How about a zombie apocalypse? That’s the game plan in a new and adventurous iPhone app called Zombies, Run! You’re the main character in an exciting and gory post-apocalyptic scenario. Your helicopter crashes just outside a big city and you don’t remember what your mission was. The objective is to survive, avoiding the zombie attacks and the dangers along the way and discover why you are there and who has kickstarted the apocalypse. Along the way, you’ll burn thousands of calories and learn to fear the groans of the undead.

The game adds another dimension to an exercise routine. Whilst you’re on the go, the narrator will add new elements to the plot. A warning system will warn you that hoard of zombies are coming to attack you, and danger is around every corner.  Players can experience 23 missions and it takes between 22 and 25 hours depending on the speed at which the tasks are completed and provisions are accumulated.

This project got financial backing thanks to Kickstarter, one of the major online crowdfunding platforms. They knew that the idea was going to be good when they collected much more money than expected. The team is already planning a second season, which will follow on the same story line. Get fit (and prepare for the end of time!) with Zombies, Run!

Zombies Run! is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

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Creative commons photo courtesy of jamesrdoe

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Best SEO tips for WordPress

The WordPress.com Blog

We get a lot of questions about SEO here on WordPress.com, and no wonder — you work hard on your site and want to get the word out! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO recommendations are intended to help your site rank higher and more accurately in search engines, like Google. Say you write a blog about sailboats. When someone Googles “sailboats,” how many pages of results do they have to scroll through before they see a link to your blog? The goal behind having good SEO is to increase your website’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking.

Ideally, you want your link to be on the first page of results. The best ways to accomplish this are:

  • consistently publish useful, original posts about sailboats; and
  • promote your blog in intelligent ways to people who are looking for information about your topic.

The more traffic your blog receives for sailboat-related searches, the…

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Social media habits: What are yours?

file0002054526820Do you use social media platforms regularly? How many? As someone interested in the world of technology and news, it’s likely you’ve tried out a few, and might use some of them on a daily basis to update your statuses, share pictures or information with the world and catch up with a few internet friends. Whoever isn’t on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Linkedin are probably people not knowing, right? 

Wrong. You might be surprised to find out that in this survey conducted by usamp.com and shown in this infographic, 13.2% of respondents said that they don’t use social media sites at all.

For those who do use social media sites, there is no such thing as too much information. Nobody can be who they really are online: internet users try to be a cooler, wittier, more informed, on-the-ball version of themselves. Having the power on when you’re connected can also mean that what other people see, that better person that you’re showing, might be full of gaps (or an outright lie). Although many people use the internet to communicate things that they would never have said in person or over the phone, the lines are still blurred when it comes to what is acceptable sharing material and what should stay private.

It’s probably not a good idea to put your phone number online, as this following ‘wrong number’ conversation points out:

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Source: Stumbleupon

As the aforementioned ‘Mr Taco’ points out, one has to be a special kind of stupid to share their phone number on their public Facebook profile page. Even though privacy online is considered one of the top priorities for companies now, many individuals don’t follow suit and continue to share and not update their social media profiles regularly. One of the biggest issues that users had with platforms such as Facebook recently was that they thought that their content, likes and personal information could be found through Facebook Graph search (something that the company has since denied, sayingthat the privacy settings in the profile also apply to the new search engine feature).

What do people share on their social media profiles? In the social media infographic shown below, 77.3% of men surveyed and 56.7% would be opposed to sharing their phone numbers online, whereas 61.1% of men and 78.1% of women would be willing to share the companies that they like online (good news for marketers). More than half would be willing to share their education and their occupation online.

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Creative commons photo by giggs

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Audrey Hepburn, the latest celebrity back from the dead for a Galaxy advert

audreyhepburnIt’s amazing what a bit of CGI and some good makeup can do. For this feel good Galaxy chocolate advert, the legend comes back. What would Audrey Hepburn be doing right now? Why, she’d be on a bus in a picturesque 50s dress looking unbelievably stylish of course!

What seems like crossing the fine line between honouring the dead and not even allowing death to give icons a rest is becoming something of a trend in advertising. Although this advert is one of the more tasteful ones, it makes you wonder: if she’s dead, who has the rights to her image?

According to the law, it’s the families that own the rights to celebrities’ image and their legacy. So if you become really famous, it’s not ust your clothes, jewelery and fortune you’ll have to worry about – it’s promoting vaccum cleaners, turning up in perfume ads or singing in a car when you’re long gone.

“The idea of relatives profiting from a dead celebrity’s legacy began in the late 1970s”, said Roger Richman, a California-based attorney whose agency managed the estates of hundreds of deceased personalities, in an interview with ABC. “Prior to 1979, it was considered wide-open territory … anybody could use the image of a dead celebrity any way they wanted without any payment to the family,” Richman said.

Don’t fear: you don’t have to wait until you’re dead to start making an impact in advertising. Liquid Generation has a compilation of some of the most interesting  (and cringeworthy) adverts with current, iconic and long-gone celebrities. Thought everyone had forgotten you singing about a cool beverage, Bruce Willis? I don’t think so! With the power of the internet, these embarrasing moments – Cher, this is for you – will be around forever.

Foto cc fred baby

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Kindle Paperwhite Review

KC-slate-03-lg._V401625903_It’s big. It’s bad. And it’s all touchscreen. Despite all my misgivings, the new Kindle Paperwhite has won me over with its six inch display, intuitive menu buttons and personalization buttons.

It’s as if all the creative minds at Amazon got together and created the perfect product for lazy users: one where you don’t have to press too many buttons to get what you want, you can flick pages across with next to no effort and even read under the covers with the illuminate button on to maximum. The genius lies in the simplicity. Gone are the fiddly buttons on the sides, leaving a tablet-like sensation in black and white.

A whole life with Kindle Paperwhite (Till it gave up and died)

As a writer, books have always been my passion. The smell of a good book, the dampness of a novel that’s fallen in the bath or the earmarked favorite passages show abundant love and character (and clumsiness). When the first e-reader came out, I eyed them with something akin to hate and distrust, mumbling incoherently about doom and gloom and the end of books with ‘real meaning’ and ‘hard covers’. When they started becoming popular, I assumed the only benefit was that you had relative secrecy over what you were reading and that you could access a lot of books that you’d ‘only wanted to read once anyway and then give away to charity’.

Although I had tried out many e-readers before, this experience was the first time one had been in my hands (and been my responsability). During the time I tried out the Paperwhite, I put it to the test. Not only did I take it to work, to bed and tested it in extreme darkness, I also left it on all night, read a few books and generally tried to get it to blow a fuse or prove that it was in some way worse than a normal paperback penguin novel. Not only did it surpass my expectations, it finally gave up after a week and a half of constant use and no charging.

It’s true: nothing can replace a book so loved that the pages are worn and the bindings are falling apart completely. But this came very close. You don’t have to walk around with heavy books in your bag, you can find a lot of free books if you know where to look, and you can take it everywhere (except the bathroom). I grudgingly accept that it’s possibly the best e-reader I’ve ever handled.

What do you think? Leave your comments in the comment box below!

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How to predict the future of technology

futureThroughout the last few years, innovation and the advancement of technology on a global scale has shot forward. The Voyager has travelled outside our solar system, the Curiosity has discovered evidence of microbiotic life on Mars and scientists have allegedly found a cure for HIV. What’s next for the world of science and technology, when the boundaries between what is invisibly microscopic and unreachably far are now closer than ever?

Researchers at MIT and the Santa Fe Institute have found that some widely used formulas for predicting how rapidly technology will advance — notably, Moore’s Law (which is that everything will improve over time) and Wright’s Law (that progress increases with experience) — offer superior approximations of the pace of technological progress. The new research is the first to directly compare the different approaches in a quantitative way, using an extensive database of past performance from many different industries.

The MIT report is published in the online open-access journal PLOS ONE. The findings could help industries to assess where to focus their research efforts to more accurately predict the economic impacts of policy changes. 

To carry out the analysis, the researchers amassed an extensive set of data on actual costs and production levels over time for 62 different industry sectors; these ranged from commodities such as aluminum, manganese and beer to more advanced products like computers, communications systems, solar cells, aircraft and cars.

“There are lots of proposals out there,” Jessika Trancik says in a MIT press release, for predicting the rate of advances in technologies. “But the data to test the hypotheses is hard to come by.” Knowing which models work best in forecasting technological change can be very important for business leaders and policymakers. “It could be useful in things like climate-change mitigation,” Trancik says, “where you want to know what you’ll get out of your investment.”

The rates of change vary greatly among different technologies, the team found. “Information technologies improve the fastest,” Trancik says, “but you also see the sustained exponential improvement in many energy technologies. Photovoltaics improve very quickly. … One of our main interests is in examining the data to gain insight into how we can accelerate the improvement of technology.”

Creative commons photo courtesy of Josh Hudnall

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The most obnoxious tweeters on the internet

twitterTwitter has trolls. It’s true, although there are less of them compared to Facebook, the world of online social media can be terrifying. In the tech world, there are some people that use their twitter accounts to vent rage, to pick on other people, or even to use an ambiguous joke to get someone else fired. 

This is the cut-throat world of tweets and twats. Although you might not know it, you might be following some of the most obnoxious and repellent tweeters on the internet. In this infographic with cute birds by Conduit, you’ll find out the types of people that make up the odd bunch of online tech lovers. If you’re not careful, one of them might be you.

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Creative Commons photo courtesy of petesimon

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This is what Spotify’s first ad campaign looks like

IMG_5100Spotify has launched it’s first ad campaign today. The new advert, which features concerts, good times and speaks about the profoundness of ‘good music’ comes after some feature changes in the music platform and increased pressure from other music services like GrooveShark, Rdio and Deezer.

The worries never seem to end: according to an article by Mashable, other big companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google are thinking of launching their own music platforms (although Amazon already has a music store, Apple is famous for its iTunes and Google relies heavily on YouTube).

The other changes to Spotify

So, for european users that haven’t been in the Spotify platform lately, the layout and design has changed. When you search for an artist or look for a song, the engine brings up a different look and feel with mac-like bubbles and slick details that really improve on the most popular artists’ songs and albums. There is also a new button: Artist Radio, which allows you (much in the manner that Rdio, Jango, Deezer or the new MySpace does) to listen to songs from that artist and other music that you might be interested in.

What music platforms are you using? Do you pay for your music service? Let me know in the comments box below or vote in this poll:

Creative commons photo courtesy of marcy

 

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The Nokia Lumia 820 Review: Love it or Hate it?

nokia lumiaThe new Nokia Lumia 820 is the phone version of Marmite: you either love it, or you detest it. As one of the main phones on the market with Windows 8 OS, its main features revolve around what you can and can’t do with the operating system and the pre-installed Nokia applications that come with the smartphone.

I took a first look in this video that explored the display and explains how the phone works:

Possibly the greatest feature to within the new Lumia 820 is the fact that it integrates the possibility of cloud computing extremely well. Not only does the smartphone allow you to store all your information in SkyDrive, the Outlook cloud platform in just one click, it also backs up the contact information and mails so that you can access your information without restrictions.

I’ve also tried out some of the charging opportunities that come with the Nokia Lumia 820: some of the new accesories are wireless and have great potential. Although some of the designs (such as the Nokia ‘Fat Boy’ pillow or the wireless casing) seem sort of ludicrous, they do manage to get the job done quickly. The charging time, which for an older smartphone might be under an hour, can be achieved in about half an hour (without using it whilst plugged in like what I’m doing in the video) with any of those accesories, depending on how run down the battery is.

On the whole, I’d say that if you’re a fan of the functionality and design of this device, you’ll probably not be disappointed with the results. Although it’s not the easiest smartphone to handle (it’s rather slippery and takes some getting used to), it’s a good and solid Nokia bet.

Main image courtesy of Nokia Press

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Are you unfaithful? Here’s an app to keep it under wraps

file7981274955651A new mobile phone app which promises complete success to people with dirty secrets to hide has just launched in the US.

Whether you’re leading a double life or are just paranoid about someone looking through your phone whilst you’re in the bathroom, this app puts your phone on automatic lock-down.

The most ingenious thing about is that, through one simple password, the information will be kept away from prying eyes who won’t know that you’re hiding anything from them if they decide to look.

CATE (Call and Text Eraser) is advertised as a privacy tool, but could be used as the perfect infidelity tool to avoid awkward conversations and keep double lives secret. Those who are too lazy to get another phone for dirty deeds will no longer have any reason to think their partners will find out. In fact, users can select one or various contacts in their address book so that data sent or received from them can only be accessed through a password.

Is this the end of being ‘caught out’ by inopportune messages on mobile phones? Without the tell-tale evidence, jealous partners will have to find proof from other sources before making their accusations. Although the app creators are banking on their popularity with the unfaithful, the app can be useful for people who are afraid of losing their smartphones, those who hate their nosy coworkers or people who prefer their private conversations to stay private.

For now, the app is available to download for Android smartphones on the Google Play website for 4.99 dollars.

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