Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2016 - 07:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ubisoft, pc gaming, free games, free
This has apparently been going on since June, but I just found out that Ubisoft was giving away some of their older titles for free. Like EA's “On the House” promotion, you can keep the title, but only if you add it to your UPlay account before the cut off date. We're just before the change in months, so, for the next few days, you can add The Crew. Then, starting on October 12th, you can pick up the original Beyond Good and Evil for free.
As expected, you will need to have a UPlay account for this to work. Still, it's an otherwise free game, and a cult classic at that. While this promotion is officially for Ubisoft's 30th anniversary, and two games will go free after Beyond Good and Evil, Ubisoft took the opportunity to announce that a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil is being developed. I guess this means that we'll only have a couple more E3s where journalists write top ten “I want to see announced” lists containing Beyond Good and Evil 2. Yet another thing that will probably be released before Half-Life 2: Episode 3.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, free
Free games are a welcome trend. Sometimes they are older games that were re-released or otherwise used for promotion. You can also find many interesting prototypes after a popular game jam ends and the contestants leave their work on OneDrive or Google Drive.
This game is apparently designed to promote the future works of a new game studio. One of the co-creators of “The Stanley Parable” founded “Crows Crows Crows”. Their first game is now available for free on a few services, although I naturally just got it from Steam because why not.
It's interesting because it's basically a 15-minute short film, only in a “walking simulator” format. It's limited, though. Most of the enjoyment of “The Stanley Parable” was in seeing how your small choices had comically huge effects. Carefully following the narrator's instructions gave you a peaceful ending, and deviating made the story devolve in some absurdly disproportional way. There was even a part of a level's collision that was disabled to troll players trying to glitch outside the path, greeting them with a message for the sole purpose of saying “Nope. You didn't trick me.”
The new game, “Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist” has no such choices. This is disappointing if you were expecting a smaller The Stanley Parable. Instead, you basically get the equivalent of a single The Stanley Parable ending, which you basically need to follow. The only choices that I found is to pick up a few items, listen to a few tapes, and inaction.
It's cute though, and it was a good use of my time.
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2014 - 08:35 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: origin, on the house, free, free games
Origin, with its On the House program, has been releasing games for free, to promote their distribution platform. This time, they dug deep in the back catalog and pulled out Wing Command 3: Heart of the Tiger. This DOS-era game is the last of the three focused on "The Confederation" versus "The Kilrathi". It was also the first to use "full motion video", headlined by Mark Hamill, rather than animated cutscenes. "On the House" makes it free forever, if you declare your interest before the promotion ends.
It is also available at Good Old Games, for $5.99, but it does go on sale from time to time. At the very least, it is probably worth picking it up on Origin and, if you like it, pick up the DRM-free version at GoG.com for safe archival.
And if you don't like it? Well, you're not out much, are you?
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2014 - 02:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: origin, titanfall, free
[H]ard|OCP spotted a brand new feature on Origin called Game Time, which allows you to play a full version of a game for a limited time. They are launching this feature with 48 hours of Titanfall, if you plan on playing make sure to clean up your drive as it is almost 50GB. The clock starts to tick from the moment you first launch the game; from that point you have 2 days of access whether you play or not. This is perhaps a little better than Steam free weekends for those with slow connections as your download time doesn't count against you. Hop on for some Titan on Pilot action this weekend as The Fragging Frogs are likely to take advantage of this!
"It’s Game Time! This is a brand new program on Origin: it’s free time with full games. Origin Game Time isn’t a demo, it’s the full game playable for free for as long as there’s time on your Game Time clock. And we’re kicking off Origin Game Time with a truly massive experience: Titanfall on PC."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 156: Computex, WWDC, and E3
- Alleged bait-and-switch tactics spur Kingston, PNY SSD boycott @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA Wins Over AMD For Linux Gaming Ultra HD 4K Performance @ Phoronix
- Apple SOLDERS memory into new 'budget' iMac @ The Register
- Android and Windows Phone devices will get an anti-theft kill switch @ The Inquirer
- Android 4.4.4 Kitkat unexpectedly arrives with OpenSSL fix @ The Inquirer
- Blackberry Passport phablet will launch in September @ The Inquirer
- Rackspace gives world the servers Google and Amazon keep secret @ The Register
- TrueCrypt Developer Drops New Bombshell - Open Source Fork "Impossible" @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | January 27, 2014 - 02:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, debian, valve, free
Valve has an obvious favourite flavour of Linux as revealed by the free games they will be showering Debian developers with. Any and all Valve published games, past or future, will be made available to developers for free. This makes sense as SteamOS is branched from Debian 7.1 "Wheezy", making it very worth Valve's time and money to make friends with developers for Debian. Maybe it is time to update your coding skills and become a developer; The Register didn't specify that Half Life 3 will be out first on Linux but do you really want to run that risk?
"Games vendor Valve has offered a surprise present to the Debian Linux community, in the form of subscriptions that give Debian project members free, unlimited access to all Valve game titles – past, present, and future – forever."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 149: Kaveri ain't just a river in India
- Microsoft slices Azure prices just days after Amazon's cloud shave @ The Register
- Samsung firmware update borks third-party accessories @ The Inquirer
- A look at the Raspberry Pi @ Kitguru
- Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Is Still Sour For Some GPUs @ Phoronix
- Cisco quietly slips out new all-flash arrays – perhaps it doesn't want EMC, NetApp to notice @ The Register
- A Collection of Secret Linux Humor @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2013 - 04:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, batman arkham origins, free
If you weren't a fan of NVIDIA's last offer of in game currency for
PTW Free To Play online games then how about Batman: Arkham Origins for free? If you pick up a 600 or 700 series GPU before the end of the year then you will picking up a copy for free. The TITAN and GTX 690 are not named specifically, nor is the rumoured GTX 790 but it is unlikely you would be singled out. NVIDIA will also being showing off a sneak peek of the game at PAX Prime in September.
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Aug. 30, 2013—NVIDIA today announced it is working with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games Montréal to make Batman™: Arkham Origins, the next installment in the blockbuster Batman: Arkham videogame franchise, a technically advanced and intensely realistic chapter in the award-winning saga for PC players.
Gamers who purchase a qualifying GPU from a participating partner will receive a free PC edition of Batman: Arkham Origins, which will be released worldwide on Oct. 25, 2013.
Developed by WB Games Montréal, Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline set several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous criminals, the game showcases a young Batman as he faces a defining moment of his early career and sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight.
Batman has immense power, strength and speed—the same attributes that make a GeForce GTX GPU the ultimate weapon to take on Gotham’s dark underworld. The NVIDIA Developer Technology Team has been working closely with WB Games Montréal to incorporate an array of cutting-edge NVIDIA gaming technologies including DirectX tessellation, NVIDIA TXAA™ antialiasing, soft shadows and various NVIDIA PhysX® engine environmental effects, such as cloth, steam and snow. Combined, these technologies bring the intricately detailed worlds of Gotham to life.
“The Batman: Arkham games are visually stunning and it’s great that we are able to continue building upon the amazing graphics with Batman: Arkham Origins,” said Samantha Ryan, Senior Vice President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “With NVIDIA’s continued support, we are able to deliver an incredibly immersive gameplay experience."
NVIDIA will be unveiling a sneak peek of Batman: Arkham Origins at PAX Prime in Seattle, during the NVIDIA stage presentation at the Paramount Theater on Monday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. PT. Entry is free.
Additionally, any PAX attendees that purchase a qualified bundle from the special kiosk at the NVIDIA booth on the show floor will receive for free a limited edition Batman lithograph — one of only 1,000 being produced.
For a full list of participating bundle partners, visit: www.geforce.com/freebatman. This offer is good only until Jan. 31, 2014.
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2012 - 04:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wmc, windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, microsoft, free
Microsoft has decided to separate Windows Media Center from its latest operating system, making it a paid add-on to Windows 8 Pro. This has the consequence of making users wanting to upgrade their home theater PCs to Windows 8 have to pay not only for the more expensive Pro version but the add-on pack with WMC as well. Needless to say, I was less than pleased to hear that news. Especially, since CableCard users are stuck with WMC if they want to watch or record any shows flagged with anything more restrictive than copy freely (copy once, copy never).
Fortunately, Microsoft has backed away ever so slightly from that position by giving away free WMC keys to users until January 31, 2013. You will still need to pony up for the Pro version of Windows 8, but at least you will not have to pay for the add-on pack to get what is essentially the same media center that is available in Windows 7.
You can obtain a key by heading over to this Microsoft web page and entering your email address. The company is offering up a single key per email address. Even if you do not currently have Windows 8, it might be prudent to grab a key just in case. Note that you will need to activate the key by January 2013 or it will expire, however.
Once you have Windows 8 Pro installed, to add Windows Media Center, open up the Start Screen and search for “add features.” Click on “Settings” and then “Add features to Windows 8.” You will then be prompted for a product key, and once you input the key Microsoft emailed to you, follow the remaining prompts to install it. A restart will be required (and is automatic, so save any open documents!), and then you can get your WMC fix.
The promotion will end on January 2013 so grab the free keys while they last!
Read more about Windows 8 at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 02:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vlc, videolan, media player, free, app, Android
VideoLAN, the developers behind the popular free and open source media player VLC have crafted an Android version that has recently reached beta status. For everyone not in North America, you can grab the free VLC application from the Google Play Store. The restriction is reportedly a result of the developers not having access to American versions of the smartphones in question. If you are in North America and would still like to test out the app, you will need to grab it from either the VideoLAN nightly build server or the Jenkins server which both compile and store the latest builds on a daily basis. Once you’ve downloaded that app, navigate to it on your Android phone and choose to open it with the Package Installer.
The build is a bit rough around the edges, and performance leaves a lot to be desired, but it is still early in the development cycle. Especially if you are running an older single core phone (or even one that has no NEON hardware acceleration), VLC will struggle with even 720p content. The team is asking everyone to run a few tests for them and to report back using this form to help them gather needed performance data and to identify bugs.
As far as what phones will be compatible, Jenkins has complied daily builds that will work with phones using hardware as old as ARMv5 and as new as ARMv7 with NEON. VLC for Android is also compatible with Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 SoCs using the nightly builds. ExtremeTech notes that the chips with the NEON SIMD hardware includes Qualcomm Snapdragon S2/3/4, Samsung Exynos, TI OMAP 4/5, and Tegra 3 processors. If your phone does not have one of those SoCs, you should download one of the non-NEON nightly builds depending on which version of ARM it is based on. VideoLAN recommends using gsmarena.com as a reference for which chipset your phone uses but I did not have success if using it to track down the specific chipset in my Samsung Infuse. I had to turn to the search engines for help there. If you aren’t able to find the information, feel free to tell us your phone model in the comments and I’ll try to help you figure out the SoC it uses.
Below you will find a video showing off the latest VLC for Android build as we install it and test it with a variety of video and audio files. From my testing, the performance has gotten slightly better with the latest nightly build (#123), but the video and audio drift out of sync very quickly and the video frame rate is nowhere near as smooth as the built in Videos application. The performance /should/ improve as the app gets closer to final release, however. I’m hoping that VLC for Android will become an even better, and free, alternative to the paid-for VPlayer application that I also have on my phone for the files that the Videos app struggles with.
VLC for Android playing back a DVD of Live Free or Die Hard (480p, H.264 MP4)
Anyway, without further adieu, let’s take a look at the latest Android VLC app.
As a reminder, here are some useful links to getting the VLC app and assisting with the development process:
- VideoLAN Forums
- VideoLAN for Android Homepage
Download VLC for Android
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 02:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, media, Internet, free, cloud, box, backup
The online storage space is really starting to heat up as companies start getting competitive to grab their share of the 'cloud storage user base' pie. Dropbox is a popular file syncing and online storage space solution offering 2GB free and routinely offering extra free space to those that want it though promotions and referrals. On the other side of things, Microsoft offers 25GB of online storage space with SkyDrive minus the computer syncing (currently) for free to those with a Windows Live (or Hotmail) account and they are in the process of overhauling the service to make it easier to use. Besides those two juggernauts, there are several alternative solutions that offer extra space or cheaper paid storage in order to remain competitive with the larger services. One such service that has not gotten the same amount of public recognition is a site called Box.com. They primarily provide Internet based (paid) storage for businesses; however, it seems that they are starting to make a big push to get deeper into the consumer market.
The company is currently offering 50 GB (yes, you read that right) of free online storage space for life (or at least the life of the company) if you install their recently updated Android application and sign up for an account (or sign into an existing account) within the next 30 days (as of writing, that would mean 3/24/2012).
Further, if you download the Android Box application before March 23, 2012 at 11:59 they will up the individual file size limit from 25 MB per file to 100 mb per file. Although that is still not big enough for movies, the increased per file limit makes it easy to backup your photos even in RAW.
Once you download the Box android application from the Android Market, and sign up (or sign into an existing account) a message will pop up indicating that you have been given 50 GB of free storage and it is immediately accessible. There are a few caveats; however. The Box.com service has mobile applications that are free; however, they do not provide a free application for Windows or Mac. To get the desktop/laptop syncing service, you will need to upgrade to a paid Business or Enterprise account. Also, the Android application itself may concern some users as one of the application permissions during installation includes access to your contact list. The company has stated that this is necessary to make the sharing and collaboration process easy for the user. It certainly would not be the first application to ask for (to the user) strange permissions, however. You could always install the app on an Android VM or another phone if you're that paranoid (heh).
While you do not get a desktop application for free, you can still access your files (and the increased 50 GB of storage) from the website, and they do allow bulk uploads that can include multiple sub-folders. One snag that I ran into was that if the uploader identified any file in a folder as being over 100 MB, it would refuse to upload the entire folder. This may be a bug or an issue on my end; however, I was not able to figure out a way to just skip that one file and upload the rest of the files in the folder.
The batch uploader allows uploading multiple subfolders via drag and drop.
One thing that I enjoyed about the process (aside from the plentiful storage) was that they made it easy to sign up, all they ask for is an email (which doesn't need to be verified to get access to storage) and password. It's kind of nice to not have to slog through the process of handing out a bunch of personal information just for an online account!
I'm currently uploading my photos to the site to back them up (I learned two years ago that it can never hurt to have too many backups!) and the upload is going smoothly. The website batch uploader is Flash based and does not require IE like SkyDrive does, so that's a positive thing in my book. Let us know in the comments if you've tried Box out before, and how you're going to use the 50 GB of cloud storage. It really seems like the cloud / Internet based storage market is heating up, and this is a good thing for end users as it means more options, more innovation, and cheaper prices! If Box.com isn't for you, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also offering plenty of free storage space.
Microsoft Allegedly Overhauling SkyDrive With Increased Paid Storage, Applications, and Other Goodies
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 11:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, skydrive, paid storage, free, cloud backup, bitlocker, app integration
Update: Some of the rumors have been confirmed by Microsoft in a blog post, though the individual file size increase was a bit off. Microsoft will be allowing files up to 2 GB in size as compared to the rumored 300 MB file sizes.
Every so often, I run across a rumor that sounds almost too good to be true. On the other hand, it sounds so good that I just can't stop myself from being excited about it. Over the weekend, I saw an article that talked about Windows Live Skydrive offering paid storage tiers and I now really want this to come to fruition.
For those curious, SkyDrive is Microsoft's "cloud storage" service that gives users 25 GB of free storage space to hold files. There are some restrictions with the individual file size (that can be worked around if you really want to backup a home movie for example), but otherwise it is a boatload of space for free and saved my butt when the, um, "formatting catastrophe" of 2010 happened by having most of my digital photos backed up!
SkyDrive as it is now, funny old photos and all!
The service is connected to your Microsoft Live or hotmail account and can be accessed by navigating to skydrive.live.com. There are some usability issues with the service; however, including the fact that it's a pain in the rear to upload more than one or two files. The website doesn't make it easy to batch upload, say, a folder or folders only a file at a time. Further, it is not nearly as easy to manage those files once they are in the SkyDrive as it should be. Now, if you use IE, the SkyDrive website will allow you to upload multiple files easier; however, the other browsers are left without a way to do it. There is also the aforementioned individual file size limit of 100 MB per file.
The exciting bit about the rumors and (allegedly) leaked screen shots is that if they stay true the service is about to get a whole lot better by offering cheap storage and fixing many of the issues people have had with the service.
The leaked image
On the storage front, Microsoft is allegedly adding new paid storage tiers and increasing the individual file size limit to 300 MB (from 100 MB). Among the new plans are 20 GB, 50 GB, and 100 GB offerings (which is in addition to the free 25 GB of space) for $10, $25, and $50 a year respectively. Not a bad price at all in my opinion! Assuming the pricing is accurate, they are vastly undercutting the competition. Dropbox, for example, is currently offering 50 GB for $99 a year and 100 GB for $199 per year. Granted, Dropbox has syncing functionality, no individual file size limit, and is a much easier to use service with an established user base, but at these prices the Microsoft offering is likely to win over many people who just want some cheap off site backup space!
|Paid Storage Space||SkyDrive (Price Per Year)||Dropbox (Price Per Year)|
Dropbox pricing just for comparision.
While there are currently mobile applications for Windows Phone and Apple iOS smart phones, users must turn to third party explorer extensions (like SDExplorer) for Windows OS integration on the desktop. More leaked images seem to suggest that Microsoft will be launching applications for Windows and Mac operating systems to better integrate SkyDrive into the OS (and hopefully enable easier cloud file management). SDExplorer is a third party extension that I used to upload all my photos to SkyDrive and it allows mounting the SkyDrive account as a "hard drive" under Windows Explorer. Unfortunately, it costs money to get the full feature set, so hopefully Microsoft can provide similar (or more) features for free with their OS.
In addition, Microsoft will allegedly be adding URL shortening for public and shared SkyDrive file links as well as the ability to share files to Twitter and Facebook from within the SkyDrive website. For the latter, there are already APIs and Microsoft is likely just leveraging them to make sharing files a bit more convenient. On the other hand, Microsoft will be using their own URL shortening service via the sdrv.ms domain instead of integrating with an existing service.
As a user of Libre Office (the fork off of what was once Open Office), I deal a lot with .odt files, which is the open document standard. For users of Microsoft's web application of Office, they have been forced to save files to the Microsoft standards; however, rumors suggest that the service will soon support creating and saving to the .odt, .odp, and .ods document formats. If you are using Office Web Apps, then you are already likely fairly integrated into the Office universe, and this feature won't mean much. On the other hand, this will help out others who may need to edit one of the Libre Office created documents backed up to their SkyDrive on the go. Better compatibility is always a step in the right direction for MS after all.
Last up on the rumor pile for SkyDrive is the ability to store BitLocker recovery keys directly to SkyDrive so that you have a backup should you ever forget your encryption password. The flip side of that convenience feature is that it provides another attack vector should someone attempt to get their hands on your encryption keys, and it is a location that you must depend on someone else to keep secure. As weird as it may sound, you might want to encrypt your encryption key before uploading it to any "cloud" service (heh), just in case. Still, it's good to have options.
Needless to say, there was quite the leak this weekend over Microsoft SkyDrive features! It is a lot to take in, but in my opinion it sounds like they are really giving the service special attention it needs to get it into fighting form. And if the rumors hold true it will be much more comptetitive with other cloud storage backup options as a result of the overhaul. I'm excited about this, obviously, but what about you? Do you use SkyDrive?