Tech

Woah, the Vive is how much!

HTC Vive is coming in May for the princely sum of buh, that’s £689 to you and me plus £57.60 for shipping, holey moley.

Viva le Vive

We all know the £499 price point of the Oculus Rift, which seemed insane compared to the development kit that was around £240 including shipping. But the HTC Vive is making the Rift look like a total bargain, especially as yours truly is getting his for free ^^.

vive pre order

So what is VR and which one should you get?

Virtual Reality headsets are the new console wars, except its hardware for a PC (not entirely accurate), which by the by you need a good PC too, we’re talking modern i5 processor at like 3.3Ghz and a GTX 970 graphics card.

For the most part VR gives you an immersive experience, I mean the field of vision is incredible, and how head movements relate to in game head movements makes this come alive, it’s easy to forget you’re just sitting at your desk when you’re trying to check something out in the virtual world, it’s only when you bang your head you’re like, oh. This is the one thing that the Vive definitely has on top of the Rift, and that is the camera that can overlay part of the real world when obstacles are about to become a problem. Personally I think I’ll tether the Rifty beauts to a longer cable and lye on the couch hehe.

So what games can you get, and where?

Well the HTC Vive is partnered with valve so the Steam store will totally have you covered for games supporting the Vive. And the Oculus Rift has it’s own store too but that doesn’t mean oculus ready games won’t show up on steam, Gabe Newell has said in an email to somebody that he doesn’t have a problem with competition.

As for actual games, the rift has kind of support for things like Alien Isolation which I may start again on PC for the full terrifying effect, but there is also full support in games like EVE: Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere, The Witness, Elite Dangerous and of course Minecraft which some are touting as the killer game for VR.

The Vive as some games too, nothing major looking at the moment I don’t think.

 

Make Like A Leaf, and Tree

OK, OK, so it looks eeeeeeeeever so slightly limited but … whoop! THE HOVERBOARD IS HERE!

Sadly, though, that sentence kind of sums things up. Because the first words out of our collective mouth should have been crafted from pure excitement. Thrills! Whoops! and Hollers! You know – maniacal gibbering at the sheer, unbelievable wonderfulness of it all. After all, the hoverboard is man’s ultimate destiny. The true goal of the renaissance, the reformation, the rebellion and, well, probably Buddha. At this news, this VIDEO, our world should have simply IMPLODED with happiness.

But it didn’t. It was “Oh. I couldn’t ride behind a pickup to try to steal back my sports almanac.” And until that day, we’re not quite there.

Until then, though, at least it hovers! And just like the real thing, it won’t work on water! I mean, it won’t work on almost anything, but hey! That’s score one for the inventions from our past team! Go, accidental successes!

O2 and Everything Everywhere in iPhone 5 MEGARUMBLE

This is the great debate. The question that’s had Plato on the ropes, Aristotle scratching his bonce, and Stephen Fry up the QI creek without a freakin’ paddle.

When I finally land me an iPhone 5, do I ditch o2 and run off to Orange in a 4G glory-hunting daze?

Of course, the answer should be simple. You want 4G. o2 don’t have it and Orange do. Or rather, Orange/T-Mobile’s new lovechild, Everything Everywhere, will do. Soon. That’s because, two fortuitous *cough* events of the last month came together in a glorious phonegeek lovefest – the British regulator OfCom allowed Everything Everywhere to use its bit of the broadcast spectrum for 4G. And then, lo! Apple’s first-release iPhone 5 was also compatible with, wait for it, the exact same bit of the spectrum. Woop!

Well, woop indeed – unless you’re o2, or Vodafone, or 3, or, um Virgin Mobile or Tesco Mobile or, well, anyone else. They will have to wait for the official broadcast auction next year before they can launch any 4G-related treats. Ooh – anti-woop for you guys.

Anyway, as a result, if you’re one of the gajillion o2 legacy iPhone owners – one of us early adopters who flocked to o2 in droves when they had their very own stranglehold on the next-gen market – you’re now in a quandary. You’ve been with o2 for years. You’ve shown them loyalty, love, and hundreds and hundreds of your fine english pounds. And in return they’ve given you iPhones. Bucketloads of brand new iPhones with every single god damn release! Yay! We love those rip-off bastards for bringing us and our tech-toys together!

But now? Now they can only offer you a non-4G compatible iPhone. A lowly, 3G-using turd of a brick iPhone that even your darling mother would be embarrassed to own. Not for you the 25-times faster download speeds! No. You go over there in the saddo corner and spend 5 minutes humming to yourself while I’m already listening to the latest Rihanna on my EE-loaded superfast wonder-device.

But it’s not that simple. See, Everything Everywhere actually doesn’t really exist yet. Not in a touch-me-lick-me-take-a-contract-and-use-me-to-call-your-Mum way. And it won’t for a good few weeks – until EE write to all their Orange / T-Mobile customers asking if they want to switch. So in fact, no one knows how much they might have to pay to EE for this wonderful 4G. It could, for instance, be five million pounds a month. Possibly. Or require that you sacrifice a small animal every time you want to go on Wikipedia. Who knows? It genuinely – genuinely – might be so much that, when it comes to the crunch, you decide it’s actually not worth having. And what a waste of your upgrade that would be, eh?

And more… if you’ve been cunningly lured into an o2 cross-sale – say, for half-price broadband, like yours-truly – the equivalent cost of your spangly new EE-contract will be yet another tenner more expensive on top…

And! o2 are so worried they’ve already rolled out a deal to fight back. Admittedly, a seemingly intensely-lame deal – but go with it. Basically, if you trust them to come good on their 4G-promises (eventually), and take a new contract with them now (or before March 2013), they’ll help you get back out of it again when 4G comes around. With me? So take a new contract, and they’ll help you cancel it. Cunning, yeah? The actual deals means that you’ll still have to buy yourself out – by paying the remaining line rental on your contract – but they’ll reduce it by 10%, take off the VAT (another 20%) and then buy your phone. So? Well, when / if o2 get an iPhone that does allow 4G on o2, you should (maybe / possibly / potentially) be able to flog your old one, and get the new beauty without a huge bill.

Woop!

But dear readers – here’s the crunch. That deal is simply not worth bothering with. Go with Orange – go! do it now! And here’s why…

Cost – yes, yes, so EE have you cornered as the only show in town so they might stiff you on price. And you don’t know. And you might feel like a mug. But – whatever EE charge won’t be far off from o2. They’ll both have had a pricing strategy decided ages ago – and guaranteed it’ll be as hair-breadth close between the companies as it is now. So if EE are expensive, so will o2 be. Just a year later. And if EE’s 4G is too much to bother with? Well, just wait. At least you’ve got a working iPhone 5 – use 3G, like you would have on o2, wait til there’s a price war next year, and jump to a new tariff then… And ps, do the maths on o2’s deal. Unless you wait a year, or get a ridiculous price for your second hand goods when you switch, you’ll still be left with a massive bill to cut loose.

o2 loyalty – yes, it’s hard to move. There’s inertia – that intense, cloying drag on your freedom to switch. You might be tied in to deals with o2, and you might think they love you for it. They don’t. Go now – phone them. Try to trade in your years of loyalty for a better tariff, a shorter contract, or a free set of Dr Dre’s. You will get NOTHING – if you want an iPhone, you’ll pay through the nose, slavish sycophant or not. And sure, you might, like me, have some side-deal on broadband or such – but remember, that will end a hell of a lot sooner than a 24-month phone contract. And! With EE you get at least a gig more data in most contracts for the same money… so it might even balance out…

4G – don’t forget the point. If you switch, you get 4G. In mere weeks! Not months, or in a year, but (almost) right now! just imagine if you get your iPhone 5 through o2 and ignore the siren call of EE’s super fast network – and months later, as the snows melt and the spring larks begin tweeting, you’re still pootling along on old tech. You fool! you’ll say. Or possibly growl. Gurning, kicking and chomping at your pathetic little screen as you trudge through your miserable, slow-lane existence…

So, do it o2-slaves – throw off your shackles and run, carefree into EE’s arms; into their warm, super fast embrace! Hug them, caress them, download superquick rumbleflicks and 4G-izz all over them… Because lo, they are your masters now.

720 inbound?

Following on from yesterday’s article by actually bothering to write something new for the Grig, I venture forth once more and set my sights firmly on the future as we plot a course for the next generation!

Now this is no Star Trek related tomgriggery my dear mongers of mucusade (thats like Lucozade, except made of bile.), oh no. This, my fellow leviathans of lethargic letchery, is all about the next wave of consoles that will be gracing our humble living rooms, spotty teenage bedrooms, and steel bar motifed hovels of inmates spending their days at her majesties pleasure, at some point yet to be confirmed.

‘But what has prompted the Grig only now to step into the fray during these times of constant next-gen speculation?’, I hear you cry. Well, boredom mainly. But also because reports reverberating around the halls of Internet domainary far and wide have been alive with the sound of an announcement that might not be too far off!

Basically, a source close to the site spawned by pretentious bag of putrid slush of a magazine, Edge, has been spilling their guts before the very fellows that man the helm of said vessel. Apparently, this source revealed that Ubisoft Montreal are currently in possession of “target boxes based on the intended specifications of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 successor.” Intriguing indeed my dear Griggers! But there’s more!

Reports have also gone on to say that other large developers are likewise dipping their fingers into the next-gen pie with convicted serial video game offender EA already dabbling with said tech, no doubt trying to find the copy and paste function in preparation for the new FIFA as we speak!

A more solid version of the proper development kit is allegedly scheduled to be making its merry way to developers far and wide come the end of the year, with Microsoft looking to be blubbing like excitable school girls at a JLS concert when they take the lid off their new beast with an announcement at the CES Expo in January – part of which maybe the potential release date of late 2012 thats being bandied round. Not long to go then before we find out if this hullabaloo is for real, or if someone’s just looking to grind our Grig!

Additionally the site also reports that the wheels are well in motion over at Playstation’s developmental torture chamber, with head honchos already waving their Sony branded cattle prods menacingly at the staff of one of their ‘major’ studios in between meetings plotting how badly they’re gonna shaft us Europeans this time around as they ready their next behemoth for action. I look forward to many vacant queue barriers at midnight launches, a la PS3, all across the country!

Oh, and just to round things off nicely, we should probably mention the Wii U. But that’s quite enough about that.

Kinect for Windows SDK beta 2 is out

It’s great that Microsoft have put efforts in helping the community utilize the power of kinect, and now we’re seeing proof that they are continuing that commitment. Today i saw a news item in my rss feeds from Microsoft Research Kinect for Windows, There was a lovely speech about what a great year it’s been with the Kinect and what it has done for the Interactive Entertainment Business side of microsoft, and mention that the commercial product is coming somewhere early 2012 and how its going to re-imagine Kinect for Windows, but most importantly, they have started a blog over at http://www.kinectforwindows.org/ and released beta 2 of the Kinect for Windows SDK.

Beta 2 bring faster performance by 20% and increased accuracy in skeletel tracking and joint recognition. They note that improved skeletel tracking that can track the skeletel image of one or two people in the field of view can make it easier to create gesture-driven applications, something i never got round to doing. Come to think of it there were some Kinect books coming out this fall, maybe an interesting Christmas present for your hacker intrigued friends and family, and by hacker i mean that person who likes playing with technology and making it do things, not someone who wants to steal your credit card details etc, hackers are generally good people, there’s just a missinformation thing going on with the title.

Of course the Official SDK is just one route to take for playing with kinect, there are unofficial drivers out there and code libraries to use that make it more accessible on other OS (Operating Systems) to use the Kinect, and are in fact what originally brought about the movement using the kinect with a computer to do wonderful awesome things known as Kinect Hacks.

Enhance Your Calm, Citizens – The GRiG Fixes iOS 5…

iOS 5

So everyone loves an iOS update – new graphics, new features for free, laughing at all those BlackBerry users with broken BBM… But then there’s the download times… the endless crashes and restores… The disappearing apps… Yeah, it’s actually pretty awful. Awful to the point that, here in GRiG City, even the normally peaceful townsfolk have been grumbling. So, in the time-honoured tradition of releasing an article several years after the event, here’s our guide to surviving the iOS 5 update – full of the GRiG-onians’ problems, and the solutions that we, their overlords, have found… (ps, add your issues in the comments, and we might even update the article)

Your phone app no longer works – now, this sounds pretty fundamental but, amazingly, no other blog or forum seems to have a solution. Maybe because very few people actually make calls on their iPhone… Anyhoo, the issue we had is that the Phone “app” opens, but immediately closes to the home screen – meaning you can’t make calls or listen to voicemail or, y’know, use your phone… Well, the solution seems to relate to unaccessed voicemail and just requires some quick fingers. Get the phone app open, go to voicemail and delete all – you might need to have several goes at it, depending how long you get before it crashes. Once the voicemail is deleted, the phone should work again – and you should be able to access the deleted messages by calling your Carrier’s server.

Error 3004, 3200, etc etc etc – basically, any error that stops you from downloading the iOS update, tells you that you can’t complete Restore right now, cancels the update halfway through etc – nearly all of these errors relate to the traffic on Apple’s servers, and crop up because the updater links to the mainframe to verify parts of the install. When it’s busy, it seems that everything stops working. If you’re still getting this problem now, though, you’re unlucky as the crazy traffic from D-Day has faded – however, the best solution remains to wait until a quiet time (normally during the night, PST) and try again. If that’s no good, run through the restore process and re-run the update.

All my apps have disappeared! Or moved! – OK, hopefully you’re reading this before it’s too late, as the best solution is to backup your iPhone before getting involved in the whole sorry mess that is the iOS 5 update. Then turn the “Sync apps” option on within iTunes (I normally have this turned off, but here it’s quite useful…) When you run the update, iTunes should restore all your apps and music – if it doesn’t, re-sync the phone and this should do it for you. If those cheeky app blighters have moved around on your device – trust us, they will have and it’s BLOODY annoying – use the iTunes App screen to rearrange everything as it’s much quicker than doing it on the iPhone / iPad. (This only works if apps are synced…) Alternatively, if you want to do it on the move, use the “Group” function to shift things around – it’s quicker than moving one app at a time, and draaaaaaagging them across multiple screens.

My Guardian app doesn’t work any more – yes, this one probably only matters to me, but sadly the original Guardian app (you know, the free one – *skinflint klaxon*) doesn’t seem to have iOS 5 support. This isn’t surprising, as it was removed from the App Store long ago – suggesting there’d be no further updates – but it’s still sad. This probably applies to a whole load of older apps – so if you’re getting probs with an older program, check if it’s still on the store… And if not, cry… If it is, then it should be supported – delete the app, turn your phone off and on, and re-install the app. If that doesn’t work, contact the developers as they’ve clearly abandoned you.

I’ve got iMessage but I’m still using my text allowance! – there is no iMessage app, as the service – allowing free messaging between iOS 5 users, a la BBM – is built in. This is a good thing, as it’s much smoother to use, but it can confuse new users as there’s no option to switch between normal texts / MMS and the new service. Well, fear not – the iOS will do it for you. If the person you’re contacting has iMessage installed, when you go to write them a message your little green balloons (and the Send button) will turn blue. You’ll also see that it says “iMessage” in the text edit box, rather than “Text Message”. If it doesn’t switch over, the person you’re writing to is a flagrant scoundrel with no iOS 5 – stop writing to them until they sort their freakin’ life out.

Well, there we have it. The thoroughly comprehensive and not at all useless guide to the iOS 5 update. Coming next – how to spool a cassette tape that’s been chewed in your machine. Ashasha.

Xbox 360 to Get Steam-Powered?

Steam Logo

Steam: Very NIce.

Hurrah! It’s spurious rumour of the week time! Up this time is a little tale doing the microblog rounds that Steam is coming to the Xbox 360. Woop!

Glorious news if true as it opens up cross-platform gaming that SURELY makes sense for a PC-giant like Microsoft. And yet, heartbreakingly, quite possible a huge pack of lies that means all us Xbox Valve fans will have to continue to plough good money into sodding single platform versions while that punkass Lartens gets to have a PS3 / PC gamingfest at our expense. (Not that we’re bitter.)

So what are the facts?

Well, over at Steam’s Support page, some eagle-eyed superfan has spotted that the options now include “Xbox Support”. (It’s true – see for yourself…)

Steam Support

Steam Support: help even to those who can't get the service

This is, however, about the point where it gets fairly tenuous – this being rather less of a “fact”, and more an “observation”. And indeed, one that’s just a little bit hopeful. Well, a lot hopeful. Well, in fact, not entirely dissimilar to spotting the image of Jesus in some burned toast and assuming our Saviour’s earthly return has been heralded by your overly-baked bread and a Rorschachian inclination to assume deific visitation. Indeed, Valve obviously offer game support for their Xbox titles, and it’d be easy enough for something like this to slip in via a hackneyed site designer missing the relevance of his exhaustive menu options. But then, it is true that the option is under the Steam section as well as the Valve side – so maybe?

Thing is, whether it’s true or not, why all the fuss?

Well, the public position is that Valve aren’t bringing Steam to Xbox Live because Microsoft won’t open up the infrastructure – unlike those convivial chaps over at Sony. So overcoming the blockers would represent a fairly big change of heart from Bill Gates and co, who more typically like to have first-party control over the options on their beloved console. (Zune vs. Lovefilm, anyone?) But that said, it’s not unbelievable.

The next phase – nay, the current phase – of the console war is all about broadening the experience. Movies, music, social networking – soon, if you can’t do everything from your machine, it’ll be obsolete. And it’s fairly even between the two big hitters at the moment (there is no third here – Wii really never got to grips with this), so it’d surely be a shame for Microsoft to be missing a piece of the modern arsenal.

Our take though? It won’t happen. Steam is a nice to have, not an integral part of the way gamers go about their lives. There aren’t enough titles, and there’s not enough appeal in the existing ones to make cross-platform gaming a truly must-have experience. Until that happens, Microsoft can live without it. Sad, but true.

Via The Sixth Axis

Don’t Cross The Streams Mr Lipson! (Oh, OK. Do…)

Hurrah for completely insane Mad Professors! Without them, there’d be no Frankenstein, no flux capacitors, and definitely no Weird Science-style creation of hot 80s chicks with Commodore-designed mega-boobs! (though admittedly, although they tinkered with Kelly LeBrock’s tonkers, they were actually not that impressive when she appeared out of the ether…)

Anyhoo, the point is that mad scientist antics should always be celebrated. Which is why we simply rejoiced when we saw that some CRAZY science nutjob had hooked up two chatbots together to see what would happen. What. A. WACKJOB! Yes, Hod Lipson is a brave and worthy adventurer. IGNORING the risk of a total collapse in the space-time continuum! FLOUTING the possibility of total protonic reversal! OBLIVIOUS to the possibility that they’d end up randomly spouting buh about unicorns.

You can see the insane Mr Lipson explaining his universe-risking decision over at Techdirt.com. But be warned – his insanity may be contagious.

Jobsy resigns as ceo of apple, yeah, that’s what i’m calling him

Seriously though, when you have health problems but can still steer a company to have access to more cash than the US Government, you’ve done well enough, you might as well leave it there and call it a day. The metaphorical Goliath that is Apple inc has lost another great founder at the reigns, for the second time in this case (some weird spat in the 80’s). Apple inc has become a leader of innovation and quality. Truth be told they always were, only now they’re a little more main stream.

Back in secondary school, I had this friend, a weird friend mind, who was always going on about his macintosh, and how it was better than the Amiga and even Nintendo, can you believe that, and yeah this was a looonng time ago, like early nineties, I was like, no dude, commodore rules, and Nintendo’s even better, they got the joypad (coming from years of torture of an unresponsive joysitick). So now i’ll admit it, Vanbreeda, whereever you are, I was wrong, I mean I love commodore, mostly the c16 plus 4 I had as a kid, but since getting back into computers at the turn of the millennium, I have a new fondness of the retro computers, and macintosh were good, I just didn’t realise it yet. Sure I’ve seen that movie with the kid from weird science as Bill Gates, where it looks like the MS windows idea came from a visit to Apple, who may or may not of got the idea from Xerox PARC. But despite that little faux pas, they still innovated, the ipod for instance, which is just the bestest technology ever, and I’m talking to those who know what it was like to carry a chunky walkman with the one chewed up album in it and maybe another in a rain drenched pocket. But before all this, before the macintosh, and before the Lisa, Jobs and Wozniak pioneered, creating some of the first personal computers for hobbyists and the like, i think i read somewhere that they even designed breakout for atari arcade cabinets, but atari couldn’t use them the design was too complicated for atari engineers or something. Steve Wozniak was the engineer, and Jobs was the business, together they founded one of the biggest and best companies out there, and my hats off to you well done Steve, and other Steve. Good Job.

Goooooooo! 3DS for £115, i don’t think the ambassador program makes up for that

3DS amazon.co.uk pricesWe’ve seen the news that Nintendo were slashing their prices, but so far I’d only seen US prices, which are usually considerably lower (after exchange rates) than in the UK because of tax, but i had no idea it was going to be £115 on amazon.co.uk. I paid something like £190 with a voucher for £12 pound off on launch day. Now they have released this Ambassador program whereby early adopters that visit the eshop with their 3ds before the end of 12/08/11 will get 10 free nes games on the virtual console, and 10 free gameboy games when they become available, though slightly earlier than everyone else. But seriously, that doesn’t appease me in the slightest. Even if i had free run of 20 games from the virtual console it wouldn’t make up for it. So if you don’t have a 3ds and you are into legally buying your games, and you don’t already have anything after the original ds, then it looks like this is a good time to buy. Zelda is amazing, and they may have other games worth getting soon to, maybe.