JTAG Content Manager v1.4

/* Posted July 3rd, 2011 at 3:05am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Xbox    */


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New popsloader for 6.XX PRO CFW Released

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Uncategorized    */

Finally it’s out, A new POPSLoader for 6.XX PRO CFW by VF!

Popsloader is a plugin in order to increase the compatibility of PSX games. It loads the kernel plugin (POPS) from the emulator from previous firmwares such as 3.10 or 3.40.

Coldbird wrote:

Several nosy guys of you…
Have been roaming the Google Code Subpages quite nicely…
Yes, our Team Founder Virtuous Flame has been working on a POPSLoader for quite some time already…
Read more to get to the juicy parts!
Well… no use hiding it anymore then?
Because, dear Readers, it has been completed. I suggest you all leave a big THANK YOU to VF for this one…
Every POPS version ever produced is supported… you can’t ask for more can you?
I guess this makes PRO CFW the CFW with the best PS1 game support, no?
The sourcecode, in good old GPLv3 flavor, is available at the official POPSLoader Google Code Project.
For those too lazy to compile it themselves, you can just grab the binary from the Project Website.

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Review: Action-Packed Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D Is Undead Déjà Vu

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */


Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

It’s been a long time since the Resident Evil series could realistically be considered a part of the “survival horror” genre that it helped create. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D finally sheds all pretense of drama and suspense.


nintendo-3ds

Mercenaries, released on Tuesday for Nintendo 3DS, is based on a game mode that was available in past Resident Evil games. Here, it has been refined and engineered into a new experience that makes great use of the portable nature of the 3DS.

It’s a throwback to arcade-style action: Players enter a closed arena teeming with zombies and take down as many enemies as possible before time expires. The challenge of Mercenaries is not mere survival but skill; you will be playing and replaying the game’s 30 missions over and over to get high scores.

Setting high scores is how you can unlock bonus content like extra characters, fancy new costumes and skills that enhance your abilities.

Fond of melee attacks? Use the Combat skill to give your punches extra power. Worried about zombie bites? Use the Toughness skill to decrease damage. You can equip up to three skills at once and they level up through use, offering bonus powers when they reach max level.

These light role-playing elements, in addition to the new ability to swap weapons between characters, add an extra layer of strategy and customization to a game that might otherwise become quite repetitive.

While the concept was lifted from previous games, Mercenaries 3D is faster and more fun than the console versions. Your characters are finally free to move and shoot at the same time, a restriction that made sense when Resident Evil was about suspense but one that felt needlessly stiff when it became more about fast action.

Inventory management is no longer an issue thanks to the 3DS touchscreen — just press a weapon to equip it. You no longer have a limit to the amount of ammo and supplies you can carry, and characters no longer go through an elaborate animation each time they pick up an item on the battlefield. This means you spend more time using your equipment to blow things away than you do collecting and organizing it.

Despite all its streamlining, Mercenaries starts off slow. The first half of the game is dominated by tutorial missions that teach you everything: how to run, how to aim, how to put more time on the clock. Series veterans may find this lead-in obnoxiously slow, but new players should appreciate the learning curve.

Everything changes after the game’s first boss fight, however. From about level four onward, the enemies get tougher and the missions get longer. Mission 4-5 pits you against 15 waves of enemies that begin as cannon fodder but quickly power up with chainsaws and miniguns. At this point, you may want to phone a friend.

Mercenaries offers local and online cooperative gameplay with friends or random people. Unfortunately, the 3DS offers no meaningful way of contacting players you meet online, and the game lacks voice chat. Given the importance of teamwork and communication, I recommend partnering with a friend in the same room.

Publisher Capcom made an odd decision with the way Mercenaries handles saved data. The cartridge has only one save slot and the data cannot be reset. This means that you cannot start from scratch, cannot share the game with a friend and if you buy a used copy of the game it will likely already have all of the content unlocked.

For me, this isn’t much of a problem. Mercenaries is built on replayability and the pursuit of higher scores. Back in the day, I used to download save files for games on my Sega Dreamcast system so that I could access all of the unlockable content immediately. Sure, it meant having strangers’ names on the high score list, but it didn’t stop me from playing the game on my own. I can understand fans’ frustrations, but it’s entirely possible to enjoy Mercenaries 3D despite this unfortunate situation.

So is Mercenaries, with its borrowed levels and focus on repetition, enough of a game? Granted, the enemies and stages are all taken from Resident Evil 4 and 5. And if you own those games, you’ll no doubt notice the sacrifices made to port the experience to a handheld (fewer enemy types and animation frames, for starters).

However, the enhanced interface and new skill system make this 3DS version more than the sum of its borrowed parts. Given the choice between Mercenaries and Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries mode, I prefer the handheld version to its high-res but lumbering ancestor.

So far, the Nintendo 3DS lineup is dominated by ports of games from other consoles. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D certainly does nothing to dispell that perception, and its launch is further complicated by the save-data snafu. However, the addition of touchscreen controls and new customization options allow Mercenaries 3D to stand on its own two feet as a solid, if largely familiar, action game.

WIRED Improves on the Resident Evil action formula, offers high replay value (especially in co-op).

TIRED Too many tutorial missions, save data cannot be reset, little new content.

Rating:

$40, Capcom

Read Game|Life’s game ratings guide.

Misleading Keyword Research Pitfalls : An Advanced Tutorial

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under SEO    */

Earlier today I had a friend of mine visit me at my pad and he looked quite worried . When inquired I realized that he was worried about his site not doing good enough in the search results and making even lesser money for him from even little traffic that he received. He was clueless about why a site wont rank in the search engines when the keyword research was done , onpage optimization was at its best , there were natural links built to the site , except that he was wrong about a small part – the keyword research was not done right !

It is no brainer that the friend in the picture is just a metaphor to symbolize any webmaster or a writer out there suffering from the same dilemma – why does my site not perform like I want it to even when the right keywords are selected. The simple answer – the keywords are wrong ! You could end up choosing the wrong keyword even if you have the best tools for keyword research . Find out how your keyword research tools can be deceptive and how to make sure they don’t !

Difference between broad match and exact match

Alright you might have heard this a couple of times already so I am going to touch up the topic quickly. Every keyword research tool presents a broad match and an exact match for each keyword and there is a lot of difference between those numbers . While an exact match will tell you how many times the keyword has been searched ‘as is’ but the broad match will only give you a rough estimate of the number by including the semantic keywords in the deal. It might sound silly but more than half of the people have their ‘exact match’ option turned off out of sheer ignorance. Don’t forget to turn it on the next time you are trying to find a good keyword. Let me illustrate it with the help of an example :

Misleading Keyword Research Pitfalls : An Advanced Tutorial

This is the search volume for the keyword “blogs” and you can clearly see the difference between broad search and exact search statistics ! So make sure you short list the keywords with moderate to low competition and send it over for further filtration and brainstorming in step 2.

Even exact match can be deceptive sometimes

So you think you are all scored because you already knew that the exact match option already and that you are all equipped to find the gold keywords ? think again !

Even exact match keywords can be a lot more deceptive than they seem. If you are wondering how an exact match keyword can be wrong choice let me explain with the same example:

Misleading Keyword Research Pitfalls : An Advanced Tutorial

If you are thinking that you have got a good keyword with an exact match then have a look at the search results you are going to compete with if you are hoping to rank for that apparently ‘low competition’ keyword.

Misleading Keyword Research Pitfalls : An Advanced Tutorial

The glitch ? You are going up against some of the top websites which have a very high authority in the search engines since years and it is going to be nearly impossible to rank for those keyword. If you still go ahead and select the keyword then you will be one of those thousands who tried and failed with the same thing in the past. That is the reason these keywords appear to have low competition. Not because they are easy to rank for but ironically because they are too difficult to rank for !

Now let us see another keyword :

Misleading Keyword Research Pitfalls : An Advanced Tutorial

Same issue? You may be wondering why these keywords even though good paying, with massive search volumes are still untouched by marketers ? and if they were left out by some of them why have they not been picked up by anyone else ? There is a simple reason to it – the sites are of very high authority and people looking for ‘brand’ keywords are not going to click beyond the first search result since they will be presented by the exact website they were looking for as the first result. So the other search results will have virtually no CTR and that is why these keywords are best untouched and this is one case of ‘low competition, high search volume’ keywords you don’t want your keyword research tool to fool you into spending your fortune !

So what should you do? Just filter out such keywords from your keyword shortlist and now you have a narrower keyword list and you should be happy about it.

A good keyword may not always be a goldmine

So now you have learnt which keywords to target and which keywords to not target in the first and second step respectively you may be feeling all tempted to buy that shiny domain that fullfills both the above conditions, but wait , there is one more step between success and utter failure – Commercial value of the keyword

Finding a good keyword with low competition and high search volumes and fulfilling the above two conditions may have a very low market value meaning that even if you succeeded in getting traffic to your blog via the keywords you will make little or no money from them irrespective of the monetization you choose. Reason- Low CPC !

So now things become very simple, just make sure you select that keyword from the previously shortlisted set which has a highest and yes- You have a winning keyword now!


Takeaway :

Good keyword research is the only thing that differentiates a successful online business from a lost battle, so make sure you do yours very well and stay on the greener side of the fence. If you analyze these three – niche, competition , commercial value you will always strike gold with your online ventures !

Mark M is a marketing executive working with LSF Interactive. When he is not rambling with keywords and backlinks he loves spending time with his family and loves relishing sea food . You can connect with him on twitter @LSF Interactive

Immerse Yourself in Free, Open-Source Game Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Uncategorized    */

Free RPG Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is one of a class of games known as roguelikes, after Rogue, the first such game. The ancient legacy is apparent. Although this open-source game has a graphics mode, it can also be played in straight ASCII, where your character is an “@” and the monsters are various letters or symbols. The “tiled mode” provides simple 2-D graphics.

Immerse Yourself in Free, Open-Source Game Dungeon Crawl Stone SoupDungeon Crawl Stone Soup’s tile mode is clean and colorful, but that doesn’t remove the sting of death. Again.The goal of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is simple: Descend into the immense and randomly created dungeon, battling monsters, avoiding traps, and becoming more powerful, until you finally find the magic amulet and escape. (If random dungeons and magic items and unusual things to find sounds familiar, it may be because Diablo took a lot of roguelike concepts, then ramped up the graphics quality and ramped down the complexity.) Familiar it may be, but it’s is hardly easy. There are countless ways to die (a common acronym in roguelike discussions is “YASD”: Yet Another Stupid Death), and many things to discover. Each level can hold surprises and each game is different. Magic items are also randomized, and you need to test items to find what they do. The first item I found in my first game was a cursed ring of teleportation that could not be removed and would randomly transport me across the dungeon.

Oh, there are no tap-backs in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Your progress is saved only when you exit the game. Once a character is dead, he/she/it is dead, and you have to start over with a new character.

Character creation is simple. Pick a species (race) and background (class) and get going. Most of your characters will die long before getting more than a three or four levels into Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Each class and race plays differently, and traits such as religion will impact gameplay, as different gods reward or condemn different actions.

There are hundreds of small details in the game, from food rotting over time to acid corroding your items; all of the processing power not dedicated to fancy graphics instead goes into making the underlying game engine extremely deep. Not “Dwarf Fortress” deep, mind you, but also a lot more approachable.

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup adds many new twists to dungeon crawling, removing some of the tedium of other roguelikes without removing the challenge. Inventory management has a clean and easy-to-use interface. Skills auto-improve as you use them. “Trap Doors” provide one-way access up or down levels, whereas stairs can be used in both directions. There’s an option to have the program automatically explore the level for you, moving your character in a pattern of exploration, and stopping if you draw near to a trap, monster, or other item of interest. Likewise, there’s an automated process to retrace your steps back to an earlier level–no more wondering where you saw the stairs. You must still battle any monsters you encounter, of course.

In addition to the purely random levels, DCSS has “hand crafted” levels or areas that hold special challenges, opportunities, or rewards. Finding these unusual zones is one of the great joys of this type of game.

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is free and well-supported with an active community and constant development. In fact, the “Stone Soup” name derives from the many people who have added something to the mix. There’s an extensive wiki that reveals many secrets of the game, but it’s a lot more fun to stumble on them on your own. If you’re a roguelike fan, you will like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. If’ you’ve never played a roguelike, the well-done tutorials and hints make this the one to try.

PoV: Media Molecule “stepping away” from LittleBigPlanet

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

Good to see them branch out, I think we have enough LittleBigPlanet for this generation.

lbp2-screen1

 

Media Molecule has revealed that they are taking time off from LittleBigPlanet. For now at least.

“We’re stepping away from Little Big Planet to focus on some new ideas.” says Siobhan Reddy, Studio Director for Media Molecule, in the recent Gamelab 2011 event in Barcelona, Spain.

The unique puzzle platformer franchise has already seen life outside of Media Molecule, with Sony’s Cambridge Studio handling the development of PlayStation Portable version of the game and both Double11 and Tarsier Studios currently developing the upcoming PSP Vita title.

With the amount of talent on their stable, only time will tell on exactly what those “new ideas” may be, but it’s definitely sounds pretty exciting to me. I think it’s a good move to step back from franchise for a while and venture to other fields. Milking the franchise by releasing new games with only a few improvements each year is what’s ruining the industry right now and will only destroy the series in the long run.  

How about you guys? What other genre would you like to see Media Molecule work on next? Share your thoughts below or continue the discussion at the forums.

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EA game sale: 99 cents for most iPhone, iPad titles

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 9:05am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Web    */

This weekend only, EA is offering nearly 50 iOS games for 99 cents apiece.

This weekend only, EA is offering nearly 50 iOS games for 99 cents apiece.

(Credit:
EA Mobile)

Nothing says “independence” and “I love America” quite like deep discounts on iOS games. Well, OK, maybe fireworks and pausing to reflect on what makes this country–for all its troubles and conflicts–so flippin’ awesome.

But getting back to that other thing. In honor of the the Fourth of July weekend, EA Mobile has launched a huge sale on iPhone and iPad games.

I won’t list all the titles here, as there are nearly 50 in all–most of them priced at 99 cents. But I will give a shout-out to those I think are especially buy-worthy.

First up: Max and the Magic Marker, which is arguably the single most popular game in my household. My kids (ages 11 and 8) have played it over and over and over. And what’s not to like? It’s like Calvin (of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame) meets “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”

Next, Dead Space for 99 cents is absolutely a no-brainer. (It originally sold for $9.99 for
iPad and $6.99 for
iPhone/iPod.) It’s an original chapter in the console-born saga, and one of the scariest action games ever (especially if you play with headphones on).

I also have mad love for Reckless Racing, which is good on the iPhone and great on the iPad (a game like this really needs a big screen). It’s a top-down dirt-track racer in the tradition of the arcade classic Super Off Road.

Finally, Madden NFL 11 for 99 cents? When it’s console counterparts sell for closer to $30? You can’t beat that with a stick–or a quarterback sneak.

This is definitely a good time to stock up on some good games. After all, you’ll need something to do while waiting for the fireworks to start, right?

EurAsia interview with the xKey developer

/* Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 3:05am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Xbox    */


While waiting anxiously for this truly unique product to release I got the opportunity to interview the xKey (aka x360Key) main developer. Here’s a brief recap for our new visitors; this product will let you play all your Xbox 360 games from any USB drive!

* What products have the xKey Team developed in the past?
* XKey, Wode, Wiikey, Drivekey, d2pro, xenoGC, Qoob, Crystal Chip, Aladdin XT/XenoFX series mod chips for Xbox 1.

* Will xKey work with all Xbox 360 consoles, including Slim?
* Yes and as new drive versions appear we will add support for them too.

* How do you install xKey, is it easy?
* Very easy, it’s Plug ‘n’ Play, if you can dump the firmware from your drive then you can install the Xkey.

* Does the Xbox 360 DVD drive need any custom firmware flashed to work with Xkey?
* No, quite the opposite in fact. You need a dump of the original drive firmware to configure Xkey. The good news is that’s all you need to configure Xkey.

* How safe is xKey on Xbox Live compared to iXtreme?
* While we take every care to accurately emulate the XBox’s drive we do not recommend using Xkey with XBL at launch. Shortly after launch we will release updates that address this.
Also, plenty of people have been banned while using CFW and there are still issues even with the latest iXtreme. For example, in order to pass the new Slim FW checks a lot of data has to be swapped around (C4E’s so called ‘rootkit’). This takes time and the checks take a lot longer to perform than they would on a stock drive. In the worst case it takes CFW takes 5 times longer to perform the check (15 seconds instead of 2-3). If MS have noticed this then it is quite possible that every Slim owner using CFW has already been marked for a ban. [See timing graph for details.]
By comparison Xkey features a powerful ARM9 CPU that can perform the FW checks *faster* than the real drive running stock FW. We have the horsepower the storage capacity to handle anything the future brings.

* How will the new XGD3 disc format (eg. Halo Reach) be handled by xKey, any special backup considerations?
* We do not anticipate any problems with XGD3, game ISOs are stored on HDD and are not limited by the capacity of a DL DVDR. Xkey supports any number of HDDs upto 2 TB in size.

Classroom Conundrum: Take One Tablet, One Laptop, or Both

/* Posted July 1st, 2011 at 3:05pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under News    */

Apple iPad.The original Apple iPad showed up on a lot of college campuses last year.So what will it be–a tablet or a laptop? Come on, summer’s speeding by and you’ll be locked into a drab classroom sooner than you think. Tablets are all the rage today, but can a tablet replace a laptop in your must-have dorm-room gear bag? Maybe…or maybe not.

HP Pavilion dm1z.The HP Pavilion dm1z ($450) is either a puny ultraportable laptop or a superpowered netbook.The right hardware for you depends on what types of classes you plan to take, how intensive you expect your on-screen coursework to be, and which type of device you prefer. A tablet may not fit the needs of journalism, business, or law students, who must perform endless research and compose long documents, but it’s perfect for chemistry or physics students who need a finger-friendly touchscreen for annotating formulas, or for medical school students who need an easy-to-balance slate as they make their rounds in a hospital.

It may be that you’ll want both a laptop and a tablet. Tablets are perfect for catching up on your notes while commuting to class by carpool, train, or bus; for taking notes unobtrusively; for reading; for tapping out email missives; and for Web surfing in a café or public area. A tablet can also act as a second, independent screen that you can use to call up Web references while writing on your laptop.

But versatile as it is, a tablet has limitations. Notably, it doesn’t handle multitasking among multiple open windows well, nor does it offer convenient control over full-bore office apps like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Last year, Brooklyn’s Long Island University was one of many that doled out Apple iPad tablets to incoming freshmen and transfer students. The maneuver was popular among students, but it didn’t free them to leave their laptops at home; instead they used the tablet as a tool to complement their laptop as they walked around campus.

Use Scenarios

To figure out what will work best for you, you’ll have to look in the mirror and assess your needs. To help you get started, we’ve invented five use scenarios and suggested how a tablet would likely fare against a laptop in each one.

Taking Notes in Class

The winner here depends on how you type. If you’re a touch typist, be aware that the on-screen keyboards of tablets are noticeably harder to type on at the same speed and with the same accuracy that you’re used to achieving with a physical keyboard. The absence of tactile feedback makes them harder to type on by feel–for example, when you’re looking up at the board and not watching where your fingers are falling.

Hunt-and-peck typists, on the other hand, may prefer a tablet. Its chief advantage is its long battery life, which means that you may not need a charger to get through your day.

Writing Papers

The laptop wins here, hands down. You enjoy the benefits of a large screen, plenty of ports to back up to media and to the cloud, and a solid keyboard to type on. You also have easy drag-and-drop functionality between open windows, plus more-powerful note taking, annotation, and word processing tools than tablets offer.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101.Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer TF101 consists of a 10.1-inch tablet and a detachable mobile docking station.You could retrofit your tablet–by using an adapter or cable to connect the tablet to a large-screen LCD monitor, and by using an external Bluetooth or Wi-Fi keyboard and mouse (on Android) to navigate the screen–to approximate the laptop experience. But the resulting hodgepodge goes against the clean elegance of having a tablet to begin with. Some options, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 with its Mobile Docking Station, come close to duplicating the netbook experience (the dock has a netbook-size keyboard, an extra battery, USB ports, and a touchpad for pointer navigation of the touchscreen); but most fall far short of that goal.

For writing a dissertation, you’ll need office tools more robust than those available on either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android platform; and you’ll want a screen with a diagonal size larger than 10 inches to review your work on. You’ll also want the full control and better ergonomics that a laptop keyboard and a mouse offer.

Reading Books

If you plan to buy ebooks for your next English Lit class, you’ll find that reading them on a tablet is infinitely easier and more comfortable than reading them on a laptop. No contest.

The only reason to consider a laptop for reading ebooks is if the ebook you need is part of a textbook service offered for PCs but not for tablets.

Roaming Around Campus

Tablets have the edge on laptops for reading, Web surfing, and even light writing activities. A tablet’s light weight, lengthy battery life, and ability to power up quickly contribute here. In recent years, many institutions have added laptop-friendly desks to libraries, lobbies, and student lounges; but any bench, bar stool, building stoop, or stadium bleacher seat is friendly enough for tablet use.

Photos and Videos

If you’re a film, art, or photography major, or if for other reasons you’ll be editing long videos or large image files, you’ll need a laptop. Tablets, even with the help of external or cloud-based storage, don’t possess the software tools or the graphics muscle to do such work efficiently. Tablets are terrific for playback, however, and make fine platforms for showcasing your handiwork.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was announced too early

/* Posted July 1st, 2011 at 3:05pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

gearbox_software_logo

Gearbox Software says they weren’t ready to announce Aliens: Colonial Marines.

 

“Frankly, I think the game was publicly announced before… well, the first press release came out and the ink wasn’t even dry on the contract,” said Randy Pitchford.

 

“We hadn’t even written the first line of code when the announcement happened, and I think it’s because we were so excited and thrilled that this was going to happen. We love Aliens vs. Predator, but this is pure, this is canon, this is ‘holy f***’. Between us and Sega and everybody we should have just shut the hell up until we were further along, frankly. It feels like a long time.”

 

Aliens: Colonial Marines is set to release in 2012 on Wii U, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

 

Find out how long Gearbox has had a Wii U dev kit for.

 

via CVG

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