Comments None
Categories Video games |

We get a first look at Starfield, the next action role-playing game from the developer who brought us Fallout 4 and Skyrim, Battlefield 2042 and Halo Infinite get updated, streamers raise money for (RED) with a friendly gaming competition.

A year away from release, we can start getting excited about Starfield

The other day, Bethesda Game Studios released the first episode of a video series about Starfield, an action role-playing game coming exclusively to Xbox Series X/S next November.

“The Endless Pursuit” is episode one of, Into the Starfield. It features the game’s director, Todd Howard, talking with studio director Angela Browder and art director Matt Carofano, about how Bethesda goes about making games, with some teasers about what we might expect from the new game.

“The mechanics of the world are completely different,” admits Howard, but he also said that Starfield will include many of the elements that people – including the developers – expect of Bethesda games, like being able to interact with the environment and having a complete world created.

“I always say the one thing video games can give you that nothing else in entertainment can,” says Howard in the video, “is that feeling of pride. ‘Look what I did.’”

Updates come to Battlefield 2042, Halo Infinite Multiplayer, and someday maybe Cyberpunk 2077

Because games and game systems are mostly connected to the online world, game developers can mostly update and improve them.

This week, Battlefield 2042 from EA will release the third update to the online multiplayer shooter.

Along with fixing bugs and making the user interface easier for players to use, weekly missions are being introduced to the game as a way to encourage regular play. The developers at DICE promise more updates in December.

Meanwhile, Halo Infinite, which hasn’t even officially released yet, has made some changes to how players collect experience points in its multiplayer mode. Experience points are how players can customize and enhance their avatars.

The changes were detailed in a Twitter thread by community manager John Junyszek.

343 Industries is increasing the amount of experience points players get for the first six matches they play each day.

As for Cyberpunk 2077, which launched a year ago, it’s been updated more than 10 times in the last 52 weeks, and the publisher, CD Projekt, says that a next-gen console update will be coming in the first six months of 2022.

Streamers, esports pros, and celebrity guests game for good

December 1 is World AIDS Day. This year, (RED), an organization that was created to raise money to fight HIV/AIDS, created a Minecraft server and invited the gaming community to come play.

Dubbed the Creator Cup, the participants, which included Twitch and YouTube streamers and professional esports players, were subjected to a Minecraft world that was being constantly changed by viewers, who were triggering events in the game by making donations.

Funds raised by the event are being directed to pandemic relief efforts due to the impact the covid-19 virus has on people living with HIV/AIDS.

Comments None
Categories Consumer technology |

Gifts that raise money to fight HIV/AIDS and covid-19, ski season means it’s time for Slopes, hackers target people looking to buy their way into the peerage.

(RED)’s gift guide raises money for HIV/AIDS and also covid-19

December 1 marks another World AIDS Day and the organization (RED), set up to rally efforts to combat HIV/AIDS around the world, has a gift guide featuring products from a range of companies that contribute to the organization.

The entire list of products is available on Amazon.

The scope of (RED)’s efforts expanded in light of covid-19 and money raised goes towards all kinds of programs that support communities deal with pandemics of all sorts. That includes funding prevention, testing and treatment, as well as education.

In Canada, CATIE is the organization responsible for sharing up-to-date, accurate and unbiased information. They warn that awareness of HIV is low and that’s a danger to people and society.

Apple has been a consistent partner and with its RED line of devices has raised nearly $270 million since the organization was formed, 15 years ago.

And through 2022, Apple is targeting half of the proceeds that are donated from the sale of these devices, which include iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and Apple Watch Series 7, to covid-19 response efforts by the Global Fund.

And through December 6, Apple will donate a dollar for every purchase made with Apple Pay at Apple’s online and IRL retail outlets up to $1 million USD.

Get out your board or skis and get Slopes on your smartphone

Our family opened the ski season at Whistler Blackcomb last weekend.

We took it slow; this was a chance to get comfortable in some new gear and to find our ski legs.

It was also an opportunity for me to remember how much I appreciate the Slopes smartphone app. Slopes knows where we are skiing, and prompts me to record our day.

It tracks the amount of time we’re actually skiing as well as noting time standing around and time going up a lift or gondola. Slopes shows me the routes we took, gives me basic information on top speed and fitness.

And with a premium subscription – it’s $25 USD for a year – you get run-specific stats, offline trail maps, and the ability to replay your runs on a virtual 3D mountain. With an Apple Watch you get detailed health information, too.

A family plan is $40 USD a year and works for you and up to five family members on Android and iOS devices, and you can easily gift a subscription, too.

Ski season is here. Slopes will help you keep track of your season.

Hackers intercept personal and payment info from people buying nobility titles

Cybersecurity news publication, the Record, reported this week that hackers had installed “malicious code” on the website of the Principality of Sealand.

Sealand is an offshore platform built by the English military during the Second World War that was effectively decommissioned in 1956. The platform used to be outside Britain’s territorial waters and was declared by Paddy Roy Bates as an independent state.

Selling titles – lord/lady (30 pounds), baron/baroness (30 pounds), count/countess (200 pounds), duke/duchess (500 pounds), or sir/dame (100 pounds) – is a money maker for the would-be royalty who are descendents of Bates.

Journalist Catalin Cimapnu reported that transactions made since October 12 have been skimmed by the hackers, who collected user information and payment details.

Comments None
Categories Video games |

The Nintendo Game & Watch is perfect for stockings, the Steam Deck will not be here in time for Christmas but an Xbox mini fridge may be.

Play The Legend of Zelda on the new Nintendo Game & Watch portable

The Nintendo Game & Watch is a small, portable game system – about the size of a deck of cards – that has classic Nintendo games built in.

They are modern-day versions of early handheld game systems that Nintendo sold between 1980 and 1991. These new systems are vastly more functional than the originals, which weren’t much more than a digital watch with simple games built in.

The latest edition of the Game & Watch is The Legend of Zelda ($50), which has three game that started the series: The Legend of Zelda (1987), Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988), and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993).

There are other Game & Watch systems available, including Super Mario Bros. ($50), which includes Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.

Valve has postponed the release of the Steam Deck portable game system

If you were hoping to have one of Valve’s new Steam Decks under the tree this year, prepare for disappointment.

The company recently announced that the portable game systems, which come preloaded with the Steam operating system and play all games that you can get on the Steam storefront, were delayed by two months, and shipping wouldn’t start until February 2022.

In a post, Valve said, “We did our best to work around the global supply chain issues, but due to material shortages, components aren’t reaching our manufacturing facilities in time for us to meet our initial launch dates.”

When your Steam Deck will be sent to you depends on when, exactly, you placed your preorder, but if this is the only delay it will be about two months later than expected.

To find out what the date is you can check the status of your pre-order.

The Xbox mini fridge is real

As part of its marketing campaign for the Xbox Series X console, Microsoft compared its new game console to a refrigerator.

That got people calling the new system a fridge, so Microsoft actually constructed a full-size fridge replica of the Xbox Series X.

People loved that even more.

So, just in time for the holiday, Microsoft arranged for the manufacture of mini fridge Xbox Series X replicas. The US$100 gadget holds up to 12 cans and there’s a charging port for your smartphone.

They went on sale in the U.S. a few weeks ago but not in Canada.

If you’re keen on getting yourself one of these, keep an eye on the Xbox Gear Shop.

Comments None
Categories Consumer technology |

Apple’s taking the right-to-repair movement seriously as it plans to sell parts to customers, Mophie’s got stocking stuffers, and connecting the Sonos Beam to Fire TV devices.

Apple’s making it easier for you to fix your own iPhone

Starting next year, Apple will start selling parts and tools to individuals who want to repair their own Apple products.

The rollout will begin in the U.S. only but will expand in 2022 to include other countries (presumably Canada will be on that list).

At first, Self Service Repair will be available for people looking to repair models of iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, but will ultimately include the line of computers that are built with Apple’s M1 chips.

Apple is clear that people should review a repair manual before ordering any parts to be sure that they’re capable of doing the work. If they end up placing an order for parts and tools, they can return their used parts for recycling and Apple will issue a credit.

The new Self Service Repair option adds to Apple’s expansion of retail repair options which includes a number of professional, third-party service outlets.

Power solutions from Mophie for your wireless devices

Mophie’s got a new portable power product that’s a great stocking stuffer.

The Mophie Snap+ powerstation and stand ($70 USD) is not just a provider of power for your smartphone, it also has a magnetic connector, so you can make sure that your magsafe iPhone is lined up properly for wireless charging. If you don’t have an iPhone it comes with an adhesive magnetic ring that you can affix to your smartphone.

And it comes with a stand, so you can perch it on your desk and have your phone titled so you can easily see it.

And it’s got a quarter-inch socket on the bottom so you can screw the power brick into a tripod, and you can use the portable power when you’re shooting video.

The other great Mophie gift is the Mophie 3-in-1 wireless stand for Apple products ($90 USD) which is perfect for the person in your life who has a Magsafe-enabled iPhone, and Airpods, and an Apple Watch, because they can have this on their nightstand and charge all three items at the same time.

Nothing better than Mophie for Christmas.

Answering some listener questions about the Sonos Beam soundbar

A listener called with some questions about the Sonos Beam soundbar that I talked about on the Shift last week.

They’ve got a 60-inch Amazon Fire TV (circa 2018) and was concerned about a note on the Sonos Beam product page that suggests the soundbar is “for TVs up to 55 inches”.

That’s misleading. I suspect that Sonos suggests that the Beam is best for smaller TVs because smaller TVs tend to be used in smaller rooms.

But it’s the size of your room that will dictate whether the Beam is sufficient of if you want to consider upgrading to the Sonos Arc ($1,099).

Where the Beam has five amplifiers, one tweeter, and four woofers, the Arc has eleven amplifiers, three tweeters, and eight woofers.

So the Arc will fill a larger room with sound better than a Beam.

But my family has a 65-inch screen in a smaller living space, and the Beam delivers more than enough sound.

The other question from the listener was whether Amazon’s upgraded Fire Stick Max would deliver better sound through the Sonos Beam and the answer to that is no.

The Fire TV Sticks provide streaming audio and video but the sticks themselves don’t provide any sound. The sound comes from the source, so if you’re watching a video with Dolby encoding the Sonos will be able to play it.

What the new Max version does provide, however, is a better Wi-Fi connection so you can stream larger files – like those that come with 4K experiences – without slowdowns and hiccups.

I will note that to use a Sonos Beam you will need to be able to connect to your TV with an HDMI cable or an optical cable. If you’re looking for Dolby Atmos surround sound, you’ll need to have an ARC or eARC HDMI port.

One final note about connecting a Sonos Beam to Amazon devices is that Sonos has Alexa built into all of its newer components. Google Assistant is also built-in.

Comments None
Categories Corus Radio Network | Consumer technology

This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about the surprise release of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, other Xbox 20th anniversary moments, the release of Battlefield 2042, the Sonos Beam soundbar, two new Kindle Paperwhite digital readers, and how Mercedes-Benz mechanics have started fixing vehicles using Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headsets.

← Older Newer →