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11
Dec

Review: Modern Strike Online blows the competition away


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Modern Strike Online does mobile FPS gaming right.

Released in 1999, Counter-Strike is responsible for sparking the iconic counter-terrorist VS. terrorist first-person shooter format which has been imitated and reimagined countless times in the years since. Beloved by millions and still played competitively around the world, it essentially set the groundwork for the shooter franchises that followed.

The dev team behind Modern Strike Online set out to make a mobile version of Counter-Strike, and they make no bones about it. Consider the intro to Modern Strike Online’s app description in the Google Play Store:

Are you a fan of the good old counter terrorists? Here is some striking news for you. We are ready to change an idea of free online Android multiplayer shooters.

Modern Strike Online has been available in the Google Play Store for many months now, but kind of flew under the radar thanks in part to it’s horribly unoriginal name — not to be confused with Mobile Strike, Modern Combat or… Combat Duty Modern Strike FPS (that last one is 100% real, by the way). Featuring slick graphics, frantic gameplay, and deep customization, it’s definitely one of the best first-person shooters you’ll find on Android in 2016.

Modern Strike Online was reviewed on a Google Pixel, with the graphics set to their highest settings.

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When you launch Modern Strike Online for the first time, first you’ll run through a quick tutorial that lays out the controls and walks you through the various menus you’ll need to know about. After a brief bit of offline prep, you’re ready to take your game online and start collecting XP.

More often than not, the quick battle option on the main menu will be your go-to option, whether you’re just starting out or only plan on playing for a few minutes and don’t have a game mode preference. New game modes become available as you level up. Once you’ve reached level 9 you’ll have unlocked all six modes, which include all the classics: free-for-all deathmatch, team deathmatch, team squad battle (no respawning), bomb mode (classic seek and destroy), hardcore mode, and custom matches for friendly battles against friends (no XP to be gained here).

The control layout is as good as it gets for a mobile shooter, with options to completely customize the placement and size of the buttons and control sticks in the settings menu. We’ll touch on customization more later.

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The first things you’ll notice is the lack of a trigger button — by default, Modern Strike Online is set to auto-fire as soon as an enemy walks into your crosshairs. It’s a bit of a compromise and takes some time to get used to since it can give away your position when you’re trying to sneak around or line up a headshot, but it’s way more efficient than having another on-screen button alongside the ones for grenades and first aid kits. Not having to worry about pulling the trigger lets you focus on controlling your movement, throwing grenades, and trying for headshots by aiming down the gun sights. Sadly, there’s no support here for Bluetooth controllers so you’re stuck with touchscreen controls, but in a way that becomes a sort of equalizer within the game.

There are 11 maps in the game, and they include what you would consider FPS standards — warehouses, office buildings and the sort. They’re well designed but nothing spectacular, with each offering their own unique features to accommodate firefights of all sorts. You’ll want to quickly discover your favorite attack strategies, as each map has pinch points you’ll either want to avoid completely, or charge in with guns ablazing.

Modern Strike Online does include in-app purchases to expedite weapon upgrades, but it feels balanced enough that you never feel totally outgunned by someone who’s simply paying to win.

Looking at the different game modes available, Modern Strike Online really shines in team-based combat. While a lack of in-game communication hinders team strategizing, you’re always able to see where you’re teammates are, allowing you to rush in for support when they’re under fire, or sneak into an area you know is overrun by the enemy. The maps are perfectly sized for 4 vs. 4 team battles, whereas things often feel a bit too frantic in free-for-all battles with a full slate of opponents.

Modern Strike Online does include in-app purchases to expedite weapon upgrades, but it feels balanced enough that you never feel totally outgunned by someone who’s simply paying to win — though it’s worth noting that an innocuous upgrade like the flashlight actually ends up being one of the more frustrating distractions in the heat of battle, regardless of the gun it’s attached to. The in-game currencies are credits and gold. You earn credits based on your performance in each match, and can also unlock both credits and gold from crates and daily rewards for checking into the game each day. You’ll also occasionally unlock a premium weapon in a crate, which will be available to you for an hour or a day depending on how lucky you are. It’s a well designed system that’s streamlined and perfect for mobile gaming where you won’t necessarily be settling in for marathon gaming sessions. The cost for restocking grenades and health kits is also quite reasonable, and something you can do during a round while waiting to respawn.

Speaking of crates, they’re used perfectly in Modern Strike Online to keep you checking to the game to open the free crates you unlock every four hours. Occasionally, you’ll be rewarded with limited time usage of a rare or legendary weapon, which not only helps you dominate the opposition for a set period, but also gives you an opportunity to try out expensive guns before investing your hard-earned credits. Also, an hour with a M4A1 is just a really satisfying reward.

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First-person shooters on Android always require a certain level of compromise to properly enjoy. If there’s still a debate raging between console and PC gamers over which is the superior platform, mobile gaming is still trying to muscle their way into that conversation. Compared to precise control and response you get from a keyboard and mouse combo, and the ergonomic design of modern console controllers, controlling the action via touch screen are almost always lacking.

But Modern Strike Online does the work to quell those frustrations starting in the settings menu. From tweaking control sensitivity, toggling aiming assistant, and customizing the on-screen button layout, it allows you to make the most out of the touch screen controls. I personally have no issue with touch screen controls for FPS, so it wasn’t a distraction in my enjoyment of the game (and yet, my kill-to-death ratio remains abysmal).

If playing with friends is your top priority, Modern Strike Online delivers with the previously mentioned custom matches, which friends can join by looking for the unique game number. There’s also the option of spending gold to create your own clan, complete with custom tag, so you and your friends can show solidarity while battling online.

Overall, Modern Strike Online looks and plays like a paid game, making it an absolute must play. Instead of spending effort on developing an offline campaign with a linear story and weak AI, Modern Strike Online goes all-in on creating a fast-paced and addictive multiplayer experience that really shines on Android.

Bottom Line: The developers behind Modern Strike Online set out to replicate Counter-Strike for smartphones, and in doing so created one of the best FPS you’ll find for Android. If you’ve been searching for a reliably awesome FPS multiplayer experience to play when you’re on the go, Modern Strike Online is the game you’ve been waiting for.

Download: Modern Strike Online (Free)

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11
Dec

After Math: Game over


This was a week of tremendous loss. America said goodbye to John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, Twitter accidentally murdered @-replies for a day, Fitbit cannibalized its new acquisition of Pebble and new studies suggest that robots are probably going to decimate retail jobs right after they finish working over those manufacturing and shipping positions. Numbers, because how else will you know how many survivors remain?

11
Dec

Ben Heck’s Virtual Boy, part 2


The Ben Heck Show - Episode 266 - Ben Heck's Virtual Boy Part 2:  Rebuild

Now that the Nintendo Virtual Boy has been torn down and we know how it operates, Ben and Karen get to work repurposing the console as a wearable virtual reality headset. To do so, Ben has to redesign the enclosure, which means it’s time to bust out some vector graphics software. It’s not all about 3D printing mounts and laser cutting, though. Karen steps in with her wearable know-how to help attach the Virtual Boy to the frame, allowing it to be mounted on your face. All designs encounter some flaws and problems, however, and this one is no different. What did you think of the build? And what else should the team turn into a wearable? Let us know over on the element14 Community.

11
Dec

Bose SoundLink Color II review – CNET


The Good Like its predecessor, the Bose SoundLink Color is a compact portable Bluetooth speaker that delivers impressive sound for its size (the sound is improved) and 8 hours of battery life. It’s now water-resistant and adds speakerphone capabilities.

The Bad Soft-to-the-touch finish attracts dusts and lint. No AC adapter included.

The Bottom Line Modestly redesigned, the next-generation SoundLink Color is an excellent compact Bluetooth speaker that’s water-resistant and has speakerphone capabilities, as well as improved sound.

I was a fan of Bose’s original SoundLink Color Bluetooth speaker and praised it for being relatively affordable — by Bose standards anyway — and sounding good for its compact size. Its mostly improved sequel, the SoundLink Color II, also comes in a few different color options and is similar in shape, though it’s slightly shorter and squatter, and weighs a tad more (1.28 pounds. or 581g vs. 1.20 pounds or 544g) while costing the same price: $130, £120 in the UK, and AU$179 in Australia.

While the original’s finish was mostly smooth, hard plastic with some rubberized trim on top of the speaker and sides, this new model is entirely covered in soft-t0-the-touch rubber, which has a little give to it and seems better designed to withstand drops. The new speaker is officially water-resistant, too: Its IPX-4 certification makes it splashproof, though not waterproof. Or to put it another way, it should be able to spend some time out in the rain and survive.

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The speaker has a soft-to-the-touch rubberized finish and is water-resistant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Other bonus features include a microphone for speakerphone capabilities, as well as NFC tap-to-pair technology for devices that support it. The SoundLink Color II can remember up to eight devices paired to it, while its eight hours of battery life — at medium volume levels — is the same as the original’s. (That’s decent enough but not exceptionally good).

I personally don’t think the design is an aesthetic upgrade, but the speaker does look a tad more understated and mature. I like the soft-to-the-touch finish, but the one downside is that it’s a magnet for dust, lint and carpet fibers, so you may find yourself having to wipe it down from time to time (as I said, it is water-resistant, so taking a wet cloth to it isn’t a problem).

Note, too, the USB-powered speaker does not include an AC adapter. That may be an annoyance to some, but I was fine with it — any standard phone or gadget charger you have will do the trick.

11
Dec

Omega Juice Cube juicer review – CNET


The Good The Omega Juice Cube neatly packs away into a compact package that’s easy to store. It also slowly crushes produce to make juice without frothing or aerating. Equipped with a powerful motor, the appliance can tackle a wide variety of items including citrus, leafy greens to hard vegetables and nuts.

The Bad It makes less juice than ordinary horizontal slow juicers. It has more parts to keep track of and is heavy.

The Bottom Line While perfect for those seeking a kitchen juicer able to hide away in plain sight, serious juice drinkers should pass it up for a machine that performs better.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Thanks to a compact design which packs away neatly for storage, the $350 Omega Juice Cube removes one huge hassle to juicing at home. That is how to squeeze a juicer into your kitchen where it won’t be an eyesore. The Juice Cube is powerful too and will easily crush just about any type of produce you throw at it.

Still, there are some tradeoffs to the Omega Juice Cube’s unique approach to juicing. To take advantage of the machine’s space-saving design, you must assemble and break down its numerous parts each juicing session. The Juice Cube also yields less juice and is a lot heavier than its standard horizontal juicer sibling, the $300 Omega J8006 Nutrition Center, despite its transformable shape.

Juice Cube morphs from mysterious box to…
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Design and features

With sides that are all roughly 10.3 inches long (10.24 x 10.43 x 10.24, inches; H,W, D), the Omega Juice Cube’s appearance definitely matches its name. Rounded corners help disguise the juicer’s true size which is slightly larger than your average 4-slice toaster.

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The Juice Cube can hold all its parts inside its body when not in use.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Nothing can mask how heavy the Juice Cube is though. It tips the scale at a whopping 20 pounds. That a full 7 pounds heavier than the Omega J8006, a product I would never classify as lightweight.

Before you can start juicing you’ll need to unpack all the Juice Cube’s parts and assemble them. It’s a task that at first demands some practice and a bit of patience. Including the clear front cover and plastic containers for juice and waste pulp, there are nine components you’ll have to contend with. That’s a four more pieces to keep track of compared with the less complex Omega J8006.

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When assembled the Juice Cube looks like a normal horizontal slow juicer.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Once properly built, the Omega Juice Cube has parts you should recognize if you’ve owned a horizontal juicer before. There’s a hopper and vertical chute to accept food. This feeds into a large auger that slowly spins to smash liquid juice from produce pulp. Juice then collects inside a container below while fibrous pulp is pushed to the side to land in another container.

11
Dec

Lexus’ insane LED-covered car, and more in the week that was


Transportation startup Lucid Motors is working on an electric car to rival the Tesla Model S, and it just announced plans to build a $700 million manufacturing facility to bring it to fruition. Meanwhile, Lexus unveiled a mind-blowing car covered with 41,999 LEDs that can change colors at a whim. Could the solution to congested streets lie in subterranean tunnels? That’s the idea behind these crazy CarTubes, which could move city traffic underground. Four major cities around the world pledged to ban diesel cars by the year 2025, and UPS just rolled out its very first e-bike delivery vehicle in Portland, Oregon.

Germany’s massive Wendelstein 7-X stellarator is attempting to harvest energy from the incredibly intense reaction that powers the stars, and according to recent reports it’s actually working. In other energy news, researchers at the University of Surrey are working on super batteries that could charge cell phones in seconds and electric cars in minutes. Google is driving a hard green line: It says it will run on 100-percent renewable energy by the end of next year. Myanmar launched a new program to provide all of its citizens with solar power by the year 2030, and Leonardo DiCaprio schooled Donald Trump on the benefits of renewable energy.

Architecture is incorporating technology in exciting new ways, and the buildings of the future are out of this world. Architect Saul Ajuria Fernandez has developed a solar-powered Droneport that could serve as a hub for flying delivery vehicles. Singapore’s latest skyscraper is a latticed tower that will one day be completely covered with living plants. China-based People’s Architecture Office developed a $10,000 tiny house that can be assembled in a day with a single hex key. And America’s first urban “agrihood” is feeding 2,000 households in Detroit for free.

11
Dec

What will we see from the iPhone 8?


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Rumours have already started sweeping across the internet about what will be the key features of the Apple iPhone 8. With just months since the iPhone 7 wowed critics, there’s been plenty of speculation about how Apple can stay ahead of its rivals in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

It’s expected that the next iPhone will be unveiled in September 2017. And seeing as the launch will mark the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, it will skip the ’s’ stepping stone, and will be branded as an iPhone 8, rather than an iPhone 7s.

In terms of the aesthetics of the mobile device, it’s been reported that Apple could be making a return to the glass casing that featured on the iPhone 4s models. But what will make it all the more stylish are the rumours that the device will have a curved screen and no home button.

This sleek screen will be able to display more media content such as movies and online games, with a 5.8-inch OLED display meaner than the phone will be sleeker and lighter than ever.

The iPhone 7 won many plaudits due to the incredible power of the A10 Fusion chip, and many have already suggested that Apple’s growing relationship Qualcomm could see Intel being ditched in the bid for processor glory.

This should mean that the new device will be able to take advantage of a possible iOS 11 split screen capacity to use Lucky Nugget Casino’s intuitive touch controls for their table and slots games whilst celebrating a win with a well-timed selfie on Instagram.

Camera technology will once again be a central feature of the iPhone 8 with a 3D dual-lens camera being amongst some of the more imaginative rumours. Although with other reports saying that the smartphone will include wireless charging, it seems that anything goes in this fascinating tech area.

Other interesting innovations that are being lined-up for the iPhone 8 include the likes of facial recognition and iris-scanning being a key part of the increasingly important security issue.

And although the iPhone 8 is reported to be much sleeker than the previous model, it’s attempting to overcome criticisms of the battery of the iPhone 7 by having a longer battery life. This will be because of advances in processor efficiency meaning that we’ll be able to check notifications and play casino games without having to stay close to the plug socket!

11
Dec

Japanese spacecraft lifts off with ISS supplies on board


The ISS crew won’t have to worry about running out of supplies this holiday season. Japan’s space agency loaded its ship called Kounotori 6 with 4.5 tons of food, water, spare parts and experimental hardware before sending it off to the ISS on top of an H-IIB rocket. Over a week ago, the Russian spacecraft that was supposed to ferry everything astronauts need to the orbiting lab burned up a few minutes into its journey. It’s still unclear why the spacecraft disintegrated, but it apparently has something to do with the Soyuz rocket’s third stage.

While the crew was never exactly in danger of running out of food and water, the cargo includes some very important parts: six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates for the station’s solar arrays. The astronauts are scheduled to do a series of spacewalks, starting in January, to replace the arrays’ old nickel-hydrogen batteries. Kounotori (or “white stork”) 6 will reach the ISS on December 13th, and as alway, will be caught and reeled in by the station’s robotic Canadarm2.

Source: NASA

11
Dec

Facebook fixes faulty Live reactions count and other metrics


Facebook has kept its promise to be more transparent after it discovered that its system has been embellishing video views and ad data. The social network has admitted to (and fixed) a few more faulty metrics, starting with Live video reactions. You know those reaction emojis that flow across your screen while you’re watching Facebook Live? Well, you can “react” as many times as you want during the broadcast, but the website’s counter should only count your first to determine the total number of “Reactions from Shares of Post.”

Since this is all about faulty metrics, you can probably guess what happened: Facebook counted users’ extra reactions under the section, when it’s supposed to count unique reactions only. Now that the issue’s been fixed, broadcasters can expect to see their “Reactions from Shares of Post” count fall by about 25 percent. On the other hand, they should see their “Reactions on Post” count (the metric that measures all reactions, not just unique ones) swell by around 500 percent.

Facebook also found that there’s a discrepancy in the number of Shares, based on where you’re looking. For instance, a web page’s Shares total on the FB app might be bigger or smaller than the number of Shares you’ll see when you copy-paste the same URL into the app’s search bar. The company still doesn’t know what’s causing the problem, but it vowed to look for a resolution. Finally, the social network has included something in the update that’s not exactly about faulty data: it has improved its estimated reach tool to give advertisers a better idea of their campaign’s potential.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Facebook

11
Dec

A new, compromise-friendly Airbnb makes nice with New Orleans


We knew Airbnb was working with more accommodating policies as it tries to improve relationships with the cities that don’t love it, but it turns out the company really is willing to make some tough concessions. Case in point: New Orleans. Recently, the city and the company brokered a deal in which Airbnb would provide the municipal government with the names and addresses of hosts, as well as agreeing that hosts would have to register with the city and obtain permits.

That, for lack of a more elegant phrase, is a big deal.

The list of concessions doesn’t stop there, either. Airbnb also agreed not to list short-term rentals in the famous French Quarter, which was a tip of the hat to local hotel industry there according to the New York Times. (At time of writing, there are still loads of listings in the Big Easy’s most famous corner, so prospective travelers might want to move fast.) What’s more, Airbnb capped the number of days a host can rent out their entire house, and has agreed to collect hotel taxes on short-term stays. Not long ago, Airbnb would’ve balked at most (if not all) of these conditions, but those days are clearly over — the New Orleans City Council has already passed these rules.

Word of Airbnb’s newfound friendliness came on the heels of a notable settlement with the state of New York. If you’ll recall, the company sued the state after governor Andrew Cuomo made it illegal to rent a space in buildings for less than 30 days without the tenant being there. New York state has effectively washed its hands of the situation, leaving the tough job of enforcing that law up to New York City. Airbnb and city officials are already said to be working things out.

Meanwhile, the irony of Airbnb’s new approach gets richer as you head out west — Airbnb sued San Francisco over a law that required hosts to register with the local government before listing their homes. Airbnb’s suddenly OK with that in New Orleans, and it’s likely this legal battle (and others like it) will disappear. That said, if you’re waiting to see when Airbnb stops making headlines for pissing off cities, you shouldn’t hold your breath.

Via: The Daily Dot

Source: New York Times

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