Essential Windows Applications: 2011 Edition

windows-7-logo-orbAre you treating yourself to a new PC this summer and wondering what applications you should install to make the most out of Windows 7? Then you’re in luck, because I’m about to run-down the list of all the applications which I think should be on every Windows computer out there. From web browsers to security programs and multimedia applications, we’ve got it all covered, so are you ready for a rollercoaster ride down software lane? Buckle up, get comfy, and let’s check out the best that the Windows world has to offer! [Read more…]

Zath @ E3 2011: Games & Press Events Review – Day 1

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Nintendo Press Conference

Nintendo kicked off the day with a conference that left many people confounded. I’m still not sure what to make of it myself, but nonetheless, we’ll try to make sense of the festivities. Project Café is dead, long live Wii U. The naming conventions continue to defy logic and suggest that this iteration isn’t in fact, a whole new console – which it actually is.

The Wii U features a 6.2-inch touch screen controller, as rumoured, complete with mic, camera and gyro sensor. It will be able to run 1080p, is backwards compatible (nudge, nudge Sony) and will allow for multiscreen play with the TV.
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Zath @ E3 2011: Games & Press Events Review – Day Minus 1!

e3-logoWell E3 is well and truly here, and on the day before the show floor opens up to a hungry press, two of the console companies along with EA and Ubisoft held press conferences to demonstrate their latest and (hopefully) greatest, and of course, to brag about games/consoles sold.

Microsoft Press Conference

First up, bright and early at 9:30 was Microsoft’s presser and their emphasis was as clear as day: lots of Xbox Kinect, much like last year. Aside from a few demos of intriguing, moan and groan filled Tomb Raider, from Crystal Dynamics, an utterly predictable dose of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a demo of Gears of War 3 with Cliffy B and the ever enthusiastic Ice T and a few somewhat inevitable Halo announcements, the bulk of the show was given over to Kinect.

Core titles such as Mass Effect 3 were shown to utilise voice commands of the Kinect, to select dialogue and instruct your squad, along with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which demo’ed an insanely detailed weapon customisation system.
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WWDC 2011 – And Just One More Thing…”iTunes Match”

iTunes-LogoWell, well, well, there’s frequently a ‘one more thing’ at these events, but there’s been much debate over what this one will be. Well, debate no longer. Here it is:

iTunes Match

This is the ‘one more thing’ that everyone has been waiting for. iTunes Match. This is the third way to deliver music to your iDevices. So what does it do? Well, as expected, it will scan your entire iTunes library and match all of your tracks to what’s in the 18-million track strong iTunes store in just a few minutes, and all tracks are upgraded to 256kbps.
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WWDC 2011 – iCloud Announced

iCloud-LogoProbably the announcement that has attracted the most rumour, speculation and interest in the build up to WWDC has been iCloud, supposedly Apple’s new music streaming service. And unlike, iOS and OS X, the world has so far been unclear as to what iCloud replace, if indeed that is the intention. iTunes? MobileMe? Neither of these products are the most popular amongst Apple’s arsenal, so replacing either, or both, would be a welcome step for many.

We’ve been commentating on the build up to this day, in anticipation of iCloud, with our views on why it’s good, why it’s bad, what it is and everything in between, so please feel free to trawl through the last week or so’s articles here on Zath for some further pre-announcement analysis, stay glued here for the latest news as it comes in from California, and tune in later for some post-announcement analysis from me.
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WWDC 2011 – iOS 5 Announced

apple-ios-logoWhilst it has undoubtedly been Apple’s most successful venture of late, in the eyes of many, probably most, in fact, the Cupertino company has let the platform stagnate since its introduction onto the original iPhone and subsequently the iPod Touch and finally the iPad. Annoying features have been seemingly ignored and are irritating to this day. Although, many pinned their hopes on this day, being the day, that those issues are put to bed.

A while back, we posted a list of all the things we hope to see in the next version, and many of you no doubt have your own suggestions. But, today is WWDC, and Steve Jobs has taken to the stage to enlighten us mere mortals of what’s to come in the next iteration of the world’s most sugccessful mobile OS. iOS 5.
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WWDC 2011 – Mac OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’ Unveiled

mac-os-x-lion-logoLion. The undisputed king of the jungle. The biggest, most dominant, of all the big cats, and that fact alone leaves little doubt that Mac OS X 10.7, will be the last iteration of the operating system that market the resurgence of Apple in the personal computer scene. Mac OS 9 wasn’t Apple’s finest moment, yet the strides made since then have been phenomenal, and here we are. The last hurrah from the animal kingdom. The last hurrah from Mac OS X.

And though it’s pulled into the station at the end of the line, this is certainly not the end for Apple software. New passengers are just boarding, sales figures for Mac’s are better than ever and by large, that has to be attributed to the overwhelming success of Apple’s mobile devices: the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. The whole ecosystem has contributed to the emergence of a brand so globally renowned, that it’s very difficult to escape. So, let’s not look at this as an end, but as a new beginning, because Apple is leading the Macintosh on a whole new voyage, starting with Lion.
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Why I Fear For Microsoft’s Windows 8 Tablets

windows-8-metro-startIn the wake of the inaugural demo of Windows 8 this week, there’s much debate over whether employing the ‘Metro UI’ that we’ve already seen with Windows Phone 7 and the accompanying Zune software on the desktop and tablet OS is the right move from Microsoft. Obviously it’s far too early to judge the potential success of the bold step, but I’m finding it hard to put my finger on a feeling I’m having about it that doesn’t amount to at least an element of concern for the future of Windows. Let me elaborate.

The way I see it, there are a number of very valid reasons why people buy Windows computers:

1. It’s all they know, it’s familiar.
2. It’s great for business.
3. It’s great for games.
4. It’s home to a huge quantity of great third-party apps.
5. It’s compatible with a huge range of hardware.

There are probably more, but these are the key ones for me right now. And I fear that despite still offering the element of Windows that is familiar to us all these days, and the ‘Metro’ UI only really acting as a skin, despite Microsoft’s current insistence that it’s something more, this new development has all but eradicated many of those reasons. [Read more…]

Why Apple’s iCloud Music Streaming Will Be A Hit With The Record Companies And Consumers

icloud-logoThere’s something strange about this year’s WWDC: we already know what’s coming. Last week, Apple sent out a press release detailing what will be covered by Steve Jobs in his keynote on Monday. As expected, we are going to take our first look at iOS 5, learn more about Mac OS X Lion, and see what Apple has up its sleeve for its new cloud service, iCloud.

One of iCloud’s main features will be the ability to stream music to iOS devices from the cloud without any of the music having to be stored locally on the device. Of course, this has already been done by both Google and Amazon with Google releasing it’s Music service, and Amazon allowing users to store songs purchased on the Amazon MP3 store for free, enabling them to stream tracks from the web and to their Android phones. How these services differ from Apple’s, however, will be the key selling point of iCloud not only to consumers but to the record companies as well. [Read more…]

Modern Combat Domination Review (Mac)

modern-combat-splashGameloft is a company best known for its mobile titles, developed for iOS and Android smartphones, but since the introduction of the Mac App Store in the new year, the firm has widened its horizons to include development for the Mac.

One of the Mac titles released by Gameloft is Modern Combat Domination: a Counter-Strike-esque first person multiplayer shooter that allows you to play online in a multitude of modes and increase your level as you become more proficient at the game. Originally released for the Playstation 3 via PSN, Modern Combat comes with a low price tag to attract even the most casual of gamers, but is this a case of getting what you pay for, or can Gameloft’s latest title match up to the big games in the App Store? Let’s check it out! [Read more…]