Archive for day April 18th, 2012

Jumala Aims To Be An Unboring Minecraft

While I seriously doubt the staying power of this game platform, the concept is pretty cool. Called Jumala, this free-to-play online game allows players to stop the action mid-game and flip things around and change the entire level. Level too scary? You can add flying hot dogs and flowers. Too boring? Add demonic death heads.

The game is all about level design. You earn points by creating games and environments a la Little Big Planet and you can earn currency to buy various pieces of content and interactive items. Each level you create is shared via Facebook with other players and you can change items mid-game, just to mess with people.

The game is still in beta but looks fairly solid. I might be fun for a few hours of level design and or addictive. The mix of World of Warcraft graphics and Minecraft game dynamics could make it a winner.

It sadly only works on Windows right now, but a Mac version is forthcoming.


Project Page



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John Biggs

April 18th

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Ballistic Device Launches Analog Text Messages [Video]

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Molly Oswaks

April 18th

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Microsoft announces Halo 4, coming this November

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the return of Master Chief and the Halo franchise with the release of “Halo 4″ on November 6th. The franchise was originally imagined as a trilogy, with the game’s third installment becoming the biggest consumer product launch of all time when it was released in 2007. Many questions were left unanswered, however, and fans of the series wanted more. The game is set four years after the events of Halo 3, as Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens to destroy the entire universe. “We are beginning a new saga with ‘Halo 4′ and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of ‘Halo’ games and experiences,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with ‘Halo 4′ leading the charge, we’re confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history.” Additional details surrounding the game will be announced on CONAN Wednesday night on TBS at 11:00 p.m. EST. Microsoft’s press release follows below.

Master Chief Returns With Worldwide Launch of “Halo 4″ Beginning Nov. 6

Marking the return of gaming’s most iconic hero, the first chapter of a brand new “Halo” saga is the year’s most anticipated video game release.

REDMOND, Wash. — April 17, 2012 — The countdown has begun for the landmark entertainment event millions of fans worldwide have been anticipating for more than four years. “Halo 4,” the hotly anticipated sequel to the iconic franchise that has shaped entertainment history, will launch worldwide on Nov. 6, 2012.

“Halo 4″ marks the return of legendary hero Master Chief, named by Fast Company as “one of the most popular characters in gaming history1,” and aims to set a new standard for blockbuster interactive entertainment with the launch. Set four years after the events in “Halo 3,” Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe. Developed by 343 Industries, “Halo 4″ marks a new beginning for the landmark entertainment franchise that has sold more than 40 million games worldwide and inspired multiple New York Times best-selling novels, live-action shorts, comic books, action figures and apparel.

“We are beginning a new saga with ‘Halo 4′ and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of ‘Halo’ games and experiences,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with ‘Halo 4′ leading the charge, we’re confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history.”

“Halo 3,” the biggest consumer product launch of all time when it released in 20072, concluded the original game trilogy, but left many unanswered questions around the fates of the series’ beloved hero, the Master Chief, and his artificial intelligence companion, Cortana. On Nov. 6, fans will experience the next chapter of the iconic franchise. Tonight, Conan O’Brien will help celebrate this fall’s launch of “Halo 4″ with a special segment on “CONAN” on TBS at 11 p.m. PDT/10 p.m. CDT. Those interested should tune in and check out http://www.teamcoco.com or follow @TeamCoco on Twitter for updates and more details.

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Dan Graziano

April 18th

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Garbage Men Take Amazing Photos With Giant Dumpster Cameras [Photography]

The Trashcam Project is a group of garbage collectors from Hamburg, Germany who take stunning photographs using 1,100 liter dumpsters that have been transformed into pinhole cameras. More »


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Michael Hession

April 18th

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Segway Seg-Link kit hits the FCC, injects dreams of PC-based transporter tinkering

segway seg-link kit

Own a Segway? You're about to own something else, too. That "something else" is better known as the USB-enabled Seg-Link kit, a downright mysterious new product that has shown itself today tromping through the FCC's database. Details are exceedingly light, and even the user manual doesn't do a stellar job of explaining the device's true purpose; best we can tell, it'll enable Segway owners to connect their two-wheeled transporters to a PC. Beyond that, we're left to imagine a world of Dinan-like horsepower flashes, tinkering with compression calculations, adjusting gear ratios and implementing other tactics learned in one of the fourteen Fast & Furious films. We're guessing it'll be on sale in the US of A within a few months -- till then, feel free to drop your hypotheses on what it'll bring in comments below.

Segway Seg-Link kit hits the FCC, injects dreams of PC-based transporter tinkering originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 18 Apr 2012 19:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

April 18th

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Shun’s Hiro Santoku is the Only Knife a Cook Needs [Daily Desired]

If you're cooking with a mediocre knife, you don't know what you're missing until you use one that's really top-notch. It's a whole different game. Shun makes some of the highest-quality cutlery, and its new Hiro Santoku will have you slicing like a pro. More »


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Leslie Horn

April 18th

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Gaopeng, Groupon’s Flagging Effort in China, May Be Headed For A Merger with FTuan

gaopeng-logo-1

This post is contributed by Ben Jiang, editor of TechNode, a bilingual blog based in China.

Gaopeng, a joint venture between Groupon and Tencent, may be headed for a merger by the end of next month with FTuan, according to reports from local Chinese news agencies. Notably, FTuan is a rival Chinese daily deal service that Groupon’s local partner Tencent invested in. If such a deal happened, it would underscore Tencent’s increasing control over the venture and Groupon’s retreat in the Chinese market. Gaopeng’s constant losses have apparently made Groupon think twice about its China venture.

Groupon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gaopeng’s Downfall

Here’s the history: Groupon and Tencent set up Gaopeng with $100 million ($50 million from each) in February of last year when there were already countless competitors fighting for the market. At first, upon hearing that Groupon was coming to China, local copycat Groupons were worried that the company’s experience and expertise combined with Tencent’s money and local knowledge would pose a big threat.

However, in this case, one plus one doesn’t equal two.

Gaopeng’s decline in China can be boiled down to a few reasons: a) blind expansion before understanding local market b) hiring too many expat executives who had little knowledge of local markets or couldn’t even directly communicate with local staff because of language barriers and c) failure to acknowledge differing market conditions.

At its peak, the Chinese subsidiary of Groupon boasted a headcount of more than 3,000 and operated in more than 70 cities in China. As of now, it operates in fewer than 20 cities, according to people familiar with the matter. After several rounds of downsizing, even people remaining at the company have found nothing serious to work on, according to an employee who used to work in the Beijing office. It also hired an army of expat executives who were not able to communicate with local salespeople since they hardly speak Mandarin. Now, nearly all the expats have left.

Groupon’s strategy of hiring foreign talent, spending aggressively on marketing and quickly amassing as many users as possible may have worked well in other international markets. According to Groupon’s fourth quarter earnings report, revenues outside of North America made up 63.5 percent of the company’s $492.2 million in revenues.

But it failed in China.

The company believed that its e-mail marketing strategy would work as it did in other markets. But in China, e-mail is far less popular than instant messaging services like Tencent’s QQ, which Chinese consumers use almost everyday. Secondly, there’s weaker customer loyalty here as people always flock to the best deal.

Merge with FTuan

It is probably a smart move for Tencent to merge Gaopeng with FTuan, since the company invested in both of them. It doesn’t make sense for Tencent to retain stakes in three nearly identical businesses. (Yes, you read it right. Along with Gaopeng and FTuan, Tencent also operates a QQ Tuan.)

Local media quoted a Gaopeng staff claiming that Tencent wasn’t happy about Gaopeng’s operation, so its stakes in Gaopeng will be transferred to FTuan and the latter will consolidate Gaopeng and QQ Tuan’s operating.

Some Gaopeng people now worried about their job, a new round of downsizing seems inevitable during the consolidation.

After a frenzy around group buying last year, the once bloated market (which had nearly 6,000 Groupon clones) is cooler. There are still north of 3,000 struggling to make it past the spring. Even with the number of daily deal sites falling by half in less than a year, there are still too many for the market. Realistically, only 5 to 10 can survive.



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Contributor

April 18th

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Apple seeds Safari 5.2 update 3 to developers


On top of Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3 earlier this afternoon, Apple has seeded Safari 5.2 update 3 to developers this evening. The update is available on the Developer Center for those registered and can be downloaded in a 40MB update. Cheers, Ralf!

You can check out the release note after the break:


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Jake Smith

April 18th

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Vibrating Seats Could Be Coming Soon To a Theater Near You [Desired]

The whole 3D thing wasn't quite a success when it came to convincing people to come back to theaters instead of just downloading movies at home. But you know what they say—if at first you don't succeed, try adding a rumble feature to theater seats. More »


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Andrew Liszewski

April 18th

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Scribit Digs Up Content For Your Content Marketing

scribit

If you’re an entrepreneur struggling to find the time or inspiration to udpate the company blog, a new service called Scribit offers a solution.

Scribit was developed by a startup called Vertical Acuity, whose initial product helped publishers syndicate their articles to other sites and find fresh content for themselves. President Joe Fiveash used to work at Weather.com, and he says that this kind of content-sharing normally requires a lot of time-consuming deal-making. With Scribit, publishers can pre-approve their content for syndication at a set payment rate, so it’s a simple process to republish something.

More recently, Fiveash says, “We felt this technology could benefit from a larger audience.” Scribit offers capabilities similar to the existing Vertical Acuity service, targeted this time at businesses who need a little help with content marketing. There’s more and more buzz about creating content that promotes your company or helps establish you as an important voice in the industry, but writing those articles or blog posts yourself can be time-consuming, and hiring someone else can to do it can be expensive, especially for a small business or startup.

Instead, you can pay Scribit a rate starting at $50 per month (the price goes up as you add more features and draw more traffic), then search for relevant content from partners like Business Insider, Discovery, and TVGuide.com. If you find an article that seems like a good fit for your website, you can republish it with just a few clicks, and also push a link to your social network accounts. The article still has the branding of the original publisher, but you can now customers and other visitors to can read it without leaving your site. (As a bonus, it’s real editorial content, not just an ad or “advertorial” for your company — and that’s the more effective way to do content marketing.)

You probably don’t want to let outside content take over your site completely, Fiveash says, but this could be a nice way to supplement the articles or blog posts that you’re writing yourself. And with the analytics data that Scribit provides, you can experience to find the mix that works best for you.

Scribit is launching this week at the DEMO conference, co-produced by VentureBeat.



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Anthony Ha

April 18th

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