Are casual gamers done with social gaming giant Zynga?

Farmville Social GamingYou come home from work, hang up your jacket, sit at the computer and immediately load up FarmVille or Mob Wars. If this sounds like more like a blast from the past than your current routine, then you’re not alone. New research from IHS shows that the present state of Facebook social gaming is not all that rosy. For example, 2009 saw huge gains and by the end of 2010, about 50 percent of all active Facebook users played casual games. However, the absolute number of gamers stagnated as Facebook signups increased; and by the end of 2011, the proportion playing social games was dramatically cut in half, to 25 percent, while Zynga users dropped from 275 to 225 million over the same period. Zynga also had their recent $100M bid turned away by Game Closure, who have an advanced SDK allowing cross-platform, multiplayer HTML5 gaming.

So what caused the decline in popularity? Did we just get all farmed out, or move onto other sources of entertainment? Continue reading

Google expanding world domination with Seaview Great Barrier Reef

Google Ocean View Seaview Camera

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is going to get the Google Seaview, or Ocean View treatment. In partnership with Catlin Group and some of the best Coral Reef scientists, parts of the 2,300km long Great Barrier Reef “rarely visited by science” will be documented with brand new technology to depths of 100m. Three surveys will be done: shallow reef, deep-water, and mega-fauna (Tiger Sharks, Manta Rays, and Green Turtles). Emmy award-winning cinematographer / shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick is also on board. This will add a must-see highlight to Google Ocean, which started in 2009 and covers basic Ocean bathymetry (ocean floors).

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Buffalo goes both ways with innovative USB hub

Buffalo bi-directional USB Hub

I’ve never liked messing around with standard USB plugs. I just came to this realization, thanks to Buffalo’s new USB hub. Rectangular, Type A plugs have been around since the advent of USB, and although ports have migrated since to the front of computers (and elsewhere) in an attempt to make our lives more convenient, I still try plugging them in twice; the wrong way and the right…always in that order.

Buffalo Kokuyo, the Japanese division of Buffalo Technology, have finally solved the riddle to this minor annoyance (and occasionally damaged ports). Their new USB hub lets you plug in your devices any way you damn well please, thank you very much. Continue reading

Joustin’ Beaver Review

Joustin' BeaverJoustin’ Beaver for Android and iOS looks to cash in on Bieber Fever, giving Bieber fans a buck-toothed version of the Canadian sensation.

Joustin Beaver Review
Platform: Android / iOS (Android reviewed)

Developer: RC3
Genre: Arcade & Action
Version: 1.2
Price: $0.99
Released: February 3, 2012
Size: 10 MB

Despite being served a cease and desist order from the real Biebs, RC3 looks to serve up their own Android and iPhone action (and hopefully some Beaver Fever) with the lush-haired, lance-toting rodent Joustin’ Beaver. But will Bieber Beaver sink or swim? I played the game to see what his lawyers are so worked up about:

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Google Augmented Reality Glasses arriving this year

Google Glasses MockupGoogle looks to put Augmented Reality technology where it belongs – right in front of our eyes.

Augmented Reality (AR) has come a long way in the past year. From the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita bundled with simple AR games that turn your table into a (literal) gaming platform, to Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PS Move bringing AR technology into the comfort of the living room. And if you haven’t tried Augmented Reality on your phone yet, you’re missing out. Augmented Reality apps for Android and iPhone have been available for quite some time, and are growing in number. The biggest leap forward, however, will be Google’s own hardware – a pair of wearable AR glasses, in the late stages of development and rumored to be released this year, possibly unveiled at the Google I/O in June.

But just what is Augmented Reality? In its simplest form, AR is computer generated content that augments a live view of the real world. By this definition we’ve already been doing this for years, for example sports analysts digitally inserting graphics on the field as we watch the game. And while newer, interactive forms of AR like consoles and phones are impressive; having the entire Google ecosystem augmenting wherever you see will open up a whole new dimension. Here’s what we know about Google’s AR glasses so far:

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Mass Effect 3 release date to be early…and from space

BioWare has decided to give a few lucky fans copies of Mass Effect 3 a week before the official release date and, much like the coming of the Reapers in the game, they will arrive from space. The demo is already out for Xbox Live and PSN, with the full game due in stores March 6 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. If you’re new to the series, here’s 10 reasons why you should play the game. Mass Effect 3 will also feature a 4-player co-op mode over Xbox Live and PSN, a first for the series, Continue reading

10 reasons you need to play Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3

After playing the Mass Effect 3 demo, I can tell you that it will be one hell of a ride. Ever since playing the first Mass Effect on Xbox 360 and finding out that, what seemed to be a minor choice at the time, actually resulted in the permanent death of a team member (yes, this person is still dead in Mass Effect 2 and 3), I’ve been hooked. Not only the persistence in story, but a beautiful, futuristic world that Edmonton-based BioWare Studio has created makes me eager to come back and finish what I started. Here are 10 reasons why Mass Effect 3 is the must-play game of 2012: Continue reading

Kindle Touch now in Canada; Nook stays south of border

With Barnes and Noble’s Nook E-reader still a US-exclusive, the e-ink Kindle Touch and Kobo Touch now can go head-to-head directly in Canada, thanks to Amazon recently opening up the floodgates to international shipping of their touch model. But with the Kindle reader costing $150 (shipped), currently $30 more than its Toronto-based Kobo counterpart, is the extra cost worth it? Or should you wait for the new Nook, set to be released this Spring, to make a trip across the border?

Ever since I owned a 1st gen Kobo reader that was painfully slow, and Nook Color, which needed to be charged daily and too heavy for extended reading, I’ve always been interested when new models hit the market. Now that 4th-gen e-readers are upon us, the feature lists are impressive: Continue reading

iPads in school: Will iBooks 2 kill the physical textbook?

Apple Education Event

Apple’s iBooks 2 app aims to fast-track us to an era of digital learning, putting iPads in high schools everywhere. But with a lack of university books and high cost of entry, how soon will kids be trading in their overweight backpacks for Cupertino’s flagship tablet?

All eyes were on Apple when they announced Textbooks for the iPad at their education event last month. Along with the likes of McGraw-Hill and Pearson partnering with Inkling  (the iPad textbook platform) and touting tons of interactive content, books were launched at $15; a huge benefit, since hard-copies can run up to $100. But with it came caveats, such as publishers tied to iBooks distribution (sorry, Android), as well as the obvious problem of getting a $500 iPad into every child’s hands. Continue reading

Tablet Wars 2012: Competitors size up Apple

Tablet Wars

With January in the books, it’s clear that the tablet wars of 2012 have yet to be fought. But who will emerge as King? It’s safe to say Apple’s iPad 3, rumored for a March 29th release date, will come roaring out of the gate. However, Android competition is just warming up. The full-HD Asus Transformer Prime TF700 (TF301?) and more affordable Lenovo IdeaPad S2, both with transforming keyboard docks, are looking to eat into the laptop / ultrabook market (and putting another nail into the coffin of Netbooks…are those still around?), while the Asus Memo 370T looks to continue where the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire left off; with an affordable, Tegra 3, 7″ model. Finally, barriers will be broken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6, possibly unveiled at the Mobile World Congress later this month.

With so much happening in just the first half of 2012, what tablet size should you sink your hard-earned cash into? Here’s a breakdown of the contenders: Continue reading