Tag Archives: graphics

Review: Counter-Strike Global Offensive

imageCounter-Strike Global Offensive, or GO for short, is the next title in the series of counter-strike games. I have played all of the recent games, so I figured I would give this one a try as well.

The first thing I noticed when starting up Global Offensive was that the graphics have improved. The maps have become a bit more detailed and the character models are much improved. The previous versions of counter-strike required a lot of skill and strategy and CS:GO is the same way. Due to this, CS:GO has evolved as the next big game being played in leagues and in LAN tournaments.

For those who have no idea what counter-strike involves, it is a pretty simple concept. CS:GO pits terrorists versus counter-terrorists in 2 different scenarios.

The first scenario is a game mode in which the terrorists are trying to plant a bomb at particular locations around the map. It is the counter-terrorists job to try to stop this from happening. If the bomb gets planted, the counter-terrorists have a limited amount of time to try to defuse the bomb before it blows up.

The second scenario is a hostage rescue mission. In this mode, the terrorists start by a group of hostages. The counter-terrorists then try to reach and rescue the hostages.

Maps

One thing that has stayed pretty consistent through the different versions of the game is the maps. CS:GO holds true to the counter-strike series by having many of the same maps, just with a few updates. A few of the maps have minor changes that have helped to balance sides a bit.

One great thing about CS:GO is the communities ability to create maps. Unlike other games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, counter-strike comes with a map editor which allows members of the community to create their own maps. These custom maps are a huge hit with the casual CS:GO gamers. A constant creation of new maps can really keep the game interesting.

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Weapons

In general, the weapons are pretty similar to the previous versions of counter-strike. However, there were a few small changes. A few pistols have been changed. Also, a few SMGs and shotguns have been changed as well. Most players use the rifles and these have pretty much stayed unchanged.

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Competitive Match Making and Ranking System

One huge change in the new CS:GO is the competitive match making system. In previous versions of counter-strike, you would simply have to find a server on your own through browsing. Usually when doing this, you would have to find and play in a community run public server – these rarely used competition rules. If you really only played casually, this wasn’t a huge deal. However, if you liked the idea of a playing a match, then it was pretty tough to find a game.

With CS:GO, you are able to play in competitive mode with the click of a button. If you want to play with friends – easy, just invite them to a lobby before you search for a game.

This new system gives you a rank after a few games. This rank is then used to help match you up with players that are around your skill level. If you play with friends, the system will try to average your ranks when looking for a game. I personally have seen many of my steam friends get into the competitive mode. These were people who never left a casual game in the past. I see this as a big accomplishment by CS:GO to be able to bring new players into this mode of the game.

Overall, I think CS:GO is a great step for the counter-strike series and I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed past versions of counter-strike.

Guest author Bio:

Guest author post  by Dominic Acito of domstechblog.com. Dominic brings a background as a high level super user and gamer, to the Blogging world.

2 Comments

Filed under Games, Guest Writers, Online Gaming, Software

Snapdragon: Changing the Mobile World

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageSnapdragon is a mobile processor completely built on a single chip that brings you longer battery life and keeps you going in your everyday life. Battery life is great and an important part of any device’s usability, but that alone wasn’t enough for Qualcomm. Snapdragon is next-generation technology that provides all users with some exciting new features sure to change the way mobile devices are used.

Whether you’re a developer, a gamer or just an avid mobile device user, these next-generation technologies are going to impact the applications, games and other features on all mobile devices in the future.

Here are just a few reasons to get excited about Snapdragon:

  • Blink and smile detection: Have you ever been in that situation where you wanted to take a photograph of a group of people and the camera on your mobile device decides to focus in on just one person? It happens all the time. However, with Snapdragon, you get blink and smile detection that helps with facial processing and gives you a much better and higher quality photo of a group of people. Facial processing simply has never been this well done. Your camera will be able to recognize when someone is blinking, smiling or looking away from the camera; which helps you get the best picture possible.
  • Burst camera mode: Sometimes getting that perfect shot is really hard to do, especially when something is moving. Most cameras allow you to turn the shutter off or at least adjust the shutter speed, but this technology hasn’t really translated over to mobile devices – until now. The burst capture feature provided by Snapdragon allows even amateur photographers to capture a series of pictures with no shutter lag between shots.
  • Graphics: Qualcomm built the Snapdragon processor with gamers in mind — they designed it to take gaming to a whole new level with high resolution and realistic 3D graphics and effects. Just because you’re gaming on your mobile device doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice quality. In fact, with Snapdragon, you’ll soon be able to play games that rival any console gaming experience.
  • Surround sound recording: Sometimes, recording a video on your mobile device can leave you wanting something more. Maybe you missed something someone was saying or maybe there’s too much noise to really hear what you want. With Snapdragon technology, you get some amazing audio features that allow you to record in 5.1 surround sound. With Snapdragon, Fluence Surround Sound Recording uses the existing microphones on the device to bring you an HD camcorder sound and experience.
  • Indoor location: Have you ever been using the location feature on your phone only to realize it won’t work when you are inside? With Snapdragon, you don’t have to worry about that. The location feature on Snapdragon technology provides users with amazing experience. Not only does the location feature will allow you to search local points of interest, give you great walking and driving directions and give you object tracking, but it also gives you precise indoor position. You won’t have to worry about finding where you are because you are indoors; your mobile device will do that for you.

Snapdragon by Qualcomm is changing the ways in which users interact with their mobile devices. It pushes the limits on what traditional technology has brought consumers and is opening up a wide world of possibilities for next-generation consumer technology. For Qualcomm, it’s clearly not just about the technology itself. It’s about the way users interact with the technology they build and they want to make that experience the best one possible.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Opinion, Smart Phone

Free LiberKey Version 5.5 – A Computer Toolbox On A Stick

image LiberKey (which I’ve reviewed previously – version 4.1 – March 2010), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do – installing LiberKey to my F: drive. You might consider a similar solution – an install to a Flash drive and a further install to your HD.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Basic suite: 13 Applications, Installed size: 120.51 MB

Standard suite: 83 Applications, Installed size: 561.61 MB

Ultimate suite:  144 Applications, Installed size: 711.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have the option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet. I’m not convinced that this

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You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs as per the following screen capture. I’m not convinced that this process is instinctive, but……

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I choose the Ultimate edition adding (144 applications), which took approximately  11 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. The same install to a Flash Drive, ate up roughly 30 minutes.

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Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

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The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on FastStone Image Viewer, brought up the application.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But, the developers have anticipated this and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

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Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

The developers have put up a short install demo video you might find worthwhile viewing.

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Filed under Application Launchers, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free LiberKey Version 5 – Now With Up To 306 Portable Applications

image Previously, I’ve reviewed a number of applications which will allow you to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications, including – Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey (which I’ve also reviewed previously – version 4.1), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive. Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

LiberKey Basic 5: 12 Applications, Installed size: 141.58 MB

LiberKey Standard 5: 89 Applications, Installed size: 535.54 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5: 164 Applications, Installed size: 701.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet.

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You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs. Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

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I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

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Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

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Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on HD Tune, launched HD Tune – Hard Disk Utility.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But the developers have anticipated this, and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

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System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

Microsoft Disparages OpenOffice – Validating OpenOffice As A Competitor

imageI’ve often wondered just how many users actually run a fully licensed version of Microsoft Office – one that they’ve paid for. I wonder, because Microsoft Office is so outrageously expensive.

Here in Canada, the Home and Student version goes for $160.00, with the Office Home and Business costing $350.00. At the top end, Office Professional 2010 will set you back a mind bending $670.00. (Sharp shoppers may be able to buy any version at a discounted price, however).

I will admit, that I run a licensed version of MS Office 2010 on one of my machines, and a licensed version of MS Office XP on another. But, I also run OpenOffice 3.2 on a Linux (Ubuntu 10.04) machine.

If you’ve been around computing for a while, then you’re probably aware that OpenOffice is the leading open-source (FREE) office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and …..

Since I now spend 70% of my computing time in Ubuntu, more and more I find myself using OpenOffice 3.2. While not a perfect replacement for MS Office, OpenOffice 3.2 more than meets my business needs. As well, OpenOffice offers me a big plus – it can read and write files from other common office software packages, including Microsoft Word.

I’m not going to write a review on OpenOffice 3.2 today, in an attempt to convince you that this free office suite can effectively go head-to-head with MS Office (I’ve recommended O.O. here, numerous times) – I’ll let Microsoft do the convincing.

Most of us are pretty familiar with negative political ads. You know the type – the candidates disparage each others accomplishments, experience, ability, fitness for the job, and on and on.

Microsoft has taken a page from this playbook, and has recently begun a campaign to tear down OpenOffice by focusing on what Microsoft considers to be the downside of working with OpenOffice. Watch the following YouTube video then you be the judge.

While watching this video, keep in mind that it is sound business practice to go after only those who are considered competition – why waste time on those who can’t hurt your sales.

Obviously then, Microsoft now considers OpenOffice to be a threat to their core MS Office product line. If OpenOffice wasn’t every bit as good as most observers consider it to be, it seems to me Microsoft wouldn’t be making any effort to convince consumers otherwise. They would simply ignore OpenOffice.

But no, they see the threat and are reacting to it.

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OpenOffice is available for the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, and others.

To learn more about this outstanding open source Office Suite, go here.

There is some discussion at the moment as to whether Oracle will continue to support OpenOffice, but according to an Oracle statement dated October 13, 2010, it appears that they will.

Oracle’s growing team of developers, QA engineers, and user experience personnel will continue developing, improving, and supporting OpenOffice.org as open source, building on the 7.5 million lines of code already contributed to the community.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

14 Comments

Filed under downloads, Free Office Suites, Free Word Processors, Freeware, Linux, Mac, MS Word Alternatives, Open Office, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Portable Apps To The Max With Free Liberkey 5.0

I’m a big fan of image applications which will allow users to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications. Applications like Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey is another great application that has also been designed to save the user time. The emphasis here though, is on portable applications. I previously reviewed this application in March of this year, but with the release of Version 5.0, even more choices are available.

LiberKey (302 applications available in a few clicks), is a compilation of freeware, and open source, portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

LiberKey Basic 5.0 12 Applications, Installed size: 113 MB

LiberKey Standard 5.0 89 Applications, Installed size: 468 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5.0: – 164 Applications, Installed size: 618 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform. Neat idea!

At a glance:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to install to my USB drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

LiberKey 3

Following the installation, I reviewed the application’s “Stat” screen to ensure I had a seamless install.

LiberKey 4

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates.

LiberKey 5

A cool feature that caught my attention was, the application launcher icon sitting in my taskbar. A small, but important, feature.

I already had a ton of portable applications on the USB drive I installed LiberKey to; but free and easy have always appealed to me. Perhaps to you as well.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Application Launchers, downloads, Freeware, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free LiberKey – Installs 180+ Portable Applications

image In the past few days we have talked about a couple of applications which will allow you to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications – Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

It never rains but it pours, right? In some cases that can be a good thing – like now. Regular reader David W. has pointed out another great application that has also been designed to save the user time.

LiberKey is a compilation of freeware, and open source, portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

LiberKey Basic 4.8: 12 Applications, Installed size: 120.02 MB

LiberKey Standard 4.8: 90 Applications, Installed size: 442.27 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 4.8: 168 Applications, Installed size: 586.97 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform. Neat idea!

At a glance:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (168 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to install to my USB drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

LiberKey 3

Following the installation, I reviewed the application’s “Stat” screen to ensure I had a seamless install. It turns out the total number of applications installed numbered 184, and not 168, as advertised. The developer needs to update the relevant documentation to reflect this variance.

LiberKey 4

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates.

LiberKey 5

A cool feature that caught my attention was, the application launcher icon sitting in my taskbar. A small, but important, feature.

I already had a ton of portable applications on the USB drive I installed LiberKey to; but free and easy have always appealed to me. Perhaps to you as well.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP