Author Archive | Jared Newman

Goodbye, GamePro: Iconic Mag Shutting Down

If you were a child in the 1990s with an ounce of geekiness in you, you read GamePro. Its review score smiley faces and staff writer avatars spelled out what games you’d be begging mom to buy, and its ProTips ensured high praise from friends while you huddled around the nearest Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis.

Effective December 5, the magazine and its website are shutting down. GamePro’s website says PCWorld.com will take over editorial (both publications are owned by IDG), while IndustryGamers reports that GamePro Media will focus on custom publishing, such as specialized gaming publications for trade shows and events. There will be layoffs, but it’s not clear how many people are affected.

(Disclosure: I write for PCWorld, but hardly ever about video games. I don’t know who will be producing GamePro content at the site.)

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Remove Jimmy Wales’ Face From Wikipedia in Three Easy Steps

Wikipedia’s looking for donations again, which means co-founder Jimmy Wales’ “personal appeal”–and face–is back at the top of every Wikipedia page. The Jimmy Wales Mugshot Method (that’s what I’m calling it, at least) was apparently quite successful last year, helping the user-generated free encyclopedia set a fundraising record, so the revival is no surprise.

Still, you might be sick of seeing Jimmy Wales’ face by now, especially because the alignment of the image on the page can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings. Fortunately, Taylor Buley has developed a simple way to hide Wales’ mug forever, in three easy steps:

  • Go to Buley’s Github page.
  • Drag the “De-jimmy” link into your browser’s bookmarks bar or Favorites bar.
  • Click on the bookmark while browsing any Wikipedia page where Wales’ face appears.

Although you only click the bookmark on a single page, it applies throughout the site. After that, the only way to get Jimmy back is to clear your browser’s cookies and restart the browser.

Also, tuning out the pleas of a site that provides gobs of knowledge for free seems a little evil, but if you’ve gone this far, I’m going to assume you already got the message, and maybe even donated.

[This post republished from Techland.]


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Air Apparents! Ultrabooks and Other Slimmed-Down Windows PCs

For the longest time, Apple laptops lived in their own world of stylish design, while PC makers remained steadfast in their focus on beefier specs for lower prices. I remember looking two years ago for a Windows PC that aped Apple’s style–awesome keyboard, smooth trackpad, sturdy aluminum build, decent specs–and being disappointed that such a computer simply didn’t exist.

How things have changed. Apple’s revamped MacBook Air became a runaway hit while the rest of the PC market stagnated, and suddenly every computer maker wants to make thinner, lighter and prettier products. Intel calls these creations “Ultrabooks,” and provided PC makers with strict criteria for weight, thickness, battery life, processor power and pricing to qualify for the marketing jargon. This new wave of notebooks run the latest Intel Core processors, cost around $1,000, and go toe-to-toe with the MacBook Air in physical measurements.

Over the next few months, a bevy of these machines will strut their stuff for laptop shoppers. Here’s what we know about every Ultrabook or similar product that’s on the market or on the way.

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PC Gaming Isn’t Dead, Just Cyclical

Nvidia’s third quarter earnings are in, and apparently, quite good, with a revenue increase of 4.9 percent over last quarter. While you might expect the company’s Tegra smartphone and tablet processors to be the stars of the show, Nvidia’s actually attributing much of its revenue growth to desktop graphics cards for PC gaming.

That’s right, the gaming platform that conventional wisdom loves to declare dead is actually a big money-maker for Nvidia right now, with revenue growth of 23 percent over last quarter. And Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is not surprised:

“This happens every major game console cycle toward the second half of its product life, because PC technology advances on a regular basis instead of once every seven to ten years,” Huang told investors.

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Steam Hacked, Valve Urges Credit Card Vigilance

Apparently not all game publishers soaked in the lessons from Sony’s Playstation Network hack last April. Valve, which runs the popular Steam PC game service, said one of its databases was compromised over the weekend. The database contained user names, hashed and salted passwords, purchase information, e-mail addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information.

“We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating,” Valve’s co-founder and managing director, Gabe Newell, said in a statement.

Still, Newell told Steam users to watch their credit card statements and activity closely.

The breach stems from an intrusion into Valve’s Steam forums. After investigating, Valve discovered that the hack went beyond the Steam forums, but there’s still no evidence of compromised information beyond a handful of forum accounts.

“We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password,” Newell said.

So, it’s a security blunder on Valve’s part, and now everyone who’s used Steam should probably change their passwords to be on the safe side. Frustrating? Sure, but at least Newell has the humility to do something that took Sony a long time to accomplish: he apologized. “I am truly sorry this happened,” Newell’s statement concludes, “and I apologize for the inconvenience.”


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Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: A Guide to Decide

Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire

If it’s a cheap tablet you’re after, Barnes & Noble and Amazon want your business. Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet both look promising on paper—the former with its suite of Amazon services, and latter with its superior specs and more diverse streaming video offerings—but chances are, you’ve only got room for one tablet on your holiday wish list.

As is often the case with gadgets, finding the best 7-inch tablet is a matter of figuring out your personal needs. Below, I’ll divvy up the strengths of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire so you can figure out what’s most important.

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ViewSonic Tablet Runs Windows and Android: Good Idea, Poor Execution

As a holdover until Microsoft ships the tablet-friendly Windows 8, I like the idea of a Windows 7 tablet that also runs Android. Sure, Windows 7 doesn’t play nicely with touch screens, but it’s a great operating system for getting work done, and when you’re finished, you can switch to Android for leisure.

That’s what ViewSonic tries to accomplish with its ViewPad 10pro tablet. The 10-inch slab runs Windows 7, and also includes an Android emulator on the desktop, letting you run proper tablet apps without restarting the machine. (A previous ViewSonic tablet, the ViewPad 10, dual-booted Windows and Android, requiring a restart to switch between them.)

It’s a neat idea in theory. But in practice, the ViewSonic 10pro only proves that some ideas are better left unrealized.


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HTC Rezound: Beefy Specs, Beats Audio and Red All Over

With the holiday smartphone smackdown in full swing, the HTC Rezound is stepping into the ring. At $299 on Verizon Wireless, this Android phone will have some tough competition against Motorola’s Droid RAZR and possibly Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, but HTC’s hoping the addition of Beats Audio will help the Rezound stand out.

The Rezound has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and a 4.3-inch Super LCD display with 720p resolution, making it the first 720p phone we’ve seen in a screen smaller than 4.5 inches. HTC paid special attention to the camera as well, with an 8-megapixel, an f/2.2 sensor that’s supposedly superior in low-light, dual LED flash and 1080p video camera. There’s also a 2-megapixel camera up front.

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Amazon Prime Members Now Get Free Kindle E-Book Rentals

Amazing Lending Library

Amazon’s bringing free Kindle e-book rentals to Amazon Prime members, but a bunch of restrictions make the service less attractive than it could be.

The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, as it’s officially called, lets Amazon Prime members check out one book at a time in one-month increments. If the member switches to another book when a month is over, the old book disappears from the device. Amazon Prime costs $79 per year, and also includes free two-day shipping on retail items, $3.99 overnight shipping and, as of last February, free streaming movies and TV shows.

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4 Questions About Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar has released the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, and as expected of a game with no release date in sight, it doesn’t reveal much. The narrator speaks of returning to southern California–the fictional Los Santos, presumably–to get away from “that line of work” and to start a family, his voice accompanied by establishing shots of the city and of crimes in progress.

With so much information left off the table, here’s what I really want to know about Grand Theft Auto V, the next major sequel to one of the most iconic video games of all time:

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