Mas#tags: Why #potatoes are the first sign of the apocalypse

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By law I may be a young person, but really I’m a cynical old grouch. For longer than I can remember, I’ve been complaining about society and how we’re all inevitably doomed in one way or another. Usually, if something really provokes me, I’ll blog about it at 3 in the morning, go to sleep, realise that what I’ve written is garbage and send it to the eternal pit of doom that is my drafts folder to decompose.

This time, however, things have started to get personal. Continue reading

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Flappy Bird or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bird

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Mobile gaming is a wonderful thing. While it once took a 10 tonne console to escape to another world, where one would typically find a selection of guns, aliens and Italian plumbers, we can now use conveniently portable devices to take us away from our troubles instead. Or allow green pipes to cause even more.

Flappy Bird was the latest avian title to land in our pockets and find surprisingly astronomical success, with a deceptively simple premise and mechanics. A single tap performs a single flap of the wings of a small bird that looks like Kirby with Jay-Z’s lips which, although officially nameless, I affectionately call Flapster.

But why did a game made by a Vietnamese indie developer in a few evenings after work that launched in May 2013 become the most popular mobile game of 2014? The answer lies deep within the struggles of our lives.

Mario uses his raw plumbing tekkers to open wormholes and transcend dimensions with green pipes, but Flappy Bird and its nameless protagonist present a whole new facade to these former allies. He’s not a trained worker. He’s a bird. Pipes are enemies, and serve solely to crush his hopes and dreams with a brutal splat. Should our friend succeed and pass beyond the blockade, life throws up yet another challenge before his eventual death.

Attaching no name or back story to the bird lets us project our own emotions and struggles onto its journey. Life, like Flappy Bird, is not fair. To stand any chance of reaching double figures and cross the obstacles in our paths, we must stay focused and tap carefully. Yes, we may fly face-first into a pipe now and then, but we won’t give up. We will keep tapping. Tapping towards freedom.

Now, as creator Dong Nguyen, with $50k a day in his pocket, withdraws the app from stores and himself from the limelight, lil’ Flapster flies off into the sunset (via a few green pipes, naturally). All we have left are fond memories of the winter of the bird, who taught us it was alright to fail, as long as we got straight back up to seek the bing, and the hours we lost in our quest for a high five.

Why I think the Nokia EOS leaks are intentional

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Nokia EOS

Vizileaks‘ recent flood of Nokia EOS leaks has made me very suspicious, and I believe that the only possible explanation for it all is that the leak is intentional and part of Nokia’s plan. Having spent some time analysing the images, tweets and blog posts from the user’s various online channels, I have expanded my theory and it’s not quite as far fetched as it may seem. Continue reading

Nokia’s Lumia 925 is a book with a new cover and nothing more

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You probably know what the Nokia Lumia 920 is. Last year you voted it your favourite smartphone and we also gave it our design award, so it’s fair to say that it went down pretty well. Aside from the complaints about its weight (which I thought were ridiculous, frankly), the only issue that people really had was with Windows Phone and its ecosystem or lack thereof. At an event in London today, Nokia unveiled the latest addition to the range of Windows Phone 8-powered Lumias, with the 925 joining the 520, 521, 620, 720, 810, 820, 822, 920 and 928 as the new flagship for everything that’s not Verizon, but what has changed? Apart from the shell, absolutely nothing.

And I’m mad.

Continue reading

Don’t trust any Samsung Galaxy S4 pre-order news as none of it is (yet) true

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Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen numerous sites pick up on the story spread by a Carphone Warehouse press release that interest for Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 is so high that pre-registrations for it are 446% higher than with last year’s Galaxy S III. Many blogs, most notably VentureBeat and Pocket-lint, have sprung upon the opportunity to say that this is a sign that Apple is dying and Samsung is king and all that regurgitated nonsense, but they fail to point out any facts in these articles. The big one that is being ignored is that you can’t even pre-order the phone yet at Carphone Warehouse. The press release in question, published below, refers to pre-registrations, not pre-orders. With Samsung yet to confirm pricing for the phone, no retailer worth their bacon should be letting consumers order it yet, with Carphone Warehouse cleverly taking £29 deposits from interested parties or, for those less inclined to splash their cash, and crucially what they are most likely referring to when they give this figure of interest, email updates. Even if they were referring to deposits, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, and you should not trust any figures you see regarding the popularity and sales of the S4 until Samsung themselves give solid evidence.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Carphone Warehouse

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Graham Stapleton comments on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4

Graham Stapleton, Chief Operating Officer at Carphone Warehouse, says, “The Samsung Galaxy S4 is huge news for anyone who already uses or is interested in getting a smartphone.

“Samsung has the timing spot-on with a late April launch, 4G coming to more UK networks this summer means that interest in new devices will be building considerably. We’re anticipating a massive amount of customer interest in this handset and are expecting our stores to be busier than at the height of the Christmas period. We are planning to extend opening hours at our larger sites to cope with the increased demand.

“The record breaking launch of the Galaxy SIII last year was always going to be a tough one to beat, but Samsung have pulled out all the stops with a dazzling new device that’s sure to inspire many people to make the switch to Android from other operating systems.”

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available from Carphone Warehouse on all major networks from 25th April. To register your interest, visit http://www.carphonewarehouse.com/new-samsung-galaxy-phone.

How Football Manager took over my life

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Xavier Voigt-Hill:

Our friend Will Halse of footykicks explains how a simple game is ruining his productivity. Replace Football Manager with Cricket Coach and it’s basically the same story for me as well.

Originally posted on footykicks:

As I sit here writing this, I have just won promotion with Brighton from the Championship to the Premier League in Football Manager, and it has taken 20 hours of my life to do this. Those twenty hours have come when I am supposed to be revising, or doing something constructive, but yet I have chosen to play this game. But why is it so addictive?

To be honest I’m not really sure. I think that there is something addictive in leading a club to glory, or battling to the death in a relegation scrap, and coming out on top. Grabbing the next big star for 100k and transforming him into a ‘leading Premier League striker’ feels great. But don’t worry, if you’ve played Football Manager before, you are not alone in this. We all know what it is like to lie in bed playing around with formations and future…

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Celebrating Digixav’s first birthday

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Delicious ginger, BlackBerry, Apple and Jelly Bean cake.

Exactly one year ago on a cold Tuesday evening Digixav was born. Created from my lingering desire to have a portal from which to ramble on about tech, the very first post was a brief introduction to our plans for the site, and soon after Henry and Chris jumped on board with their own little introductions. Our first site design looked a lot like this, and, after a few hours getting to grips with WordPress, we properly launched DX with our disastrous liveblog of the keynote in which Google unveiled Android 4.0 and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus – and to this day I am still embarrassed by the amount of stuff that was in my taskbar. Since then, the team has grown massively and our readership has been far higher than we could have ever imagined.

One year on, our aim remains the same: to deliver more tech news, reviews, guides and opinions to you, our loyal readers. We’ve had a great first year on the internet, and we hope to do even better in the next one. Tonight, we celebrate with cake. Tomorrow, we take over the world. Thanks for joining us.

P.S. The cake is a ginger cake made by Kieran, iced with a BlackBerry Curve, iPhone 4S and Nexus 7. It tastes really good and also resulted in this picture.

E3 2012: The Review

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It is that time of the year again. E3 has come and gone, and all those melodramatic gamers are at this very moment in time still in a state of shock and awe (and mild dampness in their trousers) having been given a preview of how they will be spending most of their waking hours over the coming years. As the resident bird in anger, I must endeavour not to be stunned into silence at the epicosity of this year’s conference, but report up on what went down and why. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a poor man’s attempt to condense the infinite awesomeness of the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo into a single blog post.

E3 2012 kicked off with green smoke and the new trailer for Halo 4. The 7 minute trailer, mixing live-action with gameplay footage, certainly followed the trend of seriously epic that has made the Halo series one of the most successful for Microsoft’s Xbox platform. That said, it looks like the game is turning a bit darker and scarier with glimpses of forerunner technology and new enemies. The gameplay seemed familiar and both Halo fanatics and newcomers alike will have no trouble getting used to the controls. The interface was nice and the graphics were certainly on par with the latest flagships, so no surprises there. The video gave just enough perspective to get us interested in the game, revealing that it is set four years after the end of the war on a distant planet that Master Chief landed on after the end of the Halo 3. The trailer and gameplay also told us that the ancient forerunners will be playing a big part in the game, and if the weapons that Master Chief is using are anything to go by, this is definitely a good thing, as well as tying up a story that has spanned the best part of eleven years. Halo games have always been a staple of sci-fi shooters, and this next installment certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to disappoint.


Following shortly after came the announcement of another cross-platform sequel from Ubisoft in the shape of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist. This trailer genuinely made me want to get this game and start increasing the atmosphere’s lead content. I am a fan of tactical cover shooter games where a little bit of planning is required before all hell breaks loose, and the latest Splinter Cell seems to offer this. The gameplay footage showed a fluid and deadly combat system that no gamer will have trouble causing havoc with, as well as a plethora of stealth options and target marking which allows you to take out large numbers of hostiles quickly, quietly and above all awesomely. This being a cover shooter, the movement mechanics looked seamlessly fluid allowing you to be very efficient. As expected from a Ubisoft title, I even noticed a hint of Assassin’s Creed in the climbing mechanics, but either way it looks to be brilliant. Furthermore, Sam Fisher has been promoted to the head of the newly formed Fourth Echelon, meaning you now have many more support systems at your disposal as well as highly advanced intelligence which can be easily accessed through the Kinect integration on Xbox 360 meaning you don’t even have to look up from combat. This is definitely one of my top 3 games of the expo, and I am looking forward to its launch across PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in spring 2013.

Another big title to be announced by Microsoft was a fourth installment for the Gears of War series, entitled Judgment. Despite its original name, the trailer certainly had me curious as to what was going to happen in the game. I am not a big Gears man myself, so the fact that it even got into this post is a credit to Epic Games. The trailer showed only snapshots of action and was set to the daunting soundtrack of an American military reading a list of charges against the main protagonists, showing dark corners of a ruined courtroom, a rocket and many artistic angles of the lieutenant’s backside. What we can expect is lots of impossible missions, plenty of action and miles of locusts. This may not be quite my kind of game, but certainly one that fans will spend many hours enjoying.

The game I have really been waiting for is next on my list, and easily makes it into my top three games of E3 2012. It is of course Forza Horizon, the latest edition to Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s phenomenal Gran Turismo series and pretty much every racing game aside. Up until now, Forza has been a dedicated racing simulator similar to GT and arguably the best of them al. The immense driving mechanics and physics involved were always brilliant, and, as gaming progressed, so did the graphics until it looked faultless in last October’s Forza Motorsport 4. Up until now, the Need For Speed crew held pole position for street racing and more arcade style racers that I enjoyed as much as the serious Forza titles of the day. Now, developers like Playground Games have decided that as EA crossed the border and released more sim-heavy games such as NFS: Shift, they should return the favour and bring some of the Forza magic to the streets. Forza Horizon is based around a massive music festival in Colorado, and you as the driver are racing to get there in time for the start. As with any game, things are not as simple as they may seem, as along the way you shall encounter some interesting problems. This is starting to sound a little familiar, but my worries have been set aside by the trailer unveiled at E3. It doesn’t quite have the same challenge aspect as NFS: The Run, and nor does it come close to the sprawling islands of Test Drive Unlimited, but is showing undertones of Burnout, a series that has been largely untouched since the TDU­-esque Paradise met critical acclaim in 2008. The amalgamation of all these genres added to the precision and reputation of Forza in an open world setting means that although this is far from what I was expecting, I am still very excited to see what the end result will be. I have high hopes that maybe, just maybe, this will be the be all and end all of street racers.

The final game to go on my top three games of E3 this year is of course Assassin’s Creed 3, another title from the guys at Ubisoft Montreal. I wrote an article a couple of weeks back expressing my hope that the Assassin’s Creed series hadn’t peaked too early and that AC3 would live up to expectations and more, and what we saw at E3 means that it most certainly will. The game takes place during the American civil war, and gamers take control of a new assassin who goes by the name of Connor Kenway. Connor is half Mohawk, half English and half angel, and somehow that makes perfect sense. The story takes place across thirty years across New York, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as the high seas and the vast frontier. From the various videos I have seen, Ubisoft has continued to innovate to make the original AC formula seem fresh and exciting. Little details such as horse drawn hay bales that you can jump into as well as the static ones are the kind of thing I was hoping for, and the little things like that will continue to make this game just as good as we are hoping. New combat mechanics such as hiding round corners and the Mohawk axe replacing the sword combined with refined assassination techniques exclusive to this new assassin were shown in the gameplay footage, as well as continually stunning graphics which have been upgraded to include weather changes and seasons. Assassin’s Creed has provided the combination of mind games with sheer awesome combat that was serious and yet bags of fun for many years now, as well as a story that has always had me craving more. From what I can see, this latest installation shall continue this trend and will probably become the best AC yet, and for that I’m thankful.

I have been saving the best pair of games for last, and despite the fact neither made it onto my top three, they are probably the most significant and impressive from this year’s E3. I refer of course to Watch Dogs and The Last of Us.

Watch Dogs had me intrigued from the moment I first saw the trailer. I was genuinely perplexed at what this game was about. To me it looked like a campaign against internet information and only at the end did I realize it must have something to do with the ability to control the ctOS system. The gameplay footage shown at E3 confirmed this, as it showed a guy in an oversized coat controlling various electronic elements of his environment to achieve his goal, which turned out to be killing someone named Joseph DeMarco, a guilty man who was nevertheless acquitted for soliciting murder. I am very curious to see what Ubisoft has come up with here. It may well be the next big hit and is certainly unique in its own right which is why it is so important could this become the next Assassin’s Creed as the final installment is set for later this year. The gameplay also gave us a bit more to try and piece some logical plot together. The main protagonist Aiden Pearce seems to be well acquainted with killing, but his interaction with civilians during the firefight suggests some kind of anti-hero. Either way it seems to be open world, set in a city modelled closely on Chicago, the graphics look so phenomenal that everyone thought they were from the next-generation of console gaming until Ubisoft confirmed to Joystiq that the game would make an appearance on at least the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, and it is very new, with a launch expected next year, so I will be following intently developments in this new title. It is exactly what makes E3 so good – we talk in depth about the games that we are looking forward to hearing about, and then someone like Ubisoft comes out and stuns everyone with a brand-new IP.

While gamers continued to swoon over the announcement of Watch Dogs, Sony’s conference began, but they stole the show at the end of theirs with the unveiling of the first gameplay video of the other of the important games, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. From what we know so far, it seems to follow an I Am Legend-esque theme with an over run city and few surviving humans each willing to kill the other at the drop of a hat. The infected that stalk the land run fast and are agile but can’t speak. They certainly aren’t your conventional zombies, but they will do the job and they are a nice change from the stereotype, perpetuated by Ubisoft in the trailer for ZombiU. The initial idea came from the cordyceps fungus which attacks only one type of ant, driving it insane before killing it by growing out of the ant’s brain. The idea for these infected is similar, only applied to humans. Check it out on the BBC’s Planet Earth if you want more info, but despite the sci-fi nature of the infection, it is real, and kudos should go to Naughty Dog for staying true to science. The character you play is an aging man with a beard accompanied by a teenage girl who never experienced what the world was like before the epidemic. The game is certainly as juicy as Watch Dogs and the short gameplay footage available shows a cover system, intense and brutal combat and limited supplies. This looks to be a heart-pumping game that might follow a familiar formula, but will be delivered in a way never seen before that will make one hell of a game. Naughty Dog, despite their pedigree of success with the Uncharted series, has shocked the gaming community with the quality of this release, so I have no idea what will happen when we actually get round to playing this. The graphics look very pretty, and although I can’t quite work out if it is open world yet, the ways in which you could tackle any one building look numerous. The developers say that they want this to be about the emotional experience between humans in this terrible post-apocalyptic city of Pittsburgh and beyond in the journey across America, and I am sure that we will be treated to a cinematic experience that will leave us empty at some points as we connect with the characters and what they must do. Either way, it looks awesome and will definitely become the next Alan Wake, if not more.



At this point in time, the letters on the keys of my keyboard have been rubbed away by the repetitive keystrokes required for this article, but little else can be expected when one is asked to sum up E3. For those few who have not died or fallen asleep, I commend you and I shall continue to fly straight on with the last two major events of this year’s E3.

Another awesomely humbling game is the long-awaited reboot of Tomb Raider. From what I saw of the new Crossroads trailer, it looks to contain a Far Cry-esque island with a very sinister side. In contrast with the previous games’ emphasis on open world decision, the new game is about as linear as you can get without it being Mario. As you would expect from such a major title, the graphics are magnificent and an action packed fighting mechanic with plenty of weapons and a seemingly half-decent plot line added into the mix should make a fun third-person shooter. It might not be ground breaking, but it is nice to see the old game revived in such a nice way, and it will certainly be a title to play and have fun with after I have finished everything else at least twice.

Another very important game is the latest installment in the Call of Duty series. Black Ops 2 is taking a very different tone from its predecessor, as it is controversially taking place in the future. The opening caption of the trailer asks what happens to one’s highly sophisticated and deadly army of unnamed drones when the enemy can control them. I have a sneaking suspicion we might just find out, as the gameplay footage shows a grizzled soldier accompanying the president through a war torn city with drones flying overhead blowing everything up. After the comparative disappointment of Modern Warfare 3 compared to Battlefield 3, does this latest title deserve a chance? The gameplay looks very identical to all previous CoD games, but the new weapons and potentially interesting plot produces a compelling argument. The graphics were on par, and at the end of the day we all know it will sell better than probably any other game at E3 so why not. CoD games will always be good even if they’re not always great. The new technology will be fun to explore, and using unmanned drones to reduce obstacles to dust and smart jets as well as new age combat arms mean that I will definitely give it a chance and hope that CoD will get back to being good. I for one don’t want to put money on another wet fish.

Last and most definitely least for me was the announcement of Xbox SmartGlass. This allows you to connect to your Xbox through your Windows, Android or iOS device allowing you to play music, surf the web and get interactive with movies and games through more than one channel. SmartGlass will certainly add to existing games and activities and is certainly a good idea, but by no means groundbreaking. It is simply an improvement to a system which is expected as technology becomes more and more accessible. The system will help games like the upcoming Madden and FIFA games, where voice and motion integration are the next improvements, as well as giving you another stat channel to immerse you fully in the gameplay. Before long it will be like playing real sport. It is good to see that Microsoft is still innovating because the Xbox has been serving gamers true for a very long time now and improvements like this could help shape the future of gaming consoles which, once the mould is broken, could provide gaming at a depth never before imagined.

Finally I have come to an end of a battle that has raged for an entire day of my life. The Electronic Entertainment Expo this year was as massive as ever, and I have only managed to scratch the surface of what the industry brought to the table at the Los Angeles Convention Centre this week. Other notable mentions should go to Microsoft’s implementation of a strange singing being called ‘Usherto launch Dance Central 3, LocoCycle, Resident Evil 6, Matter for Kinect, South Park: The Stick of Truth and a game for Kinect called Wreckateer that looks to be some kind of voice and motion controlled Angry Birds rip-off which I can actually imagine having loads of fun with, especially if with friends. This looks to be a great year for gaming, and if this year’s E3 was anything to go by, video gaming will continue to blow our minds away. If anybody is bored this summer, it is because they are truly insane, and I am already looking forward to next year because to be honest I can’t even begin to comprehend anything more spectacular than this. After a good six hours writing this, I am the Angry Bird signing off until next year.

Mitt Romney goes to Scamworld: Prosper, Inc. and its powerful friends

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Xavier Voigt-Hill:

Last month, Joseph L. Flatley wrote a phenomenal article on The Verge entitled ‘Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online monster‘ and it is one of the finest pieces of investigative journalism that I have ever read. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to read all 11,000+ words of it, either on the site or in the £0.77 Kindle edition. Fast forward to June, and Flatley has published a kind of follow-up post entitled ‘Mitt Romney goes to Scamworld: Prosper, Inc. and its powerful friends‘ which exposes the links between some of the scamming organisations and senior figures in American politics, including Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for President of Amercia. I thought the post was outstanding, but some people didn’t agree. By didn’t agree, they labelled it a disingenuous piece of journalism with a strong leftist bias that was intended to generate nothing but page views and was as thinly veiled an attack on the GOP as would be found on MSNBC. People complained that The Verge was a tech site and it should stay away from politics at all costs, but what is wrong with a website trying to break the mould?

Originally posted on Joseph L. Flatley:

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One of the biggest boiler rooms in America has ties that could lead all the way to the White House

Commenters on The Verge agree!

Congratulations, Joseph L. Flatley. Your poor attempt at a political hit piece, complete with sensationalized headline just cost The Verge a regular reader. Sad to see what is otherwise an excellent tech site stoop to this kind of “journalism.”
— ljc1423

This was disingenuous and in poor taste.
— Modred189

Add me as another name on the pile who thinks that this, while mostly an interesting follow-up to Scamworld, ends up feeling like a lefty hit piece with an atrociously irresponsible headline.
— RainingGlitteryMind

This “Romney to Scamworld” is nothing more than a lame, deceptively titled hit piece. I am extremely disappointed, as I have quickly come to expect much better than this here at the Verge.

This Joseph Flatley character, if that is his real…

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E3: The Preview

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E3 is just around the corner, so we thought we’d give you a peek at some of the stuff that we’re looking forward to this week.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us is the latest title from Naughty Dog, famous for the Uncharted and Jak & Daxter games. This PS3 exclusive is set in a post-pandemic world destroyed by a plague, and players take control of Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a brave young girl, as they try to survive across America. Think Dead Island but better.


Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is back, and she’s determined to get her crown back as queen of action games.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard

Skyrim came out late last year to almost universal acclaim, including our own game of the year award. Now, Bethesda is set to give us more information about the recently-announced Dawnguard DLC.

Lego Lord of the Rings

Lego games are always awesome, and the minifgure take on Lord of the Rings promises to be no exception.

Hitman: Absolution

The Hitman series returns with death, death and even more death.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

Despite being an obvious attempt to cash in on the ongoing Sherlock fever, this LA Noire-esque detective game seems intriguing.

Far Cry 3

The Far Cry series returns to an isolated island, and this time you get crazier the longer you stay there.

Assassin’s Creed 3

With a new protagonist and a new continent, AC3 promises to be epic, but can it differ enough from its predecessors to make gamers happy?

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments, and get ready for the biggest week of the gaming year. E3 here we come!