Archive for the ‘Cloud’ Category

Next Gen Console – Why I Have Finally Settled on the Xbox One.

September 16, 2013

Let me start this blog by making it clear, I am an Xbox fanboy, I have owned a PS1 and 2 but my last few years have been spent with Microsoft.

I have spent the last few months agonising over which console I would be going for.  I did a large amount of reading on both consoles and a couple of months back I would have said I am going to get a Playstation.  This decision at the time was purely based upon the rumour that the Playstation was going to be more powerful, the cheaper price and the fact that more of my friends would be going for the Playstation.microsoft-xbox-one

However, a few months on and I have made my decision and actually pre-ordered the Xbox One.  The reason for this complete 180 is down to a number of reasons which I will go into below.

1.  Price – The Playstation is cheaper however if you purchase the Sony camera to go with the console, thus taking advantage of the tech, the prices are almost identical.  This however is not as good as the Xbox One Kinect camera and also not being a mandatory part of the console also means that it will follow the way of the Kinect and thus games using it will be limited as developers are not going to waste money on camera development if only a small percentage of the gamers have it.

2.  The specifications of both consoles are now much closer, particularly since the Xbox’s recent upgrade in GPU means that there is not a significant advantage to go with the Playstation.

3.  Despite my friends being likely to get the Playstation I have found that the fact I play in the same room as my wife watches TV means that I rarely talk to players and therefore playing against friends is such a rare occurrence it cannot justify a console purchase.

4.  Microsoft appear to be listening to their customer base.  At the original launch of the Xbox One, things could not have gone worse, Sony took advantage of that and took as many shots at Microsoft as they could.  They had good reason too, the used game policy, the always online although not major concerns to me were seen as a major issue by many.  However Microsoft (no matter what the reason) quickly did a u-turn on these decisions.  Therefore I feel more comfortable knowing that Microsoft will make further improvements as time progresses.

5.  Perhaps the biggest reason I made my final decision was due to the games.  With both consoles being very similar with regards to specs, Microsoft development is slightly easier as most developers will be programming on windows systems, therefore making the transition between PC and Xbox ports much easier.  I have also found that many of the PlayStation exclusives are directed at the Japanese market, ie anime style games which just isn’t for me,I realise this is not all they offer but it contributes to my feelings on this.  Also the exclusive titles, earlier releases etc on Xbox are more my style of games.  Do not get me wrong, games such as ‘The Last of Us’ on Playstation looked amazing but I felt that these games that actually grabbed my attention on Playstation 3 were few and far between, therefore my decision has been led by the type of games already being shown for the Xbox.  Also the massive server investment Microsoft has invested in the Xbox looks to provide a better gaming experience, yes Playstation are also making a large investment in this area, but in comparison they are a few years behind on this and therefore it will take some time for them to match the power house behind the Xbox One.

6.  It is only now, with the PS4 that Sony are focusing much more RAM on the operating system, I have heard many complaints from Playstation gamers regarding slow friends lists, etc on the PS3.  Xbox had this mastered in the 360 and this looks to continue into the next gen.

So this is why after month of boring my friends on Facebook I made the decision to stick with Xbox.  The discussions will, as with the current generation continue for many years as to which console is best, but I am going to remain an Xbox fanboy for the next 7 years at least.

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Next Gen Consoles – Thoughts So Far! Part 2

June 13, 2013

Well after a few days of E3 there has been a ton of announcements and news around the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.  Many of which are starting to make me confused and concerned as a current Xbox fan boy.

xbox one vs ps4

Sony has by far come out on top of the initial bout of “my console is better than yours”.  I have owned PlayStations in the  past but have had an Xbox360 for the last decade.  The major blow came as Sony announced their console price is £80 cheaper in the UK than the Xbox One.  I really want to stay with Xbox but with so far no backward compatibility for hardware confirmed there is no apparent reason to remain loyal to Xbox.

It has already been confirmed that neither system will play last gen discs.  But what about my existing controllers and headsets?  It has already been noted that the controller ‘s connectors are different but will there be adaptors available?

The cheaper price for the PlayStation also means non hard-core gamer friends are likely to go for this cheaper option.

The Xbox has come under much fire for it’s pre owned game policy and it’s connection policy which is a concern for  many.  At this point in time I have to admit I am starting to lean towards joining the PlayStation nation however there is a lot of time for Xbox to regain my loyalty.

As far as I understand Xbox will be better for online gaming with it’s 300k server system, it will also have many useful Kinect features, previously wasted due to developers not bothering due to not all owners having Kinect.

But Xbox need  to make consumers unlike myself, who do not have time to read every detail of the specs and news, see why it is worth the extra cash for what a casual gamer sees as a similar system to the PlayStation.

Xbox does seem to have a better launch line up but to casual gamers it probably won’t be enough.

Round one to Sony, bring on round 2.

Next Gen Consoles – Thoughts So Far – Part1

May 24, 2013

xbox one vs ps4

Let me start this post by making the statement, I am currently an Xbox360 user.

I have not played on a PS3 but many of my friends own one and in my opinion there is little difference between the consoles bar the PS3 Blu-Ray.  There will always be the fanboy wars over which is best but in general it is just down to personal preference.  I chose Xbox360 after owning a PS1 and PS2 as it was cheaper.  I also prefer the controller as I am not having to stretch my left thumb to the analogue stick, but as I stated before, this is just my personal preference.

Over the past couple of months both Sony and Microsoft have made major announcements about their next gen consoles, both presentations (as I presume they planned) presented more questions than answers.

Now both consoles have very similar specs and the varying combinations of RAM type and CPU/APU pretty much makes it a level playing field as far as you can tell at this stage.  The real test will come when the consoles are in the users hands, or more importantly the independent reviewers hands.

However I am guessing the actual games are going to be very similar, I cannot see publishers spending huge amounts of time making one version of a game significantly better than another.  There are of course the exclusives but it really depends on the type of games you are into.  Xbox may have the advantage of being more similar to a PC operating system and therefore easier to port from PC (which most developers use) to Xbox.  But this probably won’t have any impact as they rarely release a game on one console before the others.

Overall I was more impressed with the Xbox One presentation, from the limited game snippets we saw, there does not appear to be much difference between the two consoles when  it comes to gaming, yes this is what the main purpose of the console is for despite all of the new functionality.  Partly due to the similar specs and partly because we cannot assume anything we have seen is genuine, often previews are pre-rendered making them look even better than they actually are.

microsoft-xbox-one

The Xbox presentation was better for me purely because  they showed the improvements from current gen and also they numerous new features.  Sony however spent much time talking about the social side of the system, I have never found the need to let a friend take over a game for me as once completed I cannot say that I completed it if a friend had to help me.  Sony spent much of their focus  talking about the social aspects and with the (in my opinion) fatal marketing error of only showing the controller,  I completely lost interest.

That is not to say I was amazed by the Xbox presentation, whilst I must admit I probably am an Xbox fanboy, I did find some of the presentation a little underwhelming.  For example, Kinect 2.0, whilst much improved on the current system, I rarely get the chance to use it as you cannot have other things going on in the room or others talking whilst you use it, therefore with my current setup I only really get to use it whilst my wife and I watch films or when she is not in the room.  This leads on to the new TV functionality, whilst it is pretty amazing, I cannot imagine many households where the Xbox would be connected to the main TV.  If you are a single person living alone then this functionality is pretty impressive however many families, couples would have the Xbox connected to a different TV to allow others to watch TV whilst others play games.  Therefore impressive but not a major consideration for someone like myself.

Also the ability to use multiple applications together, again impressive but just how much would we use it?  I am not so sure as I very rarely use internet explorer on my Xbox as it just isn’t as user-friendly as on my laptop.  However the ability to leave a game and come back to where you left off is pretty cool, especially if the speed of switching is as impressive as the presentation.

Dual-Shock-4_contentfullwidthThere are still a number of ongoing debates regarding pre-owned games, Xbox has given some information none of which is particularly clear, however it does seem that games will have to be installed (as currently on PS3) and each game will be registered to a user profile, so no lending games to your friends without a fee.  This is however all guess work and without Sony making any announcements yet I am sure it is a strategic waiting game between both companies as to exactly what will happen as whichever makes a wrong move will knock their own market share to disastrous levels.

No prices or release dates have been announced so it is now just a waiting game whilst we sift through the numerous rumours and snippets of information out there.  Roll on E3 where hopefully many of the outstanding questions will be answered, although I am not holding my breath!

UPDATE 25th May 2013
Since publishing my post yesterday I have watched Woody’s Gamertag on YouTube who raised some more concerns. Will our existing accessories work on the new console? Allegedly the Xbox has a new connection on the controller so does this mean our headsets will need to be replaced? I have a new set of Turtle Beach XP 500s and I can’t afford to replace these yet again! I am hoping that they bring out a new connector which would be far cheaper than a completely new headset. The theory behind this change is so Microsoft can take a cut of any accessories for the new Xbox as the connection is proprietary to them. Alternatively they may be looking to only allow some companies to produce items for the console which wouldn’t be good news for consumers as competition would be all but eliminated.

Another concern raised in the video was privacy. If the console can be always online could hackers switch on the Kinect’s camera without your knowledge? I am sure these questions will be answered in time but for now it is definitely food for thought!

Apple’s iCloud, Amazing But Concerns!

June 10, 2011

This week Apple announced their amazing new service iCloud.  I am not going to go into all the details of the service but it is basically a sync service for your digital life.

I recently posted regarding my move from Mobileme to GoogleApps as I was not happy with the Mobileme service which Steve Jobs actually joked about in the conference regarding it not being one of their best products.

However questions arose from the presentation on iCloud that I am concerned about, but I assume will come to light in time.

Firstly battery life, I have seen a couple of posts regarding this concern as whilst this auto sync is wonderful on your plugged in Mac/PC what about the iPhone.  iPhone does not have the longest battery life as it is, so if it is constantly auto syncing with the cloud will this not kill the battery?

Secondly will it be able to be configured so that it only syncs things we want and when we want?  Again this relates to battery life but also there is often things I do not want synced such as photos etc to my iPhone or songs which I have removed due to space but want to keep on my PC.

My final thought is that whilst no storage is secure, I can never see this being a complete alternative to Hard drive back up as I myself have fallen to the fate of the iphone losing all of it’s data and then syncing with MobileMe and then my mac, basically wiping everything of my personal data (I fortunately backup).  Most will be aware of this risk but the less technically minded of us may not be so knowledgable.

I’m sure all of these questions if not already asked will be answered in due course but I just hope that the answers are what I am looking for.

Leaving MobileMe – A Great Alternative

May 25, 2011

I have been a member of Mobile me for 2 years now and have utilised all of it’s features, from websites to mail.  I joined originally as I loved the ability to sync data between my Macbook and my iPhone.  This all works very well.

However, this year I took the major decision to sell my Macbook (see previous Blog for explanation Link ).  It was after selling my Macbook that I looked at syncing all the data from my iPhone to my new Windows-based PC.  I realised the majority of sync tasks can be done via iTunes but I still wanted the cloud functionality that I had used with my Macbook.  MobileMe worked fine syncing with MSOutlook using the Apple application for doing this.  My only issues were that this syncing program started at every boot unless you disabled it, but then you would need to enable it again to sync.  I also became disheartened by the cost each year of MobileMe at £60 .

I scoured the internet searching for viable alternatives finding many free alternatives.  The problem however was that no service provided the complete package of Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Webspace, Bookmarks and Find my iPhone.  Therefore I felt syncing via multiple services would probably kill my iPhone battery.

It was then I came across GoogleApps.  This service, at it’s basic level is free for personal users giving you syncing ability for Calendars, Contacts, Mail and Websites.  However there was no ability to sync this to Outlook.  However the next package up at just £3.3o per month included this functionality.  I could not believe that I pretty much had everything mobile me had at nearly half the cost (£39.60).

There are of course varying degrees of replication and a couple of functions not included in GoogleApps but overall it was worth it for the cost saving and the ability to pay monthly instead of yearly.  I have listed below the functions I use and their differences to MobileMe.

Prerequisite
GoogleApps does require that you own your own domain name which of course incurs a yearly fee, for me this was not an additional cost as I already own a domain, however if you do not already you can easily register for one using Google and costs approximately £11.  Also you will need to install GoogleSync if you wish to sync with MSOutlook.  The positive for this is that it only opens when you open Outlook thus does not use resource when not in use as MM does.

Mail
Mail is very good with GoogleApps (GA), even with the free package you get up to 10 email address accounts.  With the business package you get unlimited accounts each with 25GB of space.  You could get friends to join with you so you can spread the costs between you for email.
Mail is IMAP the same as MM so anything you do on your iPhone is replicated on the GA servers.

Positives: You can have numerous email accounts e.g. for each of your family or friends. You can manage Spam from your iPhone by moving it to the Spam folder which Gmail then uses to identify junk email.  The read message count is alaso pushed to your iPhone unlike MobileMe which required you to open Mail to refresh the unread count.

Negatives: GA has a strange function whereby if you delete on your iPhone it is basically archived.  Without going into too much detail it basically means the email does not have a label such as Inbox or one of your personal folders.  Nothing is deleted unless you go to the All Mail folder and individually delete it.  If you delete in Outlook it goes into the BIN folder as you would expect and will auto delete in 30 Days.  The only problem I have with the iPhone in effect archiving is that you cannot easily identify Archived mail in Gmail to  batch delete the mails.  This can however be done from Outlook which is clever enough to identify the archived mail.

Calendar/Contacts
Not much different to MM except I did not have the UK GMT issue for all day events as I did with MM.

Positives: Again you can set up multiple calendars for different users.  Also contacts birthdays are placed into a separate calendar list which syncs with Outlook without issue.

Webspace
Very similar to MM, only positive is that you can actually create a website from within GA.

iDisk/GoogleDocs
I am very fond of GAs equivalent to iDisk as it just feel more flexible.

Positives: Docs can be saved to be viewable from a web browser, you can decide on exactly who can view what by setting individual share settings.  You can install a MS plugin to either automatically or manually share documents directly from programs such as Excel, Word, etc.

Bookmark Sync
This function is not available via GA, there are other services out there that can provide this but I do not feel it is worth paying for this so I simply use the iTunes sync for Bookmarks.

Find My iPhone
This service is not available with GA but I never really used this so it was not an issue for me.

Overall I could not be happier with GoogleApps and to add their customer support is very quick to respond to any queries you have with your service so all round this “in my opinion” is a far better service.