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Parasite Eve and the RPG road less traveled – June 03, 2013 at 07:30PM

In his weekly column, writer Bob Mackey will alternate between two of his passions: the Japanese RPG genre and classic games.

Parasite Eve and the RPG road less traveled

As a lifelong follower of Square Enix – through both good times and bad – Parasite Eve stands as the first of its US-released games that left me feeling pangs of disappointment. Parasite Eve deviates wildly from the prescribed JRPG format, and even though its battle system introduced elements the developer would expand upon in the future, Square’s take on Resident Evil features one playable character involved in a story that barely squeaks past the 10-hour mark.

To some, Parasite Eve‘s focus on streamlining Square’s expected RPG design can’t be seen as anything but sacrilege, and you can count me in with those who initially felt burned after blowing through the game over the course of a weekend. But it should be noted that Square created this new brand of “cinematic RPG” (as they would call it) to draw in an audience larger than the hardcore JRPG stalwarts who had supported them up to that point. Final Fantasy VII might have sold based on its impressive CGI-laden advertisements, but it did so at the cost of alienating players unprepared for menu-driven gameplay.

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JoystiqParasite Eve and the RPG road less traveled originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 03 Jun 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Metareview: Remember Me – June 03, 2013 at 07:00PM

Metareview Remember Me

A memorable aspect of Remember Me is its soundtrack, available now on iTunes or accessible through Spotify. As for the game, our review tried its best not to repress the whole thing.

  • Edge (80/100): “Schlocky and silly in places, but potent and reflective in others, Nilin’s tale has bags of heart to play off against its flamboyant bosses and existential quandaries, all grounded by a charismatic female star.”
  • Game Informer (78/100): “The environmental climbing sequences offer some simple fun, but the linear paths diminish any sense of exploration this otherwise would have achieved. Combat is filled with fresh ideas, but that creativity inhibits your capability in combat. Hopefully Dontnod doesn’t forget any of the lessons it learned this time around, because a sequel could be truly memorable.
  • GameSpot (70/100): “Remember Me is not the game its world and premise hint that it could have been; rather, it’s simply a good third-person action game: entertaining, slickly produced, and flavorful enough to keep you engaged to the end of its six-hour run time.”
  • IGN (59/100): “Ultimately, it failed to challenge or excite me as a game, as all of its best ideas are confined to its overarching fiction rather than its gameplay.”
  • NowGamer (50/100): “This feels like an awkward first step rather than a finished product. As it stands, Remember Me is a series of mediocre gameplay ideas stapled to a pretty, hollow shell.

JoystiqMetareview: Remember Me originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 03 Jun 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Exclusive: Bankrupt San Bernardino picks twice bankrupt manager – February 22, 2013 at 02:56PM

File photo of a concrete sign marking the city limits for San Bernardino, CaliforniaLOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The bankrupt city of San Bernardino has hired a new city manager who, according to court filings, has twice declared personal bankruptcy and was recently ousted from the board of a small community’s water company after being sued by shareholders. The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to hire Allen J. Parker, 71, as its city manager on an annual salary of almost $222,000. He replaces an interim city manager who resigned last month because, according to friends, she was exasperated by the city’s internal divisions. …

via Politics News Headlines – Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-bankrupt-san-bernardino-picks-twice-bankrupt-manager-171424837–finance.html

Don’t Let The Criminals Win: 5 Tools & Tips For Preventing Burglary – February 22, 2013 at 01:01PM

Judging by the popularity of our last home surveillance article, it seems quite a lot of you are increasingly worried about the security of your home. Whether that fear is justified or not, it’s always a good idea to take precautions and be ready.

Read on as we examine technological tools and tips that you can employ to both protect your home, and help deal with the fallout should the worst ever happen.

As ever, please don’t take this as legal advice. Check local laws first.

Home Surveillance & Offsite Backup

Let’s get this one out the way first as it remains a strong deterrent to any determined intruders. We did a group test of various computer based surveillance packages before (and an update here from 2 more surveillance solutions), so read that to find out the best packages.

Your main choice will be between spending on a “proper” outdoor network based camera, or DIYing a solution with an old webcam, as well as how many cameras to place. Whatever you choose, be sure to make outdoor cameras obvious so as to actually act as a deterrent – a flashing red LED, placing the camera in clear view from the front (the front of the house is best).

You might want to set up additional cameras inside your house in the home office or hallway, as most burglars won’t be expecting internal cameras in a residential zone. At least you might be able to catch them.

Obviously, if the criminals do get inside and take equipment, you’ll be glad if you used a cloud-based solution rather than saving to a local drive. At the very least, hide your surveillance data drive in the loft or somewhere otherwise inaccessible, with a long USB cable.

Track Your Devices

For Apple devices, go and check right now that each is linked to your iCloud account, and enable tracking via the Find My iPhone service. If your iPad or iPhone are then taken, you’ll be able to quickly locate the stolen goods assuming the thieves are stupid enough not to take out the SIM cards. I’m not just saying this based on theory – my wife’s iPhone was stolen, and we got it back.

find my iphone

For other devices including laptops, we suggest setting up Prey. Once triggered and assuming its connected to the Internet, the device will take periodic pictures and screenshots of the thief and post them back to you, as well as attempt to figure out the location from detected wifi networks.

Home Automation, Or Just Timer Switches

Criminals are cowards, so most will only attack homes that are obviously vulnerable or where they’re unlikely to meet the home owner. With that in mind, the easiest home defence is just to make it look like you’re at home. Mechanical or electronic timer switches are inexpensive and can be attached to radios, TV and floor lamps to give the impression of someone still being there.

Fake Defence Systems, With An Arduino

Arduinos are wonderful little devices, and when combined with a simple distance sensor hidden in a flower pot or a more elaborate motion sensor, you could rig them up to trigger the sound of a barking dog (make sure it’s a long recording with variety), turn lights on in the bedroom, or even the sound of a shotgun being cocked (OK, maybe not that one, but you get the point).

Wire up some servo motors and you could even go all Home Alone on their burgling a**.

Take Inventory

OK – so if you were to get burgled, just imagine the stress of trying to figure out exactly what was taken and how much it was worth! That’s where a home inventory system comes in useful. Simply take pictures of your devices and scan the receipts for everything you own – many insurance companies refuse to cover losses that you can’t actually prove you owned in the first place. You don’t need to use a scanner for receipts – most camera phones offer sufficient quality nowadays.

Just get into the habit of keeping receipts and photograph them immediately. You probably already do this anyway if you’re self-employed. With any luck, you’ll never need your inventory at all. But, like your scouting guidebook said, be prepared!

There are specialized home inventory apps to do this which will let you print out customized lists according the insurer’s specifications, but honestly the free Evernote is more than up to the task. Create an Inventory notebook and add a new note for each item.

Do you have any more ideas on how technology can protect your home and help you deal when the worst happens? Share them in the comments and I’ll throw a few points your way!

The post Don’t Let The Criminals Win: 5 Tools & Tips For Preventing Burglary appeared first on MakeUseOf.

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This billboard sucks water out of the air and delivers it to families below – February 22, 2013 at 12:58PM

In Peru, it hardly ever rains and most water sources are polluted, but the humid air is full of water vapor. So the University of Engineering and Technology has rigged up a billboard to suck drinking water out of thin air.

Taking advantage of capital city Lima’s high humidity levels, engineers have created a system to gather the water through reverse osmosis, purify it, and send it down, clean, to families below.

It’s already produced almost 2,500 gallons of water and is the only billboard we’ve ever seen that actually can justify its existence.

via Grist http://grist.org/living/this-billboard-sucks-water-out-of-the-air-and-delivers-it-to-families-below/

tl;dr: Plant some trees – February 22, 2013 at 12:47PM

How do you avoid a drone attack? 22 practical tips from al-Qaeda (via AP).

Discovered by the Associated Press in an abandoned building in Timbuktu, authored by senior al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen, the document provides not only practical advice for avoiding the threat of drones, but also an astute understanding of why U.S. forces have shifted to drone-based tactics:

To start with, we have to know that the Americans did not resort to this approach _The War of the Drone _ because they have shortages in the combat jets like the F16 and other types or they don’t possess enough troops, but because it is the most suitable approach for them now. The Americans fully realize that they are in the 10th year of war and that they were economically exhausted and suffered human losses and they were confronted with public pressure backed by the Congress in a way that it made the honorable and responsible withdrawal from the war as a prime goal of the White House. But this does not mean that abandoning the war, rather, they pushed them to seek alternative military strategies that enable them to continue the war without being economically depleted or suffer human losses and avoid the American public opinion pressure. Here the war of the drone appeared as a perfect solution.

Full PDF hosted by AP

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