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With companies like Samsung and Google hopping aboard the “wearable” train, people have been wondering when Apple will get a ticket to ride, too.
Rumors of an Apple “iWatch” go as far back as February of last year when Bloomberg reported that Apple had a team of 100 designers working on a “wristwatch-like device” with the functionality of an iPhone and iPad.
Last Sunday, the fervor for the idea resurfaced with the approval of a smartwatch patent originally filed by Apple on July 20, 2011. The patent includes multiple details on the potential wrist-bound product, including SMS, media playback, and connectivity with the iPhone and Mac for messages and alerts. Possible hardware specifications include an accelerometer and gyroscope, which when attached to an arm open up a myriad of possibilities for unique gestures and input. One example noted is shaking your wrist to dismiss or accept a call. GPS and NFC functionality is also mentioned.
As with most device patents, some of the most exciting stuff comes from the various illustrations of potential product designs. While the name “iTime” doesn’t seem to appear anywhere in the text, one illustration shows the name on the watch’s display. One drawing shows the display as being detachable. Removing it from the wrist band yields a functioning iPod nano-like device, possibly hinting at some modular connectivity.
While a 3-year-old patent is not concrete proof of an actual product release, its evidence that Apple’s got part of their mind on wearables. Many hope the timing of the patent’s recent reveal is no coincidence and that Apple will be revealing their wearable product line somewhere in the near future. Apple traditionally has an event in September to show off new mobile hardware, but it remains to be seen if the “iTime” will be among the line-up of new iPhones and iPads.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
Wall Street Journal journalist Christopher Mims attempted to prove the dwindling importance of passwords by giving out his Twitter password to the public. The results were not what he expected.
Mims claimed that passwords as a form of authentication were becoming obsolete by heralding device-based authentication as a true means of keeping accounts secure. Device-based authentication uses a personal device, such as a smartphone, instead of a text-based password to access sensitive information. He argued that hackers can obtain a password, but a physical device can be disabled if lost and is further secured via PIN or biometric data, such as a fingerprint.
Mims also emphasized the power of two-factor authentication, which most online services offer, including Google, Yahoo, Steam and Facebook. Two-factor authentication requires you to prove your identity with both a password and another form of verification, which usually a randomly generated numerical code that is sent as a text message to your phone number for you to enter as verification on the website or service you’re trying to access. The idea is that only you yourself would have that phone number in your possession, and therefore only you could gain access to the code. Two-factor verification is certainly a valid and powerful tool in keeping your accounts safe, and Mims’ experiment proved it at the expense of some unfortunate consequences.
As soon as his password was posted to the public, Mim’s phone was constantly buzzing with verification requests at a frequency of 2 text messages per minute. Each text indicated someone other than him was trying to access his Twitter account. Eventually, Mims decided to switch from text-based verifications to app-based ones through Twitter’s official iPhone app. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this exposed a glaring flaw in Twitter’s two-factor authentication process. When sending verification requests to the user’s phone, Twitter would reveal that user’s phone number to those attempting to access the account.
So while Mims’ Twitter account was never actually hacked, his phone number had been compromised. This opened him up to a number of attacks and pranks, as one can imagine.
Mims’ stunt attracted the criticism of other journalists, accusing him of writing a “click bait” article and simply vying for attention. New York Magazine tech writer Kevin Roose even mocked the experiment on Twitter, posting “Cool contest: mug @mims for his phone, and you get his twitter account too!”
Following the barrage of texts and phone calls Mims received as a result of his experiment gone awry, his overworked phone disconnected from service, and he was eventually forced to change his phone number altogether.
Two days after his initial article, Mims wrote a follow-up piece containing a modicum of regret. Mims still believes that passwords are no longer a viable form of protection, which is true to a point. He uses the rest of the piece to offer general security tips and focuses on the flaw in Twitter’s security system that exposed his phone number in the first place. The revelation of this weakness is probably the best thing to come out of this ordeal.
In the end, Mims Twitter account remained uncompromised, proving the security of two-factor authentication. This embarrassing experiment, however, shows that you can’t just rely on a single element to keep your data safe. You have to be more knowledgeable, use a password manager, never use the same password on multiple accounts, be careful of who you share your data with, and always be on your guard. And, please, never challenge a hacker, no matter how secure your data may seem. If they’re determined, they’ll find a way in.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
This weekend, from July 11 to 13, thousands of players from countries all over the world will be competing in various fighting video games at the Evo Championship Series in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Officially, there are 8 games that make up the Evo 2014 line-up: Ultra Street Fighter IV, Killer Instinct, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Blazblue Chrono Phantasma, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Super Smash Bros. Meleeand King of Fighters XIII. There are even more games at the even unofficially as side tournaments, including games like Persona 4: Arena, Skullgirls and SoulCalibur II HD Online. The list of games doesn’t end there if you’re at the event yourself. Roaming the hallways of the hotel, you’re likely to find a bunch of people crammed into a room playing whatever game you can think of, maybe even laying down some paper for a few Windjammers money matches.
Evo registration dwarfs attendance from last year, with nearly 2000 registered entrants, and at least 800 international competitors, representing 46 different countries. Last year, online viewership broke more than 100,000 simultaneous viewers. As it tends to be with events like these, this year looks to be the biggest Evo yet.
Fighting for Glory
Evo could be considered video game Olympics pr fighting games’ version of the World Cup. You’ve got the best players in the world, fighting it out on the world’s biggest stage for this type of thing, complete with roaring crowds and excellent sports broadcast-like commentary (and if you haven’t heard competitive video game commentary before, it’s a real treat!). If you want a taste of what Evo has to offer, check out this incredible set from last year.
Every summer, the highest level of fighting game players from all over the globe convene in a city in the desert to compete in the Evo Championship Series. People from Mexico, Korea, Singapore, Japan, France, and even our little town of Paris, Texas come to represent their region and be recognized as a top player in games such as Street Fighter and Tekken. As with all competitors, they want to do their country proud and perhaps gain a tiny bit of fame. Oh, and there’s lots of money involved. I mean, this is Vegas, after all!
“Esports” is a growing industry, but Evo is a little different from the sanitized and extremely commercial atmosphere of something like Major League Gaming. Evo, and most fighting game tournaments, are community-run events. Most people play and compete for the fun and camaraderie that comes with sharing your passion for competitive video games. Having said that, Evo has helped the community and the scene grow considerably, and now there’s major money to be made here!
If someone’s ever told you that no one’s ever made any serious money playing video games, they should check out the prize pool for this year’s Evo. Player entry fees usually fund the prize pots for these tournaments, so player turnout determines cash prizes. When player counts run up to the likes of 1,979 (such is the case with Ultra Street Fighter IV), there’s going to be a lot of money involved! In addition to that, sponsors are able to throw in additional prize money as pot bonuses. With Ultra Street Fighter IV, the total prize money ends up as $29,790 spread out among the Top 8 players! That’s pretty crazy, but, then again, that’s 8 players out of 1,979, so if you want a piece of that pie, you better be darn good.
So there’s a lot of money going around to the top players in each game, but they won’t be the only ones benefitting! In 2012, Evo began a scholarship drive to help fund the education of students in the fighting game community looking to break into the video game industry. The Evo Scholarship is a partnership between the New York University Game Center, Evo and Twitch. Last year, Evo 2013 raised more than $20,000 towards the scholarship fund. This year, when purchasing a $12 Twitch subscription for Evo, 100 percent of that subscription fee will go towards the Evo Scholarship fund. The Twitch subscription will also net you a digital subscriber badge, 13 exclusive emoticons to use in Twitch chats, and access to the official Evo subscriber-only chat channel. Of course, you won’t need the subscription to watch Evo itself. It’s entirely optional, but you get some pretty neat perks in addition to supporting a good cause.
One of the most exciting parts of Evo for those following the fighting game scene is the culmination of yearlong personal storylines. Rivalries develop from Evo to Evo, and people can’t wait to see if last year’s champ still has it. There are surprises every year, with new blood constantly being injected into the competition (a notable example being an 8-year-old player named Noah who did pretty well in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in 2011). There’s always an underdog who comes out of nowhere and plows his way in to Top 8. There are upsets, there are comebacks, and all of it defines the hype that surrounds the biggest fighting game tournament out there. If you’re new to the scene, here’s a few fellows to keep an eye on this year! It’s always more exciting when you know the stakes hiding behind those silly-sounding names in the top corners of the screen. I’ll be listing player name handles in parentheses next to their real names.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Coming fresh off its return to Evo in 2013, this year has been huge for Smash Bros. Somehow, this 12-year-old game is still being played competitively, and it’s the oldest game on the Evo main stage. Evo 2014 is going to be the largest Melee tournament to date, with 970 registered entrants.
The rivalry to watch this year for Melee is between last year’s Evo champion Joseph Marquez (aka, Mango), America’s own, and Adam Lindgren (Armada) from Sweden. They’ve been taking wins and losses off each other at various tournaments all year. Another one to watch is Masaya Chikamoto (Amsa) from Japan, who has become a fan favorite due to his preference for Yoshi, a character you don’t see played very often in competitive Smash Bros.
King of Fighters XIII
This will be KOFXIII’s third year at Evo. Despite not being as big as other fighters, it has stuck around on the Evo line-up this long for being so incredibly entertaining to watch. Almost high level match of this game is a tense game of back-and-forth, and I highly recommend everyone check out the finals on Saturday.
Unfortunately, America’s reigning Evo champ, Reynald Tacsuan, isn’t going to be able to make it to this year’s tournament. KOF, however, is also known for its international competition. There are 319 entrants this year, and more than a third of them are of international talent. You’ve got killers like Kwang no Lee (MadKoF) from Korea, Felipe Torres (Misterio) from Chile and Jiahong Lin (ET) from Taiwan. Japan’s Hajime Taniguchi (Tokido) looks like the one to watch this year. Tokido is known for his proficiency in multiple fighting games, but this year he’s focusing on Street Fighter and KOF, so don’t be surprised if you see him placing high in more than one game!
Blazblue Chrono Phantasma
Evo always has room for one “anime” game in the line-up, and this year that game is the new Blazblue. Surprisingly, this is where the big money is at! The generous sponsors of the game have donated a total pot bonus of $30,000 to the game, so whoever wins is going to be swimming in bills.
Being an “anime” game, most people expect Japan to wipe the floor with whoever they’re up against. However, America’s impressive showing at Persona 4 Arena last year might have changed the story! Known U.S. players include Steve Barthelemy (Lord Knight) and Jose Llera (Bananaken).
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Tekken wasn’t even supposed to be part of the Evo 2014 line-up originally, but thanks to the hard work of some passionate fans and backing from developer Namco-Bandai, Evo has its 3D fighting game for the year! Competitors from all over are coming to kick some butt at Tekken, including Japan and Saudi Arabia. Weirdly enough, there is no Korean presence this year, despite nurturing some of the fiercest Tekken competitors in the world. Perhaps they were scared off by incredible performance of the U.S.’s own Bronson Tran from last year? Or, more likely, the late addition of Tekken to the line-up had an unfortunate effect on player turn out.
This is the newest game to be a part of Evo this year (if you don’t count Ultra Street Fighter IV). With most American fighting games, you don’t see much international competition, and it doesn’t help that the Xbox One isn’t even out in other countries, but the main players at Killer Instinct seem to be pretty consistent with tournament placing. Justin Wong seems to be the favorite to win, but we’ll also see some brutal competition from the likes of Jonathan Deleon (Rico Suave) and former Mortal Kombat player Emmanuel Brito (CD Jr.)
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Speaking of Mortal Kombat, Netherrealm’s DC superhero fighting game will be making its second appearance at Evo this year. Due to various balances changes made to the gameplay, the landscape for this game has changed a lot since last year, which was plagued by a Superman snoozefest. Hopefully this year will be more exciting! A player named Jivan Karapetian (Theo) has apparently been destroying players left and right with his Aquaman. Many Injustice competitors have been transplanted from the Mortal Kombat community, so you’ll likely see former Mortal Kombat players like Dominique Mclean (Sonic Fox), Steve Brownback (16 Bit) and Brant Mccaskill (Pig of the Hut) dominate the brackets. If not, they’ll certainly be around for Mortal Kombat X when that hopefully makes its Evo debut next year!
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Continuing the superhero theme, we’ve got Marvel vs. Capcom. If there’s any game you watch from the Evo line-up, it has to be this one. Marvel is one of the greatest games from a spectator’s standpoint. It’s flashy, it’s fast, it’s crazy, and the concentrated hype oozes from the crowd. You might not understand what’s going on half the time, since the action is a cacophony of almost seizure-inducing madness, but that’s what the excellent commentary is for!
Despite being developed in Japan, Marvel is known as America’s game for the number of American players that dominate it. There’s a ton of high-level players to watch in this game. Will Christopher Gonzalez (ChrisG), often seen as the villain of the scene, finally kill the game with his seemingly unbeatable play style? Will the equally villainous Ryan Ramirez (Filipino Champ) regain the championship title that he lost last year? Or will fan favorites like Justin Wong and Nicolas Gonzalez (Kane Blueriver) win it all with their unconventional teams? There’s always a lot of drama going on in Marvel, and Evo is where these stories begin and end.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
This is it. The king of fighting games. The alpha and the omega. Street Fighter is easily the most popular of all the fighting games at Evo, with 1,979 registered entrants! This new version of Street Fighter IV, called Ultra, has only recently been released, (it’s only a month old!) creating a resurgence in a community that was already pretty darn big. Ultra introduces new characters and mechanics, create a freshness that leaves a level of uncertainty that could possibly result in some spectacular matches. Since the game is so new, people will be saving their own secret techniques and strategies to debut at the tournament and blow a few minds.
Street Fighter is known for its large international presence. The U.S. is handily represented by the likes Team Evil Geniuses: Justin Wong, Eduardo Perez-frangie (PR Balrog), Ricky Ortiz) and other amazing players like Arturo Sanchez (TS Sabin) and Darryl Lewis (Snake Eyez). Asia tends to have the strongest players, such as Kun xian Ho (Xian) from Singapore and the unstoppable Seonwoo Lee (Infiltration) of South Korea. And, of course, no Street Fighter tournament is complete without a showcase of godlike skills from Japanese players like Daigo Umehara and Tokido.
How to Watch
So, are you interested in seeing the world’s finest fight it out on the world’s biggest stage in competitive fighting games? Starting this Friday, on July 11, Evo will have 3 official live streams to watch. Pool play and finals for certain games will be streamed at various points over the weekend. If you want to tune in to a specific game, you can check the official schedule here (times in Pacific Daylight Time).
In addition to Evo’s official streams, many community members will be streaming their own side tournaments and pool play for the less popular games. Madcatz, one of the proud sponsors of Evo and the fighting game community at large, will also be streaming their own side events, including a karaoke competition! You can check the Madcatz schedule here. All the times below have been converted to Central Daylight Time.
Skullgirls, Tekken, SoulCalibur, karaoke, and MORE
Blazblue Chrono Phantasma Pool Play, Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM
Killer Instinct Pool Play, Saturday morning:
Super Smash Bros. Exhibitions:
Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Tournament of Legends, starting Friday at 10:30 AM:
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Exhibitions, Friday night through Saturday:
Guilty Gear Accent Code +R Tournament, Friday at 2 PM:
Mortal Kombat 9 Tournament, Saturday at 8PM:
Vampire Savior, Top 8, Saturday at 5:30 PM:
As you can plainly see, there are so many games to choose from! If you have to watch only one thing, be sure to check out the Sunday finals, as that’s when the “hype” gets real. For more information, check out the official Evo website.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
For video game fans, last week contained seven days of entertainment, charity and good will. When folks didn’t have their eyes glued to the World Cup, they could tune into Summer Games Done Quick 2014, the video game speed run charity marathon. It proved to be a very popular event, with viewership peaking at more than 90,000 simultaneous online viewers. As tradition dictates, it’s time to go over the results of another successful GDQ marathon!
Gamers from all over the world pooled their money together to, as of this writing, raise $716,386 dollars for Doctors Without Borders. This more than doubled amount that was raised at last year’s SGDQ.
While spectators watched their favorite games systematically disassembled live through some entertaining speed runs, they also put their money towards winning various prizes and participating in bid wars to determine the direction of the event.
Some popular bid wars included the ever popular “Save or Kill the Animals” decision for the game Super Metroid. In the game, you’re given the option to free some animals from the imminent destruction of an entire planet, but doing so slows you down, which is the antithesis of a speed runner’s nature. Since these people are trying to beat these games as fast as possible, those digital creatures are usually low on the priority list. However, donors could force the runner to save those animals by putting their money towards it. Every year, at every marathon, this vicious bid war has people pouring thousands of dollars into the fate of these animals. Unfortunately for those poor helpless creatures on the planet Zebes, Kill the Animals ended up winning this time around. But, hey, they ended up raising more than $100,000 in the process!
Some incredibly generous donors made numerous individual donations ranging from hundreds to even thousands of dollars. Notch, the creator of Minecraft, plopped down $10,000 dollars on more than one occasion.
This year, SGDQ partnered with the Humble Bundle, which provided anyone donating $25 or more a digital bundle of 11 games that were being run at the marathon. 100 percent of the proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders. They sold 3,255 bundles, raising $83,033, adding to the total.
The event itself was a joy to watch. There were a ton of excellent runs, and even a couple of world records. SGDQ set numerous donation goals and milestones, and they met almost every single one. With a whole week’s worth of content, it would be tough to catch it all, so I’ll point out a few of my personal highlights.
Known as “Boshy” for short, I Wanna Be the Boshy is a clone of the infamous I Wanna Be the Guy. All you need to know about these games is that they are insanely difficult and monstrously unfair. Watching people fail at them has been a great Internet pastime for years. However, witnessing someone who’s actually good at the games is another story. Runner Witwix demonstrated extreme skill to be able to navigate the spiked hell mazes and surprise spider attacks while also simultaneously delivering exceptional commentary on the game and his strategy. Even if he did fail at the game, Witwix had pals willing to donate a dollar for every Game Over screen he saw, and considering the nature of the game, that ended up being quite a few.
I have no idea what ZZT is, and watching this speed run did not help with that one bit. Regardless, the cluelessness that couch commentator Dacidbro mixed with the vague explanations from runner Cosmo makes for a supremely comedic run that looks like utter nonsense. You won’t learn much from watching this ZZT speed run, but you probably will laugh out loud.
This was less of a speed run and more of a demonstration of how incredibly cheesy this 1997 computer game is. The runner opted to let every single ridiculous cutscene play out instead of skipping them, resulting in one of the most bizarre visual narratives ever presented in a video game. It just goes to remind you that Goosebumps was always more comedy than horror.
Again, this is less of a speed run and more of an excuse to show off this off-the-wall ridiculous representation of American “politics” from Japanese developer From Software (makers of the popular Souls series). This game wasn’t even originally part of the schedule. Donors had to raise $3,000 to get the game added to the line-up, and I’m sure glad they did. To summarize, Metal Wolf Chaos is a Japanese-only Xbox release that tells the story of a United States president that pilots a bipedal robot war machine to fight off a coup d’etat instigated by an evil vice president. It’s an anime-level ridiculous tale of patriotism that makes the movie Independence Day look like a serious work of art. It’s pretty amazing.
Some of the most exciting things about these GDQ marathons are the races. Watching a group of speed runners race each other provides not only a chance to see who is the best, but it’s also an interesting way to show off each runner’s individual style and technique. The Super Mario World race was a delight to watch. The competitive element adds a layer of tension and excitement as one mistake can cost you the whole race. Although, the conclusion to this particular race may have been a result of friendly collusion, the resulting victory dance may have been worth it!
While not exactly the most impressive run, it was incredible to see how “broken” a modern video game could be. The runner used some insane tricks to skip large portions of a game that’s less than a year old. With a game so young, it wouldn’t surprised me to see the game be run in a completely different way next year. Some of the skips are so crazy, that you could call them “old school,” which was the general vibe that A Link Between Worlds was going for. I gave the game a perfect score, and it turns out the game even excels in ways likely deemed unintentional!
If you’re new to speed runs, Siglemic is definitely someone you should be watching. Siglemic’s Super Mario 64 runs are such a big deal, that SGDQ set some extreme donation goals to even get it on the schedule. If they raised a grand total of $300,000 by Saturday at midnight, Siglemic would do a 16 star run, providing a short but fun romp through the game. $400,000 would earn viewers a 70 star run, and $500,000 would get a full 120 star run. They easily reached the $500,000 dollar goal and we were all treated to a 100% run of Super Mario 64. While he wasn’t at world record pace, it was an excellent demonstration of execution and skill, and apparently Siglemic was 2 weeks rusty on the game! If you’re casually familiar with Super Mario 64, your mind will be blown by Siglemic’s performance, which could lead you down the path of becoming a fan of video game speed runs, which isn’t a bad road to travel.
Those were my personal highlights from SGDQ 2014, but there’s so much more from the event that I couldn’t possibly list them all! Thankfully, users on Reddit have put together a list of every single run and links to watch them all. Go pick out your favorite game and watch them get obliterated.
If you’re interested in checking out another marathon, Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 starts January 4 early next year!
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra
During a press event in Seattle last Wednesday, Amazon announced their long-rumored phone hardware. They’re keeping up with similar branding to their Kindle ebook reader and Kindle Fire tablets. Their new device is appropriately named the Fire Phone, perhaps in attempt to set the smartphone market ablaze.
The specs seem pretty standard fair for a modern Android phone. The phone is 8.9 mm thick, sporting a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass 720p display. It runs on a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM.
What sets the Fire Phone apart from other phones is integration with Amazon’s exclusive services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Music, the Amazon App Store, X-Ray, and their Mayday live support service. You’ll also get free unlimited cloud storage for your photos.
Amazon is also introducing a new service called Firefly. The phone’s camera (one of its many cameras, as I’ll get to later) is able to recognize various items such as books, DVDs, CDs, URLs, bar codes and more. Once the camera detects an item, you’ll be able to purchase that item directly from Amazon. You can even use the phone’s microphone to listen to songs in a Shazam-like fashion and purchase them directly from Amazon’s MP3 store. It’s not only useful for selling products, but can also recognize things like street signs and art, bringing up useful information like Wikipedia articles and presumably maps. The service features such integration with the phone that there’s even a dedicated Firefly button on the device itself.
There’s one other little feature to debut with the Fire Phone, and that’s “Dynamic Perspective,” neat display gimmick in the form of a glassesless 3D interface.
Most phones have 2 cameras, but the Fire Phone has 6! Two of them are your standard front and rear-facing cameras, but Amazon’s Phone has 5 additional front-facing cameras for head-tracking 3D. Unlike Nintendo’s 3DS, the idea here is that moving your phone or head around will not break the 3D, as the cameras will assist the display in following your head movements, preserving depth. It’s a neat gimmick that’s probably there as an attempt to make the phone stand out in the already bloated Android market.
Speaking of Android, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire Phone runs on Fire OS 3.5, modified version of Android tailored to work with Amazon services. Because of that, you still won’t find the Google Play Store on the device, and you’ll have to deal with Amazon’s own app store instead. You will, however, be able to change the interface from its Kindle Fire-style carousel grid to a more standard interface that more resembles Android.
You can pre-order the Amazon Fire Phone now, and the phone will ship on July 25. The phone comes in two configurations: 32 GB and 64 GB. The phone is exclusive to AT&T, and the 32 GB model with a contract is $199 and the 64 GB model is $299. You can also buy it directly from Amazon without a service plan, at $649 for the 32 GB one and $749 for 64 GB. A limited time introductory offer includes a free year of Amazon Prime.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra