Russian Officials Brand The Sims 4 as ‘Harmful to Children’

Russia has come under fire from both gamers and the global LGTB community for its decision to restrict sales of Electronic Arts game ‘The Sims 4’ to 18+ gamers.

EA have claimed that this 18+ rating is due to the game’s depiction of same-sex relationships, images of which are deemed by Russian law as being “harmful to children”.

The Sims, in any incarnation, centres on the lives of a group of virtual characters. Players must ensure that the characters are fed, enjoy gainful employment, have somewhere to live (preferably with adequate toilet facilities) and are generally happy in their lives.

sims 4 2014There are very few mission-based objectives within The Sims. In fact, it is intended as a virtual depiction (some may say satire) of modern life. To this end, relationships play a part in the game, although characters are neither explicitly heterosexual nor homosexual, these are largely choices made on the part of the player. Relationships can either be brief flirtations, casual flings or monogamous, steady partnerships; it is entirely up to the gamer.

Depictions of sex (called ‘woohoo’) within the game take place under sheets, or in other private places. Players can tell that something is going on, but one would be hard pushed to guess that it was sex without some prior erm…Woohoo experience.

In 2010, Russia passed a law known as 436-FZ, which was created, ostensibly, to protect children from harmful content. The law gives Russian officials the right to censor anything that may elicit “fear, horror, or panic in young children”. It sounds fair enough, except when you try to envision any child, no matter how sensitive, being rendered ‘fearful, horrified or panicky’ at the sight of two, essentially genderless, computer sprites exchanging, essentially nothing, under a duvet.

For the record, Sims cannot take illegal drugs or self harm in any way (with the possible exception of being up all night woohoo-ing and then falling asleep at work and being fired, which I don’t think qualifies), so it is hard to imagine why else the game could have garnered such a severe age restriction.

Oh wait; I forgot to mention that in 2013, Russian authorities amended 436-FZ so that it prohibits the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”. Now there’s an ill-fitting definition if ever there was one.

Many studies/groups (such as America’s TREVOR project) maintain that media-enforced pressure to conform to heterosexual norms can cause depression, anxiety and even suicide among LGBT youths, essentially proving that only showing one type of romantic relationship can actually be harmful to young viewers. On the flipside, as far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that seeing a same-sex partnership in a video game will cause an otherwise heterosexual gamer to become a homosexual and even if there was, how exactly would they be being harmed by this unlikely metamorphosis?

Critics maintain that this move reflects little more than personal prejudice in the guise of child protection. Who’s ‘fear, horror and/or panic’ are Russia really preventing here?

In the rest of the world, The Sims series has either been rated at 10+ or 13+ (mainly because of all the woohoo, I suppose). Electronic Arts was voted as being one of the best places to work for LGBT individuals by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) in 2012, it got a score of 100%.

One has to wonder what score the Russian government would get.

SOURCE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27374539

What Type Of Two Way Radio Should A Shopping Centre Use?

The truth is that shopping centres (or ‘malls’ if we’re being American about it), can seriously improve an area’s local economy. It is basic economics really, if the supply is less than the demand, then there is profit to be made. I expect a percentage, Deepak!

OK, I’ve thought a bit about this one and, I reckon your best bet would be an affordable, yet high performance unit like a Motorola DP3400 or similar. I suggested the DP3400 because it a) it won’t bankrupt the (hypothetical) project, b) it is very versatile and c) it is exceptionally easy to use (user training takes, on average, about 20 minutes).

A DP3400 offers use of 32 channels, functions as both analogue and digital and is available in UHF or VHF versions. In short, this radio is perfect for security, health and safety or even customer service.

I’ve recently found the ‘Case Studies’ sections on the Motorola website (you can probably tell by my other pieces this month), but the DP3400 has a case that’s exactly like yours. For what its worth, here’s what they said about it.

“Digital two-way radio was chosen to provide a secure, discreet communicationsystem with no risk of transmissions being compromised by eavesdroppers. The Centre’s local Motorola Authorised Dealer demonstrated how  MOTOTRBO digital radios could provide greater coverage and improved audio clarity than analogue and enable users to make both one-to-one and group calls. The increased battery power would extend battery life by up to 40%, enabling the radios to be used throughout the entire 11-hour trading day without recharging”.

That sounds pretty good to me. In any instance, you keep dreaming and don’t let anyone discourage you. Find out what it takes to be an…um, ‘shopping centre design person’ and just go for it! 

Private Pilots Shouldn’t Take Off Without a Backup Radio

Can’t get over how low-priced the two way radio is now, an incredible deal for a top-end product!

Those of you who follow my adventures know that I can fly to wherever there’s a communications emergency. Regular folks need a plane, and what do private pilots need? They need two-way radios, of course!

A recent story on TodaysWirelessWorld.com explained how many private pilots wouldn’t consider taking to the air without a backup radio. “Imagine what happens if an airplane’s primary radio fails in flight,” the story says. “You’re thousands of feet in the air at the controls of an expensive aircraft with no ability to monitor weather and emergency channels or communicate with control towers, ground crews, and other pilots. Getting down safely suddenly becomes more theoretical than a sure thing.”

The story goes on to review some key considerations for a pilot using a handheld aircraft radio as a backup:

Mind your power supply. “While rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries usually have the longest battery life, you really want a rechargeable battery that will hold a charge for a very long time. Standard rechargeable batteries lose their charge quickly, but ‘low-discharge’ batteries can hold up to 70% of their charge for years on end.”

Get yourself trained. “On the ground, walk through all the steps for getting your backup radio up and running, including finding proper frequencies for nearby control towers. Also be sure to practice using your handheld in flight. Having the whole radio in your hand while working the plane’s controls is a bit more complicated than talking into a mic.”

Save your most-used frequencies. “Every radio manufacturer has its own way of saving most-used frequencies. Sometimes you’ll have to break out your user manual to figure out how to program and recall saved channels. Be sure to add the process for recalling saved channels to your drilling and training.”

That’s good advice for pilots and everyone else who needs to keep a two-radio handy in case of an emergency. A radio is a useful and versatile tool, but it’s up to us to make sure it’s ready to help us when we need it.

– See more at: http://blog.bearcom.com/2014/01/private-pilots-shouldnt-take-off-without-a-backup-radio-2/#sthash.3x2Oy4NG.dpuf

How To Use A Radio Earpiece?

Pete’s question may seem obvious, but it is actually a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. Besides, Pete’s email was long, detailed and impeccably polite. I like Pete. I dig Pete (HUR HUR HUR – Sorry Pete, that one couldn’t be helped).

Anyway, Pete wanted a step-by-step guide to putting on a radio earpiece. It is actually ridiculously easy to get tangled up in the wires (which, as I told one curious soul back in March last year, has something to do with the randomness of the universe). In any instance, I decided that others might have experienced the same problems as Pete, so I thought it best to acquiesce and write this guide.

OK Pete, the first thing to do is take the clippable (which, according to my spellchecker isn’t a word, but bear with me anyway) microphone and attach it somewhere on your person where it can pick up your voice without too much difficulty (a tie would be a great place).

Next, attach the earpiece to your ear. It goes on the same way your headphones do, you may have to toggle it until it is comfortable, but that’s all part of the fun! Put it through your shirt so you don’t have cables hanging out everywhere.

At this point, you might as well turn the radio on. It’ll be easier to do now than when it is clipped to the back of your belt.

Then, you take the remaining piece of wire (the bit dangling down from the clippable mic) and loop it through your shirt so that it comes out of the back. You then take the radio itself, slap the plug into it and attach the radio to your belt behind you (or wherever you plan on attaching it).

To operate the radio, you have to use the PTT (Push To Talk) function on the mic. You do this by simply pushing the button and talking.

In most cases, the other radio functions (whatever they may be) will have to be performed after removing the radio from your belt (unless, of course, you happen to be some kind of contortionist, in which case: go nuts with different body combinations and freak random people out as you go).

I hope that answered your question, Pete. Have fun using your radio!

PC Shipments Mark Steepest Decline With 10 Percent Drop

My site brings every considered one of the boys into the yard… see what we mean here

Personal-computer shipments fell 10 percent in 2013, marking the worst-ever decline after lackluster holiday sales underscored how consumers and businesses are shunning machines for mobile devices, two research firms said.

Manufacturers shipped 315.9 million units, returning to 2009 levels and making it the “worst decline in PC market history,” researcher Gartner Inc. said in a statement yesterday. IDC also said shipments had a record decline.

U.S. consumers omitted PCs from their holiday shopping lists while buyers in Asia opted for smartphones and tablets. More computing tasks are moving to websites and applications tailored for wireless gadgets, rather than software installed on laptops and desktops. The annual drop eclipsed the previous record decline of 3.9 percent in 2012, Gartner said.

“Consumer spending during the holidays did not come back to PCs as tablets were one of the hottest holiday items,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner. “In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet.”

Global sales fell 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter — the seventh straight drop — to 82.6 million units, Gartner said. IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, reported a decline of 5.6 percent in the same period.

Corporate Upgrades

Lenovo Group Ltd. (996) maintained the No. 1 spot worldwide with 18.1 percent market share in the fourth quarter, helped by a 6.6 percent increase in shipments, according to Gartner. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) was second with a 16.4 percent share as shipments declined 7.2 percent. Dell Inc. was third, the researcher said.

“We are extremely optimistic about the future of the $200 billion-plus PC industry,” Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We continue to outperform the market while steadily improving profit and margin.”

Lenovo shipped 14 million PCs in the last quarter, it said.

Growth in the PC market has become dependent on consumers and businesses replacing existing machines, rather than wooing new buyers. Enterprise demand is being driven in part by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s plan to end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system in April, compelling businesses to buy new PCs along with software upgrades.

U.S. shipments shrank 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter to 15.8 million units, Gartner said. Unit sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell 6.7 percent to 25.8 million, while the Asia-Pacific region saw a 9.8 percent decline to 26.5 million.

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC, said the decline in PC shipments was the worst since the researcher started tracking data in 1981, with the previous record seen in 2001, when sales shrank 3.7 percent.

“We don’t think it’s quite the bottom yet,” Loverde said. IDC is predicting a 3.8 percent decline in PC shipments for 2014 this year, and then growth of less than 1 percent in 2015, he said.

Source – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-09/pc-shipments-drop-6-9-percent-in-weak-holiday-shopping.html

is xbox 360 better than ps3

A long time ago in a galaxy of gaming far, far away…There were two factions engaged in a perpetual war, a war between two groups of nerds that had waged since at least the 1970’s…The two clans had very different ideas of how games ought to be played and very different cultures, sensitivities and beliefs. On one side, were the PC gamers; arrogant, elitist and prone to almost pathological sarcasm. Games, for them, were hi-spec, graphically rendered masterpieces, the sort of exquisite perfection that Baudelaire may have appreciated had he ever played the original Duke Nukem.

On the other side of this intellectual no-man’s land, their dreaded, bitter, Cromwellian rivals did dwell. These were the console gamers (the words spat with derision) the sort of ignorant peasants who rose above their station in life. Not content with ‘Pong’ or the arcade machines they spent all their coins in, they demanded more, and they got it. These ‘cartridge-gamers’ did not to bother knowing the game specs or even uploading anything at all. Oh, the nerve of it! Just slap the cartridge in and play!? Whatever next?

Well, flash forward to the early noughties and sadly, not much had changed. Console games had evolved from their humble origins, and had made their way into the home as a sort of super-peripheral. PCs were now a vital part of everyday life, and a house without one would seem as archaic as a home without a TV set. The nerd clans had grown, and still the debate raged, an evolutionary standoff of Morlock/Eloi proportions.

Until computer Gods Microsoft did the unthinkable. The definitive PC makers designed, built and sold in record numbers, their very own console. It may as well have been the bomb.This, the X Box, blurred the lines considerably, and now, even Sony’s Playstation has taken note, adding web-based content to its PS3.  Internet gaming, for too long the domain of the descendents of the PC brigade, suddenly opened its doors to the Cartridge family and a robust meeting of minds has been taking place ever since. Often involving swearing and abuse hurled at people’s mothers, but whatever, progress is progress.

XBox 360 has built on this further, and whilst I stay true to my own proletarian origins by preferring the Playstation, I have to admit the X Box 360 is quite a thing. There are, of course, those old die hards who resent the creation of a console with computer innards. Console gameplay (ever the strong point, especially now with the new may-as-well-be-Playstation-great-they-finally-listened-to-me-yay-now-where’s-my-check? Controller) With PC processing power? Oh, the Humanity! It’s like that kid’s book where the white and black elephants go to war and eventually the grey elephant is born. Peace in our time. Ahhh.

Nintendo 3ds: The future is now?

I have a Nintendo DS. I suppose its maybe a bit passé by current standards, with the Wii, the PSP and what-have-you out on the market, but for me it picked up where my Gameboy Advance left off, which picked off where my original Gameboy did. It works well, the games are great and the touchscreen works perfectly. It’s smart-looking and feels cool.

So how do you improve on a big selling, popular DS model? Answer: Take a leaf out of Hollywood’s book and embrace digital 3D technology. TheNintendo 3DS is a major new invention in gaming, though time will tell if it will catch on. If the device sells, its promise of using autostereoscopy (which creates a 3D effect without the requirement of nerdy glasses) could potentially revolutionize the way we play video games.

The Nintendo 3DS and its new line of 3D Nintendo games will cast an imposing new challenge to the portable gaming world. Personally, I can’t wait. The DS, already a classy, grown-up take on the Gameboy, played by professionals on lunch break, retirees and Uni students as well as young children, is set once more to lead the charge with its current 3D incarnation.

Another great feature is its backwards compatibility. The old DS Nintendo games you have at home? Don’t worry about them, you’ll still be able to play them on your new Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo’s modern reinvention continues to impress. I’m a poet and I don’t know it!

We could be looking at a brand new innovation in video game technology happening right before our eyes. This could be as big an idea as taking games out of the arcades and putting them in the home in the first place. It’s potentially that important. The Nintendo 3DS and the latest, coolest line of Nintendo games could be the best ever. Personally, I look forward to seeing how great a game can look on a tiny little device, what else can Nintendo offer its customers besides walking on water? It really could be huge. However, if unsuccessful, the Nintendo 3DS could go down in history as a folly of epic proportions. Suppose the picture quality doesn’t deliver or the graphics aren’t up to much? What happens then? If Nintendo falls on this one, they stand to fall from a very great height indeed. Time, and market forces, will tell. 

THE SHIFT TO DIGITAL, why NASCAR choose Motorola

NASCAR officials have enthusiastically embraced MOTOTRBO, and they applaud the benefits it has brought to the NASCAR experience. Smooth Management of Communications Traffic MOTOTRBO “does a super job for us,” according to Kerry Tharp, Director of Communications, NASCAR. “You have to communicate pre-race, during the race, and most importantly for us, post-race because when the race is over, that’s when our media operation kicks in for us full-bore. We bring in our top three drivers for interviews; we bring in our winning driver to the victory lane, and we also check in on the garage to make sure that post-race is going along as it should. We have to make sure we’re communicating quickly and concisely. Through MOTOTRBO, we’re able to do our jobs a whole lot better than we have in the past.”

A Clear Road for Communications Digital provided a measurable improvement over NASCAR’s old system, which sometimes had a slower response time. “MOTOTRBO has taken NASCAR to a whole new level.” Steve Lowery, Chief Scorer, NASCAR, explains, “With the old system, there was a lot of interference. Sometimes you couldn’t hear at all because of static. With MOTOTRBO, it’s much clearer.”

Consistency and Reliability

 You’d Expect from a Winner According to David Hoots, Managing Event Director, NASCAR, one of the most important benefits is “extended battery life because some of our days are extremely long. We have to be able to communicate consistently and reliably. MOTOTRBO has done a super job for us.” Hoots adds that MOTOTRBO is the first step toward an even more comprehensive communications system: “We took the opportunity to start with a very solid foundation and we will grow with the capabilities the radios offer. With a digital system, we’re going to reap the benefits for years to come.” “ With the old system, there was a lot of interference. Sometimes you couldn’t hear at all because of static. Now, with MOTOTRBO, it’s much clearer.”

Robust Enough for the Toughest Environments The NASCAR study, Hoots recalls, determined that the organization needed “one clear and uninterrupted communication system, and because we move from venue to venue, we’re faced with a big challenge.” The robust, durable and adaptable MOTOTRBO system was able to move from location to location – over 56 events every year, almost every month of the year – for quick deployment and certain performance. “Reliability,” says Hoots, “is of utmost importance. We cannot have a product that is going to fail. We must have the most robust system possible, so MOTOTRBO is the right system for us.” According to Michael Helton, President, NASCAR, “Fans have become interested in the entertainment aspect of listening in, so we still want an analogue system going out for fans who still use analog radios.” The ability of MOTOTRBO to support digital and analogue communications made it the perfect selection for

this blended environment that had to accommodate fans in the stands who want to scan for instant updates using older analog radios.

Twice the Capacity

MOTOTRBO is able to manage large numbers of radios by utilizing TDMA – time division multiple

access – which divides the channel into time slots for greater spectrum efficiency. TDMA enables each single repeater to do the work of two repeaters for enhanced call management with private, group, and system-wide calling capability. Digital Means Clarity MOTOTRBO supports audio quality with digital clarity and noise-canceling technology so that everyone is able to connect with one another and communicate more efficiently. MOTOTRBO radios contain a digital signal processor (DSP) that fine-tunes the audio. When a user connects an IMPRES™ intelligent audio accessory to a MOTOTRBO radio, the accessory provides the radio’s DSP with a unique set of audio parameters to shape the microphone and speaker frequency responses, ensuring the maximum clarity, volume, and intelligibility of each communication. “ Fans have become interested in the entertainment aspect of listening in, so we still want an analog system going out for fans who still use analog radios.”

Batteries Go Farther on a Single Charge MOTOTRBO is able to maintain consistent, reliable communications. All digital radios provide improved battery life, and because TDMA digital systems

utilize batteries more efficiently, users have received up to 18 hours of operation after quick-charging a standard nickel metal hydride battery. Talk-time is now extended and personnel spend less time returning to base to recharge their radios or pick up fresh batteries.

Robust Enough to Take on the Road

One key advantage of MOTOTRBO is that it’s designed to be packed up, moved to a new location and set up, only to be taken down days later and moved again. To withstand that kind of constant use, a radio has to be strong, and MOTOTRBO has proven to be very strong, robust, and durable.

Source – http://www.motorolasolutions.com/web/Business/Product%20Lines/MOTOTrbo/_Documents/Case_Studies/Static_Files/Events_Nascar_car_racing.pdf

New Analog-to-Digital Migration Guide Helps Users Take Advantage of the Latest Technologies

The basis of the post is to make you think about what in life is essential and what does getting the up-to-date two way radio really represent to us

All around us, the wireless world is going digital. But organizations have questions about this breakthrough technology. To provide them with answers, BearCom and Motorola Solutions teamed up to create our Analog-to-Digital Migration Guide: “Five Reasons to Migrate to Digital Two-Way Radios.”

“A ‘smart’ revolution is transforming two-way radios,” the guide begins. “Digital technology is opening the door to a host of useful web-based applications for two-way radios, even as it enhances capacity, coverage, audio quality, and battery life.”

Available as a free download from BearCom.com, the guide details how digital two-way radios offer additional functionality, greater efficiency, enhanced coverage, improved audio quality, and extended battery life compared to analog radios. It explores the capabilities and benefits of the latest radios, the differences between analog and digital technologies, and the process for making a smooth transition to digital.

“There are plenty of exciting new digital two-way radio products available,” reads the cover letter from BearCom President & CEO Jerry Denham. “This new Analog-to-Digital Migration Guide is the latest tool we’ve developed to assist organizations around the country as they harness the power of digital performance to improve their communications capabilities.”

The guide includes details on the MOTOTRBO line of digital two-way radios from Motorola Solutions and the new Motorola CP200d, which was made available through BearCom last summer. In developing the CP200d, Motorola Solutions was able to retain the simplicity and durability that have helped make the Motorola CP200 analog model popular across a wide range of industries.

The guide also answers frequently asked questions, such as:
Why should we go digital?
How are apps useful in two-way radios?
Will analog radios become extinct?
Are my analog two-way radio accessories compatible with digital models?
How can I get the best value when selecting digital two-way radios?

– See more at: http://blog.bearcom.com/2014/01/new-analog-to-digital-migration-guide-helps-users-take-advantage-of-the-latest-technologies/#sthash.hoMbIaZV.dpuf

“Tonight there’s gonna be a Jailbreak”: How the iPad sets a worrying precedent for the PC Tablet

Introduced in 2010, Apple’s iPad has been met with generally favourable reviews and sales, becoming far and away the most popular tablet computer on the world market. Sort of a ‘halfway house’ between and iPhone and Macbook, the iPad is an impressive gadget indeed. It runs a great many programs, and comes with up to 64GB of memory, not bad for a thing not much fatter than a short novel (and not much bigger, either). In fact, it has a great many appealing features. 

But that’s not what bothers me about the iPad. Apple has been a real breakout force in recent years. The combination of space-age design, virus resistance, superior operating systems and an increasing emphasis on user-friendly, trendy peripherals aimed squarely at the consumer market (iPhone, iPod etc), have seen the one time nerd-only machines evolve into the last word in consumer gadgetry. Apple finally rose up and challenged Microsoft’s much-vaunted industry dominance. This can only be a good thing for a marketplace mainly presided upon by one company; because where there is competition, there are fairer prices and a good deal more innovation. 

So what’s my problem? When I said the iPad ran a great many programs, did I mention that they were all exclusively Apple programs? Yes, you heard right, Apple only allow Apple programs on their newest computer. OK, the iPad is not an iMac or whatever, but it does set a worrying precedent. Here is a company, an industry leader no less, selling a machine so inflexible that it is no longer up to you what programs you run? Doesn’t that sound a little less 2011 and a little more 1984?   

Now, inasmuch as there are relatively few industry giants in the field of computers and etc, there are literally hundreds of thousands of software developers out there, many are working on innovative and intriguing ideas. Often, in business, mastery of specialist software can be the make-or-break between getting a client and merely getting in line. So if everybody is using the same products, we end up with a rather dreary and uncompetitive market, as well as a veritable ton of job loss. 

The act of ‘jailbreaking’ an iPad (so that it will use outside software) is becoming widespread, this ought to be a clear sign to Steve and the gang that people want the freedom to run whatever the hell they like on the products they paid their hard-earned money for. It suggests, in bold primary colours, that they like the product, but not the lack of choice. Jobs has announced that, as a result of this stipulation, the iPad is “porn free” which is all very well and good, but supposing iPad users like porn? Isn’t it their right to do what they please within the limits of the law? Opinion time, people.