Online gambling has become great fun

Posted on Jun 14, 2013 in Fun, Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

Poker cards and chipsAs you probably know by now, I’m a great fan of casinos. When I get the time I like to visit a physical ‘real-world’ casino, but more often than not I find that an online casino satisfies my need for an adrenalin rush equally well.

I must admit that online casino games have come a long way since the 1990s when they first started making their appearance. They are now much more lifelike and have managed to duplicate a large part of the excitement offered by their real world counterparts. Many of them even have chat rooms where it is possible to interact with other gamblers.

There are two types of online casino; the first involves software that runs live on the web, so there is nothing to download. Anyone who simply wants to play a quick game of roulette without having to download a large program would probably go for this option.

The second option involves downloading the casino software onto your PC or laptop in order to play. While it takes some time to download, it only has to be done once and as a general rule this type of game runs faster than the web-based one. This is because the software is running on your own computer rather than on the web.

There are also virtual casino games and live dealer casino games. With the first type the next card or next number is generated by a so-called PRNG or Pseudo Random Number Generator. Put simply, this is a computer algorithm, which produces the closest thing possible (for a computer) to a list of random numbers.

With live dealer casinos there are actually real live croupiers who spin the roulette wheel or deal the next card. The cost of this type of online casino is much higher than the PRNG versions, which is why one gets a limited number of websites using this system.

Over the years the variety of games being offered online has increased tremendously. Nowadays I regularly play blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, slot machines, keno, poker and even bingo, online.


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The demise of the PC?

Posted on Apr 1, 2013 in Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

MicrosoftLogo300x200As someone who is big into technology, the desktop PC and, by extension, Microsoft software has been a big part of my life for years, but technology is now shifting away from the PC at a rapid rate, threatening Microsoft revenues in the process.

Research firm IDC has found that the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating environment, Windows 8, has not been as successful as the company would have hoped it had been.  To make matters worse, there are indications that emerging economies, such as China and those in Latin America, are not embracing the PC like Western economies once did.  As more and more people are opting for smartphones or tablets as their technology of choice, the PC is coming under serious threat.

IDC is projecting that sales of PCs will fall overall in 2013 for the second consecutive year.  If this comes to pass, it will be the first time something like this has ever happened.  Sales of PCs did drop slightly from 2000 to 2001, but they revived again in 2002.  IDC is projecting that the cost to Microsoft from the fall-off in PC sales will be $3.3 billion in direct revenues over the next four years as well as approximately $2.3 billion in profits for the same time period.  By anyone’s calculations, that it is a big hit.

You do not need to read industry reports, however, to see which way technology is headed.  Ask your friends and family how they are reading their emails and so on these days and you will plainly see that the smartphone and tablet markets are growing at a huge rate.  Given the fast pace of modern life, once mobile computer technology was perfected, it was always bound to take off, at the expense of the desktop PC market.

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Google Street View in legal trouble

Posted on Mar 23, 2013 in Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

Google300x200I was interested to read news reports that Google is expected to settle a legal case with more than 30 U.S. states that had been accusing the company of collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars.  Sources say that Google is expected to pay out around $7 million in damages to settle the case.  A mere drop in the ocean for Goggle, I would expect.  This is a company that earned revenues of $50 billion in 2012.

I have used Street View, as have countless others and I have found it to be great at finding me the directions I want.  Unlike a traditional map, or even some mapping software, Street View allows me to see actual landmarks along the way so that when I am on the actual street level reaching my destination, I already have a familiarity with what I am looking for.  But all of this technology is new so it really is a learning process for the companies in question and for the authorities responsible for maintaining people’s privacy.

A Google spokesperson has admitted that in respect of the Wi-Fi network breaches, the company got it wrong and has tightened up its systems accordingly.  Nonetheless, at least 12 countries around the world have been prompted by what has happened in the U.S. to look into what Street View has done in their jurisdictions, according to information published by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, and at least nine of those countries reckon that Google has violated their privacy laws.  Here in the U.K., the Information Commissioner’s Office concluded in 2012 that Google retained possession of some private date accumulated by Street View cars.

The data collected by Google is said to have included banking and medical records as well as passwords, so it is a serious violation.  The company has said that a “rogue engineer” was responsible for the privacy breaches.

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The end of pre-owned games?

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 in Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

Edge magazine has suggested that Microsoft is considering a business model for a new generation Xbox console in which no games would be pre-owned.  This really was an inevitable development.  When I say inevitable, I mean it in the context of things like Spotify and iTunes, the music streaming services, or e-readers, such as the Kindle.  Consumers have become used to not actually handling a physical product in terms of digital technology.  Whether gamers are ready for subscription only services, however, remains to be seen.

Edge has spoken to ‘anonymous sources’ (they are always anonymous) who say that with the next generation Xbox, users will have to sign into their online account whenever they want to play on the console.  This will have the effect of limiting purchased games to a single user identity.  Sony already has in place a PlayStation Plus subscription service, with free and discounted games in exchange for payments on a monthly basis.

I suppose the idea of paying £50 for a new Xbox or PlayStation game is becoming a bit outdated, especially at a time when games can be downloaded onto a smartphone for a fraction of that, or even for free.  Games publisher, Ubisoft, ditched its compulsory ‘always online’ system in September 2012 because of gamer objections.  Ubisoft has instead gone with a system whereby a user only has to complete a one-time online activation when first installing a game.  After that, they can play the game offline.  The frustration for a gamer of losing an internet connection and so losing their progress in a game is obvious.  There would surely be an objection to a digital distribution platform from the pre-owned games market, which continues to be quite lucrative.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft will follow through on the idea, or adopt a modified version of what has been suggested, but technology is constantly evolving so the big technology companies are never going to just stand still.

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Rural broadband

Posted on Feb 17, 2013 in Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

Broadband RJ45 CableI have posted on this blog before about the green light given by the EU for superfast broadband in rural areas in Britain and how positive a development it was.  Now it seems that rural dwellers are going to have to wait because the funds allocated for rural broadband have been slashed following EU budget negotiations.

Funds have been reduced by €8.2 billion (£7 billion) to €1 billion.  Although there is a possibility that members of the European Parliament will restore some of the funding when the budget is voted on in March or April, the cuts are bad news for rural dwellers seeking fast broadband connections.

Extending broadband to rural areas with a low population has been seen as uneconomic for private sector providers, so the EU put funding in place to overcome that.  I would be sceptical about how much can be achieved following such a large reduction in the funds available.  It is very disappointing that, at a time when the world is becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology, some people are not getting the access to it that they deserve.  City dwellers, for the large part, take broadband access for granted, but in many rural parts, that is clearly not the case.  The absence of proper broadband infrastructure has serious implications for investment in rural areas, as well as for existing businesses.

Imagine trying to run most types of businesses in this day and age without proper internet access?  It is hard to believe.  I like to think that common sense will ultimately prevail and that at least some of the broadband funding is restored for the benefit of people in rural areas.

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Tech predictions for 2013

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 in Gadgets & Tech | 0 comments

robotWith 2013 barely upon us, the experts are already publishing their gadget predictions for the year. So, what hot new item is going to be all the rage among consumers? I am not sure, but here are some that are interesting to me.

One of the items that has been in the works for a while and that I would love to see come to fruition is the 3D printer. Imagine being able to cut three-dimensional models in your office or home with one simple machine. That may not really be what 3-D printers are for, but they may take over the manufacturing field in 2013.

This may also be the year that robots take over the medical field. Do you remember the scene from ‘Star Wars’, in which robots restore Luke Skywalker’s hand? Well this is not too far out of the picture. Robots will still need the guidance of a doctor, but you can expect to see far more of robotic technology in the next few years. Researchers are even looking into robotic diagnostic systems for certain conditions.

Oh and if you are worried about how much government surveillance you have in your life now, just wait. In 2013, you can expect to see flying drone cameras tracking even more of your movements. Nothing will be secret anymore when these hit the market, so you had better get your affairs in order. However, for your resident celebrity or millionaire, having flying drones serve as surveillance systems may not such a bad idea.

Technology is an ever-evolving field. I love watching the various innovations that tech people come up with and these are just a sample of some that are expected this year. It will be an interesting year for tech, that is for sure.

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