Enjoying The New Tomb Raider

Since the latest patch for the new Tomb Raider game allowed the option to turn off the horrible screen effects, where mud, blood, and raindrops linger on the screen, I decided to finally try the game out. Especially since the drivers from NVIDIA has greatly improved performance, which allowed me to turn the graphical settings to their highest.

I’m amazed at how great the game is. It’s been a while since the last game that made me grin and have so much fun. Although the QTE’s have soured the experience, the rest of the game is well-done and a great testament to a fun adventure that the original two games brought to the table.

I’ve recorded a couple of unedited videos, which you can check out below (click on each picture to watch):

Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider

Unlimited Cloud Storage from Google and Amazon

Apple’s “cloud” service has spurred Amazon and Google in providing unlimited storage, for free, with restrictions. In Google’s case, if you have a Google+ account you are given unlimited storage for pictures and videos on their Google Photos (formerly Picasa), as long as they aren’t more than 2048×2048 in size and videos are under 15 minutes. For most people this isn’t an issue; there’s little rssaon to have photos larger than 2048 in width on the web.

Amazon has changed their policy in regards to their Cloud Player that now gives unlimited storage to upload all your MP3’s to their service, as long as they don’t have DRM on them. This means that if you bought songs on the iTunes Music Store then they won’t play on the Cloud Player unless you strip the DRM from them using an app.

However with these new services people will have to pay close attention to the terms of service to see what happens when they copy over their data to these services. Already there’s some apprehension about Google’s copyright policy when you upload pictures to their Google Photos service. This article outlines those issues.

With this in mind, why use these cloud services at all? There are a number of good reasons, namely as a backup source, to protect your precious photos, music, home videos, etc. in the event of a hard drive failure, fire, or other means of losing your data. Another reason is for convenience; to access and share them across multiple platforms. For example, listen to your music on any device without taking up space on your device’s limited drive, or show friends your photos without having to load them on your laptop.

There’s no set definition on what exactly the cloud is. To numerous people it means different things. One of them is basically storing your data on the internet using the variety of services such as YouTube and Flickr, for example. By uploading your files to these different services, you’re no longer constrained to having to access them on your own computer but can access them from anywhere, using any device, so long as you have an internet connection.

Gawker Media’s Redesign Across the Network

The sites within the Gawker Media network, sites such as Gizmodo, Kotaku, and my favorite, Lifehacker have all seen a new design take place today. It’s an unconventional design, using modern technologies such as HTML5 to employ a more interactive interface. They claim it is lighter and faster, and they’ve written up a post on how to use the site.

The problem is, I hate it. Apparently I’m not the only one, as the web is abuzz with negative feedback on the redesign. You’d think as a web designer myself, that I’d support it. I’ve done my fair share of trying new, unconventional tricks on websites over the years. Yet I’d do this on my own personal sites, as a way to learn and find new, possibly better ways to present content. For Gawker Media to do this, where money is at stake, is inexcusable.

It’s just a bad business decision to try new ideas and then not test them before making it live. If it were tested with user feedback, I’m sure they would’ve seen the kinds of challenges visitors would face with the new design. Then they would’ve seen it being a bad idea in the end. Unfortunately, it is possible that someone’s ego got in the way of common sense, and usually this person is high up with the kind of power to not care what others think about the idea and the subsequent new design. This is something that needs to be looked at and considered by anyone who is hosting a website or doing any blog hosting. The feedback that you get from your users is very important and can often make or break your website or blog.

Normally I’d just find myself simply not visiting the sites in question. It’d be easier to find alternative websites with similar content and interests and just move on. However, one of my most favorite sites to visit happen to fall under that bad design — Lifehacker. I visit and read the site multiple times daily. I love their content, and make use of many of their tips and tricks to find ways to improve my life and make it more efficient. I’d really hate for this new design to hurt the site in the end, and cause it to fall apart.

As someone else said, perhaps this was inevitable. With the arrival of HTML5, many websites are now going to try to find new ways to present content to readers that, hopefully, benefits both parties; the website owner and the visitors. This had happened with the advent of XHTML and CSS, and we’re likely starting to see it happen with HTML5. It’ll just be a shame for good sites like Lifehacker to end up being a victim of it.