First music video recorded… from SPACE

Yesterday, Chris Hadfield (commander aboard the International Space Station) posted one of many videos he has posted from space.

(sidenote: Mr. Hadfield actually posts many videos from space. Most of them include awesome experiments involving questions from viewers. For instance, what happens when you ring out a washcloth in space? How do you brush your teeth in space? How and what do astronauts eat aboard the ISS?)

Anyway, the difference with this video? It’s a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”… except it was actually recorded in SPACE!

This is the first music video ever posted from the ISS, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to do this than Hadfield himself. The video includes beautiful shots of the Earth from space, as well as plenty of clips from inside the ISS itself. The Canadian commander who was sent into space in December of last year loves interacting with his fans, as well as answering the questions from those fans. He has uploaded over 40 videos in the last 5 months, and I encourage you to go and watch every single one of them.

Unfortunately, Hadfield’s mission will end today, May 13th. He will return to Earth along with some of his co-astronauts. A replacement crew has already been sent up from Russia, so for the next few months the ISS will have a mostly Russian flight crew.

Music video: http://youtu.be/KaOC9danxNo

All of Hadfield’s videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/canadianspaceagency/videos?view=0

He even has a Twitter! https://twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield

 

Speaking of which…

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Game Dev Tycoon review

It’s a game… about making games… GAMECEPTION!

Game Dev Tycoon is one of those games where most people would think that the idea would crash and burn. Then they get to play it, and realize that it’s brilliant. This is known, in the gaming industry, as a “holy sh*t moment”.

In Game Dev Tycoon, you play as a game developer (duh) who must make brilliant games in order to turn a profit. To make a brilliant game, you need to achieve the perfect balance between technology and design, although some games will require one more than the other. You also have to worry about bugs. You will be told about most of these, and after a game is finished your developer(s) will do some debugging along with the other finishing touches.

You start off as a lone developer in a garage. Your only choice is to make a game, so you do just that. First, you get to choose what topic and genre you want your game to have, as well as choose a platform and name for your game. At first, your choices are limited, but after a while, you will get more and more options, especially for topics and platforms (platforms stretch from computers to home consoles and even portable consoles, though you can’t release a game on several platforms). Your developer will start work, and as he is creating the game you will get asked what you want to focus on in the three stages of development. The first stage is about the engine, gameplay, and stories/quests, the second is about dialogues, level design, and artificial intelligence, and the third focuses on world design, graphics, and sounds. You also get several options for enhanced versions of said points, but adding these can be expensive. Depending on what platform you choose and what enhancements you pick, a game might be as cheap as a few thousand but might end up costing millions as well.

A big part of this game is research. Research is how you unlock said enhancements, but also things like target audiences, custom game engines, marketing for games, small contract jobs, and staff management. You research things by having enough money and enough research points, which brings me to my first big critique about this game. Research points are WAY too rare. Later in the game, you might have millions of dollars to spend on researching 3D graphics or surround sound for your next engine, but can’t actually research them because you don’t have enough research points (which, by the way, are earned by making games, doing contract work or even making a new engine which you were planning to do AFTER you had researched some things that you couldn’t research because you didn’t have enough research points).

The game is also slightly historically accurate, though. You start in the 80s with only some very basic 2D graphics and a few computer platforms available, but eventually this all branches out into better options everywhere (kind of like what happened for real). Obviously, the platform names have been slightly tweak to avoid Greenheart Games (the company that made this game) getting sued, but the Ninvento TES 64 is still released at around the same time as the real N64 was. Every new platform brings better hardware and specifications, and you must research these new options to make a truly excellent game on the platform (something which I already ranted about).

Overall, this game gets a 7/10. It’s a very interesting, addicting game, but it just needs a few tweaks. Although I do encourage you to go and buy it.

Buy Game Dev Tycoon: http://www.greenheartgames.com/

Support the game on Steam Greenlight!: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=134714217

 

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First 3D printed gun fired on video, blueprints available for download

I smell trouble ahead.

Defense Distributed has now 3D printed and successfully test fired the “Liberator” handgun. Cody R. Wilson, provocative founder of the company, reported no damage to himself or the gun while firing it for the first time, except for a crack in a pin used to secure the barrel.

One of the secrets behind the gun’s structural integrity may be the fact that the barrel has been treated with “a jar of acetone vaporized with a pan of water and a camp stove”. This is widely believed to reduce friction by smoothing the bore slightly.

The “Liberator” is made from 16 parts, of which 15 are printed with a Stratasys 3D printer. There is also one non-functional metal part which helps the gun comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act.

Wilson has said “I recognize that this tool might be used to harm people. That’s what it is – a gun. But I don’t think that’s a good reason to not put it out there. I think that liberty in the end is a better intrest.” My bullsh*t detector is above average.

Read more in this article from The Verge: http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/6/4304164/video-of-defense-distributed-liberator-3d-printed-gun-test

The “Liberator” fired on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=drPz6n6UXQY

 

@TheTechNorth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheTechNorth

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Paul Miller after one year offline

An interesting article was posted to The Verge this week. I urge you to go and read it.

On May 1st, 2012, Paul Miller unplugged his Ethernet cable, turned off his Wi-Fi, and swapped his smartphone for a dumb one. “It felt really good,” Miller writes. “I felt free.”

But what was it really like to go 365 days without “surfing the web”, “checking email”, or “liking” anything?

This is a personal article, so if I tried to write about it, it would just be copied and changed to the third person. So just go ahead and check it out in the link below.

Read it here: http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/1/4279674/im-still-here-back-online-after-a-year-without-the-internet

 

@TheTechNorth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheTechNorth

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New posting schedule

There will now be a new post on TheTechNorth every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, rather than every Wednesday and Saturday. Look forward to more posts in the future!

 

@TheTechNorth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheTechNorth

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Papers, Please review

In Soviet Arstotzka, passport check you.

In Papers, Please, you play as a border guard who was just been drawn in the labour lottery to work at a checkpoint in East Grestin in the great communist nation of Arstotzka. You have been given an apartment in the city for you and your family to stay in, and you must be able to pay for essentials to take care of them (rent, heat, food). Your new job starts on November 23rd, 1982.

Because it’s 1982, checkpoints are not as strict as they are today. In the first level, for instance, you only have to be an Arstotzkan citizen with a valid passport to enter. This of course gets stricter overtime, but it’s nothing compared to today’s checks.

It’s a very deep game, however, and you need concentration and a speedy mind to be able to get far. You’re constantly checking for valid expiration dates, issuing cities, genders, photos, duration of stays, heights, weights, and aliases. If one of these isn’t right, you can interact with the entrant and, if they convince you, they can be let through. If they don’t, however, you get to tell them to piss off. If you get it wrong, you are given a warning or, even worse, a penalty. That penalty takes money from you that you could’ve spent on keeping your family warm and fed.

Eventually, things get really difficult. Keeping in mind that you’ll only get paid for processing entrants between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm, you’ll need to be pretty snappy to keep your bills paid in those last few levels. As the game is in beta form, there are only 8 at the moment, but a few days ago the Steam Greenlight page announced that they have contacted the game creator to plan a Steam release in the near future.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Download Papers, Please: http://dukope.com/

 

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Surgeon Simulator review

Operation meets QWOP.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a game in which you control an apperantly brain-damaged surgeon going about his daily life doing doctor stuff, saving patients in various opertations. From breaking ribcages to ripping out livers to cutting people’s intestines to cracking someone’s poor skull open – Surgeon Simulator has it all!

Surgeon Simulator was actually made and released in alpha form by a group of four developers at Bossa Studios. They made the game in 48 hours for the Global Game Jam during January of this year. This release went viral and spawned many hilarous videos and reviews. It is now available on Steam for €10, and that is the game I will be covering in this review.

The game is centered around Nigel Burke, the brain-dead surgeon that I mentioned earlier. He must preform three operations on the unfortunate patient named Bob: heart transplant, double kidney transplant. Needless to say, Bob will probably die about a thousand times before you complete a surgery, but somehow he comes back to life instantly so you can wreak havoc on him again.

There are two measurements to keep in mind: the timer and the blood level. Bob starts off with 5600ml of blood, and if you are a complete quack of a surgeon you can bring that down to zero in no time flat. However, there is a set of freshly made drug needles for you to inject into your poor patient to decrease his blood flow and slow his bleeding. Be careful though, because if you get too close to the tip with your own hands you could potentially inject yourself, and there is only one way out of that: doing the same thing with the other drug while stoned. Don’t give THAT drug to Bob though – you’ll soon be locking at a huge blood loss due to the fact that that drug INCREASES blood flow and encourages more bleeding. The timer isn’t very important, but it’s nice to pay attention too if you’re doing a speed run.

It’s hard to make a review for the whole game, so here is just a rundown of the three operations:

Heart Transplant

This is one of the easiest and is probably a good place to start. Bob is lying on a hospital bed with a cloth over his chest blocking his insides. Once you take that cloth off, you are free to have fun with whatever you find inside.

If you want to do this surgery properly, you must break the ribcage (either carefully with a saw or drill or destructively with a hammer, you decide), pull out his liver, take out the lungs (which, curiously enough, aren’t connected to anything at all), cut out the esophagus, take out the stomach, cut the arteries and veins, rip out his old heart, and put in a new one. It doesn’t matter what orientation you put it in though, or if you even put anything back in place – a half-broken ribcage and an upside-down heart still renders the message “Looks fine to me, I’m sure he’ll live…”

A few tips here: breaking the ribcage by hitting it with an alarm clock doesn’t work, and don’t cut the heart out with a chainsaw.

Double Kidney Transplant

This is definitely the hardest one. This time, you are presented with Bob in a blue hospital gown (whereas in the heart transplant he wore a green one), and the massive hole in him is now in his lower abdomen. You are also presented with a new set of tools, including a special kidney scalpel, a medical laser which can burn through bone, and an especially useful plastic spoon.

This one is done by getting rid of the ribcage, cutting some of the intestines, pulling them out, taking out the stomach and liver, then cutting the kidneys out and replacing them. While it seems straightforward, keep in mind that this operation contains the most sensitive organs in the human body. Don’t even think about touching the intestines with that electric drill you have.

Brain Transplant

Oh, good. I’ve described this game as QWOP meets Operation and I have to do a brain transplant?

Actually, this, in my opinion, is the easiest of them all. The skull has already been exposed, so your only task is to cut it open, take out the brain, cut the brain stem, and put in the new brain – even if it is upside-down. Although, this leaves us in a philosophical kind of mood – if you gave Bob’s old brain to someone else, who would be Bob?

This game gets a 9/10 from me. It’s the perfect blend of hilariousness and difficulty.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/233720/

 

@TheTechNorth on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheTechNorth

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