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Ingress: Google’s Augmented Reality Game

GPS powered multiplayer games have often failed due to one simple reason: there just isn’t enough interest in the game, and therefore there aren’t enough players in your area to make the game worthwhile. Project Niantic have been working on a project however, which is wholly backed by Google. Google’s huge power across the globe instantly gives them a step up from any other games with similar mechanics, and this along with the fact that Ingress plays on their own operating system, Android, gives them a huge advantage over anyone else who tries to develop a successful multiplayer GPS game.

Start-up and Story

The first thing to note is that Ingress is currently in closed Beta, meaning you will need to receive any invite via the Ingress website, or receive one from a player within the game already. So, although you may not be able to try your hands on it yet yourself, we have been lucky enough to get an invite, and hopefully this review will give you an insight into how the game works.
When Ingress starts, the game asks you for a Google profile to choose so that you can continue your game via different devices, and then asks you to provide an agent code name which will help you to be recognized within the game. It’s already apparent that the developers behind Ingress wanted to create an eerie experience whilst playing, and throughout the game it seems to regularly remind you that this is not just a game, but in fact a real life situation in which you have been pulled into.
When accepting the terms and conditions, Ingress asks you one more time if you want to turn back or not, as this would be your last chance. The constant dark background along with the simple shapes and text on the screen all add to the sense of paranoia, and it makes you wonder what Google are really doing with this application.

Regardless of Google’s own ambitions with the project, Ingress gives players a background story which explains a strange energy which must be controlled by humans, otherwise it could reach a point where it becomes unmanageable, and takes control of humans instead. This Exotic Matter, or XM, has become a battle ground for two opposing forces, whom both have different ambitions for this newly found XM. The first group, the Resistance, work hard to remove the XM and restore safety and normality back to the human race, whilst the Enlightened have other motives. The Enlightened work to embrace the XM, believing the energy is a new step forward for humankind. After the tutorial, you are asked which side you want to join, giving you the choice to make your own ambitions within Ingress.

Gameplay

As explained above, the basis of Ingress involves two opposing forces as they fight for Exotic Matter. Although either side’s gameplay is rather similar, the concept is still original, and fits well with the GPS capabilities of the game. In Ingress you will need to travel in real life to collect XM and visit portals to take control of. This will require a data connection, and without this or a wifi friendly area, this game becomes quite difficult to play.
When collecting XM you will gain experience and be able to use different abilities which will help you to capture and control neutral or hostile portals. As the XM is scattered across the GPS map, you may have to explore places you’d otherwise walk past, and plan routes around your city or town to collect as many resources as possible.

A few things I did notice is that the XM would sometimes be in areas I couldn’t access, such as construction sites or rows of houses, but XM tends to drift towards you, so I haven’t found this as a problem so far.
Walking around collecting XM can become quite an adventure, but after traveling for a while it can become repetitive, so it’s good that Ingress includes game mechanics to keep you off of your feet so you can enjoy the game.
There are certain objectives which require you to collect XM or hack portals, and other social features that allow you to work with other groups within the game, so although you may be playing it on your own, it’s an interesting experience when you come across somebody else’s portal whilst traveling.
Hacking and capturing portals is probably the most interactive procedures, and it requires you to hack or attack nodes and then recharge them with XM so that they can be used on your behalf. It’s not too difficult and often becomes a game of chance when trying to capture portals.

Once you’ve captured a multiple number of portals you can attach them together and create your own territory for the team you have chosen to work with. Three or more portals are needed to create an enclosure of territory, which will then improve your standing in the game and boost your experience points.
What’s interesting is that no two territory borders can intersect, meaning that it may be safe to create lots of small territories, but if you’re lucky enough, you could end up joining portals together which are kilometers apart, creating a huge amount of territory at once.

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9th July: Internet blackout, Monday ALUREON

Computer users around the world are at risk of losing Internet access on Monday because of malicious software at the heart of a hacking scam by Operation Ghost Click (International Cyber Ring) that FBI shut down last November.

The software found its way into thousands of computers worldwide last year. It redirects users away from trusted websites, towards spoof websites in a bid to steal financial and personal information so as for financial frauds. When the attack was noticed, the FBI routed infected machines through its server to stop the attacks.

The number of computers infected is more than 277,000 worldwide. The number was 360,000 in April. Of those still infected, the FBI believes that about 64,000 are in the US.

Last year, when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world, the FBI agents realised that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their internet service.

The FBI then installed two clean internet servers to take over instead of the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose internet.

But the servers will be taken down 9 July. When this happens, computers still infected are likely to lose their internet connection without warning. Warnings about the problem have been splashed across Facebook and Google, and the FBI has set up a special website.


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Science Express in Kamakhya Station

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WHY? Science Express – Biodiversity Special is an innovative and unique mobile exhibition mounted on a specially designed 16 coach AC train, which is travelling across India over seven months. In the last days it has been in Kamakhya Station, Guwahati, and the local CEE Team + CARBON were supporting the exhibition. 
 
 
                                                                                                                                                             
HOW? In average more then ten CARBON members were joining the activities. In the main hall a painting competition was organized for class 3 to 8 on environment and energy. The winners will be invited to a national level competition. Furthermore volunteers were playing environmental games and initiating dance flash mobs on the platform. Also volunteers were in the train to interpret the exhibition into Assamese and thus make it easier understandable.
 
 
OUTCOME? More than 250 students were participating in the painting competition and much more children were participating in the platform games. Many people were showing interest in the CARBON banner and interacting with the volunteers. There was a high media coverage and participants as well as Science Express Team thanked the volunteers for their work.
We hope that awareness about Biodiversity and Science could be raised and people of Guwahati enjoyed our activities and the train exhibition.
 
 
More information on: www.scienceexpress.in


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Currency Notes found floating in Assam

Monsoon rain which usually brings only water-logging brought riches in the form of floating Indian Rupee Currency (₹) notes in Guwahati on Monday. When most people were busy making their way through waterlogged streets, some residents, particularly in Chachal area, saw the currency notes come floating.
The incident took place near Silsako Beel, a water body. In no time, people dumped their fishing equipment and jumped in the water body to net the Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 denomination notes.
As news of the floating currency spread like wildfire, hundreds turned up. They too jumped into the waist-deep water looking for more currency notes. ”It has never happened before! I have seen the currency notes and they seem genuine,” said an excited Dipankar Baruah, a resident. According to him, some people managed to collect several thousands of rupees.
 

Police also arrived at the scene but could not offer any explanation on the source of the money.

Police said they were “trying best to take back the currency notes from the people. ”We have collected some and contacted the Reserve Bank of India in Guwahati to verify if they are genuine,” Senior Superintendent of Police Apurba Jiban Baruah said.
“We are trying to find out from where the currency notes came. It will take some time,” said the official. ”We have appealed to people to return the money to police for the sake of investigation,” said another official.

The money is believed to have been kept buried by some unknown person and incessant rain had softened the mud, cutting loose the currency bundles.


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Science Express reaches guwahati

Science Express – Biodiversity Special is an innovative and unique mobile exhibition mounted on a specially designed 16 coach AC train, which will be traveling across India from 5 June – 22 December 2012.

The exhibition aims to showcase the wide array of biodiversity in the country and the conservation measures adopted thereof. The exhibition also showcases aspects of Climate Change, Water, Energy Conservation, Environment and Legacy of the Science Express. Additionally, the train also houses the extremely popular VASCSC Joy of Science hands-on lab as well as teachers’ training facility.

For details:www.scienceexpress.in


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IELTS -Demand on the rise throughout the world

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) reinforces its position as the world’s most popular high stakes English proficiency test, hitting a new record of more than 1.7 million tests sat around the world in 2011.

In the face of changing economic and migration conditions, IELTS has enjoyed 12% growth in number of tests sat in 2011 as compared to 2010. The latest figures marked the seventeenth year of continual growth in test numbers, with the number of tests taken tripling since 2005.

USA was the fastest growing market worldwide in 2011 with more than 50 test centres now open to candidates, while Canada also observed a significant rise in the number of tests taken in the past twelve months. The East Asia region of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was the second most significant growth market for IELTS in 2011. Demand in China, India and Australia remained strong with these countries again administering the highest number of tests. IELTS also noted a significant increase across United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Turkey. IELTS is now recognised by more than 7,000 organisations including educational institutions, employers, professional associations and governments, in 135 countries around the world.

Director of IELTS for IDP: IELTS Australia John Belleville said that reasons cited by test takers for taking the IELTS test were entry into an academic institution, followed by migration purposes. “For many, IELTS is a requirement for migration to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom and the test can be taken in any one of 800 locations worldwide,” Mr Belleville said.

“Demand for IELTS in China remains very impressive, with students taking the test for entry to educational institutions in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and USA amongst many other destinations,” explained John Gildea, Head of IELTS at British Council. IELTS test content is developed by an international team of experts and undergoes extensive research to ensure the test remains fair and unbiased for any candidate regardless of nationality, background, gender, lifestyle or location.Image


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Android 4.0

The craze for a perfect UI that can channel the users’ mind into the mobile have grown along the years among the developers. Each one of them knows a very important fact that the need of time is to have a certain platform which combines the everyday life of the user into the mobile phone.

Google has certainly been one of the front runners for this job. Android had certainly made commendable job in this regard. Android developers have been trying to get their focus on the most simple, beautiful and smart UI that could make ones world a lot easier than anyone could have ever thought.

Android 4.0 builds upon the things people love the most. Easy multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets and deep interactivity adds to the powerful new ways of communicating and sharing. Android 4.0 makes the common actions more visible and lets users navigate by simple gestures.

Refined lively animations make it all look real beyond imagination. Virtual buttons in the System Bar let users navigate instantly to Back, Home, and Recent Apps. Multitasking is a key strength of Android and it’s made even easier and more visual on Android 4.0. The Recent Apps button lets users jump instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently — tapping a thumbnail switches to the app.

The Recent Apps list makes multitasking simple or jump to the camera or sees notifications without unlocking or for incoming calls, you can respond instantly by text.

Home screens in Android 4.0 are designed to be content-rich and customizable. Users can do much more than add shortcuts — they can embed live application content directly through interactive widgets. Widgets let users check email, flip through a calendar, play music, check social streams, and more — right from the home screen, without having to launch apps. Widgets are resizable, so users can expand them to show more content or shrink them to save space.

The new lock screen lets users do more without unlocking. From side lock screen, users can jump directly to the camera for a picture or pull down the notification window to read a message.

The soft keyboard in Android 4.0 makes text input even faster and more accurate. Error correction and word suggestion are improved through a new set of default dictionaries and more accurate heuristics for handling cases such as double-typed characters, skipped letters, and omitted spaces. Word suggestion is also improved and the suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at a time.

To fix misspelled words more easily, Android 4.0 adds a spell-checker that locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words. With one tap, users can choose from multiple spelling suggestions, delete a word, or add it to the dictionary. Users can even tap to see replacement suggestions for words that are spelled correctly. For specialized features or additional languages, users can now download and install third-party dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other text services.

Data usage controls let you monitor total usage by network type and application and then set limits if needed. Mobile devices can make extensive use of network data for streaming content, synchronizing data, downloading apps, and more. To meet the needs of users with tiered or metered data plans, Android 4.0 adds new controls for managing network data usage.

Android has always been cloud-connected, letting users browse the web and sync photos, apps, games, email, and contacts — wherever they are and across all of their devices. Android 4.0 adds new browsing and email capabilities to let users take even more with them and keep communication organized.