Tag Archives: microsoft

Xbox One: How to Quit a Game Games Notes 31 JUL 2016

Most Xbox One games and apps don’t actually have a quit menu item any more. This usually isn’t a problem thanks to Xbox One’s clever way of handling game/app switching, allowing you to go out of a game to the dashboard to do something else, and then hop right back in at the exact point that you left off!

However, sometimes this clever system does go a little wrong (if you’ve left it for too long for example), and you jump back in only to find the game asking you to reconnect the controller and press ‘A’ to continue. Sadly for you though, this isn’t working, leaving you with a game that is stuck and no way of getting it to work again. (Remember, you can’t jump out to the dashboard and click on the game to relaunch it, as it will just switch to the frozen version currently in memory.

So, the ability to quit an active game is pretty important then. Unfortunately, the method of achieving this is not instantly apparent from Microsoft’s Xbox One UI, so after a little Google search, I’m jotting this down here so that I don’t forget.

To exit a game or app on the Xbox One, hit the middle Xbox button on your controller so that you are in the dashboard. Use the left stick to make sure that the large, central tile on the home page is highlighted (should have a white border around it), and once it is, tap the ‘Menu’ button (the small one marked with the tree stripes to the right above the Xbox button) to bring up a context menu. At the bottom of the menu you should spot the ‘Quit’ menu command.

Selecting that will shut down the currently active game, allowing you to start it up again from scratch.

xbox one dashboard interface - killer instinct

Related Link: Xbox One

XBOX 360: Games with Gold: April 2015 Games Notes 30 MAR 2015

Officially kicking off way back in July 2013, Microsoft’s Games with Gold programme has since then steadfastly been rewarding gamers who fork out their monthly XBOX Live subscription with two or more free games a month – a pretty decent reward in my book.

microsoft xbox 360 games with gold call to action banner

Some months are certainly better than others in terms of the free games being given away,  but if you are an XBOX 360 owner with an active XBOX Live account in April 2015, then you’ve most definitely got some pretty decent freebies to look forward to!

(To be fair though, March 2015 was pretty damn good too – the superb Tomb Raider (2013) from Crystal Dynamics was available for the first half of the month, followed up by the excellent BioShock Infinite (2013) the latter!)

To celebrate the Games with Gold programme as a whole, Microsoft is giving away an unprecedented four free XBOX 360 titles for April, three AAA releases and one hit indie title.

This is the list as it stands right now:

As it turns out, I’m scoring big time because I haven’t before played any of the four!

army of two the devils cartel guns blazing

I’m not particularly interested in Terraria (in other words, I don’t bother with Minecraft), but I am VERY interested in Gears of War: Judgment and Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel for their co-op value (time to lock and load, Ryan!) – and then of course there is the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag… seriously, what’s not to love, based on setup alone!

So yes, it looks like my backlog is about to grow a bit again…

assassins creed iv black flag pirates walking

Goodbye my Faithful Rechargeable Battery Pack Games Notes 18 NOV 2014

microsoft xbox 360 wireless controller rechargeable battery packGoodbye my faithful rechargeable battery pack… you have indeed served me well.

I joined the XBOX 360 game quite late, purchasing my first (and only to date) XBOX 360 console back in December 2009. I very quickly purchased an official Microsoft Charge and Play rechargeable battery pack for my wireless XBOX 360 controller, and this evening as I was about to play some Gears of War 3 online co-op with Ryan, it became quickly apparent that my very long lived rechargeable battery pack has indeed now finally gone the way of the dodo.

I certainly can’t complain though. This battery pack was the power source for my primary controller for just short of five years, an achievement that for some or other reason makes me rather proud, not to mention the further bolstering of my faith in rather purchasing genuine manufacturer-produced add-ons instead of generics whenever possible.

However, that said, I am now in the need of a hasty replacement, and seeing as I’m pretty sure that my XBOX 360 will be upgraded to a new generation console sooner than later, this time around I don’t necessarily need a solution to last quite as long.

In other words, generic solution time.

A year ago (July 2013) my order with Loot.co.za for a Nitho Charge and Play Kit for the 360 was cancelled due to stock shortages, so I guess this time around I’ll need to hold thumbs that they can actually sell me something that they advertise on their site!

microsoft xbox 360 wireless controller

XBOX Games with Gold is finally Heating Up! Games Notes 14 MAY 2014

xbox 360 games with gold logoFinally. I like Microsoft’s Games with Gold initiative which rewards XBOX Live members with two free games every month. It certainly introduced me to a number of titles I might not otherwise have tried, and it definitely laid the groundwork for further digital game purchases from me.

However, it has more often than not felt like a very lacklustre, half-hearted baby brother to the way more exciting rival Sony’s PlayStation Plus programme, primarily because the free games given away by Microsoft are either ridiculously outdated, or deemed to be cop-outs thanks to their lighter Arcade status.

But all of a sudden Microsoft seems to really be taking it up a notch again. April 2014 Games with Gold saw the usual combo of an Arcade and AAA title release, the first being Deadlight (2012), followed by Hitman: Absolution (2012). May 2014 Games with Gold followed that good offering up with Dust: An Elysian Tail (2012), and the super silly but fun Saints Row: The Third (2011).

And now for June 2014 Games with Gold (in which XBOX One now also joins the party), Microsoft is giving away on the XBOX 360 platform three excellent titles: Dark Souls (2011), Charlie Murder (2013) [Arcade], and lastly, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (2011).

At this rate I might even become interested in gaming again!

saints row 3 wallpaper

Windows 7: Manage Startup Programs Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 12 FEB 2014

The recommended way to manage which applications load on start in Windows 7 is of course to trawl through each application’s settings or options pages and control them from there. However, another more efficient way to do it (if you are a little computer literate) is to simply make use of the standard Windows System Configuration tool.

Launch the Microsoft utility by hitting the start button and entering ‘msconfig’ (without the quotes) into the search/run bar. Launch the msconfig.exe executable and navigate to the Startup tab.

There you’ll have a nice listing of all commands currently set to launch on start (registry entries basically), and can then manually trawl through the listing and deselect all the crapware and unnecessary loaders lurking there. (Make use of the Manufacturer and Command items to make sure you’re correctly identifying things before disabling them). Hit apply and then OK to prompt a machine restart.

(Of course, it is also worth your while to see what Services are running, because more often than not, unnecessary lurkers and loaders may very well be running a service to say for instance, ensure that the application command does in fact get launched. As suggested, the Services tab is managed exactly in the same way as the Startup tab, i.e. do exactly the same thing you just did to disable unwanted services!).

msconfig

Microsoft Tech Call Scam in South Africa Tech News 06 FEB 2014

keyboard spelling scam in redPretty much everyone I know has received at least one of these phone calls, usually with the person on the other end of the line carrying a fairly thick Indian accent:

Update: That’s hilarious. I was literally in the process of posting this when my home phone rang and on the other end was a nice Indian lady claiming to be from the Windows Technical Department Support Group! Such a chuckle! :)

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Microsoft South Africa has issued a press statement saying it is once again warning local consumers to be cautious of a reoccurring phone scam by fraudsters claiming to be from Microsoft.

The scams have left the wallets of unsuspecting consumers hundreds and, in some instances, thousands of rands lighter, Microsoft said.

According to Microsoft, cybercriminals and scammers make use of public phone directories as information gathering sources on consumers in an effort to convince clients that they can be trusted.

These callers claim to be from Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Centre, Microsoft Tech Support, Microsoft Support, Windows Technical Department Support Group, or even Microsoft’s Research and Development Team.

From this point onwards, Microsoft said the scam typically unfolds in the following manner: A cold caller, claiming to be a representative of Microsoft, one of its brands or a third party contracted by Microsoft, tells the victim they are checking into a computer problem, infection or virus that has been detected by Microsoft.

“In reality, the scammer only tricked unsuspecting consumers into believing that there is a problem and that paying a fee would be the best way to sort the issues out. Often they will also push clients to purchase a one year computer maintenance subscription,” said Ashleigh Fenwick, Microsoft South Africa’s PR and communications manager.

Beyond this tactic, cybercriminals also aim to trick consumers into installing malware onto their PCs, with the aim of gathering sensitive data such as online banking logins, Microsoft said.

Fenwick says that consumers should be aware that Microsoft will not cold call them with regards to malfunctioning PCs or viruses.

In the rare instance where Microsoft might contact consumers directly, the caller will be able to verify the existence of a current customer relationship, Microsoft said.

In order to keep from falling victim to the phone scam, Microsoft provided the following advice to local consumers:

  • Do not purchase software or services over the telephone.
  • If there is a fee associated with the service, then hang up.
  • Consumers should never authorise remote control over a PC to a third party, unless they can confirm that the party concerned is a legitimate representatives of a computer support team with whom they are already a customer.
  • If you feel that a caller is acting suspiciously, take down their information and report them to the South African Police Services (08600 10111 or crimstopgauteng@saps.org.za).
  • Never provide credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.

Related Link: mybroadband website

Free XBOX 360 Games: Games with Gold Games | My Life 20 JUN 2013

fable 3 xbox game coverFinally, Microsoft takes a page out of Sony’s book and in one quick announcement makes owning a XBOX Live Gold account worthwhile again.

Following in PlayStation Plus’ footsteps, Microsoft will now give away two free selected games each month to all XBOX Live Gold account members for the remainder of this year, starting in July 2013 with the gifting of digital downloads for Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3.

And just because they can, they’re also offering up Fable III for free to all XBOX Live Gold accounts, available now until the end of June. (I’ve already grabbed this, having missed out on it first time around!)

This is a fantastic incentive for having a paid-for Gold account in the first place and to be frank, it’s great for game development companies who can now get a second round of interest in some of their older titles, which they can then try to capitalize on by heavily promoting some paid-for, shiny new DLC.

I’m looking forward to seeing what titles Microsoft is going to be giving away in this manner for the rest of the year, and am secretly hoping that they can bring aboard a few of the other big name publishers instead of just releasing items from their own back catalog.

And who knows, maybe it will be successful enough that they decide keep this promotion running indefinitely? In any event, here’s to at least six months’ worth of free games coming our way!

xbox 360 games with gold logo

Related Link: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live/games-with-gold

Review: Halo Legends Anime | My Reviews 10 NOV 2011

2010 saw the release of Halo Legends, overseen by 343, the appointed managers of the hugely successful Microsoft Halo gaming franchise. It is a seven part anthology (eight if you count the fact that “Origins” is split into two episodes), consisting of episodes ranging in length from ten to twenty minutes each, and produced by some of Japan’s hottest anime studios and directors, including work by Studio 4°C, Production I.G., Casio Entertainment, Toei Animation, and Bones, never mind the fact that the applauded director Shinji Aramaki also wades in on the act.

So this is the marriage of the Western Halo gaming franchise with Japanese anime, a mix that doesn’t always work that well in practice, but which does actually stand a fairly good chance to successfully translate this time around, thanks mainly to Halo’s focus on mecha and space ships, one of the staples of anime design!

Anthologies are not my cup of tea as the short nature of the stories means that you don’t easily get sucked in, and if they aren’t linked up in a coherent storyline like say Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic or Green Lantern: Emerald Knights managed to do, it becomes somewhat of a waste of time in my opinion.

And this turns out to be very much the case.

Ignoring the slapstick “Odd One Out” episode which is completely out of line in terms of tone to the rest of the DVD, the short stories are all haphazardly placed in the Halo mythos, and apart from Origins which at least gives us a deeper look into the historic timeline of the franchise, the rest of the stories really matter very little indeed.

In other words, unless you are already a hardcore Halo fan, there really isn’t all that much for you here.

In terms of the animation, each studio uses completely different techniques, resulting in a very disjointed affair, reminiscent of the problems that plagued the poor The Animatrix anthology release back when it was originally published. That said, the animation employed by the various studios do all for the most part work and work well, with particular mention being made of the absolutely gorgeous and fluid CG used to render Shinji Aramaki’s The Package insert. However on a similar note, the horrid watercolor effect completely destroys Hiroshi Yamazaki’s The Duel piece, and while Toei’s Dragonball Z-like animation suits the tone of the “Odd One Out” story, it just serves to re-enforce how much this episode really doesn’t belong in what would otherwise be a pretty serious group of tales.

One thing that does however work across all the episodes is the great choice in voice actors cast to fill the characters’ shoes, as is the splendid music that often serves to provide a hauntingly beautiful and epic backdrop to each and every one of the stories being told.

All in all, Halo Legends is probably something best left to the fans of the series, especially those who are interesting in the single player storyline of the Halo franchise, and not those just in it for the multiplayer. For me it suffers from the same sense of pointlessness of the other anime-inspired anthologies that have come before it, in other words The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight, meaning that I really can’t recommend it to anyone other than those aforementioned hardcore fans.

Still, it’s not like it doesn’t have its pretty moments though…

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_Legends

How to Install Arial Black Font in Ubuntu 11.04 CodeUnit 15 JUN 2011

I like Arial Black. There is something compelling about that big and chunky font that makes me always want to include it in my designs. However, it is a Microsoft Windows font and it comes thus as no surprise that it isn’t available by default on a new Ubuntu desktop installation. Never fear though, not all is lost… it turns out that installing some of the Microsoft Windows core fonts isn’t necessarily that difficult after all!

First, fire up the Synaptic Package Manager or if you are less of a power user, the Ubuntu Software Center (at the bottom of the main system Applications menu).

Then run a search for “ttf mscorefonts” and mark for installation. I found that in the Ubuntu Software Center, a search for “true font” also threw me my hoped for result. Weird. Anyway. In this case it is marked as Installer for Microsoft TrueType core fonts. Select and install.

It take a short while during which the installer locates, downloads and installs the necessary font files, but once it is done, fire up your favourite font-enabled application (like GIMP) and check out those shiny new additions to your font options.

Oh yeah Arial Black, I’m looking at you… ;)