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Because Technically Motivated is designed to be the technology blog everyone can understand and get involved with, whether it’s suggesting articles, leaving comments or just chatting; and because our aim is to keep on the pulse of the latest in technology, I’m always looking into new ways to allow our readers to interact with each other.

In this vein, it is my pleasure to announce that Technically Motivated has now launched its own official Discord server! Now, by clicking on the “Discord” icon found to the right of every page; or by using our permanent quick invite link, you can join in with a modern chat solution that lets you both text and voice chat with like-minded readers, visitors and contributors to Technically Motivated, with a variety of different channels for all sorts of different topics – whether it’s gaming, tech or general conversation. Be sure to also keep an eye on our #articles channel where you’ll get instant notifications on any new articles posted on Technically Motivated 😉

I’m still setting up the Discord in some areas, but it’s already ready to go and anyone with a valid Discord account is welcome to join. Also, if you have any suggestions for new chat channels, do tell us in the comments, or by leaving a message for Techie Jinji directly on Discord. Enjoy!

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    Marty McFly’s Self-Tying Shoelaces to become a reality in 2015

    In the classic time-travel film Back To The Future II, Marty McFly wears a very distinctive pair of sneakers. In 2011, Nike introduced the Nike Air Mag sneakers as a limited edition product – and wowed the film's fans by revealing they were an exact replica of Marty's iconic shoes; and that the proceeds from each pair sold would go directly to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. But there was something missing.

    Marty's shoes in Back To The Future II had a cool and unique technology called "Power Laces", which were self-tying laces that meant your shoes would effectively tie themselves the moment your feet settled into them. Many fans loudly decried their absence from the otherwise accurate homage of the Nike Air Mags – but surely such technology was pure fiction, right? According to Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, not any more!

    Starting 2015, Nike intends to bring to market shoes with the iconic self-tying Power Laces as designed by Nike's own shoe designers. That timing couldn't be more perfect, as canonically the power-lace-equipped shoes of the classic film were actually said to be introduced in 2015, making a perfect example of art imitating life – one can't help but wonder if Nike have chosen to deliberately delay the launch to fit the events of the film. It's unclear whether the laces will appear on an updated version of the Nike Air Mag or on a new product entirely – which also means we don't yet know what the Power Laces will cost. So, what would YOU pay for shoes that tied themselves?


    Digg gets a rethink

    Dying social network Digg, designed as a site to share news on the internet and allow people to judge its importance to decide which become today's headlines on the site's homepage, was bought over by a new team roughly two months ago for a trivial amount of money. Now the new Digg team have explained their plans for revamping the social network to make it relevant once again, in a blog post at detailing discussions over the last six weeks.

    One of the major sticking points in the new rethink is to refocus the site around getting to the content people want in the simplest ways possible, dropping anything that isn't constructive to that process. Gizmodo published an article today about one such move, ditching the much-loathed Diggbar; but other plans include dropping Newsrooms; and renaming “Newswire” back to its original name, Upcoming.

    Perhaps most telling of all though is the new Digg team's assessment as to the role of Digg in the modern internet. Rather than encouraging people to stay on Digg and ignoring every network, the new Digg is being designed to get you to the content you want to read quickly, in the belief that the easier it is to discover things using the network, the more likely you'll come again to find new things (now where have we heard that before…?); as well as to embrace the networks people have already to judge the relevance of articles. While you can still "Digg" articles on the site itself to increase their score, Digg scores will now also consider how often an article has been shared on Facebook and Twitter to determine an article's overall importance, thereby highlighting the articles most grabbing of people's attention whatever network they use.

    Diggs: 54. Tweets: 46. Facebook mentions: 112. Total Digg Score: 212.
    An early mock-up of the new Digg scoring system. Although this article only has 54 Diggs, it scores 212 due to the many mentions of it on Twitter and Facebook. Clicking the overall score shows a breakdown. (Image Credit: RethinkDigg)

    Also of note is that the early launch of the new Digg will lack a comment system, to give the developers time to consider how to "do it right". As posted on RethinkDigg:

    At launch, v1 will not include a commenting system. When Digg was founded in 2004, it was one of the only places on the web to have a conversation with like-minded people. Today, conversations happen everywhere, and the problem that Digg started to solve in 2004 now has no shortage of solutions. We knew that if we were going to support commenting at launch, we had to do it right, and we knew that we couldn’t do it right in six weeks. In the coming weeks we will conduct a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features.

    Time will tell if the rethink of Digg by its new team will help make it relevant to the modern world and keep it away from Death's Door. What are your views on its chances?


    Today is World IPv6 Day – why it matters

    When you want to call somebody over the phone – or maybe even using Skype or other VoIP services – you connect to them by dialling or having something dial their phone number, right? Every house, business and mobile phone around the world has their own, unique phone number; and all the numbers in the same area are decided by the phone company in charge and distributed supposedly at random based on the rules they’ve defined for that area. But what if a phone company runs out of numbers for the area? The simple solution is to make more numbers, by coming up with a new area code or even a new rule for generating numbers so that they can have a whole new bank to draw from.

    The internet works in a similar way. Every device that connects to the internet – whether a computer, an iPod, a smart phone, a games console, or anything really – has its own “number”, known as an IP address, to identify it. To connect one thing to another across the internet, the two devices use their IP addresses to “call” each other and make a connection. So that people don’t have to remember these numbers themselves, DNS Resolvers attach website domains to IPs, so that when you type in the address to a website on an internet browser, the device does the hard work for you.

    Like phone numbers, IPs are mostly randomly assigned, but they’re defined by a strict set of rules; and controlled by a regulator (ICANN) who set rules as to what IPs can be given out in different parts of the world and when, which they usually do in blocks to give web hosts in different regions a bank of IPs to use before they need to request more. The current rules are known as “IPv4”, and state that IPs are made up of four numbers, separated by dots, with each number allowed to be between 0 and 255 – making over 4.29 billion number combinations.

    Amazingly, over the relatively short span of the Internet’s life so far, the net has grown at such a rapid pace that we’re now almost at 4.2 billion unique devices on the internet at any one time; and so the numbers left have almost run out. If they run out, it’ll become difficult for anything new to come to the internet. So we need to make more numbers. Luckily, computer boffins realised this possibility some years ago and designed a new standard, known as IPv6. This uses new rules to make numbers which allow for larger chains and more numbers in each part, potentially allowing for more than 340 billion billion billion BILLION addresses – several hundred times more than what we have now.

    Problem solved, right?

    Sadly, actually implementing IPv6 is a technical difficulty in itself, with servers needing to be reworked; equipment needing software updates and in some cases older equipment even needing to be replaced to take advantage of it. It’s estimated only 5% of the internet uses IPv6 and, until most places start using it, we can’t yet fully take advantage of it.

    Today, World IPv6 Launch day, is an attempt to change that: today, internet providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as major internet properties like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, are all turning on IPv6 in an attempt to push forward this future of networking and hopefully keep the internet growing for many more years to come. Turning on IPv6 today does not mean that IPv4 will simply disappear: While its use will gradually diminish, there’s still millions more servers to switch and tons of equipment to update. But this first step will hopefully encourage others to also pick up the pace and get us moving forward soon.

    You can rest a little easier now 🙂


    Aomei release Partition Manager for Windows 8. (Yeah, you read that right.)

    Windows 8 – the next version of Windows after the current Windows 7, which will be the first to target computers, smartphones and tablets in the same system – is still yet to receive an official launch, though Microsoft did launch a Windows 8 Consumer Preview recently, to allow everyone to download a test version of Windows – so that the general public can try out the new system before it launches and see whether they like it, as well as to allow them to prepare themselves for the many changes it will bring.

    Despite this, many software developers are already working on new versions of their applications that are specifically tailored to work on, or take advantage of extra functionality Windows 8 will bring. However, most of these applications were either Microsoft-developed and to be expected anyway (e.g. Office), or only needed small tweaks to function; and most of these are just small, simple programs. So when Aomei emailed Technically Motivated today boasting that their Partition Assistant 4.0 is "perfectly compatible with Windows 8 at first time", I was naturally curious. Read the rest of this entry »


    Confirmed: Nintendo announce 2012 Wii U Release, Nintendo Network

    Nintendo confirms new console will launch this year, controller gets NFC function

    In its Third Quarter financial results briefing, Nintendo has revealed new details about its plans for the upcoming next-generation console, the Wii U.
    It has been confirmed the company is planning to showcase the final format and discuss the details of the new hardware at E3 2012, which will be held in Los Angeles in June this year. Nintendo can confirm that they will launch the Wii U in Japan, the U.S., Europe and Australia in time for the year-end sales season.
    "For the launch of new hardware, it is, of course, regarded as a sort of requisite not to miss the critical year-end sales season. The company is aiming to firmly complete the development of the entire system and prepare sufficient software so that the Wii U will be at its best at the time of the launch. Needless to say, we have learned a bitter lesson from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS," -Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Rumour: Microsoft phasing out Microsoft Points


    A rumour making the rounds today is Microsoft will phase out its Microsoft Points currency by year's end, in favour of real currency. According to InsideMobileApps, the change will affect Windows Phone, the Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live.


    The site claims "a source" provided the information and notes that mobile developers with Microsoft publishing agreements are being told to plan their upcoming downloadable content and in-app purchases in accordance with the change. Finally, customers with Microsoft Point balances at the time of conversion will have it switched to the their local currency.


    Two developers we spoke to who are working on Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live content told us they hadn't heard anything about such a conversion. However, both noted that sometimes Microsoft doesn't tell them about major changes until it becomes need to know. They also hadn't heard whispers about the conversion until we contacted them.


    Checking in with Microsoft, a company spokesperson told us: "We do not comment on rumour or speculation."


    Update: Microsoft Switzerland has reportedly told that the rumour is not true. The Google translation is a bit confusing, but it roughly translates: "We can not confirm these rumours – we are currently satisfied with the current Xbox Live Business model."


    Google +1 for websites to launch tomorrow

    Website owners will be busy tomorrow, as Danny Sullivan has confirmed that Google will be launching their +1 button for websites tomorrow. No doubt this will be the topic of discussion throughout the cyber world, Google’s ‘Like’ or ‘Tweet This’ button will be a hot implementation as social factors have been shown to impact search result rankings.

    The button had previously been spotted in the national ads Google has been running for Chrome – but when it would be launched was not known until today.

    “Google announced the availability of this button on the Webmaster Central Blog on March 28, fully two days ahead of the +1 launch. Presumably this was to give publishers a chance to get the jump on things, but shortly after Google issued a statement indicating “we’re still working things out and aren’t quite ready for this to be publicly available just yet,” a report by Search Engine Watch claimed earlier.

    You will need to have a Google Account to use these buttons – Google wants to make it search more social and to do this they need to know who you are so your followers can see what you are voting for. Google’s content on the button sounds a lot like the Bing commercial. “Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results.

    Numerous websites are already making preparations to include the button, but only time will tell how widespread it will become.


    Google Offers Easier Way to Transfer Video From Google Video to YouTube

    Google Video is shutting down. That’s no surprise. Having been surpassed by YouTube for the longest of time, and Google subsequently acquiring YouTube in 2006 making their own service almost redundant, Google stopped accepting new videos to the site after May 2009 and urged people to move to YouTube instead. Now Google have announced the official death of the site – videos already on the site will no longer be available after April 29, and the site is shut down completely after that.

    You’d expect, if Google’s reason for closing Google Video is that YouTube has made it unnecessary, that therefore Google would allow a quick way to move from Google Video to YouTube in order for users to take advantage of the superior platform and not be forced to lose anything. But, originally, Google hadn’t even planned to do such a thing. The original message about Google’s Google Video closure stated that users would be allowed to download their video manually until May 13 and keep it to hand to do as they wished with it; but there’d be no automatic migrations, and the service – and all data on it – would be taken permanently offline some time after that date.

    Numerous voices spoke out, asking why Google couldn’t just create a quick way to transfer videos between the two services. Google listened. And now, good news: The company’s backed away from its original plans and done just that. Read the rest of this entry »


    RuneScape finally implements proper Clan support in game

    Clans and Guilds are a very commonly seen concept around multiplayer online games. The idea of having defined groups of people who all work together as a team under one name, work towards common goals and enjoy conducting events together is very much in tune with what multiplayer games are supposed to be all about; and when there are several guilds in the game, competition with each other just adds another level to the fun. It is no surprise, therefore, that many MMO games have over the years added official support for forming clans and guilds into their games, many even adding content specifically tailored to take advantage of them – like group quests, guild-on-guild PvP, minigames and so on.

    RuneScape is one MMO that’s been rather a late addition to the party. Despite being designed from the start to big up the multiplayer aspect of MMOs, the original RuneScape – nowadays referred to as RuneScape Classic – had no clan support at all and lacked any real group-orientated content. The existence of clans in the game was only given minimal acknowledgement through a section on the Forums dedicated to guild threads. RuneScape 2, which soon replaced RuneScape Classic and took its name, improved matters by adding group-orientated quests and multiplayer minigames, but still only went so far. In recent weeks, however, RuneScape has seen a large shift in the game’s development with the “Dungeons of Daemonheim” plot line. As well as improving graphics, shaking up battle dynamics and rewriting how battle statistics are calculated, RuneScape finally has shown an increased commitment to giving guilds and clans a proper role in the game, adding the ability to “register” your clan in-game and then join or create it, after which you will then join a special chat channel only usable by you and other members of your clan.

    Now, today, RuneScape has FINALLY added full and proper support for clans into its game. In a recent update, the developers of JAGeX Read the rest of this entry »