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EEGaming Interview with Odeta Nestor

EEGReport – Magazine: Since our last interview, many things have happened and Romania has becoming one of the largest gambling market in the region. Congrats for this achievement! How many online operators are there with a valid license and how many are you forecasting for 2016?

Odeta Nestor: Currently, on the Romanian market 19 online gambling operators are legally operating. They obtained the provisional operating right in accordance with Law no. 124/2015, which provided for a transitional period in which operators interested in the potential of the Romanian market can conduct business until the entry into force of new rules for implementing specific gambling legislation. From the discussions we’ve had, we can say that at least 10 more operators, some of them very large, expressed their intention to license in Romania, but have chosen to wait for the approval of the secondary legislation.

Now, with the entry into force of this new normative act, all gambling organizers, interested in the Romanian market will be able to apply for a full license, valid for 10 years.

The market in Romania is a vast market with significant potential for any organizer who wants to develop lawfully business, with all the advantages guaranteed by law (advantageously taxation, open relationship with the regulator etc.).

From our point of view, any operator wishing to enter the market in Romania in terms of legality, is welcome. About competition was said to be the invisible hand that regulates the market, as an expression of the level of development and diversification of the sector, which makes any customer able to purchase goods and services he needs/wishes, with the highest favorable rates, while also stimulating the manufacturers and the service providers to increase and improve their offer.

EEGReport – Magazine: If we talk about licenses, we must talk about the revoked ones as well, and there is certainly a story that needs to be told. It’s the case of Bet365 and Bwin. What happened and what is the outcome of the situation?

Odeta Nestor: For example, Bet365 asked the Court of Appeal to suspend the decision to revoke the provisional operating right, but the court ruled in favor of NGO. From my point of view, the suspension of the decision is no. 2.723/13th of October 2015 could have induced the idea that each operator can apply the legal provisions in its sole discretion, without considering the regulations in force rules or the authority.

These are issues to be solved by the institutions with jurisdiction in the matter, in this case the courts. For this reason, I would like not to comment too much on this subject, since the court decisions should be respected, not commented.

I believe that the legislation is very clear and leaves no room for interpretation. The best proof of this is the behavior of other large international operators that have agreed to stop their activity during the period that were not covered by legal documents. Therefore, the fact that some operators have decided to work illegally is effectively just their choice to position themselves above the other actors in the market, above the law and the authorities.

EEGReport – Magazine: On the 24th of February the Romanian Government has changed and amended the implementing rules of the law which governs on the organization and operation of gambling in Romania. What are the key changes that have been amended?

Odeta Nestor: Given the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling, approved with amendments by Law 227/2013, as it was amended by the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014 approved with amendments by Law 124/2015 regulating fiscal measures and modification of certain acts by Government Decision no. 111/2016 establishes the rules that operators must meet to obtain a license and authorization and for the good development of the business of traditional and remote gambling on the national territory.

Also, taking into account the amendments made by the legislation mentioned above, this decision draft establishes the legal provisions governing the detailed the remote (online) gambling and the general conditions on the activity, particular aspects related to participants remote gambling, licensing criteria for the operators of activities related to gambling.

Thereby, there are defined by categories of games, the requirements that a licensed gambling operator of Class I or licensed operators that offer related gambling activities Class II must fulfill and comply with them, both in order to obtain the license and the authorization and subsequently, in conducting the activity, complying with the norms, operational standards and regulations.

The Government Decision no. 111/2016 supplements the primary standard provisions regarding mandatory minimum rules to be respected by the remote gambling operators on the conditions for registration and for playing, protection of players deposits and other measures to protect the participants in the game in order to exclude minors and people with addiction problems.

It also establishes the obligation of undertaking national programs in the field of responsible gambling in order to prevent problem gambling, in an organized manner by setting up a foundation.

Also, this regulation contains provisions and technical measures for both remote (online) gambling and traditional gambling, especially slotmachines.

The new regulation clarifies the payment arrangements for the operators obligations to the state budget, it establishes the deadlines for payment of fees specific to the field, it defines terms used in gambling and sets up operating conditions for the newly introduced types of games (remote gambling and temporary traditional gambling). It also establishes the minimum overall winning percentages.

There were also established the operating conditions for a new type of equipment, AWP (gaming device with limited gain), a recreational equipment that will be installed in bars and that will limit both stakes and winnings.

A legal framework of penalties for non-compliance and to sanction the operators of remote gambling was necessary. Also, it was envisaged a preventive sanctions regime for operators that offer activities related to gambling with direct impact.

EEGReport – Magazine: As we know, the secondary legislation brought an end to the temporary licensing structure and authorized the transition of the 19 provisional licenses to a permanent status. How will future applicants be authorized, do operators need to go thorough a trial period before they receive the permanent license or they will get the permanent license once they apply and comply with the law?

Odeta Nestor: According to the legal provisions, until 31st of December 2015, the Surveillance Committee of the National Gambling Office could grant the temporary right of organization and operation of remote gambling for economic operators meeting the conditions set out in point a) – l) in art. II, para. (7) of Law no. 124/2015 approving the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014 regulating fiscal measures and amendment of certain acts.

The temporary operating right, once obtained, is to take effect during the validity period of one year from the grant date, thereafter a license being necessary for the operator to be able to continue his activity in Romania. During the term of this operating right, the organizer is able to apply for the full license, with 10 years validity.

All gambling operators who have shown interest to enter the Romanian market, can get a long-term (10 years) license, as long as they comply with the conditions imposed by law.

EEGReport – Magazine: How is the secondary legislation cataloging the affiliates and how was the decision taken by the operators and their affiliate programs?

Odeta Nestor: According to art. 2 letter b) of the Government Decision no. 111/2016 approving the Methodological Norms for the implementation of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling and amending and supplementing the Government Decision no. 298/2013 on the organization and functioning of the National Gambling Office, amending the Government Decision no. 870/2009 approving the Methodological Norms for the application of Government Emergency Ordinance no.77/2009 and to repeal Government Decision no. 870/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling, the affiliates are defined as follows: “The natural or legal person, who earns revenues under a contract with an organizer of remote gambling as a result of directing the players participating in a game on the website or platform of the organizer”.

The law was welcomed, including those carrying out gambling related activities. As proof, as soon as there was a legal possibility, they started taking steps to licensing, at the moment some of them already obtaining a license in Romania.

EEGReport – Magazine: Has any of the Romania based affiliates been granted licenses, yet? If so, which ones?

EEGReport – Magazine: Earlier last month we have written about the land-based to online convergence and it seems that almost all sports betting shops in Romania now have an online sports betting portal as well. How do you comment these moves and are the betting companies seeing larger revenues from the online market?

Odeta Nestor: Several global leaders such as PokerStars or Betfair activate on the online and sport betting market in Romania. The online segment of this market cumulates several hundred million euros and is in accelerated growth.

The online market in Romania is an attractive business environment. Among the advantages that our country has in this respect, we mention a very good internet connection, quality manpower and their salaries, the IT specialists.

That does not mean that the traditional gaming market will suffer. As I repeatedly have said, it is about different types of consumer and studies that were conducted in countries like Italy, Spain and France are evidencing that regulating the online segment has not significantly affected the traditional gaming market.

EEGReport – Magazine: Looking further ahead, do you think that new emerging markets should take the example of the Romanian legislation?

Odeta Nestor: The year 2015 accounted for the National Gambling Office the premises to create a strong and stable industry.

Although there were legal provisions that regulated online gambling, they were rigid and not adapted to market developments.

Now, with the implementation of the latest amendments, Romania is among the European countries with the best regulations in the field of online gambling.

If we are seen as a role model, this can only make us happy, because it is a new confirmation that our work is a good one.

EEGReport – Magazine: As a closing question, we would like to know and I’m sure all our readers will appreciate if you would share what are your plans for 2016.

Odeta Nestor: As always, we will try to be present at all major events in the field. The Romanian market is a potential market of interest to large operators, and therefore, we will use all communication channels in order to make the new legislative provisions known and understood and to show the potential that our country has for this industry.

Specification for PHP

Happy Sunday from Software Expand! In this week’s edition of Feedback Loop, we talk about the future of Windows Phone, whether it makes sense to build media specification for PHP centers discuss the preferences for metal vs. plastic on smartphones. All that and more past the break the proof of concept can make. Here are some PDU Courses in singapore.

Just because you can do something, should you? Samsung thinks so. Its second experimentally screened phone taps into its hardware R&D and production clout to offer something not many other companies.

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM WINDOWS PHONE?
fotolia_73526765

And so, following the Galaxy Round, here’s the Galaxy Edge. If you take the basic shape and concept, it’s the spitting image of the curved-screen Youm prototype spied at CES a little less than two years ago US. Fortunately.

Now, though, it’s a for-real smartphone you can buy. I’ve been testing it out in Japan, where it launched instead of the Note 4, although both the Note 4 and the Note Edge will eventually specification for PHP be available.

GALAXY NOTE EDGE IS HOW MUCH IT RESEMBLES THE NOTE 4

The ability to shrink the likes of Chrome and Google Maps to a popup window and layer it on top of other apps is also useful. Love to see something similar on the iPhone 6 Plus you just get the Note 4 anyway?

Despite the unusual, curved screen, it still packs all of the good things that made the Note 4 such a strong choice. But bragging rights aside, is there enough of an argument for a curved screen.

METAL VS. PLASTIC PHONE BODIES?
Galaxy Note 4 because the setup is identical here. Yes running on Android 4.4 KitKat.
Galaxy Note 4 because the setup is identical here. Yes running on Android 4.4 KitKat.

The exploration of space stands as one of humanity’s greatest achievements. While history has hailed the men and women who reached the cosmos, and those who helped them get there, much of the infrastructure that sent them skyward lies forgotten and dilapidated.

GALAXY NOTE 4 RUNNING ANDROID 4.4 KITKAT

And how does Apple’s biggest phone compare to the Note Edge? Well, both remain unwieldy to grip, and the Note Edge is wider. However, the edged screen nuzzles into my hand better and those software tweaks mentioned above give it the advantage. However, just like the stylus, there’s a while before you get the knack of all the little provisions Samsung’s made to ease users into this screen size.

Roland Miller has spent nearly half his life chronicling these landmarks before they are lost forever long been obsessed with space as a child, he dreamed of being an astronaut.

HARDWARE
Its curves are subjective and divisive; my friends and colleagues have offered up reactions ranging from outright bemusement to adoration. The screen looks great, with the punchy contrast and sharpness that’s been a Samsung flagship mainstay for years. We’ll get back to that edge, but it’s the headline part of a 5.6-inch Quad-HD+ display.

ONE-HANDED USE
Make this secondary menu transparent, allowing me to maintain all that screen space. The ability to shrink the likes of Chrome and Google Maps to a popup window and layer it on top of other apps is also useful I’d love to see something similar on the iPhone 6 Plus continues to clear away.

SOFTWARE
If you’re looking to learn more about the stylus uses, I’d advise a quick read of Brad’s Galaxy Note 4 review, because the setup is identical here. Yes, there are TouchWiz bits running on Android 4.4 KitKat.

fotolia_81764888
The Galaxy Note Edge grabs your attention. Its curves are subjective and divisive

But let’s focus on what’s different here: that edge. There are two display modes you can flit between: a slender, unassuming bar that can display a customized message and a more substantial column that attempts to offer extra functionality, notifications or context-dependent menus for certain apps, like the camera.

The front-facing camera is also a top-end sensor compared to the competition, 3.7 megapixels with an f/1.9 lens.
While I’m not a huge selfie taker, you’ll have to ask our Senior Selfie Editor, but I do take a whole lot of photos with my smartphone.

The same high-resolution 2,560 x 1,600 screen we’re certain 1080p Plus
The same high-resolution 2,560 x 1,600 screen we’re certain 1080p Plus
When it’s expanded, the UI is a basic row of icons, which you can navigate with a little swipe. This may look a little unusual, but swishing through the various mini-screens is immensely satisfying.

And how does Apple’s biggest phone compare to the Note Edge? Well, both remain unwieldy to grip, and the Note Edge is wider. However, the edged screen nuzzles into my hand better and those software tweaks mentioned above give it the advantage.

However, just like the stylus, there’s a while before you get the knack of all the little provisions Samsung’s made to ease users into this screen size.

The screen is marginally smaller than the Note 4, despite the cranked-up pixel count. Like the Note 4, text pops a little more, and pictures you take with the 16MP camera are obviously better replicated on the Note Edge’s screen.

All told, it’s an excellent camera. The image stabilizing works well on all the neon lights that pepper Tokyo, while even people were neatly captured. There’s some noise, but it compares favorably against older Galaxy phones. Daylight meant effortless captures and some really nice shots, if I say so myself.

Well, both remain unwieldy to grip, and the Note Edge is wider. However, the edged screen nuzzles into my hand better and those software tweaks mentioned above give it the advantage.

Digital Wellbeing

How to stop Android app notifications through Digital Wellbeing

Google is going out of its way to help you take control of your mobile devices. One route the developers have taken is allowing users to define what apps are allowed access to notifications. With this newly refined system, users decide how much they want their phone interrupting them throughout the day.

But how do tackle this task? There are a number of ways you can control what apps can notify you. If you happen to run Android Q, you can work with Interruptive or Gentle reminders. If you’re still working with Android Pie, a better way to take care of this is through From within this app, you can disable specific apps from notifying you of updates. This can be a real boon when you can’t silence your phone (because you need it for business), but don’t want the likes of Facebook or Twitter reminding you every other minute that one of your many followers liked a post. Those particular types of notifications can get really annoying—to both you and your clients.

If you happen to have a device running a version of Android that includes (in other words, Android Pie or later and currently only on specific devices), you, too, have more options for controlling pesky notifications. Let’s find out how it is done by the top mobile app design firm.

Accessing digital wellbeing

The Elephant in the Room: Why Cloud Communications Providers Dont Like to Talk About Compliance

Theres lots of talk these days about the consequences of inadequate security, compliance and reliability in business communications systems. Data leaks affect millions and embarrass the businesses associated with them.

White Papers provided by 8×8, Inc.
By default, you won’t find a launcher for Digital Wellbeing in the App Drawer. Instead, you open the app from Settings | Digital Wellbeing (Figure A).

Figure A
Figure A: Launching Digital Wellbeing from within Settings.

Disabling notifications
From within the Digital Wellbeing main window (Figure B), tap Manage notifications.

Figure B
Figure B: The Digital Wellbeing main window.

In the resulting window (Figure C), you can scroll through the listing of apps and tap the On/Off slider to disable notifications for specific apps.

Figure C
Figure C: Facebook notifications have been disabled.

Once you disable the notification for the app(s) in question, they will no longer interrupt you throughout your day.

Why this method?
Using Digital Wellbeing to silence specific app notifications has one major benefit—it makes for very quick and easy control. In other words, instead of hunting down how to return apps to their default ability to access notifications, you can simply return back to the Manage notifications window and re-enable notifications for those apps you disable. This method is much more efficient than any other.

Although Digital Wellbeing offers a number of other important features, I found the ability to easily manage app notifications to be its best feature. If you happen to have a device that includes Digital Wellbeing, you owe it to yourself to start using it for this specific purpose. By silencing some of those apps, your busy work day will get a bit less frustrating.

Mobile Enterprise Newsletter
BYOD, wearables, IoT, mobile security, remote support, and the latest phones, tablets, and apps IT pros need to know about are some of the topics we’ll address. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays

How to protect your network just like a bank ATM

It’s the 10-year anniversary of the first detection of ATM malware, and Cisco’s Talos threat intelligence arm released a blog post about the state of malware that targets ATMs on Thursday.

ATM malware has been a niche, but growing, trend in the past decade since the initial discovery of the Skimer family of malware, which was the first to target ATMs and force them to dispense cash without a bank card.

Since that time, Talos reported, 30 different families of ATM malware have emerged. Many of them bring unique attributes to the table: Some are designed to be DIY kits for entrepreneurial cybercriminals, while others bear the hallmarks of having been coded by nation state actors.
Some ATM malware requires attackers to gain physical access to the target machine, but other forms don’t even require a physical presence: As long as an attacker can break into a bank’s network and find the right machine, they can install malware and withdraw cash to their heart’s content.

Why ATM malware matters to businesses
Those not working in the banking industry may wonder why ATM malware matters to them, especially with most attacks happening outside the US in places like Latin America and Eastern Europe, where ATMs are often older and less secure.

IT budgets continue their pattern of more aggressive spending in 2019. A favorable business climate is one reason. A growing recognition of technology’s ability to transform businesses for revenue opportunities and cost savings is another.

To read the whole report download now and learn how IT Spending increases due to business conditions, security, and revenue opportunities.

ATM malware may not be a direct threat to those outside the banking industry, or those in places with good ATM security, but the tips that Talos gives on how to protect ATMs from malware are universally applicable, especially for organizations with computers accessible to the public.
There’s a long list of recommendations, and all of them are worth considering:

Ensure machines and all their related systems (servers, other machines on the network) are kept up-to-date.
Disable Windows AutoPlay
Configure the BIOS to prevent booting from USB or physical media
Set a strong BIOS password to prevent BIOS changes
Disable direct access to a computer’s desktop at a public-facing computer
Force RDP sessions to use
Reduce a system’s attack surface by removing all unnecessary apps and services
Monitor network traffic and physical integrity of machines
Encrypt the connection between machines and their hosts
Restrict access to, and electronically log, any opening of a machine’s cabinet/case
Ensure physical locations, network connections, and surrounding materials are physically safe and secure from tampering
Properly configure anti-malware apps and firewalls that machines connect to
Configure a software whitelist that prevents any unauthorized applications from being installed or run on a machine
Make sure the whitelist can’t be easily disabled, and log any attempts to do so
Enable device control so that any connected USB devices or other external hardware won’t function
Train employees on how to avoid accidentally installing malware
Segment your networks, both physically and logically, so that vulnerable machines are cut off from potential attacker entry points
Make sure network visibility is high: This can be a key part of sniffing out abnormal traffic
Monitor threat intelligence news to be sure you’re up on the latest threats
These tips apply to ATMs and public-facing machines, but also to employee workstations as well: Simple steps like whitelisting software, eliminating unnecessary apps, and preventing the use of hardware peripherals and external storage can go a long way to protecting a network and its sensitive contents.

Cybersecurity Insider Newsletter
Strengthen your organization’s IT security defenses by keeping abreast of the latest cybersecurity news, solutions, and best practices. Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays

5 Web Development Frameworks To Look For

The continuous evolution of mobile technology has changed the pathway of web technologies. Gone are the days where a simple UI website or web application yield you results. The current trend of Mobile websites need some sophisticated web frameworks to meet the competitive needs of customers. The web frameworks which have robust features and functionalities can support the complex environments have gained the top-notch positions in “Web Development” category. We are not sure about the due date of a technology, there might be a chance that a new technology may emerge within no time and you have to rework on your complete web development strategy. For this ever-evolving web technologies, we suggest you go through the best and required web development technologies which will meet the needs of your customers. Let us have a look at the named 5 web technologies.

  1. AngularJS: This Google’s baby deserves to be in the top position of web frameworks. This framework is designed primarily for single page application. The current version of AngularJS is 5.0. It has enhanced its features in a short span of time to meet the demand of the market. So what is this framework is all about? AngularJS is an open-source and structural framework for dynamic web applications. The new version of AngularJS has been released with advanced features and bug fixes. In simple terms, AngularJS is smaller, Faster and easy to use.
  2. Laravel PHP: Laravel is a framework of PHP (Hypertext Processor). It is an open-source (Zero Licensing Fee) framework with Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. 2011 is the year of Laravel’s inception, since then it has given promising outputs for the developers. Laravel is a user-friendly web framework, which helps to develop the application with an elegant syntax. The robust features of Laravel have made it to the top list in PHP frameworks and second in web framework list. The MVC features, Beautiful templating, Rapid pace of development, RESTful Services and better code foundation are some of the known features of Laravel PHP.
  3. React.JS: This is a front-end JavaScript library developed by Facebook. Most of the major applications are currently running on React.JS. The applications which required data changes constantly are using React.JS. Because it will update and render the right components when the data changes. It is used extensively in developing user interface (UI) of the web application. You can develop enclosed components that manage their own state, then compose them to make complex user interfaces. It allows us to create reusable UI components. The current version of React is 15.0.
  4. Symfony PHP: Symfony is a framework of PHP. The Symfony framework is built on model-view-controller (MVC) architecture. The current version of Symfony is 4.0. With Symfony, developers need not write the repetitive coding and they can control the coding very well in this framework. The Symfony components consist of decoupled and reusable components on which best PHP applications are developed. Drupal, eZ Publish are some of the examples of Symfony PHP
  5. ASP.NET MVC: ASP.Net is a web development framework developed by Microsoft. You can develop dynamic websites using ASP.Net MVC framework. ASP.Net MVC is an alternative to ASP.Net Web forms pattern. ASP.Net MVC is a lightweight framework which is integrated with ASP.Net web forms features. The developer can have full control over the application as it does not use view state or server-based forms. You can use any of this web technologies ASP.Net Web forms and MVC based on your need. The features and components of ASP.Net MVC make it easier for the programmers to develop the complex applications easily.

Conclusion:

The above-discussed web development frameworks are the most loved and used by the large pool of programmers and companies. Being a part of the Web development marketing team, I have interacted with most of my clients who have asked to develop their applications on these technologies. There are insights available on SimilarTech where you can understand the different aspects of these technologies also.

I love to write articles and blog posts on different topics. I have interacted with most of the clients since the last 9+ years who need web development technologies for their complex web applications and understood the exact need of the market. The suggestions from experienced web programmers at Summation IT and an online research on web development insights have helped me to write this article.

The 7 Pillars of Branding

Here I am making an outline of such a simplified model to help people in successfully designing brands and also to better understanding the already existing ones. I collected 7 layers of the branding with 7 different tasks to be completed in everyday actions. I hope this can be useful for the readers, too.

Right before entering this syllabus, we need to define what brand and branding is: in our view brand is a vision that is related to a specific company, product or any specific entity which lives in people and materializes to them. Branding is the art of deliberate control over the whole process.

First pillar: Publicly known

A brand always defines a smaller or bigger group of people who are somehow aware of the product or the service in question. This is the prerequisite or trivial condition of all brands: if you are the only one who knows a specific service or uses a specific product and no information is publicized, the service or product is unable to evolve into a brand. This is the primary task of all marketing efforts, making our specific product or service (along with its whole branding costume) widely known on the addressed market: the majority of the marketing budget is used for this purpose. At this point we normally pay attention to the details of the publicity of all brands: target segment(s), its content, geographic, demography, media, communication methods, timing etc.

Task 1: design and make your publicity

However, the fame of a product or service is not exclusively based on the publicity gained (mostly depending on the money available for promoting the brand) via frontal, push-type of promotion. Money spent on communications is a very important factor to reach the second stage of publicity: the people involved in the communications flow will probably share the information with each other and start a – sometimes very simple and few words – discussion about the product or service heard. The act of sharing the information with each other happens or has happened with all known brands. Suggestions, opinions made in public are very important in articulating brand and thus creating or strengthening/weakening brands. This is why the importance of Facebook in contemporary marketing cannot be overestimated enough, or, with similar effect, the customer service/problem handling has always been focal point of customer satisfaction and branding, too.

The publicity of branding therefore incorporates all means of sharing the information related to a specific brand or service. There are two basic type of publicities: there is of course the strictly controlled information sharing method (typically: marketing communications) and we also have to face a second publicity, the huge uncontrolled means of communication. When we are thinking on designing a new brand or just examining an existing one, we have to enlist all the ways how the specific brand gains publicity and sort them by relevance with regards to the public coverage and effect, making special attention to the uncontrolled ways of publicity.

The success of controlling publicity is a key to profit from branding, however, public control will never mean information monopoly over the media and over the outcome: even situations when a company has theoretically 100% control over the situation (e.g. customer care desk at the office or shop), it is always a challenge to control what is exactly happening there, what is going to be told or heard. Thus, from micro to macro level the publicity always carries a huge uncertainty factor with regards to reach, direct effect and future implications.

Second pillar: Associative and narrative – stories around

The discussions initiated and information shared publicly about a brand (or a branded product or service) would show up the next major characteristic of brands, that is, the power of the coupling or association related to the branded products or services. In other words, branding means that we create stories around a brand. Brand identity or personality, brand vision, brand promise are the official stories reflecting the narrative of a generic brand on different levels. Marketing creative planning is exactly doing the same around a specific product of a brand (e.g. ‘The environment friendly Toyota Prius’ as a story), while general brand stories (I mean the Toyota brand in the example) or associations are on higher level only. We therefore have to consider several layers of brand stories or narratives when examining them. It is very useful when these stories are consistent and formed professionally and are not contradicting to each other.

Brands are incorporating many stories and ideas not just from individual products and services determined by the company but stories and ideas also coming from the public. Unfortunately – as we mentioned above – we cannot control the majority of the perceptions of our brand. Individual opinions, perceived qualities, good or bad experiences are building the narrative universe, or more simply, the stories of a brand.

Task 2: define and drive brand stories

Notwithstanding the above, we can drive these brand stories and narrow them to the desired ones on at least two-three different areas. The mission statement of a company/organization is the very source of official brand stories and determines the branding direction via its written values and operational reasons. Secondly, the slogan or the tagline of a brand (like LG’s Life’s Good) is meant to embody the driving narrative story and works like a magnet: collects all the associations around a brand. The third layer of story comes along with specific products or services: repeating the slogans, taglines while inserting the logo of the brand on individual products/services makes the specific product or service painted with the general brand’s associations and qualities. The individual story of a product or service is like a topping on the branding cake. Pure brand campaigns on the other hand are always aiming outlining and fixing the desired main stories and narratives of qualities in the customers.

Controlling publicity cannot be done without controlling the stories attached to a specific brand and seems the major task of all branding and communications managers. Here, we have to highlight a related issue which behaves like the blind spot of the branding: rebranding. Rebranding campaigns are to change the very basic story of a brand. This is the reason why these campaigns fail many times and real rebranding is a very seldom event.

Third pillar: Concrete and multiplicative form

In real life we always give tangible forms to brands because we want to make profit from our money spent. Brand without concrete product/service to buy (or without a related person when we talk about personal brands) is useless or just a promise (like the newly planned Jolla mobile OS with only a demo video). The embodiment of a Brand is an essential part of its very nature.

Normally we use the power of a general Brand Name for many individual products. An already existing brand hands over its potentials (its stories of qualities, usage, value etc.) to specific, individual products and even when we see a new product of an already known brand we are already having a presupposition or sense of certain expectations towards the brand new product. A VW car is perceived for many as a reliable one; however, it may happen that a much lower quality is introduced in a new model than what the brand had fulfilled at its predecessors.

Task 3: make several appearances to utilize brand power

Most times we may say that a brand is transferred into several products and therefore it is multiplicative. It is very seldom that an earned reputation of a brand represented in only one product or service. For example the perfume 4711 seems to be transferred only into one product for a long time, but the brand’s product portfolio today consists of more than one item: after shave or even shower gel is also produced. Start-ups typically own only one product and normally the first product is the one that determines and forms the brand later on. Initially, the brand is typically built upon on only one product or service and this is why it is very sensitive when entering a market with a new company and a new product: it also determines the future brand and products the company assessed with.

Personal brands, seen superficially, are not multiplicative: a person who has double face (see politicians) and therefore not able to form a consistent and concrete personal brand, are subject to lose their reputation and their face rapidly. This is because brands can have only one concrete (credible) story, without major contradictions. The multiplicative nature of personal brands should be investigated from another perspective. In case we regard a person’s appearances in public as concretizations and multiplications of his/her brand, we are closer to the truth and we understand better why celebrities and politicians are so keen on public appearances.

Fourth pillar: Unique proposition

The history of branding is stemming from the wish of making a producer’s goods identifiable. This is not just to ensure the identity of goods but also to prevent from copying and forgery. The brands around us are still carrying these old attributes: the logo of the company/brand is expressing the uniqueness of a brand (supported by law as trade marks) and helps us to identify a specific brand in the universe of brands and signs.

Sometimes it is very hard to make distinction based on the products/services alone: Pepsi and its rivals put in a neutral glass next to each other are unidentifiable, so the use of branding techniques is crucial for gaining profit for both companies. Just like in the cola case, the technological industry also heavily relies on the branding when selling its products or services: PCs, laptops, smart phones or internet accesses are very similar to each other. Or, a tax advisory service consultant firm is facing real challenges to provide specific brand vision.

Task 4: find and use the means of brand differentiations

The unique proposition of the brands has to be built up and shown for the public: the individual logos of brands on devices for example help the company to make distinction from their competitors and help the customers to identify different market players in order to make a personal choice of preference. Most times companies heavily rely on the unique brand distinguishers, like stories about their unique market segment, tailor-made products, additional services they provide etc. Sometimes, when stories among a group of competitors are very similar or compatible (like the Big Four Auditors) and even their service is similar, a common story may evolve around them focusing on more the similarity and indirectly expressing the exclusivity of the group members.

Fifth pillar: Value

When we identify a brand on its telltale signs (e.g. design) or logo we do not think on what we see first (the product itself) but rather we focus on the brand value represented by the specific product or service. We may say (even without seeing the product) that if you are having Martin Logan stereo speakers that is very cool, but if you are having Philips that is not so awesome. Different brands represent different values: there are low-end and high-end brands with many in between. Start-up companies have to position their brand value on the axis predetermined by the existing market players. Making decision on positioning the companies’ services or products on the lower or higher end of this axis has nothing to do with ethical values: a low-end, cheap car helps many disabled or poor people without doubt. Rather, making the choice of brand values determine the market we are about to target. And this target market decision affects our business outlooks directly. When Toyota launched it Lexus series and decided to focus on the higher end cars they probably considered the higher profit option.

The value of a brand is also expressed in a more measurable way. In general ledgers brands are valued as a part of the company’s goodwill and are very sensitive for new product introductions and for amortization, too. From financial point of view brands regarded as assets that have been created due to investment and are also subject to lose or increase their values.

Task 5: define and carry brand values

The value of a brand emanates into individual products of a company and the value of the sold products affects the value of the brands. More surprisingly, the value of a brand may transfer over the buyer persona influencing the perceived value of a person in a certain group of people (see Apple fan-effect) while the network-effect of the public also modifies the brand value (exclusivity, limited models are also able to increase brand value).

The relative price of a product or the whole branded portfolio both has very special connection with the brand value: the higher the price positioned the harder to imagine low brand value. This is because the narrative of the price (see Second pillar) influences the brand value. Other narratives of a brand (how durable it is, for instance, or which celebrities are using this brand) heavily effect the brand value, too. Similarly, the extent of public spread (see First pillar – how much the brand is known, how much spent on advertising) also effects the brand value.

Brand value is determined by several other factors even not listed here. It is partly the result of deliberate actions of the company (market positioning of the brand and its products) but also exposed to external factors (like time) and public opinion.( LG’s rebranding from the low-end Goldstar brand to the higher positioned LG showed that value propositions of a brand require efforts in both areas. Grundig made the opposite U-turn when sold to Chinese company.)

Sixth pillar: personal relation

All the pillars encountered previously are summoning on personal level because the nature and the definition of branding 100% relates to human feelings and perceptions. Most cases we can translate this personal effect and feelings to perceived brand values and the position of a brand in the customers’ head. People know or do not know, like or dislike brands, become haters or fans of brands, recommend or just accept certain brands.

Task 6: turn personal relation to action

As a result, this personal disposition of a brand clearly ends up in the relation to the act of buying. We, marketing professionals should not deny the aboriginal intention of our branding efforts to influence buying decisions on personal level. We are not just simply influencing people in business for the sake of general human aims: we do not want world peace; we do want to have our specific products and services sold. We want to convince John or Clair Smith as individual customers to select our service or product. This is the action we – or more generally: the investors – expect from any investments (including brand campaigns) made.

Fortunately we not all live in the business sector, not all follow business aims (i.e. sales) in our lives. Surprisingly, non-profit organizations are not so much different from business ventures from this point of view. Non-profits also want to have a specific action to be reached: an action that is maybe appearing directly (like giving donation for starving people) but can be mental action or change to be targeted (for instance diversity campaigns).

The personal relation to a branded entity can be outlined in a matrix where on the first axis we can define the readiness or probability of buying action (or in a non-profit: readiness for action) and on the second axis we may highlight the level of brand’s emotional acceptance.

The personal relation to a specific brand with regards to the ultimate sales reason can be mapped as shown, but we should not forget that personal emotions and relations to brands are much wider than presented above: some people feel that their beloved brand is expressing also their way of life, involving several other actions well beyond a simple shopping; or just feeling neutral about a brand while the person is not going to be represented in any commercial situation (like myself with any hunting brands, although I know some of them).

We should therefore identify very precisely the personal relations to our brand of our existing and potential customers and we should make focused actions to harvest the branding efforts we have previously made.

Seventh pillar: Exposure to time

We have already mentioned before the amortization as an important factor in brand values. The simple reason of amortization is that the brands (via materialized products/services) and the customers live in time.

The general life exposure to time factor represented in concrete shapes with regards to brand itself and to its specific products/services. (Amortization is only the result of that process.) Brand perception very much effected by the products/services in timeline (e.g. how much up-to-date the product is reflects the brand’s state-of-the-art nature) and on the other hand the brand itself (without looking at individual products) also has an individual character which has its own life-cycle (how old a brand is, what type of products they represent).

Task 7: Consider time: plan and replan over time

Brands do not last for ever and are changing over time, even without deliberate actions. Amortization expresses the time-factor in economic terms but all the pillars mentioned before has a time layer. The repeated actions of marketing campaigns, the product developments or changes in market environments change the face of the brand even if it is not perceived by the company. The sad story of Nokia is a perfect example of how this specific brand was effected by the time factor in all possible way, from the publicity of its phones (a complete new generation has skipped Nokia phones), through the changes in the narratives attached to the brand, with the refreshed need to be unique again to the sharp decline of the brand value.

Beauty Really Exists

What’s beauty?

A matter that has given all the philosophers, observers, and wise men sleepless nights attempting to supply a definition that suits all types.

However, beauty exists each severally and completely contradicting each definition that has been accustomed to outlining it.

Stating the word of Confucius:-

Everything has beauty however, not everybody will see it appears legit, albeit, indeed, it does not stop everybody from developing their concepts of beauty.

Convincing concepts, concepts that are explicable, and appealing concepts and between all the assumptions, presumptions, and create by mental act notions beauty has positively lost.

From being a delight to the soul, beauty rather has become a weapon to condescend those that lie below the road of good curves, the appealing color of skin, reasonably hair or explicit facial sets, a judgment supported practices begin by foul folks with intentions of feeling superior simply because they were blessed the options mentioned

This definition of beauty has become a maneuver to garner fame, attention, rewards, superiority, and make an illusion for it’s been acknowledged that beauty is that the most possible delusion.

And this definition of beauty perceived by the opportunists has created a division amongst the society.

The primary being the one with good sets of body options claiming their superiority basing it on their luck of correct deoxyribonucleic acid arrangements and therefore the others, that lay behind during this race living a life supported their dignity and their virtues still keeping them at the top of the road and feat them desire if they may be lovely

My goal here isn’t to execrate folks for being engaging however to analyze the ideas that have driven U.S. all to date to an undignified finish. Quoting a famed author John Green:- “That’s invariably appeared therefore ridiculous to ME, that folks wish to be around somebody as a result of they are pretty. It’s like choosing your breakfast cereals supported color rather than style.” Words place along therefore well that it feels lovely to scan it promptly.

However, the question is what percentage of folks get influenced by these words and create amends in their lives. And here once more I raised the question to my very own answers regarding beauty.

‘Feels beautiful’. Is beauty associate with objects to appear and live, is beauty a sense to sense, or is beauty a concept to endeavor? With each doable answer to existing queries, we tend to get additional queries instead.

For a mother her kid or example, any kid is gorgeous as ever. For an associate creative person whose art speaks volumes of his excellence beauty lies all over or anyplace.

A performing artist’s beauty lies within the skin and eyes of snakes. For a mental case, beauty lies within the curves of his prey and the way it trembles once he informs him of his fate.

Associate engineer beauty lies within the styles he produces.

A doctor, beauty lies in delivering the infant to her mother.

A man of affairs beauty lies within the variety game.

For a model, beauty lies in the curves of her body and therefore the look on her face.

So many concepts, feelings, and explanations and that they somehow never appear to run into.

According to famed writer John Keats:- ‘

A factor of beauty could be a joy forever: its fairness increases; it’ll never pass into nothingness.’ I would like I may oppose this statement as a result of as I am reading this I feel numerous reminiscences dashing back in support of this. Basic cognitive process the days after I hold a baby in my arms and it refuses to depart ME holding ME tight altogether. Seeing associate older couple WHO by society’s standards are neither pretty nor wealthy holding hands whereas occurring a walk.

Obtaining a text from somebody telling you that they love you and therefore the curve it makes on your cheeks.

You would possibly confuse it all amorously or feeling however these are all things of beauty if my plan of beauty is correct. I will virtually think about numerous instances and examples to support my claim.

However, this can be not regarding convincing others regarding my plan of beauty.

This can be a shot to place restrictions on evolving concepts of beauty cause generally some mysteries ought to never be unfolded and a few answers ought to never be told for the maximum amount as we tend to deny it, we tend to live for the surprises that come to our manner

We tend to live to seek out different sorts of beauty.

For my closing argument or rather a justification;

Let’s like everyone else within the past, think about the origin of beauty. Maybe the primary men saw a rainbow when the serious tornado and thought of giving a reputation to the current feeling or read and at a similar time in a distinct place, another man stood at the sting of the formation and saw a sunrise. They each saw one thing that gave them joy and a sense unutterable.

So, that they gave it a name: beauty, and with years passing completely different folks with different experiences Thespian their concepts or assumptions or experiences of beauty into quotes, poems, songs, and stories together with those that tried to objectify beauty. Sadly those that objectified beauty have succeeded within the gift times.

So after we scrutinize these definitions of beauty from the medieval ages to the current present, there exists no doable clarification or definition of beauty. There’s solely exploitation of it for private endeavors.

Perhaps this can be wherever we tend to are wrong. Attempting to outline beauty. Ever since humans existed they need this urge to grasp and manage everything. Attempting to outline everything invariably undermines the factor.

As a result of regardless of what proportion you are attempting you will always find yourself missing one thing. And once you miss one thing it haunts you and at once after I am attempting to force you to have confidence

However, wrong your plan of beauty is, I’m providing you with another plan. Whereas that’s wrong and that I can never reach to an ideal define all I’m attempting to try and do is to require you a minimum of an in

For additional instances, because it is claimed ‘Excellence is subjective betting on every person’s preferences

On the other aspect regarding math, there’s reliably a solution that we tend to are positive of that cannot negligence and that we can’t contend regarding, as an example, 5+5=10, it’s outstanding that the result is ten to everyone and no-one will think about the associate’s alternate answer, which suggests

Yet, once it’s regarding the techniques we tend to accustomed deliver the goods the hypotheses which can distinction beginning with one individual then onto consequent, sanctioning the individual to think about speculations what he’s not as others.

After I ought to do rope jumping I expertise it in lightweight of the very fact that to ME I imagine that it’s not a risky factor to try and do, whereas the various alternative people it should look to them because of the most unsafe expertise of life.

Therefore, all things thought of I’d take when my feelings regarding these specific things and decimate the queries of others.

A way for data is that the reason by that we tend to watch and take a goose in any respect things, for example, he varies of the training, we tend to currently and once more take a goose at the acquirement and decide to understand it the manner the craftsman processed it but somewhere within what matters is that the initial introduction regarding it climate it’s nice or not and that we endeavor to think about it shows up before our eyes

If the associate author was obtainable in an exceedingly seen it would be imprinted in his psyche with full refined components together with its shifted angles, whereas others might bring it to mind by and enormous with poor points of interest or neither like it’s associate everyday standard seen.

Visually impaired might depend upon his of bit instead of his non-existing sight, he can bite a good deal of things and his intuition can facilitate him to examine things and feel things considerably quite what a normal individual do intrinsically a large amount of times you see them have sure skills that contrasts them and quench them from others

How to Choose a Web Host – Web Hosting Guide

Choosing the right Web Host matters

Whether you’re putting up a personal website or a commercial one, you should choose your web hosting provider wisely. The reason is that you will most definitely want your website to be seen by the largest number of people. To do that it is essential to take a little time to go over certain basic but very important factors that will ensure more visibility for your site.

Points to consider when choosing web hosting

There are so many web hosting providers and packages on offer today. Each one of them have their own unique advantages and weaknesses. So how would one decide which one to choose?

Even after you zone in on a particular provider, you still need to choose the hosting package that will suit you. Every web hosting site offer many different types of packages to choose from. The most popular type is the ‘Unlimited Bandwidth’ package. More information about Kibo Code Quantum can be found here.

The following points should make your task of choosing web hosting simpler for you.

  1. Server Uptime & Customer Support:

The most basic thing for a website to be found on the internet depends on whether the server where the files are stored is online i.e. up and running at any given time. This is called Server Uptime.You will find that most of the web hosting providers will claim a 99.99% server uptime. Some even claimed 100%.

If you have time, search for comments by users of the provider on internet forums or elsewhere online. Or go for the larger more established hosting companies who have built a trusted reputation. Most good hosting companies have multiple server data and power backups. A few also promised 100% and they do that by guaranteeing refund of fees in the eventuality that any downtime might happen.

Another very important feature of a good web hosting is Customer Support. They should provide customers with 24/7 phone and internet support. They should have a good collection of tutorials and FAQs readily on their site in case you might need help. Make no mistake, you will contact your hosting support more often than you think, especially if you are serious about your website.

  1. Pricing & included features

The range of pricing and features included in web host packages are pretty wide. You will want a fair balance of features and quality that will suit your needs. As with any other product, cheap usually gets less quality. On the other hand some pricing can be exorbitant without any special value.

The prices of hosting packages are usually dependent on the set of features included. These includes data storage and bandwidth limits, number of allowed addon domains and subdomains, number of email and ftp accounts hosted, shared or virtual or dedicated server plans, programming languages and databases, site tools, shopping cart etc, and the list goes on. One can be easily confused with these numerous choices more so if you are not familiar with them. Don’t worry, we will cover the essential ones in the next paras.

Pricing for a fair value shared hosting packages usually starts around 6-8 US$ per month. Virtual Private/Dedicated Server around US$ 30-50 pm and Dedicated Servers at US$ 60-80 pm.

Pricing tip: If you have not acquired a domain name or want to add another, then some packages include free domain with hosting. They can be a good bargain.

  1. Data Storage and Bandwidth limits

If you are new to putting up websites, you might have very little idea about how much data storage space and bandwidth your site will need. First off, don’t worry too much about this. Even the most professional people will tell you that themselves. Because your needs will grow as the number of visitors to your website increases, you will know all about it as you go along. However, professional courses like data science courses in Bangalore will equip you with latest knowledge.

Data Storage Space: Unless you intend to host lots of video/movie clips or a gigantic amount of big resolution pictures, most hosting packages will do. Normal websites rarely occupy beyond 40-50 MB (megabytes of storage space). The basic shared hosting package for the top registrar costing $4.99 pm includes 10 GB(1000 MB) of storage space.

Bandwidth Limits: Bandwidth limit is the amount of data transfers your hosting permits per month. This depends on how much visitors your site has and the type of files you serve i.e. basic web pages, pictures or video clips etc. Here too, not that much to worry about for normal websites. Most hosting providers will offer “Unlimited Bandwidth” even on their value shared hosting packages.

One word of caution though for those intending to host video/movie clips or high resolution pictures. Do not be fooled by Unlimited Bandwidth Shared Hosting packages. If you go through the “Terms of Use” and “Common Usage Policy” for most shared hosting packages, they will undoubtedly have a section where it says that you are not permitted or will be charged extra for “abnormally high data bandwidth usage”. Advice is you will probably be better off choosing VPS or dedicated server or Cloud hosting or high bandwidth packages.

  1. Shared Hosting vs Virtual Private Server vs Dedicated Server vs Cloud Hosting

How to choose between these types of hosting? Putting it simply, you should choose by how busy or popular you think your site will be viz Shared – VPS – Dedicated – Cloud, in that order.

Shared Hosting: Majority of websites on the internet are on Shared hosting. It is good for personal and small websites. They are the most economical of hosting packages. In shared hosting, a number of hosting accounts usually 10-100 are hosted on a single physical server. They share the same server storage and broadband connection.

Shared hosting is particularly recommended for starters and small to medium personal and commercial websites that do not host picture/movie/video downloads.They can cost between $5-$15 per month.

Virtual Private Servers: This type of hosting is usually used by medium websites with medium storage and bandwidth requirements. Virtual Private Servers are hosted on unique ip addresses (eg. 192.170.1.8) and are virtually like a dedicated physical stand-alone server, but with less cost than a physical dedicated server. The way it works is that multiple accounts say 3-10 are hosted on a single physical server, each accounts having it’s own unique host id or ip address, data storage and bandwidth separated from each other by software.

VPS hosting can cost between $30 to $150 per month depending on the features for a 1 year contract. Note: All hosting packages price decrease as you increase the number of years of contract.

Dedicated Server: They are usually used by the medium to big websites who need storage and bandwidth scalable to their requirements. They are hosted on separate physical servers. In other words they have a server rented out to them. They have full control over the server with its own unique address, hard disk, ram and bandwidth.

The price of renting a dedicated server depends on the physical components of the server, the hard disk capacity, the processor version, the amount of ram and the broadband connection. Prices can vary between $65 to $200 and beyond per month.

Cloud Hosting: A relatively new thing in the world of web hosting, Cloud hosting is the next generation type of hosting. Instead of having one physical server, cloud hosting uses several servers located in different locations connected to each other.

The main advantages of cloud hosting is the scalability factor and cost efficiency. For big websites there is big benefits. As a website grows larger than its current capability, all they need to do is add another server to join the networked group of servers.

Cloud hosting packages can be priced anywhere from $100 to $550 and beyond depending on the storage and bandwidth requirements.

  1. Addon Domains & Sub Domains

Addon Domains are the domain names i.e. websites eg. “http://www.yoursite1.com”, “http://www.yoursite2.com” that you want to host with your hosting provider. If you intend to host more than one website, you need to choose the package that allows it. Most of the cheapest web hosting packages will allow only one website.

Sub Domains: They are the different directories that you may want to create eg. “http://directory1.yoursite.com” or “http://directory2.yoursite.com”. The number of Sub Domains allowed may be different on different packages. Do not confuse this with folders eg. “http://www.yoursite.com/folder1” or “http://www.yoursite.com/folder2”. There is no limit on folders.

  1. Email and FTP accounts

Email Accounts: These are unique email accounts for your website/s eg. “[email protected]”. You can set these up and give it to anyone, your friends, visitors, customers. No worries here cause most of the hosting packages will give you plenty.

FTP Accounts: FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol”. FTP accounts are used to access your hosting files from web softwares. They are of tremendous help to web masters in that they allow you to update, delete or create new files and folders in your host directly from web design software and ftp softwares. No worries here too as most packages will give you more than 10 accounts. You can allocate this to your designers and co workers as you like.

  1. Programming Languages & Databases

Frontpage Server Extension, PHP5, Custom PHP.ini, Perl w/FASTCGI, Python CGI, Java, Ruby CGI, Ruby on Rails w/FASTCGI, ColdFusion, MySQL(Unix), MsAccess, MySQL(Win) etc.

These are programming softwares and databases used by your hosting server. They are used for the more advanced web features like automated content management, user management, running scripts and programs etc. If you don’t understand them, you don’t need to. Because most of the package include the popular languages and databases that you might need when you want to use them.

  1. Content Management, Blogs, Forums: Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, Nucleas, Moodle, WordPress, Geeklog, Lifetype, Serendipity, phpBB, SMF, Vanilla Forum etc.

These are ready made tools for setting up blogs, forums and content management to enhance websites. Most packages have enough choices here too.

  1. Website Tools, Marketing Tools, Shopping Cart Website Tools: Website Builder, Web Analytics Tools, FrontPage Extensions, Google Custom Search, Google Webmaster Tools etc.

These are basic tools that helps in building websites, gauging website popularity and statistics and site enhancements included in most hosting packages.

Marketing Tools: Google AdWords Credit – $50, Yahoo! Search Marketing Credit – $25, Facebook Ads Credit – $50 etc.

These are ad credits for advertising your website. They are great bargains if it is included.

Shopping Cart – For those wishing to sell products online this tool is quite important. Most packages include them.

  1. Web hosting tips for good SEO

One of the things that improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and should be considered when choosing a web host is the location of the server. Experience shows that search engines favor locally hosted websites when search is made. Big search engines like Google are known to give preference to locally hosted sites. This means that to rank higher in, for eg., UK, it helps to have a web hosting server that is located within the UK. Another thing that also is known to help SEO in local search rankings is regional TLDs or domain names. So for UK, the domains.co.uk or.org.uk are given preference.

Another point to note is that shared hosting can hurt your website’s SEO rankings. Experts believe that if you have a site which shares the same server and ip address as a Google penalized site, your site also suffers as a result. The obvious way to avoid this is to host your site or sites on a separate ip address which will mean a dedicated server of a Virtual Private Server.

Grand Theft Auto PC Review

If you’re a PC gamer who’s spent the last eighteen months enduring delays and watching your friends play on their consoles the wait is over, and it was worth it.

Rockstar has delivered on an open world experience unrivaled by any previous game. It has crafted a world that feels truly alive and brilliantly captures the perversion of the American Dream that has been glorified by popular media today.

The action is divided up between three protagonists and each one has their own style, story and theme. There is Michael’s story about a criminal who achieved the dream of making enough to cash out and the depression that followed, to Franklin’s story of ambition that will eventually lead him to Michael’s fate and Trevor’s crazed madness that embodies the player’s natural destructive tendencies when playing a GTA title.

This is nothing new from the consoles so what sets GTA on PC apart? GTA 5 PC benefits from the new lighting model, post-processing effects, day-to-night cycle and added vegetation of the next-gen console versions and shadow detail that affect everything from the way characters’ faces look close-up to depth-of-field effects, water and grass.

The controls translated well enough to the mouse and keyboard except for flying, which requires use of WASD, the number pad, and the mouse, which means you need three hands to easily pilot aircraft. Driving also takes some getting use to, as slight adjustments are easy on a joystick but difficult on keyboard. Prepare to crash some really nice cars before finally getting the hang of leaving the Los Santos Police in the dust.

The PC version also has first person perspective, which brings crime to a whole new personal level. Walking the streets of Los Santos and seeing the world through the eyes of Michael or Franklin bring the immersion to a whole new level. Gunplay also feels tighter in first person and driving has a completely new thrill.

The definitive addition to the PC version is the new Rockstar Editor and its accompanying Director Mode. At any point, you can start recording your play session in clips of up to 90 seconds in length. You can also use an instant replay function to grab footage from an always-on buffer after you do something cool or crazy. You can then use the Rockstar Editor to edit and montage these clips, changing the camera angle, adding filters, and putting in new background music. This addition has created a tool for those who want to make YouTube Videos but don’t have the sophisticated software to do so. See 60s music and famous songs here; Top 10 John Denver Songs.

This is the definitive edition of GTA V; if you have a powerful enough PC you have an experience ahead of you that won’t be rivaled for at least a few years. Even if you don’t have a rig that came off the Starship Enterprise you will still be able to match or exceed the performance of the PS4 and Xbox One. With an active modding community this iteration of the GTA may be the longest-lived yet.

Hyrule Warriors

The Legend of Zelda is a well renowned pinnacle of gaming, so when a spinoff of the series was announced I was more than a little skeptical. Koei Tecmo Games, the creators of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, came together with a few of the lead developers of the Legend of Zelda franchise. This collaboration created Hyrule Warriors, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic with the results.

Hack n ‘slash is the main theme in this game, which can be a deterrent for some people. Some hack n’ slash games can be monotonous and a slog to finish, but Hyrule Warriors found ways to keep the game interesting, and me on my toes. The variety of playable characters, the interesting boss battles, and the different combos and weapons for each character, all made the game an enjoyable investment of my time. One warning however, this game is a Dynasty Warriors game at it’s core. Any Zelda fans out there looking for a typical Zelda adventure may be surprised and a little disappointed with its gameplay mechanics and intense battlefield settings.

Each battlefield is taken from Zelda lore, and the creators of the game did a fantastic job translating these areas into maps for Hyrule Warriors. There are settings from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. Each area was made to be a battlefield with outposts and bases (all of which are laid out for you on the convenient minimap), but the settings still hold true to their original level designs, and I loved seeing these lands that I’ve already traveled throughout the Zelda series reimagined. The effect made for an awe inspiring war between good and evil, even if it was obvious fan service.

The typical story elements in any Zelda game probably sounds something like this: A destined meeting between the beautiful princess and the courageous hero, an evil and powerful villain trying to rule the land, and maybe a few colorful side characters along the way. Hyrule Warriors doesn’t stray far from this formula, but the developers did add in their own tweaks and changes which made the story seem fresh and imaginative. The story wasn’t anything too off the wall or unexpected, and was in fact really well done. The events here could actually fit inside the Zelda timeline pretty well, although the creators have explicitly stated that the story in Hyrule Warriors is not part of the Zelda canon. It is unfortunate however that there is zero character development in this title. The game basically throws characters at you, expecting them to be well-known entities already, which could be a little off putting to anyone new to the Legend of Zelda series. The only thing the game offers are journal entries which give a brief summary of who the character is, but most players will likely not want to pause the fighting long enough to read them.

Over the course of Hyrule Warriors, you have the option to play as thirteen characters from the Zelda series. Ten of them are unlocked by playing through the main story, while the others are unlocked in a second mode called adventure mode. This variety of characters is really what made this game enjoyable. Not only did I get to play as characters I had only dreamed of playing as, each one had their own combos, weapons, and fighting styles. I spent many hours just playing around with each character finding out which combos worked the best for taking out enemies. Although not the strongest, my favorite character was Lana. Although she’s a new character created for Hyrule Warriors, Link should consider dumping Zelda for her. She’s super-cute and a blast to play.

Of course the game has its flaws. The AI for the regular drones of enemies was pretty abysmal. They were as much of a threat to you as a horde of balloons would be. The only truly challenging enemies were the bosses, but like any Zelda boss, even they’re pretty easy once you have their movements and abilities down.

In addition to the main game, there was also some day one downloadable content available for a cool twenty bucks. After having already paid $60 for the disc, it’s a little frustrating to be asked to shell out more to experience the ‘full’ game. On the other hand however, it is a positive sign that Nintendo plans to stick with this game, and hopefully they will continue to expand it. Any hardcore Zelda fans, or fans of Dynasty Warriors, will absolutely love this game. If you’re not a fan of either series, you will still enjoy this title. In my opinion Hyrule Warriors is a must have for any Wii U library.