What are Cookies and why do you need to care? A guide to the new legislation for Marketing Managers

What are Cookies?

efficiently and perform certain functions. Due to their core role of enhancing/enabling usability or site processes, disabling cookies may prevent users from using certain websites.

Cookies are created when a user’s browser loads a particular website. The website sends information to the browser which then creates a text file. Every time the user goes back to the same website, the browser retrieves and sends this file to the website’s server. Computer Cookies are created not just by the website the user is browsing but also by other websites that run ads, widgets, or other elements on the page being loaded. These cookies regulate how the ads appear or how the widgets and other elements function on the page.

What changes have been made to the law?

The European Directive on which the UK Regulations relating to cookies are based has been revised. UK law has been changed to implement that changed Directive. A simplified version of the changes is described below.

The previous rule on using cookies for storing information was that you had to:

  • tell people how you use cookies, and
  • tell them how they could ‘opt out’ if they objected.

Many websites did this by putting information about cookies in their privacy policies and giving people the possibility of ‘opting out’. The new requirement is essentially that cookies can only be placed on machines where the user or subscriber has given their consent.

Nokia N8 extended test Part 3: browser performance

These days you can’t make a smartphone and expect it to sell (and perform well) without including a decent browser. The mobile web has come a long way since my first taste of it, the extremely limited WAP over GPRS as I had on my Nokia 6510, followed up by basic page rendering over 3G on handsets like the N95 and E61. Modern smartphones have a lot more to deal with in terms of complexity and content, and todays users expect a “proper” browsing experience, with all the features of a desktop browser available to them.

So after this trip down memory lane, discussing handsets of old, how does the N8 perform? The spec sheet seems to indicate that everything is in order claiming “Full web browsing of real web pages” and detailing support for HTML, XHTML MP, WML, CSS, Javascript and Flash Lite 4 and in my initial tests I was pleasantly surprised by the accurate approach to rendering pages from the N8. However, due to the comparatively low resolution of the screen, it can actually be quite difficult to “use” the browser with most pages initially rendering with only the top left corner of the content available without scrolling or zooming. This wouldn’t be a big problem if the experience of scrolling / zooming was more pleasant, but sadly the usually excellent capacitive display is slow to react to swipes when browsing complex pages and this leads to a less than pleasant overall experience.

Web standards compatibility

There is better news in terms of support for modern standards, with all of the standard pages I tested rendering correctly, and even some of the more advanced and complex pages rendering in a usable fashion. The currently in development jQuery Mobile is also compatible with the browser and has support at B-Grade level which the project describes as providing an “enhanced experience except without Ajax navigation features”. In reality this means that the N8 will be forward compatible (to an extent) with many of a new breed of websites and web apps that will support the fledgling standard as it grows in popularity, making it a safe bet for “normal users” (not me) who are likely to keep their handsets for the entire duration of an 18 or 24 month contract.

Speed

When considering the speed of browsing it is a bit of a mixed bag. Over 3G the handset performs OK, no better or worse than any other handset I have tested in terms of its radio performance and download speeds, but when you take the browser into consideration it becomes painfully slow rendering complex websites. Over WiFi the story is much the same, with the N8 getting to pages and starting to download quickly, but the rendering seemingly going on forever.

Wrap-up

Overall the N8 web performance is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. From a technical perspective the browser performs well, rendering the vast majority of pages successfully, however, whether or not you still care what the site you are looking for has to say when it eventually finishes rendering is another matter all together. For users that only use the web occasionally and mainly live in messaging and email the N8 would make a solid companion, but more demanding (power) users should look elsewhere to a more modern phone OS with a more robust browser and a handset with more horsepower.

Flash support is a pleasant and welcome surprise, but this isn’t enough to let me feel confident recommending the N8 for anyone who intends to use the internet regularly on the move. A good effort, but one that feels a little left behind when compared with the current crop of modern smartphone browsers.

 

Guide for travelers to Australia

For every traveler, it is a very important thing to know what you should expect from your destination. That’s why one should always have a guide or at least some basic information about the place. And so that you won’t encounter any hassles while traveling to Australia, here are some things you must know for the guide travelers to Australia.

The nature of the country

Australia is the smallest continent in the world and is comprised of different states. The country derived its name from the Latin word “Australis” which means “Southern”. It is located in Oceania between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean, and requires valid passports and visas for anyone who wishes to visit.

The currency of Australia

For first-timers in the country, the first thing you have to know from an Australia travel tips is the currency. The country uses Australian dollars and money changing services are available at the airport, banks and malls. If you need to do bank transactions, you should be aware that banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. only.

The working hours in Australia

If you are in Australia for business purposes, offices are usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. And if you have to make phone calls, Australia’s code is +61.

The hotels found there

There are lots of hotels in the country so accommodation won’t be your problem. If you’re on a tight budget, you could go for quality hostels with affordable rates. Meanwhile, getting around the country can be quite difficult since you might have to ride airplanes or ships to transfer from one state or another. But, if you only plan to explore one state or city, then you could just go around with a cab or hire a car.

How to dress up in Australia

Another important thing you should know is how to dress up in the country. Don’t get this wrong, but there’s really no dress code in Australia. Light-weight clothing is very much recommended especially in summer. But, always keep a jacket or sweater because they might come handy on cool nights. From June to August is winter so heavy clothing is already advisable.

Language and Dining

English is well-understood in Australia so there would be no problem with regards to communication. Dining and food is not a problem too since you have the option to cook to save money. But of course, you can also dine out and taste Australian food. Being a multi-cultural country, restaurants in Australia cater to different nationalities. Foreign cuisines are available like Spanish, Italian, French, Asian, Mediterranean, etc. One should remember that tipping in this country is not observed. Usually, a service fee is already included in your bill.

The beauty of Australian

Since Australia is surrounded by waters, there are lots of beaches in the country. You can enjoy swimming, partying and dining on its magnificent resorts. If you love sea foods and dining by the sea, it is best to try Gold Coast restaurants where most of the splendid waterfront dining venues are located.

Well, those are just some of the basic things you must know for your Australian travel. Remember to keep them in mind because they will really come handy as you visit the place.

A little less mobile these days

June 2011 will forever be remembered by me as the month when I became a little less mobile. For 2 years my treasured and much loved 15″ MacBook Pro had been giving me sterling service as my main machine – quite simply the fastest, most well built and down right useful computer I have owned. The time had come for a change, and due to working in London and spending 2 hours on the train a day and an hour walking my trusty companion had to go, it was just too heavy. I tried to put off the inevitable by purchasing a rucksack style bag which helped, but as the weather warmed up – the chore of carrying the laptop to London and back every day just got too much – before I knew it my aluminium powder coated workhorse was on eBay and gone, and its replacement arrived, a 21″ iMac 2011 model.

Some might think it an odd move to switch to a desktop machine from a laptop that was used almost 100% away from home since it was purchased – but I thought this was a logical move. I knew a few things; my new machine had to be a Mac, it had to have a lot of storage (the 500GB drive in my MBP had been nearly full for a year now!), and it had to include the latest generation of intel processors (I wanted to be future proof). The new 2011 iMac had received excellent reviews from all the sites I usually read so I was in no doubt – this would be the machine for me. It arrived covered in brown cardboard and hope – all the way the Amazon depot, and I don’t regret it at all. It is blisteringly quick, and even faster soon when my 16GB RAM order arrives from Crucial – and it does everything I needed it to do without even breaking a sweat.

I do miss my laptop, and the iMac isn’t a replacement for it – it was never really meant to be. It is a great machine (and I will post a review of it when I can get the kids away from it long enough to use the thing) but I still need something portable for taking with me to meetings etc. I knew I wanted to get a MacBook Air 11″ but the storage options were too limited for me to use it as a primary machine. So here I am, loving the iMac, but feeling a lot less mobile these days – so Apple, do me a favour? Bring the new MacBook Air out on Wednesday so I can get mobile again. Getting by with my iPhone 4 just isn’t the same!

The best street food I ate in Sri Lanka

No journey in Sri Lanka is complete without tasting some of the best local delights and foods that this country has to offer. Instead of just writing a normal article about Sri Lanka food and local delights and rattle of some of the street restaurants and their local foodsand some of the favourites – some of the best our local culinary skills has to offer. Here are the best street food I ate in Sri Lanka.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Chicken rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice Chicken rice is one of the popular dishes in Sri Lanka. The rich flavour of the rice comes from the grains that have been pre-fried in chicken fat and then cooked in chicken broth. The chicken is steamed until it is just cooked with a little pink remaining on the flesh near the bones. It is usually accompanied with a chilli sauce made up of chillies, chicken broth, garlic and ginger.

Satay Satay

This food is a small bite-sized piece of the chicken, beef and mutton steeped in the sweet piquant preserve. The chunky pieces of mouth watering meat are skewered on giant toothpicks and fanned over a large flame. Side dishes which include the cut cucumbers, rice dumplings, onions and the peanut sauce.

Roti Prata

This type of the dish is like the fried croissant or the pancake, originating from South India. The pancake is being fried on the hot, oily griddle when it is cooked, and marked with brown spots, then served with curry gravy. Prata is a popular choice for breakfast and supper.

Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab is an unofficial “national dish” and a favourite at seafood restaurants. It has a sauce that is drawn from the strengths of great chillies, the freshest eggs, tomatoes and other hers and ingredients. It can be eaten on its own, scooping great dollops of chilli or soaked in bread for a spicy serving.

Exotic Food Served Just Right

The exotic meal served in Sri Lanka comprises dishes like Risotto Al Funghi Porcini that is Arborio rice cooked in porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese and white wine. This one is covered in cheesy base and can be enjoyed anytime you come here for a hearty meal.

However, if you need to try something different, search for an Angel Hair Pasta in the Italian Chilli Sauce which is served hot. Again, Tagliatelle al Tartufo which is the smooth homemade pasta by the truffle cream sauce which combines scallops and prawns.

Laksa Laksa

Laksa Laksa is an exciting concoction of noodles made from flour in a curry like gravy made of spices, herbs, dried shrimp, coconut milk and chilli. It is served with slices of fishcakes, prawns and cockles. What start as the spicy peanut that is based gravy evolved into today’s version, combination of Chinese, Malay and mostly Peranakan influences.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is a breakfast concoction of the Peranakan and some say are the threshold of the Sri Lanka. Coconut rice being served by anchovies, fresh fried frish, egg and special sambal plus cucumber combo, it is the signature kampong dish which you cannot miss.

So there is a list of some of the best and greatest food that we can offer. Although this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many more you can eat and choose from. Just walk along the local streets and pop into anyone of the coffee shops you find – you will be sure to find a local savoury hit!

Top 5 dishes to try in Canada

Are you visiting Canada and looking for things to do? One very important thing that you must do is to try their food. They have a very diverse range of foods that are part of their culture. To say the very least, most Canadian dishes are delicious. Here we will focus on five dishes to try in Canada. If you miss them you will not have a chance to find these tasty delicacies.

Poutine

This is the first dish you should try when you get to Canada. It is a mixture of French fries, cheese and peppery meat based gravy. It may not be the healthiest option but it is absolutely delicious. The dish was invented in the 1950s in Quebec. You can find this at any major restaurant in the country. The dish is so important to the Canadians that they even organize annual poutine festivals in different cities in the country.

Canadian Bacon

This is the perfect breakfast choice when in the country. Unlike traditional bacon that is made from a pig’s belly, this one is made by brinning and rolling pork loin in cornmeal. Traditionally, the loins used to be wrapped in ground yellow peas hence the common name peameal. It is very delicious. You can find it in many eateries in the country.

Nanaimo bars

This is the perfect dessert to have in Canada. They are named after the city located in British Columbia and are very unique. They are made up of a crunchy base of chopped nuts or cracker crumbs, a middle layer of custard or vanilla frosting and a top layer of melted chocolate. With all that goodness in one bar you can be sure it tastes great. To get these go to their home city at the Nanaimo bar trail.

Butter tarts

This is a great treat that is part of the staple Canadian cooking. It is made up of a crumbly crust on the outside ad a creamy center. Butter, sugar and egg mixture is placed in the center with raisins or walnuts. This mixture is made to be semi solid or gooey in texture. Where can you find these? They are served in almost all coffee shops in Canada but if you are serious about these visit the Butter Tart Trail in Kenilworth, Ontario. The 18 bakeries here will have the best.

Toutiere

This French Canadian dish was first made in 1600. It is a flaky pie that typically contains pork, veal, game or beef mixed with herbs and spices. Fish is used in some places. This pie is common during Christmas and New Year celebrations but you can find it in stores all year round. The best place to find it is in the French city of Quebec.

How long can you stay with your tourist visa in India?

The greatest time span you can remain in India on a vacationer visa of 180 days, or roughly 6 month. Notwithstanding,The United State Department cautions that Indian visa controls change much of the time, frequently with little notice,so you ought to dependably check the present standards after booking ticket for India.

A tourist visa in India from different countries

Step 1

Acquire your visit visa for India before you go from Travis a, which goes about as the Indian government’s visa specialists in U.S. Assemble the archives you’ll require: These incorporate two finished duplicates of the application shape, two international ID estimated photographs and evidence of your private address.The important things Photocopies of noteworthy service charge, your state-issued driver’s permit or a legitimate rent are satisfactory. As of the date of distribution, consistent visa preparing cost $50, while the surge benefit cost $99 and the crisis benefit cost $139.

Step 2

Organize your visa before you move to India.Visa are not accessible on entry if you are from U.S. You can’t change the class of your visa once you reached in India to broaden your stay, so in the event that you plan to do something besides regular traveller exercises amid your stay, pick the fitting visa sort for that action.

Step 3

Follow the confinements of the vacationer visa on entering again in the nation. When you have left India on a vacationer visa, you are probably not going to be permitted to re-enter the nation until 2 months have moved,till you have composed consent from an international safe haven or office. This applies regardless of the possibility that your visa is till now well inside its legitimacy dates.

Step 4

You should leave India before your visa ended. On the off chance that you exceed, Indian authorities are probably going to discover when you endeavour to leave nation and either confine or fine you – or both.

The important things that you have in your mind for tourist visa in India

Traditions Regulations

You should have Indian Rupees ₹10,000,or amount cash of US $5000.

Prohibited Things

You are prohibited to bring more than one laptops, two litters alcohol,100 cigarettes
Or gift of more than ₹8000.

Passports

If you want to enter in India you require a legitimate travel permit and a forward and also return ticket and also a visa. Take note of that your international ID should be substantial for no less than six months past your expected remain in India, with no less than two clear pages. In the event that your international ID is lost, quickly contact your nations illustrative.

Visa

If you are from Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives then everybody must apply for a visa before touching base in India. More than 100 nationalities can acquire a 30 day Tourist visa of Arrival on the web preceding landing; this is substantial from the day of your arrival. The visa will start after the date of issue.

eTA Visa Application to Sri Lanka

The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) has been put in place to replace the need to apply for a visa label or stamp whilst trying to access the country. It is basically an easier way to apply for permission to travel to Sri Lanka. For one to access the ETA, an online form that can be searched for online has to be filled in precisely and correctly with the passport details of the person applying. It is, however, advisable to apply directly from the Sri Lankan government’s website http://www.eta.gov.lk in order to avoid any technical difficulties that may impede one’s travels.

Application process

On entrance to the site, applicants are met with terms and conditions that are to be read, understood and accepted before moving on.

The next step is to specify what kind of visa one is applying for. Be it a tourist visa, business purpose visa or transit visa.It should also be specified whether the visa is for a person, group or a third party applicant. Once that has been specified, then comes to the form which is fairly easy to fill and anyone with experience in filling forms and the proper qualifications to do so should be done in less than five minutes. The form basically entails basic visa details such as name of the applicant, their date of birth, nationality, passport details occupation and such.

Details of children under the age of sixteen who do not have their own passport can also be applied for from the site. Next on the form is the applicants travel details such as the vessel number and time of arrival. This should be followed by contact details and finally a declaration. The application form ends with a certification from the applicant that the information given is true to the best of their knowledge.

Once the application form is filled, it has to be reviewed by the applicant to make sure no mistakes have been made then a payment method has to be selected before receiving a confirmation from the Electronic Travel Authorisation System of the Sri Lankan government

Extra information

The ETA is processed in two(2) working days and an agent immediately start the validation process once the submit button has been pressed and a confirmation receipt issued. once an ETA is granted, entry into Sri Lanka is allowed for no later than three(3) months from the grant date. It is good for applicants to note that there is no way to correct errors once the application form has been submitted. The only remedy for errors is to re-apply the whole form correctly and re-submit so, be careful!

First impressions of Google+

So here’s the thing … I was until very recently a big time Facebook addict. I am useless at staying in touch with people and frequently get so into whatever project I am working on at the time that I completely forget to communicate with humans other than the ones I physically run into in the course of a day. Since 2006, Facebook has been solving this problem for me, and it has done a pretty good job.

I keep my friends list quite short (about 200) and by being reminded that people exist outside of my immediate vicinity I am able to at least keep up the illusion that I am a real human being and can function properly in life, without being constantly reminded to call / email / text message my friends and family.

But recently I have noticed a problem with Facebook. People are getting bored of it, and rather than seeing a constant stream of updates and photos, the tide is turning and I seem to be getting hit with more marketing material than ever before. Businesses are finally starting to understand how to operate on Facebook to get the attention of users, and sadly it is working. What used to be a site based on community, sharing photos and stitching up your mates by tagging them in photos where they are being sick off the back of a boat in Tenerife – has now become a constant stream of updates from my favourite websites and tech companies. Sad times, I’m sure you will agree?

Until last week, when wafting into the online world like a complete breath of fresh air comes Google+, a new social “project” from the dark overlords at Google. I’ve traditionally kept new Google products (and projects) at arms length, and made the best use that I can of their core offerings Gmail, Analytics and Search – but Google+ caught my eye. My feeling of apathy towards Facebook has been growing for some time, and by the time I eventually managed to get an invite to Google+, I was ready for something new in my online social calendar.

Google aren’t pitching G+ as a self contained social tool, but rather they are “adding some new stuff to Google to make sharing online more like sharing in real life.” – a pretty interesting approach to the online social world. The idea of augmenting all of the Google services with a “social layer” is one that is significantly different (at least in theory) to any of the competition, who seem to approach it in the opposite direction (closed community first, adding features as it develops).

So how good is Google+? Well the simple answer is – not bad. The interface is far superior to Facebook (IMHO) and the speed and performance of the site is certainly improved. In all fairness to Facebook, Google+ has far fewer users at this time and so you really would expect them to be able to make performance better. We shall see over time how this changes as more users sign up, if at all. At the moment, Google+ is exclusively filled with what the eloquent gents at the Angry Mac Bastards podcast would refer to as ‘New Media Douche-bags’, and although this has been noted by many, I’m inclined to agree. Only time, and real users, will tell if Google+ will be any good in the long run. At the moment it is far too much of a tech blogger sausage-fest for anyone to make any real judgements.

Also key to this will be the handling of business / commercial presences on the site. This, for the moment at least, is still being thrashed out at Google HQ – as no commercial entities are allowed to be a part of Google+ for now. At least everyone on there is a real human (if you class Robert Scoble as a human – I’m convinced he is a Rackspace cloud powered AI designed to make me want to spend more money) and the level of interaction and overall conversation seems to be pretty good. There are also some neat features (which have been covered to death on blogs far better than mine) such as Hangouts, Circles etc that give a fresh look and feel to the online social world.

So, Google+ has potential, let’s see what the real people think before we all jump ship. For now, I’m living in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. So please come and say hello, I’ll probably get back to you but then again, I might forget.

What is an eTA Visa for Cambodia?

It is the sole right of each territory or geography to decide who is allowed to exit or enter the land. If you are planning to visit Cambodia, you will find this information very useful. This information has been gathered from the Cambodian Authorities and is subject to changes as in when required. It can help you avoid any last minute delay, any unpleasant experience or other difficulties.

On April 2006, International Cooperation and Ministry of Foreign affairs launched e-Visa officially called eTA. Its an online form and can be processed easily and quickly. You can have your visa printed and in your hands will be available with you before you enter the Kingdom of Cambodia. You will feel absolutely secured and confident while going through the immigration when you enter Cambodia with you e-Visa along with you. The two conditions that needs to be met for eTA are- one, your passport has the validity of next six months. Second its valid for three months after date of issuance. eTA can be valid for up to five years or until the date your passport expires.

Visitor from different countries does require e-Visa to enter the kingdom. Citizens from some countries including Malaysia, Laos, Sinapore , Thailand, Vietnam, Mayanmar, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam has got some exceptions. People from Afganistan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Sudan and Nigeria cannot have the eTA for Cambodia.
Tourist and Business visas can be obtained from the Cambodian embassies in abroad and upon the arrival at the airport in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and certain land borders. Tourist visa are good for 30 days. Visa’s must be renewed for stay exceeding 30 days and can only be extended once.

Visa exempt visitors don’t need an eTA when entering the kingdom.

Additional Entry Requirement:

  • Proof of sufficient funds and a return ticket is one of the requirement to visit Cambodia.
  • If visitor is from Vietnam, the visa can be obtained from the international crossing points at Bavet and Khmorm Samnor.
  • Thirty days visas can be obtained from six international border- crossing points, Cambodian Thai Border, O’Smach, Cham Yeam, Prum , Poipet, Caom and Dong.
  • Official and diplomatic personnel should consult with Embassy as there can be specific requirements.

While this information comes handy , it is also your responsibility to check the up to date information with the Embassy or one of its consulate. The decision to travel is a personal decision and its the individual responsibility to ensure your own safety while you are travelling.

OnLive UK Review: Game Service & OnLive Micro Console

With the gradual, creeping and painful march towards decent broadband speeds in the UK now well underway, the innovative cloud based gaming service OnLive has finally made its UK debut.

“The OnLive Game Service is a groundbreaking on-demand video game platform capable of delivering the latest and most advanced games instantly over a broadband connection. You can play on your TV via the OnLive Game System or on virtually any PC or Mac via a small browser download. The OnLive Game Service creates an entirely new way to play, watch, share and demo premium games from the world’s leading publishers.”

“Founded by noted technology entrepreneur Steve Perlman (WebTV, QuickTime) and incubated within the Rearden media and technology incubator, OnLive spent seven years in stealth development before officially unveiling in March 2009.”

Drawbacks to Cloud gaming in general

The system works very well, however, there are some obvious drawbacks which can’t be avoided and are not in any way the fault of the OnLive service:

  • If your Internet connection has a draconian traffic management policies applied to it – you are going to be out of luck. Initially, I had some problems with connectivity during the hours of 6pm – Midnight. Following a quick Google search I discovered that my useless ISP TalkTalk (soon to be changed when the contract runs out) was applying traffic management within those hours in order to cut down on the network stress caused by illegal file sharing traffic. As observed by some posts in another forum, this leads one to the assumption that OnLive uses a proportion of P2P (Peer to Peer) traffic in order to make the service work. Thankfully this situation has now been remedied following lots of abuse from myself and others directed at the official TalkTalk Facebook and Twitter profiles.
  • If your internet connection is poor in terms of speed, or has an unusually high ping time, you are going to have serious problems maintaining a solid connection, and in turn a good user experience.
  • If you are using the cheap wireless router that was supplied by your ISP, you may well struggle to maintain a solid connection over WiFi. Luckily there is a fix for this, simply use a cable and you will be back on the road to gaming nirvana before you know it.

Playing via Mac

Playing OnLive games on a Mac provides an excellent user experience. The OnLive software is a free download which provides your point of entry for the cloud based service. The software also acts as a driver, allowing you to use an XBOX 360 controller, rather than the more traditional mouse and keyboard.

Simple shortcuts allow the user to switch between windowed and full screen modes, and there is easy access to the various menus for switching between games and accessing the options available.

If none of the above listed issues are likely to be a problem, chances are you will have an excellent experience playing on a Mac. Connecting controllers for a more console like experience is simple, with OnLive handling all drivers and configuration seamlessly and without fault every time I tested it. Performance over a decent Internet connection was excellent, with barely any noticeable lag, fantastic graphics and almost instant loading times for games.

The OnLive cloud servers do an excellent job of rendering the games on offer, and visually they look almost as good as running them on a well specified PC, sometimes even better. Certainly the visuals are far in excess of what you would hope to achieve on the lower hardware platforms supported by OnLive. For example, trying out the service on the Mac Mini on my desk at work, which only has minimal on-board graphics, was a breezy and enjoyable affair – once again with little or no lag and excellent overall performance.

Playing on TV using the OnLive Micro Console

The OnLive Micro Console is a cheap and simple way to get cloud gaming on your TV. OnLive describes the device as “delivering instant-play, high-end, new-release video games to TVs. Now players of all skill levels can enjoy games from the comfort of their living rooms—instantly and on-demand—without ever having to bother with discs, downloads or updates. Whether you are checking out a demo, joining a premium multiplayer game or watching live gameplay from around the world, with the OnLive Game System it’s as effortless and as fast as changing channels.”

The presentation of the console is excellent and not at all what I was expecting. I think somewhere along the line I had convinced myself that OnLive was a plucky upstart company looking to change the way we game by disrupting the industry norms – because of this I was expecting a hastily thrown together device with plain brown packaging and the bare minimum of time and effort spent on it. I could not have been more wrong!

Right from the moment of beginning the unboxing process it was apparent that this was a high quality, well thought out offering. The box itself appears like a presentation case for a high-end luxury device, the inset areas of the packaging are perfectly molded to hold everything securely in place, the product itself is fantastically well thought out and the fit and finish is perfect. Attention to detail continues with the supplied accessories, where, unlike many more traditional competitors (Sony, Microsoft) the bottom layer of the box was carefully and thoughtfully packed with everything a player is likely to need. Included in the box was a HDMI cable, Network Cable, UK power block, USB charging cable for the controller, a rechargeable battery pack for the wireless controller and even the fallback if you forget to charge your battery pack in the form of an XBOX 360 style AA battery pack and 2x AA batteries to fit inside it. Every angle is covered and carefully thought through, and this is a huge change of direction in an industry where costs and margins are so sensitive that you are lucky to receive a demo disc in the box with a new console these days, let alone a HDMI cable.

The console itself is exactly what I wish all consoles were like. Diminutive in size, silent in operation and low on energy consumption – the Micro Console is a revelation. In an industry where cooling fans roar and competitors seem to start huge and gradually refine their industrial design over the lifetime of their products, finally culminating with something that a mere mortal can lift without the help of someone else, the OnLive Micro Console achieves a simple (Apple-esque) elegance that has been missing from the games industry for a long time.

This is perhaps an unfair comparison to draw, as the vast majority of processing occurs miles away from your front room in the OnLive server room. This means that the MicroConsole has the simpler task of interpreting controls from the user and relaying them to OnLive, and receiving them back in return and displaying video, and passing rumble commands back to the users controller. It performs this job admirably, particularly when you consider that the console only retails for £69.99! I managed to get hold of it for even less than that as OnLive were running a promotion giving the console away for FREE (£6 postage) to those who pre-ordered Batman: Arkham City. The hardware really is excellent value whichever way you get hold of it.

The controller will be familiar to anyone who has used an XBOX 360 controller before (it really is a homage to the XBOX design), legally different and with a few extra buttons thrown in for controlling the OnLive experience and menus, I found it to be very comfortable to use for extended periods of play. It does its job simply and effectively and I couldn’t fault it during my testing phase.

Negative points for the Micro Console are few and far between, with the only drawback being the lack of WiFi connectivity (likely to be fixed in a future release). This isn’t so much of an inconvenience, unless you live somewhere that makes running a cable completely impossible, and the connection over a cable is hugely more reliable than connecting via WiFi.

Game Selection

There are various options for users to purchase games through OnLive. The first game purchased (at time of writing) is only £1 – I chose Batman: Arkham Asylum as my first game, one that I had truly enjoyed playing on the XBOX 360 (from start to finish), as I thought that it would allow me to compare the performance of the two systems more evenly.

Following your first game purchase there is a choice of approaches:

  • Subscribe at a price of £6 per month and receive unlimited access to 100+ titles of various ages and qualities including the likes of Homefront, Borderlands, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Just Cause 2, BioShock and Deus Ex. This is a great deal, and something that is a lot easier to commit to for casual gamers than paying £50 per game for a traditional console. Subscribers also receive discounts on purchases from the store in return for their loyalty, bringing new releases under £30 in most cases.
  • Purchasing games on a one-off basis may suit some users, and there are plenty of selections available in the store to keep most gamers happy. New releases often arrive a little after their PC counterparts, so fans of 0 day releases need not apply, however – with a little patience “normal” gamers will get their hot little hands on games within a short enough period of time.
    OnLive Marketplace.

Wrap-Up

The OnLive service is seemless, similar in approach to XBOX Live in a lot of ways, often better and more responsive, with easier access to configuration (not that it is ever really needed). You can genuinely open the box, sign in and play, no loading times, no updates to download to games – this is a refreshing and enjoyable service that simply must have a future in the industry.

Negatives are thin on the ground, with limited support for multiplayer chat (at the moment it is in Beta) and the lack of WiFi on the micro console currently top the list. These are massively outweighed by the innovation of the product and service, with unique features such as the ability to view other gamers whilst in play, combined with future developments such as iPad and Android apps for viewing and one day playing games.

How to spend a weekend In Myanmar?

As you take in the moment and soak yourself in it, the even more calming chants coming from the nearest temple tranquil your senses with a greater effect for a weekend. That is the magic of Myanmar, and that’s the unfailing effect it has on anyone who sets his foot on this magically awesome land. Here is how to spend a weekend in Myanmar

The Golden Land

The Golden Land, as Myanmar is popularly referred to as, is a haven for those who wish to feel closer to the more real and pristine world. Tourist destinations in Myanmar are in abundance. There is a bit of everything in Myanmar if you wish to experience the old world charm. You have landmarks that are a symbol of the rich history and cultural diversification of the country, you have landscapes that take you closest to nature, and you have the rural Myanmar that shimmers with the most pure vibe and takes you further close to the old world charm that we are talking about.

The gorgeous lakes

Myanmar is a land of wonders and visual exquisiteness. As a traveller, you are never going to be short of options while travelling to this country that seems almost like crafted by god by his own hands. There is something for everybody. You have the most gorgeous lakes all across the country, and among those, the Inle Lake definitely stands tallest and most stirring. The lake that almost looks like a silver sheet covering a vast area in a manner most awe-inspiring, attracts hordes of tourist who visit Burma. The lake exemplifies nature it is prime form.

Historically relevant and fascinating landmarks

And coming back to the historically relevant and fascinating landmarks, there are plenty to look forward to. You have Shwedagon Paya, a magnificent structure that stretches to as tall as 325 feet and generates massive buzz among those who visit this country for the first time. Those visiting Yangon cannot afford to miss out on this place.

The Golden Rock

Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock) is another one of those places that fascinates the tourists like nothing else does. This is one incredibly beautiful boulder stupa that is made entirely of golden leaves. A visit to Myanmar without seeing the Golden Rock in person would be utterly incomplete and unsatisfying. Burma, as a tourist attraction has some amazing historical value. The history derives a lot from the 11th century Pagan Empire.

The stark nature

The stark nature that makes up most of Myanmar is combined with fascinating and colorful cultural bits that are so typical of this place. Every inch of Myanmar exudes a divine vibe that has impossible to escape from. And if you are still planning or contemplating on going in there, just pack your bags right away. Not a moment has to be wasted.

The colonial aura

If you wish to get a dose of the colonial aura, Yangon is the place to be at. The British architecture of the 19th century covers this town in its entirety and this really makes for plenty of fascinating sights all across the country. The city, as you would expect, is strongly attached to its root. The local population you see there is mostly dressed in the traditional attires and the public means of transportations also bring back the past and make it feel alive right next to you.

The ancient architecture

For more dose of the ancient architecture, Bagan will give you an eyeful. Formerly known as Pagan, this place also houses some amazingly old buildings and structures that take you right back into the past and creates an aura you won’t want to get out of. This place also comprises of temples galore. You can also come across the Pagodas that appear reddish.