Category Archives: Interesting links

Game news sites I recommend

I posted this in a comment on Facebook earlier, but I thought I’d post a list of some of the video game news sites I read every day and what I like about them. If you have any you recommend, I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the list:

VentureBeat Games - This is the most ‘grown-up’ of the video game news sites. The stories are interesting, well-written, and the editorial voice and tone is straightforward and professional. They cover a lot of interesting stories that other sites don’t, and it’s a decent blend of news for gamers as well as items of interest to professionals.

SuperData blog – Excellent analyses, summaries and infographics about the business side of the game industry. Highly recommended.

GamePolitics – News around the world about video games, social issues, political and legal challenges facing the game industry. Great source for news about tax breaks and funding initiatives for game development.

Gamasutra News – Biz- and production-focused news. Less about specific games and more about the particulars of game development and current events. The editorials and content can be somewhat hit or miss, but it hits the high points consistently enough to be worth a read.

GamesIndustry.biz – Similar to Gamasutra, but more focused on the business aspect rather than production. There’s some overlap, but they do cover the business side a bit more than Gamasutra.

MCV (Market for Computer and Video Games) – Similar to GamaSutra, except with more of a European focus.

VG247 – Strictly news about video game releases, reviews, etc. It’s the only video game-centric news site I can point to as *not* having the young “oMG AwesOMESAUCE LOLCAT CRAZYBALLS!” tone and writing style.

smArtist Tools – Dropbox Automator!

Just ran across an awesome new tool: Dropbox Automator!

This is a pretty wild one. Essentially, you can create rules (or “automations”) for Dropbox via this web tool that triggers certain actions based on filetypes. I’ll quote TechCrunch‘s linked article:

Not only are they trigged by file type (e.g. a photo, a .doc, a PDF, etc.), they’re also triggered based on which Dropbox folder the file has been placed into.

For documents, you can choose from actions like convert to PDF, convert PDF to text, summarize, translate, upload to Google Docs, upload to Slideshare and more. Photos can be uploaded to Facebook, Flickr, rotated, annotated with text, a map or a logo, have effects applied, and downscaled.

Any file can be emailed, zipped, renamed, FTP’d, encrypted or decrypted, saved to another Dropbox, tweeted, or set as a Facebook status.

I use Google Docs extensively, but almost everyone else on earth uses Word \ Excel \ etc. I use OpenOffice for dealing with my non-Docs clients directly, but always manually import and sort them into Docs when I’m done. One use I thought of for Dropbox Automator is saving whatever Word documents I’m working with into a special shared Dropbox folder that I use with my crew, so that those files will automatically be uploaded into Google Docs without my having to manually import\save\sort it. Timesaver!

Another example is having a secure offsite FTP to automatically back up anything my clients\contractors post into Dropbox, optionally with encryption for security. :)

This is incredibly cool, and I can’t wait to dig into this. Automation tools for the win!

Do you guys have any other cool ideas on how this could work? Would love to hear!

Article: Extrasensory, Extravagant, Exhausting – E3!

Last year I wrote an article for GameSauce Magazine on E3, with the intent of essentially nutshelling what it is and what it means to the un- or partially-initiated.

Well, I didn’t realize it had been published online until now! You can check it out here:

Extrasensory, Extravagant, Exhausting by Jon Jones (pages 68 through 71)

Enjoy!

Productivity Tip #16: VisiPics for duplicate image search!

I’d like to introduce my readers to a wonderful tool I was introduced to some time back — VisiPics!

Ever wanted to clear out your reference folder of duplicate images? Or clean out duplicate photographs you’ve downloaded to your PC? Or simply to clean up your project directories of dupes? If so, then VisiPics is what you need. Here’s the blurb from their site:

If you get too many pictures on your harddrive, downloaded or photographied, from several different sources, it may happen that you have many duplicates. In that case you need a quick and easy to use program that finds and deletes all your duplicates.
VisiPics does more than just look for identical files, it goes beyond checksums to look for similar pictures and does it all with a simple user interface. First, you select the root folder or folders to find and catalogue all of your pictures. It then applies five image comparison filters in order to measure how close pairs of images on the hard drive are.

It’s incredibly fast, the settings are easy to customize, and it can even discover different images from the same set based on how strict you set it to be. It’s able to detect the same images that have been resized or cropped, which is awesome. It’s surprisingly powerful, and free! I strongly recommend it for keeping everything tidy.

Here’s a link to the VisiPics website: http://www.visipics.info/index.php?title=Main_Page

Do any of you use VisiPics, or apps similar to it? I’m always on the lookout for good dupe checkers \ filesystem cleanup tools. Cheers!

Productivity Tip #15: StrokeIt!

Here’s another life-enhancing tool I love: StrokeIt!

It adds the ability to create global or application-specific mouse gestures in Windows. Incredibly customizable, very simple to use, small memory footprint.

Example usage case: Navigating in Windows Explorer. When I need to go Back, I hold the right mouse button, drag the mouse left and release and it goes back. Forward, click-drag-right-release, forward. When I want to go up a directory, click-drag-up and it goes to the parent directory. You can set it to normal windows commands (maximize, minimize, close, etc) or even a series of hotkeys. It makes navigating through folders in Explorer MUCH quicker and more efficient. I’ve had few of people here at Vigil watch me work with it and install it after a few moments’ watching it in action.

Best of all: FREE!

50 tips, tweaks and hacks for Google Calendar!

Hi guys! I’m coming out of a post-Germany haze of sickness to link you to some handy tweaks for Google Calendar. I’m a total nut for Google Calendar and basically run my entire life through it now. Here’s the link:

50 tips, tweaks and hacks for Google Calendar!

My two favorites from the list are as follows:

16) Facebook Integration: If you’re a fan of the social networking program Facebook you’ll love this script. It allows you to easily transfer your Facebook events to your Google Calendar so you’ll never miss a get together.
25) Better GCal: This script combines several helpful scripts including skins, collapsed headers, secure connections, text wrap and more.

Enjoy!

Google Browser Size – Great tool for portfolio design testing

This is extremely cool! Check out Google Browser Size.

Essentially, this web tool will draw an overlay map of your website marking the different resolution boundaries and showing you how likely people at different resolutions are to be able to see different parts of your website. Some people with low resolutions won’t scroll down to view the site. Here’s a quote from that page showing why this is important:

Using this visualization, Bruno confirmed that about 10% of users couldn’t see the download button without scrolling, and thus never noticed it. 10% may not sound like a lot, but in this context it turns out to mean a significant number of people weren’t downloading Google Earth. Using this data, the team was able to redesign the page to good effect.

This would be a great tool for artists to check the usability of their website at different resolutions and to get ideas on how to tweak the design for better results. What if potential employers simply don’t see all of your art or scroll to view all the content? Google Browser Size could be a great tool for analyzing that. Go check it out!