Tech round-up for February 21: Tor's modern book club, Shadow of the Colossus on PS4, Samsung Galaxy S9's special surprise, Black Mirror website

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, a website predicts the end of your relationship, the Shadow of the Colossus PS4 remaster is sublime, and Samsung bucks the trend with the upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9+. But first, Tor modernizes the book of the month club.

Tor’s electronic book-of-the-month club

Everyone likes to get stuff for free. Book publisher Tor has a monthly book-of-the-month club which gives a free book to subscribers to its mailing list.

This month it was Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, the first book in the author’s Wheel of Time series. Other titles given out by the publisher have included John Scalzi’s Old Mans War and Catherynne Valente’s Deathless.

It’s a smart promotional play by Tor, as the books in the club tend to be key backlist titles that stand a good chance of selling more books.

The book of the month is only available for a couple of days, so sign up for next month now so you don’t miss out.

Shadow of the Colossus redesigned for powerful PS4 console

Originally released in 2005 for Sony’s PlayStation 2 game console, Shadow of the Colossus has already been remastered for the PS3. Now the scintillating game has been remade for the PS4, which not only introduces ultra high-definition graphics, but also updates the game for a modern audience.

But the core of the action adventure platforming game remains the same. A young man wants to revive a young woman, and agrees to destroy some creatures to do so. The creatures, the colossi of the game, are massive things made of geological components like rocks and earth and grass. Players need to climb up the bodies in order to destroy them.

There is very little narrative context here, and while replaying the game I found myself feeling as I did back in 2005: guilty.

Because while huge and imposing, the colossi are actually passive creatures simply existing in the world. They can be dangerous if you get close, but they aren’t overtly violent. It’s more like they don’t really notice you. Even when you start attacking them they aren’t aggressive, but more reacting defensively.

The game on the PS4 is stunning. Shadow of the Colossus was one of the first games that started using the graphical power of consoles to present a sense of scale, and with this redesign and the horsepower in the PS4 you really get a sense of the majesty of the colossi.

Which only serves to drive the discomfort that I felt while killing the creatures. It’s the kind of emotional experience that can come from playing games.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ expected to have something special

If the rumours are true, when Samsung reveals its new flagship smartphones, the S9 and S9+, they will have something other premium devices don’t: a headphone jack.

Apple dropped the headphone jack with its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+ models, a decision that was kept with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, and iPhone X. Google followed suit with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

But Samsung was resolute with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, released last spring. It appears as though the company will continue to buck the trend with the new models.

We’ll know more next week. Samsung is expected to unveil new handsets on Sunday, February 25, in Barcelona, just before the Mobile World Congress trade show.

The end of your relationship predicted by a website based on “Black Mirror”

With the tagline, “Everything happens for a reason,” the Coach.Dating website is a unique online experience.

You must visit the site at the same time as your partner – the system provide a unique URL you share with them to connect the two of you – and you must respond to a prompt simultaneously.

The website returns a number that is an ostensible prediction. In my tests, it seems more random than anything, though.

Viewers of the Netflix series Black Mirror may find this all a bit familiar. With good reason, because this website was designed to emulate the dating experiences that are central to the plot of Season 4 episode, “Hang the DJ.”


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