How Music Affects Your Productivity

I had already come to many of the same conclusions after working in a busy, open office for years but this article sums up a lot about how useful listening to music can be regarding productivity.

I bought the Denon AH-D600 headphones a year or so back and they remain one of the best investments I’ve made as not only does music sound great (particularly base-driven content), but they double-up as an effective headset when I need to Skype colleagues to discuss work-related tasks.

Via Simon Cobb.

Ultra Street Fighter IV app

Yoshinori Ono on Twitter just tweeted that Ultra Street Fighter IV will be seeing an official frame data app. Along with another game I’m massively looking forward to, Mario Kart 8, it adds further weight to the argument that playing a game during game sessions is no longer enough from a business or true gamer perspective; you have to tide gamers over in-between gaming sessions and keep them interested in the product with things like game apps.

Capcom have had a decent stab at porting some of their fighters to touch screen devices, but anyone who’s halfway into those type of games will ultimately find touch screen controls severely limiting and ultimately frustrating. Releasing second screen/off-screen/not-near-a-tv-screen (?!) apps which compliment the console core content make a lot of sense; consumers benefit by gaining access to useful information they might not otherwise have easily to-hand and video game producers make a decent amount from app sales.

It’s interesting to see the different approaches of Nintendo and Capcom to their upcoming game-accompanying apps; the Mario Kart 8 app will probably act equally as well as a draw to new gamers and help encourage sales by showcasing race highlights, whereas the Ultra Street Fighter IV app looks like it might cater for the hardcore fighting game crowd.

If Capcom produced an app which helped newcomers to Street Fighter learn the game, or helped share matches across social media, then they would surely grow their user base.

Chromecast – a household hit

Ok; I was skeptical about the Google Chromecast. When it was released in the states I didn’t immediately bite (despite it being cheap enough to import). I’m mainly an iOS user (and fan) and so I wasn’t sure I’d get enough use out of a wifi HDMI dongle that presumably might see most support on Android.

But I was kinda wrong.

The device doesn’t really do anything I couldn’t already achieve through other means, be it wired connections or whatever. But there’s a certain cool factor to being able to control what’s on your television with your smart device and my kids have seemingly bought into it big time. I found it hard to wrestle my iPhone away from my youngest today once she got used to loading up various childrens content from BBC iPlayer and when she did give me my phone back it was to swap for the Google Nexus 7 that offered the same functionality of controlling her content from the sofa.

My eldest also found it very cool and it prompted her to download a few apps to her Moto G to take proper advantage of the device.

As for me? I tried casting some sports from Google Chrome via the BT Sport website last night (after installing the Google Cast extension) but found the sound cut out from the transmission. Maybe it’s a Microsoft Silverlight issue as I found various Adobe Flash content streamed just fine (BBC News, YouTube, etc). I read that when casting from the Chrome browser to use the lower bitrate 720p setting but I found the highest 720p setting worked just fine; there was no difference between the slightly jerky frame rate I was viewing on the television (but obviously the picture quality looked a little better).

Overall, I think the device is worth buying and I really hope developers adopt it wholeheartedly. I’m very tempted to go do some tinkering with it myself… :)