2024’s Acer Global Press Conference - Pre Event
What is the United Nations Climate Change Conference?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) will commence on November 30th, 2023, and aims to assess the impact of climate change measures implemented by party members over the past three decades since its inception. Member countries are currently working towards limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C (34.7°F) above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. They are also encouraged to adapt to the existing effects of climate change that we are currently experiencing.
What is happening at COP 28?
The world is in its climate era, and we have the opportunity to help. By collectively reinventing our systems as circular, regenerative, and carbon-free, we can reduce our impact on the planet while embracing a climate-positive lifestyle. Making an impact at COP means embarking on a five-year journey of making small but significant changes to the way we treat our planet.
The event opening takes place on November 30th, with cross-cutting themes like ￼￼technology and innovation, inclusion, and finance filling the schedule until December 12th. The final two days will be for party members to make final negotiations based on the themes and discussions held throughout the event.
Technology and Innovation
It is hoped that COP28 will act as a catalyst that facilitates the ecosystem of governments, corporate parties, academia, investors, and start-ups to inspire change in how climate solutions are developed and deployed. The aim is to use technology and innovation to bring the world back on track to mitigate the rise in global temperature, requiring a transformation even bigger than the Industrial Revolution.
COP28 aims to bring everyone together in a more inclusive way than previous COP events. The topic of inclusion addresses the lack of systematic measures in place to promote inclusivity and will explore ways to empower the next generation to transition to a low-carbon economy. These groups may include youth, entrepreneurs, gender groups, and Indigenous Peoples, whose voices are valuable for protecting the future of our planet.
This key topic is closely linked with Climate Transition and Adaptation and addresses urgent issues like water and food security, youth empowerment, renewable energy, and trade dynamics. This will help party members realize the importance of funding sustainable transformation mechanisms to address climate change issues. Effective financial strategies are crucial to creating a more resilient world and members are encouraged to meet issues with adaptive solutions for sustainable prosperity.
How is Acer aligning with COP28 themes?
We will host an Acer Global Press Conference in Dubai and share our unique technology concepts designed to serve people and the planet. With our theme, Conscious Technology for a Brighter Tomorrow, we aim to promote technology, envisioned with our planet in mind. We aim to align with COP28 to showcase our concepts and expand our network of collaborators and customers with a similar focus on addressing climate change issues. As a global ICT company that evolves with various industries and lifestyles, we aim to push for more innovative eco-solutions and long-term sustainability through our technology.
How does Acer contribute towards the goal of a sustainable future?
Sustainability is a concept, but the longevity of our planet requires action from everyone, everywhere. That is why we recognize our impact and take action, aligning our initiatives with the objectives of COP28. We carefully consider the environmental impact of every stage of the product lifecycle and actively work towards reducing our carbon footprint. Our 2025 Sustainability Goals reflect this, including plans for the Acer Group to reach 60% renewable electricity usage, and reduce the average computer energy consumption by 45%. The Acer Group has pledged to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, developing a sustainability-focused strategy starting from three major aspects: operations, products and services, and value chain.
Vero is our range of eco-friendly products that offer consumers the chance to reduce their carbon footprint and join Acer in advocating for circular economies. From production to recycling, sustainability is the primary focus of our Vero products. They are made from recycled materials and are still subject to high performance and testing standards to ensure the quality of Acer products. We also offer a laptop and battery recycling initiative for our products to encourage responsible device disposal and promote less technology waste.
Aside from laptops, we also have an intelligent AI-powered smartbike for those looking for an effortless commute option around the city, while leaving a smaller carbon footprint. Acer ebii is characterized by simplicity and features a lightweight aluminum alloy frame for ultimate transportability. It runs on a single-side hub motor for maximum efficiency and includes AI features to create a more personalized riding experience.
The Acer Earthion platform unites employees and supply chain partners to tackle environmental challenges together and motivate each other to collectively reduce their carbon footprint. Acer’s 21-Day Green Challenge showed just that as it encouraged more than 7,000 participants to develop “green” habits and cut an equivalent of 152 tons of carbon emissions.
This year’s COP28 event kicks off on November 30th and will include climate-focused themes and discussions designed to protect our planet. Set in stunning Dubai, member parties from around the world will assess their progress and consider how to achieve climate goals. Acer is also fully committed to the fight to save our planet. We will present our sustainable technology concepts and goals for protecting our planet in the years ahead. Facilitating sustainable living is our intention, and we achieve this by creating conscious technology like Vero laptops and the Acer ebii ebike. With humans at the heart and our planet in mind, we will continue to design products and solutions that break barriers between people and technology while leaving a lighter touch on the earth.
A Preview of Last Train Home
Last Train Home is the latest title soon to be released by THQ Nordic Games that tells the story of a legion of Czechoslovakian soldiers trapped on the wrong side of Russia during the last days of World War I. These stranded soldiers have stolen an armored locomotive and plan to use it to get to the distant city of Vladivostok, from where they can obtain safe travel home. The train is their only opportunity to escape Russia, and your decisions on the isometric battlefield will determine how many of them make it back. For fans of This War of Mine, Company of Heroes, and Arma, Last Train Home may be your next fixation.
What real-world events is Last Train Home based on?
Last Train Home is a survival real-time strategy game that tells a harrowing tale based on actual World War I events. Players will need to use their wits to help a stranded group of soldiers get home on a stolen armored train. Publisher THQ Nordic and developer Ashborne Games are approaching the real-time strategy genre with a refreshing twist that combines intuitive and accessible combat with base-building and crew management. The developers researched extensively and worked closely with the ancestors of Czech soldiers to make Last Train Home as historically accurate as possible. Like the real-world events the game is based on, soldiers had to defend the train and take on other jobs, ranging from making repairs to making food. Although real-time strategy combat will be a major component of the game, Last Train Home has a lot more to it. Players will embark on a desperate mission through the depths of the war-torn wasteland of Siberia and command a legion of soldiers desperately trying to make their way home amidst the chaos of a civil war.
Last Train Home is a compelling narrative that portrays the experiences of the Czechoslovak Legion and their determination to return to their newly formed republic following The Great War. The game is set during the chaotic period of the Eastern Front in the later period of World War I and beyond. Based on the almost unbelievable story of the Czechoslovak Legion, Last Train Home has you leading an armored train full of soldiers wishing to return to their newly won state, but who cannot go the easy way west due to political concerns and blockades. Instead, they are forced to push east across 6,000 miles of the Trans-Siberian railway, fighting all the way, and (spoiler alert) eventually cross the sea from the port of Vladivostok to reach Europe and safety. The game will feature a complete in-game encyclopedia detailing its historical context, so players can fully immerse themselves in the trials of the Czechoslovakian soldiers. The encyclopedia is a product of the developer’s close cooperation with the descendants of the Czechoslovak Legion, who not only acted as historical consultants to ensure accuracy and authenticity but even helped film the game’s impressive live-action trailer with their replica of the armored train that was used on this wild adventure a century ago.
Storyline and characters
Last Train Home tells the story of a group of Czechoslovakian soldiers stuck behind enemy territory right at the end of World War I and following the Russian Revolution. Luckily, this legion was able to steal an armored train and journey through Siberia’s rough winter toward home. The story picks up following the 1917 Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Red Army fought the Tsarist White Army to control the country. Lasting four years, the Russian Civil War involved the deaths of 10 million people, and the chaos it induced displaced many more.
Ashborne Games has put a lot of care into dealing with the delicate nature of war and survival, and in what we saw this is abundantly clear. Every character has a name and a history, instead of just being a soldier controlled by AI that becomes lost in the balance of survival and death. You need to assign your soldiers to different tasks in the carriages, and thanks to their varied beliefs, some step up to the plate more effectively than others. This adds a personal touch to the decisions you’ll make when playing, especially when you see how the gameplay mechanics work.
The characters help make the world feel more alive too, with voice acting in the characters’ native languages making the game more immersive. It can be hard to care much about individual units in real-time strategy games when the only real end goal is to make them survive to the end, but players will find themselves getting attached to the crew and doing everything they can to keep each character alive. This is all thanks to the small interactions and scenes that take place between and during missions that bring the world to life and throw players deep into the action.
Gameplay in Last Train Home is all about keeping the train and crew in shape. Stopping to scavenge for supplies or pick up new allies is vital if you want to make it home alive. The general gameplay loop of travel, stop, complete missions, and travel again might seem repetitive, but so much effort is taken to make the world feel alive that it never grows stale. You’ll be faced with dilemmas throughout your journey that have to do with the civil war raging in the country, and the decisions you make on your way will influence the final battle of the game. The single-player story is expected to take 30–40 hours to complete.
From the official game website:
* PICK YOUR BATTLES: Deploy your squad and complete diverse objectives in a series of real-time missions where specialist combat skills, planning, and superior tactics will lead you to victory.
* EQUIP YOUR SOLDIERS: Level up your men by unlocking new skills and gathering better equipment—discover their stories, assign medals, and help them rise up through the ranks.
* MANAGE YOUR CREW: Direct your soldiers in their noncombat roles aboard the train. Craft items, heal your wounded, and restore morale for the arduous journey home.
* UPGRADE YOUR TRAIN: Unlock your armored train’s full potential by upgrading the carriages and locomotive and oversee important maintenance work to keep it running.
* JOURNEY THROUGH SIBERIA: Stockpile and trade supplies, make new allies, and overcome crisis after crisis as civil war rages across the vast snowfields of Siberia.
The game is split into two distinct layers: strategic and tactical. On the strategic map, you follow the progress of your armored train as it makes its way through war-torn Russia, halting occasionally to take on important supplies like coal and food, recruit more refugees seeking an escape, clear obstacles, and complete missions.
Combat is the second big part of Last Train Home. Taking place on the tactical layer and in real time, each of your crew members from the strategic layer is represented in combat as well—their wounds and injuries will persist from layer to layer, and losing a crew member will affect your ability to operate the train. Each man’s life is supremely important in Last Train Home.
Players must also strategize for effective base building and crew management to survive. The limited number of crew on the train are each able to hold two professions; crew have one role in combat and another in service of the train and fellow survivors. Civilian professions include doctor and mechanic; crew must repair the train after it breaks down or is attacked by enemies, feed and heal other crew members, and upgrade the train. Martial professions include scout, sniper, and machine gunner. In each profession, a different set of skills is required to complete the scenarios you’re thrown into. Gameplay is cover-based and features stealth elements, such as line-of-sight and noise, that must be considered when infiltrating enemy bases and setting up ambushes. Players will also need to carefully consider where it's safe to stop the train to refill resources.
Players will discover certain towns and areas that can provide rest and resources that units of soldiers can explore. Although some locations may contain valuable resources and even new allies, others may hide enemies ready to ambush soldiers or the train. The train often has to be stopped so that the crew can perform repairs on it. Encountering enemy soldiers and even surprise attacks like artillery fire will occur that can severely damage vital components of the train and its crew. Caution must be exercised because if soldiers die, they are gone for good. Fortunately, the game offers specific save points that can be restored from if all hope is lost.
During combat and other missions, you can control groups of up to ten soldiers. Soldiers can be assigned individual tasks and moved to specific locations independently of other soldiers. Infantrymen will provide firepower to take out small pockets of resistance, and medics can stay back and provide aid to injured soldiers. You can lob grenades, spy on nearby camps to find safe spots or hidden dangers, and more. The point-and-click controls allow players to control the combat at their own pace, and the action can even be fully paused. This gameplay mechanic looks straightforward and should make it easy to set up ambushes while also completing secondary objectives.
Players will be able to choose the locations their group visits and the missions they take on. Decisions made will affect how the game’s story plays out. For example, helping a group of strangers may earn players some much-needed resources to repair the train or feed survivors, and newly created allies may even appear later to aid players when it really matters. However, helping others may also turn out to be a trap, resulting in getting the train damaged or even getting soldiers killed. Considering these features, the game should contain enough variation to provide for multiple unique playthroughs.
As you get closer to Siberia and your target, the port at Vladivostok where Entente ships will evacuate you, the biting cold of winter will be just as dangerous as the roaming Red Army troops you need to deal with.
When is the game coming out?
Last Train Home is set to launch on November 28, 2023, for Windows PC via Steam. For more awesome games, make sure to check out the lineup of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
Nitro V 15 gaming laptop (ANV15-51)
In September, Acer launched a brand new gaming laptop: the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51). Like other models in the Nitro series, the ANV15-51 features a black, plastic case with a smooth matte surface, RGB keyboard lighting, and colored stripes on the back of the case for added visual appeal. In general, the Nitro series of laptops are machines that without costing a whole fortune have been configured with powerful AMD Ryzen™ or Intel Raptor™ or later CPU options and the latest NVIDIA RTX™ 4000 series video cards.
This latest model comes in a range of configurations, with its baseline version being powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i5-13420H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory, and other versions can come with 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processors. Memory-wise, the laptop supports up to 32 GB of DDR5 memory. For storage, you can opt for up to 2 TB of M.2 PCIe solid-state storage, ensuring quick booting and fast loading within games. It impresses with a generous number of I/O ports (three USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, a headset jack, and a DC-in jack). It also has a unique fan and exhaust system that works by drawing cool air in through the keyboard and expelling hot air through vents on the side and rear. It offers a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display for exceptional display quality and brightness, with a 144-Hz refresh rate and a quick 3-ms response time, for an 82% screen-to-body ratio.
Coming in at less than $1000 per machine, the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51) can be considered a budget gaming laptop. However, it can easily run modern games and provide an immersive gaming experience. All of the Nitro series of gaming laptops contain high-quality components designed to last. Click here to find out more.
Here are the specs of the Acer Nitro V 15 ANV15-51 gaming laptop:
* Processor: Intel Core i5-13420H
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 (6 GB GDDR6)
* Display: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 × 1080) IPS display with 144-Hz refresh rate
* RAM: 8 GB DDR5 (upgradable to 32GB)
* Storage: 512 GB SSD (PCIe Gen4, 16 Gb/s, NVMe)
* Operating System: Windows 11 Home
* Ports: 1 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with power-off charging, 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 1 × Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 port, HDMI, and 1 × USB Type-C port (Thunderbolt)
* Battery: 57 Wh
10 Best Places for Digital Nomads in 2024
The digital nomad trend continues to become more and more popular. As more people seek out remote job opportunities to combine work and travel, national governments continue promoting new digital nomad visa programs to attract foreign talent. Whereas in the past the legal status of a digital nomad was vague, now those looking for countries with digital nomad visas are spoiled for choice.
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which digital nomad cities meet your expectations. Every destination is unique, both in terms of its lifestyle and its government’s digital nomad visa requirements. To narrow things down a bit, we’ve compiled this list of the top 10 best digital nomad destinations in 2024.
1. San José, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a land with a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes, from pristine beaches to verdant rainforest. Beyond its scenery, its laidback pura vida culture makes for great quality of life. With these advantages, it’s no wonder that Internet nomads are attracted to the country, and the Costa Rican government has responded in kind by launching its new digital nomad visa.
Successful applicants enjoy a variety of perks, including recognition of their country’s driver license and exemption on customs taxes for telecommunications equipment necessary for work. If you end up falling in love with the place, you have the option to extend your one-year digital nomad visa for an additional year.
2. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia has long been a pioneer in digital nomad destinations, being the first country to launch an e-Residency program for international entrepreneurs. In addition, Estonia is also a country with high digital connectivity: in fact, it has been named the “world’s most digitized country”. These two things make Estonia an ideal digital nomad destination.
If Tallinn is calling your name, however, you’ll have to demonstrate six months of a monthly income at or above €3504, making Estonia one of the more pricey countries with digital nomad visas. The visa fee is relatively modest, however, at €80 for a Type C (short stay) visa and €100 for a Type D (long stay) visa.
3. Victoria, Seychelles
Seychelles, a picturesque island country located in the Indian Ocean off of the coast of West Africa, is one of the best places for digital nomads looking to combine work and travel. Its weather remains quite steady year-round at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning you can hike, explore the jungle or lay on the beach any time of year. What’s more, it also offers quite a reasonable cost of living, meaning you can save for travel or other adventures.
If Seychelles is on your list, you’ll be glad to know that the visa application process is easy and inexpensive. At only €45 ($46.07), a Seychelles digital nomad visa comes in at quite a bargain, especially considering all the country offers.
4. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico is a large country with much to offer. From captivating beaches to ancient ruins, its treasures attract tourists from all over the world. Luckily, for those who want to spend more time in Mexico than a few days in Playa del Carmen, the country now offers a digital nomad visa.
Though Mexico City’s cost of living is significantly lower than in US cities, the digital nomad visa still comes with some financial requirements to ensure you can finance your stay in the country. To qualify, you’ll have to prove a bank balance of $43,000 for the last twelve months as well as an income of at least $2,595 per month over six consecutive months.
5. Berlin, Germany
Germany, unlike some of the lesser known destinations on this list, is a traditional, well-loved travel destination. Whether you’re going for big pretzels and beer at Oktoberfest or to experience Berlin’s infamous nightlife scene, Germany has plenty to offer.
With Germany’s freelance visa, you can secure residence in the country for up to three full years with the opportunity to renew. Though Berlin is not the most affordable destination on this list, Germany’s central location in Europe and high political stability make it one of the best places for digital nomads.
Aspiring German digital nomads should note that Germany’s freelance visa is a difficult one to obtain due to its rather stringent requirements.
6. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia, the Eastern European country of recent Game of Thrones fame, is one of the best places for digital nomads. For one, if you’re wary of learning a foreign language, you won’t have to worry about that in Dubrovnik, as most people speak English. Additionally, the fast, reliable internet makes it easy to complete your work there. Besides that, the country has a wealth of beautiful places to visit, from the old town of Dubrovnik to national park reserves and more.
Croatia’s digital nomad visa is granted for up to a year and cannot be extended.
7. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland’s tourism industry has skyrocketed in recent years as visitors flock to the island to behold its natural wonders. After Iceland’s financial collapse as a result of its role in the 2008 financial crisis, it has managed to rebound and come back better than ever. Many digital nomads are attracted to the island’s natural beauty and want to spend more time in Iceland than a short trip might allow.
The Icelandic government has responded to its increased popularity and visibility globally with its own digital nomad visa. However, its requirements are a bit stricter than some of the other destinations on this list. For one, the extremely high cost of living means you’ll have to prove a monthly income of at least $7,763.
In addition, digital nomads should be advised that Iceland is predicted to face a historic volcanic eruption soon. It is recommended to postpone travel or residence in Iceland in the meantime.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sometimes an overlooked destination, Malaysia has a lot going for it as a digital nomad country. With a low cost of living, vibrant food scene, and warm weather year round, Kuala Lumpur is one of the best cities for a digital nomad.
The country’s digital nomad visa, launched in 2021, requires an application fee of $225 and a minimum income of $24,000. You can expect a processing time of four weeks, after which you will receive a decision via email. This visa can be issued for a duration of 3 to 12 months.
9. Valleta, Malta
Malta is a unique place in Europe. Its culture has been shaped by its proximity to both mainland Europe and North Africa, and today Malta is the only place in Europe that speaks a Semitic language. Its enchanting “island vibes” and unique cultural heritage make it a fascinating place to spend time as a digital nomad.
In terms of financial requirements, Malta comes in the middle of this list, stipulating a minimum yearly income of €32,400 (~$34,592).
10. Port Louis, Mauritius
With the wave of countries launching digital nomad visas to attract international talent, Mauritius offers some very competitive conditions. Uniquely, Mauritius’ digital nomad visa doesn’t require any application fee, and its income requirement is significantly lower than the average at $1,500 a month. The country even boasts a processing time of 48 hours, a crazy fast turnaround time compared to the other visas on this list.
You can rest assured, however, that those aren’t the only perks of going to live in Mauritius. This island country off the coast of East Africa is home to a highly diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a natural paradise. If you’re looking to live and work in a scenic and relaxed environment, Mauritius is a great choice.
As you can see from this list, digital nomads these days are spoiled for choice when it comes to possible destinations. Digital nomads today don’t have to worry about the legal loopholes of yesterday, with more and more countries launching digital nomad visas to attract global talent. When it comes to choosing the correct destination for you, it’s essential to think about budget, lifestyle, and climate, as these three things will make a huge difference on your overall experience.
World of Warcraft: The War Within - The Story and Details Revealed So Far
The War Within is the newly announced expansion heading to Blizzard’s long-running MMO, World of Warcraft. The War Within will be the first of three new expansions revealed for the Worldsoul Saga trilogy, subsequent entries of which will be named Midnight and The Last Titan. This upcoming expansion will take players beneath the surface of Azeroth to the land of Khaz Algar, where they’ll find the Earthen, a race of dwarves, and darker forces such as the Nerubians. Of course, a new setting isn’t all that comes with an expansion: the game will have a new level cap, dungeons, and a raid to overcome. Continue reading to find out all we know so far about World of Warcraft: The War Within.
World of Warcraft: The War Within
With World of Warcraft’s 20th anniversary coming up next year, and 2023 being the year BlizzCon returned after a long hiatus, fans certainly expected a lot from the even’ts welcome ceremony, and World of Warcraft in particular had a lot to surprise fans. The biggest announcement by Blizzard Entertainment at BlizzCon 2023 was that World of Warcraft will be receiving three major expansions in the future. These expansions will tell the tale of World of Warcraft’s next ongoing storyline, the Worldsoul Saga. The expansion that will be the opening act of this saga will be The War Within. This expansion is slated for release at the end of 2024 and will introduce new zones to explore, new dungeons and raids to conquer, new game systems to master, and more.
In terms of story, this certainly feels like the greatest undertaking in World of Warcraft since its inception. The story has been unfolding for almost 20 years (30 if you include the original Warcraft games), but it has never really felt like Blizzard has been aiming for a single, overarching plot. Each expansion so far has wrapped itself in a neat little package, ready to plunge the world into chaos once again with the arrival of a new threat. The War Within initially feels like a regular expansion. It brings new areas, new enemies, and a host of innovative mechanics that improve the gameplay experience.
However, considering that The War Within is just the first step in the Worldsoul Saga, it feels like Blizzard is entering into an endgame-like event with the series. Although this will not be the end of Azeroth or the Warcraft universe, it may be a definitive point where Blizzard ends its 20 years of storytelling and moves on to something else. Exactly what that means, players probably won’t find out until the third expansion in the saga, The Last Titan.
The overall premise of The War Within is that Anduin Wrynn and Thrall have been experiencing visions where a mysterious voice singing a Radiant Song is calling out to them from the depths of Azeroth. To uncover the source of this voice, Thrall and Anduin gather a band of heroes and lead an expedition into the unexplored depths of their world. Our heroes will also find various allies on their journey, such as an ancient race of Dwarves known as the Earthen. Also, Magni Bronzebeard and Alleria Windrunner are set to return for this expansion to accompany Anduin and Thrall on their trip. As the expeditionary force makes its way through the underground caverns, players will have to fight a new threat that risks cutting their journey and their lives short.
The villain leading this threat is Xal’atath, an ancient being who serves a chaotic, otherworldly force known as the Void. After being released from a cursed black blade, where she had been sealed for untold millennia, Xal’atath now seeks to create a new dark legacy to replace The Black Empire, which fell at the hands of the titan-forged. Xal’atath wants to use a new alliance with the Nerubians to form a force that seeks to enact the machinations of the Void. She has conscripted the Nerubians and their queen, Ansurek, to serve her. In return for their service, she has promised to help release the Nerubians from their isolation, restore their empire to its former glory, and grant them the power to transform into terrifying soldiers through a horrifying evolution.
Who are the major players in The War Within?
More details will inevitably emerge between now and release, but Anduin Wrynn, Thrall, Magni Bronzebeard, Alleria Windrunner, and Xal'atath are all set to play a significant role in the upcoming game.
It’s been a while since we saw Anduin Wrynn, the young man who is on paper still the King of Stormwind, and it doesn’t look like his time away has changed him for the better. Anduin was front and center during Shadowlands, where he was one of the important captives whisked away to Torghast by the Jailer. Anduin eventually found himself being controlled by Domination magic and forced to relieve several Covenant leaders of their Sigils, giving the Jailer access to Zereth Mortis, the place where the mysterious First Ones allegedly created all the realms of Death, and the ultimate goal of all the Jailer’s millennia of scheming.
Once freed, Anduin—mentally shaken by what he had seen and done—opted not to return to Stormwind and immediately retake the throne of the Alliance. Instead he accompanied Sylvanas Windrunner on her punishment tour of the Maw, presumably helping her rescue and save every soul she had condemned to that hellish realm. He doesn’t seem to have regained much of his confidence; if anything, Anduin seems even more distraught over his time in the realms of Death than before, feeling disconnected from a Light he no longer feels worthy of wielding. We certainly didn’t hear a peep out of him during Dragonflight, but it appears that he’s one of many characters who’s been having visions of radiance—visions that have led him to Silithus. We do still see a little of the old hero in him, though. Maybe this story arc will be Anduin’s redemption.
Although his hair is looking a little greyer these days, Thrall (a.k.a. Go’el) is an iconic figure in the World of Warcraft franchise and needs little introduction. After his role in Shadowlands, Thrall returned to Azeroth, but remained out of the spotlight for Dragonflight. He played a role in the orc heritage armor quest, appearing as a peacemaker and settled-down family man (and, if the player character chooses to join the Frostwolf Clan, a proud clanmate).
As a Shaman, Thrall has always been in tune with the elements of Azeroth and, to an extent, the planet herself. However, it appears he’s one of many these days receiving the visions discussed in the trailer, and much as Saurfang did for him when he was in hiding during the events of Battle of Azeroth, now it has fallen to Thrall to seek out Anduin. It’s only natural that when the planet is threatened, Thrall is one of the first to step up to its defense; he’s done so time and time again, and he appears to be enlisting others as well.
Formerly the king of Khaz Modan and the brother of Muradin, Magni Bronzebeard is a steadfast dwarf who now acts as the herald of the world soul of Azeroth. Magni was always a loyal friend of the Alliance and fought bravely against the Horde and later the Lich King’s forces. When the Cataclysm engulfed Azeroth, Magni heroically sacrificed himself and became a diamond statue, saving Khaz Modan while Magni remained frozen in the heart of the ancient iron forge. As the dwarves remembered and honored his sacrifice, the spirit of Magni bonded with the world of Azeroth. Years later, to everyone’s astonishment, Magni suddenly woke up from his torpor and declared that from now on he would be the voice of Azeroth. As a result, he played a crucial role in the events surrounding the finale of Legion, in which the Titan Sargeras plunged his sword deep into Azeroth, mortally wounding the world.
From then on, Magni’s mission was to heal the wound in the world and save the planet. This was particularly evident during the Azeroth Crisis, when Magni went to great lengths to use the Heart of Azeroth to heal the planet’s wounds. In the end, Magni’s efforts finally bore fruit. Where once the lamentations of the world’s soul could be heard, Azeroth now sings happier songs again. We’ve known for quite some time that Azeroth is sentient; one of the reasons the Titans seem so fixated on this planet, and the Old Gods so dead set on corrupting it, is evidently due to Azeroth’s potential to become a phenomenally powerful Titan herself. Although in the past she has been seemingly only able to communicate through Magni, it appears that she is now capable of directly sending messages—albeit only momentary and confusing messages—to her residents.
In The War Within, we catch up not with Anduin’s travel buddy Sylvanas but with her sister. It turns out Alleria isn’t having visions of radiance, but of darkness, and for good reason. One half of the demon-fighting power couple that led the Army of the Light against the Burning Crusade for a thousand years, Alleria Windrunner chose to learn to wield the power of the Void in the fight against fel forces. Although she has mastered it, the price for that choice has been high—Alleria is constantly assaulted by whispers from the Void, seductive ones that want to turn her from her heroic path and into something darker. Alleria has been receiving visions of goings-on below the surface, as well as some imagery that current players may recognize from Iridikron’s escape cinematic in the Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon.
Alleria’s role is shaping up as the person receiving direct, taunting images from below of the Void’s machinations, and she’s likely to be one of the leaders on the expedition down there and to use her connection to the Void to hunt down the villain who’s stirring up so much trouble.
Xal’atath, the Harbinger
Anyone who’s played through the artifact quests in Legion as a Shadow Priest is of course familiar with Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire—or rather, the entity within it who shares the same name. At the end of that expansion, her blade, like the rest of the artifacts, was canonically used to subdue the corrupting energy within the Sword of Sargeras. After that, Xal’atath, like so many times before, disappeared. The knife turned up again in Battle for Azeroth, where she guided us to three powerful Void relics that the naga were attempting to use to create an ultrapowerful storm; in the process, we also got her a body outside of the knife, as the entity within the blade possessed the body of a dead high elf priestess who had been trying to harness one of the relics. After that, she helped us bring the relics and ourselves directly to N’zoth in the Crucible of Storms, then vanished. Although the knife that used to house her had been seen a few times after that (playing a relatively major role in the final two patches of Battle for Azeroth), the being inside stayed hidden… until recently.
At the end of the Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon, players noticed that the Void-flavored portal through which Iridikron escaped contained the silhouette of a distinctly feminine elf. Immediately, between this and Iridikron’s talk of a “Harbinger,” rumors immediately began to fly that this was Xal’atath, returned at last to do whatever it was she intended to do. It appears that those rumors were true, based on both Alleria’s dark visions.
Xal’atath, confirmed the Harbinger, has been watching us and conjured up some dark plans of her own; the Black Empire may have been defeated, and the Old Gods are confirmed dead, but Xal'atath has struck up an alliance in the deep places of the world with the Nerubians, who made their largest appearance in Wrath of the Lich King. She has taught their queen how to mutate certain Nerubians into paragons of their species, something the queen has fully embraced; meanwhile, she is using them to gather a substance called the Black Blood of the Old Gods. Whatever it is that she’s up to, it seems she has distressed the planet’s soul enough to call out to its defenders, and so Xal’atath seems to be the first of no doubt many big enemies we’ll face off against during the Worldsoul Saga.
In a first for the series, the new continent the expansion introduces will be entirely subterranean. Introduced as Khaz Algar, this is the home of a specific subset of the Earthen, who players have seen before in zones like Ulduar. Within the continent are the following four zones:
* The Isle of Dorn: a surface-level zone with fertile soil and plant life, this new area will be the central hub for players. Billed as a lush paradise, the limited screenshots show a combination of epic structures and beautiful vistas reminiscent of Valdrakken.
* The Ringing Depths: an industrial underground cavern full of lava-flowing foundries, forges, and furnaces. Overseen by the Machine Speakers, Kobolds have taken over much of the Ringing Deeps, building a city of their own. Titan relics appear to litter the environment.
* Hallowfall: a vibrant underground zone shining bright from the light of an enormous crystal that has recently seen its light changing. Fading without warning, the zone has been plunged into darkness. This area will be home to the Arathi and their capital Mereldar.
* Azj-Kahet: in the deepest depths of Azeroth, this zone is the heart of the Nerubian Empire, the home to forgotten scavengers. Here lies the Nerubian City of Threads—a city that has been built on the ruins of itself many times over and is billed as having a complex political system and culture.
New dungeons and raids
When The War Within expansion launches, it will do so with eight dungeons for players to conquer. In line with previous expansions, four of these will be leveling dungeons, and the other four will be reserved for max-level characters. The full list is as follows:
* The Rookery
* The Stonevault
* Priory of the Sacred Flame
* City of Threads
* Cinderbrew Meadery
* Darkflame Cleft
* The Dawnbreaker
* Old City
Additionally, the expansion will include a raid dungeon that will presumably follow a similar formula to Dragonflight’s Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon. Entitled Nerub’ar Palace, this eight-boss Nerubian Empire raid in Azj’kahet will be the first raid in The War Within.
One of the new systems being announced for The War Within is delves, which are scalable world instances for 1–5 players that are similar to dungeons, raids, and PvP except that they focus on the outdoor world and offer a more structured experience. Delves address the lack of upgrades and overall excitement found in the outdoor world beyond completing quests. Delves will involve exploration, deep-diving into mysteries, and extending open-world content, as opposed to moving from one boss to another, in the same vein as dungeons—with the difference from other open-world adventuring being the treasure received at the end.
Unlike previous small-group content, such as scenarios and island expeditions, delves offer fully flexible group sizes, so you can run them alone, with a partner, or with a full party. Delves are also role agnostic, so you’ll be able to bring any combination of specializations you choose—no need to seek out tanks or healers for your group. They’ll also be cross-faction.
You’ll be accompanied by a seasonal NPC companion in the vaults, starting with Brann Bronzebeard for Season 1. These companions will have customizable talents and abilities that you’ll be able to select to suit your group and playstyle.
At the end of each delve, you’ll have to defeat a boss or complete a puzzle to unlock the vault’s treasure and complete the mission. The expansion will launch with the following 12 unique delves throughout the world:
* Earthcrawl Mines
* Skittering Breach
* The Waterworks
* The Spiral Weave
* Kriegval’s Rest
* Nightfall Sanctum
* The Dread Pit
* Rak-Rethan Abyss
* Fungak Folly
* The Sinkhole
* Deepwalker Hold
* Mycomancer Cavern
Delves will also offer plenty of cosmetic awards, such as mushroom and candle hats, based on their specific theme, and they will be included into seasonal content, giving players rewards for the season, including mounts, pets, and achievements.
Warbands is an innovative and game-changing new feature that will be introduced with the expansion. With Warbands, the character selection screen has been revamped and will conveniently showcase all your available characters, regardless of the server they belong to. You will be able to effortlessly manage multiple characters across accounts while enjoying a plethora of quality-of-life improvements.
* Banks offer a shared account between characters, meaning that you won't need to mail items anymore.
* Reputations, Achievements, and Renown will be account-wide for all players.
* Flight Paths will be linked across accounts, meaning you'll only have to unlock paths once, saving time.
* Universal Transmog across your warband will become available, meaning one character can unlock a Plate item, and another can transmog them.
New hero talents for each class specialization will allow players to progress characters with “evergreen self-contained talent trees that also infuse class fantasy flavor” inspired by iconic Warcraft universe archetypes. These will be in addition to current talent trees, and include three trees per class—two small trees per specialization that you can switch between. This system will auto unlock at level 71, with players receiving a new talent point at each level. Once players reach level 80, the whole tree will unlock. The goal is for hero talent trees to be “low friction,” with the ability to swap between choices and trees easily, in a vein similar to that for Dragonflight talents.
The following are the names of the hero talents that players will be able to choose from:
* Death Knight: Deathbringer, Rider of the Apocalypse, San'layn
* Demon Hunter: Aldrachi Reaver, Fel-Scarred
* Druid: Druid of the Claw, Elune's Chosen, Keeper of the Grove, Wildstalker
* Evoker: Chronowarden, Ruby Adept, Scalecommander
* Hunter: Dark Ranger, Pack Leader, Sentinel
* Mage: Frostfire, Spellslinger, Sunfury
* Monk: Conduit of the Celestials, Master of Harmony, Shado-Pan
* Paladin: Herald of the Sun, Lightsmith, Templar
* Priest: Archon, Oracle, Voidweaver
* Rogue: Deathstalker, Fatebound, Trickster
* Shaman: Farseer, Stormbringer, Totemic
* Warlock: Diabolist, Hellcaller, Soul Harvester
* Warrior: Colossus, Mountain Thane, Slayer
New playable allied race: Earthen dwarves
Earthen dwarves are a new allied race coming to The War Within that exist as three estranged groups: Oathsworn, Unbound, and Machine Speakers. Members of this titan-forged race are made of living stone imbued with the essence of Azeroth’s worldsoul. As players progress through the main campaign, they’ll meet the Earthen that have made the Isle of Dorn and the zones beneath it their home. Earthen will be available to both Alliance and Horde players and can be played as the following classes: Death Knight, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior. Leveling an Earthen toon will also unlock the new Earthen Heritage Armor.
New “dynamic flying” update
The Dragonflight mechanics have undergone a transformation in The War Within and are now called dynamic flying, which will be available from the beginning of the expansion, with the to-be-confirmed style unlockable at max level when the campaign is completed. This exciting update has been applied retrospectively to all existing flying mounts, resulting in a more thrilling and momentum-driven flight experience compared to the traditional classic/static flight initially introduced in The Burning Crusade. You will also be able to toggle between dynamic flight or the traditional flying style.
What is the WoW: The War Within release date?
A release date for The War Within has not yet been confirmed, but judging by the small print on the prepurchase page on the official website, you can expect it to arrive in fall 2024. This ties in with the timeline of previous expansions, which generally run for around two years; Dragonflight was released at the end of November 2022, so we can expect The War Within to be out sometime between October and December 2024.
For more awesome games, make sure to check out the lineup of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft Owns 13 Video Game Franchises Worth Over $1 Billion Each
Microsoft's recent eye-popping $68.7 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard catapults it to the forefront of gaming with 13 AAA franchises, each with billion-dollar revenues. This move propels Microsoft to the third largest gaming company by revenue, trailing only Sony and Tencent.
Rewind to 2014, when Microsoft shelled out $2.5 billion to bring Minecraft into its fold. That was just the start. From there, it's been a relentless expansion, amassing a war chest of 24 gaming studios including ZeniMax. The result? A beefed-up Xbox Game Pass library that pulls in over 25 million subscribers.
And with the Activision Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft's making a statement. "We will have 13 billion dollar-plus franchises – from Candy Crush, Diablo, and Halo, to Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, and Gears of War," says Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.
With Microsoft's gaming realm expanding at warp speed, it's a maze keeping up. So, here's the rundown of the billion-dollar heavy-hitters they've now got under their belt.
1. Age of Empires
Age of Empires is a monumental journey through history, a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) series that has captivated gamers for over 25 years. The franchise has expanded to a dozen titles, selling over 25 million copies worldwide.
Debuting in 1997, the original Age of Empires lets you command one of 12 civilizations, guiding them from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Your mission? To grow a simple settlement into a formidable empire. You must strategically manage resources, expand your cultural influence, and engage in military strikes.
The game's allure lies in its blend of strategy and history. Countless gamers have commanded legions, built empires, and crafted historical narratives. It's a tribute to our past, a strategic challenge, and a testament to how games can make history come alive.
2. Call of Duty
Call of Duty has outsold even the famed Grand Theft Auto series. As of 2023, this AAA franchise is valued at an incredible $31 billion, with nearly 450 million units sold.
Each Call of Duty release is a global event, drawing millions of gamers. Known for its immersive FPS action, you dive into all kinds of warfare – from historical battles to modern skirmishes and even futuristic combat.
Its success lies in its ability to continuously reinvent and elevate the FPS genre. Every installment brings innovative gameplay, gripping narratives, and a multiplayer experience that's often imitated but never replicated.
Diablo is a dark fantasy RPG series where you delve into hell's depths, maiming creatures before escaping with loot. Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, it's a saga of action, role-playing, and hack-and-slash that has captivated gamers since 1997.
Set in the brooding world of Sanctuary, players battle demons, including the notorious Diablo, across various realms like the High Heavens and Burning Hells. The series, spanning four core games, has become a cultural titan in gaming, inspiring books, comics, and a rich expanded universe.
As of 2023, Diablo has sold nearly 100 million copies globally. The latest, Diablo IV, made a hellish impact, raking in $666 million in just five days. Diablo's legacy continues to define the action RPG genre, with millions drawn to its dark allure.
Microsoft's 2020 acquisition of ZeniMax Media brought an unexpected prize: the Fallout series. Unleashed by Tim Cain at Interplay Entertainment, Fallout is a post-apocalyptic RPG juggernaut smashing sales records since its 1997 debut. Set in a world where 1950s American culture collides with a nuclear dystopia, it's a masterclass in atompunk retrofuturism. Think atomic age meets doomsday.
Starting with the revolutionary Fallout, the series evolved under Bethesda Softworks, particularly with Fallout 3 in 2008, which revamped the game with immersive 3D graphics and a sprawling open world. In 2015, Fallout 4 smashed $750 million in sales just 24 hours after hitting the shelves.
Fallout's blend of nail-biting survival, deep stories, and a world like a nuclear-blasted echo of our own. It's a mix of intense survival gameplay, rich narrative, and a haunting yet familiar nuclear wasteland, earning its stripes as a billion-dollar franchise.
5. Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator, soaring since '77, predates even Windows! Bruce Artwick's brainchild started as a geeky sim on MS-DOS, evolving into a jaw-dropping, cloud-powered spectacle on Windows and Xbox.
The 2020 edition marked the biggest leap in the franchise’s over 40-year journey. More than 1 million copies sold quickly after its release contributed to the series' impressive total of 22.2 million units. The impact extends beyond the game itself, as Jon Peddie Research (JPR) highlights a remarkable $2.6 billion boost in PC hardware sales linked to the game.
Microsoft Flight Simulator offers a sky's worth of adventure with over 24,000 airports, perfect for gamers and aspiring pilots. With its cutting-edge graphics and a worldwide fanbase hooked on its expansive mods, it's a gaming legend offering an unparalleled virtual flight experience.
Forza, a high-octane racing video game series, roars as a billion-dollar franchise and a jewel in Microsoft's crown. Since its 2005 launch, Forza has revved up immense success, selling over 16 million copies by 2021. It has become the go-to for racing fans on Xbox and Windows, attracting over 14 million unique players.
Crafted by Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games, Forza splits into two adrenaline-fueled series:
* Motorsport: simulation purists
* Horizon: arcade-style racing
With mobile spin-offs like Forza Street and Forza Customs, the brand has expanded beyond traditional gaming platforms, catering to a broader audience. This expansion and stellar sales cement Forza as a top-tier, billion-dollar racing franchise. It's not just racing; it's the cutting-edge of virtual racing experiences.
7. Gears of War
Microsoft acquired Gears of War from Epic Games in 2014. The series has consistently delivered gritty storytelling and visceral combat. Its groundbreaking cover-based combat system has revolutionized third-person shooting mechanics.
The saga began in 2006 with the original Gears of War, centering on Marcus Fenix's fierce battle against the Locust. Over its nine titles, the series has continued to evolve, deepening the conflict, and expanding its universe with each new installment.
More than a game series, it's a culture: DC comic series, novels, and merchandise, all testament to its magnetic pull. It hit the ground running, selling over three million copies within ten weeks of its debut, making it the fastest-selling video game of 2006.
With total sales exceeding 22 million units and revenue surpassing $1 billion, Gears of War is not just a successful game series; it's a billion-dollar franchise and a landmark in the gaming industry.
Halo isn't just a game; it's a sci-fi sensation that changed FPS gaming. Born from the minds at Bungie and now steered by Microsoft's own 343 Industries. It blasted onto the scene in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved. Fast-forward to now, and it's the Xbox's flagship with over 12 killer titles.
Over 70 million Halo games have been snapped up worldwide. You play as Master Chief, a super-soldier taking on the alien Covenant. And it's not just about the solo play. Halo's multiplayer is equally acclaimed.
But Halo's reach goes beyond the console. Its vast cultural impact sparked a whole universe of novels and comics. Even a TV series is on the horizon. Talk about impact. And with a cool $6 billion in the bank, Halo's a mega-hit, a cultural titan in the gaming world.
Minecraft reigns as the top-selling video game, with over 300 million sold and more than 140 million players in August 2021. Snapped up by Microsoft in 2014 for a whopping $2.5 billion, it generated a massive $99.62 million from mobile revenues in 2022 alone.
Minecraft launched in 2011 as a simple game where players could build and explore pixelated worlds. It's a canvas for creativity, offering gameplay including:
* Survival: test your resourcefulness in a dynamic world.
* Creativity: unleash your imagination with unlimited resources.
* Story mode: dive into narrative-driven adventures.
* Dungeons: explore action-packed, dungeon-crawling adventures.
This digital playground, where players shape their own narratives, is a testament to the power of interactive storytelling and community-driven innovation in gaming.
When Blizzard Entertainment unleashed Overwatch in 2016, it redefined team-based combat games. Raking in $1 billion in its 2016 debut year, Overwatch merged cutting-edge gameplay with a roster of diverse characters, each with unique abilities and backstories.
Overwatch's hero-based gameplay encourages teamwork and strategy. It demands players adapt their skills to dynamic combat situations. The cultural footprint of Overwatch stretches far beyond the screen with fan art, cosplay and an animated miniseries. It's sparked a global community where, and hopefully under Microsoft's new leadership the Overwatch League will flourish again.
With Microsoft's acquisition, Overwatch stands on the brink of a new era. This move isn't just a financial transaction; it's a statement about the game's innovation. Overwatch, now a billion-dollar title under one of tech's biggest names, is poised to redefine the gaming landscape.
11. The Elder Scrolls
The Elder Scrolls series is revered in the realm of fantasy RPG with its intricate gameplay and vast, immersive worlds. Its colossal success caught Microsoft's eye, and it acquired ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, the publisher behind The Elder Scrolls. The deal, valued at a whopping $7.5 billion in 2020, underscores the immense value and influence of this best-selling video game franchise.
Starting in 1994 with The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the series continually redefines the RPG genre. Each game invites players into vast narratives and intricately detailed universes.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, released in 2011, achieved over $1 billion in its first month. Skyrim is the 7th best-selling game, selling over 60 million copies. This success reflects the series' blend of immersive storytelling and player-driven adventure.
With Microsoft's backing, The Elder Scrolls is poised for new horizons, promising to uphold its legacy as a beacon of interactive storytelling.
12. World of Warcraft
Since its 2004 inception, World of Warcraft (WoW) has redefined the MMORPG genre and amassed over $10 billion in revenue. Crafted by Blizzard Entertainment, WoW unfolds in the mythical world of Azeroth, captivating a player base of over 100 million registered accounts. Eighteen years on, its magic hasn't faded, with 9 to 10 million active players.
You embark on epic quests, battle legendary beasts, and form alliances, constantly shaping Azeroth's destiny. Whether tackling dungeons, engaging in large-scale PvP battles, or simply exploring its vast landscapes, WoW offers a dynamic, player-evolving experience.
The game's enduring appeal is reflected in its nine major expansions, each widening Azeroth's horizons. Beyond gaming, WoW influences real-world economics and social dynamics, underlining its cultural significance. Continuing its march, WoW consistently leaves a lasting impression on digital culture and entertainment.
13. Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush Saga is a huge mobile game hit and cultural phenomenon. This addictively simple tile-matching game has generated a staggering $20 billion, redefining casual mobile gaming. Microsoft owns it after acquiring Activision Blizzard and its developer, King.
The game shows how simplicity, accessibility, and a freemium model can create a blockbuster in the digital age. At its peak, Candy Crush Saga was pulling in nearly $1 million daily, proving optional in-game purchases equals a goldmine.
With the rise in casual gaming, Candy Crush proves that sometimes the simplest games can lead to the sweetest successes.
Microsoft's gaming dominion
Where digital entertainment is now king, Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard has positioned it as a gaming titan. Each franchise grows Microsoft's gaming empire from the blocky realms of Minecraft to the strategic depths of Age of Empires and the fast-paced battlegrounds of Call of Duty.
Activision Blizzard's exit from being an independent company will have far-reaching consequences across all gaming platforms:
Microsoft's influence now extends beyond mere gameplay. It can scrap, reboot, or reshape our beloved titles and decide what we play. The recent acquisition encapsulates not just games but entire universes and communities, each with rich lore and a dedicated following.
With this vast array of billion-dollar franchises, Microsoft is not just playing games; it's setting the rules for the future of gaming.
What Is an Internet Café, and How Did They Come About?
Ever wondered what an internet café is? An internet café is a business that rents computers to users by the minute or the hour. It began in the 1990s when internet access wasn't just a tap away.
Now, in an age where Wi-Fi flows as freely as water, it's almost quaint to think there was a time when internet access wasn't just a pocket's reach away. If you wanted to ride the information superhighway (the internet's name in the 90s), you'd need to find an Internet Café or Cybercafé. It was a different digital landscape because:
* No Wi-Fi – everyone used cables. Most of us were still on dial-up internet connection.
* No laptops – computers were bulky behemoths anchored to desks.
* No smartphones – your phone was just a dial-up and the internet? Not a chance.
Believe it or not, in 1993, the speediest modem chugged along at 14.4 kbps or 51.84Mb per hour. Downloading a single photo? Grab a coffee while you wait—it was a few minutes of your life.
Fast fact: Even in 2019, the United States Census Bureau reported a quirky stat—about 265,000 Americans still use dial-up.
After reminiscing about those early days of modem melodies, let's rewind the tape and dive into the birth of internet cafés—where it all began.
The desktop dilemma: When portability wasn't in the dictionary
Today, it's all about instant gratification! But, flashback to the mid-'90s and early 2000s: computers were as stationary as a vending machine. If you were outside but needed to tap into the digital world, you were out of luck. Your desktop at home or the office was your only portal to the burgeoning internet.
The solution? The iconic internet café. A place where you could drink coffee or a soda while replying to emails, 'surf the net,' or write a report. This was the era's hot ticket for prototype digital nomads—because, honestly, the alternative was waiting for a turn at a friend's place or counting the hours until you could reunite with your bulky PC.
What was a typical internet café like?
Internet cafés of this era focused more on computers than the café side. A room would contain rows of up to 20 desktop computers linked to dodgy printers that usually left streaks on the pages.
You'd pay upfront for a slice of time—15 minutes for a quick email check or an hour for a deep dive into work. A countdown timer kept track of your minutes, and when time was up, so was your session—unless you were ready to invest in more minutes.
And overseeing this tech sanctuary? Usually, just one person multitasking as a cashier, tech support, and the keeper of refreshments and snacks. Simple, yet it was everything we needed.
The new millennium: Internet cafés hit refresh
Fast-forward to 1996, a pivotal year when Australia invented Wi-Fi. Suddenly, the internet wasn't chained to our desks anymore. Meanwhile, tech wizards were crafting laptops you could carry. Cell phones made their mark with Nokia unveiling the first mobile phone in Finland that could peek into the internet—yeah, the web was going mobile.
As the 2000s rolled in, mobile broadband (3G) and prepaid internet cards allowed people to access the internet almost anywhere. Free Wi-Fi became common in hotels and airports. Internet access was popping up everywhere, with no minute-by-minute fees attached.
But this new era of ubiquitous connectivity? It hit internet cafés hard. The once-bustling hubs where you'd pay for precious online time started declining as the internet escaped the confines of cafés and spread into the wild. Internet café owners had to develop ideas beyond email and the World Wide Web to stay competitive in the evolving tech landscape.
Game on: The evolution of cyber cafés
Gaming's always been about community, long before our screens lit up with Facebook. Coin-op arcades were the original hangouts, buzzing with the beeps and chimes of high scores and shared fun.
When the internet hit the scene, it supercharged gaming. Now, we weren't just playing; we were connecting—globally, in real-time. Multiplayer games changed the game. Internet cafés became the go-to spots for digital duels and global tournaments, turning solitary gaming into a shared, competitive quest.
LAN (Local Area Network) gaming brought a whole new dimension to cyber cafés. Rows of PCs are connected not just by cables but by the excitement of players sitting shoulder to shoulder. These LAN parties transformed internet cafés into buzzing gaming arenas. Players would gather to dive into intense, real-time battles, bringing their own rigs or using the café's systems.
Over 650 LAN centers across the US became the epicenters of this phenomenon, offering a unique blend of virtual competition and real-world camaraderie. In these hubs, gamers found their tribe, competing in popular titles, strategizing face-to-face, and celebrating victories together.
The digital arena grew beyond casual play; it became a competitive sport. Gamers didn't just want to play; they wanted to compete, rank, and be recognized. Internet cafés, with their rows of computers, became the battlegrounds for these virtual tournaments, fostering a new culture of gaming that was about camaraderie, competition, and connection.
What does a typical internet or gaming café look like today?
To run a prime gaming café today it's not just about having computers. You need:
* Top-notch PCs for unparalleled gameplay.
* Crystal-clear monitors that make pixels come to life.
* Responsive keyboards for split-second action.
* Ergonomic chairs for enduring comfort.
* Lightning-fast internet to keep lag at bay.
* Dynamic lighting to set the gaming mood.
* A lineup of epic games to satisfy any genre enthusiast.
It all costs a lot of money. But for those who nail the trifecta of gaming, business, and location? The odds are in their favor.
The gaming world has exploded, with nearly 2 billion mobile gamers sparking up screens worldwide, as reported by Statista. The pandemic turned scores of folks into gamers, and while some have put down the controllers post-lockdown, the scene's still buzzing.
Not everyone's gaming at home. In buzzing cityscapes, like those in South Korea, internet or gaming cafés are the retreats for those who live in close quarters. They're a smart move for business owners, too—lower overheads and a keen understanding of local demand can spell success.
But it's not all about the spontaneous game craving. To really thrive, café owners craft communities. They're the architects of events, the hosts of tournaments, and the organizers of parties. Memberships with perks, discounts, and leagues are the bait that hooks the regulars and keeps them returning for more.
What is the internet café/gaming café in the US like?
Navigating the landscape of US gaming and internet cafés? It's like diving into a patchwork of unique spots, each tailored to the local vibe and gamer preferences. It's not just about esports, where pros and joysticks joust in digital arenas—though it's got its champions.
The real scoop, courtesy of gg Circuit's insights on 900 active gaming centers: esports is the tip of the iceberg, with just 15% diving into competitive play. Hardcore gamers? They're likely at home, dialed into their personal high-spec setups. So, using an internet café is less likely where they would want to be.
But zoom out to the bigger picture, and it's clear—gaming's a universal language. 81.9% of players will play on any device, with smartphones clinching the most popular gaming device. With the rise of cloud gaming, gaming café could be perfect with their high-speed internet.
The gaming café owner often aims at the casual crowd. Those seeking connection over competition, lacking that lightning-speed internet or the latest releases at home, or just groups of friends having fun together.
Not all gaming cafés are running the latest competitive video games. Old-school board games can attract many folks who are not into high-action games, and retro arcade games still pull people into internet cafés. As for the munchies? Think niche—craft beers, specialty snacks—that sometimes steal the spotlight, making the gaming almost an encore to the main act.
Should you go to a gaming café?
Ever thought about hitting up a gaming café? It's more social than gaming. A spot where you can dive into your favorite games, solo and with a crew. It's the live reactions—laughs, gasps, and banter—that make it way more epic than any headset chat.
Into board games? Then there's no place better. With the slower pace, chatting between turns is natural and a perfect way to get to know people or to make friends.
Gaming cafés offer more than screens and controllers—they're a space to relax, connect, and play. So, ready to join the game?
Smart play: Gaming café safety tips
When planning to hit up a gaming or internet café, here's your quick checklist for a secure and enjoyable visit:
* Location Check: Make sure the café is in a safe neighborhood.
* Personal Belongings: Keep your essentials—wallet, phone, keys— in your pocket or a bag between your feet.
* Account Safety: Avoid logging into your primary gaming accounts that may contain personal information or payment details on public computers. If necessary, use two-factor authentication and change your passwords afterward.
* Downloads: Avoid downloading and installing games or software from unfamiliar sources on gaming cafe computers. Only download from trusted sources and, if necessary, bring your own game files on a USB drive.
* Session Sign-off: Always log out of the computer after playing.
* Privacy Protection: Be cautious about sharing any personal details with fellow gamers.
* Gear Guarding: If you bring gaming gear, don't leave them unattended.
* Virus Check: Always virus-check your USB when you return home.
With these pointers in mind, you're set for a secure session of gaming fun!
From the '90s internet café dial-up sounds to the exhilarating shouts of victory in today's gaming lounges, we've seen an incredible evolution. These spaces have adapted, survived, and thrived, inviting each of us to be part of the ongoing story. So why not drop by a gaming café? It's a portal to our past and a nod to our ever-connected future.
What is Mesh Wi-Fi? How Does it Work?
Imagine your Wi-Fi as a net that covers your entire house. That's mesh Wi-Fi: a strong signal that follows you from the kitchen to the bedroom. Say goodbye to frustrating dead zones and the hassle of switching networks. With mesh, one seamless Wi-Fi network follows you from room to room.
What is mesh Wi-Fi?
A mesh Wi-Fi is a whole home Wi-Fi system that eliminates dead zones and gives you a strong connection throughout your house or office. This extensive mesh network blankets your home with consistent wireless signals.
Mesh's beauty lies in its simplicity. Instead of hopping between networks, you stay on a single, unified Wi-Fi network. It's ideal for large spaces where regular routers' connectivity fails.
Mesh Wi-Fi vs. regular router: What's the difference?
A standard Wi-Fi router provides Wi-Fi from one central location. If you move too far away, the signal weakens. It's that simple. This router connects your devices to the internet, sending data to wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) devices.
Obstacles like walls and distances can weaken your Wi-Fi signal. Mesh Wi-Fi solves this. It uses multiple units—or nodes—to extend coverage. This network of nodes acts like a team, passing the signal from one to another to cover more ground.
How mesh enhances Wi-Fi reach
Here's how it stacks up: your primary mesh router connects to your modem, serving as the main gateway for internet access. Other nodes are placed strategically around your space. They act as satellites, rebroadcasting the signal and expanding your Wi-Fi coverage.
The perks of a shared network
With Mesh Wi-Fi's shared network, devices automatically stay connected to the strongest signal without logging in to a new network. No manual switching is needed.
This eliminates the need to switch connections as you would with traditional extenders, providing a quality, seamless online experience throughout your home or office.
A mesh network will be a game changer if your single router Wi-Fi signals are too weak to reach all corners of your home.
How does mesh Wi-Fi work?
This system is all about coverage and consistency. You have a team of identical mesh routers working together to create an extensive, seamless, high-speed network. Each mesh router, or node, links to the other, creating a web of connectivity that covers every room, corridor, and closet.
A seamless connection
Imagine your home is a soccer field. The mesh routers are players, making perfect passes —your Wi-Fi signal—to each other. No drops, just smooth transfers. Your connected devices are seamlessly handed off to the router with the strongest Wi-Fi signal. Expanding your coverage? Just bring in another router. It's all plug-and-play.
Smart and resilient
And what happens if a node gets blocked or goes down? Mesh Wi-Fi automatically reroutes data, bypassing trouble spots with self-healing connectivity to keep you online.
So, given its adaptability, you might wonder if mesh Wi-Fi fits your home environment. Let's find out.
Do I need a mesh Wi-Fi network? Assessing your home connectivity.
If your current Wi-Fi network can't reach every corner of your home, you might consider switching. It's particularly effective if your home is:
* Expansive, more than 2,300 square feet.
* You live in a multi-level or split-level property.
* You have walls that block signals.
Standard routers struggle with thick walls or floors made from brick or concrete. In a multi-story home, dead zones become common. A mesh system places multiple nodes to extend your Wi-Fi coverage evenly, banishing dead zones and ensuring a consistent signal in every room.
So, if your signal drops in the bedroom upstairs or the office in the back, a mesh system can help maintain a strong connection in every space. Plus, mesh routers also offer easy remote management for smart home features. If a single router doesn't cut it, mesh Wi-Fi could be your next step.
Top 5 advantages of mesh Wi-Fi systems.
1. Simplified control
Manage your home network with ease using a smartphone app. No need for a computer setup – control everything from anywhere - scan Wi-Fi speed, test connectivity quality, cut off access to specific networks, and connect to smart home devices.
2. Seamless single network with no lag
Navigate your space seamlessly, as mesh Wi-Fi provides a unified network, unlike extenders that require separate connections. Mesh Wi-Fi minimizes lag by broadcasting the same signal, ensuring your device doesn't need to route requests through multiple networks.
3. Automatic security.
Stay secure with less effort. Mesh systems often automatically check for and install firmware updates, keeping your network safe without extra steps.
4. Complete coverage.
Enjoy strong Wi-Fi in every room. Mesh means no more dead spots anywhere in your space. Decentralizing the network frees up resources and optimizes the Wi-Fi connectivity of all your devices.
Adjusting your coverage is hassle-free. Just move a node to expand your signal to a new area. Devices in proximity automatically sync, providing a stable and consistent connection. This flexibility allows you to tailor your network to your space without extra gear or complex setups.
5. Smart connections.
Your devices always connect to the strongest signal for the best experience as you roam about your home. Families will find this helpful, especially if your kids like to play online video games in different rooms.
Mesh Wi-Fi is easy to set up, expands to fit your space, and ensures a smooth online experience, making it ideal for homes with multiple connected devices.
Top Disadvantages of Mesh Wi-Fi Systems.
The drawbacks of mesh Wi-Fi systems can be narrowed down to four key points:
Mesh Wi-Fi systems can be expensive. An initial setup with two nodes might set you back $200 or more, with each extra satellite costing up to $100 to $600 each. Traditional routers and range extenders are significantly cheaper.
2. Overkill for small spaces
For modest-sized homes or spaces, a mesh network might be excessive. Standard solutions could suffice — think range extenders, central placement of routers, or a traditional router upgrade for those few annoying dead zones.
3. Additional hardware
To optimize a mesh network, you may need several nodes spread out in your home, which means finding space for more equipment. This might clash with a preference for fewer devices and a more minimalist setup.
4. Latency and complexities
Data hopping — the process where data jumps from one node to another to find the best path — can introduce latency and complicate your network. The more nodes you have, the more potential for increased latency and complexity.
Mesh networks excel in coverage and strength. But they're an investment, ideal for spacious homes needing fast, reliable Wi-Fi. The Acer Connect Vero W6m could be the perfect match for such needs.
Acer Connect Vero W6m: Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router
The Acer Connect Vero W6m is not just a router; it's a commitment to eco-friendliness. Built with recycled materials, it boasts Wi-Fi 6E technology, ensuring your internet speeds soar up to 7.8 Gbps without putting a strain on the planet.
Efficient and Earth-friendly
With a case crafted from 30% post-consumer recycled plastics and 100% recyclable packaging, the Vero W6m marries high-end design with sustainability.
Intelligent power management
Embrace the Eco-Mode. This feature smartly minimizes energy use while keeping your devices connected, optimizing how and when they sync up with your network.
Safety meets performance
Meet the Acer Connect Vero W6m — a mesh router that not only delivers swift internet across a range of up to 700 sqm but also adheres to stringent cyber security protocols for secure surfing.
Prioritize what matters
The router's Hybrid Quality of Service feature smartly juggles your network traffic, ensuring your critical apps and websites get VIP treatment for a smoother online experience.
Expansive coverage, optimal performance
Whether in a cozy studio or a spacious three-story house, the Vero W6m adapts. Expand your network seamlessly and connect up to four units for blanket coverage and uninterrupted internet.
* Wi-Fi 6E Tri-Band for up to 7.8 Gbps speeds.
* Eco-conscious design with 30% PCR casing.
* Eco-Mode for smart energy savings.
* Quad-core processor and 1GB DDR4 memory for robust performance.
* Comprehensive coverage with support for up to 4 units.
For a more connected and eco-aware home, the Acer Connect Vero W6m is the tech-savvy and environmentally responsible choice.
Dive into a world where every video call is crystal clear, and every streaming session is uninterrupted. Mesh Wi-Fi paves the way for flawless connectivity in every room. With the Acer Connect Vero W6m leading the charge, dead zones become a thing of the past. Its connectivity transformed.
How to Reskill and Upskill Employees in the Age of AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work as we know it — and fast. New machines and technology can now take over an increasing number of monotonous manual tasks traditionally done by human workers. AI is also increasingly able to handle knowledge-based work like coding, writing, and research. which was long regarded as safe from such disruption. As these shifts continue to cause shockwaves throughout workforces, reskilling employees is no longer a choice — it is a necessity.
What is upskilling and reskilling?
Various companies are already investing in upskilling their workers to adapt to the digital age. In fact, a recent study showed that these investments account for up to 1.5% of an organization’s total budget. However, upskilling alone may not be enough to shield workers from the impact of AI.
The US Chamber of Commerce defines upskilling as teaching employees new information and skills required to help them improve their current job performance. This helps them adapt to change while teaching them how to do their job more efficiently. Upskilling also helps employees understand modern techniques and creates specialized workers. For example, marketing professionals can learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to remain competitive in their field.
On the other hand, reskilling refers to learning new skills required to start a new job or function. Reskilling also lets organizations retain important employees even if their department is no longer required. Some skills may overlap, however, workers must acquire new skills to get ahead. For example, employees could earn a degree or certification in a different field.
How has AI changed job roles and which new skills are required?
It is estimated that 70% of companies will have embraced AI and adopted at least one AI-powered technology by 2030. AI is already enhancing existing jobs by removing human errors and improving precision in quality control and data analysis tasks. For example, using AI-assisted healthcare can help professionals make more accurate diagnoses and improve patient outcomes.
Despite this, it is estimated that advancements in AI technology could mean some of the skills learned in college or university will soon be obsolete. As AI evolves, the need for human skills like critical thinking and problem-solving will increase, and we will likely see demand for a whole new skill set.
Aligning employee skills with evolving industry needs
Employers should encourage employees to align their current skills with evolving industry needs. Not only does this enhance their competitiveness, but also that of the company. Employees with the skills required to face industry changes are vital to overcoming potential challenges and market shifts. It can also help companies better serve customers in the digital age.
What skills do employees need in the age of AI?
Generation Z and beyond are digital natives who have been brought up around technology. They learn essential computer skills like coding and how to use AI from a young age, which they take with them into the workforce. This means they are automatically far ahead of older colleagues when it comes to using and understanding modern technology thanks to their environment and a more refined and customized education process. Older generations must be adaptable and learn new skills to remain competitive in the job market. Luckily, Acer TravelMate P Series laptops seamlessly support AI-assisted solutions like Microsoft 365 Copilot and Teams to help ease the transition into using AI.
Alongside technical skills and data literacy, employees should consider the tasks that robots or computers cannot do well. For example, skills like creativity are difficult for technology to mimic without sounding robotic, which is where human emotions and our ability to invent, imagine, and dream come in. Critical thinking is crucial as we can analyze the pros and cons and imagine real-life outcomes better than machines. Humans can also solve complex problems through logic and reasoning and consider how certain decisions impact other humans.
Machines have little or no emotional intelligence and cannot empathize with others’ feelings. Although machine learning helps AI-powered chatbots improve their responses, they will never be able to understand and value real human connections as we do. Humans communicate through body language and other mannerisms that are hard for machines to replicate. Therefore, improving interpersonal skills is also beneficial for workers looking to adapt to current industry conditions.
How to reskill and upskill employees
With rapidly evolving AI and technological advances, it can be challenging for managers to know where to begin reskilling and upskilling employees. Instead of resisting change, it is beneficial for companies to lean into and embrace it. Here are some tips to help do just that.
Step 1: Determine which skills need more focus
Identifying bottlenecks or issues that impact the flow of internal operations provides valuable insight into skill gaps. Doing so helps allocate resources and investments to the departments and areas that need them most. Moreover, managers should assess company goals and train employees to reflect them.
Step 2: Create a list of reskilling criteria
Managers should take time to analyze the company’s future and what they aim to achieve for survival and growth. Assessing current performance, future goals, and objectives while considering current workforce capabilities can provide valuable insight into reskilling criteria.
Step 3: Identify individual employee skill gaps
Employees should be free to decide which career development opportunities are important to them. Initiating open discussions about their career and life goals may provide food for thought regarding skill gaps. By asking the right questions, communicating clearly, and providing steps toward growth, managers can help employees reskill and protect themselves from industry changes.
Step 4: Select a training style for reskilling and upskilling workers
People learn in different ways, and managers should offer reskilling and upskilling opportunities to reflect this. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, offering a range of training methods like presentations, hands-on workshops, simulations or games, or instructor-led courses may be more suitable. This approach also empowers employees to make their own decisions about their learning, helping them feel supported in their progress. Offering rewards or recognition for upskilling or reskilling efforts may also motivate employees to participate.
Step 5: Discuss reskilling and upskilling with employees
Talks of global job cuts and AI taking over roles can be scary for employees. Managers should reassure workers and help them navigate these uncertain times by offering support. By discussing reskilling and upskilling opportunities, managers can reach out to employees and listen to their concerns. It will also help employers decide which kind of training opportunities are most suited to their workforce.
Step 6: Develop a reskilling and upskilling program
Developing and implementing a reskilling and upskilling program should be beneficial and empower employees. Once training courses are over, managers should collect feedback to ensure it reaches the intended learning outcomes. Moreover, managers should understand that reskilling and upskilling is a journey, not a destination. Courses and training content should be refined and redefined as technology develops and employees become more skilled. This also helps create a resilient workforce that does not waver when faced with change.
Upskilling involves teaching employees new skills to advance in their current role, whereas reskilling prepares them for a new role. As technology advances, so should workforce skills, and both upskilling and reskilling are crucial for navigating AI transformations. Employers can support the transition by encouraging employees to learn new digital skills to keep competitive in the workplace. Bosses should identify areas for improvement and implement a strategy designed to upskill or reskill their workforce. Doing so will be beneficial as technology continues to improve, and devices like Acer TravelMate P Series laptops, packed with AI-assisted productivity features, that companies would desire and enable their employees to navigate and excel in this new AI-focused era right away.
How to Master Prompt Engineering
The dust has settled somewhat since Artificial Intelligence (AI) became widely accessible to humanity through our laptops and smartphones at the end of 2022. Since then, the use of generative AI has steadily grown in popularity and is now applied to constantly evolving applications across many industries. Since the initial novelty/shock of using AI has worn off, learning how to effectively use the diverse AI platforms available can help you make the most of all that AI has to offer to your business.
Large Language Model (LLM) platforms such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4 ) are designed to understand human-generated text input and respond accordingly, often in a conversational manner, using natural-sounding language. Trained on huge amounts of internet text, AI language models use deep learning techniques as well as neural networks to respond to our requests with generally coherent, relevant, and correct responses.
Have you ever dutifully typed a request into the input field and clicked send, only to receive a confusing, biased, or even incorrect answer? If so, you’re not alone! The good news is there is a simple, effective way to ensure that you get the best responses possible from whatever AI platform you choose to use: prompt engineering. In this article we introduce the fast-growing field of prompt engineering and then discuss several key techniques needed to master it, providing a variety of examples along the way.
What is prompt engineering?
Before we get into the finer details of our prompt engineering guide, let’s first get a better idea of what it really is. In the context of AI models, a prompt is a query that you type into the text input box to request information or content generation from the AI model. Human language and ways of speaking, writing, and expressing our thoughts and queries vary greatly, even within the same language. Unsurprisingly, our prompts also vary greatly, and while originality and self-expression are generally well-received characteristics in the human environment, our AI pals may not get the joke or the prompt! If the AI model fails to fully understand your prompt, the response it provides will likely lack understanding and be of little use to you. Quality and clarity are both desirable traits: by providing clear instructions and context, the AI model will be able to understand the user’s requirements and provide an accurate, relevant reply.
In conversation with other humans, we may carefully choose the right words in order to achieve the desired response and outcome. Similarly, prompt engineering is the skill of creating specific instructions and queries to get the best responses from the AI model. A vital skill for anyone working with AI models, effective prompt engineering empowers the user, ensuring that the AI model produces desired outputs. The right results can help your organization reap the fruits of the AI model’s labor, from effective content creation to task automation, and even improved productivity.
AI assistants are also increasingly common. Microsoft Copilot, now available in the latest version of Windows 11 and Microsoft 365 business and enterprise version, is a powerful AI assistant for your device. Bing Chat is another free service from Microsoft, providing users with an AI-powered assistant to help browse the web and more. As AI assistants become more integrated into our daily tech, hardware manufacturers are also stepping up their game. Acer’s TravelMate P laptops feature high-quality dual microphones optimized with Acer PurifiedVoice’s AI-powered noise‑reduction to enhance your AI assistant user experience.
Prompt engineering is crucial in the context of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI models like GPT-4 because NLP models lack inbuilt contextual awareness. By engineering prompts, we can guide the AI model to the applicable context, ensuring that it produces appropriate outputs. In addition to context, prompt engineering also allows users to adapt the AI model to specific tasks, in turn improving the overall performance. Furthermore, prompts that specifically guide/constrain the AI model’s output behavior can help to avoid biased and incorrect output. Read on to discover a raft of prompt engineering tips.
How to Master Prompt Engineering
1. Know the model’s strengths and weaknesses
There are many generative AI models out there in 2023 with increasingly specialized functions. These models all have strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can assist you greatly in using different AI models to generate the most reliable outputs. AI models are fundamentally limited by the datasets they were trained on, and may express bias learned from real-world data. Be aware of limitations and biases and craft effective prompts for individual AI models accordingly.
Prompt engineers are well versed in the strengths and weaknesses of the various AI models floating around. As laypeople, we can learn from the masters, and from our own experiences using different AI models. While ChatGPT-3.5 is a free, highly popular platform, the knowledge of the model is based on information available until September 2021, and it lacks access to updates and developments beyond this date. Text-to-image generator DALL-E helps users create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. But don’t overcomplicate your instructions! Provide an instruction that is too complicated or too abstract, and it might yield an abomination of a painting. If you prompt “Painting of cat in the style of Picasso, ” it will definitely know what to do.
2. Be specific!
Being clear and specific in our verbal and written communications is a good habit to foster in our prompts with AI models too. AI models are trained to understand a great range of natural language prompts in various languages, and even programming codes. If our prompts are not specific enough, they may be misinterpreted, leading to incorrect or irrelevant output. Imagine for a minute that you want to prompt your AI model to calculate the amount of standard 14cm wide, 3.6m long ACQ treated boards needed to cover a 3.6m by 4.2m deck. If you prompt “How much wood for a 3.6m by 4.2m deck?” the AI will likely present you with further considerations and questions in order to make the calculation. If, however, you prompt “How many standard 14cm wide, 3.6m long ACQ treated boards are needed to cover a 3.6m by 4.2m deck frame, including 5mm spacing between each board?” You would receive an output outlining the calculation, along with a suggestion of approximately 30 boards.
3. Create a persona
Asking the AI model to adopt a persona, whether that be a specific historical figure, a work persona, or even simply prompting “Add a relevant joke at the end of every second paragraph,” can help you to explore diverse outputs. Experimenting with various personas and prompts to guide the model will help you to obtain the output you require. For example, if you are using the AI model to write an FAQ section for your company website, you may find that the responses churned out are a bit too vague or even a bit terse. Tell the model that you would like it to be a kind and helpful customer service representative. Setting up a scenario and guiding the mood of the response will yield a more accurate response.
4. Experiment with prompt formats
When interacting with AI models, most people tend to input questions, but did you know you can also input a transcript or context for the model to give you the answer in a format that you want? For example, if you want to learn about the Jacobite uprising of the 1700s, but only want to learn about it through songs, you could tell the model to “Answer only in the form of Scottish folk songs and war ballads.” You can also ask the model “Do you understand?” to make sure it understands your instructions. Repeatedly checking if the model understands will lessen the likelihood of false answers. Refining or tuning your prompts will help to ensure that the model gains a better understanding of the format, style and structure of output that you require. Helpful tip: make sure the model only uses factual evidence and cites sources, otherwise you might end up with some pretty wacky revisionist history! Ask the model to “Cite your source” to check that it hasn’t fabricated anything!
5. Provide reference text
A pitfall of AI models is their ability to confidently provide incorrect answers, notably when questioned about lesser-known topics, as well as for citations. Providing examples such as reference texts can help guide the model to understand your needs. Alternatively, prompting the model to answer using a reference text or to answer with citations from a reference text can help to create less fabrications.
Let’s return to our Scottish history example to illustrate this approach. If you find that the model is not yielding the results of the Jacobite uprising in the ballad format that you desire, you can input “Johnny Cope” and tell the model, “Answer me with a similar type of ballad.” (“Do not make anything up” would also be a good prompt to add here.) Remember, your prompts are instructions for the model to follow, and its replies will align with your requests in style, content and language.
6. Split complex tasks into simpler subtasks
When it comes to handling complicated tasks, the more complex a task, the more errors there are likely to be. Splitting these complex tasks into smaller, simpler subtasks has several benefits. Firstly, chain-of-thought prompting helps improve the reasoning capabilities of AI models. By simplifying a complex problem into smaller subtasks, then prompting the model to output reasoning for each step, the output of earlier tasks is used to construct the input of later tasks. In this manner, the AI model gains a better understanding of the problem, and will be able to provide more useful, concise answers. Instructions can be specific, or simply something along the lines of “Let’s think step by step.” Summarization of texts longer than the fixed content length, like an entire book, requires this approach. A sequence of queries is necessary, summarizing each section of the book. These summaries can then be combined to make larger summaries, and repeated until the entire book is summarized.
7. Control output format and length
Specify the format and length of your desired output. This can be as simple as setting a word limit, or more specific such as designating output formats like plain text, HTML, JSON, or XML. If you were setting up a global cookbook recommendation website and required JSON format to integrate into the backend, you could prompt: “Provide me with a list of 5 English language Korean cookbooks in JSON format.” For AI-assisted creative and other writing endeavors, providing clear structural prompts is a surefire way to guide the AI model to help you to arrive at your goal. For example, when writing summaries, input “Write me a 150-word summary using concise language.” Or, if you are writing a script set in Shakespearean times, you might say “Write me a 500-word soliloquy in iambic pentameter using the expressive language of a forlorn lover.” You might then decide that’s way too long. “Summarize this in 200 words or less” you can then input. In order to yield the best results, always focus on positive instructions. Tell the model what to do, not what not to do, because this avoids confusion and augments the model’s ability to generate the required output.
8. Use GPT plugins
As the most widely used of the LLMs, we have mentioned ChatGPT several times in this article. After setting up a free account and logging in, there is no limit to the volume of questions that users can ask. At time of writing, the free-use ChatGPT uses GPT3.5 architecture. If you are willing to pay a subscription fee, ChatGPT Plus has many benefits, namely the ability to use plugins. Plugins are add-ons that add accuracy and practicality to your searches by incorporating third-party websites, providing real-time outputs. While many of the plugins available today are still beta quality, when used correctly, they can greatly enhance your efficiency. Some are free while others feature tiered pricing, so have a browse to decide which plugins will enhance your ChatGPT experience. From eliminating unnecessary workflows to language learning and even job searching, let ChatGPT plugins revolutionize the way you access data.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey into the realm of prompt engineering. Now you have a better grasp of prompt design, hopefully you are ‘prompted’ to make the most of your interactions with AI LLMs like ChatGPT! By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different models, users can effectively harness the best aspects of each platform, avoiding any pitfalls. Be specific in your prompts and create a persona to guide the model to receive accurate, concise outputs. Providing context ensures better results; experiment with different prompt format styles and provide reference texts for citation to guide the model. Divide and conquer! Splitting complex tasks into simpler subtasks increases efficiency and improves the quality of responses. Let the AI model work for you by setting parameters to control output length and format. Finally, make the most of ChatGPT plugins for industry-specific applications.
Generative AI is here to stay. Take the time to master prompt engineering and benefit from ChatGPT and other AI models. As AI becomes more prevalent in industries worldwide, prompt engineering skills are the key to generating accurate outputs. In the near future, more and more businesses will adopt generative AI to boost productivity in various aspects of their operations. Mastering prompt engineering will help to ensure that your business can make the most of this brave new world of AI-enhanced assistance. Microsoft and Adobe programs will come equipped with their respective AI assistants Microsoft Copilot and Adobe Firefly. AI will continue to grow and evolve, as will the skill of prompt engineering. The journey of AI learning has just begun!
TravelMate P2 14
What is Livestream Shopping?
Who doesn’t love to stroll down Main Street on a warm Saturday afternoon and drop into local, family run stores to purchase the goods they want? With the hustle and bustle of modern life, many people simply don’t have the time to visit places like Sauser’s Hardware, Andover Bookstore, or similar stores in towns across America anymore.
There’s nothing quite like the personal, friendly experience of picking up a product from a wooden shelf in a brick-and-mortar shop, then having a friendly cashier run it through the til and bag it up for you. Truth be told, many of these mom and pop stores that once made up the fabric of America have succumbed to inevitable economics.
How about experiencing the personalized, interactive aspects of “real” shopping from the comfort of your trusty armchair? Meet livestream shopping. This is an online, real-time shopping experience where products are showcased by hosts or influencers. They will also answer your questions and give you the freedom to decide whether to make a purchase directly through a trusted platform?
Also known as live shopping and shopstreaming, this fresh, fun retail trend uses live video streaming to introduce and display products to an online audience. Interested? Read on to discover what live shopping is, and much much more about this exciting new development in e-commerce!
Navigating the e-commerce environment
The internet continues to transform the way we buy and sell goods of all shapes, sizes and values. E-commerce purchases represent nearly a quarter of all retail volume in the US today, a figure that is expected to rise to 33.8% by 2027. Whether you are purchasing big, life changing products such as houses, cars, and vacations, or simply getting hold of everyday products like groceries and clothing, chances are the internet is at the start, if not also the finish of your shopping experience.
From big name brand websites to auction sites, sellers, re-sellers, and everything in between, if you want to buy it, chances are there is someone selling it online!
The internet is truly a shopper’s paradise offering the world’s best, worst, realest, fakest, most expensive and cheapest, available, 24/7, all just a few clicks away. The e-commerce environment is a vast, at times arid environment. But let’s be honest, online shopping experiences may lack personal interaction and the human touch, and can, at times, be anonymous, sterile, and even downright dishonest.
Livestream shopping origins
Livestream shopping is a relatively recent phenomenon that originated in China, and has since gained viral popularity worldwide. Although it might be new to many Western shoppers, livestream shopping started back in 2017 in China. In the early days, smaller businesses used platforms such as Taobao, TikTok, Douyin, and WeChat to announce new stock arrivals and display unique products and features. Everyone from kumquat farmers to mascara companies and car dealerships started to livestream and sell their wares.
From the start, influencers and micro-influencers have been used to generate increased user engagement, by allowing users to interact with hosts through questions and comments during the livestream. Livestream shopping really took off globally during COVID-19 lockdowns. Unable to welcome customers into their shops, retail businesses poured their hearts into live streaming, combining e-commerce, interactivity, entertainment and community. Fast forward to today, and livestream shopping is more popular than ever: China still leads the way with 526 million livestream shoppers in June 2023.
How does livestream shopping work?
If you are an internet user, then livestream shopping should find you! If not, livestream shopping events can be found across most social media platforms, as well as in dedicated livestream shopping apps and e-commerce websites. Livestream shopping events are hosted by influencers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), or brand representatives, and depending on the product they are flogging, will include a range of related goods.
A Chinese livestream shopping event is a lively affair that may appear somewhat chaotic to the untrained eye. The host and a number of assistants introduce a product, while viewers’ comments and questions appear on screen. Along with a wide array of sound effects, marking sales numbers and milestones, many livestream sales feature limited-time-offers, sale countdowns, and discounts for purchasing during a specific time window. Purchases can be made directly while watching the livestream, adding items to shopping carts in the app.
The good, the bad and the ugly
While the impulsive, gamified nature of many livestream shopping events may raise some eyebrows, there are undoubtedly pros as well as cons to livestream shopping:
* Convenient. Shop from the comfort of your own home or on your smartphone while out and about.
* Engaging. Short of visiting a physical store, livestream shopping offers an interactive, engaging experience where potential consumers can ask questions and get immediate responses.
* Expert advice. In a saturated, global market, influencers and KOLs can provide customers with helpful guidance, assisting them in choosing quality products.
* Quality. There have been many cases of bait and switch and other nefarious practices in livestream shopping. Without physically inspecting the goods, there is no guarantee that buyer’s expectations of quality will be met.
* Impulse buying. Akin to the television shopping of days of yore, there is a tendency for consumers to be pushed into purchases that perhaps they do not really need.
* Return, refund, shipping issues and hidden costs. After clicking “buy now”, there may be hidden costs, as well as complications if a product needs to be returned or refunded.
Will livestream shopping catch on in the US?
In China, micro-influencers hold a powerful position in e-commerce and livestream shopping. As well as exciting products and popular influencers, the success of livestream shopping also relies on super apps like WeChat: hybrids of social media and e-commerce, users are automatically integrated into the livestream shopping community as an extension of social media activities.
Livestream shopping is still in its infancy in America, and it is changing the way consumers interact with brands, bridging the gap between online shopping and entertainment. When it comes to livestream sales, different platforms are going in different directions. Retail giant Amazon launched Amazon Live way back in 2016, while Meta recently removed live shopping from Facebook. Livestream shopping has been slow to catch on in the US due to cultural values as well as tech habits. Lack of interactivity and focussing on the seller rather than the customer are other factors slowing growth. That said, new platforms are constantly popping up, including livestream beauty and cosmetic specialist Trendio and Walmart’s very own Talkshoplive. One thing is for sure: the future of shopping will be live streamed!