Star-Twine Campaign Update

If you haven't had the opportunity to play Star-Twine yet, there's no better time than right now. It's a real-time strategy game for PC that combines addictive gameplay with stunning graphics and a compelling soundtrack, and it now has a whole campaign to play through. Sounds fun, right? Check out the trailer:



So what's the game like? People ask me that and I find myself at a loss for words, which is such a rare thing when faced with the task of describing a game. Usually you can compare it to an existing game, as so many games are inspired by others (or just completely copying others). Star-Twine is an innovative new game that simply cannot be likened to other games.

Each level is made up of organic twine-like structures that stretch out across an expanse of outer space. While carefully managing your resources, you must build energy nodes, turrets, black holes, sentinels, and missile launchers to take out the enemy. Easy enough? Not quite. As you work your way through the game, you'll find an increasing need to be careful about your positioning and overall strategy. Button-mashing won't get you too far.

Head over to star-twine.net to get your copy, and follow SpareGameDev on Twitter to keep yourself in the loop. Enjoy!
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Outlook: Missing Envelope Notification Icon on Taskbar

I had an interesting problem the other day when I found that I wasn't getting the little envelope notification icon for new messages in my Windows taskbar. I immediately thought to check my Microsoft Outlook settings but was dismayed to find that the option to show the envelope was already checked off. Something else was causing it to be hidden away.

Sound familiar? Try checking the settings of your taskbar itself, outside of Outlook. In Windows 8, you can do this by clicking the upwards-pointing arrow ('Show hidden icons') on the taskbar next to any unhidden icons and the clock. Next, click 'Customize...'.Now you have a window that will allow you to choose options for any icons you like. Scroll down until you see the envelope icon for Microsoft Outlook, and change the 'Behaviors' drop-down to 'Show icon and notifications'. Click the 'OK' button to close the window and you're all set.
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SCNC 2014 Opening Ceremonies Speech

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to speak to everyone at the opening ceremonies for the Skills Canada National Competition 2014 in Toronto. What an incredible event! Congratulations to everyone who participated and a huge thank you to everyone who supports this wonderful cause.



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Excel: How To Insert a Watermark

Can't figure out how to add a watermark to your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet?

Don't worry, you're not alone. There actually aren't any sort of built-in watermark capabilities in Excel, but there's a handy workaround that lets you fake it. The trick is to put your watermark in as part of a header, and then it will print behind everything on every sheet.

Click the 'View' tab on the ribbon, and then click on the 'Page Layout' button (in the 'Workbook Views' group). Now click at the top of the worksheet where it says 'Click to add header'. Click the 'Design' tab on the ribbon that will now have appeared, in the 'Header and Footer Tools' group.

Next, click the 'Picture' icon. This will open a dialog box that will let you choose a photo to use as your watermark. Once you've selected your photo, you'll see it inserted into the header with the code '&Picture'. Don't worry - it's your photo that will show up in printouts, not this code.

If you want to have your watermark show up a little lower on the page, just insert some spaces before it in the header. Yes, that's a tad on the sloppy side... but this is a bit of a hack. It works! I promise.

Once you've followed all of these steps, you'll be able to see your watermark in this Page Layout view, or when you actually print out the document. It will appear behind everything, just as a normal watermark would.
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Help to Slow Down the Spread of Misinformation

Misinformation spreads across the Internet at breakneck speeds thanks to the ubiquity of social media. Take a quick tour through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and you'll surely be able to find everything from honest mistakes to deliberate lies.

Photo by anieto2k / CC BY
Most people seem to share posts with the best of intentions. Someone see something that's relevant to their interests and decides to share it with other people in their network. Within moments, thousands of other people can be reading the same information and passing it along to an even larger number of people. What if the information is wrong, though?

Unfortunately, many people fail to question the validity of the information they gather online. Instead of looking at content with a critical eye, people will blindly accept what they read as fact and pass it along to others who will eagerly absorb it with the same unquestioning attitude. This goes far beyond relatively benign old wives' tales, however. Here are some examples of popular misinformation from the Internet that have the potential to cause a fair amount of harm:
  • A false advertisement supposedly from Apple that told users that the latest version of the OS would render their devices completely waterproof. According to reports, a number of people fell for this scam and ended up damaging their iPhones. (Read more.)
  • A tip that has been circulating the Internet for years claims that entering your PIN number backwards at an ATM machine will call the police for you. This is unbelievably dangerous misinformation. Imagine if you were in danger and you decided to use this tip instead of actually calling an emergency number? (Read more.)
  • Fake or very outdated reports of missing children and pleas for help in finding them have been spreading across the Internet for many years. This unfortunately can take attention away from legitimate current reports, as well as cause unnecessary grief those families whose children have been found but are being recognized from circulated photos. (Read more.)
These are just a few of the constantly increasing pool of lies that are being shared across the Internet every day. How can you help to stop the spread? Cross-check with reliable sources. Think: Wouldn't Apple have posted about the waterproof update on their own Web site? Wouldn't banks share information about safety features with their customers? Wouldn't the AMBER alert Web site have an identical missing child report? You can also visit snopes.com to look up information about the story you've heard and to find out more about whether or not it's true.
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Screen Clipping Shortcut Key for OneNote After Windows 8.1 Update

After installing the Windows 8.1 update this morning, I was surprised to notice that my familiar Windows + S keyboard shortcut to take a screen clipping in Microsoft OneNote was no longer working. What happened?

In Windows 8.1, Windows + S is a keyboard shortcut that will bring up a Search bar on the side of your screen. If you want to take a screen clipping instead, you'll need to press Windows + Shift + S instead.

Windows + Shift + S
Don't like having to press the extra key? Me neither. Luckily, the OneNote team posted a blog entry here that explains how to set the keyboard shortcut to Windows + A. This is a slightly more advanced process that involves making a registry edit, but you can go ahead and change the shortcut to something else if you know what you're doing. Otherwise, just stick with Windows + Shift + S.
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