Wednesday 31 July 2013

Landline vs Mobile Phones

Being a regular reader we're sure that you know how much of a fan of modern smartphones we are. Since our founding we've used an Xperia Play , a Galaxy S3,iPhone 5 and an Xperia Z as our app and gaming review devices. The love affair with top end Smartphones continues so when asked to review Panasonic's line of home phones we initially baulked , but then strongly began to think about if a dedicated landline phone has a place in our modern smartphone loving times.

Another recent news item rally made us think hard about the need for a landline phone: the collapse of  the NHS 111 semi-emergency number service. Now luckily no family emergency has been bigger than could have been solved by the Web Md app, but if 111 or even it's more medically appropriate big bro 999 would have to be used, could we really rely on our carriers less than adequate signal strength. On a normal day a weak mobile signal, or even none at all, is an irritant, but in an emergency situation such a scenario is unacceptable and unsafe. So if nothing else the security and safety of your family should show you the need to have a landline phone.

Now looking at the DECT Cordless Phones available from Panasonic it's strange that this well known telecommunications company doesn't also turn its hand to superior mobile phones,but never mind...
The Panasonic Landline phones are very elegant and well made instruments and aside from a plethora of communications related features, have a very elegant and well made look to them. They would certainly merit more than a passing glance and actually will lend a great deal of elegance to any home or office.
Experienced electronics wizards that Panasonic are they have certainly come up with a variety of features that make their phones a very attractive prospect. Built in answer machines are of course de rigeur, phone books capable of vast storage and caller I'd are also some of the standard features. Other exotic functions that we are pleased to see are such delights as a built in baby monitor which fits quite nicely with the ability to link multiple phones from the same base station.
Panasonic certainly proves that in this day and age there is very much room for both landline phones and smartphones to lead a peaceful and collaborative co-existence.

Monday 29 July 2013

Earth Defense : Protect the Earth

       Use your smartphone or tablet to protect the planet. By tapping on space debris you can destroy them before they reach your home world. Even if the space junk isn't heading towards Earth, you may still destroy it. Threats include three types of comets and asteroids.When you have successfully destroyed the object, it will explode and a corresponding sound effect will take place. Other sound effects include an alarm when the Earth gets hit(sort of sounds like a warning). What's the name of this FREE app? It's called Earth Defense.  Background music may sometimes be annoying but this one is upbeat and I like it.

     One unique aspect of the arcade-action game is the ability to make upgrades without using real world money. Each time you upgrade your health, it permanently goes up by one. Upgrades cost score/points that you achieve through gameplay so they aren't hard to come by. This makes the game extremely playable versus having to spend money to increase your stats. And yeah, the Earth rotates (faster than in real life but that's for a cool effect). Tip/hint/clue:You can often double-tap an object to get two explosions and twice the points. You don't just more points the longer you play, you also get about 10 points per destroying an item.

A few suggestions for future updates
- Currently there isn't a way to pause(or quit) the game. You can however press the Android "Home" button and turn on the app again and continue playing when you're ready if it hasn't cleared your RAM yet. (Make use of the Android "back" button)
- The in-game advertisement bar on the bottom of the screen often gets in the way of gameplay. I don't tap on it but it prevents me from seeing objects that come up. To try and alleviate this I constantly tap on the small area below my planet just in case I can get lucky.
- Make the sounds pop up and fade out smoother. 
- Someday include some sort of special attack or more. (Possibly a swipe attack that can be included in the store)
- Random drops of said attack and of partial health.
-Include a screenshot of a comet on the apps download page.

       Earth Defense is brought to you by the developers at waste-droid. The FREE smartphone app can be downloaded from Google Play by clicking here. If you're looking for an app to try and have nothing better to do, why not download the game and give it a try. What have you got to lose? A temporary loss of 13MB of storage? This is the first version of the app and perhaps the developer(s) will appreciate your feedback.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Are Apps too Easy for you? Try this one.

     There a number of brain teaser apps out there that don't really challenge the brain. If you find it difficult to find a challenging app then try this one for size. Jumpfimaga Crazy Puzzle Game is a new puzzle game that involves strategy and planning. You goal(objective) is to place pieces on the board and slide them onto their corresponding(matching) slot on the board by the end of their movements.

       Each piece has a set amount of moves(not sure if the amount is indicated). Each move has a predetermined amount of distance that it must take(the distance is indicated from left to right by the numbers under the box at the right of the screen.) There are three Levels of Intelligence, (not be be confused with difficulty level) that gives you different timers. Shorter timers probably give you a higher score if you should finish the puzzle in the allotted time. You may only receive points and have the stage marked as complete in your profile if you complete the level before time runs out. After the timer is done you may still practice/continue to play. Thankfully there is an UNDO button that really comes in handy, especially considering it lets you undo way more than one move(possibly all moves from the start of the stage). Difficulty levels ranged from 1 to 5 and are preset on the stage. You can tell what level a stage is by by the first number of the stage before the "-".   

According to the games description "The characteristics of each level are:
-First level: figures always remain unchanged.
-Second level: the figures rotate 90 degrees in each frame edge before making the first jump.
-Third level: the figures are reflected every time they jump.
-Fourth level: when the figure is not in its correct position, it can be rotated 90 degrees if it’s hit by another figure that’s moving and lands next to it. The way it rotates depends on the direction the other figure came from.
-Fifth level: when the figure is not in its correct final position, it can be displaced if another figure lands on it."

How To Play
 Start by touching a number on the edge of the play area and a piece will make its first jump onto the play area from there. A piece becomes locked in and inactive (changes color) if you land it in a corresponding slot on the board. You cannot slide into another piece that is still in play(blinking). A move is also invalid if it would slide the piece off of the playing board/playing area. If you try to make an invalid move, a friendly notification will pop up and alert you that the move cannot be completed.

The menu's and buttons are well designed. They function as expected and don't feel like they are incomplete. You can store up more than one profile and view each profiles accomplishments and scores. Other nice features of the app is that it runs really smooth and is only 10MB.

Currently there are no sounds. The new application is still young and will probably undergo future updates that will include sound effects and music. Perhaps in the settings(maybe during gameplay) the player is allowed to choose the type of sound effects per swipe, and the type of background music. Background music can range from slow and calm to action-packed suspense. Personally I would prefer calm or no sounds so that I can concentrate better.

Where to Download
You can download the Free Android application from various sources:
-Here from the Amazon Appstore.
-And Here from Google Play.
 The free versions have plenty to stimulate your brain, but if you find that you want more puzzles, you can download the full versions for $1.99.
-Here from Amazon Appstore.
-Here on Google Play.

Special Note: The owner and developer of the app, Alejandro Gomez, is willing to sell the rights to the app for $20,000. He states that he can develop the app for iOS in about 3 months.

Have fun utilizing those brain cells.

Friday 19 July 2013

Apps for Citizen Science

Remember SETI, and what about BitCoin Mining via an app? Gamification of real world problems and procedures that need enormous computing power can be enhanced by utilising citizen scientist friendly apps such as this:

GeneGame, a new Android and Ios app from Cancer Research UK that's designed to help in the charity's fight against cancer.

Developers Guerilla Tea will bring the citizen science app to app stores in the autumn.

As you play GeneGame, you see, you'll be analysing swathes of data that scientists have been collecting since the '70s through the apps game mechanics.

Apps to combat Cancer

Cancer Research UK citizen science lead Amy Carton says the charity has "petabytes of genetic data" that need to be analysed, and "the nature of that data is such that humans are far better at analysing it than an algorithm."

That's where GeneGame comes in.

By playing this forthcoming game, you're helping to search out genes that could cause cancer.

Guerilla Tea Games's CEO Mark Hastings says that the game will "create a gaming experience that's enjoyable" while also helping push scientific research forward.

The bigger, the better

What would take a small group of scientists an age to process can be analysed much quicker via gamification and crowdsourcing.

There's no word yet on the target platforms for GeneGame, but it's a fair guess that iOS and Android will be in the thoughts of the game's publisher.

We'll keep you updated about this interesting and important project when we know more.

Clash of Clans Comic

Clash of Clans Comic. Name says it all really, you know an app is becoming huge when popular culture starts to meld with it. Scott S is the creator of these Clash of Clans comic strips...enjoy.
Clash of clans cartoon
Clash of Clans Cartoon
Clash of Clans Machinima next?
The latest Clash of Clans comic, hints on how to set up the new Clan traps?

Mobile virtual assistants becoming more intelligent

Arguably virtual assistant Siri was one of the first artificial intelligence personal assistants, well the world has over on just a little bit since Cupertino's iPhone dwelling cyborg started to help out, amuse and irritate with glib Californian based techy humour. There's a glut of mobile PA's to choose from now and they seem to be getting more intelligent by the day.
Google Now is the search giants offering that melds seamlessly with your phone and your Google services to provide a lot more 'push' rather than request type of help. At the potential sacrifice of your privacy it techno-magically seems to know your next move before you do and has a very attractive and easy to use card based system of notifications that it uses to help you plan your day. Another disadvantage is that the search engine answers are often less than unbiased so searches for businesses for example will often turn up the option most likely to generate ka-Ching for the big G. That said my pest infestation which the virtual assistant app seemed to know about was quickly solved by their push suggestion of . 
There are a lot more rivals coming out too, some of the foremost mobile based AI can be found in this field so it's worth checking out Tempo, Sunrise and Cal too, to decide if these new virtual assistants like Tempo are better than Siri or Google Now.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Can't Wait for Finding Dory?

    Finding Nemo was a great movie. It's sequel is set to release in 2015. That's more than a year from now. Just in case you couldn't wait for a new piece of Nemo maybe you can try the smartphone app Nemo's Reef. I loved the first movie and I was addicted to this game. Before downloading the app I found it hard to believe a smartphone was able to pull off a good app representation of a Finding Nemo world. I've been looking for a great fish live wallpaper with no success. The app is brought to you by the developers at Disney. Create and enjoy the sight of a beautiful coral reef around Nemo's home, the sea anemone. Beloved characters from the  memorable Disney movie returns in this smartphone application. Nemo, Dory, Marlin, Bloat, Bubbles, Peach, Jacques, Gurgle, Deb/Flo, and Gills join your reef. Jacgues joins at level 23, along with an expansion to your reef. Bruce, the great white shark, also makes an appearance, but doesn't exactly fit in with everyone else so his stay/visit is temporary.  Aww I know. Unfortunately there isn't voice acting in the app so you won't be hearing the voice talents of Ellen DeGeneres and so forth. However, that probably keeps the apps size down.

    Mr. Ray has been teaching his class about coral reefs. Nemo and a classmate, Tad, are competing against each other with their reef building knowledge and skills. Build a reef using the currency of sand dollars (SD). Objects that need to grow to the next stage need to consume Algae. You must purchase an object from the Nursery  using sand dollars and place it on the reef. The reef is like a grid. You will not be able to place objects on a red area while placing objects, only on the green slots. Objects take up one space or four or six spaces(slots) on the reef. If an object shall need algae to grow, it will have 3 stages of growth. The stage it is currently on will be displayed. Each plant has its own time it needs to grow for each stage. All the stages take the same amount of time for the same plant and are displayed towards the top of their icons in the nursery. 

     The game is fun at the beginning, until about stage 13 then it slows down for a few levels. Quests are harder and don't help you get through your levels as much as they did in lower levels. Expect to grind a lot after that. Around level 20 I pretty much had the same set up until recently at level 33 or 34. Level 40 is the maximum level, although the game doesn't actually end. You can just keep playing. Maybe even finally plant the reef and make it look the way you want it to look, not just for money or algae or quests, rare fishes, or experience. It will take forever to reach that level. I have had long periods of days where I would check the game 4-8 times a day for experience and I'm still under level 36. I had and used lots of spread out free time on my hands to consistently check into the app.

My only real tip/hint/clue: Don't collect until day 5. Collecting on days before will restart the counter to day 1.

 What's the Most useful place for information and strategies for Nemo's Reef? 

     That site is extremely helpful and important if you want to play efficiently.  I've visited that site over 100 times (due to my poor memory) to check up on combinations and tips to ensure I was playing the best way possible. If you have questions look it up in forums on that site and the question or problem has most likely been asked and answered by the helpful community. It's the wikia/wiki/ for Nemo's Reef. The Useful Tips page does a great job of explaining and is going to be more help than this page. Although it was written before the March updates, the updates don't change the gameplay, they only speed up and add onto the current game experience.  I agreed with their plant and coral recommendations except I preferred more Maroon Pipes than Orange Tube Pipes because of the higher output of every 4 hours and long periods of not playing. I would had been so lost without that site, especially when looking up combinations to attract quests.

You'll soon you'll be wondering when do I get who from the movie? Well here's the answer.

Level 4: Dory

Level 10: Bloat
Levels 13: Bubbles
Level 20: Peach
Level 23: Jacques
Level 30: Gurgles
Level 33: Deb/Flo
Level 38: Gill


    A great feature the game has is that in the "collections" section you get to view the 3D models and descriptions of the character. This is similar to Jiminy Criket's journal in the Kingdom Hearts game(another Disney involved game). Actually the whole Android apps capability to run smooth 3D rendering on weaker devices seems to me to be similar to what Kingdom Hearts did on the outdated Sony Playstation 2 gaming console. Rare fishes don't have character descriptions but they do contain details as to how long it would and still needs to complete a pearl from being fed and how much it needs to be fed to produce a pearl.  

 My Strategy/Play style
 Of course at low levels there was no escaping from constantly tapping. I build batches of yellow table plants and fan coral. When you level up, you don't have to rush planting the newly available plants unless you want to use them because during that level it will most likely become a mission and you will have to plant another one anyways. Once you get Orange Tube Sponge and Blue Mushroom then build batches of those plants without removing your Yellow Table Plants and fan coral. Those produce the most of their products per second of gameplay and will still be handy/useful if you plan to keep playing the app. Very much later into the game Maroon Pipe Sponge,Yellow Small Grass, and Eggshell coral will become important. I started a small batch of Eggshell Coral but soon went on to replace the all fan coral with the Eggshell Coral one by one as they required the same amount of time to produce but instead got 30 algae per hour instead of 10. I started with a batch of Maroon Pipe Sponge but slowly replaced the Orange Tube Plants with the Maroons. Note:Orange Tube's produced more exp than Maroon 5's but less gold every 2 hours. I believe it was 10 SD's vs. 20 SD's. I never replaced all of my Orange Tube Plants as they were very efficient for experience points. I only planted a few Psychedelic Coral until I quit playing the game. A general rule or trend of the game was that the plants that produced the most per second while on the game had the lowest maximum capacity of holding those produce for you to collect. The plants that produced very slowly could hold onto the most for you to collect whenever you came back to the game. Note that most plants produce experience points too, but a few plants don't. These plants will produce more of that product than usual. For example, the Tentacle Coral, Orange Barrel Sponge, and Pink Sponge Bed. The ones I just mentioned were very high level plants and I did keep a few of them on my reef as later in the game I became impatient and greedy and switched my focus from xp towards money and green. At levels after 25 I also played less per day so the slower plants were more useful of my time (and battery life).

Characters remain true to themselves in this app.

Vitality: A Very questionable Stat/gimmick
One possible tip is to avoid gaining maximum experience at first because it only helps a little to gain levels. I said possible because the effectiveness of Vitatilty is very doubtful. Before you level up be sure you have already met the minimum requirements in the categories located in the heart icon. The higher levels require you to have more of the corresponding items to add to its %. The higher the percentage of each section (100 maximum), the higher your chances of getting a rare fish are(according to the game). After leveling too fast I was never able to get pass 90% on the Rare fish category. I haven't really looked into the percentages besides testing and trying to gain 100% for the current level. According to the % rule mentioned, it should be easier to get rare fish the higher your percentage, however when I finally achieved 100% for 3 of the 4 categories, it never got any easier to obtain a rare plant. Most of the time 1/2 or 1/4 of the mystery seeds will be rare. It was highly uncommon to take more than 4 mystery seeds to get a rare plant. My theory about Vitality seems to be supported by a few in a GameDreams forum here. If one of your objectives is to grow a rare plant, I found it that the chances were lower than usual when those objectives were active. After a while (sorry forgot the level) mystery seeds lose their oomph and Enigmatic Seeds take the role the mystery seed once had at lower levels with the same probabilities. However they cost a lot more, 10,000 SD's.
Glitch: while placing a mystery seed at an edge next to where there are flat but red squares, that seed may grow into something that occupies that red square. Once you move that object however, the slot becomes red and not usable again.

Saturday Challenges. These won't occur every Saturday. So far I know of the grow 8 rare plants in 48 hours. Upon completion you receive a hybrid looking fish. Another Saturday Challenge is find the fishes in your reef (by tapping on corals) because they have been scared of Bruce visiting. He goes away after the challenge.

MARCH MADNESS (the issues in this section are now history so you don't have to read)
    Updates: After the March 2013 updates some things were changed. Previously only the iPhone versions of the app had ads. While playing the game I felt that it was odd that we fed the plants but not the fish (corals aren't plants, they are actually fish but whatever). I'm more used to having to feed fish in a tank than plants. Again it's weird that we didn't feed the fish at all in the reef. Some users also complain that it was too difficult to obtain pearls through free play(without purchasing with real world money). I personally thought this was just the design of the game as that is common amongst free apps. With this early March update these three things were addressed. 

You get very few things for Free (or almost free) in life, just open it.

-You can now obtain bonus gold or algae via tapping on a treasure box that would randomly show up somewhere on you reef. Sometimes they were free to open. Other times they required pearls to open. I have not yet looked what kind of rewards were giving by opening treasures that required using pearls. The Free ones usually gave 700-1200 Gold or Algae. (They will pop up into your total you have before telling you how much you were rewarded)
-You can now feed the rare fish algae to produce a pearl. Each species has its own rate of producing a pearl, and the amount of algae consumed. To do this, tap the fish and on the bottom right where it usually says "1 peal to finish" instead it will say "feed ___ amount of algae".
With a late March update (approximately March 23rd) most likely to their servers, the ads started going away. They probably figured or got too many complaints that the advertisements made the game a lot less playable. An ad would load up just about every time you entered and when you exited the nursery. This caused the gameplay to become very annoying and slow to buy a plant(two pop ups per purchase). More explanation  into how the Ads were annoying. For my Xperia Play, an ad would load from the internet causing you to have to wait after you have gotten to your destination (your reef upon start up....nursery, back to the reef from the nursery).  Normally the app probably used just about every ounce of RAM I had so when an ad loaded it would clear my RAM just enough to have to reload (as long as rerunning/restarting) the app upon closing the ad.  So start ups would have to load twice before I could even do anything(start playing). They are gone now but sigh. Luckily I had just about finish my overhaul and remodeling of my reef with cat's paws when the almost unbearable ad inclusions were made. The ad was often for the Toy Story: Smash is app. Funny because when I first clicked the ad in its first days it tried to take me to iTunes on my Android device.

After the May update the treasure chests seem to appear less often. This isn't that in my opinion important as experience points become valuable late game. I quit playing some time around the end of May/start of June. After level 30 or so you do not get enough expansions and are only getting the same maximum output while the requirements to level up greatly increase.The smartphone app was repettitive before, but in later stages it felt even more hopeless as I went on. Spoiler and Heartbreak Alert: There is one point in the game where it says for you to use your new expansion(which means you just got one) and you don't get that area expansion.

 Recovering my game Data
I factory reset my phone due to issues reading my memory card. This lost me my memory and the games progress. However I was able to reach them via a report with the necessary information for the report (along with lots of details of what I can recall with help from my occasional screenshots). Four days later I got my original name and game progress back. Thank you Nemo's Reef people. They were extremely helpful and nice and the instructions were simple to follow.


Joshua Yang

Thursday 11 July 2013

The best formation in Tamer Saga

About Tamer Saga
Tamer Saga features a fictional world set in medieval Europe, in which players will go through various wonderful journeys and perform their own stories in the course of overcoming difficulties. There are four classes in Tamer Saga – Warrior, Mage, Ranger and Priest. The game supports instant fashion change and offers thousands of avatars, hundreds of pets and a rich variety of mounts for players to choose from.

Choosing your Formation in Tamer Saga
Choosing a Formation in Tamer Saga
To choose a formation, click the Formation button at the bottom right corner of the screen. Different formations feature different bonuses and slots for combat units.
To win a battle easier, choose a proper formation, dispatch proper combat units and also put them in position.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Lumix TZ40 Vs Zoe?

Can Smartphone cameras ever hope to compete with dedicated snappers like the Lumix TZ40? Coming across this little snippet of snaps on popular pic sharing site Vine, we certainly think that these pictures share more than a thousand words and certainly offerings like the HTC One's Zoe still have a long way to go compared to this photographic majesty!

Thursday 4 July 2013

Apps for immigration

With the future trend of bespoke apps (Dolores Park loafers who use Dolo will know what we're talking about), some apps developers seem to be getting more and more niche.

CitizenshipWorks seems to be appealing to a very broad but niche market that find the process of getting a green card far too obtuse. Naturally Spanish and English are the two languages supported.

So before you turn to immigration lawyers to help you settle in the land of the free, you might want to consider giving the now free CitizenshipWorks app a try for all your immigration needs.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

What is BassBuds?

A storm is coming, or so you'd be led to believe if you kept your ear to the ground and listened to the social whispers of the in crowd. So really what is this mass campaign taking major cities by storm? The soon to be answered question on many lips:           "What is.... BassBuds?"