Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Casting the Demons out of my iPad

I've never understood or appreciated the direction that Apple went with their user interface for their operating system or their programs. That was, in general, not a big problem, I didn't use Apple PCs, so it didn't affect me so much.

When I got The Croods for review via iTunes, however, I suddenly had to actually find my way around the program. The iTunes interface is, in my opinion, one of the most unintuitive wandering garden mazes I've ever had the displeasure of being lost in. It. Makes. No. Sense.

If I were merely going to rant about the UI, however, I would probably not write anything. That's old news. However, the UI was the annoying icing on a nearly lethal cake.

The first problem I had was with the download. I had used a remote access client to log into my machine remotely, then redeemed the code on my computer and started the download. I received a message (almost instantly... that should have been a clue) that it completed successfully. So, I ended the session and expected to start watching The Croods as soon as I got home.

However, when I got home, the movie wouldn't play. I found that it had errored out when attempting to download and still had over ninety percent yet to download. I clicked the button to restart the download. Several times. It seemed to get about one thirtieth of a megabyte each time I clicked the restart button, the failed. I did this several times, getting a popup every couple of times or so, but could never really tell if it was actually downloading anything or was simply advancing the counter a tenth of a megabyte every third time I pushed the button. Fun.

I rebooted iTunes and tried again and it actually downloaded. Yay. Then, I tried to watch the movie on my PC. The app started acting like the movie was playing, with the play position bar advancing at the bottom, but there was no sound and the screen remained black. After closing and reopening iTunes a couple of times, I was able to watch the movie. (No idea what fixed it, mind you.)

I still had yet to put it on my iPad, however. So, I plugged in my iPad and synced, something I hadn't done in quite some time. Then, when that was done, I told it to put the movie on my iPad. I got a warning saying there wasn't enough room on the iPad, so I started deleting things. Lots of things. Old apps, documents, lots of stuff. Eventually, the meter at the bottom indicated that I would have some free space after removing everything I wanted to remove and putting the movie onto the iPad... but it still said there wasn't enough space. I turned the problem over to JR Nip for a bit. He resolved it, but had to reboot the iPad before it would work. Great.

So, after watching the entire movie, some on my computer and some on my iPad, and after watching all the special features and writing most of my review, I go back to get some information from the movie (language options, subtitles, that sort of thing) and the picture is black again. I'm not sure what the problem is that causes this, but I eventually determined that I can fix it by changing my monitor's resolution to 1920x1080. That restores the picture and audio and, once I've done that, I can then go back to my monitors native resolution of 1680x1050 and it works, but if I try to view it on my second (smaller) monitor (1280x1024), it complains and says it will have to load the SD version and then, generally stops showing video until I put it on my primary monitor and switch the resolution again.

If you use iTunes and you're happy with it - great... good luck with that. Personally, I loathe having to open up the iTunes application and can only imagine that there wasn't nearly enough testing effort on Windows machines with multiple monitors.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cockneys vs. Zombies Brings Your Latest Dose of Stupid

In the really large mass of movies called "Comedy," there is a subset of movies that are ...just plain stupid. This doesn't - by any means - make these movies less good. On the contrary, a really good "stupid" comedy has a better chance of becoming a classic - or at least a cult-classic.

Cockneys vs. Zombies is just such a movie. I highly recommend it, if you enjoy your comedy truly stupid and mixed in with some gun-play and 'splosions and, of course, zombies. While not for kids, Cockneys vs. Zombies does a horror topic in a comical way and, along with Shawn of the Dead, might make for some nice movies to cue up this Halloween, if you're looking for stuff a bit lighter or the horror.

Still not sure? Read our review of Cockneys vs. Zombies for more details and help you decide...

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Benefits of Low Tech...

If you're not aware of it, most computer games use advanced features on graphics cards and, since these graphics processes occur in between the main board and the monitor, all you see if you try to remote into your computer and play them is a black screen. Sure you could loop the video output back into a video capture board and look at that remotely, but then you introduce an intolerable amount of lag. Trust me... not worth the effort.

I just got done writing my review of Game Dev Tycoon for the PC and, while there's not a way to play Steam games on iPhones or iPads, the graphics requirements are low enough that you can remote into a computer and play it remotely, using LogMeIn, for example.

I actually made use of this while reviewing it. I played it on my gaming rig, primarily, but I also used LogMeIn to play it on my iPad and even my iPhone. Up until the very late stages of the game, the pacing isn't too frantic and there aren't a lot of things going on at once, so it's reasonable enough to play on touch screen devices.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

And Another Thing - Striiv: Beware the Treasure Chests...

No idea what I'm talking about? You should probably take a minute to first read my review of the Striiv - more than just your average pedometer, it's like a personal trainer in your pocket... a personal trainer who likes videogames...

I've warned people about them, before, but those treasure chests can bring misfortune just as easily as fortune. For example, you may find out that a Uniclops has captured all your animals and won't return them until you've generated some large amount of energy. Now, a challenge with an eight-hour time limit can be fun, but this is not what you want to hear right before you go to bed. (You know, for the next eight hours.)

I guess the moral of my story is this: 

If you use the treasure chests, use them early in the day 
and when you can do some exercise if need be.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A few impressions...

Been a while since I posted anything here. Well, I've been swamped, with gaming and non-gaming related things. So, here are a few first impressions...

  • Skyrim: Dawnguard
    • Bigger than I expected.
    • Darker than I expected.
    • Anecdotally difficult to find, but YMMV.
    • Very interesting in the handling of Vampirism.
  • Conquer Mars
    • Really $%!# hard A.I. ...I might do better against human opponents. We shall see.
  • TMNT: Out of the Shadows
    • Comic artwork in cut-scenes is a bit off-putting, but...
    • COWABUNGA, is this a Turtles game done right!
    • Great animation, easy to play and full of appropriate Turtles flavor.
  • Defiance: Castithan Charge Pack DLC
    • To my mind, Castithans don't really fit well with any of the four classes.
    • Rolled up a female Castithan Maverick, seemed to fit the best.
    • Going to explore the Castithan-related missions next...
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn
    • Played in the beta. Looked impressive.
    • Nice customization options.
    • Sadly, a lot of confusion on advanced rewards, leading to masses of people accidentally making multiple accounts. This needs to be resolved quickly.

Lots of good stuff out there to play... It's a good time to be a gamer.

Check Game Vortex for the final assessments soon...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ready or Not - The Future is Now...

How many times have you pondered what things might be like in the future? Do you envision space travel? Robots in the home? How about libraries without a single physical book?

In Robot and Frank, we are given a glimpse of a near future where a library is getting just such an upgrade: some rich, slick young guy is taking over the town library and is moving all of the books out and making the library a place more about "the library experience," about community, rather than about the books themselves, since you can now get books on a wireless device from the comfort of your home... or the beach. How far are we from such a "near future"? Will libraries ever actually do away with books?

Well, maybe not all libraries, but, for some libraries, that time has already come... and, for some, passed.

New library, called "BiblioTech," being built in Bexar County, Texas will provide special e-readers to patrons. The electronic version of the books to be loaned will be loaded onto these e-readers, which will become unusable after the loan period if not returned to the library. The look of the library will be fairly reminiscent of an Apple store.

Others have similarly abandoned print, as well. The University of Texas at San Antonio offered a bookless library in 2012. The Tucson-Pima Public Library System had a bookless library in 2002, but ended up adding actual books - at the community's request.

As for the robot side of things, the robot in Robot and Frank appears to be modeled after Honda's robot, Asimo. See some amazing footage of Asimo, as well as HPR-4 and NAO, two other amazing, real-world humanoid robots, in the YouTube video, below.

World's Top3 Humanoid Robots - Asimo vs HPR-4 vs NAO! - SupernovaAnnie

For more details: