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About that impromptu toughness test…

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018

Testing bluetooth earpiece. In the washer.

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Games

US Army Frontline Special Forces Commando Mission Review

Posted by on Jan 19, 2018

Desert-y first person shooter.

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Productivity

Flyp Review

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016

Multiple numbers on one phone.

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Recent Posts

US Army Frontline Special Forces Commando Mission Review

US Army Frontline Special Forces Commando Mission Review

Jan 19, 2018

US Army Frontline Special Forces Commando Mission
is a game, yes, but it happily bathes itself in good old national pride.

The game descriptor is very, well, precise with regards to targets and all, but this one boils down to a mission based first-person shooter. Thus, the action is taken in as such, with virtual buttons laid out to control movement, shooting, sights and so on. The visuals are very desert-y and sun-drenched, and the environments become a bit more intricate as you go further.

The action is very straightforward, and the initial few levels higlight this: select an available weapon, and shoot your way through a few baddies, then collect some collectibles at the endpoint.

Open up new levels. Rinse. Repeat.

Success yields game cash, and this can be used to acquire better gear, which begin to become available when subsequent levels are open. Of course, there are tougher challenges the further on you go, and the gameplay is fairly self contained, and mostly well done.

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But…

I’m all for developers making money, and will defend ads in freemium games, but I did find the ones in this one to be more than a tad annoying. Thankfully, they can be removed with real cash, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a player or two were put off permanently by the way these ads pop up.

Ah… those controls. Outside the ad system — which, as already noted, can be killed via in-app purchase — the control system is probably the most annoying aspect of the game. The pan and shoot mechanism could definitely be smoother, and a whole lot more responsive.

If you are able to overlook those foibles, this one is as easy to enjoy as it is to get into. Get in, do the deed, reach the endpoint… and do it in the allotted time.

Stickman Parkour Review

Stickman Parkour Review

Jan 18, 2018

Okay, admittedly, I have a major thing for parkour. There is something infinitely cool about the art of freerunning and its practitioners. Watch the action sequence following the opening credits in Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig’s Bond chasing Sébastien Foucan and see if you don’t fall in love. Seriously.

But hey, when it comes to mobile games, stickmen still hold sway, and Stickman Parkour Platform melds the two concepts together.

So, it has a barebones look and presentation, allowing one to take cues from specific colors. A lot of the playing areas tend to be stationary and dark, and but when animations are called for, they are done well. The game is in 2D and is played in landscape orientation.

Basically, this is a platformer. Stickman Parkour is broken into levels; the core objective, as in most platformer games, is to get from the start point A to the level-ending end point B. To do so, you, the player must control the character stickman to climb, jump, shimmy, dodge and otherwise avoid obstacles that look to prevent the goal being met.

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The controls consist of virtual buttons: a “pull” joystick to the left, and others for jumping and sliding to the right. Used together, it is possible to get our guy going, and with a little practice, the controls can become second nature.

As soon as the controls are understand, again, the whole idea is to move. It isn’t always from left to right, but following the general path is easy enough. After a while, it becomes clear to avoid specific dangers (hint: all about the colors!). There are optional dots to collect, and the obstacles do become craftier as you play on.

Alas! As of now, the game is quite short. Hopefully, more levels are on the way.

If you’re into stick figures — weird, maybe, but is there a reason not to be? –then you might as well check it out. Simple idea, and loads of fun. Stickman Parkour makes every one of us a free runner, and a potentially good one to

About that impromptu toughness test…

About that impromptu toughness test…

Jan 16, 2018

There is nothing — NOTHING — sexy about those insane drop tests. You know, the ones where the geek with the masochist streak lets admittedly increasingly fragile devices drop to the floor… supposedly to see how well they react to the clumsiness that occurs in the real world. I think it takes a twisted individual to be able to do this, but there is a place for ruggedness testing. These tech gizmos aren’t cheap, and even the most careful of us can have our plans for device longevity thwarted by the innocent gestures of a kid borrowing one’s phone to catch an episode of Super Y.

Stuff happens.

I come across all sorts of gadgets, and have the privilege of getting to try out dozens of products in any single category. Consequently, when I did pick a device, it is usually one that I can truly call the best for my needs at that time.

Like my earpiece of choice, the Jabra Eclipse. Sleek, light, effective, with a portable charging case to boot. I use it for calls, music and podcasts, and frankly, I baby the precious unit.

Till my laundry mishap last week.

Hey, I always check my pockets for gadgets. It’s a big reason I tend to do the laundry myself, actually; a soaked phone would cause me to swoon. Somehow, I messed up. I remember making a late addition to the load: a light jacket I’d worn out earlier in the day. It had the Eclipse and case in it. It went through the wash and dryer cycles, and I didn’t discover it till I got the clothes out to iron.

Ugh… my heart dropped when I saw the case at the bottom of the barrel. It took me a little while to locate the earpiece, which was magnetically stuck to the top of the dryer. Physically, it looked fine, but I just knew it would never work again.

But hey, I plugged in the charging case, and slapped in the earpiece. It started charging. What? After a half hour, it was working. Flawlessly.

So that’s my story of the Impromptu Toughness Test. Well done, Jabra.

[Our Jabra Eclipse Review]

After a few months, YouTube TV is beginning to grow on me

After a few months, YouTube TV is beginning to grow on me

Jan 10, 2018

It’s a cord cutter’s world (it seems) and we just live in it. I truly believe more of us are beginning to enjoy said world. There are quite a few options for folks trying to forego traditional cable television, and YouTube TV is definitely one that has created some buzz. After a several weeks (going on months) trying it out, here are some of our thoughts.

  • Location, location… location! It’s still all about where you live. The list of supported locales is growing though.
  • Sports lovers will probably smile, but probably won’t cackle out loud. ESPN remains a big draw, and there are other local sports options,but there a few staples that are not standard yet. Still, there are some bright spots; for instance, hardcore soccer fans can recover from USA not making the World Cup with a soccer-laden add-on which runs for $15 per month extra.
  • Unlimited DVR is just as cool as it sounds. The ability is pause, forward and rewind live shows isn’t remotely innovative, but it is awesome. Before long, it is easy to have a large collection of shows and movies, albeit edited for broadcast TV and consisting of ads. Hello, 30 for 30; greetings, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
  • Controlling shows on phone or tablet is okay, but your might crave a bona fide remote control every now and then, a la Amazon Fire TV. It’s great being able to stream from any number of devices (including the Youtube TV app on iOS devices), but your smartphone might not have the most “natural” feel when it comes to managing the broadcasts.
  • The Chromecast offer (get a new one “free” after paying for the service for a month) is worth it. If you haven’t yet upgraded to the latest version, it is definitely a true upgrade performance-wise. The hand-offs are much quicker, it’s easier to engage and disengage the stream and there are definitely fewer latency issues.

The list of metros that have the service available continues to grow, and the no obligation trial makes it easy to try.

My app addiction: Google Home

My app addiction: Google Home

Jan 9, 2018

The world is simultaneously getting more connected and more untethered, and I love it. Even better, I enjoy the way mobile devices are becoming the heartbeats of a new paradigm… the so-called “connected home” that allows us to literally bring the internet of things home.

Of course, Google is at the forefront of this movement, and one of its biggest pieces in this pursuit is its all-encompassing control hub, Google Home.

The app does a lot — but my usage really devices around casting content from my phone, of late especially YouTube TV.

Now, the beauty of the setup is that using Google Home to cast does not tie up one’s phone. Indeed, one can go on and do any number of activities on the hosting device… like, say, drafting an article highlighting why the app is so easy to get addicted to.

One of the things that makes the whole system worth it is the built-in nature of the system. Google Cast is built into the Chrome browser, so, in theory, you can mirror most things from the Chrome browser to an equipped television. This also means I can use Cast-ready applications, like the Youtube TV app, on iOS. That’s not a bad proposition at all, especially folks who use technology across mobile platforms. And the list of iOS apps that are ready to go is fairly expansive, including media favorites like HBO GO, Showtime, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Spotify and >a whole lot more. And remember, the Chrome thingie means your PC can be a portal too.

Now that I am beginning to dabble more into Google Home (the hardware, that is), the app becomes more of a mainstay for me. Google Home ties it altogether, making life easier and more cohesive, all while becoming more indispensable to me and mine.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Game Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Game Review

Jan 8, 2018

It’s practically expected now. Make a major motion picture in this day and age, and we, the consumers want — no, we demand — a companion mobile game. As we’ve said a bunch already, it makes sense; the franchise gets more buzz, which helps the game, which helps the franchise… a beautiful circle.

If the game is good, that is…k7

With the sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle out for our viewing pleasure, we are quite okay with checking out NHN PixelCube Corp’s companion game, well, Kingsman: The Golden Circle Game.

It’s a pretty good looking game, featuring recognizable characters bathed in non-glossy colors and housed in stark environments, with matching sounds buttressed by voice boxes and hint flashes. The animations are nice too, incorporating slick action moves and underscored by slow motion effects.

The game takes you on a journey, and play is simple. To begin, you finish up training, and the gameplay gets explained: you fight by match-3 action. Yes, your actions are determined by your dexterity with your fingers, and your ability to combine the right color of ammunition at the right time.

Good action leads to success, which leads to game coin, which allows you to improve attributes and accumulate stuff (ah, the clothes); real cash can be used, and there is an energy requirement… bummer.

What the game does well, in the first, is to ably meld a few genres into one cohesive experience. Most prominently, taking a match-3 and allowing it to be the conduit for a card-based action game works here. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it done, but darn it, when done well it still makes for a great caper.

But let’s not forget the source material. Juvenile or not, the Kingsman movies provide great action material, and getting to work with familiar characters is almost always a good thing. Fans of the franchise should love that aspect.

Go Plane Review

Go Plane Review

Jan 8, 2018

Go Plane is one of those games that looks to be an easy pickup. Let’s see…

I was able to get going without any explanation. As noted, it plays in portrait orientation, and it opens up with a seemingly unending aerial environment with a solitary plane flying in it. Ah, yes: you get to control it with your finger, by slashing on the screen or, better yet, dragging it in the direction you prefer. Here, the plane feels responsive, and the action is easily imbibed.gp3

Don’t get too comfortable, though; almost immediately, this leisurely glide becomes a lethal, somewhat one-sided dogfight. Why? Well, that is a missile on your six, and it’s coming in very fast.

If your immediate instinct is to use your freshly discovered powers of plane control to scamper out of the way of the missile, it’s a good one. This is the only way to survive. But wait… this missile has some advantages.

First, it’s that cool type of movie missile that follows you, mirroring your evasive actions in a scary shadow dance, until (hopefully) it’s energy runs out. Secondly — and much worse — this intro projectile is just the first of an endless wave of missiles. That’s right, a bunch of missiles chasing you for you to dodge.

Go Plane gets to be a cool game because it doesn’t attempt to do too much, and still finds a way to do that relatively well. The concept is simple, the gameplay barely needs an explanation and the it mostly keeps you engaged. Sure, we could yearn for a few more elements, like clearer plane attributes and even more power-ups, but as-is, it does a good job of melding simplicity with action.

True, the barebones thingie cuts both ways, but we’re willing to go out on a limb and say in the case of Go Plane, it is net positive… especially from a time wasting point of view.

You’ve seen the film, now play the game: Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is out now on Android

You’ve seen the film, now play the game: Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is out now on Android

Jan 4, 2018

Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is a match three puzzler that serves as the official game of the animated movie of (almost) the same name.

It’s a match three puzzler as you know and love them. You’ll match blocks together to earn a high score, doing so over hundreds of levels.

There’s a twist here though. Matching blocks causes your favourite characters – who all feature – to perform a bunch of different dance moves. Snazzy!

You can upgrade all of these dance moves as well to increase the score they provide when you do them. That will help you beat all your friends.

Another interesting feature is the ability to have the game play automatically. Not only is this quite unique for a match three puzzler, but the hedgehogs Uno, Dos, and Quatro will play rather than the AI.

With hundreds of levels to complete, a variety of dance moves to master, and special abilities to unleash, Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is chock full of content.

So go ahead and grab it right now from Google Play. You certainly won’t regret it!

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Fire Up! Review

Fire Up! Review

Jan 2, 2018

Another day, another grind. The busier we get, the more we need pastimes. Fire Up! is a new game on Google Play looking to make sure your day gets the proper punctuation marks.

Graphically, it is simple, with a good color mix and plays in portrait.

The gameplay concept isn’t hard to get. You, the player, use your finger to control a shooting tank, one that moves forward (upward) continuously; the main idea is to keep traveling forward. Now, it shoots fiery missiles of a particular power and speed.fu3

Ah, but there are obstacles blocking the way. Think of a wall of bricks in the way of your piece. Each piece has a point value attached,and this numerical value tells you how many times you have to shoot it to break up that piece and carve a path through the wall. So, one with 2 (two) requires two shots, and so on.

So, with the main idea being to gain space, you have to direct the shooting piece so as to create paths. However, making contact with the wall (or any piece) ends the run. Every restart, you’ll begin to notice the barrier pieces have higher and higher values, meaning more shots required to break them up.

Thankfully, the runs you make gain points; these points can be used to improve the power and speed of the shooting, which becomes very necessary if you plan on seriously taking on the bricks. This goes on and on: do well, gain points, improve firepower so as to cope with tougher pieces. And yes, different tanks can be unlocked.

This game feels especially dutiful with regards to bringing a fun arcade experience to the forefront, unabashedly so. Its straightforward presentation and easy-to-understand gameplay lend themselves to plenty of pick ‘n’ play episodes, and the upgrade path is as elementary as it gets. It is very, very self-contained — if a bit one-dimensional — because all you really need to play is right there.

Bring the deft fingers, though.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Jan 1, 2018

Wishing everyone’s best tech dreams of 2018 come true!!!

Run Sausage Run! Review

Run Sausage Run! Review

Dec 28, 2017

If you ever wondered what life would be like existing as a sausage — a running sausage, that is — then maybe, just maybe, Run Sausage Run! is probably the living, breathing, playable mockumentary you need.

Yep, the premise is simple: you are a sausage that is flexible and somewhat fleet-footed. You like to run, yes, but there are plenty of hazards here. Watch your step, because you can sliced, diced, smashed or worse. rsr3

Visually, Run Sausage Run! has a simplistic, whimsical look to it, which probably helps take the edge of the, well, bloodier aspects. The animations are equally playful, with non-serious depictions and the like; even the lethal blades look genteel.

The controls are easy to master in this… the lead hotdog trots at a slow pace by default. Soon, the aforementioned obstacles begin to appear, and the game teaches you to tap the screen to allow the sausage bed backwards and simultaneously sprint faster; holding the tap keeps him bent and running. Based on how the obstacles are moving (mostly like guillotines), you can alternate between regular movement and run/ducking to avoid the dangerous items and travel further.

Very simple, no?

Outside this, the game offers powerups, and coins can be used to garner new sausage skins. It doesn’t necessarily require a bunch of real cash, and is mostly self-contained. Now, if bloody meat decapitations make you queasy, this one might give you pause.

It is quite the mindless game — and that is far from negative. It is a quick study, in that you are off and running as fast as you can figure out the quick touch control. As with most running games, distance traveled is the name of the game, and all you need to do is move far.

… and, well, avoid the dangers every sausage should be aware of. Apparently.

ECOVACS R95 — a smart cleaning experience

ECOVACS R95 — a smart cleaning experience

Dec 27, 2017

I got in on the smart home movement before it really was a defined thing. I mean, I’d love to writing about technology is the reason, but the truth is that I am a gadget freak.

As such, I have tried several items and products that were great in theory, but probably a bit too early for mass consumption at the time… at least for my usage at that time. Take robotic vacuums for instance; loved them, but my first foray into them tech aeons ago was less than satisfactory. The robots where great to watch, but weren’t especially smart, and when it was all said and done, I wasn’t opposed to just doing the deed with the trusty upright.

Things have changed. With recent changes and the maturing of the smart home, robotic vacuums are in vogue, and really useful. In fact, recent numbers suggest they are close to mainstream.

Enter ECOVACS Deebot R95, one of the latest robotic rollers from the established tech company.

It’s a weighty piece, but not unwieldy, similar in stylings to the default look we associate with robotic vacuums: flying saucer-ish, and a little thick in the waist. It has a grey finish over mostly black, and comes with a stationary charging dock. The bottom has two wheels, and other parts and pieces to help it get the job done.

The job? Cleaning your floors… duh. After the charging period, the thing calls for it to be started via the prominent “Auto” button on top. After some tinkering (which involved manually re-docking, searching for and downloading the app on Google Play, and re-staring the process via said app), I was able to get it going and simultaneously observe it in action.

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Deebot uses its lasers to map out a virtual path of the room, and then proceeds to “grey” out the area as it works. I admit, I spent an unusually long time watching the virtual process on my smartphone. It attempts to go anywhere it can fit into, and deftly works around physical objects in its way. It does eat up smaller things, and can get stopped by things it cannot digest, like the errant cable. When this happens, it is not too shy to announce its inability to move, and requests that the offending material be removed manually.

As long as the area to be cleaned is reasonably free of palmable objects — more or less the same type of objects one would pre-pick prior to using a “traditional” upright vacuum — Deebot does its thing capably. The dirt receptacle is fit with a filter, and it is not the largest. It makes sense to empty it out after each cleaning, in my estimation.

One great aspect is the ability to use it on different floors. It can mop too, with the right pieces attached.

My favorite feature, beyond the app-related control, is the Amazon Alexa functionality. It is possible to get Deebot working via voice command. Pretty nifty.

A few nitpicky drawbacks… first, the dirt receptacle is relatively tiny, which explains why the manufacturer strongly suggests emptying after each use. Also, the included documentation didn’t mention the companion app, the use of which absolutely makes setup infinitely easier.

Mini Golf King Review

Mini Golf King Review

Dec 27, 2017

Yep, yep… here we have an interesting mini-golf simulation to get into: Mini Golf King.

It is a colorful game, wrought with visual effects and the requisite smooth animations. Control is effected by dragging directionally, such that the player can make the ball fly on the scenes which play in portrait orientation.

A typical level consists of virtual miniature golf setup, but with a few extras. Of course, there is the the tee off point, and then the culminating (hopefully) hole. The intuitively core idea is to get the ball from point A to point B with the least amount of strokes. The game engine selects a reasonable match from online players available, and both of you go at it to see who wins the available prize.mgk3

But this ain’t your grandmas’s putt-putt now. There are jewels all along the playing area, some bigger than others, and these garner points if your ball makes contact with them. There are also other hazards, like bunkers and more, plus mystery collectibles. Now, one thing that becomes interesting is figuring out how to use the collectibles to your advantage, or even collecting higher paying big gems. See, going for one of these does have an opportunity cost, so it pays to not eschew going for the quick win for the sake a lot of garnered points.

So, the idea is to beat folks to gain prize money and goodies. Goodies include chests which take time to open, and contain all sorts of things, from clubs to coin. Playing levels requires entrance fees, so, really, you have to win to have the money to play unlocked subsequent levels. Real cash can be used to expedite operations, and there are also other ways to gain game cash (like watching videos).

It has just enough razzle dazzle to keep its arcade card without losing its simulation status; the effects are fun and not overly gaudy, while the power-ups give is a Mario feel along the way. It is an easy, understandable game, but manages to retain a hint of unpredictability because of said specials plus the interesting layouts plus the randomized opponents.

Perfect for those holiday nights that might be colder than most.

Sweet Kitty is a match-three adventure that will give you a sugar rush

Sweet Kitty is a match-three adventure that will give you a sugar rush

Dec 18, 2017

Sweety the Kitty needs your help to become a master chef in Sweety Kitty. Created and self published by Integra Games Global OU, the adorable match-three adventure game is now available on the App Store and Google Play. Journey around a world full of colourful levels to collect recipes and help Sweety on his harrowing adventure.

Sweety Kitty features over a hundred unique levels that will see you matching delectable candies, tarts, and pies to earn a high score and complete each challenge. Travel across diverse, beautifully designed locales to collect recipes for Sweety’s recipe book, a family heirloom left to him by his Granny.

Along the way, you’ll meet up with the evil Rat, who will stop at nothing to see Sweety fail. Help Sweety protect his precious recipes by defeating the Rat in puzzle challenges that will really keep you on your toes. If you run into trouble, you can always call on your friends for help in Sweety Kitty’s multiplayer mode.

Are you ready to embark on this delectable journey? You can download Sweety Kitty right now from the App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store and Facebook.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Prepare for the nuclear apocalypse in 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure

Prepare for the nuclear apocalypse in 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure

Dec 15, 2017

What would you do if you only had 60 seconds to prepare your family for the pending doom of the entire world? It’s hard to imagine, but you can get some good ol’ video game practice in with 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure, Robot Gentleman’s apocalyptic indie adventure. The game is making the jump from PC to Android, and you’ll be able to test your own disaster scenarios in this dark comedy quite soon.

60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure casts you as Ted, a family man frantically scrambling to gather supplies before the nuclear apocalypse hits. You’ll need to gather your family members and enough supplies to hold you over in your fallout shelter. Ted’s house is different in each playthrough, meaning you’ll be struggling to find things in time, adding to the tension each time you return to the game.

Once you make to your shelter, however, another struggle begins. Whatever you manage to bring with you is key to your survival–the first 60 seconds of the game could determine whether you live or die. The game will throw unexpected events at you, forcing you to make tough decisions as you forge a new life in the post-apocalypse. Which of your family members get to eat the precious food rations? Will you venture outside to hunt for more? Do you answer the door when someone comes knocking? Each playthrough presents new decisions that will shape the story in fun new ways.

60 Seconds

Eager to try your hand at survival? 60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure lands on Android on December 28th.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

Dec 11, 2017

No matter how fast life goes, I doubt it would be so fast that we wouldn’t have time to try to catch up with everybody’s favorite hedgehog, Sonic. As our favorite masked speedster makes a bigger footprint on mobile devices, we can’t help but celebrate one of his latest iterations: Sonic Forces: Speed Battle.

Not a lot of confusing stuff in this one. If you’ve ever played a Sonic game, you’ll feel right at home, with the dashing looks and zoom-zoom animations. Hey, Sonic deserves cool looks, and in this game, he and his cohorts seemingly gets what he wants. It plays in landscape, and utilizes interesting worlds and glitzy backgrounds that house wild raceways bathed in bright colors.sonic3

The action is just what we’s expect: you against random opponents, and race for pints. The raceways are chock-full of helpers and hindrances, so its important to figure out which is which. It feels a lot like three-laned runners, because you have to swipe up/down and right/left to avoid things or collect stuff.

And, as always, this is war. There’s nothing cooler than collecting a fireball to launch at an opponent up ahead, and it’s almost more fun than winning. Still winning garners points, which can be used for upgrades necessary to perform better and unlock tougher challenges.

Pretty tidy.

There are opportunities to use real cash (such as ad removal), and the game is fairly self-contained.

The game is very sonic-y, in that it is just what Sonic and Sega fans should like: high octane arcade racing with plenty of obstacles and weaponized collectibles. This isn’t just about getting from point A to point B the fastest; it’s about deft touch and blasting other competitors to point C. It is familiar, but mostly manages to be fun, and is great for furtive episodes and maybe even longer stretches of play when required. The simple personalizations increase its potential likability, and by not straying too far from its source, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle probably increases its value the most… even across age groups.