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Android

“Real” Gaming on Android/Mobile

There is no singular definition of real gaming. That being said there are a few things that tend to differentiate what most think of as a PC or console experience from a mobile one. The 3 things that tend to differentiate are Free 2 Play, Micro transactions and amount of content. While there is clearly a blurring of the lines these days there is still a clear delineation between the two experiences that most people can see and point to. So with that defined I’m on a quest to find the best experiences on Android that replicate that full game experience. Lets get started with my first pick.

Horn

by Phosphor Games StudioImage result for horn game

This game is an oldie but a goody. Released back in August 2012 for iOS and Android it is inspired by the likes of Zelda Infinity Blade and Fable. This was one of the earliest games to use the Unreal Engine when it was ported for mobile. Pay once play forever, no micro transactions and a length that is longer than many PC and console games.

You play Horn a young Blacksmith’s apprentice who wakes up in a mysterious tower to learn that all other living beings have been turned into mechanical monstrosities.

Digital Spy and Appspy have already said the things I think about the game so I’ll let them speak.

Digital Spy wrote ” Horn is by far one of the most substantial games released for mobile devices yet, with a quest spanning several hours that is better suited to setting aside time to focus on your game than a quick session here or there. But for those looking for a mobile game that can live up to its console contemporaries, Horn is a must-have. ”

Appspy said ” Horn brings a rich fantasy world to life, combining elements of classic and modern adventure titles to create something all its own; an incredibly engaging title and a definite must have.”

How Long 2 Beat puts the game at 12 hours of play time. That makes the game at $1.99 a steal.

I can’t recommend this game enough.


Glass – Not As Popular As The Cell Phone

glass-snlPlease stop trying to over sell “wearable computing” and more specifically Google Glass. The reason isn’t that I hate the idea of wearable computing or Google glass, simply that there is historical proof of it’s limited desire and usability. Moving the processing closer to the input and output isn’t going to change the comfort or social acceptability of the input/output. It never has. Why would you expect it to now? In short, learn from the past!

Bluetooth headsets are considered obnoxious and only really useful when you’re driving or otherwise have to have your hands full. Every one knows the dbags that walk around looking smug and talking to themselves while ignoring the rest of humanity that isn’t in their ear. (more…)


Samsung Chromebook Series 3(arm) Two Weeks And Counting

Chromebook Macbook Air ComparisonI just started a new job in a new town that was quite a long ways away. It seemed to me that minimizing the amount of stuff I have to move would be a good idea. With this in mind I parred down my devices and almost all of my housing stuffs. I gave my brother my desktop PC and had previously sold my laptop. I’ve wanted to play with a Chromebook for quite a while so now, when I need to travel and need a small light machine with great battery life used primarily for communication, seemed to be the ideal time for it. So I bought my Dad’s Samsung Chromebook Series 3, the ARM based Chromebook, at a family discount. He had picked it up to study for his Google Apps for Education certification.

I’ve nearly completed my move 2 weeks later. I’m in my new apartment. I have internet hooked up and I’m just waiting on my follow on load of house furnishings. My experience has been a mixed bag that seems to have followed the timeline pretty closely. That is week one was pretty good and week two has been a little frustrating. That’s how I’m going to approach this.

Week one was comprised largely of travel and transition and this seemed to be where the device shined. Looking at the parts and components the Samsung Chromebook is a cell phone wedged in to something slightly larger than a netbook and designed to replicate the Macbook Air. The hardware experience is second to none. The device is small and light and solid and comfortable to mouse and type on. It’s easy to throw in a bag or backpack and go and it’s got enough battery life to keep you running when a wall outlet isn’t immediately available. On the software side it’s literally just a browser with a keyboard. The fact that chat and video and all these things are available on the web really makes it work. Being able to quickly whip out the device and communicate in a form longer than a text message or tweet was priceless. Being able to fill out all the forms and fields required to get business done to find housing, communicate with my new employer and handle things back in Iowa was beautiful. These are things I probably could have done on my phone or tablet but not as efficiently, or comfortably, on a touch keyboard vs a real physical keyboard.

Week two is where the experience begins to fall apart. As I mentioned I sold most of my hardware and it’s going to take a paycheck or two before I can afford to rebuild my gaming rig and buy a new laptop or setup any home servers. This means I’m still relying on the Chromebook but now I’m stationary. I’m finding myself wanting to do stationary computing things. I want to game. I want to run an SSH server so I can get at things back home from work or while I’m out and about. I want to watch longer form online web video(Hulu web only, WTF?). The only way to get my SSH server was to get Linux running on the Chromebook. Due to UEFI and locked bootloaders the only options are hacks of Linux sitting on top of the signed ChromeOS kernel. Needless to say most implementations are hacks and pretty rough. I got it working eventually. Gaming is especially sparse on the ARM based Chromebook due to the difference in architecture. Right now Arcane Legends from Spacetime Studios is the only extensive game experience I could find that actually worked. Lastly long form video. The Linux ports do not have hardware accelerated graphics so most games are out for Linux. I do have a TV and the Chromebook does have an HDMI port but trying to run flash based video on a high resolution television results in a rather low frame rate experience. Watching Hulu on a tablet or phone would have been a smoother experience but the idea is to watch it on a larger more comfortable screen.

The take away seems to be that you need to think of the Chromebook as a travel companion. Essentially a phone with a keyboard in order to get the optimum experience. It’s a beautiful thing when you can whip it out quickly and jump on hotel wifi and author a fairly long form e-mail and then throw it back in your backpack and go with out worrying so much about battery life. Just don’t mistake this device for a real laptop. If you want a device that works in nearly every situation save the extra $100 over the Chromebook’s $250 base price and get an AMD A series based laptop with a reasonably decent video card. But if you plan to travel frequently the Chromebook is probably for you.

I’ll be hanging on to my Chromebook for those situations where long travel with limited space may present itself.


Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire Review

Ainol Next To Nexus 7

Nexus 7 and Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire

So here’s my Ainol Novo 7 Flame/Fire review. Warning, it’s long. If you’re over 65 don’t bother you’ll be gone before you reach the end.

First a run down of features:
AMLogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Arm Cortex A9 at 1.5Ghz
Mali 400 GPU
1GB DDR3
16GB Storage
1280×800 Super IPS display
2MP Front Camera
5MP Rear Camera
Mini HDMI port
MicroSD card slot
Micro USB port
Bluetooth
Headphone Jack
Power connector for fast wall charging
5000mAH battery(non-user replaceable)

I’m going to do a lot of comparison to the Nexus 7 as that is the tablet I currently own and is among one of the most popular. So if you love something else…buy a Novo 7 Flame and do your own review. Pics of and from the device can be found here. https://plus.google.com/u/0/115872604535305832370/posts/9GPQAWowYA7

Well lets jump in shall we? The device is very presentable. It’s got a nice brushed aluminum back and the tablet standard black plastic bezel around the screen. It appears to be designed to be used primarily in landscape mode because it has a top(landscape) or right(portrait) orientation for both the front and rear cameras. So basically to ensure you are right side up during hangouts you will have to use the tablet in landscape orientation. Over all the build quality feels solid. (more…)


Backup!

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

Back up your data!

If it’s your PC back it up to an external drive. If you can move that drive off site all the better. Give it to a relative or put it in a safe deposit box. In this day and age of “cloud” there are also numerous internet backup solutions you could use as well.

Backups aren’t just limited to your PC. Your phone, tablet and your video game consoles need to be backed up too.

If your phone has a microSD card slot go pick up an extra card just for keeping a backup. There is no doubt an app for your phone/tablet platform of choice to save a backup to that card. Do the same as before and store it some place safe preferably away from where the data is normally used.

Last but not least and some might be surprised to hear this your video game console can be backed up too. If you have a PS3 go find a USB hard drive that is equal to or larger than the drive in your console and under the Settings > System Settings you’ll find a backup utility. Be warned it compresses your data so it takes a while to run. And then go make sure you sync your trophies.

If you have an Xbox you’re consigned to USB drives no larger than, correct me if I’m wrong, 32GB. I also believe this will be changing in the near future(or has all ready?) so you can plug in any drive. Plug in your drive and go to Settings > System > Storage > Transfer Content and select the items you want to backup. Make sure if you didn’t backup save games that they are at least syncing to online storage.

For a home user I would say do this at minimum once a month to ensure you are never out all your data. Thank you for your time and attention!


Mobile HD Video Recording & Streaming Rig

As streaming and live IP broadcasts gain popularity there’s an increasing desire to make a better and better quality broadcast. Unfortunately most of the time that means you have to invest in bigger better more expensive equipment.  You’ll see professional broadcasters like twit.tv and many of the events captured on twitch.tv being recorded and broadcast with large multi-thousand dollar rigs just to get a good quality broadcast. Well, what if you could shoot 720P, stream it, and record at the same time plus a plethora of connectivity options? What if you could do that with equipment less than $1000 and that you might actually all ready own? I’m about to tell you how to do it.

Things you’ll need:

  • A laptop or netbook
  • An Android phone or Sony PSP
  • An HD webcam
  • If you’re using a PSP – PSP diag battery
  • If you’re using a PSP – PSP custom firmware
  • If you’re using an Android device – Android Sideshow software
  • A backpack or laptop bag.

You can use any number of devices to get this working so I’m not going to go in to details. This is the gist, you need storage, view finder and lens. You see where this is going? The laptop functions as storage and communication, the PSP or Android device as the view finder and the webcam as the lens. Microsoft Windows Sideshow allows you to use the sideshow device(psp or android) as a second monitor. Connect the PSP or Android device to the laptop via either wireless or USB. Set Windows on the laptop to sleep the monitor but not the rest of the laptop. Open the monitor application for your camera and then put the monitor video on the sideshow device. Connect your connectivity of choice, wifi, 3g or what ever. Run your streaming management app and connect to your live stream. Now close the laptop and throw it in a backpack or laptop bag. Be sure to leave the bag cracked to ensure heat can escape. Now strap the camera to the back of your PSP or Android device and shoot till your hearts content, your drive gets full or your devices run out of juice.

An additional and interesting thing is that a producer or buddy or whom ever can then use remote management software to manage whats going on on the laptop in the bag if it’s wirelessly connected. In addition if your laptop or netbook can handle it you can also record and stream at the same time. Having processing power closer to the subject matter opens up plenty of interesting possibilities.

If you find this article and idea useful please do share your live stream URL or link to your awesome HD youtube links so we can all check out the outcome!


Fix The Nexus 7 Warping Creaking Problem

Just fixed my creaky, warping, Nexus 7. Now it appears better than new. Here’s what I did.

First off let me say I am not responsible if you try this and something goes horribly wrong. Practice safe sex, don’t do drugs, stay in school, and keep your table trays in the upright and locked positions, make peace and not war and what ever else I gotta say to stay off the hook when you break your device. Now, on to the fun stuff.

Got a flat hard clean surface. I got the smallest flat head screw driver I could find. Gently wedged it between the plastic edge and the rubber backing at the bottom next to the usb port. This caused the back to pop open. Then I used the most gentle tool I had(in this case a collar stay) and gently wedged around the edge of the device till I could use my hands to get it the rest of the way open.

Now that you have it open lay the device screen down on the flat hard surface. Some folks said they used a hard cover book. I used an art paper pad turned face down on the coffee table. Carefully loosen all the screws around the outside edge of the device. There are a few screws at the bottom of the device in a black cover and a few others that look like they are holding small devices in place. You can leave those alone. Now, starting from the left side of the device tighten all of the screws going clockwise around the device. Once you get around go around a second time just to make sure they are good and snug. Be careful as over tightening may strip screws or possibly damage your screen.

That’s all there is to it. Place the back on the device and starting at one corner start to snap it back on. It doesn’t take much pressure to get it to snap back on so if you encounter resistance gently remove the back and try again from a different corner.

After doing this repaired I noticed that my screen is more flush to the plastic edges and the left side of my device feels solid and doesn’t creak. I noticed it most when the heat from the proc, ram or video processor would heat the left side of the device and cause warping. I played approx 15mins of Shadowgun, watched some videos and have been browsing and so far the problem has not returned!

#nexus7 #diy #norma