Twitterrific was recently honored by the folks at AppleVis with an induction into their App Hall of Fame for iOS Accessibly. The folks behind AppleVis invited me to their Extras podcast to talk about the nature of the award, how and why Twitterrific became accessible to VoiceOver users and what Twitterrific users can expect in the future. I had a great time chatting with them on this important subject. The AppleVis Extra podcast #44 is available for streaming online from their website. Enjoy!
More and more I hear from friends on social media that they’re worried Donald Trump is going to mop the floor with Hillary Clinton. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns, but at the same time it’s important to keep in mind how much the demographics in the United States have changed, even in just the last four years. In order for Trump to take the presidency, he would have to convince ALL of the states that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 to vote for him in addition to Hispanic heavy states like Nevada, New Mexico and especially Florida. It’s a tough electoral college pill to swallow.
As this report from the Washington Post shows, the Hispanic community, in this case California, is coming out to register to be citizens and vote like never before. Prior to Trump people stayed in the shadows out of fear of exposure and possible deportation. Now they realize just how much is on the line and they’ve decided exposure be damned, it’s more important to fight for their interests. My favorite part of this video is how the poll workers explain that this movement has spread among family members. It’s not just one member of the household, it’s ALL of them. The silver lining here is that many immigrants who were here illegally are taking steps to become official citizens. Good for them.
Much can happen between now and November, but if and when Trump loses in the fall I have little doubt it’s going to be because of the racial divide he’s built in the form of a metaphorical wall on the US / Mexico border. The GOP is going nuts trying to rein him in but thankfully for all us sane people who oppose him, he’ll never change. He’s doing serious damage to the GOP’s ability to reach out to hispanic and african americans and they know it.
As recipes go this is about as simple as it gets so it’s not really about the ingredients so much as the technique. Why spiral cut your hot dogs prior to grilling them? When spiral cut, the hot dog ends up having more surface area to cook and this means more of that yummie, caramelized goodness after it comes off the grill. It also is just plain fun and looks cool on the plate. One you go spiral, you never go back.
SPOILER WARNING: This post covers events up to and including the first episode of S6’s Game of Thrones ‘The Red Woman’. If you’re not caught up, you probably want to hop the next boat to Essos because there’s nothing ahead for you except spoilers and regret. You’ve been warned!
After what seemed like an unusually long hiatus (it wasn’t I just was going through GoT withdrawal), one of my favorite TV shows of all time has returned to HBO for season 6 – Game of Thrones. Last season was an amazing mix of drama and building suspense as we witnessed Daenerys evolving from conquerer to ruler, endured the horrors of Sansa Stark’s betrothal to Ramsay Bolton and witnessed the coming fight with the White Walkers and their undead army. I’ve never read any of the novels but that no longer seems to matter as the show has now caught up to the novels and as such, season 6 should be as much of a surprise to book readers as to the rest of us.
To say I’m excited for season 6 would be a massive understatement but this was also true for each of the previous seasons as well. Like any dedicated fan, I find myself hoping for specific plots to take focus or characters and places to be revealed on screen so I thought I’d put together a wish list of those plots, characters and places I’m longing to see in season 6.
Casterly Rock is the seat of power for the Lannister family, an impressive castle hewn out of solid rock on the western-most shores of Westeros. The books describe Casterly Rock as almost two leagues long from west to east, containing tunnels, dungeons, storerooms, barracks, halls, stables, stairways, courtyards, balconies, and gardens. It’s popularly believed to resemble a giant lion in repose when the setting sun strikes it. We’ve heard the Rock mentioned numerous times in the television series but we’ve never actually seen it yet.
In the novels, Casterly Rock sits atop one of Westerns’ most productive gold mines which helps account for the Lannister family’s enormous wealth. Due to its legendary status, it is said visitors to the Rock sometimes believe the entire fortress was constructed out of solid gold. Artists and fans have put forth their interpretations of Casterly Rock but I really want to see how the show’s creators depict the mythical home of Tyrion, Jamie, Cerise and Tywin Lannister. Hopefully we’ll finally get to visit this epic destination in season 6 of Game of Thrones.
You know a series’ writing is top notch when it can take one of the most reviled villains in all of television and turn them into a protagonist. Such was the case last season with the evolution of the incestuous Queen Cersei Lannister. Things have not been going well for Cersei for several seasons but by the end of S5 I was squarely on her side. Between being locked in prison by religious fanatics, her humiliating atonement of being forced to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing, and watching two of her three children violently murdered, I’d say Cersei deserves some payback.
When Cersei had Tyrion wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of King Jeoffery (her eldest son) back in S4, I didn’t think I could hate a fictional character more than I hated Cersei. But the winds of change blow quickly in Westeros and given how much delight others have taken in the physical and emotional torture of the Queen, I now find myself counting the minutes until she unleashes her new pet, the re-animated remains of The Mountain on her oppressors. I’d like nothing more than to see the High Sparrow and Septa Unella beaten to death with their beloved Bell of Shame. Fingers crossed!
The Long-Overdue Stark Reunion
Ever since the end of season 1, the House of Stark has been a poster child for familial tragedy. With the death of their father, Eddard Stark at the hands of King Joffrey, the Starks were split up across Westeros, torn apart by war, distance and circumstances beyond their control. In particular, the two sisters, Sansa and Arya have not seen each other in years, nor do they even know the other is still alive. We’ve all been waiting patiently for at least 2 of the surviving Starks to get an on-screen reunion but to be honest I’m not sure we ever will.
The premiere episode of season 6 presents us with a small glimmer of hope however as Brienne of Tarth arrives in time to save Sansa and her slave turned savior, Theon Grayjoy from Ramsay Bolton’s soldiers and vicious hounds. Brienne lays her sword at Sansa’s feet and pledges her life to protect and defend her, and Sansa gladly accepts her and Podrick’s service. I’m willing to bet good Lannister gold that the first order of business in episode 2 will be for Brienne to reveal to Sansa that Arya is still alive, or at least she was when she and Podrick encountered Arya on their way to the Eyrie.
Will this revelation set Sansa and company on the road to find her long, lost sister? Perhaps, but more likely they will continue north to Castle Black where they believe Sansa’s half-brother, Jon Snow is alive and ready to help them. Little do they know that Jon was betrayed by his fellow Knight’s Watch brothers and killed as a traitor just a few short hours ago. Then again, perhaps Jon will be alive (and well?) when they arrive, which brings me to the final item on my Game of Thrones wish list.
Zombie Jon Snow
So many Starks have bitten the dust over the course of six seasons, you would think losing the bastard son Jon Snow at the end of S5 would feel like a pin prick, but you’d be wrong. Deemed a traitor by the Knight’s Watch for going beyond the wall and attempting to work with and save the Wildlings from the evil White Walkers, Jon was stabbed over and over again and left for dead in the cold snow.
Fans of the book and TV series alike have all theorized that Jon isn’t actually dead however and that he may come back to “life” as either a minion of the Walkers or as a resurrected servant of the Lord of Light, courtesy of the Woman in Red, Melisandre. Personally I think the former theory would be much more fun and lead to some seriously cool scenes where Jon takes revenge on the Knights Watch members who betrayed him, including Ollie, but the later is much more likely. Jon has king’s blood in him you see and there was plenty of it left over in a big, strange puddle after Sir Davos recovered his body. Perhaps Melisandre can work her magic one last time and defrost Jon in time for Sansa’s arrival at Castle Black. Whatever the ultimate fate of Jon Snow, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing more of him very soon.
Hopefully at least some of these wishful predictions will come true in the weeks ahead as we journey through season 6 of Game of Thrones. If they do, I’ll be sure to update this post with all the relevant developments. The Stark Reunion is by far the least likely but I’m hopeful Cerise’s revenge will soon come to pass. No matter what happens, it’s going to be fun to watch!
UPDATE: I’m pleased to report that several items from my wish list came to pass in last night’s ‘Home’. I was extremely happy to see Cerise’s revenge lumber into action as the re-animated Mountain squashed that dude who waved his junk at the Queen during Cersei’s Walk of Shame. It felt like a medieval Michael Meyers moment and I can’t wait to see who’s next.
As predicted, Brienne told Sansa about her encounter with Arya and also as predicted, the group (sans Theon) will continue onto Castle Black. Finally, we witnessed the anticipated resurrection of Jon Snow. Can’t wait to see the faces of Team Snow when Jon walks out of that room with Ghost at his side. ‘Home’ was a great second episode (giants flinging archers against walls… splat!) in what promises to be an incredible season. Can’t wait for more!
If you follow me on Twitter or have frequented my blog then you probably know the late astronomer, Carl Sagan, is a personal hero of mine. It was in part thanks to him I became fascinated with science and outer space at a young age. His ground breaking PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage held me enraptured when it aired in 1980 and his books and writings like The Pale Blue Dot are among my all-time favorite.
I wish this brief radio interview from 1985 with Studs Terkel was longer, but regardless it’s wonderful to hear him expound on life in the cosmos, how science strives to uncover universal truths and how religion is tied to the history of our species. If you love Sagan, astronomy or just need a few minutes to take a break from the stress of the day, press play and check it out. You can also learn more about Sagan via the SciShow’s wonderful video tribute to him they recently produced. Great, starry stuff.
I’ve never actually done a video walkthrough of a mobile game before so this is new territory for me. As such, this review of the fun, turn-based iOS game Super Tribes is a bit longer than it probably should be but I’m still learning so go easy on me! My friend @Bigzaphod turned me onto Super Tribes and I’ve been playing it on and off for about a week. It’s really fun, light and doesn’t suck a huge amount of time which is perfect.
The best part about Super Tribes is that the game length is fixed to 30 individual turns which means a typical game can last anywhere from 20 minutes to about an hour and that’s it. You play against the AI, not other people or friends. Depending on your style of gaming this may be a plus or minus to you, but I personally enjoy it. There’s tons of stuff I didn’t cover in the walkthrough but what I do cover should be enough to get you up and exploring the flat, grid-shaped world of Super Tribes in no time.
The game is free to play in the App Store, but if you do try it and like it, I beg you to purchase at least one of the in-app tribe packs to help support the developer. Games of this quality take thousands of hours to design, produce, test and deploy and we want them to continue making them, they need to eat. That’s all I’m saying. Enjoy!
Full disclosure: I own stock in Tesla Motors. Now you know!
Last week Elon Musk finally announced the long-awaited Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is the final step in the company’s “Master Plan” to bring affordable electric vehicles to the masses and judging from the number of pre-orders I’d say it’s about to become a reality. There’s a lot to love about the Model 3 including a minimum driving distance of 215 miles on a single charge and a base starting price of $35,000.
There’s also many unknowns including how many of the over 250K pre-orders Tesla will convert into actual sales. With a promised delivery of somewhere around the “end of 2017” it’s unclear if the government’s $7,500 EV tax credit will still apply to the Model 3 at the time of its release. The credit only covers the first 200,000 units of a given model which means some 53,000+ buyers may not be eligible. In addition, thanks to an anti-electric vehicle assault the Koch brothers plan to mount this year, the entire tax credit structure may not survive in Congress long enough for owners to take advantage of purchasing a Model 3.
I’ve read lots of strong opinions on the Model 3’s styling; from its strange lack of a front grill to the huge flat-panel display that seems overly distracting when sitting behind the wheel. The smooth nose I understand and I think I could get used to, but the large, center-mounted instrumentation panel does seem like a deal breaker, at least to me. I’m curious to see how the display looks when driving at night as well as how responsive it is to touch commands. The entire interior of the Model 3 seems overly minimalistic which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I just feel like I’ll be sitting inside Flynn’s home from TRON: Legacy.
Without a doubt the most appealing aspect of the Model 3 is its range of at least 215 miles on a single charge. Having owned a Ford C-MAX for almost a year now, which has a maximum distance of just over 24 miles on a charge, I can’t wait for the rest of the industry to catch up to Tesla. Whenever my car switches from EV mode to combustion I feel disheartened, like I’ve somehow let the environment down. Having the freedom to travel great distances without worrying about re-charging will be a huge selling point for Tesla and makes hybrid car owners like myself seriously consider it for their next vehicle.
Although I didn’t put a pre-order in for a Model 3, I am enthusiastic for those who did. The entire world will be watching to see if Tesla launches the Model 3 on time and on budget. Meanwhile, other companies like Nissan, Chevy and even Apple are eager to see where Elon Musk’s vision takes us all next. The company’s success or failure will undoubtedly influence the direction of sustainable transport around the world for decades to come. Personally, with the threat of climate change worsening day-by-day, I’m rooting for Tesla to succeed and drag us all into a cleaner, greener future whether we like like how it looks or not.
I count myself fortunate that I have the ability to create. On any given day I create digital artwork in the form of icons, interfaces, logos, illustrations or even just doodles and I have a grand time doing it. I also enjoy whipping up culinary creations in the kitchen which is extremely satisfying to me since unlike most of my work, my food takes physical form (at least until it’s eaten :-)). So I can only imagine what it must be like to be able to take a stack of wood and in the span of a few hours and create something as physically beautiful as the nightstand seen in this video.
Add to that the fact the woodworker has cleverly added a secret compartment into his design and you really have something special. Trust me and take a few minutes out of your busy day to just sit back and watch this table take joyous shape. Seeing the final product really is wonderful, it makes me wish I had taken wood working during my days at RIT.
Back during the run-up to the 2008 election, I blogged about politics a lot and I do mean a lot. Barack Obama’s historic contest against John McCain had so much riding on it after the disastrous 8 years we experienced under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney I felt personally compelled to speak up. Back then, Obama was a relatively unknown quantity trying to pull off an upset against an establishment candidate and the more we all weighed in, the better.
Since then, I’ve somehow managed to avoid blogging about politics. During the election of 2012 I dabbled with a few posts but mainly stayed out of the fray. I think this was mainly because I was confident Obama would win re-election and thankfully that’s what came to pass. President Obama ultimately convinced a majority of the American people that he had done a good enough job with his first four years that he deserved to continue his efforts for another term. Since his re-election unemployment is at historically low levels, the Dow & stock markets are up, the price of gas is down, great strides have been made towards marriage equality and more Americans are insured than ever before. I firmly believe if Barack Obama could run for a third term, he’d win in a landslide.
Which brings us to 2016. Like so many, I’ve watched the run-up to the Presidential Primaries with a mix of astonishment, disgust and a newfound understanding for just how badly some people are willing to set aside good judgement for their political beliefs. When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for President by descending an escalator to throngs of people paid to be there and support him, not for one instant did I actually believe he would become the GOP nominee. I sat and watched the first FOX News debate with both of my parents and told them again and again that Trump would never make the cut. I truly underestimated how far bluster, simple-talk, and praying on people’s fear will get a bully in politics.
The rise of Donald Trump deeply disturbs and offends me and makes me want to start blogging once again. It’s not enough to simply sit on the sidelines and watch others call him out for his egotism, misogyny, racism and utter lack of respect for the truth. There’s a big part of me that can’t believe people actually want this ignorant blowhard to become the leader of the free world. More and more I feel it’s the job of everyone who opposes him to stand up and make their voices heard.
I know I probably won’t change the hearts or minds of those who support him. There will always be those who adorn their cars with TRUMP bumper stickers or their heads with “Make America Great Again” hats and they have already made up their willful minds. For them, I suspect, it’s not so much about backing a billionaire who blames illegal immigrants or muslims for their live’s problems as much as it is for spite.
Since Obama took office, conservatives have felt slighted by republicans in Congress who’ve continually ignored their demands. In time they fought back and begat what eventually became the Tea Party. When the Tea Party didn’t get the job done they naturally latched onto the biggest bully they could find to muscle their agenda through – Trump. Trump promises the sun and the moon if they’ll just trust him. Never-mind the fact he has zero political experience and doesn’t know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah.
Collectively, Trump’s supporters remind me of Grover Dill, the smirking toady of school yard bully Scut Farkus in ‘A Christmas Story’. To Dill, Ralphie (in this case liberals and RHINO’s alike) are weak sheep who deserve the political pummeling they’re about to receive and Trump is just the ruffian to dish it out. Grover’s out for revenge and isn’t afraid to talk smack, but careful to stay firmly behind the bully. The curious thing about most bullies however is they’re really just big babies who run home sniveling when you turn and give them a taste of their own medicine.
Like Ralphie, I’ve had enough of this thin-skinned, can-dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it buffoon so yes, I’ll be blogging more about politics from now on. If you care about what I have to say then tune in here from time to time or follow me on Twitter for my thoughts on this great circus we call an election. It’s a long time until November and anything can happen but I’m hoping to add my voice to the growing choir of progressives, conservatives and even children who all agree Donald Trump should never, ever be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.
Recently Apple released a new iPhone commercial and aside from the usual cool technology on display, the internet’s big take-a-way was that Apple came down on the side of the age-old debate of how to pronounce the image file format acronym Gif. According to Apple it’s pronounced with a hard G and that really surprised me. I realize the debate about what is “right” when it comes to Gif vs Jif will rage on for years, but Apple has a tendency towards respecting the rights and wishes of content creators and in this instance they have clearly failed.
Back in 2013, Steve Wichita, the creator of the Gif format supposedly settled the debate once and for all and told the world that the name is pronounced like the peanut butter. Regardless of how you personally feel about context or syntax or any other factor, Wichita’s wishes, at least to me, are the deciding factor.
I’m reminded of a scene early in Star Trek: The Next Generation when Dr. Pulaski pronounces Cmd. Data’s name incorrectly. Both pronunciations are technically correct, as is the case with Gif vs Jif (at least according to Webster’s Dictionary), but only ONE way represents Data’s actual name. When you choose to pronounce Gif with a hard G, you choose to disregard the wishes of the format’s creator, and that’s the main reason why I say Jif instead of Gif.
PC gaming is back with a vengeance and this means developers have churned out out some fantastically useful gaming accessories for players to enjoy. Making game controls faster and slicker are crucial to play feel and this past year’s range of top level gaming mice are the ideal accompaniment if you’re considering an immersive gaming experience.
A slick mouse is a must-have for dedicated gamers, particularly those who multi-table or switch through online casino games or online slots at Royal Vegas. Never has a mouse allowed you to control as much as the Roccat Nyth. Thanks to its special selection of side buttons you are able to configure up to 36 potential combinations which gives more control over your favorite MMO’s or indeed any PC-based game you can enjoy. Its highly customisable features combined with AlienFX illumination and hot-swappable sidegrips makes this your next must-have gaming mouse.
Razer Naga Chroma
It’s a bit more expensive than the Nyth but Razer’s Naga Chroma is great for those style hungry gamers looking for a bit of color in their lives. The mouse’s Chroma lighting allows the user to customize no less than 16.8 million different color options, brightening up any gaming experience. But it’s not just about looks, the wireless Naga mouse includes a tilt-click thumb grid and can run for up to 8 hours on a single charge.
It may have a significantly low DPI at just 2,500 but what it lacks in mouse sensitivity it certainly makes up for in power. This offering from Logitech has in-game sensitivity switching and can last up to an incredible 250 hours making it the perfect gaming accessory for those avid gamers looking to make the most out of their MMO gaming marathons.
Roccat Kone XTD
If you’re hunting around for a more cost effective option but don’t want to skimp on the quality of a finely crafted gaming mouse then look no further than the Roccat Kone XTD. With its ergonomic design and 8,200 DPI it’s by no means fragile and its robustness allows even the most frustrated player to give it a damn good tapping from time to time. It includes customizable buttons and also a 32-bit processor which is perfectly suitable for all your gaming needs.
If you love PC gaming, there’s never been a better time to invest in one of these high-tech input devices. Your team mates will thank you and your opponents will fear you. Enjoy!
Over the last few years I’ve developed a growing concern for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s seemingly inexorable slide towards Richard Dawkins levels of jerkdom. He hasn’t sunk to attacking children with a penchant for science or engineering, but he has been punching down at topics that either don’t bare close examination or has just been plain rude in his media appearances and it’s really starting to hurt my heart.
On a recent episode of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me he justified why he feels the need to call out movies & TV shows when they depict something wildly inaccurate and came off as a smug know-it-all in the process. As I was listening with my wife in the car, I was actually embarrassed to call myself a fan. I get that picking apart science inaccuracies wherever they exist (even in fiction) may be Neil’s “thing” but it increasingly just makes him look petty & arrogant or as my friend John Gruber described it on Twitter, a “Killjoy”.
Tyson’s friend and mentor, the noted scientist Carl Sagan, also led the charge against scientific fallacies but unlike Neil, he never picked fights with science fiction or subjects that didn’t deserve it. Sagan had a famous beef with the pseduo-science of astrology and often railed against it, but he did so from a position of authority on a subject that many people saw as fact, instead of the fiction it really was. If Twitter had been around in Carl’s day, I doubt he would’ve felt compelled to nitpick the science behind Star Wars as Neil recently did. We all know the “science” behind Star Wars isn’t real, can’t we just enjoy it as the fun-filled escapmism it’s intended to be?
It’s always difficult when you realize your personal heroes have feet of clay just like everyone else. I still love Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs, Gene Roddenberry and Neil Tyson despite their character flaws. They are, after all, only human. In the recently re-booted Cosmos series, Neil tells us that he learned from Sagan not just what kind of scientist he wanted to be, but also what kind of person he wanted to be. I wish Neil would take more of those life lessons Carl conveyed to him to heart sometimes and focus on what matters. I love Tyson so much, but lately he’s really bringing me down. To take a cue from Star Wars, hopefully he’ll unlearn what he has learned and learn to simply lighten up.
Today Apple introduced their new iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case and I feel pretty confident in saying it’s easily the ugliest piece of industrial design to come out of Cupertino in the past 15 years. While their efforts to bring iPhone users extended battery life are laudable, for the life of me I can’t imagine how this clunky eyesore of a case got all the way through design to arrive in Apple’s product line up.
Even worse, it seems as though the design and engineering teams at Apple forgot to talk to each other because the new case seems like a perfect opportunity to make use of Apple’s much-touted terraced battery technology. When the new Macbook was introduced, Phil Schiller made a big deal (and rightfully so) about how every millimeter of space in the new Macbook was able to be used to expand the total battery capacity. But looking at the new Smart Phone case, it seems like all that incredible design research just went out the window. The bottom and top of the battery bumps on the new case could have been terraced to both maximize battery capacity and at least try and display some elegant lines instead of what we got.
There are times when, for the briefest of moments, lose faith that Apple knows exactly what they’re doing. It doesn’t happen often but there’s no doubt the new case is going to be the object of ridicule and rightly so. As I sit and ponder just how bad this case looks, I just can’t get Arnold’s hilarious line from Kindergarten Cop out of my head. Apple missed an important opportunity to tout new technology in a stunningly beautiful way.
These days click-bait is everywhere. Those oh-so-tempting headlines that promise amazing facts that will blow your mind and keep you in the know. Even the BBC, renowned throughout the world, and thought of as highly as the British royals themselves has fallen for the lure of the click-bait sirens. Yes the British Broadcasting Corporation is now producing content entitled a ‘certain amount of reasons we must do something’, trying their darndest to feed us “life hacks”.
We’re living in a world where even the Beeb are trying to capture us with cheap, over-egged headlines. It should come as no surprise that the main culprits lie with the likes of The Daily Mail and Buzzfeed however.
You can hardly miss it, and one brand who has taken a stand is Ladbrokes Bingo. They’ve created a clever answer to click-bait with the Lingo Bingo generator to poke fun at the ridiculously over-the-top posts that are plaguing our collective web browsers.
Their headline generator allows users to generate Facebook, Daily Mail, Hollywood, Reddit and Buzzfeed titles with dozens of different headlines to choose from, putting to shame national newspapers and widely read sites with posts that are equally as unbelievable.
With titles such as ‘Lauren Goodger narrowly avoids torrential rain’, now you too can join the click-bait parade and openly mock the horrendous nature of stories hitting the web. And while ‘How to pick your nose like a pro’ remarkably hasn’t yet appeared on Buzzfeed, it feels right at home on Lingo Bingo.
It really is depressing how plagued the web has become with these kinds of fluff-filled headlines, but perhaps the most worrying part is we wouldn’t really be surprised if they actually hit the press or at least became the basis for Onion articles. At least for now we can take solace in fooling friends with our own home-grown click-bait shared via social media ourselves. After all, who wouldn’t want to catch all their followers with a finger up their nose?
The widening selection of game creation tools available to mobile developers have come a long way in improving players’ experiences when gaming on the go. Game engines are special software frameworks designed to augment the strengths of modern gaming hardware and aid the rapid development and creation of new and exciting titles. Modern game engines contain all the necessary tools for developers to be able to create their kick-ass games more quickly and easier than ever before and the results have been impressive.
Thanks to the advent of smartphones, tablets, phablets and now wearables like Apple Watch, the monetary worth of the gaming industry is enjoying exponential growth. The mobile gaming market alone is predicted to hit $9 billion in 2016. The convenience of playing both casual games like mobile bingo, as well as pulse-pounding, hyper-realistic racing games have all helped the industry set new records. With the continual improvements of next-generation of gaming platforms and quality titles like Splatoon and The Witcher 3 to go with them, gamers are enjoying a bright future packed with high-quality titles from a host of publishers, and powerful engines are driving their success.
The Unreal Engine has long been a favorite among developers and has been responsible for helping to create such popular titles such as Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, Injustice, Borderlands Legends and the Infinity Blade series. To date, the Unreal Engine 3 has been installed on some 2.25 million computers worldwide and comes complete with an integrated Unreal Editor suite which has helped revolutionize the way developers build and develop their mobile game projects.
For PopCap Games’ popular tower defense game Plants vs Zombies and OMGPop’s rather addictive mobile app Draw Something, the Marmalade SDK helped provide the facility and resources needed to create cross-platform C++ games.
The software development kit gives developers the ability to compile their Xcode and Visual Studio projects for Android or iOS which helps cut development costs while widening their potential audiences at the same time. Marmalade also provides an acceleration tool called Marmalade Quick which provides an even more flexible, open environment for developers to experiment with. This is particularly useful for those companies looking to get their games up, running and monetized more quickly.
Other game engines such as Unity can make 3D development a breeze whilst the Corona SDK helps solves issues of cross-content publishing giving developers more freedom to concentrate on other aspects of their games.
There’s little doubt that the modern state of game engine development now offers something for every type of game developer and this means more and more players are reaping the rewards. From casual to hard-core and everything in-between, these advanced tools in the hands of talented studios can only lead to every-higher quality mobile gaming experiences. What a great time to be a gamer!
With the impending launch of Apple Music this week, it dawned on me that I don’t exactly know just how much I’m spending on digital subscription services. Back in the day I had physical newspapers & magazines show up on my doorstep every month so it was relatively easy to keep track of what I had subscribed to. Those bound, blocks of paper acted as reminders of what I was and wasn’t reading. Subscriptions these days can be tricky things; sign up for a Patreon here, add a new online media service there and pretty soon you’ve lost track of just how much you’re shelling out for the convenience of online content.
The new Apple Music service will cost $9.99 a month / $119.88 yearly but I already subscribe to iTunes Match which costs just $24.99 a year. Do I really need both? There are additional benefits that Apple Music offers that go beyond iTunes Match of course, but is it worth it strictly from a cost basis?
Before I can answer that question I really need to know just how much I’m spending month to month on all these things, so I went through and tried to catalog all of my digital subscriptions. Here’s what I found.
• MLB TV $129.99 yearly
• Netflix $8.53 mo / $102.36 yearly
• America’s Test Kitchen Multi-site Membership / $69.96 yearly
• iTunes Match $24.99 yearly
• Patreon $8.00 mo / $96 yearly
• iCloud 20GB Plan .99¢ mo / $11.88 yearly
• Angie’s List Basic $7.99 yearly
So in total, I’m currently paying $347.17 annually in online subscriptions which breaks down to roughly $29 per month. Overall that’s better than I expected, but then again these are only the subscriptions I could track down or remember I was paying. There are probably a few others I haven’t accounted for yet. I wonder if the amount of content I’ve subscribed to is below or above average for today’s consumer?
Are there subscriptions I could cancel to help get the new Apple Music service into my budget? I’m definitely considering ending my America’s Test Kitchen subscription for instance. The two Patreons I subscribe to (Kurzgesagt & Apple World Today) may not be necessary, but they bring me awesome content every month that I enjoy and wish to support. There’s no way I would ever ditch Netflix, it’s one of the best content providers I’ve ever had.
In the end, switching out my iTunes Match subscription for a year of Apple Music would bring my monthly total up to around $37 or $442.06 annually. That’s an increase of roughly 27% of what I’m currently forking over which seems like a lot at first glance. Will Apple Music be worth it? As I don’t currently subscribe to any streaming music services like Spotify or Beats, it’s pretty much impossible to say, at least for now. The good news is Apple is offering that infamous 3-month free trial when it launches on Tuesday so I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking advantage of that to evaluate the service.
If you’re cost conscious or on a budget and have not taken stock of your online subscriptions recently, now might be a good time to do so. Knowing just how much you’re spending each month can really be an eye-opener that will help you make informed for future subscriptions. At the very least, this exercise has taught me to categorize all of my online subscriptions similarly in Mint so I can easily review what I’ve subscribed to. Lastly, the folks over at iMore have also put together a fantastic guide to Apple Music that answers every question you could possibly have. Hopefully this all helps you as much as it helped me!
Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision struck down gay marriage bans in 14 states effectively making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to finally marry throughout the nation. The announcement sent ripples of rainbow-colored hope throughout the country and on social media. The hashtag #LoveWins quickly spread through Twitter and Facebook and people started updating their online avatars with the bright colors of the gay pride movement in a show of solidarity that I won’t soon forget.
I created the fun image above to help celebrate the historic announcement. Star Trek has always meant so very much to me, and like millions of others who grew up enjoying its themes of peace, diversity and tolerance, the image of proud, honorable Worf standing with his brightly colored rainbow uniform just seemed perfectly appropriate. I also love a good pun and hence I made it sew (see what I did there?).
On a more serious note, the momentous events of this week still have me in a hope-filled, optimistic daze. Obamacare being upheld for some 6 million Americans who rely on it for health insurance was much welcomed news but then the Supreme Court finally recognizing gay people’s right to marry was the proverbial icing on the cake. This has been a long, long time coming and there are some who didn’t think it would happen in their lifetime.
For opponents, the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage represents an unlawful power grab that defies the Constitution, but for the majority of the nation and the court, it represents just the opposite. The Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees that all US citizens are to be treated equally from state to state. Justice Kennedy’s closing paragraph stands as a pillar of legal and moral truth that gave me goose bumps when I read it:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
In their decision, the court didn’t construct a law giving gay people the right to marry, they simply struck down the state laws that were keeping Americans from being treated equally under the Constitution. They re-affirmed gays rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the rest of us sometime take for granted. For the religious-minded among us, the court was reminding everyone of the age-old proverb, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Return kindness with kindness. Respect with respect and love with love. What a wonderful time to be an American. Today is indeed a good day to dye.
I love it when a movie, TV show or book takes hold in someone enough to inspire fan creations. I was skeptical when I heard all of the hype surrounding the new Mad Max film, but my fears were quickly buried in an awesome heap of twisted metal once I saw the film. A strange mix of classic action and modern, diverse storytelling, Fury Road really did live up to my expectations.
The film has inspired tons of art from fans from all corners of the globe and now comes these amazing LEGO roadsters from build master Calin (_tiler). I love every single bit of these builds especially the simple lines and bits of canvas and string used for the bedroll. Be sure to check out their Flickr page for even more amazing Mad Max vehicles.
These images take me right back to how I felt when I first saw the Kenner’s Landspeeder toy. I would spend hours in the sand playing with that thing until my mom would be forced to call me in for supper. It’s great how something so simple and fun can evoke the child in all of us.
Via Brother’s Brick
There’s a lot more to gaming then just having the latest game play systems. Surrounding your arena with a plethora of luxurious gadgets can give you that all important edge in the heat of battle. If you’re thinking of pimping up your gaming space, then have at a glance at some of these fabulous extras:
To kick off your lair you will certainly need to be comfortable. If you’re planning on being seated at your desk for hours on end, and you regularly find yourself involved in some epic gaming adventures that you won’t want to tear yourself away from, then you owe it to your butt and your back to feel relaxed. A gaming chair that offers neck and back support is crucial for arduous sessions but it’s not just any chair, it’s your throne and an entire gaming accessory in itself. High-end gaming chairs not only provide comfort but also boast integrated surround sound and rumble motion to further enhance your gaming experience and truly immerse you in the gameplay.
The most important element to consider whilst piecing together your new gaming man-cave is the monitor. You may have picked up a PC or console that comes complete with its own monitor but that might not quite fit the bill. A tailored gaming monitor can handle rapid motions more effectively whilst high definition screens are built to promote wonderfully vivid colors. Ultra HD and 4K monitors are the best of the best but make sure that your games, and of course your graphics card and GPU’s, can even handle this sort of resolution. Swift monitors can help you master fast-paced games and, if you partake regularly at Sky Casino, they can help you harness skills like poker multi-tabling.
Gaming keypads offer a much more versatile approach to controlling the overall gaming experience. Unlike the standard PC gaming keyboards out there, these more specialized alternatives give players a more ergonomic way in which to play their favorite games. They come with adjustable features that let you control palm and wrist support and some will include thumb mounted joysticks to further comfort and maneuverability.
Headsets & Headphones
Headphones are useful for two different reasons; to help you immerse yourself fully in the gaming environment whilst blocking out background noise and to ensure you don’t drive everyone else around you mad with the constant rattle of virtual gunfire. Headsets also give you the ability to chat and interact with other online gamers via an attached and mounted microphone with wired and wireless options available. There are a number of great options available, so many that it can sometimes be difficult to choose.
Right before the annual developer pilgrimage to Moscone Center, the interwebs become flush with wish lists for Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference and this year is no different. I can’t quibble with my peer’s desires for Apple to focus on fixing bugs and increasing stability rather than adding new and shiny features, but there is one tiny area I’m secretly hoping will play a major role in iOS 9 – Apple Pay Loyalty Programs.
Without a doubt, Apple Pay has been one of the best advancements out of Cupertino in the last 10 years. It makes paying for goods and services generally quicker, far more secure and reduces the amount of “stuff” I need to carry around in my pockets. When it was announced, Apple hinted at upcoming upgrades that would allow retailers to offer loyalty programs and incentives if people used Apple Pay at their retail locations. That was then, and this is now.
Although Tim Cook’s Apple Pay has made impressive in-roads in the space, many retailers have remained skeptical and have refused to join in the secure fun either because they are lazy, cost conscious or can’t get access to the kinds of information that Apple won’t make available via Apple Pay – customer data. Retailers currently have no way to say to Apple Pay customers “If you buy from us, we’ll give you loyalty points you can use for a future discount!” and that’s a problem. As a consumer, I desperately want to reward businesses that make my financial transactions more secure and I want them to recognize my choice by giving me the kinds of incentives I’ve come to enjoy over the years.
Like me, you probably carry around loyalty cards on your keyring or wallet that the cashier swipes when you check out at the grocery store. I hate these things desperately, they need to die a violent death. I absolutely love paying for my lunch via Apple Pay at Panera Bread, but I wince when I have to reach for my wallet to hand the cashier my Panera card just so I can get credit towards next month’s free cookie. It makes no sense.
If there’s any single thing on my wish list for this year’s WWDC, it would be for Apple to give me the ability to never have to carry loyalty/reward cards around ever again. With Apple Pay, Cupertino has made good on its original Passbook promise – A safe, secure and digital wallet without the physical wallet. I’m really hoping that they’ve found a way to integrate loyalty programs into Apple Pay for iOS 9. Doing so is good for the consumer, for businesses and ultimately the economy as paying for stuff electronically gets easier and more secure. Now if I could just get rid of my car’s key fob. Maybe one day.
UPDATE: BINGO! At today’s WWDC keynote address Apple unveiled that they will be adding merchant rewards cards to Apple Pay with iOS 9. Yes Virginia, sometimes dreams do come true!