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Showing posts from January, 2013

Rejuvenate an old Android device with Cyanogen

My current phone is a two year old Samsung Galaxy S I9000. It is long out of contract and costs me very little every month for calls and data.  It is in great condition and it does everything I need a phone to do so it is hard to justify a replacement at this stage. Nevertheless the Android version 2.3 (Gingerbread) running on felt old and slow in comparison to a recently acquired Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) so I decided to have a go at an upgrade. I hadn't done this for a quite some time and I was disappointed to discover that Samsung themselves stopped offering official upgrades for this phone after Android 2.3 so I would have to look for an unofficial upgrade or mod if I wanted to do better. The open source nature of Android means it is supported by a vast hacking and modding community. This is an advantage in that there is a huge array of mods out there catering to all tastes and offering many improvements over the official stock operating

Now Playing Kingdoms of Amalur, Far Cry 3, and Baldur's Gate

Kingdoms of Amalur: This is a hugely impressive crpg and well worth trying but after playing for a couple of weeks I began to feel something akin to mmorpg burnout. I am going to take a break from the game. Far Cry 3: The original Far Cry is one of my all time favourite games. I was very disappointed by Far Cry 2 but when 3 won many accolades my hopes were raised once more. Despite the hype my first impressions were not that great. I didn't hate the game like I did 2 but it certainly wasn't love at first sight. The main plot is quite forgettable and the game-play seemed to lack any real challenge. The game does have a breathtakingly beautiful huge open world but at first I didn't see the point of it. It is only when I adjusted my perspective and began to explore the world that the game began to make sense to me. The world is choc a bloc with fun things to do. Hunting games survival games, racing games, target practice and many others pop up all over

Replace Apps with Bookmarks to Free up your Mobile Device

Apps are great, providing one click access to applications and services in a format that is optimised for mobile viewing. But.... Every app you install eats up some of your limited storage space and many apps continue to use system resources when you are not using them like push notifications and live desktop widgets. If you are running out of space or if your device is slowing down due to app overload then you need to do a clear out. After all you probably don't need that interactive guide to a city you visited 8 months ago and only the most dedicated twitterers really need a pop up notification every time one of the 872 people they are following makes a tweet. Happily there is a way that you can continue to have one click access to many of your favourite services without wasting any of your mobile device's precious resources. Simply use your browser to create a home screen bookmark to the web version of the service you want. Many websites such as Facebook, Gmail and Twitte

The Hall of Ballads: A Great Quest Line from Kingdom of Amalur

Kingdom of Amalur the Reckoning is a very impressive RPG withe some surprisingly good storytelling.  I have just completed the Hall of Ballads line and I was really impressed by the mini story it tells. Even though it is only an optional faction quest it is clever, thought provoking and well written. Once I got into the story I quickly got hooked and felled compelled to follow it through to the end to find ou what happens. My description of the quest below naturally contains spoilers so if you just want a quick summary of my thoughts on Amalur skip down below the spoiler marks. [Spoilers Follow] The Hall of Ballads are a group of Fae (a magical race) who devote themselves to preserving the heroic legends of the past. However these long lived folk are not content to just tell the stories. They actually relive them. Every cycle the heroes and the villains go through the old adventures over and over again. If a hero dies then a new volunteer is chosen to join the hall. They take

A Game I love is on sale at a deep discount. Happy or Sad?

Happy because the sale probably means a lot of new players will get to experience a great game that I love. Sad because the cut price probably means that the game wasn't the commercial success that enthusiasts hoped it would be. Happy because sales do work according to Gabe Newell and the sale will probably generate a much needed revenue bump for the  company and help them to keep up their good work. Sad because the revenue bump from a Steam sale is still only a trickle compared to the massive earnings of Call of Duty 999 and other top sellers that never need to go on discount. Happy because discount sales tend to bring sanity to the overall game market lowering prices all around and allowing gamers like myself to enjoy many more games than we otherwise could afford.   Sad because it is human nature to equate price with quality and deep discounts within a few months of launch probably do damage to the reputation of a game. This post was triggered by the observation th

Cease and Desist: Context Sensitive Buttons

I have noticed an increasing trend in modern video games (particularly third person action games) for context sensitive buttons. The same button can have multiple effects depending on the context. In general I hate this. It leads to all sorts of control confusion. I played a shooter last week where the same button would either make you duck for cover or sprint forwards depending on your position and what you were looking at when you pressed it. Recipe for disaster. Of course you get used to it and for the most part learn when to press it to achieve the desired effect but I can assure you that many times in the heat of battle I panicked and pressed that button when I wasn't quite lined up with cover and instead dashed wildly out into a hail of gunfire. For me it is not just a control problem it is also an immersion problem.  In order to maximise immersion I want to feel in control of my character at all times. I need to know that when I press button X the same thing will happen e

Trying to force people to use Google+ smacks of desperation.

Google has changed the rules of its Play store so that you now need to be on Google+ to leave a review. I think this is a bonehead move. Google's Play store  for Android apps has been a big success.  It has become a serious rival to Apple's  market leading App store and may even grow to surpass it. Google+ on the other hand has not managed to dent Facebook's dominance of the social networking space. Many, many users of other Google services have chosen to to pass on Google+. Perhaps they are happy with Facebook. Perhaps they just don't use social networking. I suspect that forcing people into Google+ before they can rate Android apps will damage the Android store more than it will boost Google's struggling social network.

Happy New Year and some thoughts on XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Happy 2013 to everyone. We had fireworks in Dublin last night at an unusually family friendly 8pm which meant that we could catch them and still be safely ensconced in our own home for the turning of the year which suited my young family just fine. it also meant that I managed to fit in an hour of gaming while waiting for the count down and I used that time to finish the last battle of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. XCOM has been my main game over the last few weeks and Steam records that I spent 78 hours playing it. It is a great game that I heartily recommend but I am currently feeling the inevitable anti-climax that results from finishing a game that I have invested a lot of time in. The few negatives stand out more in my mind at present despite that fact that I heartily agree it is a brilliant  game overall. Gripes first: 1. I encountered a few silly bugs none of which were game breaking. They are annoying though and it is surprising to find such obvious bugs still present in a AAA ti