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Monthly Archives: July 2016

  • The Struggles Of Being A Lone Android User

    Before, I start, I’d like to get one thing straight: I love my Android devices. Ever since I started using Android phones and tablets in 2013, I’ve been using them nonstop. I love the interface, they’re very affordable, and I have every app I need. However, I noticed something at a recent family and friend gathering:

    I am the only Android user among my family and friend group.

    For the most part, the people around me are staunchly pro-Apple. They rave about their phones, tablets, and computers. While I can admit they make quality products, I simply prefer the affordability and operating system of Android devices. And because I refuse to turn to the Apple side, let’s take a look at a few of the struggles of being the lone Android user in an Apple community.

    BYOC (Bring Your Own Charger) It’s happened to all of us. We’re enjoying the party around us and decide to check our phone to rationalize staying another twenty minutes. But reality settles in. We notice our device is down to 8% battery. It’s panic time. You run around asking everybody, anybody, for a spare charger.

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    Now, this used to be a pretty easy situation. There was always at least one fellow Androidman (is that the word? I’m using it anyways) to mooch some charger off of. But now, as the Lone Androidman (movie script pending), I need to bring my own charger everywhere, just in case.

    So Long, Siri Just to be clear: I realize Android basically has its own version of Siri. And it does the job just fine. What I mainly mean is having a little fun with Siri. I remember when Siri first came out. Everybody was flipping about this new robot butler (I refuse to think of it otherwise).

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    And one of the most fun things when it first came out was messing around with this new robot butler. It was fun to gauge the pre-programmed reactions when you joke around with it. While not a huge deal, it does make you feel a bit left out when everyone around you summons their robot butler right in front of you. (I still love you, Google Now)

    Faceless Time Much like Siri, FaceTime is something Android has a version of that I don’t really use that much. And that’s not only because I’m not a fan of video chatting, (I’m much better in person - kinda) no one from my friend group or family uses it since they're using FaceTime.

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    This wouldn’t be a huge deal, but again it makes you feel left out. When everybody’s so used to FaceTime, it’s tough to convince them to download Google Hangouts on their iPhone.

    I Still Won’t Change All of this may seem like the first world problem rant of a man about to change. Well, that’s simply not true. I love my Android and don't plan on changing anytime soon. And if that means not using a friend’s charger, harassing a robot butler, or letting people see a close-up of my face, I’m totally fine with that. As for changing something, maybe it’s time to befriend a few more fellow Androidmen.

  • Penguin Village Review

    What is it that’s so likeable about penguins? Is it their basic adorable appearance? Is it the fact that they generally look huggable? Is it the fact that they know how to dance, as accurately portrayed in the documentary Happy Feet? I’d say yes to all of those. And that’s why we see so many penguins in our movies and TV shows. And app games. Which I’m reviewing today. It’s called Penguin Village. It’s for Windows devices. That is all.

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    The Basics

    When I first saw the title was Penguin Village, I figured they’d be going for a whole “Club Penguin” kind of thing. You know, that game where kids can play as Penguins and...chat about penguin stuff? I’m not sure, I haven’t really played it. Well, this game is not that. But I can’t talk about that yet. This is the Basics section. I’m forbidden to speak of any gameplay until the appropriate section. Thank you for understanding.\

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    The Gameplay

    While this is not a Club Penguin-ish game, it’s more of a Mario-meets-Temple Run kind of experience. You see, you don’t actually control your movement, only jumping and ducking. And throwing...rocks? I don’t remember that from March Of The Penguins. You also collect fruits and vegetables while battling aliens. I definitely don’t remember that from March Of The Penguins.

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    Is It Fun?

    While it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, I had a decent time with Penguin Village. The controls are decent, the obstacles are plentiful, and there’s no shortage of standard platforming items to collect. You can tell they wanted to try something original, as evidenced by the fact that you battle aliens. However, I ran into one major problem with the game - the advertising placement. At least for me, there was a large banner ad placed between the buttons on the screen. This made seeing what’s below you nearly impossible at times, leading to plenty of mistakes by me. Caused by mistakes by the game.

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    The Bottom Line

    Penguin Village has all the basic parts of a good game. It has decent gameplay, a cute, cuddly mascot, and aliens. But the game’s strange ad placement makes me consider this game more mediocre than good. Is it too late for the game to jump from mediocre to good? Well, I’m not an app developer and don’t know how to move ads around. But I bet it’s easy. Right?

  • How to Get Podcasts on Your Android Phone

    Are you an avid listener of podcasts? Do you enjoy hearing a few people chat about everything from sports to entertainment to the best kind of quadruple stack cheeseburger? (I’m not sure if that’s a podcast yet, but it definitely should be.) Then I’m sure you’d like an easy way to have all your podcasts directly on your phone.

    “But wait! I have an Android phone. I can’t subscribe to iTunes podcasts”, you may say.

    Well, fear not, as Google Play Music, the main music service from Google (couldn’t you tell from the name?) is fully equipped for your podcast needs. But I know what you’re saying now. “I wish I had a mildly informative article to teach me how to find the podcasts I want on Google Play.” Well, you’re in luck again. Because you’re reading such an article right now. (Is your mind blown?) Let’s take a look at the world of Google Play Music podcasts.

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    The Basics

    After opening the Google Play Music app, you need to tap the small box in the top left of the screen. You know, that box with all the lines that every single app seems to have. You’ll get a number of different options, such as “Browse Stations”, “Listen Now”, and “Order Sandwich”. The last one’s my favorite feature. Simply tap on “Podcasts” and let your journey begin.

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    And Then What?

    Once you’ve taken a look at some of the most popular podcasts, you may want to narrow down your search. Simply tap on “All Categories” and scroll around. They have everything from Business to News & Politics to plenty of other things that are way too highbrow for me to listen to.

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    Additional Tips

    If you don’t see anything available that sparks your interests, simply search a keyword of something you enjoy. Big fan of the 90’s? Check out 90’s Percentile. Love trivia? Give Good Job Brain a listen. Huge fan of actor Todd Bridges? I’m sure there’s a podcast about him called Toddcast. Wait, never mind, I’m taking that idea.

  • The OverDrive App - A Library In Your Pocket

    Have you ever seen anybody on the bus reading a paperback book? You feel like you went through a time machine by accident. You would look to check a newspaper for today’s date if we still had newspapers.

    Perhaps the reason some people haven’t ditched those papercut-giving former trees is because they haven’t discovered the joy of eBooks yet. And even if they have, they would prefer not to spend money. Well, I guess that’s everybody. However, as the great Hannah Montana once said, you can get the best of both worlds. And I’d like to think she was singing about the OverDrive app.

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    Easy Interface

    One of the things that really stuck out to me was the interface. I thought the process of getting library eBooks would be even tougher than actually going to the library. (You mean I have to wear a clean shirt?!) Instead, it was delightfully easy. Before I knew it, I was off on my journeys to Hogwarts, Middle Earth, and the wonderful world of Goosebumps. I never want to grow up.

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    Don't Like Reading?

    No problem! OverDrive lets you download available audiobooks the exact same way as regular eBooks. It allows a simple mp3 download that you can carry on the go, no data streaming needed. And ignore people if they look down on you for listening to audiobooks rather than reading them. We all know which way is better.

    P.S. My personal audiobook recommendation: The Stephen Colbert books. Plenty of extra goodies added in that separate them from the actual books.

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    However...

    There are a couple limitations with the Overdrive app. You need a current library card in order to register your account and check out anything. However, this should be fairly simple if you have a library nearby. Or your parents already have a card. The only other speedbump is, much like a physical library, there are only so many copies you can rent. This means not everything you search for will be automatically available. I know the struggle - I had to wait a few weeks before finally being able to rent Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t tell me I don’t understand suffering.

    Enjoy Free Books On The Go

    OverDrive is perfect Android app for anybody on-the-go or just lounging around the house. It’s simple, it’s free, and most importantly, you’ll look pretty smart having it on your device. It’s a great feeling to have all the benefits of the library without leaving the comfort of your own home. Or your pajamas.

  • Writing Challenge App Review

    Like many writers, I have a very difficult time with inspiration. I can work all day and still get nothing done. (Ooh that’s really poetic, I’m writing that down!) Something I’ve taken to doing is a daily writing exercise. Not only has it helped to flex the old writing muscle, it can inspire other writing works.

    Something that really helped me commit to the daily writing routine was the Writing Challenge App. I have tried many different writing prompts before, but always found them too restrictive. Sure, I can write a two-page story about dolphins. But will it actually be interesting? Most likely not. The Writing Challenge App helps to add the little extra spice that can make a story more interesting.

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    Productive And Addictive

    While I have struggled in the past to find an app that truly helped me with writing, the Writing Challenge was supremely helpful. I found myself sitting in coffee shops writing for hours. Using the app is very simple, you simply hit ‘Start’ and you’re off! You are given a quick prompt with a 60 second time limit. After the time is up, the next “step” gives you something to add to the story. However, if you find the suggestion doesn't fit the particular story, you can simply move on to the next step.

    And it really works! I found myself writing stories about smoking fish, sarcastic aliens, and gambling pilots. It was an interesting day. And I found myself successfully combating writer’s block, a dangerous illness in the writing community.

     

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    Customizable Challenges

    There’s also plenty of ways to customize your challenge. While I prefer to do the standard one step per minute challenge, (what can I say? I’m a purist!) there are many ways to go about it.  You can extend the number of steps up to 50 and increase the number to 10 minutes between steps. Or you can go at your own pace, having no time between steps at all. It really boosts your creativity when you are able to experience your challenge at your own pace.

    Very Inexpensive

    Let me get one thing straight before we go any further: the app does cost money. (Gasp!)  I know even 99 cents seems like 99 dollars to many app users. However, the Writing Challenge is a one-time payment of $1.89. To put that in perspective, it’s less expensive than most late night fast food runs. And much, much better for you.

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    Goodbye, Writer’s Block

    When it comes to writing, I am very lazy. See? Even that sentence seemed lazy. However, the Writing Challenge app helped me with my daily writing routine, and I feel much better for it. And it may or may not have inspired a few future stories. (Those smoking fish and sarcastic aliens will return in Writing Challenge App Review 2: The Reckoning.) For the price of a cheeseburger, I’d say that’s worth it. Although personally, I’m happy having both.

  • Angry Birds Fight RPG Puzzle Android Review

    I’m sure glad we can never get too much of a good thing. Angry Birds, one of the most popular mobile series of all time, debuted just a few years ago. In fact, it may be the most popular mobile game series of all time. I’m not sure, it would take research. Well, since Angry Birds came out we’ve had a racing game, an RPG, a cartoon show, a Star Wars version, and probably even a young adult series of novels. And now a puzzle. Or is it an RPG? Or is it a...fight? Well, let’s find out by taking a look at Angry Birds Fight! RPG Puzzle for iOS devices.

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    The Basics

    Mixing together two types of gameplay works very well for many games. For example, action RPGs such as Kingdom Hearts have done a great job fusing together two genres. However, it only works if you use both types together well. Angry Birds Fight! RPG Puzzle, just from the title, shows how it’s attempting to mix together many different game styles. Does it work? Well, isn’t that what this review is for?

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    The Gameplay

    Do you know what we need more of? Those games where you match three things together and make a bunch of things disappear. Well, this is one of those. But mixed with an RPG. Kind of. I’ll get into it more. As the title implies, this is a puzzle game mixed with an RPG. As you match up more and more, you give your bird power to have a short battle with its enemy. By smacking it with a tennis racket.

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    Is It Fun?

    While the game attempts to mix together Candy Crush puzzle gaming with turn-based RPG battles, it’s not exactly evenly mixed. Most of the gameplay will consist of matching together the three colorful bird heads. So you must be wondering where the RPG part comes in. Well, it kind of does when you give your bird new hats and weapons to make it stronger. And that’s about it. Final Fantasy VII this is not.

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    The Bottom Line

    Angry Birds Fight! RPG Puzzle (I can’t keep typing that or my fingers are going to fall off) doesn’t seem to know what it want to be. It wants to meld together puzzles and RPG gameplay together, but it leans 90% on the whole puzzle aspect without much RPG integration. I legitimately believe this could be done well. Games like Puzzle And Dragons have established how to mix together the two gameplay styles. But we’ll have to talk about that some other time. (Word to the wise: that’s called a teaser.)

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