Heroes of Dragon Age Interview

My buddy Paul Semel of PaulSemel.com has an excellent interview with Heroes of Dragon Age producer Tim Lander. For those of you not familiar with the game, Heroes of Dragon Age (Android, iOS) mixes strategy and collectible-card gameplay. It uses several characters, races, and locations from the Dragon Age universe, expanding on some of the rich history that was merely touched on in the games.

I urge you to check out the interview…for several reasons. As many of you know, I’m a mark for the Dragon Age series, but I also have a professional interest in this particular title. In fact, I’m going to ask several of you RPadholics to play it for a completely informal focus group of sorts. I really, really want your opinions on this game.

Oh yeah, here’s a snippet from the interview (please read the whole thing when you have a chance!):

Capital Games have a history of making deeply strategic experiences, and since fans of Dragon Age are also looking for a deeply strategic experience, it was a natural fit. Our focus then simply became creating an experience that was easy to play but hard to master, with accessible gameplay, visually stunning graphics, and an experience made for phones and tablets.

I’m most excited about making Heroes Of Dragon Age continue to be an incredible experience for our players. These games have long life spans, and we’re dedicated to providing additional content, both in terms of new features and additional characters after launch. We want to give them lots of reasons to come back to the game and keep playing for years to come.

I’ll start another story shortly for your assorted thoughts on Heroes of Dragon Age. Now I’m going to bug Paul about why he didn’t lead with the obvious introductory statement: “Tim Lander. I think I know your brother, Zoo!”

Source

FAA Removes Head From Ass: Electronics Use Allowed For Entire Flight

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally allowed the use of consumer electronics during the takeoff and landing of airplanes. Travelers will be free to use their smartphones, tablets, and portable videogame consoles for the entirety of a flight. “Implementation guidance” has been given to airlines and the current restrictions should be lifted by the end of the year. It certainly took the organization long enough to get rid of this stupid restriction, but…

…the FAA still found a way to look silly. It refers to consumer electronics as PEDs. The group says that the acronym stands for “portable electronic devices,” but many people know PEDs as performance-enhancing drugs. Taking a clip from the FAA press release out of context, I found it terribly amusing that FAA administrator Michael Huerta said, “Passengers can use PEDs on airplanes.” I bet Alex Rodriguez got all kinds of excited about flying after he read that (yes, I know he has his own Gulfstream, but just go with it).

Here’s a straight-up clip from the press release:

The FAA based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.    If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

If you want the full skinny, including all the FAA’s definitions and the group’s top-10 list of “Things Passengers Should Know about Expanded Use of PEDs on Airplanes” then be sure to hit up the source link below. For now, (please) tell me how you feel about the FAA finally getting rid of its stupid rules on consumer-electronics use during takeoff and landing). Are you excited about the prospect of playing games, watching movies, and listening to music for an entire when you visit your loved ones this holiday season?

Source

Coffee Talk #604: Do You Care About Curved Smartphones?

With the iPad Air, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nexus 5, there are some great products for tech nerds to buy this month. One curious trend — that I don’t get…at all — is curved smartphones. LG and Samsung believe that consumers want curved smartphones, respectively pushing the G Flex and Galaxy Round. While there have been curved smartphones in the past, the G Flex and Galaxy Round feature more aggressive curves. The idea is that curved smartphones offer better ergonomics for making calls and add new functionality with tilt functions. There’s a big chance that I’m missing something, but I don’t see…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the glorious start of the NBA season, those damn Red Sox going from worst to first, or Google Glass version two, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

With the iPad Air, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nexus 5, there are some great products for tech nerds to buy this month. One curious trend — that I don’t get…at all — is curved smartphones. LG and Samsung believe that consumers want curved smartphones, respectively pushing the G Flex and Galaxy Round. While there have been curved smartphones in the past, the G Flex and Galaxy Round feature more aggressive curves. The idea is that curved smartphones offer better ergonomics for making calls and add new features with tilt functionality. There’s a big chance that I’m missing something, but I don’t see tech geeks clamoring for curved smartphones. How about you?

While I understand the ergonomic aspect of curved smartphones, I don’t think it’s a feature users are demanding — particularly for the high-end market. The people that buy the latest and greatest smartphones generally use them more as mobile computers rather than mobile telephones. Looking at my mobile-phone usage, I spend dozens of hours using my phone as a computer and maybe 100 minutes a month as a telephone.

As for the tilt functionality, it seems gimmicky — at least as explained in Galaxy Round previews and hands-on reports. There’s some potential there, but right now the tilt features are cute novelties rather than convenient or useful additions.

So what do you think about curved smartphones? Is this where smartphones are headed? Or will the G Flex and Galaxy Round end up as cautionary tales? Do any of you want curved smartphones? Will they join the iPad Air, Nexus 5, PS4, and XBone as your November tech-nerd purchases? Kindly leave a comment and let me know.

Coffee Talk #602: First-World Nerd Problems

I’ve read several stories about people that have dropped their mobile phones in the toilet. A few of my friends have suffered this calamity. As mobile phones have become more powerful and apps have become more compelling, this epidemic seems to be spreading. It’s very much a case of a first-world nerd problem. While I don’t use my phone in the bathroom, several of you RPadholic revealed that you do (remember this poll?). Still, it puzzles me. Is it really that difficult to…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, being baffled by politicians supporting A-Rod, excited by your first potential Internet vaping stalker (and hoping that she’s a vampire), or Amazon’s rumored Prime mobile phone by HTC, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’ve read several stories about people that have dropped their mobile phones in the toilet. A few of my friends have suffered this calamity. As mobile phones have become more powerful and apps have become more compelling, this epidemic seems to be spreading. It’s very much a case of a first-world nerd problem. While I don’t use my phone in the bathroom, several of you RPadholics revealed that you do (remember this poll?). Still, it puzzles me. Is it really that difficult to avoid dropping your Android phone or iPhone in the toilet?!?

Then again, I shouldn’t judge. I’m guilty of another first-world nerd problem — one that involves tablets. I’ve always enjoyed reading in bed. Until recently, it was a fairly safe thing for me to do. Dozing off with a comic book or paperback in my hands was easy to deal with. Even hardcover books were relatively manageable. Then, the iPad (and Comixology) arrived. That’s when reading in bed became hazardous to my head. Over the last few years, there have been dozens of instances when I wanted to keep reading, but my eyes and brain were telling me to go the hell to sleep. I’d doze off and — boom! — my iPad would smack me in the face.

This first-world nerd problem is certainly embarrassing — I’d briefly wake up, feel stupid, and quickly fall back asleep — but at least I can own up to it. How about you guys and gals? Have dropped your iPhone in the toilet or smacked yourself in the face with your iPad? Are you guilty of any first-world nerd problems? Please share your stories in the comments section.

What Do You Think of Apple iOS 7?

Apple iOS 7 lands today and it’s arguably the biggest revamp the mobile operating system has seen in years. iOS 7 packs several new features that change the aesthetics and functionality of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Since so many of you use Apple devices, I’d love to hear your first impressions of iOS 7. If you’re not familiar with what’s coming, here are just some of the new additions (in no particular order):

Aesthetics: iOS 7 features new system fonts, brighter default colors, new sounds, and a modern, flat appearance. While it’s not as flat as Android Jellybean, it’s pretty close. While my eyes are still getting used to the font, I love the overall appearance. iOS 6 was starting to look like a dinosaur.

Safari: The default web browser finally gets a unified search bar (about frickin’ time!) and Brazzers privacy mode. It organizes multiple tabs far better than its predecessor.

Camera: The camera in iOS 7 is something I’m still getting used to. It feels really foreign to me, but I think I’ll get the hang of it in a few days. It also has a bunch of live filters for you to play with. Personally, I don’t find them useful after using the outstanding VSCO Cam.

Photos: The iOS 7 Photo app, on the other hand, was instantly useful to me. I love all the new organizational features. This is really well done.

Notifications: I always thought that Apple’s notification system was basic compared to Google Android’s. iOS 7 is a big step in the right direction, but still not as versatile or useful as what Android features.

iTunes Radio: I recall RPadholic Tokz_21 mentioning that he enjoyed this feature. I’m actually a bad person to discuss mobile streaming audio with. I don’t use it a lot and when I do, it’s Pandora, which people tell me is outdated.

Multitasking: This iOS 7 feature has me excited, but it will take me weeks to see if the improvements are legit. On paper, it should help you maximize battery life. The new multitasking feature detects whether you’re plugged in or not and whether you’re on WiFi or mobile signal. It will gobble up data and run background apps accordingly. It’s not a flashy feature, but it’s a nerd-sexy one.

Siri: Again, I’m a bad person to talk about this with, so I’m hoping you guys and dolls have more to say. I never found Siri all that useful. It’s supposed to be better than the last version, but I haven’t found it all that useful yet.

Control Center: The iOS 7 Control Center makes several commonly used features easy to access. This is definitely useful, but I’m not used to it yet. I’m still trying to do things the old way. I’m sure it will become automatic in a few days.

Your Verdict: Kindly share your initial impressions of Apple iOS 7. Please tell me what you love, what you hate, and what you’re indifferent to.

Coffee Talk #600: September Tech Awesomeness

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, anticipating the messianic return of Derek Jeter in 2014, inexplicably watching flash mob videos for hours, or the return of X-Factor USA, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: The best-selling e-reader has gotten even better. The (already awesome) screen and UI (that still needs work) have been improved. Amazon is killing this niche and the competition is dwindling. While it’s not as sexy as some of the other tech products that were announced this month, I’m really excited for the new Paperwhite. It’s cheap, easy on the eyes, and is backed by an immense library. Check out more details on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite from PaulSemel.com.

Samsung Galaxy Gear: First off, I can’t think “Galaxy Gear” without thinking about “Galaxy Glue.” Tech pundits have been predicting the rise of the Smartwatch in 2013. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is the first release from a major smartphone player. While it does some interesting and useful things, I’m not sold on it. To be fair, I’m not big on the Galaxy S series, while a large portion of the world loves them. With that in mind, a smartwatch tied to a Galaxy smartmatch/tablet doesn’t work for me. That said, there are millions of Galaxy S and Galaxy Note fans, and I’m sure that a percentage of them will be high on the Galaxy Gear. I’m really curious to get your thoughts on this…and am equally curious to hear if you think that Apple will come up with a far more elegant smartwatch product.

Apple iPhone 5c: Tech pundits predicted that Apple would release a “cheap” iPhone available in colors. It was reasoned that the colors and low price would do well in China and India. The “experts” were completely wrong. It’s easy to say through the retroscope, but I never thought that was happening. Apple generally doesn’t do “cheap” anything. Instead, the iPhone 5c is a (very) slightly improved iPhone 5 that’s available in colors. It sticks to Apple’s strategy of using last year’s model as the mid-level choice, but spruces it up with colors. The kids (like RPadholic Tokz’s sister) love colors and there will be millions of people that buy this phone because it’s available in green, blue, yellow, etc. I’m not interested in this product personally, but am super-impressed by Apple’s execution. The profit margins on the iPhone 5c will be silly and the company will make a killing selling last year’s tech in new clothing.

Apple iPhone 5s: In the past, Apple has incrementally upgraded the iPhone every other year (iPhone 4s, iPhone 3gs, etc.). This year’s model is deceptively advanced. A lot of people are paying attention to the fingerprint scanner and many are dogging it. The camera is improved too, but that’s not what’s fascinating about this product. There’s a ton of potential with the iPhone 5s’ 64-bit architecture and M7 coprocessor. The jump to 64-bit is huge and I’m anxious to see how developers take advantage of the CPU/GPU power. The M7 is used to collect all kinds of motion data from the gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer. It will lead to a new wave of inventive location-based apps. While I’m completely bored with the form factor (Can I get a bigger screen already?!?), I’m intrigued by the guts of the iPhone 5s.

PlayStation Vita Slim: It’s like the PSP Vita, but slimmer.

PlayStation Vita TVThis is the Vita product that I want. It’s a set-top box that also lets you play some Vita games — think Apple TV, but with better games and worse media services. The Vita’s library is great, but it’s also completely ignored by people that don’t like mobile consoles. This sub-$100 product would give home gamers access to that underrated library. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Sony hasn’t announced plans for this product outside of Asia. The company says it has “no plans” for North American and European releases at this time, but hopefully customers in those regions will clamor for it. I want this now!!!

Android KitKat Video Mocks Apple Jony Ive

Google has released a promotional video for Android KitKat (4.4) and it’s hilarious. The clip (embedded below) features a fictitious executive named Christopher Catlin, who is the chief breaks officer. Catlin’s tone and mannerisms are clearly a (playful?) jab at Apple senior vice president Jony Ive, the man responsible for the design of the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iOS 7.

Catlin uses elaborate descriptives to hype up…a candy bar. He eloquently waxes about the virtues of the chocolate bar’s industrial design, somewhat similarly to how Jony Ive extolled the virtues of the iPhone 5. It’s a delightfully satirical video that pokes fun at a rival…and makes me want to eat a Kit Kat bar. To be fair, I’ve also embedded Apple’s iPhone 5 trailer, which features Jony Ive. Watch both clips to see if chief breaks office Christopher Catlin is truly the Jony Ive of chocolate bars.

Here are some choice lines from the Android KitKat video:

Every corner. Every edge. Every finger of every bar has been carefully considered and crafted to create a beautifully immersive and multi-sensory experience.

With adjustable orientation, it works perfectly in portrait or landscape for a truly panoramic taste experience that will leave you up in a cloud.

It’s an extremely unequivocal 10mm thick, one finger long, and four fingers wide.

KitKat 4.4 is the perfect second-screen companion, compatible with all liquid accessories.

I’m a fan of Apple and Google, so I have no dog in this fight. That said, I found the Android KitKat video nerdily entertaining. It reminds me of pretentious reviews I’ve read for cigars and wine. My disdain for pretentious wine critics is one of the reasons I try to stick to basic terminology in my vaping e-liquid reviews.

Anyway, check out the Android KitKat clip when you have a chance and let me know what you think (please!).

Get Your Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi Headphones

The press release for the Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi line of headphones and accessories is easily the best press release I’ve received this month and one of the best I’ve received all year. I love that the pitch uses Snooki, fashion, and Walgreens in the first sentence, because nothing says high-fashion like Walgreens. Ha! Seriously though, some of the “fashionable” audio products in the Snooki Couture line include zebra earbuds and leopard-print headphones/headband. There’s also a zebra-print iPhone case, which I dare one of you to rock. Also, rhinestones.

Here’s a clip from the press release:

“Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi” now offers the much-anticipated line of “Fashion You Can Hear” headphones, ear buds and audio accessories including portable speakers, iPhone and iPad covers and other accessories all with her distinctive style such as rhinestones, sequins, feathers, neon and animal prints. Perfect for listeners of any age and savvy-style taste, iHip serves a multi-functional purpose, combining stellar acoustics with tricked-out personalized style. “Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi” brings a fresh and super-stylish perspective to her branded line with iHip. The entire line ranges from $24.99 – $59.99 and will be available at Walgreens and snookisounds.com

Normally, I would link to the product web site provided in the press release, but it currently redirects to a web page that has nothing to do with the products. That’s another dose of win for this press release. Snooki should be pissed at the PR flaks for tarnishing her name. No way she’ll be able to show up at Walgreens after this website-redirect fiasco, right?

Anyway, what do you think of the Snooki Couture by Nicole Polizzi line? What would you pay to see RPadholic Big Blak in Snooki Couture leopard-print headphones/headband?

Android Device Manager is Google’s Find My iPhone

Google Android finally has an official equivalent to Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature. It’s called Android Device Manager. It allows you to locate your errant Android device through Google Maps/GPS and force your device to ring at the maximum volume. If neither of those options help you find your Android phone or tablet then a remote data wipe can be performed.

While a number of third-party apps have offered this type of functionality for Android, I’ve always been puzzled that there was never a first-party solution. It’s too important a feature to leave in the hands of third-party developers. Don’t get me wrong, some of those apps are very good, but this type of security should be a simple and straightforward first-party solution.

People that search for an app like this on Google Play are met with an overwhelming amount of choices; it’s confusing and many people give up their data to a company they don’t know. An official solution was long overdue and it appears, on paper, to be a good one. As for data concerns, Google already knows everything about you anyway. :p

Android Device Manager will be available in August for devices running Android 2.2 or higher.

Out of curiosity, do any of you use a third-party Android app with “Find My iPhone” functionality? If so, are you going to drop it for Android Device Manager? If not, are you going to use Google’s official solution?

Source

Today’s Poll: The Motorola X and You

Motorola officially unveiled the Motorola X Android phone in New York today. The company is taking a unique approach with this phone, offering several customization options and adding some clever software tricks on top of Google Android. However, many of its internal components are middle-of-the-road and the Motorola X is priced like a high-end phone. Will the Motorola X dazzle consumers with its color choices? Or will it be snubbed in favor of more powerful Android devices? Kindly vote in the poll below and let me know what you think of the phone in the comments section. In the meantime, here’s a brief rundown on the Motorola X, binary style.

Good: The most novel thing about the Motorola X is that its physical appearance can be customized. Using the Motomaker (video below), consumers can mix and match different components. The front, back, volume-rocker, and camera-lens plastics can be mixed and match, for hundreds of different color combinations. For mainstream consumers, this is a fun and fantastic option.

Bad: Unfortunately, AT&T has a timed exclusive on Motomaker customization. People that want a Motorola X at launch for Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular will have to settle for black or white.

Bad: While customizing the look of the phone is pretty sweet, the choices for internal components are limited. You can have 16GB or 32GB of storage.

Bad: This is definitely not a phone for tech geeks. The processor is considered mid-range now and will seem like a fossil a year from now. Motorola opted for a 720p screen, rather than a 1080p screen, which is the trend for high-end phones.

Good: Motorola wants to get away from the spec wars and focus on the experience. The company is positioning the device as something that just works and is cool, rather than something that beats out HTC or Samsung phones on paper. Obviously Apple has been hugely successful at pushing the “experience” of the iPhone instead of focusing on what’s inside it.

Bad: Unfortunately for Motorola, that’s not how the Android world works. Apple can successfully push the experience because it controls everything — hardware, operating system, and services. It can offer something unique because it’s the only company that has iPhone, iOS, and iTunes. I don’t think you can get away with a mid-range Android phone — at least to tech nerds — by pushing an experience. Aside from customizable plastics, there are too many Android phones that offer experiences similar or superior to what the Motorola X brings to the table.

Good: Some of Motorola’s Android customizations are pretty clever. The Motorola X can pull off some neat tricks with its always-on voice recognition and sensor detection. I really like that you can see notifications by just tapping the screen instead of turning the whole screen on; the “active” notifications take advantage of AMOLED’s ability to only power a certain amount of pixels. It’s fast and efficient.

Bad: Some of the Android enhancements are gimmicky. Some tech pundits are also concerned about always-on voice recognition and sensor detection running down the battery.

Bad: My biggest issue with the phone is the price. AT&T has listed the 16GB model for $199 and the 32GB model for $249 (contract pricing). Considering the mid-range internals of the phone, that’s too much. I’m sure that some people will be happy to pay those prices just to mix and match plastics, but tech savvy consumers will surely opt for more powerful phones.

Your Turn: Anyway, those are my initial thoughts on the Motorola X. I’d love to hear yours! Fire away in the comments section and vote in today’s poll (please).

How well with the Motorola X sell?

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