Category Archives: Android

The Flap Over Flaps

I couldn’t open any of my news feeds without being inundated by all things Flappy. And then when the app came down — oh, my! Never have so many cried out about so little! If only they cared about stuff like, oh, I dunno, hunger, poverty, government overreach, jobs…

Let me say that I’ve a deep respect for Dong Nguyen. When he saw people being obsessive, he pulled down the game. Instead of raking in insane amounts of ad revenue, he did the right thing.

And he learned a hard, but valuable, lesson: Ignore the Internet. Things like Facebook, Twitter, etc, seem to bring out the absolute worst in people. Take people who would normally be voiceless, give them a medium to yell within, add a safe dose of distance and anonymity, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

There’s a reason why I disable comments all over the place. Out of a hundred of them, maybe — maybe, one is helpful. The rest are garbage. And disheartening. And just plain mean.

So, Mr. Nguyen, please keep coding. Just shut off all those “social” sites. Ignore them. And keep making stuff. It’s not your fault that so many people are social-psychopaths.



Review: TYLT VU Charging Stand

Let’s get the annoying things out of the way first:

  • It is stupid expensive ($75).
  • It comes with wasteful, unnecessary, packaging.
  • It uses a non-standard plug (why not USB Micro — why? why?).
  • It uses the most stupid, fattest, 5V wall wart I’ve seen in ages.

That being said, it’s a great charging stand, if your phone supports wireless Qi charging. (For smartphone use, I have a Nexus 4.)

DSCN3896 (Large)It holds the Nexus 4 at a perfect angle. Just drop it on and you’re set.

So why pay too much money for a wireless charging stand? Well, because I scrapped my PC speakers and amp and use my Bose SoundLink Mini exclusively. (It is a great, great, portable Bluetooth speaker. Love it.)

DSCN3897 (Large)The trouble with streaming music from the phone is that it sucks the life out of batteries. So I wanted to keep it on a charger, but still have it at a nice angle. The TYLT VU does that nicely.



OUYA : First Impressions

Some initial impressions (got mine on 6/6 — base and extra controller, in one box):

The WiFi on it is pretty poor. I moved it around a bit to get better reception. Makes no sense, as I have other devices in the exact same area which work perfectly. It’s 2012. I shouldn’t have to pull a CAT5 cable through my house.

Store is slow, slow, slow. Again, I hope this is growing pains. Downloads take forever and screen refreshes, too (the thumbnails). Sounds like they need more servers and bandwidth.

Flaky controllers: When I first started playing, they seemed fine, now they have intermittent fits. Ghost clicks and slow response (try playing pinball). Happens in game and in the menus.

I get forgetful sometimes: After a restart it sometimes forgets the paired controllers, so you go through that process again. (Now, the pairing process is painless, but forgetting controllers is a drag.)

Firmware: Get your network and controllers all configured, then it needs a firmware update, at which point it forgets your network and controllers. That’s sloppy.

Documentation: Ha-Ha!

Games: Early days. But no assortment of puzzles? Give me at least one Bust A Move or Fruit Matching ripoff game! One car racing game that I can’t figure out how to start?

For Developers: Please, please, please display the controller mappings! On most of the games I have to mash buttons to figure out what does what.

On the bright side, I like the controllers (when they work), and the console is fine. A 6′ HDMI cable would have been appreciated, but at least they include one (4′). Some of the games are nice to see on a big screen. You Don’t Know Jack looks beautiful (but $10) — very polished.

Based on some of the games I’ve seen, the machine has a lot of potential. Let’s hope that upcoming firmware updates fix the above issues. But, right now, it’s BETA at best.

Andriod Casual Racing

I like full blown racing games, but sometimes you need something a little light to spend a couple of minutes on. Here are a few that are on my Nexus 7 right now.

Hill Climb Racing

I did a review on this previously. A fun, goofy, way to spend some time.

Zombie Road Trip

Have you played Hill Climb but said to yourself: it needs zombies? Well, check out this freebie. It doesn’t have the cool physics of Hill Climb, but you get chased by, and have to shoot, Zombies. Controls are simple. When the car is in the air, rotate CW or CCW. Press the other area of the screen to shoot. No gas or brakes, but it’s a zombie game, so I guess that goes with the territory. Faster paced and, I think, a little less fun than Hill Climb, but it still gets game time from me.

Beach Buggy Blitz

If you have a device that will support it (it uses fancy graphics), check out this “mario cart” on the beach game. Race around, gather coins, you know the drill. It really shows off what devices like the Nexus can do.

Shine Runner

From the makers of Beach Buggy, this is a pay game, but if you liked the other game, check this one out. You are a hillbilly in an air boat. That’s about it. You can collect money, and there is a (useless) trading portion. But the fun of this game is crashing into things and just being a goof.

I’d love if the developers would improve the game by: Making the cops chase you and “pull you over” — that stuff is fun. Dump the whole trading items stuff, it’s pointless. This game would be absolutely perfect if it had multi-player (local WiFi) play. That would be fantastic. (Same holds true for Beach Buggy Blitz — I’d love to see multi-player play.)


Android Puzzlers

A couple of puzzle / word games I’m digging right now:


A game that has been out for a while and doesn’t get anywhere the respect that it deserves. Sick of Boggle and Scrabble re-makes? Check this game out. You get a big 3D cube of letters. The goal is to make words from adjacent letter blocks. The controls aren’t perfect, and it’s sometimes a little buggy, but if you like word games, it’s a must.

Puzzle Retreat

I just started this one and already like it. You move blocks around to fill in pegs — but the blocks are ice (and other materials) — so blocks can slide over each other, etc. Kind of hard to explain, so download the free version. Unlock more puzzles for a buck a set. But they give you plenty of puzzles to start with. It starts out easy, but ramps up nicely.

Little Things Forever

I can best describe this as Word Search with images. You get a big shapes (ex. a dinosaur) made up of hundreds of little images. Your goal is simple: find the images from the list provided. Harder than it seems. It can get you a little cross-eyed after a while, but it’s a good relaxing game.

Swiped Fruits

The devs seem to make about a dozen versions of the same game, and I ended up with the Fruit version. A typical match 2 or more objects in a row game (like Zookeeper). But I’ve had a lot more fun with Swiped than with Zookeeper, so if you like this type of game, grab this freebie.

Bridge Constructor Free

As the name says, build bridges using the limited parts provided. See if they will support the cars and trucks that will go over them. A casual game with some stomach churns as you watch your badly built bridge buckle and fall. This is actually a pretty good introduction for kids as to how to build something that doesn’t fail (using some intuitive techniques).