Delete your cookies, hide your data. Internet Week NY is here.

First off, I have to admit that I love attending these events. However this would have to be the second time that I have been fed. It seems that when you’re there as a guest/consumer, they often do try to butter you up with food and goodies. Of course, the former isn’t what I was there for, it’s the latter it was the technology. Plus with my throat feeling like the Sahara, I could not consume any goodies at all. If you could eat with your eyes, I suppose that’s how I got my fill then.

Internet Week NY was from May 14th-May 21st, 2012. Due to contracting the G-Virus (or what you would imagine if you thought about William Birkin as you continued your day’s work), I was not able to attend most of the week’s events. Severely disappointing, but shame on me if I was going to go there and contaminate the area and get tech minds sick. I was feeling slightly better and it had felt like a waste not to go, so on I trudged right down to 82 Mercer St. in Manhattan. The smell of hipsters and tourists were in the air… and in front as I tried to get past them.

The IWNY HQ was quite small, and it seemed like the people at the desk were bored. Guess it is the last day, why even care? They were nice, however.

Flashed my badge and some intimidating security guard merely nodded, granting me access inside the inner sanctum of tech. Oh how little do you feel being in such company it would seem. For the most part, if you were in the field, you could network. If anyone would talk to you, that is. The vendors would talk to you, sure. But the guy sitting next to you at one of the panels? Would not even bat an eye my way. Perhaps when someone techy is near, their senses would tingle. Hey! I use the PC too! I know how to go on teh Internets and do this typity type thing you call blogging! Continue reading

[Free] Android App Review: The Sims Freeplay

There are two types of people in this world: those who have played The Sims, and those who have not.

If you’ve never played The Sims before, I heed you to go run, run as far away as you can before you get sucked into this game.

If you have played The Sims before, mostly you can attest to the fact that you’ll get so wrapped up into the gaming experience that next thing you know, it’s daylight and it’s time for school. Or so that has been my history with The Sims. There were many a days back in my youth that I’d boot up The Sims (only for 30 mins!) and then next thing I knew, it was 2AM in the morning and I needed to haul my butt into bed for school in the morning. The Sims is like a black hole of gaming.

In any case, there’s a whole bunch of Sims game versions and subsequent expansions. If you’re interested, you can check out the list here. If you scroll down towards the end of the page, you can see the list in its entirety, and it’s overwhelming that’s for sure.

Not surprisingly, (as mobile gaming is on the rise with more and more people getting their hands on more technologically advanced smartphones these days) EA has developed a Sims for the Android Marketplace (as well as the iOS store). The Sims Freeplay is a free app on Marketplace that one could download to play on their phone. There is also another version, the Sims 3 for Android but has a hefty price tag of $6.99. There’s no point for me to buy an app until I see how it works on my phone, so off to download Freeplay I went.

First off, although the installation is only 13mb (not that heavy considering how graphically intensive The Sims is) you will have to turn on wifi to install an additional 600-800mbs for the game itself.

If you want to compare:

  • Battery Mix, a (IMHO very informative) battery monitoring app on Android is around 4.1mb
  • Angry Birds (without any expansion such as RIO or Holidays) is 15mbs
  • And if you really want to go old school – a CD-ROM rip of an average movie is around 700mbs (standard rip, not counting high quality DVD, or Blu-Ray downgrade)

It shows how far smartphones have come along in regards to internal memory space. Downloading the game to my Samsung Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch, I was a little peeved that it didn’t utilize my 4G connection, instead pushing me to choose between the slower 3G and wifi.

Once downloaded, I started the game by creating a Sim. The graphics are beautiful, that’s for sure. It’s so clear on my AMOLED screen. I don’t usually play games, but I was amazed at the clarity of the sprites.

First goal.

There’s the usual free will option where you can make them interact with objects around the house, but the game pushes you to complete certain objectives that I find a bit annoying at times. It keeps flashing until you complete it, only to find another objective goal come up.

Carol and his dog, Sparky (not really, you can't give the dog a name, sadly).

After a few goals completed, you’re urged to create Sim friends for your first Sim. It seems to have a combination gameplay from Sims 2 & 3. You can invite other Sims to your house, and control them to help you complete your objectives. The level bar on the top of the screen seems to be a collective stat no matter how many Sims you have in play.

Farmer Carol grows corn for money.

You don’t get the option of actually having a Sim job until you level up some more… which is a bit time consuming.

All in all, while I’m willing to give Sims Freeplay a chance, I noticed a few things that I’m not too peachy keen on:

  • HUGE Battery drainer. Keep it plugged into the charger, or keep it in the background (and your display off).
  • While the game is free, the money isn’t (somewhat). You may get a few Simoleons here and there, and if you worked hard at it (growing crops/fulfilling objectives), it still doesn’t cover when you need to upgrade furniture or create a workplace. Here is where the catch comes in. EA will offer to give you some Simoleons if you go into Marketplace to give them some real cash for in-game currency. I think it’s $4.99 for 5,000 Simoleons. If you’ve got cash to burn (or your parent’s credit card), go on ahead. For those who doesn’t want to waste money, you’re better off growing some more corn/pumpkins.
  • There is no speeding up time. You have to watch them interact in normal speed.
  • Everything happens in real time. Some interactions take more than a minute (be nice/be romantic). That means you have to wait for it to finish before allowing your Sim to do anything else. Whatever time it is in real life, is whatever time it is in the Sims (e.g.: if something takes 6 hours to accomplish, and it’s 4PM in real time, then that means they’ll be done around 10PM).
  • There is no actions queue. That means you have to wait until the action is finished before you click on them to do something else.
  • If your screen goes to sleep, turning it back on will boot the Sims to a loading screen instead of back to the game itself.
  • The game needs to be connected to their servers in order to work. This means you need to have an active data connection (not great for people who pay for their data).
  • Speaking of data, EA apparently doesn’t factor in the people who have 4G connections, and will not allow the game to connect to server unless it’s on a wifi connection. If you’re on 4G and want to bypass it by not using wifi, you have to turn on the wifi first, connect to the game and once it loads, disconnect it and turn 4G back on. The game borks every so often though, when the screen goes to sleep and you turn display back on again.

I can understand why it doesn’t have a stellar rating on Marketplace, but again, willing to give the game a shot. I think I’ll have to draw the line at having a Sim growing pumpkins though (it takes a whole REALTIME DAY!).

ETA: The thing I found out, is that at least you can keep your hair from being ripped out while you wait for those long interactions to finish, is that you can just leave the Sims running in the background and come back to them later. That’s one little solace for the end users at least.

Google Currents: Riding the wave of information while getting fat.

Google Currents as seen on my HP Touchpad

Currents as it is known is Google’s newest application software for the tablet and smart phones. Working much like their RSS feed programs, Currents takes RSS feeds essentially and puts it into a very nice GUI that’s slick and works fluidly between your tablets and phones. All you need (as oftentimes) is a Gmail address (surprise surprise, Google, Gmail).

For those who haven’t tried it, might I point you to Google’s official video of Currents:

Once you download the app from Android Marketplace (free), you just sign in with a Gmail address. They do not send you any emails from using Currents, it’s more or less just to link your Currents selections so you can take it from one device to another. I find that feature extremely useful (considering that on Marketplace itself, they won’t let you save your app preferences. If you have that same problem, download Appbrain to save your app lists).

Currents itself has very simple setting options (something I am not quite fond of), simple and limiting. Clicking on the gear on the lower left hand corner, you would see four options:

  • Accounts – Where you choose which Gmail account you want to associate your Currents with
  • Text size – For those who feel they have the eyes of an eagle (can read small), and well, my eyes (need size 72 font)
  • Sync settings – You have a few choices in how you wish for Currents to sync. These are options for those that are still… paying for their data separately.
    Sync in background – You can choose between Wifi, 3G/4G, and Wifi/3G/4G
    – Disabled – Kind of… useless if you want Currents (although it makes sense, if you’re paying for your data so you would sync manually whenever you want)
    – Wifi – Only syncs when tablet/smartphone is connected to your home router or free wifi hotspot
    – 3G/4G – For those who have a plan with their carrier separate from their phone’s internet (or tethering via phone would apply here too)
    – Wifi/3G/4G – Connects and syncs regardless of connection choice
  • Sync frequency – Choose how often you want Currents to update. I wish they had more options other than 6, 12, or 24 hours. I like everything constantly updating like a live stream. Unfortunately I have to keep force syncing just to get everything by the minute.
  • Sync images (Library) – Regardless, you should keep it on anything but “disabled” purely for the fact that you like everyone, enjoy looking at mini pictures while you read.
  • Sync images (Trending) – Read above.
  • Sync when charging – You can check yes, or no to that.

Once you’re done customizing your settings, you can start choosing what Currents you want to read!
Just press the giant “+” symbol and it would take you to a page where you can choose by topics. They will also show some featured Currents depending on topic that you would like. Also, manually delete the Currents that they have listed already on your page (they are only page holders and not the full Currents themselves).

If you can’t find anything that you want, you can always just search for it. Type in your query and see what turns up. Most likely it will be an RSS feeds, which works just as well as Currents will automatically “snazz” it up (their words).

 

Google snazzes it up for us.

RSS feed turned to Current

Instead of having a while page of texts and links, Currents turned something unappealing to a page from a magazine.

For a fledgling application, Google seems to have created a winner with Currents. With the rise of tablet usage, people do not like looking at simple interfaces. Having a slick GUI makes all the difference when you want to spend time reading multiple websites. I think it may even be better than going to the websites themselves.

Also, before I discount the greatness that is Currents, I have tried the website’s individual readers (e.g.: Times, Gawker) and they just cannot compare to having multiple sources all in one app. You waste less space in application installation and you have everything you want to read in one.

Google Currents:

Yay!

  • Multiple sources in one application
  • Slick, fluid GUI
  • Easily taken between devices

Nay!

  • Sync options too limited
  • You have to use a Gmail account
  • Sometimes syncing takes forever/doesn’t go through
  • Images are shown as thumbnails and when clicking to enlarge, gives you a slightly bigger thumbnail

Although the Nays have outnumbered the Yays barely by one, it still is a great program to use and consequently waste your time reading. By stating that in my last sentence, now my title header makes sense. I’ll let you think about the fat factor that comes about while reading Currents.