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Shadow Quest RPG sets itself apart from other mobile RPG’s by making character positioning relevant. It also has a new take on dungeon crawling that I have not seen employed on mobile devices.
Price: Free to download (In-App Purchases)
- Attacks based on unit position
- Turn based gameplay
- On par graphics
- high power consumption
Setup is simple; install the game from Google Play and launch the app ( which does not support Google Play Games). The first time you launch the app you are greeted with a few short sentences of storytelling; tap the screen to get through these screens. You are then thrust immediately into battle and given a tutorial of the battle system.
Considering the first 30 seconds of gameplay consists of battle mechanics we should start there. Shadow Quest takes your classic mobile RPG’s turn-based button smashing and refines it by making character placement relevant. In the introduction, it shows you how to drag characters to the front, back, left, and right of the battlefield. This mechanic quickly becomes relevant as you realize that the players on the sides can only attack enemies on their side, the character in the front is the most vulnerable, and characters perform a special attack when stationed in the back.
The dungeon-crawling mechanic is also something that I find unique. Your character begins with 50 stamina and each level has a set amount of squares that must be searched. Tapping on a square removes it from play, exposing what is underneath, and costs one stamina. Stamina can be regained by waiting for the timer to give you more or you can refill an empty stamina counter by spending 50 gems.
Gems are your in-game currency; they can be used for things like crafting items, reviving your party, purchasing blessings, and purchasing more powerful characters. They also make up the entirety of the game’s in-app purchases.
The graphics are on par with many of the top quality mobile RPG’s demonstrating clean lines, fabulous artwork, attack animations, and blocky but appropriate enemy movements. Couple that with a soundtrack that sets a perfect mood for dungeon crawling and you have a recipe for hours of unrelenting gameplay.
The single major drawback is the power drain I experienced. My Galaxy S6 was losing 1% of battery ever two minutes, which is not the worst battery drain I have experienced playing a mobile game but is not conducive to playing for extended periods. This is a common theme with most mobile RPG’s, and with flagship phones like the Nexus 6P and Galaxy S7 Edge having much larger batteries this may not be as much of an issue for some of you.
- Raising the bar on turn-based combat
- Unique dungeon-crawling mechanic
- Moderate battery drain
I have to admit, I have never found a mobile RPG that was able to keep my attention for more than an hour. When I installed Shadow Quest, I played it all day. If you are a mobile RPG fan I highly recommend giving this a download; if you are not yet a fan, give this one a download and see if it is able to change your mind.
A while back I reviewed a CD player mounted magnetic phone mount made by Infernal Innovations. I really liked the mount but realized that there were some pretty severe limitations to it. The main one being that not all vehicles have a CD player mounted high enough to keep your phone at eye level. Now I’m looking at their universal mount for windshields and dashes.
Infernal Innovations Universal Magnetic Phone Mount overview
This particular mount is suction based. As such it can be mounted to the windshield or your dash. Although if you’re going to mount it to your dash, you may need the included adhesive disc if the area is not smooth enough.
The suction system is pretty unique. It uses a sticky gel material that covers the edges of the suction cup. This material ensures that you don’t loose suction.
Above the base is a reversible magnetic mount with a pivoting head that houses four powerful magnets covered by a thin layer of rubber.
Included with the mount are two metal plates backed with adhesive. These can be attached to the outside of your phone or case or inside your phone case. This is what is used to stick your phone to the magnetic head.
Infernal Innovations Universal Magnetic Phone Mount setup
Setting up the mount is fairly easy, but there are lots of options. If you are going to use the mount on the windshield then you are already halfway there.
If you are going to use the mount on the dash, then you’ll need to either find a fairly smooth part of the dash to use or you’ll need to use the adhesive disc. If you use the adhesive disc then you’ll first need to clean the area with a non-oily cleanser. Then remove the protective plastic from the disc and stick it to the dash.
Whether you use the adhesive disc or not, you’ll need to stick the mount to the desired area with the lever in the upward position. When the mount is placed in the desired area, then depress the lever to create a strong suction to the surface.
Now you’ll need to decide on where to adhere the metal plate. If you have a phone with NFC or wireless charging, then you won’t want to place the plate covering the coils. Since most phones with these technologies place the coils in the middle of the phone and your camera is typically at the top of the phone, you’ll want to adhere the plate to the bottom of the phone.
Beyond the vertical placement of the metal plate, you’ll also want to consider on which surface do you want to adhere the metal plate.
Your options are on the phone itself, inside your phone case, or outside your phone case. Because I have a Zerolemon extended battery, I chose to mount it on the outside of my phone case.
Now you’re ready to use your phone with the mount. Just line the metal plate up with the magnetic disc and viola! you’re done.
Infernal Innovations Universal Magnetic Phone Mount usage
I used this mount in my 1989 Ford F-150. I only mention that, because it’s an old truck and it’s not the best at absorbing bumps and road vibrations. If anything, this is the perfect vehicle to test a magnetic mount, because if it holds in my truck, then it’ll hold in your vehicle too.
I mentioned earlier that I have a Zerolemon extended battery on my phone. This adds lots of weight and strains the magnetic hold. To further complicate things I had the plate mounted to the bottom of my phone so that it wouldn’t interfere with the wireless charging and NFC coils. Even in this configuration, the magnetic mount had more than enough grip to hold it in a portrait position on bumpy roads in my truck. Since most of my apps work in a portrait orientation. This wasn’t a problem.
When placed in a landscape position, the bumps proved too much for the magnets to hold it still. With each bump, the phone would point more and more to towards the ground. When I used the mount on my desk it was able to hold that position but it became unstable when I applied my touch to the screen.
I suspect that if the plate was placed in the middle of the phone or if I wasn’t using this monstrous Zerolemon battery, then it would have worked wonderfully in either orientation even on bumpy roads.
The suction cup on this mount is amazing. I’ve left it adhered to my windshield for over a month and it never lost any suction.
The only flaw that I found was that pivot joint didn’t hold the weight of my phone in landscape mode. I was able to fix this by placing a thin piece of cardboard inside the joint. It was then able to stay in place just fine.
4.2 out of 5 stars
Overall, this is a great option for mounting your phone in the car. Because of its magnetic head and metal plate, it’s the easiest phone mount I’ve ever used.
Amazon currently has it on sale for $20 and for that price it’s definitely worth checking out.
Microsoft is adding support for third-party apps to its calendar feature in Outlook for Android. The feature is launching with the ability to add content from apps like Facebook, Evernote and Wunderlist to an Outlook calendar.
With Calendar Apps, you can connect your apps—Wunderlist, Facebook and Evernote to start with—to see all your tasks, events and notes from your digital life in one place: your Outlook calendar. By connecting your calendar with a wide range of services, Outlook will be able to provide you with a far better view of your day, week and months ahead.
The Facebook app for Outlook will let users see any event they have been invited to in the calendar, along with Facebook friends’ birthdays. The Evernote app can place notes and to-do lists made in the app in the Outlook calendar, and the Wunderlist app also allows its to-do lists to show up in the calendar as well. More Outlook calendar apps are in the works, including support for Skype for Business, OneNote and more.
Encrypting the SD card on your new Galaxy S7 is easy to do, but you need to know the details before you do it.
Everyone is happy that Samsung has brought expandable storage back to the Galaxy S7 series. Things aren’t perfect — plenty still prefer how SD cards worked with KitKat on their Galaxy phones — but for the average user who just wants to store music, movies, photos and other documents on their removable card, it’s a workable solution. It’s also something that Google and Samsung will continue to work on, keeping things secure and consistent while still being expandable.
Something a lot of people don’t think about, though, is encrypting the removable storage on their Galaxy S7. Encryption is all over the tech news because of recent events between the FBI and Apple, and we can take a few minutes and make sure everyone knows what options are available and how things work when it comes to protecting the data on your SD card.
What exactly is encryption?
Encryption is a means of taking data and wrapping it up in a layer that can’t be opened without the proper credentials. There are plenty of ways it can be done, and it’s one of those things that has experts working on improving every day. There are also other experts working every day to try and break it.
Encryption is all about making it prohibitively time consuming to access your data.
In simple terms, when you lock something with an encryption method, the only way to access it is with the key. Any encryption can be broken by someone with the right tools, the right knowledge and a lot of time and processing power. The goal is to make an encryption method strong enough so that it’s not practical to try and break it. When it takes the bad guys 10 years on the most powerful computer to get through, you’ve taken away any incentive to brute-force a way in.
That’s why how you apply and use the keys to get in is important. There’s no sense making the encryption strong enough to deter an attack when you make it easy to get to the keys. On Android, the key isn’t your device password, but your device password grants access to the method to get the key.
Using hardware inside your phone, a 128-bit key is created and stored and the only way anything has access to this key is when it’s granted by the system. You give this access when you install (trust) an application then sign in or unlock your phone with a password. You can read all the technical documentation in the Android developer documentation, and Tamoghna Chowdhury gives an excellent breakdown at Stack Exchange for further explanation.
Why should (or shouldn’t) I encrypt my SD card?
This is easy to answer. If you don’t want someone who isn’t you, but has access to your phone, to be able to pull the SD card and put it in another computer to see what’s on it, you need to encrypt it. Head into your GS7’s settings and find the Lock screen and security menu to do it.
Outside of the phone you originally used to encrypt your card, your only option to ever reuse the card is to erase it and start fresh.
But encrypting an SD card also has a drawback — you can’t ever read the contents in another device. That means if you break your phone while the SD card was encrypted, everything on it is gone. Because of the way encryption works, even using the same password on a different phone of the same model doesn’t give you access — the actual key is that random number stored in the TEE (Trusted Execution Environment) in the phone.
Outside of the phone you originally used to encrypt your card, your only option to ever use the card again is to erase it and start fresh. If you’re storing things like confidential business documents on your SD card, this is a good thing. If you’re using the card to keep memories from your camera, this isn’t such a good thing. You’ll need to decide if what you store on the card is important enough to lose forever if it falls out of your hands, or important enough that you don’t want to lose it when or if your phone breaks.
My solution? I only store photos and a few (very few) videos on my SD card. I just grabbed an old slow one I had lying around until a great 200GB card goes back on sale. I do encrypt the SD card in my T-Mobile Galaxy S7 edge. But (and this is important) I also make a practice of backing up anything I can’t replace, like photos or videos of family and friends, online or locally on my computer. I do both — Google Photos for pictures and YouTube for videos, as well as periodically backing up everything at full resolution and quality on my own physical network storage. I’m not keeping anything really confidential on my SD card, but I still don’t want someone rifling through pictures of my wife or my grandkids. Call me old fashioned.
You’ll need to think and decide for yourself whether or not to encrypt your SD card. There is no wrong answer.
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge
- Galaxy S7 review
- Galaxy S7 edge review
- Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
- Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
- Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
- The SD card is back on the GS7
- Join our Galaxy S7 forums
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Lutron has partnered with Amazon to bring Alexa voice control to the Luton Caséta Wireless smart lighting system. This lets you use your Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device to control your connected Lutron switches and dimmers. You can control the lights in a given room, or throughout your home.
Owners of Alexa-enabled products, such as the Echo and Echo Dot, or the Amazon Fire TV, already enjoy some control over connected home products. You can use Alexa to control some Insteon products, as well as your Nest Thermostat.
Caséta® Wireless Smart Home Lighting Control System by Lutron Now Works with Amazon Alexa
Voice commands will turn lights on, off, or to a preset level Coopersburg, PA (April 7, 2016) – Lighting control pioneer Lutron Electronics is proud to announce the integration of its affordably-priced Caséta Wireless system with Amazon Alexa, providing convenient voice control of home lighting. Caséta Wireless gives homeowners the ability to control lights from anywhere inside or outside the home using the free Lutron app, the Lutron Pico® remote control, and select third-party devices. And now customers with an Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, or Amazon Fire TV can control their Caséta Wireless system using their voice. The integration of Caséta Wireless with Alexa-enabled devices is an ideal match – Alexa-enabled devices are used in the areas where people spend the majority of their time, like the family room and kitchen. Whether you’re watching TV, helping the kids with homework or crafts, or enjoying a quiet dinner, all of these events are more relaxing and comfortable in the right light, which can be easily controlled by the sound of your voice or the tap of a button. “Asking Alexa to control your lights is undeniably powerful and can simplify things like coming home with arms full of kids, pets and groceries,” said Matt Swatsky, director of product management at Lutron, who also noted the product’s usefulness to the aging in place community. “For some people, this technology restores the freedoms once taken for granted – like freely moving about to alter the lights. Smart home products are not just about the wow factor anymore – they’re about changing peoples’ lives.” “Using your voice to control smart home devices like Lutron’s Caséta Wireless system is both easy and natural with the magic of far-field voice recognition on Echo,” said Charlie Kindel, Director, Amazon Alexa Smart Home. “We’re excited that Lutron customers can now control their lights simply by asking Alexa.” Introduced in 2014, the reliable, affordable Caséta Wireless has helped homeowners and professionals alike overcome two common smart home lighting hurdles – compatibility with LEDs and installation challenges. Due to its unique dimmer design, a neutral wire is not required for in-wall installation – a challenge faced by people living in homes built before 1965. Not needing a neutral wire saves homeowners the cost and hassle of adding one. And according to Swatsky, the system’s powerful Pico remote, which can be mounted to a wall without wiring or affixed to a tabletop pedestal, is ideal for times when talking to Alexa just isn’t possible, like when kids are sleeping or you’re in the middle of an important phone call. “Lutron has worked hard to make sure all situations are covered,” he said.
To help answer some of the questions surrounding HTC Vive shipments, the company has created an FAQ site with lots of answers. From information about when units will ship to delay issues, if you ordered a Vive you will want to check this out. Anytime you order something online, you want to be able to access information about the order progress, see when it will ship, and have a full understanding of what is going on. HTC answers some of the popular questions in a new FAQ.
When is my expected delivery date?
Your Vive system will be shipped in the month noted in your order confirmation email. When your purchase has been completed and your order has been shipped, you will receive a separate shipment notification email, which includes a tracking number.
I paid for express shipping, but I received economy shipping. Why?
We will be issuing a refund of the shipping cost difference to all customers who paid for express shipping but received economy shipping. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Is HTC communicating with customers affected by order processing issues?
We are contacting customers affected by order processing issues through multiple channels – directly with customers and through updates on the blog here.
If you have questions about the status of your Vive order, be sure to check out all the information from HTC to get your answers.
Marvel lets you build your own Academy and it’s a ton of fun.
I got caught up in Avengers Academy almost as soon as it came out. When I sat down to write about it, it had only been available for a few days though so there hadn’t been much time to really delve in and decide if this was a game I could enjoy in the long haul. There were some serious questions about whether the in-app purchases were too steep, and whether the game expected you to grind through quests in order to level up.
Here’s where I am 30 days later.
One of the initial questions that I had was whether the entire game would feel like grinding. Getting through the first few levels was nearly painful, until I started to gather more students at the Academy. Since you level up by storing xp collected by completing quests, the early game is slow. You have access to fewer characters, buildings, and actions. As you build up your Academy, level up your existing heroes, and invite new heroes to the campus this becomes much, much easier. At that point the feeling that you’re grinding fades away.
I’ve found that your best bet for getting the most coin is to run through all the short and easy quests, until higher level quests with better rewards show up on the bulletin board. That’s a pretty simplistic way to put it, because as you play through you’ll end up with tons of quests making it more difficult to parse which ones should be done first. Still, the law of low-hanging fruit applies here. There are also character or scenario specific quests that further the storyline in Avengers Academy, rather than just giving you more coin and XP. More difficult quests take more time, but they also give you an exponentially better reward in the process.
In the last 30 days we’ve seen multiple events launch, each offering something unique and interesting.
One thing that Avengers Academy really loves, is running limited time events. These events run from a few days, to a few weeks and give you the chance to pick up some awesome limited time characters, and items. In the last 30 days we’ve seen three different events launch, each offering something unique and interesting. The last one gave you the option of acquiring Pepper Potts as a playable character — complete with RESCUE armor — and right now there is a 3 week long Guardians of the Galaxy event running. Each event offers some different perks, specific in-app purchases, and new characters.
Each event works in a similar fashion, without being actually identical. There are specific quests, and items you’ll need to collect in order to complete them. Most of these quests will trigger story shorts that explain what’s going on and lead to the next quest in the chain. If you successfully complete the string of quests, you’ll be able to bring new characters into your roster. These quests aren’t necessarily easy though, not by a long shot. You only have so much time to complete everything, and many quests may take 8 hours — and multiple characters to complete. This doesn’t mean you’re tethered to your screen for 8 hours, just that you need to check in a few times in that window.
Now of course in a game this size, and free to play, there are in fact in-app purchases. Marvel Avengers Academy never really tells you that you need to buy in-game items. Instead they’ll tell you about a new character, or item and when you check out that character you’ll see it requires several hundred shards to purchase. You’ll never pick up that many shards in game, which means your only option to acquire special characters like Vision, requires an in-app purchase to get. You can also purchase more coins, which are needed for upgrades to characters and buildings alike.
You can also speed up quest completion times, building upgrade times, and use them to fill in the gap of items you need when inviting new characters to the academy, all using shards. You won’t get many of these shards organically, but a few will pop up when you go up a level. 100 shards is the smallest number you can buy at a time, up to 7,000 shards, these purchases run anywhere from $1.99 to $99.99. Special characters run for several hundred shards each, so it works out to be about $10 for each special character that you purchase this way.
While you can certainly pony up the cash to purchase coins, I haven’t found it to be necessary.
Thankfully, coins are much easier to come by. While you certainly can pony up the cash to purchase coins, I haven’t found it to be necessary. Most quests that you complete will reward with coins. In the beginning these amounts are fairly small, but as you upgrade your characters they will earn more coins from each quest that you complete. That means that just by playing the game, you’ll earn plenty of coins. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have all the coins that you ever need though. Making strategic choices about when and how you spend the coins you’ve earned is definitely you’ll need to do.
Avengers Academy has easily become one of the games that I keep playing. I’ve wandered away for a few days at a time, but I always find myself coming back again. The events continually add new, if temporary, ways to play the game. I’m still miles away from exploring everything the game has to offer, and I’m enjoying watching as the story unfolds. Marvel Avengers Academy is a fun twist on a genre of game I’ve never enjoyed overmuch, the town builder game. With a story to entice you to keep playing, and plenty to do, this is one game I’ll be playing for quite a while.
Google has officially released Android Studio 2.0 for developers with a number of new features. In this release, developers will have access to Instant Run, which will increase their build speeds for testing apps. In addition, the emulator runs around 3 times faster, there is Cloud Test Lab integration and more. Some of the biggest changes in Android Studio 2.0, as detailed by Google, include:
- Instant Run – For every developer who loves faster build speeds. Make changes and see them appear live in your running app. With many build/run accelerations ranging from VM hot swapping to warm swapping app resources, Instant Run will save you time every day.
- Android Emulator – The new emulator runs ~3x faster than Android’s previous emulator, and with ADB enhancements you can now push apps and data 10x faster to the emulator than to a physical device. Like a physical device, the official Android emulator also includes Google Play Services built-in, so you can test out more API functionality. Finally, the new emulator has rich new features to manage calls, battery, network, GPS, and more.
- Cloud Test Lab Integration – Write once, run anywhere. Improve the quality of your apps by quickly and easily testing on a wide range of physical Android devices in the Cloud Test Lab right from within Android Studio.
- App Indexing Code Generation & Test – Help promote the visibility your app in Google Search for your users by adding auto-generated URLS with the App Indexing feature in Android Studio. With a few click you can add indexable URL links that you can test all within the IDE.
- GPU Debugger Preview – For those of you developing OpenGL ES based games or apps, you can now see each frame and the GL state with the new GPU debugger. Uncover and diagnosis GL rendering issues by capturing and analyzing the GPU stream from your Android device.
- IntelliJ 15 Update – Android Studio is built on the world class Intellij coding platform. Check out the latest Intellij features here.
To get started with the update, simply launch your existing install of Android Studio, or you can grab the download right from Google.
Almost a year ago, Cablevision announced plans to become the first cable provider to offer Hulu through its regular service. Today, the on-demand streaming option is finally being added to Optimum TV on the company’s current-gen set-top boxes. What’s more, customers can access Hulu’s library of content just like any other channel. From there, users can browse the full collection of content in further detail. To get Hulu to its customer’s set-top boxes, Cablevision is leveraging ActiveVideo’s CloudTV StreamCast technology. If you’ll recall, Netflix already made the leap to some cable boxes with its lineup of streaming content.
“We are thrilled that Optimum customers can now access Hulu’s content library without having to leave their cable TV environment,” said Hulu SVP Tim Connolly.
Offering a portal to the streaming service without having to leave the regular channel lineup certainly seems convenient, especially for folks using a game console or mobile device to access movies and shows. There’s no mention of alternate pricing, so it looks like the regular $8/month rate for limited commercials and commercial-free $12/month plans still apply. Customers who already have a Hulu account can navigate to the dedicated channel to log in or sync their account via the Optimum website. Folks who don’t have one can take advantage of a free trial by registering through Optimum to get access to the monthly subscription. Unlike its “Cord Cutter” plans, Hulu doesn’t come bundled with a digital antenna and internet service like the cable company did with HBO Now.
Apple today updated GarageBand for Mac, improving compatibility with GarageBand for iOS and Live Loops projects. The update also includes support for Music Memos projects, allowing them to be opened in GarageBand, and it offers support for Logic Remote for iPhone and iPad Pro.
The Music Memos app, designed for musicians and songwriters, was introduced in January alongside a GarageBand for iOS update that brought the Live Loops feature. Live Loops is a new GarageBand interface that lets users create music by tapping on a grid-like arrangement to trigger different looped instruments and samples.
Along with these features, it adds more than 2,600 new Apple Loops and sounds to the app, adding more variety and options for song and music creation. There are also improvements to reliability when downloading content and enhancements to Accessibility.
– Updates compatibility with GarageBand for iOS and Live Loops projects
– Opens Music Memos projects
– Supports Logic Remote for iPhone and iPad Pro
– Adds over 2,600 new Apple Loops and sounds
– Improved reliability when downloading additional content
– Contains multiple enhancements to Accessibility
In addition to GarageBand, Apple has also released a minor update for MainStage 3, designed to address overall stability and performance issues.
GarageBand can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]
MainStage 3 can be downloaded from the App Store for $29.99. [Direct Link]
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