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21
Dec

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari – A really long name for a really cool game (App Review)


I am constantly looking for my next mobile gaming fix because I have a job that has a lot of “hurry up and wait” moments. I need games that I can play a few rounds of while waiting for a client, or that I can put away and ignore at a moments notice when the day picks up the pace. Yodo1 Games has an excellent track record of pushing out these kinds of games, with claims to fame such as Crossy Road and Mega Jump 2. Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari is the latest gaming offering to come from Yodo1. It’s got a long name, but that name houses a boat load of fun! Let’s take a look.

Developer: Yodo1 Games
Price: Free/IAP
Download: Google Play, iOS

The Setup

Jumping into the game is quick and easy. You start off riding on a slow animal. The game then prompts you on how to control your cowboy. The one-handed controls are to simply hold a thumb on the screen to ride on the animals, release your thumb to leap forward through the air. While you’re airborne, there’s an outline on the ground a little bit in front of you. When you touch the screen again, you will lasso any animal in that circle and begin to ride again. Once you learn these basics, the game cuts you lose and lets you start wrangling animals all on your own.

Overview

Screenshot_20161215-193001-1-194x300.pngAnd we’re off to rope us some animals!

This game is a continual runner game with loads of animals for you to ride on. Each animal has a different speed and endurance. If you run out of endurance, your animal will get angry, which will result in different things depending on what you are riding. They could run extremely fast, buck around wildly making it harder to control, or buck you off entirely, sending you flying forward similar to a jump whether you’re ready or not. If you are riding a fast animal, like an Ostrich, you’ll hit some blazing fast speeds, but you’ll run out of endurance much faster. A buffalo is pretty slow, but you’ll be able to take your time to dodge obstacles and line up jumps better since he is much more tolerant of you on his back. There are even some animals that will eat you or otherwise immediately end your run once their endurance runs out, so be careful. Also, the longer your run goes for, the smaller your lasso area gets, so long runs require precision and split second decisions to make it from animal to animal.

As you ride along, the game will point out new animals that you haven’t ridden before. Once you lasso one of these, a circle with a heart will pop up. When the indicator is full, that animal is added to your zoo, will appear in the wild more frequently, and will be available for you to start your run with. There are multiple breeds of each animal, ranging from just slight color variations to some really bizarrely cool creatures, like a tie-dye elephant or an ostrich wearing armor. If you are a collector, there is no shortness of animals to collect.

Caught another one!Caught another one!

One of the coolest things is the way that the game handles its upgrade system. All the different breeds and variations of animals that you ride on all get added to your zoo and their habitats can be upgraded, which in turn gives that animal type additional abilities or stats. Every couple of hours you can also open the zoo to the public and get ticket sales for the number of habits and upgrades you have. It’s not as involved as some games with their zoo care, but it is a very nice visual touch to an age old upgrade menu.

There are a few in-app purchases, but most are your standard fare. Coin doubler, unlimited revives, and coin packs are available to boost your game. You also have to wait an arbitrary amount of time for missions to unlock after beating the previous one, so there is a purchase for that as well.

The only downside is that it does take a while to really unlock some of the cooler animals and missions. There are boss missions available that offer some unique items, but they only unlock after you complete a bunch of other missions. Having to wait for the next missions to unlock can take a long, long time. Unfortunately, this will probably turn off most players before they get to the more interesting animals and environments.

The Result

Rodeo Stampede is a super fun game. There are loads of unlockables and some really cool animals to collect. In-app purchases are unobtrusive and totally optional, but the game progression is much slower without them, and some players may quit before getting to the meat of the game. Overall, it’s a game everyone should take for a spin for the moments when you need to waste a little time.

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21
Dec

Reddit user’s Galaxy S6 edge+ battery ruptured and scorched his nightstand


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It’s not just the Note 7.

Reddit user ReturnThroughAether reported this morning that his AT&T-brand Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ caught fire on his nightstand as it was charging using the company’s first-party AC adapter, scorching his nightstand and giving him quite a scare. He writes:

Woke up this morning (yesterday technically. 12/20) just in time to get ready for work and looked over to find my phone has exploded. Luckily I don’t keep it on my bed, as you can see it scorched my night stand. I’ve talked to Samsung and my carrier. The phone had no problems before, no overheating. I think I’m done with Samsung for a while, really gonna miss the photos I had from Africa in the fall. Dammit Samsung, I was still in your corner after the Note 7 stuff too.

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Images credit: /u/ReturnThroughAether

He goes on to say that he previously had a Galaxy S6 edge that, while its battery stayed intact, had experienced battery performance problems before.

Before, during and after the Galaxy Note 7 incident, we heard myriad incidents of Samsung devices rendered useless by ruptured batteries. This is yet another example. While this isn’t cause for alarm and a recall of past Samsung products, it is yet another reminder that our phones, which increasingly contain our entire lives, should be treated with caution and charged in places that have little chance of injuring people. Thankfully this situation didn’t lead to any personal injuries, but that nightstand is going to need some TLC.

We’ve reached out to Samsung for comment.

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21
Dec

What you need to know about Dual Apps in MIUI 8


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Dual Apps lets you run two instances of an app simultaneously.

One of the headlining feature additions in MIUI 8 is Dual Apps, which allows you to run two instances of an app at the same time. The feature is especially handy if you have two social media accounts and are looking to access them from the same device.

And yes, with Dual Apps, you can run two WhatsApp accounts on the same phone. The feature is pretty straightforward: head into the phone’s settings to toggle dual app functionality for the app you’re looking to clone, following which you’ll see a separate icon for the app on your home screen.

Each instance of the app is siloed and runs independently of the other. Here’s how you can set up and start using Dual Apps in MIUI 8.

How to enable Dual Apps in MIUI 8

Open Settings from the home screen.
Navigate to Dual apps.
Toggle the app you want to clone.

That’s it! Once you clone an app, you’ll see two icons for that specific app on your home screen, with the cloned version featuring an indent that indicates that it is the secondary app.

Each instance has its own data and settings, but uninstalling the original app will result in the cloned app being deleted as well. The corollary isn’t true: if you want to revert to a single instance, you can delete the cloned version without it affecting the default app in any way.

With the feature enabled, I was able to run two WhatsApp accounts on the Mi Note 2. I use a single WhatsApp account (which in itself is tedious), but if you rely on two accounts regularly, Dual Apps is a nifty addition.

What do you guys use Dual Apps for?

21
Dec

Audio distortion on the Google Pixel: What you need to know


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The good news is your Pixel isn’t broken.

Shortly after the launch of Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL, a handful of users started complaining about audio distortion issues through the speaker when the media volume is set to maximum, or close to it. While it was originally difficult to reproduce, and the issue was dismissed as a hardware issue affecting a small number of phones, it turns out there’s a real audio problem with these phones. Before you go asking Google or Verizon to replace your Pixel in hopes of getting one that isn’t affected, there’s a few things you need to know.

This probably isn’t a hardware issue

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Thanks to Reddit user badmark, there’s a quick and reliable way to recreate this audio distortion on your phone. Download Perfect Piano from the Play Store, crank up your volume to max, and run your finger across the keyboard. Anyone who has ever listened to music through a blown speaker probably felt a sinking feeling in their gut when hearing that Pixel audio distortion. It’s a terrible sound, and while some users can generate this distortion across many apps, every Pixel and Pixel XL here in the office only offers up that crunching audio through this piano app.

This is clearly a problem in need of a fix, and Google has recognized this and claims to be looking into it.

What does all of this mean? Well, a couple of things. First, this either is a partial hardware problem or a 100% software problem. Currently it’s not clear which, because the problem appears to be more severe on some phones than others. It could be that Google is using multiple hardware suppliers for the speaker and some are more susceptible than others, or it could be that some users reporting the problem are exaggerating.

The suggestion that this is all software is based on an assumption made by users experimenting with a third-party ROM that “fixes” the problem. It’s not yet clear if the “fix” is the result of actual software changes, adjustments to the equalizer, or simply operating at a slightly lower volume that isn’t triggering the distortion. Remember, dropping the volume down just one level on an affected Pixel and Pixel XL makes this issue go away. There are a lot of variables and so far not enough tests have been done to be conclusive.

This is clearly a problem in need of a fix, and Google has recognized this and claims to be looking into it. Google didn’t fully acknowledge the issue until the above video gained popularity, and until recently had been offering warranty replacement of phones that appeared to have this audio distortion. That’s a lot of mixed messages, all pointing at waiting to see how Google handles this issue.

What can be done about it?

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Naturally, there are folks unwilling to wait for Google to decide this problem needs fixing. That’s understandable if you’ve been frustrated by this audio issue since October like some, but most Pixel owners are only discovering this week that this issue exists and that their phone is affected. In either case, there are three clear options available to you:

  • Keep your volume off of the highest setting and wait for Google to explain and fix this issue.
  • Avoid apps that trigger this audio distortion until Google explains and fixes this issue.
  • Unlock your phone, install a replacement bootloader, and use that install a third party audio mod that “fixes” this issue.

Waiting and continuing to keep an eye on Google’s product forums doesn’t feel like a great solution, and that’s because it’s not. Like the Nexus 6P before it, this audio glitch will eventually be addressed by Google. There’s no ETA for it, and Google still hasn’t made it clear exactly what this problem is. It’s probably going to be a month or two, and the update will arrive alongside the monthly security patch.

Going the route of installing a third-party ROM means you’re installing software with large red letters on it making sure you understand the creator isn’t liable in any way if you brick your phone, which isn’t great for everyone. Also, if your Pixel came from Verizon or EE, there’s a few extra steps involved to remove locks on the bootloader. This process is fairly well documented, but it’s not a good idea unless you know exactly what you are doing. As a general rule, if you need step by step instructions to install a third-party bootloader on your phone, this probably isn’t for you.

If you’re still not sure what you want to do about this issue, the Android Central forum thread on this issue is a great place to look. You’ll find other Pixel owners taking a look at how to address this issue, which may make it easier to determine which solution is best for you!

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21
Dec

Porsche Design Mate 9: $1500 Worth of Smartphone?


The Porsche Design Mate 9 phone won’t make you feel like you’re bombing down the Autobahn with a Swedish supermodel, blasting electronica and whipping around curves at 160km/h. At this price, you might really want to buy it if that’s your kind of lifestyle already. If you’re a jet-setting yacht-owning gadabout, dip your silver spoon into this review.

MrMobile gets into the infinity pool on this one, and takes a lap around what works well, and what should turn your nose up. With Michael Fisher’s jeweler’s eye, you’ll know if you’ve got a diamond or a cubic zirconia. It’s the Porsche Design Mate 9, this week on MrMobile.

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21
Dec

Deck your phone with these ho-ho-holiday wallpapers


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A holiday poem, and some wallpapers, too!

‘Tis four days before Christmas,

So time to deck the halls.

We’ve decked the tree and the car,

And the ceilings and the walls.

But we’ve missed something special,

For your desktop is bare.

Time to get a festive wallpaper,

For your Android phone to wear.

So enjoy these five walls,

Some cute and some merry.

And happy holidays from AC,

Time to steal some rum from Jerry!

Disneyland Paris Christmas

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This is the holiday wallpaper I’ve used for two years now, and I love it to pieces. I have the ever-charming Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant from Disneyland Paris shining in the distance, snow falling across the beautiful wintery scene, and a Santa boot left Cinderella-style on the steps (bet he’s missing that in this weather). This wallpaper is whimsical, yet refined, and the strong blue-white-red color scheme lends itself well to theming, with Glim red-variant icons for my dock and color-variable widgets when I get the whim.

Disneyland Paris Christmas

It’s Christmas Time by Anyzamarah

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Fractals are all around in the winter, and they make lovely wallpapers, from snowflakes, to Christmas trees to the most ornate ornaments you’ll ever see. This is a wallpaper that can draw you in with its remarkable detailing and stun you with its beauty. You’ll be hard pressed to put this away at the end of the season.

It’s Christmas Time by Anyzamarah

Arctic Christmas

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Once you’ve caught your Santa Pickachus in Pokémon Go, why not grab a holiday wallpaper with our favorite Ice-type Pokémon? From the magestic Lapras to the dark and mysterious Weavile, Pokémon from all over the frozen north come together to celebrate the holiday together and light up the winter’s night under the glow of the aurora.

Artic Christmas by arkeis-pokemon

Candy Cane Queen

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It’s easy to go overboard with candy canes at Christmas time, but this remarkable Candy Cane Queen by littlepaperforest does it right. The stripes aren’t everywhere, and they’re not garish, they’re lovely accents instead. And her crown of holiday leaves and flowers is a stroke of genius. Her figure is also something to make me envious every time I look at my home screen, so there’s that, too.

Candy Cane Queen by littlepaperforest

MERRY CHAOSMAS EVERYPONY by BlackGryp0n

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A lot of shows do Christmas wrong. Really, really wrong in some cases (cough cough Star Wars cough cough). But My Little Pony does it right. Not only is Hearth’s Warming Eve its own holiday with historical and magical importance, but it makes the carols and merrymaking an important part of the holiday. Of course, Discord’s take on Hearth’s Warming Eve is bound to be a bit more… lively. And really, as chaotic as Christmas is, it should be Discord’s holiday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sing Pinkie’s Present at the top of my lungs.

MERRY CHAOSMAS EVERYPONY by BlackGryp0n

21
Dec

Chromebook Gift Guide: What should you buy this holiday season


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Chromebooks make great holiday gifts and we’re here to help you decide the best one to buy.

The holiday buying rush is in full swing and we’re almost out of time to find that perfect gift for a special someone in your life. Good thing there is something that’s easy to find, won’t hurt your wallet and is something that anyone would love — a new Chromebook!

They come in plenty of sizes, styles and capabilities, so you’ll be able to pick the perfect model no matter who you’re buying for. And what you’re giving — the full internet experience with the Chrome browser, thousands of apps and extensions that go with it and a secure system that is quick and almost maintenance free. Of course, you also get Google Play and over 1,000,000 Android applications on select models.

Since different people have different needs, let our expertise help you pick the right Chromebook to make the perfect gift.

The best Chromebook for kids and students

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The ASUS Chromebook Flip is the best Chromebook for the kids and students in your life. The smaller 10-inch size makes it perfect for the little ones, and ultra-portable for the older ones who seem to always be on the go.

The hardware is plenty powerful to offer a great experience, too. The 1280 x 800 screen is bright and sharp and the keyboard and trackpad are responsive and easy to use. Best of all, it folds over on itself and becomes a full touchscreen device.

The addition of Google Play and Android apps combined with the convertible profile means the Flip is also a great Android tablet where you can play games or doodle or watch a movie or two.

Kids of all ages will love the ASUS Chromebook Flip and everything it does. You’ll love the price tag and that you won’t have to worry about viruses and malware.

See at Amazon

The best for your parents or grandparents

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The best Chromebook for your parents or grandparents is the Acer Chromebook 14.

The Acer Chromebook 14 brings everything great about a Chromebook into the big-screen arena. The 14-inch IPS HD screen is gorgeous and coated with a semi-reflective treatment to keep glare at bay without sacrificing too much in the way of viewing angles. The keyboard is roomy, the keys won’t wobble and wiggle around and we wouldn’t have any problem using it day in and day out. The trackpad is huge, supports all of Chrome’s multi-finger gestures and can click to act like a mouse button. The Chromebook 14 really takes advantage of the room a larger screen provides.

It’s also beautifully built. An all-aluminum chassis with smooth edges and round corners and a single full-piece bottom is the same styling used on high-end computers like the MacBook, and your folks will appreciate the look and style. The Acer Chromebook 14 is a perfect way for your parents or grandparents to sit down and get some work done, manage online accounts and pay bills or to relax after a busy day.

See at Amazon

The best Chromebook for you

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2017 will bring plenty of new Chromebooks at all price points, but right now the Acer Chromebook R13 is the best one for you and me.

At 13 inches, it has plenty of real estate for all the apps and windows and chats you might have going on, has plenty of power to do just about anything and folds over to become a large-screen tablet complete with a multi-touch interface. This meshes perfectly with Android apps from Google Play, which the R13 supports.

It’s also built well and the aluminum body is tough enough to hold up in a bag or backpack and has full USB-C support to charge your other devices using the power delivery standard — and it has a “regular” USB 3.0 port so all the things you already have can plug right in. Top things off with excellent battery life and the Acer Chromebook R13 is the best Chromebook you can buy for yourself.

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21
Dec

Online RPG ‘Asheron’s Call’ to shut down after 17 years


Well-done online role-playing games tend to have a long shelf life, but the Asheron’s Call series has lasted longer than most. It got started way back in 1999, and has lasted through three publisher changes, a shift to a buy-once model and even a full-on resurrection, among other tribulations. However, even classics have to call it quits at some point. Turbine has announced that it’s ending support for both the original Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 on January 31st, 2017. The series will be completely free to play for any account holder until then, but you won’t get to create a new account to see what the fuss is about.

The shutdown wasn’t exactly unexpected. Asheron’s Call support has been limited to maintenance for over two years, so it wasn’t about to experience a revival. And just a day before the closure announcement, Turbine revealed that it was spinning off the Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online teams into a separate company, Standing Stone Games. Given that those are Turbine’s only active projects, it’s not hard to see what’s likely happening — Turbine may still own Asheron’s Call, but it doesn’t have the staff needed to keep the lights on.

Don’t expect a revival like the series saw in 2012. There is a crowdfunding effort from fans hoping to buy the franchise and keep it alive, but that’s contingent on both sufficient support and Turbine being willing to sell. Turbine had talked about shifting to privately-run servers, but that didn’t happen. As it stands, massively multiplayer online games aren’t as red hot as they used to be. Even World of Warcraft is nowhere near the subscriber count of its heyday. It’s sad to see Asheron’s Call go, but the MMO world has changed a lot since it arrived 17 years ago.

Source: Asheron’s Call (Facebook)

21
Dec

Facebook Live adds a bunch of features for famous people


Mentions is the behind-the-scenes tool that public figures use to keep track of their brands on Facebook, and today it’s getting three new features aimed at improving the Live video experience. New tools rolling out over the next few weeks include the ability to blacklist certain words or phrases from the comments, fresh customization options for live videos and the option to trim videos after the broadcast has ended.

The new Team Prompts feature is good news for social media managers across the globe. Users are able to create drafts of Facebook Live posts, allowing the public figure to then review and publish those descriptions directly via Mentions. Plus, social media mavens are now able to schedule times they want the star to go live or publish specific posts. There’s also the new comment moderation tool that allows Mentions users to block specific words or phrases from the Live video chat ahead of time.

People in the Mentions club also get an expanded set of Live customization options: The adjustments tray allows broadcasters to flip the camera horizontally or vertically, adjust brightness settings or use a fancy new mirror mode.

Finally, trimming allows Mentions stars to determine when they want their published video to start and stop, after the live broadcast has ended. Facebook is also testing out a broadcaster status bar with a handful of Mentions users, providing realtime details about audio levels, connectivity and battery status.

There’s no word on when or if these features will roll out for regular Facebook Live users, but it seems they would be handy for the hoi polloi as well as the stars.

21
Dec

Nokia Sues Apple for Patent Infringement in Germany and the U.S. Following Licensing Disagreement


Nokia today announced that it has filed several complaints against Apple in Germany and the United States, accusing the Cupertino company of infringing on Nokia patents.

Nokia’s lawsuit stems from a disagreement between Apple and Nokia over licensing fees for Nokia technology. Apple this morning filed an antitrust lawsuit against several patent assertion entities that it claims are attempting to collect excessive fees for Nokia patents through lawsuits and royalty demands.

According to Apple, Nokia’s failing cellphone business has prompted Nokia to transfer patents to patent assertion entities to get out of FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) licensing deals it established for essential patents, allowing the company to collect higher royalties. From Apple’s complaint:

With its cell phone business dying, Nokia began to seek out willing conspirators and to commence its illegal patent transfer scheme in full force; that scheme has continued in full effect to the present. The driving force behind Nokia’s strategy was to diffuse its patent portfolio and place it in the hands of PAEs. Acacia and Conversant were its chief conspirators.

Nokia’s own patent infringement complaint against Apple claims that Apple has declined to establish licensing deals for Nokia technology that is used in Apple products.

Ilkka Rahnasto, head of Patent Business at Nokia, said: “Through our sustained investment in research and development, Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices, including Apple products. After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights.”

Nokia has filed lawsuits in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich in Germany. The lawsuits cover 32 patents that cover technologies including display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets, and video coding. Nokia says additional actions are to come.

Tags: lawsuit, patent, Nokia, Patent lawsuits
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