Akasa Tablet Stand
The Akasa Tablet Stand is a fab little tablet stand, I often use my Nexus 7 or Asus Transformer next to my Work PC. More often than not; it’s led down behind my keyboard or on top of some mail i’m ignoring.
Enter the Akasa Tablet Stand. A small aluminium stand with blue rubber at the contact points. Three different angles are available to use but I find the second in to be the best viewing angle as I sit bolt upright in an office chair. I have the tablet to the side of the screens so I can use it anytime without obstructing my screen.
There’s not a huge amount to say regards design, it’s very sturdy, and doesn’t feel like it will ever bend or buckle. The Alu is well shaped and is completely smooth. on my unit the rubber wasn’t fully adhesed to the base, but a lick of super glue had that solved in an instant.
I have no bad points at all, it’s a great product.
If you need a tablet stand and don’t want it to be terribly fancy, then this is the stand for you.
HTC One X
The HTC One X – It’s been a Great phone, but poor GPS and WiFi let it down.
The first thing you’ll realise when you handle the One X is that HTC have done the right thing using polycarbonate Plastic. This Phone feels fantastic in the hand, soft touch plastic and smooth edges make for easy holding. The screen jumps out at you with bright rich colours and pixels aren’t visible [unless you put your eye right to it]. The buttons are smooth and have a good tactile click when pressed. It feels like a premium device, and the Sense Software keeps that same premium feeling once you turn it on.
Once you’ve powered it on and entered your Google details, the phone begins syncing all my data from the cloud. This gave me a chance to check out HTC’s bundled software. SoundHound, DropBox, FaceBook and Twitter are all make an appearance, and are updated to their latest version. HTC has done a sterling job with Sense, it’s the only launcher that I prefer to Stock Android. The polish on the interface is well thought out and every button and icon has been redesigned to take advantage of the 4.7″ 720p display.
With all my data and apps synced I can begin to use the phone for my daily tasks: Email, Weather, Personal Assistant. HTC have done a great job of getting out of the way. What I mean by this is that I don’t have to jump through a ton of hoops to get things done. The HTC Weather widget holds the clock and weather on the lock screen so I can peek at the phone and slip it back into my pocket, if I need to check anything else I can swipe up and get on.
The 720p screen doesn’t really shine until you use the camera or watch a HD video on it. It’s easily the best mobile screen on a device at the moment. Viewing angles are almost 160 degrees, and the LCD is so close to the digitiser that it almost looks like it’s the top layer. I haven’t seen a device do this before and I think that it will become a standard thing for devices to come.
The Camera is an 8MP shooter and I’m happy to leave my DSLR at home (unless I intend to do some serious photography). It’s very noisy on low light images, but the LED flash does a great job of lighting the scene, it’s nowhere near as effective as a zeon flash. Like those found on the Nokia Lumia devices, but it’s fine for ordinary use.
The phone sports a BEATS by DR. Dre audio processor, this is designed to make music sound a great deal better through your headphones. What it actually does is reduce the bass and treble when off and then boost them turned on, this is a cheap trick to make you think it’s a much more dramatic change. Combine this with BEATS headphones and you end up with a Bass heavy Scooped sound. As someone who understands that amount of effort a music engineer goes through to master a track, BEATS by Dre does a great job of ruining the EQ.
The two major gripes for me have been the WiFi and GPS antennae. GPS jumps around like mad, sometimes 100′s of meters away and then a mile away, then back to my actual position. the My Tracks App registered my average speed as 300 mph with a top speed of 1034 mph, whilst I was casually walking my dog along a country with perfect blue skies, and 360 degree views of the horizon. Driving with it was impossible. When stopped my location marker would continue to move forward, and would often be on adjacent roads or in a field somewhere. My HTC Sensation was on the dashboard next to it, with a perfectly locked location.
The WiFi antennae would sometimes lose all connections and need to be squeezed in between the Camera lens and the Volume buttons. The issue was fixed by HTC under warranty for free, but reception was still poor, better than it was but no match for a Galaxy S2 or Nexus 4 both achieving 20-40% better reception at 15m away through internal walls.
ONE YEAR LATER…
With the HTC One, Galaxy Note 3, LG G2 and Nexus 5 all out, my HTC One X feels like a bit old. the build quality issues with GPS and Wifi have been a constant pain in my side. the Tegra 3 Processor has done a great job of playing the latest and greatest games. I’ve had a ton of fun putting it into a load of projects, and I’ve taken some really great photos with it.
But I can’t stick with it for another 12 months, I’m sad to say that this might be my last HTC Phone.
Samsung and LG are really leading the market with amazing phones and HTC is just releasing more HTC One devices, smaller and larger but essentially the same phone.
I fought HTC’s corner for many years, but it’s time to throw in the towel and change brands.
Cube World – Alpha
From the starting screen it’s very easy to see why the Indie Games crowd love it. Such a simple look and great gameplay mechanics. Don’t be fooled by the pretty face, CubeWorld will take hours to gameplay till you reach a decent level. and even then the loot is mediocre at best.
It’s the bosses that hold the good loot and you need a team to take them down. multiplayer is great, a team of 5 or more Heroes of similar level and you can start hunting down the bigger enemies. More players also means more EXP; so you’ll level faster.
The Game is rendered in a vibrant and colourful “Cubey” style. Layer and layer of blocks make up the terrain, and the colours make everything jump out at you. It’s refreshing to see a “cube game” that isn’t trying to be Minecraft. Cube world is a great game and is in a class of it’s own [Indie-VoxelCube-RPG-DungeonCrawler]
The world is randomly generated and is infinitely huge, with multiple Biomes that will present new challenges and new foes. I spent 2 hours Swimming through a Water Biome because I didn’t have boat, but I enjoyed every minute of terror avoiding larger enemies and picking off the weaker ones.
The Item crafting is great. Harvest ingredients, find a camp fire or other work area and craft away. Batch Crafting would be nice, but this is an Alpha so these features will come in time.
Weapon Modification is another EXCELLENT game feature. You can use the various Ore’s you collect from mines and Bosses to upgrade your weapon. but in this game you can manually place the extra blocks, so you can customise your weapons. I had a Giant Spiked Battle Axe, and a Bow with a Golden Trim. It’s very rewarding to see your upgrades in hand, being used to crush your enemy.
Currently [November 2013] the game lacks a decent skill tree and loses playability quickly, a lack of achievable quests or easier grinding missions becomes irritating very soon. hopefully we’ll see quests from NPCs and better Daily Quests. The Bosses are too tough for newer players to tackle on their own, and without an alternative the game has no drive.
Im happy to announce that I haven’t seen a single bug during hours of gameplay. even in its Alpha the game has a lot of polish. I expect that over the coming months this will grow into another great Indie title.
The Picorama website did have a forum but in July it was disabled, this has been a real hindrance for community. I hope that it is enabled soon.
Overall I’d definitely recommend this game to any Indie Gamer. It’s a great game to play with friends.
GameBoy Android Case
I set out to build a Bluetooth controller for my HTC One X so I could play emulator games. I thought about buying one of the numerous controllers, then I found an old Gameboy and decided to make it into a project.
This Project required a bluetooth module and something to process the inputs, I have planned on using an Arduino Mini Pro and a couple of AA’s in the battery bay; but I opted for a WiiMote.
After cutting the gameboy controller circuit board into shape I went about soldering the Gameboys circuits to the WiiMote. This worked first time and with the Wiimote app on my device I had a working controller.
I then measured up the case I intended to use and cut away the Gameboy LCD area so the phone would fit nicely, I had to use an Exacto knife to cut away some of it, but the dremel did most of the heavy lifting. I rewired the WiiMote to use the Gameboys battery bay and sunk the WiiMote inside.
It’s a simple build and great if you have these parts lying around spare.
Kerbal Mission: Mun Team Extraction!
Put three Kerbals on the Mun in a Vessel that can return to Kerbin from the Mun’s surface, either by re-attaching to a Mun orbiting craft, or on its own.
(vehicle must have a way to receive fuel from another vessel)
Upon Landing the Fuel lines BREAK! and fuel begins to leak out rapidly
(jettison all fuel leaving them stranded on the Mun)
Build an unmanned vessel that can deliver a full tank of fuel and be able to transfer it to the stranded vessel.
Earn Mission Points:
Video the whole rescue operation Start to Finish + 25 Points
Rescue Craft is able to return to Kerbin on its own after mission is complete +25 Points
Rescue Craft doesn’t use wheels to move around Mun’s surface + 25 Points
Rescue Craft is powered only by batteries [no solar] + 20 Points
Rescue Craft lands within 200m of Stranded Vessel + 10 Points
Mun Lander return to Kerbin without Aid from a Second Mun Orbiting Vessel + 10 Points
Rescue Craft gets to Mun in under 2 days +5 Points
Take an awesome picture of the Rescue Craft next to your Mun Lander with your Kerbals EVA’d + 1 Point
Use MechJeb – 100 Points
Video Evidence Required for Points to be noted online!
Physics Breaker Craft 3rd Generation
Physics Breaker Craft
This is the 3rd generation physics breaker craft, once your going fast enough (120Mps normally) the controls invert.
It goes in the Space Plane Hanger. Not the VAB.
It will not function without an atmosphere, so no space flights. If you do manage to get into space you’ll have no control until you come back into the atmosphere.
Good Luck Pilots!
Download Here (Ad.fly helps me pay for hosting) - It’s a .zip file
Cube World USB Stick – Tutorial
Run Cube World from a USB Drive – 5 Minute Tutorial ~BeardyMike
If like me you have a few different computers (WorkPC/HomePC/Laptop), it’s a pain when you change computer and you don’t have your save data. And if you go to a new machine you’ll need to install the game again. This tutorial will allow you to run the game from a USB Stick or a portable Hard Drive. It takes about 5 minutes and you need no computer knowledge at all. I break every step down and give the keyboard shortcuts in (Brackets)
Luckily for us; the game folder contains everything we need to run the game fully. After testing this on 10 computers I can’t see any performance loss compared to a normal installation. It’s a great for putting on your keys like I do, this way it’s always with me. This same tutorial works with most other indie games as they aren’t stuffed to the brim with DRM or countermeasures. THANKS DEVs – We Love You
You will need:
a 1Gb or bigger USB Stick/Hard-Disc-Drive/SD-Card,
a working installation of Cube World,
1. Right click the Cube World icon on your desktop and choose “open file location”
2. select all files and COPY them (CTRL + C)
3. Open your Stick/HDD/SD and make a folder, I called mine “Cube World”
4. PASTE the files into the new folder (CTRL + V)
5. After the files have copied, right click the file named “CubeLauncher.exe” and choose “Create Shortcut”
6. Click the new shortcut and CUT it (CTRL + X)
7. Go back to the ROOT level of your Stick/HDD/SD Mine is F:\ and PASTE the shortcut here.
8. Done. Now when ever you connect you Stick/HDD/SD and open it you will have a shortcut to open Cube World, and your save data moves around with you.
Microsoft Touch Mouse
The Microsoft Touch Mouse.
I’ve been using standard mice with Windows since the beginning (Win95) and they have been great mice. Cherry are my usual brand of choice, but when I saw the Microsoft Touch Mouse I thought “that looks really good” so I opened my wallet and bought it.
Ebuyer.com are selling this mouse for £14.99 instead of nearly £90. BARGAIN!
Installing the mouse isn’t immediately clear, the mouse functions without touch using Windows Basic drivers. Until you download the Microsoft Keyboard & Mouse Centre (not included in the box) from the Microsoft website, then the mouse kicks into gear. There is a quick tutorial showing you how it works. Takes about 2 minutes to complete, then you are free to go and play with it.
First thing I do is open Chrome, browse to my favourite Tech News site, and swipe down about an inch on the mouse. The website flings to the bottom of the page, the default sensitivity is a bit high. I return to the site with my newly amended sensitivity settings to try again; this time it goes down about two or three lines *Perfect*.
Windows 8 works very well with the touch features. The side swipe gestures make the screen edge tool bars easy to use, which is something I find difficult to use with a standard mouse, Holding my mouse to the right of the screen for 2-3 seconds doesn’t feel natural. two finger swipe left and the Charms menu opens, two fingers swipe up to open the app menus.
Swipe two fingers right to switch between open apps, similar to how alt+tab works. This feature is very well received by me.
Three finger swipes up & down allow you to zoom in & out of programs that accept that kind of command. Chrome/Photoshop/Picture Browsers these all work great.
Use your thumb to to swipe up or down to use a back/forward function, a lot of mice use buttons in the same place to achieve this. Thumb gestures work exceptionally well and I haven’t had any accidental inputs.
Another feature that is found in all the top end Microsoft Mice is that they will function with only battery, this is a FANTASTIC idea and should be more widely used. too many times I’ve only ever had one spare AA Battery.
Swiping is good with Windows 8.
The Apple Magic Mouse is a great product, it works straight out of the box. OSX Mountian Lion isn’t very complex, but there a few things that make use of gestures: Safari Browser allows you change tabs with one finger swipes. In the OS you can flick between open apps with two finger swipes. Double tap two fingers to see all open windows; but this almost never works for me, plus its pretty much useless as most people don’t use full screen apps so their apps are all visible anyway.
Apple; two good gestures, one bad gesture.
Microsoft; Five good gestures.
I really like the Microsoft Touch Mouse, I’ll be buying another for my Home PC.
- Great Gestures
- Looks really good
- Textured feel, not slippery
- One battery operation
- Laser mouse – works on almost any surface
- Sensitivity is adjustable to suit all needs
- Currently i’ts a bargain @14.99
- Software to enable touch features not included in the box, found on Microsoft.com
- On/Off switch is difficult to access quickly
- It’s brown underneath, black or white would have been better
- Lasts a month on two Duracell Batteries with moderate to heavy use.
BURN by MaartenApple
Burn should be in your top 10 things to immediately download when you get a Apple Mac. The default DVD/DC tool is okay, but it’s nothing special.
There isn’t a great deal to say about Burn other than; It’s well made, I’ve never had a DVD/CD that has had errors, it’s not a large application, it doesn’t come with any sneaky spyware or adware, it’s a got great support if you ever need help.
Burn will make Audio/Video/Data discs, or if you have an Disc image like an .ISO it will burn those for you as well. the logo on the dock gets a little progress bar so you can use other programs and always know roughly how much is left to do.
Overall the application is very polished, I haven’t ever had a single bug. Burn sticks to the standard OS X design scheme so it looks like any other bundled app.
The community have a couple of themes and other little changes available if you want to experiment with it, but the stock look is really well rounded
Over the past few years the logo has changed from a Red Disc to a radiation sign. but currently (2013) its a radiation sign with a fire logo in the middle. the 2013 logo is my favourite so far. It’s not garish and its not too loud.
Burn is simply a must have if you burn discs
Free download available thanks to SOURCEFORGE
Apple Magic Mouse
Apple Magic Mouse
I got my MacBook in 2009, it was purchased so that I could use Logic Pro to record my band. However it quickly became apparent that the touchpad was terrible, so I invested £79.99 in the newly released Apple Magic Mouse.
It comes in a box similar to the iPods, Clear plastic shell with nothing else inside. I popped in two AA batteries and installed the mouse via bluetooth. This was a painless process, the mouse immediately began to work.
OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard doesn’t have many touch features other than smooth scrolling, But it was leagues better than the touchpad. when OSX 10.7 Lion was released the mouse really began to show off its touch features, as the OS is designed with gestures in mind. that said things were buggy as hell, the smooth scrolling was stuttering, and the mouse had lost its very tight feel.
OSX Mountain Lion came to save the day. Touch Gestures were fixed, things felt much smoother.
The mouse can be set to do left clicks if you click on the left hand side, as a Windows User it was nice to have mouse normality back.
After using this mouse for 1-2 hours I get a chronic pain in my wrist, its very shallow and there’s no support for your hand or fingers, the apple website shows the user curling their ring and little finger back into their palm whilst using the mouse. This makes the pain come in minutes. This would be a really big issue if I had to use it for more than an hour at a time.
There isn’t a lot to say about this mouse. It’s worth having if you don’t get along with touchpad input, but still want the gesture features. But at £79.99 it’s expensive.