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Android Games 21

I’ve been paying attention to Battleheart for awhile now, but didn’t buy it because I heard that the developer was no longer supporting the Android version. I was then, pleasantly surprised, when they released Battleheart Legacy for Android. I bought it even though it was pretty expensive ($5).

It had good reviews and in many ways the game is good. It’s a polished RPG with a build-your-own-hero-skills type approach. However, I think the plot is very loose and shallow, and it’s just an excuse to go to dungeons. Since I didn’t play the original, I’m not sure how to compare the combat, but at higher levels, it’s difficult because there’s too much action on screen and it’s hard to click the right thing. Maybe it’s better on tablets. I was hoping for a lot of replay value, but there isn’t enough story to make me play it multiple times (I don’t mind the grinding that much).

Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire is a fun little tablet game where you have to draw glyphs on your screen to pop balloons and protect your castle from evil robot/knight things. In the vein of Flappy Bird or Crossy Road, the game play is simple and fast. It’s pretty fun when you start playing, but I don’t see it having any staying power because it doesn’t have the same reward-addiction system that Crossy Road has.

February 2015

While February was short, it was also very winter-y. There were 2 big snow storms and the temperature was in general quite cold. Highs of -20°C to -25°C + wind chill on top were quite common. Family day long weekend was like that too, so we couldn’t really go outside. In addition to that, we had issues with our hot water heater; and that effected our furnace so we didn’t have heat for a day/night on that weekend. At least we were able to get by with space heaters, unlike the time we didn’t have electricity for almost a week in December 2013.

Jovian continues to grow, but he’s stuck in that phase where he is ready to crawl but hasn’t figured out how to do it yet. He’s gradually getting better – he can hold himself up on his hands now, and “move” by rolling around. However, he hasn’t figured out how to get on his knees. I remember it took Apollo forever to figure this out too. Jovian also has 2 baby bottom teeth now too!

I’m getting pretty tired of card games. I still start Solforge daily to get the rewards, but it’s no longer fun. I only play Hearthstone to get the new card backs every month. I’m ready to stop playing both of those now. I’ve also had battery problems with my Nexus 5 so didn’t play any games on mobile either (and have been carrying 2 phones around when I’m out).

I spent some time this month organizing the photos that I’ve scanned from my childhood. I think I’ve done most of what I can to organize the photos by month/year. Most of the remaining photos I can’t place. Hopefully I won’t have another one of these organizational projects next month (I did music in January).

Tearing Down The Leafs

It says something about the state of the Toronto Maple Leafs when its fanbase is extremely happy to trade players off the game day roster for futures, no-name prospects, and injured players that will never appear on the ice (but eat up $5M/yr). I think I’ve watched one game this entire season and don’t really care if the Leafs make the playoffs or not. I’d actually rather them lose all the remaining games and get a high draft pick. I have some interest in the March 2nd trade deadline to see what other players we can get rid off and I do infact hope that next year we can ice a team of draft picks!

If I Were To Buy A New Phone…

Since my N5 isn’t working well, I’ve considered buying a new phone. Strangely, there aren’t a lot of compelling choices. Here’s what I looked at:

  • Nexus 6 – It’s expensive ($750+tax+shipping in Canada) and I wasn’t enthusiastic about it when it was released (doesn’t seem to use its large size well). Also all the problems I have with my N5 would still exist on the N6 AND it would be more expensive to replace if there were issues.
  • Moto X 2014 – It’s pretty hard to get in the frequency band that I want (I have to buy it from Wind, but it seems like they are OOS in a lot of places). Also, it feels like I’m not improving on my N5 as the technology seems about the same.
  • OnePlus One – This is probably the best option as the screen is larger than the N5 (but not N6 size), it’s relatively open, and relatively cheap. Although with the exchange rate, the 64GB version would set me back $500CDN after shipping.
  • Random Chinese model – The first problem is that it won’t work with my carrier. The second is that I would lose all the benefits of being close to Google/AOSP and getting quick updates. I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up yet.

CODE2015

Last weekend was the yearly Canadian Open Data Experience hackathon and I spent some time to build an entry. For the longest time, I was considering not participating; mainly because the data sets are limiting and it’s difficult to think of any interesting or innovative ideas. But in the end, I ended up competing and I think I came up with a decent idea.

My app is called Concerns of my Community and its tagline is crowdsourcing government alerts that matter to you. The basic premise is that the government publishes lots of warnings and advisories that you should know about, but there’s no way you can keep up with all of them. By using social and geographic communities, these issues can be curated so ones that are relevant to you are brought to your attention. I had to pivot slightly from this idea, because it turns out that learning about issues would decrease your mental health rather than improve it (and the theme of the competition was healthy living). To fix this, I made sure that once you’re aware of an issue, the app gives you a combination of government and private sector information to act upon it.

I’m not sure whether I will publish it to Google Play and make it available to the public. Last year I was really gung-ho about this, but after seeing the outcome for a successful app like mine, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to polish and promote it yet.

Source of My Nexus 5 Battery Issues

I’ve been curious about what’s been causing my Nexus 5’s battery to bulge. I’m pretty sure the immediate cause is because of overheating around the battery. Overheating from the CPU (due to running video conferencing for too long) caused my laptop’s battery to bulge and I think there’s some sort of chemical reaction in LION batteries around prolonged excessive heat. But what could have caused the overheating?

I do play some games on my cellphone, but I don’t think enough or for long enough periods to cause the overheating (certainly my battery would at least run out if I was playing for that long). The other hypothesis I have is that my phone could be running hot from trying to acquire location, but again that would have caused my battery to run out a lot faster than it would normally do under normal behaviour (and I would have noticed). My last theory is that using my QI chargers caused the problem. I think I recall my phone being hot while being wirelessly charged, and perhaps the prolonged exposure (charging overnight) caused the battery issue.

In any case, this is one time where I don’t like/agree with Google’s design principle of having non-removable batteries (I also would prefer microSD cards instead of cloud storage).

The New Pattern Is Now About Once A Year

When I bought my Nexus 5, I broke my pattern of going a year and a half between phones. I’ve been pretty happy with my N5, and I haven’t dropped it or anything like that so there wasn’t a reason to buy another new phone (also the Nexus 6 wasn’t very appealing). But all good things must come to an end, even if it’s not 18 months yet – I started having a problem with my N5. It seems that it is pregnant just like my laptop was last year.

I didn’t notice this initially, but rather noticed that my battery life started becoming horrible. This coincided with the Lollipop update, and there have been lots of complaints about Lollipop’s battery usage so originally I thought I had that problem. Then I started getting random shutdowns – sometimes when my phone still had ~50% battery, and almost every time I did high current activities like taking pictures/videos. After doing some more reading, I noticed the bulging battery issue and am pretty sure that is what’s causing my problem.

It’s gotten progressively worse – I think I’m only getting a couple of hours on standby now. If I try and browse on my phone, it’ll randomly shut off after a few pages. I ordered a new battery and hopefully I can replace it; but if not, it’s time for a new phone!

MP3 Reorg Post Mortem 2

Now that I’ve spent even MORE time moving around my MP3s, I realized a couple of more things:

  • When your album name or your album artist changes (I think), iTunes decides to change the modified date on that song. This really messed up my smart playlists as now half the songs in my collection have been modified in the last month. Add to that that some recent upgrade of iTunes updated the library data so that all the added date got mangled (pushed everything into 2012), and I’ve basically lost track of when each song entered my library. So my playlists no longer works, thanks iTunes! Now the only thing keeping me in iTunes is the investment I’ve made into song ratings.
  • Originally I had decided only to move albums for mainstream artists. But then I had a large dance music collection which I moved over. This added a lot of noise to my artists page, but eventually I decided that I would rather just backup my physical music collection entirely in the cloud.
  • My music collection size has ballooned greatly. I think before this work, it was around 20GB. Now it’s around 43GB
  • There used to be a hack to convert DRM-protected songs that I bought from iTunes to iTunes Plus (no DRM and better bit rate). But that no longer works. So I have a bunch of music that’s locked inside iTunes. Oh well, it won’t stop me from moving away from iTunes (eventually)
  • I started out using albumart.org (proxy for Amazon) for cover art and allmusic.com for genre details. However, I found out that discogs.com is much better for both. Especially because I can find obscure Canadian CDs and singles on there. However, there are still a couple of albums I can’t find)

Comic Book Reading Is Back

After a long break from reading comics, I read a couple this week – but it’s not what you think. I’m not reading comics by Marvel, DC, one of those smaller indie publishers (Top Cow et al – do they still exist/are independent)? Nor is it manga or anything of that sort.

I read a couple of comics books by Guy Delisle who is a Quebecer (trained locally at Sheridan) but now lives in France. His work and life has taken him to a couple of places in Asia and he wrote/illustrated his impression and adventures there.

What tipped me to his books was one about his trip to Pyongyang, North Korea. I enjoying reading about that country and his version of events is a nice, light read. There’s nothing about prison camps, just what daily life is like as a foreigner in that country.

I then read his book about Shenzen (and thus China) and Burma. The adventures in China are not surprising as I’m familiar with the culture, but Burma was new to me. Apparently he has a couple of other books that I might look up a little later!

January 2015

I didn’t make any resolutions for the start of this year, so it was business as usual in this month. January was pretty cold – it was in the negative teens most days (at least in the morning) and there were only a few days with day time highs in the positive range. One of those days happened on a Saturday and made a quick visit down to Niagara Falls. It turned out pretty well because there weren’t a lot of tourists and the Falls look more interesting with ice everywhere (and there was still a lot of ice).

I spent a lot of time this month moving my MP3 collection around and uploading it to the cloud. In fact, I think a lot of my computer time is spent just doing organization/upkeep stuff – MP3s, scanning bills & documents, organizing photos, etc. I think I have decent processes on those things already, but they all take a little bit of time.

Jovian was six months old this month and he’s able to sit by himself for extended periods of time (he actually prefers this). Now we’re able to leave him to play by himself in a play pen. He’s not mobile yet though, I don’t think he’s even aware that he can move if he learns how to crawl. He rolls around a bit, but he doesn’t seem to realize he can move himself that way. We also took some family portraits but Jovian doesn’t know how to smile either.

Also this month – the Leafs are totally bombing. Another season down the drain.