Month: July 2009

Palm Pre ads with Tamara Hope

These commercials for the Palm Pre smartphone have been given largely negative reviews, with most reactions going something like “WTF”, “that girl is so creepy/ugly”, and “show more features of the phone!” Of course, I’m posting them here because I disagree. I’m not saying it’s the most effective route Palm could have chosen, but when you’re putting out a new line of devices in a crowded playing field where one competitor dominates mindshare, and everyone else puts out ads highlighting a long list of techie features or superficial accoutrements, you need to do something bold. These are branding ads. These are look at me and remember me ads. The worst examples of these leave viewers angry, cursing the fact that they spent energy being annoyed. Nevertheless, the images remain with them. For me, these ads are a thing of queer beauty. They’re a little creepy, yes. But they are well written, and they are different. Some of them are a little too hippie, with their New Age songs and talk of reincarnation, but such missteps …

iPhone app review – Ferrari GT: Evolution

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name/Category: Ferrari GT: Evolution / GamesWhat it costs: $0.99 (previously $9.99)What it is: Last year’s racehorse, on its last legsWhy you should buy it: Racing games and first-person shooters are two of the most graphically intensive genres in gaming, so enthusiasts often look to them for examples of what a machine can do. When Gameloft released Asphalt 4: Elite Racing on the iPhone last year, it was hailed as a landmark achievement in iPhone graphics. It was as if a tiny digital Ronald Reagan had approached a programming barrier inside the iPhone and commanded digital Gorbachev to tear it down. A few months later, the company released Ferrari GT: Evolution. Built using largely the same technology, the new game had a (licensed) identity of its own: a slightly more serious driving simulation compared to Asphalt’s nitro-boosted arcade speedfest.Why you shouldn’t: Racing games sold on great graphics alone don’t have any long-lasting appeal. Gameloft seems to …

SingTel DSL Broadband settings

If you’re a heavy internet user connected with SingTel Broadband via the supplied 2WIRE modem/router, you probably already know that the hardware is crap and tends to spaz out when you open too many connections. Getting your own ADSL modem/router is an ideal solution, but unless it auto-configures to the network like SingTel’s does, you’re looking at some lengthy trial and error while trying to get it connected. I had that experience myself a few months ago, and had to look all over the net for the settings (on my iPhone, no less) because SingTel’s helpdesk wouldn’t “support third-party hardware”. That’s funny, because when I called to ask for the admin console password on the 2WIRE router (to enable Modem Only mode, which I could use with my previous Linksys router), I was told that they couldn’t give it to me, and I had to call 2WIRE’s distributor in Jurong or something. In the end, 2WIRE told me to get the password from SingTel. It was hopeless. I’d be satisfied if this helps just one …

iPhone app review – Facebook

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name / Category: Facebook / Social Networking (v2.5) What it costs: Free What it is: A way to overshare while on the go. Why you should get it: Last week, I was induced to join a cult called iPRAMS, or iPhone Radicals Against MobileSafari. Our group believes that it’s no coincidence MobileSafari’s initials are MS, which makes the iPhone browser part of the conspiracy that began in 1997 when THAT other company bought $150m of Apple shares. Under my newly sworn vows, I can no longer use the browser to access Facebook’s mobile website on my iPhone. Thank heavens for this app which does exactly what the website does!Why you shouldn’t: iPRAMS recognizes the independence and diversity of all iPhone users, which includes those who might want to use MobileSafari and the Facebook website instead. So if you want to help the devil spread a thinly-veiled mobile version of Internet Explorer 8, go right ahead. …

iPhone app review – Triazzle

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name / Category: Triazzle / GamesWhat it costs: $2.99 on sale ($3.99 regularly)What it is: A jigsaw puzzle with LSD-inspired effectsWhy you should buy it: If you like jigsaw puzzles, triangles, and getting high, there’s no earthly reason why Triazzle won’t become your favorite iPhone game. You start by choosing either a 9 or 16-piece puzzle at one of four difficulty levels. A new puzzle is randomly generated each time. I’m not sure what it all means, but dragging pieces into place and rotating them usually makes me feel nice all over. Sometimes, the pictures on the edge of my piece actually match another piece next to it! That’s when it starts to get weird. When a match is made, the pictures of frogs, butterflies, bugs, and turtles come to life and start to move around the board. They actually come out of the freaking pictures and crawl around on your screen!! It’s not a …

iPhone app review – Notespark

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name / Category: Notespark / ProductivityWhat it costs: $4.99What it is: The last notepad you’ll ever buy, as long as the site stays up.What it does: Ever seen a sci-fi movie where people on trains read newspapers that are actually moving screens, like e-paper, and they download content from some awesome future internet? Notespark is totally like that, but for notepads. It lets you write down as many things as you want, on sheets of virtual paper that then fly off to a server somewhere for safekeeping. Later that night, when you’re back home in front of your computer and need to remember what that other commuter looked like in great detail so you can write her a Missed Connections post on Craigslist, you’ve got it right there on http://www.notespark.com.What it doesn’t: It’s like, nearly the end of the noughties, and is anyone like, still taking TEXT notes? Are you serious? Why not just record …

iPhone app review – Birdfeed

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name / Category: Birdfeed / Social NetworkingWhat it costs: $4.99What it is: Intentionally crippled Artfully restrained Twitter client.Who it’s for: A small subset of Twitterers unfortunate enough to suffer from chronic design savviness – that is to say, they’re unable to use any app whose interface was not first sketched out in a Moleskine and then neurotically tuned at the sub-pixel level with symmetrical grids. Very few options exist for these pitiful but gifted consumers, and before Birdfeed came along, it was pretty much between Tweetie and Twitterrific. You know you’re one of them when someone mentions Birdfeed designer Neven Mrgan’s name and your first thought isn’t “wait, how do you spell that?”Who it isn’t for: You call yourself a power user, and you expect your Twitter client to do useful things like show you who your followers are, and give you one-click access to different views via a thoughtful toolbar along the bottom of …

iPhone app review – I Dig It

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Title/Category: I Dig It / GamesWhat it costs: $0.99 (on sale, regular price $2.99)What it is: A cool game for cool cats who dig diggin’Why you should buy it: How often do you come across a game that puts you in the shoes of a poor, down-on-his-luck farmer given just four hours to pay off a mountain of debt and save his family from being evicted? And when you do, does that game then give you a hybrid bulldozer/excavation drill/jetpack machine with which said farmer may propel himself into the dark, igneous depths of the Earth’s crust in search of diamonds and rare metals? What? Get outta here!Why you shouldn’t: Maybe you think this is too casual for a hardcore gamer like you. It does, however, have RPG elements (machine upgrades), and by connecting to Facebook for the trumpeting of achievements, is a little bit like Xbox Live. Maybe you’re a geologist, or a geothermologist, …

ION Orchard

(Full photo set on Flickr) I went to have a look at the new ION Orchard shopping mall on Tuesday, its first official day of being open. I’ve talked about it resembling the Bullring mall in Birmingham, UK before, from its sprawling promenade flanked by two-storey shopfronts to the curved sides of the building. The same architectural firm designed both, although I think they did a much better job with the Bullring. The ION’s curves are too slight, giving the whole building a strange form not unlike a dented pillow – I know for a fact they were hoping to elicit words like “organic” from onlookers. Not quite, in my opinion. The interior layout of the four above-ground shopping levels also resembles that of the Bullring’s central arcade, which is a good thing. It’s easy to see where you’re going and where you’ve been because the shops don’t occupy fixed boxes of space, which gives them more identity, and better spatial recognition for shoppers. The roof design does a good job of letting in lots …

iPhone app review – Tradewinds 2

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)Name / Category: Tradewinds 2 / GamesWhat it costs: $2.99 on sale (normal price $4.99)What it is: A port of an old PC game about visiting ports.Why you should buy it: Because you have an addictive personality and some misguided, internet-era obsession with pirates and the Caribbean that the makers of this game could not possibly have foreseen, and therefore exploited, back in the 1990s. Thank god for the iPhone, then, as the current rights holders and publishers will finally be able to make good on their foolhardy investment from nearly two decades ago. If they’re really lucky, their children will start calling them again. From jail.Why you shouldn’t: If you already played Chocolatier, a game that shamelessly ripped off the look and gameplay essence of this classic title, you might not want to revisit the old sail-around-the-world-making-money genre. Of course, Chocolatier did remove all the pirates, sea battles, and general fun found in Tradewinds …