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 / Games
What it costs: $2.99 on sale ($3.99 regularly)


What it is: A jigsaw puzzle with LSD-inspired effects


Why 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 problem unless you’re hungry. One time, I had a really good conversation with this purple toad who told me to chill out when I was getting a little edgy.

“Dude, this game has no time limit or scoring system,” he said. “Whoaaaaaaa!” I replied. “So the point is just to kick back, listen to the far-out music, and see the world for what it really is? A system of control that you can escape with psychotropic medication?” I made another match and a turtle nipped at my fingertip. “Right on,” said the frog.


Why you shouldn’t: I forgot.



Rating: 5 rainbow frogs out of 5

Buy Triazzle on the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

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 / Productivity
What it costs: $4.99


What 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 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 a voice memo of yourself describing her cute clothes and sweet ass and intoxicating body odor, right there on the train in front of her? Or maybe snap a photo under the pretext of looking something up on Google, then jerking the lens in her direction whilst looking deep in thought or absorbed in the financial planning ad above? If you do go down that route – and it is a dark and contemptible one, believe me – Evernote will do the job. Just don’t ask Evernote to handle a bunch of words, because it’s like, totally retarded.


“Head in the Cloud” Rating: 5/5

Buy Notespark in the iTunes App Store.
But first, you might want to sign up for a free online account and test-drive their functionality at notespark.com. It’s many times better than the $1.99 Simplenote‘s online half.


Update: Notespark now supports SSL encryption on all connections, eliminating its gravest shortcoming (one that drove many to Simplenote). I’m told an update to the iPhone app is pending, while the website already has it in place.


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 Networking
What it costs: $4.99


What 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 the main timeline. Well, if you dare ask for such niceties in Birdfeed, clearly you don’t get it. If you have to question why there isn’t a choice of themes, or any sound effects, or why you can’t view someone’s avatar photo at full-screen size, know that you’re a goddamned philistine and should probably apply for a job at Microsoft. With their legal department.

By the way, if your current app is something as godawful-ugly as Twittelator Pro, or to a lesser extent, SimplyTweet (seriously, have a look), I don’t think the creators of Birdfeed even want your filthy, filthy money.


“Art-School Snob” Rating: 4/5

Buy Birdfeed in the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

* This review has been slightly amended for clarity. Some felt it was hard to tell whether I was poking fun at myself (and my own anal-retentive requirements), or slamming Birdfeed for possibly choosing form over function. I don’t believe that it does. It’s a swell app that makes a few tough choices and mostly gets things right, and the 4/5 score reflects that.

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 / Games
What 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, or work in the construction industy? Fine, you’re not going to like the digging physics. I mean, you can excavate ALL the soil beneath your farm, leaving your house, shed, and gas station floating above nothingness. I’ll understand if a man of science like yourself can’t just SIT IDLY BY and watch this problematic concept generate fun. There, there.


“Indie Diamond in the Rough” Rating: 5 out of 5

Buy I Dig It in the iTunes App Store.
Try I Dig It Lite for free in the iTunes App Store.



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 / Games
What 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 2 in order to include a realistic simulation of chocolate manufacturing – complete with catapults, giant ingredient icons, and indoor ferris wheels. Tradewinds 2 also feels a little more ‘adult’, that is to say people drown at sea by your scurvy hand.


Alright, fine, I’ll give a rating: 4/5

Buy Tradewinds 2 in the iTunes App Store.
Buy Chocolatier ($4.99) in the iTunes App Store.

——-

Below: Tradewinds 2 (touching any of the buildings shows their names)

From sangsara.net

Below: Chocolatier’s port view

From sangsara.net

Below: Chocolatier’s action puzzle replacement for sea battles.

From sangsara.net

Using an iPhone 3GS as a film camera

I got my iPhone 3GS a little over a week ago, on the 11th, and have been lucky enough not to get one that overheats or goes dead after a few hours. The WiFi reception isn’t as good as on my old iPhone 3G, but that’s another story.

My main reason for upgrading was the speed increase, and in that respect the phone has been everything I expected. I play a lot of casual games on it, and being able to start up and get into a level within seconds is something I’ll never take for granted. Even other handhelds like the Nintendo DS and PSP don’t always do a good job of loading quickly. Don’t even get me started on games that only let you save at predetermined points.

The secondary draw of the iPhone 3GS was its improved camera. With apps like Autostitch (a Flickr group I started is here) and ShakeItPhoto updating to support the increased memory/speed of the 3GS though, it may soon be my favorite feature. It’s not like I’ve never had a good camera on a phone before; my old Nokia N82 had a good, autofocusing 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics. It was versatile enough that I tried using it as my only camera while on a short holiday. But it wasn’t a very lovable device – great hardware features bolted onto creaking, vintage software.

Because the iPhone does so much (takes notes, calculates tips, translates Japanese, tracks expenses, etc.), and gets pulled out of your pocket so often, it also finds more use as a camera. And with the right iPhone apps, you can do all your post work and upload the results to Flickr without even coming near a desktop. Some of my other recommendations: Photo FX, CameraKit, ColorTaste (outputs low-res photos, hopefully an update is on the way), Mill Color, and Camerabag.

Here are some photos I’ve taken this week, processed to look like they were shot with a film camera: noise, light leaks and all. (Unfortunately, these weren’t done on the iPhone.)

Starbucks mug macro

Mandy in the garden Mooks' Australian paraphrenalia Chili's Burger Canon Singapore Visitor Centre