Science is frakking AWESOME.

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My world in slow motion

I picked up the iPhone 5S the other day and I took the time to play with the slow-mo features today. This is the result.

One frustrating issue I’ve had is that it seems impossible to actually export the slow motion clips unless you either email them or upload them to one of the sharing services. Even sending as an iMessage only sends the full-speed clip. I had to import these videos to iMovie and then re-adjust the speed there, even though I’d already trimmed them to a shorter clip entirely in slow motion on my iPhone. iMovie on the iPhone also doesn’t seem to recognize the slow motion settings, though it also has not been updated since the iPhone 5S was released.

All that said, it’s still pretty awesome and I hope to get some cooler clips over time. I’ll post the best ones here.

To watch the above video in 720p, either click the HD button on the video or just go here.

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Infinity Blade III: Infinity Harder!

Infinity Blade III

Soon, Chair Entertainment will release Infinity Blade III upon the world and it will never be the same. The (presumably) final chapter in the Infinity Blade story, Infinity Blade III builds upon its predecessors to become one of the most robust and most anticipated games ever developed for iPhone and iPad. The Infinity Blade story is one of a lone warrior facing off against a number of foul beasts in a quest to slay the God King, murderer of the young man’s father. Only all is not as it seems and soon the player is thrust into a world of immortal beings, ancient civilizations lost to the ravages of time, and truths and secrets long forgotten.

In its initial release, Infinity Blade’s story was very minimal. Players faced off against the God King, died, and their descendant took up his father’s arms to face the God King once more. Eventually, when the player became powerful enough to defeat the God King, the loop began again, leading many players to assume that you simply became the God King and your own son came to destroy you, now corrupted by the power of the Infinity Blade. But the truth of the matter goes much deeper. As Chair released updates to the game adding cells beneath the tower containing imprisoned immortals that reveal much more about your character and the world he inhabits.

Eventually, Infinity Blade II (as well as Infinity Blade: Awakening, a short novella that summarized the first game and bridges the gap between it and the second) gave us many of the answers we had hoped to find in the first title. Your character’s name is Siris and his quest to defeat the God King once and for all has led him to seek out the Worker of Secrets, the creator of the Infinity Blade and an immortal every bit as dangerous as the God King. But will the truths that Siris discovers about himself be too much for him to handle? Will he succumb to the corrupting influence of the world he inhabits? Of course not. At least, not in this game.

We’ve already got a nice taste of whats to come with Infinity Blade: Redemption, another novella bridging the second and third games and revealing a great deal of history in the world these characters inhabit. But it’s a mere morsel compared to what Chair has in store for us tomorrow. Infinity Blade III will soon arrive, giving players the opportunity to conclude the story. At the end of Infinity Blade II, Siris had managed to get himself into a rather dire situation. Can his companion, Isa, rescue him? And once she does, can the two of them manage to bring down the immortals that have plagued this world for so long, or will they become the very things they wish to destroy? Will Chair give us the answers we seek immediately upon release of the game, or will we have to wait for the inevitable content updates to finally reveal all the critical pieces of the puzzle?

I can’t wait to find out. If you’re interested, start with the original title, or just download everything and power through. You won’t be disappointed.

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Apple’s pending point-of-sale revolution

This morning, while I was getting gas, I noticed that the price had dropped since the day before. Sweet! I thought. Free dollar! Okay, I didn’t exactly think that, but it sounded cooler than, Huh. Nice.

Anyway, as I was sitting there waiting for the inexorably slow pump to fill my car, I started thinking about services like GasBuddy. If you’ve not heard of GasBuddy, it’s a website and corresponding mobile app that lets you search for the lowest price in gas near your location before filling up. It’s pretty handy, especially on road trips since it can help you determine which cities are the best to stop for gas before moving on, saving you money on the trip and ensuring you don’t run out of gas before you reach the next waypoint.

The problem with GasBuddy is that it requires a real-life human being to observe the price, check the GasBuddy app or website to determine if it has changed, and then update it. It’s a less-than-ideal situation that requires someone to be passionate about the app to make sure it’s up-to-date. Whomever you are out there updating this database for me, I thank you.

However, Apple could change all that very, very soon. With Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, Apple is positioning itself to become the ideal point-of-sale for businesses. Using Bluetooth 4.0 LE, your iPhone could automatically pair with the payment system at the pump, prompt you to provide authentication with your fingerprint, then bill your card on file in iTunes, all without ever taking your wallet out of your pocket or purse. But this can go even a step further. Imagine that when I pay at the pump, Apple takes information like the location of the store and the price-per-gallon and automatically updates an online database, allowing iOS users to quickly find the cheapest gas in their area and know that it’s almost certainly going to be accurate. Going a step further, Apple could also find out how quickly customers get in and out of the pump area, so you know how busy the station is. Your morning commute might be less frustrating if you can find the fastest gas station, assuming you don’t mind paying a little extra for your gas.

Now let’s go out even further. Retailers supporting iPhones for payment would likely send itemized receipts to customers through Apple’s payment system. This gives Apple information on the prices of every product you purchase, which could again be dumped into a searchable database, allowing you to find the best price on any item you wanted to buy. Got some grocery shopping to do? Make your grocery list and let Apple tell you which store is going to cost you the least. Or hell, it could even split up the list between multiple stores and tell you if it would be cheaper to drive to each one (based on current gas prices in your area) and how long it will take. With Apple’s mapping service, your iPhone could even tell you if you’re likely to hit traffic and to recommend the best time of day to make your shopping excursion (maybe even give you an alert if a sudden rush of customers hits a specific store, letting you know that maybe you should just wait until tomorrow).

A lot of people are terrified of sharing this kind of data, and in many cases you should be. Something like this should be dependent on anonymized information, preventing any purchase data from being tied to an individual user (except in the case of itemized, digital receipts, which should be opt-in only). But imagine the possibilities.’

I don’t expect to see this come this year in iOS 7, but I believe with iBeacons and Touch ID, Apple is laying the groundwork. We’ll see a few retailers try to implement their own systems with these existing tools while Apple continues to look for the best way to take the whole pie in one swoop. I’ll be very keenly interested in what will be possible when Touch ID has trickled down to the “free” iPhone.

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Worms 3 for iPad on sale!

I love Worms. No, not lumbricus terrestris, but the digital kind that blow each other up for your entertainment. I’m talking about Team17′s series of artillery-based combat using smart-mouthed worms as stand-ins for your friends and enemies. The latest entry for iPad has been very well-received and is currently on sale for $0.99. If you like the series, or are just looking for a great game to play with friends locally or even online against friends and strangers, this game is for you.

I mean, it’s got a Holy Hand Grenade as a weapon. What more do you need? Go download Worms 3 today.


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A Call of Duty game built from the ground up for iOS?

Call of Duty Strike Team FPS

Okay, maybe not from the ground up, but it’s not a port. Activision managed to sneak Call of Duty: Strike Team onto the App Store without anyone even knowing it was in development. And, it’s not a tie-in or cheap port of an existing Call of Duty game. It’s a self-contained campaign built specifically for mobile devices.

Now, I’m not a fan of the Call of Duty series. I enjoyed Modern Warfare and played the coop parts of its sequel, but never spent much time in any other version of the games. But, this game certainly piques my interest. Most noticeably because it does not require you to play through the game as an FPS. Strike Team has a really cool 3rd-person tactical display that lets you issue commands to the entire squad and play the game like a squad-based, real-time strategy game. And, from what I’ve read about the game so far, it never forces you to play in one view mode or the other.

Call of Duty Strike Team Tac

Honestly, this is a really smart move for a mobile game. FPS controls on touchscreen devices are never as good as consoles or PCs, but by being able to switch viewpoints to try different tactics, players don’t have to get frustrated with on-screen controls. Plus, tactical strategy games play really, really well on iOS devices, especially the iPad.

Anyway, if you’re a CoD fan, or just want to see how well a hybrid squad-based tactical strategy FPS can work, be sure and download it here.

Enjoyed this post? Check out the rest of my blog!

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Star Wars Pinball for iOS is free until the 9th: May the Force be with you!

I snatched up Star Wars Pinball for iPhone and iPad a couple days ago, but didn’t realize until today that it was still free. Not only is it still free, it’s free for 5 more days. So, seriously, if you like Star Wars or pinball or are part of a Venn diagram in which those things overlap and your sexy bits begin to tingle, then go download this. Right. Now.

The first table is included in the download and two additional tables can be purchased for $1 each. Unlocking the extra tables is actually key to one of the other cool features of the game: the ability to team up with your friends on either the Light Side or Dark Side and compete against the world.

Basically, every player has a “Force Score” which is based on your score, the number of tables you have played on, and how many friends you have playing via Game Center. Then, all of your points are used in support of either the Light Side or the Dark Side. The entire app’s interface is used to show which side is currently winning, by splitting it into blue on the left and red on the right. The percentage of the screen covered by each color indicates the current winning side.

Currently, I’m on the Light Side, but I’ve always loved an underdog, so it seems likely that I’ll eventually let my hatred consume me and fall. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as blogger and reader!

If we’re not Game Center friends already, send me an invite. My name is Zepfhyr. Be sure to include that you read the blog so I know to approve you.

Now get out there and download the game before it’s too late. Help me, readers! You’re my only hope!

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Reflections from a booth in a diner on the first day of September

I sit at a table in the diner and watch my family eat.

A booth, actually.

I sit in a booth at the diner and watch my family eat.

My daughter asks for more fries. She uses her hands, signing “more” and then “fries”. She’s very precise when she does it, which I always find funny. I find it funny because she’s only precise when she thinks she’ll be told no. Her movements to sign “fries” makes me smile.

My youngest son very carefully dips his fries into a packet of Welch’s Concord grape jelly. The barest amount of jelly comes off onto the fry and he takes a very small bite before dipping it again.

I think back to a moment minutes before when the food had not yet arrived and my daughter dumped the sweetener packets all over the table. Squealing in delight, she snatched them off the table on large fistfuls… at least, as large as her tiny hands would allow. Each fistful is crammed back into the container until it is full and the process begins anew.

My son stacks the jelly, jam, and marmalade packets until they tip and fall. Across the table, the sweetener packets spill across the table once again. But then the food arrives.

I’m back in the moment again. My daughter has crawled to my side of the booth and into my lap. She immediately wants to move away. She doesn’t want me. She just wants to be close to her brother’s fries. She steals them, no longer signing “more” and “fries”, but just taking that which she wants.

Eventually, they calm. I sit, drink my coffee, and smile at my wife. Out the window I see a hot, summer day and cars rushing to destinations unknown. I wonder if they wish they could sit with their family and enjoy a late breakfast.

I take a sip, and the warmth fills me. But it’s not the coffee that I feel.

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Lock that $#@% up! 1Password for iOS goes on sale

1Password icon

There are a number of apps out there for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android that are capable of securely storing your passwords to all the websites you visit, but there is one that is king of them all. 1Password started life as a Mac app that did basically the same thing that it does today: stored passwords in a secure database. But, as time passed, AgileBits (the developers of 1Password) began to add more features, like Dropbox and iCloud syncing, the ability to store software serial numbers, and the capability to store encrypted notes and credit card information.

But their greatest achievement was to build an iOS version of 1Password that could remain in sync with the Mac version so you had all of your information with you wherever you went. I’ve been a big user of 1Password since its initial version and have upgraded to each subsequent version with glee. Some of my friends and family can’t justify the cost of the software when there are free (albeit vastly inferior) options.

Well, for those of you cheapskates out there, get excited, because 1Password for iOS is currently on sale for $8, and it’s well worth the price (especially if you already have a copy of 1Password for your Mac or Windows computer). Even if you don’t have the desktop counterpart, the iOS app is still a great way to store critical information that you need to have with you at all times, but that you want to keep secure. All the data is encrypted on your device, can be backed up to Dropbox or iCloud (where it is still encrypted), and is secured with a password to prevent someone from accessing it, even if they have access to your iPhone or iPad.

While the new iCloud Keychain in Mavericks and iOS 7 might make some of the features in 1Password redundant, the extra features that 1Password provides more than make up for the cost (especially if you prefer to use Dropbox to iCloud for syncing your data).

If you’re interested in checking it out, then you can get it here. Please leave a comment or drop me a line if you have questions about my 1Password usage or just want to know more.

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Delayed Sadness

I wrote this over two weeks ago, the day after my show for the Fringe Festival closed. I was in the middle of something and didn’t have time to finish my thoughts. However, I felt it was important to mark the feelings I had after the show was over, if not for my own memories than to share it with the friends I made during the show and all those that showed up to support us.


(July 27, 2013)

Last night’s show was like going to a party and then just putting on a play in the middle of it. The cast had so much energy and everybody was on fire. It was easily our best show, and it’s a shame that we chose to record a different night.

I realized this morning that I would not be having any more rehearsals for anymore shows: that this group of people would not be gathering as a troupe to perform again. And for a brief moment, I felt physical loss. A phantom pain.

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