#WednesdayChallenge – October 16, 2013

I took the time to write up a few more #WednesdayChallenge entries this week. The theme was “Childhood”, which I sort of experimented with quite a lot for my first post. The second was more traditional, however.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Fathers, daughters, mothers, and sons wailed as the planet’s core cooled, the atmosphere stripped away, and the planet broke apart. At the center, a massive beast unfurled and sailed away into space. Hatched, the planet-slug’s childhood had begun.

#WedC
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr “Fuck!”

‘Johnny!’

“Sorry, mom. I just realized that I forgot to do my homework, and there won’t be time before class starts.”

Johnny’s mom pulled into the empty driveway and realized she forgot to set her clock forward. She was late.

‘Fuck!’

#WedC

UPDATE (2013/10/21): I wrote another one today, so I decided to toss it up here, too.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr “I’m scared.”

‘Let me tell you a secret that my grandfather once told me. The things that move in the night fear our family.’

The Watcher remembered these words as he smiled and cast the incantation that banished the demon back through the portal.

#WedC

If you missed last week’s #WednesdayChallenge post that explains what it is, you can check it out here.

Posted in Previously, on App.net, Writing | Leave a comment

Captain Dirk Darkstar

“Sir… I don’t know if this is the best time for–”

Captain Dirk Darkstar of the Darkstar Spacestar Search & Research Society smacked his first officer across the mouth. The first officer went silent.

“I don’t know what star system you were born in, boy, but I come from the Darkstar System. The darkest system of stars in the known universe.” Captain Darkstar chewed on his holo-cigar and blew holographic smoke across the deck. “I’m not afraid of anything in space. Which means, it’s always time for—”

The USS Darkstar rumbled and shook violently, like a children’s toy caught in a tug of war between God and a child intent on defying his maker. The first officer tumbled and sprawled out on the floor, but Dirk Darkstar, the youngest commander to have command of his own starship in the DSSRS fleet didn’t even flinch.

“Get up, Number One. We’ve got a space kraken to explode.”

Captain Dirk Darkstar flicked his holo-cigar into the holo-trash-receptacle, which flickered into nothingness as the system lost power. The telltale sound of air escaping into the void of deep space was all Captain Dirk Darkstar needed to motivate him to try his riskiest of maneuvers yet. He flipped up the emergency guard on the emergency superlaser detonato-ray activation button and jammed it down, hard.

“Space is no place for a cephalopod.” Captain Darkstar mentally checked off Use word-a-day calendar in tense situation from his daily to-do list as the bridge of the USS Darkstar went white.

“Yippy-kay-yay, moth—”

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#BattleshipLoveBlog

Last night I decided to watch BATTLESHIP, which is a mostly terrible movie that is full of big, stupid fun. I knew almost immediately that I was going to love hating this movie so I decided to do an impromptu live blog on App.net of my thoughts as I watched it. I’ve reposted the results here:

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr I’m watching Battleship. Prepare for a steady stream of commentary if this movie remains as epically awe-ful as it has been so far.

Awe-ful, by the way, is a very clever portmanteau of awesome and awful, which is absolutely 100% how I would describe this movie.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr First thing I’ve noticed, this movie is like watching Independence Day without the obvious talent. There also seems to be some Armageddon and a whole lot of Transformers thrown in there for good measure, too. #BattleshipLiveBlog

Fun fact: Producers originally cast Ben Affleck in the lead role before they realized that Taylor Kitsch is, quote: “prettier and younger and at least 2% better at acting”. Yes, I know that it’s redundant to type ‘quote’ when I am using quotation marks, but I liked the way it sounded in my head and it’s my blog so nyaahhhh!

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Did the director even know anything about soccer? Overtime? Really?

#BattleshipLiveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Battleship is the story of a young Tom Cruise before he was shipped off to Top Gun to become the greatest helmsman that ever lived. Or something.

Oh, and Liam Neeson is his Navy dad, just like Tom Skerritt.

#BattleshipLiveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Janosz managed to become Secretary of Defense?! Looks like his time with Vigo taught him a lot.

#GhostbustersIIReference
#BattleshipLiveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr “There are aliens invading and the island is under attack. We need everyone off this mountain now. Okay? Now, rather than escorting you out of here, we’re going to leave you here to ignore this warning and do whatever you want.”

#BattleshipLiveBlog

Seriously, though, these guys earn the award for worst park rangers ever. Their deaths were in no way unfortunate because they deserved to get grind-murdered by space-blender-death-balls. Also, how fortunate was it that the guard with the keys to the abandoned jeep wasn’t completely ground into mushy-man-pulp so that they could recover said keys?

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Now it’s a buddy cop movie? Damn! This film’s got everything!

#BattleshipLoveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Hey, who decided to put a home for senior citizens on this boat? Good thing, though. We need a bunch of old guys that now how to work this thing. Pretty convenient that we were honoring them just before this all went down.

#BattleshipLiveBlog

No, I didn’t misspell ‘know’. I actually meant ‘now’. Stop judging me. It sounds totally awesome when you say it wrong like that.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr MONTAGE TIME!!!

#BattleshipLiveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Ding-ding-ding! Welcome to the main event! Battleship vs battleship!

#BattleshipLiveBlog
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr “Hold my beer for a second, I’m going to do a sweet kick flip with a 50-year old boat the size of Rhode Island.”

#BattleshipLiveBlog

I really, really, really want to know if it’s possible to do to the USS Missouri what these guys did. Because, if so, how awesome would Naval X-Games be?!

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr FX Designer: “Radio transmissions are invisible.”

Director: “Really? I’m pretty sure they look like concentrated energy blasts. Like in all the movies.”

FX Designer: “I hate my fucking job.”

#BattleshipLiveBlog

I had an issue with this at the beginning of the movie but I let it go because there were so many other awe-ful things to see. But when it became a critical plot point, I could no longer hold my tongue.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr It’s a little known fact that blowing up space radio stations creates a chain reaction of explosions all along the power lines to the satellite dishes.

It’s science.

#BattleshipLiveBlog

At one point during my rantings, fellow appnetizen Greg Mooney caught my typo and pointed it out:

@gm
gm @zepfhyr "BattleshipLoveBlog" might be my favorite typo of the day.

As it turns out, the typo was on my “buddy cop” comment, so it fit perfectly. All-in-all, I enjoyed myself. And really, isn’t that what life is all about?

P.S. I kept hoping that the Japanese captain would order the attack on Oahu so I could point out the irony of a Japanese naval officer firing on Hawaii in an attempt to save it, rather than destroy it. Sadly, I was disappointed.

Posted in A Day in the Life, Movies, Previously, on App.net | Leave a comment

#WednesdayChallenge Accepted!

So, I meant to post this yesterday, but LIFE. Instead, you get them now. There’s this pretty cool thing going on over at App.net called the #WednesdayChallenge that encourages users to write a short piece of fiction that fits the weekly theme in 256 characters (technically, less, as the hashtag #WedC needs to be included in the post). I discovered it yesterday and thought it sounded like fun, so I made two entries.

@zepfhyr
zepfhyr I take shelter beneath the footbridge, out of the rain. But the rain is the least of my worries. I’d rather be wet and living.

I can feel its hot breath on the back of my neck, and the tears run down my face as I realize my shelter will be my tomb.

#WedC
@zepfhyr
zepfhyr Drops of methane spattered her visor as she struggled to see her hands in the dark. Warning lights erupted in her helmet.

“O2 levels dangerously low.”

She hauled herself the last few feet up the bluff and saw the dome. Her eyes watered with hope.

#WedC

This sort of reminded me of a subreddit I found a month or so ago called /r/shortscarystories. I took the opportunity then to post this piece there (which directly inspired the first of my two entries above). I hope to continue participating in the #WednesdayChallenge going forward, as it’s an excellent writing exercise and I really need to be writing more. This is the perfect way to force me to do some craft-honing.

If you want to read more about the #WednesdayChallenge, click the hashtag links above or check out the new site the creator threw together to showcase the works.

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Science is frakking AWESOME.

Posted in A Day in the Life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in iPhone/iPad, Random Acts of Technology | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in iPhone/iPad, Video Games | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in iPhone/iPad, Video Games | Tagged , , | Leave a comment