Parachute Panic

The iPhone has no shortage of great simple games. To stand out a game has to do something different or quirky while at the same time keeping the controls simple. Parachute Panic is very, very simple but due to it’s quirky graphics and sound offers something that will appeal to all iPhone owners. This video shows of the game well:

The aim is to land your parachutists safely on the boat. Helicopters, UFO’s and lightning clouds get in the way and using only your finger to control the wind you need to guide your guys to safety. The game plays really well but the hand drawn graphics and funny audio (think Flight of the Conchords) add so much to it that it’s hard to resist. A bargain at only 59p!

We Choose The Moon

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, We Choose The Moon has been set-up to remember, commemorate and also educate the current generation in what it took to get man to the moon.
WeChooseTheMoon

I’m not usually a fan of flash based websites but this is a rich and informative site that pulls together animations, video, radio and audio interviews to give a flavour of what took place 40 years ago. A great site if you are interested in space or for educating kids.

DigitalOutbox Episode 7

DigitalOutbox Episode 7
In this episode the team discuss Windows 7, Virgin Media, naughty Amazon, Apple news and app’s and Console streaming. Blimey.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
– Windows 7
– On sale
– Euro website crashes
– Surprised at how many people are buying…the OS that will replace XP.
– Was £50 at PC World at one point. Bit of a rush on getting the best deals.

– MS Spotify rival
– Microsoft to launch a music streaming service
– no clear info yet, could be free with ads, but could be paid for service, nothing confirmed

– Virgin Media
– DOCSIS 3.0 rollout almost complete
– 50Meg drops to £38 without phone line, £28 with a phone line, still no throttling or bandwidth caps
– Trailing 10mb upload, 200mb download services
– Change to target hardcore downloaders
– Will contact those that abuse between 9 and 21

– Amazon pulls books from Kindle
– Orwell books too – Irony
– 1984, Animal Farm remotely wiped
– People who bought it had it wiped from their Kindle, money refunded
– Say they won’t do it again
– So much for owning the media….
– These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.

– Apple
– Apple apparently called MS asking them to stop running Laptop Hunter ads …
– iTunes 8.2.1 blocks Palm Pre – get out
– Palm Pre sdk released, weak compared to iPhone but out very quickly compared to Apple
– My Location now enabled on iPhone safari browser
– iTunes D45
– new D45 section launched, discounted price for 2x songs: a hit song and a less common or previously unreleased song – App Store – 1.5 billion downloads
– Slow 3.0 for 3G and older?
– Tunewiki for iPhone
– Free app
– Music streaming, lyrics database, youtube charts
– Purchase music from stream your listening too
– Tweet the current track your listening too
– Music maps – who’ listening to this track around the globe
– User interface – nasty

– Twitbit: another Twitter app,
– £2.99, includes Push notifications, all or nothing though, future updates will allow customisation
– Resident Evil Degeneration on iPhone/iPod – £3.99, rather good apparently
– DropBox iPhone app almost complete: view, modify and download your files + sync iPhone photos
– SweetFM now open source (was $29)
– http://www.chocomoko.com/
– Last.fm client with iTunes integration
– Great design
– Rips the stream – 128kbps copies to iTunes with tags and album art

– Games
– Activision – Modern Warfare 2 – £54.99 in the UK. Fuckers. EA won’t raise prices of holiday titles…this year.
– Battlefield 1943 – Glorious now that it works
– Wipeout HD Fury – Expansion pack, July 23rd, 3 new modes, 12 new tracks, thirteen new ships. More than original game?

– Console Streaming
– PS3 – bluetooth remote
– Xbox 360 – noisy
– Streaming from Mac – Connect 360, Medialink, Rivet
– Quality
– Issues?

Picks
– Parachute Panic – .59p, hand drawn graphics, really simple, really addictive – nice music too
– AppMiner – FREE – bargain hunter

Geek it up with GeekTool

Something I’ve not done in a long time, especially after switching to Macs, is customise my desktop. I remember when I had a PC, I used to love tweaking the UI with apps such as WindowBlinds, IconPackager and ObjectDock. I’m reasonably happy with the Mac UI so haven’t had the desire to change much other than a slight tweak to the dock and the menubar icons. But this has all been done without resorting to any drastic changes or 3rd party apps.
Recently I came across GeekTool which is a system preferences module for OS X and can display system logs, unix command outputs and images on your desktop. This information can appear as embedded in your desktop or in front of other windows.
It’s a light-weight app and if used creatively, can allow you to enhance the already elegant OS X visual look. Once installed, it appears at the bottom of your System Preferences. It’s reasonably straight forward to use and you need to be familiar with unix commands.
GeekTool
Groups are listed in a dropdown on the left. You create a group of as many elements as you like and only one group can be active at any one time. An element can be the output of a file, a unix/shell command or an image. Text output (from a file or command) can be formatted to any font, size and colour. When you add a new element, a semi-transparent placeholder for it appears on the desktop, which can be dragged around or resized with the mouse. You can also enter the precise size and coordinates in the window. There is also an option to always display this element on top of other windows.
That is basically, all there is to it. The rest is up to the imagination of the user, how creative they want to get with it. Some examples I have seen display really nice weather output, including graphics. Whereas other examples are so geeked up, with massive file outputs covering the entire desktop, that it looks like a complete mess. I didn’t want to do anything drastic and followed the example from a LifeHacker article to create a nice desktop displaying basic information.
Desktop

Flogr

Flogr is a great web app that allows you to create a photo blog based on your Flickr entries. You download the application and install it in your web server. The configuration is pretty minimal – point it to your Flickr account and that’s about it. You then have a really nice photo blog set-up ready to be customised.

The theme is fully changeable via CSS so the look and feel is totally in your control. The real options are around the photo’s you bring back from Flickr. You can bring all, a set or filter via a tag. I’ve chosen the tag route as it means I can pick photo’s from any of my sets to display. The sites I’ve set-up can be found here. One issue is that the photo’s can take a while to load from Flickr so I intend to set-up a mysql database locally and store the photo’s there instead. You can also view sets and a tag cloud on your Flogr installation and by selecting a photo the metadata and comments from Flickr are displayed.

This is the solution I’ve always wanted – photo’s hosted on Flickr but key ones picked up and displayed on a separate blog. Lovely app that’s free to download and enjoy.

DigitalOutbox Episode 6

DigitalOutbox Episode 6
In this episode the team discuss Google Chrome OS, O2 and Twitter sitting in a tree, Prowl and push notifications and a special look at Plex, a media centre for the Mac.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
– Google Chrome OS
– Very little announced – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html
– FAQ – http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/07/google-chrome-os-faq.html
– If it is really cloud based computing, where is the onine infrastructure to cope with photo libraries, music, graphics, itunes library etc
– Rumours of Microsoft announcement on Monday forcing Googles hand – Office in the cloud? It is – Office 2010 with Excel, Word, Powerpoint in the cloud. App’s are free, more feature rich than Google. http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/
– Targetting netbooks first, lightweight computing, targeting people who spend most time on the web. Only beginning
– Open source and free
– Will current Windows app’s run on it? Or is it a brand new platform to be developed against
– The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform.
– No details
– Lots of competition from MS, Apple, Linux + things like Jolicloud – http://www.jolicloud.com/
– Hardware partners – Acer, Adobe, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments
– Downloadable version by year end, first netbooks late 2010

– Google out of beta
– http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/google-apps-is-out-of-beta-yes-really.html
– Finally
– Enterprise push? – http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/07/paving-road-to-apps-adoption-in-large.html – guess so.

– O2 Free replies and DM’s to your mobile
– From 1st August
– Some fair usage applied – try to keep under 600 a month
– Tests to twitter will be as part of your normal bundle

– Games
– 1 vs 100 – July 10th on Xbox Live – http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/live/1vs100
– Battlefield 1943 – woes…

– Apple
– Touchscreen Netbook Rumour
– http://www.tuaw.com/2009/07/13/rumor-watch-apple-touchscreen-netbook-on-tap-for-october/
– October, $800, 10 inch screen
– Camera’s on iPods?
– Natural progression
– Video assumed – game changer for devices like Flip?
– Apple in talks with T-Mobile and Orange -explains the O2 – Palm Pre decision
– Appstore is 1!
– Prowl
– http://theappleblog.com/2009/07/06/prowl-get-any-growl-notifications-via-push-on-your-iphone/
– http://prowl.weks.net/
– Growl notifications form your Mac pushed to your iphone.
– Limitless applications of this – file transfer complete, chat requests, e-mails, system activity, backups complete etc etc etc
– Register on prowl site, client on the Mac
– Useful but potentially spammy
– Can set to send only when mac is idle
– TwitVid
– Free
– Add video to twitter – posts link to your uploaded video
– BoxCar
– £1.19
– Push notifications for mentions and DM
– System for push notifications doesn’t scale – nothing to differentiate between notifications

– PLEX
– Mac media player
– based on XBMC
– Setup – clumsy, awkward
– http://www.screencastsonline.com/index_files/SCO0201-plex.php
– Careful with file naming
– movies
– tv

Picks
– mkv2vob – http://www.mkv2vob.com/ current version 2.4.6
– mkv2vob will remux MKV files with H.264 video and AC3 audio to a VOB file which is playable on the Sony PS3
– http://wechoosethemoon.org/ – 40 years since apollo 11