The App Store Expense Monitor: Be scared. Be very scared.

The App Store Expense Monitor: Be scared. Be very scared..

A last look revealed that I and my son Edwin have accumulated 178 apps, most of his have been freebies whereas most of mine, being the snob that I am and thus associating the word “paid” with the phrase “better quality”, have involved shelling out some dosh. I’ve no intention however of counting the actual cost but those of you who feel the need can do so via this bit of software.

It’s scary how all those innocent little $.99 US charges add up, but it might not be as bad as it seems. Regardless of what you paid for an app, the Monitor finds the current price and uses it to total up your cost. If you have a bunch of apps that you got when they were free and they were later were changed to a paying basis, your total won’t be accurate. That should be okay for most people. But if you want to make your accounting perfect, and you remember what you really paid for an app, you can edit the prices; quite a nice feature.

Posted in iPhone. 1 Comment »

Bought a BlackBerry Bold 9700

The Nokia went back but it left me wanting another smartphone with the same form factor. I didn’t want to get a BlackBerry as it would have meant, or so I thought, a new phone contract however when I went into Carphonewarehouse  (CPW) to look at some sets and to get an upgrade on the iPhone contract I was surprised when they told me I could get one on o2 despite the fact that if you walked into an o2 store, you couldn’t as they don’t sell them there. That was odd and what was odder was that the CPW were not advertising the Bold 9700 as being available on o2 either on their wall display, in fact only Vodafone and T-Mobile were listed as available carriers.

That was good then and I got it for free as an upgrade on a decent enough contract and more importantly, get to keep using the same phone number. The last few times I have been into phone shops when upgrade time comes around I have kind of prepared in advance, expecting a battle and expecting to have to use the old “Well, I’ll just try Vodafone/T-Mobile/etc etc next door then” if I don’t get what I’m after but on each occasion I’ve not needed to as they have offered me what I was after straight away.

One of the things that appealed about the BB 9700 in advance was that RIM have introduced a Mac Desktop app for BlackBerry, I really didn’t fancy splashing out (again) for another MarkSpace product and in particular, the RIM app provides application installs (hoorah), back up and restore (double hoorah),  iTunes syncing but no iPhoto syncing oddly as well as Calendar, Notes and Contacts integration.

Incipio Feather case for iPod Touch

Santa, God Bless him, was kind enough, during his very busy schedule, to drop off an iPod Touch. What a lovely little thing it is too….

I don’t especially like the silver back as it is slippy and impossible to keep scratch free by all accounts so I took the rather presumptuous precaution of ordering up a case in advance…ahem. I like those matte style non-slippy backs so ordered the Incipio black Feather case as it fits the bill and is really slim. It adds virtually no bulk to the iPod and feels good in the hand. I got it from here. As the iPod is so thin and the case so discrete I can leave it on all the time.

It comes with two screen protectors and a cleaning cloth as a bonus.

Caps Warn for Mac

The amount of times I end up with a whole sentance of capitals when typing is unbelievable. This should stop that happening…..

CAPS Warn is designed for people who type with one hand using Sticky Keys, or for anyone who presses the Caps Lock key frequently by mistake.

CAPS Warn is a Preference Pane that provides: A) on-screen indications of when the Caps Lock, Shift, Control, Option, or Command keys are pressed (or stuck on by Sticky Keys) or B) warnings that: 1) you have turned on the CAPS Lock and/or 2) you have typed a specified number (default 5) of keys with the SHIFT key (or Sticky Keys SHIFT) or CAPS Lock. CAPS Warn warns you regardless of what application you are typing into.

Merry Xmas

Boys and girls, have a good Xmas. I’ll not be posting for a few days but will be back at the start-ish of next week with more ill-conceived guesses, badly written reviews and general waffling.

I have a new toy in “da house” as they say, a BlackBerry Bold 9700, and will be giving some thoughts on it soon. So far though it has been great.

The Saboteur for PS3 review

This is one of those games that I was really looking forward to as I kinda hoped it would be right up my street, lots of sneaky stealth moves, slinking about and generally being able to investigate the big, open world at my own leisure and pace.

Before I slam the game a bit of background. It is set in Paris during the 2nd World War during the German occupation. You are Sean, this Irish bloke, who is on an avenging mission and is tasked with doing a whole load of things to basically disrupt the Nazi war machine. Most of Paris initially opens in black and white and as you complete missions colour is restored to Paris presumably to indicate a bit of life being brought back to the great city.

First problem…Sean is highly unlikeable. As a result, you end up playing a character you basically begin to think is a bit of a smart arse twat. The second major problem for me is that this game manages to combine some of the features that I dislike most about games, namely a heap of timed missions so you’re dashing around like a blue arsed fly early on, huge gaps between auto-saves and you get forced down routes via missions instead of being able to play the game you would like to.

There is a lot of variety however in the missions you are given by the in game characters but the problem is this…you drive around Paris looking for the next mission point, find it and then are told that this mission requires a degree of covertness to be successful. However, invariably you end up in a spot where there are Nazi watch towers in each corner, with spotlights blazing down on you and you feel like you are on the middle of the Wembley pitch with the floodlights on. How the heck are you meant to act stealthily there? You end up having to yank out the guns and going in with all guns blazing in a big shoot out which renders each purported stealth mission a bit pointless. I found this infuriating. You start off all stealthy, trying to sneek around (even though there is no actual control in the game to enable you to “sneak”) and within about half a second you’ll have been spotted and about 50 Nazis will suddenly appear and start shooting. For goodness sake, if you’re going to market the game as some stealth thing at the very least give the character some stealth attributes, like errr…cover instead of making him as easy to handle as a bulldozer on ice.

You’re meant to take advantage of creeping around via the rooftops of Paris to remain unseen but again, after having had to climb up buildings (not fun in itself) to get to this plateau you can more or less guarantee that you’ll be spotted almost instantly and thus have to flee as fast as possible from that spot. When you are spotted, and you will be, alarms sound and half the 3rd Reich Army appear out of thin air necessitating some pronto back tracking back to where you were. Great fun. I spent a couple of weeks playing this game and more or less gave up as I was continually having to replay sections.

The game follows the by now usual pattern of multiple upgrade paths which you can unlock by completing missions, finding stuff and doing favours for some of the more militant locals. Thankfully this gives you something to aspire too otherwise I’d have abandoned it very early doors out of sheer irritation. Graphically it is okay too and the playground is vast, it’s like Grand Theft Auto except the cars handle like buses with knackered steering and 100 tons of cement stuck in the boot so getting around the place, and trying to get through the driving sections, is a chore.

After about 2 weeks of solid cursing I just gave up which is a shame as the game idea was good, there is some potential in there but the heavy handed game physics and sheer unlikeability of the cliche-ridden central character bring nothing but unremitting frustration.

In a word…avoid.

HTC Hero battery life

It’s hard to gauge from reading other reviews on the web just how good or bad a device’s battery can be prior to deciding whether to splash out or not. You never know whether the person reviewing it has been thrashing it or going easy or has been somewhere inbetween. I suspect most of them though have everything on, 3G, wifi, location services and possibly stuff like Bluetooth as well and all these things are switched on most of the time.

I’ve been fine with the Hero battery to date although my useage is probably on the light side. I never use 3G during the day and one of the first things I do with any new device is look for the settings to switch it to 2G only.  I also turn off anything to do with GPS as I very rarely use apps that need it. I do however tend to switch on wifi when I get back in the evening and leave it on for a couple of hours, in case I am browsing through the Android Marketplace or need to download any application updates.

Being the anti-social and grumpy old bugger that I am, I don’t make a lot of phone calls but I do have push GMail on all day. From this typical useage I get 2 full days and a bit more out of the stock battery which is as good as I think you can expect these days from phones with big, power hungry screens and fast processors. The bottom line for me is that I can relax a little with the Hero as it the battery level never seems to go plummeting sharply and the descent from 100% down to 50% is about the same as the drop from 50% down to 0%.