Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Update on the mobile keyboard front

Posted: December 3, 2013 in Bloggers, Editorial, Rant, Tech
Tags:

My last post was when I moved to using physical keyboard enabled phones to the Note 2. What better way to start a refresh than to write about how it has been.

The Sidekick 4g I replaced sits in front of me, it has been called back into duty as broken screens are replaced, I remembered my love for physical keyboards as I set it up for the misses. Right now I continue to use it’s Note 2 successor abs it’s even the device I’m writing this post from. I have to say it’s been a journey.

First things first, my touchscreen isn’t better. I’ve gotten more use to it but overall using a touchscreen is not a better experience than typing, it’s just different. I find at times it has it’s own nuances and difficulties that make the experience always unique to itself. I find it consistently problematic that my keyboard is much closely tied to software causing the normal limitations. Phone slowing down? Well say goodbye to the urgency of that message. But I guess these are troubles billions go through I’m just late to the market.

I primarily use Swype as my keyboard of choice. The input method and keyboard are to my liking and simulate the speed I have typing. With it, comes errors and retypes as proficiency and speed duel each other out. It makes me wonder if the squiggles I use to input words make a language of their own, but that is a post for another time.

For the most part it works, and it jettisons the costly and heavy physical keyboard. Plus in a touchscreen generation it’s a needed experience. I miss my keyboard and every time I use my laptop or desktop I’m thankful for its input. How long until those as well go the way of the floppy disk? I guess time will tell. Until then I will continue to miss my keyboard.

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This weekend I’ll be saying goodbye to a friend I didn’t think would be leaving me this soon. We’ve had a great relationship together but we have both come to realize it will never work out for the two of us. This tumultuous ending comes as a surprise to very few but it doesn’t stop it from being a remorseful breakup. Others had made the decision long before me. Some never even gave them a chance. But this weekend ends the longstanding relationship with me and a physical keyboard on my phone.

Oh QWERTY key I knew you well. You’ve always been a friend to me allowing for quick opening and typing out of long detailed and complex thoughts. You’ve allowed vibrant use of my vernacular without worry for word addition or misunderstanding. You’ve allowed me to be my own personal typist and spell check. But our time together is coming to a close.

Why you ask? Well to be blunt it is because you’re becoming so very outdated. I can honestly say there never was a time when I felt you kept up like the rest of the pack but I loved you regardless. You gave me something that the others couldn’t. You gave me text confidence and for that you were always priceless. I remember when we first met. I was so nervous but it became an instant love affair. My text message limits sky rocketed as I found I could always find just the right things to say with you. No longer did I have to worry about clumsy T9 or mistake prone on screen. You were mine to express myself how I saw fit. You were always known so well like we’d been together forever. You were simple… but I think that is where the problem in you lied.

Your simplicity became your biggest burden. With more and more phones being able to accept after market keyboards via Bluetooth why should anyone feel pigeonholed to keeping you around oh QWERTY key? With your addition of girth with no added power more and more users flocked away from you. Why add the inches just to type a little bit faster? The onscreen keyboard wasn’t that bad right? Well it was for me. I held out as long as I could. But you didn’t seem to hold out for me.

What happened to us? Why did you stop coming around? I use to see you and maybe 5 of your friends a year but now I’m lucky if even one good one of you comes around. You also never seem to excel. You’re not terrible, but mid-range at best. Why can you never be a blockbuster? I feel you’re never supportive much after the start of the relationship. You sort of just fall to the side and are forgotten. So now it’s my time to do the same.

I want to say I’m sorry. I really do. I always supported you. I never thought that this joy had to end. But for me it really does. You’re just not reliable anymore. I can’t trust you’ll be around when I need you. Do I think I’ll find better? No I really don’t. But I think that I’ll have to make due. I’ll find alternatives and ways to make things work until the hurt of losing you is just a mere memory.

It was great while it lasted old friend. Maybe one day down the line we can meet again in another fashion. Maybe I’ll run into a cousin of yours that is compatible with what I need. But for right now I have to say goodbye. I have to turn away and not look back. But you’ll always be the physical keyboard in my heart.

So I have been putting off making this post since the creation of this blog. Mostly because I have all the words to fill it but I reallllllyyyy didn’t want to do all the link finding and fact checking. I honestly think I’ll just post the rant while the passion is there and at another time follow-up with silly things like… facts.

So you may or may not know it, but for being such a technologically advanced country we are consistently being put over a barrel and taken for our internet. We aren’t even the top 10 of best internet speeds in the world.

This can be related to a myriad of problems.

  • Other countries are just establishing methods for connecting to the net therefore can adopt the most recent technology. We have had internet since the days of dial-up and are slowly upgrading technology with has a cost to dig up old lines and place in new ones.
  • With new legislation if internet providers upgrade one area of the nation they are being pressed to upgrade the rest of the nation. Having to upgrade technology for the whole country (including middle america) will cost companies more than the profit they would receive from it. More rural areas don’t have the populations to promote sales and services of new technology but are being left in a “dark age” which only drives away from people moving there.
  • There is a competitive market in other countries which drives down prices and promotes technological dog-fighting. It also offers more options for the consumer to get the internet connection they “want” instead of what the company is willing to offer them.
  • The average household doesn’t realize they are being screwed on pricing. They take their bill at eye value and since there is no better comparison you pay what you owe.

So we have high bills? This is America we make the extra revenue so we can pay for more premium services right? (cough healthcare cough) But our services aren’t even premium. Companies aren’t even providing the services that they advertise. Recent studies have shown the major disparities in what companies offer and advertise.

But how do we as the consumer change any of this? Well that is a hard shot in the dark. We can attempt to support the smaller ISP providers popping up locally or even regionally. But most of these companies buy their bandwidth from the larger providers anyways. Cell phone data plans were getting to a point where you could live without a major provider but with every company now putting download limits and caps you can’t cut the cord just yet.

With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify taking over the net and increasing download rates across the nation we will need quick internet reform before we too fall into a “Dark Age” of internet progression. 1gps downloads are obtainable now and not at the exponential prices being offered. The paltry services being given such as “Road Runner Lightning” show that the companies understand a need for change but it seems nickel and diming the consumer is more important than actual progression.

A lot of these issues are presented in recent Net Neutrality arguments but that is such a clusterfk that it will probably never pass any sort of legislation in a viable matter that helps the consumer. So right now I’m at a loss for words. I would like to open this up for discussion on the “how” we can make this better. Any tricks people have used to stop feeling sodomized by their bill every month?

 

 

We are (Android) Family

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Editorial, Tech, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So earlier last week marks a momentous occasion in the world of TRS and Damien Enterprise in total. For the first time since inception (cue sideways wall walking) my entire family is now using the same mobile platform. We are all now using Android OS. This group includes sister and brother-in-law (Fyrestata and PathToAtaraxia) brothers (Rolenquin and Needsnaming) and Mother as well. This is added to the massive circle of friends that have been migrating over as well. This means quite a few things to me more than just brand recognition.

G2XG2Optimus MGravity

 

We are now all part of the smartphone generation. All of us have data plans and can access the internet on a whim. No longer is anyone left behind without access to their email, pictures, updates to social networks, calendars and more.

Droid Does

The little green men have attacked

 

Since we are all on Google’s Android I have inter-connectivity. When I find something I like I can easily share it with everyone and have them experiencing it within moments. A hot new application that solves some headaches? A fun game to relieve some stress while you’re waiting at the doctor? A better use of homescreens or weather application? These are all done with a few clicks of a button. I have even downloaded a problem application to live troubleshoot. Never before have I had this ability. Its like having my own personal focus group. At this time I am thinking of how to integrate technology to make the most trivial of family events more efficient and sometimes more fun. Using Gmail and calendar I can send an invite for a family dinner that pushes to everyone’s phones and even sets a nice calendar (with reminder). I’ve even taught my mom how to use the lovely on-board navigation. Now when I get calls for directions it’s as simple as getting them into the application instead of being a desk side version of Onstar.

I’m enjoying helping everyone set up their phones. Letting them know which applications I love (and hate) and finding ones that suit their needs the best. It is the beginning of another much longer journey but at least everyone has started it now. I can already see as each person interacts with their own version of the OS what they like and what they would change and what they want more out of their phone. It is really taking the cellphone out of the communication and more personal technology. I think it is a step in the right direction for all of us. A step that I am not going to be backpedaling anytime soon.

I wonder I can get them all group chatting?

Ok Google, we get it. You love your Chrome it is your baby and brain child and setting the internet on fire with growing attachment rates by the day. You killed the use of Google Toolbar on other platforms to support Chrome more. You are constantly tweaking and creating add-on’s for your baby like +1 Button for all and Offline usage of Gmail. But I have a question. Why isn’t Chrome a fully tooled Google Experience? I know it is trying to be a browser but as anyone that uses Chrome knows… it can do so much more. You may know that I am an android phone user and one of the main reasons for this is I was already a hearty Google user. I have multiple active gmail accounts as well as Calendar, Reader, Maps, GTalk, Picasa and anything else they have to offer. It was one of the reason why going to Android was so flawless. It imported my contacts and made everything a dream for me.

I can’t do everything on my phone though (no matter how much I want to) and I am not ready to become a Chrome OS user. (though I know some who are making the leap) When I open my Chrome it is pretty much perma-linked to open Gmail, G+, Reader, and now Google Music. I have to log into these sites or some will auto-log depending on the last time I was here. Maybe I am being selfish here but I want the experience to more match what my phone has to offer. When opening a Chrome window I wouldn’t mind “logging in” and during that session all of my Google sites work as such. Also I want the cross functionality that my phone offers. Send to calendar? Send to Gmail? Share in Reader? I want all these at the click of a button. I want Google to be more program than browser interface. I use Chrome more often than any other item on any of my computers. That beats out Firefox, Windows Media Player, VLC, Word, everything. Chrome has my soul!!!

XKCD said it wonderfully with this comic

All I ask it a little more functionality. I want my Google programs to be always present whether I am in the actual website or not. I want with a shortcut key my calendar pops up or maybe even Google music so I can switch song. I want Chrome to be more of an experience than a browser. Maybe it is already there and I have yet to find it. I am more than happy to be lead in the right direction. What do you think is missing from your Google/Chrome/Android experience? What could be added to give a more wholesome experience for you?

I love my smartphone. It goes everywhere with me. I carry a charger on me at all times including a car charger for those emergency situations where I can’t find an outlet. Currently I’m using a G2(HTC Desire Z)

So preeettttyyyy

Oh you sexie beasto you

I have never been more in love with my phone than I have these days. I update my social media from the phone. I even wrote most of this blog post from it. It is quick, efficient, not without its flaws but a pretty awesome device. I feel naked without my phone. It hasn’t always been this way. It wasn’t that long ago that I could quote myself saying a cell phone is for making calls and little else. You didn’t need all the bells and whistles. I really stayed true to this idea until I was smitten by the Motorola Razr.

So thin so beautiful

So shiny

This is the first phone I ever bought out of design instead of function and stability. I was one of the many ignorant few to buy a Razr day one even with the minuscule pittance of a paycheck I had in those days. I can almost still remember the unboxing. So slick so sexy. The first commercial I saw for it almost made me weep. But with great joy comes great sorrow as my new beauty died. Then broke. Then died. Then broke. Then died again.

Beautiful differed

Why you no love me no more

This is how I was introduced to the vicious cycle of new technology. My Razr died about 8 times during its stay in my life and only 2 of those were accidents caused my me. During this time I watched as the Razr was introduced to new versions and upgrades as my bladed beauty was replaced time and time again with warranty replacement. T-mobile got to know me by first name after a while until it got to the point where I became sick of the whole ordeal and switched to the Samsung t629. This was a lovely phone by comparison. The operating system was simple but efficient the call quality was excellent and it introduced me to the slider motif. This phone had a nice little life and I managed to fill the mini-sd card so much I had to buy a bigger one. It was a good phone but this was the dawn of texting and T9 just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Once my contract was up for renew I switched to something more my speed.

T-Mobile Shadow

Enter the new Challenger

The T-Mobile shadow introduced me to the half keyboard and my addiction was just getting ramped up in the cell phone arena. This phone was perfectly marketed to me. I wanted more power but I didn’t want the clunky un-fun blackberry like devices being offered. It had mobile internet, email, and many other perks (including wi-fi) that I would grow to love and increasingly become addicted to. It got bogged down by apps and since it was a Window’s phone I’d have to reset the damn thing five times a day but I loved it. I never knew how many emails I would write while exploiting free wi-fi (I wasn’t going to pay for data) The keyboard made me fast and efficient at it. I also got my first taste at a GPS-like navigation which always died but the idea would stick in my brain forever.

This phone also connected well to my computer. I could easily transfer over pictures, music, and movies with a few clicks of a button. I was able to sync my contacts and even download updates. I could feel the next step already as this phone’s mana seeped into my veins. I needed more and I needed it soon. This one’s contract couldn’t end quick enough as I watched the ongoing battle with the iphone murdering Blackberry and talks of a new Google operating system in the works. I eagerly awaited updates and what would T-mo offer me to get another new device that I didn’t really need but becoming more of a lifeline than I ever would imagine.

2nd time's a charm

Hello Moto

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t you learn anything from the Razr experience. No, no I didn’t. I feel right into Motorola’s grubby little hands with the Cliq. The G1 was outdated by the time I wanted to join team Android and the Cliq seemed to be the shiny new thing that could solve all my problems. Also it had a full keyboard. When my Shadow died momentarily I borrowed a friends Sidekick 2 and realized how inefficient my half keyboard was. I should have known something was off with my Cliq when I first got it but ignorance is bliss. I got all the nuance of the smartphone revolution and all the bells and whistles of social network integration. It was a great life until I realized Google likes to update their products… A LOT. My Cliq was quickly left in the dust as Moto decided it would focus its attention on its Droid line. I saw many of the features I desired (Looking at you navigation) being added in additional updates while my Motoblur lagged behind the competition. I waited for what seemed like forever all while being immersed in options I now take for granted. I didn’t even notice how attached to my email, facebook, RSS, maps, and mobile internet I had become. It wasn’t until my Cliq took a fatal fall (months after its 2.1 update) and cracked the screen that I realized the bind I had put myself in. I dusted off my Shadow and tried to use it again as new. This was not going to work. It was slow, and almost barbaric. All the form function and design I had gotten use to (albeit slow as dirt) was gone. Where were my applications. Where was my f-n Angry Birds!!!

Swaaaaaaaakkkkkkk

I waited forever to play you.. Only to hate you soon after

I had become an Android addict and learned that I desperately needed to satiate my fix. I held out for what seemed like forever but finally broke down for my birthday and bought myself the G2 I am using today. I can’t say I will ever go back. The cell phone game has changed. They did what all good technology should. They made me need something I never needed before. They made me crave and desire something that I had no use for. My phone almost does more work than my computer and it is almost toe-to-toe with my Netbook in data usage. Each week brings me a new application to try out as it integrates into my life.  Last week was the Google Music Beta, next week I may be able to park my car with it (ok maybe a few more weeks than that) It makes me wonder what is to come. What new device can they add to the phone to make it smarter. I remember when I hated touch screens and now I can’t live without mine. I still loath touchscreen keyboards but one day I am sure that too will pass. Are you part of the smartphone revolution? Are you reading this from your phone right now? What was your first taste? Do you think you can go back to the Nokia 1110 for a week? I know I can’t. I am happy here. Can’t wait for the next upgrade.

Motion In Gaming

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Gaming, Tech
Tags: ,

I want to take a moment to discuss the state of Motion Control Gaming in the industry thus far. I’ve played more Wii hours than I care to admit, I own The Playstation Move, and have even spent some time with the Kinect. Each system gets something right with its application of motion control and each system has their own glaring flaws. This isn’t an article about these systems though but the style of gaming they are hoping to promote.

Since I started gaming in the long long ago gaming was only done one way, with a controller. I have grown comforted in the controller and even the feel of one in my hands brings great times past to mind. One could argue any input device is a controller and that person is well… an asshole. You know what I’m talking about.

feels good don't it

Feels good in your hands

This generation of gaming has brought a new type of controller into view. It isn’t the first time it has been utilized but one of the most popularized and mainstream efforts thus far. I am disappointed in motion gaming. I really think we are missing the mark and full potential of what these devices can do. They not only can broaden and expand audience borders, they can add immersion or just a new fun way to play. I know these all seem like corporate buzzwords but honestly it is true. I would like to call out a cry for help. So excuse me.

“INDIE DEVS!!!! DO YOU HEAR ME!!!! PLEASE SAVE MOTION GAMING! I KNOW YOU DON’T CARE, BUT I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD! CORPORATE GAMING ISN’T GOING TO TAKE THE TIME TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS RIGHT SO WE NEED YOU!!!!”

/End Capslock.

I don’t believe that the corporate profit structure is going to be able to save motion gaming. They are trying to make their money back from research and development of these products and are more obsessed with attachment rates than making a decent game. In their eyes it is another cash cow that will bring in soccer moms and little kids. Recently the independent developers market has brought new life into the gaming spectrum.

One of the best foursomes you can have

Murder is so much better with friends

It is with this I plead with Indie devs to save motion gaming before everyone loses interest. Currently our plethora of motion games comes in a few select forms.

1) The hodge podge of mini games

More games for your games

More games MOAR

If you have ever been near a Wii you have played this. It is a bunch of fun simplistic games that took little time with very simple concepts and very loosely based motion controls. It is an ADD kids dream. Play, win, change game, repeat. There isn’t that much depth and even the best with depth doesn’t make it more of a mini game gallery. The problem I have for these titles is all of them “loosely” use motion in each of the games. They neglect most of the functions of motion aside from simple left/right, up/down, in/out or shake controls.

2) “This appeals to hardcore” games

"Big Guns Here"

We're not playing... oh wait we are

Motion gaming has been universally panned as “Casual” by the gaming crowd so now we have these games that are “EXTREME” that use motion controls as a separate control scheme or the only option to add “immersion” and “depth” more catchy bullet points for the box. These games mostly lack fun. They also try to ignore the fact that we have all been using controllers forever. Your new control system sucks. It will not make me throw away my trusty D-pad enabled games. Also even if the control scheme was utilized since development it doesn’t make it fun. It doesn’t make it a better system than of the controller. It makes you think… why am I playing it like this, instead of just enjoying the moment.

3) WTF is their motion controls in this

To think they made you pay for this...

The last games sucked, why not make one with motion

You take an average game and add motion control to it. Why? Because fuck you that’s why. These companies didn’t spend millions of dollars on research and market testing for you to not have their control schemes shoved down your throat. So you will play with that waggle, no matter how much it sacrifices gameplay. It doesn’t even need to be a good game. The bare bones game can be crap as long as it makes you wiggle, waggle, push or somehow look stupid. It not only makes you question motion gaming as a whole, but why you wasted your money on such an abortion of gaming.

I actually give a crap about motion gaming. I honestly like it. I just think it has failed us so far. Motion gaming in concept reminds me of the old days at the arcade where you would have that one game where you’d pick up the modified controller and play your life away. I want that joy back again. Console gaming has killed my arcade but they haven’t replaced my arcade experiences. We keep trying for new and innovative, why don’t we renew and innovate some classics. Here are some genre’s I would like to see redone in motion and see if we can’t get something done.

1) Light Gun Games

So hard you'll shoot the tv with a real gun

Oh you sweet sexy bitch

Seriously I don’t even know why I had to write this. I know we live in a world of FPS and walking around holding our gun and pew pewing at things but Light Gun Games were the shit, still are the shit, and can be the shit once again. I had spent literal days at an arcade pumping money into Time Crisis, Virtual Cop, House of the Dead, and even a bunch of lesser known titles. These games are still fun. They have had a paltry reception in the console world with the best being poor knock-offs of arcade originals. For this I say start slow. Don’t build a better bridge, just build a new damn bridge that works. Also don’t latch on crappy motion control gimmicks into my light gun game. I don’t want to spin around, stamp my feet, or anything. I want to point and destroy things with bullets. Can you make your fancy hardware do this without me having to re-calibrate it 20 times in game.

2) Sword/Sword and Shield games

Slicey dicey

Like this but at home

The game I’m showing is Blade of Honor which is a light gun game but with a sword. I am not talking about recreating this experience but building off of it. The idea of a 1:1 motion slice cutting apart an enemy on screen makes me weep. This doesn’t even have to be a rail game. Just give me this action along with movement and my money is pretty much yours. The Wii has made much better leaps at this idea with games like Red Steel and No More Heroes but the actions just aren’t there. Also why not a sword and shield game? Could you picture a more first person Gauntlet or Golden Axe experience where you were the hero fighting off waves and waves of the horde. Also picture the workout you could get. Speaking of workout…

3) Boxing/Street Fighting games

Why is it so fn gray?

Awesome concept, horrible game

What better way to use motion than to let out some of that pent up aggression you have. Not all of us have access to that UFC gym of our dreams but a lot of us would love to pummel something with our fists without getting the cops called on us. The more recent offerings of this either go to slow clunky not fun exhibitions of failure, or wagglerific flail wildly into the nothing games. The harder part of fighting games is feedback. You aren’t really hitting anything so what is stopping your punches. There has to be a way around this, vibration? sound feedback? Something’s got to give.

These are just a few of my ideas. What I want most though is fun. The tech is there we just need the implementation. I remember the first time I played Wii bowling I thought, “This is cute, I wonder what more can come of it” and not much did. Some games go far too little into motion and some games go way too extreme. They forget about the player. They want so badly to create immersion and box art bullets that they leave us out in the cold holding onto our little motion controllers. I know the tech is new and with time great things will happen. Great things will only happen if we go in the right direction. I am starting to believe that motion cannot just be tact onto a game but has to be in the start of the idea. It has to be part of the basic concepts.