Game Review: Pro Zombie Soccer

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 09:03
Category: App Store, Game, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

Pro Zombie Soccer is a game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (still a Pixel-doubled version, not native) distributed by Chillingo and developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. I’ve never been caught up in the Zombie craze, although I did enjoy Zombieland and Shawn of the Dead, so I was not really excited about this game at first, but a friend assured me that it was a lot of fun and he was right.

Some of the things that made this such a fun game was the artwork and the storyline. While not complicated, the story added enough depth to propel you from scene to scene. The artwork has a punk attitude, similar to what is associated with Gorillaz, and is pretty lively and colorful.

In the game, you are playing the role of Jax, a young, talented soccer player who freezes up while trying out for the big team. While moping about town, the zombie outbreak occurs and Jax is bitten by a zombie who happens to be the star player of the soccer team. Jax soon finds out that his zombie infection has given him super-soccer powers which he decides to use to take down the zombie apocalypse….while he still can.

The controls are simple. You thumb aims the direction that Jax kicks the soccer ball and lifting your thumb fires it off. You have a regular kick, and a super-charged kick at your disposal, but eventually you acquire other “zombie powers” which you can choose from during certain parts of the game. Doing a “head-shot” to a zombie (beheading them) is worth extra points as is several head-shots in a row. Some zombies can only be killed with the super-charged kick, which takes more time to “charge up”. Eventually you run into zombies that can only be killed in a certain way, like ricocheting off a wall, as well as avoiding obstacles like fleeing scientists which, when hit, will end the game. If you finish the game too quickly in Normal mode, you can play through again in Hardcore mode which won’t be so easy. The game’s music is pretty good and in the Extras you’ll find the Music Player which allows you to play back the game’s soundtrack, a total of 16 tracks.

The sound effects and gameplay are great, and everything looks awesome on the iPhone 4’s screen. As of this writing, the game was iOS 4 compatible, but did not take advantage of background app switching. Leaving the game means starting again from the main menu, although it should remember your progress. I didn’t try it on the iPad, but it is compatible with iOS 3.0 and up. I look forward to an HD version, but I hope it’s an Universal app.

The game uses the Crystal gaming network, which I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of, but not because it is a bad system.

I highly recommend this game. It’s fun and relatively easy to play, and the stages make it easy to play a few minutes at a time, or kill 20 minutes or so. Pro Zombie Soccer is a pretty good deal at $2.99.

PPUG Winter 2010 meeting Saturday in Philadelphia

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010, 10:35
Category: Apple, User Group

http://thescene.s3.amazonaws.com/pics/bar/2/51481/profile/1205061797294_272.jpgThe Philadelphia PowerBook User Group (PPUG) will meet tomorrow Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at the Manayunk Brewing Company along the beautiful Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. We usually have lunch (or a brew) while we talk mobile computing.

PPUG founders Jason O’Grady (PowerPage, ZDNet), Rob Parker, Bob Snow, as well as Youngmoo Kim will be on hand to talk about latest developments and the latest in mobile technology.  We’ll talk about all the news and announcements from Macworld 2010 with a healthy serving of Q&A.

Now that Apple has announced the iPad, where does it fit in the mobile technology landscape? Does it overlap with the iPhone and the MacBook? Or does it fit exactly in-between the two?  At PPUG’s March 2010 meeting, Jason will dissect the pros and cons of Apple’s new “tablet” Mac and will discuss its advantages and disadvantages over a netbook.  If you’re thinking about the iPad, come to the March meeting and we’ll set your straight.

Join us for a great meeting, it’s free and open to you and your guests. Feel free to bring items to sell or swap as well.

Manayunk Brewing Company
4120 Main Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127
215.482.8220

Recent Apple Patents Suggest Upcoming Facial Recognition, Improved Videoconferencing Systems

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 04:28
Category: Apple, Patents

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Recently-released filings from the United States Patent and Trademark Office reveal that Apple may be planning face-detection components for its Mac and iPhone operating systems, in addition to working on ways to netter the quality of video conferences conducted via iChat.

According to MacRumors, a current filing builds upon ways in which users may be able to passively interface with their Macs in the near future.

Apple notes that one problem with existing personal computing devices is that they’re not able to determine whether a non-active or passive user is present and, subsequently, unable to perform certain operations to accommodate the passive user.

“For example, a PC may automatically activate a screen saver every five minutes regardless of whether a user is viewing the PC’s display screen,” Apple wrote. “Thus, a passive user is often inconveniently required to actively perform an interaction with the PC at least every five minutes to prevent the initiation of the screen saver or to deactivate the screen save after it is initiated.”

Another problem is that conventional systems cannot efficiently determine whether certain users have the authority to perform certain functions without first forcing them to manually enter a password.

Remedies to both these problems may lie in face-detection software, according to the document. Using a Mac’s built-in iSight camera, face detection software may be based on a pattern recognition algorithm that includes a statistical model, the company says. The software that detects faces in the captured images could then associate them with an authorized, as well as inform the system that a user is present in situations when manual interaction has stopped for an extended period.

The document noted that in addition to a Mac, face detection can be applied a cellular telephone, a wireless communications device, a media player, an MP3 player, a video player, and a PDA.

Another filing proposes solutions to many common imaging problems, such as unevenly distributed illumination, shadows, white balance adjustment, colored ambient light and high dynamic range imaging. A recent Apple filing states that systems and methods can be provided through a Mac can take advantage of the computer’s processing power to provide functionality that goes beyond a typical camera.

In one odd example apparently aimed at improving video conferencing, the company proposes an iMac with embedded lights that retract into the system’s housing. The filing states that a processor in the iMac would be able to control the deployment and operation of the lights in combination with other sensors to provide the ideal lighting setting.

Apple Rumored to Buy Twitter

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 14:43
Category: Apple, Rumor

The latest pre-WWDC rumors don’t involve the iPhone, the Mac, or even Snow Leopard. The buzz making it’s way around the bloggosphere is that Apple has it’s eye on the social, micro-blogging service Twitter.

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The site TechCrunch has posted a report on the growing rumor of an Twitter buy-out:

Today, though, rumors popped up that Apple may be looking to buy Twitter. “Apple is in late stage negotiations to buy Twitter and is hoping to announce it at WWDC in June,” said a normally reliable source this evening, adding that the purchase price would be $700 million in cash.

The article goes on to remind readers that Twitter, and CEO Evan Williams, turned down a bid from Google earlier this year in favor of staying independent. Other news stories have reported that Twitter is looking at different revenue generating models such as a “Twitter Pro” account for businesses and power tweeters in the hopes of offsetting the cost maintaining the rapidly growing service. Twitter is hoping to bring on more investors rather than selling out.

It is interesting to note that Twitter’s offices in San Francisco are all Mac-based and supposedly has a very good relationship with Apple, so if anyone had a chance it might be the Cupertino computer appliance device maker. Personally, I don’t see why Apple would do this. Granted, Twitter is popular and could possibly be intergrated into MobileMe, but Apple doesn’t usually get involved in something unless it will sell more of their products, and even though there is no shortage of Twitter clients for the iPhone, I don’t see it being a selling point to move more hardware. Send us your thoughts in the forums!

New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[…] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

Apple Opens 24/7 Live Chat Support for MobileMe Subscribers

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 07:44
Category: MobileMe

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On Monday, Apple announced that it would be complementing its MobileMe online service support with a new chat feature available to members. According to Macworld, the MobileMe live chat support will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for
English speaking customers. The real-time support is for “customers that encounter an issue while using MobileMe and would like to address it immediately,” according to Apple’s Web page.
The MobileMe live support chat is available immediately by visiting the company’s support web pages and clicking on the “Chat Now” button.

Apple Stores May Switch To iPhone Software for In-store Purchases

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 13:16
Category: Apple, Retail Store

With the release of iPhone 3.0 enabled hardware and software, Apple may be planning a switch from its EasyPay handheld devices to iPhones for checking out customers at their retail stores.

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An AppleInsider report speculates that Apple may be planning to move away from the current Windows Mobile-based PDAs in favor of iPhones or iPod Touches using credit card scanners enabled by the new 3.0 software which allows devices connected to the 30-pin dock connector to finally talk to applications.

Apple has reportedly had issues with the EasyPay system in the past, resulting in checkout delays and frustrated customers. Overall, however, the mobile checkout system has worked out well for the retail stores which were reported to average 3.6 million visits per week during Apple’s December financial conference call. Developing its own point of sale system around the iPhone could be costly, but would allow Apple Stores to show off the versatility of their mobile hardware.

It is interesting to note that in the current batch of Apple’s iPhone commercials, one of the highlighted apps is CCTerminal which allows you to process credit card transactions online using an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to Chuck Freedman for bringing this to my attention, although I’ve actually been musing about this possibility since the 3.0 sneak peek. Yes, I do spend too much time at the Apple Store.

Apple Discontinues .Mac Groups and Homepage…Again?

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 01:25
Category: MobileMe

Apple today sent MobileMe subscribers notices informing them that their .Mac Groups and the HomePage web application would be discontinued as of July 7th, 2009. According to the email notices, “As of this date, all Groups features – including your group email address, group HomePage, message board, and iDisk “Groups” folder – will no longer be available.”
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The email also links to this FAQ regarding the discontinuation of services, which is the original FAQ created the first time the services were slated to close down except for the addition of the July 9th date. The original shutdown date was October 10, 2008. While the Groups and HomePage application were thought to have been shut down since last October, files were still accessible by members. There is no indication in the notices regarding the reason it is being sent out again, or why services may not have been completely shut down after the October date.
The messages do state that current web sites published with HomePage will still be available via the web indefinitely, but that changes will not be possible after July 7th. If you would like to speculate what is going on, discuss it in the forums.

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App Store Number Finally Reaches 77

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Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 13:37
Category: App Store, Apple

On March 17, Apple announced that the App Store would be available for iPhone/iPod Touch customers in 77 countries. Through the end of March, the count stayed at 62, but finally over the April 4th weekend the additional 15 countries appeared on iTunes.

The 15 additional countries are as follows:

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  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Kazakstan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macau
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Nicaragua
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

The Italian site setteB.IT reports that this works out to potentially 161.8 million new customers for Apple, the App Store, and software developers. Of the 15 countries, Kazakstan is the only one where the iPhone 3G is not available yet. The countries where the iPhone 3G is available but without an App Store are: Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Montenegro, Niger, Reunion (France) and Senegal.

The original article can be read (translated from Italian) here.