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Archive for July, 2010

Review: Free Twitter Apps

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

You know what’s annoying? Doubt. I was perfectly happy with my Twitter client for my iPhone. It did everything I thought I needed elegantly, quickly, and reliably. Until doubt started to set in. What if there’s something better out there… what if I’m missing out on all these amazing features I never knew existed? Cue the need for a comparison of free Twitter clients. I set out on my quest in the normal way, sacrificing 12 virgins down by the volcano hoping the gods would direct me to “The Chosen One”. Then I did a search for Twitter in the app store to check out the somethings that cost next-to-nothing: Twitter, Echofon, Seesmic, Twitterific, and Tweetdeck. I gave each app 2 days to be my sole Twitter client, to try it on and see if it fit. I don’t usually rate things, but for the sake of comparing 5 different clients I think it would be useful. Get those stars ready. No, stars are boring. I will be using 5 strips of bacon by which to score.

‘Twitter’ is the official Twitter app for iPhone, previously known as Tweetie. It had a very loyal following as Tweetie, and as such Twitter bought it out and rebadged it accordingly. I like the simple nature of it’s interface, what you want to do is clearly obvious, and easy to use. Good: Supports multiple accounts, mentions are highlighted, starts from last unread tweet. Great little resource panel when you go to write a new tweet, including one-touch URL shrinking, geotagging, and username look up. Less good: No number badges telling you how many new tweets or mentions, just a little light. When a tweet of yours is retweeted, you can’t see who chose to retweet it.

  • Overview:

‘Echofon’ was my very first Twitter client for my iPhone. I was very impressed with it until that pesky doubt kicked in. Previously called “Twitterfon” (with a web based application called “Twitterfox”), ‘Echofon’ has had over 6 million downloads. Good: It’s pretty. Real pretty. Usernames are links and are coloured differently as such. The font is small enough to be elegant and neat, but not small enough that it can’t be seen. Starts from last unread tweet. Badges displaying the number of tweets/mentions/DMs along with multiple account support, and auto-complete for usernames when writing a new tweet (I freaking LOVE that). Less good: I think the badge can only go up to 299, but I’m not entirely sure on that one, it could be a coincidence. The ads are about as big as a tweet, at the top of the twitter feed, making it very easy to accidentally tap it, and the more obnoxiously coloured ones are quite distracting. Can’t see who chose to retweet you.

  • Overview:

‘Seesmic’ was the first Twitter app I knew to include Facebook and Twitter in the one application, which was pretty impressive. I was relieved to imagine getting rid of the official Facebook application, which to be blunt is about as useful at operating Facebook as a paperclip sticking out of a freshly laid cow shit. (Which funnily enough since they haven’t bothered to make it work on iOS4 is even worse, effectively removing the paperclip and leaving just a steaming turd. /rant). I had high hopes for this magical “twofer”. Good: Facebook integration, and clearly the most adorable icon on my phone. Less Good: A limit to 4 accounts, whether they be Twitter or Facebook. Starts from newest tweet (make Homer something something…). Ugly, they’ve used the colours of highlighters to highlight your tweets, DMs, and retweets (see what they did there?). The DM’s in particular are quite a painful shade of fluro orange. There is no way of separately seeing your retweets, everyone else’s, and your tweets other people have retweeted – they’re all in one massive list. And when you’re following more than say, 100 likeminded people, there’s a buttload of RTing going on. It’s quite crashy, and you can’t see who chose to retweet you.

  • Overview:

‘Twitterrific’ is another client with a very loyal fanbase, scan down your twitter feed and you’ll see “via Twitterrific” get quite a few mentions (see what I did…. yeah I’ll show myself out). One of the “dark themed” apps (the previous 3 have been white backgrounds) I find myself giggling rampantly at the colour they chose to use to highlight mentions on their black/grey background. Out of all the colours of the rainbow, they chose that ever-so-sophisticated pinnacle of urban elegance and savoir faire, baby poo brown. A side menu as opposed to a menu at the bottom (which seems to be standard), and a focus on trends moreso than features within that menu, is quite confusing. Cool: Translate options for tweets. Fast, and reliable. Starts from last unread tweet. Less cool: Ugly as sin, each screen only fits about 3 tweets due to the bloated nature of the interface. You can only click on links within tweets after clicking on the tweet itself and seeing it alone, very annoying and a whole new process for no particular reason.

  • Overview:

‘Tweetdeck’ is seen as the mother of all Twitter apps. With features galore and a web based application to match, it’s srz bznz for the people who do a lot of tweeting or need to handle a lot of traffic due to following (or being followed by) a lot of people. Namely it’s ability to sort your followers/following into user groups, say friends, family, workmates, or fans. Very handy for those with lots of followers who don’t want tweets from their real life friends being lost in the abundance of admiration from their groupies and the unwashed masses. Cool: An option to have a dark or light background. Facebook integration. A mark all as seen option (which is great if you use more than one app, or the web to also check twitter). Different columns for the feed, mentions, DMs and FB, and the option to add more. Almost everything is customisable. It’s pretty and there seems to be lots of support and bug fixing going on behind the scenes to keep it in good shape. Less good: I can’t seem to find an option for having multiple account support, but that could be PEBKAC.

  • Overview:

It might seem like I’ve come to my conclusion for what my choice cut of Twitter client will be based on my porcine points giving, but it’s not that simple, smartypants. Tweetdeck is a superb client, it has everything you need and more. Therein lies my beef (omg woman stop writing when you’re hungry). I don’t need all those features. To really get the most out of Tweetdeck you need to sit down and set it up properly, create your usergroups and go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. I don’t really have the need. I don’t have a lot of followers, I don’t follow a lot of people. I need something lo-fi that gets the job done and has the features I like in an app, not the app that is the best for the broadest range of people. So it is with great pleasure I announce my personal choice for my dedicated twitter application on my phone. I’m going back to my twitter roots. It might not be what is best for everyone but it’s what works best for me. I feel like I’m slipping into a nice warm bath of familiarity as The Chosen One welcomes me with open arms, saying “Welcome back, Leena… we missed you….”

I’m going back to Echofon. Just as soon as they get around to bringing out an update that plays nicely with iOS4…


News: Rumours flying over PVZ2

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Oh. Em. Gee.

This teaser image was released today, generating a vigorous squee surely heard by my neighbours and all the dogs within a 2km radius.

If you’ve read my Plants vs Zombies review you’d know how much I adored the original game, and the prospect of a sequel has me candidly giddy. Is it a sequel though? It could be an update to the existing game, which would still be cause for celebration, boy howdy. The wedding theme has my imagination running wild, the “save the date” card, the love hearts over the Golden Gate bridge. Perhaps it’s a new setting? The zombies coming down the aisle towards the bride and groom for some marital-flavoured brains? Why San Fran? Maybe it’s a groom and groom…? Either way, I’m super excited to hear from PopCap next month to see what this franchise is up to.

The mind wanders. (Slowly, kinda shuffling. Arms outstretched. Braaaaaains.)

Obsolescence and the Gamer

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

There are a few flirtations and love affairs we indulge in, as gamers. Not all of them are lovely. Often times we find ourselves stuck in unhealthy relationships with these mistresses. Callouses, eye strain, RSI, and the one that I think hurts me the most: the painful sting of obsolescence.

With technology advancing at a speed usually reserved for falling coconuts, our beloved games are superseded and replaced with bigger and better successors at a phenomenal rate. There is a new or updated platform on which to play games almost yearly, and the games being churned out for them are constant. I remember a time where one console would last you years, and games usually only came out just before Christmas. Of course this is great in some ways, it means we’re adding more and more wonderful components to our gaming platforms, and as such our games are capable of much more amazing and impressive feats. But there’s a looming downside behind all this progress. We’re losing our old favourites. People are trading-in their old consoles and games in order to pay for the new ones, leaving only the very keenest of keen that stockpile every console, controller, power adapter, cable, game, and accessory for every gaming platform they’ve ever owned. Are we going to lose our gaming history? Will it soon be impossible or at the very least extremely hard and expensive to take a walk down memory lane?

Thankfully, someone is trying to make sure this doesn’t happen. The National Media Museum and Nottingham Trent University in Great Britain have joined forces by setting up the National Video Game Archive, to ensure we remember where we came from. Their mission statement is to “preserve, analyse and display the products of the global video game industry by placing games in their historical, social, political and cultural contexts”. The National Video Game Archive (NVGA) is allowing visitors to not just play classic games in their original arcade or console formats, but to also understand what external factors motivated the designers and dictated certain decisions in the development of the game itself. Thank goodness someone is looking after the games that get thrown away after something bigger and better comes along. For those of us outside of the UK who can’t visit the NVGA in person, don’t lose hope. The major game development houses are doing their best to pump us full of nostalgia. Currently in the works are revamps of Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Donkey Kong Country, Metroid, Zelda, and Goldeneye, amongst others. It seems there’s more than one person lamenting the loss of our old favourites, and doing their best to bring them back into our lounge rooms.

Obsolescence is sometimes inevitable, but most of the time you can fight it by holding onto the games you adore. If you’re sick of the sting of obsolescence, put the time and money into making sure you can be backwards compatible. Make sure you find the cables you need to input into your shiny new television. While trading in seems like a great way to save money and be a frugal gamer, don’t get caught up in constant upgrading. Make sure you show respect to the games that shaped you as a gamer and brought you to where you are today. I will always tip my hat to the games that firmly put me in Gamerville. If someone told me to choose between eating again and my Nintendo64, I would have to seriously think about it…

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