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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Round the RIM. With Happy Hippos.

Because we really didn't look into it with any depth last time, (just outlined specs and a fantasy phone) we'll be putting in a full on review of our Quackberry Torch.  But first here is an update.

We gave you a full review of german chocolate and GBC game Das Geheimnis der Happy Hippo insel about 2 years back and despite adding this to the untranslated list over at Datacrystal we never thought that this would actually get a release.   This along with FDS Monty On The Run is possibly the most unlikeliest of Romhacks being as it is a translation from German to English and the second game I've actually requested being translated.

So far, what we've played of it, it seems pretty good.  You can get the patch here and read a bit of a review about it.  Now how about doing Snoopy Hajimete No Otsukai next...

Blackberry Torch: a review.

Forgive me if we covered bits of this in our fantasy fone piece but we'll be talking a little about our Blackberry Torch and how it fits in with other smartphones. 

First up is appearance.

Yup it looks nice.  You have an 8cm x 5cm touch screen, complete with 4 buttons and a  middle button that is a sort of analogue pad, (you press it and an arrow comes up simulating a mouse contact).  Its also black which means its a fingerprint magnet, and the touch screen while nice is aggravating, due to it triggering everytime you touch it intentionally and you really have to jab it when you want to trigger anything that you want to touch.


Comes with 7.0 version of Blackberry software and the usual Youtube / Facebook apps and stuff.  We have a mobile site to do our work with and its not that bad surfing.  Though you really do have to wonder about surfing the net on a tiny screen.  They give you a link to the Blackberry app store and of course BBM which we haven't set up.  We do have email and that, which isn't too bad.  Though Blackberry isn't so bad,
looking through the apps on the store reminds me of gaming back in the 80's lots of clones of popular ideas and lots of stuff that isn't free. 


We have two. First up is Brickbreaker an Arkanoid clone that looks like it was made in AMOS and handles like a pig on acid due to the janky touchscreen.  Though it has a one more go feel, sort of like Angry Birds, its a lets clear this level and get it over and done with, which is distinct from actual one more go, genuine gameplay as you can get.

The other is Wordmole. Which thankfully is excellent.  You have a grid of letters and have to make words to beat a time limit.  You can play through seasons and clearing a season gets you a sort of whack a vegetable (ironic seeing as the Wordmole himself is highly remedial looking, maybe he works for remploy) minigame.
The only downside is the highly suspect american English word list that won't recognise recognised words, we've lost games due to it baulking at regular words such as nib, nappy and maths.  Having said that its not bad at all.

Looking on the app store we see that £2 is the recommeded pricing point and maybe more (£5 for Gold miner) and due to it being on blackberry, its the gaming equivalent of a BBC model B, a nice idea but no one does any games for it.

Blackberry Desktop.

A semi servicable iTunes equivalent, it does sometimes want to sync your phone so it can slurp music and Photos, 9 times out of 10 it'll say connection sync failed and be a cunt about it.  It'll also auto import your music library a la iTunes but not your Pics and stuff.  Oh and is a real cunt about video files requiring only select MP4 files and  not having any free conversion tools out there to do it either.
Black marks there.

Overall.  If you can afford an Iphone or Android device then buy one of those they are better.   44%

Monday, 4 June 2012

Julie Bee2: Amigan

Our second Julie bee special also concerns hardware, but you will be relieved to know that it does not involve wish fulfillment or mocked up phones.

We found a massive box thrown out at work, nothing special just a massive plastic storage tub and thought it would be good to store videos in.  We also decided to clear up our room, and this is where we refound our old Amiga, as well as some old tat for scanning and removal.   The best thing is though its been in the wars it still works.  

We coupled it up to the television and hey presto our HD kicked in, bringing it life.  Though it doesn't seem we have a working joystick we do have a working mouse, so we decided to boot up a few progs and see what we have. 

This is a montage of clips from programs / art that include but are not restricted to..

LSD document disk 49. 
A cracktro for 9 Lives though it crashes after this.
Various old pictures we made in DPaint / P Paint we used a picture viewer called Visage to show them and our digital camera to grab them as clips from our portable Telly.

Bark Bros was a home grown choose your own adventure game involving alien dogs stumbling across a downed space shuttle with Bill Clinton and Al Gore in it and a criminal organisations attempt to steal it.  Written in Wordsworth, Amiga's own equivalent to Word (perfect),  this was the title card, there were a few other documents on the disk written with Blacks Editor.  To be honest this was and still is the best we can do, as we cannot program to save our lives.

Othonna / Fenestraria.  These two succulent clips are from old copies of the BCSS journal though I suspect the Fenestraria is from memory or at least cultivation, those leaves would be buried in habitat.

Leech. Drawn from memory and yes its pretty gross looking with its swamp water filled jar and label.

Cat. Black and white image of my old cat Zoe.

Aphex Twin.  We drew this from the cover art of the Richard D James album.  Face is a little out but that makes it all the more sinister.

Finally theres some more from the LSD Doc disk 49 to finish up.

If  this proves popular then we'll add more images.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Julie bee1: Cellular Phone

We've got a mobile phone.  Its for work purposes and is one of these.  Normally I don't like phones, they allow you to talk to people and when you hate phoning, that is the last fucking thing you need.  However this is not only necessary for my work but it also allows you to listen to music at work which is much, much better than it seems.  We've decided to sign up to a no personal calls so the only thing we can do is contact work mates and surf the net (when there is WiFi available).   It isn't that reliable as the touchscreen needs some serious poking to get it registering, and of course it relies on GPRS (and Oranges shit network for all calls and mobile internets) which is severly pissing on my chips. 
Those who have phones (and lets face it we work with iPhone bores) say that its not as good as an iPhone and after giving us a try its not.  Which has got me thinking what would be the ideal phone would be like.

A Blackberry yesterday.

 Fantasy Phone.

I don't know too much about specs, most modern phones run ARM processors so something like a quad core version of this would be cool.   More cores could be added for insane power, or just add whatever cpu the PSVita uses.   They should have a gpu as well for 3D stuff, the one in Dave Brabens Raspberry PI project seems interesting as well as mighty powerful.  It would have a decent cameral say 8MP and output 1080HD for all filming purposes as well as having 16GB onboard storage backed up with SD cards in its SD card slot.

One of the main problems with the iPhone flat touch screen style is that its all too easy, when in pocket to trigger something you don't want to (yeah we know you can lock the screen but I'd rather not have to) so it'll either be a clamshell device or something with a recessed screen like the bottom screen of a DS.  We also like the old Blackberry mini keyboard style of keyboard, so maybe have it dual screen like a DS with controls and keyboard on the bottom screen and touch screen at the top.  We'll also add in proper joypad controls as what most phones have is just virtual sticks on a tiny screen. The little 8 way joystick from a Neo Geo Pocket I remember being especially boss, so lets add two and make sure they are made by these guys, as well as 6 face buttons (for Megadrive purists), start and select and 2  shoulder buttons that double as phone call and exit.  Seeing as its clamshell we would love to see the sim card input fit in the side like a PSP memory card as well as a top slot for a full sized SD card or Micro SD with adaptor.  Finally we'll add a headphone port, a USB port for charging / USB intergration, and whatever kind of Zero point energy source that'll make it run for 100 hours between charges, (in a generic case of course) and an off switch.

Something like this, though maybe not.


To end all fanboys we would love our fantasy phone to be system agnostic, running apps flawlessly under emulation or using a virtualisation to run either, Memo, Windows Stupid, mandroid, Quackberry and Apple software natively.  You would load up a browser and pay a license to dual boot your phone and share contacts between the two services.  Oh and it must multitask,  letting you switch between programs on the home menu and

Offline software / Third party.

Because most phone management software is the work of the devil we have decided to mock up our own.
We didn't put in drop menus but trust us they are there.
It would, on initial start up, sync your phone and create folders on screen with which you simply drag and drop your files to transfer them across (in fact we hate the fact that all ITunes software auto scans your drives for music which it auto installs), you would then press the sync button to sync all files automatically when you are done transferring.  It would on start up tell you that there would be updates to the main software upon loading up and when your phone is synced let you create a folder for storing your apps on your PC/ MAC/LINUX/ Amiga compatible computer. You could then back them up to disk or to the phones SD Card.  It would also come with a help file showing you what to do.  If ever your phone is knackered or need to switch then transfer them across.  Like regular handheld consoles, I'd also like to see regular console games and utilities to come on SD card as well as be downloadable from the APP stores much more regular Phone game fare.

Fi nally when it comes to content, your phone would be like the mobile equivalent of Irfan View.  One of the things  I hate about the quackberry is that any video requires paid apps to convert to a convenient file format so it'll play.  We want it playing every obscure format from MOD. files to MKV files as default with downloadable codecs available from app stores where available.

Phone calling and texting.
I doubt any of these will come of age and that, and of course pricing would be a moot point, I'd say it would be on a par with the iPhone and of course maybe more once you add a monthly call plan from the major phone companies.  We would love it to not of course and just leech off of WiFi and Satellites even GPRS if you are in a pinch to connect to the net to make calls (maybe through skype or another video call).  Yeah cos I'm a loner and its my phone this is what I'd like the most.  A smart phone that isn't really a phone.

Now thats smart.