Archive for July, 2010

July 20, 2010

Lack of Updates

Tuwiuwokia - Haven Wikia

My apologies to the handful of readers for the lack of updates recently. I’ve been slaving away at another project, a new wiki for the TV show Haven. It’s a supernatural/sci-fi thriller a la the X-Files, Buffy, or Fringe, featuring a seemingly innocent town that harbors some mysterious people with strange powers.

I discovered the show quite by accident: even though new episodes air on the SyFy channel, USA happened to be re-airing the series premiere a few days after it aired on SyFy. Seeing as how I only have basic cable which doesn’t include SyFy, I was glad that USA was airing it as well. At first, I didn’t really get what was going on, so I sort of tuned out, but after the first 15 minutes or so it caught my attention – a sign of a good show. I wanted to find out more info on it, so I Googled “haven wiki” and found nothing. After checking IMDB, I found out that the show had only premiered a few weeks ago (July 9th), so obviously there wouldn’t be any wikis yet. And seeing as how I enjoy wikis a lot and have always wanted to start one, this was a perfect chance for me.

Now it’s been 11 days since the premiere and the second episode has aired, with a new one slated for Friday. I’ve already got the basic stuff set up on the wiki… a few character pages, an episode page for the first episode, some pictures, etc. The name Tuwiuwokia comes from a line in the show about the Migmaw word for “haven” or “haven for God’s orphans”, which is “tuwiuwok.” Setting up a wiki truly is grueling work though. My congratulations go out to the admins of the popular wikis like Wikipedia, Lostpedia, Memory-Alpha, and others – I know your pain now. I would love to get some help developing the site and I could also use some authors… so if you’ve seen the show and like it, hop on over and lend a hand!

Areas that need development:

  • Better site logo – the current one (pictured here) is a crapjob I did in Illustrator. I don’t have a good hand when it comes to logos, so I need a creative person to design one.
  • Episode summaries – I’ve done Welcome to Haven, but haven’t done one for Butterfly yet. As more episodes air, I’ll need more authors to keep up with everything.
  • Character pages – both major and minor, along with the corresponding actors.
  • Site development/design. I have a few infoboxes that I’ve designed (using Lostpedia as a guideline for the styling, thanks!), but I probably need more templates. A custom skin wouldn’t hurt either… but that’s far out of my coding skill.

SyFy has ordered 13 episodes for the first season, but I’m hoping it won’t go the way of Firefly or Gilligan’s Island and disappear from television despite the fan base. Of course, I’m hoping that Haven will also develop a good fanbase as well, otherwise I’ll have spent the last two weeks coding and typing and snapping screenshots in vain. So help a fellow author out and log in or sign up over at Tuwiuwokia!

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July 12, 2010

App Review – Fruit Ninja

Fruit Ninja App Store link

Fruit Ninja

Developer: Halfbrick Studios
Category: Games
Price: $0.99 USD
Version reviewed: 1.3 (iOS 4.0 tested)

– “I’m slicing fruit with my fingers!”

– “This game is so addicting, I just can’t stop playing!”

Those are two quotes that I’ve heard from people who have sampled the app on my iPhone. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite games to play on the iPhone.

Main Screen

Teaser
You play as a fruit crazed ninja (I prefer to think of myself as a vegan monkey ninja) who is tasked with slicing fruit as it is thrown in the air. You must hone your skills so that you can accurately chop each fruit as you see it. Think quickly enough, and you can get combos of multiple fruits, doubling the amount scored. But beware, the master samurai will sometimes throw you bombs, often with fruit mixed in, along with a rare fruit worth 50 points! Fulfill the quests he gives you and unlock new blades and new backgrounds. Slice quickly enough, and you might find yourself the new master samurai. Failure to strike quickly and accurately will yield you a week of scrubbing fruit goop off the walls and floors.

Bomb fruit!

Summary
There are two game modes: Classic and Zen Mode.

In Classic, you have an unlimited amount of time to slice and dice, but drop any more than three fruits and you lose! It also gets tricky when you hear a fuse burning and a bomb is thrown in the air. While the fuse runs forever, if you accidentally hit it you lose! This is easy at first when there is only a bomb in the air, but it gets tougher when two, three, or four bombs are thrown up with a fruit or two in between. You’ll have to use precise surgical cuts to get that fruit without knicking the bombs.

In Zen mode, you’re given 90 seconds to chop as much fruit as possible. You can drop as many as you like, and best of all, there’s none of those pesky bombs! Think of it more as target practice, a chance to practice timing your cuts to get the most fruit in a single slice.

Combo descriptions

Sensei's description of fruit combos

Features
Just so you don’t waste your time chopping fruit and getting bored, the game also includes several unlockable items found in the Sensei’s dojo. These don’t do anything to upgrade your sword chopping prowess, they’re merely for aesthetic appeal. Currently, these are just different sword effects and backgrounds. Still, by setting a goal, it keeps you coming back for more. Any action you do in either classic or Zen mode counts toward achieving these items, with the exception of the “I Heart Sensei” background which must be unlocked in classic mode. Critical hits seem to be random, but I think there’s some secret to it. I tend to get them often during the first six fruits in classic mode. There’s also a rare fruit, which is of course, rare. It’s a spiky pineapple looking thing that travels across the screen, from right to left (at least it did the one time I got it). Slice it, and you’ll be rewarded with 50 points. For a touch of humor, the Sensei tells you your best combo in Zen mode and gives it a description, i.e. tasty, fruit basket, or Banana Cake.

Tips

Timing is the key to a high score! The fruits launch at different speeds and fall at different speeds, so the goal is to wait until as many as possible are in a line and slice. This can be in any direction – up, down, diagonally, left, right, arc, whatever you want so long as it’s a single swipe. Playing with the sound on is a good way to be aware of when the bombs are coming up. You’ll hear a gear ticking noise right before the bomb is tossed up. Keep an eye on the bottom of the screen too. Sometimes there’ll be a fruit hidden in a combo that you miss. A couple of extra frantic swipes never hurts.

iPhone 4 Compatibility

The game runs perfectly, although the graphics don’t yet take advantage of the new Retina display. There’s no multi-tasking support either, but the game does save itself if the app is terminated.

Conclusion

Fruit Ninja is a very entertaining game that is fun for anyone. At $0.99, it’s a steal. You’ll get endless hours of fun out of it and you’ll have your friends begging you to let them play it. It would be nice if they implemented sword/character upgrades, i.e. increased chances for critical hits and additional lives. While the graphics already look great, Retina-enabled graphics would be stunning. Overall, a resounding two thumbs up!

UPDATE: Halfbrick just released a minor upgrade, v 1.3.1. Two new blades have been added, Old Glory and Butterfly. Some bug fixes were also applied. Retina display support is said to be coming very soon along with an unveiling of “Mystery Mode”. An iPad version is also in the works.

July 12, 2010

FIFA Updates 2010-2011 Laws of the Game

BBC News –12 July 2010

In a very rare and first time event, the International Football Association Board held an emergency meeting after the conclusion of Sunday’s World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. Chairman Roger Burden of the FA said, “After that debacle last night, we had to save face. The entire world wanted both Spain and Holland to piss off. We had to do something, otherwise nobody would ever want to watch football again.”

BBC Sport anchor Gary Lineker had this to say about the future of international football: “People love watching football because it’s a sport that is kept very professional and well organized the majority of the time. The two best teams in the world should behave as if the Queen herself were playing keeper. Over the course of the last three World Cups, we’ve seen a consistent decrease in viewers. People are saying that football is ‘boring’ and that ‘the only time they pay attention is during replays of a goal or mass confrontations’. Of 4,982 viewers queried, 2,716 said that they’d rather watch the highlight reel than the game itself. To keep professional football from going the way of cricket, something needs to be done to keep fans entertained but be within the rules.”

Something indeed was done. A unanimous decision was reached to amend several laws. In summary, the winner of a tied or scoreless game after regulation time is to be decided by a duel between team captains. The nature of the duel is at the discretion of the referee. An alternate captain is also permitted to substitute for the team captain in the event that he is injured, sent out, or incapable of participating. Recommended duels include fencing, rock paper scissors, boxing, Russian taser roulette, Jenga, and synchronized swimming. “Football is all about contests. To keep fans interested, we need more variety of contests.” said Burden. Other changes included casual Fridays for referees and the allowance of celebrity referees. The offsides law has also been altered by allowing the audience to vote, similar to the American game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”.

“We’re really excited about these changes,” said deputy chairman Michel Plantini of France. “People want to see more Zidanes and Beckhams out there.”

Some of the league head coaches were slightly bothered by the changes. “So now in addition to the rigorous training they already have to do, we have to train the team captain and the alternate in sword fighting, synchronized swimming, and Jenga?” asked a flabbergasted Óscar Tabárez, head coach of the Uruguay national football team. Other coaches were impressed with the new decision. “Most of our players grew up fighting their brothers with sticks and of course, they all know how to throw a good punch,” claimed Germany’s head coach Joachim Löw. “Philip Lahm may look like a nice kid, but he can play Jenga like no other. We’ll have to make Schweinsteiger our alternate captain though if it comes down to fencing or boxing.”

With any luck, football will receive a huge popularity boost after people see the outcome of this. While the game itself remains unchanged, fans will stick around if they know that an exciting duel will determine a tie game.

Simon Cowell confirmed that he would be a celebrity referee for the Arsenal’s first regular season game against Liverpool on August 15th. Susan Boyle was unavailable for comment when rumours of her being a celebrity referee arose.