Pod – GPS Pet Tracker

When I moved to a new house, I brought my rescue dog with me.  I was worried he’d try to escape and, given this was a new area, I’d have even more trouble chasing him down.  Now, I’d heard about GPS pet trackers – devices you locked onto their collar which would return  their location – and thought I should look into them.

However, he seemed to actually settle in at the new house.  There were no escape attempts, and I could actually leave the front gate open while I worked on the bushes outside the fence, and he’d just watch and bring me the ball.  So thoughts of spending money on such a gadget faded.

Then, three months in I got a call asking if I was missing a dog.  After finding where he’d got out, and doing my best to dog proof that part of the yard, he got out again two days later.  Whether through boredom, a need to explore, or even the fact that he enjoyed meeting new people, he was escaping again.  So, I ordered what seemed to be the best GPS tracker, the Pod Tracker, and set about doing some major escape-proofing. Continue reading

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It’s Three Minutes Past Tangerine

Timezones are a pain.  Whether you need to know what time it is in another country for business reasons, or so you don’t wake a friend up at 3am, they’re sometimes a little tricky to work out.  It gets even more interesting when you take Daylight Savings into account – given how random that sometimes is – even between states in the same country.

Now, with computers and smartphones, this is basically a “solved problem”. You can find a lot of places that will tell you what time it is where you want to call.  On the other hand, coordinating people through timezones, especially if they’re not that technological, can still be a little tricky.

Dave Grossman of Phrenopolis, (and a few little things like Monkey Island and Telltale Games) has come up with an idea that’s both silly, and clever – as might be expected with someone of his background.

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Dreamfall: Chapters

I was going to discuss the new GPS Tracker I bought for my dog, but I seem to have a faulty unit, so I guess that’ll have to wait.  Instead, I’ll talk about a game I’ve been playing.

Dreamfall: Chapters (DC) is the (finally in production) sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (DTLJ) – which was itself a sequel to The Longest Journey (TLJ)).  If nothing else, I give Red Thread Games (RTG) points for a unique way of naming sequels!

DC does it slightly differently to the original two.  Both were ‘self contained’ stories (if you ignore the horrible, unresolved ending of DTLJ), whereas DC is an episodically released game.  I’ve just finished the first ‘story’ and am now onto the second. Continue reading

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Samsung Galaxy S6

I seem to have made a habit of buying my Samsung Galaxy phones the way folks reputedly watch Star Trek movies: I only get the odd ones.  I started with the no number, since it wasn’t a line yet.  Then the S3, and now the S5.  However, it’s not necessarily because I think the odd numbered ones are better; it’s just because that’s the point in the release cycle that my phone plan runs out and I can get a ‘free’ new phone.

So why am I talking about the S6?  Because I have something to say about it.

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Command Line Stuff: Differences In Lists

If you’ve no interest in Linux command-line things, then this isn’t likely to be that interesting for you. Sorry about that.

Due to my work I’m often in the position where I need to find the differences between two lists.  Now, some people may point to ‘diff‘ or ‘sdiff‘ as tools  appropriate to the job – and in many cases they are exactly what is required.

However, what I often need is to compare two lists, breaking them into different categories – new lists – that I can then pass through other processing to find patterns, and perhaps find out why they’re different.  The categories I usually need are:

  1. Items exist in both lists
  2. Items exist in only the first list
  3. Items exist in only the second list

For this, ‘sort‘ and ‘uniq‘ are invaluable to me.  Nothing in this technique is amazing, or ‘tricky’, but it is one I’ve found very useful for diagnosing various issues.

One caveat though: this technique relies on each having no duplicates.  That is, you cannot have two ‘jsmiths’ within the same list.

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I bought RAGE a while back, but never got around to playing it.  I mainly bought it (cheap!) for the same reason I bought FUEL – I was interested in how well the technology worked for a game.

I think I’m lucky I had a 360 because I’ve heard rumours, hearsay and scaremongering about the ‘MegaTexture‘ technology that RAGE uses not working as well on the PS3, and not as efficiently on the PC.  Are these true?  I have no idea. But I didn’t want to waste a whole $6 to find out!

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PathPix for Android


I was in the mood for some puzzling before sleep one night, and PathPix came up in the Google Play Store as recommended by a friend of mine.  I downloaded  ‘PathPix Lite‘, which is a free version that has 9 puzzles, and that let me decide if I liked the game or not.

I finished the 9 puzzles, then quickly bought the full version, which has 189 puzzles.

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Just Cause 2 – The Game

Now that I’ve got the story out of my system, I can talk about why I’m having so much fun with Just Cause 2 (JC2).

The previous entry gives a rough idea of the tasks ahead of you in the game: blow stuff up.  However, there’s so much more to it than that.  You can also kill people by shooting them! Or using your hook wire to drag them to their doom.  Or hook them to a gas cylinder and turn that into a rocket or …

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Scanner – Forgotten Your Alternative Password?

It occurred to me that I had no idea what ‘alternative password’ I’d assigned the fingerprint scanner should I lose my remembered fingers or if the scanner broke.  Even though I could still get into the phone (I still have said fingers, and the scanner still works) I couldn’t change the password.

Then I discovered that by deleting all of the saved fingerprints, and re-scanning them,  you get a chance to enter a new password.  Now I have a brand new one to forget.

Of course, to use this trick you have to get into the phone first – so if you have lost your digits, you’re probably out of luck.

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Just Cause 2 – The Story, The World

I’ve been playing Just Cause 2 (JC2) to death lately.  I keep trying to write about it by starting with something like “I’m going to ignore the story and world, as that’s a mere frame of tissue for the rest of the game.”

The only problem is, I keep wanting to talk about the story, and the world and so I’m going to get that out of my system first.

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