Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

Dead Man’s Draw by Stardock – An excellent card game that goes far beyond poker

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I’ve recently spent several hours playing Dead Man’s Draw, a new iPad game by Stardock and I have to say it’s wonderfully brilliant. The goal is simple, draw cards and add up the points. Person with the highest point total wins the round. Sounds simple enough. And it is. For the first few draws.

Some of the rules work like this: You can’t draw two cards of the same type or suit. For instance, you can’t draw two Keys in the same hand. That’s a bust. Additionally, the cards you draw have to have a higher face card value than the ones your already holding in order to increase your score. If you have a Key with a value of 5 in your hand and draw a Key with a value of 4, your total doesn’t increase. Additionally, the cards take of special abilities. Combine the Key with the Treasure Chest and you get additional free cards to try and increase your score. Get a hand with the Sword and you can steal cards. Play the Hook and you can reuse your own cards. The Treasure Map lets you pull cards from the Busted pile and the Oracle lets you see what card is coming next in the deck.

There are things like multipliers that let you increase the number of cards you can steal or increase bonus cards you get from matching the Key and Chest. You can Triple the number of cards you get when you combine the Key and the Chest. You can increase the number of cards your opponent has to discard when you use the Cannon. You can reveal more cards when using the Oracle. And there’s quite a few more.

With all of that comes changes to the games themselves. At first you just try to get as many points as possible without busting. But as you progress the rules change, as in when you go bust your opponents gets all your cards. And for the lower levels, your opponent can’t use special abilities like you can. That changes as you move up the ranks. Plus, there is a whole slew of “Tournaments” that I still have to unlock to figure out what they do.

So it starts off simple, but then you have to think about how you want to play these special ability cards. Should you steal that opponent card then draw another or quit while you’re ahead? How many cards do you think you can grab without busting out?

It’s a very straightforward game, but it’s something refreshingly different. As I said, finally a card game that isn’t just another mindless variation of Texas Hold Em. Plus, the game goes quickly. There’s no betting or bluffing. You draw cards until the deck is gone and total the points. It’s easy to invest a few minutes or sit down and trying build up a chest full of gold.

It’s quite a satisfying game and it’s quite a bit of fun just to see how far you can push your luck. The special ability cards make for some interesting strategy. You can steal and Oracle and what lies in the pile next or rummage through the discard pile to see which card you can use to improve your score. The graphics are nice and the music is simple and won’t annoy you. I have to say for their first outing into the realm of the mobile devices and the iPad, this is a pretty sweet little game.

It starts off simple, but keeps building in complexity as you get to use more abilities. Plus there are opponents you face at each level before you get to move on. At $1.99 this is really cheap entertainment. I wonder if this could be made into a real card game? Or I wonder if a desktop version in the works.

Dead Man’s Draw on iTunes
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iOS 7 – Not quite as sassy as the previous versions

I really have to ask, what is the deal with these flat and bland operating systems Apple and Microsoft are vomiting out? I look at Windows 8 and it looks so generic and bland. It looks worse than Windows 3.1. The icons are so juvenile that it makes the OS look incomplete. I look at iOS7 and it has that same feel to me. It’s bland and flat. We’ve spent all this time developing textures, lighting effects, bevels and depth and now it’s all been thrown out the window and we’re back to graphics and images that look like they’re meant for a dumb terminal. What the hell?

It’s 2014, why the hell does the operating system have to look so damn ugly? We were on this wonder trend and it’s like we’ve taken a step backwards. For years WindowBlinds have given me a desktop that looked 3D with it’s curves and glass effects. Now Windows 8 looks like a 5 years was behind the design.

Not impressed at all.

I never upgraded my iPad to iOS6 and now it looks like I’ll wait until the bitter end to upgrade to iOS7. With all the effort put into Retina Displays and graphics output, why does the OS have to look like so primitive? Seriously, look at these two. The new version is ugly as hell.

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Camera+ for iPad – My replacement for the built-in camera app

I bought Camera+ several months ago, November 2012 actually, and I’ve been using it as my main camera tool every since. It offers a whole host of features I really like such as the camera level, the “rule of thirds” grid and the image stabilizer button. They really make it easier to get a clean and level shot. The other part I like is the camera roll. You get a nice thumbnail view, “lightbox”of your images so you can see which ones you want to work on. From there you can crop, rotate, adjust and add borders.

The Scenes function adds some nice features such as Backlit, Flash, Sunset, Beach, etc, that change the warmth and saturation of the image. These are very similar to what you see in most Point and Shoot camera. A picture of a bottle of The Macallan 12 was warmed up nicely by the “Food” preset.

The Adjust option lets you add White Balance, Straighten an image or Flip it as well as add a Vignette for artistic effect or adjust the overall tone.

FX Effects allows color saturation presets like Sepia, Vibrant, Black and White, etc. Again, these are similar to the options you see in most Point and Shoot cameras today and it can make for some interesting images. At the very least it can give your image a dash of flair before you post it.

Any of the edits can be undone and none of them are committed until you actually save the image. You can tinker to your heart’s content without damaging the original. And once done, the image is saved to the Camera Roll so you can get to it from dozens of other applications or post it online. I personally use AirDisk Pro or Posts to send it off as a blog post.

I really like Camera+ and although I mainly use the Crop and Rotate functions, I have made a few adjustments using the Scenes functions and may have dabbled with some of the other features just to get an unusual effect. The Scenes function along can really enhance an image.

Camera+ is still just a mere $0.99 and absolutely worth it. If you take more than a handful of pictures, especially when you can work on those images with the larger screen of the iPad, it’s definitely worth getting. Overall a very good app. And $0.99? Wow.

Camera+ for iPad

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