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Zynga’s Hanging With Friends is Highly Addictive… and Buggy as All Hell

Published July 8, 2011 - 6 Comments

[Update 9 Apr 12: Zynga has come a long way with stabilizing Hanging With Friends, and the issues mentioned in this post are largely a thing of the past.  The game is still highly addictive though!]

Have you tried Zynga‘s latest online game yet?  It’s called Hanging With Friends, and comes from the same family of games as Chess With Friends, and Words With Friends.  Haven’t tried it yet?  What’s wrong with you?!

 

Hanging With Friends is a new take on the old Hangman game.  It’s a turn-based game designed for iOS users, so if you’re using Android, you’re outta luck (for the time being… maybe in the future that will change).  The idea behind the game is a simple one… using the letters you are given, create a word that your opponent will then have to guess.  The number of guesses that your opponent has for that word will depend on the length of the word you create.  Longer words allow for fewer guesses, presumably because it’s easier to figure out longer words because there are fewer combinations.  The minimum word length is 4, and it’s amazing how many combinations of 4 letter words you can come up with!

Oh, did I mentioned that while you’re doing this, your avatar is floating above hot lava with helium filled balloons?  No pressure!  You can watch as his/her face changes with each successful or unsuccessful guess.  If your opponent does not guess a word, one of their balloons pops.  When the last balloon pops, it’s into the lava they go!  Yeah.. it’s fun!

Luckily for those of us with poor guessing skills, there are lifelines that you can use to help you.  These can be one of three forms:

  • 4 letters are shown, of which one is guaranteed to be a letter used in the word
  • 4 unused letters are eliminated from play
  • 1 strike (wrong guess) is removed

You can play against your friends, or set up a random opponent.  There’s no shortage of people out there to play against, so I’ve never had a problem finding an opponent.  And despite how easy it would be to cheat in this game, I have only once resigned against an opponent I was convinced was not coming up with words on his own.

So if Hanging With Friends sounds too good to be true… it just might be.  The game is buggy as hell, and feels very much like a product still in beta development.  I can accept that software will always have glitches that need to be ironed out, but Hanging With Friends is full of problems.

  • The server hangs forever some times when you are trying to send your turn
  • The points you make from longer words do not always get added to your total
  • The chat function sometimes tells you that it won’t work, and to check your internet connection (which is obviously working)
  • Even though you still have at least one guess remaining, the game may send your turn as a failed attempt
  • You select a particular game to play, only to be shown a different game from your list
  • Sometimes when you play your turn and the server hangs long enough, it will allow you to replay the turn.  Great if you missed the word the first time, because the word is displayed whether you succeed or not.

So why am I still playing?  Well… if the game wasn’t as fun as it is, I would have removed it from my iPad a long time ago.  I’m hoping that Zynga continues to work through the issues, and release updates that address these problems.  So far the game has been getting better, but it’s still a long way from where it needs to be before I consider it to be stable.

Hanging With Friends comes in 2 versions:  ad-supported, and paid.  I found the ads to be annoying, so I shelled out the $2.99 for an ad-free experience.  Was it worth it?  Reluctantly, yes.  Even with the laundry list of things that need improvement, I still like the game enough to play it without the interruption of advertisements.  Would I recommend that you run out and buy this app?  Hmmm… no.  Try the free version, though!  Give it an honest shake, and then decide whether you want to part with your hard-earned cash.

And don’t forget to look me up online.  I go by the username “Dunnik” and am always looking for worthy opponents to drop into the lava!

[Update 9 Apr 12]

On a related note, I have noticed a real lack of resources and strategies for Hanging With Friends.  Sure you can find an article here or there, but nothing comprehensive.  I’ve decided to take it upon myself to change that!  I am getting close to unveiling my ultimate Hanging With Friends membership site, and offering people the chance now to sign up for instant notification when this goes live.  A few quick notes about the membership site:

  • This is a paid subscription site, and as such a small ($3-5) monthly fee will be charged, but the content will be awesome.  I promise you that!
  • This is not a random word generator site.  Those are for lame players.  I don’t use them, and I won’t promote their use.
  • Your gameplay will improve tenfold.  I guarantee it.  If you’re not playing at a higher level after implementing my proven strategies, contact me for an immediate full refund.  I’m only happy when you’re happy.
  •  You are signing up to be notified when the membership site launches.  This is not a commitment from you to join, only that you are interested in learning more when the time comes.
  • Your email address is sacred, and will not be shared with anyone.  Its sole purpose is to notify you of this launch, and will not be used for anything else.

 






Thank you for your interest!

 

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My Latest iPad App: LogMeIn Ignition

Published June 5, 2011 - 3 Comments

If you do any amount of remote troubleshooting at all, chances are you may have already heard of a great little service called LogMeIn.  LogMeIn is a free remote connection tool that allows you to connect to any computer to see what that user is seeing, and troubleshoot from the comfort of your own home or office.  They do offer a Pro version of their software, but I’ve found the free version to be quite capable for my needs.  I have a few family members’ computers loaded with LogMeIn, which makes it easy to help them from home if they have a problem.  I can also login to my Mac at home if I’m at work, and have it run programs or download for me.  It’s a great tool, and totally free!

Well they also offer an app for the iPhone/iPad that does cost $29.99 that I’ve been wondering about for awhile.  That is quite a bit more than any other app that I’ve purchased, and I was a little wary that they don’t offer a trial version, especially at that price.  But I love LogMeIn so much that I decided to go for it… and I have no regrets at all!

LogMeIn Ignition (as the app is called) allows you to remote control any computer with a really slick interface.  I was curious how it would work since you don’t have a mouse to point and click with, but they’ve solved that by super-imposing a little virtual mouse on the screen that you move around with your finger.  Through that you can click, right click, double click, as seamlessly as if you were using a mouse.  You can zoom in to get a better look, or zoom out to see the entire desktop.  The app works in both iPhone and iPad resolution, and you only have to purchase it once.  I have not tried it on my iPhone yet (as it is still broken) so I can’t comment on how well it works there, but it’s definitely great on the iPad.

Another neat feature of LogMeIn Ignition is the ability to copy files between your linked computers, making it even easier to troubleshoot.

So far I haven’t run across any issue too big not to be resolved through LogMeIn.  Whether you just need to see what the other person is seeing (we all know how hard it is sometimes to get a good grasp of what the user is trying to explain) or you need to take control and fix something in a few clicks… LogMeIn is great.  You don’t need to spend $29.99 on the iPhone/iPad app, but if you do, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If anyone else has used LogMeIn or any other software you think would be great to share with the blog, please leave a comment.  As usual, all comments are appreciated, and I do my best to reply to them, so feel free!

Shiny New Apple iPad2

Published May 7, 2011 - 0 Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (hello, yes you) you are most likely aware that I ordered Apple’s new iPad2 last month, and watched my FedEx delivery website closely as it wound its way from China to Canada’s east coast… arriving at my doorstep last Monday.  Since then I’ve been playing around with it, and trying to decide whether this is a useful tool, or a useless toy.

I still have not made up my mind.

There is no doubt that the iPad is very cool!  There are some fantastic applications that you can load on (many of them are free) that make consuming content fun!  My daily RSS feeds have become an interactive magazine that I can flip through with my finger.  It’s fun, and most of all it’s simple, to use the iPad.  But is it really necessary?  Probably not.  Life existed pretty well pre-iPad era, and I honestly don’t think that I would even consider replacing it if something happened to it.  As fun as it is, the iPad doesn’t hold up to the trusty laptop in terms of functionality.  While it’s entirely possible to create blog posts, answer emails, even engage in online chat with the iPad, I don’t find it particularly practical.  You can enter data through a blue tooth keyboard, but I haven’t tried that yet.  Really, when you get to the point that you are hooking up a keyboard because you have that much to write… why not just use your laptop?

From that advertisement, you can see some of the highlights that Apple is focusing on.  I’ve used the older iPad a little, and I don’t recall it being all that thick, heavy, or slow… but apparently it was.  At least that’s what Apple wants you to believe.  Now Facetime… that’s a different story.  The original iPad did not have a camera.  The iPad2 has two of them! And with the new Facebook video chat system, you can choose to use the front or rear-facing cameras to show your fellow chatter your face or the surroundings.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  And you don’t have to chat solely with iPad2 users.  Facetime works with iMac, iPhone 4, and the newer iPod Touch.

So while it’s a little early for me to say one way or another… so far I am enjoying the iPad2, but it hasn’t really gotten me as excited as I thought that it might.  I will have to re-visit this in a future post.

 

Welcome to May

Published May 1, 2011 - 0 Comments

May 1.  The older I get, the faster time seems to pass me by.  It’s almost a little scary.

I think it’s safe to say that the threat of snow is finally behind us.  What a miserable winter/spring this has been.  I can’t wait for the snowplowing bill to get here.  I’m going to turn off the lights and hide under the couch when the snowplow guy knocks on my door.  I may have to put a second mortgage on the house I don’t live in, just to pay for this year’s snow removal!  But believe me, it’s money well spent.

So May has some great things to look forward to this year… as well as at least one shitty thing.  And no, it’s not the end of the world, like some people think for May 21, 2011.  Although you could argue that my world certainly took a kick in the balls on that date.  On the other hand, I’m looking forward to a nice little vacation this month.  It’s time to scratch a couple of things off my life’s “to-do list”.  Sadly my “Identical triplet cheerleader foursome” looks like it’s going unfulfilled again this month… but that seems more like a summer activity anyway, so maybe next month.  But I digress… I can’t wait to spend some time in Ontario, especially Niagara Falls.  I’ve always wanted to see them.  This is probably when I find out that all the pictures are photoshopped, and it’s really not as impressive as I’ve been imagining all this time.  Oh yeah, it’s also my birthday this month.  One step closer to End of Life, as I told my doctor this week.  And she thinks I’m a pessimist.. ha!

Tomorrow is a big day!  Some people might think that it’s because of the federal election.  Bah… nothing’s going to change there!  I’m still expecting a Conservative minority government… AGAIN…  But the BIG NEWS is that I expect my iPad2 to finally arrive!  It was shipped last week from China, and I’ve had fun watching the FedEx tracking page to see all the hops along the way.  It’s definitely more of a world traveler than I am!  Frustratingly, it made it all the way to Dieppe by Friday, which is only an hour or so away.  But because FedEx does not have weekend delivery here, I have to wait until Monday.  Which sucks, because I also have to work tomorrow… and I swear… if I get home and find out that my roomie was sleeping all day again, and didn’t hear the FedEx guy banging on the door… there’s gonna be a lot of passive aggressiveness going on!  And nobody wants that!  Speaking of the roomie, he informed me that he has an interview on Friday, and if he gets the job he is definitely moving because he doesn’t want to do the drive back and forth.  Uh huh.  I’ve heard that before.  “I won’t get my hopes up” is all I said to him.  Hehe..  don’t get me wrong… Paul and I are great friends, but we have different ideas about things.  It hasn’t been easy watching him waste the last 6 months of his life.  I’m sure that some people probably say the same thing about me… for much longer even!

Well it’s time to get some stuff done.  Today is a rare day of no work, no kids.  My son’s First Communion is today.  I’m not going.  It’s not my thing.  He’s ok with it.  It’s not his thing either.  I’m pretty sure that my invitation was a formality anyway… although the look on my ex’s family’s faces would probably be precious if I walked in there.  Surprisingly the roomie is going.  He’s the god father, which apparently is not only a movie character.  The less I know, the better.  Ignorance is bliss.

Off to go fold some laundry.  Happy May 1rst!

 

 

iPad 2 Cover Arrived Today!

Published April 12, 2011 - 4 Comments

Believe it or not, this is probably the 10th attempt to get this video blog done.  I say “anyway… ” and “ummm…” way too much for my liking.  I’ll have to work on that.

Hmm.. doesn’t help that YouTube makes me look stoned in the caption they chose to show before you press “start”…

I Really Thought That I Wanted an iPad 2… Now… Not So Sure…

Published March 10, 2011 - 3 Comments

I’ve been squirreling money away in an online bank account titled “iPad” pretty much since Apple released their first version of the tablet.  Yeah, initially I questioned the point of the device, but after seeing it in action, I decided that this was something that I wanted.  Let me be clear… the iPad is hardly a must have…  I still believe that it’s an expensive gadget.  I won’t go as far as calling it a toy, but all of its functions are easily covered by my iMac, iPhone, and even my lowly laptop running Linux.  I still wanted one though.

But as much as I wanted one, I was never convinced that the original iPad was the one that I was saving my pennies for.  There were too many little things lacking… namely USB support.  Oh, and the first generation of anything is usually over-priced.

So I’ve been quietly setting money aside, a couple of dollars at a time, into my bank account… waiting patiently for Apple to announce the next generation of the iPad.  Well, last week we finally got a peek at it.  It’s smaller, it’s lighter, it’s faster… it has not one, but two cameras!  Although I’m having a hard time trying to imagine when I would use the one on the back, but oh well… it’s there.

Still no USB though.  Is this a deal breaker for me?  I don’t think so.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether or not it’s worth the money.  The price of the original iPad has been lowered by $100, keeping the new one at the existing pricing point.  Is there really enough in the new one to make me want to go out and buy that?  I don’t know.  I would be looking at the 16GB WiFi model.  I don’t require any more storage than that.  I don’t require 3G networking.  I just want something that I can set on the table when I’m laying on the couch, and casually pick up to read an article or check my email, or watch a video.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.

That being the case, I already have more than enough saved to buy either of the low-end iPads.  I’m just at a cross-road where I’m debating whether that money can  be better spent on something else… especially given the current work environment.  If I can’t draw a clear line between this purchase and some sort of revenue stream, it’s difficult to calm that nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps questioning whether the iPad is truly my best investment.

Playing With the iPad

Published January 5, 2011 - 3 Comments

I finally had a chance to play around with an iPad the other night.  Other than a very brief look at it in FutureShop, this was the first time that I’ve gotten to really pick one up and see what it’s capable of.  My initial thoughts?

It’s a lot of fun… I still want one… But I wasn’t completely blown away.

For starters, it weighs more than I would have thought.  It’s not “heavy”, but it just seems to weigh more than it should.  And certainly if you were trying to hold it for any length of time, I think that it would probably start to strain your wrists.

This particular one also seemed to have a problem with staying connected to the WiFi signal.  It would say that it was connected, but it would stop surfing the internet until you reset the wireless adapter.  This isn’t a problem specific to the iPad.  My iPhone does the same thing when I’m home sometimes.  I accept it because wireless is best thought of as “best effort”, so I’ve learned to accept the good with the bad.  But I was a little surprised that this particular iPad needed to be reset 2-3 times while I played with it for a couple of hours.

So if those two points are the “bad”, then what is the “good”?

For starters… it’s just damn fun!  Music videos look awesome on it.  Words With Friends looks much better than on my iPhone (which isn’t a big surprise, considering the size difference of the screens).  If you’re interested in games, they look quite addictive!  For me, I picture myself laying on the couch scanning through my blogs, online newspapers, or watching music videos.  I’m not much of a gamer anymore… there isn’t a single game on my iPhone, so I don’t expect that to change with an iPad.  Although in fairness, Simon Says is pretty damn addictive!

I definitely do not think that this is the best time to be buying an iPad, though.  There are just too many rumours of a, iPad 2 coming as early as next month.  Even Steve Jobs sent a tweet before Christmas saying that he’d hold off on buying an iPad.  Then again, Steve Jobs says a lot of things.

I opened an online savings account last year nicknamed “iPad” and have been slowly adding to it.  There’s no rush.  When the time is right, I will make my decision.  They’re not cheap, but I’ve learned from my financial mistakes of the past.  Don’t buy anything that I can’t afford.

It definitely was fun to play with though!  🙂

All I Want For Christmas Is… An iPad

Published December 10, 2010 - 1 Comment
Dear Santa, I’ve Been Good-ish This Year

The big day is just around the corner!  Another 15 days until Ho-Ho comes to visit me.  Then again, after the year I’ve had, maybe he will skip over my house, or worse drop a big reindeer poop on my lawn.  But in the event that he is feeling somewhat forgiving, I’ve compiled a list of a few things that I would like from the jolly fat bastard. 

First it was an iPod… then another iPod… then the iPhone… followed by the iMac… each of these Apple devices have been a little slice of heaven in their own way.  It seems only natural to extend the trend to the iPad tablet!  I’m not looking for anything too fancy.  The 16 GB non-3G model is perfectly fine for my needs.  Anything more than that would be over-kill.  I don’t ever see myself loading it up with so many videos that 16 GB wouldn’t be enough storage.  And I really can’t imagine taking the iPad anywhere that I would need a 3G connection.  It probably wouldn’t leave the house, and if it did, there are enough wifi connections around to get me by.
But what would I actually dowith an iPad, you ask?  Just imagine how awesome Words With Friends would look!  Or downloading my daily blog RSS feeds!  Looking at pictures, or checking my email quickly.  Yes, these are all things that I can already do with my iMac, iPhone.. or even my laptop running Linux, but that’s not the point!  The iPad does these things in style!  And all for the low, low price of $499.99 CDN.  It’s hard to argue with those numbers!  You can never have too much style!
So Santa, please… if you are reading this…  have a heart.  I’ve had a tough year.  I need this.  Hell, I deserve this!  My Words With Friends play has improved greatly, but it could be so much better with an iPad.  Remember, Christmas is about the joy of giving… so give me a damn iPad…  please.
Thanks Santa…

Going in a New Direction? My First Mac?

Published September 10, 2010 - 3 Comments

Macbook Pro

I’ve been giving some serious consideration into purchasing a new laptop.  My Dell Inspiron actually works well enough, and I have nothing against it… but I feel like it’s more of a toy, and less of a workhorse.  I can play around on the net, download crap, break it, and reinstall Windows back to it without much thought.  It’s great for a time-waster… but what I want is a serious multimedia beast, so I can work on some serious projects.  Yes… what I’m saying is this…

I think it’s time to look at getting my first Mac.

There’s no doubt about it.  I’ve been extremely happy with every Apple product that I’ve bought.  (Except that I’m a little bewildered where my ringtones disappeared to after I upgraded my iPhone OS, and iTunes 10) They’re beautiful, and the user experience is generally far superior to the competition’s efforts. Granted, they’re also pricey… the Macbook Pro starts at $1250. I think that my Inspiron was around $600, and for the price of it, you couldn’t ask for better performance. I can buy one hell of a Windows laptop for $1250. But I don’t want another Windows laptop. I’m tired of Windows. I know Windows too well, and maybe that’s part of the problem for me. I’m looking for a new direction, and I’m growing a little tired of the technical side of things. I’m more interested in content creation at this point, and that includes audio and video.. two things that the Mac is supposed to excel at.

There’s no rush. I’ve been stashing a little money away every pay in the “iPad” account… but I don’t really think that I need an iPad at the moment. I’d much rather put that money toward an iMac or Macbook Pro.

Apple… One taste of the forbidden fruit and I want more… Isn’t that always the way?

Apple iPad – Revolutionary or an iFad?

Published April 4, 2010 - 0 Comments

Well Apple’s much anticipated iPad tablet has finally shipped, and it’s about the only thing that people are talking about on tech blogs and podcasts.  I’ve never been an early adopter of hardware, much preferring to sit back and wait for someone else to buy it first, and then make my mind up.  And usually within that time, the price generally starts to come down a little.  So it’s a win-win.

But when it comes to the iPad, I’m not even close to being sold on the concept.  What the hell would I use it for?  It’s not a phone.  It’s not a music player.  It’s not a computer.  Although it does perform all of those functions, at least in one way or another.  Then what IS it?

I had this conversation with a good friend of mine.  He thinks that it will revolutionize the niche left under-served by existing tablets.  OK, fine.  I honestly can’t imagine it being any worse than Windows-powered tablet PCs.  I still never really saw the need for those, except in some highly-specific situations.  Apple seems to know how to create a perfect user experience (Apple TV may be the exception to the rule) but the idea of just having an iPad sitting on the coffee table to pick up and do some casual reading, web surfing, or whatever… I just don’t get it.  I can see Apple fan boys (and girls) going gaga for this, but not the average Joe.  I see it as a novelty item at best… a flop at worst.  Sure, they’ll sell a ton of these things initially, but will they be able to sustain the initial momentum?  I’m curious if anyone reading this has any plans to purchase one, or has had an opportunity to see first-hand what it’s capable of… and where it’s lacking.

Of course.. my track record with Apple hasn’t been good.  I was wrong with both the iPod and iPhone, but at least both of those devices had a clear purpose.  I didn’t argue that.  I simply wondered if they lived up to the myth created around their iNames.  And yes… I am fully prepared to admit that (in my opinion) they do.  But the iPad is a different beast altogether.  It aims to fill a void that honestly… I don’t think that most people feel they even possess.

It’ll be an interesting toy, and certainly a great conversation piece for those willing to shell out the money for one.  But for the rest of us?  I think we’ll survive just fine without one.