Tag Archives: iPhone

Space Ace: All The Fun, Less Quarters


I decided to drop money into iTunes last night in a fit of shop therapy (read: post-Disney depression) and discovered that Don Bluth’s Space Ace was available for download! Actually it came out in May but I’ve been avoiding money-draining endeavors.


Does my hair look ok to you?

For you younger readers, Space Ace is the second laserdisk game from Bluth Studios as follow up to Dragons Lair, but this time set in space! It’s the story of a dashing blond couple named Kimberly and Ace, unexplainedly menaced by a blue and leather clad, space overlord called Borf  (oh Don! You scamp!) . It’s over the top cornball campy with it’s characters but it’s Ace’s “random” ability to flip back between a muscle bound hero to weed thin child due to exposure to The Infanto Ray, that makes it fun. The beginning of the game lets you choose the difficulty level and in turn, lets you see more of the game the harder you go. It was pretty innovative stuff.

All hunky...

Ace shows an uncanny ability...

...all skinny

...to change. Almost childlike, I'd say

The game play can get tedious (you watch the same video over and over, remembering which way to guide Ace to avoid obstacles to advance the story), and at $0.50 a pop when it came out, your cash would drain out of your pocket fast. The game also tries to mess you up by mirroring or flipping the video so that you don’t become complacent with Ace’s directions. A simple trick in a simpler game era. The animation was top notch and fast paced, often too fast to enjoy the artistry and fluidity Bluth put into his characters.


Ace learns the loud way that Kimberly is a bit of a princess...

I’m glad to report that there are “HEY! I FUCKING CLICKED THAT!” bugs in the game. These are either due to processor speeds of video on the iPhone or they were just there to begin with and were never cleaned out. Even the false “hints” in the way of onscreen flashes are present, resulting in no action on Ace’s part or his ultimate death, tug familiarly on my memory of originally being there, and subsequently aren’t that much of a frustration. Relax and enjoy the visuals!

Borf's been to the gun show

Borf shows us that in space, no one can straighten your teeth.

I’m so caught up in nostalgia I don’t mind repeating it a few times.

$4.99 from the iTunes store. I give it 5 out of 5 for anyone who was old enough to play this originally in a smelly arcade. Anyone else will have been de-sensitized by high brow graphical games and won’t find this amusing at all (some user comments in the app are pretty funny!).

Pride Tips for Out of Towners, 2009 Edition

Queer stuff, Toronto, Travel

ketchup_prideSo you’ve decided to visit Toronto and enjoy it’s #2 outdoor attraction (second only to The Beaches Jazz Festival, according to their site).  Regardless of who tells you their numbers are numero uno, Toronto Pride reels in a crapload of cash for the city (The Gay Community has it’s own subsection on Toronto’s tourism website – take THAT Caribana!). It’s a good idea to research your options before opening your wallet and organize your fun before hitting the street.

That’s where I come in! Hello tourist! So glad I could help!

You may recall my article last year: Pride Tips for Out of Towners. I’m bitter happy to report that not much has changed. The bar you are drinking in will have a draconian liquor inspector grumpily wander through to see if they can make some money in fines. And some circuit party will try to seduce you with their glossy posters of near-naked men, but there will be a chance that you choose incorrectly and spend $95 to find you’re not at  the “A-List” bash and wind up with a crowd that looks more at home at a Phish concert. The Parade tips still hold true (early, sunblock, elbows), as do the street crowd crush. Don’t forget that “bagging and bedding a Torontonian” is still a bit like coaxing a snipe out of the bushes. We seem to have tightened our shy little cocoons around ourselves during this long, cool spring! All I reported last year are still valid tips. Take heed!

At this time I need to reiterate my number one peeve about Pride: You should NOT, repeat NOT eat at any restaurant on Church Street during Pride. Eat from a hot dog cart (blarg!), bring your own food, starve, devour your travel companion or gnaw on your own foot. Do not eat at any Church Street restaurant.

Wait… I think I need to nail that home:


Got it? Just want to let you know. All restaurants will take you in their arms, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, thrust a pre-set menu in your hands and then jizz in your face while rifling through your wallet for your cash. And not in a good way.

Here’s a list of restaurants that are off the strip and worth your money:

Daybreak – This place is popular, pricey but has big portions. At the corner of Carlton and Church, just outside the Village.

Studio – When Daybreak is full, two doors south is this crumbly greasy spoon. Cheap alternative great for breakfast.

The Coachhouse – Same as The Studio, but over on Yonge and Wellesley. Greek twist on a diner.

Chew Chews, Johnny G’s and Gourmet Burger – Three Cabbagetown options that are a little walk away from the Village.

Sizzler – Late Late night burger place with baby sized meat patties at Yonge and College. Not much to look at but BABY SIZED BURGERS!! Late at night!!!

Olympic Pizza – Been in the village forever. Consistently good but unremarkable Italian food the recipe for a great restaurant!

Tokyo Grill / Okanomi House – uncommon Japanese food (read: NOT sushi).

Ginger – Not the one on Church, but over at Yonge and Bloor, there’s an outlet that will most likely not fuck you for cash. Great non-restauranty hot and sour soup.

Oja Noodle House – Right beside a pricey “EggRoll” restaurant. Dishes more authentic and way cheaper. Charles and Yonge.

That’s a good start. Yonge at Bloor has had an explosion of Asian Fusion dining places. All seem “good” if not a bit dollar-y.

New tips? Got a couple!


photo5In some cases it’s polite to ask if you can take pictures of random hot guys/gals/gender-fucks, but in most cases it doesn’t matter – cameras are everywhere during Pride and if you’re shy, stay the fuck home! But asking for a photo is not only as polite as a Canadian in a foreign land, it’s an excellent way to break the ice.  So if you do go this route, may I suggest little business cards with your Twitter/Flickr/Facebook page URL on it so you can ensure your subject can view your work later when they’re at home slathering on the aloe vera. And for those people you were jokingly taking a picture of (“Good lord that outfit!! I must ridicule it online tonight!“) and get caught doing so, may I suggest a separate card with www dot lemonparty dot org on it.

Street Escape Routes

I failed to mention last year that to avoid the crush that is the uncomfortably crowded street in front of Woodys and the parking lot Beer Tent (Church and Maitland), the Pride Committee has smartly enshrined the alleyways behind these two venues open for easier access past this bottle neck. There are similar North-South routes between East-West streets if you need to dash up Church Street. Any Pride volunteer will gladly point them out.


Keep your cell phone charged. The crowds are so large you will want to know where your friends are. Twittering may not be such a good idea since it goes down more often than a career drag queen 2 days before rent is due. Thankfully iPhone users will have MMS texting by then and you can send your friends your location (or trick’s face) for group approval.

And lastly:

Your Outfit

Please take some time to consider what you will wear. Feather boas are for straight boys who were dragged to Pride by their girlfriends. Outrageous drag is fine, but consider it will be hot and you may be outside for some time. Melty creatures does not equal funny drag. You’ll scare children. May I recommend something clever yet not too noticable…

Whatever you do, enjoy your Pride. If you see me, say Hi!

(Head)Phoning It In


Oh Apple. How I love and hate you simultaneously. Your iPhone is a thing of beauty. Sublime. Utterly life changing. But your accessories leave me thirsty for more, like some post-Survivor participant thirsts for their sixteenth minute of fame.

We all know the ear buds suck. No big surprise. I want to talk about how Apple knows they suck, made an equally maddening improvement that sucks even more so. And just as you’re about to play the boiling mad consumer when you return them, they soothe your pain with treacle and excellent customer service.

Yes. I bought the $90 In-Ear buds that may or may not work for iPhones and they were glorious. The sound was so rich I could hear the lead singer from Underworld fart during one track, I swear. But soon after the cons started.

Logically, headphones with a microphone suggests they made these buds for the iPhone, since voice recording isn’t all that much of a big need (or a huge selling app) on an iPod Touch. So I’m assuming it’s primarily made for the iPhone but on the iPhone, the volume controls don’t work – they only work correctly for the iPods. So why add a microphone if it’s an iPod accessory? Maddening.

Secondly, as I paid for them, the woman pointed out that I have 3 weeks to return them for a full refund. Not a store credit, or exchange. Full. Refund. Uh oh. Not a good sign but at least she pointed that out verbally and on the bill.

Another con is that the wire used for the buds have a habit of transmitting any vibration directly into your inner ear. So any footstep, any brush up against the wires, any silent burp, telegraphs to your ear bones like a tin cup and yarn telephone. It’s utterly distracting from the rich, beautiful music.

And finally, I don’t have the ears that keep the buds in place. I tried all three sizes but found I was reinserting them every block or so. I plucked my ear hairs, cleaned the wax out and yet still no grip. They constantly slipped out, reducing the aural impact.

I took them back last night to a very crowded Apple store, where they’ve banished the long wait for the cash by having floating remote cash points on the back pocket of the hip, young(ish) things that man the isles (tiny voice: Brilliant!). After a short exchange with the most popular and sexy Panda Bear that works there…

Panda Bear: (flashing his pay point machine) Paying with credit card?
Me: Returning, actually.
PB: Really? Didn’t like them?
Me: My greasy Italian ears can’t keep them in my ear holes.
PB: You said it, not me.

…I got to the counter and was out of the store with not an ounce of hassle. In fact there was only one question asked:

Clerk: Can I ask why are you returning them?
Me: (Offering my list of complaints, said nicely and with a smile).
Clerk: I am sorry to hear that these didn’t work for you.

Yeah. She took ownership of the problem. I was so shocked by that one sentence that I told her at the end of the transaction that her service was excellent. It was like getting a good night blow job when you only expected a kiss. I didn’t add that part.

Unfortunately when I got home, the 3rd party brand I bought were such utter shite I tore them from my head and cursed the day this nameless company was created. The jack wasn’t sitting correctly in the iPhone, producing a crackling noise, the microphone produced such poor quality playback over the phone that I sounded like I was in an empty bucket at the back end of a concert hall while trying to removing chicken feathers from my throat. The buds themselves leaked so much noise SharkBoy was holding his own ears. Yeah that bad.

I’ll recount my second return later. Wish me luck!

Flick to Distraction: iPhone Apps Review


Recently Apple announced that they’ve reached 10,000 apps in their Apps Store. Who has time to download and play with all of these nuggets of code?

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to start wading through the flotsam and check out some of the apps for the iPhone. This week I’m going to review the free games and find out if they’re worth more than their price tag. I’ll be reviewing both regular and “Lite” versions of games (the free ones that tease you into buying if they grab your attention longer than 2 subway stops) and hopefully save you some download time so you can waste it properly, poking at your iPhone.
All ways never quite...right.
Topple (Lite):
ngmoco, Inc
Current App Store Rating: 4/5
Think of Topple as a cross between Tetris and Jenga (but the bored, after-Jenga play, where you stack blocks to their noisy fall). Simply put, you have to stack blocks to a height goal. Like most good games, a simple premise usually means lasting power, which Topple has plus some fun visuals as well. Each block has a spasmodic face that looks like it was designed by John Kricfalusi of “Ren and Stimpy” fame. If a block falls from the tower, it scrunches in fear or looks agape in horror. When placed level, a block makes a “satisfied” face I like to call “post-potty”. Cuteness abounds! The accelerometer allows you to balance your blocks left or right to extend the life of your tower as you drop irregular chunks onto it, which adds to the cleverness of this app. On the downside, I experienced a bug while playing: music from your iPod might crash the iPhone to full rebooting. You can reduce the volume of the game music (why not just turn it off?) but that doesn’t seem to correct the problem.

Wave Upon Wave of your loyal men...
Galcon (Lite):
Current rating: 4.5/5
“Lite” is appropriate for this fun, yet strangely obsessive strategy game. Galcon is one of those OCD games: it’s a poke-and-watch game which doesn’t lend much to game excitement, but the satisfaction of winning is like cleaning the bathroom. Job done! Oh no, Dirty again! Job done! Oh no…! Each screen is a system of planets that you and your opponent occupy. At the get go, you need to build up your resources by invading planets near your base and then en massing your armada to attack the enemy by sending wave upon wave of your own men to their doom, crashing into planets to claim them for your own. All the while, your enemy is doing the same. It takes a fast hand in the upper levels to control your ships and choose which planet to overtake. If you have an over active imagination you can imagine the exploding ships’ pilots screaming “I regret nothing!!” as they burn up in the upper level of the planet’s atmosphere. If you don’t, you might find this game a bit tedious after a while.

You. Stay. Down!
Funky Punch Free Style:
Solus Games
Current rating: 3/5
When developers push the iPhone into the realm of ambitious hand-held gaming situations, it’s limitations start showing. Just like a drunken pick-up at last call, FP:FS is sluggish, confusing and if you don’t know what buttons to push, then you’ve lost the battle. The game design is brightly coloured Manga-style but that falls away when the 3D characters appear for the actual fighting. 3D may be cool for the iPhone but FP:FS is nearly all sideways on. Why not go retro and create well rendered 2D characters instead of blocky Mii-like players? The navigation is a bit choppy – titles are highlighted but you press A like a real controller to select, which is counter-intuitive for the iPhone. I got three tournaments into this game and gave up having forgotten the major combos moves, which never seem to be 100% responsive in the heat of the fight. As a caveat, I let my 12yr old nephew try it and he played so long he ran the battery down.

Rollin' rollin' rollinggg!
Jelly Car:
Current rating: 4/5
Remember how you got a “great new online game” forwarded to you from someone and you wound up playing Line Rider until your eyes bled? Remember how excited you were when it was announced coming to the iPhone? Remember the kick to the guts when you found out it was $3? Jelly Car uses the same physics and simplistic, addictive design as Line Rider, but places the gameplay in a mailable setting, sort of like driving through a breast implant convention, making it worthy of a download. You drive your SUV-like car over obstacles to reach a goal while manipulating the size of the car as it unnaturally rolls over a Miro-esque landscape (I’m being kind, the design of this game is purely kindergarden fridge art, but it is squishy!). The opening screen is the funnest I’ve seen in a while: the buttons to start the game, website information and set up are free floating mushy cubes that react to a sharp tilt. Jelly Car uses the accelerometer to flip the car out of traps and holes but this can also lead to moments of guttural frustration as your car lands on it’s roof after being thrown from an obstacle. I award Jelly Car my “Cheap Assed Game of the Week”.

‘Til next time, my zombie hordes!

Catastrophic FAIL

Personal Bits

Last night I sat down to my computer and noticed an odd message, saying that one of the “files on the disk” failed to initialize, resulting in my Taskbar changing itself to look like Windows NT.

Uh. Oh.


After a very long time past the BIOS screen, nothing. No log in, nothing.

Restart. Oh god please restart.

Nothing. Dead black screen.

Thankfully I have all my files on a completely separate storage drive. But it looks like a night of disk-humping reloading, rebooting and calling Windows Support to obtain my serial number again. Who’s up for a call to India? Then after that, drivers, applications and preferences. Finally, all my email is gone (take note friends/family!) and I’m hobbling along on web-based interfaces.

If any of you people wish to donate to my “Get an iMac Fund” my Paypal account will be available at the bottom of your screens. Call now!

I don’t know if I got a virus or something from all those old iPhone hack programs were to blame. I do know that if I can’t get it started/fixed, then this will be the most expensive summer I’ve had in a long time.

But, still no ads on Dead Robot Heavy Industries, my readers!

In some sort of bizzaro world, I wonder if the Large Hadron Collider had anything to do with this? I’m actually one of the “push the goddamned button and let’s see what this baby can do!” kind of people. The web is ablaze with speculation today and all they did was turn the thing on. The actual collisions will be happening later in the year. Doesn’t this whole uproar/hype/geek celebrity suddenly feel like the last 20 minutes of Contact?.

Spore: Origins

Distractions, Hobbies, iPhone

The problem with believing hype is that you’ll fall hard if the hype doesn’t live up to itself. I think that’s what I did when I heard that Spore was coming to the iPhone. Back when Spore was originally shown off at some distant, forgotten tech convention (voiced over by Robin Williams) I was enamored. Play god from the Primordial ooze to spacefaring creature? Oh hells yes! To have it on my phone (albeit a truncated version) was going to be the extra fluff added to the already fluffly clouds in heaven.

Hello little guy! Hey wait… are you baked?

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Spore: Origins. The graphics are more than I expected for a phone game, and with the accelometer, it’s a lot different phone gaming experience than say, Tetris or Bejewelled. But with that in mind, I still feel a little dissapointed that all you do in this game other than evolve your little dude, is eat other little dudes (which consists of just “running over” other organisms). There are the “bigger fish” that will eat, bite, chase you (“There’s always a bigger fish…”) and generally get in the way but with accelometer controls, it’s a bit difficult to get the hang of. Thankfully the screen is calibrated to a slight angle, not dead flat, to make your dude stop dead. The cost of the game is a bit dear for this mini-version of Spore. The price could have been reduced and the evolving of your character could have been made easier so that you get hooked enough to send your character into the desktop version, thus buying into the costlier game. But that’s just my evil marketing side talking. It is a fun timewaster.

Dude! Run! Pointy Thing!

As you play along, you are unable to re-play any levels. That’s evolution, I guess. But you are able to re-evolve elements on or off your little dude. As you can see from my pictures, I added a ton of eyes that seems to give him a little more agility in avoiding enemies. Later, I added spikes and he can “defend” himself a little from the bigger guys.

Eat me! No don’t!

Get big enough and the big dudes that bit into you become your dinner. There’s a metaphor here too. The more you play, the less your battery stays alive. It’s a bit of a resource hog, more so than video. Be warned.

Screw this, I’m going to eat Ariel’s Grotto

I give Spore: Origins a 8 out of 10. Slightly worth the $10 from the Apps Store, only if 1) It’s game play is longer than a couple hours total – I’ve only played to level 7 so far; and 2) I get to export my guy into the PC game (which I’m sure it does, but I won’t be able to because my desktop is so frigging old – it can’t run Spore Creator).

Blog of Revelations As Told By The Globe


Some thoughts on today’s issue of The Globe and Mail:

Is anyone surprised that The Fly, turned into an opera, tanked?

Realize that when someone starts to point out insecurities in others, it can be perceived as cries of insecurity and fear in the name-caller? But, we’re pretty much stuck with these attack ads.

Sometimes people don’t finish what they started.

Anticipation can sometimes backfire on your product if you hype it too much or leave it too long. However, I do have Spore: Origins for the iPhone and I am enjoying it. $10? A bit steep, but we’ll see how long it lasts.

One of Ussssss


Tonight I leave the realm of iPhone hacking. I’m signing up for a real honest to goodness iPhone plan, while keeping my first generation, slow but lovable original iPhone.

It’s been a curious year. I’ve learned a lot about how cell phones actually work, more than I thought I’d ever be interested in. The rush of hacking into the phone and creating something personal while knowing it was a “gray” product, in a copyright-licensing obsessed autocracy that is Rogers Wireless, was at times a dangerous obsession, bordering on outright fixation. I’m hoping that someone will write a book about the first year of the iPhone because it’s pretty full of drama and celebrity: GeoHot’s first hardware hack, the ease of the first unlock and the inevitable division of the original Developer Team, spawning the evil villain, Zibri with his suspect stolen code, ZiPhone hack. And the apps. Oh those hundreds of apps from people who really loved the phone. In all, only one malicious app was created, which is incredible considering the iPhone Hacking community’s openness, if you consider how easy one could have been created and how many there are for Windows operating systems.

Then – nothing. The luster left me as soon as the iPhone came to Canada and the “naughty” of having a “gray” phone wore off. Don’t get me wrong, I love this product from Apple so much that I’m ready to succumb to their idea of what their phone should be. No mods, no hacking, iTunes ready. I’m just… past it. The fad has faded for me. The thrill of hacking has jumped the shark and I want to move on.

Ironically, I have to go to a non-Rogers store to get the services I want from Rogers while using a product they don’t need to support (their Edge network is in place and works with the first gen iPhone) but yet have told me, at their flagship store at 55 Bloor St, that they wont. Yet, this non-Rogers place has documented proof that they will sell plans to first gen iPhone holders.

Confusing? Well yes, this is Rogers we’re talking about. Most of the time, the right foot doesn’t know what the left ear is tasting. SharkBoy did remind me that our first Rogers cell phones were bought at a non-Rogers place and took less than 30 mins to do it, while the Rogers store across the hall couldn’t answer all our questions correctly.

Oh well. On to the next big thing. You have me Rogers. I feel like that final scene in Matrix Revolutions where Neo is being absorbed into The Matrix.

Birthday Comes Early

Distractions, iPhone, Personal Bits

Trends, my friends.

In the past SharkBoy has greeted the anniversary of the first day of existence with fun gadgets that fill up our empty relationship (holy crap I am so kidding…):

One year I got a PSP and a marriage proposal.

Last year was the iPhone (amen) and a Wii (bless me).

This year? A 50″ plasma TV. Okay I am paying for half but it’s a welcome purchase/gift none the less. Xbox will not be disappointing.

I guess next year will be our own satellite if we were to keep with/outdo the electronics theme.

Tonight, while going off to BestBuy to buy it bestly, we stopped in at Funland to check to see if they were really closing on Friday night, my actual birthday. Nope. They were closing this evening. Thankfully we took the time to check. We chatted with the change guy (He was actually smoking inside at the booth – what were they going to do? Shut him down?) and then pushed my way through the small crowd to the back where the ancient games were kept. SharkBoy was a bit skeeved at the lighting and a few sketchy patrons but was reverent with my memories.

VR Helmet Ted

VR Helmet Ted

Ghosts of my past. The arcade was full of hyper active Asian kids playing Dance Dance Revolution at speeds that made me physically frightened for the integrity of their ankles. I really wish the iPhone did video. Really not much different than when I use to go there – just using a different appendage to slap the buttons.

The one game we decided to play “stole” $2 from us.

Bye Funland! I’ll think of you often when I see dead technology.

Now we wait for the delivery truck. I am so going to get a catheter for Sunday!