Flight games for iPhone kick ass

I just paid for another game for my iPhone and just like the first one (Flight Control) it is an airport/airplane themed game. The game I downloaded is called Flight Mania which has both a Lite and a paid version. I tried the Lite version first and found it so good that I deemed it worthy of spending the $0.99 on the full game.

The game revolves around landing, unloading, maintaining, and taking off planes at an airport. That seems to correspond with my current life as a traveling consultant. There are 8 levels and numerous power ups that can be done to the airports to make life a bit easier. It’s quite cartoonish but its still very challenging to get a good score in the game. There are also trophies that can be obtained as milestones are completed (like landing the presidents plane, repairing 100 airplanes, etc.). There are lots of ways to get point bonuses that will increase the number of trophies you can obtain (like having all the same color airplanes use the same gate, using the same runway for all landings and take offs). As the game progresses there are more and more planes to manage as well as new obstacles to overcome like frozen runways and planes that are very impatient and lower your score for not servicing them right away.

The game differs from my original fun flight app Flight Control in that there is no danger of planes colliding with each other. I like that Flight Control added a map since I sort of lost interest in the game but I still play it more than any other game (up until now). The new level adds a twist in that there is a plane that is trying to land but you have no control over its flight path or order in which it will land. I’m still working hard on improving my record (trying to land 100 planes in the game) but so far I’m falling a bit short. I’m waiting to see if they have some more free updates or if they add more planes into the mix which would be very cool.

Mobile games on the iPhone are pretty good so far and the best part is that they are really cheap. I can see how the games for iPhone are challenging established game consoles like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. The games are simple yet fun, and cost way less and already runs on something that you own (namely the iPhone). I still want to buy a couple of games for the PSP but I’m undecided which ones to get. Hopefully something good will come out near the holidays, right now I’m eagerly awaiting the review for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 to see if I can add that game to my Xbox360 collection


Windows 7 coming out strong

This past week Microsoft finally released Windows 7 to the masses as THE OS to get to run all the latest and greatest things that keep our lives connected in the digital age.  I’ve been running Windows 7 for a little while now as a release candidate and as an MSDN member and I gotta say that the OS is pretty slick.  I think this is what Microsoft intended Vista to be when it was released but the computers at the time just didn’t have the power in order to pull it off successfully.  I run Windows Vista on my work laptop and my desktop used to run Vista as well and there are enough similarities that its not really a big change for me.  I know people that are going to switch from XP to Win 7 is in for a huge shock.  LOL!

The learning curve shouldn’t be too bad for most people to handle but things that used to work a certain way just don’t work the same in Windows 7 (I used to know where to manually manage all my start menu items in XP but its a bit harder to find in Win 7).  I think the thing that MS should be talking about with the new Windows 7 is not the “cool” factor but the search feature that they put into the OS to find all your stuff.  It’s very similar to what they had in Vista where instead of going to Start (or the little Windows ball) and then going to All Programs and selecting the program, its easier just to do a search.  This makes organization not even required, just search for what you need.  I of course still organize everything on my computer the old school way but at least I know where to find everything if I want to do it manually.

I can’t say what the differences are between the many flavors of Windows 7 since I’m running Ultimate so that means I have every bell and whistle you can imagine MS packing into an OS.  I know I don’t even use half of the features of the OS but in my opinion its way more usable and stable for the average person once the learning curve has been overcome.  One advantage that I really like about Win 7 Ultimate is that you get to run a copy of XP on the system in a virtual machine so all those programs and what not that just can’t run in a Windows 7 environment won’t be lost since MS gives you XP for free with the Ultimate version.  Might be something to consider when choosing what version of Windows to buy with a new computer or as an OS upgrade.

Similar to Bing, I like how MS is advertising the new OS and the opening of the new store in Arizona doesn’t hurt either.  Now if they were able to release Windows Mobile 7 in time for the holidays or to coincide with the release of Windows 7 it would have been a totally MS blitz for the month of October and would have helped things during the holidays.  I’m waiting to see what MS does with Xbox and if they will come out with a successor console anytime soon to follow up the Xbox360.  Time to go about my Saturday of movie watching and messing around on my iPhone so I can get away from my computer for a few hours.

I need sprinkles with my vanilla ice cream

The title of this post is a bit weird but it relates to what I’ve done to my iPhone lately. I’ve had my phone for a couple of weeks now and during that time I decided to read about trying to hack my iPhone. While totally not recommended, unlocking the full potential of the phone has it’s appeal. I’m very luck in that I have ab iPhone and an iPod Touch so I do have a platform to experiment with before trying it out on my iPhone.  (btw, I’m using a great image from theiphoneblog.com for this post)

Don’t get me wrong, by itself the iPhone is a pretty sweet device but there are some features that come with jailbreaking that just make the phone even more awesome. I used a jailbreak called blackra1n on my iPod Touch and installed Cydia to start installing stuff. I’ve kept things pretty basic like installing an awesome menu screen that gives me my most used settings as well as Winterboard that allows me to change the look of my iPhone. Why Apple hasn’t tried to do some of this stuff out of the box is beyond me but it makes the phone more accessible like my Treo Pro where I can customize the crap out of it.

I think for the average consumer, there really is no need to jailbreak their iPhone, there are risks like bricking the phone or losing all your data. That’s where backups are so important doing all of this stuff. The downside is that I can’t load the new updates from Apple until another jailbreak is released. Currently they have only been minor feature releases so I’m not too concerned. Come next summer I expect a huge release from Apple and at that time I might abandon my jailbreak but we’ll see what happens when the time comes.

To read about some of the more awesome things that can be done with a jailbroken phone, do a search for the iPhone Blog and find their top five apps for jailbroken phones, definitely worth a look.

iPhone Travel Apps

In my line of work there is a ton of travel involved so what better way to keep track of my flights than to get some apps for y iPhone. I’m currently only using free apps but I am very tempted to get a paid app for some additional functionality. I haven’t used the two travel apps I’ll talk about a whole lot yet but they seem to work well.

Step one for travel is getting the itinerary in a better format than an email or PDF file sitting in an email inbox. This is where TripIt cones into play. This is a free service and app that takes emails and PDF files and translates them in an easy to view list on a website with all the pertinent details. There is a paid version but I didn’t look too closely at that section to see what oher features are offered. Sending in an itinerary is simple as pie, just forward an email to TripIt and it will appear. The iPhone app displays all our trips that were created so it’s easy to see instead of tryn to add it to a calendar app of some kind manually. The value of using TripIt is that a lot of the travel apps aailable for iPhone use information from TripIt as a base to then start tracking flights for delays and sending notifications to ensure the weary traveler knows what gate to go to and if they can have just one more drink at the bar in case the flight is delayed.

The free app I’m using that uses info from TripIt is AitoPilot by USA Today. This app is a bit different from the ones I’ve read about in the iTunes store. First off it’s free, second it has interesting connections to Flickr and some articles from USA Today. It shows all the info a person would need like gate info, delays, expected take off and landing and the weather. These are all good things but what it’s missing are push notifications. While this would add to my battery drain, the numerous emails I get from United do the same thing. The interface doesn’t look as slick as Flight Tracker Pro (recommended travel app at Travel and Leisure Magazine) but it still gets the job done. There are ads here and there but that’s to be expected since it’s a free app. I will continue to test this app over the next couple of weeks but if they make some major strides with one of the paid apps I’ll break down and get one of those.

New iPhone for me

After months of thinking it over and seeing how much fun my family was having with their iPhones, I finally broke down and bought myself an iPhone. I’ve been using it for about a week now it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it would be. My biggest concern was the virtual keyboard but the auto correct feature has been really good at making thugs hum along. I have also bought some apps which is pretty unprecedented for me but these were necessary to mimic the features of my Treo.

The most expensive purchase that I have made app wise for the iPhone has to be Documents to Go. Windows Mobile provided native office support o edit Word and Excel files and the ability to read Power Point. My iPhone only had the ability to read so I went ahead and got an editor from one of the best suppliers out there.  Trying to edit office docs on the iPhone is definitely challenging since there is no 5 way rocker key to move around the doc. It’s not a big deal and the implementation is pretty spot on and does what I need it to do. The best part I that it syncs with documents on my home computer which was missing using Windows Mobile. I will miss OneNote buy I’ll he able to survive using Evernote.

To Do items is one area that is lacking totally from iPhone. I like to sync my tasks with Outlook but it’s not supported on he iPhone. To work around that I had to get an app called Toodledo. This app didn’t coat too much an it syncs online using a free account. The only part that I don’t like about it is that he synced data doesn’t go over an encrypted connection. It does sync with the web site seamlessly but in order to set reminder interval other than one hour before the yaks is due you gotta pony up some subscription money. Other than some of these limitations with Toodledo it’s a pretty solid and simple app. I like being able to get to my tasks online at any computer. I’ll see if te export feature is worth anything so I can back up my tasks to my computer.

The last app that I purchased is really simple. It’s called PushGmail and as the name implies it pushes emails from my Gmail account and notifies me using alerts that I have new mail. I could have had tha very same function of I set my Gmail account to use the Exchange function in mail. However all mobile devices I know of only allow one Exchange account and I needed it for my work email. This nifty program has been pretty awesome so far. It does have the annoyance of opening the web based Gmail app if I’m too fast unlocking my phone but maybe that can be fixed later on. Now if it had multiple Gmail account capabilities that would be truly cool.

There are still a few apps that I’m considering buying like a password manager and a flight tracker to make my travels easier. Overall I’m enjoying my iPhone experience despite some limitations. In switching over I took my wifes advice and treated this as a new phone instead of trying to mold it into something like my older Treos that I’ve used for so long. I feel bad for my Treo Pro since it wasn’t heavily used but since it’s unlocked I at least have a backup phone and can get prepaid SIM cards for it or go international. I’ll be messing with this more and hopefully I’ll find more cool apps to try out as time marches on.

Off to Wrigley!

P9300127This week I went to Wrigley Field for the first time ever to watch the Cubs play the Pirates. Wrigley is one of those iconic baseball stadiums that has stood for I don’t know how long and that doesn’t carry the name of some huge corporation. I was lucky enough to go there on a company outing so I didn’t go alone and had some pretty awesome seats to see the game.

Just by looking at the stadium from the street yu can tell it’s pretty old. It’s definitely not a towering structure that blocks out the night sky like some newer ball parks, it almost has a minor league feel to the place and you can tell it’s age just by taking a peek inside. An interesting thing that I thought that was funny were the seats that were on buildings across the street from Wrigley. You would never see something like that in New York because the wall is so tall. It’s location in the middle of a residential neighborhood is also kind of funny and makes thongs like parking an web bigger challenge for fans.

I watched some of the game but being National League I wasn’t thy interested. It was still a great experience and I got a hat just so I can blend in a bit better and also got a little stuffed Snoopy at the door. It’s a shame that baseball season is almost over, it would have been fin to also see a White Sox game. If I’m in Chicago long enough maybe I can catch a Bears ane too. I guess we’ll see what happens.