Habitica

There’s a glutĀ of self-improvement apps coming out for your smartphone lately. WeightWatchers, Strava, FitBit, the various one’s built into Android and iPhone’s operating systems, and plenty of other ones.

Most self-improvement apps focus on a specific purpose, whether that’s exercise, dieting, or quitting bad habits.

My self-improvement app of choice doesn’t have any specific focus. And if you haven’t already guessed from the title, the app is called Habitica.

Habitica Banner

Habitica lets you define your goals, what habits you want to develop, and which bad habits you want to lose. You can also define rewards for yourself (such as eating a piece of cake while on a diet). Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

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Nerve Movie Review

NerveNerve is, dare I say it, a summer blockbuster.

The title refers to a fictional streamed game where users sign up as a Watchers or Players.

Watchers watch the Players, duh, and give the Players dares to complete.

Dares come with a cash prize if completed and there’s something about losing all the money you’ve won if you fail a dare that isn’t fully explained.

Players are competing against each other. Nerve is set up as a 24 hour game. The two Players with the most Watchers at the end of the day move on to the Finals.

This game is funded by a $20 fee put forward by each Watcher.

The movie stars Emma Roberts as Vee (short for Venus), who is using the game to prove that she takes risks to her risky, risque friend, Sydney.

Vee joins the game as a Player and soon joins up with another Player named Ian.

The team-up catapults Vee and Ian to the lead, but as they get more Watchers the dares they must complete get more and more dangerous and more and more illegal. Vee and Ian must decide whether to continue, risking death and possible arrest, or drop out and lose all the money they’ve won so far.

The trailer made me feel that the Watchers would start to manipulate Vee and Ian to their benefit with dares like, “Rob a bank!”and “Leave the money by my apartment!” but none of that happened.

Vee and Ian do end up fighting back against the game with the help of their friends. That’s where it got a little weird for me.

Nerve is supposedly an open source game that anyone can edit the code of as long as the majority of voting users approve those changes. A nice premise, but it doesn’t hold up.

First of all, the money. Where does it go when its taken out of your account? Who is spending it on keeping the streaming service up and running? Who decides the prizes for dares? It’s not a group of people voting in a chat room like Twitch Plays Pokemon. We all know that wouldn’t be fast enough for this sort of entertainment.

The answer is that there MUST be a group of people that made and still control the game. They are the voting users that decide top level issues for Nerve.

This group is necessary, but they remain unconfronted by the end of the movie. Nerve is supposedly defeated, never to return to endanger people’s lives. Unfortunately, there is literally nothing stopping this group of creators from starting the game up again.

Not that this is a bad thing, the movie was good and I’d like a sequel, but the problem was that the movie didn’t acknowledge that there must be a specific group toying with the Players. Everything was just the evil behavior of “the mob.”

So that’s most of the plot along with the plotholes.

Stylistically, the movie was amazing. Good acting, good costuming, GREAT effects.

The special effects are used to show the “behind-the-scenes” on the Nerve app. Lines connecting Watchers to Players. An aerial shot with beacons showing where the Players are in New York. Other good-looking stuff like that.

Lots of fun stunts in the movie as well.

It is a really good thriller movie with bits of action and lots of thinking moments. Go see it with someone else! It’ll give you plenty to talk about afterwards.

Nerve definitely gets my recommendation.

-GoCorral

New Phone

I got a new phone last weekend and have been adjusting to it.

This was a thing for me because I’ve never had a smartphone before.

I’ve shied away from smartphones in the past for two reasons.

#1 Having a touch screen in my pocket kind of freaks me out. I’m always worried that it will touch my leg and turn itself on and text something to someone I know.

Of course that never happens but we all have our irrational fears.

#2 I don’t want to get too distracted from other things by my phone. A phone with more stuff to do on it is more distracting.

I got over both of those things by getting an iPad. The touch screen doesn’t freak me out as much and I don’t get more distracted by my iPad than I did by other things in the past.

So! The new phone! I was basically deciding between an iPhone and an Android.

I went with the Android for a few reasons (this is apparently the listing reasons blog post!).

The Android has better reviews. I generally trust consumer reviews and all of them were poiting me towards the Galaxy phones.

The Android has better ads and has always had a more adult feel to it to me. The iPhone has always felt like a child’s phone to me. Not saying that it is, but I feel childish when I hold one.

And finally, Android phones are cheaper.

The phone is working out great. As a smartphone it can do a lot of things my old dumb phone could not.

Old one on the left if you couldn't tell.
Old one on the left if you couldn’t tell.

My old phone could make calls, text, and take poor quality pictures.

The new one can make calls, text (with a predictive text messaging keyboard which is way faster), take high quality pictures (WTF do you even do with 16 MP pictures?), and has access to apps.

The apps are also a lot better than what I was using previously on my iPad.

It’s surprising to me that differences in app quality would exist for different machines, but there are.

The WordPress app that I use to write my blog posts comes to mind first. My iPad mini has advantages that my Galaxy S6 can’t compete with. A decently sized physical keyboard attachment and larger screen are just things a phone will never be able to do.

But the Android makes up for it by having an app that actually displays pictures while I’m writing. I can also access the picture library that I uploaded onto WordPress earlier. The iPad ap doesn’t let me do either of those things.

The Android app also doesn’t have any problems with carriage returns, something the iPad app has always had a problem with for some reason.

The next app that was noticeably better was the Starbucks app. The iPhone/iPad version makes it difficult to use or even find coupons that the app gives you. You have to struggle to use coupons on the iPhone version and sometimes the baristas don’t even know how to redeem them once you do find them.

The Android app ties those coupons into the pay function. You just tell it you want to pay for something and it applies your coupons to that stuff. Boom! Done!

Cons of the phone are few compared to my old one.

It uses data, so now I have to pay for that, but Wifi is nearly ubiquitous, so maybe I won’t.

The new phone has really bad battery life. I’ve needed to recharge it every night after using it. My old phone needed to be recharged about once a week. Partially that’s because the new phone has apps so I’m using it more, but its still a big difference that I’m adjusting to.

The new phone is also bigger. Taking up more space in pocket means its been a little harder to get my keys out. That falls into the category of #FirstWorldProblems so I’m not overly conerned.

It’s a good phone, I’m glad I upgraded, I wish it was perfect and had all the nice things my old phone had as well.

-GoCorral