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

Streaming Other Games

An stream interface I made for streaming Faster Than Light. Still in progress!
An stream interface I made for streaming Faster Than Light. Still in progress!

A few of my friends suggested trying to stream other games besides Hearthstone.

I am interested in doing that at some point, so I’ve been working on stream interfaces for the other games I play.

Right now I play League of Legends, Hearthstone, Faster Than Light (FTL), Skyrim, and Diablo 3.

The stream client I use, XSplit, only lets me have four different stream interfaces set up at a time. More interfaces are possible if I buy a subscription for their software instead of using it for free like I am now.

I haven’t played much Diablo 3 at all lately so that’s the one of the five I’ll be leaving out. A few weeks ago I began to see it more as hamster wheel than a fun way to spend my time and have quit playing since.

There are other hurdles for creating interfaces for other games as well though.

I’ve always found a stream to be way more entertaining if I can see the streamer’s face, but where does the face go?

I struggled a lot with that issue while making the FTL interface pictured above.

Initially I had the game filling the entire stream. I tried putting my face in the top right, but that blocked enemy ships.

I tried putting my face in the bottom right, but that also blocked enemy ships.

Bottom left blocks my ship’s power use. Top left blocks my ship’s health and crew.

Middle left worked okay, but I ran into a size issue there.

My face was either too small to matter, or it was blocking the back part of my ship.

I ended up scrapping the idea of having the game fill the entire frame of the stream video.

I wouldn’t call the picture above a final product, but it was the best way to include the game as well as my face.

There’s other stuff to add as well.

In my Hearthstone interface I added the URL address of my blog at WordPress to try and get crosstraffic. I’d like to do that for FTL as well.

I’d like a logo of some kind for FTL too, like the Hearthsteed pack logo I made for Hearthstone.

Eventually I want to add in a donation, subscriber, and follower trackers, but I’d like to establish myself more before going on to that part of the interface design.

I’m committed to keeping the interface art grounded in the game I’m streaming though.

Using edited screen captures from the game has worked for me on that, so I’ll keep doing that in the future whenever possible.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Quantum Roll

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I mentioned that my group uses Roll20 to play D&D.

Roll20 started as a Kickstarter. They got successfully funded and released the beta to the backers before releasing the official version to everyone a bit later.

The folks who make Roll20 have a payment system common to most internet businesses.

The program is free to use if you’d like, but you can also pay a monthly or yearly fee to get access to new features sooner, more dataspace, and fewer ads. Pretty similar to WordPress’s system if you think about it.

Roll20 has an additional feature on their payment system though.

The website doesn’t have the vast following that WordPress has.¬†They don’t make enough from ad revenue to keep the site going like WordPress does.

Roll20 relies almost entirely on people paying for the extra features. Thus is the site has a little tracker saying how many subscribers it needs to “keep the lights on.”

The tracker has other levels it can go up to though. There are a total of five different levels of support on the tracker.

The first level is keeping the servers on to support all the traffic that Roll20 gets.

The second level is having occasional updates done by the developers. This isn’t enough money for Roll20 to be their fulltime job, but its enough to convince them to work on weekends.

The third level is full time work by the developers. The tracker is currently a little ways into this level.

The fourth level pays for a publicist and additional developers to come up with system specific features for Roll20.

The fifth level allows for even more developers to be hired for projects beyond just Roll20.

With the third level not yet complete, the developers are coming out with occasional updates. The new one for May is a bit ridiculous. You can check it out on their blog post here: Quantum Roll

Random number generators on computers aren’t exactly random. It’s complicated to explain, but you can trust the programmers on this one. They wouldn’t lie about a deficiency that they have.

This is frustrating for some people that use Roll20. Real dice are random, shouldn’t virtual ones be random too?

The Roll20 development team has solved that problem by hooking its dice rolling program up to data from a light beam splitter in Australia.

The light splits randomly giving random data details. Roll20 uses those numbers to decide the outcome of a die rolled on the website.

It’s so ridiculous that most of Roll20’s fans have been calling it an April Fools joke or overkill for the problem.

My opinion? It’s a pretty damn cool way to solve the problem using freely available methods. I won’t notice while playing, but I like that the developers care.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed