Just days after its launch it seems that the OnLive gaming service is showing signs of struggling to cope with demand.
We’ve been testing this service over the last few days and so far have been remarkably impressed with what is on offer even if our bandwidth allowance is being thrashed to it within an inch of its life.
If you have the bandwidth capability then it seems that Mac gaming with decent high resolution graphics is finally on the horizon. During our testing on a mid-2009 MacBook Pro our CPU usage barely went above 50% whilst playing an intensive game such as Tom Clancy’s splinter cell.
The issue of the service being unavailable could just be down to peak demand for the initial launch period so we’re going to keep testing this and report back shortly in the next coming weeks.
We don’t often comment often on such areas like the jail breaking community however when we saw this one it definitely makes the grade as a news item.
Not many readers will probably remember the old days of Windows Mobile. Microsoft’s attempts to bring a scaled down version of their desktop operating system to a small handheld device. This included features like the start button, movable windows and applications. Surprisingly enough it really didn’t work.
Introducing the ultimatum theme developed by Jdsss which brings the Lion desktop to your iPhone. Normally things like this are just a skin without much functionality and end up running applications already installed. Not only does the automated theme genuinely looks like Apple’s desktop operating system, but it also functions as if it was a genuine operating system.
You will find all the standard fare, such as finding menus, stacks, launchpad, scrollable docs and windows that can be dragged around exactly is if you were using a mouse or trackpad.
The ultimatum theme requires a jail broken device and is available from the ModMyi repo
Yup we are going to be amongst the bandwagon jumpers here on the net with this article. Apparently case manufacturer Case-Mate accidently…. leaks iPhone 5 case.
The cases posted appear to have a curved silver aluminum back which suggests that either the iPhone 5 or 4S will have a similar looking back case of that of the iPad 2. If it’s as nice to hold and feel as the 3gs is then i’ll be over the moon. As much as I like the look of the iPhone 4 is gosh darn awful to hold and make a long phone call with.
The cases themselves look to be a shot in the dark with the cut away section for the camera and flash being so obvious, most cases tend to have carefully placed holes rather than a gaping cut away section.
I’ll admit right here and now that my decision to get an iPad 2 was down to 2 reasons. The first being one being that of pure curiosity developed after months of iPad hype and the hyperbole surrounding the svelte tablet on the market.
The 2nd was missing out on a HP touchpad and then just deciding that sod it, EssentialMac reviews all things Mac and the iPad is part of that ethos (yes that’s a case of self justification if ever there was one).
So off I searched for a iPad2 and settled on a wifi 16gb version. Why? Well i have a mobile dongle and the jump between 32 and 16 was massive and lets face it, the resale value of these things is great so reselling for a 32gb one isn’t beyond the realms of impossibility.
Waking up with a hangover, bleary eyed and boderline dehydration (I get one night off every 2 weeks so I make the most of it) was made all the more easier with the anticipation of the postman bringing me my newest asset.
After a familiar tap on the door and a moments later there it was in my hands, another Apple product. It’s with a mixture of boyish excitement and the adult side of me being intrigued I start to peel back the all to familiar thought out packaging around the apple.
Opening up the box and it’s a case of bam. There she is and quite unashamedly looking up from her box waiting to be powered on in a matter of moments. Simple apple elegance as always. Instant on for me is a new feature. To go from nothing to browsing instantly does give you a partial wow factor. My trusty MBP is almost as fast but this is just pure gratification.
Off to the apple store or app store, whatever you call it these days, to register and setup is the simple process and familiar to that off setting up my phone and in moment’s the fobdle slab is now registered to my account.
Typing and interaction
Typing so far is an odd experience. I can almost get up to speed on this out of the box but the odd angle means that I doubt messaging apps will find its way onto here. I can see why people go for seperate keyboards but then doesn’t that hit cross over territory. Sure I can blog with the WordPress app or even just rough draft stuff but it reminds me of a till I have at work. It’s very stabby and even with the auto correct spelling grammer nazi enabled there were still loads of errors.
Justin.TV found it’s way on to my iPad giving me the first experience of scaling up applications. Some of them just don’t look pretty at all such as the case as this.
In this apps instance it;s always been flawed, claiming that the server is overloaded when streaming yet plays perfectly well moments later.
One Week On 15th September 2011
So, here we are one week later after receiving my iPad. As of right now my feelings are honestly mixed about the usefulness of the iPad. Admittedly I haven’t really t taken it out into the wild for some proper testing and it became more of a night time browsing/reading/watching device than the missing third device that people keep harking on about.
Do I regret spending £360? Do I have buyers remorse? Not yet, but it’s close, but like I said at the beginning of this article I really wasn’t sure where the iPad would fit into my lifestyle. Yes it’s great to have a tablet for browsing and mutational BBC I player but at the back of my mind there’s always the voice going on at me about the fact it costs so much to do relatively little so far.
So the next week the iPad will be going with me everywhere, on the road, to the pub and if I can find one, a copy shop that supports free Wi-Fi.
Upcoming iPad 2 Reviews.
The kind folks at MacAlly have sent us the
MagStand2, Magnetic Cabinet Mount and Viewing Stand (pictured above)
Protective Snap on case designed for use with the Apple SmartCover.
Both of these are welcomed additions to the home of Essentialmac as they are shaping up to be rather, well, essential.
Tuesday, 2 October
Well since the new release of DragonDictate, which features more localisation fixes, my interaction with the iPod has taken on a whole new release of life.
For example, this very text, I am dictating instead of typing which is grades being able to do this sort of stuff whilst lazing around on my sofa.
In the last few minutes I have been able to successfully dictate three e-mails, update this very blog, and generally become more impressed with the processing power of the A5 chip.
With the Apple press conference scheduled for Tuesday I do have a new phone sense of hope that voice integration may not suck as bad as some of my previous testing has shown. I still have reservations about how well the whole room invoice assistant system will work as 99% of the errors come from being in a loud or noisy environment so I can’t see many people turning off the TV on the radio or pulling over in their car to make it nice and quiet just to use simple voice features .
Browsing wise opera is definitely my browser of choice. It simply feels leaps and
bounds faster and smoother than the built in Safari engine and that’s not to mention the nice user interface tweaks which really do make it an essential browser.
The downside is that one of my favourite streaming TV applications, Justin.TV, pretty much refuses to work half the time on my iPod but will work properly on my iPhone.
I have still yet to get over my social anxiety of taking my iPad out in public but I have promised myself I will at least take it with me on my next venture into civilisation.
Nothing can make your heart sink more than that dreaded sound of a hard drive failure. It’s a bit like that scene out of speed 3 where you can see the boat coming and the impending disaster thats about to strike from a mile off. Of course you did those backups you were always planning to do… right?
It’s here, finally the moment that some fanboys have been waiting for and for the apple haters to take a step back. Yes flash has arrived on the iPad…sort of..
The folks over at Adobe have just released Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5. It’s server side based so you are at the mercy of your flash based website to update their software but at last iPad owners can get in on the flash video action.
As we keep saying “sort of’ you wont be playing flash games any time soon or watching animations but it will allow you to watch streaming video through Apple’s format, HTTP Live Streaming.
A definite step in the right direction.
Update – 15th September
So has anybody noticed any of their usual sites now suddenly working in Flash? Is anyone wondering how long the uptake will be before we see some of the more popular sites of updating their software.
Fiplab are at it again with their handy programming skills making our mac lives just that little bit easier.
This time they introduce Flash Block a menu bar app for easily toggling the flash browser plug-in on and off.
Available from the App Store, there are 2 default options for blocking the battery and CPU sucking entity that is flash on our Mac laptops.
1. Auto Kill Flash (always detects and disables Flash)
2. Kill Active Flash (only disables currently loaded Flash plug-ins – they will reappear if you refresh the page)
Getting down to testing
At the time of writing I’m using flash 11,0,1,98 installed as I run my mac book pro in 64 bit mode whenever possible. Installation is the standard seamless affair that we come to expect from the Apple store. The app itself is 69p from the apple store that I didn’t realise in my rush to complete this review and then realising that there is a Flash Block extension readily from the Mozilla developers
Getting down to the brass tacks of it all we enabled flash auto kill and first tried to goto some of sites that are a little flash heavy, starting out with Justin.TV which is nothing but flash. Behold the famous error that plagues many a mac user.
Realising this might might be a browser restart issue, I fired up a copy of Chrome and went to the same URL to see what would happen. Going over to Justin.TV again resulted in a warning about pages becoming unresponsive. No matter what combination of clicks and websites we were stonewalled with unresponsive pages error messages. Time for a browser restart.
Lo and behold there was a FireFox 6.01 update waiting in the wings, after an install we are back up and running.
How Does It Feel?
Quite honestly, even though it looks like at times that the Flash plugin has crashed… Amazing. The whole swiping and gestures mechanism of the mac actually feels fluid and taking up the 2.24 ghz of my cpu rather than what I would class as sluggish performance.
It does indeed block flash but I can’t tell at the moment how effective it is due to apparent warnings of flash crashing. Still that aside it has made the system feel more responsive.
Is it worth the 69p investment? Well that remains to be seen if they can keep up with the releases and bug fixes also keeping in tune with whatever Adobe presents us in the future.
As a first we aren’t going to give this a rating YET. Check back soon as we will be testing this for a week and reviewing this review again. Also a copy of the review has been sent to FipLab to see if they can help us out with our issues.
The good people at FipLab got in touch with us about our issues (which we admit we wouldn’t be at all surprsied if this was a one time issue due to this mac having NEVER been formatted and re installed. We are talking upgrades all the way from Lion)
“We’ve tested on three macs running Lion and haven’t had any of those ‘crashing’ messages. When Flash Block is enabled, there should just be a blank white space where the flash would have been loaded.
We aren’t using the beta version of Flash, so we will try testing again after upgrading to see if Adobe have changed anything that causes a conflict with our app.”
Thanks for the reply FipLab and let us know if we can help!
Ok lets get this bit out of the way. Crimson Steam Pirates is a turn based game… but wait before you click away thinking this is another slow paced Civilization or majorly deep football management game, stop. This turn based game can almost be classed as fast paced.
Coming from the house of Bungie you take on the role of Thomas Blood in this episodic, turn based, steam punk pirates based affair. Yup that’s a big description for a game like this but the most apt.
Starting off in Chapter 1 you get a total of 8 missions and further chapters and content is available to download at 1.99 a chapter.
The game itself is as beautiful to play as the graphics are to feast upon. Starting with the basics of learning how a ship works. Moving a ship involves dragging the ships outline to where you want the course to go, click play and that’s your first move done.
See the steering wheel at the front? As you go along in the game that becomes a sub menu where, with a tap, you can select all manner of features. Do you repair your ship in the heat of battle or flog your crew to make them fire faster? Other options let you board other ship’s perform sniper actions and activate the full steam ahead.
Speaking of combat you can see where your armouries firing range and the line of site. As you progress throughout the game different weaponry becomes available and this shows as different highlighted segments much like a pie chart.
Weapons aren’t the only thing that get upgraded. Some missions require you to rescue (or pillage) for your crew. Mission 1 see’s you rescuing an engineer who in turn will make your ship go faster. Other attributes are quicker repairs and so on, all adding to the thinking element of the game.
Couple that with then having to manage more than 1 ship with different attributes the game play fleshes out nicely. Do you send the smaller but faster ship out ahead to recon or keep the group together for safety in numbers. Later missions involve flying Zeppelins and future upgrades promise even more vehicles.
Music wise you’d swear you were listening to the theme music from Pirates Of The Caribbean and adds to the feeling of a highly polished and produced game.
The Graphical Touches
Trust me on this. Zoom in on the ships and targets else you are missing out. Rockets point and aim at their targets, on ship cannons recoil and turn to face their combatants and show up as out of action when damaged. Wheels turn on the boats powered by paddlers.The graphics, well simply put, are outstanding. Things scale up and down nicely and everything fits in with the game just fine looking like it should be there.
It’s hard to really pick fault with the game but there are a few. During the boarding process the ships wheel can be obscured from view by a fort of ship from time to time leaving you stuck and having to exit out of the game as you can’t move or board.
The first missions were all easy to say the least and that’s coming from a guy who’s on-line name is fodder as I seem to die the moment I spawn in any FPS.
Overall this gets 5 stars as it’s a highly polished, well produced, great sounding, great looking cracking game that I hope more than 2 more episodes (8 chapters in each) come along.
A new version of the ever popular chat client Adium has been relased today via an automatic update and it looks like it’s bug fixing time.
Mentioned in the list of bugs to be fixed is the poor MSN file transfer and the facebook chat issue.
Fixes contained are…
Fixed a security vulnerability related to file transfers.
Fixed a crash when remote users have certain characters in their nicknames. (Discovered by Djego Ibanez) (#p14341)
MSN: Fixed direct file transfers, user icons, and receiving custom emoticons, while disabling multiple points of presence (MPOP). We determined that this was the better trade-off based on user feedback. (reverted to MSNP15 support from MSNP16) (#15256)
MSN: Fixed an issue involving the “Friendly name changes too often” error.(#15364)
GoogleTalk: Worked around an issue where messages contained XML code. (#15419)
Facebook will now connect via the officially-sanctioned mechanism. You no longer have to provide Adium with your username and password; you will be prompted to authenticate via a facebook.com window when you first log in. Existing accounts are automatically upgraded.
AIM/ICQ: Fixed connecting while using a proxy server
Twitter: Fixed loading the Following list. (#15239)
Fixed a fairly common crash related to user lists. (#14294)
Activated overlay scrollers on Mac OS X Lion. (#15394)
Fixed an issue where Adium was constantly writing with the computer screen off for a long time. (#15147)
Fixed the “Add Link” function, which was broken in 1.4.2. (#15259)
Fixed instances where contacts weren’t being highlighted despite having been set to. (#14493).
Message View: Inserted emoticon will replace the selected text (if any).
Updated localisations: British English, Chinese (Traditional), Danish (#15431), Dutch (#15421), French (#15402), German (#15374), Greek (#15330), Italian (#15395), Norwegian (Bokmål) (#15365), Portuguese (Portugal) (#15371), Swedish (#15384).
Fixed a case of unfavourable wording in the German localisation. (#15393)
As always we are testing this and looking forward to seeing if MSN file transfers will work in Adium again.
First the iPhone got it’s own tv tuner and now the iPad is getting the love as well with this dandy little box from Elgato.
The EyeTV Mobile hooks up to the dock connector and grabs the TV signal from it’s ever so bendy antenna. It’s freeview so you are reliant with the signal in your area (see our Elgato Tizi review for issues with this) and once again you can’t hook it up to a roof top aerial.
The software supports the over the air EPG that’s broadcast and the ability to record shows in their native format to your iPad
Sometimes the best things are the most simple and the Magstand from MacAlly is just that. An incredibly simple iPad 2 magnetic stand. There aren’t that many stands that would hold your iPad upside down whilst having a shake down.
Check the video for more information.
Oh and did we mention, we are getting a review sample from MacAlly this month 😀