Weekend Distraction: Spell Rift

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 7.44.54 PMI’m always in the market for another word game, and when I saw this one, I grabbed it. (One of my favorite puzzle games, Blockwick, is made by the same people.)

They call it a ‘word-finding adventure’ because as you progress through the levels, you advance in the world. But you needn’t worry about that. It’s just levels, really.

The graphics are well done. Large letter tiles fill your screen, and your job is to make words. As you do, the words disappear, and new tiles drop.

There are ‘goals’ on each level, and the new dropping tiles bring surprises. There are many “special” tiles that make your word-finding all that much more difficult. Have no fear, each new tile is presented gradually, so that you have plenty of time to learn what it does, and how it impacts your game.

Best thing to do if you enjoy word games, is to take a peek at this video…..

Spell Rift for the iPhone is $2.99.

A version made specifically for the iPad is $4.99.

(These prices are higher than when I bought the game. Significantly higher. That is disappointing. It is a great game, though. I hope they drop the price back to where they were, or at least put it on sale, often.)


Are Video Games Art?

“Are video games art?” This question was posed by the senior curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The question made me wonder, and in order for my thinker to arrive at a thoughtful answer, I wanted to fully understand the definition of Art. I typed out a few google searches, “What is Art?” and also “define Art”. The range of results was so broad and varied that I will do no summarizing, here. I read lists and theories and essays that quoted and disputed other lists and theories and essays. I stepped away no smarter than I was before I began my search.

So I returned to the MOMA, where the question originated in the first place. “Are video games art?” For the Museum to consider Art for their collections, they use criteria such as: historical relevance, cultural relevance, aesthetic expression, innovative approaches to technology, and successful synthesis of materials and techniques.

After consideration, (drum roll) the MOMA has determined that Video Games are, indeed, art. The Museum has announced that they have created a new category for video games and their exhibit will open in March.

They plan to eventually have 40 games, but they have selected the first 14 games for their exhibit.

Here are the games that will soon be on display at the MOMA: (I have to admit I’ve never heard of many of them)

Pac-Man (1980)
Tetris (1984)
Another World (1991)
Myst (1993)
SimCity 2000 (1994)
vib-ribbon (1999)
The Sims (2000)
Katamari Damacy (2004)
EVE Online (2003)
Dwarf Fortress (2006)
Portal (2007)
flOw (2006)
Passage (2008)
Canabalt (2009)

I would like to come up with an opinion about this that I can defend strongly one way or the other, but I really can’t. I can’t because, going full circle, I’m still not sure how to define “art” in the first place. 🙂

All I know is that when a game is visually appealing, I enjoy it more. I know that I have frequently been in awe of stunning graphics and delightful execution. I enjoy interacting with, and getting lost in a well-designed game. When a game is innovative and entertaining, when it uses new techniques and engages me as a user, it is all good. An Artist creates, and the creativity of the game-makers cannot be denied.

So, considering that I just used many of the same adjectives as the MOMA to describe my experience with video games, I do believe that my opinion must be a “yes” (surprising even me).

What do you think of the list? And, even more basic, what do you think of Video Games being classified as art?

How to Send a Contact Card through a Text Message on Your iPhone

With only a few taps you can send complete contact info (address, phone number, etc) to someone else in a text message.

No need to type out the phone number and/or address. You can share it all with ease.

Here is how you share a contact:

Open the phone app. (Green square with the old-fashioned phone on it)

Look down at the bottom, and select “contacts”.

Tap on the contact that you would like to send to someone.

Once you see the contact information, look down at the bottom of that contact page. Tap on “Share Contact”

A message will then pop up on the screen asking you if you want to send the information in an email or in a text message. Tap on “message” and fill in the name of your receiver.

That’s all there is! Your Receiver gets it all. **

** Important point: Your Receiver gets it all. Make sure you are not including anything you don’t want to share.

iPhone (smartphone) or Camera?

I love having a camera (disguised as a mobile phone) with me all of the time. It’s such fun to be able to ‘catch’ moments that you used to say “I wish I had my camera with me.”

Here is my dog, sitting in my lap. iPhone handy, always ready.

A moment later, I caught her in the middle of a silly tongue lap:

My backyard cutie. He won’t stay at the door for long. iPhone in my pocket.. caught him!

A crazy bug landed for a moment (what is it!? and I hope it doesn’t come back! )

Those are all examples of the unplanned pics, the ones you are happy to have a ‘camera in your pocket’ to grab.

But what about for travel?

Last time I took a trip, I used my iPhone, only. No camera. I enjoyed having one less thing to cart around. I think the pictures turned out pretty good, and I never regretted not bringing a camera:


I am now planning a new travel adventure, and I’m not sure the iPhone will suit. My first concern is memory space. With a camera you have removable memory storage so that you never run out of space. Although the iPhone holds a LOT of pictures, what if I shoot too many? I don’t want to have to worry about that.

Perhaps you have a REAL camera, and that makes all your photography extra special. I know that many of the bloggers that I visit are taking some awesome photos. For you, the camera itself is important.

But what about the point-and-shooters?

What do you do? Have you abandoned your camera in favor of your smartphone for travel? Or do you break out the camera for the trip?

A Frozen Kindle Screen and Amazon Support

When I got my Kindle Paperwhite, I did not retire my previous Kindle, the keyboard version. The older Kindle is perfect for bathtub reading, because there are buttons on the side to click. In a zip lock bag, the older Kindle is my faithful bathtub buddy, and thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync, it is always ready to pick up from whatever spot I left off reading on my Paperwhite. I am a voracious reader. I read everyday, whenever I can, but ALWAYS in the bathtub, and ALWAYS for a good while before bed.

In other words….. my Kindles do not gather dust!

I have never had a moment’s trouble with my Kindle Keyboard until yesterday. It had warned me that the battery was running low, so I plugged it in to charge. Hours later, when I unplugged it, I was surprised to see the screen frozen with the battery warning message still in place over the text that I had been reading.

My first thought was “no problem” with a pat on my own back because “I know what to do.” Smug, I was.

I knew a re-boot of the Kindle would fix it right up. (I thought)

To re-boot the Kindle Keyboard, you unplug it, and slide the on-off switch to the right, and then hold it for a full 20 seconds. The screen blinks, and the Kindle restarts. Ready for more reading goodness.

So I set about my task. I held the button. 20 seconds. Nothing. 30. Still nothing. A full 60 seconds. The frozen, unresponsive screen was still there. No change. Sigh.

I had no idea what to do next. Smugness > gone. 😦

I turned to the internet and was instructed to do exactly what I had done. But after that simple “to do” suggestion, the advice from Kindle users got scary. “Take off the back, and…. ” What? No, no! Take off the back? An absolute last resort (maybe) just before sending it to trash, but certainly not as a trouble-shooting task.

I didn’t think to call Amazon at first, because “I knew what to do.” I knew they would have me slide the on-off switch, and I had already done that.

But soon I realized that with no options left, I may as well take the time to call Amazon Support. I was not hopeful.

Their “contact us” screen was clear and easy to follow. I made choices via drop down screens about my problem, narrowing it down to the frozen screen on the Keyboard Kindle.

The next choice, their “preferred” choice, was for them to call me.

I clicked the box, and got up to leave the room. Before I got to the door (of a very small room!), my phone was ringing, and a very pleasant support person was cheerfully ready to help me. Wow.

I explained my problem, and told her that I already did the re-boot and I was prepared to hear that my Kindle had died. But cheerful-support-lady would have none of that.

She asked me questions, we flicked switches, we counted seconds, we checked the colors of the lights on the bottom, we plugged and we unplugged.

Then she told me to plug it in for a half hour and she would call me back. (Really?)

About 40 minutes later my phone rang, and the pleasant-cheerful-hopeful support lady was eager to get back to work. I went to my Kindle… and …. drum roll …. it was perfectly fine!

I have no idea what combination of button pushing, light checking, plugging and/or unplugging did the trick, but the trick was done, and the Kindle is ready for more reading-goodness..

My support experience was awesome. Remember they called me. Twice.

I have nothing but good things to say about this interaction with Support. For such a HUGE company, I am amazed at how personal the experience was.

Bravo, Amazon!

$10 FREE iTunes from Coinstar for a Limited Time

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember when I told you about Coinstar, here. Those big green machines that you see everywhere will trade in your coins for free if you take a certificate in place of cash.

I regularly use it to finance my apps-habit. I throw in some change and get an iTunes certificate-number to apply to my account.

Now here comes an EXTRA SPECIAL Holiday deal!

From November 26 to December 9, when you turn in $40 worth of coins, you will get $50 worth of credit at iTunes (or Old Navy or Dell) at participating Coinstar kiosks.

$10 FREE. No fee.= Awesome deal!!

Cyber Monday: 8 Ways to Keep Safe While Grabbing Those Bargains

photo credit: AP

Here it comes: Cyber Monday

After all the Black Friday madness and the weekend shopping that followed, you’d think that everyone would be all shopped-out. Not so. Cyber Monday is huge. While once we had to visit brick-and-mortar stores to spend our cash, technology has changed all that. Shopping online is so easy, that it is often the preferred way to shop.

There will be many bargains offered. But don’t let your guard down. Don’t get careless.

Shopping online is convenient, yes, but it also carries some risks. Scammers and hackers will be working overtime to steal from you, and you need to take a few precautions to protect yourself.

Deals are great, but keep in mind that old saying that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true)”

It is easy to throw together a website, so just because someone presents as a business, it doesn’t mean that they are. Do your homework, and confirm the the business is who they claim to be.

I do a LOT of shopping online, but I admit to sticking to companies that I know, and businesses that I am familiar with. I’m a ‘better safe than sorry’ kind of person. 🙂

Bottom line: don’t just click through and hand off your credit card to any-old website. Proceed with Caution.

The Better Business Bureau has come up with a list of 8 ways to protect yourself online:

1. Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for the BBB seal and click to confirm the link is valid.

2. Beware of “too good to be true” deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Go with your instincts and don’t be afraid to pass up a “deal.”

3. Beware of phishing. If you receive an e-mail claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, BBB recommends calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

4. Confirm the website is secure. Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before making an online purchase. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “properties.” to see the real URL and if the site is not encrypted.

5. Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

6. Review the return policy. A return policy should be clearly listed on the company’s website. Be sure to read all conditions associated with the return policy, specifically how long you have to return an item. If you do not see the return policy listed, contact the company and ask them to provide you the information in writing.

7. Verify when to expect shipped item. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery time to ensure you will get your item before Christmas. Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised, however, if no delivery time is stated, stores have up to 30 days to get the item to you. And if it takes 30 days to receive the item you’re purchasing on Cyber Monday, you will not receive the item in time for Christmas.

8. Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Print and save any confirmations for future reference.