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Torchwood Archives
6Oct/14Off

iPad games to play when PC is away

There are times when it's not possible to access the gaming PC, be it a hardware failure, summer vacation or a trip to family. In my case, the last two weeks was house repairs, which means the PC was hidden deep under furniture from the other rooms.

How to play EVE Online in such a case? Well, if you have a laptop with a separate video card, then you're lucky. But what if you're only left with an iPad?

Well, you won't be able to play EVE on it yet, but there surely are some other great AAA titles available.

First game I've played when my PC was unavailable was...

World of Tanks: Blitz

That's right, Wargaming made an excellent port of their flag game, World of Tanks for Apple iOS. It plays great and while it's easy to learn, it is very hard to master. It's worth mentioning, that the game is not an exact 1-to-1 port from PC. Game rules and the content are a little different.

First, there is only a Random Battle game mode, where during a seven minute match, two 7-player teams try to blow the other team up, or conquer "the base", whichever comes first.

Visuals are a little different, too. WoT: Blitz looks much like older PC version of WoT, but considering this game is  running on iPhone or iPad, visuals are simply excellent.

Unfortunately for PC WoT players, all the progress that you've made on PC will not transfer to your tablet, mainly because there are only three Tech Trees: German, Soviet and US. The amount of available tanks is smaller, too.

World of Tanks: Blitz is free to play, just like it's PC counterpart, so in order to start playing, you don't have to pay. If you are willing to support Wargaming devs for their hard work, you can choose between buying premium tanks (which are usually faster, but weaker than their free counterparts), adding premium time (+50% to exp and rewards), or converting experience points earned by premium tanks to so called "free experience" that can be used to unlock more "free" tanks on the Tech Tree. If you don't want to pay, that's ok, you don't have to.

To sum up, you get a great quick fix PVP tank game, that looks much like it's PC counterpart, that you can play when your gaming rig is inaccessible.

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What was the other game? You've guessed it right, it's...

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone is a digital Collectible Card Game by Blizzard, set in the Warcraft universe. This game is a complete port of the PC version. The cards you bought or unlocked on your PC will wait for you on your tablet. The same applies to progress and stats. When playing the game online, you play against both tablet and PC players.

Visuals are amazing and besides some textures being in a slightly lower resolution, the game looks exactly identical to the PC original.

The game has several playing modes, but all of them, even single player, require a network connection. You can test your deck and level the basic cards by playing against AI, you can play against other players in Casual mode, or in Ranked mode, where each win gives you a "star" (and a set of stars make a rank), and each loss above rank 20 takes a star from you. The last mode is "The Arena" which is nothing else, but a draft tournament. You choose your cards from a random pool and compete against other players.

Hearthstone is free to play, and you can buy additional cards either completely free by using in-game "gold" or with real money. The same applies to Arena entrance fee (150 gold or 1,79 EUR).

Is Hearthstone fun? Is it challenging? 20 Million players think it is.

Photo-20-04-14-23-33-15-2 Photo-20-04-14-23-33-15-3 Photo-20-04-14-23-33-16-4 Photo-20-04-14-23-33-17-9 Photo-20-04-14-23-33-19-13 Photo-25-04-14-09-30-56-0 Photo-2014-08-04-18-10-55_1349

Wrapping up

As you can see, tablet games are already catching up to what's available on the PC. I hope a mobile client for EVE becomes available at some point (even with reduced set of things that a pilot can do).

24Oct/12Off

Apple’s new iPads very likely to support LTE in Poland

Apple's press conference on 23rd of October not only unveiled highly-anticipated iPad mini, but also brought a new-new iPad, 13-inch Retina Mac Book Pro, and a slightly tuned Mac Mini.

While for Apple fans this is a great news in itself, for people genuinely interested in mobile technology, this might be interesting as well. A closer look at the new iPad 4th gen and iPad mini specs unveils an LTE module, which is compatible with European LTE bands. The new A6X CPU is just a performance tuning really, as A5X had a hard time powering the huge Retina display.

Two models, namely A1460 (iPad with Retina display, 4th gen) and iPad mini A1455 support LTE bands 700 MHz, 850MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz. All LTE networks in Poland currently use the 1800 MHz band, so the 4th gen iPad as well as iPad mini should work without problems. The only issue, one might encounter, is the nano-SIM standard. Such SIM cards are not widespread yet and migh not be readily available.

It is worth mentioning, that both new iPads can use high speed WiFi using either 2.4 or 5 GHz bands (a/b/g/n), as well as 40MHz channel bonding mode in 802.11n, which can nearly double the throughput.

This is not all. Both models mentioned in the previous paragraph also support CDMA networks (EV-DO) such as American Verizon, or polish Orange Freedom Pro. Unfortunately the latter uses a very specific 450 MHz band, which is not widely used worldwide, and new iPads unfortunately don't support it. It might however become supported in future, which means iPad with cellular module might in future become The internet tablet, able to use nearly any band and almost any wireless technology. It would give Apple an unprecedented technological edge.

12Jun/12Off

iOS 6 surprise

Controlled gossip is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever created by a man. Why? Because most of the features of the new iOS 6, such as new maps, Siri on iPad and Facebook integration have been widely discussed over the past few weeks.

Of course nothing is set-in-stone until Apple officially unveils it during one of their famous Keynotes.

This year WWDC conference not only brought new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (with Retina display, with nearly 3 times as many pixels as Full HD), but also confirmed most of the iOS gossip mentioned earlier:

  • New maps (with turn-by-turn navigation and introduce 3D fly-by view). Google maps are officially gone. In my opinion this was a premature step (of course justified from the lower 3rd party costs point-of-view). Google maps offer much more content than Apple's, with features such as Street View and new 3D maps, these are the most advanced maps publicly available in the world.
  • Facebook integration - works just like Twitter integration in iOS 5: sign in once, and use for all apps.
  • Siri comes to iPad (but to the new iPad only). The voice assistant has also become a bit smarter: now features more data sources (such as sports). You can also tell Siri to launch any app you have on your iDevice.
  • Cover flow comes to all three iTunes stores.

And now the features that were not known before Tim Cook's keynote:

  • Shared Photo Stream - share your photos with other iDevice users
  • Safari improvements - it is now possible to upload photos directly from Safari as you would do on a Mac or PC. iCloud tabs allow viewing websites already opened on other devices  such as Macs, iPads & iPhones. Full screen landscape mode for iPhone provides even more real estate on the iPhone screen.
  • Mail improvements - adding images to a message is now easier. VIP inbox will highlight messages from the most important people.
  • Phone app has received long awaited "Reject with a message". It is possible to "Reject + Remind to call back"
  • "Do not disturb" mode which can silence all notifications and calls in a specific timeframe (let's say 10pm to 7am). In this mode only people on the Favorites list will sound the ring. It is also possible to allow the second call - if someone calls twice in the "Do not disturb" mode, the second call will not be silenced.
  • Facetime is not tied to WiFi anymore and now works on 3G/LTE as well. Many people were complaining about this artificial limitation.
  • Passbook - the center for electronic tickets and passes. It is now possible to manage tickets and boarding passes from one place. QR Codes allow third party devices to scan tickets directly form the iPhone screen.
  • Accessibility improvements

In my eyes, iOS 6 is far from a breakthrough, but offers several features requested by the users and some cosmetic changes. The Apple policy of bringing new features, such as Siri to new models only might be justified by the revenue from selling new iPhones and iPads (and also allows to cut expenses on Siri cluster, because if too many users get access to Siri, they are more than likely to crash it), but makes no sense from end user point of view.

The exact release date has not been disclosed yet, but Apple says "iOS 6 is coming this fall", so we will see it sooner, than later.

You can now ask why the title of this post is "iOS 6 surprise". The answer is "Because iPhone 3GS is still supported, while original iPad is not". It is unusual for Apple to support a device for more than two generations of software. Both the original iPhone and iPhone 3G have only received two software updates, so did the original iPad. iPhone 3GS is still sold and supported, most likely to fill the gap for the budget smartphone; iPhones were always marketed as a high-end device. With Tim Cook at the helm this policy seems to change.

23Apr/12Off

“Item” and 22 other items could not be purchased

"EVE: Templar One" and 22 other items could not be purchased at this time. Please try again later.

If you own an iDevice running iOS 5 or 5.1 you might have seen this window when trying to update or download an app from the App Store:

And if you've seen it, you've probably seen it more than once. So what does this error message really mean?

It means that you have a corrupted sqlite db file. Who would have thought? Unfortunately this is a known bug and has been happening to users all over the world. So far Apple did not fix the issue, but thanks to the internet, some clever folks have found & shared the solution on apple.com community forum.

EDIT:Apple has adressed this bug in IOS 5.1.1

If you are experiencing the problem above, just go to Settings -> General -> Software Update to update your device to iOS 5.1.1

If for whatever reason you can not/don't want to update your device, follow the tutorial below.

The tutorial is based on the forum info, but has some screenshots, which should make it even easier.

Pre-requisites

iOS version <= 5.1 (bug has been fixed by Apple in iOS 5.1.1 and above) - but jailbreak is not required!

The guide

1. Download iExplorer from their creator's website: http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/

2. Install iExplorer to your PC or Mac

3. Run iExplorer

4. Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch or iPad to your computer

5. Close iTunes if it starts automatically

6. Click "Mount iDevice" in the iExplorer window. You should now see list of files in the sandbox part of the device storage:

7. Browse to "Media" ->; "Downloads"

8. Find the file "downloads.*.sqlitedb"

9. Delete the file mentioned in 8.

10. Close iExplorer

11. Disconnect the device

12. Press the top "On/off" button and keep it pressed until "Slide to power-off" appears. Once it does, move the slider.

13. Wait for the device to shut down

14. Press the "On/off" button and wait for the device to boot up.

Done! The bug should be gone.

.

Credits

Writing this guide was possible thanks to just_jeepin and ya1950 posts on Apple Support Communities forum.

 

 

9Mar/12Off

Share your Windows printers using AirPrint

When AirPrint was first introduced in iOS 4.2, I have spent some time trying to share my Windows printer to my iPad. Of course a free solution was already there, one that involved installing Apple Bonjour Service with CUPS Lite for Windows. So I've quickly found that solution on Google and downloaded the necessary tools, namely Bonjour Print Services for Windows and Airprint.zip, which contains the CUPS service.

Making it work was quite easy. You need to unzip the Airprint.zip file to C:\Program Files\AirPrint (on a 32-bit Windows), or to C:\Program Files (x86)\Airprint on 64-bit Windows.

The next step is registering the service: log in as a user with admin rights, click "Start", "Run", enter "cmd" and press "OK".

In the console, enter the following commands:

sc.exe create AirPrint binPath= "C:\Program Files\AirPrint\airprint.exe -s" depend= "Bonjour Service" start= auto
sc.exe start AirPrint

IMPORTANT: If you use 64-bit Windows, use the appropriate Program Files (x86) directory instead.

It worked! ...until iOS 5. So I've run the Wireshark to see if Apple changed anything to the AirPrint protocol. It was not a surprise that they did:

Luckily, CUPS Lite has several command line switches and it can be adapted to the change.

To make Airprint.exe compatible with iOS 5 and above, run the following commands from the command prompt:

sc.exe stop Airprint
sc.exe delete Airprint
sc.exe create AirPrint binPath= "C:\Program Files\AirPrint\airprint.exe -R _ipp._tcp,_universal -s" depend= "Bonjour Service" start= auto
sc.exe start Airprint

IMPORTANT: Remember to use the right Program Files or Program Files (x86) directory.

Since you've seen the picture and the modified entry for Airprint service, you might already have guessed that -R binds CUPS Lite to a slightly different service name (the one which my iPad was looking for). This allows the iOS 5.x devices to be able to find shared printers again.

Make sure airprint.exe is allowed through in Windows Firewall. Some tutorials will tell you to disable Windows Firewall alltogether - don't do that, it's a security risk!

Some tutorials will tell you to enable guest account for the sharing to work. Don't do that, it's a security risk. If someone accesses your network (for example cracks or guesses your WiFi key), he will be able to print anything on your printer. Use one of the user accounts on Windows instead, and when you order iOS device to print something, iOS will automatically ask you for username and password.

The above has been tested with iPhone and iPad, both running iOS 8.1.2.

PS. If you are running Linux it is still possible to use CUPS and avahi daemon to share a Linux printer to AirPrint enabled devices.

3Dec/11Off

Infinity Blade II review

On 1st of December, Chair Entertainment Group has published a sequel to its flagship and critically acclaimed iOS game called Infinity Blade. The second iteration has the same praised sword combat mechanic as the first part, but has been enhanced with more features, so it is no longer a "dodge-slash" game, which many reviewers saw as boring and repeatable.

>> Read more here.

Infinity Blade II
Infinity Blade II
2Nov/11Off

A bug in iOS results in poor battery life

It seems a lot of people is displeased with the battery life of the new iPhone 4S. Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to the new iPhone users: other devices have been impacted by the problem as well. My iPhone 3GS with iOS5 is almost half discharged after a day on standby. I blamed it on the battery age at first, but many other people have started complaining about the same issue.

I did have a similar issue with my iPhone 3G at some point - when one of the processes kept running on the CPU. This issue looks similar, but is related to Location Services. In iOS5 Apple has divided System Services from other apps, and one of them seems to be the problem - the Setting Time Zone service. If you enable the Status Bar Icon, it will constantly show near the battery icon, meaning that something is using Location Services all the time. Disabling the Setting Time Zone service seems to fix the problem.

Location Services on iPad Location Services on iPhone

5Oct/11Off

iOS 5 goes public on the 12th of October

Most Apple fans have mixed feelings after yesterdays press conference, mainly because intead of iPhone 5 Apple will serve a slihgtly updated iPhone 4S. But fear not, iOS 5 and iCloud are coming soon. Scott Forstall did not say much about the new system itself, but we know when it arrives in iDevices: 12 of October. Golden Master release has already been released for developers.

Most important features of the new iOS:

  • Notification Center (non-disruptive notifications)
  • Reminders (time and location based)
  • iMessage (instant messenger for all iDevices)
  • WiFi sync (no need for cables anymore)
  • Newsstand (for those who like reading newspapers on iPad)
  • split keyboards (great for thumb-typing on iPad)
  • AirPlay mirroring for the iPad 2 (and for iPhone 4S too)
  • Siri voice recognition (for iPhone 4S only)
  • Wireless activation (no need for iTunes)
  • OTA iOS updates

iCloud storage will provide a free 5GB (which is now a de facto standard for most personal clouds - same as Windows Live Mesh and Ubuntu One). The most important feature is however automatic push synchronistation between all iDevices.

31Aug/11Off

How to tether tablet PC to mobile phone

Many people ask me recently how to tether a Wifi iPad to mobile phones. Fortunately, a guide already exist under this link: Internet Tethering vs 3G Tablet. I hope this guide helps those who already have a Wifi-only tablet, and all those, who still haven't decided between 3G and Wifi tablet PC.

18Jul/11Off

iOS 4.3.4 deployed, jailbreak already available

Apple has adressed the hole in PDF viewer, and an update has been released for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4 (GSM)
  • iPod Touch 3gen
  • iPod Touch 4gen
  • iPad
  • iPad 2

There are no other changes in the patch description.

It is also already possible to jailbreak iOS 4.3.4 using Pwnage Tool. Details are available here.