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Bily Foster

Sim City 2013

1024 x 768_0Sim City 2013 comes out March 5th in the US and March 7th in Australia but I was able to sneak into a 5 hour preview this week and holly simulations Batman is this an incredible game.

Obviously any one who has played Sim City in the past knows that 5 hours flies by in a blink of an eye. For the un-initiated Sim City is at it’s very basic core a city simulator where you get to play Mayor. But this version with the new GlassBox engine makes every past iteration feel like you are playing a spreadsheet vs running a simulation.

Now the streets and roads are the backbone of your city, and are a requirement in order to add buildings, parks, zones, etc. And that backbone is how different ‘agents’ travel along in the city. “Agents” can represent Sim Citizens, Electricity, Garbage/Swear, Water, Products/Goods, etc. And each agent has a goal to achieve and you can actually watch it travel along the city as it does it’s job.

University 1024 x 768_0In the past if the game realized there would be a traffic jam based on number of a given area it would show an animation to represent a traffic jam, and now you actually see the traffic jam as the different Sims get caught up in the traffic while traveling their route.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg to how different this new version of Sim City is. There are finite resources available, and while you may have a smaller area per city, its depth of simulation looks incredibly deep. The charts, graphics and data visualization is a stat-nerds dream come true!

Another nice touch are the customizations that you can do to different buildings, instead of every Police, Firehouse, or Civil Building looking the same, you get a basic building to start and from there you can customize the different ‘add-on’ modules. For the Police it would be more patrol cars, or jail space. Hospitals have the option of adding more patient rooms and ambulances etc.

Casino City - 1024 x 768_0Social is something new in this reboot, not only offering the ability for cities to work together but for Mayor to actually be able to pick up cities that get left abandoned by other players.

Of course this new social/multi-player feature comes at a cost that no other Sim City has had in the past. An always on internet connection. Due to the nature of Sim Cities new structure and world economy it is reliant on getting data to and from the internet constantly. Which unfortunately means no game play for me on those days when I’m traveling which is a real bummer because nothing kills a few hours like loading up Sim City and traveling into it’s virtual world.

All in all I’m VERY excited about this release and if you don’t hear from me by the 10th you may need to send in a rescue team.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy.

Motorola HX550 – Bluetooth Earpiece

photo 2 I have plenty of headphones that let me shut out the world, but that’s not always convenient.  So now when I want to have a sound track of my life playing while I’m out and about I grab my Motorola HX550.

The HX 550 has got to be the easiest Bluetooth headphone earpiece configuration I’ve ever had connecting a device. By simply flipping open the earpiece, and putting it into your ear start the setup process begins and the earpiece tells you to go into your phone settings and go to Bluetooth. Once you do you’ll see the HX550 headset listed there.  Tap On it and it automatically syncs up.  Connecting the second device is a little trickier because you have to turn the first phone and then do the process again for the 2nd.

photo 4The HX 550 is an amazing earpiece with the ability to support two devices via Bluetooth.  I have my iPad mini connected as well as my iPhone. So here is the scenario, I can start music/audio book/podcast playing with my iPad mini into my ear piece, then when I hop into my car I connect my mini to my stereo via a cassette adapter cutting off the audio to earpiece.

Then my earpiece becomes available to use as a traditional Bluetooth. Another nice feature is when a call comes the headset reads the caller ID to me and I can tap the button to answer.  Once I arrive to my destination I disconnect the car adapter and then resume playing the content via the earpiece and since it’s only in once ear I have my other ear to pay attention to what’s going on in the real world.

photo 5The HX550 also features two microphones one in the back for noise canceling, and of course the forward microphone for your voice.

In fact I used the HX550 to dictate this review into my mini while I’m driving down the interstate headed into the studios. Obviously I’ll need to do some editing once I get to my desk but I can quickly do a brain dump of what it is that I want to talk about inside of my article so I don’t forget anything.

photo 1A coworker and I are constantly talk about we are really living in ‘the future’  we grew up with.  It’s going to be incredible to see what children born with this kind of technology available to them today are going to come up with.  What amazing things could be coming in another 10 to 15 years.

Dictation to digital assistants  with the ability to edit as well. It’s all going to be so crazy cool I already can’t wait to get my Pebble watch, and now with my Bluetooth headphones I am literally going be connected on all kinds of different ways to the web.

To prove how great these HX550 are I did this dictation while driving in my car listening to the radio and my window cracked little bit.  So I’ve got all kinds of noise,and what should be interference coming through and yet this was still able to pick up my voice  with a pretty decent dictation. I have not had any other headphone that talk to me!

The HX550 comes with several different ear hooks and pieces to try and insure a style that will work for a variety of individuals.  This has got to be one of the lightest pieces of technology I’ve ever owned, it is very light weight at 9g, in fact we picked up one for Matt and it’s so comfortable he’s fallen asleep with it in his ear, forgetting that he’s got it on.

In conclusion if you want to have music everywhere you go with the ability to still hear the outside world, the Motorola HX550 is defiantly worth investigation.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Apple TVs update (5.2)

Today Apple release 5.2 for the Apple TV which brings a handful of new features.

  • Up Next
  • Bluetooth support
  • Speaker Options.

photo 2Up Next lets you see and shuffle the up coming songs, which is a nice option to change the playlist on the fly. You access this by pressing the center button on your remote and selecting Up Next.

But I’m personally excited about the Bluetooth support and speaker options. Right now I believe the only thing supported via Bluetooth is a keyboard but for now that’s good enough. It makes searching for something in my collection of over 600 movies, and looking for things on YouTube, Vimeo much easier.

photo 1I’m hoping this leads to the possibilities of Bluetooth controllers for games and Apps down the road.

Now you might be wondering what I mean by Speaker options. Speaker options lets you route the audio to a different device. In my case I have an AirPort setup with the speakers connected to the pool. So instead of using a full computer or one of my iPods I can pop something on the AppleTV and send the audio to the pool!

The AppleTV just keeps getting better and the TV space is starting to get exciting.

Last year was the year of the iPad,  lets hope this is the year of AppleTV!

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Samsung-CLP415NW

Printer1Right before the holiday season my Samsung Color Laser died on me, and of course I needed to do some color printing. I’ve long since moved away from Ink jet printing. I just don’t print enough and so much time passes between print jobs that usually the ink dries out and when I go to get replacement Ink it ends up being just a few dollars more for a new printer with a warranty.

It got to the point that my garage looked like an ink jet printer grave yard. So after cleaning out the guts of the relics of the past I switched to color laser.

Printer5But it’s so expensive you might say, well that really depends on your point of view and of course your individual use case. Color Laser printers have dropped dramatically over the last few years.

As I said I usually didn’t run out or use the ink, it typically dried up on me. With laser you get toner that is powder and doesn’t dry up or evaporate. Also ink jet printers seem to have gone back to merging colored inks together so if you run out of yellow you’ve got to buy a whole ‘color’ cartridge vs a laser where you can replace just the toner color your running low on.

PrintSample1Also laser has a crisper and more consistent lines and edges when printing and comes out nice and warm, where an ink jet printer will need time to set and can be smudged when exposed to moisture.

I had my Samsung printer for around 6 years and bought it during the CompUSA going out of business sale. I think it ran about $300 and I never changed the toner on it and I was able to get clean crisp color prints of what I needed. Keep in mind I’m printing color documents and illustrations that are being designed for mass production not photographs. If you’re a big photo printer then laser is NOT the route for you. Photo printing is a different ball of wax.

Printer2Since I had such good luck with my previous Samsung I decided to go ahead and stay with the Samsung line and picked up the CLP-415NW, and I couldn’t be happier! What a step up in printing.

The printer is fast, I mean like B&W laser fast. I’ve gotten a kick out of doing some completely digital drawings on my Samsung Galaxy Note and sending them directly to the printer in full color. Usually they are printed out before I walk over to the printer.

PrintSample3The specs say it cranks out 19ppm and it’s even rockin’ a Gigabit Ethernet port, although I’ve got mine hooked up via WiFi so it can stand alone. Another nice feature, this printer is designed for high-volume printing, supporting up to 40,000 per month which is perfect for a small office.

Setting up this printer had to be the easiest setup I’ve ever had in my history of installing and setup printers both wired and wireless.  I litterly took it out of the box, loaded up the toner, some paper, plugged it in, pressed the WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) button on the printer and the corresponding WPS button on my router and BAM it was on the network ready for a print job.

Then I fired up my Samsung Galaxy Note and the Samsung Mobile Print App and was sending print jobs within minutes of plugging it in.

Piece of cake.

printerWebAdminEven adding the printer to my Mac was as simple as going to System Preferences -> Print & Scan -> click on the plus and it finds the printer on the network and I’m good to go.

There is even a web interface to the printer so that you can check the status, toner levels and maintenance info. The print quality is excellent and this is by far my most favorite printer I’ve ever owned hands down.

If you are in the market for a printer, before you pickup your next ink jet, check out a color laser as an option.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Why I gave up my iPad mini

The lifespan of products in our household generally go from me, to Matt, to Ma and then the family in Vietnam. And while I love the iPad mini, I am very frustrated with it’s lack of GPS and always on Internet. Yes, I can use my iPad as a hotspot so the mini can get online, but if I’m carrying it already and have to pull it out to turn on the hotspot, why wouldn’t I just look at its gorgeous retina display screen? And while most things Apple ‘Just Work’ the Linking is a less than perfect of an experience.

Despite what people say, there isn’t always free wifi available where ever I go and even if there is, I don’t always like to be on the same network with a bunch of strangers.

The lack of GPS is also a real pain. I was constantly getting can’t locate your position type messages that it became a side adventure to see all the different dead zones there are.

So I say good bye to my iPad mini and Matt is now enjoying it (since he mostly plays games and checks Facebook on it and doesn’t use it much outside of the house). I am currently debating on picking up the cell version. I’m just going with it out for now, and if I don’t miss it I may just hold out until the next revision to see if we get a retina display.

Don’t get me wrong I am ‘That iPad Guy’ and I will have another iPad mini because I LOVE the form factor. I’m testing if I’ll miss it considering I have the iPad and my Nexus 7.

In the meantime I’m off to play with my new toy, the Kindle Paperwhite. Details to come!

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

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