The iPad mini “R”: Two Weeks Later

It’s been a short while thanks to classes quickening their pace.  Several snowstorms hitting the Midwest have caused class schedules to be pushed back, and with major exams, a paper due (which I just completed before sitting down and posting this) satisfying math requirements and other chaos, it’s been a hectic two weeks.  In any case…

Two weeks ago today I spent a total of $672.00 USD on Apple’s iPad mini with Retina Displayand related accessories, praying that I would find uses for it besides gaming and music.  To my relief, these past two weeks have proven the iPad mini “R” (Retina) to be a great asset, both in entertainment as well as classwork.  It did take a lot of work (and admittedly some frustration, which I’ll explain below) but looking back, I went through similar trials and tribulations when I first purchased my Mac almost five years ago.  It’s been smooth sailing since then.

Regarding AirPrint, I’ve had some serious issues, but it was regarding my two-year-old Canon PIXMA printer and not the iPad mini.  For some odd reason neither my household’s two Windows machines nor my Mac were able to communicate wirelessly with the printer, let alone the newly-arrived iPad mini R.  It took almost two hours before I finally deliberately deleted all of the stored printer settings from the Mac, re-downloaded five firmware updates, assigned generic settings in System Preferences (including deleting the “Location” information) and then overwriting those settings using the firmware.  After that I had to reassign every machine in the house manually, though the iPad mini recognized the printer right away after all of the reconfigurations.

It took a LONG time to finally reach this point...
It took a LONG time to finally reach this point…

Yes, System Preferences shows two printers instead of one, but you know what?  Wireless printing now works.  If it ain’t broke, I’m not fixing it!

Pages

There are a few issues regarding AirPrint that remain, namely, that printing a Word document opened in Pages (free download) causes misaligned page breaks.  Fortunately it was notes created as a study guide, but it’s a proprietary issue regarding Pages that requires more work to resolve.  I’m hoping that the fix won’t require purchasing Pages for Mac, especially since I’m about to replace the five-year-old Mac that I have now, and all new Macs come with free copies of iWork.  Then again…it’s only $20.00 USD.

Janetter for Twitter

Janetter for Twitter (free) was the one major disappointment as far as iPad apps, though the OS X version is a keeper.  Though the Mac version boasts a clean interface free from ads, the iPad version placed an ad banner at the top of the screen, making it rather easy to tap while refreshing or manipulating the feed.  I immediately deleted it and downloaded the official Twitter client.

MyScript Calculator

MyScript Calculator deserves special mention as the app has helped tremendously with my math placement testing.  The app allows the user to draw a math problem with their fingertips and it’ll attempt to recognize your finger-writing before displaying an answer.  If it incorrectly reads your handwriting it’ll display a question mark, allowing the user to strike through the incorrect portion and correct the input.  The app even calculates trigonometry problems, though I’ve learned enough to calculate them myself.  The app is free, and I gave the developer Vision Objects a good rating.

Dropbox (iPad)

Dropbox has saved my rear time and time again.  Finishing my Financial Accounting coursework at home and saving it to Dropbox for access via the iPad during class has helped a LOT, not to mention any notes or review items that I need for my other classes.  A couple of times I had forgotten to add items to the shared folder at home so that I could access them while on campus, but other than that it’s been a big help.  Before the iPad I left my Dropbox account to rot for years; thank goodness I remembered my account information.

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I need to recover from classes and stomping through snow for the past week, but I wanted to share my thoughts on three games that I’ve been playing between studying, writing and stressing.

Block Fortress

Source: Foursaken Media

Foursaken Media’s Block Fortress is, without a doubt, the best two dollars that I’ve ever spent…well, since purchasing REO Speedwagon’s Take it On The Run (what can I say, I love ’80s hits).  After choosing a map containing rare minerals that you’ll need for crafting mods for your weapons and abilities, you set up your barracks and then alternate between setting up defenses, mining minerals and equipping your character, then battling against ever-increasing “Goblocks” or cube-shaped goblins.  There’s a level-up system where as you keep playing on different maps, your overall leveling unlocks stronger weapons and defenses, and the minerals collected from the maps upon failure (yes, you will ultimately fail) can be used to mod the defenses and weapons, from certain defenses no longer requiring power cells to operate, increasing range, to new firearms, rate of fire, to your defenses’ self-repair.  It’s a very addictive game, which makes me more than eager for Foursaken Media’s upcoming  spin-off title Block Fortress War coming next month.

Sonic CD

Source:  iTunes Store

Though I had some trouble handling the virtual d-pad during the first five minutes, Sonic CD plays almost perfectly.  The only problems I’ve had were maneuvering in the Special Stages, where Sonic has to try to catch the UFOs in order to earn the Time Stones.  After the first couple of tries, I decided to forget the Stones and go for the Good Futures manually (by warping to Past in every level and smashing the Metal Sonic holograms and the Robo Containers).

Modern Combat 4

Modern Combat 4 gameplay

One of my friends will scream sacrilege when he sees this, but Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4 is a cheesy yet action-packed title whose single-player campaign has me hooked.  Not because it’s a first-person shooter but because of the intuitive controls and above-average graphics (for a mobile device).  The dialogue is repetitive, the graphics aren’t meant for retina displays (though an update was released for retina support) and the story is as generic as they come, but despite it all…I still got my seven dollars worth.

Still, if I’ve learned anything from N.O.V.A. 3, it’s to stay the heck away from online multiplayer.  For FPS multiplayer gaming I turn to the Mac for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or it’s (inferior) sister game Tactical Intervention.

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That’s it for this week’s update.  When I have the time I want to philosophically discuss the mentality of console and PC gamers shunning mobile gamers and why they curry such disfavor for those who simply choose quick or convenient games rather than purchase yet another device with a controller or another shiny box with a keyboard and mouse.  While I’ve given up on console gaming I’m a staunch Steam user, but I find iOS gaming more convenient due to my lifestyle.  I would have liked to post something of that nature days ago, but you can blame Philosophy exams (Plato) for the lack of energy.

In any case, until next time.

Jay

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