Friday, 15 March 2013

Galaxy S4 (IV) Official Release Specs & Thoughts

So last night we saw the opening ceremony of the Galaxy S4 in New York. I must admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of the ceremony itself, it's was a classic over the top American production with stages within stages and 'pretend' scenes in which they could use situations to demonstrate the abilities of the new S4. 100 marks for effort, not so much for execution. However, at least they tried something new and different which is fair enough.

A quick rundown of the new hardware features present in Galaxy S4:

CPU: Octa core 1.6Ghz Exynos/Quad Core 1.9Ghz Qualcomm (market dependent)
Display: 5 inch SUPER AMOLED display at 1920x1080 441ppi (Gorilla Glass 3)
Memory: 2GB RAM
Internal Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB with expandable micro SD slot for card
Cameras: 13MP rear, 2MP front
Mobile: GSM/EDGE/3G/4G technology, Wifi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Sensors/Connections: NFC/InfraRed/MHL2/Temperature/Humidity
Physical measurements: 130 grams, 7.9mm thin, Thin Bezel
Battery: 2600mAh

Software Additions:

Operating System: Android 4.2.2 - Jelly Bean (No mention of Key Lime, however one would assume it will receive the update when available)
S Translate: A neat feature that holds 9 languages and can translate between them, it can process text-to-speech and speech-to-text and can apparently be used without data charges!
S Voice Drive: When the phone is running on bluetooth it will accept voice commands without the need for touching the device itself!
AirView: You can 'hover' your fingers over the screen to expand certain items (an image on a web page for isntance), along with using hand gestures to scroll the screen/answer calls etc.
Smart Pause: The S4 can tell when you look away from it, pausing whatever media you are currently watching. It resumes when you look back at the screen again.

Camera Functions:
Dual Shot - can activate both front and rear cameras simultaneously to enable everyone to be in the picture, the same applies to video calls, you can show both cameras at once.
Eraser - if you are taking a picture and someone inadvertently walks across the image, the eraser tool will snap multiple times to enable you to 'remove' said person/object from the end image.
Drama Shot - Does almost the opposite of Eraser, takes many shots in quick succession but will keep the image store from each picture, thus you could show a horse in many stages of its jump, for instance.
Sound & Shot - Allows tagging of a voice memo/message to each image.

In all, you may not think there are many fantastic hardware additions over the Galaxy S3. The screen being promoted to a full 1920*1080 resolution (same as an HD monitor/TV) is a step in the right direction. Going to 5 inch I'm not so sure I am a huge fan of. I'm not really sure where the mobile market is trying to go right now, it seems screens are getting bigger and bigger but they're only 2 inches from a small tablet now (not counting the Note, I don't even know what that is). In the past it was always, 'Who can make the smallest phone?', it seems now to be going the other way now. But I guess if everyone is doing this, you can't really blame one manufacturer for it, they are only following the trend.

Aside from the screen, the camera addition is a decent one, making that standard 'step' to the next level. The same applies to the CPU, either a 1.6Ghz 8 core unit or an almost 2Ghz (1.9) 4 core unit will ship with the S4. To power these units it also contains a 2600mAh battery, around 25% higher capacity than the one in the S3. That screen will drain quite some juice though so it does need it. I can imagine battery levels to be fairly similar, perhaps with a possibility of it having a slightly longer life.

It's nice to have things like a temperature sensor and a humidity sensor but whether they will get used in day to day life is another question. The same applies to the InfraRed sensor, will people use it to control their TV's? I'm not sure, only time will tell.

In all, it's most definitely a worthy upgrade from the Galaxy S2, however a lot of S3 owners have been feeling like the biggest difference is the software and that they will be shunned to the side without any of the updates themselves, but it still seems like it has enough features for the upgrade.

I'll give the phone a 9/10 as it's not quite as much as it was hyped up to be, but it's most certainly one of, if not the, leader in the Android/worldwide smartphone market at the moment.


Images courtesy/copyright of Samsung

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SimCity: Top or Flop?


The dust has (almost) settled after a somewhat troubled SimCity launch. Those who have purchased are just about able to play without interruption now, 8 days after the official release.

The launch was plagued with server connection problems, effectively meaning that due to the 'always online' nature of the game, nobody was able to play it! In the rare case that someone was able to get onto a server and create a city, it appeared that once the connection to the server was dropped for longer than 10 minutes, their progress was lost.

EA continued to add servers to their armoury until they finally reached almost double the amount that SimCity originally launched with. A seemingly grave miscalculation was made regarding the sheer number of users that would attempt to login. Either that or they'd written inefficient server side code which was bottlenecking their systems.

The sales of the game was pulled briefly from Amazon's stores stating that EA was struggling to cope with the number of users attempting to play. EA have attempted an apology by stating everyone would registered before March 18th would receive a 'free game' from their portfolio. What this means we don't quite know just yet (personally I'd love Crysis 3).


I'll try not to be too harsh on EA/Maxis here. In essence, the game isn't bad. It does very much feel like you are playing your standard city sim. A few things they seemed to either miss out or execute badly were the following:

Individual Zoning - You no longer control your zoning by creating three separate sub-zones, instead your sims decide, based on surroundings, which areas are suitable for higher development and/or wealth. You can have high density but low wealth areas with large apartments, for instance.

Water Pipes/Power Lines - There are none! So long as you are connected up to a road, your city with be provided with your utilities. I would have liked to see perhaps an option to turn this on/off for a new city, to at least enable you to decide whether you wanted to be an all out anal city planner.

City Size - They should have named this SimVillage, as that's honestly what it feels like at times. It's nowhere near to the scale of SimCity4, for instance. Allegedly they wanted 'every PC' to be able to play it. I call them out on that though. Word on the street is that EA will charge you more for a DLC so you can build 'larger cities'. I can hardly say I didn't expect it from them.

Unit pathing - Cars with always take the shortest route, period. They really will. You can create a long winding highway, yet they will still be adamant on taking the dirt road to work. An incredibly irritating situation as you have to make sure your city can cope with it! My advice would be to work towards public transport as soon as you can!!

Offline play! - You flat out can't play this game offline, forget creating cities on those long flights over the Atlantic, it's not going to happen. The game must be connected to EA's servers at all times, if it detects a drop in connection for over 10 minutes, it will close down and you will lose your progress. The fact that you can carry on playing for 10 minutes without interruption almost proves that the game can quite suitably function in offline mode. Rumours are that it can actually be played as an offline game, EA just won't allow it.

So, what have they added, you might ask?

Online play! - You are able to create your cities within regions (which can hold up to 16 or so 'city' grids within them). What this means is that friends can create cities next to yours, allowing for sharing of resources, public services, utilities. This can be handy if you are just creating a new city and need power or fire truck support on the cheap.

Depth of play - I won't go into the details too much, but there seems to be a large amount more depth to the game with regards to building types and progress paths. You can advance various cities within a region to work towards 'Great Works' goals, for instance a large solar array to provide power to the cities in the region.


I'm not 100% happy with the game as it stands, perhaps that will change in futures patches. That is of course assuming EA bother to actually patch it! (Can you sense the sour taste that's been left in my mouth?) I would really like to forgive them for it, but I'm not sure what it would take for me to do that. It's not just me they would have to appease either, the majority of the gaming community was in outrage.

Taking that aside, the game itself isn't so bad, make the cities larger, give me offline play (perhaps allow syncing to servers and claiming city grids when connected, for instance, to allow for them to retain their 'multiplayer' aspect they keep harping on about) and I'd be happy with it.

Pushing the anger from the server issues slightly aside and thinking with a clear head, I'll give it a 7.5/10, not quite a Top, not quite a Flop. I'm not sure whether they will keep it updated or pull through with their promises but only time will tell. I will say one thing though, I'm glad I only paid £25 for my version.


Edit: Since writing the article another news report has come to light, showing the use of SimCity offline. To say I'm disappointed in EA/Maxis is an understatement.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

TP-Link TL-WA901ND v2 problems, now with added DD WRT

We purchased two of these devices for our offices a short while back, however, after setting one up on our private network and the other for external users, we discovered the one we used internally would drop out every now and again.

Sometimes, it would stop displaying the wireless SSID altogether, sometimes it would stop displaying it to new clients, yet clients that were already connected could still use the network, sometimes it would flat out deny any new connections to the network an IP. It would also display more than one of the problems at the same time. All could be resolved for around 12 hours by restarting the device.

We never had any more than 15 devices connected at any one time to our internal one, at 1 or 2 at most to the external one. I tried swapping the settings on them so we were now connecting to the other device instead for internal use, to no avail. Whichever one we connected the most clients to, would always drop out, despite running the latest firmware from TP Link.

How this issue hasn't been resolved yet I don't know.

(Image is copyright of DD-WRT)

Seeing as we rarely used the external device, I decided to have a play around with it so I flashed the custom firmware from DD WRT onto the spare access point.

To start with I wasn't able to access the GUI. To get into it, I connected to the wireless network 'dd-wrt' that it broadcasts,and within command prompt, had to set a neighbor on the wireless connection.

Open 'cmd' as admin.
Type: arp -a
Then: netsh -c "interface ipv4"
Then: set neighbots "Wireless Network Connection 1" "" "A0:F3:C1:81:XX:XX"

You must replace the 'wireless network connection' with the name of your connection - check the network and sharing centre for this. Also check the bottom of your access point for the correct MAC address and replace the "A0:F3:..." etc with your one.

Then: exit
Then type 'arp -a' again to check if the MAC address is assigned to that particular IP.

If you can connect to through your web browser, then your work is done! If not, you may need to restart the access point and as soon as the network is picked up by your computer, quickly connect and hit refresh on the webpage - you have to be quick to get in!!

To be able to properly setup the device on your network, you must fill in all the correct values, otherwise you may not be able to connect again.

Setup - Basic Setup:
WAN Connection Type - Disabled
Network Setup - Router IP - all of your network information goes in here, your local IP address is the one you want to connect to your access point on (remember this so you can connect back to the interface in the future!!), subnet mask should be taken from your main router and is normally, gateway is the IP address of your main router and if you have a local DNS server, enter it in the box as well.
Tick the 'Assign WAN Port to Switch'
Enable your DHCP server for the AP and input your correct network details

Setup - MAC Address Clone
Make sure this is disabled

Setup - Advanced Router:
Make sure Operating Mode is set to your preferred type, we have ours as a Gateway

Wireless - Basic Settings:
Enter all of your setings in here, wireless mode is AP for us, the channel/bandwidth settings and your preferred broadcast SSID.

Wireless - Wireless Security:
Ensure you enter a password in here, otherwise you will have an open network that anyone can join. We use WPA2 Personal Mixed with AES algorithms.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Great Discounts With CDKeyNexus

Hi guys, I've been in touch with the guys over at and have agreed a coupon discount code for all readers.

It will work with all purchases and give you 5% off their already fantastic prices for games!

It's quite simple, all you need to do is type this coupon discount code into their checkout:


They will email you the game serial key after you make your purchase to add to the relevant platform, Origin, Steam, Uplay and so on! Fear not if the purchase is not in your currency, especially if you use PayPal, it will convert it at a decent rate for you!

They've got some great prices on the new SimCity, Tomb Raider, Heart of the Swarm and Crysis 3 games and are always more than happy to answer any questions you have for them!