Monthly Archives: April 2011

Easter Sneezies

Since today is Easter, I figured I would write a blog post about the Easter Sneezies application, by Chillingo, Ltd., for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which is quite fun to play, and perhaps even addicting.

When you first download and launch the Easter Sneezies application, you should see a loading screen, displaying the game’s title and the Chillingo logo.

Once the game has loaded, you will be taken to the game’s main menu, where there are two buttons, “Classic”, and “Challenge”, both of which will begin a game in the respective mode. In addition, there are also “Settings” and “Scores” buttons. Also, there is a “More Games” button, which will bring you to the iTunes App Store, where you can view and purchase other applications by Chillingo, Ltd.

There is also an information button, which explains how to play the game, as well as a “Be a Fan” button, which opens a page, where you can sign up for the “Retro Dreamer” newsletter, as well as become a fan on FaceBook or try their latest application for free.

As I mentioned earlier, Easter Sneezies has two gameplay modes, “Classic” and “Challenge”. In both modes of gameplay, there are little Easter bunnies floating around in bubbles, and the goal of the game is to try to get a certain number of bunnies to sneeze, popping the bubbles that they are in.

In order to do this, all you have to do is tap on the screen, which will cause you to drop “sneezing powder”, which will cause any bunnies that the powder touches to sneeze. Once a bunny sneezes, any bunnies that are close enough to the sneezing bunny will also begin to sneeze, causing a chain reaction.

There are also bonuses that users can earn by doing things, such as causing 75 percent or more of the bunnies to sneeze, causing all of the bunnies to sneeze, eliminating all the bunnies of a certain color, as well as other bonuses.

Easter Sneezies has two different modes of gameplay, “Classic” and “Challenge” mode.  In the classic mode, users have to get a certain number of bunnies to sneeze through a chain reaction, which increases as the levels progress. However, users only have one “turn” of sneezing powder to create the chain reaction. However, in the “Challenge” mode, users can have multiple “turns” of sneezing powder, but after every “turn”, more bunnies are added, so it’s not as difficult as it may sound.

Overall, I think Easter Sneezies is a fun game, with great graphics, and isn’t doesn’t require a lot of work to learn how to play. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great puzzle style game or for anyone who likes a fun and easy game, but one which can be challenging at times, as well.

If you would like to try playing Easter Sneezies, you can download it for free from Apple’s iTunes App Store.

T-Mobile’s Bobsled

Recently, T-Mobile has released a new FaceBook application, called Bobsled, powered by Vivox, which enables users to have a one-on-one voice chat with any of their FaceBook friends, right within FaceBook, provided both users have downloaded and installed the browser plug-in.

Once you download and install the Bobsled plug-in, you should be able to see a little green phone icon, located next to the names of your contacts in the FaceBook chat window. When you want to initiate a Bobsled call to one of your FaceBook friends, all you need to do is click on their name, which should bring up a chat window.

Within that chat window, there should be an area at the top of the window, where you can see small profile pictures of both the person you would like to chat with, as well as yourself. Between the two profile pictures, is a “Call” button, which, when clicked, initiates a Bobsled call to the other user, who will be prompted to answer or reject the call.

When a user answers, you can chat with them, right from within FaceBook, and can even navigate to other pages within FaceBook without causing the call the “drop” or end. However, if you do navigate to a website other than FaceBook, the call will be ended, similar to how you would be signed out of a regular chat.

However, if a user rejects your call or if you call and then click on the “Cancel” button, you will be given the option to leave the person you are trying to call a voicemail, as well as the option to write a message. Alternatively, the voicemail  prompt window allows you record a voicemail and then send it, as well as any text that you wrote, as a private message.

Also within the Bobsled chat window interface, there are four links, which are “Share”, “Audio Setup”, “Feedback”, and “Help”. The “Share” link allows you to let another FaceBook user know about Bobsled, as well as allows you to include your own, personal message.

The “Audio Settings” link enables users to configure and test their microphone and speaker settings, while the “Feedback” link brings up a window that enables users to provide feedback about Bobsled, as well as provides access to some helpdesk and feedback questions.

The “Help” link will bring up a new window, with a variety of frequently asked questions and help topics regarding T-Mobile’s Bobsled service.

I actually tried using T-Mobile’s Bobsled service a few days ago and think it is a neat service. I thought the call quality was pretty good and was able to hear the person I was chatting with pretty well.

However, it appeared as though our call dropped a few times, but with every VoIP service, it happens from time to time. Overall, though, I enjoyed using T-Mobile’s Bobsled service and would recommend it to anyone who would like to be able to chat with their FaceBook friends, right from within the FaceBook chat interface.

If you would like to learn more about T-Mobile’s Bobsled service, powered by Vivox, you can do so by going to the official Bobsled website, as well as by checking out this article from MobileCrunch and this article from Engadget.

Have you tried using T-Mobile’s Bobsled service? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or opinions!

Custom GMail Background Image Themes

Last Thursday, April 14, Google posted a new blog post to their Official GMail Blog, announcing that users are now able to create their own, custom, GMail themes.

While GMail had previously provided users the ability to customize their theme’s colors, users could not use any custom images with their theme. However, GMail users can now create a completely custom theme, complete with colors and images of their choosing.

If you would like to create your own, custom, theme, you can do so by logging into your GMail account and going to the “Themes” section of the “Settings” menu.

From there, users can click on the “Create your own theme” button, which will load a pop-up window, where users can edit their theme. The pop-up windows shows a rather simple version of some attributes that are found in the GMail interface, all of which can be edited, including text, links, subject text, snippet text, as well as the background.

In order to edit one of these attributes, users can click on the attribute they would like to edit, causing a drop down box to appear, which provides a variety of different colors to choose from. For frames, users can choose a background color, text color, as well as a link color.

However, the main two backgrounds, the main area of the interface, and the footer, can can be customized with an image, which can be chosen from a user’s Picasa account or uploaded from their computer. Then, users can choose the alignment and tiling options for their images.

When a user is done creating a custom theme, all they need to do is click on the “Save” button, at the bottom of the theme editor pop-up window. Should someone make a mistake or wish to start over, they can click on the “Reset” button, located next to the “Save” button.

For more information about about creating themes with custom backgrounds in GMail, you should check out this post from the Official GMail Blog.

Have you tried using the new theme creator? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Configuring FaceBook Privacy Settings

While there are many people who use FaceBook to keep in touch with family, friends, co-workers, as well as other people, many of those people may not know about the various security settings that FaceBook has to offer or how to use them.

Configuring your security settings on FaceBook is quick and simple and can help to keep your information safe from people whom you do know want to have access to it.

If you would like to view or configure your FaceBook account’s security settings, you can do so by logging into your account and then clicking on the “Account” button, which is located in the top right of the FaceBook interface. From there, you should click on the “Privacy Settings” link, which will take you to the security settings page.

On the FaceBook Privacy Settings page, there are six different privacy and security options that you can view and configure, including “Connecting on FaceBook”, “Sharing on FaceBook”, “Apps and Websites”, “Block Lists”, and “Controlling How You Share”. Each of these options has different effects on your FaceBook account’s privacy and security and can be used to decide who gets to view what on your profile and who does not.

The first security and privacy option on this page is the “Connecting on FaceBook” link, which when clicked, takes you to a page where there are seven different settings that have to do with how other people can find your FaceBook account, how they can contact you, as well as what information on your profile they can see.

The second option on the “Choose Your Privacy Settings” page is the “Sharing on FaceBook” option, which you can use to control which information you share with other users. There are four different preset privacy settings that you can choose for this, which are “Everyone”, “Friends of Friends”, and “Friends Only”. There are also “Recommended” settings, as well as the ability to set “Custom” settings, so you can manually decide who is able to view what information on your FaceBook profile.

The next security and privacy option would be the “Apps and Websites” section, which provides you with information as to how many FaceBook applications you use, as well as the most recent applications that you have used along with the date that you last used a particular application.

Also on this page, users can view and configure which information is available to third-party applications, who is able to see which apps you use, which information you are able to see about a friend on an application’s website, as well as whether or not you would like a preview of your FaceBook profile to be shown when someone does a search for you using a search engine, such as Google.

Another section that allows users to configure their FaceBook security is the “Block Lists” section. This section enables users to block users from sending application invites, event invites, or to block someone altogether.

In order to block someone from sending application or e-mail invites, you should type their name into the text field, which should start auto-suggesting names for you. Once you have entered or selected the name of the person you would like to block from sending you application or event invites, you can press the “Enter” or “Return” key to block them.

If you would like to block someone altogether, which means that neither you, nor the person being blocked, will be able to see each other’s profiles anymore, you can enter the person’s name or e-mail address into the respective text field, and click on the “Block” button. You can, however, unblock a user by clicking on the “Blocked Users” link, and choosing to unblock them.

Also on the FaceBook “Privacy Settings” page, is a link to a “Controlling How You Share” guide, which provides users with information about a variety of different privacy tools and options.

Hopefully this post has been able to help FaceBook users understand the different security settings that are available to them and how to better use them.

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to have a safe and secure account on FaceBook? If so, please feel free to post them in the comments section below!

 

Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player

As you may have already heard, Amazon recently launched a service called Cloud Drive, their own online file storage solution, which allows users to upload up to 5GB worth of documents, files, and music to their servers, for free. In addition, Amazon also launched a new service, Cloud Player, which allows users to play media files, such as music, that is stored on their Cloud Drive accounts.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive is similar to Microsoft’s Windows Live SkyDrive, in that it allows users to create an account and upload music and many other types of files to Amazon’s servers, in order to store it online. However, unlike Windows Live SkyDrive, any music album that is purchased from AmazonMP3 automatically gets added to a user’s Amazon Cloud Drive.

In addition, if a user purchases an album from AmazonMP3, they will automatically receive a free storage upgrade to 20GB for a year, which would normally cost $20. However, any albums or songs that you have previously purchased will not be automatically added to your Cloud Drive.

Also, there are more storage upgrades available, including $50 for 50GB of space, $100 for 100GB of space, and so on. These upgrades go all the way up to 1TB of storage space, which would cost users $1,000.

If you would like to upload music to your Cloud Drive from your computer, you are allowed to do so, but any of the files that you upload must be free of DRM, or digital rights management.

Amazon Cloud Player is the web-based music player that users can use to listen to any of the songs that are on their Cloud Drive accounts, including purchases from the AmazonMP3 store. Amazon Cloud Player also works on Android devices, as it is built into the AmazonMP3 application, which can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace, as well as Android’s AppStore. However, there is not currently a Cloud Player application for iPhones or other iOS devices.

For more information about Amazon Cloud Drive or Amazon’s Cloud Player,  you should check out this article from TechCrunch, as well as the official “Getting Started” guide from the Amazon website.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

As probably know, every year on April Fool’s Day, a bunch of websites and technology companies, such as Google, Hulu, Groupon, Spotify, as well as others,  come up with jokes and pranks to pull on their users. Below are three of these such pranks, which you may find interesting.

GMail – GMail Motion

If you went to the GMail website today, with the intent of checking your e-mail, you may have noticed that there was a box announcing “GMail Motion”, which enables users to access and navigate around their GMail accounts by making certain gestures and body movements, which would be picked up by their webcam.

Google even created a help page for the “GMail Motion” product, explaining what it is, how it works, which motions will do what within GMail, as well as some other information. Also on this page was a YouTube video, explaining this new feature, which I have posted below.

However, when users go to click on the “Try GMail Motion” button, located near the top right of the help page, a black box appears with a loading bar beneath it. Once the box has reached 100%, it will display a message reading “April Fools! Gmail Motion doesn’t actually exist. At least not yet…” and also offers users to either sign into their GMail accounts or to close the pop-up box.

Groupon – April Fool’s Day Patent

Another interesting April Fool’s Day prank was one that the daily deals website Groupon did, which was claiming that they actually filed for the patent for “April Fool’s Day” and changing the holiday’s name to “Groupon Presents April Fools’ Day™”.

Also, on this page of the Groupon website, it is explained that people will never have to be confused again with another corporation’s April Fool’s Day joke”You’ll never again be confused by other corporations’ April 1 pranks, since Groupon will be taking friendly, but swift, but hostile, legal actions against any nonlicensed April Fools’ Day™ joke.”

Groupon even went as far as to file a “patent” for April Fool’s Day, which you can also find a link to on their April Fool’s Day page.

YouTube – YouTube 1911

YouTube is another website that came up with something for April Fool’s Day, creating a blog post saying that today is the website’s 100th anniversary and that in order to reflect on the site’s inaugural year, they would post a re-print of their first blog post from 1911.

Also, on some YouTube videos, there is an option to actually make a video look as though it was created in the early 1900’s, by making a video appear as though it is a silent film, with the exception of a piano soundtrack playing along with the video, by making the video appear as though it’s being projected and is in a sepia-like color.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these three April Fool’s Day pranks that have been pulled on the visitors of GMail, Groupon, and YouTube! For a more complete list of websites and tech companies that have created April Fool’s Day pranks, I’d suggest that you check out this article from TechCrunch, as well as this article from PCMag.com.

What is your opinion of these April Fool’s Day jokes? How do you think they compare to the jokes that were created in the past years? Please feel free to post your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!