27 October 2015

Ingress, exercise & in-app purchases

I've played Ingress (ingress.com) for a year or so now, to encourage me to walk. Some people find it very social, whereas I don't interact with other players at all - this is about me getting some exercise. I've walked 284 km as at the date of writing and have reached level 9.

Today I noticed the Android version asked for permission for in-app purchases. Niantic Labs, which used to be part of Google, is doing some interesting things such as teaming up with Pokemon to produce a similar game (I assume it will require players to walk/bike/move around to physical sites to catch Pokemons). Pokemon will have a pay-for element, and as many have anticipated, it seems Ingress will too.

I've seen concerns on the internet about this, but I trust that Niantic will do this well, and it won't be a "pay to win" type of game. The other difficult balance will be between people at higher levels already as compared with those new to the game who might have to pay to level up at the same speed as the longer term players.

Anyway, if you need some encouragement to get walking and see the world, I'd recommend Ingress, whether or you not you're interested in the social aspects of it!

06 October 2015

Samsung phones and a Renault Megane RS 250

I have a Samsung Galaxy Alpha phone, which I have come to really not like at all. It has had many issues, including simply not working for more than an hour or so at a time on the Optus network in Australia (an insider at Samsung Australia confirmed that it's a known issue).

I waited for the launch of the Nexus 5X and 6P in late September 2015 to see if I wanted one of those, but ended up ordering an iPhone 6S+ after the Google announcement. However, I'm still very happy with my employer supplied Nexus 5.

I really hate the Alpha now. It's slow, it's aggressive at terminating apps in the background in a way that my Nexus 5 simply doesn't, and today it killed (well, rendered unconscious) the radio head unit in my Renault Megane RS 250!

I've used this phone with the bluetooth in this car for 6 months without issue. Today though, while I was driving I went to switch from AM radio to bluetooth. It wouldn't change. I stopped the car and shut everything down - didn't fix it. I turned the radio off, and then it wouldn't turn on again. 

I rang Renault (North Shore Renault at Waitara, to give them a plug, because they fixed this for free without an appointment), and the first question asked was "Do you have a Samsung phone?"

He advised that if a Samsung phone tries to download its contacts to the car, it will sometimes crash the head unit. The phone asks if it can download them  during the pairing procedure, and I have always permitted it, despite it never actually downloading them (which is a fail all by itself). 

So 15 minutes in the workshop for a reset of the head unit, and it's working normally now. Renault cleared all the bluetooth pairings, so I made sure when I paired it again that I cancelled the address book download. 

Yet another black mark for Samsung and the Galaxy Alpha - although the service manager said that all Samsungs including the S5 and S6 do it as well.