Quilxotic v1.4.1 Released!

v1.4.1 – Feature & Bugfix Release – Jan 9th, 2014
• Save/load mechanism to save your place in a book you’re reading
• Preview book info like title and author on the Launcher screen before loading the book
• Auto-add CDATA so you don’t need to add it manually to your <content>
* NOTE: All <content> is assumed to be HTML now. So for instance you need to use <br> for line breaks.
• Audio enable/disable option when loading your book
• Numerous fixes related to savegames and interface

Get it on Google Play

Leave a comment

Quilxotic v1.3 Released!

v1.3 – Feature Release – Jan 1st, 2014
• HTML formatting is now supported in the <content> tag! Add bold, italics, underline and any other HTML formatting to your book! Some caveats apply, please see the main Quilxotic documentation page.
• Pages can now only have one choice. If only on choice is set in the XML, the 2nd and 3rd choice buttons won’t appear
• Music now loops
• Music and vo should correctly pause and continue you switch away to the app and return

Get it on Google Play

Leave a comment

Quilxotic v1.2 Released!

v1.2 – Bugfix Release
• Fixed image scaling. Use images of any size now!
• Non-XML files no longer show up in book selection dropdown
• Minor UI improvements & polish

Get it on Google Play

Leave a comment

Quilxotic v1.1 (Beta2) Released!

v1.1 (Beta2 Release)
• Significant rewrite for added features
• New launcher screen allows you to choose any XML file in the /Quilxotic folder
• Example.xml is always copied locally as a template. Do not modify it with your changes, instead make a new XML with your content!
• XML debugging optional, enable it with the checkbox on the launcher screen

Get it on Google Play

Leave a comment

Top Tech Gifts of 2013

Give the gift of cellular freedom!
Motorola Moto G – $200
Google Nexus 5 - $349

Until recently the prospect of buying a new smartphone without a multi-year contract was nearly unthinkable. Most smartphones sell unlocked at over $600 (and premium phones like a new iPhone cost upwards of $800). This year that changed in a big way with these two Android phones, giving you uncompromising devices at prices you don’t need a carrier contract or 2nd mortgage to afford!

At only $200, the Moto G phone (left) from Motorola offers a no-compromise Android experience with a fast CPU, 720 HD screen, solid 5MP camera and support for all Canadian networks (including Wind Mobile and Mobilicity). At $200 without a contract, this is the best option for escaping that dreaded contract renewal and is currently available from Telus & Koodo.

The Nexus 5 by Google (right) sports the cutting edge Snapdragon 800 CPU, a full 1080p 5’ screen, 8MP camera and full LTE support. Like the Moto G, it works on all Canadian carriers, and costs a relatively modest $349. The Nexus 5 is available directly from Google’s Play Store – http://play.google.com

For the Consummate Console Gamer!
Sony PlayStation 4 – $399
Microsoft Xbox One – $499

For the last 7 years the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have fought over that coveted spot on your TV stand, and that battle shows no sign of slowing with Microsoft and Sony’s latest consoles. Boasting enhanced graphics, new media abilities, social connectivity and more, both hope to be the must-have console this Christmas. While your gift’s recipient has probably already made up their mind about which they prefer, here are the highlights.

Microsoft’s made it no secret that it wants its Xbox One (left) to be more than a gaming console. With the ability to control your TV and other media devices, the Xbox One is a media hub as much as a gaming machine. Enhanced voice control can be hit or miss, but it’s undeniably futuristic to say “Xbox Play HBO” and have your TV jump to the correct channel.

The PlayStation 4 (right), on the other hand, is a gaming system through and through. Generally considered to be the more powerful of the two, you’ll see higher resolutions and framerates on the PS4. With the focus solely on games, you won’t find TV controls or voice commands on the new PlayStation, but you will find an extra $100 in your pocket compared to the Xbox One.

Of course, you could always save some money and pick up the last-gen Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for a much lower price and play all the games you missed out on!

For the Netflix Nerd!
Roku 3 – $100
Roku LT – $50

Tired of hooking up your computer to your TV just to watch Netflix? A Roku box connects to your home internet connection and streams Netflix and much, much more. The Roku LT is a steal at $50, but only supports 720p. The full 1080p Roku 3 will set you back $100.

For the Fitness Fanatic!
Fitbit Force – $130

Not just a stylish watch, the Fitbit Force tracks your steps, distance traveled and calories burned throughout the day, syncing with your smartphone for instant exercise analysis. It’s also an excellent sleep tracker, tracking the quality of your sleep by the frequency of your nocturnal movements, and waking you with a silent wrist-vibration rather than a noisy alarm clock.

For the Musically Maniacal!
Kinivo ZX100 – $20
Jawbone Jambox – $100

Some people just need to have music everywhere! These two battery-powered speakers allow you to play music from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or computer for the whole world to hear. While the Kinivo (left) is a great budget choice, the Jawbone Jambox (right) is where you’ll find the best audio quality from such a tiny package.

Leave a comment

Fiverr – A Marketplace of $5 Services

Ever had something simple you needed done, that you know would take an expert only a few minutes, but you’d never be able to do on your own? That’s what fiverr, an online marketplace focusing on low-cost services, is for.

Fiverr hosts a stunning variety of professional services, all starting at a mere $5. Want a caricature made of a loved one? Only $5. Want a voiceover read by a native British/Irish/anything else speaker? Only $5. Want 45 minutes of conversation practice with a Spanish speaker? Only $5.

With categories covering Advertising, Video/Animation, Graphic Design, Programming, Music, Writing & Translation, and the absurdly amusing Fun & Bizarre section, there’s someone on fiverr that can do pretty much anything that can be delivered to you digitally (and sometimes by mail as well). If not, you can always put in a request and watch the experts come to you.

There’s some fun Christmas gifts to be found on fiverr as well, like a drawn portrait of a family member, a professionally edited photograph, and more.

Learn more at www.fiverr.com

 

Leave a comment

Passwords – The Weakest Link

Even in the early days of the internet security was a concern. I can remember my father coming home from his university with a floppy disk that, unbeknownst to him, contained a virus that had spread through the university mainframe, and that was when the “world wide web” was still restricted a hobbyists, educational institutes and the military.

Needless to say things got more and more complicated from then on. Virus scares were commonplace, opening the wrong e-mail could result in irreversibly lost data or worse. Every floppy disk needed to be scanned manually for viruses and random popups threatened to take over your computer. In more recent times internet security has become both much simpler, but with much higher stakes.

The good news is that common-sense security software like anti-viruses and firewalls are commonplace, usually even enabled by default on new computers. Web browsers are much more intelligent about warning users of possible threats, and improved networking hardware (both in homes and at the telcoms like Shaw) have made the simpler exploits of yesteryear much harder. These improvements, along with some common-sense browsing practices make the threat of viruses and traditional computer “hacks” vastly less concerning for the average user.

The bad news is that users are putting increasingly personal and sensitive data online. Our Facebook accounts are full of private photos, Amazon stores a full catalogue of our credit cards and addresses, our credit scores are available online with little more than our social security number and our online social accounts have never before seen so much scrutiny from potential employers making them a tempting target for libel.

Internet security is no longer primarily about protecting your computer. An individual computer isn’t an especially valuable target for hackers, but your Amazon’s account is an incredibly valuable score for enterprising “black-hat” hackers. There’s nothing you can do to improve Amazon or Facebook’s security of course, but your access to those accounts – most significantly your passwords - are now the weakest link in this chain.

Unfortunately most users still use incredibly weak passwords, often less than 8 lowercase characters and no numbers. Even an 8-character non-dictionary password like “qweasdzx” can be cracked in as little as 52 seconds by a normal computer. By comparison, a longer, 10-character password with upper- and lower-case characters and numbers, such as “qw3asDzx79″ would take upwards of 6 years to crack. Remember, length is far more important than anything else – even a simple password “wheredidthepartygo” (233 million years to crack) is vastly more secure than the complex, but short “h@T3r” (0.67 seconds to crack).

Try out http://howsecureismypassword.net to see how secure your passwords are!

But who wants to remember long passwords like those, especially when you should have a different password for every web account you use? That’s where LastPass comes in. LastPass is a browser add-on that manages your passwords for you so you don’t have to. Simply create a LastPass account with one very strong password and let LastPass generate complex, nigh-uncrackable passwords for your other web accounts. Anytime you visit Facebook or Amazon, LastPass will autofill the password field so you never need to remember more than one password.

LastPass is entirely free (although enhanced features are available for $12/year) and works with all popular browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and more and is backed by some of the best encryption security available today. So let LastPass handle the security of your web accounts and never forget another password again!

http://www.lastpass.com

Leave a comment

Who do you blame when the butler is murdered?

Edward Grimes stood over the body of the well-dressed man, the candlestick still firmly in his grip. As his senses returned to him he became keenly aware of his surroundings, the smell of the library’s musty old books filling his nostrils, no doubt making a permanent association with the act he had just committed. Realizing that he was as motionless as the deceased man before him, he turned back to the shelf where, in the final moments of his carefully executed plan, he had grabbed the candlestick.

He had played Clue when he was a boy during the winters while the orchard work was sparse and childhood boredom plentiful. During these games with his siblings he would always guess the candlestick as the murder weapon, as it seemed to him so enthusiastic, so bold a murder weapon that he couldn’t resist imagining its use to off Colonel Mustard in the study. His imaginative young mind still served him well now.

Quickly wiping down the candlestick with his kerchief and carefully placing the candlestick where it belonged, he listened for the telltale sound of approaching footsteps. Frederick Ambrose, the Eclaire mansion’s butler had no chance to cry for help, so Edward was confident of his privacy, but luck had favoured Edward far too long; sooner or later it would turn against him.

It was mere luck, for instance, that his elder brother Simon had become fabulously wealthy when his software enterprise was purchased by some other software enterprise and he had altruistically shared his newfound wealth with what little of his family remained. Edward hated his brother enough to take his money, and loved himself enough to double it investing with the Eclaire’s life insurance firm.

Luck and hate are a powerful combination and Edward had spent the last five years of his life, as people tend to do, surrounding himself with people as lucky and hateful as he was. He was comfortable and bored, so his mind began to wander.

Reaching into his pocket he removed a small bag filled with tobacco. Edward held his breath as he opened it and distributed a small amount at his feet; Jacque Eclaire’s tobacco had a very specific, and to Edward’s mind, wholly disgusting scent that he associated with molding dollar bills. Next was Felice’s mark – her striking purple lipstick just this side of outrageous would immediately be associated with the only youth of the house. Edward was not skilled with applying makeup, but he managed a passable job and had little doubt investigators would correctly misinterpret the kiss’ owner. Finally it was Marie’s turn to take the blame as Edward placed a small piece of paper in Ambrose’s pocket. Edward had carefully forged a note from the lady of the house, a composite of samples of her handwriting, requesting that he visit her in the east wing library.

As Edward stood he found himself repulsed by the handsome young butler’s face. Even in death Ambrose maintained some semblance of a jovial grin, the same grin that had won over the family in the first hour of his service. Each of the Eclaires had their reason for loving him, and each was equally jealous of one another for fear Ambrose would have a favourite.

That is why Edward murdered him. Ambrose was a selfless man, driven by compassion for those he served and skilled in deciphering the emotional needs of others. The Eclaires were very lucky to employ such a man, but Edward knew that they, in their practiced hatred, would eventually turn on him.

It was the perfect murder, a family full of motives and one guest who had none, save the boredom of luxury. Even now, the thrill of his villainy was unable to quell the dread of deep disappointment.

Edward paused, his thoughts moving on to his squash game in the morning, and left.

 

Leave a comment

Using Google Glass

Joshua Topolsky of The Verge is one of the first people outside of Google to take Google’s new heads-up display technology for a spin. You can read his first impressions here: I Used Google Glass.

Google also recently released a promotional video for Google Glass, which will be available to consumers this year at “below $1,500″ which shows off some of the impressive use cases for the new wearable technology.

 

Leave a comment

Inconsequence

The stories of my life are non-linear, in fact many of them occur concurrently. You see, while causality stretches forward in a straight line for most, the actions and consequences of my life slither sideways. If those stories have taught me anything, it’s that the universe is merely a state machine created by God and the entirety of creation is simulated in his mind as he reconciles our actions against arbitrary rules. It’s important that you understand that this machine can be paused, its state saved, and its state reloaded.

I’m told children do not understand regret with the same profundity that they experience guilt. Perhaps it is in the eyes of parents that they experience condemnation for their transgressions, rather than from some internal guiding star of morality. Kids are more likely to spend their hours of punishment plotting how not to get caught next time than they are to experience regret over actions they have committed in the past. This was explained to me a great many times over the decades, but it does not ring true to my experience.

I recall one recess not holding the door to the playground open for a classmate. She was not hurt, probably never even noticed my minor impoliteness and continued on to enjoy her 1st-grade recess unhindered by consequence. My precocious sense of propriety denied me an enjoyable break from the unrelenting boredom of my classes and I spent the next 15 minutes considering what I had done. What had I been focused on that overrode my consideration of her location relative to mine? I knew that she was behind me when I opened the door, but for some reason I hadn’t bothered to calculate the distance she would travel relative to the speed with which the heavy door would close. And what of the consequences? It wasn’t until after I had released my hold on the door that I determined that her impact with the door would be noticeable. Sloppy.

I hadn’t thought any of those things in the moment. I considered blaming it on the sunshine and my eagerness to escape another bloody lesson in single-digit multiplication, but deferring blame to a natural (and entirely predictable) force did not strike me as fair or helpful.

No, it was my fault, and I would have to live with the negligible, but material consequence that little Annie might resent my discourteous behavior that day. I tried to look forward, considering how this might impact my future experiences, but drew a blank.

Just because I can’t conceive of the consequences doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

Worst of all I knew I could never correct this wrong, I would never have the identical opportunity to do right and thus cancel out the experience that now plagued me, admittedly far more than it did Anne.

“Jean, are you alright?” I took stock of my surroundings. How long had I been thinking? The schoolyard was deserted, only an under-inflated soccer ball indicating it had been populated by carefree children minutes before. Mrs. Jacobson was walking towards me from the accursed door. “Why didn’t you go inside?”

I turned to face her and stopped time for a moment. I considered the next few seconds very carefully – what outcome did I want from this? Was it enough to escape suspicion, to appear as if I hadn’t simply been too dumb or distracted to obey the bell? No, I wanted to be a bit more creative, and besides I had wanted to try a new strategy on an adult for a few days now. Mrs. Jacobson, an aging schoolyard monitor was a low-risk target for experimentation; the blowback from this going wrong would be minimal. I let time resume.

I gave her a look like I was trying not to cry, my face scrunched into a combination of confusion and shame. “They told me to stay out here.” I hesitated as I spoke, pretending to choke slightly on the words. This rarely worked with my parents of course, they knew me too well, but I was betting she wouldn’t take the risk of upsetting me further and would instead dig deeper into my charade.

Mrs. Jacobson shifted her demeanor immediately. “What’s wrong Jean?” Some of the other schoolyard monitors would have ignored my emotions, simply insisting I return to class and deflect the problem to my teacher. Why in particular was this woman affected by the threat of tears? It wasn’t enough that this ploy was successful; I needed to know why it was effective so I could identify this weakness in others.

“The boys in grade five… they said I had to stay out here. They said they’d give me one of their candies if I waited until they came back.” I realized my mistake the moment the lie left my lips. Adults responded poorly to mistakes based in greed or gluttony. I should have claimed that they forced me to clean the field, or something else that made my manipulation appear noble instead of self-gratifying.

I could see in her eyes, albeit through absurdly thick lenses in equally absurdly dated glasses, that she believed me, but my mistake was worthy of her admonishment instead of the praise that my alternative story of misguided do-goodery would have prompted. “Oh Jean, you’re too gullible, those boys were never coming back out. Did they even have any candy?” Reaching for my hand she escorted me back into the building.

“I guess not.” I replied, the foregone conclusion of this exchange drained my interest in expanding the lie further. She probably saw this as the veiled acceptance of my naivety. I bet she felt proud for teaching me a lesson, I bet she told herself at that very moment that she was preparing me for a cruel world. I bet she wishes someone told her at a young age not to believe in free candy. Dammit, that was her narrative and not mine, and I had no interest in letting her impose it on me.

I became angry, though I made efforts to conceal it from my face. This is what happens when I make mistakes – I get taught lessons by other people who needed their own advice decades ago. My life is not the continuation of my parents’ minus their mistakes, as if I exist only to course-correct for my forebears.

I receded from my own thoughts long enough to take stock of my surroundings, I was back at my desk already. I don’t remember what happened over the last few minutes, presumably I was unceremoniously deposited back where I “should” be by Mrs. Jacobson and was directed to my seat by my teacher.

Wherever I’m told to be is always where nothing I do matters.

Leave a comment