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Jacob Penderworth

Jacob is a freelance writer at his own blog and a few others across the Internet. In his free time, he listens to a lot of music, plays music, and takes photographs of amazing places. You can email him with inquiries, should you have any.

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Last month, I was loafing round the house with my phone wondering how cold it was outside. Being the ridiculously technology-glued person I am, I started searching for a weather station that integrates with the Web, tablets, and smartphones. (Obviously, stepping into the sun was out of the question, because I’m a vampire [they’re real]). After a few clicks, I found the Netatmo, a very slick looking solution to checking the weather when you’re not in a walking mood.

The very idea of this may sound ridiculous, I know. However, there is a purpose for everything and I decided to give Netatmo a try. After all, Wired and Time wouldn’t feature it unless there is something more than the basic weather station. Or so I thought. (more…)

Apple worked very hard on developing iOS 7, the most recent release of its mobile operating system, which effectively transformed the stale user interface to something more colorful. As usual, it received mixed reviews. Some people called it “flat”, while others believed its colors rendered it “childish”.

It’s a fact that people don’t like change, so negative reactions to iOS 7 are not surprising. Apple’s recent update to the Remote app, on the other hand, is quite unexpected. It includes a full redesign to fit snugly with iOS 7. But strangely, it goes beyond the call of duty here, introducing new and foreign UI elements. Usually I would praise experimentation, but in this case, I’m not so sure it’s a good thing. (more…)

It’s common for people to carry a smartphone with them in the car, whether they enjoy listening to music and podcasts or need to take calls for work. With Bluetooth, cars and phones can be connected to work together. With the exception of Tesla Motors’ recent efforts, this integration doesn’t usually go beyond hands-free calling and better music control. The car’s computer still handles how your average miles per gallon and alerts you if parts of the car are failing. Again, there’s a problem: a check engine light means you need a computer to diagnose the problem.

All of these quibbles from average drivers have been addressed individually. One tool will fix this, another that. What if you had a direct connection between your increasingly-smart mobile phone and new, or even old car? Automatic believes it has the solution. (more…)

Apple’s mapping system didn’t exactly work out as the company had hoped. After years of rumors and high hopes for the alternative to Google’s solution, Maps in iOS 6 was far from a success. It had so many bugs that all users could do was complain about the app rather than use it. In the end, they transitioned to alternatives like Waze and Maps+, or even Google’s own Web app, which was recently improved for iOS users. None of these really solved the problems for those who enjoyed the old ways. Now there is a fix.

Google worked hard on its own Maps app for iOS, bringing all the old features in a new and modern user interface. It’s won over a lot of users so far and since Google is more reliable when it comes to this sort of thing, there’s no reason not to use the free app. Or is there? (more…)

Tweetbot may have been the best Twitter client in its day, but new times are ahead. Twitter’s own official app may be more popular than the smaller third-party alternatives, yet developers keep releasing new ones every few months. This time the app is the fifth version of a classic client originally on the Mac called Twitterrific.

In version 5.0, the developer redesigned everything and equipped the app with a completely new set of navigation features. It’s much simpler and more intuitive than before, too. To evaluate its potential as a competitor to the great Tweetbot, I downloaded Twitterrific on its release day and have been using it frequently since. Keep reading for a full look at the app. (more…)

Flickr used to be the king of photo sharing on the Internet. Lately, however, it’s been declining as services such as 1x, 500px and SmugMug have come into play. Google+ has also become a very popular place to find good photographs thanks to well-known lensmen like Trey Ratcliff. Everyone has their own cup of tea, and 500px has always been mine because the community is superior to that of Flickr. Matthew Guay of Mac.AppStorm calls it the “Dribbble of photography.”

At the beginning of the year, I reviewed 500px’s iPad app, calling it “the best photography on your tablet.” The professional photo sharing service just updated its app to accommodate the iPhone, with beautiful photos that are optimized for the Retina display and many other creations that can be found on the website. Whether you enjoy browsing photographs or post some of your own and check up on the comments, 500px for the iPhone looks to be perfect for the job. But is it though? (more…)

Some of the first video games have been deemed the greatest of all time, while others were simply given the title “Greatest of their time.” Not everyone will agree that Super Mario was the most revolutionary side-scrolling platform game that they played when they were little. That’s okay, because there are many other classics out there, like Pac-Man. It is still one of the undisputed champions of arcade gaming, whether you play it or not. The same goes for Tetris.

When it came to the iPhone back in 2009, there was nary a question that it would continue the heritage and bring it to its true mobile greatness. One could not argue that the Java version of this game, offered only on the primitive mobile phones of the early 2000s, was one of the best things that happened to it. With another step into the ever-growing market of technology and gaming alike, things can only get better for Alexey Pajitnov’s fine feather in his ushanka. Or can they? (more…)

I’ve always enjoyed a good match of strategy. Tower defense games are one of the best ways to devise those nefarious tactical plans on a mobile device. I remember the days when Java games dominated the mobile market, and even though the selection wasn’t always great, the only way to get a game was to pay your wireless carrier up to $10 for it. You could then play it on your Motorola RAZR or other basic phone using the wondrous keypad to conquer the world. Those were the days.

Now we’ve become too developed for such devices and have moved on to Apple’s sublime iPad. Tower defense made it to the tablet as well, in the forms of Plants vs. Zombies, Kingdom Rush and Fieldrunners. Now we have the sequel, Fieldrunners 2, and I’ve been playing it since launch day. Is it good? Let’s find out. (more…)

Everyone typically becomes bored of something at one time or another. It’s the inevitable loss of interest that causes people to give up that great hobby they’ve been doing for so long, or to stop eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning simply because it’s become stale. Change is good, yes, but eventually the redundant pattern of quitting something and starting another task can start to show — very much so.

One of the most prominent topics of interest is mobile gaming. The industry has been around since the 1970s, but lately it’s evolved to something beyond the classic Donkey Kong Country on a Game Boy and the first iteration of Tetris on a mobile phone. Tense games of Snake were classic back in the day when Nokia ruled the mobile phone market. Now, however, Apple and Google govern the domain. The App Store and Google Play Store have brought many fabulous first-person shooters, adventures of evil swine and vexed avian, and role-playing ventures like Bastion. With all this innovation, something was left behind — what was it? (more…)

When the PlayStation 2 slim released in late 2004, I desperately wanted one. Of course, so did every other kid on the block. Those weren’t just the days of golden gaming, they were the days of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. There was nothing like a game of getting away from the highway patrolmen in a fast car. Even if it wasn’t real, there was a certain thrill to the game. That’s just how the Need for Speed games make you feel: like you’re there, in the car, fighting for freedom of the coastal roads with your Lamborghini Murcielago. Preferably the green one.

Then, last year, the new, revamped Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit came to the iPad and iPhone. I thought it’d be the best day of my life once again. Sadly, while the game was fun, the experience wasn’t as good as the first two in the series and I completed the game within a week. But EA has returned this year with yet another reconditioned title — Need for Speed: Most Wanted. It’s on all the major consoles and iOS, so why not buy it? Well … (more…)

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