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Monday, November 30, 2015

SUCK: Vaping made awesome. Vaping done right.

The EVOD electronic cigarette as sold by
Image provided and used with permission.

Regular readers will remember that a few months ago I wrote about the VitaStik, an American brand of e-cigarette vaping device which was being launched in the UK. The same people behind that initiative have now introduced, a website for vaping products with the tagline ‘Vaping made awesome. Vaping done right.’

The company’s website introduction says that it doesn’t spend a fortune on packaging or sleazy marketing gimmicks. Because the business is online-only, they can keep costs lower for those smokers who prefer to have the choice to vape as well as, or instead of, smoking regular cigarettes. Although the firm is still fairly new, not only does it profess to offer the best possible prices, the blurb suggests it will have an increasing range of products and be donating 10% of profits to charity.

Whatever a smoker’s reasons for looking at the range available here, there appears to be a definite divide between those who are vaping as a step towards giving up completely and those who vape when they are unable to smoke. And for some, the choice will be harder than others. Some people swing between vaping indoors (when allowed) and smoking outside for months. Others seem to be able to set their mind to vaping the instant they decide to give up cigarettes. Yet others say that a vaping device solves the need that they have for ‘something in their mouth’ at a given time. Hence the name of the website. A vape can also be a dummy, something to suck, as well as something to inhale from.

The coils in the e-cigarettes sold by SUCK will generally last around a month on average. A pack of five will set customers back £7.99 (price at November 2015). The main e-cigarette itself costs at least £19.99 with a choice of two models, and the batteries are both rechargeable and replaceable after 300-400 charges. The guys at SUCK suggest that their products can save a 20-a-day smoker over £2,000 a year, given that one pack would cost only slightly more than the pack of five coils but the vapes last a lot longer.

The eLiquid range from SUCK complies with all the latest product directives relating to vaping products, including child proof tops, tamper proof collars and production dates/batch numbers. There are twenty different flavours to choose from, at £3.95 each. All buyers must be 18 or over to purchase anything from SUCK, this being the legal age of consent for smokers in the UK. The flavours are available in different strengths, ranging from 0.6% to 1.8% nicotine. The site also stocks replacement parts and accessories for the EVOD and KSN2 series of e-cigarettes.

Now, my personal knowledge of vaping devices is limited, but for those in the know, appears to have a complete range of equipment. The site caters to the UK market, as rules and regulations about vaping elsewhere in the world can differ. Free delivery is offered on orders over £25, and for first time buyers, the company offers 20% off the total order price.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Android app review: Endless Rotating Wallpapers

Endless Rotating Wallpapers app logo.
Image suggested and used with permission.

In this house, we have two identical phones, often charging side by side. The only way we can tell them apart is by the wallpaper. My husband’s wallpaper is a picture of his favorite actress. Mine is a photograph of my high score on my favorite retro computing game.

However, for those people who prefer stock photos for their wallpaper, then Endless Rotating Wallpapers (with images supplied by Wallhaven images) may be an app to consider. There are almost 150 selections of wallpaper to choose from, and users can exclude as well as choose to select keywords. After selecting the keyword/s, users have to make sure they check the settings (bottom left touchkey on the phone on mine) to make sure it takes the selection. The resulting wallpaper images should scroll around, changing at the frequency set (anything from a minute up to a day) and displaying random images tagged by the chosen keywords on Wallhaven.

I have to say that on my phone, an S4 Mini, it is not great for multiple selections, but works really well on one or two choices. Users have the option to choose many different options, basically grouped into people, animals, landscapes, fashion or abstract themes. The option for paid content is available, so I am wondering whether the more discerning will end up paying to save their favorite images and build up their own unique rotating screensaver in due course.

Many of the selection criteria are slanted towards a certain human trait, such as hair or eye color, style of dress or similar. This does make me wonder whether the target audience is a certain age group and male. But then I see keywords such as ‘cats’ or ‘landscape’ and I have to wonder. The instructions on the Google Play page state that scrolling wallpaper images should be enabled to make the best of this app. If this is not set as standard then the advice is to try a different launcher.

Wallhaven has thousands of high definition wallpaper images, constantly refreshed and updated. The site (and therefore also the Endless Rotating Wallpapers app) has more images being added each day, so users will potentially see new choices regularly too. Unlike some apps, which drain the battery constantly scanning for updates, with Endless Rotating Wallpapers only one wallpaper will be downloaded when the screen is off. The app is designed for both phones and tablets, and can download new images over wifi and/or 3G – user’s choice whether it downloads on the move or not.

Personally. I’m still on the fence about this app, mainly because I’m attached to my own images as wallpapers. But for those people for whom a phone is a necessity rather than a personalized accessory, Endless Rotating Wallpapers will be ideal for expressing just enough about them to make owning a phone fun.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grasshopper feng shui art statues hopping in to Explosion Luck

Your Honor grasshopper art statue for sale at Explosion Luck

Now here’s a truly unique gift. The new range of grasshopper art that is now on sale at Explosion Luck is as individual as that one difficult person to buy for that everyone knows.

These statues are limited edition art; every one handcrafted, every one individual. Regular readers will know that I love the feng shui gifts at Explosion Luck, especially as they often depict animals or nature rather than being portraits. The range of significance behind these unusual gifts and unique gift ideas means that someone wanting to give a friend or relative a meaningful present can find something suitable here. I love these because they’re so colorful, bold, bright metallic greens and pinks, deep reds and blues, inky blacks. In fact they’re a unique gift idea for a woman who likes unusual gifts or has a passion for statement colors.

The grasshopper is believed to bring luck and positive feng shui energy to wherever it lands, and with these cheerful characters there is a choice of backstory and colors to chime with anyone’s décor or humor. For the social media maven, there is Twitty, the blue and green grasshopper who comes from a family of 140 characters. For the judge or lawyer, Your Honor is the purple grasshopper in the header picture, who maintains that an insect should not be judged by its antennae. The red and yellow one is St Nicky, wishing Hoppy Holidays to all.

A grasshopper art statue may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about unique gift ideas for men online, but these statues are exactly that. Striking and meaningful, they are mounted on a piece of date palm tree wood and presented in a clear display case measuring 4" x 4" x 5". Each grasshopper is all ready for display just as it is in the container. What could be easier? Explosion Luck offer free shipping on these products within the continental US too. Interested potential buyers from abroad should contact the company before placing an order.

For a selection of awesomely unusual gifts for men and women, look no further than Explosion Luck. I think this grasshopper range is their most unusual gift line yet, with the jewel-bright colors drawing the eye and the meaning of good luck and positive feng shui symbolized by the insect. Every item shown on these pages is the only one of its kind. Handcrafted in detail, these unique gifts at Explosion Luck are tailor made to show the care with which a piece has been chosen specifically for the recipient.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Android App Review: Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One)

 Video from Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One).
YouTube link supplied and shared with permission.

You too can become a pinball wizard, a pool champion or a billiards king with the latest version of the Android game app Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One). Playing alone or, soon, in Challenge mode with others online, players must attempt to dodge walls and other obstacles, catch stars and still land the ball in the pocket at the far end of the game table, all on one pull.

The game has many different variables, where players can adjust brightness, sensitivity, vibration, tracking and even camera angle. For the first time player there are tutorials on the first four levels indicating how to best approach each layout, and the number of adjustments players can make more or less guarantees some degree of success.

Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One) is a well coded game which runs smoothly and copes well with being played on a phone or in a low signal area. As it’s a point and pull game rather than a tapping game, it’s easier to control the direction of the ball too, making it very satisfying for both casual and serious gamers alike. The technique is similar to a bubble shooter game, while the look of the game is decidedly retro and calls to mind the classic pinball arcade games of the 70s and 80s. There are also elements of the skills involved in playing pool, billiards and snooker too.

The aim with each level is to hit the star and then hole the ball. Preferably on the first attempt. Two points are awarded each time the ball hits a cushion, and 100 points when the ball is holed. Players have five attempts to nail the level, then can refresh the screen for another five, as many times as necessary. They can view their progress on the menu and also see their best score for each level. There doesn’t appear to be any finite number of times that players can try one level unsuccessfully either. I needed fifteen attempts at one level so perhaps that’s just as well.

Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One) has just undergone an upgrade, with hundreds of new levels available and a tie in with Giftiz, a site which offers the chance to win real gifts through gameplay. In addition, players will be offered the chance to get hold of levelpacks when they reach the higher levels of available play on the standard game. Earlier glitches and bugs reported by reviewers appear to have been fixed in this release.

The developer, NLightniN, has a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a Google+ profile and a YouTube channel. They are proactively developing the game and welcome feedback from players. If you choose to download Beyond Pool3D (Hole-in-One), be ready to share your thoughts, as the latest update is less than a month old and the team is still working on improvements.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Explosion Luck offers unique Feng Shui gifts for Christmas

Explosion Luck logo.
Supplied and used with permission.

It’s a known fact that some people are nearly impossible to buy gifts for. They’re the kind of person who has everything, has visited every interesting country or city and considers that gift cards are boring but necessary. (My dad is one such. For Christmas this year he wants an Amazon gift card. For his birthday he had an Amazon gift card.) However here, on Explosion Luck I think I might just have found something suitable to give him that isn’t a gift card.

Explosion Luck specialize in awesomely unusual gifts for men. Fortunately for me. This year they have a range of 9” high tabletop art screens. The fish design is particularly apt for dad, as his pride and joy is the fish pond in the back garden and he spends hours devising ways to keep the herons from having a free fish supper. He’ll be able to use it to hide his iPod when streaming music in the dining room, I reckon, and the colors will fit with the existing décor in there too.

I think most people have someone like that in their house, impossible to buy gifts for. So if you’re looking for unique gifts for men online, just as I am, you could always take a look at the Feng Shui art on Explosion Luck’s site. There are many different collections including sand art, tapestry wall hangings, small ornaments and sculptures, paintings, boxes and pendants. Every Feng Shui item has a meaning, so whether it’s a bear painting or sculpture for the arctophile in your life, symbolizing courage and protection, or a Tibetan thangka tapestry depicting the Medicine Buddhas and bestowing good health, there is bound to be a unique gift idea for them somewhere on this site.

My mother-in-law is another challenge to buy presents for. She always gives us a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine each, while we have tried everything from gift cards to scarves, gloves or bags and more unusual gifts for her such as paintings and a new French press cafetiere with some of her favorite coffee. Nothing seems to quite fit her personality, but she does like small gadgets, ornaments and trinkets. If we bought her a sand art picture she would be able to display that in one of the rooms and remember that we bought it for her. If one of your female relations is into antique jewelry, then among the unique gift ideas for women, the thangka pendants bring a variety of blessings to the wearer. Depending on the deity depicted, the pendants are said to bestow peace, serenity, inspiration, love, wealth or health.

Whether you’re looking for cool gifts for guys or meaningful Feng Shui art or Feng Shui jewelry, Explosion Luck will have something for you. I keep coming back to this site because the range inspires and motivates me, plus the items are unusual gifts and unique gift ideas. The blog post The Best Holiday Gift Guide For 2015-2016 - Feng Shui Art Gifts gives more detail about the meaning behind each type of gift for those still seeking inspiration.

Good luck, and happy gift hunting.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The useful Auto SMS/USSD/Call Android app

 Auto SMS/USSD/Call video on You Tube.
Link supplied and shared with permission.

 Do you always forget birthdays? Do you need to know your balance regularly to ensure you don’t overspend?

As the saying goes, ‘there’s an app for that’! You’ve heard of autotweets, you know how to schedule blogposts and perhaps even Facebook or LinkedIn posts. Now, this is the app which can send balance requests, make automated payments, send texts on time and even make a phone call at a predetermined time for you.

Auto SMS/USSD/Call is a longwinded name for an app designed to save time and simplify life. The app, from Golden T Studios, is available for free on Android, although there is also a paid Pro version available. It will act like an extension of your diary and allow you to schedule automated reactions to regular occurrences. It’s dead simple to use and will ensure that you are in touch with your family, friends and finances at times that suit you and meet your obligations.

Imagine being able to send a happy birthday text to anyone in your contact list on their special day. Even if you send a card as well, a text lets them know you have thought of them on that day. Those pesky ‘happy new year!’ texts? Well, they might not go through, but at least you can schedule them to try. SMS, USSD and call schedules can be set for daily, weekly monthly or annual repetition. Reminders are programmed on a simple text-based interface to be sent once in the future, a number of days after the previous encounter or a certain time after a call. If you have an MLM business or a marketing strategy which includes call to action emails, you can substitute an SMS or set a reminder to call a new customer at a suitable time. There is also a manual option using the widget for one off future requirements. The planned listings look much like an autotweet list, where you see a list of what has been scheduled and when it is next programmed to be sent.

When you’re on the bus to work before 7am, you can set a reminder to call someone at a reasonable time of day, then forget about it until your phone obligingly sparks into life at the pre-programmed time. Shift workers can schedule texts to leave at the time of day a friend would expect to hear from them, even if this is at the time when they will be sleeping off their latest night shift. Time zone differences are no problem either, as once you know the time in the place you want to send the SMS, you can simply set the phone to send at the right time for your recipient, then leave it switched on so the app can run.

Auto SMS/USSD/Call supports dual SIM on some devices and allows use of a user defined code to simplify requests for money transfers. The app will show requests scheduled for the next 24 hours which will run as long as the phone is turned on. If not, they will run as soon as it is powered up again. For people who prefer routine, but whose life doesn’t always let them indulge their preferences, this is a useful addition to their phone. For those who keep meaning to do something but never get around to it, this app is a good way of ticking off the calls and SMS messages on the daily ‘to do list’.

The Auto SMS/USSD/Call YouTube video shows just how simple this app is to use. The app has a 4.7* rating on Google Play and most people say it saves them money on phone calls or internet charges to be able to check balances via the app, send texts when they aren’t able to and generally manage the routine enquiries that everyone needs to make at times.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Android game review: Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga

Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga -
Universal Games
Image supplied and used with
Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga by Universal Games is a free game on Android phones. It’s a double handed tapping format, meaning players use both hands at the same time to control different elements of the game. Suitable for all Android versions from 2.3 up, it has been available since September and has been downloaded thousands of times since release.

From the same developer who released the equally cute and addicting game Penguin Run a few months ago, Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga takes the tapping genre to a whole new level. Console gamers will love its double handed style, while retro fans will appreciate the uncluttered, clean lines of the design with bright neon edged shapes on a black background.

The idea is simple. You are the driver of both cars. Blue is controlled by your left hand and pink by your right. You have to collect circles and triangles. Circles earn one point, triangles two. Crash into a square or miss collecting a circle and it’s game over. Tap to switch lanes to catch the circles and triangles or to avoid the squares. Easy to say, not so easy in practice. 

As you might expect, this simple racing game is quite addictive. As usual, I’m taking my time to get used to a new game. Playing double handed on a smartphone isn't easy either and so my scores are correspondingly low. The top score is over 500, so I have some way to go yet. The game is optimised for a tablet, which makes sense as on a phone there’s more chance of tapping your own fingers than moving the car out of the way quickly.

Racing games are fun and appeal to all ages. They’re ideal for whiling away the tedium of a long journey and encourage players to keep trying to improve their score. The speed element to a racing game adds an extra layer of skill and the smooth coding on this new game makes it look as well as feel fast.
Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga.
Image supplied and used with
Even now it is amazing how much fun can be had from a game with an ultra-simple design and a handful of colours. Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga brings back memories of the classic arcade games of the 80s and the early home computer games market. I’m not the only person to think this game echoes the feel of the 80s film Tron, either. It’s the little glowing edges of the cars that does it, I think.

As you would expect with an Android game, this is a fully integrated experience. Log into your Google Play account and you’ll be automatically connected with the leaderboard and can share your progress on social media too. Not that I want to - I’ve always been pretty useless at electronic racing games despite being a complete petrolhead/gearhead in real life for many years.

Great coding, fully integrated social media, striking graphics in a cartoon gaming style, what’s not to like? And with the smooth coding you really do get the impression of speed. No glitches on my phone, at least, even when I was playing on the move and going through an area with low or no signal. 

So, if you’re after a simple looking, challenging action game, or a car game for your kids or for yourself, try Neon2 Cars Racing Saga. It’s free, after all, so there’s no penalty if you find it’s not to your liking. On the other hand, you may well be surprised. You could find it’s one of the best Android games you’ve played in a while.

Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga
Image supplied and used with permission.

Neon 2 Cars Racing Saga
Image supplied and used with permission.