Fallout: New Vegas — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

Fallout: New Vegas has a very special place in my heart. It arrived at a time in my life where my life was in flux. The quietness of the wasteland and the challenges that you choose how to react to would leave a lasting impression on me throughout my life. Even now, after several thousand […]

Fallout: New Vegas — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

While originally launched for the Nintendo DS, 358/2 days are now available as an interactive movie on Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and Xbox. Which is a vast improvement to the DS experience. The story centers on Axl, Roxas and Xion, three friends from the mysterious Organisation 13. But what are they going to do when […]

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days — 100 Word Gaming Reviews

Bite Size Reviews – Dream Daddy

Dream Daddy is a visual novel created by popular Youtube Channel Game Grumps. Dream Daddy is a Dad dating simulator. You move into a new place with your beloved daughter Amanda as she is finishing up her final year of school. With a new move to a cozy cul-de-sac you have the option to create the Daddy of your Dreams and date your very own Dream Daddy.

Dream Daddy is a wonderful experience. Short in its narrative with 7 different datable Dads all with different routes and outcomes. It’s a showcase of what diversity and respect for the LGBTQ+ community cannot be overstated. The scenarios feel real and fundamentally grounded in reality. You experience the trails and tribulations of being a single father trying to navigate their way in a whole new phase of their lives.

Bite Size Review – My 49 Days with a Cell

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about what you want and what you need, with yourself. I didn’t think to myself that this was something that was going to teach me anything when I landed on My 49 Days with a Cells in the Apple Store. A bit like the Eggs game (which is a time waste, and a very good one at that!)

That’s it. 49 days of these cell’s lives. You are the person who has to take care of them. Easy.

Well, not so much. It turns out that taking care of these little cells is about as difficult as it is to look after ourselves.

For a little while now I’ve been on a journey where I’m trying to learn how to take better care of myself. I’ve had very drastic changes in my life. Just a lot of life happens in a very short time. I suddenly lost my dad and as a result of his death I moved home 4 times in 3 years. During that period, I would have worked two jobs at the same time, just to get the ends meet.

Then, I started to suffer massively from health problems. Two months after I got married, I had a lump removed from my breast, as they thought it was cancerous. I was at the time in a job that was pursuing a dream I wanted but it made me slowly sick and stressed because of the working environment. Since quitting the job due to sickness and being burned out,I decided to go back to college to pursue a Masters degree and work at the same time. More health problems, however, occurred to a point where I wound up having to leave both my college degree and what work I was doing at the time. I had major surgery in January where they removed my uterus and not even a full 2 years later and I’m pending another surgery next month to figure out why things are still wrong.

TL: DR Needless to say, I know the strength of what one of those little cells holds firsthand.

We are back to the land of simplicity, gameplay wise. You’ve got bonus energy to spend on the first cell. What ‘s great, it gives you the freedom to see what you might want to do with your cell, and then you’re going to plan your first week with it. At first, your choices feel endless; food, exercise, culture, rest, play, study and wash are all your main categories and then they are subdivided into categories. So, my first week has started. Through my little cage, I tried to live vicariously, wanting to fly, read and play without end. However, it did not turn out that way.

There has always been a trade off doing too much without caring about other needs such as feeding or sleeping in the cell. Around the time I was halfway through my first lifecycle of cells I recognized that I was making the same mistakes that I personally made.

I just didn’t take care of it. The little cell couldn’t eat properly, couldn’t rest and had barely planned time to take a bath! I was so focused on putting everything in its existence that I would have forgotten to take into account what it wanted or needed. I just didn’t listen to it.

I was so focused on doing what I thought it was important, and wanted me to take notice of the fact Nobody was listening to them.

Ultimately, it was too late to rectify the error by the time I realised that I had left it undernourished, deprived of sleep and stinky. Fortunately, it didn’t die (well, it depends on how you look at it), but on its 49th day, it decided to turn it into a stone.

I started my second round with its previously divided cell (which carries all of the previous cell stats) disappointed, and equally a little mystified. A cell’s life cycle is from 15 to 30 minutes of playtime anywhere, so I was startled when I realized the cells respond to you when they’re in an event — if they don’t like an activity, they ‘re going to tell you.

It took me some time to understand that in some respects life imitated art. These little cells had hopes and aspirations and I forgot the key things to make this a success in the pursuit of that achievement.

Through listening, loving, and caring.

Like how I had forgotten to listen, to appreciate and to care for myself.

They say you should talk to yourself as if you were talking to your friends and I have never been good at taking advice like that. But something really hit home with me about My 49 Days with Cells, it taught me a lot about myself and I’m sure it can teach you something too.

My 49 Days with Cells are available on both the IOS App Store and the Google Play Store for free.

Women in Tech – Gaming & Technology Edition

In a world that is so dominated by men there is precious little more daunting in a journalist’s career than being a woman or non-binary person in tech. My background is in technology of all forms; mobiles, laptops and gaming. You may have already found me around the internet and on Twitter as @ThisIsSpecious and on websites like Big Boss Battle or Android Central.

As part of my new series on highlighting people who you need to know in the industry, I will talk to you about the women & non-binary people in technology who you should keep your eyes on!

Gaming

There are a tremendous amount of women doing wonderful things in gaming journalism at the moment. So, when making these lists it is nearly always impossible to narrow them down to a top three. To bring new people to your attention, I’m making sure that in these listings these are the women who don’t have a huge following and whose work deserves more attention.

Amanda Farough

Amanda is one of those unique people in the industry who will have been behind a lot of your favourite sites and yet you may not have realised it. She has been a founder of her own discord where she helps young writers in their journey through journalism. She is an endlessly giving and nurturing person, and a phenomenal writer and editor. She is a determined person, dedicated to her team and to delivering precise and informative content.

You can find a link to all of Amanda work right here.

Reb Valentine

I will always have a soft spot for Reb as I have had the pleasure of working with her in other publications but that is for a great reason. Reb has a writing style that is just a pleasure to read and connect with. Now she has found a home with Gamesindustry.biz she has found a space where she deep dive into the heart of the gaming industries biggest issues and will take you with her for that journey.

You can find Reb and her work over at Gamesindustry.biz.

Tayna DePress

Director of I Need Diverse Games, Twitch Partner, Conference Speaker, Diversity Liaison for GaymerX, Tayna is someone who should need no introduction – but somehow still is one of the most underestimated women in the video games scene. You don’t have to look too far to realise that this woman is in everything that is worth having a name on; DnD streams, Logitech team. Tayna’s ambition in life is to make the gaming world a more inclusive one for everyone to enjoy.

You can find out all about Tayna and how to support her work here.

Julie Muncy

Commonly found chatting to me about anything and everything to do with Kingdom Hearts, you will also find her work over at Wired, and Weekend Editor over at @io9. Presently is ready to be snapped up by the best outlets out there. You can find her contact details over on her Twitter.

Mim McDonald

Mim is the wizard behind some of your most beloved gaming magazines being Operations Editor, @OPM_UK and @edgeonline. A wonderfully gifted and gentle human, who is just one of the most sincerely beautiful people I’ve ever met. When she’s got some down time from being the backbone of her work force she’s interested in all with a vintage, alternate reality or retro-futuristic theme. You can find her personal blog here

Sam Greer

Sam is the hugely talented producer of Glass House Games. Her work can be found through various places on the internet, seriously, everywhere. A hugely talented and capable human who is worthy of so much acclaim it’s silly. When she’s not busy doing that you can be assured she’s over on Twitter trying to squeeze as many gifs about Lightening from Final Fantasy 13 as is humanly possible. 

Sam Loveridge

You might know Sam best from her work as Global Editor-in-Chief for @GamesRadar. When she’s not busy running the show over at Games Radar she can be found being her very awesome self over on her twitter

Mobile Technology

Some argue there aren’t a lot of women in mobile journalism. I’m here to debunk that myth and showcase some of the best and brightest that the tech scene has seen. By there being more women writing and talking about tech, we can unravel the complicated knot that is women in technology. There are lots of reasons women don’t get a predominant say in mobile technology. Much like games, they see us as being non-existent in the space, however there are many women being involved from all levels. I will introduce you to some of the best women in the mobile space you may never have heard of.

Florence Ion

You may recognise Florence’s name from her Android Central days where she was one of the most influential writers on the platform. We can also find her work in PCWorld, Ars Technica to name but a few. If there was a major publication, I can guarantee you that Florence has written for them. A monolith in the tech world, she has now gone freelance with her own work. Bringing her unique style and flare to her new podcast All about Android.

You can keep an eye on Florence and all of her work over at https://florenceion.com

Trisha Hershberger

One half of the Newegg Livestream crew, Trish is one of those women who can put her hand to anything she touches. A talented Youtuber, she dissects everything you need to know about tech, gaming and everything in-between. As an avid PC fan, she can bring her unique perspective to the Newegg family to talk about the best and worst of mobile and PC hardware. If you haven’t looked at her content and you are a PC person – you are missing out.

You can catch Trisha over at Newegg.com or at her personal YouTube.

Lory Gil

Lory is the powerhouse behind iMore. As managing editor for iMore she runs a tight ship with getting the cutting edge of Apple content out for you all to read. All this hard work can often come under acknowledged given she is the gears behind the machine. If there is a post on iMore, you can be certain that she has had something to do with it. Be it; editing, scheduling, she’d had a hand in making that site work as streamlined as it is. So will throw her a follow and tell her that Spec sent you.

You can find Lory and all of her work over at iMore

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner is a Writer at Android Central. Chromebook ifficiando and force of good. When she’s not writing help and how-to’s, she’s off dreaming about Disney and singing show tunes. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

You can find her gushing about Chromebooks and all of her more recent work right here.

While I know that there are plenty of people who I’ve missed, who are the people who you think deserve recognition? Let me know in the comments down below with their twitter handles or articles so we can all share the great work that’s created by women in the industry.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX – Review

Having pumped double digits of hours into the new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, I can safely say beyond doubt that this is the most loving entry into the history of the franchise. It will charm old and new players alike. However, much like its first incarnation, there were several opportunities where developer Spike Chunsoft could have made moves to better plan a better player experience where it matters the most and that is within its dungeons.

Choosing your character  A selection of Pokémon appear before the character ranging from Bulbasaurs to Machops
Choosing your character.

It all begins with a Question

I remember when I picked up Mystery Dungeon for the first time. I was sitting in Eddie Rockets (Johnny Rockets to my friends in the USA) and when the game asked you to place your finger on the touchpad and begin your quest by answering a series of personality questions. I was hooked, hooked the same way I can remember being hooked playing Pokémon Crystal when the first female playable female protagonist was introduced. The same way I remember being hooked when I first started playing Pokémon Red. I knew that this would be a love affair that would last me my entire life.

Little did I know how right I would be, leaning into all entries regardless of version. A love that would lead me to buy multiple copies and keep old systems around just to go back to that world, that place. A deeper love than maybe the original Pokémon series had on me as the series was more formulaic in its iterations.

Mystery Dungeon was something special to me. Something unique. This wasn’t just a protagonist who I was aiming to be, shoes I was yet to fill. This was my own journey, with my answers, my solutions, with my friends.

So when I heard of the remake it thrilled me to bits to go back into this place, and I’m delighted to say that Spike Chunsoft (the makers of hit visual novel series Danganronpa) made a faithful recreation of the Mystery Dungeon world; with some beautiful ascetic changes.

Watercolour Masterpiece. Pikachu and Bulbasaur by a forest lush with watercolours straight from a childs book.
Watercolour Masterpiece

Watercolour Masterpiece

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is stunningly beautiful in its depiction of the world. It’s the closest thing I’ve come to going “this is exactly what I had in my brain when I was young”. The watercolor imagery captures all that is whimsical, bright and alive in this world. It is bright without being overbearing, a brightness you could stare out at for hours without needing to avert your gaze. Thankfully there are instances in the games where you can pause for a moment to take in your surroundings. Even going so far as to have a dedicated art mode viewer on the main menus.

I’m grateful for that tiniest of little touches to take your time and appreciate the world that you’re in. It encourages a place to go and gather yourself, place your feet firmly on the ground and take your time to get to grips with everything that the game has to offer. It is deceptive in its ability to surprise you. Especially as the game starts to get into the deeper aspects of the story.

Many to one. Your team vs a load of enemies
Many to one

Not so Mysterious Dungeon

Formulaic is the kindest word that I can find to describe the gameplay, although a more accurate word would be boring. The dungeon part of Mystery Dungeon is easily the weakest part of the game. Which is unfortunate – as it is the most predominant part of the game. The premise of the mystery dungeon title is that every time you enter a new dungeon it is different from the last one you enter. This means you can only go so far to prepare for what lies ahead of you.

This has its pros and cons, naturally. Pro’s being it does keep the gameplay from being completely dragged down by the sameness of having to go through the same layouts on repeat and you will encounter different sorts of Pokemon on each run you do. Giving you more opportunities depending on rare qualities a likelihood to recruit them onto your squad for more adventures.

Cons, unfortunately, outweigh the pros. You invariably are trying to do quest markers more often than you are doing a quest to boost your rescue teams’ rank because you just can’t bear the thought of having to do any more dungeons. I was doing so many dungeons at one stage I had to take a break because I was getting headaches. That’s not the best sign in the world that your gameplay is engaging or keeps you in a rewarding loop. The items you get from dungeons are, most times, are either completely useless to your objectives or essential items that you need for dungeons; like apples.

The Kecleon Shop that you have access to in the Pokemon main square or occasionally popping up mid dungeon has an uninspired array of items. Apples are essential for longer dungeon runs, as getting hungry will invariably lead to your party fainting if you can’t get some sustenance. The shop only selling one of these a go at any one time just isn’t useful. You have to bank on the ability to either find them in dungeons as they spawn or that the shop in dungeon spawns more than just a single-use item.

What is the biggest gamble of these mystery dungeons is starting them in the first place. There are no hard and fast rules for level requirements and you will find out super quick if you are under the level required for it and with that loss comes the loss of all of your money as well as your items. So if you have had a set of equipment and are fully prepared for your dungeon you could get wiped out in one go by just having an unlucky encounter or worse, a monster house.

Silver linings in unlikely places

Auto Mode allows the player with one click to move around the dungeon
Auto mode

There are some incredible accessibility modes that more developers could do with taking on board. Some of these are unique features and others are just sheer thoughtful input created from a thoughtful development process. There is quite literally an overabundance of them. Some of which there has been no fan fair or notice through other outlets, but I can’t tell you how much these things matter for players with disabilities.

Auto Mode

Auto mode is a mode where, as the name would imply, allows your character to explore the dungeons without you needing to toggle or hold down buttons in order to explore. The auto mode only ceases when there is an enemy in sight, allowing the players to make a decision on what to do from that point on.

Move Sets

For players with Cognitive difficulties or simply new players who wouldn’t know what the best moves are. They can simply press the A button and the game will make the best decision as to what move to use in order to get the upper hands on your opponents.

Highlighted Text

One of the best things that I have seen in accessibility tools is the ability to look into highlight words by simply hovering over the words. Each is colour coded into their specific categories so they are distinct from each other at all times. This gives the player the ability to review at any time what is going on or what item will have an effect etc.

Audio Captions

Something that goes so understated in video games is the ability to read captions. Thankfully, Spike Chunsoft has been experts in their field when it comes to visual novels. All that experience comes into play with the way that they have used text in this game. Not just in the way that they have used highlight text, as per the example above. But their ability to capture sound in text to tell a story. This level of storytelling should be standard across all titles, as this is a level of care that you take to include people from all backgrounds, levels, and experiences in being able to enjoy your game fully. I can think of no higher praise than this. It is a sheer masterclass of accessibility and something that developers from all around the world can learn from.

A Storys End

Camp Corner with Wigglytuff and our protagonists
Camp Corner

There is an awful lot to like about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX. You can feel the love of the source material from the Spike Chunsoft team and the care that went into developing this game. Using their length and breadth of experiences to breathe new life into a franchise that was feared to be left in obscurity. However, even with the quality of life improvements as well as some stellar accessibility features – it doesn’t stop the game from having some fundamental flaws where it matters the most and that is in its gameplay.

It leads to a larger conversation around remakes, how close should you stay to the sources material in order to maintain its truest self? With other remakes of significance lurking around the corner like Final Fantasy VII, I’m sure this will only be the start of the debate to come. All I know is that I’d appreciate the intention but am sad for the opportunity missed to tweak some mechanics or to expand on what made the series iconic, to begin with.

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Should You Care? Women – Critical Lit Games

CriticialLitGames is the brainchild of writer turned coder Susan Gray, her focus with CriticalLitGames is to blend her two loves of literature and gaming using Augmented Reality (AR).

Coming from an arts background, Susan has been writing fiction from a young age starting off with short fiction and novellas moving on later to writing and publishing plays and poems. Her love of writing didn’t end there but seeped into her gaming life. She told me during her chat that when she was younger, she used to write to gaming companies with her ideas for games that she wanted to see. From this love of gaming leant her to coding where she had picked up Q and Visual Basic realising she may not need the major gaming companies to achieve her dreams. She could make the games herself.

Upon completing her PhD in Creative Writing, she decided to try her hand at Unity. Her first foray

IMG_1639

into Unity was in the VR space, but during her testing, she stumbled upon AR. She was fascinated about what she describes as the “breach into physical reality” rather than the separatist nature of VR. She realised that anything could be a host for an extra layer of information over the items we see as commonplace in our daily lives. Her mindthen strayed back to her first love of books. How could she add this layer over a timeless medium without distracting the reader’s attention?

She then drew on the experiences she had as a child and tieing that in with her love of video gaming realised she could create the modern gamebook. Thanks to the technological advancements that have to lead to AR she felt this could add a level of novelty to the everyday.

You can find a demo of her previous work here, and you can follow her progress on Twitter at @CritLitGames, on Instagram @criticallitgames, her blog https://criticallitgames.co.uk, and her Patreon if you want to support what she is up to.

Hyperkin Smartboy – Review

The holiday season can be a mixed bag sometimes. Between the socks and the body wash there can be little surprise for an adult Christmas! However, there was an exception for this Christmas when the Smartboy from Hyperkin appeared under my Christmas tree. Much to my delight!

img_0026The very first console I owned was a Nintendo Gameboy, and I still own it. It resides in its original very flattering messenger carry case. It was my first fore into gaming, and I still have my original cartridges that I acquired in my youth. And it’s a good thing I’ve kept them too because one of the primary usages of the Hyperkin is not to just to look like a Retro Gameboy but to play old Gameboy and Gameboy colours Cartridges. Happily, the unit supports NTSC/PAL cartridges so most people can be accommodated.

 

img_0027Setup for the Smartboy was a little complex; there is a proprietary cable that you need to use for the initial setup. Where you have to connect both the Hyperlink Unit and your phone through this cable. It took me about two tries to get it all up and to run. But my biggest fear for me would be losing that cable should I ever swap handsets, which I do fairly regularly. Though, a nice thing to balance that is the Smartboy does not need any batteries unlike the Gameboy that it is modelled on.

After that though, it’s predominantly smooth sailing. The SmartBoy needs two separate apps to work with the unit. Both are free, and once you have them installed and fully setup, it works seamlessly every time after that.

img_0025

While the Smartboy is designed for the Samsung Galaxy line of phones, it has an adjustable frame that will adjust to most phones regardless of size (5.2 – 6.4 inches). Right now I have the Galaxy Note 8 which is notoriously broad. But the Smartboy can support it just fine. There is a bottom at the back of the unit which expands the width of the phone, and then you can push the sides together to ensure a good fit.

 

 

The buttons are tactical, and the unit has the same button and hand feel as the old Gameboy used to. I would say the noise of the keys has a little bit more of an audible clack, but nothing that distracts from the overall experience. Particularly in the age of mechanical keyboards and cherry switches!

Games that are inserted into the cartridge slot at the back are put in traditionally. Those games are subsequently upgraded to the handsets resolution. Your mileage may better, but Tetris, Pokemon Gold and Mickey’s Grand Adventure have never looked so crystal clear.

img_0029There were only ever one or two features that are borderline annoying. Usually, if you touched the back of the cartridge in a Gameboy that’s it, you stop playing and risk losing your cartridge data. Although, I’m sure there were many of us as kids who just ripped their cartridges out of their units while the Gameboy was still on. I certainly did, and I instinctively did the same when I was swapping over to another cartridge. Only to be greeted with a Piracy Warning which then locks down the system. So, that in itself is a bit of a pain to contend with.

As you physically have to take your phone out of the unit close and restart all the apps again. It only happened a handful more times in my first few days with it, and mostly that was user error on my part by not inserting the cartridge firmly enough into the unit. However, its undeniable that it has taken away from my enjoyment of the experience.

So, is this something that I could recommend to the gamer in your life? Sure, but at $59 for the unit itself then the additional cost of the old cartridges (Which depending on the type of game and its rarity could cost more than you might think) it’s a hard sell to recommend to anyone other than the hardcore retro gamers in your life.

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Review: ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote

Disclaimer: This is a review unit I was able to get from the lovely people at ThinkGeek.

As anyone who has been viewing this blog for a long time, you’ll know one of my pet peeves in my digital life is that I struggle immensely with finding the right sort of bag for my tech. I’m not entirely a “and the kitchen sink” kind of person. But, with my daily commute and the amount I have to travel, I do have to consider seriously what bag will suit my purpose the best. That usually depends on what I’m doing. Am I flying? Am I just going to town? How long will I be waiting for one form of transport to another? Do I need to bring clothes? A myriad of question always accompanies all of these essential choices.

Most people would know that I swear by my Timbuk2 Custom Prospect messenger bag. It’s my regular go-to for travelling and day to day use. You can find more of my gushing over it in my Women Tech Bag Video.

So, with the ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote, there are a few things that are worthy to note about it before we get started.

kgiq_convertible_tote_holding

Product Specifications

  • Convertible Tote of Holding
  • A ThinkGeek creation & exclusive
  • Comes with double handles and also removable backpack straps
  • Custom d20 print accent
  • Magnetic snap closure at top
  • Organizer built-in to lining (9 card slots, 2 open pouches, 2 zip pouches, ThinkGeek keyholder)
  • Metal feet on the bottom for durability
  • Materials: 100% polyurethane exterior; 100% polyester lining
  • Care Instructions: Hand wash
  • Exterior Dimensions: 13″ wide x 17″ tall x 4″ thick
  • Weight: 2 1/2 lbs.

It is a beautiful bag; its print accent is one of the most striking elements of the tote. It’s wonderfully detailed, and I regularly got compliments and comments from the passers-by who I encountered who were curious about where on earth I found a bag that had a pattern of a D20! It’s a testament to the care and craft of putting a bag together like this. kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_detSubtle details in the stitching and lining indicate this to the core. It’s challenging to find a rough edge on the tote, and that’s a testament to the craft of it in itself. However, that robust construction comes at a price in the form of its weight. It’s a good two pounds when its empty. So, if people are expecting this to be a light bag, I fear this may not be one for you.

That being said, I wanted to put it through its paces. I was off to a Ted X in Canada, and I decided since it was an overnight trip that I would need to bring a change of clothes for the event. I was also going to need to bring some form of entertainment, food. I made a noble attempt to fit all of these items into the tote but alas I failed to do so without leaving some essential items out. Which is a no-go for this bag to be used as my new travel companion. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty astonished that I couldn’t fit more into it, dimensions wise it’s a pretty big tote bag. Now, as my Youtube Review Video will show, I am bringing quite a bit, and arguably my packing cube for my clothes was the principal offender when it came to the space available. It was still none the less surprising though, as right now it’s not quite living up to my expectations for a bag that has the title of Bag of Holding.

My timbuk2 to had to resume its position for that particular trip as I had little issue getting the contents I needed there for my trip. Throughout my time bouncing from airport to airport to get to Toronto I was curious about what other use cases could I use this bag for? So, I decided I’m regularly in and out to college as well as the gym I would see if this would be a suitable all in one solution for this, as my Timbuk2 for those trips is complete overkill. Sadly, I ran into different issues when using this bag as a daily driver for my college and gyms trips.

kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_int1Cardinal of all sins for me is the lack of a dedicated pocket for my laptop/tablet. This is something I’m quite pedantic about. I think if you’re creating any bag, it makes sense to have a dedicated pocket for your tech that needs that added bit of protection. So having something that didn’t even protect my iPad had me quite frustrated in parts. I was always second guessing where things were in my bag or worrying if my lunch box was going to spill and what that would do to said iPad.

I ran into the space issue on multiple occasions too, sometimes having to forfeit a bigger towel for the gym or a bottle of water to fit something else in for a particular day. Which, evidently, isn’t a great solution for things either. It’s not as if I’d be bringing a lot with me for these sessions, but I’d always feel like I was running short on space.

It leads to a more significant comment too which is after a while it can tend to make the bag heavier than you would otherwise think. Having a 2-pound starting weight then adding other essential items on top of that can rapidly make a significant weight change to the overall bag and limits your options on how best to carry it.

kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_strapsMy go-to carry style was to use it by the handles on my shoulder as I was always overly aware in the backpack style that a small clip only closes the bag, and it would be straightforward to reach into the bag from that position pretty much unbeknownst to the wearer. So I didn’t have enough experience with the backpack style element to make a concrete opinion on it other than its relatively well executed but the straps suffer from the same fault that others do which is the straps are awful thin. This can lead to the straps cutting into your shoulders, and I am a women function over fashion. So, in my time of usage it didn’t get a lot of use, but as always your mileage may vary.

It might seem like I’m ragging on the Tote, but really, I’m not. I think I’d be more lenient on it if they’d omitted the title of it is a Bag of Holding. I think that’s where I’ve got the most of a mental block. I can’t view this bag out of the context of it being in its brand. The line is notorious for being compact but being able to hold pretty much everything. I’ve even seen the standard bags, and others in the range attest to this mantra. This, however, doesn’t.

Let me be clear; it is not a bad bag in the least. It’s incredibly constructed, aesthetically pleasing and works as a bag. But is it a bag of holding worthy of the namesake? I don’t think so.

You can find out more about think ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote at http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/kgiq/?srp=1

Podcast: Pocketnow Weekly

Consider this an item ticked off my bucket list! I made it to the Pocketnow Weekly with my very good friends Juan & Jules. This is a bit of a rollercoaster of a podcast, so I hope you enjoy it!

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About us: Pocketnow has been a key source of mobile technology news and reviews since its establishment in 2000. With offices on three continents, Pocketnow offers round-the-clock coverage of the mobile technology landscape, from smartphones to tablets to wearables. We aim to be your number-one source for mobile tech news, reviews, comparisons, and commentary. If you love mobile as much as we do, be sure to subscribe!

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A Dumb Phone in 2017 – LG B470

When I was planning on myself and Splinters honeymoon this year, there was something that I was adamant about, and that was that I was going to be as tech-free as possible. I was not going to take my smartphone with me (at least, not my daily driver) and I was going to take a hiatus from all forms of social media and internet dependency.

This leads to a couple of issues while travelling; firstly how were you going to get from place to place if you couldn’t book a Lyft to the airport, and when you get to the airport how were you going to get through security without your boarding pass? These were all challenges I was going to have to face without having a handset on hand to do all of these tasks for me that I would have just taken for granted. What I learned is that I certainly do take these things for granted, my iPad served as a grading surrogate for a lot of these unusual tasks. However, it all got done, and our honeymoon went relatively unhindered as a result.

For the honeymoon, myself and Splintor went travelling a fair bit of it. We went to New York to see some of the Pocketnow crew for a few days, then we went to Orlando for five days to go and look at the parks and finally a week in Cancun to rest from all of the running around of the week prior. It leads to a fundamental problem – how am I going to call people or arrange to meet people while I’m over there? If myself and Mark are going to book a reservation for a restaurant, how are we meant to do that completely phone free? Turns out that bit, we can’t.

medium03So, we had to come to some arrangement. How could we remain connected and disconnected at the same time? The solution to that question came in the form of the LG B470, a dumb phone surviving in 2017.

As an AT&T exclusive, it’s not got the highest specs in the world, nor does it have the best camera.

Summary
Screen Size 2.2 inches
Screen Resolution 220 x 176 pixels
Battery Capacity 950 mAh
Camera Resolution 1.3 MP
Processor
Memory
Storage
Carrier AT&T
Other Features Text & Multimedia Messaging, Mobile Web, Text to Speech
Series B470

Though, as laughable as the concept may be for $25 per handset including the prepaid credit that was already on the phone it served our needs perfectly. We could make calls, tell the time, (an unexpected hindrance of continually being attached to a smartwatch. When you don’t bring the smartphone, you tend not to bring the smartwatch either!) and text people were required.

medium01

I remember trying to walk out of Best Buy to text Jules to see which Starbucks near Central Park we were meant to meet and struggling tremendously with the concept of T9. Stopping in the middle of the shop, swearing under my breath as this was something I hadn’t done since my early teens and it had escaped me. I felt like I’d blasted to some point in the future when technology will at some stage get away from my grasp, and I had the confusion I see in my elders. It hit me with the full force of that knowledge, and I was angry that I’d lost that part of my ability. I remember being able to text without looking under my desk in class (Sorry, Mam) and being able to write perfect messages because I had everything down to muscle memory.

It slowly came back, like riding a bike, and over those few days, I discussed with my tech Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 03.15.18friends the concept of reverting to something like this for the two-week process. People were curious how were we going to document our experiences without something there always at hand for us to use. There was a sense of nostalgia looking at a flip phone like this and lamenting for a simpler time.

I don’t think that lamentation is misplaced, and it is a simpler place to be. A simpler place to sit. A simpler place to just exist. I found myself not wanting to be anywhere else except where I was. It gave me an opportunity to be present and with the people who were around me. That’s not something that I get to feel in everyday life; there is some much that is around us that calls for our attention regularly. So, for me at least it was a beautiful gift to give not just to myself but for the people around me. It was what I hoped to get from spending my time being disconnected from the digital world for a bit.

I would highly recommend it, even just for a little while. To force yourself to tune out and turn off. Give yourself and the people you love the time just to be. It just goes to show that sometimes, going a few steps back can push you a few steps forward.

Geek Book Club Podcast: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I got to join the wonderful Andrew Wallace & Juan Carlos Bagnell on there Geek Book Club for the month of October where we talked about one of my favourite books. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!

You can find more details of the Geek Book Club over at Twitter @thegeekbookclub & their Facebook Page!

High-Quality Audio File

Juan Carlos Bagnell can be found at @somegadgetguy on Twitter, his reviews on all things tech at PocketNow and anything else over at his main channel JuanBagnell.

Andrew Wallace can be found at @fatproduce on Twitter.