The first time you launch an app in iOS, you are usually asked if you want to allow the app to deliver push notifications. A box pops up asking your preference, and you can either tap “Don’t Allow” or “OK.” Half the time when I select “Don’t Allow,” notifications are enabled anyway. I am not exaggerating. In my experience over the years, I would say that this happens about 50% of the time.
When I install a new app, I almost always deny push notifications for it. After using an app for the first time, I’ve been in the habit of going to the iOS settings to look at the notification settings. Sure enough, I often have to go in and manually disable Badges, Sounds, and Banners for the app I just installed. This needs to stop.
I only allow notifications on apps that I use for communication. In total, I only have notifications enabled for about five apps, most of which are instant messengers. It simply isn’t necessary for other types of apps to use them, certainly not games and other such trivial nonsense. Notifications can get annoying and I imagine that they probably tax your battery if you have too many enabled.
I don’t understand why the initial permissions preference is broken half the time. Are app developers deliberately programming so that notifications for their app are allowed no matter what the user chooses when they launch it? I suspect that they are. I don’t have any other explanation for the behavior. It can’t be an iOS glitch because half of the apps I’ve encountered honor it correctly.
If developers are in fact doing this on purpose, I’d like to see Apple crack down on the practice. Evildoers should be rejected from the App Store. There just isn’t any sense in developers getting away with this, if this is what they’re doing.
I would advise that everyone check their iOS settings from time to time to see if any apps have sneakily turned on notifications without their knowledge. I think we should all collectively begin giving poor ratings to apps that don’t honor the preferences of the user.
I use WordPress as the content management system for my site. In the early days I could not settle on a site theme, and found myself changing the theme as often as every few months. In those early days I went through more than five different theme changes. I was always looking for a keeper that I could use indefinitely.
My current theme, called Vigilance, has been that keeper. I’ve used the Vigilance theme for more than four years now. It was developed by The Theme Foundry. I have a lifetime membership at The Theme Foundry. I’m a big fan of their work and I’ve had great experiences with their support.
While visiting their site last week, I discovered that Vigilance has been retired. I suppose that wasn’t much of a surprise. It was one of their early themes and the time had come for them to discontinue development of it. Learning of this news, it occurred to me for the first time in four years to look for a modern replacement. I took to the task of finding a new theme.
After a deal of searching and experimentation, I didn’t find a theme that I wanted to commit to. It seems as though a lot of themes today are built around magazine-style layouts with a lot of emphasis on photos. My blog is mostly all text. I use photos only when they are relevant to the topic.
I’ve decided that at this time I’m going to continue using Vigilance as my site theme. I know it’s not the most modern-looking theme, but I still like it for the same reasons I did when I first chose it. It’s clean, simple, and has solid HTML and CSS code under the hood. I’ve done a good bit of customization behind the scenes over the years. I’ll keep it around a little longer.
I’ve been on a kick of watching really dumb movies lately. The more dumb movies that I watch, the more Netflix recommends them to me. Some of them look so absurd that I can’t resist watching at least part of them to see if they are any good.
This brings me to the latest movie that I watched over the weekend. It’s called FDR: American Badass. The movie title and poster caught my attention immediately. The description on Netflix reads as follows:
After contracting polio from a werewolf bite, FDR won’t stop at single-handedly ending the Great Depression and prohibition. With the help of a team of historic figures, he must claim victory in World War II by defeating an army of Nazi werewolves.
Barry Bostwick plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Despite the fact that this is a slapstick comedy, Bostwick is actually a really good fit to play FDR. He looks the part, and his acting is really good when he isn’t making a complete fool of himself. That said, the vast majority of the things that he says and does are totally insane.
Lin Shaye plays Eleanor Roosevelt. As soon as I recognized her, I knew what kind of movie I was dealing with. She has played in a countless number of crazy roles in other comedies. If you know her, then you would know what I’m talking about. She plays the role of Eleanor well, and her character is surprisingly written to be a little saner than the others.
The movie begins in the woods, where then governor Roosevelt is hunting with some other men. A werewolf chases them down, and a comically absurd shootout and fight scene ensues. FDR is bitten in the leg and wakes up in the hospital with polio and can no longer walk.
He decides to run for President. His travels and campaigning were funny, and were written to make some sort of sense. After he is elected, the movie loses a bit of direction and the passage of time was not very clear. It seemed as though 15 minutes after he takes office in the movie, he is suddenly in his last term, with little to no explanation of the middle part.
The first half of the movie was hilarious. It seemed more thought out than the later portion. At some point in the middle, it seemed like the actors began making it up as they went along, with their driving motivation being to do the craziest thing they could think of. The overuse of gratuitous profanity was hit and miss. I’d bet that a good portion of it was ad-libbed. The shock value of their language wore off after a while.
Many jokes are made at the expense of his shrunken polio legs. It is brought up many times. When he would uncover his legs, the camera would cut to the image of quivering little baby legs.
In what was likely the craziest scene in the movie, a White House secretary seduces him. Before you know it, she hoses his legs down with ketchup and mustard, and proceeds to rub them up and down while he howls in delight. That scene was so unexpected and so ridiculously over the top that I was screaming laughing. I had to pause the movie I was laughing so hard.
The split screen scenes with the world leaders talking on the phone did not amuse me very much. Likewise with the whole sequence involving Abraham Lincoln. I know that this is a crazy comedy, but Abraham Lincoln had no business being in this movie. I think that whole segment should have been scrapped.
Overall, I liked the movie. It is completely and utterly ridiculous in every way. You have to want and expect that type of movie going in, or you’re not going to like it. If FDR himself could watch this movie, I would imagine that he would not be very happy about it.
I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Netflix. My liking is closer to a 3.5, but half stars aren’t allowed. Since portions of the movie fell flat, I rounded my rating down to a 3.
SECURITY ALERT! Make sure that your Internet router isn’t exposing port 32764. It has been revealed to be a major security hazard, potentially leaking your router admin data and wireless encryption key to hackers. Use the link below to check your port status. Make sure the result on the probe below is STEALTH or CLOSED. If the result of the port scan is OPEN, you should log in to your router administration and change your settings to block that port immediately.
I’ve heard about this security alert two weeks in a row on one of my favorite podcasts, Security Now with Steve Gibson. If you want to hear the details, this was discussed on the latest episode 438. The conversation about this security alert begins at precisely 52:10 in the show.
Check your port: bit.ly/port32764
Pocket Trains is a business simulation game from NimbleBit where you manage and grow railroads by transporting cargo around the world. The game was released on iOS and Android in September 2013. I’ve been playing it for a couple of months now. I enjoy the game sound effects and charming 8-bit graphics. I’m currently on level 17 and operating 14 railroads.
The ultimate goal in this game is to acquire a license to operate on every continent and then reach monopoly status on each one. This will take time. Despite playing for a while, I am operating on 4 continents, with 2 remaining to unlock. South America and Oceania are my last two lands to conquer.
Pocket Trains is free. However, you’re incentivized to make in-app purchases to buy extra crates, coins, and game currency called “Bux”. Paying for these items will significantly speed up your game progress, but it is not necessary to pay if you’re willing to be patient and not try to rush through the game. In time, the game will provide you with everything you need to expand your railroads and complete the game without having to spend any real money.
There are countless guides, walkthroughs, and cheat sheets available online for this game. I haven’t actually read any of them. I’ve just been playing through the game on my own, moving cargo about twice a day, and playing casually to build up my railroad operations. Having played it for a while, I have some game tips for you all.
It’s worth making it clear that you can rename your railroads. I didn’t realize this for a while, and as I began to manage new ones, it became hard to tell them apart. Naming the trains is part of the fun. I’ve made silly names that correlate to the color or region of the tracks that they operate on. For example, one of my purple lines is named “Purple Reign”. That amuses me.
If you deploy a train too soon after its last trip, you will get a warning that it needs to be refueled. The game will prompt you to refuel using your Bux, and charge you accordingly depending on the fuel supply that your train currently has remaining. My advice is to never use your Bux to refuel the trains. You need to save your Bux to open the crates that contain parts to make more trains and deploy new railroads. When your fuel is low, simply leave the game and come back later. The trains refuel over time on their own. Also, don’t use the boost feature to speed your train to its destination. Boosts cost Bux and it is a waste of your funds. Just wait it out.
Trains break down over time and require repairs. You can repair broken trains using spare parts you’ve unlocked from crates or by using your coins. In my opinion, the trains break down too frequently. It’s somewhat of a ploy by the developers to get you to waste more of your spare parts and coins so that you’ll be tempted to hurry to get more by using the in-app purchases. My suggestion to you is to simply ignore the train breakdowns. The trains will all still operate while being broken, but they can only move at the slow speed of 25 MPH. As long as you’re not in a hurry to blow through this game, the slow speed is fast enough to reasonably complete your missions. Don’t waste your loot on keeping the trains in perfect working order. It’s worth noting that the longer you run your trains without repairing them, the higher the cost of the repair, should you decide to finally fix them. Repair fees can quickly grow to massive numbers so be careful not to tap the wrong button when dismissing the warnings.
When laying new tracks and expanding your empire, I highly recommend that you avoid the temptation to build train tracks on long spans of bridges. The cost to deploy tracks over water is rather expensive and can eat up a lot of your profits. As you advance in the game and operate more railroads, the amount of profit you receive increases and it will be easier to afford those bridges later in the game.
You don’t have to unlock access to every major city on a continent to achieve monopoly status for that land, you only need to unlock most of them. Once you achieve monopoly status for that land, turn your attention to building up your coins to spend on buying a license to operate on another continent. Each license costs 50,000 coins. This is why I suggested holding off on building expensive bridges early in the game.
I have an annoyance. Every so often when I load the game, I’ll get a popup window that encourages me to download NimbleBit’s other game offerings, most notably Textropolis and Star Wars Tiny Death Star. I suppose that’s a minor inconvenience for an enjoyable game that they are essentially giving away for free, but the ads tend to get on my nerves. Fortunately, one doesn’t appear very often.
One benefit to playing this game that I didn’t expect when I started playing is that it has helped me learn more about geography. I didn’t realize the locations and distances of a lot of the cities in Asia and Africa until this game gave me the incentive to memorize the maps.
Overall, I have to say that Pocket Trains is a lot of fun. I’ve found it to be quite addictive. I’ve really enjoyed playing it. It sounds like I’ve spent a lot of time on it, but I really haven’t. Just five minutes here and there. I know that once I’ve monopolized the planet with my train empire, the game will be over and its luster will fade away. That is one reason why I’m glad I’ve taken it slow and enjoyed the journey.
If Pocket Trains sounds like fun to you then I definitely recommend downloading it and laying some tracks. Enjoy!
This winter I’ve been seeing a lot of videos posted online of people attempting to see if boiling water would freeze when thrown in mid-air. The people who were successful at this live in much colder climates than I do, but I thought it would be amusing to see what would happen if I tried it here. We’ve had some very cold nights this week, with temperatures down to the single digits. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to put this to the test.
I conducted my own boiling water freezing in mid-air experiment. The outside temperature at the time was 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.4 Celsius). I did it early this morning and I reluctantly didn’t have time to shoot a video.
I slung a pot of boiling water off of my patio. When the water hit the air it made a massive steam cloud that rather slowly drifted away and settled toward the ground. It had the visual effect of snow, or more like the effect of snow mist blowing off a roof. The effect looked very similar to the videos I’ve seen of other people doing it.
When I heard the water splash on the ground, I knew it clearly didn’t freeze in mid-air. It seemed that less water fell to the ground than came out of the pot, so some of the water might have vaporized in the air.
I’ve watched several videos of people pulling this stunt and I have to say that I’m not entirely convinced that any of the water I see is actually freezing in the air. What I see in every video is a huge steam cloud and material falling to the ground. I can’t determine if any of the water is actually frozen. In the most extreme cold, like in places where it is -20 degrees, the water seems to turn into snow. In videos filmed in average winter weather, it looks like I’m just witnessing a giant steam cloud.
I would call my attempt a partial success. I could imagine that if it was extremely cold it would work as intended. If we get another unusually cold night this winter I may try it a second time and film the experiment just for laughs.
I’ll include a link to my favorite video of this variety. You can watch that via this YouTube link.