Mini Metro Mini Review

I have found another way to waste pass time on my devices: Mini Metro. It was included in the App Store Best of 2016 and won a bunch of other awards. The principle of the game is simple: you are responsible for building a metro/underground/subway network in a major city. Mini Metro comes with 15 different cities. London, Paris, New York, and Berlin are unlocked. You gain access to other cities by achieving a passenger-carrying goal in some other city, for example, move 500 passengers on the Berlin network and Melbourne opens up. The maps reflect the layout of the water features of the city.

Game screenshot

London Underground typical starting position

You start with the ability to build three different lines indicated by the coloured dots to the right. You have assets of three engines and the capability to create three tunnels. Stations appear on the map; initially, they are indicated by squares, circles, and triangles, but different shapes appear as the game progresses. To construct a line, just touch a station symbol and drag to the next station.

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Review: Adult Colouring App

Colouring apps for adults seem to be increasingly popular. I decided to have a look around and see whether I’d have fun with one. Most of the apps that I looked at offer a free version with in app purchases required to unlock additional facilities. Some such as Pigment and Colorfy are subscription-based. But I thought £3 a week forever for something I wanted as an occasional diversion and not an obsession was over the top. I decided to go with Adult Colouring. The name is unfortunate as it suggests something naughty, which, of course, is not the case.

I installed Adult Colouring on my 12″ iPad Pro and worked with the Apple Pencil. I played around with the free version and decided that the price to unlock the full version was fair. [Read more…]

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Book Review: Why I Am Not A Christian

Dr Richard Carrier wrote Why I Am Not A Christian because he was sponsored to set out his reasons for not being one.

Discussing our experiences, we realized we’d both encountered many Christians like this, who color their entire perception of reality with the assumption that they have to be right, and therefore the evidence must somehow fit.

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Review: Why Evolution Is True

I’ve just finished reading Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. I personally don’t (and never did) have any doubts about the scientific Theory of Evolution, or Darwinism. Unfortunately, it is staggering how many people do. I was wasting some time a few days ago playing with the app, Voice Polls. It’s a kind of instant opinion poll.



Only 37% answer “science and evolution”; 33% say “god” and 30% “both”

It’s a bit hard to read the numbers for anything but the top choice, so I’ve added them in the caption. What this amounts to is that 63% of responders think god had a hand in human creation.

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Scappling The Cave

As I’ve mentioned before, I often buy apps that seem like a good idea. I have the notion that I will find a use for it some time. One such example is Scapple from Literature & Latte whose main claim to fame is that they make the writing tool, Scrivener. That is not an app that I’ve ever used—it’s for “anyone who works on long and difficult writing projects”, which is not me. However, it has a strong reputation, so I decided to take a look at Scapple.

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Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

I have not read many self-help books. Something I pondered as I was writing this review and decided that’s because they are probably read by people who are more dissatisfied with their life than I have been—I am, by and large, content. So my motivation to read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert was more to find entertainment than inspiration to drive self-improvement. Right away, I’ll say the book is an entertaining and interesting read on, at least, two levels. How To Fail… is not a biography, but there are ample illustrations and examples drawn from the author’s own life and career from which we learn a lot about Scott.

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Popsicolor Postcard Update

In my last post about photo painting, I mentioned that I’d sent myself a postcard using Popsicolor’s integration with Sincerely. That postcard has now arrived. I placed the order and received an acknowledgement email on 21 October; on 23 October, I received a despatch notification; the card arrived on 28 October. It is a standard-sized postcard with what looks like a medium-glossy finish. It’s a good quality print and looks very attractive. My wife saw the card propped on a shelf and commented on its quality without knowing it was an image I had created.

The cost for this one-off postcard was USD 2.99, which I don’t think is wildly expensive. It’s possible to buy credits that reduce the cost: 249 bucks gets a price of just under USD 1.70 for an international card. The cheapest bundle is USD 9.90 and gives a unit price of USD 1.98. “Domestic”, by which I assume they mean US, costs half as much.

I think I will be using the service again.

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Photo Painting (5): Some More Apps

I’ve been continuing my search for good and fun photo painting apps. Today’s post looks at four more.


Painteresque works like many of the photo painting apps: choose an image from the camera roll/albums or take a picture and then apply a style. There are eight choices (Painteresque 1 and 2, Lithograph, Coloured Pencil, Charcoal, Rainbow, Mars and Portrait) plus “do nothing” that allows you to see the original photo. The results that this app produces are pleasing, but they don’t really turn your pictures into an oil painting or watercolour, or… The effects, as you can see from the examples, are more like a filter effect. The progress messages made me chuckle, “Narrying the Wembits” and “Magic Scrooberizing”.

There are controls that allow fine-tuning on quite a number of parameters; some producing weird results, but the effect is still that of a filter. And perhaps, that’s the main problem with this app: the name does not match the product. Still, as I’ve said, the final pictures are attractive, though I suspect (but could be wrong) there are many “filter apps” that produce similar output.

A nice feature of Painteresque is that should you happen upon a combination of these settings that pleases you, it’s possible to save these as a preset.

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iPhone 5S Review: Patagonia

iPhone 5S Review: Patagonia — Austin Mann.

Credit to John Gruber for spotting this.


Photo Painting (4): More Haikus

While continuing my exploration of Haiku HD, I discovered that the developer, Jixipix Software, has a version for Mac OS X for £5.49. I got my copy from the Mac App Store, but there’s a Windows version available from the Jixipix site. As far as I can tell the desktop Haiku is almost identical to the iPad version: there is an additional adjustment, Colour Vibrancy, and images have to be dragged into the working area and selected using Finder. I load all my processed images in JPEG format into iPhoto. I found I can browse in iPhoto, and choose to reveal a selected image in Finder, which I could then drag into Haiku.

The extra space of my iMac made it easier to do some testing; so I’ve created a few samples to illustrate the possibilities of the app. It’s, by no means, exhaustive, but it does give a flavour of the output options.

Haiku Adjustments

Haiku Adjustments

  • Colour Style: specifies where the watercolour appears on the image
  • Strength: changes the opacity of the watercolour effect
  • Wet Edges: changes the size of the outline around the water-colour effect
  • Paint Fill:changes how much of the image is covered by the watercolour effect
  • Paint Variation: changes how the paint looks in the selected area
  • Ink Outlines: changes the outline of objects in the image
  • Ink Outline Detail: changes the level of detail
  • Ink Fill: increases ink amount in darker areas of the image
  • Ink Colour: changes the colour for ink outline, detail and fill (has input from pointer and RGB values)
  • Colour Vibrancy: enriches the watercolour pigment
  • Paper and Borders (not shown): choice of background (42) and borders (14)

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