Tag Archives: weather

Personal: What’s on my phone

asus zenfone 3 max.jpg Product page

About a year ago, I wanted a new phone. My first smartphone was a Samsung, which was my 2nd and 3rd smartphone as well. I always wanted to try a different brand and since I bought an Asus Zenpad 8S in 2016 for my birthday, I wanted to give the Asus Zenfone a try. I’m quite content with my Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. I have the 5.5 inch version, so it’s quite a big phone in my opinion. So, a while ago, there was a tag challenge in the tech community to tell your audience what you have on your phone. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I still want to do it. So, here we go. Also, I invite other bloggers to do the same thing. What is on your phone? If you write an article about it, feel free to tag me on Twitter or link to this article. Or feel free to leave a comment here as well. 

Mini review

So, before we go to the main event, I first want to give a mini-review on the Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. What are things that I love and dislike about the phone. I have been using this phone for a year now. If you want to read up on the specs of my phone, you can read it here on gsmarena.com.

There are a few things I dislike about this phone. If you use the screen at max brightness and either WiFi or 4G, the phone’s battery drains quite fast. Lowering the brightness helps quite a lot to save battery. Another thing has to do with the call quality. Sometimes the microphone doesn’t pick up my voice too well and the other end doesn’t hear me, but if I reposition the phone a bit, that fixes the issue. Another thing I dislike is that buttons like home or back aren’t backlit. But, that’s all I really dislike about this phone. While other reviewers would find other things wrong with it, I really like this phone and it fits my needs perfectly.

So, what are things I really like about this phone? It’s my first phone with a fingerprint reader. This makes life so much easier. More on that later. Another thing I really like is how this phone seems to get frequent updates to the latest version of Android and all the latest security patches. I prefer the ZenUI over TouchWiz any day of the week. The camera on the phone is really good for family pictures in my opinion. But, the biggest factor for this phone is that it’s priced at 250-280€ and you get an amazing phone for that price.

What’s on my phone?

Now, what’s on my phone? Quite a lot actually. I nearly always carry my phone with me since it’s a handy tool when I need to look up something quickly or snap a quick picture of something I need to remind myself of.

Since I’m rarely at my desk at work, I always have my phone with me. So, they can call me whenever there is a problem. Also, I love listing to music while walking and I use my phone as an old school music player. So, my music app is one of my most frequently used apps.

First of all, I won’t talk about every single app that’s on my phone. There are quite a few games I have installed on my phone for when I’m in a waiting room or have some time on the train and the batteries of my 3DS or Switch are out. I’ll only talk about the apps I placed on my home screen, since those are the apps I use the most.

Whenever there is an app I use often, I place it on my homescreen. If I stop using it frequently, I remove it from my home screen and replace it with something else I use frequently.

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This is my first home screen. This screen greets me when I unlock my phone. For obvious reasons, I won’t show how I unlock my phone. On the left of my main home screen is the Google Assistant/Google Now. This way I can catch up with the latest news of the subjects I’m interested in. On the right, there is a 2nd home screen with additional apps. More on that later.

At the bottom, I use the classic vanilla apps. From left to right, you have the dialer, my text messages, a button to see all apps, Chrome and my camera. On the top of my home screen is a big clock with the date displayed. Besides that clock, I have the messenger app. I talk quite often to friends over messenger and if I want to share a link, Messenger is the easiest way. Underneath that, you have the Play Store. Each morning, I update all my apps and check the store if there isn’t anything interesting that I could review on my blog.

Then, you have three rows of 4 apps each. The first row is my calender, my finder app, Discord and Dropbox. The calender app is the Google Calender. I use this app often to remind myself of things I need to do. I put more than just my appointments or birthdays in my calender. Things like: “Article day”, “Write time for final project”, “Write piece for collab” or “Release of thing X” are things that appear in my calender as well. Appointments have a red color and things I need to do have either blue or yellow. Blue if it’s something I could delay and yellow if it’s urgent or if it can’t be delayed.

The file explorer is the one that comes with Asus’ ZenUI and I love it. It gives me Windows-vibes and it’s really great to use. Whenever I download a file, I can quickly find it with this app. When you open it, you can select to view all images, video’s, music, documents… on your phone or just explore the phone. An amazing feature here is that I can setup a wireless method of accessing the files on my phone. When my phone and the device I want to access from are connected to the same network, I can wirelessly access the files on my phone. It creates a link I can visit and I see the same thing as the file explorer app. This app saved me various times.

I use Discord to talk to other bloggers and friends from over the whole world. I’m also part of some servers where game developers look for bloggers to promote their games. If you want to add me on Discord, just shoot me a message over Twitter. But, an app I use really frequently as well. I actually have Dropbox Pro, since I use this as a backup method. I have close to 500GB stored in my Dropbox. Everything from files I need for work to my final project is in there. So, I never worry too much about dying hard drives or loosing my files. I also use the Photo Sync feature of Dropbox. This feature saves all the pictures I make with my phone in my Dropbox so I can use them directly on my computer or all the other devices I connected to Dropbox.

On the second row, we find Instagram, WordPress, YouTube and WhatsApp. I do have an Instragram profile, but don’t frequently use it. I enjoy browsing Instagram to see what my friends are up to. If you can’t guess why I use the WordPress app, well, I use it for checking and fixing things on my blog on the go. So, I’m quite a big fan of YouTube. I love watching tech channels, retro gaming channels, game development channels and various other channels relating to creating things. The final app on that row is Whatsapp. I mostly use that app to keep in contact with my family or my theater group. That’s all I use Whatsapp for.

The final row on my main home screen is the row with the most used apps on my phone. Twitter, since I’m quite active on Twitter. Outlook to check my mails and “Nationaal” is the app I use to check the train schedule to get from and to work. I know that I skipped an app. That’s “Pulsar+“. In one of the firmware updates of my phone, Asus removed the quite excellent ZenUI music app. So, I searched high and low for a great music app on the Play Store. First I used Pi MP3 Player, but I started to run into issues. For some reason, no apps wanted to update on my phone after I installed that app.

Not too long after, I found Pulsar. I liked the app so much, I actually bought the premium version. It includes additional themes and some neat additional features. I can’t recommend this app enough if you enjoy listing to music on your phone. It’s one of the best apps I have used in a while.

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So, on my 2nd home screen are the apps I use less frequently but I want quick access too. Let’s start with the first row. This has the Facebook app, the UEFA soccer app, a weather app and the Nintendo Switch Online app. The weather app, AccuWeather, is an amazing weather app. It’s quite accurate in my area and I use it to check if I need to take an umbrella on my walks or not. I use the UEFA soccer app since the soccer app of my local sports channel doesn’t have the UEFA Nations League tables built in. I use the Facebook app, since I dislike the website on mobile and I find that it has quicker and easier access to certain features. And finally the Switch online app, I use that app for if I want to voice chat during online Switch play.

The next row has the Steam app, for when I want to check the Steam Store and to have an additional layer of security for my Steam account. Besides that, the Easy Banking app is the app I use to check my finances. Then, you have the Sporza Soccer app. I use this app to follow my local soccer league and to see what the Red Devils, our national soccer team is up to. And Bancontact is used for quick payments, once you set up this app, paying for the doctor goes so quickly.

Oh, before I continue, quick side note. If you are American, I mean football when I say soccer. That said, let’s continue.

The next row has my gallery. When I need to show a picture to somebody. I find the way that the gallery app sorts pictures better than how my finder app sorts them. Besides that, you have the calculator app. Strangly, this is one of the only apps that doesn’t have it’s name translated in the ZenUI to Dutch. It such say “rekenmachine”. Oh well. It doesn’t bother me that much. Then, you have the Maps app, I use as a GPS. And finally on that row, you have Imgur, for quickly uploading pictures and since I love this website.

The final row has the Telenet Mobile app. This app is from my ISP and I use this app to check on how much mobile data I have left. Besides that, you got Reddit. I have periods when I get very addicted to Reddit and go on the site a lot and there are moments I rarely visit the site. The final two icons on that row are the Patreon app and the Grumpy Cat game.

I use the Patreon app to check on posts the creators made that I support on Patreon and the Grumpy Cat game is just one of my favorite games on my phone at the moment.

You might notice that I leave one row empty. This row is my temp row. On this row I place apps I just installed and I want to test or if a developer asks me to review them. So yes, that screenshot might be a teaser for an upcoming article. Whenever I tested them or wrote the article, I usually remove them from my home screen.

A few apps that I want to mention that aren’t on my home screen are:

Ringtone Maker – MP3 Cutter – One feature I miss from Samsung is that when you select a song as a ringtone, it searches the best part of the track to start the ringtone at. This app solves that and I can even choose from where start my ringtone.

Datasize Explorer Pro – Whenever I’m running low on space on my phone, I use this app to check which apps take up a lot of space and I should remove or clean the cache of.

WiFi Analyzer – If you are a techie or a networking person, this app is a must on Android devices. It helps you to visualize WiFi to help you troubleshoot issues with WiFi.

And all the other apps, outside of games, are apps from local stores here in Belgium or the Netherlands I use to shop or to buy my retro games from. Or your typical apps that almost everybody has like Shazam. And a few apps I don’t think are worth mentioning.

So, that was quite a lot. I’m quite curious to see which phones you guys have and for what you use it and what apps are on your phones. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was something different from what I usually do, but next time I’ll get back into gaming stuff. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

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First Impression: Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS) ~Sunny Weather

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

It’s time that I talk about a Golden Sun game. I have been putting this off for way too long. After I listed it in my favorite DS games ever made, I never talked about it. Apart from some music tracks here and there. It’s time to correct that. This week we are going to take a look at a game, I honestly thought I talked about before. In any case, the title and the box art here already gave it away.  It’s the 3rd game in the series, Golden Sun Dark Dawn. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article. 

(Note: to make this article more readable and understandable for everybody, I didn’t to use the lore of this game and used a generic term.)

Special powers

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The story of this game takes place a few years after the original two games. The story starts out simple with two children getting into some trouble with a sort of magical hang glider. But rather quickly, this story changes into your typical “save the world from doom” story.

While the story is your typical RPG story, it’s the journey and the writing that makes it memorable in my eyes. Each main character and side character has his or her own personality.

But what I really like about the story is how all the lore is explained in a non-intrusive way.  As you may have guessed, this game is a JRPG and because it’s the 3rd game in the series, there is a lot of lore.

But instead of the characters explaining the lore in some dialogue or some boring exposition dump, it gets underlined. When you tap that word, you get an explanation on the top screen to get you up to speed. Also, all those words go in your encyclopedia so you read them at your own pace. This is something that all other RPG’s should do! That way, there can be more focus on the story instead of explaining everything so newcomers can enjoy the game. This mechanic can also serve as a nice reminder for hardcore fans when he or she has forgotten the meaning of a word.

Fighting like on the GBA

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The gameplay, in general, hasn’t changed a lot compared to the GBA games. But in this game, some mechanics are tweaked for the newer hardware.

First of all, I want to talk about the exploration part of the game. The world this game takes place in is huge. I love exploring in this world. Since each town has it’s own unique feel to it.

The puzzles in this game are amazing in my opinion. The puzzles use the special powers you have in creative ways. I had to think outside of the box sometimes. And when you are stuck, one character gets a special power which allows you to see what objects you can interact with and which powers you should use.

Secondly, the battles are quite interesting as well. Since you have three possible attacks. You can fight with your weapons, use your magic and/or Djinn. Djinns are special creatures you find all over the world.

The mechanic of Djinn is one of the most interesting things in this game. I love trying to find them in towns, dungeons and in the overworld. But after you found them, a rather tricky meta-game starts. Depending to who you equip which Djinn, you can make a character even stronger or even weaker. Not only that, which magic powers they can use will also change. This makes for an interesting balancing exercise to make sure you have the perfect build to advance the plot.

When you use Djinn, they go into, what I like to call, the summing pool. When you have enough Djinn of a certain type, you can summon a more powerful creature. But beware, when a Djinn is in the summoning pool, the character it’s attached too, will lose its perks.

If this sounds interesting to you, this page on the Golden Sun wiki will explain it in more depth.

This world is golden

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The presentation and design of this game are top notch. While some animations take a little bit too long, I have no other complaint.

The world looks colorful and really pops out. The visual presentation in this game is one of the best I have seen on the system.

There is one issue I have with the design. And that’s that the menu system can sometimes be very annoying. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that could have been done a lot better with more traditional menus. An example is the inventory system. It’s quite messy in my opinion. When you are looking for example for some herbs and you forgot to which character you have given them too. But it’s something I got used to.

The music and sound design of this game are excellent. The sound design gives this game the right charm it deserves. And the music, well, I have the soundtrack in my music library and I play a track here and there. It’s a very nice soundtrack.

The controls are great as well. Since you can use both buttons and the stylus. So you can choose and use the playstyle you prefer.

This game isn’t easy but isn’t difficult. But, I will give my final verdict on that when I finish the game. Since I know that there is another DS game that is rather easy but the final boss is extremely hard.

Something that could have been improved in this game is the frame rate. In some parts of the game, I saw some great frame rate drops. It mostly happens when there is way too much happening on screen at once. But it doesn’t happen very often thankfully.

Something I have to mention is that I had this game crash on me twice at the same spot. In the first cave you visit, I had this game crash on me. It was a great lesson in saving this game often. Also, thumbs up for having three save slots. Really helps!

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I beat this game, I might write a review. I hope you enjoyed reading this first impression as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog, have a great rest of your day and until then: take care and game on!