Our site got hacked (it's ok now)
I just went on vacation and noticed the other night that this site had been hacked! All of the pages were affected. It was concerning and of course an unpleasant experience to feel so vulnerable and exposed. To the hackers credit, they didn't do anything seriously destructive. I can only assume that if they got as far as they did, they could have done much worse. Thankfully Roger, with his extensive know-how,was able to get the site back up and running pretty quick like within 12 hours. It is never clear how information is obtained. We don't have anything private on this site. It is just information. We were not blacklisted and what users saw was just basically a big obnoxious "this site has been hacked" vanity screen from the hacker group. Also, I found that I got a couple of unsolicited emails from a company offering to help fix the problem. It's hard to say if there is a connection there which is suspicious, but I'll leave them unnamed like the hacker. We're back and I'm grateful it wasn't worse.
Now we have ads
If you've been here before, you might also notice that we have some ads on our site now. This is just a small way to help offset hosting costs. We get some traffic, which is awesome to see. It's amazing to be contacted by people who find us through this site and the internet in general. We've made sure they are unobtrusive. Roger has been looking into tweaking things a little to insure they appear in appropriate places. The first pass the other day was not cool, but it has, as of this post been tamed. In a perfect world, I would love to keep the site ad free and perhaps at a later time we'll disable them again, but for now we wanted to try them out and see what it does.
Android vs. iOS (for me)
So after I guess I've had my iPhone 4s for over two years and finally managed to break it. I was disappointed, but I figure I'd dropped it enough times that this time I had it coming though it was as harmless a drop as any in the past, just the perfect angle. I made an attempt to fix the screen and almost succeeded but damaged the new screen cable in my impatience so I decided to just let it go. After all I have this Galaxy S4 and several Windows 8 phones to choose from. I had been over this bridge before, but decided that i'd give it another try. I got my Galaxy S4 up and running easy enough with a simple sim card swap and a call to get the LTE stuff working on it. All of this was great. Then I had to use the phone as my daily phone and this is when things got ugly. I really don't want to get into it, but I will probably, as I get into it... I like Android, I really do, but after having been through it a second time, I really am convinced that as a phone/organizer/information tool, hands down the iPhone runs circles around any android device. Don't get me wrong, there are some really cool things I'd love to see iPhone do that Android does, but not at the expense of the things that for me make it a tool I cannot live without. Here are the big sticking points for me:
- Siri's integration is superior. I've seen some comparisons in the past where they ask certain questions. Those tests tend to favor Android from what I've seen, but it's not those things that I'm not really talking about that. The things I found that were night and day were things like asking it general questions like.. "How many days till August 13th?" (my son's birthday). It just goes and pulls up the info. the S4 didn't even begin to understand what I was asking it. "Play all songs shuffled".. S4 doesn't understand. "remind me when I get home to do something".. while this technically works.. well it will make the reminder, but not tie a GPS coordinate to it.. maybe it "can", but the point is that I shouldn't have to hunt for how to do it.. it should just work.. reminders were an especially annoying sticking point for me too.. it seems that when I ask it to remind me about something -
- Battery life and charge times are so much better. When I went on this vacation I took my S4 as my GPS/Phone/everything. It was amazing how easy it was to drain the battery even when it was plugged in. I found that I had to continuously monitor the battery life (plugged in mind you) to not leave the screen on by accident for too long, otherwise I'd kill the battery and be GPS less while on the road. Now I realize that maybe my usb cords were not top quality, or the charger from the car wasn't producing enough power compared to a wall outlet. Honestly, I don't care about that. I should be able to use my phone and have it charge while plugged in from an car outlet. My iphone 4s never had this problem and my 5s seems to be about the same, though I will say it felt slower than i recall from the 4s.. but i'm coming from a very "gut feeling" which is subjective and this trip was an exhausting one.
- iCloud / Reminders / etc. This seems to be a no brainer, but for whatever reason the other guys just can't seem to get this right or even try. I'm a Mac user, but I have parallels, bootcamp and heck recently VMware/Ubuntu thanks to my work with Ouya, so I'm by no means in a Mac Ivory tower. The bottom line is that iPhone and all other iOS devices use iCloud and Mac uses it as well so contacts, reminders, calendar events and other stuff is synced continuously between all my devices that I choose to setup. It works and is very transparent. When I made reminders (the S4 would call "tasks") there was no "task" app on the phone to access these reminders and manage them. The only way I could find them was to ask it by voice to list it. It also didn't understand "remind me when i get home" to use the GPS. like I mentioned in the Siri section, maybe there is some way to achieve this, but it wasn't obvious and it should be. They pack enough other useless apps I can't uninstall that making a simple "task" app should be a given, not something I have to look up.
- iOS car stereo support. I thought my stereo said somewhere that it supports iOS/Android, but when I connected my S4 to the stereo it said device error. I'm sure there is a way, but once again, I shouldn't have too. There should be some intelligence there to instruct me on what to do. When I got the error in my car I just switched over to letting it be USB and use the Aux input, but this meant a 2nd cable dangling around. Seeing how the stereo could control the tracks, volume and even Pandora from the iPhone having it all go through the USB is a feature that's tough to give up.
So in short, iPhone is expensive. I had to do the Next plan from AT&T to get my phone which ultimately costs as much as before, but it is a shorter cycle and it got me into a new iPhone faster than waiting another 10 months or so before my 2 year renewal came up.
I'm also not a fanboy apple fan. I find Siri sometimes fails to connect even common messages to the action.. even when I see it understood my sentence and then apologizes that something went wrong.. I'm hoping I get less of this with the 5s, but so far I have still seen it happen so whatever it is, be it AT&T or Apple, needs improving. I haven't tried it recently, but Apple's map app had more than once totally mislead me while the iPhone google map app has been amazing, so understand I'm not here to just bash other platforms. I would switch to them in a heartbeat if they could offer comparable things, but they can't and that's what I don't get. Nothing about these features are hard to do. Maybe Apple is guarding their functionality closely which I'm sure they are to some degree, but there are always solutions to get around directly copying a good idea. In fact, it's been one of the great things that Android and Windows Phone have managed to embrace. Rather than cloning they have gone in fresh directions with certain aspects of the mobile experience, but until they address the really core things that make having a mobile device easier and more effective, they will have a hard time convincing me it's worth giving up so much for so little.
Hard Drive Drama (lessons learned)
So I own several large capacity external usb hard drive which I keep as duplicates to help insure if one were to tragically die, I wouldn't lose everything.. getting ready for the trip I was pressed for time and did what I can now see as a stressing task for a hard drive. So admittedly I can look back and see I was inviting trouble, but I also have to say that I would have thought by now that an operating system like Mavericks would be able to be smarter or even the hard drive itself to better handle a large cue of files to move from one location to another. I ended up crippling my primary backup drive so it would copy things over at a snails pace, then my secondary drive got jacked up at some point while I was traveling with it to help a friend out. How that broke is up for speculation, but ultimately I took it on the road and that alone certainly invited trouble and with my bad luck, it arrived.
So I guess in short, if you're going to have mirroring drives, do it one folder at a time. By folder they could still be big folders like "pictures" or "music" but when you try to move pictures and music at the same time, it becomes much more stressful for the HD because you now have two separate tasks trying to move everything over. I know there is software out there that handles this but for some reason I've just felt it's better to do it by hand, but after this incident I'm going to rethink things and see if there might be some good software out there that might help this in the future.
Next Steps for Part12 Studios Games
The list of things to tackle seems to be unending and constantly growing, sometimes faster than we can tackle them, but at least we're not bored! Roger is going to be trying out one of our rapid games called Zen Hopper: Trials using the Skillz a skill based gambling system which seems promising. I'm sure Roger will have something to blog about regarding this or one of his other projects. Keep an eye out for blogs coming from him as well as more tutorial-oriented posts from me as well. I tend to make blog posts on here that can be more opinion/rant-like and while those won't go away entirely, I would like to see us share more useful information about the tech we're using.
I'm dealing with some latency audio issues with Windows Phone 8.1 and working with Michael from Microsoft on this. I'm a bit OCD sometimes when it comes to making sure every platform we support run well. I want to see if the audio issue is something that Scirra can fix or if it's a Windows 8.1 issue. Either way I'm glad I have contacts in both camps, I just have to get a few more details ironed out to be sure I have conclusive proof the issue is with one camp or the other so they can (hopefully) take steps to fix this for all Windows Phone 8.1 devices.
I'm also getting some initially promising progress and support from Ludei regarding Construct 2 to Ouya. I had some initial success, but ultimately audio and visual issues exist, but seeing a response from the Ludei guys, makes me feel optimistic that they want to see it work and if it does, this could be a much easier solution for Construct 2 developers to get to the Ouya. I discovered a couple of games that have made it to Ouya from CocoonJS, but none of them were made with C2, so it's still up in the air.