Catching up on Deadpool with Marvel Unlimited

Marvel Unlimited is essentially the Netflix for comic books, or for Marvel’s library of comic books at least. For $9.99 a month (or $69 a year) you get access to over 17,000 Marvel comic books via their iPad and Android apps and via the web (the mobile apps are preferable).

I used to buy comic books pretty regularly, but before long my subscriptions started to overwhelm me. I would stack up comics and never read them, and then storing them became a hassle. It was certainly cool to amass a collection and preserve them all neatly in bags, but it wasn’t very practical, especially in small living quarters. Eventually I just gave up on comics all together as I lost the time to keep up with them.

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Marvel Unlimited offers a convenient way to dive back into the world of comic books. It’s easy to go back to the beginning of just about any particular run and read through a series. Most series are current up to six months ago (there’s a six month waiting period between an issue’s release and its archival in the Unlimited library).

I’ve spent the last few nights catching up on the Deadpool (2012) series. I used to love reading Deadpool, but haven’t read an issue since mid 2011. So far the 2012 series has had some entertaining moments, but I feel like its a little less mature than the 2008-2012 run that I remember.

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The ‘rise of the dead presidents’ thing seemed pretty cool, but at some points I felt like the jokes and the concept seem a little too forced. Also, a lot of the Deadpool’s humor seems a little more immature than I remember it being. That said, the art is pretty cool and at times quite graphic. Oh and they set an elephant on fire!

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I’m excited to check out more series via Marvel Unlimited. The nice thing about the app is that it offers an avenue to explore series you might otherwise never purchase in a store. The library is incredibly large, which can seem overwhelming, however there is a ‘Discover’ section that offers plenty of starting points for anyone unsure of where to jump in.

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I’m looking forward to continuing the Deadpool series while also checking out many of the other great books Marvel has to offer. If you have any recommendations feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

 

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Fallout Shelter: Why am I playing this?

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Fallout Shelter has been frustrating me lately. I can’t quite figure out why I’m playing it and yet at the same time I can’t seem to walk away from it. Fallout Shelter is Bethesda’s free to play game in which you manage a Vault in the Fallout universe, launched alongside the Fallout 4 reveal during this year’s E3. It is currently only available on iOS devices, however it is set to release on Android platforms on August 13th.

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter is simple to play. In it you construct various rooms and assign vault dwellers to work in those rooms to produce resources. Each vault dweller has a unique set of stats and each room requires a certain stat in order to run efficiently. You need to produce electricity, food and water in order to keep your vault running smoothly and your dwellers healthy. You can also send your dwellers into the wasteland in order to earn experience while searching for caps (currency), weapons and outfits.

The game doesn’t pressure you to pay in any money, however you can purchase sets of card packs starting at $0.99 for one pack. These card packs will provide you with either more caps, resources, weapons, outfits or even special vault dwellers. Each pack will include at least one rare item (such as a vault dweller or outfit) and they make doing well in the game much easier.

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Opening the packs is one of the most exciting parts of the game, so last week I bought my first card pack (a set of 5 for $3.99). I got some pretty cool weapons and a few special vault dwellers with high stats. It was pretty exciting and I felt like my vault was well on its way to prosperity. Not more than thirty minutes later a radroach outbreak occurred, and as I tried to fight the roaches off every single one of my vault dwellers was killed. At this point my vault was doomed. I didn’t have the caps to resurrect any of my dwellers, and I couldn’t see anyway to advance the game.

I should’ve quit the game then, but having just spent four dollars on the game I felt the need to try again. I started a new vault and was a little disheartened to find that my card pack purchase didn’t follow to the new game. I sped through the initial setup and found myself purchasing another $3.99 card pack to get a jumpstart on my vault. This time I determined not to rush any of my production (rushing carries the risk of causing accidents such as fires or radroach invasions). I also decided not to expand too quickly which left my resources spread too thin in the first game. Since then things have been going well, however I’m constantly asking myself why I’m playing this game, and why I’ve spent $10 on card packs in just one week.

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Playing the game itself provides little reward, and it seems like the only fun comes in opening card packs. You can earn card packs for free by completing objectives, however you can only hold three objectives at any one time and most of them reward you with a measly 25 or 50 caps. There doesn’t seem to be much of a point to expand my vault further, yet having spend ten dollars on the game I can’t bring myself to delete it from my iPad.

Are you still playing Fallout Shelter? How has your experience with the game gone? Should I just quit before I spend any more money on it?

Getting sucked into Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans became popular quite awhile ago, and I’m not even sure if many of those who first started talking about it still play it. I had always known very little about Clash of Clans and had convinced myself it probably wasn’t worth my time. From what I could tell it was just another take on the Simpsons: Tapped Out model where you’re trying to construct a cool town and the more you play the more you’re tempted to spend money on the game to expedite the building process (there’s not much to do while waiting for tasks to complete).

Yesterday for some odd reason I decided to finally download Clash of Clans on my iPad. Now I’m once again stuck in the mindset that if I’m not constantly putting my builders to work upgrading my town (camp? not sure what Clash players refer to their home base as) I’m essentially throwing away time and leaving my home unprepared for a siege.

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A notification from Clash of Clans that’s 30 minutes old. That’s 30 minutes that builder could’ve been put to work doing something else!

So far the game is enjoyable, more so than I expected it to be. I’m a “noob” in every sense, I’m just getting my feet wet, but basically you build up your town and upgrade facilities that collect resources (elixir and gold) which you then use to upgrade more facilities, build new buildings or defenses and train troops.

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It will take one hour and 1400 gold to upgrade this elixir collector to level 4, increasing its production rate by 200 per hour.

You use your troops to complete single player objectives where you can raid encampments in order to steal elixir and gold, and also earn stars based on how much damage you do before all of your troops are killed (3 stars if you completely destroy everything). You can also raid other player’s camps, however if you do so within your first three days of gameplay you also become vulnerable to invasion by other players (for the first three days you have a shield which prevents you from being attacked. You can also purchase additional shield time with gems).

I haven’t seen any of the player vs player combat yet since I’m still within my first three days of gameplay, so I can’t really comment on that, but I presume that’s where where real fun begins. I’m also not eligible to join a clan yet, so that’s another area of gameplay I can’t comment or speculate on.

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My humble little home

I’m interested to learn more about the game, but for now I’m just working on upgrading my town as much as I can to prepare for the moment I become vulnerable to invasion in two days.  I’ll admit I already spent $4.99 on the game to purchase 500 gems which were required to receive a third builder. Builders are what you use to construct and upgrade your facilities and I felt too limited with just the two builders you start out with. You can earn gems without spending any money, however it will take patience which I don’t quite have.

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A look at Clash of Clan’s in app purchases

Do you play Clash of Clans? Have any advice for a newbie? How about the Star War’s version, Star Wars: Force Commander?

Get healthier with S Health

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One of my favorite apps on my Samsung Galaxy S5 is Samsung’s S Health app. It has driven me to become more active and to be more aware of my daily physical activity and general health. It can track your heartrate, daily walking, running, biking, food intake and more through add on apps you can download.

My favorite feature is the pedometer. It challenges you to take at least 10,000 steps a day in order to meet the widely recommended amount of weekly physical activity. I’ve found that during a night of work I tend to rack up between 5,000 and 6,500 steps on average and I’ve since challenged myself to add an additional 3,000-4,000 steps to my daily routine by going on walks before work, and walking to the store rather than driving. The pedometer made it easy for me to challenge myself to walk more and challenge myself to reach a higher and higher step count every day.

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I love being able to glance at the widget on my home screen to get a quick look at my daily progress.

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I’ve also been using the run tracker within S Health, and it’s functional but I still prefer the Nike + app for running. The diet tracker makes it easy to track what you eat in a day and it’ll help you to hold yourself more accountable for what you eat. Once you see exactly how that snack will affect your calorie total you’ll probably be more likely to swap it for something healthier like a fruit.

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S Health will challenge you to increase your daily activity in order to meet whatever goals you, or the app, set for you. The app is a simple way to become more active and hold yourself accountable for your health.

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The new and improved Spotify

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Spotify has been one of my favorite music apps since it allows you to add specific songs or albums to playlists and play them at will, so long as you’re a subscriber for $10 a month. However, today Spotify has rolled out a new free service which allows you to play any album or playlist on shuffle for free. You can’t start with a specific song, but you can add specific songs to playlists and play it on shuffle. There will be ads of course, and Spotify occasionally throws in related songs that aren’t in your playlist to mix it up a bit, but it’s still a great service. I usually listen to albums on shuffle anyway, so it’s great to be able to do this without paying the monthly fee.

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Thanks to the new free service today I discovered a new artist and album I’m really enjoying. I had never heard of Sevyn Streeter, but the album cover enticed me and I started listening. Her debut EP Call me Crazy came out last week and it’s certainly worth listening to. She has a sort of Katy Perry sound, if at times a little slower and more provocative. My favorite track is “Sex on the Ceiling”.

Increase your password security with Dashlane

This morning while reading the New York Times I came across David Pogue’s article, “Remember All Those Passwords? No Need“. In the article Pogue speaks about the benefits of  using a password manager and specifically the benefits of using Dashlane. I had never heard of Dashlane until I came across this article, but I had heard of and considered using 1Password.

Pogue’s article on Dashlane sold me, however. Not only did it convince me I should use a password manager, it also convinced me that Dashlane was the one for me. One of the big draws? It’s free! (though I chose to subscribe via the $20/yr option). It was incredibly easy to set up and once you have a secure “master password” you’re practically good to go.

Dashlane will automatically gather your saved passwords from your web browsers and analyze them for you, making you aware of passwords you should change.

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I initially found that I had a TON of reused passwords and at first I was unwilling to change them, but Dashlane made it a breeze. It’ll take you right to the change password screen on most websites, automatically fill in your old password and generate a random, strong password for use on the website. It’ll automatically save this new password for you and use it to log you into your account the next time you visit the site.

The Dashlane mobile app is free and after you login with your master password (and PIN if you choose to use one on the mobile app) you can view all of your passwords. This makes it great if you need a password on another computer where you can’t install the plugin. It will only reveal your passwords after you login using the master password and PIN so you don’t have to worry about someone gaining access to all of your passwords if they get ahold of your phone. You just want to make sure your master password is as strong and secure as it can be.

Dashlane can also store your ID information (ex: Driver’s License) and Credit Card information making your web browsing experience as convenient and secure as possible.

If you want to learn more about Dashlane and how it (or any password manager) can benefit you, I suggest you read Pogue’s article, it’s filled with a lot of good advice.

Dashlane is available for Windows, Mac, and iOS and is completely free. The subscription option gets you a few more bells and whistles, listed below. Try it out today: https://www.dashlane.com/

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This blog post is not an endorsement or advertisement, I simply love the product and wanted to share!

Kindle Fire Apps: MLB.tv and Flipboard

I thought I’d share a few Kindle Fire apps that I’ve enjoyed lately. Flipboard has been around for awhile but just recently made its way to the Kindle Fire and I absolutely love it. The app presents news stories in a beautiful and convenient format in which you flip through categories and stories that are presented visually. You can also view your Facebook and Twitter timelines in the same format which is kind of neat.

The MLB.tv app is a great companion app for MLB.tv subscribers (if you’re a subscriber you want the ‘Lite’ free app. The $15 app is for non-subscribers and doesn’t allow you to watch streaming games). The app features various pages including a scoreboard, standings and news. You can view a visual play by play report of a game, listen to live game day audio, or watch games live. It’s nice to check in on games with the Kindle when I’m away from my TV. I can be watching a game using the Xbox app and if I have to walk away I can stream the game on the Kindle in another room. Love it.