Category Archives: Shiny!

Brave New World

Or: You can’t keep a good man down

More than two years ago I blogged about one Brendan Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla, who committed the cardinal sin of having a politically incorrect opinion.

Way back in 2008, he made a donation opposing Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that made same-sex marriage legal in the state of California. Even though the donation was made as a private citizen and even though he never discriminated against gays in any way during his time at Mozilla, his disagreement with the love-and-tolerance mob was such heresy that a witch-hunt was in order and he was figuratively burned at the stake. Following a political firestorm, he stepped down as CEO and resigned from Mozilla, and lived out the remainder of his days in obscurity.

Or so they thought.

What he actually did, as tech entrepreneurs are wont to do, is to start something new. A new initiative. A new vision. A new browser called Brave.

Brave is more than a browser, it is a new way of looking at, experiencing, and financing the web. Instead of the horrendous ad-supported model that we all know and… er… love, it allows users to financially support websites that they frequent, while featuring state-of-the-art ad-blocking.

I’ve been using it for about a month, and while it still has a few rough edges, but it is fast, smooth and stable (hardly surprising, given that Eich invented Javascript), at a time when predecessors like Firefox and Google Chrome are becoming bloated, slow and crash-prone. This blog post was written in Evernote running in a Brave tab.

Most important of all: No gays were persecuted during the making of this browser… though a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

My previous former life

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My first job out of college was working for a UK-based Defence Contractor, where I was involved in a very small way in the development of Avionics for the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP), a technology demonstrator for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Here is a video of the beautiful beast in flightHere is a more detailed description of the plane and its systems. Here is a rather nice write-up on the plane. Here is another.

“We worked all hours, we could be in until midnight and then back in at 6.30am, it was hard work but it was satisfying. You knew you were at the start of something really special, what we created was the forefather of the next generation of flight

Hyperexotics

Another day, another version of Real Racing 3. This version takes a break from previous versions (1.12, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3.5, 1.4, and 1.5) and kicks it up a whole major version it to 2.0.0. However, the big leap in version numbering is perhaps a little disingenuous, as there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between this and the last version (1.5).

Two new Cars

Screenshot_2014-04-10-03-50-04This version features the debut of two new cars — the McLaren P1 and the Lamborghini Veneno. Both incredibly sexy, incredibly fast — and incredibly expensive — so much so, that if you have to ask “how much?” you can’t afford one:

The McLaren P1 costs $1.15 Million, and there are fewer than six hundred in existence

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The Lamborghini Veneno costs a jaw-dropping $4 million and there are only three in existence.

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Both production runs of both cars are completely sold out, but thanks to the magic of the Firemonkeys, you get to drive both in a brand-new Series — the Vertex — along with the Porsche 911 RSR (2013) (known irreverently as the “Porsche SuperGrip”, due to it’s hamsters-with-gluepots ability to stick to the road) that was introduced way back in the 1.3.5 “Seven Bloody Porsches” update.

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The Death of the Delorean

Since the release of the game early last year, the game has offered a different “deal” every week, including some free or half-price cars. However, those in the know were aware that it was possible to put your device in airplane mode, set your device’s date to back when the discount was available… and purchase.

The not-so-awesome race.

Screenshot_2014-07-13-08-24-55The “Awesome Race” is gone. The ’69 Charger Endurance race that used to go on forever has now been well and truly fixed.

Onward and Upward to V2.1 – Aston Martin

All this and Ferrari II

It’s been a while since I have blogged on my favorite game, Real Racing 3. Time to put that right. Last time round I was less than impressed with the first three Ferraris (yes, that is apparently the correct plural) introduced in version 1.4, but what I didn’t know at the time was that the Men from Modena had another three cars ready to go — the 458 Spider, the 599 GTO, and the legendary Enzo Ferrari.

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Unlike the previous three, these new offerings were a little more what I expected of the Marque; Better performance, better handling.

There was also an unexpected addition to the Real Racing stable, a debut from a new manufacturer, ladies and gentlemen, presenting the mighty name of… Hyundai?

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In the last version of the game, I noted that “Ferrari Faceoff” had been put at the end, after “Zenith”. In this version, it has been moved from it’s ill-deserved ultimate position at the top of the tree to further down.

This is the last version of the game that featured “the Awesome Race”, my name for the everlasting endurance race with the ’69 Dodge Charger that was introduced in Version 1.3. I took advantage of this to run a blistering 1500-mile race over the course of a week.

1500 Miles

The likes of which the world has never seen…

New feature: Weekly Time Trial Tournaments

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-42-53While this is a new feature, I cannot comment on it, since weekly time trial tournaments require that you have the latest version of the game installed, which this isn’t.

Race Replay

Screenshot_2014-06-10-02-42-58This is a wonderful feature. After completing a race you have the option of watching it again from a series of trackside cameras, or from any of the driving views. Very nice. The only thing that is missing is the ability to save that replay for watching later, or showing to your grandchildren. Assuming that you can take enough time away from the game to actually have any children, that is…

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AWD Attack

AWD AttackThis is one of those events with only one car — the brand-spanking-new Hyundai. I20 WRC Don’t be fooled – the I20 WRC is a little beast of a car, with a beastly price tag to match. It’s a four-wheel-drive rocket-powered roller-skate, although when fully upgraded, it is almost feels too fast, and feels skittish in the corners. It also gets my vote for the coolest product placement I have ever seen in a a computer game.

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Oh, the irony…

Grand Tourer Supremacy Series

Grand Tourer Supremancy SeriesNo new cars to be found here, but a chance to make some extra R$ and Gold from the cars you already have. This series showcases the two Bentleys (Continental Supersports and Continental GT Speed) and two of the three Mercedes-Benzes (SLS AMG and SL 65 AMG Black Series). Sadly they left out the third Benz — the sexy SLS AMG GT3, but it would not have fitted in here.

Spirit of Ferrari

Spirit of FerrariMamma Mia! The Italians are at it again! Race the three new Ferraris. You start off with the 458 Spider working your way up to the 599 GTO before unlocking the legendary Enzo Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari Triumph

Enzo Ferrari TriumphThe mob at Ferrari must have been mightily impressed with the Enzo Ferrari; they named it after their founder. “Enzo Ferrari Triumph” joins “AWD Attack” and “The Legend Continues” to become the third single-car series — and like the other two, this series is optional.

The name's Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari.

The name’s Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari.

 

The problem with Net Neutrality

Why a good idea will destroy small businesses.

Like most responsible Netizens, I am in favor of Net Neutrality — the principle that ISPs should not discriminate based on content. In principle, it sounds like a good idea: you, the customer, should have access to whatever services you want, without having to pay extra for it, and without the ISP “throttling” internet traffic that competes with services that they may be offering — for an additional fee, naturally.

But there is trouble in paradise, and its name is Netflix.

The Netflix paradox.

Netflix, you see, is the biggest single source of Internet traffic in the world; it is estimated that as much as 40% if the bits flowing through the system come from that one source. And that places a load on ISPs, who have to purchase additional bandwidth and hardware to handle all of those bits wending their way from Netflix’s servers, across the public internet, to the ISP’s customers. Unlike consumers, ISPs have to pay for the “Public Internet” bandwidth they consume. The big ISPs have a solution: they do a deal with Netflix, where Netflix installs a server within the ISP’s Datacenter. This saves on bandwidth, as the movies on that server can be accessed by customers without having to go out on the public internet ad all the way back to Netflix. It saves on costs, as the ISP does not have to pay anyone for the bits that flow around within their networks.It also makes for a better experience for the customer, who is blissfully unaware that all of this is going on.

This is all well and good if you are one of the big boys — Cox, Comcast, Time Warner — as they all have deals in place with Netflix. But what if you are a small ISP? Netflix won’t talk to these little guys — not worth their time. They have to pay full-freight; as their customers sign up for Netflix, they are shifting massively more data, which pushes their bandwidth costs go up accordingly.

Their customers, however, won’t pay more just to watch Netflix. And there, as they say, is the rub.

Network Neutrality says: “Thou shalt not block or throttle Netflix”. Customers say “I want my Netflix!” And the small ISP says: “If it’s all the same to you, I would like to make a little bit of profit here, so I can feed my children? (won’t somebody please think of the children?!). Sorry, couldn’t resist.

The elephant in the room is bandwidth; most residential internet customers in this country are used to paying a flat fee for “all-you-can-eat” service. This means that those customers who are not Netflix subscribers are effectively subsidizing those who are.

The bottom line is that small ISPs are being punished by a perfect storm; on one side we have fixed-price, customers fattened on “all-you-can-eat” unlimited data. On the other is a major bandwidth hog who won’t cut them a deal. And Net neutrality means that they cannot throttle Netflix traffic or charge their customers a surcharge to make up for their real increased costs.

Residential Internet service is the only utility where most customers do not pay for what they actually use.
Water, gas, electricity, these are usually metered. But not Internet.

For them, the only fair solution is to change their pricing model from all-you-can-eat to a-la-carte, where customers pay for the bandwidth they use. And customers who have been spoiled by unlimited data won’t want that — I certainly don’t.

This is not meant to be a screed against Net Neutrality — it is a good idea, and one which I support in the main. My intention here is not to criticize the idea or derail it in any way. My intention is to draw attention to the fact that the law of unintended consequences will always bite you in the… rear.

I’m just Wild about Harry’s

Once in a while, an idea comes along and you wonder why nobody thought of it years before.

Like many men, I use an electric shaver. It does not give as good a shave as a razor, but it hurts less and there is no blood on my collar.

Another reason why I do not use a razor is the expense; the blades for the best razors are, to put it bluntly, bloody expensive. Four or five dollars for one blade is simply too much. So when Steve Gibson waxed eloquent about Harry’s, I decided to give it a try. They have several products on their website, including Shave Sets, blades, creams and refill packs etc.

I decided to purchase a Truman set — A Truman handle, 3 blades and a tube of shave cream, along with a neat little “how-to-shave” booklet. The only difference is in the handle. Cost $15 with a $5 discount code bringing it down to $10 — a very competitive price indeed.  They also have a “Winston Set” which is identical, but with a better handle and a $10 higher price. For fathers’ Day, they also offer a Father & Son Set, which is the coolest thing for men with “small dudes” in their lives who still think shaving is cool.

The product arrived in a very nice box, which , unfortunately, found its way into the trash before I could snap a photo, but here are the contents.

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So, as Eric Idle once said: “whats it like?”. The shave cream is very nice indeed — better than the Gillette Gel I picked up at WalMart. The quality of the shave is best described as “smooth like buttah”; as good as anything from the big boys, or better — so smooth, in fact, that it is still “good-enough-for-government-work” passable 24 hours later.

Not bad considering the blades (which are made in Germany, as Harry’s takes great care to point out) are less than half the price of the local competition.

King Gillette, you’re in trouble.

The Second Factor

Or: How to prevent your online accounts from getting hacked.

Every now and them I get an e-mail from someone know, with no message but a cryptic link. That’s right, someone’s e-mail account has been hacked, hijacked or compromised in some way. It is almost always a Yahoo address.

For those of us who just use e-mail to circulate gossip and cat pictures, this is not a big deal.However, if you do your banking online, a hacked e-mail account is a quick way to have your accounts drained.

The problem is that the standard method for resetting your password is an “e-mail loop”. It works like this: you go your bank’s website, click the “forgot your password” link, and a reset e-mail is sent to… your e-mail address… which has been compromised. Now they have the ability to change your password and lock you out of your account. Next thing you know, your hard-earned money is winging its way off to a parts unknown, never to return.

It’s not just banking. Some years ago, my brother found a bunch of bogus auctions on his eBay account, and he had to get in touch with eBay to have them stopped. A few days earlier, while on a business trip, he had used a hotel’s computer to access his eBay account. Evidently the computer had been compromised with a keylogger, which enabled bad actors (villains, that is – not William Shatner!) to get his username and password, and once in his account they could post bogus auctions on his account. If they can succeed in changing eBay’s email address for his account then they could also make off with the money.

So how to stop this? The banks’ came up with the idea of “secret questions”. We’ve all seen this at some time or other; they ask you to answer questions such as “What was your mother’s maiden name?“, etc. But when you think about it, this is just another “something you know”. In other words, it is effectively another password. And since the “secret questions” and answers are stored in the bank’s databases, they too are vulnerable to the kind of “exfiltration” (a posh word for theft of data) that seems to be happening on a monthly, if not weekly, basis,

The banks love this approach for one simple reason — it’s cheap. With security, as with so many other things, there is “Good” security, and there is “Cheap” security. Guess which one corporations prefer. Guess which one works best.

Remember when Bank of America came up with Credit Cards with your picture on it? Ever wonder why they don’t do that anymore? Because they found out that 1) Putting the pictures on the cards cost more than the losses due to to fraud, and 2) most cashiers don’t look at the picture anyway. Which made it 1) Expensive and 2) Not very effective.

The good news is that many big players on the Internet are finally adopting good security. One approach is to use a code transmitted to a cellphone by voice call or text message. The good news is that this approach requires that you have your phone. The bad news is that… this approach requires that you have your phone. If you lose or misplace it, you are stuck until you have jumped through several hoops. And if your phone is stolen and is not protected by a PIN lock, they may be able to crack a whole bunch of accounts at once – the holy grail of identity theft.

Another approach is to use a code generator; a device that generates a unique code each time it is used. This can be done using a hardware device (like the Paypal “Football ” code generator) or a software-based code generator like Google’s Authenticator, which generates a new code every thirty seconds. The cool thing about this is that if a bad guy steals your password, they still can’t get in. And even if they steal the key as well, and is invalid thirty seconds later. I am not even sure if a key can be re-used, but if you are paranoid about re-use (which I am not), you can just wait until it is just about to expire before you use it. Google uses this to secure their e-mail accounts; I used this. If Mat Honen, senior writer with Wired Magazine, had used this approach, the epic hacking of his Apple account could have been easily avoided.

The best security of all requires the use of a dedicated hardware token, such as a swipe card or a cryptographic key. My weapon of choice is a YubiKey – I’ve been using it for some years and it YubiKey guards access to my PayPal account and my password manager.

So there you have it: If you don’t want to get hacked, Get a YubiKey or some other form of hardware-based second-factor authentication. It’s that simple.

Real Racing Revisited

Or: enough with the alliterations already!

This article started life some time ago as an all-singing, all-dancing one-stop-shop for all things Real Racing 3: Hints, tips, advice and a walkthrough. Then the “good folks” at Electronic Arts bought out a new version of the game which added a few unwelcome features (locked cars, locked series, Drive Points, PR rating), and reduced the prize money payouts. These “improvements” all had the effect of reducing earnings and increasing spending, presumably in the hope of “driving” you into the store to spend some real money. I responded by downgrading to the previous version, starting again — the upgrade “broke” my data and downgrading cost me R$1.6M and 19 cars — and working my way slowly back to greatness.

Any road up, the changes that were made to the game are enough to obsolete a lot of what I have written, so this is what is left. Hope it helps.

Hints and Tips

  • DO NOT BUY A CAR JUST TO COMPLETE ONE SERIES! Before you start a series, determine in advance which vehicles are worth purchasing, and which ones are not. When you get the one-off 20% off offer, there will be no opportunity to check if that car will be useful in the future. It is not generally worth purchasing a vehicle just to complete a single event. A vehicle that is found in three events, on the other hand, is definitely worth buying.
  •  Never pay full price for a car (unless you have to). To get a car at 20% off, enter an event that features that car and has a car you already own. Race your car until the object of your affections is unlocked… and voila, 20% off!
  • Be patient! If you don’t need a car immediately, don’t buy it – sometimes cars go on sale for as low as half-price.
  • If you refuse to buy a car when offered, don’t worry — you will get that offer again if the car comes up in a different event — you can always get it then and complete both events, but DO NOT BUY A CAR JUST TO COMPLETE ONE SERIES!
  • When racing against AI “bots”, one strategy is to stay on the inside and out-brake them (they brake earlier than they need to) and pass on the inside. It is also possible to pass on the outside, but make sure that you have passed them before exiting the bend or they will run wide and hit you (if you’re lucky) or run you off the track (if you’re not).
  • Keep up with repairs; they are cheap and instantaneous. Perform maintenance as necessary, though some may be procrastinated if the benefit is small or the race will not need that quality. Do not upgrade a car unless you have to.
  • Know your tracks! Some tracks, like Melbourne and Brands Hatch have lots of turns with few long straights, while other like the Indianapolis Speedway (a.k.a. “Go Fast, Turn Left”) favor flat-out speed. This will influence which car is best for that track. This means practice, practice, practice.
  • Since you can always do a race again, it is possible to make money from re-doing a race you have already completed — a practice known as “Farming”.
  • Longer races make more money than shorter ones, and later races in an event make more money than earlier ones. Expect to make R$12,000-15,000 per race at this level.

Can’t win a race? Here are some pointers:

  • Choose the right car  for the track: Go for stability and cornering on short, twisty circuits, speed on longer ones.
  • If at first you don’t succeed… Races aren’t won, they are lost – by making mistakes that cost you speed, time and the gold trophy. A little tyre squeal is nothing to worry about, but the screeching of tyres is the sound of speed being lost.
  • …try, try, try again. if you can’t finish in the top three, finish last. That’s right, last! If you keep losing a race badly, enough times, the game will eventually handicap the other drivers by slowing them down, at which point you’ll be able to pass them much more easily. The quickest way to do this is to come last in an elimination race, which takes all of twenty seconds of staying in last place. Yes, this is “cheating”, but so is the behavior of some of the bots, as I will shortly explain…
  • Avoid running into the back of other cars; you will slow down, and they will take off like a rocket, a lose/lose proposition. Annoyingly, this does not happen when they rear-end you. Apparently you can change the laws of physics.
  • Auto-braking makes for an easy game but poor performance. Turn brake assist to low (or off completely, if you are feeling adventurous). This will allow you to out-brake your opponents in the turns – but don’t brake too late!
  • Learn the art of the inside bash, where you deliberately enter a bend a little too fast and “bounce” off another car instead of slowing down. Do it right and you won’t lose speed… but they go spinning off the track. Slimy, yet satisfying..!
  • Online? Go offline. The “matchmaking” routine does a good job of matching you up with challenging but beatable opponents, but sometimes it gets things spectacularly wrong, as the screen-shot below shows. This is especially true in “non-race races” such as “endurance”, “autocross” and “speed record” events. Going offline uses built-in AI drivers (Oddly, Modesto Lingerfelter etc), who are more predictable, and may give you the victory you need.
  • OIffline? Go online. This will change out the drivers. Sometimes the game will give you real-world drivers who are easier to pass.
  • Don’t give up too easily: Sometimes the leader will be so much faster than you that he is out of sight, and it feels like you ‘ll never catch him. Be patient, bots are not very clever when it comes to passing one another, particularly on narrow circuits like Melbourne and Suzuka. If you are lucky, the leader will get tangled in a bunch of cars on a corner while you sail serenely by.
  • If all else fails, you could always upgrade your car…
Endurance

Something tells me I’m not going to win this one…

Early-Game Walkthrough

  • The game begins with R$35000 in the bank and 20 Gold pieces in your pocket
  • Start with Pure Stock Challenge (like you have a choice)
  • Buy the Focus, NOT THE SILVIA! The Focus is a little more expensive, but being front-wheel-drive makes it handle better and corner a lot easier than the Nissan.
  • Race to finish in the first three. Do not worry about coming in first just yet, you can go back and “clean up” later.
  • You will not be able to afford the Silvia when you unlock it; don’t worry, you will get a chance later; besides, it is the cheapest car in the game.
  • Make sure you have at least R$35000 by the time you get 45% done,  so you can afford the Challenger R/T when it becomes available at a discounted price.
  • If you have been saving your money,  you should have enough money to buy the BMW when it is offered it at 20% off. Once upgraded, this is the best car in the series.
  • Go back and re-do earlier races until you have finished first in every event (except, of course, the Silvia Showcase).
  • By the time you reach the end of the series, you should have completed every race except the Nissan Silvia Showcase, and thanks to your two purchases, you should have also unlocked Global Production Pursuit (Dodge Challenger R/T), Coupe Clash (BMW), Road Car International (Focus) and V8 Muscle Hustle (Dodge Challenger R/T).
  • If you want to complete Pure Stock Challenge, go for Road Car International and unlock the Silvia at 20% off. This happens after only three races (9%), so make sure you have your money (R$23500) ready!
  • Once you have the Silvia, go back and do the Showcase. This is on the Indianapolis Speedway; the easiest track in the game, and a great candidate for taking off the training wheels (assists). Done right, it is an easy win, completing the Pure Stock Challenge and winning you $15000 and 15 Gold.
  • Where you go from here is up to you; the next logical choice is the Road Car International, since you now have two cars, but if you want to be adventurous and move up to faster vehicles, you can always do the V8 Muscle Hustle, which will bag you its bigger brother, the Challenger SRT8 (R$41,120) at 17%, the Camaro and the Shelby – four of the loveliest cars in the early game.
  • Make sure you snag the BMW Z4 M Coupe and the Ford Shelby GT500 at the earliest opportunity; each runs in four different events, making them the most useful cars in the game.

Make Money Fast!

For me, a gaming session consists of two things:

  • Career driving: Working through a series towards completion. Only work on one or two at a time, as you will need to accumulate the money to purchase discounted cars as they become unlocked.
  • Cash Accumulation: The last few races of a series are the most lucrative. One early-game favorite is the last race of Road Car International, which pays out more than $20k for about fifteen minutes of work. Another one is the last Hockenheim race in “Everyday Heroes”, R$18600 for in nine minutes. Although the payout of the latter is lower, it is a quicker race, and therefore a much more efficient way to make money.

Dungeon Quest

I don’t often review Android Games, but I have been playing this game for a month, and it’s high time I said something about it…

The premise is simple enough; run your character — a wizard, no less — through each level, killing baddies, breaking barrels, opening chests and generally grabbing everything that isn’t nailed down, in a bid to improve your weapons, experience and bank balance. The game is divided into “Acts” Each act consists of five levels and a Big Bad Boss to kill to progress to the next one.

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I am not a fan of in-app purchases – and I have seen many others complaining – but they fail to mention three important factors:

  1. Any In-App-Purchase will remove the annoying but necessary advertising — so you can get rid of the ads for as little as a dollar.
  2. It is easy to get lots of gold — just repeat some of the earlier, easier levels.
  3. While it is perfectly to complete the game without spending any real-world money, it is not at all necessary.

Speaking for myself, I was happy to throw a couple of bucks their way to turn off the ads and support the developers — the seventy thousand gold pieces that I got for my two dollars were a welcome, but unnecessary addition.  I currently have a grand total of over four hundred thousand gold pieces in the bank. Go figure…

I have a few gripes:

  • The control mechanism needs a little fine-tuning; hitting some enemies is difficult if you are using a straight-line weapon. Using a scatter-shot or a seeking weapon helps. On a similar note, It is sometimes difficult to face an enemy without moving toward them. This could be fixed by adding a “dead zone” to the controls.
  • Picking up mana or health orbs if the relevant stat is already full does nothing. It just disappears. This seems kind of pointless; the excess mana or health could and should be channeled into making more potions.
  • Sometimes loot gets thrown “over the wall” beyond your reach. This will probably be fixed soon, but you should be aware of it.

Having said that, the game is still in beta, and is still in development. There have been several upgrades to the game in the time I have been playing it — indeed, on one occasion, the game updated itself while I was playing it, kicking me out of the game. The developers cannot do anything about this behavior, which is handled by Android — but it can be avoided easily enough by turning off auto-update feature.

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Those are minor gripes, though, and detract little from what is truly a lovely game — and a great excuse to buy a Nexus 7.

Within the next month, there will be another major upgrade, and the introduction of the Warrior character.

The bottom line: A beta it may be, but it  is one of the most polished betas I have ever seen. Yes, it could be perfect, yes it could be better, but what do you expect for free?

From Kindle Fire to Android Tablet in thirty minutes

Or: When is a Kindle not a Kindle?

Yesterday, I purchased a Kindle Fire from a chap selling it on Craigslist.

That is not remarkable. This is.

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That’s right, it is now an Android Tablet, thanks to a wonderful hack that I recently discovered. Some very bright people discovered that it is possible to Install Android 4.2.1 — known to aficionados as “Jelly Bean” — on the Kindle Fire.

This is totally legal – the Android operating system is Open Source, though I am sure that Amazon does not like it at all. You see, the Kindle Fire was sold at a loss to entice folks to buy all their stuff through Amazon. So Amazon installed put a customized version of Android on it, to make it difficult for you to go anywhere else.

This hack only applies to the Mark 1 model, released in September 2011, and sold until September 2012. It does not work on the Mark 2 version, which has a faster processor and more memory. The process took about an hour, but half of that was reading, downloading files and installing drivers

It’s a three-step process.

  • First you replace the Bootloader. This is a bootstrap program that starts the machine, similar to your PC’s BIOS.
  • The second stage is “flashing recovery”. the Recovery Partition – this is a special program that allows you to recover from problems without booting the full OS.
  • Finally you replace the operating system itself.

Sources:

Preparation:

  1. Download The new ROM and Google Apps (GAPPS) and copy them to Kindle Fire External Partition.
  2. Download Kindle Fire Utility (KFU)
  3. Unzip KFU, install KF drivers,
  4. Plug in your Kindle Fire (KF). It should show up as an external drive. Copy ROM and GAPPS that Drive
  5. Run KFU
  6. Install FireFireFire bootloader. KF will Reboot.
  7. Install Recovery partition (I used TWRP). KF will Reboot
  8. Backup Recovery/Reboot into TWRP
  9. Backup Old system (optional, but it gives you a way back if you ever want it)
  10. WIPE/Factory Reset
  11. “Install”. You have the option to “queue” installs. I added both – ROM first and GAPPS second, then “Flash”
  12. Reboot System. First-time bootup takes about five minutes, as it has a lot to think about. Subsequent reboots are much quicker.

First impressions are that this thing is fast, smooth and stable — a poor man’s Nexus 7. Of course the N7 more memory, has twice as much storage, two extra processor cores, slightly higher resolution, Bluetooth, camera etc, but this has most of the functionality at less than half the price, which makes it almost disposable.

Me likey!