Friday, January 31, 2014

Stuck at the Final Offer after defeating DeathStroke? Here’s how to advance.

[Batman Arkham Origins] 

First open your map. If you’re anywhere north of the Boiler Room after defeating DeathStroke, then chances are you may face this problem. You cannot get back to the Boiler Room by going the way you originally came. The door will be locked when you reach the entrance.

The exit is all the way to the south. Getting there could be tricky.

1. Head to the Deck Access Corridor. Here's where it is on the map:


2.  Go all the way down to Deck 3. It's the platform at the same level as the water.

Just look for this view to know you're in the right place. Do not Batclaw into that platform. You should turn around and see what's behind you.

3. There's a wall that can be destroyed with the Explosive Gel (you may have already destroyed it earlier). Enter the passage. Instead of crawling under the prominent opening in front of you, look all the way up. 

Once you see this vent, look up.

4. You should see R1 flash on your screen that says you can use the Batclaw. It's a vent that allows you to go through the Deck Access Corridor.

That's your way out.

The vent ultimately leads to the Boiler Room. Once in the said room, everything is straightforward. Continue heading south until you get to the exit.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why It's Never a Good Idea to Rush into the New iOS

I didn't want to write about this again, until a colleague checked with me on a passcode lock issue he's facing on his iPad, thanks to iOS 7.

3 months

You should wait for at least 3 months before installing the latest iOS. A major software update is bound to break your established workflows: whether it's due to an issue that affects a commonly used function or in familiarising yourself to reorganised menus, not counting the freshly introduced features, adjusting to a new OS will take time.

By waiting, you allow collective knowledge about the product to build and spread across the web: you're guaranteed to have a positive answer on most questions you will face.

Allow the "ripples" of the transition phase to subside, and you can happily install with all key patches released from both Apple and their app developers.

Whether it's iOS 4 to iOS 5, or iOS 1001 to iOS 1002, wait.

Are Issues Preventable?

You'd think that with Apple's massive resources at its disposal that their QA team could have done better? The widespread iMessage issues only prove that no amount of software testing can detect all possible problems. Bugs are notorious for only showing up in the wild. How fast a company swats those pests, that makes the difference.

Unless there's a feature in the OS that you're dying to get your hands on, or one of your important apps requires the latest OS, there's never really a compelling reason to jump into it immediately.

It took me half a year before updating to iOS 6. Have you updated to iOS 7 yet? What troubles did you face?

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Sucks to be Unfriended

Friendship Redefined

Person A is friends with Person B and Person C is friends with Person D. And hey, Person D, our algorithm says you may know Person A too!

Welcome to the new definition of friendship.

Social media has added a new layer to human relationships. It used to be that only marriages are put into writing. This time, friendships are recorded, consolidated and published into one big gallery we all know as the Friends List.

Well, who doesn't want that? It's nice to see all your friends neatly organized into those cute boxes right?

These social links work just fine. That is, until you break them.

No Physical Equivalent

You don't go telling your friends in the face: "I hereby unfriend you."

The big problem with unfriending is that it doesn't have an equivalent state in the physical world. Outside the context of social networks, how would you unfriend someone?

You either become enemies with another person, or remain friends. While friendship can deteriorate over time, it never completely disappears. A friend you haven't spoken to for 10 years still remains a friend.

A Strong Message

The home of social networks is a highly impersonal domain - the internet. That's why some people take unfriending lightly.

But no matter how innocent you see it, whenever you unfriend, people can get hurt or be bewildered. That's why it's done discreetly. You're hoping the person may not even care at all, at best you're hoping they don't notice it entirely.

Of course, you will never know.

Reasons for Unfriending

A Nielsen survey cites offensive comments as the primary reason why people impulsively click that unfriend button. The reasons vary: a friend trying to drag you into a "revolutionary" income-generating scheme, an ex-officemate posting depressing shares or folks who provide streaming coverage of their daily lives.

Relax

On the other hand, many people think that we shouldn't take everything that happens in social media too seriously.

Folks that don't have Facebook accounts can never be unfriended. This pseudo-phenomenon only impacts people who are into social networks.

While many people will be affected by unfriending, a lot more don't mind. "What the heck, unfriend me and I've automatically unfriended you too!"

You May Need Them Someday

The person you just unfriended may end up with a key role in a future event in your life - maybe you run into some accident and he's the only one around, or she may be that one connection to a special girl you'd like to meet, or that one person that could link you to that covetted job.

Avoid it

Exercise unfriending with extreme caution. The privacy settings provided by Facebook allow you to precisely control post visibility, there's no compelling reason to unfriend someone.

Unfriending should only be reserved for one thing: when there's real-life severance of a relationship - a major fight, a bad break-up, a divorce perhaps.

To avoid this dillemma, don't add or confirm friend requests from people you don't know too much to begin with. A new facebook friend is tantamount to a contract - I know this person well enough to call him a friend.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Random Talk: Why Are There No Gender-Neutral Pronouns?

Consider this statement: "I'm going to become a parent soon."

What does "I" represent? Are you a pregnant lady? Or an excited soon-to-be-father? The answer to that would have to wait until further context is provided.

Okay, that was a lame example. How about a more substantial statement like: "Each member must cast his vote only once."? The ambiguity in meaning could result into serious consequences.

Does the presence of "his" mean only men are restricted to voting once - and that women can vote twice? Or does it mean that women are not part of the voting party?

Gender-neutral personal pronouns should have found their way into the English language by now - why it hasn't happened, I still couldn't fathom.

Words are meant to represent ideas with clarity. Neutral pronouns would have readily offered a solid solution to the above examples. New internet buzzwords are being produced everyday - why can't something as vital as these be created as well?

The primary reason would be that pronouns are grouped under closed-class words. But despite seeing dozens of resources clearly specifying that pronouns, modal verbs, determiners and conjunctions belong to the said class, I have yet to find a solid explanation as to why they have to be grouped as such - and who came up with that limiting idea in the first place.

There is hope. Some sources indicate that there is room for change in the closed-class group, but it takes centuries. Ouch.

Help me summon the lexical community - we need new pronouns.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What the Instagram Popular Page Has Become

In case you haven't noticed,
it's no longer named Popular Page.
There was a time when the Instagram Popular Page was open to everybody. Get enough likes within a short period and you might just get your moment of fame.

Early this year though, an usual pattern emerged. Only those with at least 10,000 followers entered the coveted gallery.

Then Popular became Explore.

Ironically, after changing the name of the page, Explore became even more exclusive to the truly popular: Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Snoop Dog, LA Lakers. Someone needs hundreds of likes in less than 10 minutes to get shown on that page. The stairs suddenly became Mt. Everest.

Look at the stats below:
Figure 1. You need thousands of followers to nail the required like count.

So why did Instagram change it? 

There's no logical reason, other than to prevent folks from gaming the system. Rumor has it that people used to collaborate to artificially bring their photos to the Popular Page. They converge under a specific tag and give likes on each other's photo at the same short time frame.

But isn't it similar to a band member asking for his friends to come watch his group perform, and show support by applauding after the song number? These are consenting individuals who willingly devote time to help one another.

On second thought, could this be a monetization strategy in the works? By focusing on celebrities - people proven to generate ad revenue, Instagram may be planning something radically different for this page. An IG Jumbotron perhaps?

But it's not official you know...

To date, the Instagram Help Center still claims that the Popular Page is open to everyone. This documentation needs a serious overhaul then:
Figure 2. These statements are no longer true.
Being the carrier of the torch of mobile photography, Instagram owes it to its users to bring back the Explore page to its original format - a place of opportunity. It's the same formula that encouraged many users to take better pictures, learn advanced editing and share more meaningful photos.

If you're already a celebrity to begin with, people will look for you to follow you - they will Google your Instagram handle, they will see it all over E! Channel. Justin Beiber garnered thousands of followers on the same day he created his account. Famous people don't need extra exposure on this gallery - it's overkill. Variety is nowhere in sight.

How About Giving These a Try?

If there's one important change that must be done - it is to introduce a ceiling on the number of times a certain account can appear on the page. It will prevent abuse, introduce diversity and ultimately create room for others. Here are some better ways to tweak the Pop formula:
  1. Randomize it - totally. How about plucking someone from the crowd and giving him or her a moment of fame? It will be a great day when the algorithm starts to pick random users. It can't further undermine the quality of the already mediocre photos shown on the page.
  2. Randomize from Hashtags. Hashtags are there to lead you to your interests - but they're not designed to be accessible. It makes a huge difference between manually searching for the word #tree, than being presented with an interesting photo of a tree on the spot. How about selecting a unique tag daily and featuring all photos that flow into that tag? Tag of the Day sounds good.
  3. Add Curators. As Chris of appdaptation.com suggested via a twitter: put in curators. It's still best to have a human element involved in the decision-making process as to what's to appear on that page - just as forums have moderators.
  4. Feature the Suggested Users instead. If the idea of randomizing the page seems far-fetched, then it's better to feature the suggested users instead. Most of them are quality follows, but too bad that the button to reach them is buried deep under the options menu.
The Explore Page should be a venue for – guess what? Exploration. It should be a public park where you could virtually glance at every passerby. It should be an opportunity to meet new folks – ordinary folks who probably share the same interest as you.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Copy Text from PC/MAC to your Phone in a Snap

How do you handle these problems?
  • While reading an article, you suddenly need to leave your PC. You intend to continue reading on your phone. How would you transfer the link?
  • You need to save an important phone number you found online and want to be 100% sure the number you saved on your address book is typo-free.
  • There's a great quote on a website and you want to paste it as a caption in Instagram. How will you send the text to your phone?
  • A lovely cartoon caught your attention and you'd like to send it to your friends via iMessage.
These are common tasks that should not take more than a minute of your time. Most people would use email to send the resources to their own email addresses, or utilize cloud service like Dropbox. The approach works, but don't you think that by now, someone would have made the process more efficient?

Consider sitetophone. All it takes is a one-time setup on your PC browser and a new app installation. Everything's free. It has a chrome extension that makes sending text or images to your phone as simple as right clicking the items.

1. Sign up for a free account sitetophone,
2. Install the chrome extension. Go to the chrome app store and browse for it.
3. Install the app.

Now all you have to do is right click any text and "Send to Phone". If you want to send a URL, click the Chrome shortcut on the upper right hand side.

Open the app and see your links there.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Instagram: A Billion-Dollar Meal for Facebook

The clouds in the sky, the pyramids of Egypt, eternal life - there are only a few things a billion dollars can't buy. This deal showed Instagram isn't one of them.


Many articles are comparing this event with Google acquiring Youtube, but this is way different. Google and Youtube are from distinct domains (search and video). This is a simple case of a bigger social network nipping a major threat in the bud. 

Facebook's statement is that it will grow Instagram into an independent service. Yeah right. You don't shell out that mind-numbing amount of money and "do nothing". Instagram will ultimately be aligned with Facebook's business model. Maybe not now while backlash is piping hot. But it's just a matter of time.

Instagram was supposed to be the anti-Facebook. This deal was never supposed to happen. But now that it's here, all we can do is watch in awe as Facebook digests our beloved mobile social network. We are the calories, or should I say casualties?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

5 Ways to Establish Your Instagram Identity

It's all about feed unity.

The Strength of a Consistent Feed

My mouse looks delicious.
Instagram was designed for snap shooting - you see something nice, take a photo of it, apply a filter and post. It's not a surprise that majority of the users' feeds are full of random photos. And there's a good chance you're one of them. What can you do to stand out from this frenzy?

A coherent feed makes it easy to discern you from the crowd. Ah, that's the guy who posts Australian wildlife.

Your followers will also know what type of content to expect from you. I'll add this guy to my macro photographers list. This lady will be in my sky lovers group.

There would be something to "follow". When you get folks hooked into a series of shots about the journey of a toy, they will look forward to your future posts. Will cute little Danbo get smashed by the car tomorrow?

Lastly, the grid view of your feed will look neat and elegant. :)

Things You Can Try

The stuff you post must tell a story, focus on a particular theme or have a common look-and-feel. You can consider the following:
  • Use a common frame. Frames act like visual chains that link photos in your feed. If you can consistently stick to a particular frame, your collection will look like an art gallery.
  • Stick to the same filter. A common filter will establish a consistent tone on your shots. EarlyBird is probably the most popularly used filter in Instagram. It works well on absolutely any photo. There are folks who stick to X-Pro II and Hefe. Advanced editing apps like Filterstorm even allow you to create your own filter template.
  • Tell a story. Post photos of toys and put in captions that give them life, you can earn a huge following. You can find one example below. It doesn't even have to be a toy. Tell the story of your cat's journey from kittenhood to Youtube-stardom. Narrate to us the daily activities of your cute hamster.
  • Take photos of a very specific subject only. I've seen an IGer who only took photos of umbrellas, and only umbrellas. I've also seen one going all-in on fire extinguishers. Many folks have done well zeroing in on classic subjects like flowers, trees and clouds.
  • Put a consistent caption. If you decide to go with quotes, then all your photos must have quotes. If you're into facts, keep putting facts in there. Don't skip a single photo. If you're just into one-liner titles, give them all titles.
Again, it all boils down to consistency. Stop the urge to post that Tweegram, or the screenshot of someone who gave you a dozen likes, or when your photo got to the popular page - you can always do these subtly through @mentions inside your captions.

Great Examples

I initially tried using the Sutro filter to get a common feel throughout my feed, but it was tough since the filter doesn't blend well on certain types of photos. Lately 2 things unify my feed: a consistent frame and a consistent caption. All my photos are in 6 x 4 format and will contain at least 1 fact. It hasn't gained me IG stardom though - still working on that (lol), but some folks did using their own styles:

@silly_human
Posting Style: Cute toys trying to outwit their "bully" master
50,000 followers and counting says it all. The sharp, detailed and well lit shots make his photos stand out from many of the toy photos you see on the pop page. The creativity of his captions will never fail to make you smile.


@kessedjian
Posting Style: Embroidered artwork she herself made.
An IG superstar of extremely cute and original stuff. Her creations are showcased here.
@takiti
Posting Style: Architecture, applied with blue tinted filter.
He goes for architecture shots, then applies a strong blue tint. His entire feed is one remarkable collage. This is one great example of how to apply a common filter on your feed.




@eyefor
Posting Style: Insect, nature macro
A master of macro, founder of #macro_creature_feature. His feed is a feast for the eyes, an art gallery of high-quality macro photos you will not see everyday. How often do you see a shot of flies making love?




@msfabpinay
Posting Style: Objects and scenes on EarlyBird.
Many folks attempt to use EarlyBird as a common filter, but few do it really well. She's someone who has mastered the art of EB.
@akosimakoiski
Posting Style: Black and white, dark tinted photos.
Makoi is one of the few who make clever use of texture and composition to deliver powerful monochrome and low-key images.


@photonika
Posting Style: Water and bokeh
Water suspended in time never fails to bring jaw-dropping reactions. She has mastered this craft. Her #waterphotographytips will help you get started with this amazing field of photography.
@hugeconcept
Posting Style: Photos embedded with captions.
His photos look like quote cards you would be willing to pay for in the book store. He integrates the wordings with the photos ever so subtly to produce well balanced photos.
@transitionpete
Posting Style: His daily life (literally)
Yes, there's a huge room for manic randomness. A photo of his drive to work, a spilled coffee cup, his foot, a plane, a bird, a chicken - name it. While you may find his feed full of impulsive, seemingly pointless shots - they all tie up to tell one big story - his life. It's like watching a reality show, taken in snapshots. 80,000 people follow him.



What's your identity in Instagram?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

3 Ways to Protect Your Privacy in Instagram

Let's begin with a simple fact - Instagram is all about sharing.

Every photo you post, the hi's and hello's you give - they all become a part of the wild-wild web. As app continues to etch the history of iPhoneography (and now bound to grow even bigger as it comes to Android), you need to make sure you're not exposing too much of your personal life that could get you into trouble.

Here are a few important things to remember:

Don't Geotag Your House
Don't let the universe know where you live.

By all means, geotag the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, or the wonderful beach you've been to - but your address? Well, that's unless you want to tell the rest of the world where you live, and while at it, conveniently give everybody a map.

Seriously, experts and security advocates have repeatedly warned about the dangers of geotagging. Small seemingly harmless details about your daily activities, when connected, could paint a dreadfully clear picture of your life pattern - and expose you to danger.

Refrain From Using Your Full Name

Stop right there. Open a new tab and google your IG username. Chances are you'd be surprised by how many results it returns. Instagram has a public API - meaning anybody could pull data from Instagram's servers and use them to develop a supplementary service. Famous examples are webstagr.am, statigr.am, copygr.am (and a lot of other grams), along with the new apps InstaFrManager and InstaPad.

The widespread use of IG data exposes your Instagram activity to the entire internet. These external parties also have the power to cache data. So even if you rename your nick now, or delete your entire feed, the photos and comments could still lurk in other locations.

You can use a pseudonym or a garbled version of your name. Unless you're planning to make a name as a commercial photographer, you'd be better off hiding your real identity. Folks don't need that to appreciate your pics.

Watch What You Comment
Be careful with your comments.
It would be very tough to trace them back.

Be especially careful when commenting on others' photos. If you accidentally slip sensitive personal info when commenting on your own photo, it's easy to track it. However, what if you left it on a friend's photo 3 months back and he already added about a hundred new ones?

Dropping a comment in the popular page is like dropping a coin in the middle of a lake. Go to the popular page - type in any random comment like "I'm the King of the World". Come back after an hour. Now, where's that comment?

Instagram lacks an activity history feature. Currently, there's no way track comments you leave on other's pics. Be aware of that. When things start getting personal, take it offline. Make use of third party chat utilities.

Instagram is a happy place and in happy places, people tend to lose their guard. Don't.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Instagram 2.1: A Visit to the Beauty Salon

  • Sierra is a baby Valencia.
  • Lux is a whitening cream.
  • New icons = new nail polish.

Is Instagram enjoying its massive success because of its spectacular filters? With the exception of Early Bird, many of its filters are probably underused. The app is successful simply because it did well on the social facet.

That's where the focus should be.

IG should concentrate more on improving as a social platform than trying to compete with the gazillion of dedicated photo editing apps. There's no need to continuously beef-up features that already worked well in gaining them their first 15 million users.

The app needs serious improvement on the ability to manage followers and followings, private messaging and photo organization - huge niches that other feeding services have started to fill.

Followings Organization and Private Messaging: Learn from Statigram

Statigram has a lot of features an IG user would be glad to see in the app itself. One notable thing: Following Lists. You don't always want to view the entire news feed. Sometimes you intend to focus on a particular genre of pics, or a smaller set of people. You may wish to group your followings into real-life friends, IG-found friends, photo challenge groups, or celebrities. This is a huge void that even Twitter had to implement.

In a public place, there always comes a need to whisper something private. Direct messaging is a notably absent feature in Instagram that Statigram has effectively addressed. Many people also take their discussions offline through chat apps like Kik and WhatsApp.

Photo Organization: Learn from Flickr

Grouping photos into albums is one major missing piece. As you add more photos to your feed, some of your best photos get drowned. Negative result: you repost. With the ability to arrange photos, you will be able to highlight certain pics. Flickr has a robust system for organizing photos that Instagram could emulate.

Caption Editing: It's a Missing Arm

There's only one way to edit a caption currently: to delete it and post it again. If you want to edit your caption after someone has posted a comment, you may want to delete the pic entirely and re-upload.

This is something IG can only address - no one can fill this gap through APIs. Editable captions should be a basic feature of any photo-displaying app.

It's certain that the developers of Instagram know about these things already. Whether they are being held back by the possibility of unforeseen ripple effects to the core user experience, or are unable to implement due to software design constraints, we can't tell.

IG 3.0, our hopes rest on you.