Posts tagged #Apple

No "Top 5" for 2014?

So last year I wrote an article in which I listed my top 5 games of 2013. Unfortunately, mind-blowing games for me this year were kind of lacking. Sure, there were good games, but nothing that took my world by storm. If one were to ask me what my favorite games are right now, I’d probably say Dragon Age: Inquisition and Super Mario 3D World, but that would be biased towards what I’m actually in the middle of playing at the moment.

So what to do, then? Why not talk about what I’m currently bouncing back and forth between? As of right now, I’m probably actively playing more games at once than I ever have in my entire life.

Find out what I’m playing after the jump!

Bouncing back and forth between games is something that I don’t necessarily recommend. Lots of times, doing so will make you not really appreciate something to its fullest - something I’m hoping doesn’t happen to me. Luckily, a few of the games I’m bouncing between are ones I’ve played a gazillion times before.

With the recent addition of the iPad Air to my tech collection, I’ve gained yet another platform with which to play games. It just so happens that nearly every old-school Final Fantasy title in existence is available for Apple and Android devices, so I’ve been playing some of those. In my rotating queue are Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (a 3D remake of the 2D original), Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, and the new(er) Final Fantasy Dimensions. Truthfully, I’ve spent most of my handheld/mobile time playing Final Fantasy VI, but how could I not? Like Chrono Trigger, it’s one of those classic RPGs that, once you start playing, you just can’t put it down!

Another mobile time killer that I’ve been really digging on is Angry Birds: Transformers. I’m a huge Transformers fan, and I really like Angry Birds, so the combination of the two franchises really appeals to me. The gameplay for AB:TF is quite a bit different from the traditional AB games, but it’s an absolute blast. I just really wish the game didn’t try to goad you into buying crystals (with real-world money) to keep you constantly playing. Instead, you’re forced into long periods of upgrading your Transformers that keeps you from playing the game for long stretches if you don’t want to let go of your money. Personally, when it comes to a game like that, micro-transactions are right out, so I have to sit and wait a lot with that game… But I usually just switch to FFVI instead!

On the PC front, you’d think I’d be playing a lot of games on my Mac, right? In case you didn’t read my last “Lack of Apple Hate” article, you should know that that isn’t happening at all. I found out very quickly how much the MacBook Pro is NOT good for gaming. That being said, I’ve still got my ASUS laptop, and I’ve been enjoying several recent purchases on it. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Sims 4, Final Fantasy XIII (again), and Final Fantasy XIII-2 are all finding their respective ways in and out of my eyeballs. A recent time card for Final Fantasy XIV will probably have me returning to that game soon, as well.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been playing Dragon Age and Mario 3D World on the consoles. I got them both for Christmas (along with the PS4 version of GTAV), and both are great games. Dragon Age is a little overwhelming in terms of content, and 3D World is shaping up to be - in my opinion - one of the best 3D Mario games yet.

There are also a few games I need to get back to on consoles. Games such as Alien: Isolation (though I still don’t know if I’ll actually go back to that one or not), Shadow of Mordor, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, etc. There is also one game on the 3DS that I really want to get back to: Bravely Default. It’s pure, old-school RPG goodness!

I’m really looking forward to doing reviews on all of these games in the future, but as you know, I like to finish the games before I do. I’m thinking, however, that I might have to change that rule a little bit going forward. As rapidly as my game collection increases, I’ll never be able to finish games in a timely manner for review purposes. So what I’m planning on doing is writing more “Thoughts” articles. With that format, I can at least let everybody know what I’m thinking about a particular game at the moment, and if I have time for a full review later on, I’ll put that out there.

So 2014 may not have blown me away with its release lineup (yet), but I’m playing more games at once than I ever have. 2015, on the other hand, will see some releases that I’m hugely excited for: The Witcher 3, Mortal Kombat X, Final Fantasy XV (maybe… probably not. I’ll believe it when I see it), and more! So there are at least three candidates for my top 5 next year!

Here’s to hoping that everyone had a great Christmas! We’ll see you in 2015!


By the way, if I were really forced to pick a Game of the Year for 2014 right now, I’d probably pick The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. So there ya go.

A Newbie's Journey Into Mac vs. PC

So now that I've been able to play around with the new MacBook Pro for a little while, what are my current thoughts? Have I changed my mind (yet again) and decided to go all Mac? Find out after the jump!

Before I begin, I need to say that I've only had my MacBook now for about five days. During that time, I've - for the most part - used it as my main computer. I've downloaded some stuff and watched videos on YouTube before bed using the ASUS Windows-based gaming laptop, but everything else in those five days (writing, web browsing, even a teeny bit of gaming) has been done on the Mac.

The war between Mac and PC has been going on for quite a long time. Thus, most of us computer nerds become very attached to the operating system we use - classic fanboyism (of which I have been guilty of just like everybody else). But is there any truth behind the claims of either side? In my five days with a Mac, I've seen that some of the points of argument do, in fact, have some validity. Below are a few things I've noticed, but keep in mind: I'm a 25-year Windows user who has only used a Mac for five days. I'm not entirely unaware of the fact that there are probably things about the OS that I'm missing, or simply don't understand yet. This is just me jumping straight into Mac OS X with a Windows mindset.

The UI

The GUI (Graphical User Interface) in Mac OS X - I'm using the newest version, "Yosemite" - is much prettier than Windows has ever been - especially when you consider how horrible Windows 8 looks. But not only is it prettier, it's actually a little bit easier to get around in. The dock at the bottom shows you your most recent or favorite programs (referred to as 'Apps' in the Mac world), while the top of the screen is a menu bar which acts as a set of controls for whatever program you're currently running or have active. Pretty simple. That's not to say that Windows is complicated; it's actually pretty simple itself, as long as you stay on the desktop screen.

While working within the Windows system settings, things start to get a lot more complicated for most users. Mac OS X is much better in this regard. Instead of throwing a whole bunch of stuff at you when you enter something like Control Panel on Windows, OS X simply has System Preferences. Opening this up simply shows you an orderly list of icons that will let you change whatever you want about your computer's settings. There are dedicated sections for your desktop, devices, application behavior, networks, etc. Control Panel has this too, but Mac OS X's version of it just seems a lot simpler to navigate and find exactly what you're looking for (OS X's Spotlight Search helps with this, as well). On a Windows PC, it's easy to get lost in Control Panel if you don't know what you're doing. 

File Managing

Being able to place your files in different locations of your computer's hard drive is an essential piece of knowledge if you do any kind of work on a PC or (now, in my case) Mac. Windows, in my opinion, wins in this department. Mac OS X's Finder is not really as intuitive for me as Windows Explorer. To me, Finder feels kind of primitive and more like what I remember of Windows 3.1 and 3.11. That's not necessarily a bad thing (especially if you've had experience running older operating systems), but when you get used to the simplicity of working within a file structure the way that Windows offers, using Finder feels like you're taking a trip back to olden times.

As an example of the "less intuitive-ness": Finder, upon first opening it up, doesn't actually show you your hard drives. Isn't that kind of essential to be able to manage your files? Instead, it shows you a simple directory structure of Applications, Documents, Pictures, iCloud Drive, Music, etc. A similar structure is present in Windows Explorer, but in it, I can also see my hard drive(s) and manipulate them as I see fit. With Finder, being able to see the hard drive and monkey around with the actual file structure is something one has to enable. Again, not a terrible thing (nor is it hard to find), as there are a good bit of users who will simply use the standard structure within Finder to move their files around. Me, I like to put files where I want them at all times. But at least the option exists. Once Finder is configured properly, file management becomes a lot easier to mess with. Windows Explorer, however, works the way I need it to right out of the box. 

Also, don't try to merge a folder by clicking and dragging in Finder! For some reason, this will wipe out the contents of the folder you're moving into. I have no idea why this is the case. If you want to move a folder into another folder, you have to do a 'copy/paste.' I found this out the hard way. 


One of the biggest issues I used to have with the Mac is program availability. Basically, things were available for Windows computers that weren't available for Apple machines, and vice-versa. The gap has narrowed considerably over the years, but there are still more programs available for PC. However, my experience with applications has been good so far. Everything I have needed has been available. There's even one program I've been using and love on the MacBook, as well as the iPad, that is only available for Apple hardware: a film script and novel manuscript program called Storyist. It's a powerful and great little program, but there are definitely alternatives on PC such as Final Draft (also available on Mac, but much more expensive).

Installation of Applications

This is one area where Mac OS X kicks Windows in the gut, watches it writhe on the ground, and starts kicking it some more. In other words, the process of installing programs is lightyears ahead of Microsoft's OS, particularly in Yosemite. A lot of it apparently has to do with the fact that Windows uses a DLL structure underneath the hood, whereas Mac OS X doesn't, or so I've read. 
Want to install a program? Download it, open up the file, drag the program into the Applications folder, and viola! You're done!
Seriously... that's it. No install wizard or nuthin'.


I'm a pretty serious gamer, but is the Mac as good as Windows for gaming? In my case, no. I have the Iris graphics chipset, which isn't strong enough to handle modern games that well. There is a version of the MacBook Pro that comes equipped with an Nvidia graphics card, but that one was way out of my price range (it's an extra $600 for that option) and didn't align with my intentions for the laptop.

Like with everyday applications, there's also a point of availability - or lack thereof - when it comes to games. For example, I loaded Steam onto the MacBook to see what stuff I had that was compatible. Out of my 157 Steam games, only 40 were built to also run on Mac OS X. In my opinion, that's a pretty dismal number at 117 games that aren't playable on Mac. And we're not talking indie games, here; we're talking 117 "triple-A" titles. So even if one can afford the higher-end Mac with the Nvidia card, they'll quickly find that their options are severely limited. With that one, Microsoft shakes off the application installation beatdown it took from Apple and delivers an equally brutal beating. But again, this only applies if you're a gamer. If not, an Apple machine could very well be the way to go.

Just as a side-note, I chose to test the MacBook's gaming capability on an older game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. For those of you who remember, this was a game that was also available on the original Xbox (which is the version I originally had) back in the day, so it's got some years to it. On the MacBook, it runs great... until it starts to burn your legs off! I've heard that the MacBook Pro has a high heat threshold, but I was still uncomfortable with it getting that hot; I can only imagine how hot it would get if I tried playing a modern game. 

I was also testing what the battery would do when playing a game unplugged from a wall outlet. I was not impressed with the results. I played KotOR for a total of thirty-six minutes (according to Steam), and the battery had gone from 86% to 52%. That's 34% in thirty-six minutes. My iPad Air does much better than that with games that are much more graphically intensive. So games are a no-go while on the battery.

Battery Life - Everyday Use

According to Apple, the MacBook Pro will usually get around nine hours on the battery during normal operations. This is fairly accurate, and really good since I bought the laptop for writing and such - not very intensive applications. Personally I was able to get more like eight and a half, but that's still pretty good. It's much better than what my ASUS gets; normal operation outside of gaming will only get me about four hours out of that laptop (so technically, it's a no-go while on the battery when it comes to gaming, as well).

Final Thoughts

Could I survive on a Mac? Sure, although I think I might become frustrated in some areas fairly quickly. 
My overall opinion is this: Both are good for what they are. Windows can get relatively complicated in some areas - even with the "dumbing down" of Windows 8 - but the Mac simply won't do as much in the long run. Are you a hardcore gamer? Don't buy a Mac for that reason. If you're someone that focuses on productivity, getting an Apple machine is the furthest thing from a terrible idea.
For someone like me who has been a Windows user all his life, I like more about the operating system than I don't like, and it's fairly intuitive. Also, you can't beat the connectivity between all your Apple devices; that's a big plus.
That being said, the PC is still my preferred platform, and I think for anyone wanting to get the absolute most out of a computer, that's the way to go. However, I believe that it would do folks a lot of good to actually learn about the inner workings of both types of machines. "Knowledge is power," and all that.

Posted on December 9, 2014 .

Josh Did What?! Pt. 2

Just a quick update on the lack of Apple hate. Read more after the jump!

First of all, I just want to say that I absolutely love my iPad Air; it seems as though I can’t go anywhere without it. As I got into it and fiddled around, the idea of the Apple ecosystem really started to interest me. Sure, there are connectivity programs like DropBox (which I started using in conjunction with my iPad), but even that requires that I write a document, drag the file over to my DropBox folder, and then open the file. From what I had read, that wasn’t the case within the Apple world - at least, not most of the time. There, one lived in a magical world of wizardry where documents synced with an iCloud drive (also known by its true name: The Freaking Internet!) and would “just be present” within a program. These rumors of wizardry proved to be true.

As I write this document in Pages, I’m not doing so on my iPad Air; I’m doing it on my new, 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina. That’s right, folks: the guy who downed apple for over twenty years went out and bought himself a Mac, and he now owns a total of four Apple products (with a fifth [iPhone 6] on the way in March).

Why did I buy a MacBook? Mainly to have the experience of learning an entirely different way of computing. I had actually used a Mac a little over a year ago in college, but that was only because we had in-class assignments for English class, and the only computers in the classroom were iMacs. At the time, I really didn’t think too much about it; Macs were the “enemy,” but I had to do the work, but we were using the Mac OS version of Microsoft Office. So once I actually got the program open, everything was familiar to me. I did my work; I moved on.

Portability was another reason for picking up a MacBook. My Windows 8.1-equipped ASUS gaming laptop is an absolute beast in terms of power, but equally as much in heftiness. It feels like I’m carrying around fifteen pounds whenever it’s in my bag. The MacBook Pro, however, is extremely light - not quite as light as a MacBook Air, but ten times lighter than the ASUS. That’s partially due to the fact that I bought a 13” MacBook, as opposed to the much larger ASUS at 17”. I’m not downing the ASUS - it’s a great computer - but I don’t play games all the time. I wanted an alternative that I could write with (as well as other tasks) that wouldn’t be quite so heavy. However, I still have a laptop with Windows whenever I need it.

So what do I think of the laptop so far? I’m not really sure yet, since I just bought it. So far, I can really only say that it’s very different. Having an iPad smoothed the transition a little, but it’s still different enough that I have that “fish-out-of-water” feeling. At the same time, though, it’s pretty exciting! Like I said in my last article, I just love computers. Getting to play around with the second most used operating system in the world is - I’m sure - going to be a trip.

So what crazy or radical thing am I going to do next in the wonderful world of technology? Am I going to try straight-up Linux? Am I going to turn my gaming desktop into a Steam Machine and run Valve’s OS? What about switching exclusively to Mac? To answer all those questions, I can honestly give a definite answer: no. 
1) I don’t really see the appeal in the Linux OS; 2) I also use my desktop for mixing music, so turning it into a 100% dedicated gaming computer is out of the question; 3) I don’t think I could ever go completely over to Mac; the facts there still haven’t changed. Not everything I use is readily available on the Mac, and I still like to upgrade the hardware in my PC. Changing out graphics cards and things like that are never going to be an option with Apple.

So there you have it - I drank the Kool-aid. I’m a part-time Mac user now. However, Windows will always be my preferred platform for a lot of tasks (namely gaming).

Of course, I also said I would never buy a computer with Mac OS. Yet here I am, a little over three weeks since the last time I made that statement (to Nic), typing an article on a MacBook Pro. 

Posted on December 6, 2014 .

Opinions Change

Since I was about 4 years old, I have worked with and owned computers. I've always been wowed by the nifty things these devices can do, the games they play, and - even at a young age - the potential they had to change your life. In other words, computers have always been important to me, and something I try not to take for granted.

Normally when I write these articles and reviews for The Inner Dorkdom, I do so using Microsoft Word 2010, then I import them into the ID blog. I know the program fairly well, have used it in its various incarnations since 1988 or so (even though I had no idea what I was typing back then), and I have a brand new copy of Office 2014 on my shelf that I've yet to use. For anyone who knows me, I've been a Microsoft Office (or equivalent) and Windows user for my entire life.

This article was not typed using Microsoft Word 2010; this article was not typed using a Windows application, and this article was not typed on my Kindle Fire HD.

This document was typed in Pages - the Apple iPad Air's primary word processor. Why is this a big deal for me? Find out after the jump!

While using an iPad may not seem like a big deal to most folks at this stage in the game, it's a pretty big deal to me. I've been a DOS and Windows user - pretty much - my entire life. From the PC side of things, I've always enjoyed the freedom that the platform offered in terms of upgradability. Plus, it's just the platform I've always used, so therefore it's the one I know how to use. Working on, repairing, and maintaining Windows PCs is also part of what I do for a living.

I've been an "Apple-hater" for just as long as I've been a Microsoft user. My first experiences with the company that Steve Jobs built were way back when I was in the first grade, using Apple IIs and Macintoshes to play educational games at school.

I was immediately unimpressed.

At home, I had a Tandy running DOS Shell, and I felt that it had far superior games. Sure, I had a few educational games, but I also had stuff like Megaman and other, what would now be considered, "core" games. To my young, pea-sized brain, the PC had cooler gaming options, and that was all I cared about at the time. I thought all Apple had were educational games.

This mentality continued well on into my adulthood as Apple resurged with the advent of the iPod. I didn't adopt the platform until the iPod Classic was available, but I did like the product. It was fast, could hold a lot of music, and it was ultimately easy to use - that is, until it died on me.

I had the iPod Classic for nearly two years when it decided to give up the techno-ghost. Needless to say, I was furious. I had my entire music collection on there! "Stupid Apple," I would proclaim. Shortly after, however, I bought an iPod Touch from a guy I knew who was selling one for a measly $20. Since the retail price was out of my range, I jumped on the deal. The Touch was a decent device, but it had very little storage space, and I constantly had to reset it to factory defaults in order to keep it running, losing all my data in the process. This could have been mainly because I bought it used, but I didn't care; it sealed the deal for my Apple-hatred.

When I finally decided to adopt the smartphone format, I naturally opted for the Android operating system. Since the iPod Touch was basically an iPhone without the phone functionality, I knew that I didn't want one of those. From the way I saw it, the Android OS would do everything the iPhone would do, but because of my aforementioned Apple-hatred, I deemed that it would "do it better." Though, I must say, the last two Android phones I've had have been privy to their fair share of problems.

In the tablet realm, the only device I've ever had is the Android-based Kindle Fire HD. It's a great tablet, and nothing will ever take the place of it as the thing that I read books on. But since I'm an amateur writer, I want to have something that is capable of that functionality. The Kindle just isn't great for that. But then again, it's not designed for it.

So that brings me to laptops. So far, I've owned three laptops over the last several years: an old Dell, an HP, and my current, an ASUS ROG gaming laptop. My problem, when it comes to writing, is that these laptops haven't been very portable. That's my fault, though; I tend to go with the largest screen I can get, since I want to be able to get the most out of a laptop possible. Unfortunately, this means that I have to deal with lugging around several pounds of computer everywhere I go. For writing on the go, I needed something smaller.

It just so happened that during my research for something smaller, I had watched the film "Jobs," starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, one of the original co-founders of Apple. I really didn't know all that much about the guy, other than a very basic idea of who he was. As I watched the movie, I became fascinated by him. Sure, the guy had problems, but as far as being a visionary and seeing the way technology was going before it got there, he was unmatched. Plus, he was a darn good salesman.

The movie led to me watching some interviews of the man on YouTube; that led to purchasing his biography; and that led to watching some of his keynotes in which he debuted new Apple devices. Steve Jobs was trying to sell me products from beyond the grave.

I had previously been researching the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to fill my portable word processing needs. It came with Microsoft Office, so that was a plus, and it ran an actual version of Windows, rather than the mobile RT version, meaning that anything one could install on a desktop could be installed on the Surface. However, the ridiculously high price, as well as having to spend an additional $100+ on the keyboard kept me at bay.

To hold me over until I could actually afford a Surface Pro 3, I decided to take ol' Uncle Steve's advice and look into the iPad. While I can't say that I was blown away by what I found on the device, it looked like a lot of the problems I used to have with the old iPod Touch version of iOS were gone and it was a bit more stable. I found that the iPad was fully capable of word processing and, as an added bonus, the iPad was - of course - much smaller and lighter than the Surface Pro. I decided to give Apple another shot and buy the iPad Air, along with a Bluetooth keyboard cover.

Sitting here typing in Pages with the keyboard works great. Again, I'm still not totally blown away, but it meets my needs when it comes to word processing on the go. Here's the kicker, though: it does interest me in other Apple products.

Based on my experiences with my last two Android phones, I was thinking about getting an iPhone in March when my provider's contract is up, anyway. Now I'm pretty much sold on the idea of giving Apple a shot on that front as well.

But there's actually one more thing...

About four years ago, I was working a dead-end job as a warehouse clerk. Not surprisingly, my knowledge of computers got around to those in the warehouse and office, and I was asked by a coworker if I would work on his laptop. He brought it in, plugged it up, and called me over to take a look at it. I really didn't pay any attention to the laptop's casing, and just sat down as he turned it on. When it booted up to the OS, I noticed that it looked, for lack of a better word, "funky." In the top-left corner, there was what looked like a traffic light and there were four or five icons at the bottom of the screen.

 "What is this?" I asked my coworker.

He replied, "It's a Macbook."

I promptly closed the laptop's lid and handed it back to him. To a certain degree, this kind of concerned me. Here was a computer that I could do absolutely nothing with. I didn't know how to run programs, I didn't know how to turn it off, and more importantly, I didn't know how to fix it. Most businesses use Windows, and so does the company I currently work for, but what if that wasn't the case? What if we changed to iMacs and Mac OS X? I would be completely in the dark. I'm sure I could fumble my way through, given enough time, but problem solving is something that you sometimes have to do very quickly within an IT field. At some point, I would like to buy a Macbook Air or something to familiarize myself with the Mac OS. Unfortunately, given the pricey nature of Apple's desktop and laptop lines, that probably won't be for quite a while.

I write all of this to basically say that I've decided to give Apple a shot. Would Apple be the place I would go for all my computing needs? Probably not. There are a lot of things that an Apple can't do: It can't be upgraded without buying an entirely new machine; it can't play a lot of high-end games; it can't be bargained with; it can't be reasoned with; and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead. However, judging from the little I know of Mac OS X and what I've experienced first-hand with iOS, it looks like it's fairly user-friendly and efficient for doing work-based computing.

At the beginning of next year, I still plan to purchase a Surface Pro 3 and see how that works for me. I still can't help but feel like a stranger in a strange land with Apple products. But I've got to admit, they're intriguing. I love computers, and this is another half of the computer world I don't know a whole lot about. Discovering it might be fun!










Posted on November 12, 2014 .