Technology, Uncategorized

Box art of FF7About time! Earlier today, PEGI’s website lists a release date of August 14 2012, which is….yes, today!

Available from the Square Enix store, the RPG classic returns to PC, now with brand new online features.

On top of that, the remake re-release offers the following features:

  • Achievements – Whether you´re a seasoned FINAL FANTASY VII veteran or exploring this RPG classic for the very first time, show off your in-game accomplishments and put your gaming skills to the test with 36 brand new achievements to unlock. Share your profile with friends online to find out who is the ultimate FINAL FANTASY fan.
  • Cloud Saves (no, not “Cloud” Saves) – If you´re away from home or simply using a different computer to play, enjoy FINAL FANTASY VII wherever you are. With cloud save support in FINAL FANTASY VII you can continue your game progress right where you left off (Requires Internet Connection).
  • Character Booster – Find yourself stuck on a difficult section or lacking the funds to buy that vital Phoenix Down? With the Character Booster you can increase your HP, MP and Gil levels to their maximum, all with the simple click of a button, leaving you to enjoy your adventure.
  • Optimized for PC – FINAL FANTASY VII has been updated to support the latest hardware and Windows Operating Systems.

The game will set you back £7.99 and is available on the Square Enix store here.

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pizza dough
This is the pizza dough - I have added some Rosemary and Oregano to the dough for a bit of an extra kick 🙂

And now for something completely different:

Since so many people asked for the recipe, here goes: this is my mum’s recipe, which makes me extra proud as it has turned out to be an amazing feast whenever I made it.As you can see from the picture, this is how much pizza this recipe makes, so feel free to adjust 🙂

 

Ingredients:

  • 300 g quark (normally located in the soft cheese aisle as 250g packs)
  • 12 TBSP milk
  • 12 TBSP olive oil (plus extra if dough is too dry while mixing)
  • pinch of salt
  • 600 g strong flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

 

Procedure:

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl or (preferably) mixer; add half the flour, then add half the Quark, milk, baking powder and oil, add the rest (makes it easier to mix then)
  2. Mix everything, adding more oil if the dough is still a bit stringy or doesn’t easily form into a ball. It doesn’t matter how much more oil you use, at the end of the day you’ll be using less for the tray or whatever you’ll be using to bake the dough
  3. Place the dough into tin foil and into the fridge for at least 20 minutes before reusing it again.

 

Personal notes:

If you want a bit more of a kick to the dough, just add 2 tbsp of crushed Rosemary and Oregano to the dough, and instead of just olive oil replace the 12 TBSP with 8 TBSP of olive oil and 4 TBSP of infused olive oil (e.g. chilli oil, garlic oil, basil oil, etc).

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Steve Jobs passed away last night. In my mind he was one of the most inspiring, creative and technology-shaping people in this world. Under his reign, Apple became one of the most (if not THE most) influential companies in the world, and he shaped the way we listen to music, the way we interact with mobile devices (from iPod over to iPhone and iPad), and the way we make use of technology in our every day lives.

Everything Apple worked on was a masterpiece, pretty much everything he / Apple produced outsold everything else in the market. And I remember seeing the iPad 2 keynote and I remember his calm, proud and yet humble nature when speaking publicly, when writing emails or talking to people. His famous Stanford Commencement Speech from 2005 is a testament to that.

 

One of the quotes of I will always remember him by:

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve jobs, Business Week 1998

My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends and everyone at Apple.

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.

 

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wedding photo 12 weeks ago my beautiful wife and I finally said “yes” to each other. It was a beautiful day indeed – many friends and family members shared this wonderful day with us, making this a very memorable day in both our lives. While the weather was said to be “rain and thunderstorms” according to the Met Office, we were lucky that it was only raining lightly, and when the ceremony finished the sun came out for some amazing photo opportunities. The wedding breakfast and speeches followed, and after that – the first dance and the hog roast!

Looking back at it now, there is only one thing I would have liked to have changed: that everything would have happened at a snail’s pace! It felt like the day started, people got ready, guests arrived, the ceremony happened, some photos happened, and then it was midnight!

My wife Vikki and I are very happy for everyone who attended, and I would like to take the opportunity to say my thanks to a number of parties and companies who helped make this day a very special day:

 

Thank you Chloe, for your help on the venue!

First of all, without a venue there is no wedding. As such, my first thanks has to go to Chloe and all of the staff of Burnham Beeches Hotel for everything! If it wasn’t for Chloe’s massive amounts of help we wouldn’t have been married in this beautiful venue, and if it hadn’t been for the staff on the day before, on the day of and on the day after the wedding it wouldn’t have been such a successful day!

Every staff member we encountered (from reception to bar staff, staff during the meals, cleaners, etc) was extremely friendly, supportive and had this amazing “can-do” attitude that just made things perfect. As we were told from them “Difficult we can do, impossible takes a bit longer” – thank you guys!

 

Thank you to James for your amazing photos!

James is not only a great friend of mine, but he is also the most talented and gifted photographer I know! Him and his colleague Gurdev managed to take some amazing shots of the day (all photos you can see here on this blog post are from him), thanks for a very unique style of casually walking around, mingling with people and then taking some amazing shots of us, of friends and families.

Throughout the day we felt being taken care of while at the same time not being ushered here or there for photos, we felt very much in control of what we wanted to do, and thanks to both James’ and Gurdev’s casual, friendly –  sometimes comical – way of dealing with us and our guests it made everything look and feel even more natural. Thank you both!

A gallery of our wedding photos can be found here on James’s website.

If you would like to get in touch with James or would like to hire him:
James McClean

James McClean’s Facebook page

 

Thank you Kirsty for the dance lessons!

A wedding is one thing – preparing for your first dance is another. Thankfully, Kirsty managed to make it happen:

Just so you know, I am pretty bad at dancing. I have never ever had one lesson in my life, I understand music and rhythm, but next to the speech the one thing I was really worried about was the first dance. Thankfully, Kirsty has this positive and up-beat attitude to even get the most useless of people in terms of dancing (i.e. me!) to understand the dance and learn even a quickstep within a few hours! Once we picked the music we liked Kirsty went away and choreographed the whole routine, making amends and quick changes when any of us three felt that something wasn’t working or wanted to include something a bit more special. In fact, it took us not long at all to get the dance sorted, and on the night we managed a great performance!

View our full dance on YouTube.

If you would like to get in touch with Kirsty or would like to plan dance lessons with her:

Kirsty’s Facebook page

Kirsty on iMDB

 

Thank you, Cleo, for the cake!

We had real issues with finding an affordable wedding cake to begin with. We went to a place in Hitchin which was recommended to us, named the Cake Hole. In there the notion we got throughout our conversations was “pay us a deposit, then we will contact you before the wedding about what we could do.” Wedding or not, you don’t do business like that, ever. Not with someone who has worked in sales for a very long time. We were quite disheartened, until we met Cleo.

Cleo was amazingly helpful and friendly, and prices are very reasonable. Starting from our basic requirements, she talked us through all sorts of options, with help from her extensive recipe collection and portfolio, until we had our perfect cake planned out. She really knows her stuff and the word “no” doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary. The cake was so delicious that every single bit disappeared on the day, and it looked just stunning. She also liaised directly with the hotel and florist regarding delivery and flowers for decoration, which saved us some work.

If you would like to get in touch with Cleo to discuss a wedding or birthday cake:

Cleo’s Creative Cakes

 

Thank you, Suzanne @ Hot Flowers, for some amazing floral arrangements!

Hot Flowers were very friendly to deal with, happy to have as many meetings and emails as needed (although we only needed 2 short meetings and a few emails to get everything sorted out). They were very prompt in replying every time and communications very clear. Flowers were beautiful, smelled lovely, with the exact colours and feel that Vikki wanted, and were very well put together. In fact, a friend of mine showed me the floral arrangement she took home 3 days ago, and they still looked amazing!

Suzanne offers a wide range of arrangements, bouquet and buttonhole/corsage styles, bay trees, and also hire of candles etc if wanted, so we felt we were in really good hands here. There was a slight hiccup over the cost because of misunderstanding about whether we were on a set package or not (and so whether the hotel would contribute towards the flowers) but it was dealt with very professionally.

If you would like to get in touch with Suzanne about flowers or floral arrangements:

Hot Flowers & Art

 

And finally, thank you, Bridal House, Leeds, for the wedding dress!

Since I was not involved on this one I let Vikki take over:

The Bridal House Leeds is a lovely independent bridal shop with friendly staff. During the process of finding a dress or the fittings I never felt rushed or pushed into anything, and when I burst into tears on realizing “I’m getting married!” they were on the spot with tissues and water. Brides can take two people with them when trying on dresses or for fittings. My sister got her dress from the same shop two/three years beforehand, and they still recognized her when she came in, and were eager to know how she was getting on. As I had to travel 3+ hours for each fitting, they were very helpful with trying to arrange these for convenient times. Alterations were high quality, and the selection of dresses was quite large, with some unusual styles on offer. They also stock various accessories and shoes, and offer a bridesmaid dress service.”

If you would like to get in touch with the Bridal House:

 The Bridal House, Leeds

 

I think that’s it for now, once again, thank you everyone for your help, work and support for our wedding, it was such an amazing day! 🙂

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The app developers Kavcom have finally released the remake of the 1996 classic Z for £2.99 on the iTunes store.

For those of you who do not know the game, unlike traditional RTS games, you do not collect resources – you capture sectors, which in turn will allow you to manufacture units quicker, or allow you to have a tactical advantage because sectors can contain factories or turrets. Originally developed by the Bitmap Brothers the game was very well received, and it was the first game I was ever bought by my parents.

The game plays very well on the iPad, the videos are the same as in the original release. Gameplay itself hasn’t changed one bit, it is still very fast paced and can get very hectic at times. Swipe gestures and multiple selection of units works really well. Sound effects are nicely done, both on the music and sound effects front. (btw, you can change the sound and music settings in the iPad Settings, not in the app itself)

 

Screenshots:

Getting ready for carnage:

 

Win!

Liked:

  • Easy to pick up gameplay, hardly changed from the original
  • Easy to use mini-map and building menus
  • Great music and sound effects follow the 1996 original to a T!
  • Price!

Disliked:

  • A few translation mistakes
  • Building menu is a bit small and may provide problems for people with bigger fingers
  • Seemingly no ability to replay videos

 

Verdict:

Overall this is a fantastic game, regardless of you having played the original or not. You really ought to give it a try for that price!

You can grab the game from here.

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A few weeks ago I tested Mercury Web Browser Pro for iPad, which in my first impressions didn’t do so well. I went out again and had a look at a few more browsers, and this week’s choice is iCab. And at a price twice the cost of Mercury (£1.19 to be exact).

At first run I tried to use my company internal websites to see if I could work with them, since Mercury had a problem with popups. Well, the first time I tried my pages everything seemed to work fine, however on second try the next day they would not. Really annoying. I have been playing with the settings, even cleared the cache and uninstalled and reinstalled the app, but no joy. A real shame!

So, now that we established that the app failed at the most critical task for me (I know, it is a really trivial thing, pop-ups, but because this is how the in-house system works it therefore means that I won’t be able to use iCab for work) let’s have a look in more detail and see if iCab can redeem itself (also, screenshots after the break)…

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So I have been trying out a new browser for the iPad, and seeing that the Mercury Web Browser Pro is currently only £0.59 I couldn’t say no.

So far, I am enjoying it, it looks nice, the tabs are nicely done, albeit the buttons are a bit small; however, I found 3 points with it that made me reconsider my buying choice a little:

1. Bookmarks import. The import went fine, however managing bookmarks didn’t. Some folders it would let me move, some it wouldn’t, and no matter how the folders are spelled, some it just would not move or even let me edit. Very annoying.

2. Pop-ups! Safari can handle pop-ups, so why can’t Mercury? A real shame as an intranet application we use requires pop-ups for confirmation and data managing, so cannot use Mercury for that task

3. Bookmarks grid. Not sure what I am doing wrong, no matter what I press I cannot find an easy way to move bookmarks to that grid! It’s probably a user error on my part, it is just frustrating that I do not seem to be able to do that.

 

Overall, it looks like a decent browser, but these 3 issues need to be resolved until I can really consider it a worthy replacement to Safari…

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