Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Plant Characters for Plants vs Zombies 2

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News about the sequel of the popular video game, Plants versus Zombies, is hard to come by these days. The last time I wrote a couple of PvZ articles was regarding its creator George Fan’s future dev plans and a possible screenshot that was eventually debunked. Sadly, there isn’t anything else substantial to report about Plants vs Zombies 2. What I found are purported new plant characters, which is nothing fancy but may still be interesting for fans of the game.

new plants in pvz 2

Before I elaborate on the image above, let’s have a recap of other recent news, be it true or just a rumor:

  • The release date of the next Plants versus Zombies is scheduled between 2011 and 2020. That came from John Vechey, a cofounder of Popcap – the studio that developed the game.
  • The head designer of PvZ, George Fan, is currently busy on another game with a totally new concept.

That’s about what I know of the next iteration of the tower defense game. So what’s up with these new plant characters? Are they real? Let’s check each one out.

Some of the new plants are paired with a plant from the original Plants versus Zombies game. The new ones are displayed in images to the left, opposite to their original counterparts.

Long Tribulus

long tribulus pvz 2

This plant apparently has an accelerated digestion and can gulp down any normal-sized zombies. Sound awfully familiar? That’s because it's most likely a cheap imitation of the Chomper plant, which also happens to chow down whole zombies. Apart from the visual differences, which in itself is still subtle, there seems to be no difference between the Chomper and the Long Tribulus at all. Also, the real tribulus plant looks nowhere close to the image above.

Garlic Angel

garlic angel pvz 2

Perhaps the younger version of the Garlic plant, the Garlic Angel is supposed to toughen up the Sunflower plant and boost the rate it produces suns. It is also a plant with halo properties, whatever that means. If I remember correctly, there’s no plant that has that purpose, so the Garlic Angel is a good addition to the zombie eradicators. But shouldn’t a Garlic Angel be more angelic? Hmm… Uninspired.

Bush Fighter

bush fighters pvz 2

The given description of this plant is vague at best. From what I can tell, it attacks at close range every five seconds. And for the first time, we’ll have a walking plant! And in order to survive, it will look for sustenance – water, soil, and sun – on its own.

A walking plant certainly breaks away from the traditional tower defense game genre. But how it pulls this one off is uncertain.

Crystal Glass

crystal grass pvz 2Similar to the Magnet-shroom and Gold Magnet plants, the Crystal Glass collects suns on-screen every five seconds. It is also an upgrade of the coin-producing Marigold plant.

The artwork of the plant is so-so as per my standards. The crystal on the plant’s head is okay, but the eyes and the leaves are certainly not the art style found in many other plants in the original game.

Chinese Bamboo

chinese bamboo pvz 2Another original artwork, the Chinese Bamboo has the awesome skill of attacking all zombies every 2 seconds with its sharp blades. It is said to come from China, hence the name (duh!), where apparently no zombies has ever trodden.

Interesting trivia: In the book, World War Z, the first zombie outbreak actually came from China, although they keep it secret from the global community.

Final Thoughts

Certainly bogus. Nonetheless, I actually had fun writing this article and it’s really nice that some fan can come up with something like this from his/her imagination. But! Here’s a few things to ponder about:

  • I got these new plant characters from a number of PubArticles pages. To put it short, the writing is full of erroneous grammar and spelling and some of the points are hard to understand.
  • The articles have no credible source.
  • In another article, PvZ 2 is reported to have a co-op multiplayer mode. Even if it’s not verified, I’m hoping it will come out in the sequel.
  • I bet the artist is a 12 year old commie loyalist.

Any thoughts? Comment below.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Double or Triple Load for Smart, Globe, Sun

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philippine cellular networks

This trick, that is doubling or even tripling the amount of load or balance you get from a prepaid call card, is old. Yet it certainly still is one of the exploits people stumble upon on the web when searching for means to fool the network giants: Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and Sun Cellular. They’re rich and won’t mind that you ‘stole’ an amount that, for them, is negligible, right?

Indeed, many people are trying to cheat off the system and have extra free load. Exploiters may call it whatever they want or come up with a variety of excuses, but it is nonetheless illegal.

Guess what? I’m going to show you the trick anyway. As far as I can tell, the exploit doesn’t work any longer; I even tried it a number of times. It seems our local cellphone networks patched the hole effectively and I think I know how it was done.

I know some people just don’t believe what others may say. That is why, you can use the steps below to double or triple your load. All you need to perform the trick is a prepaid card (of any amount) and a phone with conference call feature.

globe telecom

Globe Double or Triple Load

  1. Dial 223 and hold the call.
  2. Repeat step 1 according to how many times you want to multiply your prepaid card’s balance.
  3. Put all calls on hold to conference.
  4. Enter the card number then press the pound key or number sign (#).
  5. Enter the PIN then press the pound key or number sign (#).
  6. A voice confirmation will inform if reloading is successful. A subsequent text indicating your current balance will follow.

sun cellular

Sun Double or Triple Load

  1. Dial 220 and hold the call.
  2. Repeat step 1 according to how many times you want to multiply your prepaid card’s balance.
  3. Put all calls on hold to conference.
  4. Press 1.
  5. Enter the card number followed by the number sign (#).
  6. Enter the PIN followed by the number sign (#).

smart telecom

Smart Double or Triple Load

If you have noticed, Globe and Sun basically make use of conference call to the networks’ prepaid loading dialing numbers. This makes doubling or tripling the load balance for Smart not possible since to load a Smart Prepaid Card, you must dial 1510 plus the 14-digit PIN (ex. 151012345678901234) and hit Send. It’s not like Sun or Globe that lets you dial their prepaid reloading numbers before requiring you to enter the card number and PIN.

Tips for the Trick

Although it never worked for me, you might be lucky. Who knows?

Anyway, here are some tips to increase the chances of increasing your load.

  • The people who allegedly have been successful in multiplying their balance recommends that the process must be performed during periods of the day when the network is not congested. Some say the best period is from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. while others suggest off-peak hours (1 a.m. to 7 a.m.).
  • There must be a strong  network signal in your current location.
  • The trick must be done fast: quick typing and dialing.

Possible Fix by Networks

I don’t know why it won’t work for me. But one good guess is that the networks found the error and applied a fix.

I actually thought of one simple way to disable this loading hack: When the user inputs the card number, a flag must be triggered in the network’s server so that if the same card number is entered again, that would signal the server to no longer continue the loading process. That is why when I tried the trick on Globe, only one of the calls succeeds in reloading.

Not Satisfied?

I don’t want to end this post without admitting that there are a number of other exploits out there, some of which I’ve yet to test out myself. There’s no stopping hackers to find exploits in the system and abuse it. However, I guarantee that sooner or later the cellular networks will find the errors and patch them up.

If you actually find a new exploit from online forums and elsewhere, or better yet discovered one yourself, it's better if you actually not spread it. Technically, it’s because it is against the law. Practically though, a popular exploit is the one that’s easily found and provided with a fix.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Globe Postpaid for Students

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globe telecom logoThanks to what some may consider a major backlash of my life, I remain a student for the next three years, all the while still devoid of a postpaid account from Globe Telecom. You see, getting a subscription on a postpaid payment basis requires financial stability credentials of which a student simply cannot have. It recently occurred to me (which I can’t believe took me years!) that I could just go to a Globe Telecom Wireless Center and ask a sales rep what alternatives do students have.

Guess what the answer is. A bank statement spanning two months that details an accumulated monthly deposit of at least Php10,000.00. With that in mind, the only problem left is how to deposit that much amount each month. I got a couple of tips below.

  • While I’m still a student, I actually am working online for a bit of cash. Had it been a local job, acquiring a proof of financial capacity would have been a lot easier. The point is, working as a student who can at least earn Php10K a month is one way of getting a postpaid subscription.
  • I still live off of the weekly allowance my parents send me to my bank savings account, which helps increase the amount I deposit every month.

If you refer to other people for help, you can

  • Ask a financially capable person like your parents to proxy-register for you. In other words, they will be the one to open an account using their name.
  • Borrow some cash!
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Google is my WolframAlpha

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If you do not know what WolframAlpha is, it is – in their own words – a computational knowledge engine. Basically, it is just another search engine, just that you ask questions and it tries to provide an answer. So instead of search results you may get solutions. But for me, my answer engine has always been Google Search.

What actually made me say that is the recent news that the Google search engine is falling in U.S. market share, with Bing eating away most of it. And cited as one of the reasons was the purported success users experience when using Bing or Yahoo (which is now powered by the former). In other words, more people click through search results in these search engines than in Google. That made me really wonder how I’m using Google.

To find evidence of my search patterns, there’s no better place than Google’s very own Web History. Shush privacy advocates shush!

My findings? I use Google to search info without having to click on results. That’s because at times Google will answer the search query itself. The piece of info I’m looking for may also be already quoted in search result texts.

Here are the search queries that I commonly use in Google that requires no clicking of search results:

Money Conversion

Being an online contractor, I get paid in U.S. dollars. From time to time I want to know how much I am already earning by converting the amount to my country’s currency.

google search money conversion

Weather

While there are plugins, widgets or sidebar gadgets that can show you the current weather, I’m not particularly inclined to install them as I don’t really want to be informed every day of the weather. Using Google, I can be informed when I want to.

google search weather

Calculations

Believe it or not, I also use Google to calculate a few operations for me. Although Window’s own Calculator program is handy, I am rather minimalistic and prefers a few programs open. And besides, I don’t have to switch between windows if I use the search engine to compute for me.

google search calculator

Phone Numbers

Google can also fetch phone numbers of services such as fast food delivery, wireless network hotline numbers, and the like.

google search phone numbers

Significant Dates

Say you want to find out the birthdate of Abraham Lincoln. You don’t have to go to Wikipedia to learn about it. You can just type a query in Google and it will find an accurate guess for you.

google search significant dates

Google can also provide release dates of movies and ratings of game reviews.

image

Word Definition

Since English is not my first language, I often have to search the definition of some words to see if I’m using them right. And for the nth time, Google can search the definition for me.

google search word definition

Sometimes Google fails to provide an answer (like definition of the word “money”) although the texts in search results will suffice.

 

You may be thinking why I’m comparing something as sophisticated as WolframAlpha with Google. For one thing, I am well aware that WolframAlpha can solve complicated math problems. However, how often am I pressured under mathematical equations and numbers? Given my field of interest, I actually have more simple questions that Google can sufficiently answer for me.

All I’m saying is, despite Google’s recent fall in market share, it’s not because it’s failing to provide the best results. It must be something else.

I am actually thankful towards Google because most visits to this blog comes from its search results, not Bing or Yahoo.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Turn Off Wii Remote’s Rumble Feature

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My Wiimote sure does vibrate a lot whenever I play a game of Mario Kart Wii. I often wonder how long will it last before it drains the pre-bundled batteries out. I resorted to turning off the rumble feature of the Wii Remote. After all, I wondered just how much realism does such feature add to the gameplay experience? For me, hardly any.

Turning the vibration off is easy. From any game or the Wii menu, you just press the Home button on your remote. You should be directed to the Home menu, as shown below. There you can see how many remotes are connected as well as their battery life.

Using the remote’s pointer, you just move over to the Wii Remote Settings and press A. The settings will then be shown to you.

At the settings menu, point to the Off button at the Rumble section and press A. Finally you point and press A to Close Wii Remote Settings to save your new configuration.

Back at the settings, you also have the option to adjust the volume of the Wiimote’s speaker, thereby further conserving battery energy.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

DealExtreme – Legit or Scam?

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dealextreme logoLike I said in my previous post, my selection of Wii games to play on my PC is limited if I don’t have the sensor bar. Naturally I need to spend some more cash. I assumed it is hard to find one at local stores here at Cebu City, Philippines; hence, I resorted to buying online. One particular store that was mentioned in the forum of the Wii emulator Dolphin was DealExtreme. So far I’m still waiting for the delivery to arrive. I even wonder if I will ever get a hand at the sensor bar I ordered.

So is DealExtreme a scam website? I could not find a credible source that says it is or not. There are some user comments pointing out average customer satisfaction, although some are saying they had a bad shopping experience there.

What actually made me buy from DealExtreme? Three reasons:

  1. It accepts payment through Paypal. Amazon doesn’t.
  2. Cheap to no shipping cost.
  3. Whereas Amazon restricts some shipment, DealExtreme can ship tech gadgets to my country.

As for my take on DX’s credibility, I cannot say. At least not until whether I receive my order or it has already been long overdue. I will have to wait at least two more weeks before I can have my final verdict on DealExtreme.

It does sport a McAfee secure logo though, which can be verified from the antivirus company’s SiteAdvisor product.

Anyway, it turned out I was wrong in having trouble of finding a sensor bar at a local store. After asking three stores or so, I found a legit sensor bar tagged at Php1500.00 (around $35). Did I buy one? Nope. I was even more lucky to find a cheap third-party sensor bar for only Php300.00 (around $7). That’s only $2 above my DealExtreme order, and that’s without the waiting.

I was actually playing Mario Kart Wii on my PC moments before writing this article.