Scramble With Friends

January 17th, 2012

Oh how excited I get when a new “With Friends” game from Zynga appears on the App Store. The joy of another word game to lose my time to! :) Despite the disappointment Hanging With Friends turned out to be (it’s just a weird game concept… and seriously, how is dropping your opponent in molten lava ‘family friendly’?!) I was eager to try it out :)

It looks much as you would expect it to look. The same old styling, but now in green! Oh, except there’s that odd Tokens bar at the top… which I’ll rant about shortly ;) Yes, we still get stuck with the Updating Games spinner in the middle of the screen for random lengths of time, and to me, it feels like there’s an awful lot of buttons on that opening screen. But at least it didn’t try to make me create a character like HWF did ;)

I found it slightly amusing that the Help screen doesn’t actually contain any help relating to the game, and it feels glitchy and unpleasant and not like an iPhone table view should!

It’s good that it’s been through QA and that there’s space for long names on the screen… oh wait, there isn’t! My name isn’t even all that long!

From the chat screen there are two back arrows… styled slightly differently… which go to different places! :(

And our favourite “Copy/Paste” error – “Your move”? Really? Fairly sure this game is played in turns, not moves!

Oh, I almost forgot the tokens… “what are they for?” you might ask, as we did too! There’s no explanation whatsoever. There’s an animation suggesting you use one each time you make a move take a turn, and a count down to you getting a new one. There’s also the option to buy more tokens… though we don’t know why we want them! Basically, Zynga don’t seem to think showing us adverts is making them enough money, nor is us buying the full version as that still has tokens as IAPs! Apparently, they feel a need to try and charge us to play the game so that they can show us more adverts. I’m completely confused by this!

Ah yes, and the other reason for tokens? To give you cheats in the game! One of the things many people said to us at various conferences was that players who spend more money shouldn’t get to cheat! Give them pretty things, or different ways to play, but don’t let them cheat!

Basically, totally unimpressed with the lack of QA testing which has gone into this game as within minutes Chris and I were both complaining about weird stuff happening, and obvious bugs! Also unimpressed with Zynga feeling a need to shoehorn extra IAPs into a game which don’t need to be there. I’ve not yet run out of tokens (though I’m not playing all that many games simultaneously) and I refuse to ever buy in game currency!

That said, I love Scramble games! Always have and I suspect I always will :) Feel free to challenge me to a game, I’m StarlitSkies (on all the Zynga with Friends games) and I’ll play you just as soon as I have enough tokens… ;)

Meet Sasha…

January 11th, 2012

Last Monday I took my friend Cleo to collect a kitten. Little did I know at the time that there were actually 3 little kittens looking for a new home as their owner is shortly to move to Australia. I should not be allowed little tiny bundles of fluff who need a new home… the following day I returned to collect one of my own ;)

She was born Nov 5th 2011, so she’s just over 2 months old now :) I’m sure you don’t need telling how adorable a kitten this age is… what with the extreme tininess… the chasing of everything… the vast amount of sleep required curled up on your lap… so cute! :D She also has these beautiful stripes which are a little hard to see without daylight, but this photo does a reasonable job…

Combine her cuteness with me finally finishing up two projects on Friday, and I couldn’t resist finding a project just for her :) So, most of Saturday was spent on a fabulous destashing project to make her a bright, fluffy bed. Most impressively, she seems to like it and keeps sleeping in it without me having to put her there ;)

There’s more photos over here and I’ll keep adding to that :)

A New Year – A New Start?

January 5th, 2012

It would seem I’m not very good at keeping a blog. I have a couple of half-written posts… a review of a local restaurant and a techy post about some issues I had with a translucent status bar. It seems unlikely I’ll ever finish them, but I can’t quite bring myself to delete them.

With the beginning of 2012 comes a hope that I could start blogging again and maybe even keep up with it. To start, a brief round up of what happened last year other than the trip to Vegas which is apparently all I wrote about ;)

Kittens

Amy and Pixel joined the family. Two gorgeous kittens who were a complete surprise to the owner of their parents when she returned from a New Years Eve party! They’re now a year old and still gorgeous and cuddly :)

Games

We’ve released a whole lot of games! In chronological order…


Moving In

I have basically moved in with Chris now. There’s still a lot of stuff in my house, which I still own, but hopefully we can get that all moved soon and start the process of trying to sell it. One step closer to finding a new house together, though that will be challenging thanks to our many and varied requirements :)

Florida

Chris and I went to Florida for a holiday :) We did a lot of theme parks, which was tiring! We saw a Bucs game at the stadium (I now not only understand the rules, but can occasionally be found shouting at the TV screen to a game!) We went parasailing :)

More photos on Facebook

Paragliding

After the fun of parasailing, Chris booked us a one day paragliding taster course :) It was awesome! Extremely exhausting, but awesome :) We were flying!! :D

Chris Paragliding
Me Paragliding

2012

That probably covers all of the highlights of 2011, other than the Vegas trip which there’s lots of entries about already :) This year has already had some excitement… Meet Sasha…

Apparently, I can’t resist homeless kittens, particularly gorgeous ones! :) She’s only 8 weeks old and we’ve only had brief introductions between the cats so far. Fingers crossed that they all get along so we can keep her :D

Vegas – Day 17 – Pinball Hall of Fame

July 4th, 2011

Thanks to having a late flight, we actually had a bonus day :) After some stress because the online checkin wouldn’t let me check in, and then the silly man on the phone last night didn’t get us seats together even though we could see they were free… we were eventually all packed and bags placed in storage at the hotel so we could enjoy our last day.

We headed over to Hash House a Go Go for some brunch – as the first time, there was loads of food, and yummy scone with strawberry jam :) The waitress said “Awww, you’re so cute!” when she handed us the bill because we were holding hands… that might have increased her tip slightly ;)

Hash House a Go Go brunch

After a quick trip to Gold Coast to enter their winning Wednesdays, we headed to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s a plain building, a simple sign confirming you’re in the right place. Inside there are rows and rows of pinball machines :D Old ones, newer ones, all sorts to entertain :) We wandered a little to see what would tempt us and then lost the whole afternoon! Popeye, Adam’s Family, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spiderman, Austin Powers and Shrek machines were all played :) Some were more fun than others… though mostly fun was had when crazy multiballs were activated ;) The Pirates machine had a ship you could sink!

Pinball machines

Pinball machines

Then it was time to leave Worcle in a cache here so he can find his own way home. Our hope is that he will have a bit of a travel around and eventually get back to us… fingers crossed! It was hard leaving him behind as I’m used to him being in my bag for silly photos!

Leaving Worcle Behind

Finally we headed to the airport and said goodbye to the Vegas weather as we checked in and went through security. There’s no lounge for Business Class here, so we had a little bar all to ourselves. Not overly comfy, but snacks and drinks to keep us quiet whilst we caught up on laptop things :)

The flight was long. It seemed to take them ages to serve us dinner (we managed a whole episode of Scrubs between main course and dessert!) but finally they turned off all the lights. Despite the space and (almost) flat bed, I struggled to really sleep. Except, apparently, when breakfast came, which I missed. I was then grumpy as I was very hungry! :(

We got to London to be told that we had missed our connection, despite no one ever mentioning we were running late :( So we had to get booked onto the next flight to Manchester, which at least gave us time to hunt down a seat in the very busy BA lounge and have some food! Yay for food :)

We finally got back to Manchester where my Mother collected us and, after managing to squish everything into her little car, we returned home to be greeted by our adorable kittens :D They make being home rather better ;) Plus, we seem to have brought the sunshine with us, which is good :)

Vegas – Day 16 – Red Rock Canyon

June 30th, 2011

Today we actually managed to get up early and have a breakfast buffet! :) This was something Chris had been looking forward to, but our mornings seemed to all vanish to either swimming pools or sleep and we kept missing out. So regardless of both getting to bed late, we managed to drag ourselves downstairs for a big tasty start to the day :)

Breakfast Buffet Desserts

Since my feet/legs/ankles/knees were still all so very sore we opted to view Red Rock Canyon by means of the scenic drive :) We stopped at almost every parking place to take photos (and a few other places too!) and did a little geocaching as well :) There were many photos taken, so here’s just a few…

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

There was also much messing around with Worcle whilst waiting for Chris to take photos ;)

Worcle at Red Rock Canyon

Worcle goes for a drive

Floating Worcle

Next up was a bit of gambling. We stopped by Palms for their swipe and win where I won a Palms bottle opener and Chris got a drink :) Then we headed over to Bellagio to play some Spin Poker, which was fun :D Admittedly, it was probably fun because we were actually winning (for the first time in a while!) but the machine is rather fun :) Chris wants me to tell you all that he got a royal flush ;)

Then we went to Caesars to collect a free medallion and then stopped by Serendipity 3 for some dinner. Chris flashed his (expired) diamond card and not only got us seated very quickly but got us a little VIP sign for our table, though it didn’t seem to do anything but make us feel like everyone was looking at us! The food was good, but served on silly plates! :)

Odd shaped dinner plates

Are we really VIP?

Then we had to go back to the hotel to get packed :( Chris did bring me a nice strawberry daiquiri to make the packing more fun :D Plus we celebrated completing the packing with yummy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream :)

Vegas – Day 15 – Blue Man Group

June 30th, 2011

Today was a very slow start because I’m feeling rather broken. My feet are too sore for me to stand for long, and my legs and knees are hurting too. A combination of excessive walking and the extreme heat vs. the icy cold air conditioning is not doing me much good! :( Still, Chris went and fetched a hotdog and Cinnabon for brunch which helped encourage me out of bed ;)

We went shopping and bought new shoes, random gifts, and purple dice. This seemed to take most of the day! Not quite sure how! :)

Worcle likes the purple dice but isn't sure why he's been marked as crazy!

Worcle tries on shoes

We collected our tickets for Blue Man Group and then went to In-n-Out Burger for a quick dinner before heading back to Harrah’s to put all our shopping in the room and get changed before walking over to the Venetian for the show.

The show was awesome :D It was funny, entertaining, and musical :) There were drums, pipes, twinkies, paint, paper streamers, a science lesson, and more :) It was most enjoyable :) When it came time to finish I hadn’t realised time had passed, I was so enjoying it! They could have continued for hours and I would have happily sat and watched :) I have a cool tshirt and Chris has some paint covered drum sticks :)

I stopped for a photo on the walk back through the Venetian because they have a canal… and it’s not the ground floor!

Canal inside Venetian

Wow, shortest entry yet by far! Must do more and take more photos tomorrow! :)

Vegas – Day 14 – ATV Tour

June 28th, 2011

Today was an early start… an alarm we couldn’t ignore followed by a thorough application of P20, the eating of the last few donuts, and then dragging ourselves downstairs to wait for a pickup. We joined two other couples and the driver and were mostly quiet for the 45 minute drive (the couple at the front were chatting with the driver… I never caught anyones name). We arrived and were given helmets, goggles and gloves, a brief safety talk, and shown how to make the ATV stop and go.

Ready to Drive!

Then, without any particular guidance… we were off! Some quite slow, scared movement, in a nice line, trying to work out how to steer and such whilst getting further out into the unknown desert! This started off kinda scary… I didn’t feel exactly in control and seeing the gravelly tracks made me wish I was wearing jeans not shorts. I was pleased the girl in front seemed equally scared and we pootled along slowly.

We all came to a stop to a scene of badness :( One of the girls had come off her quad bike, though no one saw how. She was clearly in a lot of pain, but still talking and even joking. The decision was she’d bruised a rib. She was quite insistent her partner should continue (the excursion was his Birthday present), but eventually conceded to them both going back to the start and getting her to a hospital.

This turned what was scary into terrifying, as we were reminded that we were in the middle of nowhere, no chance of an ambulance or help at any speed, and nyargh! I wasn’t feeling too great as we sat and waited for the buggy to take her back and then return to us (it was carrying all the water so we couldn’t go far without). Whilst we waited I took a few photos…

Chris and our ATVs

Pointy Rock

Worcle chooses the best seat

Everyone decided we should continue, even though we’d lost quite a lot of time so it was getting hotter. We then had some difficult rocky hills to deal with. There were a couple of times I felt out of control and lost the path we were following, but nothing bad happened. The second time I sorted myself out without assistance too. We stopped for lunch on a little rocky bit where there was still some shade. A sarnie, crisps and cookie later and I was feeling a bit better.

Lunchtime view of... rock

Lunch break

The journey back started with some more difficult rocky bits, but then it was easy. We were all feeling more confident and the tracks weren’t too hazardous, so we picked up some speed and actually had some fun :) By the time we were back on the “road” I was actually wishing the girl in front would hurry up a bit as I wanted to go zoom ;)

I’m still suffering the aftermath (my wrist/thumb is extremely sore from holding the accelerator, and my shoulders ache from all the bumps!) but it was good fun :) I’m sure I would do it again given the chance :)

The drive back I mostly slept and then there was a shower needed as we were completely covered in dust (trainers definitely not black anymore!) After a bit of a relax in the room we went out for some food. We went to the Silverton for a yummy buffet…

Buffet - Plate 1 Buffet - Plate 2

Buffet - Plate 3 Buffet - Plate 4

Then lost some time watching the cute fishies! :) (First video with new camera and first video upload to Flickr, ooo!)

We finished the day with some shopping. First in M&M World and then in the giant coke bottle. I bought a couple of random gifts for people and enjoyed the bright crazy colours, if not the crowds!

M&M World

Vegas – Day 13 – Some Nature

June 26th, 2011

The plan today was to go to Red Rock Canyon… but apparently I slept! We did do an awful lot of walking yesterday, so it was hardly surprising. Once we were finally up and had eaten some donuts, we headed over to The Mirage to play a little more on my MLife card. It didn’t go so well, so it wasn’t long before we headed over to Palms for some free frozen yogurt. You fill a cup with any of the many flavours of frozen yogurt and then cover it in your selection of toppings (there was fruit, sweets, chocolate, nuts, sauces), then pay for the weight of the cup! A fun creation process and very yummy :D

Forzen Yogurt

We then headed out to Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden. I was somewhat confused by there being a chocolate factory which owned a cactus garden… the tour didn’t explain the collaboration either! ;) We had our free sample of chocolate and pecan brittle and then spent some time in the garden taking photos…

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

Purple Cactus!

Worcle joined in for some silliness too…

Worcle Gets Prickled!

Worcle Finds Some Shade

Having only eaten sweet things up to this point we decided it time for some food. We were headed to Sam’s Town for a free buffet, only to discover that our voucher wasn’t valid on Saturday, phooey! So we decided to find a Sweet Tomatoes instead having been intrigued enough to look them up when we drove past earlier.

The food was great :D It calls itself a salad buffet, which doesn’t sound very exciting… but it was gooooood! :) They had a few premixed salads, then lots of freshly chopped veggies (lettuce, spinach, carrots, courgette, cauliflower, brocolli, peas, celery, beetroot, green pepper, dill pickles, peas, chickpeas, and more!) and a good selection of sauces too :) Then there were 8 home made (from scratch) soups to choose from, jacket potatos, fresh bread, freshly baked muffins (including corn bread), and a number of desserts. Oh, and the drinks were self service too and they had strawberry lemonade – yum! :D

Sweet Tomatoes Salad

Muffins

Obviously I ate more than that, but it was too good to stop and take photos! I wish there was one in the UK, but alas not. There are, at least, a number in Florida, so I’m sure I’ll be suggesting it on our next trip there ;)

We were rather late eating, so we decided we weren’t going to make it out to Red Rock Canyon much before they closed, so instead did a little geocaching near dinner. Had a good view from one of them…

View of Vegas

Then it was time for me to collapse in the room and catch up on blog writing and arguing with Flickr whilst Chris went and played some poker :)

Vegas – Day 12 – Tiger Magic & Absinthe

June 26th, 2011

Today was a day of hotel moving, but the final one at least! After our late night we failed to get up for the pool, thus instantly ruining the planning we had done after dinner ;) We packed up and checked out of Tropicana and headed over to Harrahs. After standing in the check in line for quite some time, we finally get to the desk to be told we could have used the priority check in, phooey! Still, we checked in and are in our final room of the holiday. It’s large and comfy though the least interesting one we’ve had in Vegas.

We headed over to Circus Circus under the intention of checking out the Adventure Dome… but I got scared by the sheer number of people and children everywhere! We bought rather a lot of Krispy Kreme… two dozen in fact! Chris got a txt offer for a second dozen for 99 cents and how can you refuse 24 donuts for $12? ;)

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

We spotted a Tix 4 Tonight booth, which does half price tickets for shows, so decided to get some for Absinthe that evening and then headed back to the hotel. Since we’d already spoilt the planning, I suggested we continue and do Tiger Magic (The Magic & Tigers of Rick Thomas) in the afternoon. We had a brisk walk to the closest booth to get tickets and were told to head straight there since we were technically late already (the cheap tickets have to be collected an hour before show starts and it was only 50 minutes from starting!) So we then dashed across town, as fast as one can in this heat and around the crowds! Got there in time and upgraded to the VIP seats, so we could have the tiger encounter at the end :)

The show itself was okay… perhaps watching Penn & Teller earlier in the week has spoilt magic shows for a little while, as I was spotting how he was doing things, and finding it difficult to just sit and enjoy. There was also a lot of random dancing which was odd! The tigers didn’t feature as much as I expected either… but apparently it depends on the tigers mood as to how much they use them… don’t want grumpy tigers on stage which I get! The VIP upgrade got us some time with Rick Thomas talking about the tigers, answering questions (I didn’t actually know that white tigers are manmade!) and then a photo with him and a tiger, plus the chance to take photos, which obviously I did :)

Tiger

Tiger

Then we headed back to the hotel to get changed for the evening. Realising we hadn’t yet eaten anything other than donuts we headed to the Outback Steakhouse for some dinner. There was a bit of a muddle over the starter, but everything was very tasty! I had some lovely ribs :) Alas, I kind of forgot to take a photo…

Ribs were too good to stop for a photo - oops!

We had a while before Absinthe so we stopped to watch the volcano erupt…

Dormant Volcano

Erupting Volcano!

Then we watched the Bellagio fountains twice…

Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Fountains

Finally it was time for Absinthe :) This is a new show at Caesars Palace, in a little tent. The venue only seats 600, in a circle around a small center stage. We were a couple of rows back so couldn’t see things happening lower down, but they raised the stage when exciting things were happening anyway! :) The show is definitely 18+ thanks to rather a lot of swearing and offensive jokes! The acrobatics were astounding!! :D

They started with a man creating a giant, precarious stack of chairs to climb up and fetch the green fairy…

Absinthe Opener

Next up were four male acrobatics climbing up on one another, and jumping in the air landing back on hands, and all sorts of craziness! Remember, this is all mere feet away! If they’d fallen, it would have been into the audience!!

Crazy Acrobatics

There was some singing, some silliness, some awesome skating to a Muse song (the second one of the day – Tiger Magic had used Super Massive (Magic) Black Hole!) which involved spinning the girl round at high speed over the audience (the front row was warned not to stand up due to the fact they would get kicked in the head!!) There was another pair of acrobats doing some awesome and beautiful balancing…

Crazy Acrobatics

Then some tight rope madness!

Crazy Acrobatics

This required audience silence as they performed! Much baited breath as we all watched in amazement at what was happening, so close that no one dared make a sound! They walked to the middle and then the guy on the chair actually stood up! :)

As you can probably tell, I was impressed! I was glad not to be in the front row when they were “joking” with people, but the acrobatics was astounding! :)

Vegas – Day 11 – Tropicana Pool

June 26th, 2011

We started the day with a trip to the pool here at the Tropicana. Whilst their pool area contains only one pool and a spa, it was actually nicer than Mandalay Bay in a number of ways. There was shade, plenty of free loungers, the loungers had cushions, there were water fountains for drinking, and it was quiet! There were some children there, but everyone was just chilling out and enjoying the sunshine and the water. The whole time we were down there I think we only heard a whistle blow once! Not like the constant noise in the wave pool at Mandalay! It was a lovely relaxing start to the day :D

Once we’d come in and had a shower we headed over to Palms for some lunch. Their free swipe prize draw rewarded us each with a car sunshade :) Then some yummy Panda Express foods…

Panda Express

Next we headed over to Mandalay Bay to get me signed up to MLife in the hopes that we can convince them to send me some good offers ;) My $10 free slot play for joining vanished quickly, and I’m not sure I really enjoyed the brief sitting at a blackjack table. Not quite knowing what was going on and there being random strangers there expecting me to understand was perhaps a little daunting. We played on a couple of video poker machines to try to rack up some points, but it’s slow going in there and no particularly great machines.

After that we returned to the hotel room to chill for a bit and decide what to do for the rest of the day. We decided to go down town for the evening light show, stopping by the 777 brewery pub for dinner. Chris had a beer sampler to drink which was a little glass of 5 different beers… after trying them all, I still don’t like beer ;) The food was tasty – I had chicken tenders and Chris had a BBQ Chicken pizza :)

Beer Sampler

Chicken Tenders BBQ Chicken Pizza

Worcle has a drink... or five! Drunk Worcle

Unfortunately the service failed when we needed the check, which was nowhere to be seen after 30 minutes of trip planning with pieces of paper all over the table. Then they wouldn’t let Chris pay with his points even though he clearly had plenty. So they got a measly tip and we dashed off to watch the light show with mere moments to spare.

The light show is cool and I took rather a lot of photos! We saw Queen first and then KISS…

Queen Show Rock You!

KISS light show KISS light show

Then there was some photo taking, and a little free slot play in another casino (my wallet is beginning to bulge with players club cards!)

Rainbow Neon

Wedding Information Neon

Viva Vegas - Pretty Stars

Neon Martini Glass

We headed back to Tropicana, stopping at a craps table since apparently our room number is significant… but it didn’t seem to help. It’s a strange and complex game, but people seem enthusiastic… just wish there was a seat ;) Oh, and that we could actually win something ;)