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How-Tos iOS & Mac how-tos

Fiz Brewery Management: Tips & Strategies

I do rather love a craft beer (my brewery of choice: Scotland’s BrewDog) so Fiz: The Brewery Management Game ($1.99) recently made its way onto my iPad. As a fan of both unusual craft beers and the Kairosoft classic Game Dev Story (which this very closely models itself on), this looked like it could be right up my street, a brewery management game with no infuriating IAPs. So despite having opened my new PS Vita just hours before, by the evening of Christmas Day I was several virtual months into running FizzBat, my new virtual brewery.

Pretty quickly I discovered the need to strategise, particularly after that cocky swine Blumbrau beat me in a competition to win a bigger brewery. You can’t just churn out whatever colourfully monikered beer takes your fancy and flog it to any old shop, you’ve got to actually plan for the seasons (both sports and weather) and get it into the right shops, priced to beat out the competition but still turn a profit. Um… you did research the competition, right?

So I’ve been making a mental list of Fiz Brewery tips and tricks and thought I’d share. If you’ve come up with any strategies of your own feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

  • Pause the game – if you’ve ever played Faster Than Light (PC or Mac, superb spaceship management game) you’ll know the value of pausing constantly. The first release version of Fiz auto-pauses just once, when you finish a batch, but when you select to sell it time starts again. This behaviour might be made more sensible in a forthcoming update but for now – remember to pause All The Time! It’s easy to get distracted and forget that as you’re dilly-dallying over this IPA or that American Wheat, this tiny beer specialist or that massive supermarket, time is ticking away. Pause!
  • Always be brewing, queuing or selling – time passes constantly, and time is money! If you’ve not got a batch on the go, one enqueued, and at least one on sale, you’re doing it wrong!
  • Level up the correct skills – you should assign brew jobs based on who has the highest appropriate skill levels for each job. When staff level up make sure to spend the points on those pertinent skills, or occasionally on their Craft score. There’s no benefit to spreading points amongst their other skills if they’re not using them in their regular brew job.
  • Skill points versus Craft points – as well as Skill scores, each staff member also has a ‘Craft’ score that you be increased when staff level up. When brewing a new batch the total Craft points across your team are pooled and made available to spend on ‘Yield’, ‘Speed’ and ‘Quality’. However, if you’re planning on pouring all your Level Up points into Craft so you can spend them all on ‘Quality’ it’s worth noting that according to the developer “the way it’s set up, increasing your employee’s required stats for their job will improve their Quality better than increasing their Craft and spending that point on +Quality in the Brew Menu would.” For this reason, I’d advise focussing on getting your staff highly trained in their particular brew role before putting points into their Craft score.
  • At the start go for ‘Yield’, not ‘Quality’ – in the initial stages of the game you just need to make money to stay afloat, and the best way to do that is eke every last penny of potential profit from each batch by pouring all your craft points into ‘Yield’ and not ‘Quality’. And for the most part you can completely ignore ‘Speed’ until you’ve got a few more Craft points to play with.
  • Easy money at the Bodega – whenever you run out of money the game tosses enough ingredients your way to make a quick batch of the bog-standard lager, Grubb’s Lite, and the Bodega owner waives his stocking fee. So if you’re getting started, or you’re flat broke, brew up some Grubb’s Lite, spend the Craft points on the highest yield possible, and flog it all at the Bodega for around 15 coins for a profit of around 350-400.
  • fiz brewery strategy

  • Plan for the seasons – work out what your go-to Summer, Winter and in-between beers are and around 10 months before you’ll need them start on at least one batch to go into storage in readiness. For example, the Surf Shop – once this opens it’s an almost guaranteed summertime money maker, a boon for beginners in the early stages of the game. It’s only open for a few months from month 6 each year, and their customers really like summery lager, so make sure you have batches of Get Off My Lawn on the go from month 10. Get them into storage, then come month 6 send them to the Surf Shop, price them right and they’ll fly off the shelves over summer, netting a huge profit to pour into new beers.
  • Don’t necessarily always sell full batches – proud as you are of your 100-unit batches, the shops you sell to may not have the space to stock them, or enough customers who prefer that type of beer to buy them all within the two month shelf-life. Refer to the research and consider splitting the shipment.
  • Research! Research! Research! – there’s no two ways about it, you need to do research on your customers and your competition. I always select 50 customers (for more detailed results) over four weeks (because it’s cheapest) and I select both customers and competition the first time.
  • Buy & research new retailers in advance – unless you like spending all your profits on costly Instant Research you’ll want to research a new retailer before you’ve got a batch ready to sell there. Buy into new retailers is while batches are brewing, and run research on them immediately. Then when a batch is ready you’ll have all the relevant info about the new shop at your fingertips.
  • fiz brewery tips

  • Refresh your customer research – competitor research only needs to be done once per shop/market and updates itself monthly after that. Customer research goes out of date over time, however, so remember to occasionally run more customer research at the shops you sell to most in case customer tastes have changed significantly. Start research as soon as you buy into a new retailer, and buy into a new retailer at least a month before you’ll want to sell there.
  • Undercut the competition – if there are competing brands of a similar style at the shop you’re sending your new batch to, look at their quality and their markup. Unless your quality is significantly higher, don’t set your markup higher than theirs.
  • Make whatever the competition ISN’T selling – check to see if a beer type popular at any given shop is actually in stock from your competitors; if it’s not, get your own version in there as soon as possible while there’s no competition!
  • Don’t waste money on stiff competition – the game will warn you if you’re trying to sell in a shop that stocks competitor beers with a far higher Quality score than yours. However, as a rule if your beer Quality score is in the lower third of the range for the competition then don’t bother selling unless you’re willing to seriously undercut them (and throw away potential profit).
  • What’s the recipe for (insert beer here)? – all the recipes are randomised every time a new game is started, so you can’t just start making the best ones cribbed off a Wiki page 😉
  • Finally, don’t forget the mice! – if you find yourself with a spare moment while a batch brews, check out the brewery screen and tap the mice that run across from time to time, they’re always carrying something valuable!
Categories
iOS & Mac how-tos

Tips & Tricks to ‘fix’ iOS 7

I’ll make no secret of that fact that I love iOS 7. I just think the new layer-based interface works better and although I really enjoyed the ‘lickable’ look of iOS 6 – Corinthian leather and torn note pages aside – it was time to grow up and the glassy, minimal look really appeals to me. There’s definitely room for improvement, and I think the font choice and the wafer-thin lines in the UI icons in particular are style over usability, but it’s a cracking starting point.


Mind you, I’m someone who spends a lot of time fiddling around with tech so none of it really caught me by surprise and I’ve enjoyed playing with the new stuff, but for a lot of other users there’s a whole load of unwelcome and unexpected changes. The same complaints come up again and again so I’m putting together a list of the most common issues along with instructions to tweak the settings to ‘fix’ them. This is an ongoing project so if you have an issue not covered leave it in the comments and I’ll see if I can help.

You aren’t getting iOS 6 back – and I think that’s a good thing, long term – but you can set up iOS 7 a bit more how you like it.

Let’s get started.

How to stop iOS 7 wallpaper zooming

I covered this one in a separate post yesterday but here it is again. There’s two problems with wallpapers: parallax scrolling, and ‘zoom to fit’.

Parallax scrolling is a new feature for wallpapers in iOS 7 but to make it work the phone needs to zoom in a little on your photos so there’s a margin just off-screen all the way around that’s used to slide the wallpaper around when you tilt your phone. To disable Parallax Scrolling, turn on ‘Reduce Motion’:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Scroll down and tap ‘Reduce Motion: Off’
  5. Activate the ‘Reduce Motion’ feature by tapping the switch so it turns green.

The option on the Accessibility page should now read ‘Reduce Motion: On’ – and that’s it!

However, in iOS 7 there is also a ‘zoom to fit’ feature which cannot be disabled. This means if your image’s shape does not match the shape of your screen (e.g., a square Instagram photo), iOS 7 will zoom the image so there’s no black space around it.

To solve the problem use a screenshot of your desired wallpaper photo from the Photos app:

  1. Open the photo you want to use in the Photos app
  2. Tap the screen to make sure you’re seeing just the photo and none of the on-screen controls
  3. Take a screenshot by holding the Sleep and Home buttons at the same time – the screen will flash and the resulting screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.
  4. Select the new screenshot as a wallpaper.

This should completely solve wallpaper zoom issues!

How to make iOS 7 text easier to read

The system text in iOS 7 uses a lot of very light Helvetica and it can often be hard to read or make out. If that’s the case for you, we can give it more contrast by turning on an option in Settings that makes text look very much like it did in iOS 6:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Scroll down and tap ‘Increase Contrast’
  5. Tap the switch to turn it green, then return to the Accessibility menu
  6. Just above is ‘Bold text’. Tap the switch to turn it green too, and your phone will restart to apply the effect

After it restarts you should notice text is now much clearer and easier to read. Bear in mind that ‘Increase Contrast’ has the effect of darkening some backgrounds, which you may not appreciate. If so, turn of Increase Contrast.

How to ‘Swipe to delete’ in iOS 7

You used to swipe left-to-right to bring up the Delete button. In iOS 7 swipes from left-to-right trigger a new system-wide ‘back’ gesture, so to delete things you now need to swipe right-to-left.

It’s a little confusing at first, but you get used to it 🙂

How to delete individual text messages in iOS 7

So, swiping right-to-left doesn’t delete messages from the Messages screen – see the next item. This is a pretty stupid decision in my opinion, but you can still delete individual messages:

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. Open the conversation you wish to delete individual messages from
  3. Long-tap (touch and hold) on a message you want to delete from that conversation until the ‘Copy | More…’ option appears and tap on ‘More…’
  4. Now select the messages you want to delete – a blue tick appears in the circle to the left of each one. The first message you selected is already ‘checked’.
  5. When you’re ready, tap the Trashcan icon in the bottom left to delete the selected messages

How to show text message and iMessage time stamps in iOS 7

iOS 7 adds precise time stamps to all your iMessages instead of the vague and sporadic timestamps in iOS 6. To see them swipe from right to left and hold, anywhere on the screen in the Messages app.

I actually think this is a pretty dumb move – right-to-left swiping is used throughout the system to delete things, whereas in Messages it shows the timestamp and deleting is hidden away behind a menu option. I think it should be the other way around, personally.

How to show full names in iOS 7 Contacts

This is a weird decision: Apple added a new ‘first names only’ feature to Contacts, but activated it by default, which is incredibly unhelpful if loads of your friends have the same first name. Personally I know waaay too many people called ‘Nick’ for this feature to stay active. Here’s how you turn it off:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on ‘Mail, Contacts & Calendars’
  3. Scroll down to ‘Contacts’ and tap on ‘Short Name’
  4. Either turn it off by tapping the green switch, or set it up how you’d like it (Name and initial, first name only, or last name only)

How to play music from the iOS 7 lockscreen

Double-tapping the home button in iOS 7’s lockscreen doesn’t bring up the music controls any more. Don’t worry! They’ve just moved into the fantastic Control Center feature that gathers controls for the music, brightness, volume, calculator, flashlight, timer, camera, Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and orientation lock all in one panel.

This should already be enabled by default – if it is you’ll see a short bar at the bottom of the screen under ‘slide to unlock’. Just grab that bar with your thumb and slide up – Control Center should be revealed.

If you’re not seeing that bar then perhaps Control Center is disabled – have a look in the next section for how to turn it on.

Disable iOS 7 Control Center when you’re in an app

The gesture for activating Control Center can interfere with the gestures in some apps. If you’re finding it gets in the way in an app you use, you can disable Control Center in apps so it only works on the home and lock screens:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap Control Center
  3. Next to ‘Access within apps’ tap the green switch to turn it white (off)

If for some reason you also want to disable Control Center from the lock screen you can do that here too, and this is also where you go to turn it all back on. Obviously. 😉

How to improve iOS 7 battery life

Along with existing background features that suck battery there are a whole bunch of new ones to look into. I don’t turn all of the following off, and some are much less hungry than others, but these are all known to have some impact on battery life:

  • Parallax scrolling – turn on the ‘Reduce Motion’ feature as described above to disable the wallpaper parallax effect
  • Dynamic wallpapers – Apple included wallpapers with floating bubbles that react to tilt. They're cool, but they need power so try using a static picture.
  • Background updating – apps are now allowed to constantly poll for updates in the background which allows for faster app switching and the 'live' app screens in the app-switching view. Turn it off from Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh, either globally or app-by-app.
  • Automatic app updates – apps can now install updates automatically in the background, and there's that word again. I keep this off because I like to see what's new, but it also reduces the toll on the battery. Turn it off from Settings -> iTunes & App Store -> Automatic Downloads -> Updates.
  • Location Services – this is one you might want to keep on if you want certain apps to keep working like they should (e.g. weather, maps) but you can either globally or selectively turn it off from Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services.
  • App closing – contrary to popular belief, every app that's visible in the app-switching view is NOT open and running and sucking battery. Most are put into a frozen state when you switch, with only the most recent apps continuing to 'run', and even then only certain types of process allowed by Apple. You might claw back a few percent per hour constantly closing every single app in the list, but I have never bothered with this.

How to get weather & stocks and disable the calendar in iOS 7 Notification Center

Notification Center is still activated with a swipe down from the top of the screen but it’s now split over three tabs – Today, All and Missed.

Unless you tend to have a lot of different events every day you may not really need Notification Center’s full day view. There are also options to turn the weather and stocks views on and off:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap Notification Center
  3. Set up the options how you’d like them
  • ‘Calendar Day View’ toggles the calendar view in the Today tab. I don’t need my whole day broken down like that, but that’s just me
  • For weather enable the 'Today Summary' – there's currently no way to display weather graphically like in iOS 6.
  • Under ‘Access On Lock Screen’ I disable 'Today View' because it doesn't really contain any information I need from the lock screen; usually I'm looking for missed notifications

Change the colour of iOS 7 app folders

In iOS 7 a lot of the UI takes its colour from the wallpaper you’ve chosen. For example, the buttons of the passcode screen are based on your lockscreen wallpaper. And your app folder background is based on your homescreen wallpaper, as is the new dock.

So to change the colour of your app folders, change your wallpaper!

Can you ‘tap to tweet’ from the Notification Center?

Nope, Apple have killed this one completely. Why? At first I suspected it had something to do with Twitter’s ever-more-ridiculous demands on Twitter app makers. Then I figured that maybe tweeting isn’t something that fits into the Notification Center’s remit; it’s not a notification

Either way, your best bet is to install a Twitter app and keep it in your dock. Sorry the news isn’t any better!

Can you roll back to iOS 6?

Nope, iOS updates are kind of a one-way trip and you can’t get iOS 6 back any more I’m afraid. Long live iOS 7!

You might have heard there are tricksy technical ways to do it, but there really aren’t. You can’t reinstall a backup to restore iOS 6 because backups don’t back up the OS files, only the data on your phone. And Apple’s servers have stopped authorising the last known versions of iOS 6 anyway so even if you had a copy of just the OS, iTunes wouldn’t let you install it.

Just embrace iOS 7! There’s a lot more awesome stuff happening under the hood that can’t be ‘seen’ but will really set iOS up for the future. Have a really good poke around the Settings and set it up the way you like it, you’ll get used to the rest of it before you know it.

Hope this helped, thanks for reading!

Categories
iOS & Mac how-tos

How to stop custom wallpapers ‘zooming in’ in iOS 7

UPDATE: If you’re having problems adjusting to iOS 7 check out my updated post – ‘How to ‘fix’ iOS 7′, which includes the following wallpaper zooming tip and many others including clearer text, swipe-to-delete and battery issues.

ORIGINAL POST: So iOS 7 is out, and boy oh boy is it ruining some people’s lives. Bit melodramatic perhaps, but you should see the whining about it on Twitter…

Personally I really like it – sure, there’s a couple of icons that don’t make sense (Game Center) or look clunky (Newsstand) and occasionally small system text lacks legibility (which is fixable with a setting tweak) but overall I think the clean layer-based system is just lovely and a great basis for the future.

However, it’s also fair to say a lot of things have changed just enough to leave casual users a little lost or confused and one of the biggest gripes seems to be that custom photos are being zoomed in when selected as wallpapers.

I thought I’d do my Community Help bit for the day and post some solutions to wallpaper-zooming right here. There are two issues to deal with: parallax scrolling, and none-native aspect ratio images (not the same shape as your screen). It’s very easy to fix: read on!

Solution One – parallax scrolling

The first solution deals with the slight zoom caused by the parallax effect. This is when you tilt your phone and the wallpaper and icons shift to give the impression they’re on different layers. The wallpaper needs to be zoomed a bit to create a margin offscreen so that when it moves you don’t see off the edge.

Here’s how to disable it:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Scroll down and tap ‘Reduce Motion: Off’
  5. Activate the ‘Reduce Motion’ feature by tapping the switch so it turns green.

Parallax scrolling is now disabled and wallpapers should not be zoomed for it. However, you may still have wallpaper zoom issues, in which case:

Solution Two – zoom to fit

If the shape of your photo does not match the shape of your screen then it will be zoomed to fit so that there is no black space around the sides. For example, if you’re using a square Instagram shot or a 4×3 photo on the long screen of the 5, 5S or 5C you’ll be seeing a lot of zoom.

There’s an easy workaround: just use a screenshot!

  1. Open the photo you want to use in the Photos app
  2. Tap the screen to make sure you’re seeing just the photo and none of the on-screen controls
  3. Take a screenshot by holding the Sleep and Home buttons at the same time – the screen will flash and the resulting screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.
  4. Select the new screenshot as a wallpaper.

Hope this helps! Remember folks: it’s just a phone… 😉

Categories
iOS & Mac how-tos

How to sync your Colonization save game on a Mac

I just got stuck into Civ IV: Colonization for Mac after it was on sale on Steam (although it’s also available on the Mac App Store if you prefer), and I’m rather enjoying it. I’ve got Civ IV and V and they’re great games but I’m not very good at them and I’m really enjoying the smaller scale and more focussed victory conditions of Colonization. However, I’d like to not necessarily be tied to my iMac in the study, lovely as it is. Sometimes you just want to grab a laptop and hunker down on the sofa next to your loved one who insists on spending the day watching guff on Netflix… 😉

Unfortunately Colonization doesn’t support SteamCloud for savegame syncing. Dropbox to the rescue! If you’ve seen my guide to syncing XCOM save games using Dropbox this is pretty much the same deal, but if you’re new to this, read on.

(By the way if you’re trying to achieve this on a PC I’m not sure how symbolic links work on PC, but if you can work that out the principles are the same.)

Dropbox and symbolic links

First you’ll need a Dropbox account. It’s free and it’s awesome, and if you don’t already have an account use my links to sign up and we’ll both get some bonus space, which is nice!

Next up you’ll need to get ready to use symbolic links. In short, when you move a file from one place to another you can leave a little ‘map’ (a symbolic link, or symlink) in the original location that seamlessly redirects the operating system to the new location as if nothing had moved. You can read more about how symlinks work in my post here, and when you’re ready to set up the service you can get instructions from here. It’s also possible to leave a symlink behind using Terminal, but the symlink tool is sooo much easier!

Got those set up? Nice, here we go:

Move the Colonization saves to Dropbox

On a Mac you’ll find them in the User -> Documents -> Aspyr -> Colonization folder. Note that while all we really need is the Saves folder, it’s much easier to work with the entire Colonization folder.

sync colonization saves mac

Grab the folder and move it on your hard drive to your Dropbox folder. To keep things in some sense of order I have a ‘Documents’ folder in Dropbox, so I created an ‘Aspyr’ folder in there and moved my original ‘Colonization’ folder there, so it now resides in User -> Dropbox -> Documents -> Aspyr -> Colonization.

Create the symbolic link

Now we need to tell the computer (and the game) where to find the folder since we moved it. Select the ‘Colonization’ folder in it’s new location, right-click and select ‘Make symbolic link’. It will create a new file called ‘Colonization symlink’ – it’s actually an Alias, as depicted by the small curly arrow on the icon.

sync savesgames colonization mac

Now move that symlink back to the original location, so Users -> Documents -> Aspyr. Once there, edit the filename to remove the ‘symlink’ element. Now wait for Dropbox to update the folder to your other computer.

Tell your other Macs about the new location

Now you need to tell your other Mac about the synced savegames. Find the newly-synced Colonization folder in your Dropbox on the other Mac and create a new symlink to it as before, then move that symlink into that computer’s Documents -> Aspyr location described above, delete or rename the one that’s already there (assuming there are no saves in there you want to keep!), and rename the symlink to just ‘Colonization’ again.

All done!

Now you should now be able to save a game on one Mac, quit the game, launch it on another Mac a few moments later (after Dropbox syncs) and fire up that same save.

A couple of words of warning – don’t run Colonization on more than one synced Mac at the same time or when you come to save it will get very confused and not know which updates to sync, which to load, and it gets messy. Secondly, if you decide to move the ‘Colonization’ folder inside Dropbox for some reason, be sure to create new symlinks in the new location and replace the old ones so the game doesn’t get lost!

Hope this helps – happy colonising! (I’m British, we use an ‘s’…)

mac-app-store-download

Categories
iOS & Mac how-tos

Migrating from Google Reader

July has arrived, almost, and that means Google Reader has just days left. If you haven’t taken steps to migrate your RSS data out of Google Reader, now’s the time.

The best solution is to download a backup of your subscriptions from Google Reader to import to whichever Reader alternative you go for. You can also simply sign in to Feedly with Google Authentication and they’ll automatically import the same info to their new cloud system.

I recommend you do both:

Download your feeds from Google Reader

Log in to Google Takeout and select Choose Services, then select Reader in the list. Click Create Archive, wait until it’s compiled, and download the file.

You can import this file into one of the new RSS sync services that’s springing up to take Reader’s place; more on those in a second.

Auto-import to Feedly

This is a quick backup plan but also serves as the easiest way to get started come June 1st. Head over to feedly.com, or on a mobile device grab their app (iOS or Android), and log in with Google Authentication.

Until July 1st this will give Feedly access to your Reader feeds as per usual, but it will also automatically sync those feeds over to Feedly’s own cloud service in the background. When Reader shuts down, you can continue to log in to Feedly with Google Auth but all your feeds will now be served by Feedly.

Feedly google reader sync

End result, you now have a copy of your feeds you can take anywhere, and a Feedly sync option already set up to use in any of the apps that currently support it.

Which RSS service and apps to use?

Three of the big syncing services are Feedly (free), Feed Wrangler or Feedbin (both paid) but the decider will likely be how you want to read your feeds because not all apps support every sync option.

Lex Friedman at Macworld has got you covered with a look at all of the RSS services and some of the best apps. One very good point he makes is that Feedly being free should be a red flag:

To me, that’s a knock against it. If Google—Google!—couldn’t figure out a way to monetize this kind of service, I’m not sure anyone can.

I’m waiting to see which of the paid options offers the best experience before I put down money, although to be honest neither are remotely ‘expensive’ for the peace of mind a paid service offers, but for now I’m running with Feedly for feed syncing.

I’ll be able to keep using Reeder on the iPhone but I’ll have to switch to something else on my iPad and my Macs as neither of those versions of Reeder supports Feedly yet. I’ve decided to try out the much-recommended Mr Reader on my iPad, and… Well, nothing on my Macs. I’ve found that since getting iOS devices that I use my Macs much more for work than for play so not even having the temptation for procrastination via feed-refreshing might be a good thing.

If you’re dependant on a Mac reading option the newly released Readkit ($4.99) supports Feed Wrangler and Feedbin, and Feedly works in your browser of choice, but there’s precious little else supporting it right now on Macs.

Not long now… Goodbye, Google Reader!