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Thursday, January 15th, 2009

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"The best Looney Labs Icehouse game of 2008, WW5 delivers what it promises... a Risk-like game that can be played in 30 minutes or less. It's earned the three magic words, 'Let's play again!'" -- Ryan Hackel, at BoardGameGeek

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Treehouse Dice on the iPhone

The iPhone is the greatest gadget ever made. I've had mine for almost six months now and I'm still dazzled by what a truly incredible device it is. Even at its most simple and basic function -- a telephone -- it's the best one I've ever used. Plus of course, it has a vast number of other functions, many of which are done better on the iPhone than anywhere else.

For example, since it's also an iPod, I've loaded it up with all my favorite music, and since the iPhone has a little speaker, I can keep the soundtrack of my life playing wherever I am, without the hindrance of headphones. (Of course, it does have a headphone jack as well, for those times when headphones are needed or I want to plug it into a stereo system.) When we're sleeping, I can set it to play the sound of crickets all night, so we no longer need a white noise generator, plus it even serves as my alarm clock now.

Since it's got a very good built-in camera, I was able to travel all around Disney World last month without the burden of a full-size standalone camera and still return with a great album of vacation photos. And since it's got full email capabilities too, I can instantly send my photos to others. (I had a great moment late one night heading back to our hotel at Disney World when I was able to snap a charming picture of several very tired children falling asleep on each others' shoulders, which I then immediately emailed to their delighted mother.)

Since it's on the internet, I have all the world's knowledge at my ready fingertips wherever I go. I just love being able to instantly look things up, even when I'm not near a regular computer. "Well, let's find out!" is something I've started saying a lot, whenever no one in the group I'm with knows the answer to a given question. With an iPhone, it's all right there -- Google, Wikipedia... I can even show off YouTube videos.

The interface is amazing. The touch-screen does take a little getting used to at first, but after you adapt to the way it finishes your words for you and automatically fixes your typos and stuff, you start to love it. It makes texting SO much nicer than on a regular phone, and while I'd rather have a full keyboard if I'm trying to get some serious writing done, I can hammer out text pretty quickly on my iPhone at this point.

Plus of course, you can play games on it. There's endless fun to be had playing everything from classics like poker to amazing new videogames that take full advantage of the iPhones sensors, so that the game is controlled by the movements and position of the device.

And that's still not all. When traveling, it automatically shows me where we are on the map, and when we get there, it'll recommend local restaurants according to my preferences. I can use it to tell my friends what I'm doing at any given moment, and find out what they're up to as well. I can use it as a flashlight, a level, a ruler, a dictaphone, a tricorder, and a musical instrument. I can hold it up to a speaker when music is being played and it will instantly tell me, with amazing success, what the song is called, who performs it, and what album it's on.

iPhone users can even set their phone up to replace the cards and the Moderator in a game of Werewolf! (This is big news actually for most folks, since Kory's new software is just now being released, but we've been playtesting it for him for months...)

The iPhone is the combination and culmination of so many things in such a simple little device that I'm still finding it mind-blowing. It does all these things, yet it's no bigger than the old-fashioned pocket calculators we thought were so incredible 30 years ago. (Oh yeah, the iPhone serves as a pretty nice pocket calculator too.)

Perhaps the best thing of all about the iPhone is that it keeps on getting better. More new software is constantly being created for it, and each new ap makes it that much cooler.

Which brings me, at last, to the point of this article. My iPhone learned a really cool new trick this week: it's now a Treehouse dice roller!

See, there's this iPhone ap called Motion-X dice, which is a dice simulator. It's way cool -- you specify the number of dice you'll be using (1-6) then you literally shake your iPhone (like shaking up a dice cup) and watch as 3D rendered dice bounce around a bit before landing.

I've had MotionX Dice on my iPhone for a long time, but this week I got the upgrade for it, which makes me love it all the more. It now comes with over 50 different dice patterns, ranging from simple standard dice to "decision-making" dice of every imaginable type, and the newest in the set is the DIG-SWAP-TIP-AIM-HOP-WILD dice we created for my game Treehouse. (And yes, this was done with our blessing.)

So now, if you want to play Treehouse, or Martian Coasters, or Black ICE, or Secret Project PD-09, and you have the pyramids but not the dice, or you just want to be able to play without the trouble of real dice (which often bounce into the wrong places) then get a copy of MotionX Dice for your iPhone! It's free!

AndyAnd if you don't have an iPhone... get an iPhone!

Thanks for reading and have a great whenever!

Thought Residue
"Lots of people love this movie of course. But I'm convinced it's for the wrong reasons. Because to me 'It's a Wonderful Life' is anything but a cheery holiday tale... it's a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation." -- Wendell Jamieson, "Wonderful? Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life"

"I like that I append pants to the end of people's names sometimes. It's like wa, only pantsier." -- Twitter by Sorcyress, aka Kat Dutton
"I'm feeling really out of it because I'm wearing so many hats right now." -- a sentence featuring two confusing expressions which a Japanese student needed to have explained by Rash

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