Papers, Please…just no essays

Writing, for me, has become exactly what I was trying to avoid. A chore. This semester has been a lot busier than I expected. Who ever said a Masters was supposed to be hard work? Three 3,000 word essays, two presentations, and long lab days in between, and my project is yet to yield any results after four months. Everyone tells you things move slowly in research. At least they do for me, anyway. I may eventually find out if there are any mitochondrial genetic variants specifically associated with end stage renal disease, but not in the near future. It has also been a strange year as far as my student identity is concerned. I feel more a part of my lab than the course I’m on, and though I am still a medical student, being away from the clinical side of things makes it hard to relate to other medics. But at least my essays are finished for a little while, and I can have a bit of a break over Christmas. Enough of that nonsense, here’s something completely different.

Moto G (photo from the Verge)
Moto G (photo from the Verge)

New phone!

Yes, the reign of the Motorola Atrix 4G (though not for me, or anyone in the UK) has sadly come to an end. No longer will I be able to enjoy the sheer inability to record video, the crippling speed of the lapdock, and the threat of touchscreen failure looming over me. In all fairness, most of those problems were a direct result of my pursuit of bigger and better custom ROMs, taking full advantage of the openness of Android. Motorola promised to release an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, otherwise known as Android 4.0, but alas, after exciting the entire Atrix community they went back on their word and abandoned support, leaving us stranded on Gingerbread Isle. I couldn’t just sit back and live with 2.3.6 knowing people out there were 1.7.4 versions ahead of me! Shortly after their betrayal, an ICS kernel was leaked from Motorola and developers swiftly took up the task of building a custom ROM. It did end up being rather unstable, restarting itself occasionally at the most inconvenient of times, but it was sleek, modern, and fast, and above all it made the phone feel less dated. Even though it is only two and a half years old, it feels like a pensioner in phone time. If I said I hadn’t considered upgrading to the Nexus 4, or some other shiny new thing I would be lying, but it just wasn’t worth it. My phone did everything I needed and yet still amazed me at having a dual core 1 GHz processor and 1 Gb RAM in a phone! If you had told me that would be possible in a few years when I had just encountered somebody talking on the Nokia Communicator in our sadly departed Victoria Centre (now Victoria Square, the soulless shopping experience), I would have probably been slightly sceptical, but open to the possibility. But it was still pretty damn amazing, and it continues to amaze me that they can fit a quad core processor into something that tiny! And now I have moved over to the quad core camp with one of Motorola’s latest offerings, the Moto G.Smartphones_o_97729

Why did I buy it? I had no intention of changing phone, then I was hunting for Christmas gifts online and came across a very reasonably priced phone. Bah, I said. It can’t be all that exciting, but I should check some reviews just in case. I was confronted by numerous results proclaiming it to be one of the most affordable phones with excellent performance that had ever been released. Tesco sells the 8 GB version for only £99. I paid a similar amount for my ZTE Blade/Orange San Francisco a few years back, but there is no comparison with this phone. Motorola have really upped their game since the takeover by Google, and the Moto G is a fantastic phone. I’ve had it for a few weeks now and all is well. The only criticisms I would have are regarding the camera, which is 5 megapixels and not fantastic, and the lack of expandable storage. I thought 8 GB would be plenty of space, but have used it up fairly quickly, particularly with some games having data files of over 1 GB now!

Papers, Please

Screenshot from Papers, Please

Speaking of games, I’ve actually been playing a few recently; well, not such much in the last week because of the looming essay deadline. Papers, Please is described as a dystopian document thriller, and places you in the shoes of a border official working in a checkpoint between two recently warring countries. You are responsible for granting or denying entry by stamping individuals’ passports, and as time goes by, the rules for entry change depending on the political climate and other events. You are paid for every valid entry, and receive a citation and fine for letting through the wrong people, or declining the right ones. As a concept, it sounds rather dull, but the game is actually very compelling. The situation is complicated by the fact you have to support your family, so failure to make enough money will result in family members becoming cold, sick, hungry, or all of the above. Even if you start out with the best of intentions, your standards and rules become more and more flexible, and you will find yourself taking bribes and letting questionable people through, just to get by. I’ve only played the beta, which ends at day 8, but the full game lasts for 31 days and has multiple endings. You can get the beta here, along with some awesome other flash games.

That’s all I’ve got for now…this post has been in the pipeline for a long time, but things kept happening, and I just didn’t get round to it. Next time I’ll have more about the Stanley Parable, Hitman: Absolution, and more. It’s almost Christmas!!!

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