Category Archives: iPad Stories

My First App Problem: GTA 3

I thought it couldn’t happen to me. I have the latest iPad, the OS is up-to-date and I take good care of it. This kind of thing happens to iPad2 owners, not latest-and-greatest people like me. And yet, there I was, ready to commit fake crimes in a fake city, and the game buttons had shrunk so small I could barely see them.

The App is a game called Grand Theft Auto 3, and it was originally released for PC back in 2001. I was in College at the time, and the game proved a fantastic way of relieving the stress and aggression that so often accompanies education and frankly, life in general.

One night, I saw my update notification from the App Store, and the release notes (which I read very carefully), simply said that they were adding iPhone compatibility to the game, as well as cloud-saving features that would allow people to save their games across several devices. I downloaded the update, and later that night I played the game. This is what I saw:

The Problem

The Heads-Up Display (HUD) was suddenly very tiny and all bunched together in the top corner. I looked through the display menu frantically, and couldn’t find anything to help. This basically renders the game unplayable, and after several unfruitful Google searches, I decided to send a support ticket to Rockstar about it. Then, literally right after I sent the ticket, I found what I was looking for poking around in the game:

The Solution

After selecting “Adjust On Foot Controls,” I learned that GTA3’s entire HUD is moveable and scalable, and I just moved the icons back to where they belonged. I did the same thing with the Vehicle Controls, then I sheepishly updated the trouble ticket so they would know the problem was solved, and so hopefully other people might find it and know that they are not alone.

Have you had App problems in the past? Did you find a workable solution yourself? If you dealt with the publisher directly, how helpful was their customer support? Send your stories to editor[at] .


5 Things I Hate About My iPad

No device is perfect, and as enamored as I am with my iPad, there are times when I want to chuck it out the nearest window. Here are five things I hate about my iPad:

  1. The Touchscreen Keyboard.
  2. It makes me feel like an inarticulate chimp when I try to express my thoughts using its arbitrary sensitivity. Usually the autocorrect steps in, but that creates a whole host of new issues for me. When it corrects something I’ve legitimately mistyped (due to my fat fingers), it feels like it’s patronizing me, and when it gives a suggestion for something I’ve typed correctly because it thinks I must mean a different word, it feels like it’s censoring me. Either way, there’s no way I’d be able to produce content at a decent speed without my bluetooth keyboard, at least not without going through several window-chucked iPads.

    iPad with Shattered Screen
    For sale, one iPad, slightly window-chucked. (Creative Commons Image by iRepairUAE)
  3. The Home Button is Prone to Accidents.
  4. Especially while gaming. It’s a vicious cycle, really: I get so focused on blowing up enemy fighters in Galaxy on Fire 2 or exacting my revenge in Grand Theft Auto 3 that I forget the Home button is even there until suddenly I’m staring at the app screen screaming, “NNNOOOOOOOOO!” in the middle of Starbucks and everyone’s staring at me for some reason. While the game stays in memory and always picks up exactly where it left off when I re-launch it right away, it takes me out of the moment and spoils a perfectly good experience. Considering how many games are best played in Landscape mode, there really has to be a better place for the home button than right where my thumb naturally goes. And speaking of gaming . . .

  5. The Absence of a Universal Bluetooth Game Controller.
  6. While there have been several promising advances, there is still no one controller that works for every game. This is a problem, not only because of the Home button problem mentioned above, but because Touchscreen controls are unimmersive because they have no physical feedback. With a controller, you can feel the push of the button, and steer with a small joystick, even feel the rumble of a hit. While there are some workaround hardware solutions, they don’t really compare to the comfort and immersion that you can get from a physical, XBox-like controller, not to mention the questionable ergonomics of gripping a two-pound tablet.

  7. No USB slots.
  8. This isn’t really a huge complaint for me since I have a habit of syncing my iPad with any files I need from home before I head out for the day. But it speaks to a perceived arrogance on the part of Apple that their portable device doesn’t play nice with other commonly-used portable devices. Even one jump drive slot would be enough, I would think, and if the designers are really concerned that it will mess up the aesthetics, they can always use a cover that’s similar to those on smartphones and digital cameras. Maybe some day we’ll live in a perfect world where everything is wirelessly connected and no one ever needs to use any kind of physical media, but we’re not there yet.

  9. Mobile Sites.
  10. I have kind of a love/hate relationships with “Mobile Sites,” where I completely adore the ones that work well (like Zoho Mail, which I use to host my email account), and want to kill with fire the sites that look terrible, are unintuitive, and basically useless (I’m looking right at you, Google+). Unfortunately, most Mobile sites fit into the latter category, and so my online experience is sometimes hampered by poor design, lack of accessible content, and thrown-together interactivity. While Chrome has a handy option under the menu called “Request Desktop Site,” it seems to only work on a page-by-page basis, and as soon as I navigate to another page on the site I have to request the desktop site again, which sometimes leads me back to the homepage and ALL I WANT TO DO IS LINK TO THIS FUNNY ARTICLE ABOUT NAPOLEON BONAPARTES’ OBSESSION WITH COIN-COLLECTING WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE?!

Still the one

At the end of the day, the iPad is still my preferred device and platform for maximum produtivity. It works great, keeps me focused, and is fun to use, which makes it perfect for me. If you have some iPad frustrations of your own, send me an email: editor[at] and maybe I’ll find a solution in a future post.

The Pogo Connect Stylus – A Love Story

The Pogo Connect is a pressure-sensitive bluetooth stylus available for tablets. In the research I did before purchasing it, it seemed to be the wisest choice for my purposes (mainly painting with Procreate). When mine finally arrived, I was stoked.

I went straight to work, learning about which apps were compatible, trying out the pressure sensitivity, and enjoying the feel of the stylus. My one real complaint is that it can be difficult to see what you’re working on when you’re doing fine detail work because the nib of the stylus is kind of fat, but it has to be fat in order to work with the iPad’s touchscreen. And you really do get used to the feel of the thing after a while, so as long as you’re using a fast art App like Procreate, frustration will stay at a minimum.

After a few months using my fancy stylus, I decided to replace the nib. My daughter had been using it for her letter-learning games, and she had worn it down considerably since she presses down so hard you’d think she’s carving stone. While replacing the nib, the unthinkable happened: my Pogo Connect Stylus broke!

My poor, broken Pogo Connect

To the left is the stylus, the middle is the replaceable nib, and the shiny item on the far right is the magnet that keeps the nib in place and, I’m guessing, connects the pressure data to the transmitter so that the iPad knows what you’re trying to do. I tried just putting the thing back together, but the sensitivity was completely broken. The thing wouldn’t even make an unbroken line.

After frantically checking TenOne Design’s website and my own email receipt, I concluded that I was one day over a 60-day warranty. My heart sank. This thing was expensive, at least for me, and I really couldn’t afford to get a new one. So I took a chance and emailed their customer support, figuring they’d just tell me I was out of luck. They asked for a picture, so I took the one you see above, waiting for the moment when they would tell me the bad news.

Then I read the most beautiful three words in the English language: It’s a defect. Since the product was defective (remember that I have no way of knowing this by myself – I honestly figured it had just been handled too roughly), they would replace it free of charge, sending a new one out via standard shipping right away. And they didn’t even do that terrible thing companies sometimes do where they make you send the defective unit back first on your own dime.

If you’re looking for a good pressure-sensitive bluetooth stylus, I can’t recommend Pogo Connect enough. Not only is it a fantastic tool for creating realistic and natural-feeling artwork, but the company behind it, TenOne Design, knows how to care for its customers. This cannot be said of every company.

Get a Pogo Connect. (Not an Affiliate Link)