A new mobile player in town

In Italy, there are a number of mobile services, the most popular ones are namely Tre, Tim and Vodafone which has been dominant for a long time.

I’ve been on Tre since the first time that I’ve migrated in Rome (around 9 years already!) But they are increasingly expensive considering that when I first started, it was 5 euro. Now, the last plan that I had with them was 11 euro a month for 8 GB of data and an additional 1 euro to have the LTE option.

However in Italy, there are new players in the market – namely Ho Mobile and Iliad. At this point of writing,  you can get at least 40 GB a month with unlimited calls and texts for about 8 euro.

So Cart decided to hop on Iliad while I got a Ho Mobile sim card. It was pretty easy to do – all I needed to do was to sign up and insert the documentation and then go to any of their list of partners (almost always there is one in a newspaper kiosk next to the metro) to pay and collect the sim card.

rinaz.net Ho Mobile

Porting my number to Ho Mobile was straightforward too – I followed the instructions on the app, and in about two days, I was able to use my number as before.

Woah, this is the first time that I ever get to play with so much data. I’ve been extremely frivolous at playing Ingress while playing Spotify at the same time  (both of which consumes a lot of data) and I still have

I get 40 GB of data and unlimited calls and unlimited texts. It’s been really challenging to try to finish the 40 GB. And so far, I’ve been extremely frivolous – playing ingress while listening to spotify at the same time (both of which consumes a lot of data) and I still have more than 30 GB of data left over to use in 15 days.

rinaz.net Ho Mobile

So far Ho Mobile has been good. With the amount of data that I have, sometimes I think it’s even possible to get rid of the home wifi altogether. And because Ho Mobile uses the Vodafone network (which is supposed to be the fastest in Italy) upload and download speed is decent.

The only small qualm that I have is that in some areas, especially in crowded places, Ho Mobile is significantly slow. When playing ingress in the centre for example, it takes a frustratingly long time for me to deploy because of the lag.

Also, I’m not really liking the limited amount of data that I get when travelling to other European countries – I can only use up 2.5 GB (while Cart can use 3 GB on his Iliad) which is fine for a couple of days but will be an issue if I want to stay outside of Italy for a week or more.

But apart from that, Ho Mobile has been decent and recently has been increasing their plan for an additional 10 GB … not sure if it’s really such a sweet deal since 40 GB already so challenging to consume! Lets see how it goes.

Adventures with Synfig

As you’ve noticed, I haven’t been creating my cartoon strips for a long time. That’s because I’ve been having issues with the software which I used for drawing ever since I’ve reformatted my laptop after getting hit by a malware time ago.

It took a while to find a suitable software to replace that but for now, I’ve been settling on Inkscape – an open source vector graphic. The drawing tools are notably different compared to Adobe Flash – especially the part where you could easily subtract shapes and pull out curves directly from the native shapes. So my first drawing, looked quite rudimentary.

rinaz.net Inkscape

(Oh yucks!)

But I think I’m starting to get used to it, and try to improve and am looking forward to publish my cartoon strips again. It’s a huge pity though that I have to start from scratch all over – the characters, the background, the props and over 4 years of drawing, since I can’t use my old software and I don’t know of anything else that can open a .fla file. Feels daunting, but one day at a time.

In the meanwhile, I also downloaded a couple of other open source software like Krita and synfig just in case I needed it. Not sure if I’ll be playing much with krita, since I don’t have a drawing tablet but animations has interested me for for a while. So Synfig is a nice software to have.

You know, I’ve been feeling profoundly sad, especially since I came back from Singapore slightly over a week ago so I try to keep my mind busy.

So far synfig has been a good distraction. I was randomly playing with it earlier this week and was pleasantly surprised to see that it could import svg, which is a native inkscape picture.

(Although now I think it’s easier to import images as a .png instead which Inkscape is able to do anyway)

rinaz.net Synfig Studio

Even though I have a little bit of experience with animation using Flash, oh boy. This software has a pretty steep learning curve. It isn’t intuitive for a first time user – it took a long while for me just to understand how to move a shape, because you had to grab the green node because you can’t drag directly using the left click.

Fortunately, synfig has a series of video tutorial which I went through and now I have a slightly better understanding of it and feel quite motivated to do a very simple animation. And here it is!

It’s not perfect and there are a few adjustments that I’ve done since uploading like hair and the strumming arm. A couple of things to take note :

  • Synfig only imports .wav as audio. Recording audio on my mobile phone is in a .m4a format. Which means that I had to take time to convert the recording.
  • When rendering, I can only export as .avi as a video format
  • The rendering DOES NOT export the audio together in the video. Which means that I have to use a separate video editing software to combine them together.
  • I use Adobe Premiere Elements to edit my videos. It does not import in a .avi format. Which means that I had to take time to convert it into .mpg

Wow, it’s extremely time consuming. Plus you don’t have a clue about the estimated time when your video will be finished. And it’s especially frustrating when the finished product isn’t what you expect it to be. Like how it renders the images outside of the bounding box. So you have to do it all over again. And again if it still doesn’t come out the way you like. And again …

rinaz.net

Nevertheless, despite all the hair pulling and the frustration. I’ve been enjoying myself. I’ve still a lot to learn. I doubt that I’d be doing this on a regular basis, but it has been an interesting challenge so far.

An onyx guardian after 4 years

Hi everyone! I’ve waited for a while to write this post and the day has actually arrived. So why not grab a cup of tea as you read this.

rinaz.net Morticia drinking tea

I’ve finally reached 150 days.

For those of you who play ingress, there is this achievement called the guardian medal. And for those of you who don’t, why not give it a try to see if you like it. In theory this medal is simple to get. Capture a portal and keep it recharged for a certain amount of days – Bronze for 3 days, Silver for 10 days, Gold for 20 days … then the Platinum at 90 days and the Onyx at 150 days.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian Onyx

But in reality, it’s one of the most frustrating, annoying medal to get especially towards the platinum and the onyx. Because even if you travel to the most remote, hard to reach portal, your opponents would magically know when, and go out of their way to break your portals. And it’s always the same people who does it at exactly 140+ days.

Oh wow! How do they know exactly when to break it?

Shia Labeouf Magic GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s magic!

The hypocritical situation would be, is when you capture your neighbourhood and as long as you keep it recharged, stays that way for about 4 months till someone who actually lives there decides to come out of his hibernation to break it.

#lazy

Earlier this year, the makers of Ingress, Niantic announced that they were implementing new rules – such as banning and terminating accounts of people who uses data scraping tools to hunt for guardian portals. While it did help decrease the amount of cheaters, it didn’t deter some of these people and instead they changed their gameplay to break these portals at around 135 days instead to avoid looking too obvious.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

(This portal behind me reached 148 days)

Eventually, Niantic decided to solve this issue by rewarding users who have 80 days and above with the Platinum (instead of 90) and 140 days and above with the Onyx (instead of 150) medals – on the unanticipated date of the second of April. Imagine the uproar if would be if it were on the first instead. 😂

Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised at my new medal. Even though I’ve been playing ingress since March 2014, I’ve eventually given up any hope of getting that particular achievement because I’m an active player, making me a good target. And each time without fail, any of my portals reaching 140+ days would get smashed.

Which is why I’ve waited for today for writing this post. Even though I’ve already had the medal for over a month now, it feels quite meaningful.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I understand that that’s part of the gameplay – to break your opponent’s portal but waiting that long to smash it, is just bad sportsmanship.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful for my nice new medal – its a nice addition and has helped me in my global ranking. The next Onyx medals that I’m working on is the Engineer and the Liberator. That’ll take me several months to complete, but I’m in no rush.

Before I end this post, guess what happened to these guardian hunters? Ever since I’ve gotten my medals, I very rarely see them logging in. It’s as if they’ve given up completely. It’s kind of sad actually, all those time, fuel and effort and for what?

rinaz.net Rihanna twirls hair

Nyeh nyeh nyeh!