Cheap alternative of a GoPro strap

It’s been a while since I’ve used a point and shoot camera ever since I’ve accidentally damaged my old one. I was contemplating on getting a new one, but then inspired by the GoPro used by one of the crew during my trip to Viareggio, I remembered that I had a similar one that my brother bought for me a while back.

I thought of getting a head-strap or a chest strap but they both didn’t seem convenient. In the end, I went the DIY method of getting a broad strap and pinning them on my backpack with safety pins.

rinaz.net Sports HD DV Camera

It’s quite low-tech but it seemed to work OK so far as long as I move smoothly. Here is a test shot.

While I do like the quality of the video shot on my camera, what I don’t like is that videos are captured in .mov format which my main video editor, Premiere Elements can’t edit.

This week I had to reformat my laptop as I was hit with nasty malware trying to find a suitable video editor. So stressful. X.X

Fighting for the Abaddon Anomaly in Milan

Last month, Cart and I were in Milan for the abaddon anomaly. It was such an unforgettable experience and Milan has been a wonderful host, that I’d love to visit again. I’ve already been to Milan some years back, but this time was different as I got to see Milan up a little bit up close and personal.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

A couple of weeks leading to the event, we’ve been preparing for the anomaly, and also getting gear for ourselves. Since Milan is up North, many of our team members were concerned about how cold it was going to get. We got a couple of thermal shirts and I got for myself a heating pad and some wool socks. I can’t believe that I’ve never discovered wool socks before this. They are so comfy in the cold weather.

Friday afternoon, after an eventful day, rushing around, getting ready and last minute packing,  we just managed to take the train. Phew! We sat down and finally relaxed. Taking the train is something that I enjoy as it’s tranquil to see the scenery outside of the window as the train runs.  Plus, there was complementary WiFi! Making the 4 hour journey pass by quickly and in no time at all, we’ve already reached Milan!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We quickly checked in our hotel and then headed out to pick up our abaddon packs. One thing that I’d recommend for travellers to do, is to take the multi day transport pass as it’s a lot more convenient and much more cost effective to travel this way, instead of having to pull out 1.50 euro for each each trip.

It was at the subway where I noticed this :

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I think it was the first time that I see a public place being sponsored by a corporation like Nissan and Premium Mediaset. Even while walking on the footpath towards the park to pick up our packs, I noticed “MTV” printed at each start. I can understand it, but I still find it quite bizarre nevertheless.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I love how bustling the atmosphere was, where we picked up our packs – seeing so many people raring to fight the next day, meeting old faces and making new friends. It was such a nice feeling. We were supposed to meet up at a pub afterwards and get to know other resistance agents, but the queue there was too long that in the end, many of us adjourned to a restaurant not too far away. Nevertheless, we were still quite a big group that we occupied pretty much an entire room!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It was here where I also got to meet a really friendly group of fellow resistance agents from France 🙂

The next day, we got up bright and early to meet up with our team members. All those concerns about Milan being extremely cold was all for naught in the end, as it turned out to be bearable.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We took the subway and slowly walked to Parco Sempione and waited for the event to officially start.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

If you were wondering why I keep having earphones during the entire event, yours truly was the communications officer for my team – a role that I was curious enough to give a try.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It’s all quite military like. Each team consists around 15 – 20 people, lead by the Team Leader who will oversee the group at the various check points. My role was being the facilitator between my team leader and the dispatch team and they are a sort of an operator, looking through the intel maps and strategizing. I had to listen to their commands and support my team leader at any changes.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It wasn’t easy for me as my team leader likes to run a lot and each time when I get an update, I had to stop to listen amidst all the cacophony and by then, my team leader would be at least 500 meters away. Hahaha.

Keep in mind, that my backpack looks like I packed a big cube inside it, and you’ll find out later why.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Anyway, there isn’t much to say about the anomaly itself, that I haven’t said before in this post. But there was something very memorable that happened.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

There was a point where my team was running off to the next cluster, and Cart, who was in my team, hurt his feet and had to walk slowly. My team was already a distance away and I didn’t want to lose them so I had to make the painful decision to leave Cart. But by this time unfortunately, I couldn’t find my team members, lost in the huge crowd.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I typed in the chat,  “Where are you guys?

We’re at the 4th cluster, Via Brera

So I typed it in Google Maps, hoping that it’ll help me bring me there speedily. I only had 15 minutes to go before the next check point and I was starting to panic. But for some reason, Google Maps got wonky and made me run to one corner of the duomo instead of going straight forward. But the strangest part was, after that, it made me run through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II! A mall! And it was extremely crowded with Christmas coming up then. Why on earth did Google made me pass here?

I thought that it was extremely peculiar, and felt bad that I had to be rude and push some of the crowds of people in front of me. But it had to be done. I was in a huge competition.

At length, with only 5 minutes left, I managed to reach the final cluster and to my huge surprise, I saw Cart already there! I almost cried with relief, feeling awful that I’ve left him. Apparantly, he was better at reading maps, not trusting Google Maps this time round.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Anyway, at the end of the cluster, we felt really good at our efforts. I had a good feeling for this, the resistance managed to make a big area field over Milan, and I found out much later that a group of agents rented a helicopter and a boat to create good anchors.

Win or lose, I felt extremely proud of my team and I gave each of my team members something from my bag … A cake that I made earlier! And I have to say, that it was a really good cake. We all deserved it 🙂

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We then slowly headed to the final location where the results were announced. And we found out that we won! I was extremely thrilled to find out and the feeling of enthralment continued for the next days. I was that happy!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

All in all I had a really fantastic experience. In fact, Cart and I are considering going to the anomaly in April in Vienna! I am so looking forward to it. I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see 🙂

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Pictures by : NCC1701R /  Resistenza Roma 

If you liked this post, you might enjoy :

Inkjet printer or Laserjet?

The printer recently had an error message and even after reading websites on how to fix it, and used quite an amount of kitchen roll, trying to clean it, it still didn’t work. I even went to the extent of buying new cartridges. It costs almost 40 euro and I was cheesed off to see the error message not going away. So I guess the printer was finally gone.

rinaz.net Printer

The funny thing is that, even if the ink function doesn’t work, why can’t the scanner function work too? That doesn’t make sense.

Still. Five years was a decent run. I wouldn’t even want to attempt to bring it in for servicing, because it’s notorious that the costs to fix it is more than the printer itself.

And thus, during the weekend, we headed to the various electronic stores in Rome – Trony, UniEuro,  MediaworldSaturn. Cart is a very patient man to visit all these places while I just wanted to get it over with. Nevertheless, I saw this printer which was interesting :

rinaz.net Printer

While it looks expensive at first, this particular printer uses an ink tank instead of cartridges. You can fill up the tank yourself when it runs dry. This makes sense to me as using the inks will be cheaper in the long run.

rinaz.net Printer

Then we looked at the laser-jet printer section, as Cart preferred one of those, as they had a reputation of lasting for a very long time. We wanted one with wifi, a scanner and maybe one with a SD card so that it could print or scan, to and fro the card. Which is a useful function.

Unfortunately for us, being the sale season and all the printer with the function that we wanted was sold out. I panicked because I use the printer often and needed it for my work –  printing worksheets and craft ideas.

rinaz.net Printer

So in the end, I got this for myself. It had all the functions that I needed and it was only 50 euro. I’m not fussy. I’m just a little peeved that it costs just 10 euro more than the cartridge that I bought a couple a days earlier. I could have used the money for nice food.

The thing about laser-jets is that it’s more dependable. Cart really wanted one, but I’m justifying that the printer we just got should last about 2 or 3 years before it breaks, and by then technology will be better, we just might get the laser-jet printer that we want.

Spotted in Rome : Phone Charging Stations

While we were in Euroma2, I noticed a kiosk where you could charge your phone. The screen will indicate which slot was empty. You create your own pin to open them.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

Inside you’ll find various cables for different kinds of phones. You connect them together, close the door and have a meal or continue shopping.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

I recounted to Cart at how time ago, while I was living in Singapore at how I was able to go to a random handphone shop and ask them to charge the phone for me for a few cents.

Coming back to the kiosk, I thought that was a good idea, though I’m not sure how many would use it in reality as I think that too many would feel anxious when parted with their phones.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

Speaking of phone charging stations, Cart and I stumbled upon this kiosk at the Cipro Metro station – this one was interesting to me as it also distributes water, similar to the one we saw in Aguillara.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

It distributes both naturale and frizzate for free though and I look forward to bringing my bottle to fill it up and give it a try.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

And on the other side, there is a charging station and you lift up the flap to connect your cable in.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

You’d have to  stay there the entire duration. But since the area is full of portals, I can just imagine that not many would complain as this would be the perfect place for playing ingress and farming!

Netflix arrives in Italy

While Netflix has been providing video streaming since 2008, the service has finally arrived in Italy with lots of fanfare.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

Netflix is basically a video streaming service where you could watch unlimited videos legally, on various platforms. While there are already other video streaming services in Italy, Netflix’s pricing is competitive, has a wide variety of shows and has subscriptions for multiple users in a single household at the same time.

So far, Cart and I are quite enamoured with it and we have been spending quite a fair bit of time (and social life)  exploring the various shows that it provided. We mainly watch them from our phones and our laptops.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

What’s great about Netflix is that even when we are out of Italy, we could still watch the shows in other countries as long as we had an internet connection. My theory is that the shows we watch will be different depending on our location, but I’m not completely sure of that. We’ll find out more when we reach Singapore in mid December.

I used to plug my laptop to the TV via HDMI which can be a hassle. Recently though, I got for us a Chromecast set which we plug to the television.

This device sort of makes our smartphone be an interactive TV Control and allows us to broadcast certain apps from our phones straight to the television. It’s so convenient. Even if you don’t use Netflix, if you haven’t one yet, I think you should get one.  And at 38 euro, it isn’t that expensive.

rinaz.net Using Chromecast with Netflix

We used to have a HDMI dongle that converts our TV into a sort of a tablet. But I find Chromecast superior as it loads much faster and doesn’t bog down the internet connection too much. Plus, it’s much cheaper compared to the dongle which costs about 65 euro.

rinaz.net Using Chromecast with Netflix

Anyway some of the shows which I’ve watched and enjoyed :

Daredevil

A lot more interesting compared to the movie with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner.

Orange is the new black

I didn’t get sucked into the hype but when I started watching it, I just couldn’t stop. I don’t think that I’d be able to watch season two though because of the finale. I don’t see how it can continue to be “Comedy”

Cowspiracy

This documentary was insightful on how intensive animal farming plays a huge part in pollution.

The True Cost

This is a show about fast fashion – and watching this, makes me feel compelled to get more clothes from independent seamstresses or second hand shops.

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

One of the features I like is that the app keeps track of the shows that you’ve watched.

There are a lot more shows to explore – Narcos which has been recommended a lot, Under the Dome which should be interesting since it was written by Stephen King and Cart has been obsessed with Battlestar Galactica. He finds the series smart and very well written.  I can’t bear to watch it though, after seeing the first episode, I find the entire storyline is so depressing. I prefer watching comedies and light hearted shows.

Suffice to say, I’m loving the Netflix experience so far. I’m not sure how it works though, after a month does the videos rotate? Does new videos come in next month and older videos are taken down from streaming?

rinaz.net Netflix arrives in Italy

Also, you can change the audio and subtitles to and from English to Italian as well as other languages where available. 

It didn’t seem that long ago when I went down to the DVD shop near my parent’s house and browsed through the jewel cases. It was like 10 dollars to rent 5 DVDs for a week. And then walk to the supermarket to get some junk food. Each weekend, we’d get together and watch a video. Things are so high-tech now.

P.s. If you’re using Telegram, there’s a bot which updates you on the videos that are available on Netflix according to your region. Just search for  ‘netflixnewsbot’.

Why Telegram is better than Whatsapp

Some while back, I was so in love with Whatsapp to the point that I created a video exalting it, and it remains one of my more popular video on youtube.

Telegram Instant Messaging

I still use Whatsapp since a lot of my contacts still use it, but I feel that once you’ve start using Telegram, you’ll never look back.

Telegram Instant Messaging

Initially, I used Telegram mainly to communicate with my faction members since you could have up to 200 contacts in a group. But it’s fast becoming something that I use with my friends and family members – it’s a lot more convenient.

Search function

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you could start searching for your friends. Friends already on your SIM card who are using Telegram would automatically added to your list, but on top of that, there is a global search function on Telegram. You search for a name or a username and start chatting with them. There is no need to have their phone numbers. You could also block people that you’re not familiar with, if needed.

Telegram Instant Messaging

At first glance, the interface looks very similar to WhatsApp, but you’ll soon see subtle differences :

You can use it on various platforms

Android? iPhone? Windows Phones?  No problem. It could also be installed in PCs Macs and Linux and even a web browser for when you’re using a guest computer.

Telegram Instant Messaging

Having Telegram on the PC is great for me since I type a lot faster on the computer than on the phone.

You can send voice notes, photos, videos, and files of all types

If it can be digitised, it can be sent through Telegram. I’ve sent various types of files including pdf, and it’s not a big issue as the file is stored on the cloud and can be opened at any time, when I’m at the computer.

You can have secure conversations

For privacy reasons, you can have a secret chat with another person. This conversation can only be sent and read on your smartphone.  There, none of the messages you send will be stored on the server and none of them can be forwarded to another party.

Telegram Instant Messaging

At any time you wish, the messages can be destroyed at any time. And you’ll know if the other party makes a screenshot of the conversation.

You could tag people

This is a function where you could tag someone via replies, mentions and hashtags in a conversation.

Telegram Instant Messaging

The person will see a notification on their phone. I find this useful when I’m in a large group where I might miss seeing an important message without this function.

You could share location

On top of telling your friends where you are, you could up the ante and share your position with your friends. Here, they could open the link to see a map of where you are and how far away they are. On the PC, it opens up to Google Maps. For me this is handy when you want to meet a friend in a place where you’re not familiar with.

Telegram Instant Messaging

On top of that, you could also share the position of a facility of up to 500 metres away from where you are – a pizzeria, a pharmacy, or any notable spots.

Everything is stored in the cloud.

Which means that you have access to chat history and whatever media in the group that you’re in. Regardless if you changed phones or computers, the data stays with you and you can look back and read the happy memories whenever you like.

And it’s all free!

No need to pay a dollar a year, there isn’t even any ads. Telegram is a breath of fresh air and is open source app funded by a generous Pavel Durov.

Telegram Instant Messaging

This is the founder for Telegram and he is 30 years old. Oh my.

Last thoughts 

At this point of time, it seems that WhatsApp is playing catch up with Telegram and updated themselves to also include position as well as to have a web version.

But I personally think that Telegram is a dynamic team and are able to think up of new ideas on updating and improving their app. At the moment for example, they’ve included “sticker packs” as well as bots. I find them cute when used in moderation.

Telegram Instant Messaging

Since I’ve used Telegram, I’ve enjoyed it so much that when I’m forced to used other chat programs, I keep wondering to myself, “Why do I have to go back to using that again?”

I look forward to seeing what new things Telegram will bring 🙂

Achievement Unlocked!

Hi everyone!

It has been a while since I’ve been updating this blog. The reason why I’ve been away for so long is kind of silly, but I’m quite proud of my achievement . I’ve reached level 16 in Ingress.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

What is Ingress?

Ingress is a GPS based multiplayer game where the player control portals which is usually something of a cultural significance like a museum, or a historical monument.

To be honest it’s a dumb game, but it’s so much fun as you explore different places. It brings out the inner Lara Croft in me when I visit places that I never thought existed.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

It’s been about 15 months since I first started playing Ingress and at that time, I never thought that I’d ever reach level 8. But when I finally did, it was such a satisfying feeling that I could at last use level 8 items.  I thought to myself, “Now that I’m level 8, I’ll just take a break and relax”.

But I find myself enjoying the game and eventually I found myself at level 15. Wow, how on earth did that happen?

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

In ingress, you level up by gaining points but once you reach past level 8, you need to have enough points as well as medals.

Two of the easiest medals in the list to reach is the recharger, and the guardian. But there are always guardian hunters in Rome who break them on purpose when they are close to 10 days before the unlocking. Personally I despise this sort of gameplay, as it’s such a jerk thing to do where these players break only these particular portals even more so when it’s the same bunch of people.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

It used to be really hard to level up, but thanks to the new medals that ingress created not too long ago which made levelling up easier.

  • Trekker (For walking)
  • Sojourner (For daily hacks)
  • Engineer (For putting in mods)
  • Translator (For glyphing)
  • Illuminator (For fielding)
  • SpecOps (For completing missions)
  • Recruiter (For recruiting and levelling new agents)

With the trekker, I levelled up instantly from level 12 to 14 last December when I got the platinum so I thought that I’d try to grow that to an Onyx. But then the Translator medal came out shortly. I found out that I was good at doing glyphs and taking advantage of the frequent farm events which gives you more points,  in just two months I managed to get the onyx Translator, earning me a chance to reach the coveted level 16.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

This is my score at this pont of writing. Heh heh heh

But it was agent-stats which changed the game play dynamics for me. Agent stats is an extremely useful site that predicts when you’ll level up as well as the closest medals you could reach by calculating based on the way you play.

When I first used it earlier this year, it said that I’d reach level 16 in the middle of August. The next few days, after I uploaded my stats, it changed to the First of August, which would make a nice birthday present.  But the more I played and submitted, the shorter the prediction became and the more motivated I got.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

My game play is very simple – to keep my neighbourhood blue. It’s surprisingly easy to gain a significant amount of points by doing  only that :

  • Glyphing enemy portals
  • Destroying them
  • Full deploying resonators
  • Fielding

With about 12 portals within walking distance, you could potentially earn about 100k in a short amount of time.

Thanks to Agent stats, now that I visually see the progress that I’ve made, I think the way that I play has changed. When I first started playing, I was meek and didn’t want to attack too much as I didn’t want to upset anyone. But now I’m more diligent and aggressive. They attacked my neighbourhood? Good! Easy points for me. And then we’ll go break their portals as a revenge.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I try not to depend too much on my powerbank and play till my phone runs out of juice which is a good 2 – 3 hours which to me is nice amount of time to play without being overly laborious. Doing something for too long, even something that I enjoy, is too much work and kills the joy for me.

So in a day I try to aim for 200K, which is a decent amount of points. Comparing to about a year ago, I’m surprised at the speed that a lot of agents are levelling up. I know a lady player who went from level 1 – 11 in 3 months! But things are different since when I started playing a year ago compared to now.

A year ago my neighbourhood looked like this :

rinaz.net ingress

It’s not that easy levelling up with just this few portals. 

And now it looks like this :

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

Earning a lot of points is literally just a stroll in the park for me.

The day when I reached 16

On the morning when I did my final 100k, I didn’t feel any different – it felt like any other normal day. But then the cheers started pouring in, from both faction and even from overseas was when I started to feel extremely motivated.

I did my regular rounds in the neighbourhood in the morning and then broke enemy portals on my way back home in the evening but stopped before my final few points before levelling up as I thought that it’ll be nice to do it live together with my faction members and share the happiness together.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

As we were farming, it took just one final glyph to reach the pinnacle. It was such a nice feeling seeing all the congratulations exploding all over. I think I’m the first female player in Rome to reach it, which was my primary source of motivation. Not too long ago, resistant agent ‘Fiuggi’ reached 16, making her the first female player in Italy – if I knew about earlier, I would have tweaked my goals to try to beat her … heh heh heh 🙂

All in all, it was satisfying for me, especially that I did all that without a backpack account and without having to use any 3rd party software. I’m proof that it’s completely possible to play clean.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

And that’s my journey to level 16. A year ago, never did I imagine that I’d ever reach this level. But looking back, there are lots of things that I never thought that I’d do like leaving everything I know and migrating to Rome, learning to drive and completing the marathon.

rinaz.net Ingress level 16

It’s been such an experience this past year and I’ve met a lot of interesting people and made friends long the way. I’ve grown a lot since then and I’ll keep these precious memories.

And now that that’s done, I now have the time for blogging and creating my cartoons more regularly. I’ve been neglecting them for far too long!

If you liked this post, you might enjoy other ingress posts such as :

Preparing for an Ingress Anomaly

Cart and I have wanted to participate in an anomaly for the longest time, and after weeks and weeks of preparation, it is finally here!

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

We could hardly sleep in excitement.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Anomalies are basically cross faction events, held in various locations around the world where agents fight to gain the most points for their faction. The rules are different for each anomaly, one day it could be the most portals captured, another it could be the most fields made, or it could be a flash shard like the one we participated in, for Obsidian Vienna.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

The one that Cart and I participated in was held in the heart of Florence. We’ve already been here a couple of years ago, but instead of the relaxing stroll as we did the last time, the air was full of excitement and frenzy with so many agents from all around the world in one place.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

The first thing you do is to queue up to get your hand stamped and get a pack full of codes – one for a participation medal, and the other a redeemable card – it could be XMP 8, Res 8, Capsules, Shelds, etc, it’s all at random.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Then you queue up to get your physical badge. It’s always recommended to get the registration done early as there will be a long line afterwards. There is usually a bit of time afterwards to socialise with other agents and have a quick meal. Then there will be a group photo after which the anomaly starts proper.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

A good inventory is important when participating in an anomaly – Be prepared to have at least 1800 items in your inventory.

The number may change though, depending on your team’s requirements – some would play defensively while others may have an offence tactics. Your team leader will advice you on the optimal amount of gear to carry.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

About a month leading to the event, you’ll have a plentiful of invites to participate in farms. Attend them! Not only will you get gear crucial to the event, you’ll also get to meet your team members. Personally, the hardest part for me is recycling some of the things in my inventory not in the list, just to fit into the requirements, especially since I’m going for the Onyx Translator medal. I had to go around and use as much as I could, tried to have someone to donate to, or carry it for me for a bit.

rinaz.net drops ingress inventory

Apart from your Ingress inventory, there are some physical items that I recommend that you bring along with you in an anomaly.

Most of the above are pretty self explanatory. Keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet for at least four hours. So wear comfortably and be prepared for any weather change.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

(It was very cold and windy and drizzling when we  reached the 4th cluster. It’s amazing how we managed to get through that!)

One tip I’ve learnt is to plug the power-bank to your phone immediately when it’s fully charged and leave it to slowly discharge. I found that the phone lasted significantly longer that way. The freezer bags on the other hand are mainly for protecting your phone and the power-bank in case that it rains, but did you know that your phone is still functional while wrapped in the bag?

rinaz.net Freezer bag Phone

How the anomaly works is that there will be four clusters made up of various portals.

rinaz.net Shonin Cluster Portals

You and your team are usually delegated to one portal in each cluster. You can tell the anomaly portals by the hexagon halo around them.

rinaz.net Shonin Cluster Portals

For 10 minutes you’ll have to capture, defend, link and field as much as possible. After which, the next 50 minutes is used to travel to the next cluster where there should be ample time to restart the phone, go to the loo, snack, strategise with your teams etc.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

In theory, it sounds easy BUT with thousands of agents in the area, and with at least 30 agents from opposing sides delegated to ONE portal the level of play is much more intense compared to regular game-play. Having a good phone with a high speed data connection is advantageous. The second cluster was impossible to play for us, it took a long time just trying to deploy due to the jammed network.

Nevertheless, when it does work, you’ll find that in just a split second, the portal could flip from blue to green and vice versa. It’s total chaos. You have to be focused and continue deploying for the entire 10 minutes even if it still appears to belong to your faction.

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

(Note how close both the factions are with each other)

It’s always easier when you work in a team and your team leader will delegate the roles – some to deploy the resonator, some to deploy the mods, some to link. Cart and I were tasked to shield and I was stunned (but not so surprised) that in just 10 minutes, we used up at least 30 very rare shields each.

rinaz.net Shonin Cluster Portals

(Left with only 10 resonators at the end of the day!)

With so many agents going around in large groups, some with flags, looking intently in their phones, there will be a chance when a person comes up to you and ask you what you are doing – For some, it’s easy to multi-task, but for me, I had a simple solution of putting a notice at the front of my bag :

“Hi! I’m in a competition, for more information, please go to www.resistenzaroma.it

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

After an intense 4 hours, it’s time to head to a location where the results will be known. And if you still have some juice left running, celebrate and have a party – regardless of which party won.

It was a very close call in Florence with the Green winning by just 10 points on a count of about 800 for each side, mostly due to their advantage of 400 points (200 for each cluster) on having a big field covering Florence in the second and third cluster. But adding the results of the two secondary sites, Brno and Bilbao, we won the 1st day of the anomaly by 3 points on a count of more than 2000 for each side!

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

All in all, I had a very enjoyable time and had lots of fun participating in my first anomaly. It was extremely memorable and I really wouldn’t mind participating in another one 🙂

Shonin Ingress Anomaly Florence 21 February 2015

Pictures by : NCC1701R / Magic74

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The most peculiar date

Recently, Cart and I went on a non-traditional date, thanks to ingress.

As you know by now, I’m very involved with ingress and the community here. Thanks to the game and the community, I got to know lots of people whom I enjoy being with and discovered a lot of interesting sights that I might normally miss.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Here I am with some of my fellow Resistenza di Roma family!

When I first started ingress last April, the maximum level that you could reach was 8, where you could use level 8 XMP (which is the strongest weapon in ingress so far) and level 8 resonators (which is sort of like the strongest brick to use for building your portals)

But not too long after I started playing, Niantic increased the maximum level to 16. At the time I thought that I would be happy with my level 8 since I could use the highest level items, but I find myself enjoying the challenge of trying to reach the higher levels and somehow I’m level 14 at the moment 🙂

rinaz.net Ingress

These mission badges are spiffy!

Anyway, once you’ve reached level 8, you will need enough points and have certain achievements to unlock the next level. One of these achievements is to keep a portal alive for as long as possible – 3 days for a bronze guardian, 10 days for a silver, 20 days for a gold, 90 days for a platinum and 150 days for an onyx.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

And at this point of writing, I’d need another platinum medal to unlock level 15. In theory, the guardian medal is simple to achieve – capture and just charge it every now and then so that it doesn’t decay completely.

In real life though, there are a lot of nasty players who hunt your oldest portal and breaks it for the sole purpose that you don’t reach the medals.

It’s easy to feel indignant about the entire situation. The first few times when it happened to me, I was extremely upset. I’d like to think that they unknowingly shot my portal because I’ve done that before and that’s in the spirit of the game after all – to capture as many portals as possible. But when it’s always the same people breaking it just a few days or even hours before reaching the medal, it’s all very suspicious.

I had one broken on the 89th day, just a few hours shy for the platinum badge and my next oldest one was broken some weeks back. This one I captured somewhere in October. It was quite a feat because of all the ridiculously tall grass and risk of serpents. Who’d be crazy enough to traverse that? (Me!)

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

So it was very annoying to see it broken a week before the platinum badge. But what made it even more annoying is that when I returned, the grass was significantly shorter due to the winter, making it a lot easier to walk on. Bah.

Not too long ago, someone broke Cart’s guardian portal which was already 149 days old and missing some hours before it reached the coveted Onyx badge. Cart was a little upset but he already anticipated it. And in this situation, there are two options that you could do :

  1. Do nothing about it or
  2. Get even

Personally, I’ve never liked the idea of breaking other people’s guardian portals on purpose, as I think that it’s a nasty things to do. But in this case, we really didn’t appreciated getting bullied so asking around fellow agents (and we’re connected to practically almost every community in various regions in Italy, which is really cool) we find out their oldest portals and proceeded to go there and hunt for them.

Often these guardian portals are in the most interesting, out of reach locations, where we would absolutely NEVER go on a regular day.

One of the locations was a castle by the sea, with a tall jagged cliff next to it. The scene was as if we were in a movie set – with the blowing wind in the middle of Winter, the strong waves of the sea, walking on the black sand … It was quite cold and it was such a funny sight to see two dogs running around and accompanying us while we shot and deployed.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Another location was going to an Etruscan tomb which was located in the middle of a field. It was already night time, and we didn’t see much in front of us so we got waylaid at a steep edge before finding another path.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

The entire experience going the fields reminded me when I was in outward bound, I was around 17 then and a group of us had to do a challenge, walking at night in the jungle, alone, with no flash-light. It was a sort of a courage building exercise. This time round, it was pretty much the same, complete with animal noises (with real animals this time) to reach the portal some distance away.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Where on earth am I?

We are so lucky there is a torch function on our phones and we could see where we were going and finally captured the portal. But the experience that has to take the cake what we did yesterday.

Cart took the day off to accompany me in collecting my new permesso di soggiorno and decided to take the opportunity to go to the portal of the person responsible for breaking his 149.

Looking at the particular portal through intel, it was located up in the mountains. We’ve already dressed warm and brought our snow boots with us. The location was a church which is around 80 km from where we live.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

The route was extremely scenic, with the snow capped mountains. It was so breathtaking that I didn’t mind the long journey. About an hour later, we find ourselves in a quiet little town. Opening the ingress app though, the portal was still not visible as it was a low level portal.

Consulting with a fellow agent who studied the map and adviced us to go to an alternative path, we drove to another road and tried to go up further, but the terrain was too much for Cart’s car to handle.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

So we changed into our snow boots and started walking into the woods. The path was littered with snow and ice as well as piles of animal droppings. But the scene was so beautiful though, seeing the mountains in the distance was so tranquil and serene.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

We walked for about an hour and a half, hoping that we were going the right way – we still couldn’t see the portal on the scanner and I was desperate to do it as fast as possible before sunset. At one point, there was a crossing – one going up and the other going down. On a leap of faith, we went up. Fortunately, I finally managed to see the portal through mobile intel and that we were on the right path.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I was feeling fine as I’m in a relatively good shape as I’ve already done a full marathon so at this point, I can trek for hours with no problem. Poor Cart though, was out of breath and wheezing. I felt bad for him, but he kept insisting, “I need to do more of this more frequently

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Eventually we reached a relatively open field where there were horses and sheeps grazing around. And that was where I could finally see the portal in my scanner! Around 300 metres away!  I was ready to walk past the horses so that I could reach the portal, but Cart warned me not to, as there was a chance that the male horses might be territorial and attack us.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

So we went around the border, where we found that the distance was more or less the same and we walked across thorny bushes and tree branches. It didn’t bother me so much as it’s kind of like my camping days. It was actually rather fun. I was excited and wanted to rush off to reach the portal. Just a few meters more!

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I was almost reaching it through my scanner!

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

And this was what we saw :

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

An invisible church. No words.

One hypothesis is that the church was initially located in the town below, but the location was edited to an unreachable place later. Nevertheless, we did a full deploy and tried to reach the car back as soon as possible as it was already nightfall, but there’s always time for a picture for posterity.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I’m mostly amused at how inappropriately accessorised  I was – in the middle of the woods with my giraffe bag.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Look at how dirty our boots were

At this point of writing, the portal is a level 6 and is easily seen through the scanner from the town below – it’s a good potential guardian portal but Cart and I don’t care too much for for this medal any more. I mean, if we get it, it’s great. But if we don’t get it, it’s fine. In fact, Cart has his stats open for all to see for a couple of weeks now.

And walking through the woods at night, I kept thinking of how peculiar and unreal the entire situation was. It honestly felt like we were in an advanced virtual world, where I was actually at home on the sofa – you don’t see or do stuff like this in regular life!

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

The temperature dropped to -3 degrees by the time we reached the car, but I felt perfectly fine, probably because of the long trek that we did. And wearing gloves, multiple layers and snow boots helped a lot.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

The thing that matters a lot for me is the memories and the experiences that I gained together with Cart. Sometimes, we don’t see eye to eye in some aspects of the game, for example, I prefer to be spontaneous and strike quickly, while he takes his time to analyse the situation. In the end though, I think that by having these out in the open and having a common goal made us closer and understand each other better.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

Of course, I always enjoy spending time doing things together with Cart. Be it having dinner together, or simply just watching a movie together … but this would have to be the most peculiar date by far!

Sidenote : If there is anyone interested in playing ingress, just let me know, and I’ll send you an invite 🙂