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. 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? Freezer bag Phone

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

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. 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 🙂 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. 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!) 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Ingress Guardian Ingress Guardian 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. Ingress Guardian Ingress Guardian 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 Ingress Guardian 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. 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! Ingress Guardian

I was almost reaching it through my scanner! Ingress Guardian

And this was what we saw : 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. Ingress Guardian

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

I love my new Spigen Bumper Cover!

Cart got for himself a One Plus One recently. A friend gave him an invitation code and he accidentally clicked on the order button. I don’t think that I’ll be doing a review of it for now as I didn’t get a chance to play much with it since Cart has been hogging it all week long 😛 Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

What I can say is though, is that it’s very fast. Loading apps takes virtually a split second to load. And with the 15 minutes that I’ve been playing with it, the screen on my Nexus 5 seems very small now.

Anyway, I got for myself a Spiegen Ultra Hybrid bumper cover recently thanks to Sylvia’s advice and I’m really happy with it and I’m kicking myself for not getting it earlier.

Last month I was walking to the park when the phone rang and I accidentally dropped it while reaching for it. Which normally would be fine. In fact, I’ve dropped it several times. This time round though, I was walking on asphalt and I knew that there was no chance of survival with the jagged floor. My heart fell when I saw the cracked screen. You can only imagine how much I cried that entire afternoon. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Luckily, despite the shattered screen, it still functioned well and  we had it sent to the LG service centre in Rome. It costs 190 euro to fix it – about half of what it costs to get a new one. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

And I’m bothered by how the edge doesn’t seem to close properly now despite assurances by the technician that it’s very small. But it’s like seeing that one dead pixel on your screen. It’s very annoying.

All this could have been potentially saved with the 20 euro bumper. I got the one with the transparent cover because I like the idea of how it lets you see the back of my red Nexus 5, which I think is beautiful. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Reading a number of reviews online, the “scratches” that you see on the cover are actually two protective layers that needs to be removed on each side before you use it. The layer is extremely thin though, and you’d be forgiven if you thought that your cover arrived damaged.

The cover is a perfect fit and encases the phone like a glove. The colour doesn’t match with the actual colour of the Nexus 5 – it’s more towards maroon red than orangey red but no matter. It also makes the phone look a bit more bulkier but it’s not so bad. I am enamoured with the grip texture of the cover which means that it is less likely to fall when I hold it. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

There is a ridge on top, which means that even if you put the phone facing down, it doesn’t touch the surface, making it less prone to scratches and dirt. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

(Still trying to get used to Lollipop. It’s so hipster)

Initially I got the transparent cover to show off the beauty of the back of the Nexus 5, but there are two cut outs included in the box, and after trying it out, I really love how it looks like and how I can personalise it. In fact, I was so inspired that I designed one for myself. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Not enough ink in the printer! Oops! But in the end, Cart helped to print it out for me 🙂 Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

I love how it looks like as it’s quite unique.  What do you think of it? If you like you could download it in PDF format and print it out for yourself or even design one on your own from the template from this link here. 🙂

All in all, I’m very happy with my cover. I only wish that I had the foresight to get it earlier!

Quick thoughts on the LG Nexus 5

As much as I love my Galaxy Nexus, it was starting to get obsolete. Even with it being rooted, it was starting to take such a long time to start programs and even worse, gets unstable with more than 3 apps open.

It became so cumbersome playing games like ingress on it, and I guess that I’ve been complaining so much about my phone being slow that Cart got me this for my birthday. I really love my new toy! LG Nexus 5

I’ve enjoyed the Nexus experience tremendously since I use a lot of Google applications and was really happy to be upgraded to a Nexus 5.

We happened to also be ordering a pair of USB cables so when the delivery guy arrived to pass me the box, I was surprised to see the phone instead of the cables when I opened the box as it was deceptively small and very light.

This was probably my first LG phone and the Nexus 5 comes in 3 colours – black, white and red. I asked for the red one as it’s an usual colour in a sea of black mobile phones. Seeing it in real life, the red isn’t a true red though, more like orange-red. Nevertheless, I absolutely love it, the phone is just so sexy. LG Nexus 5

(The LG Nexus 5 next to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus)

Everything about the phone is just so seductive – the colour, the shape, the sleek look. Just touching the matte back is just so inviting. Suffice to say, I think this is the most attractive smartphone that I’ve ever owned. LG Nexus 5

First I had to get my SIM card cut as it needed a Micro-SIM, and then get it updated to the latest android version which is Kitkat 4.4.4 at this point of writing.

The first time I first used it, I was ridiculously emotional at how speedy it was. With a 2 GB ram, opening apps was so fast that I can’t imagine how I managed to survive with my old phone. I almost cried happy tears in the mall when I managed to get memory intensive apps like Ingress started in just a few seconds instead of minutes.

Everything feels so smooth and basically just works. In the several weeks that I’ve been using it, I’ve never had any issues. Even though there is the extremely rare chance when the phone decides to restart by itself, at least it doesn’t take a lifetime to start again. LG Nexus 5

There are a few changes that I see. For example, SMS messages are now combined with hangouts which is great as every messages are in one place.

And now all pictures taken is now updated to “Photos” – I quite like the auto-backup which saves all your images to your google+ account. It’s a peace of mind in case something happens to the phone or makes a smooth transition when changing phones. LG Nexus 5

I really like the camera. There are different interesting functions like Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur and HDR+. Considering that the camera is just 8 MP, the quality of the images are quite impressive. Here are some of the snapshots that I took recently, not forgetting the ones I took in Orvieto. LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5

Admittedly, these pictures are slightly enhanced using Snapseed. Nevertheless, you’d need to have a good picture to be edited into an even better picture. The roasted seafood picture especially, looked as if it could have been snapped using a DSLR 🙂

Another awesome function is “Ok Google” which runs really smoothly on the phone. But the part which I like a lot about Google Now  is the ‘Location’. Using this function makes you keep track of your friends all the time. I like this function a lot as I’d always know where Cart is so I don’t worry about where he could be.

I probably might talk more about this function in the future about how this affects relationships 😛 LG Nexus 5

And I finally am able to do … emoticons! Probably something quite frivolous, but I’ve been waiting for this for the longest time. I can’t believe that this couldn’t be done in earlier phones. I didn’t want to install additional apps like Swiftkey which at 26 MB seems like such a bloatware. LG Nexus 5

To end this post, I just have to say that I really love my new phone. The irony is, I don’t use it much for talking and instead use it more for social media, ingressing and taking photos. I don’t even carry my point and shoot camera with me much any more.

Thank you so much Cartcart 🙂

Mi Powerbank – First impressions

Normally a lot of people would scoff at getting a made in China product, nevertheless I’ve been eyeing on the Mi Power-bank for a while. While it was originally meant for the China market, they’ve recently started selling their stocks to limited countries in South-East Asia. Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

At 10,400mAh, it is extremely powerful – that’s about twice the capacity of my older power-bank, and when fully charged, has enough juice to charge my phone for about 3 times. The best part is, that it costs only 14 SGD. That’s about 8 euro! I cannot think of anywhere else where you could get this much power at this price. Too bad that it’s not distributed to the rest of the world. Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

From what I’ve heard, it’s not that easy to get one. It’s usually sold online once a month at about 5 000 or 10 000 units at a time, and they are always sold out in 5 minutes.

Which was why I was really enthralled when my friend Renhao managed to snag some and has very kindly given Cart and I, one each, a  as a gift. Thank you so much! 🙂 Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

I won’t go too much into the technical details of it as there are plentiful of reviews of them online but at first glance, I think that it’s totally gorgeous and I’m completely enamoured.

Opening the cardboard box, I was impressed at the simplistic beauty of the packaging inside. There is an opaque box with the power-bank and cable fitting perfectly inside. And that’s it. I really like that it was not overly packaged, so there’s hardly any wastage at all. Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

I don’t know if it’s that impressive for you, but to me I appreciate how everything fits in their own Zen. The whole packaging looks as if a lot of thought was given in the design process.

The power-bank itself looks extremely sophisticated – with the sleek aluminium finish and the white decals at the edge. Touching and holding it, it does not feel nor look cheap. Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

It’s significantly heavier compared to my old power-bank. I have yet to use it though as I’ve started to charge it in the morning at about 9.30 am. At 4.30 pm, it still needed another 25% more to go and I saw that it was finally fully charged when I reached back home in the late evening. Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

Despite that long charge, it’ll be able to complete charge my phone about 3 times. It’ll be useful when I’m using battery intensive aps and I can’t wait to try it out 🙂 Mi Powerbank 10400mAh

With two power-banks under my belt, I am now an unstoppable mobile warrior!