Tracking Santa, John Lennon, Pudding Monsters
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This year there are three different ways to follow Santa’s journey around the world.
For more than 50 years NORAD has been tracking Santa’s flight for children. There’s a countdown to keep track of his departure time and then a series of different tracking systems used to follow his movements and display them across the globe as he travels from time zone to time zone. To help kids pass the time there’s an Elf Toss game where you can swipe the screen to help Santa’s elves load presents into his sleigh. If you visit the web version there’s a small village with more activities to enjoy.
Google Track Santa
Search giant Google has decided to launch their own tracking service with many of the same features, but with the charm their known for with their Google doodles. There’s a countdown until departure, an animation that will show Santa’s flight with many important stops, and a village of activities and scenes of elves hard at work to explore. Set to start tracking at a later hour, we’ll see tonight if Google can match NORAD.
Normally Star Walk is used to identify stars, satellites, and constellations in the night sky, but when you point your mobile camera up to the heavens during the holidays you’ll see Santa flying across the horizon too. Unfortunately the feature offers no real details on Santa’s journey the way it does on celestial objects, just an image of him on his sleigh moving through the night.
The John Lennon Letters
John Lennon was one of those rare musicians who had a great deal more to offer the world than his music. His wit, intelligence, and charm are very much present in this collection of 88 correspondences which range from casual jots on random scraps of paper and postcards sent while travelling to proper letters written for work. Some are formal, others madcap, and some written with no intention of being sent.
The advantage of having these on the iPad is that they can be arranged in different ways. You can browse them chronologically or sorted by theme or sorted by recipients. Each is embedded with notations and background details to help you understand the things and people Lennon is referring to and you can flip the postcards over to read them from both sides. The little drawings and characters Lennon liked to add have been animated into a clever opening too. The disadvantage of the iPad version is that it’s missing 208 documents included in the printed book version.
You can read his letters in his own handwriting as his friends would have or select a text version for complete legibility. Actor Christopher Eccleston (who played Lennon in a TV movie) has done an audio reading of each and Yoko Ono includes a special foreword. It is a beautiful app to explore, but admittedly pricey for what it offers. In our modern world of casual tweets and personal updates, what might have been considered the mundane exchanges of Lennon’s past takes on a special appreciation today.
From the creators of Cut The Rope, a puzzle game that has been downloaded more than 100 million times, comes this new series called Pudding Monsters. It too plays with physics, but this time features gelatinous cube creatures that will merge together into larger versions of themselves when they touch.
Each level gives you a game board filled with obstacles and cube creatures scattered around them. Your job is to work out how to get the creatures to meet up with each other and merge at target locations or form target shapes.
Getting the creatures to move is easy, a simple swipe sets them in motion, but the trick is getting them to stop or turn. That’s the puzzle. You can stop a creature sliding by blocking its path, redirect it with ramps, or merge it with others nearby.
I’ve seen this kind of puzzle many times before, usually done with blocks of sliding ice, but here they’ve found new twists by making all the pieces alive with unique powers such as the ability to leave obstructing trails of slime, move in groups, or trigger buttons and switches.
The graphics are fun, but more engaging is the mindless manner of the monsters themselves who seem to be game for anything without realizing it might mean their doom. Once you get a few levels in Pudding Monsters is a very hard game to walk away from.
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