Stuart Breckenridge

Mini Metro Review

If you’ve ever travelled on an underground train you’ll be familiar with the colour coded lines, the interchange stations, the overcrowding, and the inevitable delays. Mini Metro is a minimalist strategy game that takes all these elements and makes managing an underground network fun.

Mini Metro initially puts you in charge of deciding which colour coded lines to connect to which of three stations. Each station is represented by a shape (e.g. circle), and a passenger waiting at a station is denoted by a smaller shape (e.g. a square) which also indicates their final destination.

It starts off simple enough...

As each game week progresses, new stations appear which need to be integrated into your network and the game map expands beautifully to fit them all in. Each new station adds more passengers and puts a greater strain on your trains and stations.

At the end of each game week, your strategic skills are put to the test when you’re rewarded with a either a new line, a new carriage, a new train, a tunnel, or an interchange station upgrade. You are always competing against two conflicting goals: ensuring your network has enough capacity for its current passenger load and expanding quickly enough to accomodate each new station.

...and then it gets crazy!

Each train line can have a limited number of trains and new stations with the same shape have an annoying tendency to appear close to each other. (Three circle stations in a row on the same line doesn’t make for easy capacity management.) The decisions you make at the end of each game week have an immediate impact on proceedings.

Should any of your stations get to the point of being overcrowded the game comes to an end. That’s when you hit Play for the fourth time in a row. Depending on your score, you’ll unlock new maps1 each of which present their own distinct challenge, for example, more rivers means you’ll need more tunnels.

If you’re a bit nutty and want a greater challenge you can play in Extreme mode. This makes things more difficult as train lines are permanent and can’t be altered once they are laid. This one change makes things incredibly diffuclt. Finally, there is Daily mode where a random map is selected and your scores are uploaded to Game Center for all to see.

Mini Metro is one of my favourite games and a highly recommended purchase.

  1. Mini Metro maps are modelled after real-life locations and include: London, Paris, New York City, Berlin, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Osaka, Saint Petersburg, Montréal, San Francisco, São Paulo, Cairo, and Aukland. ↩︎


MacStories Black Friday Deal Tracker

MacStories Black Friday deal tracker is currently tracking (at time of writing) over 130 deals across the iOS and macOS App Stores, Amazon, and direct purchase from developers. It’s a great time to pick up some quality apps at knock down prices.

Here are some of my recommendations1:

iOS:

macOS:

It occurs to me that I’m recommending productivity apps on iOS and games on macOS. It’s not intentional. It just seems that the productivity apps I use on macOS — BBEdit, Coda, etc — are not on sale! :-(

  1. The links below are affiliate links tied to MacStories. ↩︎


Spam iCloud Calendar Invitations

Today I received a spam calendar invite on my iCloud account. Had this been at work (on Outlook) I’d have just declined without sending a response. But this is iCloud and it plays by different rules! Surprisingly, it appears that there is no way on iOS or macOS to delete a calendar invitation without informing the originator:

Informing Your Spammer

Why there is no way to simply delete an invite without a response is beyond me. It presents a security risk in that by responding you are confirming that your email address is real and in use.

It’s certainly one for @AppleSupport:

Update:

There is a solution via Pixel Envy and The Dangling Pointer:

  1. Create a new iCloud calendar (not “On My Mac”).
  2. Move the spam event to the new iCloud calendar.
  3. Delete the new iCloud calendar.
  4. Calendar will now prompt you with “Delete and Don’t Notify” and “Delete and Notify”.
  5. Select “Delete and Don’t Notify”.

FIFA's Investigation into the Display of Poppies

Over the last few weeks the Football Associations of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland made the decision to allow their players to display poppies during international matches. FIFA have responded by launching disciplinary investigations into each Association.

Sky News:

FIFA has opened disciplinary cases against England and Scotland after their players wore armbands with poppy emblems.

[…]

Both teams face the possibility of a fine, or even a World Cup points deduction.

BBC News:

Fifa is investigating the Football Associations of Wales and Northern Ireland over poppy displays during recent games.

Fans formed a poppy mosaic ahead of Wales’ 12 November World Cup qualifier against Serbia while players wore black arm-bands.

Northern Ireland fans did likewise while their players also wore black arm bands when they hosted Azerbaijan.

While FIFA rules prohibit wearing anything that could be perceived to be a political statement, I’d argue that wearing a poppy is nothing of the sort. It is simply a sign of remembrance:

Today, they [poppies] are most common in the UK, New Zealand and Canada, and are used to commemorate their servicemen and women killed in all conflicts. — Wikipedia

I’d take the fine and points deduction every single time.


The Trials of Life

I’ve been watching the first few episodes of Planet Earth II through iTunes and, as usual, I’m staggered by the scenes the BBC have been able to capture. In episode 2, where the bears are scratching their backs, that had my 13 month old son laughing. They are unparalleled.

To my surprise, the BBC series that got me hooked on natural history is available on iTunes: The Trials of Life. 12 (no where near close to HD) episodes that were originally given to me on VHS as a gift over 25 years ago that still stick with me to this day. They must have been good.