The Gratis blog publishes mini reviews of websites, free apps, basically anything that’s free (aka Gratis).. I particularly like strategy games, unusual or interesting websites.
This is but one of many interesting maps on the mapping london website.
Devised by James Cheshire and Oliver O’Brien, the mapping London site features all sorts of interesting views of London and looks quite classy. I picked the names one as it shows off the demographics of London, in a way I’d not seen before. Tower Hamlets for example is home to a lot of Bangladeshi and the map shows that.
You can select names in order of popularity from first to fifteenth. The colours represent the origin of the surname derived from UCL’s Onomap Classification tool. There sure are a lot of Smiths!
This is quite novel, informative and a boon to armchair plane spotters everywhere. Scroll somewhere on the embedded Google Maps and you can then see the aircraft moving across the screen. Click on them and you can altitude, which airline, start and end and the path between and a whole lot more.
It’s all very clever stuff and it’s free. If you have the special receiver that picks up the aircraft’s ADS-B transponder then you can join the site and provide extra coverage. There’s 90% coverage of Europe (it’s a busy place up in the skies) and somewhat less elsewhere. The screenshot shows one lining up to do a bomb run on my house! (I’m only teasing!), but you can see the aircraft information on the left hand side.
I bought the paid App for my iPhone, it costs about £2.00. It has a nifty feature in the paid version where you point the phone at the plane and it works out which one it is. Of course as we’re about free here at Gratis, here’s the link to the free FlightRadar24 App. But go on, buy the pro version. It’s worth it.
Earlier this year I posted a review of Tiny Towers and this is another free game from the same developer Nimblebit. Like Tiny Towers, the graphics aren’t retina compatible but that doesn’t matter with games like this, it’s the fun and compulsion that count.
In Pocket Planes you start with a fleet of four small aircraft, 15 Bux (like Tower Bux) and $30,000 (game money!). You use your aircraft to pick up passengers and cargo (some planes are all passenger, some all cargo and some are mixed). The bottom screen of the three shows the selection screen. The top one shows picking destinations with the circle showing the maximum range.
At each level you can add a new city and for a certain amount of money (it increases) you can add extra aircraft. To get to level 13 cost me $60,000 in game money. You can buy aircraft (if available) with Bux, which also can be exchanged for $500 each. Instead of buying fully built aircraft you can buy the three parts needed (Body, Controls and engines) for a lot less then pay to put it together. An aircraft going for 20 bux might be bought in parts and put together for 15.
Bux can be bought with real money but you also get them ferrying certain cargos and in the flying screen money ($1 or $10) and less frequently Bux go flying through the air and one tap gets them. You can use Bux to increase aircarft speed and range/performance and dollars to improve cities. Oh and watch out for aircraft classes. Some 4 seaters are class two and you need bigger cities opened up.
It’s a quite compelling game though I suspect the game balance is a little off as progression takes quite a while, much slower than Tiny Towers.
Link (to Pocket Planes on ITunes)
Mapnificent shows you the area you can reach walking or cycling from any point in a particular city in a given time. It is available for major cities in the US and world wide. The “Crocodile walking on two legs”, well I think that’s what it looks like is how far you can travel from Sandileigh Avenue in Didsbury, Manchester where I lived 25 years ago. London and Manchester are two of the cities covered by Mapnificent.
That’s Tiny Tower in a nutshell. You build up a tower block, paying for each new floor which become progressively more expensive. Then residents move in to the residential blocks and you assign them to work in the available jobs, hopefully getting them to their dream job. Businesses pay coins which lets you buy more floors etc.
It’s a classic two currency freemium game like many on Facebook. Coins are the income that you get from activities and pay for most stuff and you still earn them while not playing. Bux are the currency that you can buy with real money that speeds up things. Play free and it takes time, pay and it’s quicker. Your money, your choice. But it’s a very engaging game and definitely worth a look.
Tactile CRM is a web based contact and sales management system for small businesses and departments. If you’re an individual looking to manage your sales contacts, track customer enquiries and sales leads then this is free for you. Obviously you don’t get as much as paying customers but you do get 250 Contacts, 20 Opportunities, 10MB File Storage and Email Support and they’re hoping that you will find their service of use to you enough for you to upgrade to paying customer.
You can try out their premium features for 14 days without needing to provide your credit card; it’s not a try on but a genuine offer.
- It’s British (Well done chaps!)
- No server resets.
I have a fondness for games of this ilk and this is very well done indeed. Lovely looking graphics, it’s responsive and not difficult to get into with a great get you started tutorial. It’s also a bit more complex through the vast number of things to upgrade, so greater breadth of play.
It has one minor flaw compared to Lord of Ultima (which must be it’s main rival) and that is the queue limit for building; it’s just two things. LOU gives you six at a time or 15 with a premium upgrade. Once you get multiple cities (I’m not there yet) it should become more interesting but I think the city building could do with being faster.
It’s built on the freemium model so you can play it for free or spend cash to buy “Prestige” which you can spend on resources, speeding up production etc.
Other game features are a lovely world map, a comprehensive research system, magic, alliances. If you’ve played LOU, you’ll feel right at home here. I play it using Chrome (I found it in the Chrome web store) and it’s fast, bug free and very nicely implemented. I think I can sum it up as being a game I would have loved to have designed/programmed.