Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Blogs about reviews

Music Players for iOS.


Since iOS updated to version 9, the Music app is awful. Pants. Terrible. Balls. Poop emoji. Specifically:

So, I did the only reasonable thing, and spent an evening evaluating the available options from the App Store. These are the things that I was mostly interested when evaluating music apps:


Ecoute is the best of the bunch and just $.99. Has an simple and clean interface, and allows you select music by Album, Artist or even playlists! It's standout feature is allowing you to queue up music to play next. Good-bye,


A solid audio player, and it's free (but well worth the $.99 in-app purchase to support development). The UI is clear, and it gets right out of way and lets you to your music. I like the innovative way that it displays your album art in a random order to re-introduce you to old audio friends. And you can pick between music, audiobooks and podcasts. The only downside is that (as of this writing), it doesn't read playlists.


The UI is gorgeous, I love the outline around the album fills up as the song plays. But it is far too gesture driven for my needs - and I feel like the "track forward" and "track backward" gestures are reversed. Some of the App Store reviews mentioned problems with Albums containing multiple artists. But I tested this and didn't have any problems.


This app is focused on creating and customizing playlists. I only want to pick albums and play those - sorry Songbucket, it's not you, it's me.

Ebook Reader (for iPad) Findings.


I had been doing a lot of ebook reading on my iPad, but sometimes the experience was lacking due to the ereader application that I was using to read the book. Since then I put a variety of ereaders through their paces with various file types, and what follows is a summary of my findings.


I only evaluated iPad ereaders. My primary use for ereaders is for technical books, with fiction novels being a less common use case. As such these were the features I cared about:

Apps tested

These were the applications I considered:


Brussels Sprout Casserole.


Brussels Sprout Casserole from Pew Pew Laser Blog Try this Brussels sprout casserole recipe to turn around the Brussels sprouts hater in your household. Roasting the sprouts on a preheated sheet pan ensure that they get cooked through and dark and delicious on the outside. Being able to make most of this dish ahead of time makes it great for avoiding holiday oven-contention.

PAX 2013 - Games.


I sure did play a lot of games at PAX this year:


  1. Betrayal At House On The Hill: Midway through the game, one of your co-players turns evil and tries to kill you all! Moderately complex, but would play again!
  2. Fluxx 4.0: Always fun, especially with my own custom blank cards.


  1. Pikmin 3: I'd never played a Pikmin before, but this one had a fun co-op mode.
  2. Burn in Hell: One of the lesser known games from Steve Jackson, this was a little like Hearts but with famous sinners. I wasn't really a fan.
  3. Dominion: It was nice to be reminded how pleasant this deck-building game is. I later bought an expansion that's quite a bit of fun.
  4. Resistance: This game which pits spies against resistance operatives is all about hiding your identity and deducting the identities of others. I have a copy of this have enjoyed it every time I've played it.
  5. Zombie Dice + Zombie Dice 2 Double Feature: Roll some dice and eat the brains. Now with Santa!


  1. Kill Dr. Lucky: James Ernest was demoing this (and Fish Cook) and trying to tune some of the mechanisms.
  2. Fish Cook: Another demo from Cheapass James, I liked this quite a bit. James said that there would be a future Kickstarter for a deluxe version of Fish Cook.
  3. Zip-It: Roll 12 dice and make your own crossword. Score points using the zippers on the storage pouch. It's simple, but I'll play again.
  4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: I didn't really need any further convincing to buy this game, but my demo play-through did not disappoint. I'm very excited for this to come out.
  5. Battleblock Theatre: This XBLA game features competitive and co-operative play for up to 4 players. It's fun and cute.
  6. Machine of Death: We got a demo of this from the creators, but I caught a major case of the sillies and I couldn't really tell you if we lost or not. If you like story-telling games, you'll like this. True fact: I know people who are responsible for the "Shiny Things", "Fancy Pants" and "Electric Sex Pants" cards.
  7. We Didn't Playtest This at All: This was very silly; even sillier than Fluxx.
  8. Munchkin Legends: This an exclusive-to-Target version of the core Munchkin game. It was fun, but the owner was a dirty cheater.


  1. Tokaido: The traveling and collect-a-thon aspects of this game were pleasant, but I didn't like the constant score-keeping.
  2. Last Night On Earth: This was a moderately complex zombie themed board game.
  3. Smash Up: This is a very silly strategy card game, where you can join dinosaurs with zombies for fun and winning. The best part was when the husband set up a base where every card was eaten by Steve's bear.


  1. Kalua: We found this game confusing, and not-at-all about pork.
  2. 7 Wonders: This was a fun little game, but beware of sitting next to experienced players.
  3. Stoner Fluxx: Yep, it's Fluxx with a weed theme. That's pretty much all there is to it.

Another 3 Books for Web Developers.


After reflecting on my recent post Three Must-Read Books for Web Developers, I thought I'd also share three of the books I read when I first started building web pages back in 1999:

  1. Unknown giant HTML4 reference manual: Embarrassingly, I can't remember the precise title or author of this one. It was a 700+ page reference manual for HTML4 and XML. It may or may not have included a bit on JavaScript, but I don't think there was any CSS in it.
  2. Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design [with CDROM] by Vincent Flanders, Michael Willis: This was a design focused book which looked at a bunch of hideous and painful websites of the time. Pick up a copy if you want to see how far web site have come.
  3. JavaScript Goodies (2nd Edition) - Joe Burns, Andree Growney: This was a pretty good introduction to JavaScript for its time. I read the first edition, and then picked up the second edition when it was published in 2001.

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