TUAW Bits and Pieces returns to items we've previously reviewed here on TUAW, offering updates about their usability over time or providing new information we've found since the original post.
Antec PowerUp 6000
I've been testing the Antec PowerUp 6000 portable power supply over an extended time, to make sure that I didn't encounter any of the issues that Amazon reviewers reported in terms of battery life. I'm pleased to report that the unit is still working strong and seems to have delivered solid value for me.
In my original post, Antec wrote, "We haven't seen that many returns or failures on the PowerUp line. In the case of those two customers on Amazon (and anyone who reports issues or problems) our tech support and customer service reach out to them to either return or replace the unit."
Given my extended tests, I don't believe I'd have any issues recommending the unit, especially given Antec's support policy.
I first wrote about the TableTote portable table several years ago, when my daughter was in the hospital for a skiing accident. At that time, numerous readers asked me where they could pick up one. At that time, it was a bit hard to track these down. Now, however, they seem to be regularly stocked on Amazon.
Retailing for $30, the stand folds up to a size between a large book and a very small briefcase. It's quite light weight (under 3 pounds) and provides a great workspace for those of us trying to get work done while at the doctor's office or at an airport.
As Steve Sande can attest, my learning curve for putting this table together was not the smoothest. I soon discovered that you have to hold the legs at the very end (with the plastic spacers) and insert them that way, rather than trying to push them into place and expect them to snap in. When we were sitting outside the Aspen Grove Apple Store for some product release or another, I provided him with endless hours of amusement until I figured out the trick for getting this table to go together.
Now, several years later, I wouldn't live without it. It's one of my favorite accessories, perfect for placing my MacBook Air or iPad.
Plants vs Zombies 2
I thought I'd add a note here to this product follow up post now that I've had a lot more time to spend with Plants vs Zombies 2. I've been learning the ropes and really getting down & dirty with the app. Although I really do quite like many of the updates (almost as much as I hate the IAP hard sell), a lot of the game play feels more like hard work than enjoyable exploration.
There's a difference between fun level grinding, where you tangibly see your characters and situation improve, and a game that keeps telling you to go back and start again at the beginning: over and over again. After working through each level once, PvZ 2 challenges you to repeat those levels three more times to earn additional stars.
These repeats add new challenges (limiting min or max sun, limiting the number of plants you can lose, or limiting the spaces you can plant on), it all feels a lot more like a do over than new adventures.
That's a pity because some of the new plants really are adorably clever and the new strategies are intriguing. Unfortunately, those strategies (for example, bok choy with a potato in front of it) just get used over and over and over again.
Will I keep playing? Yup -- at least until I find something else to play with -- but am I disappointed? Yes. As much as I loathe the evil that is Candy Crush, that game knows how to keep introducing new sadistic challenges to keep the investment of interest high.
To my surprise, Share Bucket, which I reviewed on TUAW a short while ago, has remained on my desktop. It is getting used regularly. It wasn't an app that really shone in terms of polish or features, but it's one that's really filling in a need.
Recently updated to version 1.2, Share Bucket now supports imgur and has added various drawing enhancements and bug fixes. The interface feels stronger and I'm really pleased that the devs are responding to user feedback and keeping the app in active development.
When I recently reviewed Post Haste, TUAW mainstay Brett Terpstra dropped me a note about a similar product he's built. His Planter app accepts simple, indented text files and uses those to define a directory tree structure, building folders of nested directories as deep as you need them to be.
Like Post Haste, this helps you to establish templated folders for creative and development projects that use common tree structures.