My Campaign Goes High-Tech

Now that I’m commuting over an hour to Providence, while my darling wife commutes half an hour in the opposite directions, we decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and purchase cell phones.  Yes, some of you may be shocked to learn that we had been cell-phone-less all the way up to the year 2011.  I’ve seen reactions go over the years from understanding, to curiosity, to out-right disbelief.

Anyway, I figured since I had held out so long that if I was going to make the shift I had better do so in a big way.  So I bought myself an HTC Thunderbolt, and Jenn an iPhone 4.  That’s right, we went from no cell phones to the fanciest damn phones we could find.  Funny thing is, I really have no concept which features are new and exciting, and which are pretty much standard these days, as I have no frame of reference.  However, I have noticed the damn thing seems to creep into every day life quite a lot, even including my D&D games.

I bought the silly 3D dice rolling app, which has come in useful once or twice, but is mostly a novelty.  Nothing really comes close to solid chunks of plastic rattling in your hands.  No, the real benefit is quick and easy access to PDFs.  I’ve downloaded quite a few onto the phone, and while for the most part I still prefer physical books, it’s pretty handy to have the more esoteric ones in digital form rather than have to have a huge stack of stuff sitting at the table.  However, the screen is pretty small, and I’ve come to realize that the PDF reader software makes a huge difference.  If you have an Android phone and also use it for gaming PDF reading, I highly suggest you fork over the 99 cents for ezPDF Reader.

Sure, you can get the official Adobe reader for free, but ezPDF Reader is far superior.  First off, it has a nice file browser interface at the top level.  Not only will it let you search for pdfs on your device, but it has a kind of customizable bookmark/favorites list that’s easy to edit.  Once you open a PDF, it gives you a nice full screen view with a very satisfyingly book-like page flip animation when you flick your finger across it to turn the page.  Of course, the print is too tiny in this view to really read, but it’s good for quick flipping around to find the right page.  There’s also a good interface for using bookmarks and a thubnail view to jump quickly from section to section.  Once you’re on the right page though, that’s when the best feature comes to play: fit-to-text column view.

With just a double tap on the screen the view will zoom into a single column of text.  This is great for old school gaming PDFs, which by and large tend to be in two column format.  The zoom is enough for easy legibility, and then as you scroll the thing actually automatically jumps from one column to the next as you reach the end, and across pages as necessary.

Honestly, at a quarter of the price of the silly 3D dice app, this thing is a steal.  Truly it is the most useful phone app for gaming, and I highly recommend you get it.  And in combination with the silly dice app, it tickles me to know that I have absolutely everything I need to run an impromptu D&D game in my pocket at all times.  Welcome to the 21st century indeed.

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3 Comments

  1. And of course I was only 9 months ahead of you guys. (With a lower-end LG Rumor Touch… you guys probably made the right call, within 3 months I was wishing for an Android). My top uses, about like I expected:

    (1) Taking “todo” notes on the notepad-like application.
    (2) Web browsing, blogs, etc.
    (2) Reading documents — D&D PDFs, DOCs, spreadsheets, reading Project Gutenberg Conan TXTs.
    (3) Text messaging
    (4) Photography
    (5) Google maps
    (6) Phone calls

    So yeah, at some point I’ll get an Android (more open access… some of this data is stupidly locked down on me), and a good PDF viewer will be high on my list, so excellent heads-up. And a live upstreaming video app for those run-ins with security forces, please. >)

  2. @Delta – heh, I approve that actually using the phone as as phone is last on your list! I think if I had had to get a cellphone that wasn’t a smartphone, I’d have resisted more – I think the only person I’ve talked to on it has been Paul when he couldn’t get me on the home line!

    I recently discovered the niceness of using it as a notepad when I forgot to make a list before heading to the grocery store – it was nice to be able to make one anyway!

  3. Geez, there’s me unable to count to “3” properly above there. 🙁

    Anyway, Jenn — Yeah, the note-taking feature is really nice and it’s just the right size for it. For me, it wiped out several orders of magnitude of yellow sticky notes I always had lying around (and recycling).

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