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I love playing word games, like Scrabble or Words with Friends. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the simplicity of mindless match-three games. So, it is only logical that I’d be drawn to a game that combines them both.

Languinis is a match-three word game that is both charming and entertaining. It appeals to puzzle gamers in two different genres. We’ve got a full game review of Languinis for you today.

Concept

You must help rescue the Languinis from the Phoenix god, who imprisoned the little creatures because they grew lazy after trying to name every single thing on the planet. To rescue them, you must travel across various islands, solving the god’s puzzles. Once you have defeated him, you will free one Languini from his prison and move onto the next island.

Design

Players competed on a grid of elements. Using wind, fire, water, the sun, and more, players turn elements into letters and letters into points. Match more than three elements to produce a special one that clears a row or column.

A group of little Languinis walks around at the bottom of the screen while you play your game. If you misspell a word, they will shake their head at you, and one of them will boot another right off the screen. It’s OK, he comes back.

Gameplay

To free the Languinis, players spell words using letters that appear when three or more elements are matched. Each level has a set of goals you must achieve to continue. You only have a certain number of moves in a round. If you don’t reach the goals within the move limit, you will lose a life and must play the same round again.

If you achieve the goals with moves leftover, those moves are added to your final score.

At first, goals are fairly simple; spell six five-letter words, or match 20 green leaves. However, things get heated up once you make it to the third island. Here, you will have to hunt down words that start with “Q” or spell eight-letter words. Plus, you’ll still have to match elements and reach a minimum score.

You can call on the Phoenix god for help. He can destroy a letter or element, bomb an area, or remove all of one type of element from the screen. He can also find the longest word on the screen, which is always something I’ve never heard before.

You can also start each round with one power up already on the grid, like a bomb. All power ups cost gold. Sometimes, the Phoenix god will give you something for free, but the game designers need to make money somewhere, and power ups are it.

When you get to the last round of an island, you will have to rescue a Languinis by removing all elements and letters from the row he is standing in. When he gets to the bottom of the row, he is free. Then, you will collect his character card and read more about his history and personality. That Languini will then join you at the bottom of the screen while you play. Eventually, you will collect all 26 of the trapped little men.

The Good

This game could have been good enough by simply having you score points for matching three and spelling words. But, the added goal requirements make you think about your strategy and plan moves ahead of time in order to reach them before running out.

The Bad

Once you hit the third island it becomes much harder to complete all of the goals. With the help of power ups, you can be successful, but without them, you might be stuck for a very long time until luck lands on your side.

Value

Languinis is free to download. It does have in-app purchases in the form of power ups. As noted above, eventually, you will find yourself using more and more power ups, which costs more and more money. So, you will probably end up dropping a couple of dollars on this game before you beat it entirely.

Conclusion

I love playing this game and definitely recommend it to fans of word games. However, because of the inevitable pay wall, it is slightly less appealing. It is still worthy of your time, however. This game is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can download it in the App Store today.

Related Apps

You can almost call this game a mash up between Candy Crush and LetterPad.

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Review: Nanoleaf’s Aurora Smart Lighting Panels Match Modular Customization With Homekit Control

I’ve tried a few different HomeKit lighting solutions but nothing quite like Nanoleaf’s Aurora smart lighting panels. These modular tiles probably won’t replace traditional lamps or ceiling bulbs, but the customizable LED lights provide visually impressive colorful (and pricey) accent lighting. See it in action below:

Nanoleaf’s Aurora smart lighting system retails for $199 for a starter kit that includes nine panels, nine linkers, the HomeKit-compatible controller, 28 3M mounting strips, and the power supply. That’s comparable in price to the Philips Hue smart lighting system which includes three color-changing A19 LED bulbs and a HomeKit-compatible bridge, but the novelty of Aurora is unmatched by any other HomeKit lighting solution on the market.

Aurora is modular so you can create a variety of designs from the same nine tiles, or add additional tiles to create more complex layouts. Each lighting panel can connect to up to three more lighting panels with one linker connecting two tiles. Aurora intelligently detects what layout you’ve created, then maps it on Nanoleaf’s companion app where you can set color flows, brightness, speed, and more.

Additional tiles are sold in sets of three for $59.99 which is about the cost of one additional Philips Hue color bulb.

Check out our hands-on video with Nanoleaf Aurora below:

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HomeKit support means you can also set colors and brightness with Siri, Apple’s new Home app, or through automation based on time or commands that control other accessories.

For example, you could have a scene called Movie Night that turns off the ceiling light and sets the Aurora lights to deep blue at 10% brightness; just tell Siri to ‘set Movie Night scene’ and your connected accessories automatically jump to the right mode.

Apple’s Home app doesn’t support multicolor waves from the built-in color picker — only solid colors — so you’ll want to spend more time in Nanoleaf’s app at first to discover different color effects. HomeKit makes changing the brightness, toggling the lights on and off, and setting solid colors very convenient.

You can also turn color effects you discover or create in Nanoleaf’s app into scenes in Apple’s Home app. This is where HomeKit support’s potential is really unlocked. You can use Siri to change between dramatically different color effects, or pick a few favorites to access from Control Center.

You can also automate specific color effects using Apple’s Home app. For instance, you can have Aurora display a vibrant sunrise color effect at 7 am each morning or even based on the actual sunrise time where you live.

Simply using Siri to turn Aurora on, change the color effect and brightness, and turn Aurora off makes HomeKit support super valuable.

Setting up Aurora can be a bit intimidating, but Nanoleaf provides the necessary  supplies including paper templates that let you mock up a design on your wall before sticking tiles. Nanoleaf also has a series of very helpful video tutorials that I found useful before installation.

Nanoleaf’s packaging is pretty minimal and easy to break down and recycle (the box even asks you to) which I appreciated. The power supply includes plenty of cable length for wiring the controller to where you need it, and each tile is pretty light and can stand a few accidental drops (trust me).

Nanoleaf recommends connecting each panel right out of the box before you starting hanging anything to make sure there are no defects. The first panel connects to the controller, then each additional panel connects with a small tab called a linker that inserts into both panels to pass power and data.

3M mounting strips hold each panel in place on the wall. Nanoleaf recommends exposing the non-adhesive tab on each mounting strip so panels can be easily removed in the future, and you can strategically place them so that the connecting tile covers the exposed tab. The process is super easy once you get the hang of it.

Deciding on a design pattern may be the hardest step. Nanoleaf provides several ideas in the setup guide including four patterns that work with the starter kit, four more designs that work when adding the expansion kit, and seven ideas when using 15 and 30 panels. You can make any pattern with your panels, though, and the Nanoleaf app recognizes it and reflects it on your smartphone or tablet. I was tempted to go with the fish layout, but ultimately decided on a more linear layout to cover a few scratches on the wall from guitars.

A few things to keep in mind: each panel is lit by three LEDs which are more noticeable at high brightness levels, the controller is wired and may not sit flush like each tile so try to place it out of sight, and consider how the plasticky white panels will appear when not lit before deciding on placement.

Aurora is visually impressive and well integrated with Apple devices and Siri thanks to HomeKit, and Nanoleaf makes the lighting system both easy and fun to set up with the modular design. The starter kit is pricey for mood lighting at $200, but overall the product is very well done. I can definitely imagine purchasing additional starter kits to create different designs in other rooms in the future.

My office has a ceiling bulb connected to a HomeKit wall switch, a HomeKit bulb in a desk lamp, two studio lights connected to a HomeKit switch, and now Aurora which is overall my favorite for just general background lighting.

Nanoleaf Aurora is like a beautiful screensaver for your wall. Pair that with some music you enjoy and you can create a very ambient lounge experience.

Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit is available for $199.99, Aurora expansion kit retails for $59.99, and Best Buy is currently bundling Aurora starter kit and expansion kit together for $199.98. Nanoleaf also makes other interesting HomeKit lighting solutions like the Ivy (reviewed) which you can find on Amazon.

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Outlook.com Review: Does It Stack Up To Gmail?

Since Microsoft released its new cloud-based email service chúng tôi there has been lots of buzz about it. The word on the streets is it’s a winner – superior to Gmail and certainly better than the lacklustre Hotmail. Email is email, right? So what does it offer that makes it stand out among its competitors? Let’s take a look at the features that make chúng tôi the go-to email service.

Mail Rules And Folders

Some email services have included rules to enable you to better manage your incoming mail. However, they are either too complicated for the average user or not specific enough for the business minded. chúng tôi allows you to create folders for your mail that will work with your mail rules. Automatically send your messages into specific folders to help you sort out your mail priorities and make reading and responding to emails easier. For example, you can send work mail from billing to the billing folder for later sifting, or send mail from your boss to a boss file for immediate action.

To create A Rule

In step 1, choose the filtering option for the messages.

Mail Features

Junk

All messages can be deleted but if you mark a message as junk, Outlook will keep the sender out of your inbox from there on.

Sweep

SkyDrive

Sharing photos, documents or video just became a snap with SkyDrive functionality. No more worrying about attachment limits. The beautiful portal for viewing video and photos makes the experience nothing short of enjoyable.

Customize The Dashboard Integrate Social Media To Outlook

You have the option to link your social media sites to your email in chúng tôi When you do, the incoming email will have the person’s picture included in the top of the email along with their latest Facebook post and Tweets at the bottom.

Business Integration

In addition to the social media functions, chúng tôi also has the ability to function as a business tool. Open, view and edit Microsoft Word documents, Excel or PowerPoint documents from within an email. If you have the need or desire, you’ll soon have the ability to have a Skype chat from the dashboard as well.

Conclusion

Jessica Prouty

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How Do We Use Python Regular Expression To Match A Date String?

Introduction

Programming languages frequently employ date inputs to obtain user data, such as birthdates, travel dates, reservation dates, etc. These dates given by the user may be immediately verified as legitimate using regular expressions. To determine whether a text has a valid date format and to extract a valid date from a string, utilize regular date expressions.

When checking dates, a regular expression for dates (YYYY-MM-DD) should look for four digits at the beginning of the expression, a hyphen, a two-digit month between 01 and 12, another hyphen, and then a two-digit day between 01 and 31. This is how the regex code works −

This code supports most dates; however, incorrect dates like 2023-04-31 and 2023-02-29 (because 2023 is not a leap year) are not included (April has only 30 days). Use the tools your chosen programming language provides to carry out these tests.

Date Format Criteria And Algorithm

The general date format that should be used is YYYY-MM-DD, easily legible by both people and computers, according to the international date standard, ISO 8601. It is very simple to arrange this type chronologically.

Algorithm

import re

Store the date string

Use re.match to match the date string

Print the str.group()

The shorter format YYYYMMDD, which we’ll explore later, is also accepted by the ISO standard. So let’s create a regular expression that meets these requirements.

Syntax Used

A date must begin with a four-digit year, ranging from 0000 to 9999. This may be explained by using the following −

/d{4}/

The quantifier “4” specifies that we want exactly four characters, but the numeric character “d” accepts any digit from 0 to 9. (no more and no less).

/d{4}-/

This is followed by a month with two digits, padded with leading zeros if necessary, ranging from 01 to 12. Using “d2” in this place, which stands for two digits, could be tempting, but any month representation between 00 and 99 is acceptable.

Example

import

re

datestring

=

’31-08-2024′

str

=

re

.

match

(

‘(d{2})[/.-](d{2})[/.-](d{4})$’

,

datestring

)

print

(

“The first input date string is”

,

str

.

group

(

)

)

datestring

=

‘2024-08-31’

str

=

re

.

match

(

‘(d{2})[/.-](d{2})[/.-](d{4})$’

,

datestring

)

print

(

“Matching both the date input if it’s in the same format or not:”

,

str

)

Output The first input date string is 31-08-2024 Matching both the date input if it's in the same format or not: None Code Explanation /0[1-9]/

The 1-9 enclosed square brackets indicate that we’ll take any number from 1 to 9, but the 0 in front indicates that we want a literal match for the 0 characters.

We have a somewhat different layout for the months beginning with 1, which are October (10) through December (12). Only 0 or 1, or 2 characters can follow one character. The way we do that is as follows −

/1[0-2]/

The 0-2 in square brackets will accept one character from 0 to 2, whereas the 1 in front indicates a literal match for the one character.

Adding this to our 4-digit year regex produces the following −

This is then followed by another hyphen character (-) −

Finally, if required, we can construct the code that will take a two-digit day representation, padded with leading zeros ranging from 01 to 31. We’ll divide the day into halves, akin to how the month is represented.

Day 1 through Day 9, which begin with a 0, will be our first focus. A single digit may follow these from 1 to 9 (notice that we have omitted the number 0 since it is not a valid day representation; see below) −

/0[1-9]/

Then, by stating that we can have either a 1 or a 2 followed by any one number from 0 to 9, we’ll combine the days 10 through 19 and 20 through 29 −

/[12][0-9]/

The [12] square brackets denote that either 1 or 2 will be accepted.

Additionally, we need the number 3 to be followed by either a 0 or a 1 for the days 30 to 31.

/3[01]/

Finally, we may rejoin them by continuing to use our expression −

We need to place the start-of-string character and end-or-string character at the beginning and end of the expression, respectively, to make sure that we only match the date and nothing else before or after it −

There you have it, then! With some cleverness, this regex code will accept the YYYY-MM-DD date format.

Conclusion

Python regular expression can explicitly locate dates with the formats day, month, and year. The day is a one-digit integer or a zero followed by a one-digit integer, a one-digit integer, a two-digit integer, a three-digit integer, or a one-digit integer. The month is a one-digit integer, a zero followed by a one-digit integer, a 1 followed by a 0, 1, or 2, or a 2 followed by a 0. The year is represented by the number 20 and any number between 00 and 99.

Mix Things Up By Making A Color

Stats

Time: 2 hours (including 1 hour of waiting time)

Cost: $40 (Chemicals are difficult to acquire in small doses, so you’ll be able to make many storm glasses.)

Difficulty: moderate

Materials Tools Instructions

1. Set up your work area. I made my storm glass on the kitchen table. To avoid contamination, I made sure all food products and utensils were put safely away. This is also a good time to remember that you’re going to be working with chemicals, so make sure you read the labels and warnings, especially if you’ve never worked with these before.

When filtering methylated spirts, you can just use a standard water filter. One that you never want to drink from again, though. Lucy Rogers

2. Prepare the methylated sprit. In the U.K., where I’m based, ethanol is available as methylated spirit—or denatured alcohol—but it contains additives that make it poisonous, bad-tasting, and also purple. Passing the spirit through activated carbon, such as a water filter, removes the purple color, but it will remain poisonous and disgusting. Pour the ethanol into the top of the water filter, and watch as it comes out at the bottom less purple. It will take a few passes to remove all of the color—pour the spirit into another container, then pour it back into the top of the filter. After every couple of passes, flush the filter with water.

Note: In the U.S., you may be able to get clear denatured alcohol, and if so, you may skip this step. Make sure, though, that the spirit you get is ethanol.

Warning: Do not use this filter for drinking water when you’re done. You may, however, save it to filter more ethanol in the future.

As long as the containers hold the chemicals and fit on the scale, you’re good to go. Lucy Rogers

3. Measure the liquids into the beakers and the dry chemicals into small containers. I used a few night light candle tins, with the candles removed, of course. You may use whatever you have on hand, but make sure they’re small enough to fit on your scale and large enough to hold about 2 tablespoons of powder. They can be made from any type of solid material. If you need a refresher, all the amounts are above in the list of materials.

4. Create your first mixture (Mixture 1). Pour the potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride into the distilled water. Stir until it is dissolved.

Note: If you live in a warmer climate than the U.K., increase the amount of ammonium chloride and potassium nitrate you use. Simply put, you can dissolve more chemicals in warmer water, so you’ll need to ensure you’ve got enough in your mixture for crystals to form.

5. Create your second mixture (Mixture 2). Put the camphor into the ethanol and stir until it is dissolved. This may take more than 10 minutes. You may also need to place the beaker in a water bath to heat it—chemicals dissolve better in warmer liquid. I used a kettle to fill a bowl with hot water, then placed my beaker in the hot water.

6. Combine both mixtures together. Slowly add the water mixture (Mixture 1) to the ethanol mixture (Mixture 2) a splash at a time. Stir after each addition. It will go cloudy and then clear again. Keep mixing until it stops changing back and forth, or until you have used all of Mixture 1.

7. Check and correct. Wait for 20 minutes. The liquid may change from clear to cloudy, or crystals may form at the top or bottom of the beaker. Ideally, you’re looking for a clear solution with either fluffy, cloud-like crystals or snowflake-like crystals suspended in it. Depending on the purity of the chemicals you purchased, including the methylated spirit, you may need to try the following, waiting 10-20 minutes between each trial:

If your mixture is too cloudy, as shown here, you’ll need to add more denatured alcohol. Lucy Rogers

Too cloudy or with some froth at the top: Add more ethanol, a few milliliters at a time.

Too clear: Add more camphor.

No sharp crystals: Add more ammonium chloride and potassium nitrate.

Grains at the bottom: Add more water. Do so a few milliliters at a time.

8. Pour the mixture into your glass bottle. When you are happy with the mixture, use a funnel and pour it into your bottle. Then seal the lid.

Over the next few days, watch what happens. The contents of the bottle should change between clear, cloudy, and sharp crystals. It may even coincide with the weather outside your window.

Kick Your Laptop Up A Notch With Kickflip

There are times when typing at a flat angle is uncomfortable. It is most noticeable when using my MacBook Air 13″. All of the keyboards I use, including Apple’s standard wireless keyboard, are angled for ease-of-use. Contrary to standard keyboards, Apples laptop line sits flat on the resting surface.

Asking to “kick it up a notch,” Bluelounge released the Kickflip just a few weeks ago. Hoping to increase productivity and ease everyone’s wrists, the Kickflip does just as the name suggests: props your laptop with just a flip.

Form and function

Using a small footprint, the Kickflip makes a large difference in typing placement. Kickflip is 9″/23 cm and 11″/28 cm for 13″ and 15″ MacBooks, respectively. It is originally designed for a MacBook Pro, but works just as well on my MacBook Air. The device clings tightly to the laptop using a German engineered gel adhesive. The bond is fairly strong, but easily releases if tugged intently. Most importantly, the gel does not leave a residue and can be re-used by washing with mild soap and water.

The gel is a new direction for Bluelounge, which has used micro-suction padding in the past. Currently, I have no preference over one or the other. But, it is nice to see a company thinking ahead for its customers. Too many products are made for a one-and-done application. Any semi-permanently installed accessory is best designed with a re-usable technology.

When the kickstand is flipped out, it adds a little less than a one inch raise on the laptop backend. It still make a very noticeable difference. When closed, there is not a giant difference in the elevated height of the device.

Where you will run into trouble is form fitted laptop sleeves or accessories. I utilize a zippered sleeve for my MacBook Air on a daily basis. Because there is a little play in the Kickflip spring hinge, I must be careful when inserting the MacBook into the sleeve or it could catch. Just holding the MacBook level, the Kickflip dangles away from the bottom laptop casing. Consequently, I hold the Kickflip against the laptop while putting it away for the night. For hardshell cases, I presume the Kickflip’s gel adhesion strip would work just fine on the exterior. This would allow you to still enjoy the added angle, while keeping your MacBook protected in a clip shell.

Conclusion

Usually, I have a review prepped for the day-of launch for Bluelounge products with a positive review ready to roll. However, I took extra time with this review to determine my true feelings. Even chatting with another fellow review editor about the product helped me form an opinion. The Kickflip is a solid product, fixing a common problem for all users in a simple way. After all, that is what all Bluelounge products manage to accomplish.

The dangling Kickflip arm is the most troubled issue for me. I really wish the hinge held the arm taught against the bottom of my Air. I am only talking about 2mm of space, but it is enough to snag something and rip the device off the laptop, even from just inserting it in a sleeve. It is more of a pet peeve than an actual design flaw.

As I mentioned, everything else is great! The device is well cut and molded. The Bluelounge logo is debossed on the stand in a non-distracting way. The angle is great for typing and the gel adhesion is perfect for being re-used. Even better, the price is right on target at $17.95 for the 13″ version, and $19.95 for the 15″ version, which you cannot always say for Bluelounge accessories. Thankfully, a stand like this does not require MFi certification, which keeps licensing costs to $0, allowing a reasonably priced accessory for the consumer.

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