Apple Special Event September 2015 #apple

Apple’s September event has come and gone. Re-watch the keynote at Apple’s website.

Well, all the common rumours are pretty much on the spot.

Tim Cook is changing the keynote style. Unlike Jobs who likes to talk about statistics before the actual announcements, Tim Cook seems to prefer to just go straight to the announcements.

First, Apple Watch. WatchOS 2, and new models (color) and bands. I thought smartwatch is just an expensive fad. I do own a Motorola 360, and I only bought it due to the price cut when the Apple Watch was released. At $400, I’m still not convinced whether it is worth it to get a first gen product. Time has proven again and again that Apple’s second revision of the product is much better (iPad, iPhone, iPod nano). With Apple pushing apps on the Apple Watch, I am going to wait for the next revision to see if it is finally worth the price.

The more important here to me is the partnership with Hermes. The lay people amy brush this away, but this is the next step of Apple as a business. Apple is making itself into more of a brand company, and it is selecting luxury partners. We will see how Apple progress, and how the other tech companies are confused how Apple is making so much money.

Next up is iPad, and yes, the rumours are correct. We are getting a 12.9″ iPad Pro, with stylus support called Apple Pencil, and a smart keyboard cover. Yes, sounds like the same concept as Microsoft’s Surface.

What’s amazing is the inside. It is sporting an A9X chip, and simply listening to Apple’s claim on what the chip can do is quite mind boggling. Apple claims that it is faster than 80% of the laptops out there. That’s a huge claim, considering intel has been making great improvements on its Atom and Core processors. GPU performance claim is also huge, 2x the 8X, and Apple is claiming it is faster than 90% of laptops out there. Being able to edit 4K movies is a jaw-dropping capability, considering that even my Macbook Pro is still choking on 1080p videos in Final Cut Pro X.I am wondering how Apple does it. Having said that, I am guessing majority of laptops out there are running Atom and low end Celeron and Pentium processors, and thus explain the claim of GPU superiority of the A9X. I mean intel integrated graphics are not the greatest, but I doubt the A9X can match the Iris GPUs, which are in the Macbook Pros.

Other features are 4 speakers, and the new connectors for accessories, including the smart keyboard. However, just like Microsoft, the keyboard cover is sold at a premium, for $170. Oh and there’s the stylus called Apple Pencil, for an extra $100. But it is charging from the lightning connector? It is stupid, having the pencil sticking out on the huge iPad Pro. Maybe Apple Pencil 2 will have a rotatable lightning connector. I harp on Microsoft for note including the keyboard cover with the Surface, but at least Microsoft included the stylus on the Surface Pro.

As usual, Apple made videos starring Johnny Ive to narrate technology into an alluring advertisement. This is the magic of Apple, as it made me interested into getting the iPad Pro. However, I think 12.9″ is too big. I think the iPad Pro is a test bed. When you look at the models available, it has a weird lineup, inconsistent with previous iPads offering. Apple only offers it in 3 models, 32GB, 128GB, and 128GB + cellular. There’s no 32GB + cellular, nor 64GB models. They are expensive too. 32GB model is $800, and the 128GB + cellular is $1080. Yes, finally a $1000 iPad… Sounds like Apple is still determining how the market would react and what kind of demands they would have. Personally, I will be waiting for an updated regular iPad with the Pencil support. That would be a more ideal size for students.

Interestingly, Apple updated the iPad mini into iPad mini 4 without actual announcement. The iPad mini 3 was silly, only adding Touch ID over the iPad mini 2. The mini 4 is a more appropriate update, adding the A8 chip. Interestingly, Apple is keeping the mini 2 for the lower price point instead of the mini 3. iPad mini 2 now starts at $270, which is quite a steal imo (the refurbished 16GB wifi is getting close to the $200 price point, being sold at $230). Imagine an iPad at almost the same price as an iPod Touch. On the other hand, Apple now has a sale of iPad lineup, contrasting their typical simple product line up. Now Apple has iPad mini 2, mini 4, iPad Air, Air 2, and the Pro. That’s a lot of models.

Next up Apple TV. Apple finally is making its long-rumored attempt at gaming console, again. The interesting part is the Siri user interface, using the Siri remote with a trackpad on it. It is powered by the A8 chip. It is interesting how this can be clocked as now it doesn’t have as much physical restrictions as Apple’s portable devices. Apple is selling this new Apple TV at two capacity sizes, 32GB for $150 and 64GB for $200. I think this class of device should be simplified, meaning Apple should just sell the 64GB model for $149. I think this is Apple’s trick in upselling. Why? Apps. The new TV will run sophisticated apps just like other iOS devices, including games. I’m guessing Apple is banking for consumers to pay more for more storage for the apps. It will be interesting to see how Roku and Amazon would react to this. Apple’s huge advantage is its huge movie library.

And lastly, the iPhone 6S/6S+. The rumours are pretty much spot on. It has the same outer appearance as the 6 obviously, and there’s a rose gold color option. It is running the A9 chip, and retaining the same capacities and price points as the previous iPhone 6. It has the force touch called 3D touch. Camera is upgraded, with 12MP on the rear and 5MP at the front. It is 4k capable also. Can’t wait to get my hands on this, although I am concerned about the smaller battery and rumours that it still only has 1GB of RAM.

One interesting feature is Live Photos. Basically the camera will be capturing extra frames for a second before and a second later when you press the shutter button, giving you a quick video clip in addition to the picture itself. It reminds me of HTC Zoe, which I said in the past for Apple to copy it. The problem with HTC Zoe is that it is keeping multitude of pictures, creating confusion when backing up the photos as now you have tons of pictures of the “same” thing (which creates the frames of the quick snippet). Looks like Apple made things more seamless. Will be interesting how services like dropbox would deal with live photos.

Another interesting move is for Apple to do its own iPhone instalment plan, which makes you “subscribe” to Apple starting at $32 a month. Apple will give you an unlocked iPhone with AppleCare+, and you will get the new one every year. This is definitely a jab at the carriers as now people can get an iPhone for just $384 a year, and it’s unlocked to boot. This is Apple’s solution to attack the cheap Android phones. Very bold and interesting move, and I hope it gets adopted outside the US where people prefer unlocked and no-contract.

iCloud storage is also updated, with 50GB for 99cents a month. Sounds pretty sweet to me and I might finally bite (although it has not shown on the iCloud purchase setting page yet on Yosemite).

Online, you will see people claiming that the whole thing is underwhelming, mainly because the rumours pretty much nailed everything down, thus no “new” surprises.  However, I think this is a huge turning point for Apple. I can see the A9X as the starting point for Apple to consider an Ax powered Macbook. The Apple Pencil might create a new feature set for future iPads. The new Apple TV is Apple’s attempt to attack the gaming console market with a full app store ecosystem. And finally the iPhones 6S/6S+, creating a new UI experience with 3D Touch. People judge books by its cover. So people will be more excited when they see a new Android device that look different (but only having minuscule improvements inside), while scoff off Apple’s S-cycle iPhones that carry a lot inside but appear the same externally. I mean seriously, look at the Xperia Z3, Z4 and Z5. The 6S brings a ton more over the 6 than Sony did for its Xperia flagship.

I have posted about how I am considering switching back to iPhone, and the 6S is the obvious candidate. I will be waiting on the side for Apple Watch 2 and iPad Air 3 with Pencil support. I was considering getting the retina Macbook when Apple updates it with Skylake, but the iPad Pro muddles the water. Can’t wait what Apple can do next year with the A10.

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in impression, Keynote


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Attack on Titan Live Action Movie Impression #rant

Just watched the live action interpretation of Attack on Titan. Let’s say it’s a huge disappointment.

Rant and spoilers ahead.

Part of the draw of Attack on Titan manga/anime is the intense drama and non-stop action that keep readers/viewers on the edge of their seats. The plot was very tightly done that you can relate to the characters and felt huge shock when things happen to them. None of those things happen to me in the movie.

Let’s start with the basic setting. The idea is the same, about how humanity is “trapped” inside walls due to concerns of titans attacking. And that’s pretty much it. The movie took the liberty of setting things in “Japan” instead of Germany, thus many characters’ names are changed to be Japanese. Sure, the main ones like Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, and Sasha remain intact. But you are suddenly faced with these Japanese names that you are not familiar with. This is the same trap that most adaptations made by Hollywood fell through, and I cannot believe the Japanese filmmakers fell for it. Didn’t they realise that Attack on Titan has created a huge following of fans? One of the worst things you can do is change the setting and characters’ names. Sure, some of the characters’ behaviours mimic the original ones, but it’s difficult to relate to them again when you know them with a completely different names previously. Besides, if you want to make things Japanese, then how can you explain Eren Jaeger and Armin? This is one thing that filmmakers never seem to consider when they decided to change names. When you do that, a whole slew of inconsistencies start showing up. How hard is it to keep things in Germany? It’s not like the characters have to speak German. The anime manages to translate the manga faithfully, with everybody speaking Japanese, and it’s all fine. Heck, one can look at Nodame Cantabille, where Japanese were playing as foreigners, and it was okay, since the characters were intact.

The time period seems to be changed also. In the series, other than the 3D manoeuvre gear, humanity doesn’t seem to have much technology. People are still riding horses. In the movie, they showed an undetonated missile (???) and a helicopter junk. Oh, and they all ride tanks instead of horses. WTF? They can make tanks, yet they have old canons protecting the wall? See, that’s the problem of changing things around.

Also, the 3D manoeuvre gear is reflected to be a new thing, only designed after the titan breaching the wall. So I don’t know how humanity defeated the titan before then. Nuke maybe? See filmmakers, you have the simplest thing to just follow the source material, but no, you like to change things around and create more inconsistencies.

Okay, let’s focus of the main characters then. I mean they are the MAIN characters right, so the least the filmmakers could’ve done was to make them right. Nope.

The manga and anime of Attack on Titan started the story of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin when they were kids. Let’s start with Eren. The horrific event that befell Eren with the death of his mom led readers to follow his hatred towards the titan and his determination to kill them all. This does not exist in the movie. Eren’s dad, who was quite critical in the series, was not portrayed nor mentioned either. The movie started with all the characters already reached adulthood. Eren was portrayed to be an orphan since young. In the series, Eren already had a determination to do something about the titans. In the movie, he was oblivious to the threat and thought that the titans were no more, and there might be paradise outside of the walls. So… what led to his “determination”? Oh, he thought Mikasa was killed, and that is quite lame as he did not even see Mikasa being killed/eaten by a titan. There was a mere explosions, and Mikasa was gone. So it is hard to relate to Eren being so determined, especially when later Mikasa was shown to be alive. Yup, no scenes on Eren seeing his mom being eaten (which was one of the most powerful scene in the anime/manga). No development nor build up of Eren’s character. Worse, due to time constraint, they eliminated all the training scenes. Part of the emotion related to Eren in the anime/manga is that he was portrayed to be not having a good skill-set, but his total determination to kill all titans allowed him to go through and succeed at all challenges thrown at him. In the movie, there’s none of this. He simply was told to “fly” by a person named Shikishima (I guess that was supposed to be Levi?). SUPER WEAK SAUCE!

Now let’s take a look at Mikasa. OMG! WTF were they thinking? Mikasa’s character is very important to the series, yet they butchered it completely. In the manga, Mikasa and Eren had a really deep and dark background, which led Mikasa to be totally obsessed/thankful/protective of Eren. That backgorund also created a very strong Mikasa form the get go, a girl that can kick three boys’ asses, and the scarf has a very deep meaning. None of these were represented in the movie. Mikasa was portrayed as a typical cheerful girl that might have a crush on Eren at first, and Eren simply gave her the scarf because she sneezed. ULTRA WEAK SAUCE! The movie did not explain how she escaped the titan breach (maybe in the sequel), but after that, she finally became the cold Mikasa we kinda know, but she was falling for the Shikishima guy. WTF? Furthermore, during a scene when she saw Eren half-dead with his leg cut off, she decided to ignore Eren and attack one of the titan. In the series, Mikasa would’ve immediately come to Eren’s rescue.

How about Armin? Well, I know it’s going to be difficult portraying a blond feminine-looking guy, but come on Japan, you have plenty of pretty boys, and a blonde hair shouldn’t be an issue. In the series, Armin is the brain of the team, a strategist. In the movie, they started by portraying Armin to be a tinkerer. Well, this would’ve been okay if they push through it, but no. Armin in the movie pretty much does nothing other than making a vague plan of plugging the wall using mash potatoes. The least they could do is maybe making him part of the designer of the 3D manoeuvre gear, but no. He’s just there to be the liability in the scene of Eren being eaten.

How about the other characters? Souda is Hannes, I guess. Unlike in the series, he did not have much involvement as he did not even know Eren survived the breach until he met him when Eren signed up with the scout unit. Sasha is there, eating potatoes and having a crush on Armin. I have no clue about the rest. There’s a farmer/strong guy that carry an axe(?) to attack the titans. I guess he’s supposed to be Reiner? There were the lovers that are supposed to be Frans and Hannah. Then there’s Shikishima, which I guess is supposed to be Levi or Erwin. I do have to give the movie credit as they at least keep Hanji’s character to be accurate (really passionate about the titans). Then there’s this single mother…. It’s all messy. The point of adaptation is for fans to see the characters they love on the big screen, not characters that sort of similar with completely different names.

Okay, let’s start walking through the movie. The movie started with presumably Armin’s mom complaining that Eren was fired from his job. Armin then went looking for Eren, met girly Mikasa on the way. Eren was standing on top of an undetonated missile, saying that he does not feel satisfied being trapped inside the walls, and thinking that the titans are no more and there is a paradise outside the wall. They then sneaked the frontline to get to the outermost wall (the soldiers seem to be wearing Japanese WW2 military uniforms). They were caught, but Souda/Hannes let them be. Then the armoured titan showed up, and the wall was breached. Souda led the soldiers guarding the wall to attack the titans using canons. Armin got separated, claiming he had to check on his house. Eren and Mikasa were evacuating to a building when they saw a mother and her baby being trampled over. Eren decided to save the mom while Mikasa saved the baby, but the sea of the crowd separated them. Mikasa got left outside with the baby. Eren wanting to get back to her, but there were a loud boom, and all he saw were dust and the city being destroyed. Meanwhile the titan feast upon the people that got “trapped” inside the building.

Fast forward 2 years, Eren and Armin (magically alive) joined the troops. It’s led by somebody that seem to wear WW2 era military uniforms. Hanji was the leader, and told them their new invention the 3D manoeuvre gear. Blah blah blah, Eren met Souda again, and Eren got into a fight with Jean. To cover the hole in the wall, the plan is to detonate the wall on top of the holel to cover it, but they need more explosives, which is available somewhere on the breached region. (WTF? They clearly saw the armoured titan that is much taller than the wall, so why do they think just covering the hole and creating a short wall will be okay?).

The military load up their AMV (??) with the young troops. The went out at night.. They stopped, and the single mom heard a baby. She and Eren looked for the survivor, but found out that the baby was actually a titan. The noise invited more titans, and the troop did not know what to do. (WTF? They did not learn how to use the gears yet?). Suddenly appear the Levi-guy and Mikasa, slaying the titans. Apparently they have been keeping the explosives safe. (WTF? How did they survive out there? Only two of them?). Shikishima saw Eren, told him to fly. Eren heard Mikasa playing piano, and Shikishima showed up showing that Mikasa is his. Eren was shocked, and screamed. Then the single mom tried to seduce Eren by letting Eren touch her boob. (WTF?) Suddenly a titan appears and ate her.

Bla bla bla, the troop is in battle with an army of titans. So far, we have not seen Eren use the gear yet (nor anybody other than Shikishima and Mikasa). That’s how lame this movie is. People are being eaten left and right. Eren met Jean at the top of a building. Eren put his determination to fly, and use the 3D gear to battle the titans. Shikishima was instructing him as if this was Eren’s first time using the gear. Eren managed to get one titan, but another titan bite his leg off. Shikishima doesn’t seem to care, only saying some people are unlucky. Mikasa saw Eren dying, but decided to continue her battle. (WTFFFF!!!???) Blah blah blah, Armin got caught near Eren. Eren saw Armin being eaten, decided to save Armin while being eaten himself. Armin got Eren’s arm, showed it to Mikasa, and Mikasa coldly responded by slaying more titans until her gear ran out of gas. Cornered, she faced the titan that ate Eren. The titan suddenly felt ill, and titan Eren popped out from inside. Titan Eren started beating up the other titans, and people magically know it’s Eren.

After titan Eren beat all the other titans, he grabbed Mikasa, but then his time was up and the titan body started decomposing. Souda magically knows that there’s Eren inside. Mikasa cut Eren out, and the movie ends.

Yes, WTF alright. I understand that making a series into a compact movie is difficult, but it’s no excuse to take so many liberties form the source material. Some characters and scenes can be cut, but the more you detract from the source material, the more inconsistencies you are creating as you are trying to come up with something new in a short time against the source material that has been building for years. It’s as if the filmmakers did not even read the manga nor watch the anime, just like the people from Hollywood. Sure, this is not Dragonball Evolution bad, but considering this is made by Japan itself, I had high expectations. The least they could do is keeping the characters intact, but no.

To add result to the injury, a pop/hip-hop tune is playing during the end credit scene. The anime was known for the rock metal theme song, Guren no Yumiya. The lame hip-hop tune seems to indicate the filmmakers spitting on the fans saying “Ha! Fooled you!”

If this was Hollywood, I would be upset, but at the same time accept the butchery. Considering this is Japan itself, it’s highly disappointing. With so many live-action manga/anime adaptations being done, filmmakers should know already that staying true to the source material is what fans want to see.

The first movie ended just after Eren transformed into titan for the first time. I don’t know how much more butchery they can do for the sequel as they would need to compress even more stuff into one movie.

Attack on Titan is one of the best manga/anime I have ever read/watch. Attack on Titan live action movie is one of the most disappointing movie I have ever watched. I guess watching Tom Cruise Action Hero 5 might be a better option.

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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Why I might be switching back to iPhone #rant

I was an iPhone user, the iPhone 5 was my last iPhone. Since having the iPad, I find that it duplicates many things that I would do on the iPhone, so might as well use Android to diversify.

Things went well in general. As a gadget geek, android offers so many choices. But my patience is running dry.

First, my favorite Android phone, the OnePlus One. The price and the spec you get is amazing, $349 for 64GB snapdragon 801, and the battery life was awesome, especially since my iPhone 5 couldn’t even last half a day anymore. Well, came lollipop and CM12, and the bugs are getting into me. Google apps and maps are force closing here and there. Lags are aplenty. Even the camera app sometimes freezes. Just not a pleasant thug to use anymore.

Second, support from manufacturers. I have a Sony Xperia Z1 that I use as a Walkman. Suddenly it’s dead. Great. Went to Sony support in Singapore, and they said they don’t support phones bought outside Singapore (mine is a U.S. Z1). Bullshit. In contrast, I can have my iPhone and Macs, bought in the U.S., serviced in Singapore. Seriously, a mobile device is mobile, meaning users will be using it wherever they are around the world. If your support system is still regionalized, you shall not get my money anymore.

Oh, and guess what, there’s a vulnerability on stagefright. Google it. It allows hackers to obtain system privileges just by sending an infected media. And worse, even Nexus phones with latest Android are not patched. Forget about other phones. To me, this is too much.

Too bad we are in the middle of the iPhone cycle, with the iPhone 6S not coming out till later this year. 

I guess I better start saving some money then.

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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


How to use whatsapp on multiple devices

One of my main gripe about the popular messaging platform whatsapp is its inability to be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Worse, it can only be installed on a phone device, leaving tablets in the cold.

Well, there is a partial workaround now. Earlier this year, whatsapp created a web app so you can have your whatsapp chat on your desktop computer using the Chrome browser. Things get more interesting, the fact that the web app now supports Firefox and Opera browsers. This creates a workaround to have whatsapp on however many devices you have.

If you have an Android device, it’s very simple. Simply go to with the Chrome browser. You would be redirected to a page telling you to download the native app. Don’t worry. Simply go to the menu and check “request desktop app,” and now you should be greeted with the QR code you can scan with the whatsapp app you have on your phone. That’s it. This is great if you have whatsapp on your Android phone, and you want whatsapp messaging on your other Android devices, be it a tablet or phone. Do note that the way web whatsapp works is that you still need the phone with the native app connected to the internet at all times.

What if you cannot use Chrome? Download the Opera browser and do the same thing. Make sure to set the user agent as desktop.

What if you have an iPad? Well, unfortunately this workaround doesn’t work, even when you use Chrome for iOS. You will be simply redirected to a page saying your browser is not supported. So too bad for iOS fans.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Ideally, you have a cloud based solution and native app on all platforms like telegram. This web app approach is actually more flexible as you can access the platform from any supported browsers. On the other hand, it depends on the browser on the specific platform. Android works fine, but not iOS.

Hope this can be useful for whatsapp fans.

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in tips


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Too Many Messaging Services

Look at your phone’s apps and count how many messaging services like whatsapp or kakao talk you have. I bet there are more than two or three. On my phone, I have whatsapp, Line, Facebook messenger, Path/Talk, Skype, Telegram, Kakao Talk, Snapchat, Twitter, BBM, and probably more. It’s ridiculous. The problem is that none of these clients talk to each other, so if the person you want to contact uses a specific client, you have no choice and have to install that particular client.

In the recent weeks, I had to switch between phones due to travel. This action rears its ugly head when you try to keep these messaging services in sync, keeping your current account and chat history. It gets annoying real fast. I’m going to share my 2 cents on some of them.

First, whatsapp. If you have been following my tweets, I don’t like whatsapp. It is clunky and not keeping up with modern tech trends, yet you will be forced to have one since many people are on it for some reason. I mean there’s a reason Facebook was willing to buy them with a boatload of money.

So where do I start. One thing about whatsapp is its low barrier of entry. All you need is your smartphone’s phone number for verification. If you only have and use whatsapp on one phone, you are good to go. Thing is, we have more than one smart devices now. More and more people have more than one phone, in addition to tablets. Well, you cannot use whatsapp on multiple phones at once, and you cannot even install it on non-phone devices. You are pretty much stuck with your single phone. Now are you seeing why I think whatsapp sucks?

How about switching the SIM of the phone? No problem here. As long as you are using the same phone, whatsapp will still work, albeit it is linked to your older SIM number. Luckily whatsapp makes it easy to change your number if you want to. Note that if you register a new account with the new SIM, it will be a separate account. I have seen people that travels having multiple whatsapp entries since they don’t know any better.

What if you want to use a different phone? This is where the fun starts. I would be referring to Android from now on as iPhones have the ability to do full backups via iTunes or iCloud. You can simply reinstall and reverify the new phone with the same SIM, but you will lose your chat history and media as they are local to your old phone. So how do you retain them? This is where the process is broken. Basically, he app is actually keeping backups on your local phone, but getting them to a new phone is hardly something a lay person would be able to figure out on his/her own. Basically you have to connect your phone to your computer, copy the whatsapp folder to your computer, and transplant that to your new phone. Luckily his is fairly easy on Android, plus there are many apps that allow you to copy files via wifi. After the transplant on the new phone, simple install and verify the app and it will ask to restore a previous backup. Not easy, but doable. Now, one thing I found is that sometimes whatsapp simply refuses to do backups on the new phone for some reason. This can prevent future transplants to other phones as you won’t have the latest chat history. One way is to do a clan transplant. If there’ san existing whatsapp folder on the new phone, delete it first before transplanting the folder from your old phone. Also check immediately on the new phone if the app is able to back things up.

Now, let’s get to the usage itself. Whatsapp is very basic, and most people can figure it out. You can create groups, etc. You can auto-sync your friends as long as you have their phone numbers that they registered with whatsapp. But functionality is fairly barebone. You can attach pictures and multimedia, but there are no stickers nor VoIP. It feels like the yesterday’s messaging app. It’s less personal. Add on to that the inability to install the client on non-phone devices and lack of clients for PC, it just doesn’t feel like a service that fits the modern days of IM. It feels like the ICQ of mobile IM.

Second client I want to talk about is Facebook messenger, the IM solution from the company that bought Whatsapp. Like it or not, in terms of usability, Facebook messenger is probably one that is at the top. First, it is platform independent. You can install the client on phones and tablets, and you can use them all simultaneously. Furthermore, it’s Facebook so you can always access your chat on the web on any computer. Considering that most people are on Facebook already, it is likely that you can contact your friends this way. Furthermore, it is cloud based, meaning you don’t have to do backups and whatnot. All your chat history are stored on Facebook’s server, so whenever you access the service, they are all there. And since the client is linked to your Facebook account, it can be independent of your SIM/phone number.

Big problem is, it’s Facebook. Some people just don’t want to deal with Facebook (even though it also owns whatsapp). Second, people associates Facebook with the website, not the messenger client. Plenty of people I know are not even aware of the client, and some still think of it as part of the bigger Facebook instead of just as an IM service. So it’s unfortunate that even though Facebook has a superior client than whatsapp, most people still use he latter.

Usability is there. You can attach your standard multimedia stuff. You can even do VoIP. But the stickers are piss poor, less personal that I would like.

Next, I want to touch a bit on Skype. Skype is pretty much the de facto standard for free video conferencing, but obviously one can also use it for messaging. Personally though, I feel the client is too heavy for a simple messaging need, and no great stickers. Furthermore, there’s barrier of entry in creating yet another account with Skype/Microsoft. Other than that, it is platform independent, and cloud based.

Fourth one is Telegram. It is touted as a secure solution for the privacy conscious. It is actually a great platform/service. It is open source, and platform independent. You can have it running on your phone, tablet, computer all simultaneously. Yeah, whatsapp starts to look clunky right? In Telegram, all chat history is cloud based, so no need to worry about backups and transferring stuff. Verification needs a phone number, but it can even be a Google Voice number, freeing you from the traditional phone number. Alas, no stickers, and so far I have only one friend using it…

Last but not least, Line. I have a personal bias on Line, mainly because of the stickers. Yes, I am a sucker for stickers of things that I like. For example, no other services offer stickers of Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online. To me, Line is very personal due to the stickers.

Usability wise, it is in between. Unlike whatsapp, it has a PC client so you can keep on chatting in your computer (Windows and Mac). However, just like whatsapp, the mobile client can only be installed on phones only, and you can only use one phone at any time.

If you are switching SIM on your current phone, it’s straight forward like whatsapp. If you want to switch to a new phone, things get more complicated. Unlike whatsapp, you can link your line account to an email or Facebook so you are not tied to a single phone number (which is ironic that you cannot install it on a non-phone mobile devices). This allows easier log-ins on new devices. The problem is the chat history. The platform has some sort of cloud-based storage, but it’s not comprehensive and reliable as the client forces you to delete the current content if it detects a duplicate log-in. Furthermore, you starts fresh on any new device you want to use, forcing you to re download stickers and having no chat history unless you manually restore conversations. Backup feature is available, although it is also clunky. Unlike Whatsapp, you can email your chat history and restore it on another device by simply downloading the email attachment and having the app restores it. Problem is, it is per conversation so it can be tedious if you have many conversations going. Also, it doesn’t backup media.

My personal bias is towards Line. It is not flexible and it’s a hassle when moving to different devices, but it is still more personal to me than whatsapp. A PC client is also a bonus. If Line allowed installation and usage simultaneously on multiple mobile devices, it would be perfect. What won me over are the stickers.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I still end up with a slew of clients on my smartphone. A social messaging service relies heavily on what your friends are using. If they are more comfortable using a certain platform, you end up having to use that platform. Whatsapp is a clunky and dated platform, but most of my contacts uses it. Annoying, yes, but it’s the unfortunate side effect of the preference of the masses.

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Installing Windows #rant

I am a Mac user, and there is a reason why I switched to OS X a while back. Well, apparently there is a Windows only program that I have to use. So, here’s an adventure in installing Windows 8.1 on my Macbook Air.

First thing first, I would need an ISO of Windows 8 for OS X’s boot camp. Why Windows 8? I have a Windows 8 upgrade key, and no, Windows 8 key cannot be used to activate Windows 8.1, despite Windows 8.1 being a free update. It’s amazing the things Microsoft went through to make sure legit users are inconvenienced.

Now the ISO itself. Guess what, Microsoft does NOT provide one. Yeah, Microsoft has gone above and beyond to ensure that you rather purchase a new Windows 8 computer. If you have a friend with a Windows 7/8 PC, you are in luck as you can simply download the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant and it will allow you to download the installation set and create an ISO.

But what if you are stuck with only a Mac at your disposal? Well, Microsoft does provide an ISO for the Windows 8 Enterprise trial. (Hint: their link for the 64bit actually will download the 32bit version, and vice versa.) Yes, Microsoft, a huge software company, cannot even put the right link to their software. Just another step to discourage user from downloading an ISO, I guess.

After downloading that and running boot camp, I managed to install Windows 8 Enterprise trial. Can I use my key to activate this into a regular Windows 8? Nope. Apparently this trial version cannot be used for anything other than a trial. But at least I have a Windows installation now that I can use to download Windows 8 upgrade assistant, right? Nope. Apparently Windows 8 was not available for download in my area for some reason. WTF Microsoft? Still, all hope was not lost. I Googled “upgrade windows with only a product key,” and Microsoft has a utility that can download an ISO for Windows 8. Great, progress.

Now that I have a real Windows 8 ISO instead of the trial, I purged the Windows 8 Enterprise trial install, created a new boot camp with an actual Windows 8. So far so good. But then it cannot be activated since my key is an upgrade key. Yes, Microsoft makes sure that you cannot use the product you bought. Good thing there is an easy workaround for this one, using the “rearm” technique. I still had to make a phone call to a Microsoft rep that gave me a set of numbers, but finally my Windows 8 install was activated. So time to update to Windows 8.1. Easy, right?

Nope. Windows 8.1 is available from the Windows store, and Microsoft forces you to download it from the store (no ISO). If you use the utilities I mentioned above, they will tell you to go to the Windows store. Problem is, downloading Windows 8.1 from the store would always result in an error and failing to install. This was extremely annoying as the error happened AFTER I had to wait for the 3+GB download to finish. Subsequent retries forced me to redownload the whole thing again and again. Oh my Lord.

After browsing the net to find a solution, I finally decided to do a “reset” of Windows 8. This is a nice feature of Windows 8. It basically “re-install” your Windows 8 installation without deleting your data. Programs not from the store will be deleted, but it’s still more convenient that having to do an actual full re-install. Problem is, this process uninstalled all the Apple drivers and boot camp, so I had to re-install those afterwards. Oh, and of course there were 92 patches that I needed to download and install for every fresh Windows 8 install I did.

After days of downloading, installing, and installing stuff, finally, Windows 8.1 update from the store managed to run properly. Yes, finally! Such a ridiculous process. Really, does Microsoft expect a lay person to be patient enough to go through all these just to use a Microsoft product?

So Microsoft, if you want people to install Windows from your store like Apple, make sure it fuckin works. If you cannot do that, the least you could’ve done is to provide straight ISO downloads so people can simply do an update the traditional way. But no, you rather have your legit customers annoyed and confused.

There is a reason why I switched to OS X.


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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


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WWDC 2014 Impression

Apple was streaming the keynote live, and it is up for streaming on demand. This is a great trend as couch commentators like me can talk crap about it without having to wait for Apple to “post produce” it.

Anyway, let’s get on it.

As usual, the keynote started with a video of people saying how various apps have changed their lives. Looks like the focus is on the people. It would’ve been great if Apple had mentioned more groundbreaking apps instead of some useless ones like Candy Crush, but oh well. Tim Cook started with the usual stats. Mavericks vs Windows 8. Oh, Windows 8 only has 14% of market share. But 14% of how many users Tim? Remember that world wide market share of OS X is really tiny, minuscule compared to Windows. So even 10% of Windows users count as a LOT. Typical Apple reality distortion technique. Fact is, we are seeing more and more Windows devices in tablet form factors that are only $300-$500. 

Craig was up next to talk about the new OS X. Craig Federighi always seems like a d-bag to me, but the script of the keynotes and his jokes were usually quite funny. The joke was on trying to find new name for the next OS X. OS X Weed? That would’ve been awesome. :D So the next OS X will be named Yosemite. And, another video, showing the new flatter look, inspired by iOS7.

So, what’s new? Translucency everywhere. Kinda like Windows Vista. New dock (flat, just like right now if you put the dock on the sides), new trash can icon. Dark mode, with white on black translucent background. I have a feeling I will like the dark mode, a lot.

A big update is for the notification center. Now you can have different widgets on it. Just like… yes, Windows Vista’s Gadgets. Remember those? :D New Spotlight. In previous versions of the OS, Spotlight has always been on the top right corner, out of the way, simple. In Yosemite, it will be at the center of the screen with huge search bar. I don’t like it. It feels that it is on my way, blocking what I am doing. Why the change? It was fine on the top right corner. Context wise, it fits as the search icon is on the top right corner. In Yosemite, having it in the middle of the screen just doesn’t feel natural. Boo. On the bright side, you can do unit conversion on Spotlight now. Sounds like it’s baby step of putting Siri on OS X. Maybe next version. Spotlight has become universal search ala Siri.

Oh, Craig kept showing the translucency. Seriously, who cares? Do people really want to be reminded how Yosemite is copying Windows Vista?

Next, iCloud Drive. What? Remember when Steve Jobs announced iCloud, how it’s not another “drive in the sky.” Well, Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave now. iCloud is basically just like Dropbox/SkydriveOneDrive/Google Drive in Finder. I don’t think this is the vision of iCloud. Is this the signs of Apple crumbling without the vision of Jobs? Mail drop, basically using iCloud as a reservoir for your email attachments, kinda what Microsoft and Google have been doing (using OneDrive and GDrive respectively). Oh, the file size can be up to 5GB. Whoop dee doo, as free iCloud accounts has ONLY 5GB. :roll eyes: An interesting feature is the built-in markup within Mail. Signature on PDFs is also great.

Safari now has more awesome bar, with built-in Siri Spotlight. More power efficient, which is great (poor Firefox, but I still prefer Firefox). Demo by somebody named Brian. Err, yeah, not sure who he is… :D I don’t think Favorites in the search bar is good. If you only have few websites, sure, but I have a boatload of sites in my Favorites. I never realized the “Send to” feature though, even though it’s been there, at least on Mavericks. The auto shape and dialog bubble recognition of the new Markup feature in Mail looks neat though, but I hardly use the OS X Mail app anymore ever since I have the iPad.

Airdrop between iOS and OS X. Finally! Although I wonder if there’s a limitation on which hardware is supported. The Hand-off feature seems too good to be true. Will have to see how it works in real life. Ability to do a hotspot when you have an iPhone nearby is awesome though. iMessage syncing all messages with all devices. And phone calls too, including using the Mac as a speakerphone. Gee, sounds familiar… I think Palm did this, and Motorola also did something similar. Of course, Palm is gone and Motorola is bought by Lenovo. These features may not be new, but Apple’s implementation across all Apple devices and Apple’s presence would probably put these feature to the mainstream. Oh, and a call to Dr Dre, hinting on Apple’s purchase of Beats Audio.

Free OS X Yosemite in the fall, with public beta program in the summer.

100 million iPod Touches. Maybe it’s time to update that Tim. Oh, time for a jab at Android, and how people bought an Android device by mistake. Ha ha Tim, very funny. Your iPhone is not water proof yet Tim. What Tim Cook was suggesting is the superior experience of iOS, unless if you have A5 devices or older, which are bogged down by iOS7. Another jab to Android is fragmentation. Valid point this time. Malware on Android, 99%… Err, oookay, good point, but Apple has its own problems.

iOS 8. “Giant release.” Spoiler: new programming language with Swift.

Craig is back (since no more Scott Forstall). Interactive notification, eg. ability to reply to a message right in notification. Android has something similar, but it’s not universally supported, and the variants between OEMs don’t help either. Better Safari UI for the iPad. One thing I find annoying with the Mail app on iOS is that when I’m composing a new email, I cannot do anything else. No multi-tasking within the mail app. This is highly annoying. Luckily, looks like Apple noticed that, and on iOS 8, you can swipe down the compose “window” to get back to there mails. Nice! People probably won’t appreciate this as I see most people are still using web-based emails (instead of using the mail app to access their accounts).

The task switching screen is now cluttered with favorited contacts at the top. Not sure if this is a good idea as there’s no context between the task switching screen and contacts. On the iPad demo, the auto recognition of messages for calendar events seems neat. Spotlight on iOS gets richer ala Yosemite (and overlapping with Siri). This extends to the search bar on Safari. QuickType, predictive typing. Just like the various keyboards on Android like Swype or Swift key. Neat, but I rather have support for multiple language in one keyboard instead of switching keyboards back and forth. Continuity brings integration with iDevices. This is going to be great.

Messaging app gets a lot of improvement. I still think iOS Messages to be better than the dozens of SMS apps on Android. Video and voice messages. Nothing new, but iOS 8 makes it easier to actually do it right on the Messages app. The summary on group messaging is great. Many SMS apps, even well known ones, on Android cannot even handle location on Vcards properly (many not at all). The skit with Craig is pretty funny. I can see the auto reply audio messages can be frustrating though, with people sending unintentional messages. Looks like now Apps can share files, instead of importing and exporting stuff when dealing with multiple apps.

Enterprise, with Craig focusing on security and privacy. Those two words seem to be the buzz words of the year. Imo this is where Android is lagging.

Health. Yup, the rumored Healthbook, dubbed HealthKit and Health app. Integration with other apps and Mayo Clinic. This is going to be interesting, and we will see which companies that can adopt this. Healthcare companies are usually slow in adopting new techs. Interesting is also the mention of Epic. Many hospitals are using Epic, so this can be huge. See, a lot of tech bloggers only care about iWatch, but Apple is taking a much bigger leap than the others by working together with healthcare providers. That’s real innovation. 

Family Sharing, a long awaited feature. It’s basically the ability to aggregate purchases of family members, and great notifications for parents.

Updated Photos app. Seriously, I think it’s time for Apple to just consolidate iPhoto into this. Updating the stock Photos app seems dysfunctional when there’s iPhoto (that seems to be ignored). The new editing features are really great. It basically make the editing I usually do in Lightroom into a simple scrollable setting. The inter-devices editing is great as previously, you will have multiple copies of the photo. Photos on the Mac? WTF happened to iPhoto? Did Apple just kill iPhoto? Oh, and an app for Windows too? This is BIG imo.

And now, your photos, and videos, will be using the iCloud drive’s storage space (previously, photo stream doesn’t count). Oh and yes, stingy Apple only gives you 5GB free. For photos, that may be okay, but for videos? Come on Apple. Of course, Apple wants you to pay more. 99c per month for 20GB. In contrast, Google gives you 15GB free. Microsoft gives you 7GB free, and an additional 3GB if you use the auto camera upload feature. Apple’s 5GB free doesn’t look as great anymore. Apple has 200GB plan for $3.99 a month. This is actually not that bad. In comparison, Google gives 100GB for $1.99 a month, while Microsoft wants $100 annually for 200GB. Dropbox, which imo is the gold standard, offers 2GB free (with many promotions to add more free storage), and 100GB for $9.99 per month. So iCloud drive is not bad if you are willing to spend some money, but for freebies, you get better deal elsewhere.

Okay Hey Siri, basically a copy of Okay Google. No demo, so I wonder if this would be more of a feature for the new iPhone. I would think the “always on” feature would drain the battery on current and older iPhones.

Tim is back. Now developers can bundle apps. App previews, which is just a video trailer/preview for an app, something that is nothing new on Google Play. TestFlight, ability for debs to invite users to beta test their apps. Craig (Superman… Really? :roll eyes) came back to the stage with some new features form the SDK, namely extensibility. It allows apps to share things back and forth more openly, just like Android, but Craig said it is still secure. Yes, hopefully more apps will utilize the sharing feature. Widget on notification tray. By the way, the extension has three dots, just like… Android. The extension on Safari seems awesome though. The demo is for Bing translate, but I’m hoping there will be deeper extensions to allow things like Adblock or things like that.

Third party keyboards. Say what? Yeah, now iOS allows third party keyboards. Hopefully there will by Swype for iOS. TouchID for 3rd party apps. Camera APIs for manual controls. I can sense more fancy camera apps. HomeKit API, common protocol for home automation. CloudKit, basically offering developers a free “server.”

Metal, replacing OpenGL. (?) Yeah, Apple was big in pushing OpenGL ES as the standard, but now that they are the major player in portable gaming, looks like Apple decided to do its own, called Metal. SpriteKit for more casual games. SceneKit, to create 3D games easier, I guess? I sense Apple pushing more into gaming. Maybe a new beefier iPod Touch? Of even games on an Apple TV? Very interesting, but I wonder if this is more of an incentive to make games exclusive to iOS.

New programming language. This is very big. From Objective-C to Swift. Native Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. It is going to be interesting how this would attract new developers, and how current developers would adopt it.

iOS 8 in fall, supporting anything with an A5 chip onward. Yes, no iPhone 4 there, so that’s it for iPhone 4 users. The support for A5 is important as many small businesses are still using the iPad 2 (since Apple themselves was still selling it until recently).

Tim returned to wrap up the keynote. No hardware here folks, purely software. We actually saw a lot of new stuff here. iOS 8 is pretty much redesigning iOS under the hood with Metal, Swift, and the various Kits in the new SDK. Now I’m actually excited to see what Apple has in store for the iPhone 6 to take advantage of many of these new features. My 2 cents.

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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Uncategorized


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