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Monthly Archives: April 2013

HTC One Photo Comparisons #HTCOne

Yes, I obtained myself the HTC One. It is my second HTC phone, the first being the Nexus One. I don’t usually like HTC as in the US, they don’t sell their phones unlocked (Nexus One being the exception, sold by Google). However, looks like HTC is changing their ways, by offering their latest flagship, the HTC One, unlocked, straight from their own website. And unlike Apple that delayed their unlocked iPhone availability in the US to push people buying from the carriers, HTC is making the One available pretty much at the same time as the carriers. This is quite unprecedented, as most phone OEMs are only selling their handsets locked with the carriers in the US. HTC finally joins Apple, Sony, and Google, in selling unlocked handsets.

Aside from being unlocked, one of the most talked about feature of the HTC One is its camera, namely that it’s just a paltry 4MP. Considering how other phones are pushing 8 to 13MP cameras, it’s actually refreshing seeing HTC taking a different path. Despite being 4MP, the One’s camera has a much larger sensor than most phones, 1/3″. That is nothing in the world of digital camera, but in phones, it’s quite “big.” Having a bigger sensor means more light exposure on each pixel, thus better low light sensitivity. Of course, lay consumers will balk at four megapixel, so HTC is branding it as “UltraPixel.” In most HTC One’s marketing material, you won’t see 4MP being mentioned anywhere.

Why the gear switch from the megapixel war? Consider the most common usage of smartphone cameras. Most of the time, they are used in low-light situations (indoor social events, parties, etc), the worst situation for a camera with such tiny sensor and cheap optics. Also, most of the pictures are posted online, in social networks, where they are resized to less than 4MP at best, with most are around or less than XGA resolution. Not many people are going to print the picture taken by their 13MP smartphone camera into a poster. HTC recognize this, thus the focus on low-light capability by sacrificing the resolution.

I’m going to do a completely unscientific comparison between the HTC One camera and carious other devices.

First contender is the iPhone 4. People now talk about 8 to 13MP camera and laugh at HTC One’s 4MP, yet just a few years back, everybody was praising Apple iPhone 4’s 5MP camera. The iPhone 4 is still available for sale from Apple. Second is the Nexus 4, the reference Android handset from Google. It didn’t receive good reviews for its 8MP camera, but for $349, you get a 16GB unlocked stock Android phone running the latest OS. Not too shabby for the price. I also include a cheap Samsung flip-style camcorder that I bought from Costco a while back for $100, the Samsung HMX-W200. It is designed to be a flip-style camcorder, but has picture taking mode at 5.5MP. And finally, I also use the Canon S90, a compact camera that propelled the enthusiast high-end compact category. It’s old, uses an old CCD sensor compared the latest CMOS ones in the S100/S110, but it’s still a good size sensor for a compact, 1/1.7″ at 10MP.

First test is indoor, with some natural light going in. All pictures are straight JPEG from the devices, resized with iPhoto. No other post processing done. Now, count up your sins! 😀

Well, we can already see the advantage of the HTC One, Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Accel World: The Peak of Acceleration Progress

Still waiting for the unlikely season 02, I keep my addiction at bay by playing Kasoku no Chouten. To be honest, I don’t play a lot of dating adventure games, so I was quite intrigue that apparently there are many different routes and endings for Accel World: Kasoku no Chouten. It’s a very deep game! And so many CGs to unlock!

***WARNING! SPOILERS!

My first run seems like the normal ending/route for the game. It’s the generally happy ending where everybody keep their Brain Burst. However, as I noted in my review, White Cosmos and Cyan Disaster are nowhere to be found. After playing the game for the third time, I noticed several choices that affect the course of the game.

The first one is fairly early in the game, where Haru is going to have tests at school, but Niko dropped by to play some video games with onii-chan.

I think the choice here will only affect the events in the school’s cultural festival. If Haru decided to play with Niko, we will see this during the cultural festival.

If Haru said no, then you won’t get that CG.

The second branch is a very significant one. This is when the Nega Nebulus and Prominence team were fighting Chrome Disaster. During the fight, there is a choice that will result in either Haru or Taku being attacked by Chrome Disaster. This will affect who got infected by the cursed armor. On my first run, it was Haru, thus Silver Crow turned Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in accel world, anime, game

 

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Canon Powershot S100 Lens Error

Ah, the Canon Powershot S100, my favorite compact camera. It’s a pretty awesome camera for its size. Great picture quality, HD video, RAW capability, f 2.0 lens, it’s my go-to camera for travel. And look at that, with its lens protruding out. Problem is, my S100 is stuck like that now! Its lens won’t retract back. Yes, I got the dreaded lens error, reported by many S100 owners.

I was walking around the neighborhood in the nice sunny day, taking my Canon Powershot S100 with me so I can take quick snaps. After two or three pictures, this happened:

And I was

haru shocked2

I heard about the S100 lens error issue, but Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in complaint, digital camera

 

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Accel World English (US) dub Preview #accel_world #rant

Rant starts.

Well, the inevitable second rate dub job is here. Instead of simply releasing the original DVD/blu-ray that already have English subtitle in them in the US and make a quick sale while the series is still hot from Japan, Viz decided to delay sales and wasted their money in dubbing Accel World. Of course, it’s a big fail in my book.

1. They added voice feedback for the neuro-linker. It speaks “Load application?” when Haru received the Brain Burst file. This is NOT in the original, ever. Seriously, Viz is digging a hole here. Unless they do more voices for the neuro-linker later on, this is going to be inconsistent throughout the series. If the neuro-linker is supposed to provide feedback when a dialog box comes up, why did it not do so during the wired connection as part of the warning? And how about incoming calls, receiving mail, operating the microwave, etc? This is one of the many reasons I just hate US dub. They just can’t leave the original content alone, they have to add things here and there for NO REASON.

2. No honorifics. Again, another serious problem for a series that relies on the usage of honorifics for the story and characters. Kuroyukihime simply called Haru without the -kun. Problem is, Kuroyukihime uses Haruyuki-kun throughout the series. Just calling Haru by Haruyuki, his first name straight, will imply a certain degree of closeness right off the bat. Also, if Viz follows its own sub, they will get rid of “senpai,” which DESTROYS the whole story and Haru’s character. Haru calls Hime “senpai” because of his character (shyness, thinks that he’s not an equal to Hime, thinks highly of and respects Hime). This is personified in the EX01 OVA. Viz sub completely removes the honorific senpai, replacing with alternate sentences/words. That might be passable as a subtitle as you can still hear Haru saying “senpai.” If they get rid of that in the dub, well, they change Haru’s character. Again, why? What’s wrong with honorifics? It’s a Japanese anime, about Japanese people, happening in Japan, talking in Japanese. Just because they dub it, doesn’t mean they have to change the whole culture. This is like dubbing Harry Potter into American English and changing their dialogues so the vocabularies are more American. Again, another reason I hate US dub. No respect for the original content at all.

3. Changing dialogues. In the dub preview, Megumi said “But Hime…” when she saw Kuroyukihime was going to do a direct cable connection with Haru. This was NOT the original script. In the original, Megumi simply said “Uso… (No way).” Again, changing dialogues for NO FREAKIN REASON! Why? Just to show that the VA can say Hime? Come on, how hard is it to say “No way!”? If they change small things like this, what else are they going to change? GIGA UNCOOL! Oh by the way, they get rid of honorifics, but they keep Hime. Why not change it to “princess”? Double standard.

Haru’s VA started okay-ish, but the voice just deteriorates quickly, turning into a very annoying artificial whiney voice. It’s as if I’m hearing a dub job from the 90s. And Kuroyukihime? The thought of somebody else other than Sachika Misawa voicing Kuroyukihime already made me ill. I’m sure these VAs are fine VAs in their own respect. A lot of the problems in dubbing is not necessarily the VAs, but the director and script. I shudder to think the VAs for Niko or Ash Roller though.

You know what hurts more, the fact that people wanting and loving this dub. I mean really, how many people demand Korean dramas to be dubbed? None. How many want Chinese movies to be dubbed? Not many. How many want Harry Potter to be dubbed and localized into American English? Zero. But Japanese Anime? OMFG it has to be English dubbed and localized because we don’t want to be exposed to Japanese language and culture!!! SERIOUSLY? I swear that some people that pretend to like anime are Japanophobes. If you want to watch a Japanese anime, then what’s wrong watching it in its original language and culture? No, people want it to be dubbed and americanized. 🙄

Worse, this means that the DVD/blu-ray won’t get official release till probably 2014. And then Viz will wonder why it’s not selling well. 🙄

Okay, rant is over. I’ll just go back playing Kasoku no Chouten.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in anime, rant

 

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Picking My Wireless Carrier

I have posted a bunch of write ups on picking your wireless carrier in the US. Now I’m going to post about the carrier/MVNO that I use.

From the previous posts, I have stated that I am using Simple Mobile. My goal was to have an affordable wireless plan with a reasonable amount of data for a smartphone. Paying hundreds of dollars just to use a smartphone is outrageous. I was with AT&T for quite some time as they were the largest GSM carrier in the US. I was on their goPhone plan at first, when the plan allowed you to receive text for free (obviously it doesn’t exist anymore). Then I caved in to a contract to get the iPhone 3GS (it was an impulse buy at the time since Apple didn’t put a camera on the 3rd gen iPod Touch). I was getting the bare minimum with 450 minutes, no text, and “unlimited” data, and I was paying ~$65 a month after taxes and with employee discount.

After a while, I gave up and switched to Straight Talk, when they used to offer AT&T SIM. They offer unlimited voice, unlimited text, and “unlimited” (~2GB) data for ~$50 a month after taxes. At this time, T-Mobile has not refarmed their 1900 band for 3G in my area, so using AT&T MVNO is the only option to get 3G on my iPhone.

Once T-Mobile refarmed the 1900 band for 3G, the options for MVNO expanded considerably. I switched to Simple Mobile for their $40 a month plan, giving unlimited voice, unlimited text, and 250MB data at HSPA+ speed (EDGE speed after that). I thought 250MB would be enough, and for a short period of time, with careful usage, it was okay.

However, recently I found that 250MB is not enough for my usage, and the EDGE speed is painful. So my search for a better deal continues. The search remains within T-Mobile MVNOs as AT&T put restriction on iPhones, even if it’s unlocked, by locking out the carrier APN setting, and that restriction affects all AT&T MVNOs. I definitely don’t want to spend more than what I already am with Simple Mobile. I mentioned Ultra Mobile on my previous T-Mobile MVNOs post, and they become my pick.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Ultra’s $40 monthly plan is not better than Simple Mobile as with Ultra, you are stuck at EDGE speed while Simple Mobile at least gives you 250MB at HSPA+ speed. However, Ultra Mobile has a lower tier, the $30 a month plan (yeah, I know it’s $29, but it’s easier to round it up). At face value, it’s not that great. It does offer unlimited voice, text (including international text, same as Simple Mobile), and a paltry 50MB data. However, note that you can add 500MB of HSPA+ data for $10. So basically for a total of $40 a month, you get 550MB data, more than the 250MB that Simple Mobile offers.

Ultra Mobile’s site looks pretty straight forward, but once you dig deeper, things are not as easy as you think. I bought the SIM (cheaper if you just search one on ebay for $1 or two as you have to pay $10 if you buy it straight from ultra). Unlike most other MVNOs I have seen, there’s no option to simply activate the SIM. To activate the SIM, you have to pick and buy the plan that you want (in my case, the $29 monthly plan). When I click the order button, the website stalled, indefinitely. Crap. After waiting for a while, I checked my credit card, and there’s already a charge for $29. Luckily, when I start over and log-in to my account, the site continued the process in activating my SIM. I punched my SIM number, requested a port from Simple Mobile, and waited.

Tip: whenever you want to port your number from a provider to another, don’t cancel your current provider or wait till last minute. The porting process can take a day or so. I did mine way ahead of my Simple Mobile’s expiration (I already used up more than 250MB anyway). The next day, I saw my phone showing that it had an inactive (Simple Mobile) SIM, and my ultra SIM is good to go.

Configuring the APN for data and MMS is very straight forward. Ultra has an easy step-by-step walkthrough on their website. Now, how do I add that $10 500MB data pack? Well, it gets trickier now. If you read the FAQ, it’s stated that you have to charge your “wallet” with money, and then you can purchase the data pack online or via your phone. Well, first of all, how do you charge your wallet? When you log-in to your account, there is no option to “charge your wallet.” Apparently, you have to use the “Buy International Credit” button to charge your wallet. Sure, the button says it’s for international credit, but the money you put in will go to your “wallet.”

I put $10 on my “wallet.” How do I buy the 500MB data pack? Even though their FAQ said you can do this online, there is no option for this anywhere on your account page. Nothing. WTF? I tried dialing 222 from my phone, and the machine did offer an option to purchase a data pack, but nothing will happen when you do (it just hung up after a brief pause). I emailed the customer support (which has 48hours turn around time, not the most prompt), and they said there’s no data plan on the $29 tier, contrary to what their website is saying. So that’s useless. Finally, I tried calling customer support by dialing 611. During the machine prompts, there is also an option to purchase data pack. I went through the prompts, and after some awkward pauses (there were delays when I press a selection and for the machine to respond/confirm), I finally managed to buy the 500MB data pack. Whew!

This is one of the downsides of going with an MVNO. Since you are bringing your own phone and they are not your typical big carrier with a store and customer service you can go to personally, a lot of times you have to tinker with things yourself. Anyway, I’m set now. Will see how things go. Coverage should be no different than Simple Mobile as they both are T-Mobile MVNOs.

Hopefully those that are looking into Ultra Mobile find my experience useful. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in impression, wireless carrier

 

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Tamako Market

Since all the anime I’ve been watching have ended (Magi, Psycho Pass, Vividred Operation) and without any hint of Accel World season 2, I’ve been looking for other anime. Stumbled upon Tamako Market. It’s one of those cutesy every day/school life of a girl anime. It’s about Tamako, a daughter of a mochi shop at Usagi yama shopping district, and her daily lives and activities, families, and friends. It’s one of those light and cutesy anime, very enjoyable.

tamako market gif01

But of course, the one that is the star of the show is actually Dera, the self-righteous talking bird that speaks Japanese and likes mochi. He went to Japan to find a bride for his prince, but then he ate too much mochi, became fat, and hilarity ensues around him and Tamako.

This anime is not actually new. It has completed in 12 episodes. Time to batch download them. 🙂

tamako market gif02

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in animated gif, anime

 

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Kyouryuuger Dance #kyoryuger

I’ve been wanting to create this. 😀 The reason animated GIF exists. LOL

kyouryuuger gif

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in animated gif, super sentai, tokusatsu

 

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