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WWDC 2014 Prediction

Obligatory post about the next Apple event. To be honest, I don’t feel like it’s going to be as exciting as some people would be hoping. Part of the excitement of past Apple events was the performance itself, by Steve Jobs. His mastery in the presentation is what makes the events enjoyable imo. Now, it relies more on the products.

So, what to expect on this WWDC? Well, the banners are up, so we will see announcements of iOS 8 and the next OS X. The next OS X is rumored to be called Yosemite. There are rumors that it will get some design cues from the “flatness” of iOS7. I think the big push will be on tagging. I think Apple is inching itself away from the traditional file system. Tagging is helpful, but it is not pushed as much as it is supposed to. Many apps still rely on the old file names paradigm, thus only provide that interface to the user.

Another interesting step is whether Apple is going to introduce OS X on ARM. I think this will be the next big thing. It’s no secret that Apple has prototypes of MacBooks running their Ax SoC. The move to 64 bit on the A7 is a big hint on what’s to come. These SoCs are becoming more and more powerful. Sure, they won’t be challenging intel in a Mac Pro anytime soon, but imagine an even lighter and thinner Macbook with even better battery life. And while on it, comes with built-in cellular radio. That would be THE laptop for everybody.

iOS 8’s banner has what seems to be an ocean background. I’m hoping for waterproof iPhones, but I think this will be more about the iOS, not a new iPhone. Can’t expect too much other than for Apple to fix the bugs of iOS7, and optimize it further so it is lean and fast. Right now, even on 7.1.1, my iPhone still has the annoying springboard restarts, even when it is just lying on the table. That’s ridiculous. But typical Apple, I’m afraid they will focus more on utilizing the co-processor of the A7 SoC, thus pretty much rendering anything with the A6 or older to be “less desirable.” Planned obsolesce. Annoying, but won’t be too surprising. When I had the iPhone 4, I thought I would not need to get any newer iPhone. It runs iOS6 okay. I upgraded to the iPhone 5 mainly for the camera and RAM. But we saw iOS7 putting the aging iPhone 4 to its knees. Even A5 devices are not doing so hot on iOS7, and Apple is still selling the 4S and iPad mini. Apple is using software to entice people to upgrade. I just hope Apple sees the legacy they have created. Due to the popularity of the iPad, there are a lot of people and businesses that are still using the old iPad 2, or even the original iPad. Imo Apple needs to start thinking about legacy support. The least Apple should do is optimize iOS8 to run great on the older devices, instead of just putting in more useless animations to make the older devices buckle.

Another rumor is Health book and wearables. There are leaks of a new Health book app, and the rumors of wearables from the legendary iWatch rumor to simply certifications of health/medical devices that are compatible with iDevices. I have a feeling the later to be more accurate. And I still think Apple won’t do an iWatch. The iWatch was simply a rumor conjured up by the tech bloggers, just like the rumor about Apple making an actual television. The tech bloggers keep using the iWatch rumor so much that they themselves are believing that it would be real. Personally, nah.

Some hardware rumors are an updated Apple TV. I think at least Apple need to update the chip as the last Apple TV is still running a single core A5. However, this can wait for the later events, not in WWDC.

How about new Macs? Apple is just starting to ship the new Mac Pro, so I doubt anything new on that. Intel does not have a full refresh on their lineup yet, so I don’t think any of the laptops would see a refresh. The rumor is for a 12″ retina Macbook Air. Not so sure about this, but the Macbook Air do deserve some refresh on their screens. More and more Windows tablets have better screens than the current Air. If Apple is doing a new hardware design, I think it would be linked towards the goal of making an ARM based Macbook, so I don’t know if we will see anything right now.

The only hardware remaining that has not received Haswell treatment is the Mac mini, but updating the Mac mini is not that exciting unless Apple is doing some major hardware update (making it look like a mini Mac Pro, for instance). There’s a rumor of a cheaper iMac, but even if that’s the case, I think that will be only for the educational institutions, something that Apple has been doing in the past. The current iMacs are all running pretty up-to-date hardware. If Apple need to do something, my wish is to make the fusion drive as standard.

Another rumor is the iPad Pro, or something like that. Basically a larger screen iPad with multi-windowing system. Maybe that’s what iOS8 will bring. Samsung definitely thinks Apple would do this as they came out with their 12″ Tab Pro. I personally think the 12″ ARM running Macbook to be more plausible than this larger iPad.

On the business side, there’s the purchase of Beats audio. However, I don’t know how this would relate to WWDC. Even if Apple is announcing some new music streaming services or whatnot, the typical September media even would be more appropriate.

We will see what will happen in the next few days. I have a feeling this will be focused on developers, not hardware, so it might be disappointing to the gadget-lusting tech bloggers. I can’t wait for the headlines next week about Apple can no longer innovate and that they are doomed. 

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Attack on Titan dub #rant

It’s been a while since I blog about anything, but of course, it’s time for another rant. 😀

Yes, Attack on Titan is already dubbed in English. I usually don’t like the idea of something being localized, but I have mixed feelings as technically Eren should be speaking in German, not Japanese.. 😀 But that’s beside the point. Dubbing, I mean localizing anime that is originally in Japanese makes no sense in this modern age, unless you have phobia against Japanese language. I would like to point out that even Chinese movies are now shown in theaters in original Chinese, not dubbed. Korean dramas are never dubbed. So obviously the public can accept the idea of watching a show in foreign language and reading subtitle. But Anime? “OMFG I DON’T WANT TO READ MUST BE DUBBED!!!” :roll eyes: No seriously, those are the responses from a LOT of people, including those claiming to be anime fans. Apparently to them, society only speaks in English.

Enough of that commentary, and back to Attack on Titan. My benchmark is Yuuki Kaji, the seiyuu of Eren. He is a pro seiyuu, having voiced a LOT of anime and video games, including Hope in FF-13 and Haruyuki in Accel World. His performance is just top notch, thus he is frequently appears in anime, either as the main or supporting characters. The English voice actor is Bryce Papenbrook. I have no idea who he is, but apparently he’s also the English voice actor of Kirito in SAO. Whatever. The performance will speak for itself.

On the video, fast forward to minute 18. Let’s start with the Japanese version of one of the key scenes in episode 1, when young Eren saw his house destroyed and his mom eaten by a titan.

Note voice acting, when Eren is calling for his mom, when he’s running, his shock when seeing his house and the titans approaching, and his scream when his mom is eaten. Also notice the performance of Eren’s mom. You really sense the desperation and panic. That’s called voice acting.

Now the English dub. Fast forward to minute 17:50 or so.

First, Armin sounds like shit. Seriously, it’s the typical 90s generic dub voice. The Japanese version used a female seiyuu, and it adapts to the character well. But obviously in English, they have to force a male VA, and it just doesn’t work. Let’s hear Eren. Oh man, talk about just reading a script with made up over-dramatization. When Eren is running, you don’t sense any panic nor urgency in his voice, only some artificial hysteria. Oh, and typical “localization,” they have to add dialogues that are not there in the original. When Eren noticed the titans are coming, he only gasped in the original. But in English, they have to add “Oh no.” Why? Because the “acting” is not good enough to reflect the same scene so a dialogue has to be added to tell the audience what he’s thinking? Come on. “Isoge Mikasa” becomes “Hurry up damn it.” Yes, using profanity to mask your crappy dub job. Seriously, WTF?

And then Eren’s mom, simply reading a script. There’s very little sense of urgency and sounds more like a nagging woman than somebody that actually cares about Eren and Mikasa. In the Japanese version, she said something about “at this rate, all three of us…” It reflects their desperation and helplessness of the situation. In the dub? “You want all three of us to die?” Seriously? So Eren’s mom becomes a bitch that want to shift responsibility to the kids as the reason they would die? I guess it’s typical of the western culture to blame somebody else huh. This is why I extremely HATE dub. There is NO REASON to change dialogues in a way that it changes the characters. It’s bull shit. English dub producers seem to think that they are suddenly the “creator” and can change things willy nilly. Bull effin shit. ZERO respect of the source material.

When Hannes picked up Eren, the dubbed Eren said “Put me down you bastard.” Obviously no such profanity in the original. Again, using profanity to mask a crappy dub job, typical bull shit English “localization.”

And finally, the climax of the scene, when the titan picked up Eren’s mom. In the original, Eren simply screamed “Yamero!” with all his might. In the dub? “Stop it no…” LOL. It just happens in Japanese, “Yamero” has three syllables. You might say I’m nitpicking, but I guess they need to add more syllables to match “Yamero.” This is another reason that dubbing just does NOT work. To match syllables, you end up making the situation a bit awkward and/or unnatural. That’s like watching English movies dubbed in Japanese. It does NOT work.

Yes, I criticize Japanese dub the same way on contents that are originally in English. The difference is, you don’t see people saying they have to watch English movies in Japanese dub, unlike anime where the number of people with phobia against Japanese language is astounding. You would think in 2014 there is more tolerance for foreign languages and cultures, but I guess not.

So there you go. In short, bull shit dub job that changes dialogues and characterizations, pretty much the typical English dub, done by producers with no passion for the original material, and no respect towards the original. Oh yes, let’s add profanity some more to make it more “adult.” Bull shit.

On the other hand, I would be interested if they dub Attack on Titan in German.

/rant

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in anime, rant

 

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Restoring from Time Machine on Thunderbolt Drobo

Apparently I tend to make my life more complicated than it should. I have been backing up my Mac to a Time Machine on a Thunderbolt Drobo. No problem, right? Well, I guess I spoke to soon.

Doing a complete restore of a Mac from a Time Machine is pretty straight forward using OS X’ Migration Assistant, but in real life, the result is not usually perfect, and can be quirky. Of course, I have to add an additional confusion to the mix, by using a Drobo. I love Drobo, but they can initiate a heart attack when they do not behave as expected.

The scenario is, I wanted to transfer the content of my Mac to another. There are many ways to do this, but OS X’ Migration assistant is usually pretty foolproof and fairly easy, especially since it has the option to do it from a Time Machine backup so you don’t have to have the original machine. So I reformatted the target Mac with 10.9, connected my Thunderbolt Drobo, and Migration Assistant could not seem to find it. Uh oh. So I set up the target Mac as a fresh Mavericks install, and although System Information detects the Thunderbolt Drobo, it’s not shown in Finder. A knowledge base from Drobo said that I have to have Drobo Dashboard installed. 

I downloaded and installed Drobo Dashboard, and the Drobo is mounted. Great. So I started Migration Assistant again. No go. Seems like Migration Assistant kinda did a “reboot” to run. Well, based on the knowledge base from Drobo, since it needs Drobo Dashboard to mount the Thunderbolt Drobo, that means Migration Assistant will never be able to recognize the Thunderbolt Drobo as it started before Drobo Dashboard is loaded. Double uh oh!

So I dug up the drobo box to get its USB cable. Meanwhile, I let the target system to update itself to 10.9.2. After 10.9.2 was installed, I tried Migration Assistant again, saving the USB route as last resort. Luckily, the Time Machine partition was shown. Hallelujah!

Moral of the story:

  1. Although restoring form Time Machine works, sometimes it is easier to just do a direct migration from the old Mac. So if you buy a new Mac, don’t sell or reformat the old one yet until you get everything transferred
  2. Update the target Mac to the latest OS X version and its patches. 10.9’s Migration Assistant did not recognize the Thunderbolt Drobo, but apparently 10.9.2 did (with Drobo Dashboard installed)
  3. Thunderbolt is great and fancy, but don’t dismiss USB just yet

Well, just another doki-doki adventure with Drobo.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Merry Christmas!

legalhigh santa

Excellent deduction Komikado. 😀 Just started watching this J-Dorama, Legal High.

Merry Christmas!

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in funny

 

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Smartphone Buying Guide 2013

Since many tech blogs are doing a smartphone buying guide thanks to the holiday shopping season, I’m going to do one too with my own bias. 😀 If you read my blog for sometime, you know how I feel about provider locking, so this guide will focus mostly on GSM unlocked phones and GSM carriers/MVNOs. It’s actually pretty easy since unlocked phones is not the norm in the US.

Carrier Choice

In the US, there are only two major GSM carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile. Among those two, T-Mobile offers the best bang for the buck, and also the carrier that has a lot of MVNOs. The catch is coverage. So I would check their coverage first. Another great way to check coverage is to ask friends and family members as it will give you better real-life testimonies. Note that the coverage on T-Mobile’s website is assuming you have a phone with AWS band support. Unfortunately, since the number of carriers that use this band is extremely small, most phone manufactures don’t bother supporting it. Luckily, T-Mobile has also started to refarm the 1900 band for 3G in some areas, which is more widely supported than AWS as AT&T also uses this band. You can check this site to see if your area is a refarmed area. Note that this site is generated from user input, so the data is definitely more limited.

If you are not lucky enough to be covered by T-Mobile, next step is AT&T. In general, AT&T is more expensive, and has less choice in MVNOs. Their 3G speed is also slower than T-Mobile’s HSPA+. The upside is coverage is better in general, although I have been in areas where T-Mobile actually has better coverage than AT&T. This is their site for their coverage. Again, better gauge is to ask your friends or family members as the general map coverage usually assume that you are outside, not indoors. AT&T uses 850 and 1900 bands for 3G, and they are supported by many phones.

LTE

Both AT&T and T-Mobile have started to offer LTE. The main advantage of LTE imo is the much lower latency. Browsing the internet under LTE feels more like a landline broadband than a cellular connection. Speed wise, however, is not much faster, at least in my experience. You see people on the internet bragging how much faster their LTE speed is, but so far in my experience in trying Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s LTE, I usually get around ~10-20Mbps down at best, which is not much different than a good HSPA+ connection.

T-Mobile uses LTE band 4, and AT&T uses band 4 and 17. In short, phones that supports AT&T LTE will support T-Mobile LTE by default. LTE coverage is still very limited. I would rather have a good HSPA+ coverage than a paltry LTE coverage.

If you really must have LTE, then your provider selection is more limited. So far, I think there are no T-Mobile MVNOs offering LTE service, so to get T-Mobile LTE, you have to get a T-Mobile plan. AT&T only offers LTE on their own plans and their MVNO Aio wireless (at lower speed of 8Mbps).

Picking Your Plan

I have posted quite a bit of discussions on different MVNOs in this, and this posts. Just to quickly recap and to update things a bit:

T-Mobile and Its MVNOs:
Cheapest with good amount of data: Ultra mobile. $19 a month gives you 250 minutes, unlimited SMS, and 50MB data. You can add 250MB for $5. This is the provider I’ve been using so far.
Best deal for heavy data user: T-Mobile monthly 4G. No need to go to Walmart. Just order the SIM online from T-Mobile themselves. $30 a month gives you 100 minutes, unlimited SMS, and 5GB data at 4G speed (2G speed afterwards). This deal is so good that T-Mobile themselves are not making it easy to find it.
For unlimited talk: Straight Talk offers either AT&T or T-Mobile SIM. $45 a month gives you unlimited voice, unlimited SMS, and 2.5GB high speed data. It’s good that they specify the limit now. Another option is Simple Mobile or Spot Mobile, both are offering $40 a month for unlimited voice, unlimited SMS, and 1GB high speed data.
$50 and up: If you are willing to spend more, Simple Mobile offers $50 plan that gives you 3GB of high speed data (unlimited voice and SMS). If you are a really big spender, T-Mobile will give you unlimited everything for $70 a month.
Longest expiration date: This is a great option for a backup SIM. Spot Mobile offers a pay-as-you-go plan with $5 good for 90days.

AT&T and Its MVNOs:
Cheapest with good amount of data: Airvoice Wireless offers $40 a month, unlimited minutes, unlimited SMS, and 1GB data.
Best deal for more data: Straight Talk. $45 a month, unlimited voice and SMS, 2.5GB high speed data.
$50 and up: Red Pocket offers $60 a month, unlimited voice and SMS, 3GB data. If money is no object, Aio Wireless has a $70 a month plan with unlimited voice, SMS, and 7GB data.
Longest expiration date: Airvoice Wireless pay-as-you-go has $10 credit that is good for 90 days.

As you can see, it is clear that T-Mobile offers more bang for the buck, so pray that you have good T-Mobile coverage. 🙂

Picking a Phone

You have decided on your carrier and your plan. Now’s the fun part, picking your phone. 🙂

Under $100:
The Lumia 520/521 is really a good Windows Phone 8 phone at this price range. Unfortunately, you will be stuck with either AT&T goPhone plans or T-Mobile’s prepaid plans unless you can get them unlocked. Seems like since it’s a popular phone, it is getting harder and harder to find unlocks for these phones. Another catch is the 521 T-Mobile version doesn’t seem to support band I (2100) for 3G based on the spec on T-Mobile website. Something to think about if you travel as band I is the most common band used for 3G in Asia and Europe. Caveat emptor. I would spend more money to get better flexibility of unlocked phones.

~$200:
Motorola’s Moto G. There is no contest here unless you start looking at used phones. $180 for 8GB, $200 for 16GB. 720p screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400, near stock Android. It’s not shipping yet, but it’s the best deal on paper right now. It even makes the Nexus looks expensive. 😀 No LTE, but at this price point, who cares. Do note that there are two versions being sold, a global version and a “US” version. The US version supports AWS, which is useful for T-Mobile coverage, at the expense of lacking 2100 band support (the frequency band used for 3G in most Asian and European countries). Both versions do support 850 and 1900 bands, so if your carrier is AT&T, or T-Mobile has refarmed the 1900 band in your area, my vote is for the global version.

If you are a Windows Phone fan, Microsoft is selling the HTC 8X unlocked for $250. 16GB, 720p SLCD gorilla glass screen, dual-core Snapdragon S4, quad-band HSPA (no AWS though), LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile. It’s a much better phone than the Lumia 520, but value wise, imo the Moto G trumps this. Check out my quick impression of the HTC 8X.

~$400:
Google Nexus 5. Penta-band HSPA, LTE support for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, Snapdragon 800, 1080p screen, latest Android KitKat. 16GB is $350 and 32GB is $400. Hard to beat at this price point. The only downside is probably the camera app. Check out my impression here.

Sony Xperia ZR is available around $450. It’s no Snapdragon 800 like the Nexus 5 and no LTE, but it is still a decent phone with penta-band HSPA, quad-core processor, 1080p screen, 2GB RAM, 8GB storage with SD slot, and it’s water proof. Something to check out if you need a phone that can withstand the environment a little bit. If you don’t need the water proofing, the Xperia ZL is bigger, supports LTE, and has 16GB storage instead. It’s hard to beat the Nexus 5 though for your money.

~$600:
The HTC One is available unlocked in regular Sense or stock Android versions. Ironically, HTC used to sell this for cheaper at $580 before the Google Play stock Android version came out. Spec wise, it has been upped by the Nexus 5, but it is still quite a beast with 1080p screen, LTE support (both AT&T and T-Mobile), Snapdragon 600, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage. It only has tri-band HSPA though, no AWS support. I prefer the Sense version due to HTC Zoe as an added value. The GPE version is just stock Android, and at that price, might as well save the money and get the Nexus 5 instead.

iPhone:
iPhone is unique as it is only made by Apple. I wouldn’t get the iPhone 5c (16GB for $550, 32GB for $650). It’s basically a cheapened iPhone 5. If you are going to spend some $600, might as well get the iPhone 5s. Starts at 16GB for $650 and up to a whooping $850 for 64GB. It’s magical. Of course, the iOS experience is unique on iPhones, so the price premium might be worth it.

Well, there you go, my smartphone buying guide for 2013. 😀 Imo the real winner this year is the Moto G. Motorola was going to delay the Moto G in the US until next year, but looks like they were wise enough to ship it by December 2nd instead, and still catch the holiday buying season. At $200 for its spec, it really does offer great value, even arguably better than the Nexus phones. At this point, you have to really love your carrier to still buy a carrier controlled phone with contract. Nexus 5 is changing the game again, bringing top high end spec at mid-range price. iPhone is as magical as ever, and Apple doesn’t seem to be bothered by the low cost offerings of Android.

Hopefully this can bring some perspective into the plethora buying guides thrown in by tech blogs that are mostly focused on carrier controlled phones. ^_^ What phone do you want from Santa?

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Buying guide

 

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HTC 8X Quick Impression #windowsphone

I was browsing at a local Microsoft store, and I noticed that they were selling the HTC 8X unlocked for $250. I double checked Microsoft’s online store, and surely it sells them for the same price. Why was I interested? Windows Phone phones have never been sold unlocked in the US, other than the overpriced bundle that Microsoft did for the Lumia 800. So this was quite a surprise.

I really like the packaging of the 8X. It feels cheap, but the design is fresh from the typical carton box. $250 is not cheap, but it’s not bad either. The HTC 8X was HTC’s flagship Windows Phone 8 in 2012. When people talk about cheap WP8 phone, the first thing that comes up usually is the Nokia Lumia 520/521. In the US, the Lumia 520 is available as a no-contract GoPhone from AT&T (521 from T-Mobile) at $99. It’s good for the price, but it is cheap for a reason. If you go to any retail store with the 520/521 demo unit, you will immediately notice the washed out WVGA screen. It just doesn’t look good. Storage is only 8GB, and RAM is only 512MB, something that can be an issue with some apps. Also, despite being sold as a no-contract phone, it is carrier locked.

The HTC 8X costs more than double the Lumia 520, but it is a better equipped phone. It has higher res SLCD 720p screen with Gorilla Glass, which is a lot better screen than the Lumia 520. The 8X has 1GB RAM and 16GB storage. The processor is faster too, but Windows Phone 8 is smooth enough on both devices. The 8X does support LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile. Today, these specs are nothing compared to Android phones, but considering your options, it is the only Windows Phone 8 that is sold unlocked straight from Microsoft.

Build quality wise, the HTC 8X is a beautiful phone. It uses that soft rubbery plastic for its body. I am confident enough that the phone will survive daily usage without a case (in contrast to phones like the iPhone and Nexus 4). Microsoft only sells one color of the 8X, blue. It’s more like bluish purple.

At the top right is the power/sleep/wake button, and on the right side, there are the volume rocker on the upper section and the camera shutter button on the lower section. The arrangement can be somewhat annoying as I always end up pressing the volume rocker when I want to wake up the phone. Holding down the camera shutter button will fire up the camera app, even while the phone is locked.

I am always amazed how people fumbling around to silent their phones when they rang during a meeting or quiet situations. Apple solved the problem easily by putting a hardware mute switch on the iPhone, so you can mute your iPhone whenever. Android is a bit unintuitive, where you have to hold down the power button to have a dialog box pop up offering the option to silent the phone. Some phones like the HTC One makes things even harder as you don’t have access to that dialog box when the phone is locked. Windows Phone also takes two steps. First, you have to press the volume rocker button to trigger the volume control on the top bar on the screen. There, there is an icon on the right to toggle silent/vibrate mode. To me, it is not as simple as the iPhone, but I guess it is more intuitive than Android.

The lock screen itself is simple and pretty readable (and Hime is pretty too. ^_^). To obtain a screen shot, you push and hold the power button, and tap the Windows capacitive button. There is no way to show battery percentage on the OS without the help of 3rd party apps. Limited notifications are shown on the bottom, but you can only allow 5 apps to show things there. Interestingly enough, I find that messages from your friend on Facebook won’t trigger a notification here, despite allowing Facebook app to do so in settings. This is one of my gripes with Windows Phone. Unlike iOS and Android, there is no central place to handle notifications. You are left with limited icons on the lock screen (that are dismissed once you unlocked the phone), and hunting down each apps having a notification badge (assuming you put those apps’ tiles on your home screen).

My previous experience with Windows Phone was with the Lumia 710, a Windows Phone 7 phone that was abandoned by Microsoft and T-Mobile from receiving the 7.8 update. One of my major complaints was the tiles, as they are merely oversized icon shortcuts. Considering their size, it limits the amount of stuff you want to see on your home screen at one time. Windows Phone 8 fixed this by allowing smaller icon sizes, so you can have a lot more shortcuts on the home screen.

As you can see, on the main home screen, you only have your tiles on a solid background (can be white or black). Your wallpaper only shows up on the lock screen. This imo limits the “personalization” of the phone, with only limited colors to choose from for the tiles. Even then, notice that not all apps will conform to the system’s tile color, not even Microsoft’s own apps.

Shortcuts to quick settings like switching wifi or airplane mode are not available by default. You have to get 3rd party apps. This is what concerning. When I was perusing the WP app store for live tile apps that provides shortcuts to system functions, a lot of them are very sketchy, where the apps require permission for your identity from the phone and whatnot. Heck, even many battery widgets (that show charge percentage on the tile) require those permissions. Not cool in my book. This is typical of sketchy Android apps, and I was expecting Microsoft to do a better job. Worse, none of those battery indicators actually work. Apple has solved this by baking those features into iOS7 via control center. Hopefully Microsoft would do something similar.

Getting your stuff into Windows Phone is pretty simple, especially if you use Hotmail/Outlook. Just login to your Hotmail account and everything will be there, including Facebook contacts if you link your Facebook account with your Hotmail account. Your Xbox avatar will also appear on the Xbox app if you have the same login for your Xbox. Setting up other services is pretty straight forward too, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. The problem is on social media. Facebook and Twitter have native apps, but if you are on Google Plus, forget it. In fact, Google only made ONE app for Windows Phone, which is just a Google search screen. It’s pathetic. If you are a heavy user of Google services, you may want to step back and get an Android phone/iPhone instead.

The sad app situation doesn’t stop there. Dropbox, a popular cloud syncing app, does not even have a native app on WP. Now this might be acceptable if Windows Phone is new to the market. It’s not. Microsoft really needs to work harder in attracting developers. The absence of Google apps already put a huge dent on the platform. If you are a Microsoft user, you are fine. Many services, like maps, are taken care of by bing.

The lack of many native apps from their original developers, like Google, creates a huge amount of fake apps. This is a huge problem on Android, and I was surprised that WP is having the same issue. Simply search for Facebook and you will find plenty of “Facebook app” that is made by some unknown developer. Same thing with Google apps. Worse, these fake apps are using the real logos from Facebook/Google, and their descriptions are making them sound like they are the real apps. Lay users can unknowingly download these fake apps and have bad user experience with them, condemning the platform even more.

On the Mac, Microsoft creates a Windows Phone app (previously called Windows Phone Connector) to sync photos and music from iPhoto and iTunes. Pretty straight forward and basic. Alas, there’s no way to create a full backup on the desktop now (I think it used to be able to do that). Instead, backup is created in the cloud on your Skydrive account.

Yes, there is Office, or Office super lite to be more precise. People seems to be bragging about Office on Windows Phone, but I can’t see one who would want to use it. Maybe Excel, but Word is practically useless as it rewraps your whole document to the phone’s margin. This makes it extremely difficult to think how it would look normally when editing a document.

The camera app on the 8X is a stock one, and you don’t have access to those exclusive Nokia only apps. Some lenses are still there though. The 8MP camera is not too bad. It has pretty wide aperture, f2.0. Looking at the quality briefly, I say it’s above the Nexus 4, but does not quite match the Nexus 5 or the iPhone 5.

The shutter button makes taking pictures a bit more like a conventional camera, but you cannot focus on certain areas by touching the screen by default. That’s really annoying, kinda beats the advantage of having a touch screen. The only way to do this that I know of is to set the camera to automatically take a picture upon touch, where you can touch an area, the camera focuses to that area, and takes a picture. I find it annoying as I am used to the flexibility on iOS’ and HTC One’s camera apps.

One big paradigm shift that Microsoft did on Windows Phone is the shift from apps into hubs. The idea is instead of checking Facebook app or Twitter app individually, you simply go to the People hub that will aggregate all the updates from the various sources (mail, messages, Facebook postings, tweets, etc).This is a neat idea. I can group select contacts, pin the group as a live tile, and I can observe a live tile showing some recent messages from those group right on my home screen. This is great in filtering your social media contents to just the stuff from your friends, for example. Of course, that is assuming that you only use those social media that are connected to the people hub. Like I mentioned above, Google Plus is a no go. Some apps are not even updated to fully support this. Example is the flickr app, where the app itself still says that it is for Windows Phone 7. Yeah, many apps are fairly old, abandoned by the developers. It is sad as I actually like the concept of hubs.

The bad news doesn’t stop there. HTC is not doing so hot right now. Although the 8X received GDR 3 update, it’s clear that HTC is focusing on Android with the One lineup. The possibility of the 8X getting Windows Phone 8.1 is pretty slim. Worse, Microsoft itself is not going to release 8.1 till next year, leaving 2013 for iOS and Android to shine with iOS7 and KitKat. Samsung, the other WP OEM, clearly has abandoned Windows Phone too. Nokia, the sole survivor, sold its mobile hardware division to Microsoft. Oh, and Microsoft itself reflects its desire to not have three version of Windows. Considering the regular Windows is the bigger brother, this means Windows Phone will get the boot. One can clearly see this is coming when Microsoft did Windows RT instead of transforming Windows Phone into a tablet OS. Why have two OSes on ARM? The future is definitely bleak for Windows Phone.

Thus I returned my HTC 8X. 🙂 To be honest, I kinda like the phone itself. It’s pretty and whatnot, but there’s no point in investing on a dead-end platform. Oh, and Motorola is now selling the 16GB Moto G for just $199 unlocked. $250 has turned from okay to expensive when $200 can buy me a very decent phone on a platform that is more fully featured. For Windows Phone, I’m going to say wait for Microsoft to release their Surface branded phone, or their own branded phone. It’s clear that the OEMs are jumping off the boat, so buying a WP device from HTC/Samsung means you are buying a device with potentially no support. Considering the history of Microsoft ditching the Lumia 710 from 7.8 update, I can see 8.1 being pushed to only the high end Lumias, and then everything will be abandoned in favor of new devices running the WinRT hybrid.

Windows Phone, second round, and still failed to hook me. I’m keeping my money on iOS and Android in the meantime.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in impression, Windows Phone

 

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Power Rangers Super Megaforce

Yeah, Gokaiger’s adaptation is going to be creatively called Power Rangers Super Megaforce. :roll eyes: And what is it going to be? It will be the Megaforce team “powering up” into Super Megaforce instead of a new series. And how are they going to mangle the legend war?

This is why imo Power Rangers will never work. It’s just a cheap copy-n-paste from Super Sentai, with very little creative idea, to sell toys in the western market. I tried watching the first episode of Megaforce and I cannot even finish it. It made me sick. You cannot just transplant a white jock to replace a somewhat-flamboyant asian guy. I’m talking about Arata, aka Gosei Red. In Megaforce, red ranger is a white muscly jock. It doesn’t work during the action scenes pasted from Goseiger as the stunts are done for the character Arata. The fact that Saban was oblivious to this kinda shows you the level of quality they were doing. Super Sentai is turned into a cheap show with cheap script, bad acting, and zero creativity.

Enter Gokaiger, one of the highest praised Super Sentai series mainly due to the huge amount of fan service in the show. Imagine a year of show full of fan service. That’s Gokaiger, and TOEI managed to do an awesome job compared to Kamen Rider Decade. Well, what Saba is going to do? You can see from the teaser, that it will be just another cheap knock off. Just like the original MMPR, they are transitioning the same characters into the new costume. Makes no sense. While Goseiger has a backstory of them being angels, Megaforce has nothing other than some random teenagers, just like the original MMPR. This kills the whole basis on the designs and motives of the costumes and mecha. Gokaiger are pirates, and now it will be just a new “power” to Super Megaforce? I bet all the nautical references on the mechas will be lost too.

And yes, you saw Dairanger in the teaser. Considering Saban never adapted Dairanger fully (only adapted Kiba Ranger into White Ranger), I don’t know how they are going to pull this. Bah, who cares. I’m just ranting. Just another trash show to sell cheap crappy toys.

Makes me wonder how Saban is going to mangle Gobusters. Gobusters is made to be extremely easy to adapt to Power Rangers. The henshin process is in English, “It’s morphin’ time.” The mechas are called megazords. But I bet Saban will still turn it into yet another generic trash show with cheap script and bad acting, relying more on the cut-n-paste scenes to sell toys.

/rant

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in rant