[handwritten/kpop] thoughts on SHINee disbandment.

First let me dispel any rumors that come of this post– SHINee is NOT disbanding. Yet, given the track record SM has with disbandment and my being a huge SHINee fan, this topic is fascinating to think about. Please note that everything I wrote or drew is for poking fun and making light, not to be mean or offensive.

I recently found my original legal notepad version, which I intended to scan. However, I also recently received an iPad 3, so I decided to try writing out the post on a beautiful notebook app I downloaded, Paper. Warning: my handwriting is atrocious, because the iPad, its apps, and accompanying styli, still suck tremendously for handwritten notes.

[tech/review] I finally got a smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus, but I keep having second thoughts..

My Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone to ship with Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), arrived three days before Christmas. I have had time to tinker with it, to be pleased and highly frustrated with it.

The Galaxy Nexus is my first smartphone, though not my first brush with a smartphone operating system; with my iPod 4th Generation, I used iOS to do everything but physically call (I could text and receive voicemail via Google Voice app).  I figured after a year of using iOS and my obsessive use of Google products, perhaps I should switch to Android.

Nonetheless, I keep thinking maybe I should have gone the safe route and gotten an iPhone 4S, because it is the little things that irk me about Android that I have gotten so used to in iOS 5.

notification system

On iOS, you get a little blurb on your lock screen of what the notification was. On Android, you get a little icon at the top indicating what the notification came from, like Gmail or Facebook or a missed call, but you do not get information on what that email was about, what shenanigans happened on Facebook, who called you. To find out, you actually have to open up the phone, extremely irritating if all that happened was a free coupon from CVS, somebody tagged you in a mass holiday card, your mom called you about cleaning your room.

To be fair, I use Boxcar for push notifications on iOS, but to also be fair, Android has nothing like push notifications for the lock screen, native or third-party.

lack of timer; lack of recorder

In iOS, the alarm clock also includes a timer. In Android, there is no such thing! I used the timer primarily so I can listen to music as I go to sleep, and have it automatically shut off after a certain period of time. I went trawling through the Android market to find a timer, and not one of most downloaded alarm clock apps did this function, and eventually I ended up installing this sketchy Korean app whose app title is, “Music Off, I’m Sleeping~!”

There is also no recorder included with vanilla ICS, and all apps from third parties are downright ugly. How am I supposed to record myself playing piano (badly)? Really now.

music player

Google Music does not sync my most played playlists, and cannot create ‘most played’ playlists right now. Also, it does not sync with my iTunes’ played counts after the initial syncing with iTunes. Call me OCD, but I like knowing which tracks I play the most.

Also, the volume only goes in gradation levels of 15, and my comfortable listening range is somewhere between 3/15 and 4/15, but Android does not allow me to go between 3 and 4, so it is either too soft or too loud.

Moreover, when I switch from the phone’s speaker to listening in my headphones, the volume does not adjust. So if I had the volume all the way up using the phone’s speakers and then switch to headphones, and forget to change the volume, I am rendered deaf for the next few seconds. This does not happen with iOS, which automatically changes to a suitable volume.

screen aesthetics / camera

The Galaxy Nexus’s screen really just does not look as pretty. For example, Tohoshinki’s Tone is this horrible lurid color on my Nexus while it looks amazing on my iPod. The camera too; for some reason, photos taken on my Nexus are vastly subpar to those taken on the iPhone.

apps on the iPhone are not on Android; apps do not all work on Ice Cream Sandwich; apps I have bought for iOS do not transfer to Android

The biggest app I use that is not on Android is Instagram. Phooey. Also, why does having the latest version of Android render some apps unusable? This would never happen on iOS. For newest versions of iOS, apps will always be able to run. Even some apps developed by Google themselves cannot run on my Nexus (defeats the purpose of the Nexus being the “Nexus” phone). Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, apps that I have purchased for iOS cannot transfer and are not compatible with Android. This is a serious problem if you are one of the users who bought a lot of apps; the more serious money you have plunked down, the less you are willing to move from your current phone operating system.

keyboard / languages

Let’s say I want to tweet in Chinese, but my keyboard is in English. I need to go through three steps to actually get to Chinese in Android. However, in iOS, I only need to press a button and slide. One step!

Even more infuriating, to get Chinese / Japanese / Korean input, I actually need to go to the Android store and download another app. It is not already included in Android, like it is already included in iOS. My Galaxy Nexus also does not support Italian (che cazzo!).

To sidestep this problem, you can download other keyboards like GO (which I did) which have shorter pathways and feature Italian autocorrect, but honestly, these keyboards are pretty ugly, which brings me to my next point.

ugly apps

There are so many different types of Android devices out there, and the developer has to consider them all when developing apps, right? Wrong. They consider some devices but then leave other devices to die in ugliness, like my Galaxy Nexus.

menu button is too small

From left to right, the nav. buttons are: back, home, recently opened apps, app menu (the three dots). The app menu button is really small considering the generous size they gave to the preceding three apps, so sometimes I end up tapping the recently opened apps instead. Irritating.

Now, after airing all of those grievances, I suppose I can say some good things about the Galaxy Nexus. Continue reading

[nerd] tumblr is abomination

All the cool kids are on tumblr. It has pretty, simple layouts, is easy to use and one can quickly share with the masses– especially with your fandom. I admit, I’m pretty much a heavy social network user, so I decided to finally make one.

Yuck. The only redeeming quality is the viral sharing (which really reminds me of Google+‘s share function). My biggest gripes:

  1. There is no good way for you to keep up with constantly updating tumblogs, especially if you subscribe to a lot of them. Everything just gets lost in the deluge of the dash.
  2. tumblr iOS app is crap.
  3. tumblr limits GIFs to 500kb. Which is like nothing.. regular photos are allowed up to 10mb! MB!!!

Everyone likes reading my kpop funnies aggregations, right? I find those overwhelmingly from tumblr. The blogs devoted to macros/funnies update only once in a while, only with a few macros at a time. However, I follow back all of my non-spam, non-promotional followers, some of whom reblog like they are donkeys chasing carrots.  Thus, I rarely will ever see the posts that I actually care about–like macros–because the tumblr dash starts from the most recent first. To get to the posts that were posted earlier, I have to keep scrolling down and down and down and then my computer memory starts complaining because of the sheer amount of data (this with only following ~60 tumblogs).

To counter this difficulty, I’ve been using Google Reader to follow the tumblogs that I want to read. That way I can keep track of what I’ve read, like “oh, she’s updated with 30 items. I’ve read 15 and I can save the rest for later. I don’t have to worry about scrolling through the dash or having to laboriously click through the actual blog.” This is partially the reason why my SHINee folder in Google Reader regularly numbers up in the +600 unread count.

The iOS app, though redesigned, is absolute doodoo for now– the API never works for me. I’ve tried reinstalling but it won’t update my most current numbers. I think the quality of the iOS app really is representative of tumblr as a whole, still prone to shutdowns and random disappearances of notifications and notes. It’s all a bunch of doodoo– a product that still has quite a long way to be developed. I’ve been thinking more and more that even Google+ in its field test is more polished than tumblr.

But still, isn’t my tumblog pretty?

see that Key edit on the lower right corner? for some reason, it's been getting a lot of love ?__?

[tech/nerd] I am so excited for Google Wallet.

Google Wallet debuted on Thursday, 26 May 2011. A quick lowdown:

  • uses the proprietary NFC technology
  • currently works with Google Prepaid Card & Citi MasterCard and the PayPass systems
  • is an app that you download onto Android
  • will be synced with Google Offers (Google’s answers to Groupon): so if you purchase something with Google Wallet and there is also a deal on Google Offers, you automatically get the deal!
  • the only phone compatible right now is the Nexus S 4G from Sprint

Just one word: convenience. Carrying cash, while useful for those devious (European) vendors who only accept cash, is bulky and jangly. Carrying credit or debit cards, while decidedly less bulk, is still quite annoying, because to be safe, you need at least two different card providers (MasterCard, American Express, Visa, among others), in case a vendor does not accept one of them. Moreover, I hate bringing my huge wallet and fumbling with my cards–so whenever I exclusively go to Starbucks, I use the Starbucks Mobile Card on my iPod Touch, in which I can actually see and update my balance while earning ‘stars’ at Starbucks for free drinks, etc. So, Google Wallet and Google Offers synchronization? Slick.

If you cannot tell from the blog design, I am a minimalist at heart. If I am up for a day of city exploring, these are the things I will bring: credit card and phone. Not even a wallet. Just a credit card. Google has also said that this service could expand to IDs, boarding passes, tickets, and keys. Compacting everything into one device! My minimalist bees’ knees are quaking! I will never have to carry all these useless pieces of tree pulp, metal, and plastic again, and think I have lost them in my bottomless bag and cry for several minutes thinking I will never get into my house again. I lose track of things easily, and just having one thing to keep track of–my smartphone–will make things easier and less stressful for me.

However, before I run away with love for Google Wallet, I admit one of the first things I thought of was: what about security? All that financial and personal information in a gadget that is easy to lose?

There are two layers to the virtual card(s): the phone’s manual unlock, and the app’s PIN number. A spending limit can be set, and purchases over that limit will require text message or e-mail confirmations. The data of the cards will be encrypted by First Data, and the card numbers will never be fully displayed on the phone screen. When removed, physically tampered with or hacked into, the NFC chip will self-destruct.

Yet, I still have some reservations. From Google Wallet:

What To Do If Your Phone is Stolen or Lost

Even though the Google Wallet PIN and Secure Element protect your payment card information, you should still call your issuing banks to cancel your cards.

Cancel all my credit cards?! All of them?! Then that means I cannot put all my eggs in one basket and must still carry at least one physical card virgin from Google Wallet. Also, there is the possibility that the phone will break, I drop it into the ocean or a glass of milk, or just go haywire on its own, leaving me with no other method to pay (because really, with Google Wallet, the only thing I would carry from then on would be a phone). Concentrating all of this information into one device could be disastrous if anything averse to said device happens.

The Rambly Verdict: If Google keeps the app exclusive to Android, and is able to get partnerships with other banks who use MasterCard (cough, HSBC), I might actually be swayed to buy an Android as my next phone. I confess, my lazy self can be suckered in by promises of superlative convenience, even if it means just carrying one piece less of plastic. If Google is able to successfully have vendors adopt Google Wallet and Google Offers, this could be huge. Of course, ordinary people on the young side of the age spectrum will latch on, because paying by phone is such a cool novelty (at least in America, not in South Korea, China, and Japan!) that is worth the extra setup. For phones that do not have NFC capability, Google is working on a sticker that will allow them to make payments (but sadly, the stickers cannot connect with outside features like Google Offers). Right now, Google needs to focus on creating the partnerships, and the people will follow.

Extra: Google also needs to focus on the lawsuit from eBay and PayPal over trade secrets used in Google Wallet, though it is unlikely eBay and PayPal will throttle Google Wallet before it launches officially. Continue reading

[tech/nerd] Michelle and the Chromebook: our two month anniversary. and my gripes.

When I filled out the survey for the Chromebook, there was a little checkbox at the end, saying “Would you use the Cr-48 as your primary computer?” and who wouldn’t check it, if it meant getting a free laptop? So I checked it, and after a honeymoon of two days because of its novelty, a nightmare of two months ensued. Bottom line: I cannot imagine using the Chromebook as my primary computer. Ever.

My Gripes:

  1. It’s super slow. Like epic slow. Like slower than particles at 0 degree Kelvin. OK, I may be exaggerating. The startup time may be speedy, but once I put in my password, and my pinned tabs open up (Gmail, Extensions, Google Reader, nothing fancy), the Chromebook takes a long minute to become acceptably receptive to manipulation. Also, if I am opening multiple tabs at once, if one tab is still loading, the rest of the tabs remain a blank white until the final tab loads. This particularly bites when one tab is very content rich. There is also a noticeable delay when I open a new tab–it’s not smooth at all. My Asus UL80VT takes around the same time to boot from hibernation, and its Chrome runs like butter.
  2. It loves to cache. I religiously clear the cache every day, but still Chrome insists on being slow!
  3. The battery takes forever to charge. It might be just me, but when I plug my Asus, it takes around an hour, then it’s good for 8 hours. When I charge the Chromebook, it takes around 3 hours to get up 8 hours of juice. This is not ideal for something on the go, if you need to dock it for such a long time to charge.
  4. The apps misfunction all the time. One of the best things about Chrome OS are the panels, which is utilized in the Google Talk app for Chromebook. However, 4 out of 5 times I click on the app to start it, the panel remains blank. I like this feature so much that I obsessively restart the Chromebook until it works again. Even then, the people who are online appear offline, and I’ve been told by Ian that I am in fact “online” when I set my status as “invisible.” I restart the computer when Incredible Startpage isn’t working either; it will tell me that Chrome Bookmarks aren’t “ready” when the notebook has been running for 10 minutes already. Also, Chromed Bird periodically stops working too–I have to go to the Extensions page and disable and re-enable. SO MUCH WORK! UNACCEPTABLE!
  5. Sometimes I need to turn my fingers into ninjas to get the trackpad to recognize my double finger tap. Since the whole trackpad is one big left click button, the only way to right click is to double finger tap, and though I have the trackpad set to the highest sensitivity, it does not register at times, and I have to stab the trackpad multiple times. Annoying. PS This would never happen on a Mac.
  6. The download center is a horror to navigate. Sure, I downloaded this picture.. but then where exactly did it go?! I think Google should integrate saving images with Picasa, so it will truly be in the cloud, not somewhere in this esoteric Linux system.
  7. There is no online equivalent to native desktop applications. Though I do most of my word processing on Google Docs nowadays, it’s nowhere near the capability of Microsoft Word. Though I may type initial drafts in Google Docs, I will always switch to Word for final drafts and formatting. Also, the other elephant in the room: iTunes. The transition to the cloud will be slow from Apple (I hypothesized about it last year, but to no avail), and until then, I want to listen to my SHINee.

Though I must say that the Chromebook has been extremely handy for watching episodes of DragonBall Z: the battery lasts for 4 hours on continuous video. Also, the Cr-48 is light and sufficiently sturdy for me to toss around without damaging.

However, in real life, I need a computer that can do more than stream DragonBall Z episodes. I can deal with a fragile computer if it is fast and reliable (read: Cr-48 is neither fast nor reliable). Though the Chromebook has all the specs of a good netbook, it still runs disappointingly slow and is buggy.

Google definitely has a long way to run before Chrome OS can go to market: it needs to make Chrome OS faster, smoother, get rid of bugs, make sure that native desktop applications can be satisfactorily replaced by online applications, clean up its file storage. In short, Google needs to polish Chrome OS like nuts before it can run with sleek competitors such as the MacBook Air and breathe life into the netbook market in face of the expanding tablet market. 2011 will be an uphill battle for Google on all fronts.

Fun times with Chromebook. Writing essay on Babel Fish, decided to take a stretch! Left this lovely message. You can tell that I was brain dead after all that essay-writing..