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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nexus In The House

I bought a 32gb WiFi Nexus 7 tablet today after days of consideration and online researches. I've combed scores and scores of reviews and comparison articles, forum posts and YouTube videos to the extent that if unlimited WiFi plans were non-existent and we were still on data plans from the late 90s, I oughta have gone bankrupt by now, nevermind the dark circles under my eyes now because of the time spent for all these.

Actually, I've thoroughly enjoyed the researches since they have taught me things about the Nexus 7 I didn't know about initially and the knowledge gained are helping me now, now that I have one in my mitts. Viva La Big Bad Net. My Nexus 7 is my very first foray into tablet territory and so, what made me decide to lose my tablet virginity? The main reason is quite a frivoulous one, gotta say:

Because I'm tired of always having to leave the house with less than 100% charge on my Note 2.

Let me explain myself here:

Why I bought the Nexus 7

The Galaxy Note 2 has an awesome long-lasting 3100mAh battery and I haven't had any problems making it through an entire day with it, but I'm the most nit-picky mofo I know this side of the expanding universe. You see, I'll usually charge it overnight so that when I wake up in the mornings, it will be fully charged, ready to rock and all set to face the big bad world for the big bad day.

Problem is, the first thing I'll always do when I wake up is to fire up Tunein Radio or Sonar (if I decide to go a little psychedelic) on my Note, since I happen to be very much in love with music and it's just awesome frolicking with the very thing you are in love with first thing when you wake up (after murdering the darned alarm clock). I only have 2 wall chargers for my Note in my house - in the master bedroom and guest room (the micro USB cable attached to my computer, which can also charge my Note at a slower pace doesn't count).

So when I go through my morning routine on a typical weekday as I prepare to go for work, I bring my Note that's blasting broadcasted radio music with me to every corner I go around the house - when I'm in the shower, it's there inside the bathroom with me, allowing me to enjoy bathroom reverb acoustics. I should give my phone swimming lessons some day just in case I go too wild with the water and shower dances.

When I'm making coffee, my Note is propped on the kitchen ledge so that I can bogey as I swirl liquid caffeine and refine my 4/4 timing using the teaspoon as a make-shift metronome. When I'm in the master bedroom deciding what to wear in front of the wardrobe, my Note will be lying on the bed still blasting music.

You get the idea. I can't leave my Note plugged into a stationary wall charger as I prepare for the day. It's a mobile phone. It's not a hifi system, so it can't permeate the entire house with music from a stationary spot. My computer system setup is more than capable of producing what a home entertainment sound system can produce (which is why I don't own a dedicated pure hifi system) but why should I turn on my computer and wait for it to boot up completely before playing music with it when I'll be leaving the house soon?

I prefer quickies in the mornings, so that's when my Note always comes in. Besides, it allows me to catch up with the news on Flipboard at the same time too. Early morning birds get all the media worms. Remember to filter away all the gutter crap though.

If you've been thinking faster than I'm telling this, you ought to be able to tell by now that by the time I'm ready to leave the house, my Note would have less than 100% charge left in it. By then, I usually won't have enough time to charge my Note back to 100%. I've tried it once or twice before as I twiddled my thumbs while waiting for it to charge but twiddling thumbs always makes me feel stupid and unproductive.

My Note usually has around 97% by the time I go out the door, which is no big loss but like I've mentioned, I'm nit-picky and horribly fussy. I'll even feel uncomfortable if I have to leave the house on a 98% charge even though my Note's battery has a stamina that gives me bragging rights. Like I've said, frivoulous.

Maybe I should make an appointment with a Shrink for this nit-picky problem of mine. Either that or I go buy something that can take over all these workload for my Note when I'm at home - something with a small enough form factor that allows me to carry it around the house with ease. Ta-Da, that's the role of my 7 inch Nexus 7 tablet.

Oh, and having a backup Android device is a good thing, since from an electronics standpoint, the ability to take the load off my Note and allow it to rest whenever I'm at home would probably prolong its longevity, since there are such things as machinery parts depreciation and wear and tear - things like screen-burns, battery efficiency depreciation, etc, are possibilities on all electronic gadgets.

Well, that's probably taking it a little too far, considering we can change and upgrade our phones with every recontract cycle, but l really like the idea of my gadgets running in tip-top condition for as long as I have them.

Why the 7 inch form factor

This one is easy: I'm a reclining sloth at home when it comes to things like surfing the web, reading and watching videos, since l love doing these things lying down on the bed or on the couch (no, I hardly eat potatoes). It's a heck lot more comfortable than sitting in front of the computer for hours on end, despite my comfy computer chair. Giving in to gravity is easier than fighting it anyway.

When it comes to lying down, the ability to still be able to use your device by propping it up with just one hand and controlling it with the other is essential. I'm not sure if you can do that comfortably with a 10 inch tablet since l don't own one but I can imagine that a 7 inch tablet will definitely allow for much better handling when it comes to lying down. Also, l prefer the portability of a smaller tablet since according to my usage style at home, l can bring my gadget to any corner of the house, like what I've mentioned about the way l use my Note in the mornings, which my Nexus will take over.

Why the WiFi only Nexus 7

Because my Galaxy Note 2 is a 'Phablet'. It's more than adequate to cater to my needs when I'm on the road and to me, the brilliant size and right portability is comfy enough for outside usage. Its 5.5 inch screen is big enough, which is why they call it a 'Phablet' in the first place - something in-between a smartphone and a tablet, which negates having to lug an actual tablet whenever I'm on the road, at least according my needs, your mileage may vary but that's cool. The Note 2 is an awesome device in that regard. l simply love my Note ♥

So my WiFi-version Nexus stays in the house wirelessly connected to my router while my Note goes out with me on the road. This is why I've decided to get the WiFi only Nexus instead of the 3G plus WiFi version, which saves me exactly a hundred bucks. If, for some reason, l have to bring my Nexus out of the house and l can't find any free WiFi, l can always tether my Nexus to my Note. That would be like phone sex. Of course, if you love bringing out your tablet with you all the time, getting one with a SIM card slot would be better for you.

Delegated Roles

Here's how I've planned on using my Nexus and my Note when it comes to content: Home use, graphic-intensive FPS games like Dead Trigger, comics, p0rn and movies will all be handled by my Nexus, since its bigger 7 inch screen will give more enjoyment for such things. As for my Note, it will handle away-from-home use, all 2D non graphic-intensive games, photography (the Nexus has no rear camera but taking photos with tablets suck as they currently are) and all other things l like doing with the awesome S Pen, like note-taking and blogging, which I'm doing now with my Note's handwriting-to-text feature, since I write faster than l can type.

It's really a pity that all the Note 2s available at where l am only come in the 16gb version and not even the Samsung outlets here know if the 32gb version will ever make it here (Samsung has ceased production of the 64gb version), so freeing all my storage-hungry games from it frees up lots of storage space on my Note, since apps and games can't be installed on the 64gb micro SD card I've put in it, unless l root my phone. Don't see the need to root my Note yet though.

The 8gb Nexus 7 first became available followed by the 16gb version. There is no way in hell I'll get a 8gb or 16gb tablet based on my needs. To make matters worse, the Nexus 7 has no expandable micro SD storage and for me, getting either the 8gb or the 16gb version would be a sad cruel joke based on what l wanna use a tablet for. 32gb is the barest tight-squeeze minimum for me. Now that the 32gb Nexus is available and after lots of storage estimates and home computer back-up considerations (my Nexus will primarily be for home use and so, always be near my computer anyway), l decided that now would be the proper time to get a Nexus 7.

Other odds & ends

Initially, the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 was my top choice for a tablet. Here, have a look at all the wonderful things it can do:

A marvellous gadget, isn't it? I get geek-horny every time l watch that video. Still, I decided against it in the end. Price isn't the issue here - storage (only the 16gb version is available here), portability, screen resolution and the high possibility that a new Note tablet might be released very soon are the issues.

I think I'm really beginning to seriously hate seeing '16gb' on devices. Screw 16gb, performing tablets and smartphones are now used for high multimedia consumption and should really come in higher internal storage spaces. Ok, I can understand that not everybody is a heavy user and 16gb is sufficient for such folks but if we can't install apps and games on external SD cards without going the rooting route, at least make higher capacity options available for us heavy users too, damn it.

Cloud storage? Cloud storage eats up your measly monthly data plan at where l am if you're not on WiFi and your cloud data access will be subjected to the mercy of internet connection that is not immune to possible connection disruptions or interferences when they happen. Cloud is essential as extra backup in the event of device loss or demise though, like when your hard disk or SD card decide to croak and go belly-up on you.

What I'm saying here is that Cloud service is useful for data assurance but l don't like the idea of relying on it when it comes to data that I access constantly all the time, since Internet connectivity can and do get plagued by the lag monster at times.

By the way, l bought my Nexus without having to fork out a single cent out of my bank account, since I just got awarded $500 worth of vouchers by my company for hitting and surpassing my 5 years of service mark as well as an additional $50 voucher for my birthday during October. My Nexus came with a price tag of SGD $399 and so, l still got spare vouchers to play with. The vouchers are Capitaland vouchers, so l bought my Nexus from IMM.

Well, l haven't bought a Christmas present for myself for some time already, so getting the Nexus tablet as an early Christmas present for myself makes me a happy camper. It's all good. The plan is to use the leftover $100 worth of vouchers to get myself a new pair of Obermain work shoes and top-up with a bit of my own dough, since the designs l like cost more than a hundred bucks. Worth it though, love those durable German work shoes.

And finally, my best friend Joe was there with me every step of the way today - we communicated through Line and being an experienced tablet user for years, he gave me his advice, suggestions and thoughts which helped me a great deal. Thanks, buddy.

Right, so l now own my very first tablet. Now let's see what pure Android is all about. I've been looking forward to trying out this new experience, which is actually another reason why I chose to get the Nexus 7.

It's a 7 inch little sexy thing and l'm sure it's gonna be really enjoyable playing with it. Nope, that wasn't what she said last night.

-De Lion Speaks

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jacelyn: The Inevitable Has Happened

It was only early last month when Jacelyn told me about the high possibility that she might leave our company early next year. I knew she wasn't kidding as this sad voice inside me told me it's gonna happen for real this time. Ever since that day, I've been holding on to the hope that it will only happen after being delayed for as long as she could possibly hold out.

She told me today that she has tendered her resignation yesterday when I was on leave.

Knowing that Jace has been serious about it, I was still taken aback and still asked her if she was being serious, all the while bracing myself for the futility of my no-hope question. Now I know exactly what it was that she held back on telling me during our company dinner & dance last saturday night. Swallowed words can hurt sometimes.

My colleague-sister is really leaving.

This is the beginning of the void I talked about when we were at Mount Faber which I knew I'll face when she leaves. I'm now standing on the lip of it and there is nothing I could do about it when I get pushed straight into it. It's not gonna be the first time I'll experience this void; everytime buddies leave in employments past and present, I'll be shoved into it.

Void doesn't mean you feel nothing. Void can mean you feel empty. There's a big difference between nothingness and emptiness. The former is much less dreadful.

Just because I've experienced that void several times doesn't mean I have to get used to it. I'll never get used to it. After Jace told me about her resignation during early afternoon, I told her that I needed some time with this. It's now coming to midnight and I'm still finding myself needing more time. You can't get over almost 6 years in just one day.

I'm having trouble dealing with this and I'm going to the store to get some beer. Maybe I'll wake up later and heave a sigh of relief that I've just woken up from a heart-breaking nightmare..

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

John McLaughlin on My Twitter

Fired up my Twitter today as I always do, since I have things to bitch inform the world out there about on almost a daily basis, not just on Twitter but on Google+ as well. I just like to express my thoughts and feelings, I find it therapeutic for the soul. Facebook? Heh, Facebook is passé in my book.

Almost all of my friends are still on Facebook though, and I only have a very small circle of friends and followers on Twitter and an even smaller one on Google+. Either that's due to the Scorpio philosophy of Quality over Quantity or some higher divine power is seeing to it that I can only torture a minimal number of people with my ramblings. Oh, and there's Sturgeon's Law too.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Twitter. So I went to the Follower Requests section of my Twitter and saw that John McLaughlin has requested to follow me and of course, I approved his request immediately without hesitation after reading his tweets just to make sure:

Oh my gosh, it should have been the other way around: I should have been the one who humbly requested for Mr McLaughlin to allow me to follow him first instead. As you should be able to tell, I feel really honoured because in the guitar world, Mr McLaughlin is a guitar god. Not only can the man really shred on an electric guitar..

..he can really shred on an acoustic guitar too:

Oh my gosh. You know what? As I acknowledged his Twitter follow request and immediately followed him back, I experienced the irresistible urge to go pick up my guitar and practice but I had to fight that since it was still the working hour. Darn >:(

And later in the day, I received another Twitter request from 'Santana' but looking at the tweets, I've concluded that the person requesting to follow me must be a fan of Santana instead of the real Carlos Santana himself, who is another world famous guitarist. Since the tweets of this person are decent enough and they make enough sense and are not nonsensically frivolous (traumatic phobia induced by Facebook which the medical and psychological fields should officially and formally acknowledge), I accepted his or her follower request:

Nevermind the meagre 9 tweets, this person could just be a man or lady of few words. That sure beats being nonsensically frivolous.

I really can't help but wonder how Mr McLaughlin came across me. I'm hoping that he found me on my Youtube channel which links to my blog which links to my Twitter. If that wasn't the case, I hope he found me on my blog which links to my YouTube channel and which also links to my Twitter. I'm suddenly feeling dizzy.

What I'm trying to say here is that I hope he saw my guitar playing videos and liked them.

I've also received email that a few folks I don't know personally have subscribed to my YouTube channel recently. I'm just a nobody on YouTube and I wasn't really expecting anyone to watch my videos, since I upload them for fun and treat my channel as a place to store some memories, just like this blog site.

So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when l receive comments for some of my videos and it makes me really glad when folks tell me nice things about my guitar playing videos. It got me stumped, actually. I really should work harder and upload more videos, since even if just a handful of people let me know that they find my vids to be enjoyable (either that or they could actually be masochistic), it motivates me everytime to play better and improve myself as a guitar player.

The icing on the cake for my YouTube channel is that Mr Joe Bonamassa, another guitar god, subscribed to my YouTube channel months ago. I can still remember how unreal that was to me to the point that it took quite a bit of time for my mind to comprehend the reality of it all.

So yeah, it's been quite a day filled with lots of motivation and I'm grateful for it.

PS: And by the way:

Yup, it's the 12th of December, 2012. Nah, I don't believe the world's gonna end on the 21st. The Mayans probably ran out of parchment or ink or something. Either that or the Spaniards exterminated the Mayans before their head oracle came back from his year-end holiday.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."
- Matthew 24:36

-De Lion Speaks

Monday, December 3, 2012

Old Soldier, New Privileges

It's early in the morning and the sun isn't even up yet as I prepare to go to the office. I got a pile of unopened mail waiting for me and since it's the beginning of a new month, I figured I better whittle down that pile of envelopes waiting for me in the kitchen as I'm sure that some of them ought to be credit card bills. Don't ever owe the banks if you can help it, that's never a healthy thing to do. Ignore that and you might just find yourself entrapped before you know what happened.

So I started tearing open the envelopes left, right and center to get my mitts on their contents (feels like Christmas) and came across the following that brought a smile to my face:

Yup, I've completed not just my 2 and a half years of National Service from mid '95 till the final month of '97, I've also completed my 10 years cycle of Reservist duties. Apparently, I'm now old enough to be excused for good from any further soldiering and it's really a nice gesture from Mindef to show appreciation for the services rendered towards the nation from us discharged troopers.

This made me smile as memories of my NS, Reservist and camp buddies all the way from Basic Military Training to my permanent unit in the Air Force came flooding back. My National Service was an experience I will never ever forget and I had a good one overall, I'm glad to say.

The muscle-aches, the exhaustion, the ghostly and unexplained encounters, watching your buddies hit Point Break and then getting back up on their feet again because we were soldiers and we didn't allow ourselves to get pinned down for too long, the no-holds barred partying, the fights that always ended up with everybody being cool with everybody else again, the constant homesickness that was your constant companion, the thousand-yard stares, the defaulter parades, the confinements, the guard duties, the funny as hell and innovative pranks we pulled on one another 'cause we would have gone GaGa if we didn't find things to entertain ourselves, the encouragement we gave one another 'cause we had no one else to rely and count on in the jungle and in camp.. these are experiences as a whole you won't forget.

So after I was done reading the front of the letter, I flipped it over to see what was on the back and I went "Woah.." when I saw the following:

If you have to pay taxes every year, I'm sure you will appreciate it very much if you can get $1,500 shaved off, yes? I already expected the rest of the points printed here but I wasn't expecting the tax deduction at all, so it was an unexpected pleasant surprise, gotta say. My Lioness agreed that that's a nice gesture from Mindef and a nice privilege for us men who have served the nation.

Erm, the only thing bad about the whole matter is that it's making me feel kinda old but I guess I can come to grips with that and live with it, heh.

It's nice to be remembered and you are most welcome, Mindef.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dealing With Comics On The Go

Happy December. I'd have been happier if the afternoons here were not so hot and humid and behaved more winter-like instead (or at least autumn-like), considering it's already the start of the winter season, but that's a pipe dream here in the damned tropics. The evening and nights are pleasantly cooling though, so it's hell for on-the-road day-jobbers like me and bliss for the night-shift folks.

Anyway, here's something I've always wanted to talk about: graphic novels, comics and manga on your Android smartphone.

Have you ever stored comics that come in jpeg (or jpg) format onto your mobile and see them all get displayed when you open up your phone's photo gallery? If you are like me and think that comic strips shouldn't have a place alongside your photos in your photo gallery which auto scans for every picture file residing in your phone, you should be able to identify with me regarding the messiness of it all.

Zip 'em up & rename 'em
The solution for me comes in the form of this app called Androzip. Just browse to the folders containing those comic jpeg files using Androzip, zip them up, rename the file extensions of the zipped files to cbr, delete the original folders containing the jpeg files and your photo gallery will no longer display those comic jpegs anymore - only your comic reader app will be able to view them, which is the objective here.

As an example, say you've got a folder labelled 'Chapter 001' that contains the jpeg files of chapter 1 within the comic's root folder. Zip up that 'Chapter 001' folder with Androzip and a folder named 'Chapter 001.zip' is produced. So far so good? Ok, then rename 'Chapter 001.zip' to 'Chapter 001.cbr' (minus the quotes). Finally, delete that pre-zipped 'Chapter 001' folder, you won't need it anymore.

Just repeat the same process for the rest of the folders containing the comic's jpeg files and you're done.

File renaming with Androzip
Note that every step mentioned above are all done within Androzip itself, since this handy app has renaming and file deletion capabilities. Nifty. Oh, it handles RAR files too, which is another very common file compression format. No, you don't have to root your Droid nor computer access for this.

Sure, you can get lazy and just let your photo gallery go to unkempt hell with comic files, screenshots and photos taken with the camera get all over the place all mish-mashed together. If so, good luck hunting down that photo you need if your comics, graphic novels and manga contain lots of chapters. So it's best to keep everything neat and organized within their own proper places in your phone instead, yes? You only need to do the Androzip process mentioned above just once for every comic anyway, unless the comic already comes in cbr or cbz format.

I know, you could filter your photo gallery by albums but then again, each chapter of every comic will also be displayed as an album if their contents are in jpeg format. So if your comics contain lots and lots of chapters, it's back to messy photo gallery hell. So save yourself the eyesore.

In case you would like to know which comic reader is good, I recommend Perfect Viewer, which is what I've been happily using all along. I recommend this app not just because it can read cbr and cbz files, but also because it allows any folder you select within your external SD card as its bookshelf (example: a no-brainer folder labelled 'Comics' where you keep all your comic collection), which is something I can't say for lots of other apps.

I classify comics as multimedia and multimedia files ought to be stored in external SD cards if you happen to use one in your phone, instead of being stored in the phone's internal memory. All you need is a good class of SD card (I use a SanDisk Class 10 card) and you are good to go.

Happy eyesore-free reading.
Otaku Banzai \o/

-De Lion Speaks