28 December 2013

Is fashion important? Yes and no

I used to not care about fashion. I would just wear whatever was in the wardrobe, and some of what I wore was not pleasant. My friend gave me some constructive criticism and persuaded me to buy some expensive fashionable clothing. I purchased jeans for $200 and shirts for $150. I noticed that many people seemed to treat me with more respect and complimented me on my looks. However, I did some experimentation. I went to Target and purchased $25 jeans and $30 shirts and found that people still seemed to react positively and gave compliments. And looking in the mirror, I do find that the cheap clothes do look good.

So the main lesson from all this is that, yes, people are superficial and will judge you based on your appearance, but throwing more and more money into fashion has diminishing returns. Your average person can tell if you are wearing 10-year-old rags, but if you get cheap clothes that match the latest fashion fads, most people are satisfied. Only fashion-obsessed people will judge you negatively, but shelling out hundreds of dollars on an item of clothing just to pander to these people, in my opinion, fails the cost-benefit test.

When keep up with modern fashion, I tend to just copy what the average person is wearing and I tend to go for the cheapest of whatever it is I am looking for. As always, I believe it is best to do a Google search of something before you buy it so you don't get ripped off.

27 December 2013

You don't always get what you pay for

When people overpay for something, they tend to rationalise their purchase. They say something along the lines of "you get what you pay for." I hate it when people say this. More often than not, you don't get what you pay for. Today my girlfriend gave me that line, saying things like how expensive clothes last longer because the fabric was better. I asked her what fabric was in the shirt and she didn't know. She mysteriously knew it was better fabric and that it would last longer.

To hit home the idea that you don't always get what you pay for, I used wristwatches as an example. There is no product category with as much vulgar brand snobbery as horology. You can buy an electronic Casio watch for $200 or you can buy a Patek Phillipe for $200,000, and the Casio is better built, more accurate, has a stopwatch, an alarm, and is waterproof and shockproof whereas the Patek Phillipe is none of these things. The reason why the Patek Phillipe is expensive is because of the brand and the history and the fact that it is handmade. If you really believe you get what you pay for, you would purchase a $200,000 watch rather than a $200 watch or just look at your phone for the time.

My main point is that spending more money for something doesn't mean that it's better for you to buy it because a product may be priced high not for features that you care about but to cater to snobs.

How retailers are ripping you off

I have just spent the last half day with my girlfriend. We had lunch and afterwards she dragged me to go shopping because it is the day after Boxing Day and therefore there were still many products with huge discounts, e.g. 50% off. I am wary of these percentage discounts because a product that is $200 with a 50% discount is still a rip off if the market value of the product is, say, only $10.

To prove my point, I walked around and found a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini selling for about $400. It has had 40% off to bring the price down to $400. This is supposedly good because normally the price is higher. However, I whipped out my smartphone, did a Google search, and found the exact phone for sale from Kogan for only $350. Even with the 40% discount, the product was overpriced.

The lesson here is that a percentage discount means nothing. You should do a Google search of anything before you buy it.

18 December 2013

Blue jeans and black shoes

Purchased black shoes recently to wear with my jeans and realised thst the contrast between black shoes and blue jeans looks weird. Luckily I have black jeans that I will wear with this shoes from now on.

14 December 2013

Why is Quickflix not on Google Play?

I have a Quickflix subscription and was going to stream Quickflix movies on my Android TV, but then I looked through Quickflix's devices and it looks like the Quickflix app is available on every single app store other than Google Play. Now I will have to keep borrowing DVDs from them. I'm tempted to just cancel my subscription and just stream over Google Play Movies. The only thing stopping me from streaming is the fact that DVDs from Quickflix are about $3 per movie, which is cheaper than most streaming movies from Google. Quickflix should understand that because Android runs on 80% of all smartphones and 55% of all tablets, they are missing out on a large number of customers by ignoring Android.

Kogan Agora Mini 8 Dual Core Tablet - Antutu Benchmarks

I purchased this tablet from Kogan for $120 when it was available. It was quickly sold out afterwards. I purchased it for my mother. The Antutu benchmarks show that this tablet is quite fast. Not as fast as the Galaxy Note 3 but about the same as the Nexus 4. It is interesting to note that the Kogan dual core tablets are much faster than the Kogan dual core smartphones (the Kogan Agora 5) even though both are advertised as dual core. It's not just the number of cores that matter but the quality of those cores.

13 December 2013

Posture when using smartphones or tablets

When using a smartphone or tablet, do not lay it down almost horizontally and therefore bend your neck forward to look down at the device. Rather, place the device almost vertically in front of you so that the back of the device is visible to others. This puts less strain in your back. It is better to use a device that it small and lightweight like a smartphone rather than a tablet.

07 December 2013

Time to stand up to the bullies

I was bullied when I was a child, and as an adult, I regret not standing up for myself. I've been thinking. Even today, when I'm about to turn thirty, I am still bullied. Not physically but psychologically. I don't want to regret it when I am older. I need to stand up for myself right now.

I've achieved my career and financial goals in my twenties. My thirties will be devoted to better health and psychological and social maturity.

In defense of Facebook

We spend a lot of time on our phones, and I am guilty of that as well, but I don't think spending time on the phone is as bad as people make it out to be.

A common complaint I hear is about Facebook. Tech novices typically say something along the lines of "Why do people share things or send messages in Facebook? Haven't they heard of picking up the phone and talking to people?" Firstly, a Facebook message is cheap for most people as it uses negligible internet data and most phone plans have free social networking (including mine, Amaysim) compared to the phone call which costs most. Economically it makes sense to use Facebook to communicate.

Then there is the argument that face to face communication is better. I agree. When you are face to face with someone, you can see, touch, smell, and do things with them right there. Skype or Hangouts don't come close to physical interactions. However, my experience is that when I am more active on Facebook I also spend more time physically with people as well. Facebook does not replace physical interaction but complements it. It is easy yo understand why. Meeting up with some people is hard. Unless you see then often because you live in the same house or you work together, you have do a lot to meet with them physically, such as getting dressed, driving, and taking public transport. Often you just cannot be bothered and the friendship dies. However, Facebook lowers the barriers. It allows you to communicate, share, and set up events easily. For those friends you don't see much, it allows you keep in touch and keeps them in your mind so that, if you do meet then physically, you don't feel like strangers.

29 November 2013

My lying family

URL: Louise's father was a cheating scoundrel who had two other families. So why does she blame it all on her mother?

I've read the article above and it reminds me of my father who is now on his third wife. My father was away all the time when I was little, and it wasn't until I was older that I found out what was happening. 

Most people were surprised that I didn't seem to care about the lies, deception, cheating, adultery, and so forth. I didn't get angry or lash out at anyone, but deep down I am extremely angry. I will never forgive and I haven't forgotten about it many years on.

I can hate my father all I want for what he has done but the reality is that what is done is what is done, and all I can do now is just disrespect him and never follow any of his commands. Rather than be a loyal son, I just do what I want and expect him to follow me, not the other way around. I will never help or support him or take care of him when he is old. In fact, everything is already set. His new wife will need to take care of him as he gets older, as will his new children (my half-siblings). I don't really need to think about my father. He has a lot on his plate with his new children. They are a handful.

My mother is alone now, and I have become her de-facto husband, which I resent because I feel like it is my right to be my own person. My mother is my mother, not my wife. My mother is my dad's second wife. I don't know if my father cheated on his first wife with my mother and I have no idea whether my mother knew that my father was cheating on her with his third wife. In a way I feel it is her fault for not being suspicious enough of her husband or lover, and I don't feel like it's fair for me to suffer as a result of her lack of due diligence.

I have changed my attitude now. If people around me are liars who try to control me, there is no humour in my conversations. I don't smile. I am serious, and I tell them that they are to follow my commands or else I will hurt them, and if they try to push me or control me, I will push them, and I will hurt them if they push me too hard, and I am prepared to die to defend my boundaries.

23 November 2013

Pandora vs iTunes Radio

Pandora is great. It provides free music. You select what type of music you like and Pandora will automatically play that type of music. If you're in the mood for relaxing music to study to, you can set Pandora to play ambient music. If you're in the mood for catchy tunes, you can set Pandora to play the latest popular music. The versatility, simplicity, and low cost of Pandora is what makes it appealing.

Recently, however, there has been talk that iTunes Radio, which is similar to Pandora, will pose a threat of Pandora's business. However, it turns out that iTunes Radio has not had much impact at all on Pandora.

Why is this? It's difficult to know what is happening at a macro level, but in terms of why I haven't switched to iTunes Radio, the main reason is that I would need to buy an Apple device, i.e. an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, etc. If iTunes Radio were available not only on Apple devices but also on Android and on web browsers (like Pandora is) I think it would be much more popular.

When I told this to a friend, she asked me why I didn't buy an iPhone, given that the amount I paid for the Sony Xperia Z was about the same price as an iPhone 5. The answer is that if I got the iPhone 5 instead I would have to compromise. I wouldn't get expandable storage, I would get a smaller battery, lower resolution screen, a slower processor, less RAM, and a phone that is not waterproof.

12 November 2013

Losing respect for my parents

I used to respect my parents and did everything they told me to do.

Then I learned about the womanizing, the deception, and the financial mismanagement, and I wanted to distance myself from my parents.

I now do what I want to do and expect my parents to follow me, not the other way around. I am the leader of the family, not the follower.

I fear that the closer I get to my parents the more I will be contaminated by their impurities.

Women with big bags

I travel light. I just bring around a wallet, my keys, my phone, a handkerchief, and a small umbrella when needed. But many women, I notice lug around massive bags. Some say it is for makeup, but can't makeup be applied at home?

19 October 2013

Khmer translator for Android with Khmer fonts

I have Khmer parents who don't speak English well. My Khmer is not as great ad my English, so communicating with them has always been difficult.
When I learned that Google Translate would now support Khmer, I celebrated because now I can use Google Translate to communicate with my parents.
Unfortunately, when I install Google Translate on my Android phone, the Khmer translation shows up using the Roman alphabet because Google Translate does not support Khmer text. This is a bummer since it means I will mot be able to show my parents the Khmer text. They cannot read the Roman alphabet well.

This problem was fixed simply by installing another app from the Google Play store called Instalator. This app is powered by Google Translate but in versions of Android greater than 4.0 it supports Khmer text. It is perfect.

05 October 2013

Don't use Zovirax for cold sores

About one year ago, I had an outbreak of cold sores. I took Famvir immediately, which seemed to work.  Famvir is pill that you take as soon as you see the cold sores appear. My doctor gave me extra prescriptions for Famvir.

Unfortunately, recently, about a year later, I had another outbreak of cold sores. I tried to find the Famvir prescription but I had lost it. Instead I purchased Zovirax, which is a cream you apply to the cold sore to treat it.

The bottom line is that Zovirax seems to work, but the package and the internet say that you cannot swallow Zovirax. This is completely unreasonable because cold sore almost always break out on your lips or near your lips. If you apply Zovirax to your lips to treat cold sores, you will eventually swallow the cream when you eat, drink, or sleep.

I will ask my doctor for prescriptions of Famvir so I don't need to use Zovirax (or Blistex or similar cold sore creams) when I have a cold sore outbreak again.

21 September 2013

Importance of Battery Life on Phones

http://gizmodo.com/5992917/battery-life-is-the-only-spec-that-matters

The article above talks about the importance of battery life in phones, saying that many phones nowadays make the mistake of sacrificing battery life for thinness and lightness.

I actually don't think battery life is important. So long as the device lasts for one day, there is no need to worry. Most people charge overnight as a daily habit and don't think about it.

The iPad 3, with 11,000 mAh battery capacity, will last a long time, but it is too big. Your arms will get sore carrying it around for too long. The Nexus 7, however, is thin, small, and light, and it lasts long enough.

12 September 2013

Travelling with Google Glass



Google Glass is likely to be released for the mass market for only $300. If that is the price, I will definitely buy one.
Where I think Google Glass will be useful is taking pictures, for example while you are on holidays. There is something so vain and fake about taking out a camera or smartphone to take a picture. When you take out the phone or camera, you announce to the world that you believe this moment is a special moment and everyone starts to pose or act in a way to live up to that moment, and every photo you see on Facebook has that cliche and artificiality to it.
When I travel, I don't want to have to take out a camera or a phone. I want Google Glass to have some app that will take automatic photos or at least allow me to take photos quickly and discreetly.
I am not a big traveller. I think travel is something I will do later in my life when I am more financially secure. But I cannot wait for it!

Julius Marlow 02 Motion

After damage done to my heels from my old pair of shoes, I decided yesterday to head to Myer and buy comfortable shoes, eventually buying the Julius Marlow 02 Motion shoes. I tried these on in the shops and they felt instantly comfortable. I am a little wary of purchasing online because I might get the wrong size or the shoe might end up uncomfortable. I am a size 10.

01 September 2013

People are like fire. When you are distant, you want to get closer for warmth, but at the same time you're afraid of being burnt, so you keep your distance, and if you've been burnt really bad in the past, you stay completely away because you don't want to risk it.

Bored of the Monotony of Life

The typical day for me involves waking up, snoozing the alarm a few times to steal a few more minutes of sleep, having a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, driving to the train station, squashing into the train with hundreds of other commuters, and getting to work where I go through my to do list, ticking off one piece of work after another. I drink plenty of coffee to have an excuse to get fresh air. The coffee warms my body and compensates for coldness. I always eat out for lunch. It costs a lot but I cannot stand smelly food rotting in my bag. I don't even have a bag because I like to travel light. In the afternoon I'm usually tired and I eagerly wait for the day to end. I yawn a lot. I get the feeling I might get fired soon. I am normally paranoid. In a way, I don't really mind if I get fired. I have saved enough money to live off my investments in a developing country like Thailand or Cambodia. I'm just going through the motions, doing what I can do to make it through each day. Even though I am a bit tired of my job, I feel like my options are limited. I've lost ambition, but I try to maintain it because my manager and coworkers often criticize me for my lack of enthusiasm and passion.

When work is over, I catch the train back home, have a shower, eat dinner, and then sit in bed to work and/or play on my tablet before sleeping and repeating the whole routine every weekday. On some weekdays I have dinner with friends, but hanging out with friends is a bit of a chore for me. It's not that I don't value companionship it's that I just get tired of being around people and sometimes I want to hide in a hole.

18 August 2013

US$240,000 to retire in Asia

I've been trying to calculate how much money I'd need to retire in Asia. According to Retire Cheap Asia, you can live a frugal life in Asia with US$500 per month. A comfortable life would require US$1000 per month.

Now let us assume that you can get 5 per cent return on an investment. This means that you will need US$240,000 invested to give you $1,000 per month in passive income.

About half of this money should be invested in investments that provide stable passive income, as you will need this to give you the base $500 per month necessary for a frugal lifestyle. The rest can be invested in shares to protect against inflation.


13 August 2013

Cheap iPhone will turn Apple into Samsung

Apple creates the iPhone 5 for $200 and sells it for $700. Google, on the other hand, makes zero or little profit on its Nexus devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10).

Some people do not understand Google's philosophy, citing the fact that Google ads are found on Apple phones as well. The best way to understand Google's plan is to imagine what the world would look like if Googlr never invented Android and Apple controlled the entire smartphone market. Apple would make its iPhones for $200 and because they can they will charge $2000 for it to maximise profits. Because the price is so high, they will not sell much phones but because there profit margin on each phone will be so high, Apple is happy. Google makes money off advertising. If smartphones were all $2000 thanks to lack of competition as a result of monopoly, hardly anyone will use smartphones and therefore not many people would look at Google's ads and Google would not make much money. By creating Android, giving it away for free, and producing high-quality and cheap Nexus and Chromebook devices, Google is able to put pressure on Apple to bring its prices down and get the iPhone into more people's hands. Apple is content with selling fewer phones buy making high profit margins on each, explaining why Apple takes in 80% of smart phones profits even though 80% of smartphones run on Android.

The plan is working, and Apple is giving in. Apple will soon release a cheap plastic iPhone in an attempt to compete with Android at the lower end. Regardless of whether the cheap iPhone increases sales of Apple devices and steals market share from Android, it does not matter since Google ads are on Apple devices. A cheap iPhone will only dilute the Apple brand and transition Apple from a boutique low-volume high-margin company into a commodity mass-manufacturing, high-volume low-margin company. In other words, Apple will become Samsung.

The Key Difference Between Android and iOS

With the latest iOS 7 update, Apple phones look almost exactly like Android phones. According to Know Your Mobile, iOS and Android have copied each other to the point that they are indistinguishable.

Given that Google and Apple are both Silicon Valley tech firms, it is likely that engineers who work at Google will also one day work in Apple and vice versa. Engineers moving around ensure similar ideas are spread. Of course Google and Apple will copy each other.

While I agree that the two operating systems have similar appearances, there are still key differences between the two operating systems. For one, Google is primarily a software company that makes 93% of its revenue from advertising. They Google produce a phone, tablet, or computer, e.g. the Nexus 7, they make no profit on the product, aiming instead to move the market forward, get the device into more people's hands, and make money off advertising. Apple, on the other hand, makes most of its money off the hardware, e.g. making the iPhone 5 for $200 and selling it for around $700 to $800.

11 August 2013

Dreaming of Being a Digital Nomad

Having come back from a one-week holiday in Malaysia and working for a week (and hating it), I am starting to think about the possibility of being a digital nomad.
A digital nomad pretty much works online from all over the world. The digital nomad uses WiFi in hotels to connect to the internet and lives in developing countries to minimise the cost of living while still enjoying himself.
The concept of being a digital nomad is just a hypothesis at the moment because, as you can imagine, a lot can go wrong with such a lifestyle.
I suppose I just want to travel again. I've been feeling depressed lately.

Australia Under Tony Abbott

Australia will have an election in a few weeks. The two main candidates are Tony Abbott of the conservative Coalition and Kevin Rudd of the Australian Labor Party. The polls suggest that it is likely to be a victory for Tony Abbott, which is a bit of a bummer because, although Kevin Rudd is not perfect, Australia under Tony Abbott is a worrying thought, mainly because I suspect he has extreme policies lined up. His stated policies, such as paid parental leave, cutting the costs of the NBN, Direct Action on climate change, and scrapping the carbon tax, are highly dubious, but most of these policies will reduce tax revenue significantly, meaning Abbott will likely resort to austerity measures that he has not even announced yet. It is the uncertainty of what this may mean, e.g. cutting funding to hospitals, schools, and the public service, that are worrying.


03 August 2013

Working Robots Controlled by Overseas Workers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KxjVlaLBmk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

If you were to start a cafe in a developed country, you may want to employ someone to help run the place. The problem is you must typically pay high prices in developed countries for labour.

However, what if you used a robot in your store, and this robot is controlled via the internet by a low-cost worker in a developing country? The potential profits would be enormous, and this opens the door to enormous job creation in the developing world, potentially lifting millions from poverty.

The video above shows that machines are already highly advanced. I am confident that such technology is possible.

As someone who works in the city, I know that there is a demand for cheap food. You can get a fresh baguette in Melbourne for about $6. Most of that cost would likely be in the form of labour. However, if robots were used to make this baguettes, the cost of lunch could fall to $2.

01 August 2013

How to Use TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor has been in the news lately because a fake restaurant had been rated highly by the site. A group of web users had created this fake restaurant in order to prove that TripAdvisor is not foolproof and can be gamed.

Of course, any website that allows anyone to submit reviews and rate the venue will suffer from this problem. It is just obvious. There is no way to fix this problem other than to allow only professionals to rate and review, but if TripAdvisor opted for that policy, the site would be no different to newspapers that publish reviews by travel editors. It is the democratic nature of TripAdvisor that makes its database so vast.

When looking for a hotel, it is important to determine the price. The best way to get the price is to go to the hotel website itself. After this, I tend to look at the quality of the place. TripAdvisor reviews are filled with angry people who vote a hotel down over minor problems. I do to some extent rely on TripAdvisor rating because ratings that are too extreme on the downside should be cancelled out by rating that are too extreme on the upside. Other than that, I rely on TripAdvisor's photos to judge the quality of bathrooms, beds, and so forth. Pictures don't lie. I also make sure I use other websites, e.g. Google Maps, or I do a Google search of the hotel to see what newspapers and blogs say about it.

Why Automatic Cameras are Important

I have just come back from a holiday in Malaysia. Like many people, I love to take photos while on holidays, mainly because I like to look back on these photos to remember good times. There is nothing like browsing through really old photos and basking in nostalgia.

Keeping a collection of photos also adds structure to your past. It reminds you that you have actually done something in your past. It is deeply satisfying.

The problem with taking a camera with you on holidays is that it is a major inconvenience. Many people carry big DSLRs. These camera take excellent quality photos, but unfortunately they are large and often get left in the hotel.

Carrying a smartphone helps because you carry your smartphone everywhere with you and charge it overnight. The problem with the smartphone is that, when you take it out, everyone can see it and everyone poses. You therefore end up with boring shots of people smiling in front of significant cultural sights. There are many times when you feel you want to take a photo but do not because taking out the phone is too much hassle or it may not be appropriate for the moment.

I have an app on my phone called Mobile Hidden Camera. This app blackens the screen and takes a picture without an camera noise or lights whenever you tap the screen. It allows me to hold my phone as if I am just checking my email when in fact I am taking pictures.

A few companies have automatic wearable cameras that you attach to your body and which take pictures every, say, minute. There is memoto, Vicon Revue, and Microsoft SenseCam. The SenseCam looks far too big. The Vicon Revue doesn't seem to be sold anymore. The memoto looks good, but as of August 2013 it is still raising funds and is not available to the public yet. At US$279, it also seems too expensive for what is essentially a camera. It has neat features such as a feature to automatically orient the picture so that it is upright. The memoto also seems to come attached with a fixed monthly fee for "lifelogging cloud services." It would be great if it simply took photos, oriented them, and then wirelessly sent it to your phone or the internet via wifi.



24 July 2013

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

James 1:27 NIV

23 July 2013

Reasons Behind the Decline of the PC

There is a lot being side nowadays about the decline of the PC as sales of tablets and smartphones boom. I still find the PC to be useful mainly because then functionality of most programs and websites on a bigger screen is enhanced significantly. Furthermore, typing on a physical keyboard is faster than a touchscreen keyboard because the touchscreen is smaller, meaning you need to use your use your thumbs to type, and on a large tablet the fact that there is no tactile feedback hampers the efficiency of touch typing. I can type quickly on a tablet, but not as fast as on a physical keyboard.

Another reason why I like to use a PC is because it is more ergonomic (see Are tablet ergonomics a pain in the neck?). Using a tablet for long periods of time causes your neck to move down and forward because you typically hold the tablet (or smartphone) down and lean down to look at it. A PC monitor, on the other hand, sits vertically in front of you, meaning it is safe.

So why do statistics show the PC is in decline? One reason, I think, is because many people already have PCs. PCs are necessary for email, banking, job hunting, and so forth. Because everyone already has a PC, not many people feel a need to buy another. They will keep it until it breaks. Not many people have smartphones or tablets, but that is changing. Many people are switching from features to smartphones and many are buying tablets.

However, just as many people are satisfied with their PCs and don't bother upgrading to the latest Alienware, I believe the smartphone market is not immune to consumers sticking to their old phones because it is good enough and not worth the upgrade. Many Apple users seem to stick with the iPhone 4 rather than upgrade to the 5 and I see many Samsung users sticking to their Galaxy S3 or S2.

One factor working in the smartphone's favour is that the smartphone is a public device. I carry my smartphone around with me and many people see me with my smartphone, so if I were very sensitive about other people's opinions of me, I will buy a beautiful and powerful smartphone to show others that I am stylish but also technologically sophisticated. The PC and tablet, on the other hand, stays at home, so getting something good enough for the lowest cost is the priority.

Many people carry tablets around, e.g. to play games or swatch movies on the train, but I only ever keep my Nexus 7 at home. I normally don't carry anything with me other than a phone, keys, and a wallet. I find it inconvenient to carry a bag or briefcase, and with everything done electronically nowadays, I think it is unnecessary.

To me, a tablet and desktop computer are similar in that they are devices used at home that offer more screen size than the smartphone. At home I rarely use the smartphone because I prefer the bigger screen on a tablet, and if I need a physical keyboard I use the PC.

PC software tends to offer more functionality than the tablet, but not by much, and although I prefer a physical keyboard, many people may not care, and if this is the case many people may find that they can save money by doing without a $500 PC and instead use a cheaper tablet. Decent tablets like the Nexus 7 cost around $200 to $300. You can check email, Facebook, do internet banking, pay bills, and job hunt on a tablet. You don't need a PC. Even if you do need a physical keyboard, you can simply buy a $50 Bluetooth keyboard to pair a $200 Android tablet, and you effectively have a laptop that costs less than most PCs (PCs typically cost around $500 or more).

All these factors I think explain the decline in PC sales. PC manufacturers should just switch and focus on making more phones and tablets.

22 July 2013

The Fate of the Misanthropist

I am so lonely. I'm lying in bed by myself listening to music and reading. My mind wanders to negative thoughts. I feel trapped, spending my days going to work where I am ruthlessly exploited by my bosses. Those with more power than you will always abuse you. It is human nature.

I've been thinking a lot about a rape scene I saw in a movie recently. I've been thinking about the social problem of rape but I couldn't devise a solution in my head of how the problem could be eradicated. Rape occurs because those who have power over another eventually choose to abuse that power for exploitative purposes. We see that everywhere, not just with rape but also with work.

It is not just work that bothers me. I turn thirty this year. I still live with my parents. I feel like I am forced to put my life on hold because my parents have become my dependents. I am not a stereotypical adult who lives with his parents. I am happy to leave, but my mother begged me to stay. My parents lean on me. They drag me down. I never flew too high, but when my parents weighed me down during my early attempts to soar, I crashed to the ground and haven't been able to recover since. I'm stuck in an endless cycle of wage slavery, bound to my parents due to massive debts. They tell me to find a girlfriend and to get married, but why would a woman want to be with a grown man who lives with his mother, who is broke and is drowning in debt, who toils all day at a job where he is bullied and tortured, and has all his free time taken up by study?

I go to work and go through the motions. I have no passion whatsoever. I hate my bosses. I hate them. They think they can dangle a promotion in front of my face and withhold it permanently so they can extract as much labour from me as possible, all while taunting and abusing me. I will not comply. My career is dead. It is finished. I have no hope left. My youthful enthusiasm died long ago. Most wage slaves persist because their children and their housewife depend on them and their careers. My career is over. I have nothing to look forward to but morbid exploitation. 

I am so disappointed with humanity. I have lost faith with everyone, not just my employer but also my family and even my friends. I've been thinking. I cannot be with others. I cannot be social. I need to slowly transition away from people and head to the mountains where I can live by myself as a hermit. If this is not possible, the pain will be unbearable and I know in my heart that I cannot go on.

Running from a Homeless Man

There is a homeless man who always shows up near a Woolworths near my house. He looked like a middle-aged man. He stands around wearing old, warm sports clothes. Sometimes there is a white dog next to him.

A few days ago, I went to put a Quickflix DVD into the postbox and he asked me if I had small change I could spare. I quickly checked my pockets and told him I did not before walking away.

After about a minute of walking, I thought about what I did. Running away from a homeless man was almost an automatic reflex for me. I felt like I wanted to get away. I rationalised in my mind that I actually did not have any small change on me, and so my response was truthful.

There are stories of wealthy beggars who choose begging because it pays well, but this man was sitting around in the cold and nobody seemed to be helping him. I couldn't imagine he'd be earning much, and a millionaire would not bother earning a few cents an hour sitting in the cold.

Then there are stories of homeless men using donations for drugs and alcohol. This was a valid concern, but I could have easily purchased a loaf bread or a coffee from a nearby shop and give it to him.

I just didn't have time to think about this details. When I saw a homeless man, my natural instinct was to run.
Homeless man sleeping on a park bench in Melbourne, 2013

Stock Android is Overrated

http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/i-tried-the-android-now-give-me-back-my-iphone-20130719-2q92e.html

The opinion piece above from The Age has boiled my blood. I feel I need to address it. The piece claims that Android phones are bad because they are not pure Android phones and even if they are pure Android phones.

I currently have both a Nexus 7 running stock Android and a Sony Xperia Z running Android with Sony refinement. I find the Xperia Z to be much better than stock Android mainly because of added functionality, e.g. small apps and Bravia Engine. Many people actually want to pay more money for more features.

The Nexus devices make sense because they are cheap. The Xperia Z costs about $600 off contract compared to about $330 for the Nexus 4. It makes sense to pay less for something with lesser functionality and features. But $600 for a Google Play Edition Galaxy S4, which is the same price as the normal GS4? No thanks. The iPhone 5 is even worse, as you are paying $800 for an operating system with even less functionality and features than stock Android.

Rudd Asylum Policy Balances Compassion with the Demands of Rednecks

http://m.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/its-crunch-time-for-rudd-20130721-2qcqo.html

I am happy Rudd is back. I didn't mind Gillard, but Rudd is the best chance Labor has to defeat Tony Abbot whose right-ring policies will see 20,000 public servants fired.

Rudd's policy of sending asylum seekers to PNG if they come by boat I believe strikes the right balance between appeasing the rednecks while also treating asylum seekers with compassion. There is nothing wrong with settling with PNG, which is a growing and peaceful democracy. The asylum seekers will be treated according to UN standards. All this does not prevent legal refugees and skilled migrants from coming to Australia through more traditional means, as many do.

21 July 2013

The Importance of Android

The Android operating was invented in 2003 as a camera operating system. It was purchased by Google shortly after and the operating system was modified slightly for use on touchscreen smartphones.

The Apple iPhone was released in 2007 and quickly dominated the touchscreen smartphone market previously dominated by Microsoft's Palm devices. The Apple iPad was then released, also dominated the tablet market, quickly outselling Microsoft's Tablet PCs.

Android started slowly but its growth was explosive. Today Android is used on 70% of all smartphones. It is a free and open source operating system used by numerous manufacturers.

One of the benefits of Android is that the manufacturers who use it are faced with greater competitive pressure, leading to greater value for money for the consumer. If you owned an iPhone 4S and wanted to upgrade to get a faster phone, so you search online and realise that the fastest phone on the market today is the Samsung Galaxy S4. You want to buy it but realise that if you do, you will not be able to transfer your music on iTunes, your apps on the Apple App Store, and so forth to the Galaxy S4 because it uses a Android. So you reluctantly buy an iPhone 5, a phone that is more expensive than the Galaxy S4 but two times slower. This problem exists because you are trapped in the Apple ecosystem. But what if you were in the Android ecosystem and used, say, a Samsung Galaxy S3? Then your upgrade choices are infinite. You buy a phone from HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG, Huawei, Asus, HP, Oppo, and many more. You can buy a phone to suit your preferences and tastes, and if any company wants to rip you off, simply move to another one. You cannot do that with Apple. You are stuck with one company that has no incentive to offer you a better product for a lower price.

Although it is difficult to move from Apple to Android, it all depends on how invested you are in the system. If Apple takes advantage of its customers too much, they may get so angry they will be willing to switch to Android regardless of the costs, so the existence of Android does put pressure on Apple as well as Android partners.

06 July 2013

Astrid Shuts Down

Astrid is a program that maintains a to do list for your smartphone, tablet, and computer. I heard recently that Yahoo purchased Astrid. There were rumours floating around that Yahoo plans to kill off Astrid. I have recently received an email confirming this rumour (see below). Why in the world Yahoo wants to kill off something it purchased it beyond my understanding. Nevertheless, I found that as a to do list maintainer, Astrid was not helping much with my productivity. I simply had too much to do, and constant reminders by Astrid on my phone on what I needed to do next become so annoying that I ended up ignoring them. I will use Google Tasks for now.


26 May 2013

Kogan Agora 5 Dual Core Smartphone ANTUTU BENCHMARKS


I purchased a Kogan Agora 5 dual-core smartphone from kogan.com.au about a week ago when Kogan was offering free shipping. This meant that I paid $149 for the phone rather than $169 for the phone with postage and shipping costs.

This is a 5-inch smartphone that I purchased for my mother for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, my mother used it for one day, found that it was too big to fit in her pocket, and went back to using her old Samsung Galaxy Y Duos. I therefore gave it to my father who gave it to his children (my siblings), and they use this phone as a portable gaming device.

In my opinion, this phone is excellent value. It is no Samsung Galaxy S4, but instead of paying A$700 for the GS4, you only pay A$149. The Agora 5's dual core processor allows it to be fast enough. The battery life is enough to last a day with 2000 mAh, which is decent. The display's pixel density is on the  low side at around 180 ppi, which is about equal to that of the iPad mini. The Agora 5's display is not anywhere as good as the full HD 1080p displays of the GS4, Sony Xperia Z, or HTC One (440 ppi to 470 ppi) but it is good enough. The colours on the Agora 5 appear washed out and lacks vibrancy. Nevertheless, these criticisms are not major and considering it is only A$149, it is forgiveable.

Today I performed an Antutu benchmark test on the Agora 5. It scored 6547 (see image above). This is definitely on the low side. The Kogan Agora 10 dual-core tablet scores 11505 on Antutu. I believe the main reason why the smartphone scores poorly on Antutu given it is dual-core is because it only has 0.5 GB RAM whereas the Agora tablet has 1 GB RAM.

That being said, my siblings like to carry the Agora smartphone around with them for portable gaming likely because it is portable and lightweight. The Agora tablet, on the other hand, like the iPad, is too heavy to simply carry around with you. Unlike the more expensive iPod touch, the Agora smartphone is faster, has a bigger screen, and can be used as a telephone, which I think makes the Agora a better gift for children.

10 May 2013

Cleveland Kidnappings Highlight Need to Arm Little Girls

Cleveland triple kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro's mother asks families of missing women for forgiveness | News.com.au

Everyone is talking about the Cleveland kidnappings. What happened is horrific, but people seem to be trying to blame this on American culture or police ineptitude. The reality is that kidnapping girls for use as sex slaves has occurred many times in multiple countries. For example, Marc Dutroux kidnapped and molested a girl in Europe. No doubt this sort of sick behaviour is happening in other countries and no doubt it is happening right now. We just haven't heard it yet. It is comforting to say that this is an American problem or the police are inept or some people are crazy and evil. The uncomfortable reality is that this happens everywhere. If concealed well, girls are easy to hide, and it is easy to get away with this sort of crime. Another uncomfortable truth that no one is mentioning is that dominating women sexually is very mainstream. Sexual slavery of girls is inevitable. It happens now and it will continue to happen.

So what can be done? It is one thing to criticize and despair. It is another thing to suggest a constructive solution. One answer is to empower girls.

Abuse happens when there is a gap in power. If there are two people in a room and each own a handgun each, there is no abuse. If one person has a gun and the other does not, there will be abuse. Girls need to be empowered. Of course, of all groups of people, girls are the most difficult to empower. It is hard to expect a small child to carry a rifle.

08 May 2013

Kogan Agora 5 Dual Core Smartphone

The current phone I am using is a Sony Xperia Z, which I really like. I purchased the phone for about $700 from Kogan, and about a month or so later I notice that it is selling on Kogan for about $550. I probably should have waited.
I will likely go travelling soon to Malaysia. When I go travelling, I don't want to bring my Xperia Z along because, when travelling, I will be throwing my phone around and treating it roughly. It will be crammed in suitcases and SIM cards will be taken in and out, and I may drop it or have it stolen. Instead of carrying around a $500 or $600 phone that is made of glass and that looks very premium, I'd rather bring along a cheap phone for travel.
That is why I purchased the Kogan Agora 5. It is only A$149, and every now and then Kogan has free shipping. Today is one of those days.
Before buying the phone, I've done some googling. I've checked YouTube videos. I've also checked the hardware specifications.
Based on my googling, I don't expect this phone to be as great as phones like the Xperia Z, HTC One, or Galaxy S4. But these high-end Androids cost about five times more.
What really attracts me to the Agora 5 is that it has a dual core processor, which is not typically of phones in this price bracket. A dual core processor is not in the same league as the quad core Xperia Z or HTC One or even the octocore GS4, but since a lot of software is only designed for single or dual core processors, having a dual core processor is often enough. Dual core puts the Kogan into the same league as the Apple iPhones, which are all dual core, (although the cores of the iPhone are not Cortex A9 processors).
The major problem with the Agora 5 is its poor display with its low resolution pixel density of 186ppi, which is about the same pixel density as the iPad mini's horrible display. This is terrible compared to the full HD 1080p displays currently out with pixel densities ranging from 440ppi to 470ppi. Nevertheless, I decided to buy the Agora anyway because 186ppi is not that bad. Low pixel density is bad for reading. It can hurt your eyes. I don't plan to read much while I travel. There is no point travelling if you're just going to read on your phone the whole time. You may as well stay home and read on your tablet. I plan to just do light emailing, Facebooking, and instant messaging when I connect to a hotel's WiFi. Therefore, I will read, but I won't read much. If I really want to pass time, I can play light games.
Another issue with the Agora 5 that I have read about is the camera. Although 5MP seemed adequate, I have read that the camera is horrible and that it does not produce realistic colours. I checked some sample pictures out and though that although it is not perfect, it didn't look that bad, and it certainly looked good enough. Many people are very picky about their phone cameras and are especially concerned about accurate colour reproduction, but in don't mind it too much if the phone goes crazy and makes the colours more vivid horns bit different. It livens upon boring images. I'll have to wait until I actually get the phone before I test there camera. I will put sample photos up.
When I am not travelling, I can use the phone as a backup phone, or if I find someone who still uses a dumbphone, I can offer the phone to them as a gift. I find that smartphones make excellent gifts. I gave my old HTC Desire HD to my grandma and a Samsung Galaxy Y Duos to my mother. These are cheap phones, but people tend to perceive smartphones as very expensive devices, which explains why companies like Apple and Samsung can get away with pricing their phones so high even though it cost them little to make. My prediction for them future is that as time goes by, consumers will understand what they are buying and will choose devices based on price and specs, which will result in competition that will cut margins and make it difficult for companies to make profits. It's already happened in television. In see it happening in phones.

20 April 2013

Android PCs Under $100

Link: Miniand

Buying a $1000 Mac or Windows PC makes no sense when you can get an Android PC for $100 or less.

If you're in the market for a new computer, check out the Android PCs on sale in the link above to Miniand. These computers are so small they can fit into your pocket. They are mostly under $100, and you need to bring your own monitor, keyboard, mouse, and internet connection (wifi or ethernet cable).

I recommend the dual-core Android PC (MK808) to ensure your computer is fast enough. For those who want an Android system for gaming, get the quad-core Android PC (GK802).

Miniand is a firm based in Canberra, Australia.


13 April 2013

Marketing and Carrier Availability Affect Phone Sales

Coming soon: The Samsung Phone platform

I completely disagree with the article above. Samsung is successful not because it doesn't use stock Android but because it invests heavily in marketing and makes its phones available to customers through an extensive network of carriers.

If the Nexus 4 were marketed heavily and placed in consumers' faces in stores, it would dominate and outsell phones from Samsung and Apple.

04 April 2013

A Cheap Nexus-style Facebook Phone would be Good

There are rumours that Facebook will launch a phone, and it is starting to look like these rumours are true.

Facebook will not actually produce phones like Samsung or LG does. Rather, it will get HTC to produce an Android phone that will be heavily customized.

Why would Facebook do this?

Facebook primarily makes money through advertising. Therefore, if it wants to make money, it needs to get as many people using Facebook as possible. If Facebook provided a cheap phone to users, it logically follows that many people will want to buy it and advertising revenue will increase.

Google does something similar with its Nexus devices, which are sold almost at zero profit.

What will be the difference between Google's Nexus device and Facebook's phone? I think it will be brand recognition. If you talk to the average person on the street, he or she will not know what a Nexus is simply because there is virtually no advertising. However, the average person will definitely know about Samsung and Apple simply because these two companies spend the most on advertising. People feel comfortable buying a product from a brand that they know and are familiar with.

Facebook doesn't need to advertise much because just about everyone knows what Facebook is. Therefore, once word gets out that Facebook has a cheap but good phone available, people will buy it. Why wouldn't they? If it's cheap, works well, has an okay design, and is from a well-known brand, people will buy it. This should over time put pressure on high-margin smartphone makers such as Samsung and especially Apple.

There is an argument some make that the battle of Android phones has already been fought and Samsung has won. But this makes no difference. It does not matter what operating system Facebook uses for its phones as long as they can customize it so that users use Facebook. They cannot use iOS since it is owned by Apple. They could produce their own operating system, but that will take require massive investment. Since Android is free, why not just take it and customize it? Furthermore, Google's Play Store has a massive amount of apps available. It makes sense to use Android.

29 March 2013

The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane

I've just watched The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, which I think is an excellent movie. It is about a thirteen year old girl named Rynn who is taught by her father to isolate herself from the world, that is, become a hermit, so that she can protect herself from the depravity of humankind. There is plenty for her to protect herself from, including pedophiles preying on her.

But at the same time, living a life of isolation leaves her feeling lonely, and in the movie she does fall in love.

This movie really connected with me because I have had similar feelings. I am really tired of how shallow, materialistic, hypocritical, and cruel people are, and I wish I can one day escape it all and become a hermit. At the same time, I am susceptible to loneliness.

It's tiring when you distance yourself from the world. There is so much lying and hiding. You feel you need to lie to survive.

Don't Get a 30-Year Mortgage

How to loosen the mortgage noose

This article from the AFR talks about most people underestimate how much interest they end up paying when they sign up for a 30 or even 25 year mortgage.

I will not get a mortgage, not even a small one. I would rather invest in bank shares and rake in massive dividends.

The main reason why I am anti-mortgage is because I believe the modern long-term mortgage is simply a more evolved form of slavery. When you take out a mortgage, you will sign a contract so long and convoluted that you will not read it, and the terms of the contract will be in the bank's favour. If nothing goes wrong, you slave away at your job for the next three decades, living in fear of being fired and sucking up to the boss. If things go wrong, you lose your job and the bank will quickly sell your home, which can result in massive capital losses for you. Unlike in America, Australian banks can pursue you for your debts no matter what. You cannot walk away from your debts.

My recommendation is, while you are young, to live with your parents or rent and share with many people to divide the costs. Then save aggressively and buy two cheap homes in the country, one that you leave empty and the other that you rent out to produce rental income. If things go wrong in your life, you have the security of knowing you can drive into the country, live in a house, and have another house producing income to feed you.

My Experience with the Sony Xperia Z

For years, Sony Ericsson has made bland and boring phones while Apple and Samsung dominated the smartphone market to create an effective duopoly.

Sony has cut ties with Ericsson and wanted to make a phone that signalled to the world that Sony was serious about smartphones. The Sony Xperia Z was born.

I've had the Sony Xperia Z for a few days now and overall I can say that I am very happy with the phone. I purchased it online via Kogan and had to wait about two weeks before it was sent to my house. I love buying goods online because of cheapness, but it is terribly difficult waiting for a phone that I really desired. Nearly every day while waiting for the phone, I went on YouTube and searched for the latest videos on the phone. This kept me interested as I waited. I absolutely loved Sony's advertising for this phone.

Battery

My old phone was the HTC Desire HD. I've had this for about two years and it has served me well. The main problem with the Desire HD is the battery life. The phone's battery capacity is around 1230 mAh (compared to 2330 on the Xperia Z). I would charge the phone overnight, use it on the train when commuting to work, and use it intermittently for email, messaging, and calling throughout the day. By around two in the afternoon, the phone would be dead! The battery was that bad. I was able to partially fix this problem by getting a $2 USB to micro-USB connector from eBay and charging the phone at work from my computer. This was also useful because it allowed me to easily transfer files from work to home if I wanted to. I didn't need to carry around a USB flash drive. I could live with the Desire HD's poor battery life, but I preferred a phone that lasted for a whole day, at least.

The Xperia Z's battery life, I have found, is phenomenal. I charged it overnight and, when using it normally I have found that the battery is around 60 to 70 per cent full by the time I get out of work. It easily lasts the whole day with normal use and will probably last two days as well. The Xperia Z's 2330 mAh is nothing revolutionary, especially compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4's 2600 mAh battery and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2's massive 3100 mAh battery. However, the Xperia Z comes with a built-in power management software called Stamina Mode that automatically turns off power-intensive features like mobile data. Stamina Mode is customizable, so you can specify which programs are not affected by it. For example, if you use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger to keep in contact with family and friends, you can customise Stamina Mode to ignore these apps.

Design

The killer feature of the Xperia Z is its aesthetics. It is a beautiful phone, a work of art. While the Samsung Galaxy S4, I am sure, is technologically superior, its design is similar to the S3 and is getting boring. The new Blackberry Z10 looks like an iPhone 5 with a plastic back. The LG Optimus G Pro is starting to look like there Galaxy phones as well. The Xperia Z, on the other hand, does away with curved designs and opts for a minimalistic thin and sleek black slab with sharp edges, symmetry, and shiny, reflective glass. Whenever I take this phone out of my pocket at work or lay it down on a table, just about everyone says, "wow!" "whoah!" or something similar, and typically want to touch it and play with it. The phone comes in black, white, and purple. Black is best.

The Xperia Z is not as thin as the iPhone 5, but the two are very similar, and to the naked eye the Xperia Z looks slimmer and better proportioned because it is wider. The width and tallness of the Xperia accentuate its thinness. The iPhone 5 is simply a taller and thinner version of the 4S. In their attempt to maintain better one-handed operation, the iPhone 5 looks too tall and anorexic. It is a feminine and emasculating phone compared to the manly Xperia Z. The iPhone 5 has a really small 1440 mAh battery, which is pathetic, but the iPhone has a blurrier display compared to the Xperia Z, so its power consumption should be lower.

I am using my Nexus 7 tablet to write this blog, so the pictures of the Xperia Z I have posted here use the Nexus 7's low-resolution front-facing camera. Unfortunately the Nexus 7 has no rear camera.
Another issue with the phone is that it attracts fingerprints and dust like a magnet attracting metal. Be prepared to wipe it all the time.


Waterproofing

The Xperia Z is waterproof up to one metre. This means you cannot go swimming or scuba diving but you can use it in the shower or bath tub. The waterproofing is excellent because you never know when someone will push you into a swimming pool or lake. You may also drop your phone into the toilet. I take my phone into the shower with me and place it in the shampoo rack. When people call me while I am in the shower, I can tall to them, and theoretically I could Skype people while in the shower as well, but I am hesitant to try this.
Taking the phone into the shower also allows me to clean the glass panels of the phone to remove fingerprints.

That being said, the downside of waterproofing is that all ports, such as the micro-USB port and micro-SD port, have plastic flaps covering them, and you have to constantly detach and reattach these flaps if you want to charge or even put headphones into the phone. I will be getting a charging dock for the phone, so charging is not an issue. If you are into music, you will probably need to invest in expensive NFC-enabled wireless headphones. That being said, I am willing to tolerate this I'm order to get waterproofing.

Comfort
 
Although the Xperia Z is a beautiful phone, it is not comfortable to hold. My old HTC Desire HD had a rounded aluminium back that fitted well into the hand. Likewise, my Nexus 7 has a curved rubber back that feels really nice. The Xperia Z, on the other hand, has sharp jagged edges and flat glass surfaces, which feels uncomfortable compared to the Nexus and HTC. Once again, I'm willing to tolerate this, but others may not.

Conclusion

Much was said about this phone's poor colour contrast and viewing angles. I can attest that the viewing angles on this phone are far from perfect, but who looks at a phone screen on an angle? My experience is that the display is fine. The fact that it is Full HD, 1080p is a plus. It makes images and text crisp and clean. I read a lot on my phone, so high pixel density and big screens are non-negotiable.





24 March 2013

My Experience with the eCoffeeCard App

I love my coffee. At some coffee stores I visit, there are loyalty cards where you can get a free coffee if you buy, say, 10 coffees. However, for one area I go to, they have encouraged their buyers to use eCoffeeCard, a smartphone app that keeps track of how much coffee you've had and notifies you when you're due for a free one.

I installed this app on my Android phone and used it for a while. My experiences have been negative.

Technology is supposed to make life simpler and easier. It is supposed to make you more productive. I have found that eCoffeeCard has done the opposite.

Normally when I pay for coffee, I use cash, and if there is a loyalty card, I hand this card with the cash and the barista signs the card or punches a hole in it. The barista then hands the change and card back to me. It's quite simple.

However, with eCoffeeCard, I have to pay separately with cash, then I have to take my phone out of my pocket, I have to turn it on, search for the app icon, wait for the app to load, and then I have to scan the QR barcode, and then wait for the app to recognise the barcode. Using the smartphone is significantly slower!

Normally when I buy coffee, there is a queue, and being slow means you hold everyone up.

I don't know what the solution is. Perhaps Google Glass will fix everything because you will only have to look at the barcode rather than bother with taking out your phone, etc.

15 March 2013

First thoughts on the Samsung GALAXY S4



The Samsung Galaxy S4 (or Samsung Galaxy S IV) was released today. It was released in New York, which meant that here in Australia it was released at around nine or ten in the morning, which coincided with when I was at work. I got out of work at eleven today but missed the opportunity to watch the Samsung presentation live on YouTube.

The Galaxy S4 is nothing surprising. It pretty much looked exactly like the leaked pictures. The hardware specifications are what were expected. It has a five-inch super AMOLED display with full HD, 1080p at 440ppi. The display size and pixel density matches phones like the Xperia Z and HTC One but what is great about Samsung phones are the fact they use AMOLED displays rather than conventional IPS LCD displays. AMOLED displays give deeper blacks and more vivid and bright colours. Some people do not like th vividness of AMOLED displays, saying it is unrealistic. It's a matter of preference which one you prefer, but I prefer AMOLED.

The Galaxy S4 has an unprecedented Exynos 8-core processor. The octacore processor has four performance cores and four economy cores. When performing power-intensive tasks like gaming or watching videos, the performance cores are used whereas the economy cores are used when you are engaged in mundane tasks like web browsing. Along with the 2 GB of RAM, this allows the S4 to achieve an unprecedented 26,000 score on the AnTuTu benchmark, which is 6,000 higher than the runner up HTC Buttery's 20,000 score. This makes the Galaxy S4 the fastest and most powerful smartphone yet.

There are numerous other features on the S4, far too much to digest in this blog post. Many people claim that these features are not "proper innovation," or evolutionary rather than revolutionary features. But this is subjective. I happen to believe the octacore processor and AMOLED screen are highly innovative, but others may not think so. Many believe Apple's first smartphone, with touchscreen-only input and apps was innovative, but closer inspection reveals they are evolutions of Microsoft handheld devices like the Palm Pilot. Apple simply improved the specs and marketed the product very well.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S4 is technologically superior to any other phone on the market today. Where the S4 is criticized heavily is in the plastic material is uses for its body. Samsung have good reasons for using plastic. For one, it absorbs shock better, which means dropping it will damage it less compared to, say, a glass phone like the fragile Nexus 4. Metal phones, such as the iPhone 5 or HTC One, tend to scratch easily. Most people, when they buy a metal or glass phone, put a plastic case on it anyway for the very reason that they don't want to damage the metal or glass. Premium material is only a concern for those with so much money that, if they crack a glass phone or scratch a metal phone, they can simply afford to buy another one. Many people, when criticizing Samsung phones, refer to the "build quality." I hate it when people use this term because plastic Samsung phones don't break. The plastic actually improves its build quality. Instead of using the term "build quality," we should call it what it is and use the term "snob appeal." Samsung's plastic phones are technologically superior to any other phone out there, but lack snob appeal because plastic is perceived to be cheap and nasty.

That said, I do not mind owning a nice-looking phone. The benefit of Android is variety. For those who want glass, there is the Sony Xperia Z, which is by far the prettiest phone yet. For those who want aluminum, get the HTC One. For those who want value for money, get the Nexus 4.

24 February 2013

Assimilation - Being Socially Acceptable

Just as organizations have PR divisions dedicated to making sure the organization presents a socially acceptable image to the public, so too I am starting to believe that an individual needs to do the same.

For example, I do not make it a secret on this blog that I would love to one day save enough money so that I can live off my savings. I have found that if I tell people this, I come off as lazy. Maybe I am lazy. I certainly don't enjoy working. I believe that deep down everyone values laziness and idleness but for some reason there is a social expectation that you must be busy and you must work (read In Praise of Idleness). Certainly if everyone were to stop work, society would not function. Who would grow the food we buy to eat to survive? In terms of ensuring society continues to function, people need to work, but it's a question of degrees. That is, do most of us work too much? Is social expectation excessive? All you need is a small house in the country to put a roof over your head and a bit of savings to ensure you can afford to buy food for the rest of your life. But why is it that people think they need more than food and raiment? Why is it that people think you need to get married, have children, get a mortgage to buy a mansion, get a luxury car, and go on an overseas holiday every year? Instead of enslaving yourself for four to five years, you're enslaving yourself for forty to fifty years.

I have found that telling others that I want to retire early not only makes me seem lazy but it also opens me up to ridicule. People also think that because I am saving up like crazy to retire early, I must have a lot of money saved up and therefore I have people asking to borrow money. The risk of outright theft, blackmail, and torture are also very real. It just makes no sense to tell anyone anything.

That is why I am keeping things secret. Instead of telling people I have savings, I tell them I am in debt. What do I do when I have enough savings to retire? I will not actually retire but will have a socially acceptable story, e.g. I will go back to university to study, but what I will actually do is study part-time and online, studying subjects I am interested in. Because I intend to study part-time and online, I should have a lot of free time to spend on leisure, as I will be retired.

23 February 2013

Google Retail Store is a Good Idea

I was at Myer today buying wedding gifts. While there, I walked by an Apple Store and looked at all the iSheep inside playing on iPhones, iPads, and iPad minis. I then remembered news that Google will one day had retail stores just like Apple. I think this is a great idea. The reality is that Google products like the Nexus 4, 7, and 10 are great products but because most people don't buy things online and like to touch and feel things in their hands, there needs to be a physical presence. Once people touch and feel the Nexus smartphones and tablets, realize that these are excellent products that are a fraction of the cost of the equivalent iPhone or iPad, there is a good chance they will buy. Why get the $350 iPad mini with dual-core CPU, 0.5 GB RAM, and low-resolution screen when you can get the Google Asus Nexus 7 with Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, 1 GB RAM, and high-resolution screen for only $200?

Some people say Google starting its own store is just a copycat move by Google to get in on Apple's turf. But Apple did not invent the store. They have existed since ancient times. Selling things in a shop is not new.

Update 15 March 2013: Google have confirmed that they will not have retail stores, which is disappointing.

10 February 2013

Lilja 4-Ever

I just saw this movie, which was about underground sex trafficking. I'm feeling really sad now. Feel like there needs to be something I can do to help these girls.
Sexual slavery is really an example of capitalism at its worst. If the private sector had its way, sexual slavery would be rife. In order to limit sexual slavery, the freedoms of enterprise must be curbed so that they cannot enslave innocent young girls for their profit.

This is why government must intervene to set laws that protect human life, why government must fund police departments that investigate sex trafficking.
We can hope that public servants can be idealistic enough to create laws that protect the innocent and police also be idealistic or altruistic enough to implement these laws.

02 February 2013

Kogan Agora 10" Dual Core Tablet

Today I visited my father's house and noticed that my five-year-old half-sister held a 10-inch tablet in her hands. I asked my father about the tablet and he notified me that he had purchased two 10-inch Android tablets from online retailer Kogan.

Since one of her friends purchased a Sony tablet, my half-sister has been wanting a tablet for herself. I remember when we visited the shopping mall, she would say to her father, "I want an iPad!" and then point to a Samsung Galaxy Tab. It's not good to reward bad behaviour, but learning how to use a tablet can have educational benefits and can allow the child to familiarise herself or himself with the latest technology. Not to mention that fact that nothing mutes a loud and reckless child as effectively as a tablet PC.

In my opinion, Apple's main innovation is in its marketing. Their marketing and brand recognition is so strong that many children (and even most uninformed adults) refer to all tablets as iPads, regardless of whether they powered by the Android or Windows operating systems or whether it is made by a company other than Apple, e.g. Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola, or even Microsoft. But given that the latest iPad 4 would cost around $600, it just seemed stupid buying an iPad 4 for a child when the child would likely drop, break, or spill food on the device.

My cousin, thinking that she was saving hundreds of dollars by not buying the latest iPad 4, purchased instead an iPad 2 for $400. Given that it is an iPad 2, it has a low-resolution display (NOT the iPad 4's high-resolution 264ppi Retina display) and it only had a measly 0.5 GB RAM and used an ancient and weak 0.8 Ghz single-core A5 CPU. Why would you spend $400 on an iPad 2 with ancient technology when you can spend less than half that much ($180) and get a Kogan Agora 10" Dual-Core Tablet? The Kogan Agora tablet is more than two times cheaper than the iPad 2 yet also has a dual-core processor, has two times more RAM, and has a bigger battery.

That being said, the Kogan Agora 10" is not the best of the best. I would argue that the best tablets out now are the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, iPad 4, and Asus Transformer Prime. But these tablets are generally quite expensive whereas the Kogan Agora 10" is $180 whereas the smaller 8-inch Kogan Agora Dual Core Tablet is only $120. The Kogan Agora 10" also has a respectable 1 GB RAM, which is equal to the amount of RAM in the iPad 4. When I looked at the screen of the Kogan tablet, I noticed that the display was pixellated and blurry compared to the crispness of the iPad 4 and the Nexus 7. Nevertheless, for a $180 tablet, what do you expect? For most people, the low-resolution 132ppi display on the Kogan Agora tablet it is not a huge issue. It is approximately equal to that of the iPad 2. If you want high-resolution on your tablet, you'll need to pay more. The iPad 4 has an impressive pixel density of 264ppi Retina display but will cost you $600. The Google Samsung Nexus 10, however, has an even better pixel density of 300ppi and will cost you $500.

How is the battery? According to Kogan's website, the Agora 10" Dual Core has 8000 mAh. The website does not give the actual battery life of the tablet in hours, and I was not able to test it given the children were playing on it. Nevertheless, the iPad 2 has a 6,944 mAh battery and goes for about 10 hours, whereas the new iPad 4 has a 11,666 mAh battery, which is roughly 70% larger, yet still goes for about 10 hours as well given that the iPad 4 has a high-resolution Retina display and dual-core CPU, it consumed much more power. Given that the Kogan Agora has a dual-core CPU like the iPad 4 but has a low-resolution display like the iPad 2, my rough guess is that battery life will be around 10 hours as well.

I went into the Kogan Agora's browser and also played some Angry Birds to see if the tablet could handle it. It seemed quick and responsive, so it is likely that the dual-core CPU is doing its job. The kids installed various games on the tablet and played them. There seemed to be no issues with performance. The Kogan Agora also runs the latest version of Android, i.e. Jelly Bean, which is supposedly much faster than previous Android versions. All in all, I was impressed. When they carry it around with them, the children keep referring to the tablet as the "iPad," and I keep telling them, "it's a Kogan!" but they don't seem to understand.

Given that I am used to the Nexus 7, what surprised me about the Kogan Agora 10" Dual-Core is that it is quite heavy. Furthermore, even though the Kogan website says the tablet uses USB, the Kogan Agora does not seem to charge with a standard micro-USB charger but has a completely different charging connector, so if you run out of batteries at a friend's house, chances are you will not be able to use his or her charger. I would prefer it if the tablet used micro-USB, but given it's only $180, I'm willing to forgive.

The Kogan Agora 10" Dual-Core has a premium feel to it, even though it is plastic. Although it is heavy, it is thin, black, and sleek. Carrying it around gives off a premium look, that is, until people notice the "Kogan" logo on the back.

If you go to Kogan's Facebook page, you will notice that Ruslan Kogan receives many complaints. Reading his Facebook page, you'd think the man is completely incompetent. But my experience with him (as well as my family's experiences) has mostly been positive. I have purchased a Nexus 7 from him and a car charger. The items took a bit of time to come (maybe a month) but this was fully disclosed on the website and I was happy that it eventually came. Furthermore, Kogan seems to be able to sell goods that are much cheaper than the brick-and-mortar retailers. For example, the Google Asus Nexus 7 sold on his website is cheaper than the same tablet sold directly from Google Play. Kogan also sells a Kogan branded 5" dual-core phablet smartphone for only $150, which is absolutely incredible given most good smartphones from Samsung or Apple cost $600. Kogan may be a controversial figure who has upset many, but there is no question that he delivers for the customer.






Update 9/2/13: I have performed the Antutu benchmark test on the Kogan Dual Core tablet. It received a score of 11505. This is very good.


26 January 2013

Less Work, More Holidays

Whenever I speak to people, I make no secret about the fact that I hate my job. It is not really the work that bothers me. Rather, it is the fact that I have to work for a boss. I have to report to a boss, update him on what I'm doing, and endure his speeches on how I should be doing my job. Because my dissatisfaction comes from being averse to being subjugated, I simply cannot go back to university and study a different course, as my father has suggested to me. I need to do something different. If I want to be my own boss, one option is to start my own business, but this option has its challenges. Will I have enough to money to start my own business? How much does it cost to run a business? What sort of tax and compliance processes do I need to follow, and are they burdensome?

The more I think about it, the more I realise that I probably need to start taking more holidays. Less than a month ago, I turned 29. I am almost thirty, almost sort of reaching the middle of my life, and I when I think back on my life, I realise that I really have not done much. I have been overseas but only twice. Most people go on a foreign vacation ever year. I have been reluctant to go on holidays because of the costs. I believed it was more sensible to save the money.

Given how stressful my job is, I believe it is best if I start taking holidays. It is not just my career where I am facing crisis. There is also chaos in my family life. Going to a different place and leaving your old life behind is a great way to clear the mind.

I will still continue to save money, mainly because I want to invest the money to make more money. One day I may be able to save up enough money to be able to be on holidays for, say, six-month periods at a time. When I come back to Australia, I can work part-time, and when I feel like it, I can just get back on the plane and get out. I am starting to realise that one of the greatest freedoms is the ability to just get out. I pity those who have committed too much into wage slavery, the people who have a mortgage, two children, and a car loan to fund. I have none of these, but pressure from friends and family to be normal is really starting to ramp up. It's as if all of society is trying to set a trap for me. I've reaches a point in my life where I need to make a fundamental decision about whether I want to embrace the culture of wage slavery or the culture of freedom. What is most cruel about life is that the price of freedom is a decade of wage slavery.

Too much holidaying can be unhealthy. I could get bored. I just don't know. I need to give myself the flexibility to move in and out of holiday mode and work mode.


20 January 2013

Why I Don't Block Ads

Link: AdBlock Plus has 4M users in France

I have both Chrome and Firefox installed on my computer and used to install programs that block advertising, but I don't do this anymore. I understand that many websites need advertising in order to generate revenue to pay for servers, writers, and so forth, so advertising actually helps keep good content on the internet that is available free for everyone. But another reason why I liked to keep ads on my websites was because, without advertising, websites suddenly have ugly white empty spaces. Sometimes advertising on a website integrates well with the content and make the website look good, but without the advertising, it just looks wrong.