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.