27 April 2014

Do You Need a Smartphone Power Bank?

Something I am not too happy with the Nexus 5 about is the battery life. At 2300 mAh, it's pretty poor. It would be fine for an occasional or normal user but the Nexus 5 really is the sort of phone that a serious smartphone user would have, so for it is certainly disappointing. If I were getting another phone now the benchmark would be at least 3000 mAh, and that is what you find in the OnePlus One and the Sony Xperia Z2.
Nonetheless, I fixed this problem simply by buying a qi wireless charger off eBay for only about $13. I have it at work and this allows me to charge my phone at work simply by laying the phone onto the charging mat. It is incredible how convenient inbuilt wireless charging is. It should be standard across all phones.
The qi wireless charger allowed me to have full power by the time I leave work and even after using the phone on the commute home and at home, I can charge the phone again overnight via micro-USB and then come back to work again and keep charging it. I effectively charge the phone twice in a day. It's a little bit of overkill, but more power is better than no power.
Of course, the only problem is if I don't go to work at all. For example, sometimes in the holidays I go out somewhere and I am gone for the whole day. For example, recently I went to a wedding. The ceremony was at lunch, which means I commuted in the morning, and the reception was in the evening and went on into the night. I was taking photos on the phone like a madman and at around 8pm the phone was dead in spite of my best attempts to keep brightness down and turn off data.
My friends at the wedding with iPhones and therefore even smaller batteries also had low batteries but at least many of them seemed to have power banks on them and they recharged their phones by plugging it into a power bank. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I resolved to get one for myself.
I looked on eBay and found some for pretty cheap, around $20. However, everyone who used power banks at the wedding were females and they had handbags and purses in which to carry their power banks. I am a man and therefore a bag is beneath me. I need to travel light. Where would I store the power bank? I decided to look for slim power banks with similar dimensions to smart phones so that I can carry them in one of my other pockets. But then I remembered that the power bank is more than the battery itself. You need to carry around a USB to micro-USB cable (or USB to Lightning cable for iPhone) around with you as well. I then looked at buying a wireless power bank given that my phone had a wireless charger, but wireless charging is actually much slower than charging with wire and because much energy is lost via heat with wireless charging, the power banks need to be bigger than normal power banks. Wireless power banks were also note expensive, reaching about $50.
Then I realized, why bother buying a smartphone size power bank with a cable on me when, if I know I am going to use my phone a lot during a day, I can just being along my spare phone? If my Nexus 5 has low battery, I can just take out my spare phone from my other pocket or play games or read books offline on my spare phone, and if I am desperate for internet I can set a hotspot. Everyone should have a spare phone lying around when they upgrade. It is necessary because your main phone might break or get stolen. Instead of carrying around a power bank, it is much easier to just carry around two phones and use the other one instantly when low on battery.

26 April 2014

Khmer Font on Sony Xperia Z

If you are a Cambodian person using an Android device, I highly recommend Khmer Standard Keyboard (or try Khmer Standard Keyboard Small Screen for mobile). Once you install one of these apps, go to Settings >Language & input > Default and enter Khmer Standard Keyboard as the default keyboard. The Khmer keyboard should show up whenever you type. The keyboard has a button on the bottom-left that allows you to toggle from an English keyboard to a Khmer keyboard.

If you go to a Khmer website like rfa.org/khmer, you can see Khmer text rendered on the website and, if you are Cambodian, you can read in Khmer on this site. This works for my Firefox browser on my desktop, the Nexus 5, and the Samsung Galaxy S4, as well as many other devices.

However, when you go to rfa.org/khmer using a Sony Xperia Z, the Khmer text does not show up!

This was extremely frustrating. I spent many hours trying to get Khmer font to show up but nothing worked. All the websites kept telling me to root the phone, but rooting the phone can void your warrantly, so it's best not to do that.

I finally got around the problem by installing Firefox for Android and then searching for add-ons and then installing Khmer Fonts Package. This seemed to fix everything up. Khmer text still does not appear on Chrome browser and other apps but it does show up in the Firefox browser, which means you can do a Google search in Khmer and read Khmer websites.

There are a few other apps that seem to show Khmer text on the Xperia Z, e.g. Khmer SMS, Kohsantepheap Daily, and even Google Translate.

20 April 2014

Saladmaster Titanium Saucepans

It's Easter and I am bumming around with family. I had lunch with my father and ate pizza with him. Afterwards, my mother told me to tag a long with her to one of her friend's house. I went along. When I went there, I realised that this dinner was an opportunity for some sales representative from a company called Saladmaster to try to sell saucepans to us. I was annoyed as ever.

A form was passed around asking for our contact details. I then realised why I was there. My mother didn't want her contact details put down and instead wanted my contact details put down. I put down my name, a fake address, one of my many disposable emails, but put my actual mobile phone number there because, unlike email, I don't have multiple phone numbers. However, I am not too concerned about pushy salespeople calling me on my mobile because I can just tell them I am busy and request that they call later and then block their number using a number blocking app. I have done this many times.

My grandmother was with me and she asked me to write down her details. To spare her a phone call from a pushy salesman, I used my details for her, i.e. including my fake address, disposable email, and mobile phone number. The saleswoman noticed that my grandma had my details and demanded that her details be used. She said, "Your grandmother is a separate person. She needs to have her details. Do this otherwise she will break the hosting rules and she will be disqualified!" I was surprised. Here we were kindly offering our sensitive personal details (albeit fake details) and she thinks she can pick and choose how the sensitive details had to be provided. I asked, "Disqualified from what?" She mumbled something about a gift. My grandmother relented and told me to put her my father's mobile number, so I did that, thinking that I can simply warn my father and tell him to block the number after he is called. I also wrote down a fake address for my grandmother.

The sales pitch involved the saleswoman cooking food for all of us using Saladmaster titanium stainless steel saucepans. She then went on about the benefits of these products. The basic message is that if you use other products, you will die of cancer and that Saladmaster products are completely safe. You should therefore consider buying the product and consider it an investment in your health. I was absolutely flabbergasted when the price was revealed. You effectively buy a set of about six saucepans for about $6,000! The cheaper option is to buy only a few of the smaller saucepans for about $2,000. If you buy right away with cash or credit card on the day, you get an extra saucepan thrown in for free, but you had to buy right away.

I must hand it to the Saladmaster salespeople. They are incredibly effective. Many people were buying. Two of my relatives took out their credit cards and purchased the product. I had a sour look on my face the whole time, so I think the saleswoman didn't even bother trying to sell to me. My mother, however, seeing other people buying the product and clearly influenced by the fear tactics being used, wanted to get it. I told her not to get it. My reasoning was simple. Salespeople always try to create a sense of urgency because they don't want you to research and compare. This gives them an opportunity to rip you off. She responded by saying that if you don't buy now, you cannot get the free saucepan they throw in. I told her that any free product provided is funded for by rip off prices from other products. No organisation can give away a product for free unless it funds it by ripping consumers off for other products. The main argument was that titanium saucepans were better than saucepans made of copper or other metals. I did a quick Google Shopping search on my mobile for "titanium saucepan" and the prices of the product ranged from about $150 to $400. I thought it was highly suspect that titanium saucepans were sold for thousands of dollars by Saladmaster when they were sold for hundreds by others, e.g. Scanpan. Whenever someone tries to sell me something, I'm glad I have a smartphone on me. I can then do a quick search on Google or Ebay to see what the market says the price of the product should be.

There were many unknowns. Many products like braces and many utensils like knives and forks are made of stainless steel without titanium. Does that mean these can cause cancer? Do we even know for sure that stainless steel without titanium even causes cancer, and if not then why not buy a normal stainless steel saucepan?

My mother seemed a little down and sad when I told her not to buy the product. I felt guilty but luckily it is mothers day in a few weeks, so maybe I can do some research on my own and buy for my mother some high quality saucepans for mothers day.

19 April 2014

Problems with the Narrative Clip so Far

I have always wanted to get the Narrative Clip, which is a small 5MP camera that you clip on to your clothes. The clip takes a photo every 30 seconds. This allows you to live your life without worrying about taking photos. It is annoying going on a holiday and pointing and shooting using a DSLR or smartphone at the same time. It is better to simply enjoy your holiday.

However, so far, based on reviews I have been reading and videos I have been watching, I will be holding off on getting the Narrative Clip mainly because I do not like the idea of plugging it into your computer to upload photos. To make matters worse, you must have Windows installed on your computer to upload photos from the Narrative Clip. Given I use Ubuntu, it means I wouldn't be able to upload photos, which completely ruins the product. It would be better if the clip has in-built wifi that can automatically upload photos to Facebook, Google+, or some other service, which is currently what happens on a smartphone. Furthermore, although not essential, it would be nice if the clip had qi wireless charging so you can just place the phone on a charging mat overnight, although USB is not a problem.

I am also concerned with the Narrative website saying I need to pay money every month for a subcription to Narrative's apps. I was hoping that once I plug the Narrative to the computer I can just access the photos and upload them to whatever storage I want, e.g. a hard drive or cloud storage, but hopefully this Narrative app is not compulsory.

The Narrative Clip is really a simply device. It is effectively a camera. The ideal lifelogging device would be an Android clip that you can pair to a smartphone. Once you pair the clip to your Android smartphone, you can install apps onto the clip, e.g. an app that takes photos every 30 seconds and then automatically uploads to the internet whenever wifi is detected. Give this device is effectively an Android smartphone without a touchscreen or a high-end CPU, in theory this clip device should be cheap given the standard budget Android smartphone, the Moto G, costs about $250. The clip should be about $100 to $150 or even less.

06 April 2014

What to do about a dirty engine

Recently when I get out of my car, I can smell a smoky smell. My mother thought that maybe there are something wrong with the car and that, if left untreated, the car might explode. I have since spoken to an expert who told me that the oil leaks in my car. Because the oil leaks onto the engine, dirt sticks to the engine. Because the engine gets hot when it runs, it burns the dirt, producing that smoky smell. I asked him whether it was something to be concerned about and he said no. It was normal in old cars.

05 April 2014

Drunkards on Metro Trains

A man carries a bottle of whiskey in his hands and takes a drink while waiting for the train.

Wallet bulge