Mytechnews.info

Well, this is one of my favourite local site for commentary on all things digital (very big scope) and well-written by one of our own (Malaysian). It is refreshing since there are more commentaries and opinions in here than of the ‘sales’ and ‘gimmicky’ kind. Just 2 months ago, it has fallen off the Net. I have no idea what happened, nor do I want to put it out even if I knew. But what I do know is that, the site receives an immense number of traffic visitors. Hmmm… would be lovely to have a revival of the site. The domain itself is now for sale. I wonder whether anyone picked it up yet? If I had the resources and time, I would have wanted to throw a bid on it. If I had those things that is 😛 But I don’t.

Anyway, for those who really miss the writer and reviewer of the said site, you can follow him now in his new site (I am sure of it, based on writing style, tone & also other social-media tell-tale signs), which is at http://www.hornygeek.net/. But be warned. This is really an independent, no holds barred, site. The language is blunt and vulgar at times. Otherwise, it is not much different from the previous. Update: (21/6/2011), as of today, having occasionally visited the site for a week, I would have to re-word my earlier statement. The language is (in my opinion) obscene, unnecessary and has a tinge of narcissism. If you like reading opinions that are littered by an uncontrolled tongue to vent off their ‘rage’ (for a lack of word), then by all means, it is an ideal place for you. However, for myself, I think I will have to find my daily dose elsewhere (somewhere tamer, like maybe soyacincau or another). As I mentioned in the comments of this post, if you do not like what is written in any websites/blogs, just don’t read. Simple as that.

Update (6/8/2011):

I have stopped visiting the site and noticed that the traffic there is more or less dead. I can more or less posit what is the problem with the new site; it is folly to think that vulgarity would really mean ‘truly independent’ on any level. I’m visiting soyacincau now. The majority of people would prefer a site that has proper moderation and control in its postings rather than a flood of uncalled for vulgarities. Anyway, that’s my opinion and my own verdict on this. Sad. Oh, how the mighty has fallen.

Thoughts on the Google Nexus S & Android

What people thought was the Nexus 2 (two) is now announced as the Nexus S. It is a collaboration between Google with Samsung. Full details about the phone can be read from http://www.google.com/nexus/#!/features. Being of a smartphone enthusiast and advocate, I would like to just share a few thoughts on the Google Nexus S and what I think should happen in the industry (and what we can do about it).

Connectivity

  • GSM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 n/b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Assisted GPS (A-GPS)
  • microUSB 2.0

Comments:

While the inclusion of wifi (N) is expected, especially so late in 2010, it seems that the rest are just the mundane specs from early 2010. Sure the NFC seems like a new technology for the general masses outside of Japan, but according to one, http://www.androidpolice.com/2010/12/07/nfc-in-gingerbread-is-crippled-its-one-way-only-and-not-the-way-we-want/, it is only a one way communication (with no transmitter from the device itself), and that is just bad. It makes the device, a glorified tag/bar-code scanner. Bluetooth 3.0 has been supported in recent high-end smartphones from Samsung, which makes it saddening to note the lack of it here. Galaxy S scores points here over the Nexus S.

Display

4.0″ WVGA (480×800)
Contour Display with curved glass screen
Super AMOLED
235 ppi
Capacitive touch sensor
Anti-fingerprint display coating

Comments:

It is understandable that Samsung is still determined to enforce their view that SuperAMOLED is much better than the Retina Display of the iPhone. Granted that is the case, but why then would they put out the PPI as one of its features if it will not match or be anywhere close to the iPhone’s RD PPI score of 330? It would have been a real game changer if Samsung had pulled a higher resolution display, like Sharp’s tablet. It is not something that is unachievable given that they own the manufacturing plants. The contour display is an interesting design; I suspect it provides better viewing angles that normal displays cannot deliver well (plus, it is attractive physically).

Size and weight

63mm x 123.9mm x 10.88mm
129g

Comments:

Very thin and very light for a 4 inch display phone 🙂 Plus point indeed.

Hardware

Haptic feedback vibration
Three-axis gyroscope
Accelerometer
Digital compass
Proximity sensor
Light sensor

Comments:

These are the standard for current high end phones, so no complains, just a bit of a yawn, since it does not push any boundaries that already existed. The gaming ‘gyroscope’ of course is imported from the iPhone 4. I wonder whether Google/Samsung is merely being a ‘follower’ in this? They could have incorporated some 3D display or maybe even utilising the front camera for gesturing (ala, mini Kinect), or something. It seems too standard for my liking.

Processor and memory

1GHz Cortex A8 (Hummingbird) processor
16GB iNAND flash memory

Comments:

Here is the biggest disappointment; the same processor used by the iPhone (of course the iPhone’s is a modified form, re-modified by A4 in-house) and used by the Galaxy S and Wave. It is fast, but I doubt that it is faster than Texas Instrument’s processor used in the Droid X. An A9 processor would have blown everyone out of the water. My only reason (my assumption) would be the fine tuning of A9 to Android at the moment, which is not completed as yet. We see that problem in some of the released Tegra 2 tablet systems. This would have re-booted the gaming capabilities of Android, and to really ensure that the developer community would be charged up to try new things not only on the iPhone but on Android too. I have not much complain with the internal memory of 16GB, except that many are unhappy due to the problems of flashing (given that Android phones are mostly flashable and flash friendly). I personally think people are making too much of a complaint on something that is not important. How many of us totally use up the 16GB memory besides as a storage tool for our massive digital music library? In fact, the space saved could have been used for something else. Could have. Sigh.

Cameras and multimedia

Back-facing: 5 megapixels (2560×1920)
720 x 480 video resolution
H.264, H.263 MPEG4 video recording
Auto focus
Flash
Front-facing: VGA (640×480)
3.5mm, 4-conductor headset jack
(stereo audio plus microphone)
Earpiece and microphone
Software noise-cancellation

Comments:

Droid X’s three microphones was game changing and definitely was intriguing for people to consider  the need for good audio quality for calls and video recording. However, Nexus S seems like the standard fare; it gives of the, this is just for developers and not consumer use. An 8 megapixel camera would have been brilliant considering that Samsung’s lenses are some of the best in the industry. It is also telling when the best resolution for the video recording is only 720*480. The front facing is not surprising given that many Samsung Galaxy S models (in Malaysia at least) has the secondary camera.

Battery

1500 mAH Lithum Ion

Comments:

Good size. Wireless charging would be a good addition, considering how often one would charge their smartphones nowadays.

Comments on Other things:

The main emphasis of the Nexus S seems to be this: An average phone that shows what Google’s Android can do with average components. I am sure this will succeed (if indeed this is their emphasis) because the focus is more on Gingerbread (Android 2.3) then on the hardware itself. Which is a real pity since Samsung is a well established company and Google is already getting into the groove of what works and what does not. They should have also focused on the hardware component like how HTC HD2 was the ultimate HTC-Microsoft design which is able to compete with many current generation phones even though it is more than a year old in design. That is what is needed in this industry that is changing TOO rapidly; a product that has a more significant life cycle. The first Nexus was something like this; many still use it and are loyal to it (see XDA forums for most active devices to note this). Instead, we find Android 2.3 fragmented in some ways already; the gaming parts are geared more for the upcoming PSP phone by Sony Ericsson. It would have been nice to see Nexus S incorporate that right out of the box, maybe with some physical buttons for gaming. We can only hope. Every time Android seems to be making headway, iPhone comes out just slightly ahead. Google has the resources, I am sure, it’s more of the risk-taking aspect which they seem not willing to take.

User Focus:

Picture above: Dell’s Stage UI, Sony Ericsson’s Timescape – all are lacking in user customization though it is miles better than iPhone’s offering.

I find that the best thing that Android has to offer for consumers like me is the ability to customize the phone at the software level. Tweaking the user interface at the moment is quite a challenge for the uninitiated. There seems to be many ready 3rd party developers there, but not enough traction to make it more acceptable for even new smartphone users. The age of users being forced to conform to one UI design needs to be thrown away. Personalisation is one of the key things that many power users would definitely want, which new users would be terrified of trying. Something of course cannot change, like for example, the way users select applications (by pressing a button regardless of how the apps are ordered, whether from a drawer or something else). There is much also that can be offered for Tablet design.

I personally find the iPad layout to be limiting and unfriendly (wasting too much space). We have barely scratched what is the best UI and most usable UI for the tablet medium, and so also for the smartphones. I think OS providers should provide means for the users (not just 3rd party developers) to extend their customisations beyond widgets, wallpapers, and see how a person may change their preferences depending on the device type and size. I would be very interested in dabble in this area given time and resources. UI design, speed, efficiency and utility is one of the most unexplored area in the apps development industry. Android, though it is more open than others, still do not grant users that freedom or liberty to the basic user. Let the user decide. Let them explore without fear of harming the experience (cloud syncing could be an option or preview modes or demo modes). This is the way to go in 2011 and 2012, as I foresee it.

… to myself 15 years ago?

It is an interesting premise… granted I am not usually impressed with modern songs, since there are little by way of surprises. However, the lyrics to Tegami by Angela Aki stirs up an interesting premise that is of course hypothetical: what would a conversation with your younger (or even older) self be, if you could have it?

There are many things in retrospect which were foolish (and even some may put it as stupid) and the temptation would be to warn the recipient self, but would we really learn from what is avoided? Of course, there are no ways to bend time and space to inject a future thought to the past… nevertheless, it is important to reflect upon what we have learnt and what it could have mean to our younger/older self.

Certainly I would want to question my older self, as to how he managed to go through the next 15 years. I would want to know what are the heartaches (to prepare myself) and also the sweet portions of that journey. We are just so fearful of the future that is not that clear in our eyes. Man may plan, of course, but it is God who decides. Humbling notion indeed that we really have nothing to rely on except upon the regulation of our Creator.

Why fight over the fallible and release our grip on the unchanging eternal?

Would I tell my younger self to trust himself (as in the music Tegami?) in spite of what comes? I would think not, knowing that it is always because of self that brings trouble upon self. Rather, my advice would be – submit to the Lord in all our ways, and He will make it straight. It is better to plead upon the grace and mercy of our Lord than to submit to the fickleness and temporal sight of our own.

Preaching to one self is never easy, especially if we have never done so in the light of the Word. Sure we preach constantly the desires of self, but it is the Word that strikes home and exposes what man truly is composed and made up of.

May God have mercy on us. He who is the master of Past, Present and Future, is the only who knows what is the best. May He provide us with much grace which brings boldness in our pitiful life.

Full Review: CSL Spice Mi700 DroidPad (Unboxing & Hardware) Part 1

CSL was kind enough to lend me a review unit of their latest Android product (the Mi300 being their first): Mi700 DroidPad. Along with the review unit, I had some time chatting with both the CEO and Senior Manager of Marketing at CSL. The relevant details and observations from that discussion will be inserted in the review.

Unboxing:


The product comes in a fairly large white box. In it, you get the tablet, along with (Please refer to the pictures below):

  • DroidPad
  • Hardcase Cover (with a small sleeve in the front and a elastic band, used in journals to keep the contents together). This cover is useful to prop the device at an angle, for display purposes. Note: They term this a pouch in their manual. I think not.
  • Screen Cloth Cleaner
  • Screen Protector (which I decided not to use since it was the reason why the screen looked washed out during my ‘quick review’)
  • Headphones/Handset (practically low quality and only good for receiving calls with – more on that later).
  • Earphone buds
  • Car Charger (great for car usage, especially when you use the DroidPad as a Garmin-replacement)
  • Mini USB Data Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • MapKing Android 1 year Authorization Card
  • CSL Fun Club Instruction Booklet
  • CSL Warranty Card (1 year, which you can upgrade for another 0.5 years by registering online)

It is a simple package, which I found quite attractive (you won’t want to throw the box away).

Hardware:


Take note, in this review, I will refer to the tablet in landscape position being its normal, at rest, position. This is how the company has designed it. Not like the Tab where it is displayed as a  “portrait” mode tablet. Honestly, I prefer to handle tablets in portrait position; I find landscape a bit too disconcerting  as it requires one to relearn habits acquired in using phone UI (User Interaction)s. That is just a pet peeve of mine. By the way, all the photos taken are from my HTC HD2 at 5MP. I will try to include a video in future posts.

This is a 7″ inch device, with the following dimensions: height of 179.4mm, 110mm width and 11.5mm length. It weighs at slightly less than 0.5kg. The DroidPad can definitely be carried using one hand, although not for long stretches; ideal for the short surfing and simple tasks. The best way to hold this device (from my experience) is to put it on any platform (could even be your belly) and leaning it back against your palm/fingers. The weight in that position is negligible.

The build itself is solid. There are no moving parts or rattling noises from the unit. This is not unexpected since it was mainly designed and manufactured by Foxconn (though CSL has input into the design through a subsidiary of Foxconn). The unit does not house a fan to dissipate heat. Frankly, it is not needed as I have not felt any heat coming from the unit, even when under heavy usage. When you turn the whole device around, you will notice that it is all sealed up nicely. The back is a polished, glossy matte (ala iPhone 3G) cover in black. I do not know what material it is made of, but it attracts finger prints on it. The side of the tablet is framed with an aluminium casing (it looks like aluminium to me). The thickness is evident (at 11.5mm), but good to see that the back and the front does not bulge out, but fits that length perfectly. Although everything looks nice, I have a bit of a complaint concerning the front bezel. I admit, I am bit picky at times, and like things to be symmetrical, and thus found the bezel around the display to be of different sizes. I measured the sides, and they are both 11mm. The top is 9mm while the bottom is 12mm. I just find that a bit odd and have no reason to justify their rationale in this (especially since the camera is located at the top left and not at the wider bottom bezel). Anyway, at the right side of the display are 4 touch sensitive buttons. One for ‘menu’, ‘home/voice search’, ‘search’ and ‘back’.

1) Slots:

At the bottom of the device, there is a reset button that can only be accessed with a pin or something really small. Microphone is also there along with a 3.5mm headphone port. The mini USB slot is also there.

The external speakers are at both sides of the device. The power button is at the bottom of the left speaker (see picture above). Now here is something odd… there is a small hole just above the speakers. I have no idea what these are for, nor does the manual say anything about it either. Part of the design? Hard to believe.

The top house the slot for both the microSD card (4GB is included) and for your SIM Card. In Malaysia, we use GSM, but the brochure says that it works also on WCDMA. I am not sure whether the chip allows for global usage. The hinge for the slots are made of plastic and seems capable of taking some amounts of violence on it. Next to the card slots, are the volume controls, decrease button followed by the increase button. I find this irritating when using the tablet in portrait mode; whenever I grip the device using my hands, I will somehow accidentally touch the volume buttons. I guess I am too much of a rebel to use it ‘properly’ in landscape mode.

2) The Display:

Previously in my quick review, I mentioned that the screen looked a bit washed out. Well, it was, and I now know the reason why: the screen protector that is included is totally at fault. I would advice against putting any screen protector on it because it would make it harder for the device to register your touch. On the brightest setting, the display holds its own quite well… colours are bright and everything seems clear. Contrast seems okay, though it is not that great. The low resolution of 800 by 480 does not fit a screen this big well. I believe that though that resolution is alright for a device like the HD2 with its 4.3″ screen size, it is pushing it for a 7″ screen. The crispness of the fonts and graphics are lost and pixelation quite obvious when your eyes are within 25cm from the display. Again, for the price on this device, I do not expect the quality that Samsung Tab is pushing. However, the viewing angles are something of a concern for me. Putting the device on the table before me, I can already notice that the darker colours on the screen are all darkened, making it hard to differentiate images of similar tone. The lighter colours are alright though. If viewed from the same angle from the top, the backlight brightens the display a bit too much, making it hard to see too. It is sad because the side angles are perfectly fine. I suspect this has to do with the imbalance of the bezel design which disrupts the angles from the top and bottom. A real pity, but a minor problem (in my books).

The screen is made of glass, as far as I can tell, TFT LCD quality. It will scratch, though I have not tested that myself. Fingerprints are not as obvious as the back cover, from what I can tell. Do not expect spectacular sensitivity on this device. It is capacitive and it works as well as my old HTC Dream did. But it does not have the same level of the iPhone or even Galaxy S series. But it is usable and much better than the best resistive screens. This is one of the attractions of this tablet that I find, over all other cheaper, but with resistive screen tablets around. There is not much frustration in using this, as long as you are not expecting blazing speed responses to your touches.

3) Sound

Sound is loud and clear. It is adequate to fill a regular sized room with music. I find it more effective to amplify the sound when it is resting on a flat surface. The sound quality is passable, though not fantastic, as some of the higher pitch range gets distorted. Again, this is only a tablet device that is not meant to be a media player replacement. I tried using the external speakers in a conversation with a friend the other day, and the other party’s voice sounded loud enough for my wife and I to hear. Using the in-built microphone, my friend noted that my voice was clear on his line.

The headphone/handset given is practically useless for listening music. It is really bad quality. The moment I put in my Sony earphones and even HTC ones, the music that comes through was pleasing, and had a nice balance to it. Nothing to complain here concerning the sound (again, I am not an expert in this area).

The next post will talk about the software side of things.

Posting from Android WordPress App

This intriguing indeed. Well, not so since this post is written from my HTC Dream phone. It’s not bad actually… as long as I am not writing an essay 😛 it is still in version 1 mode, so I can’t actually expect much from the app. There has been some interesting announcements about android 2.0.1 for the HTC Dream, none that is confirmed. Whatever it is, I’m waiting for cyanogen’s version 🙂

New Year

If you have been a regular visitor of this blog, you will notice that it has been fairly silent as of late. Reason? Simple… I have been extremely busy (physically and mentally) in my work and at home. I do not see it changing anytime soon.

However, I will still blog on technology. Solely on technology and games, etc. as I do need the distraction from work and home life. It is unfortunate that comic reviews will be zero in the coming year because I frankly do not have the time to read much.

My thoughts on faith, God and other spiritual things will be best heard rather than read. Just because I am silent on the written media does not mean that I am any less thoughtful and engaged in spiritual matters. Far from it. However, preaching would be the main mode of conveying my thoughts and beliefs.

Occasionally (very rarely indeed), I do update my other blog at http://erlern.net .

God bless you all and have a blessed year ahead 🙂

Spiritual Blog

blog

I have decided to separate my writings into two separate blogs. Not that I think there is anything wrong with mixing secular thoughts with spiritual ones… It is more for convenience sake. If you want to read some of my spiritual reflection and meditations on the Book of all Books, then head over to http://www.erlern.net. I probably will be putting some interesting items there too. It’s all hush, hush at the moment, but it will get more interesting (to me) as time passes.

I cannot dispense with this blog. I have to confess that there is still a desire to ensure that I do not lose touch with the IT progress. I have been raised up with technology at the forefront of my childhood life. My growth has been much influenced by the many changes that technology had to offer to new consumers like me (at that time). Therefore, this blog will still be my sounding board for things that are definitely not spiritual in focus. I like to look at it as a hobby 🙂

It can be useful to just write something different each time (back and forth between both blogs). I would not want to be trapped in a particular mindset that makes me lose context with the people of this world, whom I am staying with for the next few years till my departure 🙂

http://www.erlern.net

My personal spiritual blog.