Finally a Modern Workhorse – Samsung Ultrabook NP540

With my T4220 simply refusing the CS6 workload I do these days w/ RAW files, I had to use the coffin of a Vaio until I could get a proper new portable work horse, and at long last here we are:

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Samsung Ultrabook Series 5 (NP540U3C-A03UB). Aluminum body, 10-point touch screen, separate mouse buttons, and very decent guts. Thanks to this guy being a display model from Best Buy and a recall by Samsung (to promote the Ativ brand of basically identical machines) the price was too good to pass up.

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Real kicker is that unlike the Ativ Ultrabooks, this guy uses only 1 soldered on 4gb of ddr3 ram with an extra slot for expansion; the HHD is a slim version of a standard sata 2.5″ and that makes it easily serviceable and removable, which is a huge plus over soldered on SSD on newer models (and not to mention 500/whatever GB of playground vs strict 128). Specs are solid too, for the price, type, and size of this thing.

This is actually a second Ultrabook style in the household, my dad’s work Dell XPS being the first one-

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Sammy is a bit more chubby, but that’s to be expected from having a standard HDMI port and a regular HDD and RAM (possibility) instead of being a non-upgradeable “phone/tablet.”

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Keyboard on the Dell feels surprisingly cheap despite being backlit, the mouse buttons aren’t separated and hard to feel by touch which I find ironic given than even by MSRP the Dell is a more premium horsey. That and the lack of touch screen. And that plastic surface on the keyboard half despite sporting the same aluminum body. It’s a Dell, go figure.

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And lastly the Dell’s specs for comparison-

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Not too bad, but definitely a gen older than the Sammy.

Win 8 isn’t horrible thus far, as odd as that is to admit. The new smartphone app style menu can be easily hidden and everything else is pretty much the same as 7 minus certain options being harder to get to, like showing known file type extensions. No biggie really.

Battery life is marked at ~9 hours which is uncanny even compared to my old T4220 with 2 batteries on board.

Quad core and ddr3 surely show they prowess in picture processing, so I am extremely pleased in that department even if this guy lacks a proper graphics card to make everything super-duper-uber crisp.

And the form, weight, look and feel is very professional. Huge step-up from my plasticy T4420 albeit not having a Wacom screen.

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Blog Map Apps – Updated


Updated the previously clunky map idea and included my favorite beat in Tokyo. These are optimized for whatever device you’re accessing the map with on the fly and end up brief and to the point.

Clicking one of the map menu links takes you straight to the map app. There you can zoom in and out and click on the points of interest.

Note that some devices will automatically load the header menus and some will have a + button to open them up.

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A click on a point gives you its name and > buttons for description.
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Each description is quirky and to the point, with a front door type of picture to help you find the actual places. Clicking the picture takes you to the blog post with its full overview.
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Just like here. And from here, you can click back on the top menu to go back to the map.
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Good Old UMPCs

Something some of you kids may never even know about, being spoiled with all the new dumbphones and everything, but we had a whole glorious age of ultra-mobile PCs around early to mid and late 2000’s. These were full-fledged laptops, albeit with low specs, but outclassed all these netbooks by a mile. They had integrated graphics cards and could easily run some of the older games like Ultima Online and programs like Photoshop. They didn’t come with optical drives, and heck, they were much smaller than those in comparison.

Here’s my old Fujitsu U810 that featured a swivel touch screen, a webcam, and all sorts of fun bells and whistles including a 6 hour battery life.

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A Blast From My Past – Samsung OMNIA HD (i8910)

So, nostalgia of the good old Symbian S60V3/5 got the best of me and I decided to get THE black sheep of those days back into my hands- Samsung Omnia HD. This was THE flagship handset of 09 with top-of-the-line specs and ran oddly on Symbian rather than the old Sammy proprietary OS. Furthermore, the software and app support was dropped officially and ended up in the community’s hands within a year if not less. Interesting, albeit poor notion on Samsung’s part, but such is life. Using Symbian 9.3/4 made up almost majority of my mobile days in the past, so owning one of those handsets once again feels very much at home. Omnia also feels very nice in hand due to its moderate bulk and pretty comfortable-to-hold design. My only gripe is that its coated in glossy and slightly slippery plastic.

8MP camera and that manufacturer-forgotten camera button feel very nice despite that its no longer anything new to me (E6 and SGS2 sporting 8s as well).

I will also do my best to re-gather all of the necessary files such as firmwares, custom FWs, flash tools, hacks, and others. If any of you still using one of these are in need of help, I’ll do my best to assist ya since most forums have been long-abandoned and resources are becoming more and more scarce.

Solavei – New GSM Cell Provider in the US

So for folks like me, who want to enjoy the latest and greatest phones (always GSM) without having to pay upwards of $100 of monthly fees just to have a little bit of mobile data, these guys seem to have the right idea going.

So their deal goes as follows- no contract, $50/month for unlimited calls, texts/mms, and mobile net with 4g speeds up to 4gb of data and 2g hence after until a new month hits. ANY GSM phone can be used, and this should appeal to all the iPhone lovers who overpay crazy amounts on other carriers simply due to brand. Before Sept. 10th, you’ll get free activation and 2 months worth for the cost of 1 month. Else its $50 for activation and $30 for a sim card if you want to use your own phone. They have both standard and micro sims.

Where this gets interesting- their compensation program. Get 3 people to sign up, get an instant cash bonus and $20/month hence after as long as you have at least 3 people under your name. It doesn’t end there though, so for every triplet that you refer and that stays with the company, you get $20 a month. Furthermore, if any one of your 1st tier referees gets a triplet under them, you also get $20 a month. If you sign up for their own social network, you get the perk of connecting with everyone on the network. Neat. Also, you can get their debit card to use your cash bonuses however you want.

So how do these guys plan to pull all of this off? No traditional advertizement. Sounds promising, so if you want to give it a shot, click my invite button on the left side of the page.

A Wifi Webcam You Say? (S60,Belle,Android)

Perhaps 4 years ago when Androids weren’t as abundant, Nokia still ruled the mobile world firmly. Looking to expand my, at the time E71’s capabilities, I found Mobiola Webcam app and PC client combo. It was quite the simple thing, but did really big things at the time- turned a relatively simple phone into a wifi webcam, which cost an arm and a leg at the time. Neat feature since you can move the “webcam” anywhere within your wifi network’s reach and get a pretty clear image (no sound support back in the day, but that’s quite alright).
Nowadays, S60 got replaced with Belle, so new apps had to be hunted down. Plus with Android in the mix, something for that as well.

In my search so far, I’ve found 2 apps that seem to work fairly well: DroidCam for Android and Kinoni EpoCam (Pro) for Belle.

Both work fairly well, especially given that our wifi has gone up to N-band speeds since the good old days. So, if you’re looking to turn your little device into another neat gadget for video calls, look no further than these 2 apps.

Cosplay Showcase App Launch Party (Shibuya)

So Dai-chan and Satou-san from Rocketnews24 took me to Cosplay Showcase app launch party. This was my first night wearing new Gin-san cos i upgraded to here, and to boot, a lot of cosers there actually knew about me! Food and drinks were free, people were great and a few even sported good English!
evil apple app and the Android app

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Party was live streamed and recorded. Very nice.

Mapdroyd – Decent Offline Map Backup

So, I’ve been trying to find a decent offline map app that supports Japan, and here we are. All in all, not too shabby, and best of all free!

Nokia – Symbian Belle – Impressions

All in all, I really like this update on my E6. Previously bugged vibrating alert is fully functional now and then the plethora of new features (that honestly Anna should’ve had in the first place).

Widgets and shortcuts are now completely individual like in Android devices and its possible to fully customize each home screen to your liking. There’s even a 3G toggle widget, which I know I’ll use quite frequently to save battery when I don’t need to interweb very quickly.

There is a top pull-down drawer with quick connectivity and silencing toggles. So now you can toggle mobile net and wifi “manually” despite the phone knowing when NOT to use these. Tad redundant, but I can see this coming in handy (if you don’t have a data plan, for instance.)

Scrolling around and through menus and apps is still silky smooth and fast.

Keypad lighting was fixed nicely as well.

Threaded message replies regained new message ability to be sent quickly via Call button vs touch screen or double clicking the select pad. There is also just a single messaging app; Conversations aka threaded view is now embedded into the base app.

GPS, now has distinctive ONLINE and OFFLINE modes. Offline locked in a few seconds in my basement. Very cool.

All in all, great and WAY overdue update, but better late than never right?