Site Ported!

Hey guys, so some of you may know that I started blogging under the name TechnoCastle 4 years ago! Yeah it’s been a long time. It started off at blogspot and after about a year I moved it here to wordpress. I’ve loved the experience here but wanted a bit more control over the site and that is why for the past few months I had considered hosting it individually. Now the obvious thing to do would be to host it on TechnoCastle.com but alas, the domain had been taken. It was inactive for quite a while and I tried to purchase it off the owner but in the end we could not reach an agreement.

By this time I had already been so excited about my self hosted wordpress site that I decided to do it anyway, since I already had my personal domain, I decided to just put it on a subdomain to that. I know it doesn’t seem like the wisest decision but I wrestled with the idea for a while and finally came to the conclusion that although it would be better to host it on it’s own domain, I didn’t want to change the name “TechnoCastle” as its one that I’ve grown accustomed to. Therefore the blog is now hosted on tech.snazzyham.com. The site is not fully ready, I’m still working on the featured images for some of the older posts but all new posts will be on that, this shall be the last post on this website.

And that is not all, I’ve got huge plans for TechnoCastle, and will be looking to write articles more frequently and am also looking to add more and more writers to the site. So stay tuned folks, and I wanted to thank you, my readers for the past 4 years and hope that we can all continue to share our love for technology and all things internet related, together.

BBM: A Conspiracy Theory

So BlackBerry stated they would be launching BBM on Android and iOS this past weekend, the official announcement was made months ago. As the hype was built, here in the Asia Pacific region specifically, BBM was the topic of discussion for the first time in a long time, reminiscing back to its former glory.

So they began the roll out slowly, confusingly however they started rolling it for iOS first, whereas they had announced that it would be coming for Android first. A couple of days before the rollout, the apk was leaked. Many people installed it but couldn’t get set up and connected, which changed this past weekend. Before it even launched on the Play Store, the apk was installed and activated on numerous devices, the number floating around is 1.1 million however it is not clear whether that was iOS and Android or just android. As time went on and people were clamoring away, posting their new PIN’s on any and every form of social media, BlackBerry dropped a bomb. They said they would be halting the roll out for the foreseeable future and would also be deactivating the accounts of those who signed up through the leaked apk.

Now here’s where my conspiracy theory comes into play. Take BlackBerry, a company that’s failing, dying. Soon enough they won’t even exist in the consumer world. Their former fame and glory now a shadow in the distance, fading away. Sunk-ed so low that they’re offering their only selling point to their competitors, for free. The picture that comes to your mind is of a BlackBerry, one that has not been picked and left to dry, withering on the vine, frail and wishing for death. But here’s where the twist comes in, the metaphorical rebirth. What if it was BlackBerry themselves who leaked the apk? It would make more sense would it not? A one last hurrah! Think about it, people were already forgetting about blackberry and preparing to throw their old blackberries away the minute they migrated over to BBM on their other, more loved platforms. So the minute BBM was on the Play Store and App Store all over the world that would be the last nail in the ill fated companies coffin. So they leaked the apk, gave people a small taste of what they wanted and got the world hungry and in a split second, took it away from them. Its a classic mind game and a good one at that. It’s been 3 days and my timeline is still cluttered with people asking what happened about bbm, how do you get bbm, etc. That’s the most anyone’s spoken about the company in a while. Now, people want it, they want it bad. Giving BlackBerry back a little control of the market they once dominated.

Now with this in no way am I saying “blackberry is back”, they’re still going to die soon and there’s no stopping that. This has merely prolonged the consumers acknowledgment of their existence. It is unclear what can become of this now, whether that was it and they just did it to do it and go out with a very minute bang, more of a pop! you could say. Or, did they do it so they could test the market and see how many people were actually interested in BBM, so that they could probably spin it off into a separate entity or even monetize it. What they do with it is up to them, all we can do is sit back and watch.

Phone Issues

So in about 2 weeks it’s going to be my Galaxy Nexus’ 1 year anniversary. Yes I am aware that the GNex released 2 years ago and I bought the phone 2 weeks before the launch of the Nexus 4 (I was impatient, needed a new phone). For the past couple of months I’ve been having major issues, the phone was fine, installed a custom rom and after a while it got too buggy and laggy. So I went back to stock, it was fine for about a week or two and started getting major lag issues once more. I’ve repeated this process a lot of times and I get the same results.

People (well my parents mostly) say I tinker with my phone to much. Well that’s the reason I bought an Android phone, to play with it! I’ve heard of people doing majorly insane shit to their phones and it always works fine for them, no matter what ROM I run, what kernel I use, my phone always seems to lag.

So now it’s time for a new phone, I thought I had decided what I wanted but I still am not too sure. I’m pretty much set on the Sony Xperia Z1. Why? The three things that matter in a phone to me personally have been fulfilled. Excellent Build Quality? Check. Good camera? 20.7 megapixels of Check. Performance? in the name of the Snapdragon 800 I pronounce you Checked. A major plus is that it’s wwaterproof So I don’t have to spend cash on that GoPro I’ve been hankering for. The only issue I feel I might have with this phone is Sony’s software. Which actually doesn’t really seem that bad anymore, once you throw in a nice launcher and 3rd party apps, you can replicate the stock experience. I could also root it and run a custom ROM but something tells me that ROM’s are not going to be able to take full advantage of that camera.

The other option I had was to go with the Xiaomi Mi3. You probably don’t know what that is. Well Xiaomi is a chinese phone manufacturer much like Oppo, and they sell high end phones at lower prices than the likes of the bigger name brands. The Mi3 has all the latest specs; 1080p, 13MP, great build quality and even gives you the choice between a Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 chip. Which is nice. And with the Mi3 I wouldn’t mind running a custom ROM if it’s gonna be as supported as the Oppo Find 5 (you can run custom rom’s without having to root the phone). But in order to avoid making the purchase and there not being support for the device, I’m currently installing MIUI v5 (the Xiaomi OS) on my GNex to see if it’s bareable. I’ve tried it before but didn’t like it.

Now you’re going to say “Goddamit man you’re messing up your phone” well hey, it’s already messed up and I needed to refresh it anyway.

 

(post imported from snazzyham.com)

Apple’s September 10th Event – Opinions

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So, this morning was Apple’s highly anticipated and majorly hyped iPhone event. We all knew what they were going to launch, even they knew that we knew what they were going to launch. That being said there were some things that did not seem to appear in the rumor mill and some things that were highly inaccurate and disappointing.

Let’s start it off with the iPhone 5C. We presumed this was coming for almost two years now, and it’s just like we expected. Exactly like the iPhone 5 but made of plastic, or as Jonny Ive calls it “Unapologetic plastic”. I wouldn’t know how it feels until I get to hold it for myself but considering it’s an Apple product it should feel premium nonetheless. They also  showed off this case that looks like a preschool kid took a hole puncher to a normal silicon case. Some may like it, I do not. Aside from that the only difference with the 5C and the 5 is a slightly larger battery and a better front facing camera. This brings up the question, would you rather get a 5 for a lower price or get a 5C? I know I would rather get the 5 as it feels more premium (I presume) as compared to the 5C, however in America where most people rely on a contract based system it makes more sense to get the 5C since the 5 has been discontinued officially. You also have to take this from Apple’s standpoint, the 5C is cheaper to make than the 5 and would be a newer product so it would obviously sell better than last years model. Also, the 5C is intended to be sold to people that have never owned iPhone’s before. Consumers would be more attracted to picking up a newer but now “mid-ranged” handset rather than an older model, no matter the specifications, that’s just the way our brain works. But fore some of us, where we buy phones off contract and prepaid, it makes more sense to pick up the iPhone 5 since it most probably will be the same price of the 5C when it launches here and the 5 is aluminium and therefore more premium, as I’ve mentioned. One thing that really upsets me about the 5C is that it’s still an ‘On-Contract’ phone.  For months we heard that Apple was going to stick out it’s middle finger to the carriers and release the phone of contract for a price of approx. $329 pre-paid, which would have made this one of the most sought after phones in history, purely due to it’s ready availability and no requirement to commit to a 2 year contract.

 

Moving on we have the iPhone 5S. Now a lot of people are disappointed at the lack of innovation with this model but you come to expect that with the S model phones. In fact the 5S is a bigger jump from the 5 as compared to the 4S from the 4. That being said there isn’t really much to talk about here. There’s the fingerprint scanner which is just as gimmicky and unrequired as Siri, although I could see a  lot of people using that for the App Store downloads. I hate having to put in my password every single time and the finger print could be really useful for that and not much else. It all depends on developer support. They also have a new A7 chip with 64bit architecture, which in my opinion is major overkill and not even needed on a phone, I would understand putting it on the iPad (better performance for vide.o and photo editing apps) but other than that I’m not too sure about it. Who knows, it could increase performance and we might end up giving up the ‘number of cores race’ in favour for better architecture. The one feature that I actually care about in the 5S is the new flash they have going on. It’s a flash with every colour temperature, which means that instead of just bursting a light like normal it will choose the intensity and colour of the light to flash according to the subject, this would make your snaps from that night at the club a little less icky and really complement skin tones. I don’t really use flash much so I wouldn’t use this feature but I guess it would be nice to have sometimes.

That was bascially all that was important from Apple’s event, iOS 7 will begin rollout on September 18th and they spoke about other minor things that no one cares about. No iWatch, No TV, no new iPad. What do you think? Will that be sometime next year or in October? Do you want to pick up either one of the new iPhones? I personally would not given how much I love android and there’s not much in iOS that can really pull me away from that but it’s still always fun to play with new technology.

Until next time folks!

Android Phones: Overpowered or Compromised?

Take a good look at the android phones that are around today. Have you noticed that some of them tout so many features yet always have something very lackluster about them? I mean look at the so called ‘Flagship’ phones out there now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has brilliant performance and a superb camera, in exchange of that they chose to neglect build quality and make it out of plastic, bad plastic. Now look at the Lumia 1020, the tank of a phone overcompensates widely in the camera department but the lack of app support in windows phone renders the phone to be in what I can only call exasperating. 

Now let’s take a look at the mid-range devices. The underdogs in my opinion. My favourite of which, the HTC One Mini. It has a great build quality, a good enough display and a mediocre camera. I know it is the same camera as the One but it’s not, it lacks OIS (optical image stabilization) which actually makes a huge deal. Had they ditched the HTC One and the HTC One mini and made just one phone in between with no real compromise or over compensation, it would have been the perfect phone for me. 

 

You may be thinking, what exactly am I talking about. Well here it is, why must manufacturers over-compensate so much on one aspect of the device that they have to skimp out on the other. Why must we have the highest end specs and power but still skimp out on build quality. Why must smaller phones lack the necessary features to making it a useable device. Why can’t we have just ONE product that doesn’t go overboard on any aspect and doesn’t skimp out on any as well? That would be the phone to get. 

Think about it. One of the hardest decisions you have to make when picking up a phone is to go High End Vs. Cheap Price, more simply it becomes Overpowered Vs. Underspecced. Is this a battle we have to face? I can honestly say I’ve had this fight for so long that I’m still stuck with my almost 2 Generation old Galaxy Nexus. There just hasn’t been a phone so far that sits perfectly in the middle of what I would call a perfect fit. I considered the HTC One Mini but the lack of OIS disappointed me, the Moto X seems promising but there aren’t any plans of it being made available internationally as yet and that AMOLED display is really putting me off. 

Maybe what I’ve said makes sense to you and you can relate to it. Maybe I’m just too hard to please. Either way, the decision regarding a new smartphone has to be made and each day the battle grows more infuriating, no thanks to the manufacturers and designers around the world. Oppo, let’s hope you’ve got something up your sleeve with the N1. 

 

Samsung Chromebook Hands-On!

Google is known for venturing into any and every tech related field they can, from the web to mobile to even food somehow. A couple of years back, they decided to one up they’re chrome browser and create Chrome OS, an operating system that was basically the browser. Fast forward some time, chrome os has become much more advanced than before all while sticking to it’s clear reasoning, to be a web based operating system, with everything moving to “the cloud,” why have a heavy, expensive Windows or Mac operating system acting as a middleman? Why not just have the browser be the OS? At it’s inception chrome wasn’t really much, it was missing quite a bit of it’s features and basically wasn’t that appealing. Now though, with the second generation of Chromebook laptops in our hands, there might just be a place in all our hearts for the Chrome OS.

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The first Samsung Chromebook that came out was more of a test, they wanted to see if there was a market for it and if they got any feedback. Sure enough, they got feedback. People spoke about how it was a good idea but it was too expensive for something that does so little, it was too clunky, battery life was poor, etc, So samsung took all those comments and made the Macbook Air  Samsung Chromebook 2.0. The new device featured a slim and trimmed down body, a much better display and keyboard, an ARM processor as opposed to an x86chip, which almost tripled the battery life, threw in 100GB of free Google Drive storage for a year and best of all? Priced it at $249. Ever since I heard that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the chromebook and finally, I did so here are my thoughts and opinions. This is not a full review as I did not spend enough time with it to review it in depth.

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As soon as I switched on the device I was impressed. I just had to sign into my google account and everything was there already, all my extensions and plugins and everything i needed. It was fast and smooth and had no issues opening up any webpages I threw at it, even the graphically intensive ones. I could even log into my plex web console and stream all my tv shows and movies from my PC, and that’s where the twist comes in.Although the chromebook is a great device. It’s most certainly not a desktop replacement. I could see myself giving up my tablet for this any day of the week. The addition of the keyboard plus the full interface desktop browser makes this device makes this more capable for productivity and other tasks as compared to a casual toy, which is how I look at tablets, well larger tablets. I have other opinions on tablets like the nexus 7 but I’ll save them for a later post.

So who do I think this is targeted at? The masses. Say you want to have a powerful desktop PC for all your gaming/editing needs but still need something to be able to take notes in class or in a meeting, that’s where the chromebook comes in. It is to the world what netbooks never where and in my opinion what the tablets tried to be, a robin to your batman. And with that I end this relatively short post, but feel free to bask in the beauty of the chromebook with the images below.

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