Categories
Tech

My search for a gaming laptop has finally ended + UMPC collection

Ever since I moved to Korea, I’ve been missing my PS3/PS4 and all the gaming sessions I used to have with my friends back in SF. Here, everyone is busy and no one has time to just come over and play a few games. So I’ve been left to my PC games. Unfortunately my main laptop (a Thinkpad X240) comes with a woefully inadequate integrated Intel graphics card for gaming. Thus this whole year I’ve been searching for the right gaming laptop. Something that would play dota, I recently started getting into the dota championships and found out you can go to rivalry.gg/matches/dota-2-betting and bet on your favorite dota teams.

And I think I’ve finally found it. I was looking for a 17inch gaming laptop, preferably with Nvidia Gsync, so I did a few hours of research to dig into all these laptops, and found all the issues:

Razer Blade Pro: Thin and great design, but has heating issues, like other thin gaming laptops, plus too expensive.
Aorus X7 Pro: Very powerful for its size including SLI graphics, but again, seems to have heating issues, and too expensive.
Alienware 17: this was one of the strongest contenders because it had a good display, good design, price is reasonable, sound is good, except it was missing Nvidia Gsync… and that may seem like a small picky issue, but it matters when all these laptops are so close in competition. Oh, and the RAM maxes out at 16GB. Hmm.. not that futureproof.
MSI Dominator GT72: Also a very strong contender, good keyboard and speakers and Gsync, but has some minor heating issues and display is not that great.
Lenovo Y70: Cheap, but the GPU is a generation behind, plus no Gsync, so nay.
Acer V Nitro: Cheap, thin, good design, but just not powerful enough, and no Gsync either.
HP Omen: I appreciate HP for making a thin, light gaming laptop, but no 17 inch screen size and lack of expandable RAM is a no no.
Sager NP9773: Sager/Clevo/Gigabyte laptops have incredible specs including a full desktop processor, but the build quality of the chassis is just mediocre.
Boutique makers (OriginPC,Maingear,Puget,FalconNW,AVADirect,Digital Storm,Cyberpower,Ironside,etc) are nice and you can customize literally everything, but the prices are outrageous and they use modified Clevo/Gigabyte chassis, so similar mediocre build quality.

So… notice that I’m leaving one major PC manufacturer from this list. In the end, I decided on:

Asus ROG G751
Asus ROG G751

Yes, the Asus ROG G751. Why? Because all the reviews I read of this laptop seemed to indicate little to no weaknesses at all. Great cooling, no heat issues, great display (w/Gsync), great keyboard, great design. Everything is good, except for mediocre speakers and the bulk (8.6lbs), but thats to be expected of gaming laptops anyway. I do also have a Creative E5 USB DAC/Amp and Sound Blaster Roar 2 speakers, so sound shouldn’t be an issue.

All in all, the Asus seems to be a perfect gaming laptop.
On a side note, my UMPC collection is almost complete.

So far I have:
-Sony Vaio UX280 – Win XP
-Sony Vaio P – Win 10
-Fujitsu U820 – Win 7
-Fujitsu UH900 – Win 10
-Open Pandora – Linux
-OQO Model 2 – Win XP
-Toshiba Libretto W100 – Win 7
-HTC Shift X9500 – Win XP
-Samsung Q1UP – Win XP
-Viliv S5 – Win XP
-Vulcan Flipstart – Win XP

Non-UMPC:
Dell E4200 – Win Vista
Fujitsu P1630 – Win 7
HP Envy 14 Beats – Win 10
Lenovo Flex 20 – Win 8
Razer Edge Pro – Win 8
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14 – Win 10
Lenovo Thinkpad X240 – Win 7
Asus ROG G751 – Win 10
Mac Mini – OS X Yosemite

Total: 6 Win XP, 1 Vista, 4 Win 7, 2 Win 8, 5 Win 10, 1 OS X, 1 Linux

All of these I reviewed on my youtube, and all of them run some version of Windows XP or Vista or 7. I am closing in on getting a Vulcan Flipstart (after months of scouring eBay). Then I’ll only be missing a few, the Asus R50A (hard to find), and a few other Korean/Japanese ones, Gigabyte M705, Wibrain, Raon Digital Everun, Hanbit Pepperpad, Kojinsha, Sharp D4, etc.
But I can say now I have the vast majority of UMPCs in my collection 🙂

edit: I now have the Vulcan Flipstart in my collection which runs Windows XP and is the only UMPC with less than 1GB that I have which means it will stay on Windows XP :). Review will come up eventually.

Fun fact: All of the UMPCs I listed above all come with 1GB of RAM or more, so they can all potentially run Windows 10 (provided I can find working drivers of course). I’m probably going to upgrade all the Atom UMPCs which run Vista to Win 7, and keep the rest (A110/Via/Core Solo) on Win XP. I might upgrade some of them to Windows 10 if the drivers for Win 7 work for them.

Videos:

Categories
General Magic

Minor update on life, decklist for Hearthstone/Magic, DOS game reviews

Wow, I can’t believe its June already. I feel like I havent done that much this year, compared to previous years. I think thats because I traveled alot and hung out alot with my friends in 2012 (lots of trips and events) and 2013 (lots of house parties and clubbing) and to a lesser degree 2014 as well, but this year I’m more or less alone in Korea. Even though I have friends here, they are usually too busy to hang out, and I haven’t traveled outside of Seoul yet. Some tourist I am, and I’ve been here 6 months already. I should definitely travel soon, else I feel like I’m not doing much with my time constantly staying at home and working.

I went back to San Francisco and Toronto in April and last month, so I got to see all my good friends again. One of my good friends has a baby already and it made me feel so old when I visited him. Am I that much closer to getting married and being a father? Well first I have to find a girlfriend, which is a neverending source of grief for me, so maybe I don’t have to worry about it, but then again maybe I should since I just turned 27 years old a few days ago. Dang. I miss my 24 and 25 year old life, traveling and house parties and clubbing and stuff (see previous post about regrets on not preserving that time better). Oh well, life has to move on I guess.

So yeah these days I’ve been staying at home and playing games. I modded Fallout New Vegas (http://www.nexusmods.com/newvegas/) and I definitely recommend the Weapon mods, High res texture mods, Nevada skies weather mod, EVE lighting mod, Project Nevada, more Perks and Mission Mojave rebalance mod. It brings FNV to 2015 standards.

On another note I’ve been uploading ALOT of youtube videos for dos games and playing Hearthstone a lot more, and conversely Magic the Gathering a lot less. I’ve made a page for it because the Magic list is more or less set, since I don’t play it as much anymore. And I plan to move some of my korean teaching articles over to this site to unify it, since I don’t write any more articles for that site. Sounds good? I want this blog to be the hub for all my projects.

Hearthstone decklist: http://www.blueisme.com/media/hearthstone-decklist/

Magic decklist: http://www.blueisme.com/media/magic-the-gathering-decklist/

And here are some of the old game playthroughs I’ve uploaded, some of them I haven’t played in as much as 12 years. I also hope to do a video on Diablo 3 Reaper of souls, Starcraft 2 Legacy of void, and Dungeon defenders 2 soon as I played alot of those with my friends.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvq9ZHXksf4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMxrdeMSkXk

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdbzhb15s3Q

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFbvlhk9LGQ

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fzO6MJJ8Vg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUgbNR7DiFk

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoxidOXQq20

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-ncXyQQPM8

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1IJdVOU_O4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcR0ggNqBcY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpszpJTcvvU

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8atvUoXVV2s

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVaG__BdIqI

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaLs5lbGjrA

Categories
General Tech

10 tech things I’m nostalgic about

A lot has changed in 12 years. This year is 2014. I started My first website in 2002, 12 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, technology wise and culture wise. But for me, I miss some things that we had back then but less common now. Here’s 10:

1) Phones with long battery life

Motorola RAZR
Motorola RAZR

Remember the candy bar phones? Remember flip phones and slider phones? The Motorola Razr? All those phones couldn’t play apps or games, and had a crappy web browser, camera, and texting interface sure, but – their batteries lasted a long time! I remember the old candy bar phones lasting weeks on end without having to charge. These days we all have to charge our smartphones at least once a day.
Also, remember cellphone charms?? That used to be the way to customize your phone. Now its turned to smartphone cases.

2) Payphones

very rare these days
very rare these days

Yeah, do you see any payphones anymore? No, because everyone has a smartphone now. But what if I lost my phone or ran out of battery? Well tough luck, because payphones are all gone now. They are ‘legacy’ artifacts.

3) Internet Chat rooms

The old Yahoo Chat rooms
The old Yahoo Chat rooms

Remember when people met random strangers in chat rooms powered by Java applets? Bots? People getting kicked? Meeting ~hottiebabe13~ or ~darksoul_12~ online? Well thats not common anymore, these days I don’t see any internet chat rooms anymore, its all just been replaced by social networks, which isn’t exactly the same. I did find some sites like sharedtalk and habbo hotel which brings me back, but most chat rooms have disappeared.

4) ICQ/MSN/AIM/IM clients

MSN messenger
MSN messenger back in the day

Who uses IM clients anymore? Now everyone just uses apps on their phone like Wechat, Whatsapp, Kakaotalk, SMS, etc or Skype/Facebook/Twitter. So when people ask me ‘hey what did you use to connect with people before Facebook?’ I’ll just say, yeah there was this “app” called MSN and I would just ask people for their MSN id… thats how we kept in contact back then. Ditto for ICQ and AIM.

5) PDAs / Pocket PCs / Palm / Blackberry

This was a PDA
This was a PDA

These are all grouped together, but anyways these are all ‘legacy’ technology. For you young people, PDAs were basically personal organizers that served as calendars/calculators/reminders/contacts and they kept track of all those things. They are basically the core functions of a smartphone. PDAs and Pocket PCs disappeared when smart phones came along, but I still remember using my Palm / Pocket PC to keep track of notes, and some even had some basic games on them! And yes Blackberry is dead, so it goes here too.

6) MP3 players (especially HDD based ones)

An HDD-based MP3 Player
An HDD-based MP3 Player

Yes Mp3 players! Remember back in the day when people carried two devices, an Mp3 player and a cellphone? Well they’re gone now! Yes some companies still sell basic Mp3 players, but most people just use their phone to listen to music now! I used to carry around a Creative Zen Vision M, and that thing stored 30 GBs, which was a lot. Now, umm my phone has 32GB but it needs that space for apps too. Some iRivers, Zunes, iPod classics and Creative Zens used to store up to 120GBs of music!

7) Physical Media (CDs, DVDs, Floppies)

Floppy disks
Floppy disks

Yes, everything from the 5.25″ floppy disks, 3.5″ floppies, zip drives, to 2x/4x/8x/24x/50x/100x CD-ROMs/CD-RWs/DVD-ROM/DVD-RWs drives, what happened to physical media? Yes I know it still exists, but less and less computers have optical drives now, and no tablets ever have them. More and more software and “apps” as its now being called, are being downloaded from the cloud now!! While thats not a bad thing, I still like being able to share my physical media with other people and knowing I have a backup somewhere. In fact PC makers don’t even ship OS backups unless you pay extra now. And no, no one I know owns a blu ray writer. Whatever happened to burning CD/DVDs and giving it to your friends? Remember MP3 CDs? Same thing happened to cassette mixtapes too… speaking of which…

8) VHS, Cassettes, Film Cameras

A VHS tape rewinder, a piece of 'legacy' tech
A VHS tape rewinder, a piece of ‘legacy’ tech

Do you know the biggest advantage of VCRs and Cassettes? The fact that you can record over them! I spent alot of my childhood recording my favorite shows and movies on my VHS and music onto cassette tapes, and now its obsolete technology. But you can’t do that these days! You can record to digital media sure, but you can’t record directly to a physical media anymore. Also, Film cameras… analog photography instead of digital photography. We tend to think of everything in megapixels, but back in the day we had to develop film in dark rooms, and the quality of that film is still much better than your average facebook photo.

Speaking of which, 2 trends I don’t like right now: having high megapixel cameras like 13MP+ where people take pictures that take up alot of space on their phone and then upload it to facebook where its compressed to a 100kb~ image. There’s no point. And having super high resolution displays (>240ppi) on your phone/tablet/laptop when most of the internet is not optimized for it, your retina cannot distinguish it, and will look horribly pixellated on the small screen. Thanks a lot to Steve Jobs and the iPhone 4 for starting that trend.

9) Old school LAN gaming and FPS gaming and 2D side scrollers

Blake Stone was one of my favorite DOS games
Blake Stone was one of my favorite DOS games

Remember those old DOS games? Some of them were quality games, like Commander Keen and Unreal Tournament and Duke Nukem, but these days you don’t find those types of games anymore. You find big budget 3D games like Call of Duty or Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto. I lament the simple days where a game would take hours and hours to beat like Prince of Persia or Dark Sun, or old school FPS deathmatch games like Quake III or UT, and the days where you could set up a LAN network and play Starcraft / Diablo II with your friends without an internet connection. There’s no LAN games anymore! What a pity. Now everything is online, and you have to make an account and have a good internet connection.

10) Graphic settings/cards, Sound cards & PC peripherals

A typical DOS game setup screen
A typical DOS game setup screen

These days people just use phones and tablets for gaming – but back in the 80s and 90s, gaming was all about the PC! When we ran a game, we had to first setup and configure the game. We would specify the graphic settings (often EGA, CGA or VGA), the sound card (usually Adlib or Sound blaster), number of channels and voices, and the peripherals (Keyboard, Joystick, Mouse and Gravis Gamepad). We don’t see much setup these days with games, just boot up and play, but no in those dark days we had to execute some bash scripts to run a game. But it was fun though, because who doesn’t enjoy playing Bio Menace or Jill of the Jungle on a Gravis Gamepad??

On that note, I also miss dedicated graphics on laptops! Whats up with that? My first notebook had a dedicated graphics card. Only Alienware and some high end notebooks have it now. 90% of consumer laptops come with integrated GPUs now. And how about PCMCIA/Express cards expansion ports for laptops? They made those laptops really expandable!

I also miss…

This was the most popular search engine before Google
Kids, This was the most popular search engine before Google

Old shrine sites. Pre-Google old messy search engine domains like Altavista, Dogpile, Hotbot and non-Google search sites. Yahoo! Geocities. Angelfire. Lycos. All those website builders. Guestbooks. Netscape Navigator. Windows XP. Xanga. Livejournal. Myspace. The golden age of Flash/Shockwave games (mid 2000s). It was a part of my youth 🙁 now its just Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter…

I don’t miss…

But overall we really accomplished alot in the past decade technology wise, and things I won’t miss include:

CRT TVs and Monitors
VCDs
Pagers
Answering machines
HD-DVDs
Dial-up internet
Modem jacks
Serial/Parallel ports
S-video ports
Firewire ports
notebooks with < 4 hrs of battery life (this used to be the norm until intel haswell came out) VGA ports (some notebooks still have them) 3.5mm audio jack (we still have them and I wish we can switch to TOSLINK ASAP) WAP browsers Composite connections Netbooks Compact Flash and MMC cards 4200rpm hard drives (and HDDs in general) slow a/b/g wireless wifi single core processors (before Intel Core Duo came out) resistive TFT touch screens (this was the norm for tablets and touch screens until the iPhone came out) 2G phones non built-in wireless wifi answering machines Poorly designed websites with flashing banners and animated gifs marquee, bgsound, blink and other obnoxious HTML tags Windows Vista Printers (and I still hate them) Forums (and I still hate them) Fax Machines Overhead projectors (I blame these with my loss of eyesight) Pay-per-view