Categories
General

Functionality over form for gadgets, Style over brand for clothing

One thing that’s really changed about me from the past is I no longer care about showing off my wealth; that’s something that I’ve criticized Chinese people for a lot and still do. I don’t understand whats the point of showing off your wealth by buying a fancy car or wearing expensive designer clothing. Like whats the point? You want people to know you are rich? Why? So they can rob you? Sounds arrogant to me.

I am actually quite blessed to say that since 2011 since I got my first job out of university, I haven’t really ‘struggled’ to make ends meet, per say. I’ve been living comfortably (I’m not rich.. just comfortable) for the past 6 years. But I was a poor university student before 2011 plus things in Canada usually cost more, so one of the first things I did when I first came to San Francisco was to buy up a lot of brand name clothing! A&F shirts, Lacoste polos, Lucky Brand / Guess jeans, you name it. I spent a lot of money on new clothes, only to realize that it didn’t really matter. I didn’t really care about the names and SF people really didn’t care either. When I lived in Korea I threw away all my American clothes and exchanged them for no name Korean brands – which were ironically better quality because they were made in Korea and alot of the name brand clothing was made in China. But the important thing is the style. I noticed in Korea people didn’t care about brands so much like in China – they cared about the style more. If it looked good, then wear it. Who cares who its made by? I learned this when I was in Korea.

So now I don’t care what brand I buy or wear anymore as long as it looks good. The opposite applies to electronics. I own laptops by Asus, Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and Apple. My speakers are made by LG, Sony, Yamaha, Klipsch, Polk Audio, Creative, and Bose. My phones come from Sony, Apple, Essential, Blackberry and Google. My TV is Panasonic. My headphones are Sony, Fender, Monster, Audeze and Master&Dynamic. My microphones are Shure. My cameras are by DJI and Sony. My Keyboards are from Aorus, Logitech and Microsoft. My mice are from Asus, Microsoft, Razer, and Logitech. So yes I have brand name electronics – but they are all different brands. I don’t really have brand loyalty but I do care that they are not some cheap no name Chinese knockoff. That is important to me. But thing to note is that for electronics, I care about functionality of what I buy more than the design.

Take a look at this computer.

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro

This computer is the epitome of form over function. It’s sexy looking, it’s thin and it’s made of aluminum. It’s nice looking. But it’s rather limited in functionality. There’s no touch screen. The graphics are integrated. The keyboard has shallow travel. There’s only 2 ports on it and one of them is for charging. The only reason I have this computer is for MacOS – which is essential for my programming tasks. It may as well just be a travel ultrabook – and even then the iPad Pro + keyboard kills it in portability, or Microsoft Surface Book 2 just kill it for the specs. Overall I only have this computer for the OS thats it. This computer costs $1900 when configured with the Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

Now look at this computer.

Lenovo ThinkPad TP25
Lenovo ThinkPad TP25

This computer is the epitome of function over form. I use this one as my main computer over the MacBook – even though it costs the same amount of money, $1900. It’s not sexy looking sure – it looks like it came from the early 2000s in fact – but it has way more functions than the MacBook has. It comes with the same specs first off – Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. Furthermore – it’s tested to military standards, keyboard is spill-proof, the keyboard is a full 7 row keyboard with at least 4x the amount of key travel the MacBook Pro has, it has mobile broadband (WWAN) and a removable battery (the Macbook you can’t even upgrade the RAM), it has a full set of 8 ports (no dongles needed), it has Nvidia 940MX graphics (granted not the most powerful but still better than integrated), you can use the pointer without taking your hands off the keyboard (its called a trackpoint), and it has a touch screen – and it weighs just 0.5lbs more, and a full 3 year warranty. So yeah. I’m taking this computer almost every time (except when I need to program or use Final Cut Pro).

Here I’m responding to TP25 haters…

Function over form. For much the same reason I have a Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact over the new iPhone X. Because even though that phone looks better with the thin bezels and OLED screens and stuff – mine has more battery life, microSD, headphone jack and IP68. top spec hardware specs too. And did I mention at half the price of the iPhone X? Yeah that too. I’ll always take the more useful over the more stylish for electronics. For clothing I take the stylish over the brand name. Because clothing is a huge part of how people see you and how you present yourself. A good stylish looking shirt or blazer is going to draw way more attention than using a sexy bezel-less iPhone X. I guarantee you.

Categories
Tech

Comments on recent news and trends

I haven’t done a commentary on current or slightly old events for a while now… about time I did this! Maybe I will v-log it as well (also something I haven’t done in a while).

Edit: v-logs are here!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtfPZdRCx8s

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo6IVaXZ3rM

Tech trends…
Hmm. Let me give me opinion on some tech trends.

regarding VR, I think its really cool that Oculus Rift has some competition, now that Valve/HTC are entering the VR market, Microsoft made something awesome, and I hope in the future we can all watch first person porn. (Seriously tho, VR movies will probably be better than those 3D glasses).

regarding Apple Watch, It’s overpriced for what it is. I mean, you’re gonna pay $350-17k for something that will be obsolete in 2 years, and needs an Apple device to function? I’ll just take the Pebble Time Steel instead, which lasts 10 days, looks similar, works with both Apple and Android, can go swimming with it, can use any normal 22mm band, etc.

iPad Air 2/iPad Mini 3, yeah I know they came out last October but I want to make a quick note that the iPad 2, a tablet that was introduced by Steve Jobs before he died, was still being sold until very recently. In that keynote they introduced like 5 different iPads being sold at the same time! Including the iPad Mini 3 which was barely different than the Mini 2. Steve would have been rolling in his grave!
This is the clearest example of Apple caring more about profits than innovation now. You think Steve Jobs would have sold the 5th generation iPad Nano alongside the 6th generation and the previous generations of the iPods and iPhones at the same time as the new generation?? He hated confusing consumers. Thats why I miss Steve.
On a side note, how are anyone going to keep selling tablets? For what most people do with tablets, reading books, surfing the web and watching video, a 2011 tablet is good enough and there’s no reason to upgrade like there is with laptops and phones (which we do more things with). It’s an interesting conundrum.

MS killing off IE…, well I’m glad that IE is dead (even though Asia will keep on using it), and I’m sure most people are, even though its fall from grace from 95% market share as IE6 to now is well documented, I’m still worried about Having another new browser to support, which still uses Trident I believe. And also, I hope Win 10 is at least as good as 7. (I haven’t touched Win 8 with a ten foot pole since it came out).

Sony…, I love Sony and its products. I’ve always thought that they were the Japanese Apple. Great design, but high prices. Unfortunately they can’t market their products well and its sad to see them slashing so much, because a lot of Sony’s products are great. I love the PS Vita, I love my Xperia Z3C phone, I loved the Sony HMZT3 headset (which I did a review of), I love their headphones, computers, TVs, Alpha cameras and Walkmans as well, but I guess people don’t really appreciate them, which is too bad.

Steam games, I’ve bought a lot of them lately and I hope to do some gameplay videos soon. If people see my youtube, they know that I’m a big fan of Starcraft 2, Magic Online, Hearthstone and NBA 2K, but I also played Diablo 3 a lot with my friends, and Dungeon Defenders as well. Someday I can post some gameplay on those games, as well as some more obscure DOS titles or something. I love this new game though, its called Toxikk and it’s about bringing back good old school FPS action back! Like Unreal Tournament and Quake 3, which I loved to play back in the day. I will do a review of this game soon.
Also, probably the best mobile game I’ve played in a while, Monument Valley, probably ranks up there with The Unfinished Swan and Journey as the most visually beautiful games I’ve ever played.

regarding drones…, Drones are a new fad just like VR is these days, and I like the idea a lot. I’ve always wanted a little drone who auto follows me whereever I go and helps me shoot pictures and video. I’ve been on many trips where I wish I had someone shoot video of me because I was always the one holding the camcorder, so I couldn’t shoot myself. I guess the main things are a drone needs to be able to follow you using accurate GPS and bluetooth connection, and have good battery life. The Drones from DJI and Parrot I’ve seen can’t go beyond 30min of battery which is too short. Thats the main improvement that needs to happen.

Swift code, I love the idea since Apple came out with this last year. I’ve always wanted to make iPhone apps, but didn’t want to learn Objective C. Now I got a JS-like language to work with, and it should be easier to transition to it. If I have time and a good app idea, I would definitely use it.

Raspberry Pi 2, I love how the technology has made it so that a computer board is now $35. I’ve always been interested in small computers, gadgets and robots, and this makes it so that any hobbyist can make a computer now if they get a case and some parts from Amazon. (Shed a tear for Radioshack though), it was one of my favorite stores when I was a kid. Someday I will build a portable UMPC-like computer, and the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Beagle Board, and co definitely helps.

The New Macbook, what do I think about it? Hmm.. it has potential, but I feel like they could have stuck another USB-C port in there. I like the idea of having a port that does everything, but I don’t like that they only put one. I guess I’m a little old school, since my Thinkpad still has an old 720p display, non touchscreen, and has 10 different ports including an old VGA port. But I am very impressed by how far technology has come along, fanless and decent performance, and 10 hours+ of battery life.
I remember back in the days of netbooks when every computer had a noisy fan, 3 hours of battery life was average, and was pretty thick and bulky. My classmate carried around a 17inch 10-pound beast of a gaming laptop (a Dell XPS 17). Now Razer is making Macbook Air-sized Gaming laptops (Razer Blade). Crazy. Now I really wish OEMs will start making UMPCs again. They died out in 2010 because they were underpowered and expensive, but now I believe you can make a UMPC that is tiny, fanless (Core M processor), good battery life (10hrs+), good performance (4GB+ RAM), and only needs one port (USB-C)! Somebody get on that!

Spiderman is coming to Marvel. YES. Spiderman is my favorite superhero since I used to watch the animated series when I was young, and he should have been in the Avengers all along. Can’t wait to see him fight alongside Cap and Iron Man.

Favorite movies…, I watched Kings Men a few days ago. Violent, but overall pretty good movie. My favorite movies from last year were Guardians of the Galaxy (fantastic, better than Avengers), Interstellar (on par with Inception), and Big Hero 6 (better than Frozen and other Disney movies IMO). Hope Avengers 2 does not disappoint!

NBA MVP.., I know I should probably comment on NBA events now. The MVP should be James Harden. The guy is averaging 27/6/7, and yes Russell Westbrook puts up better numbers right now, but he isn’t nearly as efficient, and Stephen Curry has a lot of help. Anthony Davis or Lebron James in a vacuum, would be the MVP, but MVPs aren’t voted in a vacuum, else Jordan would have won 8 straight. Also, I’m glad that Kobe is out. He’s still overrated and inefficient, and selfish, and I feel that both Iverson and Kobe’s MVPs should have gone to Shaq and Chris Paul, respectively. This is MVP we are talking about here, not the scoring leader.
As for NBA Finals, my predictions are Memphis Grizzlies vs Atlanta Hawks. I’m hoping the Hawks and Warriors will put to rest the misconception that you need ‘superstars’ to win. The 04 Pistons won without a superstar, and arguably the ’11 Mavericks as well since Dirk was out of his prime.

Other news…
I found a website that can clone your pets as a plushie for you. Good idea. I will definitely do that for my cat.
This guitar pedal. A band in a box? Sign me up!
Also, still awaiting the release of Fallout 4, SC2 legacy of the void, Rock band 4, Yakuza 5 in English, and Just Cause 3. Get working on these games people!

Thats all the updates I have for now, in the meantime I made some guitar videos for fun:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gWHUR-7eVo

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsqhVvMIld4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpkUPI0oOxg

Categories
Business

The Plight of Chinese Consumers

As everyone knows, Apple unveiled several new products yesterday at their developers conference. New updates for iOS, OS X, and of course, the new Macbook Pro was the most discussed. Of most interest to me, was the new Chinese features that Apple introduced to iOS and OS X, especially the new language updates for Siri. It seems that Apple is concentrating more and more on its biggest market, which is China. I’m glad that companies such as Apple are finally becoming more aware of Asian consumers, and I hope more PC manufacturers can do the same, and more support for services such as RenRen, Youku, Baidu, QQ, Weibo, among others. China is the biggest market for luxury goods, and Apple is considered the premier manufacturer of computing devices in the world.

Which begs the question, how many of Chinese consumers can actually afford Apple products? The Macbook Pro with Retina Display in China actually sells for RMB 16,488!!! This is equivalent to more than $2500 USD. At Foxconn, China’s manufacturing plant for many US companies including Apple, Workers make a mere $386/month (as well as working 80+ hour weeks)! So, when the average Chinese family makes between $250-500 USD per month, how can they afford to buy the products they manufacture. This is the root of the problem; Asian workers often have to suffer with low wages in order for US consumers to get cheap products. Cheap labor = cheap products. That’s how Apple, HP and other companies can sell products for cheaper in the US than other countries. For China and other Asian countries, even though they manufacture in that country, they have to re-import US products and pay a substantial markup in order to get the same product!

The reason why luxury good manufacturers such as Apple, BMW, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Audi, etc can do so well in Asia is because of how culture works over there. In Asia, be it China, Japan, Korea or other countries, having a brand name product is seen as a status symbol, elevating you in the eyes of other Asians. If you can afford luxury goods, you are seen as more wealthy and successful. So the demand for these products are very high (and why there are so many knock offs in China). Because the demand is high, Apple and other companies can mark up their products substantially (such as Macbooks, iPads, iPhones, etc) and get away with it. 90% of Chinese consumers will probably have a hard time affording these products, but the very rich 10% can afford them, thus boosting their status.

This may be the most profitable way for Apple to run. However, it is not the ethical way. I think that more Chinese and Asian consumers should be able to afford their own products, and people shouldn’t have to sell their kidney to buy iPads. In order to do this, Apple should raise wages at their plant, increase the price of their products in the US, and lower the prices of their products overseas. This will anger US consumers, but in order for someone to gain, others have to lose. This will also cause Apple to lose profits, so corporate greed will probably prevent this from happening. But someday, I hope that the world will be more fair, and workers in other countries shouldn’t have to suffer for American consumers’ benefit.