Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to manage music and videos in the iPod without Syncing

This post is related to the previous post by me. I was talking about the media syncing woes in the iPod with iTunes. Actually there seems to be a way to manage media without the sync feature.

When you go into the Summary page of your iPod or iPhone, there is a check box saying “Manually manage music and videos”. When you check it, you can simply drag and drop music and videos from Explorer to the iPod/iPhone listed on the left sidebar of iTunes. Phew! Problem solved. Now I can delete the videos from the PC that I don’t need.

Manually manage

Syncing iPod over iTunes is such a pain in the @55

I am trying to copy a couple of movies to the iPod but it is not doing it the way I want it to. I guess that is what you get when you buy Apple. You have to agree with Mr. Jobs and assume this is the best way of doing things.

The issue is this. I have a 1080p video and to copy it to the iPod, I have to convert it to M4V format and have to make it smaller. That is not a problem. I don’t even need separate software for that. ATI video converter that comes with the ATI Catalyst driver does the job.

Now how do I copy this to the iPod? Of course via iTunes. I have to add the new converted video to the library. Then I have to select the iPod, and in the movies tab, I have to check Sync Movies option and select the movie from the Library and press Sync.

iTunes

You can only *SYNC* videos. Which means, you have to keep the video in the hard drive. Otherwise when you want to add another video, and you sync it, you will lose the video you synced previously because it is no longer in the hard drive. That sucks right? I mean, if it is original 1080p video, then OK, I can keep it in the hard drive. But this is the video which was transcoded from it. I don’t wanna keep it in the hard drive.

This sucks! By trying to over simplify things, Apple have made things way confusing to us. Why can’t you just drag and drop videos from Windows Explorer to the iPod? It should be flexible. Oh dear, I am gonna drive Ama crazy with all these synching crap.

P.S.  I bet there are apps you can use with iPods. Gotta google.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010

I have been playing the newest title of the “used to be popular” Need for Speed series and I have to tell you that I am absolutely loving it. It reminds me how I used to play NFS in the Most Wanted and Carbon days. I do not just play the game. I record the game and post the videos or at least tried to post videos. I bet there are few drifting videos on the my youtube channel. But that was when I was living in Sri Lanka. You know, crappy internet? Now I do not have that problem. How long does it take me to encode and upload a race at HD? Just about 5 minutes for the entire process. Weee! (How much will I miss this speed when I go back the Sri Lanka someday!!!)

Anyways, I finished Call of Duty Black Ops to quickly because I had to start playing the game. I installed it on the SSD, so I don’t know if the load times are better or not. No way to compare. At first, I was a bit shocked to find out the handling was a bit like NFS Pro Street. I’m sure there are people who love simulation type racing (GRID was like that, but it was fun! Pro Street wasn’t) Anyways, there is a bit of everything. Much of it is like arcade, but it is not just like that. You have to properly drive the car! However, I still cannot get a non-drifty curve with big bends. I always drift. It is fun though. But I bet it kills some time. Doesn’t matter. All that matters it drifting is FUN! I know why Jeremy loves drifting so much, even if it peels off the tires so badly.

Anyways, back to the game. The first race wasn’t great. The car wasn’t great. That race alone can make someone hate the game. But it gets much much better afterwards. The graphics are nice. Of course, they don’t use all the tech they can to implement simple, but breath taking sceneries. The graphics are pretty nice. There aren’t much special effects though. (I hear there is a patch coming in a few days’ time which would add weather effects like rain and snow! Gotta apply that as soon as it comes out!

The cop chases are fun! I don’t like being the cop, but I like getting away. Cops in this game is much much harder than the previous one. But spike strip doesn’t get you in one go. They all add up as damage to the car. After some point, you get caught. (well, at least that is what I felt. Maybe not how it is supposed to work.) In the previous hot pursuit game, the helicopter dropped fuel barrels. Now they drop spike strips! Yikes!! Cops can shoot an EMP blast as well. Luckily, it doesn’t bring the car to a complete stop. It is also like the spike strip. Adds to damage. What is nice is that the drivers are equipped with the same tech. They can drop a spike strip, shoot and EMP blast, and there are few other tricks to get away from the cops. One of the hardest parts it dodging an EMP blast. Sometimes braking helps, sometimes you can drop a spike strip to kill the cop car which got you locked into an EMP blast…like wise.

And all these things require what kind of a PC to run the game smoothly? I don’t know and I don’t car. My PC runs the game amazingly well. FPS is around 50-60 at max details but no AA. Who can spend that much for just AA, right?? Even when recording with FRAPS, the FPS is around 40. The game seems to be single threaded. I see only core 0 running at full speed. Others are idling. That sucks! I hope the game is not CPU bound, even on my PC!!

Anyways, here are the gameplay videos I uploaded to youtube. Enjoy! (click on the arrow buttons to navigate the videos.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Call of Duty Black Ops and HD5770

So I got the game and installed it and played for a little while. At first, I felt the game was pretty heavy on the little Radeon. I was only getting about 40fps at full details. I had AA on, so I disabled it. But it showed no performance improvement. Even at 40fps, the game was very laggy. The idea of getting a new graphic card reappeared.

However, the next day I loaded up the game and I found the game to run very smoothly. I was getting 40-90 fps, most of the time above 60. And it wasn't laggy at all. Everything was perfect. Only that AA was turned off. Maybe the first time when I turned off AA, it didn't get applied without a restart. Hmmm. If that is the case, it sucks!

Anyway, the game doesn't appear to be very heavy by the looks of the graphics. The physics are nowhere near Crysis'. Gameplay is superb though. I gotta finish it in the weekend.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SSD heaven finally

After giving much thought, I decided to install an SSD in thAe laptop. I had two options. I could buy a new drive for the laptop, or transfer the Kingston drive from the desktop to the laptop and buy a newer, faster and larger drive for the desktop. Heck, I still use the desktop 90% of the times. Beside, a faster drive won’t be able to show its colors in the laptop. The CPU isn’t helping it in any way. Only problem with the second approach would be the small size of the Kingston drive. It is only 40GB. It is enough for what I do with the laptop. I use it mostly for browsing. Why would I need a large drive anyways? (in that regard, even 40GB sounds too much)

So what did I do? I went with the second approach of course. Did you think I would even consider the first option? I just wrote it for the sake of completeness. XD

What did I buy? I bought an OCZ Vertex 2 50GB drive. It felt much much faster to use. I t loads apps faster. I mean, it is funny if you can you can feel the difference in app launching performance on two SSDs, but there is a difference. iTunes that used to take more than 3 seconds with the Kingston, now loads within 3 seconds. Firefox is also about 1 second faster. Yes, I know. What can you do with that 1 second? I would never call it an upgrade, but I didn’t just upgrade the SSD. I put the old on in another PC. They are two different things. I had to buy a new drive and I bought it and it is faster, bigger and cheaper as well. Win! Did I say cheaper? Yep you heard me right. It cost my only JPY8800 after using the points I had with that shop. I saved more than JPY1000 with the points. (heck, I didn’t know I had that many points with me!)

Anyways, the Windows WinSAT score went up by 0.1 mark. Now it is 7.7 instead of 7.6 with the Kingston drive.

 WinSAT on the Desktop

Funny the CPU score got a 0.1 increase as well. Maybe it is because of the winter and WinSAT benchmark is taking it into account as well. LOL

Anyways, that is just for the information. But this is for fun!

winsatul20a

Look at that score on the laptop. So funny, isn’t it?

Anyways, now everything is good on the laptop. I sometimes feel that I should have gone with a faster CPU. Right now, the only problem I have with the laptop is when I am doing a kinda CPU bound thingy. BTW, I upgraded to 4GB RAM as well. Now I don’t have to use a pagefile as well. Happy SSD.

That’s it for now. It seems I have run out of PC upgrade for a long time, unless AMD’s HD6900 series makes me wanna buy a new video card. Until then, it is a little pause on upgrade from this end.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Undervolting the Celeron SU2300

One thing I found out about the CPU (Celeron SU2300) in my UL20A laptop is that it doesn’t change the clock frequency nor change the Vcore when the CPU is in an idle state. The CPU is supposed to have some sort of EIST, but apparently other people are also having the same problem with this CPU.

image

The default Vcore of the CPU is 1.000V and default clock frequency is 1.2GHz (although I overclocked it to 1.26GHz – BIOS allows to overclock up to 5%). There is no BIOS option regarding the EIST feature either. The CPU is always at 1.26GHz/1V.

So I downloaded Crystal CPUID and went into Function->Intel Enhanced Speedstep Control and set the voltage to 0.9V and it worked. CPU-Z showed the Vcore as 0.9V. That is the lowest I could set. This setting can be invoked from a desktop shortcut. When you double click the shortcut, it would set the Vcore to 0.9V. So I added it to startup. Now, when the laptop boots into Windows, it would set CPU Vcore at 0.9V.

image

People are saying it would lower the CPU temps by about 5C, but hardly any battery life improvement. I guess it is still the screen that is eating up most of the juice. Can’t do anything about it, can we? At least this is something.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Installing Windows on Asus UL20A

asus-ul20a-2x143v-1oi_1Ever since the very first day my new Asus UL20A laptop arrived, there was one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to install Windows. Why? There were few reasons.

For one thing, the OS was Japanese. But I managed to install the English language pack on, even though Microsoft doesn’t allow you to install language packs on Windows 7 Home Premium, which came with the laptop. There is a little tool called “vistalizator” and it downloaded the English language pack and installed fine. But once in a while, a window would come up with ugly fonts. The fonts are small and the typeface is not what is generally on the Windows 7 interface. I didn’t like that at all.

The other issue was that the laptop came with a lot of bloatware and even if you restore the laptop using the recovery partition, it would still install all those bloatware. Most people these days install Windows fresh as soon as they get hold of the laptop, and most of the times all you have to do is put the CD key that is stuck on the backside of the laptop when installing from a disc. This laptop came with a recovery DVD as well; ironically the laptop doesn’t have an optical drive. They should have shipped an external optical drive as well!

And, I wanted to see what would happen to the recovery partition if I install Windows and so forth.

So I made up my mind to install Windows. Other that the issues I mentioned, there were hardly any issue with the laptop. It was fast enough for what I bought it for: browsing mainly.

Anyways, now that there is no optical drive, how was I gonna install Windows? The only method I could think of was the USB stick method. I created a Windows 7 installation USB stick using an online guide (there is also an official Microsoft tool) and tried to boot from it. I chose Boot from External Drive and tried to boot. It didn’t boot. It went straight to Windows. I headed back to BIOS and I saw that the flash drive was listed as a hard drive. So I made it the boot hard drive and set Boot from Hard Drive and tried to boot into Windows setup. And it worked.

But then the weirdest thing happened. I formatted the C drive. The hidden recovery partition was before the C drive. I tried to install the C drive and I got the error message

Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition

Yikes! Was the recovery partition doing something. I removed the D partition as well, as I didn’t have important data there. Then I tried to install to the unformatted area (Windows 7 allows you to do that; it would format the drive and install there). I got the same error again. I was a bit worried and too quick to jump to conclusions. I formatted the entire drive. The hell with the recovery partition. I wouldn’t need that anyways, ifi I can install a fresh copy of Windows.

To my bafflement, I still got the same error. I tried few times and I still couldn’t get Windows to install.

I then removed the hard drive from the laptop, and plugged it in my desktop, and repartitioned. I put it back in the laptop and when I tried to install Windows, I still got the same damn error.

Then I tried to plug the laptop hard drive in the desktop and tried installing Windows to that drive, from the desktop. I booted with the same flash drive. Again, the result was same. Then it made me wonder if the flash drive was the culprit. It being the booting drive, could be preventing Windows from installing to the hard drive. I didn’t want to try this on my desktop, because to try that out, I would have to format the C: drive. I at least needed one PC up and running.

On the forums, some people were saying that some laptops wouldn’t boot from the USB stick. Some people had to upgrade their laptop BIOS to get the feature working. Now that the UL20A wouldn’t let me boot from an external drive, I thought maybe there was a new BIOS that let me do that. There was a newer BIOS that what I had. So I downloaded it and flashed BIOS. Everything went smoothly. But it would not still boot from an external drive. Sucks! asus_ul20a_black_notebook_4

Now what was I to do? Of course I can’t order an external DVD player. That would cost me a some bucks. (Turns out they are not that expensive) I thought if there was a way I could pull this. Then I remembered that Windows 7 setup is almost a copy and paste for the most part. First it would install the files to the disk, and then it would configure the setup for the PC with a couple of reboots.

So, what I try to do was to jump start the Windows 7 installation on the laptop drive. I would plug the drive to my desktop, start the installation and when it asked to reboot, I would shut down the PC, unplug the drive ad put it in the laptop and let the setup resume in the laptop’s environment.

So, I found my Windows 7 disc, and tried booting from it. It worked fine and I could now install Windows. So it WAS the flash drive. Hmm…. (for some reason, it would not work on my desktop either. Funny how my old PC didn’t give me any problem like that back then) I did exactly what I was gonna do and finally I managed to install Windows onto the laptop.

So that is that! I now have a fresh Windows installation. I install Acronis Trueimage and now that is my recovery environment. At least now I know what do to install Windows onto this laptop. It is a pain in the ass, but at least there is a way without spending money on an external optical drive.

A long post, I know. But it might help other people with a UL20A laptop.

Edit:

If anyone has a second PC, which you can access from the laptop via LAN, you can make a recovery partition and install Windows 7 from a recovery partition on the hard drive. Check out the following video.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bought a laptop finally

In my earlier post, I was asking whether I should buy a new netbook. I only needed it to do little things. I did not need the fastest laptop either. I needed something cheap, something that can be carried around (especially when I visit Sri Lanka in December) and something that would run off the battery for a reasonable time, 5 hours+ sounds reasonable.

So I searched around and finally settled for the Asus UL20A. It is not very fast,. Actually it is not fast at all. I can really feel it after using my desktop with an SSD, 8GB RAM and a quad core running at a respectable 3.6GHz. But I suppose it would be same with almost all the laptops out there that don’t carry an SSD and 4GB or more RAM. This has 2GB RAM, a Dual Core ultra low power Celeron @1.2GHz and a Seagate 320GB HDD.

Anyways, enough mourning over the lack of speed. I knew what I would be getting myself into. I told you I didn’t need speed anyways. Portability is what I needed the most. In that regard, this size is very good. 12”. It is small enough to be easily portable and large enough to type easily. I am not finding any problem typing with this keyboard. Sure it is not a G15, but it is pretty good.

This doesn’t have an optical drive. So I don’t know how to restore the OS if something bad happens. There is a restore partition however. I got the restore disks as well, I wonder for what purpose, because this doesn’t have an optical drive. I bet there is a way to restore the OS without the disks, using the restore partition. I didn’t look into this. I don’t think there is a need for that kind of thing ever because I will not be install all the crap that I come across in this laptop. Remember, there is only a little this laptop can do anyways.

I got the lappy in the evening. I didn’t have a lot of time to play with it. I will get used to it in a few days hopefully, Well, there is not much to get used to anyways. This is the Japanese model, so it came with a Japanese layout keyboard and Japanese Windows 7 Home Premium. I managed to install English language packs. Only Ultimate and Professional has official support. But there is this little tool called Vistalizator and I managed to install English language pack through it. Everything is good now. And the Japanese keyboard is no problem for me now. It used to be a pain in the ass at first (that is, when I came to Japan), but now I have gotten used to it.

I have installed almost all the stuff I need to install. Haven’t installed Office yet. Once that is done, I am good. Then I need to copy my music, pictures and some movies. I am going to reserve the CX-500 to this laptop. I don’t use it for anything else. I am using the Zagg Smart Buds with the iPhone all the time. I have got used to them. When I tried the CX-500 today after a long time, they felt funny. Open-mouthed smile

Anyways, I got to sleep now. It is 2330hrs now. This is my first laptop. I might add some upgrades with time such as another 2GB RAM and maybe an SSD when they become cheap. But that won’t happen anytime soon. I wonder if I should buy a bluetooth mouse for this as well. I hate trackpads. >_>

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To buy a netbook or not

This questions has come up few times in the last year. I know I have a damn fast PC at home (OK, apartment!), but sometimes that is too much. Sometimes I wish I could use the PC from the bed. Sometimes while I am cooking, I wish I could watch some videos. Now that I am going back to Sri Lanka in December (yes, that was supposed to be a surprise, but I decided to tell my sweetheart about it tonight, so no point hiding it anyways), I wish I could have a portable PC with me. iPhone is a great little device, but it can never replace a proper PC.

No, I don’t want a tablet. A tablet/notebook convertible is welcome though. But whatever others say, I still prefer a Windows PC because then I can do everything you possibly can. I don’t want any limitations. I want Skype to work properly, with video. I want to watch videos. I want to listen to music. I want to do pretty much everything I can.

So it has to be a netbook or a low cost notebook. Actually, netbooks over here are a bit pricy. Sure, there are weird deals that come up once in a while such as an Asus EeePC 10” netbook going for sale at just 19k yen. That’s pretty cheap, if you ask me. But I have tried netbooks before and they are too slow for my linking. Of course I don’t want to play games on the laptop. So something cheap but in the Intel Core i3 range would do. i5 is a bonus. I don’t need that much performance. But I might put 4GB RAM on it, but not right now.

So it is time to hunt for a proper laptop. I have about 2.5 months before I go to Sri Lanka. I would like to have one before I leave.

This seems to be a good value for the money, right?  Asus K52F with i5 450M, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD?

This looks even better: Acer Aspire 5741 AS5741-N54E / K

Or Lenovo G560 06795FJ

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sticky keys and now the dreaded “I”

We all know about sticky keys in Windows, right? You press Shift 5 times and the dreaded message window  comes up when you are just about to send a sniper bullet through an enemy’s head. Yeah baby, you are back at the desktop and when you go back, it is all over. OK, this has happened to me many times. Maybe not to you if you don’t play any games. (It’s alright, you don’t HAVE to play games.)

But this is not about THOSE sticky keys. I’m talking about sticky keys, literally. You all know I have a G15 right? (If you don’t, you probably don’t know squat about me) You must be thinking that I take good care of it since that is one luxury item. Heck no! Well, I don’t smash it against stuff. But I am not too careful with it either, especially drink spill. I once spilt apple juice on it, and milk on another day. Of course I was scared that I would burn the keyboard. But it held its guts all this time and recently I think I spilt caramel on it without me knowing about it. All of a sudden, three keys started acting weird. They worked, electrically. But mechanically, there was something wrong. When I press and release the H, J and U keys, they wouldn’t come up quickly. And pressing is hard too. I gave it a couple of days to fix it by its own. Didn’t happen. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I took the keyboard apart.

G15

Damn this keyboard has 18 screws on the back! Anyhow, I took it apart and yes, it was caramel indeed. I took those three keys out, washed them and put back in. Wee…everything worked great after that….except…one.

The letter “I” was acting weird. I couldn’t use left shift with it. It would not register. But right shift worked OK. Funnily, everything else worked correctly. If there was a problem with the contacts, you would expect a few keys to not work properly at the same time, right? Hmm…

Anyways, I couldn’t take it. I took the keyboard apart. Now this is crazy. When I press the rubber contacts inside the keyboard, shift + I would work. But when place the keypad and press shift + I, it would not register. What the heck is wrong? It has to be some kind of short circuit I guess. Will it get fixed automatically? I hope so, because I don’t know what to do. Of course I can adjust to right shift + I, but this shouldn’t happen in a $99 keyboard! Gotta post this on techpowerup and see what they say. Damn it! 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The browser confusion

Microsoft released the public beta of IE9 and I installed it straight away. I had heard good things about it. I wanted IE to succeed this time. IE8 was crap. Interface was shabby. Interface was lagging. Not supporting a lot of sites natively. (had to go into compatibility mode often) It was not a good browser at all. The JS performance was worst among the browsers, and not by a little. However, the browsing speed was sometimes faster that all the other browsers. But it was not a usable browser for everyday tasks. Too slow for us geeks.

But IE9 is not like that. The interface is very responsive. The browser starts within a few milliseconds. (faster than Chrome too) JS performance has been improved, but I can’t notice that except in benchmarks. The interface is simple. However there are few issues. Of course this is still a beta release. But, the biggest issue I have is with the addons. In Firefox and Chrome, when you add an addon, it doesn’t usually add a new toolbar. I need to use lastpass online password manager, and when I add it to Firefox and Chrome, it would look like in the following images.

Chrome

Firefox

However, when I add it to IE9 beta, it would add a whole new toolbar, with just one button. That sucks. It even kills the good looks of the IE9 UI.

IE9beta

Sucks, right?

There are issues once in a while such as crashing and some random website not displaying properly. But all in all, it is a much better experience than the IE8 final build.

Anyways, this is not a post about just IE9. It is about browsers in general. Currently I use Firefox for most of the times. But sometimes, it too crashes. Sometimes it would take a long time to load a page. But addons are still best in Firefox. Chrome is catching up, but the addons platform in Firefox seems to be much powerful. It integrates well with the browser. Chrome is only a little big behind, but is catching up fast. Other browsers simply suck!

There is not perfect browser. Some pages would load fast on one browser. Others would take forever. Some would eat up more memory. Some would not support adds at all, such as Opera, which I would be using extensively if it had addons like in Firefox. Chrome is good, but still, it doesn’t support IDM as much as Firefox and IE do. Basically, I have to keep using all these browsers because there is no perfect browser.

Firefox 4 beta sucks more than everything. Pages don’t render correctly sometimes. Most addons still don’t work properly. Random crashes. etc. etc.

So for the time being, I have to use Firefox 3.6.10 as the main browser, IE9 beta, Chrome 7 beta etc. etc. all are installed at the same time, in case there is the need.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The backup plan

When I was in Sri Lanka, I backed up the important stuff to DVDs. But it was not a great solution because eventually the DVDs stopped working. So much for a backup! Hard drives are much safer than DVDs. So I bought a new hard drive for backup; backup only nothing else.

Yes, I know that it is not the best backup strategy. What if I lose that hard drive. It is not something that won't happen. Actually, it happens more often than you think. But lucky me, it has never happened to me. I love my Samsung drives. They have never failed me. 

So I went to amazon and bought a new 2TB Samsung F4 Eco Drive. Yes it is 5400RPM, but that’s all you need for a data drive. I still use the F1 drive for everything. This new drive is just for backup, which means the data in the F1 drive are duplicated on the F4 drive. If I lose either drive, I won’t lose my data. But there is still no off-site backup. 

The drive cost me only JPY8980. Pretty cheap. There was a WD drive for around JPY8740 but I went ahead with the Sammy because it seemed to be somewhat faster and because I love Sammies. One problem I had was that I had to use the SATA data cable which was connecting the DVDRW drive because I didn’t have any spare SATA cables. I ordered a couple of SATA cables online through Ebay. (It is not a big issue because I hardly use the DVDRW drive. I use it for OS installation only. Everything else is on the HDD(s) or on the internet.

Today I looked at the same Samsung drive on Amazon, and the price had gone up to JPY9800. Lucky me! Samsung HD204UI

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Zagg Smart Buds

When I came to Japan, I brought along my Sennheiser CX-500’s with me so that I can use them with whatever mobile phone I happen to purchase from here. Sadly, I had to buy an iPhone (sadly, because I always wanted to buy the new Windows Phone) and to add more misery, it came with some crappy pair of earphones. I was OK with it because I had the CX-500, but there was one little problem. See, I have to make a lot of VoIP calls, mostly to my girl friend at home and hands-free was a must, not just the earphones. iPhone earphones worked OK for that purpose, but they would sound terrible when listening to music and keeping them fitted in the ears was a difficult thing to do. They must have the worst ergonomics out of all! 

I never intended to replace my CX-500, because they were as good as they get, but with the lack of a mic, they were not very useful to me. I knew that Zagg made some iPhone compatible earphones with all their wisdom and quality, so I paid their site a visit, hoping to buy a set of earphones. There they were, the Smart Buds, with all the features and relatively cheaper price (compared to the others that they had compared it to) but still, the price was a lot. $80 + shipping for a pair of earphones, especially which might not be as good as the CX-500 in terms of the sound quality? No way! But the good news is that Zagg gives discounts once in a while, and sometimes as high as 50%. I waited for them to do this, but they never gave that discount. But a friend gave me a working 50% discount code. I quickly ordered a pair. That was on 2nd of August. 

Zagg Smart Buds

The package arrived yesterday, the 10th of August. Quicker than when I ordered stuff when I was in SL.

So I opened the package, plugged in the earphones only to remember that I didn’t have any music in my iPhone as I had recently restored the firmware. I synced it with iTunes and listened to “Love the way you lie” by Eminem – this is what I have been listening to the whole day – and I was very disappointed with the audio quality. I plugged in the CX-500 and sure enough, something was not right with the new earbuds! The Smart Buds gave no bass at all. For a second, I wondered if I got bitten by some good marketing ploys. But I kept listening to the music with the Smart Buds for a while, and I felt a bit of pain in my ears. The earbuds were not good. They were hard. Felt most like plastic instead of rubber.

The Smart Buds came with a set of replaceable earbuds of different sizes and shapes, just like the CX-500's. I replaced the existing ones with the biggest ones that were available, and tried it out. Wow! What a difference. Now they felt almost as good as the CX-500. (BTW, I’m only talking about the bass here. I’m not much of an audiophile really) Phew! I was beginning to feel relieved.

Now that the audio quality problem has been resolved, I wanted to test how securely they would fit when doing some activity. I wore them and went out on a bike ride and they worked excellently. They never felt as if they were about to come off. (It would not have mattered even if they came off because they would never fall off my neck). 

They say they are very durable because the wires are coated with the same material as the Invisible Shield. But I would use them carefully because they are new and I’m still not convinced that they won’t break. It will take some time for me to accept their claims. They don’t seem to tangle much either, just as advertised. But I didn’t take them in my bag yet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mobile VoIP apps suck!

Yesterday Fring released their latest iPhone version with full iOS4 compatibility. They did not just add iOS4 multitasking support, but they also added video calling capability to the iPhone 3GS and the rest. Yes, the 3GS doesn’t have a front facing camera, but you could use the main camera for video calling. That’s better than nothing.

But later, they had to disable Skype completely because they couldn’t bear the network traffic caused by this video calling. Now the Fring client is almost useless. Without Fring’s Skype video calling support, it is nothing. That is the main reason most people use the phone for. I mean, they didn’t just disabled Skype on the iPhone. They took it down from all of their clients, on Symbian and Android as well.

Now, I found out that you can do video calling on the native Fring protocol. But how stupid are they, that they don’t have a PC version of their software. So whenever I need to make a video call to Ama, I have to come online on the phone. And this is not even tested yet. We tried to test it, and then I couldn’t see her in my contact list and the battery on her phone died, so it was a failed attempt. I will surely try it again, because this could be the only way that we can make video calls in the future. Of course I can’t see her because her phone doesn’t have the traditional front facing camera, but at least she can see me.

And this doesn’t end here. The Skype client on her phone has gone haywire. It doesn’t work anymore. I don’t know what is wrong with it. The Skype client wasn’t supported on the phone anyways. But we could install it and it worked well when it worked. It gave the best delays. Now it doesn’t work anymore.

So there are two more clients. Nimbuzz and Fring. Fring was the only option for video calling. Now that it doesn’t work (at least the way it used to) there is not preference. But I can still talk to Fring through google talk and the quality it pretty good. Google is the next stupidest of them all. They have video calling on gmail website, but the binary client doesn’t support video calling. How stupid is that? Usually people give the lesser options to the web version of their apps. I guess it is the other way round with Google. They are without a doubt the rulers of the internet.

Couple of more things about Fring. Ama cannot make a call from her phone to me whenever she is connected via Fring. I have to make the call from my end. And the other thing is that it takes ages to connect to the service. When Skype was working, and when she was on Fring and I was on the PC, it might sometimes takes 10 minutes for her to appear on my contact list. You can’t make a video call whenever you want. So what I did was, I talked with her on GTalk and when she appeared on my Skype, I would disconnect the GTalk call and make a video call. Sucks!

With Nimbuzz (and Skype when it was working) this was not a problem. She could make the call. But today in the morning when I tried Nimbuzz, I could not see her, but she could see me and she made the call. I couldn’t make a call because she didn’t appear in my contact list. So weird.

The issues with Nimbuzz doesn’t stop there.

Sometimes in the evening when Ama connects to Nimbuzz, there is a huge delay. You might think this is like 5 seconds or something. LOL! I’ve got delays as long as 1 minute!! Can you imagine that? None of the other clients give that much delay. Fring’s delay is pretty awesome. Nimbuzz sucks in the department, and “sucks” is being too lenient. The other issue with Nimbuzz is that I cannot make calls from GTalk to it. It never connects. I don’t understand why.

Basically everything sucks when it comes to mobile VoIP calling. On the PC, Skype rocks and it is as steady as one can be. I just hope they will bring iOS4 supported version soon and with video calling as well. But, we won’t be able to make a video call because that would mean installing it onto Ama’s phone. That won’t work.

Best thing to do is to make her get internet at home and use a PC!!! But she will be away from home for another 4 months. >_<

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some COD4 multiplayer scores on NRNS server playing as a Sniper using Barrette .50 Cal

Following screenshots were captured while I was in Sri Lanka, with high ping on a slower PC.

COD4_Nushy_NRNS (4)COD4_Nushy_NRNS (1)COD4_Nushy_NRNS (2)

Following are with my new PC, and now I’m in Japan. So, better pings, but not amazing at all.

COD4_Nushy_NRNS (3)COD4_Nushy_NRNS (1)COD4_Nushy_NRNS (2)

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