Ecosystem… Good or Bad?

I am rooted into Apple’s ecosystem, though I wouldn’t say I’m deeply rooted in it. I don’t have Apple TV, I don’t use Siri, but I do have the “basics” of iMac, Apple Watch and iPhone (I still have an iPad but I don’t use it that often anymore).

I enjoyed using them, they may not be the best device individually (and there will never be “the best”), but the fact that all devices I use on daily basis can interact and linked with each other closely, work seamlessly across each other really makes a whole lot of difference. Apple has refined and pushed the envelope on ecosystem more than anyone else, and that is something which I valued, and I understand not everyone will value the same.

Being able to send a message from my iMac without the need to grab my phone, opening a tab on my iPad and have the same tab shown on my iPhone if I want to, copy from one device and paste your from your clipboard to another device are just a few of the features proved useful when you are being tied down to an ecosystem. Not to mention the seamless connectivity of AirPods to any Apple devices has shown what kind of efficiency a locked down ecosystem can actually deliver.

Well, depends on how you look at it, it could be a curse or a blessing. There was once I felt concern for tying myself down and be in the mercy of one company. I made a switch back to Android, I was waiting patiently for the Surface Phone to arrive (which promised Apple-like integration with Windows), but in the end, none of them turned out to be a viable option or materialized. Ever since Surface Phone was dead, Microsoft promised better integration with Android will arrive, but we have yet to see it until today.

In the end, I’m back to the Apple’s ecosystem and been happy to stay there ever since. One may argue you don’t need to have your phone to be in-sync with your other devices, well, it may not mean anything to you, but it meant a lot for those who are really using it. I value the convenience, and I’m willing to even pay a premium for it.

Of course it’s not all good and rosy for the Apple ecosystem at the moment. There are many other things they can do to improve further. Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to work, app experience across platform (iOS, iPadOS and macOS) could still be better and so on. But I believe some of this will sure get iron out in the future.

So is ecosystem a good thing or a bad thing? You be your own judge.

iPhone 11 Pro… so?

Another year, another iPhone.

Another year, another round of memes, pundits comments, claiming “Apple is dead without Steve Jobs”, “Apple has no innovation”, “Apple is just playing catch up on Android” and so on.

Is the camera bump and arrangement ugly?
Well, yes. But once you understood the reason behind why such arrangement was necessary, I can live with that.

Is the asymmetrical design of the phone bugs me?
Hell yes. I do felt industrial design on the iPhone has gone downhill for the past few years.

The iPhone 11 Pro is the same as iPhone X and iPhone XS!
Well, aren’t the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s looked the same? Aren’t the Galaxy Note all look the same with just very minor tweak?

Okay, enough of rambling. So yes, I got myself the new iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green and 256GB storage. Well, it’s not like I want to upgrade from my iPhone 8 Plus, it’s more of like I need to upgrade because my telco contract has expired and I need to renew it this year, so… ya, here I am, holding on to this new iPhone.

Is it any good?
Of course it’s good.

Is it well worth the upgrade?
On the camera side, yes. Swapping from Touch ID to Face ID? Yes. Moving from home button to swiping gesture? Not bad. Other than that… nothing much to be honest, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.

My already-2-years-old iPhone 8 Plus is already a great phone in terms of sheer performance, the new one is faster and more efficient of course, but to be that significant for you to notice a difference? Well, not so. Anyway, Apple’s A-series chip has been leading the industry for quite awhile now, it’s not fair to expect them to defy the law of physics and come up with processors with quantum leap on a yearly basis.

How about Android?
Well, after going back and forth between Android and iOS for the past couple of years… I have decided to stay with iOS for the completeness of the ecosystem. I’m not a fan of Google and I am trying my best to distance myself from their services as much as possible. It’s just my personal preference, not like I’m against Android in total.

Sorry, this isn’t really a review of the iPhone 11 Pro as one might expect, you can easily search for a tons of them from the internet anyway. If you like it, just search for all the positive reviews and look at it, feel good about it and go spend your money. If you hate it, just search for all the videos that tell you “don’t buy the new iPhone” and you will be a happy person thereafter.

Why isn’t there a review? Is it because there really isn’t much to talk about? Well, maybe. Whatever the differences between my iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro are good to have. But honestly, I can live another year without them too. The only problem I have with my older iPhone is the battery has started to age, oh and did I mentioned the battery life on the new iPhone is pretty amazing? Plus the need to renew my Telco contract and hence… here I am with my new phone.

I’m not telling you to buy or not to buy the new iPhone. In fact I think none of the reviewers should. One should just share the usage experience and let you make the judgement call. If any of the improvements are significant enough for you, just go ahead and upgrade even on a yearly basis. If you just want to use an iPhone, honestly the iPhone 11, even the iPhone 8 series are still extremely capable and a hell of a phone in 2019.

Is this the best iPhone? Well, I can tell you straight the answer: The best iPhone is the iPhone that Apple will announce next year 🙂 There’s really no point in looking for the best. If you are happy with iOS, just look for one that fits within your budget and get it. Be it iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone 8 or even iPhone SE… till then.

为了这份爱…我们还能做些什么呢?

我在日本的第二天。没什么计划的一天,因为本来的计划就是让今天没计划…这么说会挨打吧?不过说实在的,今天就是那种“做什么都可以,只要是无所事事就好”的一天。话说来到东京旅行却抱着这样的想法,真的没问题吗?

毕竟并没有什么特别的计划,加上今天是星期天,感觉上去到哪里都会是人山人海的吧?想想来到东京,有什么地方我是没有去过的呢?想着,原来我倒还是没去过秋叶原,也就是传说中的宅男圣地!不过也算是动漫迷的朝圣之地啦。不过,对我而言,许许多多的动漫应该都已经变得非常陌生了吧?毕竟最近除了海贼王之外,几乎就没有看其他的动画了。

查看了一下地图与路线,嗯,没问题,离浅草蛮近的。于是,我搭上电车,来到了秋叶原。离开车站,一眼望去似乎到处都是宅男,不然就是游客,哈哈。喂,不可以以貌取人。我漫无目的的逛了几间商场,然后也在附近吃了顿午餐。不过说实在的,秋叶原真的是应有尽有,不该有的也有啊。那里有许多的二手店,贩卖着二手DVD,漫画,游戏光碟,二手动漫玩具等。我还看到有二手性感洋娃娃…那是用过的吗(>…<)?当然还有许多电子用品,动漫周边商品,还有就是女仆咖啡店和动漫主题咖啡店了。主题咖啡店在周末没有预约是绝对进不了的,所以我就找女仆去了…才没有啦,午餐是随便吃了碗乌龙面就解决了。真的,我有收据作证的!相信我!

另外,我还到了秋叶原附近的神田明神神社去参拜。这是一座简单的神社,但是却有着独特的特色,那就是适合秋叶原印象的动漫主题绘马和御守。很难想象神圣的事物会和玩闹的东西连接上来吧?这也是日本的特色之一,总是有这种出其不意的东西会让人会心一笑,也让人感到一丝暖意。参拜完毕,我到隔壁的文化交流馆去参观与买些纪念品。嗯、接下来该做什么呢?今天只想做些不吃力,不需要太多走动的活动呢……

于是,我延续着今天的动漫主题,来到了电影院。索性看一场电影吧!由于突然想起新海诚监督的新作《天気の子》正在上映中,于是我来到了电影院,打算抢鲜看一遍。在电影院前的我徘徊着,挣扎着。为什么呢?因为…没…有…字…幕…啊……字幕版的好像要等到月尾才会有。那看还是不看呢?想了许久,我还是买下了一张戏票。以我对新海诚监督的认识与了解而言,他不是那些会把太过复杂难懂的对白设计在电影内的人。大不了就像傻子一样坐在里面,别人笑你就跟着笑,别人哭你就跟着哭就好了!

话说戏票好贵啊…一张要1900円…看电影的过程其实和我脑海中熟悉的情况没多少落差。来到售票机前,选择介面语言,选择你要看的戏,选择你要的时间,你要的座位,然后就是付款和领取戏票。同样的有售卖爆米花和饮料的柜台,同样的得等到你的影院开放后才得以对号入座,同样的必须看上一大段的广告(不一样的是这里的英文戏都是配音的!狮子王的宣传影片中,动物们都在说日语!感觉就很…怪,哈哈!),最后电影终于发放,然后看完电影后大家把自己的垃圾带到外面去丢弃。

嗯,结果我还真的是哭了。《天気の子》这部电影讲述着离家出走的少年帆高,遇上了拥有能够让天空放晴的超能力少女阳菜。他们之间发生了许多的事情,直到有一天,阳菜因为使用能力过度而“蒸发”到另一个世界去。而帆高为了他们之间的爱,排除万难的把阳菜给救了回来。还是不要剧透太多好了,没看过的朋友就不妨去看一看这部电影吧。

电影有许多让人感动的场景,像是帆高不经意说出自己喜欢雨天而不小心伤了阳菜的心,还有就是他们如何在东京独自生活,为了爱,为了自己,也为了彼此而相依的情节,都让我不自禁的流下眼泪来。这些都是我们能够和故事产生联系的要素,也就是这些要素带动着我们的情绪,让我们投入电影的角色中,让我们的感情随着电影一起波动。有时候,这些不经意的画面勾起了我们那些尘封许久的回忆,让我们再次想起过往,想起一些最重要的小事。

看完电影后,不知道为什么我有着一种空虚的感觉,挥之不去。《天気の子》是一部好电影,那是不争的事实。但是,也许是因为它与上一部作品《君の名は》有着太多相似之处,所以让我有一点失望的感觉吧。两部电影都有着神明,传说,跨越时空等的相似桥段。但是,也许《君の名は》会让人更感动,更有共鸣也说不定,总觉得那段故事写得更有层次,更能让彼此勾起相似的记忆。这让我有些担心,新海诚监督的下一部作品到底会变得如何呢?是不是因为《君の名は》的门栏设得太高了,所以让我对《天気の子》的期待也过高了呢?

无论如何,还是得重申一遍,《天気の子》依然是一部不错的电影,大家还是可以去好好的看一遍的。也许你会认同我所说的,也许你会觉得这部电影更棒也说不定。不过,RADWIMPS的主题歌与电影配乐依然做得非常出色,而且这次的歌词也和电影非常贴切,这也让我格外的喜欢。在这里我就附上电影主题歌的歌词吧,希望你也会喜欢。

为了这份爱……我们还能做些什么?

两手空空来到这世界的我,还在时光的缝隙中痛苦的摸索着
那些已经放弃挣扎的以及那些聪明的人,都在这个胜者的时代里艰难的活着
无论是统治者还是神明大人都做出了一副漠不关心的表情,但他们明明是知道的啊
当勇气、希望、羁绊这些魔法失效时,他们却只是视而不见而已
尽管如此,从那天直到现在都是你在指引我前进的方向
就算我与世界背道而驰,你也一直陪伴在我的身旁

我还能为我们的爱做些什么?我还能为你做些什么?
你给予的这份勇气,我只想为了你而使用
这份与你一起找寻到的爱,如果不是你就毫无意义了
我还能为了我们的爱而做些什么?我还能为了你而做些什么?

难道命运只是摇骰子得出来的东西,还是说得全看神明的心情?
它是被强加的枷锁,还是我们自身绝不动摇的意志?
虽然有些实现不了的愿望与再会,还有那些解不开的误会与仇恨
但也有那些互相谅解的声音以及彼此紧握的双手
这颗星球今天也依旧闪耀着

我还能为我们的爱做些什么?我还能为你做些什么?
你给予的这份勇气,我只想为了你而使用
这份与你一起培育的爱,如果不是你就毫无意义了
我还能为了我们的爱而做些什么?我还能为了你而做些什么?

为何要让一无所有的我们看见梦想呢?
为何要在有限的人生里让我们看到希望呢?
为何总要赐给我们一些抓不住的东西呢?
但仍想紧紧抓着它的我们,看起来是否很丑陋?还是说很美呢?
神明啊,回答我吧!

情歌早已被唱完了,那些情话也早已在电影里被说尽了
就算是出生在这片荒野中的你和我,果然也……

还是有我能够为爱而付出的事
还是有我想要为了你而做的事

A Brand Story

Recently I have read a couple of books on some of the famous brands in the world, about the story behind their creation and success, about the vision, mission and values that formed a part of their identity. There were two books which I found to be particularly enjoyable and insightful to read:

“The Starbucks Story, How the brand changed the world” by John Simmons

The story of Starbucks has always been a fascinating one. A company that was founded by a few gentlemen who were obsessed over high quality coffee beans, which was then bought over by Howard Schultz, a man who was obsessed with the coffee culture and experience which he immersed in Italy. The whole brand was then transformed, from selling beans and brewing equipment to serving coffees and pastries, creating “The Third Place” that everyone will go besides office and home.

“Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

This is actually the first time I got to know the Nike brand in detail. I was surprised that the whole story was started off with Phil importing Onitsuka Tiger’s shoes, how it all went south in the end and ultimately led to the creation of their own shoe brand: Nike. The struggles of Phil and his fellowships was so real and raw, and it made me continued to read and read in order to find out what they did to get over all the hurdles. The story brought up the spirits behind Nike, on hindsight, you can really see where those spirits and rebellion came from.

Both books offered insight and behind-the-scene of how a brand was created, how their identity was defined. For Starbucks it’s always about customer experiences, for Nike it’s all about winning. Both books were easy to read and digest, and I learnt a couple of things about business management along the way as well. Even if you are not a business person, these books were entertaining enough for you to read and get to know the brand better, that is if you are a fan of these brands.

Goodbye AirPod… and Hello Sony WF-1000XM3

My AirPod was officially dead. It no longer hold its charge properly after almost 18 months of use. Despite people hating it, and I was one of them in the beginning, I started to love using it more and more, day after day. That’s until I ran into some frustrations (in particularly sound leakage) and got myself the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, which has been the king of noise cancelling headphones to date.

However, as pointed out in my earlier post, if there’s a choice, I would prefer something of a hybrid between AirPod and the WH-1000XM3 as I am not so much of a headphones person after-all. And after almost a year owning the WH-1000XM3 (and still using the AirPod on and off)… my dream was answered.

Thanks to AirPod, the wireless earbuds space has boomed. And then in came the WF-1000XM3. Sony seriously need to find a better way to name their products… That aside, this has become my go-to earbuds, replacing both AirPod and WH-1000XM3 (AirPod sitting in the museum now, while WH-1000XM3 was sold off).

I’ll not dwell too much on the technical aspect of the earbuds, in short, this beast provides true wireless, noise cancelling, excellent sound quality and great battery life. It is indeed a shrunk down version of the WH-1000XM3, with equally appealing aesthetic to boot.

My experience of using them so far has been positive. Both sound quality and noise cancelling are almost as good as its elder brother. In terms of noise cancelling, similar to its elder brother, there will be some white noise when it is activated, and it is still unable to handle noise cancelling well under windy condition. If you can’t get a good seal, your noise cancelling performance will degrade sharply. Anyway, for daily commute, this pair of earbuds does the job pretty well.

In terms of connection, you can’t pair this to more than one device at any one time, and transitioning from one device to the other is not as seamless as AirPod, which is to be expected. As for the connection stability, I do experience a few stutter in crowded places, which could be annoying to some. I believe like what others had pointed out, you’ll probably need Android devices in order to make full use of the new Bluetooth chip inside, I’m not too sure. By the way, I’m connecting to my iPhone 8 Plus.

The main concern I have will definitely be how well it stays in my ears. Similar to my AirPod, my right ear was the one that gave me the most problem in getting a good fit. Although these buds have not fall off from my ears for the past weeks, I do have a “less secure” feeling as compared to my AirPod in the early days of wearing it. Perhaps its due to the bulk of the size and weight of the earbuds is located further away from my ears, hence creating the sense of “it may drop off”. But as time goes by, I got used to it and it isn’t a problem anymore now. It survived the rush hour train ride and some stair climbing without any issue. Although it does look a little bulky, but once on your ear, it is actually quite flushed and didn’t protrude out too much.

Like what others had commented, it would be great if the earbuds are come with water resistant and volume control. Either way, it is not a deal breaker and I can live with it for now. Besides that, the black model comes with a case which has a soft satin finishing to it (the silver model looks the same too), and my concern is that this could be a dust/scratch magnet, or it will become pretty nasty looking as time passes. I would much prefer the function of multiple device connection to come as standard for the next generation.

All in all, I’m happy with the WF-1000XM3. It certainly lives up to the hype and will undoubtedly deserves a spot in my gear arsenal. It serves a good middle ground market between wireless earbuds and noise cancelling headphones, and I’m looking forward to see how Sony will improve on the M4 version. Till then.

Update: so far everything has been good except the Bluetooth connection to my iPhone, occasionally it will be a bit slow to connect. Also, occasionally right earbud signal would drop off for no apparent reason, and connects back by itself after few seconds. Both of these problems doesn’t occur like frequently, but still it adds up to the overall user experience. Will continue to monitor on this matter.