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Life's Simple Pleasures

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Samsung Portable SSD T3 Review

One of my regrets was purchasing a 128Gb capacity Macbook Pro. I never realised that I would eat through my storage capacity so quickly and am now struggling to manage whatever is left. I initially tried expanding my storage capacity using a Transcend JetDrive (an additional 128Gb capacity) but its transfer speed is so slow. I can’t use it to edit my media files which include RAW files from my camera and videos.

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Alternative Expansion Options

  1. I searched online for alternatives, there were some which include buying an OEM SSD from eBay whilst running the risk that it is from China and it may not work but that option was very expensive. It costs >RM2000 to expand my current storage to 500Gb. This option proved to provide the fastest transfer speed.
  2. Another option is to purchase OWC’s latest Aura drives. A 480Gb drive kit would set you back USD$399 and the drive doesn’t perform as fast as Apple’s own SSD (which boasts of >1000MB/s). The Aura drives in reviews only managed to clock up to around >700MB/s).
  3. The cheapest option I could find, getting an external SSD drive with either a USB 3 or Thunderbolt interface to ensure high-speed transfer. I went with the Samsung Portable SSD T3 model with 500Gb capacity.

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Initial Thoughts

I have absolutely no regrets purchasing it. First of all, the drive is so small and so light that I can barely feel its presence. Definitely a very portable device and yet, so thin and light.

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I am truly amazed by how much technology has advanced, this will definitely stay with me in my work bag as well as on my travels. The best part is that because it is an SSD, I don’t have to worry about dropping it.

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Look how thin it is in the image above! That is my camera lens cap for the Canon 24-105mm F4 on the very right.

Real World Performance

What led me to select this device is due to the performance benchmarked on the drive. Some tech reviewers have managed to get a decent result. It isn’t the best in the market but in terms of price and it’s portability, I can’t fault it at all.

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In order for me to also test it out, I didn’t run any scientific benchmarks because most of that have already been covered extensively by AnandTech, but what I did was to try editing the photos I took off the Samsung Portable SSD T3 directly on the drive. I loaded the camera RAW files into the drive and then opened up Lightroom CC and edited them directly.

In edit mode, there was a very slight lag at times but compared to other drives which I used it is a lot faster, especially when comparing it with my Transcend JetDrive.

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Conclusion

Overall the Samsung Portable SSD T3 meets my needs very well. It feels rugged and even if it doesn’t, I can always just paste a layer of bubble wrap over it to ensure “extra” protection. Is it better than the internal storage? No, always buy a Macbook Pro with a minimum of 256Gb of storage space if you have to work with media or even do programming with Xcode. To me, this will always be a temporary solution for my backup needs.

The problem? It isn’t officially available in Malaysia yet. I had to set up a [WTB] thread on the Lowyat forums and after a couple of months later, a nice gentleman who saw my thread brought a Samsung T3 back from Germany and sold it to me. Cheers buddy!

Evernote

Evernote Makes Changes to Free Subscription

I previously wrote about comparing note taking apps in one of my earlier blog posts. Times were simpler then because I had quite a fair bit of flexibility and I have been using the Evernote Basic Subscription since January 2013. I haven’t been the heaviest of users but it suited my needs, which is to access it on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook Pro.

Then I got this email recently in my inbox.

Evernote Changes

Here is the full text of the email.

Evernote Basic is changing
At Evernote, we are committed not only to making you as productive as you can be, but also to running our business in as transparent a way as possible. We’re making a change to our Basic service, and it’s important that you know about it.

In the coming weeks, Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices, such as a computer and phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. You are currently over this limit, but will have at least 30 days to adjust. Plus and Premium accounts will continue to support access from an unlimited number of devices.

Look for additional communication from us explaining how your account is changing and outlining your options. For more information about why we are making this change, see our blog post.

This was then followed by another email.

Evernote changes

Here is the full text of the email.

Keep Evernote on all of your devices
As someone who accesses notes on multiple devices, it’s important that you’re aware of an upcoming change.

In 30 days, you will be able to sync your notes to a maximum of 2 devices using Evernote Basic. Upgrading your subscription will allow you to use an unlimited number of devices.
Exclusive offer: Save 50% on a year of Premium
To make this transition as smooth as possible, we’d like to offer you 50% off a full year of Evernote Premium. Take advantage of this exclusive offer before August 6, 2016 for unlimited devices, more space each month, and access to all our best features.

What does it mean for me?

Due to these changes, I am no longer eligible to use the basic plan based on my needs. Prior to this, the basic plan allows users to be able to sync their notes to an unlimited number of devices. Also now, the basic plan is limited to 60Mb a month. A problem especially for those who like to take photos and attach them to notes (e.g. class lecture slides or scribblings on the whiteboard).

That means they are pushing me to use their Plus tier which now costs USD$3.99 a month (previously USD$2.99). I do love how good Evernote is, but I don’t think I love it that much to want to spend USD$3.99 a month for the service. Namely, because I don’t particularly like the feel of how the Apple pencil performs on Evernote. That is my one pet peeve. I have tried to switch to a full digital style of note taking but sadly, the Evernote isn’t as great compared to Apple’s native Notes app when it comes to jotting down notes using the Apple Pencil.

Conclusion

Because of the recent changes, I exported my notes from Evernote to Notes and deleted my account on Evernote.com. So I am now fully reliant on the native Notes app by Apple. Writing with the Apple Pencil is so much better with Notes compared to Evernote. There are a few other features which I wished Apple has included into Notes but at the mean time, it basically meet my basic needs for note taking.

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The Migration

Here is a simple step by step method to export all of your notes from Evernote to Apple’s Notes app.

  1. In Evernote: On your Evernote application, go to “All Notes
  2. In Evernote: Select all notes (⌘A) or under “Edit“, select “select all
  3. In Evernote: Select “File” and then select “Export Notes…
  4. Save the file on your Mac’s desktop. The file name will come with the extension “.enex” which is the Evernote XML Format
  5. In Apple Notes: Select “File” and then select “Import Notes…
  6. In Apple Notes: Navigate to the file you saved earlier and all of your notes will be available under “Imported Notes
  7. Voila, you have migrated your notes over.
Apple Maps

Why Apple Maps Malaysia is so far behind

There are a couple of things which Apple is good for and there are many things which they are great in. But when it comes to their Maps application, whether it is for iOS of mac OS, it certainly sucks. Of course, I mean this in the context that in Malaysia, it pretty much sucks.

So why does it suck?

Apple Maps is NOT updated frequently enough

Until only recently, the data in Maps got slightly better. But compared to the likes of Google Maps, it pales in comparison. Its like literally comparing a 9-year old kid’s knowledge with a university graduate. Data is key and what Apple lacks is accurate data here in Malaysia.

Yes, you can submit your changes in the iOS Maps application but I wonder how often that gets updated as well. Well, some credit does go to Apple as they have drastically improved the Maps from its initial release. If you search deeper within Apple’s Maps, you would notice that businesses that are registered there are data pulled mostly from FourSquare.

Google Local Guide

Recently, Google also launched Local Guide which encourages people to submit reviews, photos and correct errors on Google Maps and the businesses listed on Google. This is a brilliant move to encourage more user-generated content and the reward? 2TB of Google Drive space!

Apple Maps doesn’t allow businesses to update it

Until now, Apple hasn’t allowed businesses in Malaysia to update their listing on Maps.

A screenshot of "https://mapsconnect.apple.com" where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries

A screenshot of “https://mapsconnect.apple.com” where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries

Compared to Google where you can freely list your business after going through a verification process, this is where Google continues to play such a great role for SME’s in Malaysia hence enriching the content of their maps as well as business sites.

A workaround would be to get yourself listed on FourSquare so that the data is pulled from there to Apple Maps.

Lack of community support for Apple Maps

Did you know that after you have gained a certain number of points on Waze, it gives you access to their map editor (https://www.waze.com/editor/). You can log in with your Waze account, make a new listing, or submit changes using their online tool. Once that is done, send it in (via the Facebook Group) to the moderators for it to be approved. The moderators are mostly on a volunteer basis but at least the community continues to help grow the content on Waze. This is why Waze is so popular here in Malaysia and Apple’s Maps will continue to falter behind the incumbents.

So what should Apple do with Apple Maps in Malaysia?

In truth, perhaps Malaysia is not Apple’s focus as we are a rather small market. They might think that the best way is just to sell hardware (iPads, iPhones, Macs) here. I believe that is their problem. Their hardware rely on software to make them great. This is broken down to the operating system and the varierty of services applications which comes with iOS. They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

In terms of their Maps application, if they intend to really want to catch up with the likes of Google and Waze, they have some serious catching up to do.

  1. Get all of the business listings included to the Maps data. Whether it may be viaself-registrationn or via SSM Malaysia.
  2. Focus on key landmarks as well as places in Malaysia first especially all the tourist areas and world heritage sites.
  3. Provide incentives for businesses to register on Apple Maps
  4. Reach out to the local transport ministries and get transit data as well as help them build the data and let it flow to Maps. Most of the times when dealing with the local authorities, they may have legacy systems and antiquated processes and data. Offer to build it up for them and then connect to it via an API.
  5. Hire local map companies to provide the data and updates required for Maps within Malaysia including East Malaysia
  6. Build a community of map editors and data submitters and give them some incentives.

At the end of the day, this is just me complaining about the use of Maps. To me, I use Google Maps and Waze so frequently that the Maps app is buried deep but as Siri is integrated with iOS Maps, it bugs me that I can’t utilise the power of Siri. With the recent announcement during WWDC, I hope Google and Waze works on the Siri integration.

I also do hope somewhere out there, someone at Apple is reading this. Otherwise, I might just have to highlight it to the good folks at Apple Malaysia.

MarkLeo-WWDC16

What I Hope Apple will Announce at WWDC

Every year Apple will host their annual WWDC conference 2016 which stands for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. It will be held in San Francisco this year in 2016 and what can we normally expect from such a conference?

In 2014, Apple announced OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. Some features include continuity which includes handoff and airdrop. In 2015, Apple announced OS X El Capitan, Apple Pay being launched in the UK, WatchOS 2, updates to CarPlay and Apple Music. You can definitely spot the trend here, it’s all about software. Some folks might wish that Apple would announce some new hardware upgrades as well.

I for one, would like if Apple would announce the following items:

  • A refreshed Macbook Pro – The current one with the unibody design has been in the market since 2009. A year after my old Macbook Pro 2008. Of course, Apple has been hit a lot in the press lately for not having a machine capable of supporting VR. Hopefully, a new Macbook Pro from Apple might prove otherwise.
  • Software updates – I expect the usual updates, such as the latest version of MacOS (the new rumoured name for the Mac operating system), iOS, WatchOS and tvOS. What I would like is that Apple improves some of their native applications within iOS. I would love it if their reminders app for iPhone is updated and sexier. I currently use Wunderlist but the speed of which it loads up is quite slow at times.
  • A more advanced Siri – and also available for MacOS as well. I do hope that Apple allows more integration with Siri such as releasing API’s for various services in which Siri can search (not everyone lives in the US and want to search for NFL and baseball results).
  • Night mode for iOS devices! Rumours are strife with this new feature and it really isn’t something that difficult to implement. I can guess that this has a high probability of appearing.
  • A total revamp of the App Store for the MacOS. There has been a lot of complaints from developers that the App Store for MacOS doesn’t bring them enough cash compared to the iOS App Store. The App Store is indeed outdated and a revamp of the store is much needed to boost the store.
  • Improvement for Maps in Malaysia!
  • More watch faces for the Apple watch!
  • More native software for the Apple watch as well
  • 5K resolution external monitor from Apple

Pretty much what I do wish for is expected of Apple aside from their terrible native applications. I don’t see much of their applications gaining popularity unless they truly focus on them, making them a lot more functional and also easy on the eyes.

With a baby now, I might still be awake ready to catch the live stream of WWDC 2016 but with the amount of work I have to do, I might just sleep through it as usual and just read the news on the web.

FLIP Duo Official

FLIP Review: The British Plug Reinvented

The last time one of the projects I funded on Kickstarter arrived was a year ago, and that was the Myo. In truth, it has been sitting on my office desk for a while now and I rarely use it. Another project which I funded last year has finally arrived as well. It is the Flip Duo and Flip Quad by the guys from One Adaptr.

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What does it do?

What it basically is, is a USB charging adapter which plugs into the socket. The duo has 2 USB ports whilst the quad has 4 USB ports. What made it unique is the way how it is folded when it isn’t in use, making the adapter quite slimming.

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Flip Duo (L), Flip Quad (R)

Thanks to it’s Kickstarter campaign, it comes with a set of stickers which you can don on the adapter to make it stand out a little more.

In Conclusion

Essentially, with a 4-port USB adapter now in my bag, I can remove my other USB adapters especially the Apple ones which are quite bulky. I like funding these type of tech campaigns on Kickstarter and I am overall quite satisfied with the quality of the product. What I liked about the campaign was that even though there were delays, the campaign creators constantly kept us updated with updates such as the manufacturing in China as well as where there were some delays due to production fault.

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Flip Quad

Other Products by One Adaptr

Another interesting products from the guys at One Adaptr is the “Stack“.

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Stack is a fully extensible power strip with multiple modules for you to customise. Modules such as the standard AC power socket, surge protector modules, satellite surge protection and even USB power charging. Unfortunately, it is only available for US plugs at this point in time.

If you want to purchase a FLIP DUO or a FLIP QUAD, click here.

Check out the gallery below.

 

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