Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not in my name

Here we go again, the US and UK, together with France, are once again hell bent on destabilising an entire region by planning a premeditated invasion against the government of Syria. Only this time, in support of Jihadist opposition led by al Qaeda. You know, the people who kinda hate us. So it kinda makes you wonder what the fuck is our PM drinking when he comes out to support al Qaeda.

In the meantime, we are slowly groomed by our media, particularly the BBC, Guardian, Independent and Times (thanks to this little Orwellian system known as the DA-Notice), into believing that entering the war is necessary based on a lie. Fortunately many of us still remember when our governments lied to us about Iraq's none-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction program. Again, no solid evidence, just warmongering by governments finding an excuse to justify lining up the pockets of the military industry. Remember David Kelly?

I would think that if anyone used chemical weapons, it would be the al Qaeda rebels, who has access to our government's chemical weapons stoke piles. And since when do we take the moral high ground? US attacks on thousands of innocent civilians using drones are absolutely okay, last I read.

You can't fault al Qaeda for the shrewd way in which they managed to lead every western powers and their media buddies to their cause, especially after how successful they were with the Libya campaign (by bombing civilians with the help of NATO). Convince the US and UK to take down Assad and once he is gone, they can then take over the country and whatever weapons left behind. Hook, line and sinker.

It amazes me that our government is willing to close schools, hospitals and fire stations but they suddenly have billions to go on another jolly war to appease some arm manufacturer buddies of theirs. Still it is hopeless. This unelected government is hell bent on going on another war whether we approve or not. If this sparks World War III, then well, we told you so. Except we would all probably be dead by then.

This is frightening stuff. But I see Barack Obama and David Cameron, like their past predecessors, George Bush and that psychopath Tony Blair, haven't got a clue. Will our governments ever learn? Evidently not.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Flesh & Buns by Bone Daddies review

Flesh & Buns is the newest venture from Ross Shonhan, the brains behind the brilliance that is Bone Daddies, one of London's finest Ramen noodle bars. Located in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, the restaurant is described as a Izakaya-style restaurant (a drinking den that serves food). Not surprisingly, the venue of the restaurant is at the basement of the Thomas Neal's Centre.

Naturally, the drinks menu, populated with choice of sake, whisky, shochu, beer, wine, champagne, cocktails and anything in between, is even more expensive than the food menu. Still this is not what I want to write about. In addition to the usual appetisers and starters (including sashimi), Flesh & Buns serves Chinese-style steamed buns (also known as hirata buns). These buns originated from China or Taiwan or Korea depending on who you speak to.
The buns served here are modeled after the Taiwanese version and made at a Chinese bakery in London so as they are more suited to the British palate. Still, the buns were mostly perfect, soft and chewy enough without getting too soggy and breaks when dipped. The buns also have the right balance between sweetness and saltiness.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meridian Explorer ears-on first impressions

The Meridian Explorer is a new pocket size USB DAC by Cambridge based audio company, Meridian. The portable audio gear is aimed for those who aims to improve the audio quality delivered by their computers. It is designed to bypass your PC's normally inadequate sound card as the source.

A CD and MP3 file typically contains audio tracks in 16-bit resolution and 44.1kHz sampling. For some people, this isn't enough. Specialist stores do sell albums encoded in 24/192, but these are rare and expensive. The Meridian Explorer on the other hand is designed to take these 16/44 files and up sample them. This isn't quite the same as buying audio files encoded in native 24/192, and is more akin to buying a Blu-Ray player that is capable of up sampling a 1080p source for playback onto a 4K monitor.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My review of a dead Samsung Galaxy S4

Well this is awkward. This blog post should have been a review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Android smartphone but alas, circumstances beyond my control has lead to this diatribe instead.

About 12 days ago I bought a white Galaxy S4, replacing my seven month old HTC Windows Phone 8X. I didn't need a new phone, I just wanted one. Before yesterday, the phone already had some teething problems but nothing too unusual. It doesn't charge as quick as it should but charge it does. Other problems are typical of a Samsung Galaxy phone - cheap build, scratch easy material and a laggy almost-forked Android OS. This despite a powerful Snapdragon 600 SoC - you know, the same one that powers the incredible HTC One with gusto.

In any case, yesterday I left the phone on the charger after a furious session of Temple Run 2, then went out for lunch. Returning I found a phone that is hot to touch, that refuses to boot up and wouldn't charge. I re-inserted the battery and tried again. Nothing. I switched to another micro USB cable as these cables breaks every other day. I even used a clean toothbrush the clean the S4's USB port (seriously, micro USB is the worse standard the industry has ever forced on us). I tried other USB chargers including one by Apple, another by Sony, another by Motorola and another by Google/Asus. No luck.

So there you go. A dead S4 was all I have to report for this blog post. Fortunately for me, the shop I bought it from refunded me. Still it kinda has put me off the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and its millions of variants) somewhat. I was back in the market for a new phone, and I almost bought a Lumia 925. Still, I think I will be waiting until Nokia announces the Lumia 1020's availability in this country (there is more to the world than the Americas, Nokia), and see what Apple and Google has in store for the next iPhone and Nexus revision.

The camera's pretty good though, despite the narrower focal length.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SGP Spigen Neo Hybrid for Samsung Galaxy S4 review

The Samsung Galaxy S4 might not be the prettiest smartphone out there, so when I recently acquired the soon to be former Android flagship, I set out to search for a case that would not only protect my investment, but also 'prettify' the phone. It wasn't easy. Fortunately I had an old case I once used on the Galaxy S2 lying around. A quick search on the web reveals that there is a version for the S4.

The Neo Hybrid is a two piece hybrid case. It comes in two separate parts, the inner layer which is made of silicone rubber, and a polycarbonate skeleton bumper-ish frame. This frame is designed to go over the base silicone layer. This gives the case a unique look, as well as offering users a small degree of customisation. In addition to the yellow I ordered, SGP also offers the Neo Hybrid in black, white and red variants. Three jelly bean button stickers are also included.
Unlike the many dodgy silicon cases you find on eBay, the silicon rubber inner case is soft and flexible. Installing the case is easy enough. First slip the silicon case over the phone. Once the inner case is fitted, you then simply slot the outer glossy skeleton frame into place. This isn't as easy as it appears as the frame is very tight and snug so make sure you have your largest memory card already installed. You would not want to be removing this case often.

Baby wants a new 4G network

I am no big fan of o2, but o2 launching 4G LTE this month would be the best thing they have done in a while. Ever since EE announced their LTE network last year and then their disappointing tariffs, we have waited for at least one of the other big UK networks to enter the ring. Not that we needed 4G as Three's DC-HSPA network seems to be doing fine with download bandwidths, but gosh wait until you how capable LTE is with upload (something 3G has always struggled with).

o2's basic 4G LTE tariff starts at £26 a month, which is a fair bit higher than what I normally pay (roughly £10 a month on pay as you go - I've stopped doing contracts and so should you), but hei, if LTE can replace dumb land line pipes then awesome. Sadly I am willing to bet good money that its basic tariff will introduce plenty of limitations. Still I will be glad to be proven wrong, such is our desire to be unshackled by the monopoly that is BT.

In any case if o2 launching 4G LTE means GiffGaff getting it as well, then that would be just swell.