New Tablet

 

New Tablet
New Tablet

In December I got a new tablet. It was kind of an anniversary/Christmas gift and I wasn’t sure if I really needed a new computer, but the moment I turned it on and started using it, I fell in love! It’s actually the first tablet computer I have owned although I have been using a touch-screen device since 2008 when I bought my HTC G1. My new tablet is a Dell Venue 8 Pro, which runs Windows 8.1. I was also interested in the Nexus 7, but kind of wanted something new and different (I have a largish Android phone also). The Venue 8 Pro was the right price and Windows 8.1 looked kind of fun. Plus I like Dell since that company has been so good to our family.

The 8″ screen size is really nice. It’s big enough to read manga and books on it comfortably, but small enough to hold in one hand. The screen in nice and bright (disable Dell’s auto-brightness), and the colors look wonderful. I love the lock screen slideshow feature on it. It is pretty great. There aren’t as many apps available for the Windows 8 ecosystem as there are for iPad or Android, but the ones I have found are pretty nice. Some native apps I am hoping for are: Instagram, Tweetdeck, Gmail, Google Calendar, and WordPress. Sure, I can just switch to a browser or desktop view and use the webapps, but a native app would be nice!

Which leads me to what I think is a cool thing about this tablet: it is running a full version of Windows 8.1 so I can just switch to desktop mode and “take care of business” there. For instance, there is a Dropbox app, but it is pretty terrible. You can’t really do much with it. But I was able to install Dropbox as I have on my other PCs and it syncs my photos and documents automagically in the background. I like to save photos to a directory, and this directory is the source folder for my screensavers on the tablet, as well as my PC’s. So I can save from any device, and it is added to my screensaver on all devices. It’s magic!

It’s not all wine and roses, however. There are a couple things that need to be improved:

  • Calendar sync with Google Calendars – Apparently this was removed in Windows 8.1. You can subscribe to the iCal link from Google, but that doesn’t update in a timely manner (can take up to a couple days!)
  • Storage space – I got the 32 GB version, but there is only about 5 GB of free space on it! The 64 GB would have been a better choice. Luckily, there is a micro-SD card slot on it and I fitted a 32 GB card in there, so I have plenty of space for media. But, you cannot install apps to the SD card. (you can have Dropbox sync to the SD card, however. Just Google it to find out how)
  • Keyboard quirks – The on-screen keyboard is generally pretty good, but I noticed that it helps to press down a little harder than I am used to. I want to use a light touch, but that often leads to the key being registered and being pressed 2 or 3 times… there may be a setting to fix this, but I haven’t found it yet. Also, the word prediction is pretty good (not as good as Swiftkey, though), but the placement of the words is too far from the keyboard!

All-in-all I love using my tablet (which I have named Sonmi-451). It’s so convenient and fun. Definitely worth it!

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (ヨコハマ買い出し紀行)

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Yesterday I started reading Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō on my tablet (via Manga Bird). So far it’s one of my favorite manga. Granted I have not ready hardly any manga, but this one is keeping my attention the most, which is strange because not a whole lot happens in it! But I love the simple style and the short vignettes have a certain charm to them. The manga started in 1994 and ended in 2006, which is interesting because the fashion that the characters wear is very ’90s. I am wondering if the belt-line on their pants will get lower as the manga progresses in years! One thing I really like about this one is that the main character rides a scooter. I guess that is why I liked Kino’s Journey (キノの旅) as well.

Gravity

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Over the Thanksgiving break I took Bay and my nephew Kai to see Gravity. Mariko had seen it earlier and said it was good and she was totally right. I loved the movie! Of course the special effects were amazing, but I liked taking the kids to see this one because it wasn’t a movie they would normally go to. Was a good break from kids’ fare!

Before Sunrise (1995) – Movie Review

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Why did it take me 18 years to see Before Sunrise?! I was absolutely mesmerized by it. The movie starts with the characters placed in a somewhat normal situation, but it becomes kind of magical, and yet totally believable at the same time. And the plot…well, was there a plot? Not really, but the dialog and acting were so great that they carried the movie. It is basically the story of two people meeting and falling in love over the course of one entire day. Simple, right? But there is something different about it. I think it is that the acting/casting really works, and the dialog is both off-the-wall, yet completely human. Julie Delpy is fantastic and Ethan Hawke impressed me as well.

I think I really connected with the story because my experience of moving to Japan and meeting Mariko was had some similarities to the film: I was living in an unfamiliar but fascinating country, and also became completely head over heels in love with Mariko in that first night after we met, and we are about the same ages as the actors in the movie. As you can tell, it’s a very romantic film, but I can really be a sucker for stories like thise, and who doesn’t like being in love? In the movie, Celine says “But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

I’m looking forward to the sequel “Before Sunset” to arrive from Netflix, and then the third movie “Before Midnight” as well! Highly recommended!

Honey and Clover / ハチミツとクローバー (2006) – Movie Review

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I found Honey and Clover (Japanese movie) at the local library and decided to give it a try since I have heard about the manga, but never really knew anything about it. The description on the back seemed to match the kind of movie I would be interested in: A group of art school students’ lives and the relationships that develop between them. While the characters were interesting and the setting of the story kept my attention, the plot itself was so lacking that I found myself wondering why I was watching the movie. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but nothing really does. Well, at least nothing that I would make a movie over. The love stories never really develop, the characters don’t grow so much, and I kind of find it difficult to remember how the movie ended, even though I just watched it a few days ago. I’m sure the manga must be good, but the movie just falls flat. Disappointed!