The Galaxy Note 8 hands-on impressions

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Bwahaha!

Samsung showcased the Galaxy Note 8. Now believed to be 100% less prone to spontaneous combustion.

After the disaster that was the Note 7, it appears that Samsung is making a strong comeback, hitting harder and stronger with the Galaxy Note 8. It should come as no surprise that Samsung jumped in to the whole dual camera thing and quite honestly, I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen thus far.

The Galaxy Note 8 features a 6.3-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED screen. That means the resolution is really, really high. It’s Samsung’s phone with the biggest screen after the Galaxy S8+, which has a 6.2-inch screen. Yeah, it’s only bigger by .1 point. Big deal, Samsung will still brag about it.

Two 12MP rear cameras with a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. It has this sassy Dual Capture mode that takes two photos at the same time, one standard, everyday shot, and a close-up shot.

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The 6GB RAM is cute but the 64GB-only internal memory is not. According to Samsung reps, Southeast Asia will only be getting the 64GB storage while Korea gets to have that juicy 128GB version. That’s fine, I suppose, the Samsung reps are optimistic, saying it has an expandable storage with a memory card up to 256GB storage. If you’re willing to shell out a phone this expensive, a few extra bucks for a memory card shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

In terms of firepower, the Note 8 is said to have the same Exynos processor as the Galaxy S8+. In fact, you can mistake the Note 8 for the S8+. So what separates the two? The Note 8 has a bigger screen, of course. It features front and back Gorilla Glass 5. It two cameras in the back. And it has the almighty S Pen.

The S Pen is a nice piece of hardware that goes with the Note 8. You can’t have a Note 8 without the S Pen. The two co-exists that way. If you don’t care about the S Pen, then dive for the S8+ instead. The two are practically the same anyway.

Now the S Pen’s new tricks involve translation to 71 different languages and currency converter, which is real nice if you’re quite the traveler. No need to use that awful Google Translate, yah?

I wish I was able to take a better photo. You know, hold it in a portrait fashion, and take a photo in that style. I know, I suck, so this will have to do. In any case, the two 12MP rear cameras are top-notch. You can never expect anything less from Samsung. They love their cameras. And cameras is the phone’s lifeblood that can persuade a customer into getting the phone or not.

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For the Note 8, Samsung introduces Live Focus, where you can basically blur out background image while focusing more into your subject. You do this real-time while the camera app is on and before you hit that shutter button. You can, of course, blur backgrounds after the photo has been taken.

Live Message is a feature that is quite similar to what Apple gave us. You can send animated texts and GIFs. Yay, so fun.

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If you’re wondering what else can the Note 8 do. Well, there’s the App Pair feature. It’s when you have two apps do the fusion dance, similar to what Goten and Trunks do in “Dragon Ball Z.” To clarify, you combine two apps to make a new icon. You tap this icon and two apps will split your screen in half. This is otherwise known as multi-tasking. It’s handy. With this feature, you can tweet your damn “Game of Thrones” spoilers without ever switching apps. Douche.

 

Samsung is talking a lot about their digital assistant, Bixby. It’s like Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. Samsung wants to be in the game. I suppose this makes sense, considering Samsung has a bunch of appliances. It makes sense that they want to create a universal system to build your smart home and your Samsung phone will be the nexus of it all. Imagine a future where you open up Bixby and ask the contents of your Samsung refrigerator? Ask Bixby how your kids are doing and it will open up your Samsung home surveillance cameras. Tell Bixby to cancel your subscription of Netflix because of that kinda-awful-but-fun “The Defenders.” It’s fun to think about all those things because we see that kind of technology in science-fiction films and people of today keep saying the future is here. But you got to consider, it’s scary too when that happens, cybercrimes is happening, and you wouldn’t want strangers gawking at you, in your own home, through your cameras, while they sit thousands of miles away. Thus far, Samsung’s security is airtight, so you got little to worry about, for the time being.

Bottom line is, the Note 8 is basically a slightly upgraded S8+. You’ll be paying a bit more for the Note 8 and I believe there will be people who are going to regard the extra camera and the S Pen to be worth it deals.

In any case, you get all these pretty neat stuff for the cost of college tuition fee for your favorite child for one semester.

Anno 1800

I love city-building games. The first one I spent hours into was, of course, Sims City. I’d open my StarCraft map editor only to design sandbox maps with a strong emphasis on building and expanding your base. “Terraria” and “Starbound” too, spending hours building towns and making resorts and all that pizzazz. So it saddens me a little that my poor laptop cannot play “Cities” Skylines” properly. But that’s alright, there’s “Prison Architect,” “Project Highrise,” and “RimWorld.”

Now there’s another, Ubisoft readies “Anno 1800” an industrial revolution city-building game. I doubt my laptop will be able to play this game. In any case, this looks really good and maybe someday I’ll get my chance.

Press release follows:

Ubisoft announces Anno 1800

At Gamescom, Ubisoft announced the development of “ANNO 1800”, new opus of the famous franchise that will take place in the 19th century. “ANNO 1800” is scheduled to be released in Winter 2018 on Windows PC.

Developed at Ubisoft Blue Byte, Studio Mainz, “ANNO 1800” brings players at the dawn of the industrial age, a time of industrialization, diplomacy and discovery. Players will have the chance to prove their skills as a ruler, as they create huge metropolises, plan efficient logistic networks, explore and settle new lands and dominate their opponents by diplomacy, trade or warfare.

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ANNO 1800™ combines the best of what the franchise can offer: a rich city-building experience, including a story-based campaign, a highly customizable sandbox mode and the classic Anno multiplayer experience.

“With ANNO 1800, we really wanted to please our fans by giving them the popular features of the franchise they love the most and combine it with an innovative gameplay and a memorable new setting” said Benedikt Grindel, Studio Manager of Ubisoft Blue Byte. “We can’t wait to share more content with players in the coming months.”

Ubisoft Blue Byte also offers players the opportunity to join their team in the creation of Anno 1800 with ANNO Union. This brand new community initiative will provide exclusive content, latest news, development insights, behind the scenes content and give them the opportunity to play the game early.

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Gamers will be able to help the studio shape the future of the franchise, as they will regularly be invited to share their feedback, vote on features, create content and get the chance to take part in play tests during its development.

To have the chance to take part of the ANNO adventure, please register here: www.anno-union.com

 

Now, this is my type of galaxy


One of my bosses in my day job was invited to an event in Singapore to learn more about Samsung’s newest tablet, the Galaxy Book.

It’s a device that’s designed to go head-to-head against the Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

I got my hands on it for a little while and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good portable device and lighter than laptops. And, according to my boss, comes with its own stylus and keyboard, unlike Apple where you need to get the Pencil and the Smart Keyboard separately. 

The keyboard that ships with the Galaxy Book is without its flaws. But it’s something you can really type with on the get-go. From my experience, the early moments of the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro’s keyboards were a little jarring and I needed to get used to it, much more than other foreign keyboards I’ve worked with. It also has those satisfying clicks whenever you punch them down.


It also runs on a Windows 10 platform, something I’m familiar with. Though it’s likely 1000x susceptible to malware infection, depending on your online activities. But that’s more of a cybersecurity matter. 

In Philippine peso it’s priced around 40K, about a little more than $1,000. It’s almost carries the same price tag as an aged Apple MacBook Air, which I still consider a really damn good typing machine.

In any case, I like the Galaxy Book. Consider this Certified DAMN!

Press release follows:

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest offering in the workbook segment boasting of combined power and mobility for the go-getters. Working on the go will be a breeze as this workbook is powered by Windows 10 Operating System, pre-installed with a Microsoft Office Suite, and comes with a full-keyboard cover case.


If you’re one who loves taking notes down old-school style, you will surely love the S-Pen. The Galaxy Book’s Advanced S-Pen has a fine 0.7mm pen tip for precise note-taking and drawing. Its high-pressure sensitivity provides a realistic writing experience that will surely delight he writers out there.

The Galaxy Book also helps you keep that corporate style on point. No need to lug around your bulky laptop in that extra bag. This new innovation comes in an elegant all-metal body–only at 8.99mm thin, and lightweight at 648g.

The Spoils of War

Spoilers for the seventh season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Quick update: Noticed I’ve been spelling “Valyrian” as “Valerian.” Damn the Thousand Planets!

Holy shit.

That was one damn good episode.

With only seven episodes left, things are wrapping up really fast. We are being pushed in breakneck speed from one scene to another, giving us just enough screen time to let us know what’s up with this character and the next. In the previous episode, Samwell Tarly has, apparently, cured Jorah Mormont of his greyscale disease. I believe this will be the last we will be seeing them until a much later time, maybe even in the season finale, or as far back as the final season next year. There just doesn’t seem anything for them to do anymore at this point. Unless Sam discovers something important and Jorah reaches Dragonstone, where Dany and her army is currently residing.

The lowest point of “The Spoils of War” is the interaction between Cersei and the Iron Bank. Sure, we now know all about the debt being paid in singe installment, and that, the Iron Bank may back out last minute when things go awry.

At Dragonstone, Jon showed Dany the cavern of dragonglass, and we get to see drawings on obsidian, of the First Men and the Children of the Forest, working together to face the Night’s King and his Army of the Dead. At this point I can’t tell if Dany is convinced of the threat far up north, but instead uses this to tell Jon that he should bend the knee. Of course, Jon reasons why he cannot, and to this, Dany points out that isn’t survival more important than pride? Something if I remember right, was something Jon said to Mance Rayder and we all know how he ended up. Whether Dany believes Jon or not remains to be seen yet. Though, at this point I’m incline to believe that Jon has secretly bent the knee, acknowledging Dany as Queen. Why? Because he needs to damn it and he’ll need to smooth things out later with his compatriots waiting for him at Winterfell. In a lightly humored scene where Davos tried to give Jon a proper title, “King Snow” or “King Jon” and the young dragon-wolf hybrid only says, “It doesn’t matter.” Why doesn’t it? Because he’s already pledged to Daenerys Stormborn! I could be totally overthinking this.

Speaking of Winterfell, Arya is finally back home, with a warm enough welcome from Sansa and an odd enough greetings with Bran. I found it impossible not to grin and laugh out loud at to see three Starks in one scene. Littlefinger handed Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that was meant to split his throat in season one, which he passed onto Arya. Sansa tells Bran that Littlefinger wants something out of this. Bran, being the emotionless bastard he is now, says to her that it doesn’t matter. It’s chewy in way. I like to this of this as, “Whatever Littlefinger wants doesn’t matter because he will die soon.” Arya being in the same castle with Littlefinger makes things interesting. Another name to cross off the list? Maybe not yet. I don’t see it happening soon unless some real shit happens.

Talking about Arya a lot, I bet everyone is eager to see more of her in action. She did open this season by unrolling a carpet of blood. So we see her spar with Brienne of Tarth, and we get one of the show’s top fight scenes. It’s also a point that having a secondary weapon is a huge game changer in how Arya will engage in melee combat. Also, I’m certain Bran handed her this Valyrian steel weapon for a reason far more than what she might have expected: Something to fight the Wights with.

There are a lot of reunions in this episode. Theon Greyjoy spots Jon Snow as he reaches shore with the rest of the survivors of Euron’s surprise attack on Yara’s (Asha) fleet on route to Dorne. Some of us might have expected the worst, considering it was because of Theon that Winterfell collapsed into the hands of Ramsay Bolton, and where a series of unprecedented shit took place one after another. But all seems well, in a way, since Theon did help Sansa escape, and Jon, apparently, knows about it after all. When Theon said that he intends to get Dany’s help to rescue Yara, Jon replies that, to me, sounds like they’re in pretty “okay” terms, that she isn’t around.

Where is she? Theon asked. In an earlier engagement, Dany learns that Casterly Rock has been taken, however, news about what really happened just pissed off the Mother of Dragons. This incident, plus the loss of Dorne and the Greyjoy as allies, drives Dany to consider desperate measures. She intends to take the dragons and burn the Red Keep. Tyrio warns her about this. And Dany, turned to Jon Snow, about what she should do, obviously looking for someone to take her side. Jon, says something about melting cities with the dragons will only make Dany look like the tyrant everyone has seen and feared. And now, we set our sights at Highgarden, and the Lannister army preparing to take their leave. Jaime and Bronn, riding off in a sunny afternoon, engaging in puny banters and all the stuff that happens after a big battle, when their battle instincts kicked in.

We learn that Dany’s response to all of her misfortunes, was a big flip of the table, screaming “Fuck this shit!” The Dothraki horde charges toward the Lannisters as they get into formation. Then fire rains down above them, creating a blackened streak on earth filled nothing but ashes.

The intensity of this episode was grand and filled with dreadful moments. You don’t know who to root for. You know that these Lannister people are just doing what their lord (or Queen) commands, who has families of their own – as made evident by Dickon Tarley, Sam’s brother. Not to mention that Jaime and Bronn are at the heart of chaos. Two characters we’ve been following since the first season are put into the most dire situation yet. I honestly believed this was it for Bronn, as much as I didn’t want it to. He fumbled around the battlefield but still did an admirable job at navigating through all this mess of burning bodies while being hounded by a Dothraki.

When Bronn manages to get into Qyburn’s invention, which is the medieval equivalent of an armor-piercing heavy sniper rifle, I was howling in my thoughts that Drogon – one of Dany’s dragons – could be in danger. And I wasn’t far off there. While Drogon survived the attack, the damage was dealt, but without them destroying the weapon, and Bronn making a swift exit. How hurt Drogon is remains to be seen, but as Dany tried to pull off that massive spear of an arrow, Jaime finally gets to see the daughter, whose father he was sworn to protect, in the flesh. He charged his stead forward, picking up a random. He knew what he was doing. As soon as he impaled Dany, that dragon will fucking tear him apart. But he charged anyway. No doubt he was thinking about Cersei and if he died, so did that secret of who really killed Joffrey. A last minute save from, Bronn, I think, tackling Jaime down to a river as the credits began to roll.

I’m glad Jaime and Bronn are alive, in the meantime. It would also be terrible for Tyrion, who was watching the entire battle from afar, to witness his brother’s death. Though I imagine Jaime to stick a little longer. Maybe he’ll die a romantic death, turning Queenslayer to protect Cersei, or maybe Cersei would kill him behind his back, to spare him of witnessing her own demise. It’s all speculation at this point. But if Jaime and Bronn haven’t been swept by the river, they’ll be taken as hostages at most.

Only three more episodes before the season ends and we’ll have another agonizing wait for an entire year to see how things unfold.

The Simple Advice

I’ve been writing stories since I was in the third grade, I think. I started with horror stories and the following year I ventured to my first fantasy story, which was a bland ripoff of some science-fantasy anime I used to watch.

Anime and film had been my inspirations. Books were never a thing for me until I was much older. So in my younger years, I basically skipped the basics, and did a bunch of experiments I thought at that time were brilliant.

In the end, there were not at all that great. Fast forward a few years later, my first books were Harry Potter one to the “Order of the Phoenix.” I had, at that time, also read “A Game of Thrones” and “The Gunslinger.” And I thought I’ve learned a lot from those.

The first ever epic I’ve written was called “Dragon Wars,” I was in my third year high school, and I’ve gone halfway through it before deciding to show chapters to some friends and to my grandma. Of course my friends liked it, of course they did. Grandma liked it too, so, of course she would give me a pat on the back. However, she added, “You should explore more on writing simpler sentences.”

I refused. I wanted to be eloquent and dramatic! I was thinking, she didn’t get it. She hadn’t read the books I’ve read, which were, what exactly? Harry Potter, Thrones, and Gunslinger. Nah. I wanted to write shit sentences like, “The susurrus of thousands of leaves rustling in the cold and violent night allowed him to see through the prestidigitation and blahblah.”

In short, I was a thesaurus whore, thinking the more complicated words I used, the more lyrical and more poetic my words would sound. I only realized I’d look like an asshole. I looked at Rowling’s books and King’s, and found that all they ever used in their stories were simple words. Words that paint images as soon as you read them. George RR Martin’s prose is just as easy to read, he never used words that would make you flip through a dictionary, or make you pause to wonder what the fuck did that word mean.

As my readings expanded, I learned that most authors just use words so simple, the story moves on in a fluid and comprehensive pace. And it’s a wonderful experience to go through that phase. The problem is this, it’s how you construct the sentences, how you piece together these simple words to bring out readers’ imaginations.

Later I started reading a bunch of books about writing. There’s a lot of useful advice out there that can inspire writers. But I found that “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White to be the best source for writers, because they teach you the most basic form of writing from which you can build upon your own voice.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way as works I’ve been so proud of were crushed or dismantled by beta readers and critics. It’s an experience worth going through and I like to think that my voice has grown over the years. But I’ll never forget that aspect, where you need to write with simple words to build a story that every reader can understand.

Rayman Legends to make a big Switch

I love platformers. I grew up with Mario, Sonic, and a bit of Mega Man. Rayman was the first PlayStation game I have ever played. I loved it back then and I love it now.And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that “Rayman Legends” isn’t one of the most intense and best platformers we’ve had in a long, long time. 

Ubisoft appears to be milking the Legends title some more instead of making a proper sequel. It has been a number years already and I’ve met people who had double dipped on this from PS3 to PS4, and some even willing to triple dip when it comes out for the Nintendo Switch.

In any case, posting a press release sent to me by one of my pals from Ubisoft.

Press release follows:

RAYMAN LEGENDS: DEFINITIVE EDITION LAUNCHES SEPTEMBER 12 ON NINTENDO SWITCH

Ubisoft announced that “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition” is coming to Nintendo Switch on September 12, 2017.


Rayman, named platformer of the year and winner of multiple artistic and musical achievements, is coming to the Nintendo Switch for the first time with “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition.” It allows up to four players and offers an exclusive wireless local multiplayer experience in Kung Foot mode. With the Nintendo Switch device undocked, players can use the touch screen to take out enemies, manipulate platforms, cut ropes and much more, anywhere, anytime, in both solo and multiplayer. Additionally, players will experience a new and exclusive tournament feature in an updated Kung Foot.

Set in the enchanted world of Rayman, “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition” follows Rayman and his colorful band of friends as they discover a mysterious tent filled with a series of captivating paintings. The gang must run, jump, and fight their way through each world to save the day and discover the secrets of every legendary painting.

Grim Company

I just finished reading Luke Scull’s “Grim Company” 2am last night. I ended up waking up real late and having to explain to my boss about my tardiness, especially on a day when important stuff was about to happen.

In any case, it was worth it. I spent about three days reading through the book, with about a total of seven hours. Not a record breaker or anything, except on day three, when I started reading at around 9pm.

I enjoyed the background. Magelords risen up to gods, the corpses strewn on the land, where magic is harnessed and all the other cool shit happening. It was a massive thrill ride from start to finish. The characters were interesting and full of so many flaws, so many you can’t help but actually appreciate them for it. One of the main character, Davarus Cole, well, let’s just say he’s a dick, but he always meant well, despite himself. And, even someone like him actually becomes a fun character to follow around.

I really have no idea what else to say about it. It’s fun, full of action, there’s an amazing background, the characters are awesome, and there’s so much more happening behind-the-scenes. No, not another game of politics, this one swings the action and doesn’t let up. There are looming threats that we’re all familiar with.

Prose is great! Though I’ll be a little direct here. Scull isn’t on the level of George RR Martin or Steven Erikson, when it comes to piecing words together in the most stylish and thought-provocative way. But Scull delivers full clarity, with images bursting into your mind as you read through the pages. It’s glorious writing when you lose yourself in the words and just find yourself sitting in the middle of the entire book like you were just watching an IMAX film.

Wrapping this up, “Grim Company” is one of the best damn books I’ve ever read in recent years. And I’m eager to get started with book two “Sword of the North” as soon as possible.