19 1 / 2014
(PS Vita TV left, Apple TV 3rd gen right)
At the end of my trip to Japan, I bought a PS Vita TV for 9500 yen, with 32GB memory card for 4500 yen, after 1000 yen discount applied. The shop in Shimbashi kindly offered 3 month free subscription for PlayStation Plus as well, which I will talk about later.
This is a Japanese model, which is so far the only available model as I know, since the US model ETA is still up in the air.
- It’s very small, even shorter than an iPhone 5s
- Setup is easy, just connect via HDMI and put your Dual Shock controller with USB to pair
- It doesn’t come with a controller, but there’s a bundle for it. I got mine from @drikin (thanks!)
- The video output is 720p/1080i. Games with 720p doesn’t look so bad, but the menu UI is arguably ugly and you can see pixels when you put on a giant TV monitor.
- So far I don’t see a region lock. Signing in with my JP PSN account seems to work with no problems. As with iTunes store, you probably need a credit card with Japanese billing address if you want to buy games from JP store.
- This is basically a PS Vita with HDMI out and wireless controller. Except some games that require touchscreen or motion sensor, most of Vita games as well as PSP and archive games can be played on TV.
- The Japanese PS Plus subscription gives loads of free play games for Vita, PSP and archives. I’m currently playing Stein’s Gate, Yuusha no kuse ni namaikida and LIMBO. With 500 yen ($5) per month, I love this Netflix model of gaming.
So far I’m happy with the purchase. My last game console was PS2, and I’m not a hardcore gamer with the current titles anymore. But I still want to play old titles time by time - This device allows me to play dozens of free games with monthly subscription, buy classic titles for $6-10 or even current Vita titles for slightly less than the package equivalent, download them onto the storage to play on TV.
When Nintendo announced something called “Wii mini”, i was hoping for something similar i.e. a console that requires internet and lets you play only Virtual Console and Wii Arcade titles. The actual product was the opposite - it’s a standard Wii without an internet support.
I’m skeptical whether this gadget sells well though, when hardcore gamers will buy PS4 soon and light gamers like me mostly play games on iOS or Android phones and tablets. But for me, for now, it’s a perfect console to put alongside my Apple TV and Chromecast.
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15 1 / 2014
I already blogged about this a couple of times before, but here’s a current snapshot of my podcast production setup at Rebuild.fm
My regular guest (Naoya Ito) now uses Blue Yeti which I used before. Blue Yeti is a condenser mic and records great audio, while it’s picky to the background ambient noise. ATR 2100 USB might not sound as good, but because it’s dynamic, it records a clean, almost noise free audio. It definitely needs a pop filter or wind shield like I do.
As a next step, I could probably increase the quality even better by switching to Rode Podcaster, or because ATR 2100 has an XLR output, by using a USB audio interface.
I use the Call Recorder software to record my voice locally, and record the guest’s audio as a backup. I ask the guests to record their audio using QuickTime and do a local sync.
Caveat: It could cause some drifts, and sometimes an echo when a guest uses a headphone with leaky audio. In that case I fall back to the Skype recorded audio.
- Audacity - Noise Reduction
- GarageBand ‘11 - Editing
- Levelator - Normalize
- LAME MP3 Encoder - Encoding to MP3 (64k Mono)
GarageBand was updated recently, but it doesn’t seem to give any love to podcast producers. Logic Pro X might be worth considering.
Read more about the process at Jason Snell’s article on MacWorld.
My Podcast is organized with Jekyll and hosted on Linode with a simple Nginx setup along with audio files as well. I considered hosting them on S3/CloudFront, but hosting MP3 will cost a lot of money, which otherwise only costs $20 for 2TB traffic with Linode.
Previously I was using Mixlr with its paid account to do the live streaming. It worked quite well, and has a benefit of sending push notifications to its mobile app users upon streaming.
I switched to Icecast and Darkice since i have more control by running the streaming server, and it costs nothing in addition to the regular linode setup.
I run a Skype bot on Mac mini (at my parent’s home actually) and wrote a script to send Soundflower audio to an Icecast server on Linode. Just adding the bot to the Skype conversation starts the streaming.
Go look at more detailed explanation from Dan Benjamin.
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26 12 / 2013
All of my photos taken with my camera and phones are organized in Lightroom. All photos are backed up to Amazon Glacier using Arq. I’d love to share only the selected photos with my family, but also share specific collection with friends without accounts.
- Share photos with family
- Family use a combination of PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android
- Sync/share the whole photo collection automatically to computers and tablets
- Nice if synced folders are read-only, so that Family can’t delete my photos
- Share specific collection with friends with secret URL (web sharing)
Number of selected photos are roughly 800 photos per year: exported with 2048px/JPEG with LR, about 1.5GB with 3000 photos.
(Photos with longer edge 2048px or below don’t count towards storage for iCloud and Google+)
|Features||Flickr||Adobe Revel||Dropbox||iCloud Photo Stream||Google+/Picasa||BitTorrent Sync|
|Storage||1TB||Unlimited||2GB~||1000 pics/album||15GB 1000 pics/album||Unlimited|
|Premium Pricing||$50/y||N/A||100GB $10/mo||N/A||100GB $15/mo~||N/A|
|Private Sharing||Family||Yes||Yes||Yes (Apple ID)||Yes (Google Account)||Yes|
|Read-only Sync||No||No||No||Yes||with apps||Yes|
|iOS app||Yes||Yes||Yes||iOS Photos||Best Album, Web Albums||Yes (no gallery)|
|Android app||Yes||No||Yes||No||Gallery, G+ Photos||Yes|
|Secret Link||Yes (GP)||Yes||Yes||Yes?||Yes||No|
|AirPlay||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (with apps)||No|
Clearly there’s no one app that does everything I want. Need to pick up a few and let them what they can and are good at.
Not going to use:
- Flickr: no sync, poor official iOS/Android apps.
- Revel, iCloud: Pretty close but no Android client support.
- BitTorrent sync: syncing photos with Android storage
- synced folder on Mac: Wi-Fi sync with iTunes, Home Sharing with Apple TV
- Google+ Photos: Android viewer, iOS sync/viewer (Best Album) and secret link
- Dropbox: iOS/Android viewer and secret link
Pretty much everything is automated with Lightroom Smart Collection publishing.
Dropbox and BitTorrent are almost interchangeable, but: Dropbox does web-based sharing and Photo Albums, while BitTorrent Sync has unlimited storage and read-only Sync.
By the way, it’s a shame that Chromecast doesn’t support any slideshow at all, even when you have bunch of photos on Google+.
This research is probably not fair to Flickr, because there might be third party apps that enables sync and offline viewing that I haven’t researched.
I haven’t bothered such options, particularly because my Flickr account is a full of mess that I don’t want to deal with. G+ has a clear advantage that has a clean start for me.
However Google+ also has a better support for Japanese customers than Flickr/Y! - remember, Flickr is a yahoo.com service and there’s no Japanese language on their site/app.
Again, this is not a comprehensive research - probably there are third party apps that enables some of the features in the table.
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02 12 / 2013
Back in October T-Mobile announced Simple Choice unlimited global data roaming, which provides free global data/text roaming (and 20c/min voice) in most foreign countries.
After purchasing an unlocked iPhone 5s for wife, and Nexus 5 for myself, we terminated AT&T contract ($130 ETF), and then merged my T-Mobile prepaid into now family shared Simple Choice that makes us eligible for the free roaming.
We’ve been traveling Europe for the past 2 weeks, in Denmark, Germany and then UK. For each country, after getting off an airplane, all I need to do is to turn off the airplane mode, and the phone starts to roam. It just works.
The network can be chosen automatically by default, but if you have a specific network you want to connect in mind, you can do so in the settings of your mobile OS. I chose 3 (Three Hutchison) in Denmark and T-Mobile in both Germany and UK.
If you’re on AT&T or Verizon, you might have used a similar way of roaming with the data package. But that’s expensive, like $30 for 300MB. And then it will be prorated and you have to do the math every time you use data. With T-Mobile, it’s unlimited.
The only catch with this free roaming is that the data is capped at 120kbps both up and down. You might wonder what it is like to use that slow network in the age of LTE. The answer is, it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s definitely slow when you want to render bunch of photos, like foursquare photo page or Google image search and playing youtube videos is a no-no, but otherwise, for Google Maps, Twitter, Instagram, checking in on foursquare or looking for wi-fi password of the cafe - all shows up pretty fast. And it works reliably, albeit slow, which is far better than fast but unreliable.
For the 12 days, I used 900MB of data in total, most of them from Google Maps, Foursquare and Falcon Pro (Twitter client). Before this free roaming package, T-Mobile used to charge $15/MB, which is absurd. If i used 900MB with that rate, that would have been a $15k bill! Now it’s free.
I’ve been a big fan of unlocked phones, and buying a local SIM would make a lot of sense if you stay longer and want a decent connection and/or tethering. But for 4-5 day stay, getting to mobile shops for a SIM card is such a time waster, especially when your flight arrives late at night. And some countries put a huge burden for foreigners to get a prepaid data SIM (France and Japan in mind), or a big activation fee ($20 in Canada). Some carriers require a few hours before your SIM card gets activated to be able to use data. And you will receive an SMS with non-English language that you have to google translate, etc.
It makes me feel so liberated that I don’t need to worry about all these things. Your phone just works when you get off the plane, no need to pull out a SIM.
UPDATE: there is a question whether the used data contributes to the domestic data cap of your Simple Choice plan (500MB for minimum, $10 for 2GB, $20 for unlimited). It doesn’t seem so, because we used 1.5GB during the trip, and T-Mobile site doesn’t show that usage in my current activity.
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