Lumia experience or illuminating Xperia ?

Let the trial begins. Can I jump back to the Android world again? #JumpShipTest #PlusOne #MinusOne #NotPlusOne #NotMinusOne

box

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to be given a week long opportunity to try out the new Sony Mobile flagship product, Xperia Z2. During the trial, I have been “tweeting” about my experience in Instagram (when I have something visual to talk about!), Tweeter (when my takeaway was just 120 characters long!) and Facebook (when I can’t tweet via Instagram nor Tweeter!). Here’s a consolidation of the experience tweets;

 

First Un-boxing Experience

Z2 retains the DNA of Xperia with the dial like power button, and a dedicated camera button which you can activate the camera function even if your phone is pin locked. Something that I had silently wished for in first Z generation. #PlusOne

powerdial

 

Setting up is a breeze. Android has come a long way, but Sony plays a part here #PlusOne

My first gripe of the phone: Z2 uses micro SIM instead of nano. Now I need to buy the adaptor! #MinusOne

I talked about how the dial like power button is Sony DNA, but I didn’t like the lack of tactile feel. #NotPlusOne #NotMinusOne

 

Sony Mobile has definitely come a long way to make Android phone an end user phone. No doubt Andorid itself, and the likes of Cyanogen, have progressed by leaps and bounds to make the experience less intimidating to technically less inclined end users. Sony Mobile just completes the last piece of the experience puzzle through its layman friendly setup process, simplified but very functional home application and polished applications in Gallery, Video, Mail, Calendar, etc.

 

Z1, Z2 … more than just different codes

Same but not same #NotMinusOne

Z1orZ2

 

On first look, it is not easy to idenitfy which is Z1 and which is Z2. My wife complained that I took her Z1 when I was holding a Z2. There are some subtle differences but generally, its slightly (very very marginal!) lighter, thinner and cleaner (in its design).

The Z2 is clear a winner over Z1, once you look beyond its cosmetic appearance. The screen is a good example. I always feel Xperia Z1 screen is washed out, especially when you place it beside a phone with great display (like the Lumias) and the following photo just proves my point. Good news is Sony had fixed it in Xperia Z2 but that means Xperia Z1 owners would feel shortchanged.

This is how the two screens compare up. No prize for guessing which is Z1 and which is Z2.#PlusOne

screenshootout

Bigger Lumia 1520 vs Better Xperia Z2?

The screen maybe smaller than my 6″ Lumia 1520, but the qwerty keyboard remains functional, even though the keys looks too tiny for my fat thumbs.#PlusOne

I was talking about how the smaller screen in Xperia Z2 remains functional, coming from big screen Lumia 1520. Turns out it’s because of the enhanced autocorrect capability implemented in Xperia Z2. I estimated I have at least 50% of typo mistakes, all thanks to a smaller screen (despite sporting a 5.2″ screen) and my big fat thumbs. Out of which, I estimated 90% of them are auto corrected correctly, even with local terms like kns, wahlao and Tampines! The autocorrect function in Xperia Z2 has this learning feature to learn my past spellings from various sources, including Facebook, Tweeter, Text message and Gmail. Which means you do not need to worry that your Xperia is a strict British English teacher since it can also understand your Singlish lingo. The only gripe I have now is the space bar is too close to the last row of qwerty keys, so I always end up with “v” instead of space. No way the autocorrect function can understand ehatvivwanrvtyped, can it? 

Lumia vs Xperia photo shootout  #NotPlusOne #NotMinusOne

photoshootout

Xperia Z2, with its exmor lens sensor continues to demonstrate its prowess when taking shot in low light condition. Lumia seems to be under exposed although I would say Xperia overcompensate the dim lighting condition. The former still captures all the details and with its ability to have full control over all the camera settings, from shutter speed to white balance, Lumia 1520 remains comparable if not better than Xperia Z2.

 

Is this the moment to join the dark side?

Even though speed could deteriorate over times with an overloaded phone, it’s nevertheless a refreshing to experience the fast navigation in Android over Windows Phone. I have to say the useless application animation has to be one of, if not main, culprit in the latter for giving that lag experience. You don’t really feel it’s slow until you get to see a fast one. Just as you think your Honda is fast until you sit in a Ferrari. #PlusOne

The moment one steps into Android world, it’s like as if a kid has walked into a toy megastore, surrounded by all the goodies. You never know how much you have missed out until you experience the richness of apps again, the likes of #smugmug #plex #blackvue #obd2  #PlusOne

So much has been said about the lack of apps in Windows Phone world. I used to think that app is a nice to have if the phone/phone OS maker takes care of the essential functions like PIM, social media  like Facebook and Twitter, and a good internet browser that can make up for the lack of internet-based apps. However, doing so implies one is essentially restricted to what the phone maker has to offer. Your phone is as smart as the phone maker is, duh! The lack of apps problem however is probably less a concern to business users, so one man’s meat is another man’s poison!

First test on work productivity passed with flying colours. Exchange email implementation is very seamless as I could access EAL (Enterprise Address List) instantaneously, presumably because of a local instance of the EAL. The experience in fact is much better than Windows Phone for various reasons. Sony must be credited for this as I believe this is not an Android experience. #PlusOne

Second test on work productivity passed! At least for now. PowerPoint can now be viewed without format loss, particular on those that uses complex slide objects or slide animation that are found in newer Office 2013. #PlusOne

officeuse

 

My biggest complaint about Android phones in the past has been its amateurish functionality in its office productivity tools such as powerpoint or excel. Even Exchange email and calendar clients were half baked; incomplete or missing Enterprise address lookup feature, calendar appointment sync issue, inability to initiate an invite, etc. Sony Mobile seems to have all these fixed. NB: I stand corrected if these are also fixed in pure Android phones.

No more issues sending an email to an US-based colleague without having to remember his or her name. In Windows Phone, you need to follow the last name first name format in order for the Windows Phone lookup to be able to find the matching contact, but not necessary in case of Xperia Z2. When there are multiple contacts having similar name in the Enterprise Directory, you can’t tell the difference in Windows Phone. In Xperia Z2, I was surprisingly impressed that it could. The other big, if not biggest deal breaker in the past has been Microsoft Office compatibility.  I have tried all the Office apps, from Google Office to QuickOffice, but none of them was able to display slides or spreadsheet without format and/or content loss. Miraculously, Microsoft decides to port the their jewel app to Android and iOS recently. This, I think, has to be the key to unlock the door to the dark side!

I had always thought Windows Phone is less efficient in its network data operation, but this video shows otherwise. Again, I think the cursor animation in Wp8 might have created that slow perception. On the otherhand, Microsoft has done a great job in creating that fast experience, probably through a lower resolution thumbnail and caching implementation. #MinusOne

Readability under direct sunlight is next to zero. Disappointing or does anybody knows it’s not turned on? #MinusOne

Z2 haptic feedback still has the same issue as its predecessors, i.e. Z and Z1. I observed that their haptic feedback mechanism is less superior than other makers. As you hit the screen, the vibration effect is not “firm” and “controlled”, as in you feel like the entire screen is vibrating (alittle exaggerating but I hope you get my drift). Its even more obvious if you hit a qwerty key repeatedly. In some instances, such as the lockscreen, it makes input appears to be less responsive. I have to turn off haptic feedback in the lockscreen setting to eliminate the lag. #MinusOne

Had a first significant concern after all the raves and positive experiences so far. The screen was not responsive yesterday, and it was displaying the animated wallpaper. Thinking that the unit must have hung, I instinctively reset the phone by pressing and holding on to the power button (a practice that I always do when Lumia hangs on me). Then the phone restarts, as expected but what follows surprised me. The phone was actually hard reset-ed. All the settings and configurations were lost, and photos and personal files were erased. Something must have happened to cause a system panic and result in a factory reset. Hopefully it’s an isolated case because I have been liking what I had experienced so far till this incident happened. #MinusOne

 

Xperia Z2 has its quirks, so don’t get away with the impression it is a perfect phone. I have yet to come across one, and this certainly is not. Save the last incident, which I hope its truly an isolated one, those imperfections may not be an issue for those who are not really affected by them, e.g. you don’t use your phone under the sun. In today’s market, this is probably one of the very rare few I would consider if I have to switch over to Android now. The fact that I am ready to jump after a week trial, sums up my favorable opinions about this gem.  The only reason why I am holding my move? No it’s not XiaoMi. It has got to be something that #PlusOne, anybody?

RunforFood: Highlights of my 24 months of exercise regiment

Yes, it has been 2 years since I decided that I need to get my act together to get myself back into shape, literally. Peeps who know me personally, know I was athletic when I was younger. Well, not the national level but surely good enough at district level. But I know I need to find the right motivation to get running a  sustainable regiment instead of a short moment of enthusiasm.  Food becomes my motivation factor, and therefore my mantra, “Run for Food”  #irun4food .

My first run was a disaster, but you got to forgive the performance considering that I had not been exercising for at least a decade.

First run in 2011

First run in 2011

Since then, it has been a regiment to run at least thrice a week. At one period, I just keep on running on alternate days, and when I got injured in 2012, I told myself I had to augment my routine with swimming and cycling, which I did subsequently. 24 months later, I can fairly say that there has been a tremendous progress made, whether it’s physically (8″ slimmer and 15kg lighter), pace and timing (4 min/km faster) or health wise (more focused with fewer MC taken). I did a similar run this morning, through the same route as I did on my first run 24 months ago, and the result was sobering.

2013 Run

Run in 2013 on 24th month Anniversary.

I did feel tired towards the end of the run, but hey, I WAS tired from the first second I ran 24 months ago!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of my exercise regiment in the last 24 months.

Less than 80

Less than 80

While the motivation of running is so that I can eat in peace, the “side effect” of physically more trimmed is also welcomed. I lost 8″ of waistline, and more than 15kg worth of calories.  It could be more, if not for my lack of diet control, but I am not complaining. That said, I am more selective with my diet choice though, the food has to be worth my hard earned calories for me to ask for extra serving.

Longest Run to-date

Longest Run to-date

One of my goals is to complete a 20km run before end of 2013. While there is still 15 days before the year end, it is highly unlikely I can last that kind of distance considering the state of my ankles at the moment. I probably could do a mix of run and walk to achieve that goal, but I want to challenge that goal with a consistent pace. In the end, the farthest I can achieve is a 16km run, 4km shy of my target, unless miracle happens in the next 2 weeks.

Best 5km Run (Oversea)

Best 5km Run (Oversea)

One of the things I try to do is keep my exercise regiment in all circumstances, such as travelling. So far I have managed to keep my running routine intact wherever I traveled, whether it’s Bangkok, Geneva or Cupertino. I actually like running oversea, particularly those in Europe and US because of the fantastic weather, cool temperature and low humidity. It is therefore no surprise that one of the best run is achieved when I was running in Geneva early this year during Spring time, clocking a 29.18 min timing for a 5km distance.

BestRunLocal5km

The best, however, is reserved for the run made just few days ago. My biggest peeve with running in Singapore is the heat and the humidity, and therefore I thought I would never outpace what I have achieved in Geneva (per above). It was therefore a pleasant surprise that I achieved my best 5km run, so far, at a sub 29 minute timing locally. The first km was done comfortably and when I saw that it was a under-5:50 min/km pace, I told myself there might be a chance for me to achieve a low 29 min run, so I pushed myself further. The last km was a challenge though, as I felt my leg muscles were too tired to even lift an inch.

Year to Date Exercise Report Card

Year to Date Exercise Report Card

All in all, it has been a great 24 months of exercise.  Over 2600km of distance covered, 336 hours of heart pumping moments and over 230,000 calories burnt. And that’ll a whopping over 800 of burgers worth that I could have afforded to eat! But obviously, it has to be a damn bloody good burger for me to waste all these hard earned calories.

Running Statistics

Running Statistics

 

RunforFood: “Life to date” Cardio Report card

Swimming-September

It has been a while since I last blogged! Month of September had mostly been a swim month, as I tried to give my feet rest as much as possible. However, I do not wish my exercise momentum to stop, and therefore I focus on swimming instead. It was a challenging because it is not easy to keep to a 3-5 times a week swimming routine, and consecutively for 4 weeks. The end result, at end of the month, is satisfying though, despite the boring routine (imagine having to complete between 40-120 laps per session). I even completed an 1km swim session under 24 min! With my feet having much needed rest, I am starting to ease into running, without any ankle or knee support!

Here’s my life-to-date Cardio report card. I was hoping that I can complete 400 hours of exercise by end of the year, but that looks like an impossible target unless I start exercising every day for an hour!

 

ExerciseReports

 

RunforFood: Report card after 18 months

Reportcard-June13

Back to mix of run, swim and cycle in June 2013.

 

It has been awhile since I blog about my #RunforFood regiment. The ritual to run for food is still going strong, and in fact, I do find myself improving in my fitness over the last few weeks. In May, I managed to catch a few runs while I was on business trip to Geneva, Switzerland. It was a fantastic weather (under 15 deg C!) to run! In June, I continue my running regiment, and augment with cycling and swimming to combat the hazy weather.

Runningreportcard-June13

4 mins more to achieve 200 hours of running time!

 

Running pace vs Distance

Running pace vs Distance – Increase speed trend is a good sign of progression

 

record-june13

A couple of under 30 min 5km run in June proves that the timings are not a fluke.

 

Some factoids about Air Quality and its measurement — My Take

For the last 5 days, we had experienced in Singapore what seems like a Hollywood movie script. “Crisis” loomed, leaders (perceived to be) giving bad decisions, people panic into revealing or rise to their true-selves.

SINGAPORE-INDONESIA-MALAYSIA-ENVIRONMENT-HAZE

Confusion, anger and desperation, partly because information was in bits and pieces in National Environment Agency (NEA) site. NEA website has finally re-organised it’s information with better clarity, although I think laymen would probably not understand. I thought I would share some of my takeaways after researching on the topic of air quality within and outside of NEA website. Some facts may well be my wrong interpretation, but all these are what I have concluded after going through NEA site, EPA/Airnow site, various countries environment agency sites such as Hong Kong, United States, Australia, Germany and UK.

  1. PM is no Prime Minister.  PM10 refers to particles of size less than 10 micron, which means it includes those that are smaller than 2.5 micron but bigger than 100 nanometer. Particulate matter is one of the pollutants used to measure air quality, and usually measured in terms of its concentration (microgram/cubic metre)
  2. PM10 versus PM2.5. Because PM10 include particles smaller than 2.5 micron, you would naturally expect concentration of PM10 to be higher than that of PM2.5. E.g. a PM10 concentration of 54 ug/m3 has the same air quality effect as a PM2.5 concentration of 12 μg/m3.
  3. PM10/PM2.5 concentration can be measured as 24 hour average, 3 hours average (in case of NEA for their 3 hours PSI computation), or hourly (used in Australia and some states in US).
  4. (NEA) PSI calculation method is similar to other air quality index used in other countries. Air quality index (or pollution standard index) looks at 5 pollutants (particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide). The so called better AQI used in some countries, is because they look at PM2.5 concentration whereaas NEA looks at PM10. Each pollutant measure is sub-indexed based on a table of scale that corresponds to the concentration. For e.g. sub-index 50 is equivalent to 24 hour particulate matter concentration of 50 ug/m3, or 8 hour Ozone of 118 ug/m3. The PSI (or AQI) is then determined by taking the maximum sub-index of the 5 pollutants. So if PM10 index is 50, but Carbon monoxide index is 200, the air quality is indexed as 200.
  5. PSI is AQI, no? While NEA uses PM10 instead of PM2.5 to calculate the PSI (or AQI), it does report 24 hours PM2.5 separately, used to be every 4 hours but recently reported hourly due to the escalating haze. The PSI/AQI is therefore inaccurate, if every pollutant has low concentration, but the high concentration of particulate matter is mostly due to 2.5 micron or smaller particles. In recent haze incidents, this is not true though, mainly because the concentration of PM2.5 is exceptionally high, so even if PM2.5 pollutant is not used to measure air quality, it’s concentration is already reflected in PM10 measurement.
  6. PSI is not accurate? When 3-hour PSI is low, but PM2.5 concentration shows exceptionally high, that’s most probably because the latter is measured past 24 hour (in the case in Singapore). Only PM10 is measured on 3 hourly basis. Whether it’s 24 hour, 3 hour or 1 hour average, it shows AVERAGE measurement, and it does not correspond to what you see/smell NOW. Obviously, an 1 hourly average measurement will be closer to what you see, while a 24 hourly average will prevent unnecessary panic alarm (or false sense of comfort) due to a particular spike / drop. Therefore it is important to know the duration in which the pollutant or air quality is being measured, and used it accordingly.
  7. Hourly or 24 hourly average is the way going forward? When the air quality is already at hazardous level, a forecast measurement would be more helpful than an hourly or 3 hour reading, because one should already be taking the necessary precautionary measure against the haze. (This is just my take)
  8. Hourly or Real time AQI? Not all countries are using true hourly air quality index measurement. In Beijing and Hong Kong, the hourly report pollutants based on the same definition as Singapore. e.g. it uses 24 hour PM10 concentration at 1500 hrs for a 1500 hr AQI calculation. In US, not all states have 1 hour average PM2.5 / PM10 concentration reading (e.g. Colorado state), let alone 1 hour AQI. In Germany and UK, there’s no reports of 1 hour average measurement. In Australia, it does look like all states have 1 hour moving average readings (at least 2 out of 2 states I checked have 1 hour average readings). Last but not least, NO countries provide real time measurement of air quality index, or the associated pollutants.

Conclusion

I do stand corrected for the above interpretation, but the purpose of the writing is because I read too many postings and accusation that’s based on seriously wrong assumption or understanding. I hope this doesn’t create more confusion than it is already in the cyberspace. If I have more time, I will reference some of the sites to the above points so that you can read for yourself if I have interpreted wrongly or not.

Appendix

London AQI definition http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/latest/currentlevels