One Year Vacation
Who needs one? I do! Click if you do too!

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Henry Kong needs a one year vacation... to pursue his childhood dreams of being a superhero, to create art that is awesome, to do photography where anything goes, and finally to get around making his long overdue comic book.

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Review: GoPro Hero 4 Silver

So I decided to finally get a GoPro when they released the Hero 4 Silver which had a built-in LCD screen.  I know, I know.  I jumped the bandwagon.  But I wanted one not to take selfies like most people I know are using 'em for but as a second action / POV camera to complement my Contour HD that I use for motorcycle riding.  I was supposed to use both on my planned skydiving activity in Cinci but I learned that they don't allow skydivers to bring / use their own equipment for safety reasons.  Bummer!

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So I got mine from REI cause Amazon was out of stock.  The packaging is pretty good and reminded me of the Contour.  I wonder who copied from who.  I also wonder how the GoPro got its edge.  I think Contour was more popular for the military crowd as the Contour was designed more for mounting on guns or helmets vs. the Contour which made you look like an idiot.

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I also got the blackout housing, tripod mount and a Sony action pole.

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The GoPro did not come with the remote like previous models and also did not even come with a charger.

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Opening the box, the GoPro was built pretty nice.  It felt solid and of good quality.  The buttons were tactile and you can certainly find them even when wearing gloves.  A complaint though is that they don't feel intuitive to me.  Turning the Go Pro on and off required a long press and I would have wanted that the long press activated the switch but instead I still need to take my finger off the button before it would engage.  That means that I need to decide when I would take my finger off the button and I usually take longer cause any earlier and sometimes GoPro wouldn't think its a long press.  It's a minor gripe but I like how long presses were implemented for both the Sony RX and Canon G cameras.

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The backdoor is interchangeable.  I put the touchscreen back door which had a flexible touch compatible plastic that was as hard to press as a spring.

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The GoPro also had some mounts included.

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Overall, it was built tough and pretty good.  I did not like however that it was a chore to charge.  Not only was there the matter of opening the hard case and taking out the cam but also the small charging port door at the side.  What was more efficient for users to just carry spare batteries and invest in an external charger which could be their marketing strategy too.

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Other that those gripes, the GoPro worked fine and the video quality was pretty good.  I liked that it has this SuperView which was a greater field of vision option that you can use to get more into the shot.  The Hero 4 also had 60 fps for 1080 which I can use for slow mo shots.  Overall a good investment and hopefully I get to use soon on adventures alongside my Contour.

An Unsent Message

"I am ok and very much happy with my life. I suggest instead of judging other people you look at yourself first. You keep asking all these questions not really because you want answers but because you want me to respond in a certain way so you can get what you want.  If you don't get the reply or action you want, you judge.  You already have built a "reality" in your head and perceive the world according to that reality. You don't listen to anyone. You don't accept what people tell you and / or choose to not listen or conclude the other person is wrong or arrogant or whatever because they have seen through you and have chosen not to play along.  It is useless to explain this since you will never listen anyway.  Rather than waste my time, I'd rather spend it on people and things that make me happy."

Review: PS Vita Slim

We all have that time in our lives where we are stuck somewhere and are forced to wait on someone or something.  Whether it be in the subway, a daily commute, the airport or a family gathering where you just want to be anti-social, waiting without a distraction can be a pain.  I've written many times before that the most precious thing to me is time.  I hate wasting time and I hate so much situations in where I am not able to squeeze each and every minute doing something I don't like.

This is different from the infamous "FOMO" or "fear of missing out" syndrome that afflicts a lot of today's Facebook culture.  I don't care much for going out if it's with people I can't stand and would rather curl up alone with a video game or a movie on my laptop.  I need much of this alone time to rest and recharge.  And before this post becomes too philosophical, let's get to the review!

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There's a lot of ways to pass time on those moments where you don't have a choice but to wait that situation out.  My default choice so far is my smartphone and watching podcasts.  Other people have tablets which they mostly get for games and occasionally surfing the net.  I can surf the net on my phone just fine and I don't see a tablet as doing any better for games vs. my phone.  So I talked myself into getting a Vita.  Yolo right?

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I've decided that I won't be getting a PS4 and I'll stick with PS3 and playing old games (which should be cheaper) and also go with a powerful gaming ready laptop for playing multiplayer with my friends.  The Vita is that system for in-between.  When I'm stuck in a plane or waiting in the airport or stuck in some place I can't get out of, the Vita would be my new go-to system to help in wasting that time at least on something I think is fun.

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Also, the thing was on sale here in the US which was a significantly good package and better than any deal you could get in Manila.  I also (like everyone) looking forward to Minecraft which would be available on the Vita.  What an awesome mobile game that would be.

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I got the 2nd generation Vita which they were calling the slim version.  This was slimmer, lighter, and had a generic micro-USB charger vs. the older proprietary port.  The screen was awesome and despite people saying that this was worse than the OLED version before, I honestly didn't mind it much.  It also came with onboard memory which the older version did not.  The only bummer here is that you can't use the onboard memory if you were using an external memory card.  Also the external memory card is proprietary. WTF Sony?

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I have not been using it as much since I had lots of stuff to do here in the US and not much "waiting" time where I want to get out of.  The most I used it was while my laptop was busy rendering my Bike Ride video so I needed to let it do it's thing and get the Vita.  I foresee this will be used soon when I fly home for the holidays and spend 24 hours travelling on the airport.  Aside from the weird interface (they should have stuck with Sony's XMB GUI) I was pretty impressed by how snappy and capable it was.  Overall a good machine for gaming!

Labor Day and King's Island

I'm too lazy to post.  I'll just leave this here. #kthanxbye.



Review: Lenovo Y50

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I had planned to update my laptop before my assignment here ends but did not plan on replacing it this early.  -_-'

It was a good deal however and a substantial upgrade.  Despite being loyal to Sony for years now, the VAIOs that they have released after the SE series which I have had for a little more than a couple of years did not impress. This is especially when compared to the specs and value-for-money of other brands.  So when Sony sold off their VAIO division, I decided it was the end of an era and switched to looking into Lenovo.  I was initially looking at their legendary Thinkpad line but strayed to the gaming section where I saw the different high performance variants.

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Long story short, I got the Lenovo Y50 with the following specs:

  • 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4710HQ Processor (3.50 GHz Turbo, 2.50GHz Base, 1600MHz 6MB)
  • NVidia GeForce 860M 4GB Graphics Card
  • Genuine Windows® 8.1 64 bit
  • 16GB PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz SDRAM SODIMM Memory
  • 15.6" Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080) AntiGlare Backlight Display with integrated camera
  • 512GB Solid State Drive
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160
  • Bluetooth
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • No Optical Drive
  • 4 Cell 54 Watt Hour Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • Lenovo Warranty through August, 2015
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The key specs I looked for was the SSD, dual band wi-fi, top of the line i7 processor, top of the line Nvidia Graphics Card and a full HD resolution screen.  As for the physical look, this is subjective and I preferred something slim, light and minimalist.  The Y50 fit the bill with a brushed aluminum body and subdued Lenovo logo.

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The Y50 being a gaming laptop had some aggressive lines but was not over the top.

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One clear advantage it had over my current VAIO was the speakers.  The JBL speakers and subwoofer produced great sound compared to the tinny speakers of the VAIO.

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I also liked the red backlight and rubberized wrist rest.

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Important also was the HDMI port, at least 3 USB ports and the SD Card Reader.

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The Lenovo keyboard is considered one of the best among laptops.

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Unfortunately the Y50 had a critical flaw.  The screen was an absolute piece of crap.  Lenovo used a TN Panel which was supposed to be good for gaming due to high response times but it was terrible overall.  The colors were bland, the blacks were bad and the viewing angles were terrible.

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I was pretty bummed out when I first saw the screen especially after coming from Sony's awesome displays.

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A side by side comparison confirmed my observation.  The screen was really bad.  I actually had trouble working on it.

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Thanks to the internet, it seems a band of Lenovo Y50 users have been experimenting with their units and have successfully transplanted their stock screens with replacement IPS screens.  IPS screens are known for their awesome viewing angles and color quality.  After doing my research, I ordered a replacement display and did a transplant.  The store which I ordered the display offered to refund me $20 if I made a video tutorial and so the below now exists for everyone:



Thankfully everything worked out fine and I didn't destroy my new laptop.

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The results were fantastic.  The IPS screen was worth every penny.

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The colors, viewing angles, etc. were all superior in every way to the crap TN panel that came with the Y50.

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Oh and the blacks...

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... were black!

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Next order of business was to do a clean Windows 8.1 install.  The Y50 came with 413GB free divided in two partitions and a boatload of bloatware from Lenovo.  As part of my SOP, I created a USB installer and was up with a clean install by the weekend.  Free space was now 444GB with just one partition and it was blazing fast thanks to the combination of the i7, Nvidia card and the SSD.  Startup and shutdown was less than 5 seconds.

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Since I was going to use this as a gaming laptop, I got a gaming mouse to go with it, the Mionix Avior.

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I have been using a wireless mouse for the longest time and so did not know what I was missing with a high performance wired gaming mouse.

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In addition, I got a compact Cooler Master 10 keyboard.  The CM had Cherry MX Red mechanical switches.

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To finish the setup I linked the Y50 via HDMI to my Bravia.

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The Bravia is only 720 and I've been meaning to replace it with a full 1080 with a high refresh rate but I'll do that when I get home.  Meanwhile, I've been having a blast with this achieving 60+ FPS on Titanfall on Ultra settings.  For Battlefield 4 however, Ultra settings net only 30 FPS.  Since the resolution is lower when I connect it to the Bravia, I've been living with 60+ FPS at least.

All in all, it was a great deal for $1499.  Windows 8.1 was not too bad and am now liking it as much as Windows 7.  The i7, SSD and Nvidia 860M were blazing fast and I've been enjoying some good BF4 sessions with Jack and Aids.  The screen however had some bleeding on the upper right but according to the online community would minimize after more usage.  The screen also exhibited some ghosting and it remains to be seen if this would be a bother.  For now it wasn't, but I'll know more once I fly home this December where I won't be using this with the Bravia.  Now... hopefully I can sell my VAIO SE1 for a good price.

Cincinnati Various Adventures

So I haven't been writing as much as I should.  Part of the reason is laziness and part is busyness.  I got some time now to dump all of the past couple of months activities into this post.  Sometime last June, I got a chance to join other young *cough* folks to paddle down Little Miami River.  Despite various run-ins with trees along the bank, it was so much fun.  Made some new friends too.

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Fourth of July gave me a holiday to rest and recover.  Woohoo and fireworks!



Also, a couple of weekends ago, I went to the awesome Air Force Museum in Dayton which was pretty awesome. The museum was humongous. There were a lot of planes on display. Despite having the whole day, we weren't able to see everything yet. The presidential planes and the experimental ones had limited capacity to which we weren't able to get in the sign-ups.  I'm gonna try to come back again soon.

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Finally,  I was also able to see the Newport Aquarium.  Lots of fishes and marine life.  Sharks too which were my favorite.  Was pretty impressed with the exhibit.

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Taste of Cincinnati 2014

Pics are up!  Too lazy to write about! #kthanksbye