Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Random Thoughts: June 18 2013

As is custom, especially around offices, in the morning we always tend to greet each other with the time-tested phrase “good morning”. Sometimes “good day”, maybe even “g’day”, but usually it’s “good morning”. It might even be shortened to “morning”.

Every time I hear “good morning” or “morning” used as a greeting, I’m magically transported to one of the absolute greatest skits of all time: Monty Python’s “Spam” skit.

It starts off just as you or I might greet each other: two people sitting down in a cafe to order breakfast, and they say “morning” to greet each other. Absolutely hilarious!

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Totally Random Thought

So, I saw this on Twitter…

And, being a relatively healthy adult male, that immediately put my mind into the gutter. Does anyone reading this watch Storage Wars? I know he’s fired now, but there are this many variations of crying out “yes” during sex, what does Dave Hester do?

Dave’s lady: Yes! Yes! Oh yes!

Dave: YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!

You’re welcome, dear readers.

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Setting and Hitting Goals: Thinking “Micro”

I’ll preface this by coming clean: I am (obviously :p) not a fitness expert. I’ve battled the ups and downs of trying to get into better shape and I continue to do so. I write this not from an expert point of view, but this is something learned through experience.

But whether you’re an expert or not, one thing that is driven home by any kind of coach, instructor, or trainer is to set goals. This is very important; we all need something to strive towards, to help us see results, and to motivate us to keep it up.

Another thing that is stressed is that while we need to not only set goals, we need to set honest, achievable goals. We can’t reach too high too soon – that is an easy recipe for disaster. At the start we’re motivated, but if we don’t see immediate results it’s far too easy to lose that motivation. If your goal is to lose 40 pounds, that’s great. That can be your end goal, sure, but we need to set smaller goals on the road to the bigger goal and hit THOSE goals.

All too often, people on their first day show up at the gym or their first class and they’re pumped. “I’M GONNA LOSE 40 POUNDS!” And after the first week, they’ve lost two pounds and rather than celebrate the small goal and strive to do better, the result is “I did all that work and I only lost two pounds?” The motivation goes away and they fall right back off the rails.

So, here’s the point of this post. We get it: we need to set small goals. Instead of shooting for one large goal of losing 40 pounds, we start setting smaller, more achievable goals of 2-3 pounds per week. When you hit them, they provide a great sense of satisfaction and the motivation stays up to continue on. You’ll eventually get to 40 for sure!

That’s fine, but what if we take that way further?

A switch went off for me last week as far as pushing myself to ensure I give it my all in a workout. There are small goals, but there are also *micro* goals.

Over the last year and a half I’ve been pretty hampered by a nasty back injury. There are days where it’s hard to even stand for 10 minutes, let alone get through a punishing hour-long Muay Thai class, so since January of this year I’ve been using the rowing machine as a low-impact way to get a workout in, and then practice some combinations and techniques on the heavy bag when I get a chance.

I do a 6-10 minute warm up, depending on how I’m feeling that day and how much I need to loosen up, but my main workout is 20 minutes of really hard rowing. In that 20 minutes, I track how many metres I can go. When I started, I was hitting 3200-3300 metres, and I’ve been slowly ramping up. Now, my goal is to hit 4000 metres in 20 minutes.

I have to be honest, some days, it’s really hard to get through, just as it is in a kickboxing workout. Some days I don’t think I can do it, but then that switch went off. Instead of saying “I have to row 4000 metres!!”, I started setting “micro” goals. One thing I focus on is I don’t watch the clock. I’m never going “Oh man I have 4 more minutes to go! Crap!” I’m locked onto the metre counter. This way, I’m not focused on watching the clock, but instead I’m watching the counter rise – with every pull I’m going farther and this in itself is motivating. I do use the clock, but I use it in my micro-goals as below.

  • In 5 minutes, I need to go 1000 metres
  • In 1 minute, I need to go 200 metres
  • In 30 seconds, I need to go 100 metres

So, I lock onto the metre counter and start rowing. When 100 metres approaches, I glance at the clock to ensure I’m at 30 seconds or less. At 200 metres, I look up to ensure I’m at 1 minute or less. Every 100 metres I’m checking to make sure I’m on my time target. If I’m not there I’m pushing myself to go even harder the next 30 seconds and keep it up.

I’m making 10 checks in that 5 minutes, and you’d be surprised how fast it goes when it’s done that way. As 1000 metres approaches, I again look at the time. I’d better be at the 5 minute mark or better, and if I’m under (lately I’m hitting it around the 4:50 – 4:54 mark) then I’m *instantly* screaming at myself in my mind to push real hard and see how far over the 1000 mark I can go in that last 10 seconds or less. After 5 minutes, I take a quick breather and water break, document how far I went, and then do that all over again 3 more times.

Since I started setting these micro goals at the start of May, my distance traveled has gone up from 3800 – 3900 metres to over 4100 metres (I hit 4140 today). I noticed that at the start I was hitting the 200 metre mark at 1:03 or 1:04 instead of 1:00. But I kept improving. Now I can hit it around 0:56. I figure if I can keep this up all week, then my target will go up to 4200 or 4300 metres, I’ll recalculate and reset my targets for next week and push to get there.

So how does this translate to an actual kickboxing class?

  • When you’re at the end of a round of combinations and the instructor calls to punch out for the last 10 seconds, count your punches. If you can do 40 punches in that 10 seconds, then push for a few more the next time. When you hit 45, push for 50. Keep going!
  • While doing 10’s for 3 minutes and you find you can get up to level 6, don’t make level 10 your immediate goal. Instead, push to add a few more kicks every time. Then you might get to level 6 and then 3 more kicks. Push then to get to level 7 next time. Then level 7 and a few more kicks. Then level 8. Eventually you WILL make it! It will just happen!
  • You’re called to do 100 round kicks and you get 5 minutes. To make the goal you need to throw 20 kicks per minute. 10 kicks per 30 seconds. Do the exercise and work with your partner to count your kicks. Let’s say you make 50 of the 100 kicks – you’re doing 5 kicks per 30 seconds. Next time you do the exercise, throw 5 kicks and glance at the clock to see if you’ve made that 30 second target. Did you? Excellent – now push for 6! Once you start throwing 6 kicks every 30 seconds, push for 7 – you will eventually get there!

There’s many applications for this in a kickboxing class, or any sustained activity. The point is to establish a pace. Measure what you can do in that pace, and then push to improve that pace. Pretty soon that 4000 metres becomes 4300 and those 50 kicks becomes 65.

You will hit those small goals and incrementally work your way up to the next small goal. And the next one. You’ll hit that one and move even higher. Continually improve!

This method may not work for everyone but it seems to be for me. Hopefully it might help someone else out there!

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Walking A Mile…

First of all, apologies for not blogging so much lately. There’s been a ton of stuff going on, both personally and professionally, and I’ve found myself busy/exhausted/stressed/not caring/excited and running the gamut of emotions that goes along with all of that.

But, I think we’re back on solid ground here so I’m going to attempt to get this thing back on track. I suppose I’m well overdue with this particular entry.

On January 16th a good friend and co-worker, Ron Peterson, tragically passed away after suffering a brain anuerysm while exercising. At the time, I was on the Web team where I’d been for nearly 7 years. Ron was Team Lead of the Intel team, but prior to that he was actually my leader as he used to lead the Web team as well.

He and I got along really well; we both thought the same way about the workings of things, had a lot of the same ideas, we vented to each other, and Ron was a very big supporter of mine with management. He was always pulling me aside and asking/giving advice, talking about future plans, and ensuring I was doing what I needed to be doing to be in the good books with management and in line for promotions, etc. He was like my big brother around the office, always looking out for me.

Ron made me the Technical Lead for the Web team. That meant I got to do a lot more work for no more pay, but it introduced me to leadership where he taught me everything I know now about being a leader. He gave me the freedom to get things done on that team as I saw fit. Ron gave me the confidence to become a leader, backed me up when I was right and corrected me when I was wrong – yet supported me at the same time.

Ron’s passing left a huge hole on the Intel team without his leadership – shoes that no one could ever expect to fill, because Ron was, well… Ron. You can’t replace him. Ever. Besides his leadership and technical knowledge, Ron was a funny guy, fiercely loyal, and ever-omnipresent. Even though he sat almost all the way across the room, he’d call you on the phone and you could hear him both through the headset and in real-time over the air – Ron was always in stereo. He loved hanging out with his team, telling stories, and having a good time – even though he was a leader, he never felt above anyone else. He was a great family man and worked tirelessly for charitable organzizations.

I could go on and on about him, but suffice to say Ron was an excellent leader and an amazing human being. We all miss him very much.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected as Ron’s successor (again, never a replacement) to lead the Intel team. I write this blog post because I find it to be an incredible and amazing circle of fate that after all Ron did for me, I now sit at his desk, in his role, doing his work, and leading his team. It’s exactly what he would have wanted.

I just wish he was here to see it.

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It’s The Zombie Apocalypse!

aka: ZOMBIES~! aka: I need to see a therapist.

Over the past six to eight months, I’ve been having a series of dreams. No, I don’t mean recurring dreams, I mean a series. It’s like an entire DVD set of a television show is being played out in my mind as I sleep. It’s a damned serial!

After discussing these events with my co-workers, they’ve convinced me to blog about it to not only have a record of it so I can keep track, but apparently it’s entertaining enough that they want to keep up on it as well. So, here we go.

I’ll start with a six or seven month summary, all of which was fairly bland and boring and repetitive.

For the first large portion of this on-going serial drama playing out in the deepest, darkest recesses of the bizarre universe know as my brain, the dreams actually did have a recurring theme, but yet it was serialized. I know. Strange.

The dreams are in a summer setting, in a barren future version of Winnipeg, and began with me walking down an empty street, minding my own business. Suddenly, a veritable legion of ZOMBIES comes pouring out from the buildings on the sides of the street, falling in to one gigantic pack, limping, lumbering, dragging legs and swinging arms as only the best of zombies can with their heads lopped to one side. They have begun their sole quest, their quest for brains.

MY BRAINS.

So I do what any normal, unarmed, scared shitless, non-undead human would do. I RUN FOR IT.

But here’s the kicker and the serial part of my dreams – no matter how far I run, no matter how fast I go, no matter where I hide… they always find me. This continues on for nights on end. The zombies chase me. I run away. They continue to chase me. I outrun them – which is a massive miracle in itself cause I’m a pretty big guy and the only running I normally do is to get to the door before the pizza guy leaves. But it’s an unending chain of events – they chase me, I run, run and hide, and run some more, and no matter what I do or how far I run, moments after I stop to rest the zombies are there to try and take my brains. I take off again, and invariably that’s where I would wake up.

This would go on and on for six or seven months. It’s unreal. And every night, it’s a different street, a different house, a different business or office building.

But here’s the twist. Over the last few weeks, the dreams have started evolving.

On one night, I ran into an abandoned house in search of refuge, and there it was; my first semblance of assistance throughout this whole ordeal. Leaning up against a wall, its blade gleaming, its hilt immaculately designed – a razor sharp katana sword. All the better to separate zombie heads from bodies with!

So, I proceed back out into the street, armed with my katana blade and a new found confidence, I’m prepared to fight these bastards. If I can’t outrun them, I’m going to fight them. I continue my walk through the street, blade at the ready, prepared for a zombie onslaught. Minutes, hours go by before I run into any of them, but suddenly, there it is. A lone zombie clumsily climbs through a broken window and comes lumbering towards me across the street. I arm myself with my blade, and as the zombie approaches I perform my best Sho Kosugi impersonation (look him up, folks) and liberate the zombie’s head from his shoulders.

But does the Zombie drop dead? No! He SHRUGS like it was no big deal, reaches down and picks up his head, and REATTACHES it to his neck! The chase begins anew, and once again I take off, and at this point I wake up.

What the…?

At this point, I’m sharing these stories with my co-workers. Where we work, we use an AWFUL piece of software for our trouble ticketing system called Remedy. It’s usless, it crashes, it’s slow, it fails randomly, and everyone in the office absolutely hates it. So one of my co-workers christens my sword the Blade of Futility and compares it to using this software – it just doesn’t work!

The next recollection I have is running away from the aforementioned reattached-head zombie and running into another building, where I’m summarily surrounded by the undead beasts. I start hacking and slashing and fighting away with the Blade of Futility, and this time I’m actually DROPPING zombies where they stand, but the numbers are too great. The Blade of Futility is knocked from my hands, so I start punching, kicking, using every Muay Thai combo I’ve ever been shown, even ripping heads from bodies with my bare hands to fight my way through the horde and escape, thankfully with my brains intact – and I wake up.

In our next episode, I somehow reclaim the Blade of Futility on my travels, and once again face a horde of zombies – albeit a much smaller horde – and this time I manage to chop them up and lay them all to waste. SUCCESS! Or is it?

As I stand looking over the slain zombies to ensure none of them will get up and plunge a straw into my cranium and start feasting on my brains, the ground starts to quake, the concrete begins to crack, the buildings rumble and start to break apart and the very ground in front of me opens up… and this MASSIVE 20-foot tall zombie with a physique that makes Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids look like PeeWee Herman rises up out of the rubble and stares at me like I’m going to become his next meal. Not just my brains – ALL of me.

So of course I wake up.

Are you entertained yet?

I honestly have no idea where this comes from. I really don’t have any kind of a fear of zombies. I watched Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as a young kid and loved it. I have no idea where it’s going next. But now that we’re all up to speed and this is semi-documented for posterity, I’ll keep y’all updated as new developments happen.

Maybe I should make a movie out of this.

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Yup, There’s An App For That! (Or This!)

Translation: This blog now has a Windows 8 app! #SHOCKING

If you’re running Windows 8, I’ve released an app in the Windows Store so you can read my blog from either this web site (where you are now), or, well, the app. Which is the reason for this post. Umm, duh.

Go ahead! What are you waiting for? Download the app using the Windows Store badge below (if for no other reason that I can see the download numbers go up LOL)!

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Scratching The Surface

Not literally. 😉

2012 has been a pretty big year for Microsoft.

Hotmail got upgraded to Outlook.com. The company shifted focus from a software company to a devices and services organization. Multiple services (Live Mesh/Skydrive, Zune/XBox Music, etc) were streamlined down into single, more potent offerings. Skype was purchased. The next edition of their flagship operating system, Windows 8, was released. The upgrade to their phone operating system, Windows Phone 8, was released alongside a bevy of awesome handsets from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. And in what might some consider the biggest surprise of the year, the technology giant released their own tablet – Microsoft Surface.

It was a move that got a lot of folks talking. Does this signify a shift away from partner hardware makers like Dell and Lenovo? How do those partners feel about Microsoft putting out their own product and taking away potential sales? Does this mean a Microsoft-produced phone is on the way?

Of course I have opinions on those topics and much more about Microsoft, but those will have to wait for another time and another blog entry.

But, being the unabashed Microsoft fan-boy that I am (I will certainly criticize when necessary, but come on, the company is doing some AMAZING things), I, too, turned 2012 into my own personal Year-Of-Microsoft.

I made the switch to Outlook.com. I’ve started doing much more in the cloud with Skydrive and Office web documents. I subscribed to a XBox Music Pass. I upgraded both my desktop and laptop to Windows 8 Pro on the day the OS was released. I purchased a Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8, and – the whole purpose of this post – I bought a Microsoft Surface tablet.

So let me tell you all about it.

I wasn’t initially sure I would ever use a tablet. But then I realized there are times where I don’t want to go sit at my desk or keep my eyes on my laptop to watch Twitter or Facebook. I can sit in my big chair and have a tablet on the table next to me when I need it. I can take it into bed and watch Netflix without hauling a laptop in there and finding somewhere to plug it in and keep it afterwards. Basically, I could have something just to watch – to consume content on, whether it’s a movie or a Twitter stream – and not worry about *doing*.

When I ordered my Surface, I chose to get just the 32 GB tablet only version, with no keyboard. I decided that, like I said above, this would be a consumption device and if I wanted to do anything more than compose a quick Tweet or Facebook update or fire off a quick email, then I could go grab my laptop for those tasks that required a focus on typing or creating a graphic in Photoshop, or whatever the more complicated task would be.

Right now, I’m writing this on my laptop with my Surface right beside me so I can glance at it and keep an eye on my Twitter stream.

Here’s a quick rundown of the specs of the device.

Operating System/Included Software: Windows RT; Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote). Works exclusively with apps available in the Windows Store.

There are also included, dedicated apps for Mail, People, Calendar, Photos, Games, Maps, IE 10, and much more.

My thoughts: There has been mass confusion all over the industry about the purpose of Windows RT and that it’s not clear that it only runs apps from the Windows Store (and select Microsoft-provided applications on the desktop) but does not run regular desktop applications. I don’t know where this “confusion” comes from. It’s Windows 8 minus the desktop compatibility. I know Microsoft doesn’t want me drawing this conclusion, but when you see RT, think of this as the Microsoft version of the iPad – you access apps from the Store and install them onto the device.

The included Office preview has shown to be excellent so far, and it will be automatically upgraded to the full version when it is released. Some of the default applications (Mail, People, Calendar, etc) in some ways feel like they are feature incomplete, but this is entirely a Windows 8 issue than it is a Surface problem. These applications are a 1.0 version product and are immature at this point. They will be updated and improved on over time. That being said, it must be noted for users where their only exposure to Windows 8 is through a Surface tablet.

One thing that I thought was going to be a sticking point is the on-screen keyboard. The default size was too big for me to properly type while holding the device in my hands and using my thumbs as I would with a phone; however, you should know that the keyboard is resizable, and once I made it smaller my hands now fit the device perfectly and my typing speed is improving every time I use the device.

While just as excellent on a desktop or laptop, where Windows 8 really shines is on a tablet/touch device. When you  hold the Surface in your hands, all the touch gestures are right at your thumb tips and are fairly intuitive; switching between applications, bringing up search options or settings, as well as the menu bar for applications is quick and simple. The touch gestures are well integrated and designed; they work perfectly on a touch device.

OS/Software Score: 8.5/10

Windows 8 is excellent, but there are still some improvements to be made.

Device Exterior:

Size: 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in
Weight: 1.5lbs
VaporMg casing
Dark Titanium color
Volume and Power buttons
Dedicated Windows/Start button
Integrated Kickstand

My thoughts: The Surface feels vey good in my hands. It feels solid without being too heavy. The buttons are easily accessible without too much effort. The VaporMg casing and dark color look and feel FANTASTIC. The integrated kickstand is awesome, allowing you to look at the device while watching a movie or monitoring your Twitter feed without having to hold it all the time.

Device Score: 10/10

The device feels and looks great, and you can tell it has been excellently constructed. This is a home run.

Storage:

The Surface comes in 32 GB and 64 GB configurations. You can also add up to 64 GB more through the included microSD card slot.   There has been a bit of an uproar about the Surface’s storage – if you buy a 32 GB version as I have, Windows 8 and the included applications and Office 2013 RT take up half the available storage space (I’ve even read more on some sites).

Ok, first off… people, this isn’t rocket surgery. If you have a fixed chunk of storage, and you put “stuff” on it right off the bat, you’re going to be left with less storage than you started with. Put it this way, you have an empty garage and tons of room, but when you put your car in it, you have significantly less room.

I don’t know why there’s such an outrage about this; I think one thing that might be making it tough, is that the space taken up by Windows and a core subset of applications just isn’t noticed when you have a 500 or 750 GB or 1 TB (or larger) hard drive in your laptop or desktop computer. But, when you start with a significantly smaller piece of storage, that initial bite actually looks really big. Microsoft is very clear about this, so if this is an issue for you, purchase the 64 GB version – or buy a microSD card to expand. The included microSD slot is a great option to deal with this.

For the record, my 32 GB Surface showed 16.9 GB free storage after initial setup, which is more than has been reported.

Storage score: 9/10

Microsoft provides similar storage options to the iPad, and the microSD slot is a great touch.

Display:

10.6″ ClearType HD Display
Resolution: 1366×768 pixels
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen)
5-point multi-touch

The Surface offers a bigger display than iPad (9.7″), and it flat out looks amazing. Text is crisp and very readable and colors are sharp. The display also is very responsive and fluid.

Display Score: 10/10

CPU:

Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 with 2GB RAM

CPU Score: 9/10

The Surface blisters through Windows Store applications; switching between them is fast and responsive. Games also appear not to tax the system, but the only negative I’ve found is that desktop applications (Office, Windows system utilities) seem to lag just a little bit. It’s not enough to be annoying or to be a deal breaker, but it is noticeable.

Wireless/Connectivity:

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 4.0 technology

Score: 9/10

Not much to say here; both the WiFi and Bluetooth work as expected. The WiFi is abundantly fast. The only thing I would have liked to see here to really get under Apple’s skin is a version with 3G/4G cellular connectivity as well for on-the-go use. There’s enough WiFi out there to get the job done, but it’s just one of those features that could have really put the Surface over the top.

Battery:

31.5 W-h

I’ve read and heard others talk about 8-9 hours of battery life, but I have not been able to put this to the test yet. I was out over the weekend and had my Surface on, and was using Twitter and email on and off, as well as playing some games, and total usage was about 6 hours and my last check before I turned off the device was 57% battery remaining. This was by no means *heavy* usage, but the end game here is that the device more than adequately lasted a significant period off of power and did everything I needed it to do and there was a whole ton more in the tank.

Battery score: 10/10

Even if the reported 8-9 hours is correct, that’s one heck of a job and more than enough for my usage habits and is competitive with the iPad.

Cameras/Audio/Video:

Two 720p HD LifeCams, front- and rear-facing
Two microphones
Stereo speakers

Cameras/Audio/Video Score: 8/10

All the audio/video hardware appears to be adequate for every day use. Skype calls have been clean and sound good. The two negatives I’ve found is that the cameras do not do seem to do well in low-light situations, and the volume of the speakers could be a little bit louder. I’m especially critical of the cameras (maybe a little too critical) as I’ve seen what Nokia can do with their cameras in low-light so maybe my Lumia 920 has spoiled me. There is also a headphone jack to help compensate with the sound. That being said, the hardware will get you through most daily use.

Ports:

Full-size USB 2.0
microSDXC card slot
Headset jack
HD video out port
Cover port

Ports Score: 9/10

There is not much to say here; you can connect virtually any device through USB, and the included headphone jack and microSD slot are added bonuses. I would have liked to see full-blown USB 3.0 but I also understand there has to be feature separation between the RT and Pro versions of the tablet. If you’re a power user though, this may be a sticking point for you.

Power Supply:

24W power supply

Power Supply Score: 9/10

There’s a great bonus with the Surface’s power supply, and that is that it’s magnetic and doesn’t have to be physically inserted into the device. This saves you tripping over it and dragging your device all over the place, or if you drop it you don’t have to worry about dropping it and ruining the port, device, or power supply. The one negative to it is that the magnetic piece that connects to the Surface is a slightly awkward configuration and you have to pay attention to make sure it’s connected properly.

Surface Overall Score: 91.5/100

Final thoughts:

Microsoft’s Surface is an excellent device; the look, feel, and performance of the device are all good to excellent. It’s a beautiful device, and you can tell that its construction is top-notch; both of these are great for a first-generation model. While there are a few items as I’ve pointed out throughout this article that can be done to make it reach that elite level, I think the Surface is a home run. I showed it to a friend, who, after using it for an hour, proclaimed: “Trying a Win8 Surface… sold. iPad can suck it.”

I don’t think I can put it any better than that. If you’re looking for a tablet, the Surface is an excellent contender.

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2012 C4Con

This past weekend I made it to the Central Canada Comic Con (C4Con). Good times, good times. I did a full review over at A1-Wrestling.com. Go here to read!

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Smartphone Smackdown Part 2!

Back, by popular demand – and by popular, I mean by request of one reader…

Hey, I have a reader!

I recently did the Smartphone Smackdown, where I compared the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 (to be released in just a few weeks!) against the new iPhone 5. I was asked to compare the Lumia 920 and the Samsung Galaxy S3, so, being one not to disappoint my reader, here it is – in the same format as the last post for easy comparison.

Once again, I’ll compare the two phones in several categories, including design, included hardware/specs, and software features.

ON TO THE SMACKDOWN!

DESIGN

Nokia Lumia 920

The Skinny: The Samsung S3 is a sleek looking device, available in three colors – white, dark red, and blue. The phone is very similar to most other Samsung designs – rectangular with rounded corners – though the rounded edges of the S3 are more pronounced than the iPhone which separates the two. The S3 has a nice silver ring around the bezel that seems to give the phone a higher end look. Nokia breaks the mold of the rounded corners and has gone with a unibody rectangular design and curved back that looks great. The Lumia 920 is available in black, white, gray, red, and yellow – and more colors will be released in the future.

My Take: Once again, everyone’s taste in design is different, and this is wholly subjective. I really like the look of the S3. The colors are nice, and the look of the phone instantly makes me think quality. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a fresh new look, that matches the operating system underneath and it’s available in multiple colors which allows for a more personalized experience, especially to match the theme of the Windows Phone OS. The S3 loses a couple points due to it looking like most every other Samsung phone, and I just really like the look of the 920.

Design Winner: Nokia Lumia 920


Size and Weight

The Skinny: Here’s a rundown of the dimensions of each phone:

Lumia 920 Galaxy S3
Height: 130.3 mm 136.6 mm
Width: 70.8 mm 70.6 mm
Depth: 10.7 mm 8.6 mm
Weight: 185 g 133 g

My take: Just looking at the specs, both phones are almost identical in size; the Galaxy S3 is just a couple millimeters thinner, but it is significantly lighter. Again, I would have to hold each phone and see how they felt in my hand – size is not a major decision factor to me personally, especially in this case where both phones are so close in size, it’s a wash.

Size and Weight Winner: Draw

DISPLAY

The Skinny: Here’s a breakdown on the displays of both devices.

Lumia 920 Galaxy S3
Screen Size: 4.5″ 4.8″
Resolution: 1280 x 768 1280 x 720
Pixel Density: 332 ppi 306 ppi

My take: Finally. Two phones with awesome huge screens. None of this 3.5″ or 4″ stuff. Both the Lumia and the Galaxy go for it with top end size, and that means more stuff on your screen. I love it.

Here’s the deal with me for these two phones. The S3 has a slightly larger screen – but at less resolution than the Lumia. What this means comparitively, is that graphics and video will look better on the 920 – if you zoom to look at pictures or read web pages, those elements will look better. That, combined with the increased pixel density means your Lumia display will ultimately be sharper than the S3.

Oh yeah. You can still USE GLOVES – OR A FORK (why, I don’t know) on the Lumia display.

Display Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

PROCESSOR

The Skinny: Both phones use the Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5 Ghz processor.

My take: Not much to say here.

Processor Winner: Draw

INTERNAL MEMORY

The Skinny: The Lumia 920 comes with 1 GB of internal memory, while the S3 features 2 GB.

My take: More RAM is better.

Internal Memory Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3

STORAGE

The Skinny: The S3 comes in two different models with different amounts of storage: 16 GB and 32 GB. The S3 also features a microSD slot that allows up to an additional 32 GB of storage. The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with 32 GB of storage.

My take: The S3 has more storage options, and their top end is higher than the Lumia 920.

Storage Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3

CELLUAR AND WIRELESS

The Skinny: Again, I won’t bore you with a whole ton of technical specifications here, but both devices support GSM, CDMA, and LTE. Both devices have wireless networking built-in, supporting 802.11a/b/g/n. Both phones have Bluetooth support, and both phones also support Near Field Communications (NFC).

My take: Both phone support a lot of different communication protocols and will accomplish pretty much everything the average user needs to do.

Celluar and Wireless Winner: Draw

BATTERY LIFE

The skinny: Here’s a chart on what you can expect for battery performance with the two devices:

Lumia 920 Galaxy S3
Capacity: 2000 mAh 2100 mAh
3G Talk Time: 10 h 8 h
3G Standby: 400 h 250 h
Music Playback: 67 h N/A

My take: Like the iPhone 5 before it, the Lumia crushes the S3 in battery life with more talk time and nearly double the standby time. The Lumia 920 has almost DOUBLE the standby time as the S3. Both phones support wireless charging, although it is standard/built in to the Lumia 920, and the S3 requires an add-on back cover for this support.

Battery Life Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

CONNECTORS/ACCESSORIES

The Skinny: Both the S3 and the Lumia use industry-standard (oh hai, Apple!) micro-USB connectors for charging and data transfer.

My take: Not much to talk about here.

Connectors/Accessories Winner: Draw

 

CAMERA

The Skinny: Both cameras feature main cameras on the back of the phones and a secondary, front-facing camera at 1.9 MP for video calls. Both devices have a front-facing camera at 720p. The S3 rear cameras is 8 MP, the Lumia 920 8.7 MP, featuring image stabiliaztion and sport full HD for video. Both feature 4x zoom, while the S3 has an aperture of f/2.6 and the Lumia sports a more capable f/2.0 that lets in more light for better images.

My take: Like in the previous smackdown, the specs are again fairly close, but the Lumia 920 does feature higher camera resolution and a better aperture allows in more light for superior low-light performance. The other major kicker is image stabilization, which in demos I have seen online, the Lumia 920 has the S3 outclassed.

Camera Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

AUDIO/VIDEO

The Skinny: Both phones support video and audio playback in a multitude of formats, and can access millions of songs and videos from their respective online stores. Both the S3 and the Lumia 920 support audio playback to a number of devices and accessories, and include headphones for private playback. Both devices will also wirelessly send audio to NFC supported devices (tap to share), and both uses the DLNA standard (oh hai, Apple!) to stream video directly to your TV.

My take: I don’t think there’s much more I can say about these phones. They’re basically the same. If you’re heavily invested in one app/music store, that may help you make your decision.

Audio/Video Winner: Draw

 

OPERATING SYSTEM

The Skinny: The Galaxy S3 runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and the Nokia Lumia 920 will run on the Windows Phone 8 operating system. I am not going to go into the fine details of every feature of each operating system, as I’ve not had a lot of hands-on with the Android OS but I’m familiar enough with it.

Overall Operating System thoughts: Those familiar with the Android OS may be big fans. I happen to see the Android OS in two different ways, both a negative and a positive. The negative is that the OS looks almost like a copy of the iOS on the iPhone – it’s very much a screen of a grid of icons with a home row on the bottom that does virtually the same thing the iPhone does. The plus(es) are that Android allows you to add widgets to your home screen, like a live calendar, post-it notes, clocks, the weather, etc. For power users and geeks, the OS is infinitely more customizeable than other phone OSes, with support for widgets, themes, and more.

The Windows Phone operating system is simply more beautiful, elegant, and different with it’s Live Tile system (which are essentially widgets but in a standard tile fashion). Live Tiles will show you how many unread emails, phone calls, and text messages you have, the weather, calendar, weather, and apps like Twitter will let you pin Live Tiles to your home screen to show you how many mentions you have, DM’s waiting. Facebook will show you how many messages you have – all on your home screen. Native XBox gaming, Office support, and the deep integration and functionality of the Hub concept is something no other mobile OS can yet touch – and it’s only getting better with Nokia and Windows Phone 8.

When I went looking for my first smart phone, I evaluated them all, and I have totally bought in to the Windows Phone Live Tile and Hub system, and the design elegance with its simplicity and excellent typography. Even though the Android OS is ultimately more customizable, there is so much to the Windows Phone OS that is just part of the standard OS that you don’t have to add widgets or apps for, it’s all baked in – and to me that makes for the better experience.

Operating System winner: Windows Phone (Nokia)

Overall thoughts: This contest is ultimately more close than the 920 vs iPhone 5 smackdown, but the Lumia still wins in more categories this time around. The OS category is obviously something that’s a personal experience and subjective, but even if you take away that category and the other subjective one – Design – the Lumia still wins more categories, 3-2. The S3 has excellent specs and is a very good phone, but the Nokia Lumia 920 outperforms the S3 in more categories.

Smartphone Smackdown Winner: NOKIA LUMIA 920

I think I’ll do a Nokia Lumia 920 vs. HTC 8X soon, to find out which phone is the ULTIMATE Windows Phone.

By

Smartphone Smackdown!

Yes, Smackdown – for us wrestling fans – is one word. 😉

The smart phone industry has been abuzz recently as several companies have been announcing new devices for the upcoming fall and holiday seasons. A few weeks Samsung has announced the ATIV S. Two weeks ago, Nokia unveiled their new flagship phone, the Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8, and last week Apple released the iPhone 5 on iOS 6.

This post will be about how the Nokia Lumia 920 (my phone of choice of the new devices) and the iPhone 5 (phone of the iFlock) stack up head-to-head.

I’ll compare the two phones in several categories, including design, included hardware/specs, and software features.

ON TO THE SMACKDOWN!

DESIGN

Nokia Lumia 920 iPhone 5

 

The Skinny: The iPhone design hasn’t changed since the phone was originally released in 2007, and while some manufacturers have adopted the iPhone look in some way with a rectangular design and rounded corners, Nokia breaks the mold and has gone with a unibody rectangular design that looks great. You can get an iPhone in any color you want as long as it’s black or white. The Lumia 920 is available in black, white, gray, red, and yellow – and more colors will be released in the future.

My Take: Of course, everyone’s taste in design is different, and this is wholly subjective. I like the look of the iPhone. I always have, but we’ve gone on 5 years and 6 versions of the iPhone with literally no change in the look of the device (although they did enlarge the screen). The Nokia Lumia 920 has a fresh new look, and it’s available in multiple colors which allows for a more personalized experience.

Design Winner: Nokia Lumia 920


SIZE AND WEIGHT

The Skinny: The one major change Apple made this year with the iPhone was the size of the screen – it’s now a 4 inch display. Here’s a rundown of the dimensions of each phone:

Lumia 920 iPhone 5
Height: 130.3 mm 123.8 mm
Width: 70.8 mm 58.6 mm
Depth: 10.7 mm 7.6 mm
Weight: 185 g 112 g

My take: The iPhone 5 is smaller and lighter than the Nokia Lumia 920 – because the Lumia has a larger screen and bigger battery. To some people, being smaller and lighter is a major factor in a phone purchase; I would have to hold each phone and see how they felt in my hand – size is not a major decision factor to me personally. It’s a wash.

Size and Weight Winner: Draw

DISPLAY

The Skinny: Here’s a breakdown on the displays of both devices.

Lumia 920 iPhone 5
Screen Size: 4.5″ 4″
Resolution: 1280 x 768 1136 x 640
Pixel Density: 332 ppi 326 ppi

My take: With the iPhone 5, Apple *finally* comes up with a respectable screen size – the 3.5″ screen size of previous iPhones was just not big enough. The Lumia has a bigger screen at 4.5″, but like size and weight, display size directly affects the size of the device, so it’s a personal decision on what works for you and feels good in your hand.

The big deal out of this is that Apple has been raving about that super high quality of their “Retina” display. The fact is the Lumia 920 has a higher resolution (true HD) while the iPhone 5 has a really odd resolution because Apple made the display longer, but not wider. The Lumia 920 also has a higher pixel per inch density, which means the there’s more dots per inch – the display is sharper, and combined with a higher resolution, the Lumia 920 has a superior display.

Oh yeah. You can USE GLOVES on the Lumia display.

Display Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

PROCESSOR

The Skinny: Both phones use dual-core processors. Apple uses a new A6 processor running at 1.066 Ghz. The Lumia 920 uses a Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5 Ghz processor.

My take: I think it will be safe to say that both manufacturers have tuned their processors and their OSes to run as best they can. Apple *says* the iPhone 5 is 2x faster than iPhone 4S, but that’s a relative term. However, going by specs alone, the Lumia 920 has a faster clock speed.

Processor Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

INTERNAL MEMORY

The Skinny: Both devices feature 1 GB of internal memory.

My take: Next.

Internal Memory Winner: Draw

 

STORAGE

The Skinny: The iPhone 5 comes in three different models with different amounts of storage: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with 32 GB of storage.

My take: This one’s simple. The iPhone 5 has more storage options, and their top end is higher than the Lumia 920.

Storage Winner: iPhone 5

 

CELLUAR AND WIRELESS

The Skinny: I won’t bore you with a whole ton of technical specifications here, but both devices support GSM, CDMA, and LTE – the iPhone 5 supports LTE for the first time. Both devices have wireless networking built-in, supporting 802.11a/b/g/n. Both phones have Bluetooth support. The Nokia Lumia 920 also supports Near Field Communications (NFC).

My take: Both phone support a lot of different communication protocols and will accomplish pretty much everything the average user needs to do. The breaking point here is the Lumia 920 supports NFC and the iPhone 5 does not. NFC will allow for secure payments by tapping the phone to a payment terminal, playing games, streaming music, and a host of other functions that the iPhone will simply not be capable of.

Celluar and Wireless Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

BATTERY LIFE

The skinny: Here’s a chart on what you can expect for battery performance with the two devices:

Lumia 920 iPhone 5
Capacity: 2000 mAh 1440 mAh
3G Talk Time: 10 h 8 h
3G Standby: 400 h 225 h
Music Playback: 67 h 40 h

*Note: The mAh of the iPhone 5 is not verified by Apple, but the rest of the numbers are. I found the mAh number for the iPhone on a manufacturer site.

My take: This one isn’t even close. The Nokia Lumia 920 crushes the iPhone 5 in battery performance. The Lumia 920 has almost DOUBLE the standby time as the iPhone 5. The Lumia 920 also supports wireless charging through a number of official accessories, something the iPhone 5 cannot do.

Battery Life Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

CONNECTORS/ACCESSORIES

The Skinny: The iPhone used to have a proprietary 30 pin connector used for data synching and charging, used for both the iPhone and iPod. With the iPhone 5 Apple has changed this to another smaller, proprietary connector. The Nokia Lumia 920 uses a standard micro-USB connector for data and charging.

My take: Switchting to yet another proprietary connector is a giant mistake from Apple, and is a let down. Tech pundits had assume the change was going to be towards micro-USB like other manufacturers, but they switched to yet another proprietary format – breaking support for all your docks, radios, speakers, etc. But don’t worry – Apple will gladly sell you yet ANOTHER accessory to make them work together. I much rather prefer a standard – if I’m in a bind and need to charge my phone, I can grab a standard connector from a friend or any electronics store without paying the ridiculous price Apple charges for their accessories.

Connectors/Accessories Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

CAMERA

The Skinny: Both cameras feature main cameras on the back of the phones and a secondary, front-facing camera for video calls. Both devices have a front-facing camera at 720p, and main cameras sporting full HD for video. The main difference is the iPhone 5 camera is 8 MP, and the Nokia Lumia 920 is 8.7 MP.

My take: The specs seem to be fairly close, but they don’t tell the whole story. Most people think that more megapixels (MP) is better, but this is only the case if you have the sensor in the camera to make use of all that extra data, and this is where the Lumia 920 excels. The main camera sensor has no competitor in the way it handles low-light situations, and it’s image stabilization is off the charts. During the 920 demonstration, the presenter grabbed the camera, started recording video, and then shook the camera up and down really hard, jolting it all over, and there was NOT.ONE.PIXEL.OF.BOUNCE. It’s ridiculous. Nokia’s Pureview HD technology simply wipes the floor with the competitors. Apple made a big deal about adding panoramic support, but the Lumia already had that in it’s previous models. The Lumia also features a dedicated camera button the device, the iPhone does not.

Camera Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

AUDIO/VIDEO

The Skinny: Both phones support video and audio playback in a multitude of formats, and can access millions of songs and videos from their respective online stores. Both the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 920 support audio playback to a number of devices and accessories, and include headphones for private playback. The Lumia 920 will also wirelessly send audio to NFC supported devices such as a wireless speaker. The iPhone will stream video out to an Apple TV device. The Lumia 920 uses the DLNA standard to stream video directly to your TV.

My take: Both phones offer great audio and video playback in HD both on the phone and to a number of supported devices. The iPhone lags behind in video playback because you MUST buy further into the Apple ecosystem and purchase additional devices to access the video streaming feature while the Lumia 920 again supports a standard (DLNA) to send video directly to your TV without the need for an additional device. You can also stream audio wirelessly via NFC to a host of supported devices without the need of tying your phone down to a dock or cable.

Audio/Video Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

 

OPERATING SYSTEM

The Skinny: iPhone 5 will run on iOS 6, and the Nokia Lumia 920 will run on the Windows Phone 8 operating system. I am not going to go into the fine details of every feature of each operating system, but let’s at least look at the major feature changes that iOS boasts:

Maps: With iPhone 5, Apple has dropped Google Maps as the default mapping solution and adopted their own. Apple says the maps are more detailed, and features flyover, turn by turn navigation, and traffic information. Nokia includes their own mapping solution (Nokia Maps), turn by turn navigation and route info (Nokia Drive) – it even has speed camera warnings and speed limit information. Nokia Transport features live public transit information. Nokia City Lens also lets you point your camera down a street and the names of businesses, locations, and landmarks will appear on the screen.

My take: While iPhone Maps is good, Nokia Maps with Drive, Lens, and Transport is Maps on Steroids. Nokia is the clear winner here.

Voice Commands: Apple has Siri – which can finally handle application launching in iOS6. Windows Phone 7 has had voice activiated app launching since the OS launched.

My take: I suppose the mere presence of Siri should give Apple the nod here, but it’s STILL in Beta since the iPhone 4S, and even Apple users say it sucks, despite what the cute commercials say. Apple is still adding features that WP users have enjoyed since the OS launched. Siri is just an app, and there are two great ones (Assistant and Ask Ziggy) for Windows Phone what will give you (working!) Siri functionality. I’ll make this one a wash.

Facebook: Both OSes feature Facebook functions integrated directly into the operating system. You set up your Facebook account on the phone, and it integrates your Facebook contacts into your own, allows you to send messages, write on users’ walls, and share information with your Facebook friends.

My take: Again, Windows Phone has had this integration since the very first release of the operating system. Another wash.

Shared Photo Streams: iOS 6 allows you to share photos with your friends by selecting a picture in the Photos app and selecting Share. Friends using iCloud get the photos right away. If your friends don’t have iCloud, then can access a site on the web to see the pictures.

My take: This is a huge fail for Apple. Again, it’s a closed ecosystem. In Windows Phone OS, you can share to Facebook, email, post to Twitter, SMS, upload to SkyDrive, and send to a host of different applications. Windows Phone takes this one.

Passbook: Like a virtual wallet, Passbook allows you to store information on all your various loyalty cards: your Starbucks card, hotel cards, airlines, coupons, concert tickets, etc and call those up when required.

My take: This is a cool feature and this is where we’re headed with technology – everything stored virtually. Windows Phone 8 will feature something called Microsoft Wallet which allows you to store payment information and make purchases, but I’m unsure how it willl compare to the loyalty card, coupons, and other features. For now I’ll give this one to iOS until I hear more.

Facetime: Use your front-facing camera to make a video call to other iOS users.

My take: FaceTime sucks, it doesn’t work, and no one I know uses it. Again, it’s a closed standard only for the Apple environment. There’s a host of free apps (hello, Skype, anyone? Tango, etc) that can do video calling and no one I know would never buy an iPhone just for FaceTime. Nor would I. It’s just an add on that no one care about. Next.

Safari: Apple’s browser for the Internet.

My take: LOL. Anything it can do, IE 10 can do better. WP takes this one.

Find My Phone: If you’ve lost or misplaced your phone you can remotely lock it and display a message to anyone that finds it. It will also report it’s location to help you try and find it.

My take: Again, this is something that Windows Phone has offered since the beginning. WP also takes this a step further that if you’re absolutely sure your device is actually gone (ie: has been stolen, or say you left it in another city on travel) and there’s no chance of recovery, Windows Phone allows you to remotely wipe the phone so no one has access to your personal data. Again, Windows Phone is the winner.

Overall Operating System thoughts: iOS has some excellent new features, but for the most part they are simply catching up with every other mobile OS out there already has, and still features a grid of icons that do nothing but sit there. The Windows Phone operating system is simply more beautiful, elegant, and different with it’s Live Tile system. Native XBox gaming, Office support, and the deep integration and functionality of the Hub concept is something no other mobile OS can yet touch – and it’s only getting better with Nokia and Windows Phone 8.

Operating System winner: Windows Phone (Nokia)
Overall thoughts: It’s absolutely plain to see. The Nokia Lumia 920 is the Windows Phone 8 flagship phone and for good reason. It’s a gorgeous looking phone, and the specifications don’t lie – the Nokia Lumia 920 outperforms the iPhone 5 in almost every single key indicator. The superior hardware and its features, battery life, display, camera, operating system, and exclusive software make the Nokia Lumia 920 THE hottest smartphone in the industry.


Smartphone Smackdown Winner: NOKIA LUMIA 920

The only drawback is that I can order an iPhone 5 right now (if I so choose). I have to wait until November for the Lumia 920. But you can guarantee that the second this phone becomes available, there is going to be one with my name on it.