Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Movie: In This Corner Of The World (2017)

Rating: B

A beautiful portrait of a young woman's life through WWII Japan. Too often in movies these days, we are told of the heroics of the armed forces; we are reminded of what an impact doctors, politicians, and people of power do to help in the war effort. "Corner" is one of the rare movies that reminds us of how war affects the rest of the population. It reminds us of the devastation of war, and gives us glimpses of the resulting trauma and devastation through the eyes of a young woman.

But "Grave of the Fireflies", it is not. Where "Fireflies" was able to encapsulate the devastation and leave everyone with a heart in certain tears, "Corner" lacks the gut-wrenching tragedy because it glosses over one of the most cataclysmic and destructive times in human history. Mind you, I did watch it reading the subtitles, and I do think that there was a lot that was lost in the translation.

That being said, where "Fireflies" was a depiction of hopelessness and cruelty, "Corner" is a reminder of the more hopeful side of humanity when the world around seems like its falling apart.

It does run a bit long, and there's a bit of an uneven flow, but I will chalk that up to the protagonist's (Suzu) penchant for living in an artist's over-imaginative, almost dream like state. A gentle reminder of how catastrophic war can be.


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Product: ZeTime Smartwatch

Design: 4.5 / 5
Build Quality: 4 / 5
Functionality: 4 / 5
Ergonomics: 4 / 5
Durability: -- / 5

MSRP: $296.88 (CAD)
Overall: 3.5 / 5

I've been thinking about getting a Smartwatch for quite a long time now. But as the (Cr)Apple iWatch states right up in the 1st paragraph of their battery description, their GOAL was for 18hrs of usage on a full charge. How much sense does that make? It doesn't even last a full day! And what if you forget, or are unable to charge? You're pretty much wearing a $500 bracelet. So I started looking at hybrids, which I also scratched off my list, because the only notification you get, are a small blinking light (indicator), and a bit of a vibrating buzz, upon which, you still have to pull your phone out of your pocket to see what the heck is going on. It's no different than having your phone vibrate in your pocket to tell you that you've got an incoming notification because unless you pull your phone out, you really have no idea what's going on.

The beauty of the ZeTime is that, while the battery to power smartwatch functions will last about 3 days (reviewers have indicated they've gone up to a week), the analogue watch will still power on for up to 30 days. It's the same battery, and this is on a single charge. So even if you forget to charge the ZeTime, you can at least still use it as an old fashioined watch. Not only that, It's actually quite a beautiful time piece.

I'm not going to go on about all its features (you can watch the video up top for that), but some observations of the watch after playing around with it for a bit.

It runs its own OS so functionality isn't quite as seamless as it would be if you were wearing an Android or Apple wearable, you don't have FULL smartphone capabilities, and while you're supposed to be able to be able to make your own pre-set responses on Android phones, all of the pre-set messages I added ended up looking like gibberish that looks like Chinese, but don't even make sense in Chinese. 
The heart rate monitor is a bit fickle; it has a tendency to bounce around a bit. But if you patiently sit around and keep pressing the 'check now' function, the overall average seems like it should be accurate enough.
The watch is also able to take photos, but it uses its own camera software. So if you're used to HDR+ features, or portrait features, you will not be able to use these features if you're taking photos by controlling it with the watch.

Response rate isn't the greatest, but it's not so slow that it will start pissing people off. And as stated before, it's still got some bugs, but I think it's a pretty good effort for a 1st gen device. This watch, is not a finished product, nor is it for everyone. But, for the moment, it can be the perfect timepiece for SOME people. This watch is for you if:

1. The primary function for it is to TELL TIME.
2. You want some kit that makes you look like a sexy beast.
3. You're only looking to view notifications and messages and not respond on the watch.
4. You don't REQUIRE fully developed smartwatch capabilities.

CONCLUSION: Smartwatches at the moment aren't a bit of kit that can be all things to all people. There are sacrifices that will need to be made. Full smartwatches seem to have a pretty dire battery life. Other hybrid style smartwatches... Well, just don't ok? For the time being, this one is pretty good as a monitoring device. I've come across two other time pieces that might potentially be better, but....
1. Pebble. They've ceased daily operations, so I guess you can't buy that.
2. Martian. I'm not sure how trustworthy they are. While their new phone (looks like ZeTime + voice) has been kickstarted, every other item that they sell is out of stock on their website. 


Monday, 4 December 2017

Product: Bobby Anti-Theft Backpack

Design: 4.5 / 5
Build Quality: 4.5 / 5
Functionality: 3.5 / 5
Ergonomics: 5 / 5
Durability: 5 / 5

MSRP: $120.00 (CAD)
Overall: 4 / 5

After many years of searching for backpacks, I've found that the criteria for the perfect commuter backpack is different than the criteria for a travel backpack. While a good large backpack could absolutely play the part of a commuter backpack, it's kind of like saying that you can wear your hospital scrubs to the symphony. You can absolutely do it. Your important bits are covered, and if it's not TOO cold out, you'd be relatively warm. 

That being said, when I look for a commuter backpack, I have a separate "want list", as follows:
- Durable
- Anti-Theft features
- Water proof/resistant
- Fits all my electronics required for most day-to-day activities
Multiple pockets for easy organisation
Full Day carry comfort
- Security Pocket
- With enough space still to fit an extra layer (ie., jacket, sweater)
- Easy access water bottle / umbrella pocket
- Slim for packed public transit

The Bobby checks off most of the important criteria, but not all. Because they tried to make the backpack as anti-theft as possible, there are no outside pockets whatsoever, so if I wanted to carry a bottle of water around, there really isn't an accessible place to put it. They do make up for it slightly with the bonus feature of having  charge port if you've got an external battery to place inside the backpack.

The video does give you all the features of the backpack, so I'm not going to sing its virtues by telling you the wonderful features of the backpack, instead, just a couple of things that I think needs a bit of improvement.
There are a couple of sleeves in the shoulder straps. These are great for putting in your Presto Card / Metropass. That being said, unless you remember to tuck it in snugly into the sleeve (there is a little divot so that it stays a bit more securely), it can very easily fall out. If they included a small magnet, or a slim velcro strip, that would make that sleeve SO much better.

There is only one compartment inside the backpack. And while there are pockets to put stuff, it's not ideal for organisation. If you're bringing along some files, folders along with your laptop, there isn't much for organised space so that your paperwork doesn't get dog-eared or crumpled.

While I love that the backpack itself is cut resistant (i wouldn't go as far as saying it's cut PROOF, I'm sure if someone put some elbow grease in, they could cut through), the straps are not. That is something I do love about Pacsafe

Bottom line, this backpack is sleek, it's sexy, and it's great peace of mind for your daily commute, and it's got some great nifty features to boot. It's not perfect, but that COULD just be me being overly critical.


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