I will stick around with my HTC Desire 628

When it comes to opt for a smartphone, HTC is a no-brainer. I have owned at least five models in the past five years, spanning a Windows Phone powered Mozart all the way up to HTC One and One 7.

And here is my latest acquisition. The mid-range HTC Desire 826.

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Sorry Mondi Ess. I will stick around with my HTC.

Sorry Mondi Ess. I will stick around with my HTC.

Desire 628 is HTC’s midrange offering to take on the growing competition from various Chinese and Indian brands. Instead of opting for the usual phablet form factor that most brands are offering, HTC has kept the Desire 628 as a compact device with a 5-inch display.

HTC has continued the same design language as the previous Desire phones including the dual colour scheme. The 628 doesn’t look any different from the 626 or the 820, except for a different style speaker grill. Looking from the back, you can’t tell the difference between the Desire phones as the camera placement is exactly the same.

The back panel has a glossy finish on the Desire 628 which is a fingerprint magnet and requires constant cleaning. Also, the power and volume button sit flat with the frame on the side – when pressed they don’t give the satisfying clicky feel of a button. Even though it’s an all-plastic body, the phone looks and feels premium for its price.

It has a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels which keeps everything pin sharp. It has slim bezels on the sides and the on-screen navigation keys can be customised with up to 4 buttons). You can also adjust the colour temperature as well as enable three finger gestures for ease of use.

Inside is a 1.3 GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6753 processor, 3GB RAM, 32 GB storage and a 2,200mAh battery. With day-to-day usage, the phone impresses with zippy navigation.

Image quality from the rear 13MP camera is surprisingly good with minimal noise in daylight as well as indoors. You get a plethora of modes to shoot including a full manual control mode. The shutter speed is zippy although the focus does take a sec \nod to lock on the subject in landscape photos. The front 5MP front camera is a letdown; we got grainy photos with soft details.

There are a few other issues with the phone as well :

First, the in-ear speaker volume is on the lower side – we had trouble hearing the person on other end while travelling on a road with traffic around us. Second, it doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner – this is now commonly available on a number of phones that cost less than this.

As a mid-range offering, the HTC Desire 628 has its share of pros and cons. However, it faces strong competition from cheaper devices that offer much more features such as the LeEco Le 1s, Redmi Note 3, Yu Yunicorn and Asus Zenfone Max.

Sofiane MEROUANI

 

 

For less than $ 30k, you can own this massive Nintendo collection

As a retro-gaming collector, back in fall 2012, I began to spend every month a penny (so to speak) to get a relic of the past, whether a console or a cartridge. As of today, I managed to get my hand on several pieces from the past. My latest acquisition is a Nintendo Advance. Next one is a Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.  However, if you are a Nintendo fan, waste no time, there is a massive collection of games, consoles and other related merchandises you can grab for $ 29.900.

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Unlike my collection, there is approximately 730 cartridges here, from the NES, Super NES, Game Boy, and Nintendo 64. Why exactly is he looking to sell off this treasure trove? Life, of course. “Between the talk of having kids and moving to a house with no dedicated video game room, I’ve decided to sell my collection,” Amble wrote on the eBay listing. “For the past 10 years I’ve spent weekends at garage sales and making Craigslist deals, and this is the result. I hope my collection goes to someone who enjoys it as much as I have.”

So, better prep you wallet.

Sofiane MEROUANI

How did RoboCop help me to learn English. That’s was back in 1998.

I’ve been a blogger for almost five years. But nothing came so easy. My native laguage is Arabic. My father and mother (who are both retired engineer and journalist respectively) taught me French, my second language..

…and watching RoboCop, I learnt to speak and write in English. my third language.

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That was nineteen years ago. On early June 1998.

As we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the movie, I thought it was time to take the road down the memory lane.  Not about the movie itself, but on my own experience on learning a third language and how RoboCop help me to improve my English as a speaker and writer.

I began studying English all way back in 1998. And back then, my English was completely broken. I bought my first English dictionary but I was lost, trying to find my way to express my opinion, my thoughts. I connected with a friend from the States during the early days of the internet, and how embarrassed I felt when I found that could not convey my ideas since he spoke English fluently.  Since instant messengers were things of the future back then, and Facebook did not even exist (gosh, I miss those days),  I spent three or four days to reply to my friend’s mail, after going through writing drafts before settling on the final version of the mail. I’d feel ashamed if I send him a message filled with spelling mistakes, and incoherent sentences.  But practice made perfect.

However, things changed a little bit when I rented the VHS of the movie RoboCop. Back then my dad owned a sleek DAEWOO Video Home System (DVD and VOD were things from the future) Since I have been a huge fan of the movie and character itself, I spent week end with my brother recycling it until the tape itself got ripped within the VHS’s well. My brother and I managed to learn several lines in English from the movie, like “dead or alive, you are coming with me”. or “buddy I think you’re a slime”. By the time summer of 1998 worn down, I memories most of the quotes from the characters. And things got even better when I kept reading the outro credits of the movie while the late Basil Poledouris’ theme kicked in the background.

In the nutshell, I can give a full credit to RoboCop to help me learn English. Even after that experience, my English improved slightly but needless to say that  I started reading comic books and novels by the time I went to the university.  But the time, I graduated in 2007, my English and my accent went fairly smoothly and blogging about everything and nothing improved my writing skills.

Ironically, the first movie screenplay in English I read was indeed RoboCop. And that was in well, early June 2003.

Life is an irony after all.

Sofiane MEROUANI

Solomon Grundy to star in the upcoming season of Gotham – Be Prepared

The last season of Gotham was exciting. We’ve seen lot of colorful characters from DC Comic/Batman universe evolving into great super-villains. However, the next season of Gotham promises to be way more exciting with Solomon Grundy. So, get ready for his arrival.

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Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell), a high-ranking figure in Gotham’s criminal underworld  worked either with or against just about every notable villain in the city. While Butch was often frustrated by his inability to ascend to the top of the criminal pack, he at least usually occupied a second-in-command-type spot on the organized crime food chain.

While Butch did indeed meet his demise late in season 3, as did many characters on Gotham, death will not be the end for him. As revealed in the season finale, Butch was born Cyrus Gold , aka noted Batman villain Solomon Grundy. Introduced to comics way back in 1944, Solomon Grundy is an imposing brute of a villain that is usually depicted as a literal zombie, although his origin has changed a few times over the many years he’s existed.

Of all the existing characters on Gotham, Butch definitely seems like the best fit to become Grundy, although one wonders if such a transformation was always in the creative plans. Physically, Butch certainly fits the bill of a Grundy type, regularly using his size and strength to intimidate both enemies and underlings while serving in various capacities in the Gotham underworld.

It remains to be seen just how soon into season 4 that Butch will resurrect as Grundy, but when he does, one assumes there will be hell of a revenge for anyone who ever crossed the monster during his previous human life. Of course, it’ll be hard to get direct revenge on his killer Barbara Kean (Harley Quinn may be ?) , as she’s currently deceased too. Still, based on Gotham’s history, it’s doubtful that she stays that way for long.

Mark you calendar, Gotham will return for its forth season run on Sept. 22, 2017

Sofiane MEROUANI

Why people marry the wrong person ?

For marriage isn’t about passionate love; it is about work and strife, money and children. But as far as I’m concerned, my wife’s gonna be the happiest woman on earth. 

Here is an interesting read I came across the interweb in the past few days. A title said it all : “You Will Marry the Wrong Person” and the article itself was featured in the New York Times.  Penned by Alain de Botton who co-founded The School of Life in 2008. He has written several books that discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, focusing on philosophy’s relevance to everyday life and offering sound practical advice.

His published works include: On Love: A Novel, which has sold more than two million copies, and his newest book, The Course of Love.

When I first came across the article, I took a deep breath and I start reading it three times. And I found out that Mr. de Botton got it quite right. Many people do marry the wrong person and it all ended either in a very unhealthy lifestyle (mean: cheating on his wife/ her husband) or in worst condition, a divorce.

However, if we go deeper into de Botton’s point of view, the way people do marry the wrong person, because all of us have flaws. And we are more self-aware, the first question perspectives mates would ask each other is: “And how are you crazy?” We don’t recognize we’re all crazy because we often abandoned relationships before they get complicated or, if we live alone, we assume we’re easy to get along with. And our friends and family hesitate to tell us the truth about ourselves. Everyone is psychologically unhealthy to varying degrees. And typically people don’t spent enough time together before committing to another person to know this.

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Most people do marry the wrong person for financial or religious reasons. Such marriages were often disastrous and today have been replaced in most of the world with the marriage of feeling or emotion. “What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right.” And while we think we seek happiness in marriage, we often seek something we associated with childhood—like helping a parent or being deprived of their love. And we reject potential partners because they might be “too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable—given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign.”

Another important factor is Loneliness which is another cause of choosing bad partners. If remaining single is unbearable, it isn’t surprising we choose poorly. We might choose anyone just to avoid the fate of remaining single. Another reason we choose poorly is that we want to make the feeling of falling in love seem permanent, but there is “no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.” For marriage isn’t about passionate love; it is about work and strife, money and children.

Yet the good news is that “it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.” We don’t need to abandon our spouse, just the stupid idea of Romantic love—that some perfect person exists who will satisfy all our needs.

Loving is about learning to be more forgiving of our own and others faults. Love isn’t something we fall into, but something we learn to do, as Erich Fromm wrote years ago.

Sofiane MEROUANI

 

So long iPod and thanks for all the tunes!

That’s it. It’s the end. Apple has finally put the final nail to the iPod. The Nano and the Shuffle series won’t be produced. So you would better keep them as a relic of the past. They might cost too much on ebay.com if you want to sell them.

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iPod was released all the way back in 2001, when CD players were in vogue. Steve Jobs took the industry by storm as the iDevice becomes the de-facto of music aficionados. As the times went by,  Apple released a multitude of upgrades for the iPod and hardware revisions. I owned my first iPod Photo all the way back in 2004. Back then I still used my Creative MP3 with only 128 MB of storage. As compared to my iPod Photo that held of 30 GB of data, well the difference was so big!

When iPhone was released, Apple produced a iPod touch, it was basically an iPhone without the cellular capabilities. the Touch version went through many iterations.  Apple kept producing the nano series along the side. The latest one is the iPod Nano 7.

It should be noted that Apple won’t put the touch-version of the iPod on the chopping block, as it continues to manufacture them.

So long iPod.

Sofiane MEROUANI

Amazon’s Founder Jeff Bezos to outrank Bill Gates as the World’s richest man

I sell books.” versus “I sell whatever the fuck I want.”

He finally made it to the top, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com is now on the way to outrank Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder as the World’s richest man.

With a net worth of $ 90 billion, Jeff Bezos made his fortune and entered the private club of the World richest billionaires thanks to the Amazon’ stock option.  Right now, Bezos owns 17 % of share. Amazon is valued at $ 500 billion

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Shares of the online retailer rose 1.8 percent to $1,071.31 as of 9:30 a.m. in New York, giving Bezos, who owns about 17 percent of the e-commerce giant, a net worth of more than $90 billion, surpassing Gates’ $89 billion.

Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. But Bezos is set out to outrank him in the upcoming months with stock analyst James Cakmak predicting that Amazon shares could double to $2,000 if its recent acquisition of Whole Foods is approved by regulators.

That would make Amazon “the first trillion-dollar company,” Cakmak told CNBC Thursday. Indeed, Amazon’s market capitalization surpassed the $500 billion mark for the first time Wednesday, putting it in fourth place behind No. 1-ranked Apple, No. 2-ranked Google and No. 3-ranked Microsoft.

Bezos, who started Amazon 22 years ago selling books out of a garage, currently owns about 80 million shares of the company.

Amazon is slated to report its second-quarter earnings after the bell Thursday, and better-than-expected results could solidify Bezos’ top spot among the world’s billionaires.

Unlike Gates, Bezos hasn’t been big on philanthropy despite his riches, instead spending much of his personal wealth and free time on his space exploration company, Blue Origin.

Sofiane MEROUANI