Friday, 30 December 2011

It's Been Too Long!

But I'm back!

Back from the crowds of China and malls of Fremont, California.

China banned access to Blogger so I couldn't update my blog there. I do have tons of stories that I will post eventually.
I hope everyone is having an amazing holidays and all the best in 2012.

In the meantime, enjoy the song that I loved to listen to when Steve Jobs passed away called "Dancing At Her Funeral"

Sunday, 11 December 2011

a series of unfortunate events

Long story short, I am heading to Shanghai now. From there I will connect to Beijing.
Thing is, I should have been there two days ago...

still not available in China

Saturday, 10 December 2011

This is not China...

Something isn't right here...

Will is on his way to Shanghai, I'm....somewhere.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Vic The Minimalist

I declared several months ago that I would adopt minimalism as my new style of living but it has proved to be more difficult that I initially thought. I love the idea of minimalism. The thought of uncluttered rooms, neat surroundings, freedom from unnecessary objects, and dancing elves is a fantasy I try to submerge myself in.  Too bad it is just that – a fantasy.

This has been hard.  In fact, in my attempted plunge into minimalism, I found myself moving in the opposite direction. If maximalism was actually a word, that would be my new found realm.  Every step towards minimalism would push me back twice the distance.  It was a constant struggle. It still is.   If I were to describe the condition I like to call the maximalism, it would encompass hoarding, compulsive buying, and the desire to have multiple identical objects in one's possession. It starts with one fixation and spills over to the next when I begin to feel satisfied.  It’s like bacteria, expanding and creating new colonies.  The absolute worst thing about this is that I have rational reasoning for all my actions.  The following describes the stages of my struggles and relapse.

It all started with laptops...
The thought of having a laptop to bring to school, one to keep at home, and one for “other” purposes felt like a good idea at the time. But wait! What if my school laptop breaks during midterms and I need a quick replacement? Fuck better order another one…
Vic’s rational thought process:
New computer > old computer
More computer > less computer

Then there was the guitar phase…
I started with an acoustic guitar. It made sense to get an electric guitar later as I really enjoyed playing. Then a nicer acoustic guitar followed. Okay maybe two. Or four. Different types of woods out there so I need some of each. Different style electrics, need those too. What about modding? A project guitar or two wouldn’t hurt. I lost count after a while but I’m pretty sure at some point I had over 20 guitars in my arsenal.
Vic’s rational thought process:
If I get a lot of guitars people might actually think I’m good at it…

That time I went shopping for tennis rackets…
The Nadal Babolat rackets were on sale. Although I didn’t necessarily NEED a new racket, these were good rackets. There were 3 left. I scooped them all up.
Vic's rational thought process:
The person behind me wants to buy these rackets too.
If I buy them all he will not have any…
Great success!

The cell phone saga…
Ok so there's the work phone and personal phone. But what about a dedicated twitter phone? Yeah sure why not! Games phone? Stupid phone? Everyone needs to at least try out different platforms. Androids, BlackBerrys...check. No iOS yet. Maybe later.

Vic`s rational thought process:
Do I need 6 active phones? No.
Can I have 6 active phones? Yes.
Good enough.

The tablet era…
Tablets are unnecessary. But it’s all the rage lately so why not dive in?  I was an early adopter of the BlackBerry PlayBook.  Was I mad when the price dropped by $300 recently? Nope, I just bought more. Better stock up while I can! Why 5?! Because 6 is too many!  I love good deals. That’s also why I jumped on the HP TouchPad fire sale. They were selling below the manufacturing cost! How could anyone resist?
Vic`s rational thought process:
I`m running out of space in my room, maybe I don`t need all these tablets…
…oh wait they are stackable!

High on headphones…
This is one of my latest fixations. My collection has grown exponentially over the last month. There are so many types! Over-ear, on-ear, in-ear oh my! They all sound different. Ahhhh gotta catch’em all!
Vic’s rational thought process:
Will these headphones sound different than the others? Maybe.
But Vic they are the same make and model!! ….You’re a towel!!

So that has been my recent struggle with minimalism. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday season shopping definitely doesn't help. But there is hope. With a new year around the corner there are new year's resolutions to be made. For example, no new phones until the iPhone 5 comes out. Baby steps, people...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

BBM Music – Make Me an Addict Please

BBM Music launched in Canada, the U.S. and Australia yesterday and has received the usual negative feedback from mostly-American news outlets. This is nothing new as RIM has received nothing but negative press for the past year or so.  Deservingly so? Yes and no.  My main gripe about RIM is that they fail to deliver on their promises over and over (like a good politician).  This typically comes in forms of product delays and pushed back OS releases.  Yet, anal-ists…I mean, analysts overlook that RIM continues to grow their subscriber base around the world except in the United States. But, god forbid a non-American Wall Street traded company do well!  I honestly think if RIM moved their headquarters from Waterloo to Silicon Valley, Wall Street analysts would be more lenient on their stock.  This isn’t a blog post about defending RIM however.

I’m reviewing the BBM Music service after actually having used it, unlike the tons of reviews on the web stating why it is a failure without having given it a chance. BBM Music is a cloud based music service that allows users to add up to 50 songs to their personal playlist and gives access to the music on the playlists of fellow BBM Music buddies.  So the key is having a lot of BBM Music buddies so that you can grow your music library.  The more buddies you have, the more music you have access to. BBM Music is free for up to 60 days, and after that it’s $4.99/month. It’s important to note that your BBM buddies can be kept separate from your BlackBerry Messenger contacts.  This is important to me because I don’t want to talk to all the weridos who are also my music sources.  You are allowed to change 25 of your personal tracks every month.  That's 25 reasons to update your twitter or facebook status every month!!

The question arises, “Wait, what if I have no friends? That means I only get to listen to 50 songs?”  Yes. But I don’t have any friends either and I have over a thousand songs on my BBM Music playlist after just one day. How? Post your PIN on forums like  and you will get tons of people who also have no friends that want to share their playlists with you and vice versa.  Think of it as a no-strings-attached relationship for music.  You don’t have to know their name, life story, emotional status, you just use them for their music and they will do the same to you.  Of course, you can add your BBM contacts as BBM Music contacts as well. It’s integrated pretty well.  There’s also built in chats in BBM Music, and you can comment on other peoples’ music if you choose.

I also want to mention that even though BBM Music is cloud based, you can cache songs so that you can listen to them when you are “offline”.  It works over cellular networks and Wi-Fi.  I would imagine constant streaming of new (un-cached) tracks over cellular would use up a decent amount of data bandwidth, but everyone has unlimited data plans these days anyways right? (And to those who don’t….well, you should).

How does the music sound? A lot of people overlook this. In fact, I have yet to see a review that goes over how the actual sound quality is.  This is a pretty good indication of where peoples’ priorities lay.  For those who care, it doesn’t sound bad.  It’s not audiophile quality by any means, but then again, what streaming service is? I would say the quality is comparable to XM Radio Online+, which is 128kbps encoded in AAC+ (which sounds better than 128kbps encoded mp3s).

The music selection is good. Actually it’s great.  You can get songs from major labels like Sony, Warner Music, UMG, and a bunch of indie distributors. I could find almost every song I looked for.  At this point you’re expecting me to say why BBM Music will succeed and how it’s the greatest thing ever. No. Not quite.  It all depends on how RIM markets this.  I see potential in this but I’m not convinced that RIM can pull it off. If this service was launched two years ago I could see it gain traction, but now? It has to compete with other cloud music services and internet radio like Slacker Radio and XM Radio Online.  In my opinion, it will only be successful if it is a viable replacement for radio and personal mp3 players.  For that to happen, it has a long way to go.  This leads to Vic’s Keys to BBM Music Success, brought to you by Carlsberg:
  • Featured playlists from celebrities.  How cool would it be if you could tap into 50 Cent’s or Paul Bernardo’s playlist to hear what’s playing on their headphones?
  • Make deals with artists to release exclusive content on the BBM Music Cloud library.
  • Introduce a web browser client to allow subscribers to listen to their playlists when they are at their computers.
  • Implement a version of BBM Music for the deaf.
  • Increase the number of tracks each subscriber can have. Fifty songs is too little for those who have no friends and refuse to make any.
  • Easy-to-navigate search capabilities to sort music and make playlists.
  • Allow unsigned artists to upload their shit so it is readily available for people to make fun of.
I like to think of BBM Music as a deck of Magic Cards. You have 50 tracks to make it matter and you can replace 25 tracks a month to perfect your deck. The better your playlist, the more people who will want you as a BBM Music buddy. It’s like the modern day mix tape. This how you win chicks over when you’re in grade school! I believe the limit of BBM Music contacts is 500. So that’s potentially 25,000 songs. That’s more songs than most people have on their iPods.

If this catches on it could be the next big social networking fix. People will judge you by the music you have on your list. Popular people will stick with top 40 hits. The ‘better than you’ crowd will scramble to make sure their playlists is full of music you never heard of.  The retards would have Coldplay.  The usual segregation of crowds, as seen in your local high school.

Would I recommend BBM? Sure, while it’s free.  For $4.99? It depends how much you use it and how much you depend on it. It can potentially be a great way to discover new music. For me though, I have my own ways of discovering new music.  So RIM, you have 59 days left to convince me I need this as much as my backup mattress.

For those who want to share music with me on BBM Music, my PIN is 22A3623F. For those who don’t want to share music with me, my PIN is 22A3623F.