About Ukraine

I was going through this station to my University each day for 5 years, and all the time before that while living with parents since it was the closest metro station to our home:

If you come with USDs or Euros, this is definitely true, especially outside of Kiev:

Chaos in Winter is absolutely true. Few years back we had an enormous snowfall in Kiev in March where even the driving rules stopped being relevant:

This is funny, and also true:

Random flight

Short footage from this weekend's flight. Recorded a plane flying half a kilometer away but decided to exclude it from the end result because the plane was way to far to be interesting on video. And you probably shouldn't fly close to planes anyway 🙂

Mario joins the battle!

On Sunday got this gem. And it's epic!
SSB-2

As the cover says, everyone is here! It's the biggest character mashup I've seen so far:
SSB-3

And most importantly, you can play the game anywhere you go:
SSB-4

I unlocked Mario in one of the few battles, freed him from possession and he joined my (the!) battle!
SSB-2

Being honest I missed out on the previous Super Smash Bros, so maybe for someone all of this is not new. But for me this game has so much diverse content, that I think it easily deserves its 93 points on Metacritic just for the content itself. The game's score is a bit lower than the 97 of my another most favorite and the most diverse game I ever played. Super Mario Odyssey which was the 2nd best game of 2017 which I bought the Switch for was beaten last year only by Zelda's Breath of the Wild, another Ninendo's marvel. I guess in this company of awesome unique games Super Smash Bros has good chances in getting into this year's Top 10 games as well.

Btw, just noticed my game cartridge has German writings on it, so probably Germany is Nintendo's main region in Western Europe 🙂:
SSB-5

And here's my Wedding Mario Amiibo, which I bought few months ago. Now I can fight using specifically this skin as well in all the battles to come. Because not only you get all major Nintendo's characters, but you get all of them in a variety of skins, including Wedding Mario 🙂
SSB-6

Once again Nintendo oudid themselves.

Microsoft Surface

Yesterday I was listening to the latest episode of ATP where one of the hosts discussed what he saw on his recent flight.

The host as many of the Apple customers has few different devices in each category. And him being an independent developer he tries doing work on the go. That's where to his flight he brought his MacBook Pro which he uses for development and his iPad Pro that he uses for everything else. And this is a real case: you can't code not on an iPad because Xcode requires a proper desktop OS, in this case Mac OS. But doing everything outside coding is more often better doing on an iPad (or tablets in general, but since Android tablets are essentially non-existent, I'm using the most successful tablet for reference).

For the flight the host took an almost $3k spec'd MacBook Pro and the most current generation bezel-less $1300 iPad Pro. And what he was doing with them? As most developers do - coding on the Mac and browsing and reading Twitter on the iPad, because the former is limited to Mac OS and requires typing via a proper keyboard and the latter is done so much better via touch on an all-screen device.

From the host's story he saw a guy next to him using a Microsoft Surface Pro or Go. And that guy used it for a while like a laptop, then flipped the keyboard and used it like a tablet, adding some pen input from the stylus. And all of that in one convertible device with a touchscreen, which starts from $500 for the Go up to only $1500 for the Pro. Whereas if you're in the Mac ecosystem, you would have to have to pay 2x-3x more and struggle with two separate devices, charging and managing them separately, etc. Even if Apple is building something for a bright future, Microsoft actually delivers something already.

I've played with the Surface lineup few times and was amazed how well built the devices are and how well-thought, well-designed and sturdy their stand mechanism is. Yes, they might not have USB-C sometimes at all, so they're less future-proof, but they are well equipped for now and who knows when. I'm in the USB-C (aka dongle) world for two years already and the transition to it is painfully slow, albeit faster than before the USB-C push from Apple with their latest laptop lineups.

Another situation was when we went to our friends and one of them was swiping pictures on her laptop. My wife was blown away with a touch screen on a laptop, since she has been surrounded with non-touch MacBooks all the time. And although a laptop with a touchscreen looks like a mess from all of those fingerprints, people actually enjoy using them, the same as everyone does enjoy using their smartphones despite them being covered with skin oil 🙂

Sometimes it feels stronger than ever that Apple lives in their own universe where people use what Apple thinks is best and not what people actually enjoy and understand using. On one hand Apple brought the touchscreens into the masses, but on the other they refuse bringing them to the laptops despite people nowadays trying to touch each screen by default and then revert to physical controls. Having an iPad in Apple's lineup helps but its OS still is very limited to let the iPad replace traditional computers.

Speaking of OSes, for me having Windows on the Surface is the big downside. I worked with both Mac OS and Windows for years and Mac OS is so much better for work. Although I would admit, with Apple's major focus on the iPhone and iOS, Mac OS becomes more and more overlooked overtime with clumsy bugs creeping in over and over again. I wish we would get a touch-based Mac OS device or a major improvement in iOS's productivity, so Apple users would be also able to get a one for all device in the nearest future. And I hope Apple's direction is not just towards the PC market at all.

Apple Watch ECG is out

Available only on the Series 4, the Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) has been enabled presumably only for US users, even though it works for me outside of the US, granted with a US iTunes account.

ECG-1
ECG-2

The reason behind the geo limitation is that Apple doesn't want to face fines by launching essentially a medical device without proper licensing in other countries (which by the way are in works, but not finished yet).

Anyway, for me the new ECG works flawlessly, showing a sinus (uniform) rhythm without any signs of Atrial Fibrillation (non-uniform rhythm) which is uplifting 🙂

After doing the first few tests, the Watch offers doing it from time to time in the background on its own and inform you when it sees any inconsistencies. I wonder how it's gonna do it since for the manual measuring it requires you putting your finger onto the Digital Crown to complete a circuit connectivity.

Another drawback is that the ECG app requires you to have your watch snug to your arm which for me means to readjust the band each time by one button snugger and that is less comfortable in my regular use scenarios 🙂

But overall this is an insane feature for such a small and portable device where previously you had to have a separate dedicated device to be plugged in instead.

P.S. In order to get the ECG feature you should be on the latest watchOS 5.1.2 and iOS 12.1.1

You're overpaying for your phone's camera

If you're using your phone camera for posting on social media, which cram the photo quality a lot, you might be overpaying for your phone's camera.

Camera-blind-test

The recent objective winners backed up by thorough tests in the phone camera department are:

  1. Google Pixel 3 XL
  2. iPhone XS
  3. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

But as MKBHD's blind camera test shows - buying a more expensive phone with a presumably better camera is not worth it if you mainly use the taken photos to post on social media. Like me, all of MKBHD's friends were blown away with the results.

If you take photos to keep the best, more natural version of the moment for a long time, then the more expensive phones are for you. But if you use your phone's photos to post on social media, and because of how they compress the images and their quality, you can actually achieve even better results with cheaper smartphones rather than posting photos from a more expensive ones.

The thing is that people assess pictures based on how they look in general, not based on the theoretical or technical details. And nowadays you can go really far just by improving the pictures with software. This is where the cheap phone shined in this review. Not only you can't see all the tiny details that more expensive phones provide because of the photos being compressed, but the over-exposed (usually just brighter) pictures from the cheap phones which use a ton of software enhancements actually feel better than the more precise photos taken with more expensive devices.

The winner of this test, Huawei Mate 20 Pro which is not a cheap phone by any means and actually has a really great hardware camera setup won because Huawei is known for their software processing for the photos. And the Pocophone F1 (Xiaomi's sub-brand) which costs only $300 came second out of 20 phones, beating the iPhones and Samsungs of this world also mostly because of improving the pictures with its software. Pocophone's camera lacks details if you zoom in the uncompressed version, but no one cares about those details when they're looking at the compressed pictures on Instagram or Twitter.

The bottom line is you can take a visually much more pleasing picture with worse hardware but then improve it with software. In fact, photo filters and manual adjustments have been there for a while enabling people posting awesome shots from not that great devices. So next time when a brand sells you how truly great their camera is, if you're doing photos just for social media, you can easily ignore that. That is what most people actually do already. Because hardware means less and less, and software wins again. But even Google who is great with their image processing algorithms lost with their Google Pixel 3 XL in the first round of comparison. And two top spots in the test won two Chinese companies, usually not very well known for their software achievements. But tables have turned.

Apple Store Experience survey

From time to time I've seen Apple's surveys on the recent purchases I made and how I like the stuff I got. But this is my first time I'm asked to survey a particular consultant. Nice 🙂

Apple-Store-Experience