Category Archives: shopping

On Cables and Tablet Stands

There are two kinds of cables I despise: 3 feet cables and ones made of cheap plastic and wires that break apart.

I know short cables make a lot of sense if you’re using the device in a car or if you don’t plan on using your device while it’s charging. However, 99% of the time, I want to use it and in some cases, the power outlets in the house aren’t close enough to a table for me to place my tablet or phone on. Heck, even worse is when an outlet is near a chair or sofa; the pathetic length means I won’t be able to sit comfortably anyway.

For example, here’s my computer desk. Please excuse the terrible terrible mess. XD I’ll be getting a desktop in the near future so hopefully, the next photo I take won’t show the network cable goofily dangling about:

Power outlets in my computer room
A reason I despise 3 feet cables for my portable devices.

By using the power bar on the right side, I CAN put a device near the edge of the desk. However, I CANNOT make use of the power bar under the central opening or the wall outlet on the left the same way. In either case, if I use a 3 feet cable, I have to set the device on the floor.

But look! I have a 6 feet cable plugged into the wall outlet! I just received that today. :3 It’s the Anker 6ft Nylon Braided USB Cable with Lightning Connector and it works as intended so I don’t have much to say on that. I do hope it lasts longer than the cheap Monoprice cables. I went through 2 of those because of the following problem:

Monoprice 6 feet Lightning cable
If you read reviews of any cables with plastic jackets, you’ll see that this is a common issue . 😐 But the bigger issue is that the wires within the insulation are frayed which makes the cable impossible to use.
Monoprice 6 feet Lightning cable
It’s a piece of shit. :/

The residue on the jacket near the connector is from the electrical tape I put on it. Unfortunately, tape doesn’t help with BROKEN wires. =__=

The first Monoprice Lightning cable I had lasted about 7 months. The second one, which I got as replacement thanks to the lifetime warranty, worked for a bit over a year. Incidentally, I take it that “lifetime warranty” refers to the lifespan of the first cable so if the replacement goes kaput, you’ll have to buy a new one? I wrote to Monoprice to see if I can get a third cable last week but I’ve yet to hear back. 😛 It doesn’t matter if customer service ever replies though because I’m done with the company’s cheap crap. (The cable’s only $6 US so I’m sure you can imagine the quality that comes with that price.)

For the record, I did use the cables frequently since I charge the tablet everyday; I plug it in once the battery goes down to ~69%. I always grip the connector when inserting or removing it and never once pulled on the jacket.

I’ll be sure to update this post if the Anker cable suffers the same or similar problem some time down the road.

Now on to the tablet stand! Continue reading On Cables and Tablet Stands

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ASUS MeMO Pad 8 Impressions: On Battery Life and Launchers!

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 has arrived!
Photo taken with an iPad mini w/ Retina. XD The image has been compressed by Twitter though.

Yes, my impressions about this tablet are a few months late since I just bought it about a week ago online but just received it on Thursday. Since there are a lot of reviews out there already, I’m not going to go into the specs and general tablet information since they can be easily found through a simple search on a search engine. Instead, I’m just going to talk about my experiences with it.

First off, I love the tablet! The size is quite comfortable for me although, admittedly, a 7″ tablet would probably be even MORE comfortable for me to hold and type on but I do prefer the bigger screen.

Since I have a habit of writing a novel for a post, here are more thoughts in point form:

  • Set up was painless!
  • The screen is lovely and colours are quite vivid!
  • I ignored and continue to ignore most of the pre-installed apps since they are useless to me and there are probably better alternatives anyway.
  • Audio seems to hiccup a bit at the lowest or close to the lowest setting. :/ I’m not sure if it’s my device or if this is something that all MeMO Pad 8s experience. (A quick Google search returns with nothing. :()
  • Battery consumption is …. suspicious. I will go into more details about this below.
  • Screen brightness at the absolute lowest setting is strangely bright enough for indoor use without any issue. o_O It’s not like that with my Galaxy Tab 10.1 (where I have to squint to see things at the same setting) or iPad mini w/ Retina (viewable but a higher setting works better).
  • Camera is all right. It does the job. :3
  • Gosh, the Android ROM and customization community sure doesn’t care about this tablet! Can’t find a custom ROM for it anywhere. The closest I got was this: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2550264

All right. Now on with the potential battery problem.

Continue reading ASUS MeMO Pad 8 Impressions: On Battery Life and Launchers!

DecalGirl iPad mini with Retina skin: Ocean Rain

I received the skin yesterday and I must say that I really love the matte finish. I think I prefer it much more than the glossy look. (I have two devices with glossy skins from GelaSkins.)

Below is a gallery of photos where I show off my mini post-skinned. You’ll notice I ran into some hiccups here and there involving the right side (or left when viewed from the back of the device) where the holes in the skin just wouldn’t go over the buttons properly. There’s also that mysterious hole toward the bottom of the mini. The fold was so terrible at that spot that I ended up cutting it which is why you’ll see a gap below it. :\

Disclaimer: DecalGirl is in no way responsible for how the skin turned out for me so don’t hold them responsible for some of the less than desirable outcomes that are seen in the photos.

In a way, I wish I left the front piece off since I’m not terribly crazy about seeing the pattern there but I’m not going to take it off. ^^ I spent several minutes trying to get to sit right; I must have reapplied it around 3 times. I’m surprised how resilient it is to air bubbles and dust! This is quality adhesive, I tell you!

Overall, I’m pleased with the design I picked. But I have to say that in terms of patterns that appeal to me, I prefer the selection from GelaSkins over DecalGirl. The reason I went with the latter was due to the 25% New Years discount. XD Actually, as of this writing, they have a Valentine’s Day sale going on that ends February 7th. Check it out!

On the iPad mini with Retina, proper wallpaper size, and a case

I was looking to replace my iPod touch 4G for the longest time and initially considered the iPod touch 5G but it’s the wimpiest out of the entire generation of new iDevices. Consequently, some apps and games won’t even run on it. I also thought about getting a used, unlocked iPhone 5 but those seem to cost an arm and a leg regardless of the sources I looked at. Finally, after seeing Future Shop put a bunch of 4th gen iPads w/ Retina on sale, I considered getting one. In the end, however, I settled for a 32 GB iPad mini w/ Retina. I have owned it for about a week now and I LOVE IT.

Its size is so perfect to me~! And it’s so fast and light (compared to my other mobile devices)~!! The only things that are slightly annoying are 1) it won’t automatically replace deleted icons in a folder with an icon from a following page. This means that you have to manually move an icon to fill the gap, and 2) you can’t just tap on an image in the photo gallery to get a context menu that’ll bring you to the wallpaper editing screen. :\ (Yes, I know these are problems related to the operating system and not the device itself. :B)

Speaking about wallpapers, every website I looked at will tell you that the wallpaper size for the mini is 1024 x 1024 or 2048 x 2048*. They’re ALL wrong*. The graphic needs to be 2524 x 2524. This is for the Retina/iOS 7 version though so I don’t know if lower OS versions and the older iteration of the mini is different. (This site seems to suggest so.)

Continue reading On the iPad mini with Retina, proper wallpaper size, and a case

AppFeed.net: Monitoring Apps You want to Purchase

It may be that I’m not looking hard enough but I’ve yet to find any “window shopping” Android app that have a wishlist or watch list that’s capable of sending notifications when price changes occur. This particular feature is a staple of AppShopper which, unfortunately, will most likely forever remain an iOS-only application.

I suppose the mentality is that the majority of apps are less than $5 so the chances of someone NOT purchasing something right away is sort of rare. After all, who would chuck a 99-cent app into a wishlist instead of instantly hitting the Buy button?

The answer? Me. And probably a lot of other Android users too.

Throwing $1 at something I may not potentially like shouldn’t be a big deal, right? It’s still money though and I’d much rather be able to try out an app first before agreeing to being billed for it. There’s also another side to it where if it’s not anything I really want right away, I’ll just wait until it goes on sale. 😛

Yeah, I guess it simply boils down to me being cheap and loving free stuff.

Anyway, AppFeed.net is my only known way for keeping me in the loop about any changes on my Play Store wishlist. It’s Web-based (although there IS an app that’s currently in the beta stages) and incredibly simple to use! Just log in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account and once you’re logged in, you can put whatever you want to be alerted on — even if the  app isn’t on your wishlist — by adding them to your Application list. The process can feel a bit tedious if you happen to have a long list of items since it requires you to manually copy and paste the store page URL of each app.

My AppFeed applications list
I only had 9 items so the whole copy and paste URL process wasn’t too bad.

If there’s one thing that’s lacking about AppFeed, it’s the fact that you can’t choose to have notifications via e-mail; only RSS feeds are available and don’t expect this to change any time soon. (The link leads you to an entry at the creator’s blog where he provides a method to get e-mail notifications.) These feeds are the way to keep abreast of any changes that may occur for the apps you want to monitor. There are several RSS feeds to choose from in the My feeds section. Once you select the one you want, it can be added to Google Reader or any RSS client.

Toys R Us needs to learn what a confirmation e-mail is

I purchased a lovely red and black 3DS XL on Black Friday from the Toys R Us Canada Website. Then, in my infinite wisdom, I decided that I was too impatient and went out on Saturday morning to get it directly from the brick and mortar store. I figure, since I can return the one I got from online once it arrives, things should be fine, right? (I’ll be out the shipping costs but that’s besides the point. :E)

So after receiving the package yesterday, I got all the paperwork together and headed to the store this morning.

Here’s what you’re supposed to bring as noted in the shipping e-mail and on the packing slip as well:

Easy Returns: You can return an item in any of our store locations across Canada or return directly to our warehouse. Simply follow the steps below for instructions on our return process:

Visit a Toys“R”Us/Babies“R”Us Store

      1. Please pack the product in its original packaging.
      2. Bring a copy of your packing slip.
      3. Bring a copy of your confirmation email.

I brought all of this but was denied a refund back onto my MasterCard. Why? Because the confirmation e-mail I brought wasn’t the one they needed. It was supposed to show the credit card number on it.

I thought for a bit and wondered if I missed an e-mail because the order confirmation one sure didn’t have anything about what card I used or the card number.

Anyway, in my infinite wisdom again and since a line was forming, I opted for the store credit. So now, I am out $200 on my credit card. I suppose I could use all of that for Christmas shopping but I never meant my budget to be that high this year. 😛

Once I got back home, I doubled checked every damn e-mail I got from Toys R Us. NOTHING had a credit card number on it.

Hell, here it is. Sorry for the size but it was the only way to show it on a single page. (It can be enlarged a bit if it’s clicked on though.):

toysrusconfemail

Then I decided to log into my account at the Toys R Us Website.

THERE IT WAS. This is what they’re looking for:

Hey, Toys R Us, this Webpage doesn't count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.
Hey, Toys R Us, this doesn’t count as a fucking confirmation E-MAIL.

Under Payment Method, it shows the card + last 4 digits. But as the caption reads, THIS IS NOT A CONFIRMATION E-MAIL. It’s a fucking order status on the fucking WEBSITE. If you want people to bring this, you should explicitly state so.

What’s even MORE hilarious is that their Returns & Warranty page under their Help section says the same thing as the information at the bottom of the shipping e-mail but with the added note in the parentheses:

Returning to a Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store 
To avoid paying shipping to return the item you can bring your purchase to the nearest Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us Store. Please bring the following items with you:

a. Packing slip
b. Confirmation email (This is used to confirm original method of payment)
c. Please pack the product in its original packaging

I didn’t check this earlier but if I did, I may have been scratching my head and wondering how they could confirm my method of payment without  it being listed and I would have did more investigation. But hey, maybe they could check via order number or something? Who am I to argue what’s written there?

However, the point still stands that they’re looking for a bloody confirmation e-mail. And why the fuck the payment info isn’t listed in the order confirmation in the first place is beyond me. Maybe it is in the US?

At any rate, I shot off a letter of complaint to them and requested to have my store credit reversed and put back on my MasterCard. Yeah, you can argue that it should be common sense to show something that indicated how the purchased was paid but I followed their instructions to the T and it shouldn’t be my responsibility to hunt down missing information for their convenience. I thought all they would have needed was an order number to verify in the system or something. Well, they wanted the confirmation e-mail and they fucking got it.
toysrusragetrans
Edit: Since I requested that they change the wording in the return policy regarding the term “confirmation e-mail”, here’s a screencapped version of the instructions in case it’s changed at some point.

Edit #2: This is gold. Customer service has reading comprehension issues.

Here’s the message I sent via the “Contact Us” form as quoted by the service agent that replied a few hours after I sent:

Letter of complaint to Toys R Us

Here is the reply. Note that utterly unhelpful it is. On top of that, it’s clear that they just use generic replies:

Reply from Toys R Us customer service

Thanks for completely ignoring my issue. Gonna reply to it soon.

FreeMyApps: It’s NOT a scam

Disclaimer: I do not work for Fiksu, Inc. or FreeMyApps nor was I paid to endorse the app or program. I am merely an end user blogging about my own experience.

—————–

I started using FreeMyApps (FMA) back in April of this year mainly as a means to get Amoebattle for free which I did after installing about 8 apps I didn’t end up keeping.  Alas, the program no longer allows users to redeem apps from the App Store but instead, you can exchange credits for iTunes, Amazon and Postagram gift cards in varying denominations ranging from $1 to $50 (which applies to iTunes only. Amazon caps at $25). The Website also states that you can redeem Xbox Live credits but I don’t see it as an option in the app.

FreeMyApps - Sponsor Apps
FreeMyApps – Sponsor Apps

Anyway, the official site gives you a run down of how everything works but here’s my version of it so you don’t need to create another tab in your browser: you’ll need the FMA app itself that’s only available from them by visiting the site (http://www.freemyapps.com/) on your mobile device. Once installed, you will be able to download a bunch of free sponsor apps which are worth x-amount of credits that can be used in exchange for the aforementioned gift cards. After downloading them, run them for 30 seconds; for anything that requires sign up, just ignore that and leave the app going. When the elapsed time has passed, return to the FMA app and you should see the credit amount (whatever the app was “worth”) in the top right corner. (My screencaps were done in reverse order so I have less credits in the one below. :P)

FreeMyApps - Gifts Screen
FreeMyApps – Gifts Screen

Yeah, everyone wants to rake in credits quickly but companies price things in such a way that it benefits them not the user. 😛 Having noted this, FMA adds new offers fairly often so if you’re eyeing the higher valued gift cards, it’s worth it to load up the app every now and then (or follow the FMA Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates). There’s also a referral program that net you some extra credits. I haven’t posted my link since I feel kind of bad taking advantage of strangers.

Ideally, the sponsors would like you to leave their apps installed and to use them, but most of the time, I’m just loading them up for 30 seconds and then uninstalling them. I’ve kept very few apps. ^^ I mostly try out the games … except the obvious freemium village-building or card battle ones.

I suppose if you’re paranoid, you wouldn’t want to rampantly install new apps without looking up reviews or checking privacy statements first but since I don’t register for anything, I figure it’s all right.

Oh, there are some catches:

  1. You NEED to have a US  iTunes accounts. :\
  2. You HAVE to use Safari.
  3. It’s iOS-only.