Protocol Snow

Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

My new laptop — ultrathin ASUS Zenbook

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Tablets have been the hottest trend in consumer electronics lately, but while they are convenient in certain use cases, there’s no denying that laptops are far more versatile and powerful. My days in the classroom are behind me so I have not needed a daily laptop for the past couple years. But in the next several months, I will be doing a lot of business travelling with the need to do some computing on the road. Luckily for me, this need coincides with the grand launch of Intel’s Ultrabook initiative in October 2011.

ASUS Zenbook ultrabook laptop UX21 UX31 Apple MacBook Air competitor

Ultrabooks are ultrathin, light-weight laptops running mobile versions of the newest generation Intel CPUs with targeted prices of sub-$1000. Apple’s MacBook Air would technically fit into this product category, although it is not officially designated as an ultrabook. Acer and ASUS released their first ultrabooks just a couple weeks ago, and Lenovo and Toshiba are next in line. I have been admiring the ASUS Zenbook ever since its announcement, and now that I finally have it in my hands, I am delighted that it does not disappoint.

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Written by Protocol Snow

October 30th, 2011 at 12:05 am

Posted in Gadgets,Pick-ups,Travel

4-Camera car video recorder

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Traffic laws seem to be mere suggestions in Taiwan, as drivers routinely commit blatant violations and drive recklessly with little regard for their own safety, let alone the safety of anybody else. The problem is compounded by vehicle density and the swarms of scooters that are characteristic of Taiwan roads. The police, who are lackadaisical about enforcing traffic laws, don’t help the situation either.

In-car camera recorders are very popular in Taiwan to have video evidence of violations and to protect drivers against liability in case of collisions. With the advent of Youtube and these recorders, Taiwan has developed an interesting subculture of citizen traffic cops. Randomly browse through Youtube Taiwan’s most viewed videos in the Auto category and you’ll discover an abundance of videos uploaded by drivers with in-car cameras. Frequently, they’re just sharing their latest recordings of crazy events on the road (this one is a must watch!), but users will help identify license plates of hit-and-runs and submit videos to the police. Particularly popular videos can force the police to take action and make it onto TV news broadcasts. For example, this video was broadcasted a couple days later on national TV.

Hermes Car Digital Video Recorder Dashboard Camera

For my birthday a few months back, my parents bought me this fancy video recorder system by one of the leading Taiwan developers of this tech. It’s called the Hermes MVR 102 by Witness Technology (English site). Some people use their iPhones/Android phones as makeshift dashboard cameras, but this is more sophisticated and can record 4 video inputs simultaneously. The product is a custom rearview mirror (with 2 built-in cameras) that clips onto your pre-existing rearview mirror, with support for 2 additional cameras that can be installed wherever you wish. While an in-car video recorder isn’t as vital for protection in the USA compared to Taiwan, I have been using this device for months and love it.

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Written by Protocol Snow

September 18th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Pick-ups

iPod Touch 4th generation

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My first and only Apple product, an iPod Touch 2nd gen, was given by my medical school last year so that I could use pertinent apps while working at the hospital. When it comes to mp3 players, I have long been a supporter of Korean devices from iRiver and Cowon that even today offer the best audio quality in the business. However, they can’t compete with Apple’s devices in the categories of internet browsing and App support, which these days are more practical for me. So my media player of choice has gradually gravitated to the iPod Touch.

iPod Touch 4th generation 4G Apple

Apple released the 4th generation (4G) of the iPod Touch just a few days ago. At first glance, the new iPod Touch appears to finally catch up with the iPhone in terms of features. The list of upgrades certainly sound impressive: 720p HD video recording, front and rear-facing cameras, built-in microphone, FaceTime video calls through Wi-Fi, higher resolution screen, faster CPU, thinner body. Do we finally have the long-desired “iPhone equivalent without the phone”? But even after a cursory playtest, the components are without a doubt lower quality in comparison to the iPhone 4.

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Written by Protocol Snow

September 13th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Pick-ups

Deciding on an iPad case

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Summer is approaching and, as always seems to be true around this time of year, each day is not long enough to fit in everything I want to do. Or more importantly, everything I need to do. I’m nearing the end of medical school with applications, interviews, and all that hassle looming over my head. I’m hoping to avoid taking a complete hiatus like I did last year since I have tons of posts I want to write. Just need to find the spare time to do it!

iPad Apple tablet office depot business card stands

This post is pretty simple, especially since I already had all these photos sitting around on my computer. After I bought my mom her iPad, I did quite a bit of research looking into the tons of options available for cases and sleeves. This is a quick look at my thought process. What she ended up using completely surprised me and negated all the work I did. Just shows how futile it is to predict what a woman wants.

By the way, I promise this is the very last iPad-dedicated post you’ll see on my site!

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Written by Protocol Snow

May 22nd, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Pick-ups

My Mother’s Day gift — iPad

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For Mother’s Day this year, my brother and I bought my mom an iPad. Our family doesn’t make a big deal about gift-giving on holidays or birthdays, which I appreciate since I hate having a deadline to think about gift ideas. Instead we will buy gifts at sporadic times during the year whenever something appropriate presents itself. This way there’s no pressure to buy something random for the sole purpose of hitting those deadlines. Probably sounds weird, but it’s a more organic way of doing things and I think more people should adopt this philosophy. Not surprisingly, I don’t like Valentine’s Day.

iPad Apple tablet review

So this iPad is “technically” for Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday, even though we bought it in early April, Mother’s Day is today (May 9th) and my mom’s birthday is in early June. For those of you keeping score, I purchased my mom’s iPad before Apple banned me. It was the first iPad I bought actually; I walked into the Apple store on a random day and that’s when I realized they had lots of stock and started offering to do international pick-ups.

This also happens to be the first Apple product I have ever purchased. After getting a chance to play around with an iPad in the store, I realized how seemingly perfect it was for my mom and decided to buy. My parents came to visit recently so I was able to give her the iPad and see what she thought about it. This post is not meant to be a technical review, nor an exhaustive and complete analysis of all the features and functionality. You can track down plenty of reviews for that. Instead, it is a look at two people and if/how iPad is compatible with their lifestyles and computing needs.

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Written by Protocol Snow

May 9th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Pick-ups

The aftermath of my iPad ban story

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Whew, the past two weeks have been crazy! What started as just a funny story I wanted to share with my brother and friends shockingly went global. When the flood of visitors first hit, I panicked as my site was mercilessly trampled. It took me over 10 minutes just to log into my FTP server. Triple that to upload WP Super Cache, a band-aid solution I hoped would ease the traffic stress. Luckily it seemed to work fairly well.

Harajuku Tokyo frenzy rush people crowd
The floodgates have opened…

Now that the frenzy has mostly died down, here’s some miscellaneous notes on the whole adventure.

– Social media networks are so powerful. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit — these and others were the engines spear-heading the madness. Out of these four, the only one I use is Twitter. Hilariously enough, my original tweet about the story was unnoticed. But boy, every time a power user tweeted a link to my site, the retweets were incessant.

– Some of the articles that drove traffic my way: PC World, Consumerist, Ars Technica, Gawker, The Register. And that’s just Day 1, I stopped tracking after that.

– I was contacted by writers from newspaper organizations and magazines who wanted to publish articles about the story. They all requested phone interviews. I was actually considering entertaining the first interview offer I received. But as my article truly went viral and some people were misinterpreting what I thought was a fairly clear-cut story, I realized how easily words could be twisted. Suddenly the wild spontaneous realm of the phone interview, where I didn’t have a lot of time to shape my responses, was much less enticing. I rejected all the phone interview offers. Nobody was interested in an e-mail interview or Q&A.

– A major tech blog was interested in the exclusive rights to re-publish my story in full on their site. I didn’t realize a practice like this even existed. I declined the offer.

– I received a few dozen e-mails from writers for big-time websites, not to request interviews, but just to pat me on the back for a well-written story or to ask a question or two for curiosity’s sake. I definitely appreciate the gesture.

If you haven’t guessed already, I am fascinated by all the attention my site got in the past two weeks. Let’s face it, this is just a tiny personal blog that exists quietly in a corner of the Internet, known to only a very small few.

But surprisingly, the crazy traffic rush wore out its welcome fairly quickly. Want to know the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this experience? All these visitors and big-time traffic numbers mean nothing to me if they’re just people who click-through once and never return again. To my regular readers, thanks for sticking with me and I hope whatever attracted you to Protocol Snow in the first place keeps you coming back. To the new readers who like my content, some who have e-mailed saying you would never have discovered my site if it wasn’t for the iPad story, welcome!

Written by Protocol Snow

May 4th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Laptop brotherhood

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Today is a dedicated clean-up day, in every sense of the word. My parents are visiting me in a couple days so I will be vacuuming, organizing, and scrubbing my entire apartment until it’s lifestyle-magazine clean. But I’ve also been cleaning out my bloated hard drives. While deleting a bunch of junk, I discovered this photo from last year which I had meant to post.

Sager IBM Thinkpad ASUS laptops netbooks

This is my trio of laptops, the oldest one from as far back as 2003. A lot of history and good times in this photo.

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Written by Protocol Snow

April 24th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Gadgets