• About
  • First time here?
  • Sitemap
  • Archives
  • Categories
  • Archive for the ‘gadgets’ Category

    First Impressions on the Samsung Gear VR


    2015 - 01.03

    Gear VR

    This thing is… compelling. Awe-inspiring. Thought-provoking. I feel lucky to have it. It’s a virtual reality headset that uses a Samsung Note 4 smartphone as the processor/screen.  This is my first experience with real virtual reality–never tried Nintendo’s Virtual Boy from back in the day, and I’ve never put on one of the Oculus DK1 or DK2 headsets. Honestly my expectations were kind of high going in… and it delivers. Something you see is going to make you smile, something else you see is going to force you to shout out loud. It’s a glimpse into the future. Sure there’s nitpicks or quirks here and there but overall, dang. We’re living in the future. This is the next “thing”. It’s hard to even describe it. That’s my biggest takeaway: this is a new medium. Like movies, music, photos, paintings–those are all artistic mediums of capturing stories. This is a whole new medium of telling a story. VR.

    Right now this is a somewhat exclusive club: the Gear VR only works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I had the Note 2 and loved it, so when my 2 year upgrade time rolled around, the Note 4 was a logical choice. Once I read that Samsung had partnered with Oculus to create a virtual reality headset accessory for it (wait, what?!), the deal was sealed. I picked this phone just so I could get the Gear VR.

    The hardware is refined and still young at the same time. On one hand, a lot of technical challenges have been addressed; head tracking is smooth, responsive, and accurate. Overall it’s comfortable enough for long sessions and there is some great content already here. The screen on the Note 4 is pretty great! It’s been interesting to read reviews of the device around the web. One observation about these reviews needs to be emphasized: anyone who cares enough to make a review of the Gear VR is probably a MAJOR gadget geek. That is to say hyper-critical of technical minutia and hung up on details that honestly have little effect on the overall experience. Many reviews say the pixel count is still too low, the content isn’t there yet, that it’s not comfy enough, or that motion sickness may be an issue for people. Alright yes, there is something there which may disqualify the whole deal for certain people. And yet–guys, if we can stop fixating on pixels, there is something utterly mind-blowing going on here!!

    You can put on these goggles and stand on top of the Empire State building. You can go to Egypt. You can go to MARS. You can explore imaginary worlds or sit inside of a IMAX theater on your couch at home. You can dive with dolphins and tour the solar system. You can watch a ballet performance from on-stage and share dinner with a family in Mongolia. You can literally do all of those things straight out of the box with this device. And it’s all happening ON YOUR PHONE. With no wires.

    Man.

    Let’s highlight a few of the things that resonated with me during my first couple weeks with this spiffy device…

    The included 360 photo library:

    There’s TONS in here. Each photo seems crisp and although you can see the individual pixels of the Note 4 screen if you stare at it, when you move your head around, the sharp resolution of the original image is clear, since the original has more pixels in it than the display can physically render. Some of my favorite photos I already described but there are plenty of them to examine, with each photo being rich enough that you can stand inside of it (yes, wrap your head around that!) and study all the details for quite some time if you want to. Ancient Amphitheaters, coral reefs, beehives, the top of the Eiffel Tower, Buddhist temples, the ruins of Chernobyl, take your pick. There’s whole worlds inside here, and you magically teleport around the globe at the flick of a finger. JEEZ.

    Strangers with Patrick Watson:

    I keep coming back to this 360 video, where you sit in the studio-space of a lone musician and he plays you a tune on the piano. What makes it are the casual, seemingly unscripted bits: the sounds of traffic from outside, the way he scrounges for a cigarette before he begins. Then he starts the song over because the drum machine is too loud and asks his dog, “yeah, that’s too loud isn’t it?” As he appears to finish, his phone rings. He grabs it, sees the name and laughs before hitting decline and continuing to sing a last final outro. It feels like a real moment. Believable. It puts you THERE. More than the other movies (which were all awesome in their own ways) this video showed me the possibility of what immersive VR video could bring. I wanna see the inside of a smokey jazz club or get strapped onto a guy in a birdman suit with this… the potential scenarios are dumbfounding.

    Playhead:

    It’s a game similar to Frequency, or Guitar Hero where you have note lanes you have to do things in conjunction with. Only now you’re inside of it! It’s the first music-based titled I’ve played and like “Strangers” above, this one shows you the promise of what’s possible. The whole experience is not very long, but the song is cool and there are two sections where you emerge from the note lanes into an expansive open landscape with cliffs on either side of you, a winding river far below, and eventally a rising pyramid before you. All this seems to groove with the music in a real neat way and it feels good! I look forward to more levels within this game or more games like it.

    Darknet:

    Okay, here’s the meat. Darknet is a slow burn, starting out as a nifty hacking puzzle game that borrows from many cyberpunk influences to create a dazzling world of stylized computer networks you stand inside of. At first it seems easy and bite sized. But then you complete your first hack and you do another one, and another one… and the brilliance of this game slowly reveals itself. It keeps getting harder and the time alloted doesn’t get longer. You unlock new options and you start to see there’s a lot of subtlety to how you can approach the puzzles, which have themselves added on new roadblocks. More than anything else on the Gear VR, this one has legs as an addictive way to spend time. The music sets a pitch-perfect vibe and when you experience that barely-made-it hack that only gets beaten in the last minute, the bug will bite you. If Gear VR has a “killer app” so far, this is it. As I write this, I’m excited to get back in and hack some more!

    looking at the inside of the lenses with the phone in... you're looking at the matrix code although it's too distorted to see from this distance.
    Returning back to the overall device, Oculus has been posting updates to the available content every Tuesday, which is fantastic! Each batch of new VR jams is a set of other dimensions to step inside of… because in VR a photo is not just a photo, it’s a place to be. It’s a new frontier in the way we view things. The content and the experiences may be just a few drips from a tap that’s slowly opening but what’s here already is mesmerizing, spellbinding. It really does feel like a kind of magic trick. It’s exciting to be in-on-the-scene here, with this technology that really feels like it is on the cusp of exploding. When you stand inside of it, it sweeps you up and you want to show it to other people. Everyone should see this. It amazes. And you wonder “why is this not everywhere?!” Pretty soon it will be. It just has to.

    Back in Action: Pro-Ject Debut III USB


    2014 - 11.04

    Probably for the last three months now the nicer of my two turntables turntables has been in the service center.  It was seemingly destroyed by a power surge although nothing else in the house was damaged.  Right after a big storm I tried running it and it was dead.  Multimeter confirmed no juice from the power supply and the “protected” light on the surge protector it was hooked up to had gone out.  Upon replacing the power supply with a generic one, either my off-brand replacement destroyed the motor, or the motor was already toast too because it just made a bad smell and refused to turn.  So three months later, my Pro-Ject is back and back in action.  I broke it in with a clear 45 of Orgone.  It’s good to see this guy again!

    Pro-Ject Debut III USB

    First Infrared Timelapse Video


    2014 - 03.30

    So I actually made this a long time ago but am just now getting around to posting it.  It’s a short video of 4 timelapses that I shot on my infrared-converted Canon XTi.  One really important trick which allowed me to do this easily was told to me by the guy who did the conversion for me: take a photo of green leaves or grass, preferrably blurred out.  Then use that image as the source for a custom white balance.  Now if you take a photo using that custom white balance, it looks exactly as you see in the video!  No processing required, no color shifting.  Now that is a convenient tip!

    First IR Timelapse from Microcosmologist on Vimeo.

    There’s also a color night sky timelapse from the T3i in there, shot on the night I proposed to my wife.  Obviously pretty special to me!  The sky looks really awesome in that IR landscape shot.  I want to do some more timelapses like this with moving clouds since the sky shows up so contrasty and dark in IR.

    Closer…


    2013 - 07.13

    These are cool:

    For years I’ve been wishing for a convergence device between smart phone and high-end point-n-shoot. The perfect camera inches one step closer with the release of two intriguing products from Samsung which come from opposite ends of the spectrum: an android-powered SLR and an optical-zoom equipped Galaxy phone. At this point I think neither device is exactly what I’d find ideal–the SLR is non-pocket-compatible and thus too big to carry 24/7, and the Galaxy S4 Zoom is reported to perform more like a lower-end point-n-shoot, although it does have manual modes. The max aperture of 2.8 is surprisingly awesome on the wide end.  It’d be neat to have one of these, even if the reviews don’t sound all that positive thus far… Still. I think it’s awesome that a giant company like Samsung is willing to push this deeply into the small-volume niche markets that both of these devices fill.

    Fixin Up Some-a-Them Vintage ‘lectronics From The Texas Countryside


    2013 - 07.05

    This week I welcomed another neat vintage piece of gear to the collection, the Panasonic RA-6600. Featuring an 8-track recorder. 8-track, kids! It’s like cassette but bigger! I bought this puppy for $20 from an oddball fellow with a loud-mouthed pet bird way out in the Texas countryside. His girlfriend, who had been sunbathing in the back yard, walked through the living room in a bikini and said sorry. Dude responed “ain’t like this feller’s never been to a beach before!” I tell you I felt right at home.

    Anyway at the time I bought it he said he thought it wasn’t working due to blown fuses on the back. Well, I replaced the fuses, still no dice. I noticed that the speaker cones would move all the way out to their max position when I hooked everything up and turned her on. That means DC voltage was going out the speaker terminals, thereby a blown transistor on the power amp section. Fortunately, this receiver uses a modular power amp design, so I just got on eBay and found a replacement STK-040, which clocks in at a devastating 10 watts RMS.

    Opened it up and removed the old power amp with the help of me mate Vincente and discovered that the solder pads fall right off the 1970s PCB. Hmmm. Can’t solder anything into a circuit without solder pads. I put up a thread about it on a forum, and the helpful folks at all about circuits said hey no problem, just add some extra wires that follow the traces and connect to the next component lead. DUH! So I added the wires and bam, the right channel started working! The taste of sweet half-success!

    I was feeling happy, having replaced the modular power amp and fixed the right channel, but also feeling a little daunted by the prospect of trying to troubleshoot the left channel which was still out. If it wasn’t the power amp, it could be something much trickier to locate. Hmmm. The Panasonic, along with a whole mess of tools and other junk, cluttered up my dining room table for a few weeks. My buddy who helped me install the modular power amp came back for another visit last weekend and we had sat down to chow on some tasty salmon burger action.

    I had turned on the radio because it was there, and there was a blues station on. My buddy, a guitarist, decided he wanted to hear this better, so he turned up the volume a bit. A ferocious crackle came from the dead channel… followed by music! Apparently Vince has got the magic touch?!

    I had previously tried working the volume control around, wondering if the potentiometer might be dirty, but I didn’t get any crackles at that time. Guess I just didn’t try long enough. Or maybe that inital round of deox-it had a delayed effect? Sweeeet. While the unit was apart I gave the volume pot a good blast of deox-it, and the crackles seem to have gone away. Also replaced the burnt out bulb and the dials light up now too. So it’s seemingly 100% now! I don’t have any 8-tracks to test out the player, but maybe I might get on eBay and pick some up soon. It’d be pretty neat to make some 8-track tapes…..

    You Might Be Cool. But You’ll Never Be ‘Personal Disco Component’-Equipped Cool.


    2013 - 07.02

    So recently I was looking to possibly purchase a boombox and, like I always do, I had to go research this matter and determine what is the coolest possible boombox as a point from which to work backwards in determining my final choice.  And I totally found the coolest boombox.  Ever.  In world history.  It’s this:

    image

    First IR light for the XTi


    2013 - 03.31

    So it’s nothing too amazing yet, but here is the first alright looking shot from my Canon XTi which was recently modified with the removal of the internal Infrared-block glass that covers the sensor.  I used a 720nm filter to block all visible light.  So nothing but infrared here.  Not really an amazing shot but I’m pleased with how the plants look nice and white.  I need to play with it more and maybe try a timelapse if I can find a cool subject.  But hey, it’s working, neat!!

    I did a relatively mild post processing on it.  Since it was at sunset, it wasn’t a good candidate for the red/blue channel swap like people do to make the sky look blue.  That’s more suited to afternoon images.  I still have a lot to learn when it comes to the subtleties of IR post-processing.  But I’ve started learning and that’s sweet.

    That Vinyl Sound: The Marantz 6100 Turntable w/ Grado Green & +1%


    2013 - 03.17

    So I picked up one Svelte (with a capital S!) looking turntable a little while back: the Marantz 6100. It had been up on Craigslist for quite some time and I had been eyeing it up, especially since it would match my Marantz amp I like so much. Finally I pulled the trigger. Immediately when I got it home I started noticing a series of issues. This post chronicles all that I’ve done to upgrade and fix it, for anyone who should want to do the same to theirs.

    First thing wrong with it was that only one channel worked. Yikes, that’s a showstopper! Step one was to diagnose: swap the L/R channels as they were connected to my amp to make sure it was the turntable at fault and not the amplifier. It was the turntable. I took the bottom off and used the “beep”/continuity test setting on my multimeter to see where the signal was getting lost. Note that on older turntables like this, with no internal pre-amps, the four connecting pins off your turntable needle/cartridge are, electrically, connected directly to your receiver/amplifier. That means if you’re missing a channel, it’s a continuity problem: The guts of the turntable are simply wires.

    First, I checked the continuity between the connections right at the needle and the solder joints on the inside of the deck. All beeped, so they’re good. Then I checked the solder connections to the end of the RCA ring/tip connectors. Sure enough, one was bad! I was surprised that old RCA jacks would actually fail like that. Hmph. I took a spare RCA cable, and cut off one end. Then I stripped the wires, revealing four different wire paths. I unsoldered the old one and soldered in the new one, making sure to leave a stress-relief knot, so the cable couldn’t be yanked out by accident.

    Second thing I noticed was that the speed of this turntable is slightly slow. I searched around online and found that this is a well-chronicled issue with the model 6100 turntable. It’s driven by an AC motor, so a simple adjustment of the input voltage to the motor won’t remedy this issue. Somewhere online in a forum I saw someone recommend getting a slightly shorter belt. I called a few hi-fi stores and came to the conclusion that 25″ belts are common but 24.9″ belts, in fact, do not exist.

    Then I got the idea of adding something to make the motor shaft very slightly larger in diameter, since that would effectively make it turn the belt faster. Scotch tape, maybe?? Sure enough, it works! At first I added two layers of tape and now my speed went from like 5% slow to like 5% too fast–a thin layer sure goes a long way. I took off one layer of the scotch tape so now it’s just a single loop around the motor shaft. With only one loop, now the turntable runs very, very slightly fast; maybe like 1-2% faster than normal. It’s the kind of thing where, if you’re listening hard for it, you could pick it out with effort, but if you sat down not knowing that the table was ever so slightly fast, you’d probably never notice.

    At first I wondered if it would annoy me (5% too slow DEFINITELY annoyed me!) but after listening to a whole bunch of albums, I think I actually enjoy everything sped up by an almost imperceptible amount. It’s not enough to affect the pitch of familiar records; or if it is, being slightly sharp is less offensive to my ear than being flat. It does add a subtle extra ‘kick’ or energy, having that increase in tempo–an extra bpm or two. I’m digging it!

    Lastly, I was getting distortion in the sound, like the signal was being overdriven or something. I figured since the turntable is nothing more than wires and mechanical support for the stylus, it was probably the stylus. Spoiler alert: it was. The old stylus was a Pickering VX-15 with a dust brush on the front. That dust brush seems like a great idea in theory, but it sort of sucks in reality: seems like it makes the record skip more, and you need lots more tracking force to prevent that. I’m not sure how old that needle was, but from the looks of it… OLD.

    The Pickering was swapped out with a Grado “Green 1” cartridge. Ka-BAM! This baby breathed a whole new life into the 6100. The anti-skate weight was missing from my deck, so I improvised with a couple zinc washers and some thread. I kept getting skips at the very start of every record, even when I had a lot of tracking force on the arm. Adding the anti-skate weight got rid of those skips at the beginning and allowed me to dial back the amount of tracking force needed. It’s still probably too much right now, but it is nice not getting any skips at all even on records which have known spots prone to it. I’ll keep dialing it back in the weeks to come.

    The 6100 has two simple but nice features that I’ve enjoyed: auto-return and auto-shutdown, and buttons to toggle between 33/45 rpm. My other deck, the venerable Pro-Ject Debut III doesn’t have either of these. Auto return/shutdown means that you don’t have to worry about accidentally letting the turntable skip on the last groove all night because you forgot to shut it off, which I’ve totally done. The 33/45 buttons are a very basic feature the Pro-Ject lacks–you actually have to remove the platter and move the belt by hand, which gets old. Maybe that sounds lazy, but you end up yanking on the spindle too much to get the platter off, and I worry about long-term wear that might be causing. It just makes me nervous doing it, so I listened to less 45s on that deck. No longer!

    But oh man, this Grado Green cartridge is awesome. The Pro-Ject Debut III has an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, and that turntable sounds excellent. For the Marantz, I wanted to get a different brand, for the sake of sonic variety. Since I love my Grado headphones, it was a logical choice to try out their cartridge line. I’d describe the Ortofon as the “cleaner” of the two, and the Grado as the “warmer” of the two. That said, it’s not a jaw-dropping difference between them.

    I hooked up the headphone extension cable and put on my Grado SR-225 headphones for a long listening session this last weekend… now that was really enjoyable!! Laying on the carpet with my eyes closed, blasting familiar recordings and oh yes, hearing a bunch of new details within them, thanks to yet another different listening setup. It’s chicken soup for the soul, just doing nothing but soaking in the awesome sounds of your favorite albums. After the soldering, reassembly, and tweaking this is the reward; not critical listening but blissful listening. I’m going to make it a point to just hang out and listen to records over the next few weeks, reaquainting myself with the collection again and enjoying the tunes. That’s what it’s all about!

    The Remee Sleep Mask: “We’ll go dreeeeeeam-innnnnnnn”


    2013 - 02.07

    In January I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a Remee sleep mask. Unlike a typical sleep mask, it contains a set of LEDs which blink at you in your sleep. The idea behind this being that the light travels through your eyelids and if you’re in the middle of a dream, you see this flashing pattern and realize that you’re dreaming. Then you can get down to business of playing around in the dream. Lucid Dreaming baby, it’s an awesome, awesome thing.

    This mask is inspired by a product called the Novadreamer which came out a long time ago and cost $300, which was a harsh entry fee. The Remee costs $95, much more accessible but still not cheap. The main difference between the Novadreamer and the Remee is that the Novadreamer used an infrared LED and photodectector to monitor for fast movements of your eyelid/eyeball and thereby know when REM sleep is occurring. The Remee simply waits 4.5hrs after you turn it on, and then begins flashing every 20 minutes (these times are user-programmable). At first I was disappointed by this revelation that it works on a simple timer mechanism. But the more I thought about it, maybe that’s a good thing; like the saying goes, “keep it simple, stupid.”

    A great case-study in the pitfalls of needless complexity is the Wakemate, the other sleep gadget I previously wrote about. When it worked, it was extremely cool. But at least once a week it would lose your data for the night, and then in October of 2011 their website stopped functioning, which bricked everything. I thought perhaps it was my phone at fault, but since getting the Note II, I retried using the Wakemate with the new phone; exact same problem. In my opinion, the device should have connected to your PC and had standalone software. No bluetooth, no iOS or android phone needed, no website controlling your access to the data, no internet connectivity issues blocking you from uploading your sleep data… All this is needless complexity that can break the system. I would still be using it today, had their website not gone unresponsive (you can still access your old data, but you can’t login to upload new nights, or at least I can’t).

    So that in mind, I think it’s good that the Remee is a very simplistic circuit which runs on a watch battery. Low complexity, no connectivity to anything required. You can reprogram it to have different timing settings, different flashing patterns, and different LED brightnesses using the Bitbanger Labs website. We’ll see how long that remains functional, but even if it went down tomorrow, the default settings are pretty good. I hope to use this baby for many years to come.

    I’m not used to sleeping with a mask on, so for the last few weeks, the toughest challenge has been simply keeping the mask on all night. I tend to just yank it off my head in the middle of the night. Then when the ideal time for dreaming rolls around (maybe 1-2 hours before the alarm clock), it’s just chilling on my pillow. Rats!

    The box for this thing is inspiring and badass. First words you read on the back are “Shrink to the size of an atom. Travel to Mars. Fly.” I mean seriously, what product in your life have you ever bought that had those kind of claims on the box!?!?! The text goes on to clarify that Lucid Dreaming is actually pretty hard to acheieve, and is going to require a lot of discipline. Understatement! BUT–those acts are achievable for dreamers willing to be persistent, and devote some waking-time-hours into reality checking (simply asking, ‘am I dreaming?’). I want to try doing all three, as a challenge to myself. But in the reverse order they are listed: Flying should be easy. I’ve done that in several dreams before. Travel to Mars should be achieveable by summoning a spacecraft or a door (which I’ve done once). Shrinking to the size of an atom, now that might be a hard one. What would that even look like? I don’t know! It a long-term goal to shoot for!

    I have a little bit of experience with LED sleep masks, which can also be called LDID or Lucid Dreaming Induction Devices. In college I constructed one that connected to a PC using the serial port, and included a circuit that would check for eyelid movement just like the Novadreamer. In a way, it did the same thing as the WakeMate in tracking your sleep cycles too: the eyelid movement data was written to a spreadsheet using a Visual BASIC program. Viewing a graph of that data would show you how long you dreamed for, and at what times during the night. I was able to use it successfully to lucid dream a handful of times, but it was uhh, a beast to wear. Wearing a mask is hard enough, but wearing a mask with a bunch of cables coming out the top, which just makes it that much easier to fall off if you toss around (at all) during the night… it was a tall order to sustain. Eventually something went wrong with the circuit and I never took the time to troubleshoot the issue. The cables made it awfully tough to use on a regular basis, as a comfort issue. So that was that.

    I’m feeling hopeful that the Remee is more of a long-term, sustainable setup. Lying on my side with the mask on is plenty comfy, although I’m still figuring out the optimum positioning on my face so the LEDs line up at eye-height, and then maintaining that at night through different sleeping positions. I have had a couple dreams where the Remee was with me and I was observing the flashing, but didn’t cross that bridge of remembering that, hey, this means you’re dreaming! This will probably be a reoccuring theme over the next few months!

    At the most basic level, I’m happy to have this thing because it’s a daily reminder to put effort into dreaming, and a reminder in the morning to ask that all-important, time-critical question, “What Did You Dream??” It’ll take some practice, trial and error, and simple luck before I get a lucid dream out of it. For now, I’m satisfied that going to bed now has a new mindfulness to it, a new mantra of “It’s Time To Dream.”

    “You just like it because it has Galaxy in the name”


    2013 - 01.15

    Continuing the march of super awesome new gadgets in my 2013 life, & as foreshadowed previously, I am now the happy owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note II, my first Samsung phone ever.  I’m sporting it au natural (sans case) thus far, but eventually I’ll get something to protect the fantastic plastic.  First impressions: Holy smokes.  Sammy sure does know how to build a screen–the display on this thing is eyeball-popping.  Vivid, bright, saturated, & rich are all suitable adjectives to describe the picture quality.  I need to get some sweet games on this baby, starting with EDGE.  An official Rockstar port of Vice City is dropping soon too.  Y-y-y-y-yessssssss.

    Of course the most exciting thing about this phone though is the stylus.  I’m going to try to use it on a regular basis to create sketches of anything and everything.  At this point I’m still learning all the tricks this Note has to offer, which are legion.  I’ve created a few drawings while experimenting with the S-Pen software… so far nothing worth crowing about but hey practice makes perfect and I’m a pretty un-practiced doodler.  Maybe this will change?

    Other thoughts:
    * Its main camera is like, super wide-angle.  No dedicated camera button; I know I’m going to miss that.  But on the positive side, maybe this fresh start will encourage me to use Instagram more, which is just another way of saying ‘take more random pictures’.  Overall, it’s a respectable cell camera so far.
    * The giant screen real estate is glorious.  Yes, it is quite a stretch for those moments of one-handed wrangling.  But most of the time, two hands are free and the extra space does pay.  Text is bigger.  I notice that I hold it further away while reading, which is probably easier on the eyes.  So far no pockets have been overstrained.
    * Google’s “Project Butter” added vertical-sync, triple-buffered, 60Hz refresh to Android.  Although it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with my outgoing Droid X, I’ve got to believe that the buttered-up screen makes it easier to look at.  Without a doubt, I do feel less eyestrain during a long reading session.
    * Sammy sweetens the deal further with an option to invert the display color, which can convert anything to white text on black background.  NICE!!  Good frickin call.  I never understood why black background isn’t the prevailing text format for computer displays.  It’s just better.
    * Another brilliant Samsung customization: frequently used settings like GPS, airplane mode, bluetooth are all located in the notification tray when you expand it.  Very useful.
    * 1.6GHz Quad core and 2GB of RAM.  Jeez.  These things really are becoming pocket computers.
    * About that pocket computer thing: I got the “Smart Dock” accessory which adds HDMI output and three USB ports, to which you can connect mouse and keyboard.  I’m tying this on my phone, using a full-size keyboard, and it’s SWEET.  There’s a mouse cursor.  Scroll wheels work, forward and back buttons work, and there’s keyboard shortcuts, even.  Impressive.  Haven’t tried the HDMI yet…
    * Dropped in a 64GB MicroSD card and loaded this baby up with like 15 gigs of awesome music.  My phone is ready to tackle the longest of roadtrips.
    * I wonder if there will be any extra S-Pen/stylus-centric apps still to come?  The included drawing app is quite solid, but already I can see how it’d be nice to have more Photoshop-esque functionality, like layers and opacity control for all brush types.
    * Rephrased: When is Adobe going to make ‘Photoshop Mobile’ or whatever?
    * There’s an option to change the default system font to Helvetica.  Rock on, you typography nerds.