Leica M8 experience, some additional thoughts

After using Leica M8 for a some time it is time for some additional thoughts.

  • It is nice to use. Rangefinder takes time to master, and most of the shots I take are crap. But those that doesn’t fail… well, they are very nice.
  • Leica M8 is a tank. Even DSLR’s seems bigger, they usually feel like plastic. Leica is like a hammer.
  • I hate the brick (charger). It’s cumbersome and fugly.
  • Leica M8 is a bit unstable sometimes. I have managed to crash it more than once.
  • It is too easy to switch the camera for self-timer or continuous shot.
  • I would hope that the rangefinder would be more brighter. Now it feels like watching through smoked glass.
  • I like the simplicity of the controls. It feels like I am in control. If I fail the shot, there is no one else to blame. 🙂

All and all, I love the Leica M8. I am pretty sure that I will buy some newer version as soon as I have the cash for it, but this will do until then.

Above: my precious drool monster.

 

Back to Gold

I finally got back to gold league.

I had some pretty nice games yesterday, but after hitting gold, I got cheesed more than when I was in bronze league. ;D It is obvious that I need to refine my builds more, specially the timings and scouting. From economy standpoint I seem to be doing ok, and I recognise the most common builds and cheeses.

Next step, platinum. It may take few months though, and Heart of the Swarm is upon us then.

Back on the SC2 grind again

I started playing StarCraft 2 again last week and got my ass handed to me on a silver platter. I obviously can’t compete against all those youngsters who have too much time and energy drinks on their hands. I need a plan.

This time I decided to learn just 3 good builds and learn to exploit them well. Before I just went on with the flow, which worked pretty well when everything was new and game wasn’t very balanced. That doesn’t work anymore. You actually have to concentrate even on the lower levels.

These are the builds I am using at the moment (I am playing Protoss, it seems to fit my mindset best) in a 1v1:

PvP: DT rush to Archon/Zealot

I hate mirror matches. Usually PvP is a race towards a 4 gate, but it gets very boring very fast. It is always the same, unless opponent try to cheese you with a proxy 2 gate or cannon rush. This build has stealth, aggression, touch of mind games and a pretty strong mid game transition.

Basically I try to get 2 Zealots and 1 Stalker as fast as possible and go poke the opponent with them. If they try to use some cookie cutter build, they usually have either 1 Zealot and 1 Stalker, or in some cases, same combination as me. Key point here is to mess with opponents mind so that they think me going to standard massive gateway army. Usually I get them by surprise and manage to do some damage with intense micro. I draw back so that I have some units to defend against 4 gate aggression (which is unavoidable). After retreating, I scout the base surroundings constantly to spot the proxy pylon, which is there 7 out of 10 times.

After the initial poke, I get two things: speed upgrade for Zealots and 2 Dark Templars. Also, warp tech with a proxy pylon when 2 Dark Templars are ready to roll. If the opponent isn’t on your doorstep (it depends if I found the proxy pylon), I warp Dark Templars near his base. If he doesn’t have any detection, it is GG after mineral line invasion. If he has, I draw Dark Templars back and start merging them to Archons.

If I was the first aggressor, opponent doesn’t usually attack straight away. They try to assemble huge death ball and come storming in after that. This is good, because it gives me plenty of time to make 4–5 Archons and sh*tloads of Zealots. After I have about 4–5 Archons, 12 Zealots and 2 Sentries, I go and rotflstomp his base, starting from the expansion. At this time, even though they would have 1 or even 2 Colossi, Archon/Zealot army rips them apart. Sentry forcefield is also useless, because Archons are massive units and they just stomp through forcefields.

Win rate against Protoss: 80 %.

PvT: 3 gate FE to High Templars

Terran always attack against Protoss in early game. Always. Its a natural law, like gravity and taxes. If they don’t, there is a Banshee rush or something non-standard incoming. They come either with Marines or Mariners/Marauders. In some cases, they make a Hellion rush, which is pretty bad, but 9 out of 10 times Terran relies on brute force, because it works.

This build relies on early gateway defense, with a fast expansion and +2 armor upgrade, Zealot speed upgrade and High Templars. I start by putting down 1 gateway, and based on a scouting I drop either 2 more gates and expand or expand just straight away. Only time I rely only on a one gateway before Nexus is when I see them taking an early expansion. Every other time I make 2 more gateways and start pumping out Zealots as fast as I can without chronoboosting. When they come, I usually can convince them to bugger off.

At this point, my second Nexus should be on its way. It is imperative to get the +1 armor upgrade and speed upgrade for Zealots as soon as possible. I use all my chronoboosts on those. Build some Sentries with the Zealots too and get the warpgate tech and don’t forget the +2 armor upgrade. Warp in 3 more gateways and start warping in Zealots, Sentries and some Stalkers, if you suspect a Medivac drop.

If they come at this point with just a 1 Medivac, your army should be able to stomp them easily. If they wall up and try to tech up to tanks/standard MMM ball, you should have plenty off time to get High Templars and psionic storm. In engagements, activate Sentry shields first, shoot 2 psionic storms next, attack with all ground units and start sniping the Medivacs with High Templars. You should kill them easily.

Sneakiest ones like to drop a small force on the main base mineral line shortly after the main force engagements. If you see this happening, just pull probes to a second base mineral line and warp some Zealots and Stalkers to deal with the drop. At this time, your main units should have killed most of the attacking main force. Drop 3rd Nexus immediately and go for their expansion. If they don’t seem to have any proper defense, just kill them. If they have, just finish of expansion and retreat and tech to Colossai. Take a map control and finish them off.

Winrate against Terran: 70–80 %.

PvZ: fast Immortal and Sentry

Zerg can be annoying. Like Terran, Zerg like to attack against Protoss early either with Zerglings or Roaches. This build is about getting Immortals out as soon as possible. It means taking an early expansion with a forge as a protection. So, build order is Forge + 2 cannons > Nexus > (Gateway + Cybernetic Core >) Robotics Bay > Immortals. You should get as many Zealots as possible without chronoboosting for early defense, before the Immortal is ready. I usually don’t get Sentry before Immortal, because the Immortal build is pretty gas heavy as it is and few cannons and Zealots is adequate defense.

Warning: if they don’t come to you with roaches (they should be knocking on your door at latest when your first Immortal is ready) or you don’t see any Roaches while scouting, you should be ready for Mutalisk harassment. Warp in craploads of Stalkers and drop 1 cannon on each mineral line. After Stalkers, continue with the Immortal production (add 1 Robotics Bay as soon as you can afford it) and make Sentries too. There will always be roaches.

When they come, use Sentries Shield and try to split the Roaches with forcefields. After a short and brutal fight, go for their expansions and nuke it. Go for the main base after that. Even if they are able to spawn more Zerglings and Roaches, you should be able to stomp them easily.

Winrate against the Zerg: 70 %.

I have had pretty good success with these builds. I am in a upper silver league now (not even close to my best rankings), and about to hit gold. Time will show, do I ever get back to diamond league.

Samsung Galaxy S3, first experiences

First off, I think it is unfair to compare iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3. iPhone 5 would be more fair, but I bet that most of the iPhone users are jumping from iPhone 4 to a Android ecosystem. And as far as I know, iOS is pretty much the same on iPhone 5 but with more speed.

Me likey

Customisation. Apple products are awesome for their simplicity. They are easy to use, intuitive, and very smooth to operate. However, if you ever want to do something which isn’t supported in an Apple Universe, you are out of luck. Unless you jailbreak your phone, which I don’t have patience or desire for.

In S3 (and Android in general), customisation is the default. Don’t like the way home screen switches to next screen? No problem, just install a different launcher and tweak everything you like (my current home screen on the right).

Ease of use. S3 is pretty damn impressive. iPhone was easy to start using, but S3 isn’t hard either. Just click click click please login to Google thx bam and here we go.

Google ecosystem. We use Google Apps for Business in Aucor. So far, it has proven to be awesome and scalable toolset for a small company. Due to this, transition to a Android environment was very easy. Mails, contacts, documents, tasks, calendars… everything just works from the start.

Speed an battery life. What can I say? Speed is blazing compared to a iPhone 4, and I have to fidget a iPhone 5 to make any comparisons.

Camera. I don’t know about the quality aspect, but for me, its important that the camera actually starts fast. I have lost countless of important moments because iPhone opens the camera so damn slowly. This is way better. And the photos can be easily streamed to your Dropbox.

Notification center. Its nice to see what is happening in a one place.

The bad

Google Play store. Using it on a Samsung Galaxy S3 it just doesn’t feel near as smooth as App store experience. There are lots of crappy products, and every one of them are rated for 4 or 5 stars. Come on, 80 % of the apps there are utter crap.

Good thing about the Play store is that you get an instant refund if a commercial app sucks. Much better system than in App store. This also encourages user to try more stuff freely.

Searching doesn’t work nicely: after selecting one search result and going back to search results takes you back to Play front page. Meh.

3rd party accessories seems to be lacking. My Sennheiser ear plugs didn’t work (mic & controls), so at the moment, I am stuck with the S3 ear plugs. I need to find some better though, these aren’t so good.

Settings and that left bottom little button seem to work differently based on an active app. It can be confusing at a times.

My favourite Apps so far

  • Nova launcher Prime. With this, you can customise icons, home screen, application listings and much more.
  • Gtasks. Nice task manager that integrates with Google Tasks.
  • WordPress. Like the name implies, you can administer multiple WordPress sites.
  • Analytics. Google Analytics tool. In addition, Analytics Widget is awesome! You can actually make widget to a desktop that automatically shows how many unique visitors you have had on a site during the day. And because you can have many widgets, you can add all of your favourite sites on the screen. Nice.
  • Eye in the Sky Weather Pro. Very nice weather widget. Simple, clean and it works smoothly.
  • Fonecta Caller. This is a crucial app for me. It shows the unknown callers number when the call comes.
  • Press. This is pretty nice Google Reader app.
  • Lucid Round icons. They are clean, simple and very beautiful icons. You can switch icons with Nova Launcher Prime.
  • Yeah, and of course Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Skype, Netflix, Audible, Kindle, Linode, Dropbox and Evernote Apps work too.

What I miss

  • Better mail client. So far I have tried K-9 mail and some other ones, but they don’t give the ability to archive the message with one click. At the moment, I use the native Gmail app. Its ok, but a bit too cluttered for my taste. If someone knows a good mail app, please let me know.
  • Better Google reader app. Press is nice, but there is too much sweeping needed to get where I want to.
  • Scoopinion app. I know that you can read the site using mobile device, but the site isn’t responsive the way it should be. Please guys, make an Android app for it or make the site better for all mobile devices. 🙂

Conclusion

Apple & Nokia/MS: you should be very afraid for your revenue on the smartphone market. Samsung Galaxy S3 is a pretty impressive gadget, and as an hardcore iPhone evangelist, I think that iPhone ecosystem needs to change pretty drastically to compete with Android.

Confession of an iUser

When iPhone 5 was first published, I was happy. I thought that Apple would finally leap forward and actually develop the platform for the better direction. After the specs were released I was very disappointed. Just the same old phone with some minimal improvements. Not funny.

So I bought a Samsung Galaxy S3. No torches and pitchforks, please.

I didn’t just buy it randomly. My little brother had it, and after fidgeting with it for a few minutes I thought “man, this brick is cool. I gotta try it.”

There are actually just 3 reasons I jumped ship.

  1. Stagnation. Apple iOS platform, and specially iPhone, has matured to a very stable environment. It has its drawbacks. Platform feels outdated, and every new feature seems to be glued on top of the old one.
  2. One crucial missing app. When I used Nokia years ago, there was this application called Pomo Palvelu (loose translation would be “Boss Service”) that searched for the unknown number from an external database when the call came. I have tens of unknown callers through a day, and answering them is a pain and it takes up my precious time. True, there are some options for the iOS ecosystem, but none of them work in Finland without jailbraking the iPhone. On Android, there is Fonecta Caller. It works.
  3. Constant revamping of adapters. Man, I really hate Apple for this. They do it every time. I don’t care much how advanced the new adapters and cables are (well, Thunderbolt is awesome), but why do I have to buy stack of new adapters and cables every time I cough up some cash for a new Apple iDevice? It is like pissing in the eye of the most loyal fans. Stop doing it, please. This is a one big reason I didn’t want to buy iPhone 5. If I have to buy yet a new stack of cables for the new phone, I might as well look for the greener pastures.

I know that new gadgets always feel better than the old ones. So, I won’t be doing the THIS IS AWESOME THAT OLD CRAP IS SO LAME -act. I will write about my experiences later, when I have had more quality time with my new Android.