Apple Journalists Are Lame

I’m not a fanboy of any particular company or operating system, but I’m super critical of headlines that are clearly in service of fanboyism. Here is a prime example of the lameness I’m referring to:

Phone Makers Are Embarrassing Themselves By Copying Apple’s Ideas

Come on. This is hyperbole at best, and rubbish click-bate at worst. The phones that are iPhone’s strongest competition are not copying Apple in any meaningful way. Samsung and Google’s phones are ahead of the iPhone and IOS in many ways, and consumers know it. That’s why iPhone’s market share is flat while Google and Samsung’s are increasing.  Both the Pixel2 XL and Galaxy S9+ can boast of better cameras than the iPhone X has. THAT is a headline. The fact that an Asus (yes, Asus makes phones) has copied Apple’s ridiculous screen notch is NOT worthy of a blog post.

The fact that other phone manufacturers also have face-unlock is NOT an example of copying Apple. iPhone was not the first phone with face-unlock. Apple copied Samsung. Who was first with face-based emoji? Google’s Allo messenger began turning selfies into emoji’s first. As for the “vanishing headphone jack” (which pisses off most new phone buyers to no end), Samsung, Apple’s biggest rival, is NOT copying Apple’s terrible decision to replace excellent, proven analog tech with sketchy, low-quality Bluetooth audio and dongle-life. Apple copied Android phone makers by making phones with larger screens. Toshiba was first with the fingerprint to unlock technology, also used by Motorola in 2011, which Apple copied on the iPhone 5 more than a year later. Apple also copied Samsung by using AMOLED screens (which they buy from Samsung).

Do you know who is embarrassing themselves? Journalists who write ridiculous non-stories to pump up Apple products and services when competing products and services are obviously more advanced, superior, and less expensive.

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Phone Thoughts +

Way back in 2012, my very first smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. By today’s standards, it was slow and tiny with 64 GB of storage, but at the time, it satisfied my meager mobile phone needs. I almost didn’t notice how poor its camera was because I was supplementing  my photography needs using a Canon point-and-shoot S95. While in China in 2015, I upgraded to a Oneplus One with a much better camera. I instantly gravitated to the custom ROM scene and installed CyanogenMod.

In April of 2017, I was forced to buy a new phone after my Oneplus One was stolen, and without the time nor the ability to research my phone purchase, I settled on a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It is a beautiful phone that made me very happy for almost a year, but I have a couple of reasons for deciding to ditch it in favor of a newer,  faster phone with a much bigger screen. The first reason I’m planning to upgrade is that buying my S7 Edge was not my choice. It was a decision forced upon me due to circumstances beyond my control in a moment of desperation. If given the chance, I would have held onto my Oneplus One for at least another year. Reason number two: the camera on my S7 Edge suffers from some pretty bad distortion. Perhaps it’s not noticeable to others, but I always notice it, especially in photos of buildings or other things that should appear perpendicular to the ground, but due to barrel distortion. Of course, the Samsung camera app which ships with the phone has a setting to reduce lens distortion, but that app on my phone does not allow the saving of RAW photos, so I usually choose not to use that camera.

Therefore, after reading all of the leaked information about the Samsung Galaxy S9+ I could get my hands on, I’ve decided to pull the trigger and buy one. In fact, shortly after rolling out of bed this morning, I parked myself on Samsung’s  website, invested the time and effort in creating an account with my new address, and ordered myself a black 256 GB Galaxy S9+. I realize that it won’t ship for another week, but I feel very good, so good that I also ordered a phone case to fit it.

Will this new phone change my life? Yes! Yes, it will.

Oh No Metro

One of my favorite supermarkets to shop for imported foods like milk, cereal, lunch meat, butter, and cheese has been Metro. It’s a German company with stores in nearly every major city in China. The one nearest where I live is about a 45-minute walk each way, but it’s absolutely worth the trek, even if my shoulders nearly give out from carrying 4 liters of milk plus assorted coffee making ingredients.

On my most recent trip to my not-so-local area Metro, I was struck by just how empty the store shelves were. In fact, there were large empty spaces within the store where entire isles of goods had previously been displayed for sale. At first, I thought perhaps Metro had just been scrimping on the holiday pay during the Spring Festival my not having employees restock the shelves in order to save some money. But as I traveled deeper into the large warehouse, I found more and more such vacant areas. In fact, the entire office technology (my favorite) department was simply gone. It was at this point in the nearly fruitless shopping excursion that I hypothesized that the store must be depleting its stock in order to prepare for closure. Shit!

I continued to mull this idea as I continued shopping. I picked up 4 boxes of muesli cereal, 2 liters of milk from New Zealand, 2 plastic cereal/noodle bowls, and a bottle of Hersey’s Chocolate syrup. Other items on my list were nowhere to be found, including toothbrush, ham, cheese, butter, and bread. I suppose I’ll need to re-source these particular products because of what I found upon leaving the store after bagging my meager groceries.

Beside the exit stood a notification board (entirely in Chinese) which confirmed my hypotheses and explained why the store would be closing on February 25th. Of course, I had to use Google Translate to convert the text to English so I could understand it, and after doing so, a mild melancholic feeling descended over me as I trudged home, heavy with despair if not actual food-stuffs.

The next nearest Metro Supermarket location is at least a 45-minute metro (oh the irony!) ride away from home, but I doubt I’ll be making that trip anytime soon. I suppose I’ll just make do with the Carrefour, Bravo, Tesco, Lotus, and Walmart still within walking distance. Besides, I can spend the time I’ll be saving by not walking so far on less productive things like playing video games and binge-watching TV shows.

He Didn’t Actually Say That

[WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE]
This afternoon, while walking back to the foreign teachers’ dormitory after lunch, I had a contentious conversation with an American named Tim. Tim repeatedly stated that “If you listen carefully, Trump never said that he grabbed anyone by the pussy.” I think I missed the chance to express to Tim just how fucking stupid he is for saying this. Let me explain.
In Tim’s pathetic, little, logic-challenged mind, if Mr. Trump was only implying he believes he is allowed to (and therefore, in Tim’s mind, it’s not harrassment) grab women by the pussy BECAUSE of his power and celebrity, that is not harrassment. Yes, there are Americans in this world who really believe that if a person uses his power over another person, he can do whatever he wants as long as the victim receiver of that treatment doesn’t object to it. It doesn’t matter to the Tim’s of the world that women have been forced to bite their tongue for fear of retribution by the men who have power over them for thousands of years. It’s this lack of empathy, and really a lack of any intelligent consideration of the situation that makes me truly despise people like Tim. I know it’s not really his fault that he “thinks” this way, but dog-dam, when half the fucking country is saying “Me too!”, then it’s time to pull your big stupid empty head out of your asshole and evolve!

Expulsion Solution

In the past month, my school has expelled two students for entirely different infractions. The first student, Davis, was kicked out for bullying.  I was told that he had gathered a group of his friends (from other schools) to intimidate another boy outside the front gate on a Friday afternoon when the boarding students usually head back to their homes. In my opinion, Davis definitely deserved his punishment.

The other boy, Allan, was expelled for smoking both off-campus and in various location on-campus. While I agree that students should definitely not be smoking on the school grounds, I don’t believe he should be punished for what he does outside the prison school walls. The fact that he was caught smoking at school is certainly a serious problem, but I don’t believe the punishment fit the “crime.” Obviously, the boy has an addiction to nicotine, and by expelling him, the school really hasn’t done anything to help him break this addiction. He’s just been cast aside like he’s a flawed clay pot unworthy of being fired in the kiln of education.

Sometimes I think international schools in China are run too much like factories where the administrators view the workers (students) as interchangeable and replaceable. They just don’t seem to grasp the human aspect of teaching and shaping young minds. My school has such low expectations for these kids that teachers let them sleep in class, but try to force these same lazy kids to stay awake during the exams by making their tests harder.

There’s just no logic to international school education in China. If you want to create little robots, follow the Chinese curriculum, but if you want thinkers and creators, take a more westernized, holistic approach and stop throwing away kids just because they’ve begun heading down a wrong path.

No Post Today?

I don’t really have time to write a blog post here on my WordPress blog today. Thanks at work were extremely busy. I’ve been interviewing prospective foreign teachers for next semester.

One thing that happened at my school today is that a tenth grade student was expelled for smoking off campus and secretly smoking on campus. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.

What Flavor Is the Wrong Question

A couple of weeks ago I bought some purple hand soap in a pump dispenser because I thought my previous soap was getting low, and I didn’t want to live in a world without hand soap. So I bought this purple soap without really looking closely at the label or even giving much thought to what it might smell like. After all, soap is soap, and I’m a guy who’s not particularly particular about such things. As it turned out, my old soap dispenser apparently still had a couple of weeks of soap left in it (insert lame joke about me not washing my hands often enough here).

By the time I finally got around to focusing 100% of my tiny little brain on the daunting task of twisting, jerking, shaking, and pulling the nozzle up and open, I had completely forgotten why I chose the purple colored soap in the first place. I’ve never been a huge Prince fan, and I don’t like the Minnesota Vikings. I don’t even care for grape bubble gum. So imagine my confusion when I finally squirted a big foamy white pile of soap onto my hand; confused not because the soap suds were white but because they smelled super good!

The soap smelled so good that for an ever-so-brief moment, I wondered what flavor this soap could be that it smelled so delicious. Resisting the urge to dip my tongue sudsward, I looked at the bottle instead. I can’t read many Chinese characters but I’d have to be some kind of an idiot not to have noticed the picture of a flower on the label. Using the camera function on my phone’s Google Translate app, I was able to focus in on the words in the lower right corner to solve the mystery of what flavor, no that’s the wrong question, what scent this soap actually is. The answer might surprise you. Google says it’s “Blue flowers bleeding”. Mystery solved.

A Difference of Opinion

Today was the day we teachers at my international school were supposed to turn in our final exams to the heads of our departments. My exams turned out to be quite long, about 10 pages of mostly multiple choice questions plus a written section at the end.

I got a request from the head of the English department suggesting I change some of the multiple choice questions. Get this, the problem isn’t that my questions are too easy. Oh no. Her complaint was that some students will simply scribble letters into the blanks as quickly as they can, then use the remainder of the exam time to sleep.

Apparently, she and I have a different philosophy when it comes to designing tests. I prefer to test what the students may know. The head of the English department seems to think the purpose of the test is to keep students awake. WTF?! So, I guess I’m going to have an argument tomorrow when I meet with her, and I really don’t think her argument has a leg to stand on because students who can’t read can’t answer any questions regardless of whether they are multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank. I fail to see any difference except that my test at least puts the correct answer in front of them. Her way guarantees that the worst students will not even be able to write something relevant on their answer sheets, and I’ll have to wade through that garbage as though I’m actually measuring their knowledge and not just wandering through a landfill searching for pearls.

Remaining Ghost

After careful consideration, and after having read reports that all new Twitter sign-ups require registration of a phone number, decided to bite the bullet and hand over my Google Voice phone number to Twitter for the sole purpose of using that social network to promote this blog. There’s nothing social about it, I assure you. But because I have so few followers on Twitter these days, I don’t think it will make a difference one way or the other.

As for the other big American social networking behemoth, I’m referring of course to Facebook, not LinkedIn, I’m currently weighing the pros and cons of cross-posting links to my WordPress posts there. However, to my mind, the negatives of linking this very personal blog with my real name and very impersonal Facebook “friends” far outweigh the positives and probably isn’t the best idea for someone who prefers to remain a ghost, unknown, so nobody can touch me now. I prefer to remain a ghost or a shadow on Facebook at least. I don’t want random former school chums or co-workers creeping into the comments or worse yet, secretly stalking me in the attempt to discover how I take my coffee (cream and 2 sugars) or where I shop (Uniqlo). So, a ghost I remain.

Busy Weekend

I’ll be having a super busy weekend. My school moved up the date for teachers to submit our semester final exams for review. So I’ll be writing three separate literature exams. I also had to make a unit test for my 9th grade class for Monday. I got that done this evening while bing-watching Dark, a German Netflix series involving time travel. Even though it’s only 10:30pm, I’m ready to sleep.