Blog Rec: Hard Truths from Soft Cats

This blog has been idle for so long. Bad blogger, Venus. Bad blogger. So, while I go off and finish my long forgotten drafts, blogpost ideas, etc, I shall first recommend to you a blog that I have been very fond of these days: Hard Truths from Soft Cats.

The name says it all. It’s a single-topic Tumblr blog that provides you with wisdom that will hit you like a drunkard’s punch because you insulted his novel, but with the intention of cushioning the pain with cute, fluffy cats. Cute, fluffy cats coming from the biggest dog person there is.
Here are some of their posts!

It’s so depressingly fun!
xx,
V

I Still Want the iPhone 5

Disclaimer: This is a post by one of those people that Android fanboys call stupid, superficial, and technologically ignorant.

Given that my contract with Globe ends next month, I was specially excited for the latest iPhone release because there was a good chance that I’d end up buying it. Also, I’ve never bought an iPhone or any other smartphone that would cost me more than a whopping Php40,000–and let’s be honest, those are the only ones that are really worthy of being called smartphones–before.

You see, I own a 4th-gen iPod Touch. I’ve always been contented with what it can do so even if I kid with my mom about lining up for every new iPhone that got released, if she actually said yes, I would just tell her it’s a waste of our money. I was happy with my iPod and pairing it with my oh-so-precious Nokia phone, the one that had a flashlight with it, but then I lost that. So I bought this relatively cheap Samsung Galaxy whatever and what a gargantuan disappointment that was. The interface was no good and even just the iPod Touch was waaay ahead of it. Also, the horror that was Google Play Store. And even before I started dropping the device, it just turned off on its own and I don’t know why and I just want to cry at the mediocrity. UGH.

So when I found out about this gizmo that allowed me to call and text from my iPod, I was super happy. I gave the Samsung phone to my mom and even SHE’S complaining that it sucks. That’s an old person who thinks that cellphones whose sole functions are calling and texting should suffice.

But then the iPhone 4S came along with iCloud and a better camera and new apps that cause my iPod to crash without reason occassionally and Siri and Photo Stream and better syncing with your Apple devices and my maluho side that’s been pent up slowly took over. The timing of the end of my contract and the release of the iPhone 5 did nothing to tone it down.

But still, I had to be rational. If I were to spend that much money on a phone, I wanted it to be the best. So I turned to Google. I just typed in iPhone vs and waited for what Google suggested. Lol. I’ve been really out of the loop ever since Digby and my iPod came to my life hehe. I used to know every new phone that’s being released in the country but now it’s just OMG NEW OS UPDATE FOR DIGBY and OMG IS THIS THE TIME TO UPGRADE FROM THE IPOD+CHEAP PHONE TO THE IPHONE? When I have no problems with the tech I currently have, I stick with it.

After going through Google’s suggestions, I focused on iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 articles. And I found dozens of them. I mainly focused on the ones written by Android fans because I needed to hear their criticisms because while Apple fan-written articles do point out iPhone “flaws” they would inevitably find ways to still like it.

After reading the articles, most specially the comments sections, as the title suggests, I still want the iPhone 5. The articles were right, what it all comes down to is the user’s preference.

Build and Display Screen

First of all, it’s so shiny and pretty on its own and relatively:

And the S3:
For me, the iPhone 5 wins the build and display round. I’ve tried using the S3 in one of the stores here in the Philippines and I don’t dig the wider screen. The wide phone just feels unnatural in my girl hands and even though Android fanboys boast Super AMOLED display screen whatever, even just the iPhone 4S’s display screen looks better. With further reading, I found out that it may be due to the fact the S3 uses Pentile display and not one based on true RGB matrix, unlike the 4S and the iPhone 5.
Take a second look at that iPhone’s sexiness and diamond-cut edges. Oomph.


Camera

This is no debate. The iPhone 4S has the Samsung Galaxy S3 beat when it comes to taking snaps. If we are to believe Apple in its announcement that the iPhone 5’s camera will be better than the 4S, then the winner of the category is clear. Plus, take a look at these images:
Source: http://www.apple.com/iphone/gallery/

Source: http://www.apple.com/iphone/gallery/

Source: http://www.apple.com/iphone/gallery/

According to Apple’s website, these are actual photos taken with the iPhone 5. A part of me says that I have to see it to believe it, and then there’s also the factor that is, “It’s not about the camera, it’s about the photographer,” but these photos got me about 66% convinced.

Processor and Storage
So the S3 uses a quad-core processor while the iPhone 5 would only be using its new A6 chip. When you think of it, quad-core is awesome. But since nobody really knows about the A6 chip and its performance in comparison with the S3, I wasn’t able to decide on this aspect.
The new iPhone boasts an improved Siri. And by logic, if the Siri we currently have is the best voice recognition app there is, an improved Siri will be even better than the current best.
As for storage, I have no problems with the iPhone’s non-expandability. Sure, the S3 gives you the option of doubling its storage but I think I would do fine with the 64GB iPhone. I still prefer to watch my movies and TV series on my Mac and my second choice for that would be my Kindle Fire. 64GB of storage is fine with me.
Operating System
Even though everyone’s saying that the iOS 6 is nothing but an incremental update/iOS 5.5, I believe Apple took a great risk by building their own Maps app. It is hugely lacking when compared to Google maps, but for a version 1.0, it’s pretty amazing.
In my mom’s side of the family, we’re the only ones who are Apple fans. They all own Android devices and every single time one of my cousins tell me that, “May bago akong phone! Ice cream sandwich na ‘to. Ang galing.” (I have a new phone! It already runs on ice cream sandwich. It’s awesome.) I just nod my head in approval even if I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. And when she suggests that I buy the same one come October, I just politely smile and make up some excuse like, “Hinihintay ko yung bagong iPhone e. Mas madali kasi siguro yung syncing kung Apple device na lang bilhin ko kasi kay Digby at Penelope.” (I’m looking out for the new iPhone. I think the syncing part would be more convenient if I just bought an Apple device since I already have Digby and Penelope.)
If you’ve been wanting to vomit at the biasness of this post, I would like to make you vomit some more. Due to my horrible Android/Samsung experience, I couldn’t afford to give a single fuck about Android operating systems. And frankly, for a multimillion dollar company, they’re very tacky. Gingerbread? Ice cream sandwich? Seriously? But, of course, I had to be rational. So I checked this article that explained something called TouchWiz. 
And while I usually welcome pictures in articles whole-heartedly, how I wish they didn’t include pictures on this one. Because it kept me from reading the whole article. The unsmoothness of the interface is just immeasurably behind what iPhones have to offer.

Call it superficial or whatever, but the iPhone interface, even if most people are getting bored with it, works. It’s so intuitive that even my mom didn’t need my help navigating the iPad when we first checked it out on the Apple store, and she needs help with EVERYTHING. Suffice it to say, she immediately fell in love with it.
The Android interface, however, lacks the smoothness and overall snap of the iOS interface. Plus, it takes a bit of getting used to. And although the familiarization process, for me, would take about half an hour or two, and complete phone mastery in about a week or a month, I’m fine with what iOS has to offer. 
My other complaint with Android is that even the names of their technology aren’t intuitive. TouchWiz? Where did that come from? And why would the next OS be called Jellybean? A fair share of people would agree that an ice cream sandwich would be a better treat than a jellybean. I just… I don’t get it.
However, there was one S3 feature that I did like: the Smart Stay. It’s this thing that you turn on so that even if you don’t touch the screen or anything after a few seconds, maybe because you’re reading an article or waiting for a download, the screen won’t turn off. It’s pretty neat, but it’s not enough to make me choose the S3 over the iPhone 5.

Content
The Google Play Store is just a big blah to me. Content is not the category that would win my heart over. I think we could all agree that the only company that currently rivals the one Apple has to offer is Amazon. And if I don’t like Android apps, how else would I maximize its quad-core processor when my primary need for a smartphone is gaming?
Honestly, even after reading tons of articles and Android fanboys’ comments bashing the iPhone 5 and its boringness and Apple losing its touch, I still think that the iPhone best suits the average person’s needs and maybe that’s why it’s the one that sells.
I haven’t even included the awesomeness of the earpods.
Have you ever seen any other company, whose main focus are the gadgets and not the accessories, that would spend 3 years on fcking earphones? I don’t think so.
I also don’t have a problem with the new Lightning connector. I actually think that the reversible feature is pretty neat since most of my iPod’s bottom scratches are due to me fumbling with the 30-pin connectore.
So for all of its faults, I still love the iPhone 5.
No wireless charging? That’s okay. It’s more hassle than convenient when I googled it anyway. Plus, I like using my device even while it’s charging, so, no, thanks.
No NFC? I didn’t even know about NFC until Android fans pointed out that it’s missing from the iPhone 5. And since I belong in a poor, third-world country wherein some senators think that contraception is a form of abortion, NFC would be of no use to me, anyway. NFC is still not that big of a thing, and maybe that’s why Apple isn’t so keen on jumping on that wagon just yet. They’ve always been about what the customer needs. And I think Passbook would be a good alternative, with its possiblities, to the NFC since it uses technology that’s already there and doesn’t need the “extras” that NFC requires both in the part of the consumer and the stores.
Not flexible and open-source enough? That’s okay. Widgets just look like clutter to me, anyway. And themes and whatnots may have been cool when I was 14, but now it’s just tacky. Also that Android feature that makes the app icons swivel when you switch home screens just makes me dizzy.
Before writing this post, I almost believed that iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 are just repackaged and slightly better versions of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S. I was already buying the general consensus that it was boring and blah blah blah. I almost decided on just getting the 5th generation iTouch. But then I realized that the one thing the Android fanboys failed to mention is how significant Android phone upgrades and iOS upgrades were. When I googled “samsung galaxy s3 vs samsung galaxy s2,” the comparisons would be an insult to boring. Boring would be more likely to wear a clown wig than the articles that came up. Well, not really *that* boring but that’s mainly due to the fact that the Galaxy S2 relatively sucked. References one and two. So that problem’s covered. 
I’m not saying that the S3 sucks, it’s just that I don’t need the features it has that the iPhone doesn’t. And since the whole point of the research was to see what smartphones best satisfies my wants and needs, I’m gonna stick with the iPhone 5. Say what you want about it, but it’s still pretty awesome. I think Gizmodo puts it best:
It’s easy to forget, with as much emphasis as Apple puts on its biannual show-and-tell extravaganzas, that its primary objective isn’t to entertain us. It’s to sell iPhones. Millions and millions and millions of iPhones.
The iPhone 5 will be on shelves on September 21st, which is one week before Apple’s fiscal year ends and the holiday quarter begins. How important are those three months to Apple’s bottom line? Last year during the same period, the iPhone 4S drove Apple’s fiscal first quarter smartphone sales to 37 million units, and an overall profit of $13 billion. To put that in context, that’s more money than Google made in all of 2011.
Those numbers aren’t just impressive. They’re unprecedented. The iPhone is the most valuable asset of one of the most valuable companies in history. So the question we should be asking isn’t why didn’t Apple make it more exciting. The question is—other than the standard spec and feature bumps—why would Apple change the iPhone at all? There’s a reason Coca-Cola’s used the same formula for a hundred years.
That’s why, when we say the iPhone 5 is boring, we really mean the iPhone 5 is safe. It’s familiar. It’s the same phone in slightly different packaging. And, most importantly, it’s still very recognizably the most popular smartphone in the world. If you’ve won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, you don’t suddenly trade in your thoroughbred for a one-eyed pony because it’s more interesting to look at.

Also:

The worst part? In a vacuum the iPhone 5 is actually really exciting. For whatever half-baked features it skips out on, it’s still technological marvel, and may well prove to be the best smartphone you can buy. If the worst thing about it is that it’s not different enough from a phone that tens of millions of people a month spend hundreds of dollars to buy, well, that’s fine.

Bitchez be hatin but I believe lots of people would be making the decision I made just now, and no matter how boring and technologically behind Android fans claim it is, it will still sell like pancakes. And when the actual phone comes out and the reviews that come with the actual phone don’t make me change my mind against it, I might just buy one of those pancakes.

I just don’t get why people feel the need to point out stuff like only stupid, status symbol seeking, technologically inept people would buy the iPhone 5. It could be just that we prefer its simplicity, smoothness and slickness, and the iOS experience. And when the truth of the matter is that the iPhone is still a pretty awesome phone. And who knows, the actual phone might be even more amazing since we all know that the truly magnificent stuff lies in what Apple doesn’t tell us.


You don’t have to bring down other people over their phone preference. It’s just pointless and it makes you a childish, elitist, nerdy, techy hipster. And I think that’s just the most annoying kind of person ever. The one that Max (Kat Dennings in 2 Broke Girls) would bend over backwards just to make fun of. Like Mandork without the adorableness.

How about you? Are you stupid and would buy the iPhone 5 just like me?

xx,
V

The Door Into Summer: A Book Review

This is the best book cover for the book that I found.
Wish I could snag a copy with this cover someday.
I really don’t have a system for discovering new books. I’m not one of those people who scours the web for new good reads, checks out the what’s popular on every bookstore type. Most of the stuff I read were just books I found scattered on Powerbooks (i.e. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest–it was only after about 2 months since I finished the third book that I learned it was a trilogy– and Para Kay B), and things I happen to pick up at secondhand bookstores and at book sales. The Door into Summer, however, is the favorite book of one of my English students and he just keeps talking about it, and since I’m also into science fiction, I finally checked it out.
The Door into Summer is time travel-paradox story set in 1970 and 2000. It is about Dan Davis, a thirty-something mechanical engineer, who gets swindled by his business partner and evil fiancee out of his own company. Said fiancee then tricks him into spending thirty years in suspended animation. And when he wakes up in the year 2000, he ventures into finding his Door into Summer
The worst part of reading “past” science fiction novels is that the “future” is now. All of the things that are happening in Heinlein’s year 2000 is far from happening, even in 2012. The book talks a lot about robots since Dan is a mechanical engineer, and the robots of today are a long shot away from doing what Heinlein imagined–well, as far as public knowledge goes, anyway. And there are a bajillion other things he got wrong about the year 2000: they still haven’t found a way to eliminate the cold virus and while we do have dishes that lets the food stay warm until forever, it’s not used in everyday life.
And I can find a dozen more flaws in the book–like the fact that the book is dedicated to ailurophiles, I hate cats, and that it has a creepy love story which I won’t talk about because spoilers–but I enjoyed it anyhow. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for time travel stories which, ultimately, is what the book really is about. And it’s kind of nice to take a break from all the dystopic future books and have a hopeful, cheery, and optimistic one. Heinlein’s future isn’t exactly Disney, Meet the Robinsons style, but I believe this future is the one that will eventually get there.
It is an extremely readable book. It’s also very short since I finished it overnight. This is my first Heinlein book and it made me want to read more of his works. Who knows, maybe he would get there on top of my list with Sidney Sheldon, Mary Higgins-Clark, and David Zindell. In fact, after I googled him, I believe that there’s a big chance of that happening.
If you do happen to decide to read the book, will you give me your take on Dan’s love story?
xx,
V

Whatever the truth about this world, I like it. I’ve found my Door into Summer and I would not time travel again for fear of getting off at the wrong station.

Dan Davis, Door into Summer  

Ebook Jackets

Cool find of the day: Ebook Jackets!

I was browsing over at Speck for a cover for Digby because I never got around to buying one because I was too shy to ask 3k from my parents for something as silly as a laptop shell when I stumbled upon Out of Print Clothing. I’ve been on this site before and I thought their mission to make books cool again by making shirts and whatnots with classic book covers on it was pretty awesome. I never got around to buying one because I’m just 19 and jobless. Anywhooooo…

Ebook Jackets!

Isn’t it a-mah-zing?! I already signed up for their mailing list and I’m really really excited for it to come out so that I could dress up Tiny! :> :> :>

The only problem is what book cover to choose. The project is called Kickstarter and you can check out the other titles they would be using for their launch there. Super exciting!

I’m torn between The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, and Pride and Prejudice. If they would be making one for The Adventures and Huckleberry Finn and The Tales of the Jazz Age, I’d have an even bigger problem.

xx,
V

Saving the Environment As We Know It

You know what’s embarrassing? The fact that prominent figures are still going out of their way just to claim that global warming and climate change are not real when a quick google will tell you that it is clearly happening.

The other embarrassing thing is that they’re so goddamn selfish that they will endanger entire species just for their own short-term, superficial, insignificant needs. What these people probably don’t realize is that the effects of going green and saving the environment actually helps people more than it helps nature. It’s not really saving the environment, it’s saving the environment as we know it. In a way, it is the most self-centered thing that we can do.

What are the goals of going green? At the top of my head, clean air and water, sustainable resources, etc. Who needs oxygen? People and other animals. Clean water? People and other animals. Sustainable resources so we wouldn’t end scraping each other’s skin and limbs? People and other animals. Nature survived the ice age and whatever killed off the dinosaurs, surely, it can survive whatever these egotistical humans can throw at it. I have this belief that human extinction will come before the death of the Earth. And that belief is either stupid or amazing.

I think what we all fail to understand is that if we keep wrecking our Home for our materialistic needs, it will all just end in famine, at best. I’m not saying give up every material possession that you have, a quick run through this blog and you will discover that I, myself, am a bit materialistic, it’s just that we should learn moderation.

And for the Philippines, it’s not enough to ban plastics and make people feel good because they switched to paper bags. That’s a very superficial campaign. I always feel the need to shout at my cousins and titas who say, “Bad yang plastic!” Yet they don’t even bother throwing their trash in the right place when they’re outside. It’s. Ugh.

Do you see this adorable polar bear?

Well, it’s endangered thanks to us and our factories and cars and waste.

Whether you like it or not, there is a strong need to save nature for it to remain habitable. I believe most, if not all, humans were born with a functioning conscience? Fcking listen to it.

xx,
V

From A Middle Class Girl’s Perspective

Having been raised by parents with conservative political views and are part of the military, you couldn’t blame me if my own views point closer to the right. Democracy works. You can’t blame everything on the government. The Philippines is poor because most Filipinos are lazy. If you work hard enough, you will succeed. The American dream.

And I still tell myself that from time to time. Why are all these people rallying for higher state subsidy? Surely, if they really wanted to study, they could just apply for scholarships. Di lang naman UP ang school sa Pilipinas. The tuition fee in PUP is much cheaper, last I heard. Plus, what they’re arguing is that the government spends too much in military and I personally take that as offensive. I don’t know if you guys heard or if you even care, but a lot of Air Force planes crashed recently, and some of the people that died are our friends. Pilots with a family, good people with cute kids, dying just because our country’s planes are less than second-rate. Heck, we can’t even afford to buy brand new planes. But I get it. How can they justify spending that much on guns and planes yet not cave when students ask for a little bit more for the budget on education?

Also, when you think about it, why DO we have to pay a hefty amount of money just to get quality education? The top schools in the Philippines are UP, ADMU, DLSU, and UST–we all know that only one of those are affordable and I’m using the word affordable really loosely here. And it’s not just in universities. My two cousins would almost cry and throw out a tantrum every time their dad would threaten them na if they don’t get high enough grades, they would be transferred to a public school because they say na pangit turo sa ganun. And how much is private school education? 45K-70K a year? I was lucky enough to get into a science high, but what about the others? They have to make tyaga sa 60 students per small classrooms and just one teacher, tas minsan wala pang baon kaya tatamarin na.

And it’s not just on education. Why do we have to live in a world where the elites spend $300 on a single pair of shoe while somewhere out there, some kid has to endure the blisters on his feet because he can’t afford to buy new slippers? How can Louis Vuitton charge $650 for those monogrammed handbags of theirs when they’re not even really that cute and are nothing but a status symbol, while somewhere out there, men are left to die because they can’t pay for their hospital services?

I can always give you stories of hope and inspiration, like how my manicurist’s children are doing well at school and one is graduating. Or how Ate Lina, after years and years of trying, praying, and going through dozens and dozens of albularyos just to have a kid now finally has a 5-year-old named Mika and she is all sorts of dapper. But what about the others who aren’t so lucky? What about the others who have to face the harsh reality of life everyday?

You couldn’t blame me if my views point a little close to the right, but having a best friend whose face showed every color of disappointment when I didn’t finish my meal that one time makes you wonder–is life really THAT unfair? We are all taught that if we work hard enough, we will succeed, but is that still true? Do all men really have equal chances at a richer and fuller life or is that all a lie meant to blind us from the fact that the world we currently live in is a terrible one? Is there something wrong with the people or is it time to change the system? Am I just too hopeful to believe that the world could be a better place? When will the story of humanity have a happy ending?

I’m just 19, I’m still allowed to feel warm and fuzzy then talk about it on the intarwebz

The world is probably tired of hearing this, but I am at my happiest when I’m with you. And although that sounds co-dependent, cheesy, teenager-ish, or whatever term cynics has come up with to replace the word love, I don’t care. Being with you is the most soothing, fulfilling, tears-of-joy-inducing thing in the world.

This is probably the most often told lie in the whole of the universe, but I really do mean it when I say that you have showed me the true meaning of love. I have been in relationships before and you’ve had your fair share, too, but I believe our sh*t is legit. You made me see the thin line between being in love with the feeling of being in love and actually being head over heels, makes you happy with every gesture, just stares can mean a thousand words, in love.

You make my heart flip when you look at me, really look at me, and it makes me want to squish you and hug you on the spot, as if you’re a real life teddy bear that reciprocates the love I give. Also, I used to think that weak knees and smiles that go from ear to ear were just exaggerations that writers made up to put us normal people in misery and hopelessness as we go for and ultimately fail in the quest of finding fairytale love, but they really do happen. I always feel like melting whenever we stop whatever we are doing just so you can tell me you love me. And I can still hear your voice when you said, “Di naman kita iiwan e.”

Things aren’t always gonna be rainbows and butterflies in relationships, everyone knows that. But when things do suck, I just think of you and that first time you went to my house and came with a box of Nerds. I think of the opening line from Such Great Heights, “I’m thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned,” because we have that. Just replace freckels with moles. (Mehehe.) I think of when we to say goodbye and just can’t. I think of all our hugs and neither of us is willing to let go so we end up slow dancing, and kissing, and then back to resting in each other’s arms.

Times are hard but what we have is one thing that I am not willing of giving up on. And I know I always say that if the time ever comes when you want out, I will respect it, writing this article made me realize one thing: You have no right to leave. We’re Sandy and Kirsten Cohen, Marshall and Lily–it is because of couples like us that people still believe in love. You wouldn’t want to crush humanity’s hope, right? Nope. I didn’t think so.

I love you. I can make this post as long as I want, but it all ends up to that one thing. I love you. And it’s the best feeling I have ever had.