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Whiling In Tallinn/Nokia 3.1 (2018)

I didn't get that cold! And so we went to Tallinn, toured the old city for two days, tried some cool experimental vegan foods at Vegan Inspiratsioon, a delicious but excruciatingly expensive dinner at the somewhat renowned Cru, a quick spa session and two trips to the gym as well as a massive breakfast buffet at the Metropolitan Spa Hotel (great place but not the pillows) where we spent our one night, had some local Glögg in the town square (it tasted pretty much like our own local Glögg), and had our first and last stops at the modern Mall of Tallinn in search for cheap tea (found it), among other things, also in a couple other shopping districts, finally consuming a steamy seafood wok at the airport before a late plane home.

Not bad for a two day trip... and then I spent the weekend catching up: doing this, designing a logo, checking hotels and communicating and damn time just flies by too fast these days... I'm really not slacking. I think.

I took the trip as an opportunity to try out my new phone too, a Nokia 3.1 (this years model) that I bought specifically for these upcoming trips. My old one's not too feisty these days, doesn't do GPS too well, can't run the newest apps, takes time to load, and surf with, and is just no longer a reliable method of communication for everyday communication necessities... which seem all the more important when you're traversing distant lands in search of places you've never been before.

Though Tallinn was pretty easy to get around. At least after the first, somewhat disorienting night. It's surrounded by water, has a few pretty tall buildings and churches you can use to navigate, and some high ground you can go to for a better vantage point.

It was also a really nice place, way more modern than both Riga and Vilnius, yet with some older areas in stark contrast to the glossy skyscrapers and shiny metal facades of our new age.

Prices, however, weren't much lower than they are at home, but they do have cheap tea, and honey, and probably quite a few other things too when you know what to look for. Living costs are cheaper too, unless you happen to check in to a pretty expensive four star hotel with a luxury spa that's pretty much entirely empty because it's totally out of season with four saunas and an indoor pool. That was pretty cool.

Regarding my new phone, which I must mention is a huge upgrade over my last one... here's a quick review. The differences, from old to new.

Samsung GT-S7560 (2013)

  • Android 4.0 (4.0.4 final)
  • 2G/3G (21 Mbit/s at most)
  • 0,3/5 mpx cameras
  • 4GB Memory (16 external)
  • 768 MB RAM
  • 1 Ghz Single Core
  • 1,500 mAh battery

Nokia 3.1 (2018)

  • Android 8.0 (8.1 now)
  • 2G/3G/4G (42 Mbit/s at most)
  • 8/13 mpx cameras
  • 16 GB Memory (32 external)
  • 2,048 MB RAM
  • 1,5 Ghz Octa Core
  • 2,990 mAh battery

Add to that a screen upgrade from TN to IPS, 233 PPI to 310 PPI, 4 to 5,2 inches (my old one was pretty handy that way, but it's hard to find a new one in similar size... unless it's an iPhone), 118 to 138g (feel the weight of progress), Micro to Nano SIM (and dual SIM support!), and a bunch of new protocols and nifty features that came along for the ride.

The new one's also using the stock version of Android, which means less bloat and more potential for continual upgrades. So far: I like it.

Pros:

  • It's fast!
  • Everything works!
  • I'm playing GTA VC on the highest settings no problem. Edit: Apparently I had to switch down the settings a bit after a while, and I have run into some strange save issues too, but that's probably/hopefully more related to the game than the phone itself.

Cons:

  • The camera wasn't as good as I hoped, even if the resolution is. The color tone is cold, and images often turn out fuzzy if you don't give it time to focus, or take pictures in less than ideal lighting conditions (Samsung was better on all points but resolution).
  • Nokia apparently has a start-up sound you can't toggle in the settings, and it's loud! I've reached out to support about it. So far they have no idea, but they're looking into it (other people are pretty annoyed with this too).
  • GTA 3, for some reason, does not run well with this one. Incompatible GPU...?
  • More hardware eats more battery, so even with twice the mAh it doesn't last very long.
  • Some might say the lack of fingerprint scanner is an issue, but I've never had a phone with one so I'm not missing this... yet.

The memory also runs out quicker than I'd like it too, now that I'm installing somewhat heavier apps than I had on my last one. And games. There is a way to use the SD card as internal storage, but I tried that first and it totally messed up the size quota, so I did a clean install and I'm keeping it separate this time, hoping it'll still be possible to move over some apps or files there (it seems possible, but may require some third-party apps...).

On Android 4 this was easy. On the new one certain settings seem to have been slimmed away. I'm missing a few useful detail-specific settings overall, though there are a lot of new ones that'll probably make life easier in the long run too. Screencaps, for one, is going to be incredibly handy. I've been living behind the times without that.

Regarding the OS: Android 4 felt like a much more stream-lined and polished product overall, but it's possible Samsung added in some of their own bits and pieces to the one I used to make it better. There were generally a lot more options available, and interesting developer settings I can't find on the new one. I also miss the dark theme, which didn't just look cooler but also had the added benefit of: less battery use.

Other things I liked better with Android 4? The clean page transitions, the no-nonsense top menu (no need to double drag to open it fully), the voice recorder (was that a Samsung thing though?), the camera effects (ditto?), the color scheme on the calendar and notes (a more yellow/orange hue), the color tone on the calculator (more orange), the number pad being shown in full for the phone app - without extra clicks required, the more hard-drive-like way of browsing files, the built-in gallery, music and movie players even if I later replaced them with better alternatives (maybe this was Samsung too?), custom email and Internet browser and order of settings menu. Most of all the style. The color scheme. I preferred it greatly over the new one, which seems more like an extension of Google itself than the device I used before it.

Maybe this is the whole idea though. Standardization between services, not only via their web-based apps but across devices, too. It's a bit crazy how much Google there is these days... they do everything.

Though these deviations from my preferred design aesthetics, lack of (at least not easily accessible - if they exist) settings, and apps that might've been custom-tailored for my old phone are all small details. I'm happy with the new, and I in particular do appreciate the additions they've made to the OS as well these last... five or so years, but if I get a chance (read: prices drop sufficiently), I'll probably get back to Samsung next time around. It'll still be Android, and though it might not be updated as long as I like it'll probably all the features I'm missing right now, and most importantly a better camera. For now I'm giving Nokia a chance, having some good times reminiscing with GTA VC on a smaller screen than I'm used to, and hoping they'll fix the start-up sound thing or I'll seriously... not be very happy with them.

It is a budget phone though, and the specs are amazing considering the price. The overall build quality is good, and as far as plain mobile-related tasks go it's more than satisfactory. I bought it on the end-of-the-year sales btw, at a heavy discount.

I bought a new camera too, but haven't had much time to test that one yet. Alas, I thought I'd save some space by using my new phone as camera on this one trip, but next time I'ma bring my camera. Maybe some phones have, but this one certainly hasn't replaced it yet.

It's been a good week; especially weekend! I didn't get to posting any new reviews, or recording the verse I wrote last weekend but didn't get time to record then either, but I have watched a few more movies, and written a couple more songs, and today we officially cheered out Christmas... and that's about it. Time to rush off to bed, and onto the next one, and see you next time.

Life Changes In Tremendous Ways...

Life changes in tremendous ways when you realize that people who made everything around us are no different from you and I.

It's paraphrased, but something along those lines.

You ready? This New Year's a blank slate. Make something out of it.

First Sunday Of The New Year

And so the first week's flashed by! Almost a full one since the fireworks touched the sky and left the world in a smoky daze.

The day after it I woke up with a headache, we had guests over that afternoon, and though the sun was shining outside we barely had time for a walk, or any of the traditional reflections and contemplations on this first new day. It was a good visit, but it also felt like I missed something special. Like it was a rare moment to find a new inner peace and meaning that I'll now have to wait another year to experience.

Of course each day's a new phase too. Got to learn to treat 'em as such.

After that it was back to work again, and this weekend we've had guests over again on both days. I've been battling the starting signs of a cold that seems to come and go, but never really breaks through. Hope I'll manage to chase it away once and for all tonight, because next week (after a few work days) we're heading off to Tallinn, to explore the city and seep in the winter sights for just a couple of days.

I'm heading of to Östersund at the end of the month too, to Budapest at the start of February, to Turku a week later, to Malaga in March, and to Tallinn for a longer set of days again later that month. Just need to book in one more trip and I'll have achieved an amount of flights (18 in a year) that'll give me free baggage carrying rights on all superseding ones for another full year. Which will come in handy during summer, with all the veggies and berries I hope to pack and carry down from the North. An empty suitcase up and a full one back again, at least a couple times over. I've been going with hand luggage only the last couple of years, and though that's worked alright this'll definitely be better. Looking forward to that.

Not that I'm only taking these trips for the free luggage that follows! I'm looking forward to the trips too.

I've been booking one at a time for a while now, whenever tickets have been on sale (it's almost become a bit of an obsession), but the one I'm looking forward to the most is actually the one I've booked up North at the end of May. It'll be the first glimpse of real summer as I perceive it, no matter what weather there'll be in the countries I visit before it.

Makes you wonder why you're traveling out of the country when the places you enjoy are so much closer... and I think a big part of it is just to get out of your comfort zone, and of course: to see the world. Meet people. Go places. Broaden your perspectives. Then get back and appreciate what you have, and be proud you accomplished whatever you set out to.

Was pondering Marrakech or Krakow for that one last trip before summer, but it probably won't be either of those. We shall see. For now I'm pretty excited about the quick leap this coming week. Gotta deep sleep peeps.

Oh, you know the thing? The one I'm fixing? Well I finished it! Just in time for Christmas, and this time it went through. More news on that later y'all. Good times.

It's been a pretty good start of the new year, tiredness or no, snow's coated the road, I just put up six reviews and I still have double to post... been seeing quite a few this Christmas. And then I wrote some prose.

See you folks.

First Man (2018)

First Man (2018)

The movie about the first man on the moon - Neil Armstrong, is like a strange blend of potential sci-fi and documentary, where you wonder all the way through if this was really how it all went down. Some elements feel real, and some don't, and being equally dubious as to the authenticity of the actual event lends it a whole new layer of... intrigue.

Patriotic American space movie too? Yepp. But it's one with class. It had moments. It had good music. It had enough length to really make the most of it, too, and it all builds up to that final landing so slowly you stop waiting for it, but more so enjoying the ride.

Well maybe not enjoying, because there are a bundle of not quite so euphoric hurdles along the way, but feeling. You join in on each and every individual success they accomplish, and each failure, until their final quest.

Ryan Gosling played Neil, and he couldn't have done a better job with it. Not to forget the wife Janet, played by Claire Foy. I'm pleasantly surprised with how much their silent moments speak to me, intimate and distant all the same.

In the end, it basically comes across as a movie about a man who became obsessed with the moon, and how he reached it only to realize there was nothing there... and that he'd had everything he needed in his home all this time.

At least that's how it comes across to me. That, and a little bit of the battle as seen through the eyes of his wife. She's the grounded one, while he's way up in the clouds. Head in the stars. All the sayings gone literal, even if he also comes across as smart, and a loyal fatalist like few.

It's not a depressing movie, despite the hurdles, but more of an insightful one. Of course. That's how it had to be.

I don't agree with all of the angles, or sound effects, and in some scenes the shaky cam's a bit much, but it really was a rough voyage, and they convey that well. It makes me think about the moon landing in a whole new way, even though I'm keeping an eye out for a Coca Cola can on the surface as they pan away, wondering if maybe they could've been a secret sponsor back in the day, or if this really is one more little glimpse into a humane story, from one giant cover up for mankind...

I'd like to think not, though. It's a mighty journey the way they depict it here. The space age: it was a little before my time, but I feel it takes me back all the same. And really brings me into the perils of their race.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Gymkata (1985)

Gymkata (1985)

An American gymnast travels to a foreign country to compete in a deadly game not won by anyone other than a native in more than 900 years.

So that's what it was really about! Got it.

The plot's a mess. It feels more like a series of scenes from different places, mostly there to showcase Kurt Thomas athletic abilities than anything else, but it does have something else, too. Charm? Raw talent?

The fights and athletics might be its biggest merit (maybe this was actually the one that inspired the recent flipping trends in martial art movies), but it does have characters with charm, and a compelling albeit chaotic storyline that'll at least leave you entertained.

And hey, it has Michael Jai White! If but for a short moment. Uncredited...?

It also has Tetchie Agbayani and Richard Norton, and it's based on The Terrible Game by Dan Tyler Moore, 1957. Not that any of this necessarily makes it a better movie but maybe it's cool to know.

The Cuckoo's Nest was the definitely the most memorable part though. It stands out. That single scene builds up an atmosphere that leaves me in awe. Silent Hill and Resident Evil movie-franchising attempts should take note, and I wouldn't be surprised if it inspired the Resident Evil 4 reboot.

Ground-breaking more than good? Maybe! But it's one of those movies you'll have to see at some point in time... if these are the kinds of movies you like watching. Martial arts. Fighting. That kind of stuff. It's special. Not all especially good but: it's not your typical action movie at all.

B-movie or no, it's well worth a watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

The Predator (2018)

The Predator (2018)

I don't remember much from the original Predator at this point but the new one wasn't bad! No matter what people say about it. It might not have been as great as the first one, but it's not a remake either, more so an 'inventive sequel', so there's no need to actually have a stand-off between the two. I liked the grindhouse vibe it had to it, and the bad-ass team, but maybe not so much the suicidal elements. Those are just sad. Man.

The plot in this one? A predator lands on Earth again, people discover him, again, and from there on out the intrigue thickens, a bit...

It's all about natural evolution in this one. The best aren't necessarily the buffest, but rather the ones with brains, and Jacob Tremblay has plenty of the latter. Promising acting skills too. It's a basic but working premise.

As for the rest of the cast: Olivia Munn is getting some bad-ass roles lately, Boyd Holbrook reminds me of that guy in Gymkata, and Keegan-Michael Key... a comedian in a movie like this...? OK. It works. They're all looneys, and he's the funny way so that's OK. They're a good team.

If you start analyzing the details too much I feel like I might end up being disappointed, so I won't. I enjoyed it for what it was, and that was: a good dose of action, and a blast from the past.

I am looking forward to a sequel too. In this age of very fake-looking action blockbusters this one felt appreciatively authentic. Over the top or no. Good watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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