Saturday 16 September 2023

Is Life Too Complicated Already?

Sometimes I think that the simpler life is better, really. Sometimes! I make the case here in terms of Samsung phones and tablets, device/services infrastructure - the bells’n’whistles of which we often talk. My point is that sometimes it just feels overwhelming - that the (even above-average) user probably doesn’t ever really understand all the ways in which it all works, which services are useful, which are undiscovered and even hardware elements which users don’t really know how to use (or at least make the most of).

I have the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, S23, Z Flip4, Galaxy Watch and Tab S8 here - and I get the impression when in use that I’m using the devices to much less potential than I could be if I really buried myself into the Samsung Way. Now, I get the argument about not worrying about it - just use what you want to use and leave the rest for someone else - but that feels somehow disingenuous and that I should be using all the bells’n’whistles if I’m going to use a Samsung device or three. And annoying that all that background stuff is chugging away needlessly.

Then I return to the relative simplicity of Motorola, Sony, Pixel, Nokia and I think that the point is that I feel in control of the device/services. Not out of control or depth. I know how everything works. I know what everything does. I know where to find everything. I may not have mastered everything, but at least I know what it is! There are exceptions, of course - for example, for me, the Sony is a bit of a one-trick-pony (in audio) as I don’t make any use of all that photographic, cinemagraphic, videographic, audio creation stuff, so most of it is a bit wasted on me. Are the great-sounding speakers enough to justify using (or even having) the (dinky, but tall) device, I wonder. Or take Pixels as another partial exception as it gets more and more layers of services over the top, many of which I don’t use (or know how to) or are locked into USA-only.

The simplest life would seem to be living with a Nokia (and bear in mind that I have no idea about Apple and their devices or how they might fit into this blurb) real bare-bones, back to basics, hardly anything to complicate anyone. Learn how to use what it has in 30 minutes and don’t worry about what others are doing. What it does, it does simply and well. Or using a Chromebook rather than a Windows computer. What it does, it does well. Which brings me to probably what I find to be the middle-ground in the phone world, being Motorola.

Time and again I find myself back in the arms of Lenovorola, liking very much what they do with Android - there’s a fine balance of good features added by the firm, but not a million and one with layers and layers of complication. What’s added is genuinely useful but doesn’t bombard the user’s brain! If users want to add some of that stuff which comes as ‘standard’ with Samsung, there’s usually an App which’ll do it. If it takes a user 30 minutes to work out how to fully use a Nokia, then maybe it’s an hour for a Moto phone!

People reading this will know me well enough to know that next week I’ll be arguing back the other way, in favour of the rich options of Samsung(!) but for now, it feels like Moto is the best balance. Free of the niggling feeling that I really should be making good use of the plethora of features of the Samsung Way, when actually, I rarely need them - it’s very much the toy/fun element - and we come back to that little word ‘need’.

What’s nice about the Android world is the enormity of choice, of course. Especially in terms of hardware. So many handsets out there, many with their own take, like it or loathe it, on Android, many with super top-end features, many with budget-conscious low-end, many in the middle, a price-point for everyone, hardware gaming features, fabulous cameras on some, great speakers on some, ‘old fashioned’ features not being removed on some, too. Blazingly fast charging on some, wireless charging on others, folding, flipping and even rolling on the way! Not sure where I’m going with this thought meander, so I’ll stop!

One last thing… for anyone who doesn’t know me well enough to at this point suggest I get an iPhone, there’s a small guillotine waiting...

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Past Lives (2023)

Director/Producer/Writer Celine Song's debut film is a real peach and promises positive things to come from her. It stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo as Nora Moon and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood sweethearts, who are separated after Nora's family emigrated from South Korea to the USA.

Twelve years later, they seek each other out online and chat on Skype. The chemistry is immediately apparent but neither can change their respective situations - and conclude that it would be less frustrating for them both if they ceased their late-night video chats and concentrated on their own lives, careers and ambitions. She's a fledgling writer and he, training to be an engineer.

Another twelve years pass by, she is now married and he’s dissatisfied with any relationship he's in, knowing that he wants to be with her. He makes contact. He's going to get on a plane and travel to New York to see her. She is completely honest with her husband about Hae Sung, their past and what has happened.

The rest of the film is about the visit, the anxiety leading up to the reuniting, the impact of that on both their lives, the awkwardness because he can't speak hardly any English and Nora's husband, no Korean - and the latter's natural concern and paranoia surrounding the visit, half-expecting Nora to want out of what they have so as to be with him. Reminded me of the similar dilemma facing real people's lives towards the end of Cast Away (2000).

There's a love story at the heart of this engaging drama. The writing is smart and clever, the two leads carry it off beautifully and we get a good amount of sight-seeing in both Korea and New York via nicely crafted cinematography. In fact, the photography is worthy of note as the director is not afraid to linger - longer and longer - on the faces and expressions depicting the dilemma, often in silence between the three characters, creating a set of intensely moving scenes. It's not cheap tear-jerking stuff though - rather measured and intelligent.

We also learn a lot about their respective cultures and how Nora has adapted to life in the West, whilst the visiting childhood sweetheart is clearly like a fish out of water. There are parallels drawn between her freedom in the West against, even in South Korea, the expectation, for example, that Hae Sung undertakes National Service - and cultural differences in terms of family/societal expectations and the value of people, family, possessions, wealth and career. It's a beautifully executed film and well worth a watch.

Friday 1 September 2023

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of August 2023

...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Whatever Works
Episode 190 - Watch Your Back!
Wednesday 4th August
Aidan and I are back once more tick-tocking around, tinkering with tinctures of tosh! Lots of fun as always and plenty of stuff that works - and doesn't. Do clock us for a slightly shorter show - we'll have your back. Now available from all the usual places.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Tab, Flip and Fold Samsung Unpacked
Sunday 6th August
Gareth and I chat about the announcements from Samsung's Unpacked event. The Galaxy Tab S9, Flip5, Fold5, Watch6 alongside rumours of a S9FE and Galaxy Ring. Also the Lume Pad 2, Wizman Retro Powerbank, Oppo and Nokia, OnePlus Open, Arc Browser, CoolerMaster Motion 1, Threads and loads more. Available in the usual places, so do join us!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 761 - Vibrate the Time
Sunday 6th August
Steve and I welcome back Steve Nutt this week as we catch up with the devices he's using and what Malcolm Bryant has developed with WearOS with Steve in liaison. We have an audio drop-in from him to explain more. Loads of Samsung natter, Moto Folding in the mix - we even turn a Duo into a Pixel! Available in all the usual places, so do tune in!

or Room
Episode 144 - Hidden Happiness
Wednesday 9th August
Allan, Gareth and I bring you another couple of hours of natter about film, cinema and TV! This time we treat ourselves to the work of Bill Nighy, lose ourselves in a Lost City on a Mission to Mars, admire a Blue Jasmine being held Ransom for a Hidden Strike. Loads more, as always, so do join us!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 762 - Smartwatch Health Benefits
Saturday 12th August
JB Walsh is back to join Steve and I with a professorial deep-dive update on all things health and how our tech gadgets can keep us living longer. We make time for other stuff too, my latest thoughts on the Moto Razr, how Samsung drags me further in and what's coming with the next iPhone. All available via the usual outlets, so enjoy!

Whatever Works
Episode 191 - The Naughty Desk!
Wednesday 16th August
Aidan, Thomas the Tank Engine, Percy and I are back again with another fun-packed pilfering of your valuable time as we mainline our thoughts and keep track of Whatever Works and what doesn't! Available in all the usual places, so do leap in. But don't become a Jumper! 🚂 😱

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 763 - The Long Lived Ultra
Saturday 19th August
Marek Pawlowski joins Steve and I again this week as we catch up with what gear he's using and how he goes about creating many of those on-the-water images. Plenty more, of course with resurged interest in the Moto Edge 30 Neo, Pixel/ChromeOS combo. and even a Windy app! All available in the usual places, so enjoy 🤓

Tech Addicts Podcast
Gareth and Ted Pissing All Over Stuff!
Sunday 20th August
Yes, it's Gareth and I back again... and not being nice to things! AI listening to you typing passwords, Samsung folding Tablets, China app regulations, Dell monitors that cause pain, AR Headset cash-ins, ugly OnePlus designs and tiny game controllers all get pissed on. Elsewhere Xiaomi Redmi Pad SE and MIX Fold3, Urbanista Malibu, Netflix game streaming, OneXFly and Sony Tablets, don't! It's all a bit of a gamble if things are on the Naughty List or not 😂 Do join us, now available in the usual places!

or Room
Episode 145 - No Country for Otto
Wednesday 23rd August
Allan, Gareth and I are back again with our fortnightly roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. This time we focus on the performances of Steve Guttenberg (not Gutterberg as I have mis-typed in the show notes!), get hung up with Otto and Ove, chill a while with the Coens on No Country for Old Men - then get in a sticky mess with Spider-Man's leading lady 😜

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 764 - Mac OS and Android do mix
Saturday 26th August
In this week's show we welcome back Kurt Kaufman who gives us a deep-dive on how he uses the Samsung S23, GoodLock, Routines+ and before that Tasker and Automate. Steve talks about media-viewing on folding phones vs monoblock and I focus on Xperia, ThinkPhone and Pixel. All available in the usual places, so do join us!

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

Perfect Days (2023)

This Wim Wenders (Paris, Taxas, The American Friend) film is a moving and beautifully created character study depicting the everyday life of...