why are people so fanatical about their smartphone choice? and other pressing questions

In the comment sections of tech websites I have noticed the alarming regularity of people getting rude, fanatical and bananas about their chosen variety of smartphone. Why does this happen? My theory includes: 1. All smartphones are essentially the same. Standard functions like phone calls, text messages, take a photo or check the weather — they all do that. 2. They are a luxury ie. fairly useless. One could argue that toilet papers are all fairly similar but (in modern society at least) it is considered an essential and so we don’t feel the urge to populate comment threads with our ravings on toilet paper, which leads me to my third and final point. 3. We do in fact feel like suckers for buying these things and desperately need other people to agree with us about being correct in owning “X” phone.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/9626426402/” title=”overpriced by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5508/9626426402_afcc840d7a_n.jpg” width=”279″ height=”320″ alt=”overpriced”></a>

I have to say app prices have really jumped the shark too. They used to be 99cents if not free. Then a few came in at two bucks. And now I keep seeing the price $5.49 pop up. It’s not the minimum price, there are still free and cheap ones but developers seem to think they can get away with a five dollar price tag for what can often better utter shit. Then there’s the odd one that asks forty dollars or similar, for a computer program you’re going to look at on a tiny phone screen.

Yesterday I was looking at an app called, “Zombies, run!” which is a fitness program that encourages you to go jogging and if you don’t keep your pace up you’ll get infected by zombies. Apparently there are little story bits and encouragements that you listen to on earphones that give you the hurry up. I like stories. I’m trying to get a bit fitter and if I ended up wasting $2 on this thing then it’s not the end of the world is it? But the last time I tried to do sustained running – about 6 years ago – my knee started to get really sore. And if there _was_ a zombie apocalypse why couldn’t I ride my bike to escape them? I didn’t get the app.

like dolphins can swim

Update- (7/8/11) For all the Singapore, Malaysian and even Brunei people coming here looking for the oksu station ghost comic, the one you are looking for is <a href=”http://comic.naver.com/webtoon/detail.nhn?titleId=350217&no=5&weekday=tue”>here</a>.

If you don’t read hangeul and are interested in what it says, I’m told it’s basically, the boy says on his phone, check out the drunk girl. Takes a foto and sends it to his friend. The girl is swaying around but she’s not drunk! She’s being guided by a poltergeist, that throws her on the tracks.

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<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5962748757/” title=”Halftone eg by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6133/5962748757_38a961416d_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”240″ alt=”Halftone eg”></a>

Been having mild amounts of fun with an iphone app called Halftone. It takes an existing foto and adds newsprint style ink dots, then you can add captions and whatnot. It has a lot of potential but the more I think about it, cartoons don’t really look like that. Maybe it’s not supposed to be a straight out comic strip thing.

Please excuse the lashings of Marvel-standard story device cliches.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5967067720/” title=”IMG_0500 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6029/5967067720_fd8c85e74f.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_0500″></a>

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5967073120/” title=”IMG_0503 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6150/5967073120_ce9765d00c.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_0503″></a>

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5966514799/” title=”IMG_0502 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6124/5966514799_33b9c34d5c.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_0502″></a>

I didn’t use all of the features in these. You can also put things like “Mint!” over the image.

The funny thing is, Jongers told me later that there is actually a korean comic about a ghost at oksu station. She says she hasn’t read it because it’s too freaky. Little things they could do to improve this thing are: being able to switch to bold within a sentence. You’re stuck with the one style of typeface within each text bubble. I would’ve liked the above to read, “…wreak havoc on *our* world!”

Also, I’m a bit fed up with how upload facilities are so proprietary and cliquey. What these foto-adjunct apps needs is a standard format of address string that the user can input to be their nominated place to upload to rather than favouring the one or two mega-big “social networking” sites. For eg, halftone gives me the choice of upping to facebook, twitter or emailing it — no flickr, so it’s a pain in the arse for me. Similarly, hipstamatic, with each new update, is making it more and more difficult for me to send my fotos to flickr.

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I’ve never really understood how wrapped up some people can get in comics. I had a couple of The Phantom comics I got in a showbag once as a kid but that’s it. But after my lame-arse attempt above, I can appreciate the techniques involved in telling a story with both words and pictures and not having any redundancy take practice.

photography pt 2

I haven’t talked about the little computer programs, called ‘apps’ for the iphone, mainly because it seems like such a boring, nerdy thing to do. And I should probably just write and post an entry as soon as I think about it rather than deliberating for weeks. Deliberating, indeed. If you don’t have an iphone this is going to be useless, so click away, now!

I’m mildly amused with retro-style camera apps. It’s pathetic really, isn’t it? You’d think that someone like me would see a name like ‘Hipstamatic’ and steer well clear of it. My only defence it that I am getting into this with my eyes open, and accused of being a hipster, falsely or not, all I know it I don’t feel like one and I don’t think they would wear an addidas top every day they’re not at work.

And ‘Hipstamatic’ is relatively expensive too. Some of the others (I’ll get to them later) are givin’ it away for free. The hipstamatic app is $2 american (that’s less than $2 Australian (LOL!)). And if you want extra lenses/film/flashes, which are all essentially filters, they come in packs of two or three and cost an extra 99c each. I was really surprised with myself that I bought them–bought them all (about 5 packs in total). But did so under the reasoning that almost everyday I end up wasting some smallish amount of money, like I’ll buy something to eat for five bucks and get halfway through and think, well that was a mistake wasn’t it.

I think the thing that gets the hipstamatic app out in front is the nice packaging. It looks nice and it looks fun. Fun is at the heart of this retro-foto mini-veer, veering away from the 40,000 megapixel ultra-HighDef telephoto lens stuff. Here’s what it looks like:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5575255873/” title=”IMG_0323 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5063/5575255873_691da360a8_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”160″ alt=”IMG_0323″></a>

It’s skinnable in the way mp3 players or browsers are. This is the ‘Mr.Blingy’ skin that comes with one of the packs. It looks nice but actually is hard to see if standing in sunlight.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5575255463/” title=”IMG_0322 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5268/5575255463_65747f23fe_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”160″ alt=”IMG_0322″></a>

This is the back, the ‘Cowgirl’ skin, released as a freebie during the recent SXSW thingo. As you can see the view-finder is rather small, which is part of the whole analog thing. If you want to square up exact dimensions when you’re shooting, then the standard camera app on the phone is obviously better. Sometimes the little viewfinder has resulted in wonky shots but sometimes the unpredictability has added nice touches, like here with ancient krean cybermen:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5493327693/” title=”Ancient Cyberman by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5131/5493327693_75b356bba3.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Ancient Cyberman”></a>

I like how the wheel is partially seen in background.

At present there’s 12 film types and 9 lenses when fully decked out. There’s also 7 flash types. The iphone camera flash is fairly poxy and eats up the battery like all get out. I guess the flash would be good if you were at a party and taking fotos of your friends. I’ve no friends and go not to parties, so haven’t found the flashes very useful. Anyway, there’s a lot of combinations of look that can be cooked up, and I’ve had a jolly old time messing about in that way. From the really hot:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5496629740/” title=”Maintenance by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5180/5496629740_499d88dbd6.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Maintenance”></a>

to cool:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5498889547/” title=”Oksu Stn by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5211/5498889547_aec5aff7a3.jpg” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Oksu Stn”></a>

One of the really neat things about it is now that these kind of phones are internet capable is that you can take a foto and upload it straight to the internet. With hipstamatic there’s the choice of sending it to Flickr, fuzzbook, tumblr or an email address. This eliminates the whole process of having to wait until you get home, plugging the camera in to the computer, transferring, transferring again to internet. Who can be bothered with that now? Not me. Small conventional cameras like cannon Ixus, take note. Similarly, the hipstamatic filter sets are good, and good enough, because with time literally speeding up during the last twenty years, who’s got time to be messing about with GIMP or photoshop? I don’t even know how to use photoshop.

It would be good if hipstamatic had a zoom function, but this is not their fault, there is no zoom on the normal iphone camera, and I guess it goes against the whole retro ethos. Also, when I’m sending fotos to flickr, and typing a title for the foto, hipstamatic wants me to start Every Word With A Capital Letter, which is Dippy. Also, all the foto formats are square. It’d be good to have a few rectangle. There’s no good postcards in Korea so I make my own and rectangle works best for that. The square format seems to work best for small things and intimate settings. Expansive, landscape shots look boxed in.

Once or twice I’ve wondered if I will look back at some of these shots in 10 or twenty years and think, I wonder what colour that really was, and perhaps wish I’d just taken a normal foto.

For a minimum or two and up to 7$ it’s been fun, and has got me enthused about taking fotos again — something I’ve done little of in the last two years (barring special occasions). I even took a USB stick down to the printer the other day and had some printed.