Had Ditched Spotify, Was With Xbox Music, Now I’m Back With Spotify Again But Still Using And Loving Windows 8 Ecosystem

Spotifys huvudkontor på Humlegårdsgatan

Spotifys huvudkontor på Humlegårdsgatan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A month after I quitted Spotify, now I’m back with it for my music listening pleasure.  A month ago, I ditched Spotify for Microsoft’s Xbox Music as I bought into the idea of a more coherent Windows 8 platform ecosystem.  Unfortunately, Xbox Music was a frustrated experience.  Fortunately, I like the Windows 8 ecosystem still, but my love affair with Windows 8 ecosystem just have to do without the Xbox Music experience.

Xbox Music experience was bad for me, because it was hard to have the playlist on my HTC 8X Windows 8 phone to sync correctly with the one on Windows 8 PC and creating playlist was a pain through Xbox Music app.  Furthermore, Xbox Music suddenly refused to play any music in my playlists even though I had one more day of free trial subscription before the whole free trial subscription period would end accordingly.  I would have stuck with Xbox Music by subscribing to its monthly fee payment structure, but the last straw was about how Microsoft did not train their customer support departments well on how to deal with Xbox Music errors, whether the Xbox Music errors found on the smartphone or the Windows 8 PC.  I experienced this first hand as customer supports would transfer me back and forth between the Windows 8 and Xbox customer support departments, but in the end my question and problem would not be resolved.

I thought I would have gone for weeks on end without being able to listen to awesome music on my smartphone since now I’m no longer using iPhone 5.  Instead of iPhone 5, I’m using HTC 8X Windows 8 phone.  I like HTC 8X Windows 8 phone a lot, because it got Windows 8 operating system.  I think Windows 8 operating system is way cooler than the stuffs that make up Android and iPhone operating systems.  Nonetheless, without great music experience, it was painful for me.  Luckily, Spotify came to the rescue.  Spotify app, a beta version nonetheless, is now available in Windows 8 phone app store.  Like a thirsty person that was in a desert, I was too eager to download Spotify app on HTC 8X and paid up roughly around $10 per month for premium plan with Spotify.

The great feeling of being able to listen to whatever music I want and not having to be frustrated by the creation and syncing of playlists is a wonderful thing.  Now, I’m listening to Spotify again whenever I’m in my car, at home, and elsewhere.

I think Microsoft needs to have dedicated teams within their Xbox Music department to make sure Xbox Music does well.  If I’m Microsoft, I would want to imagine that Xbox Music — a core service among core services within Microsoft complex — is a company of itself, just like Spotify, and so the teams that build Xbox Music can be dedicated enough to see things from the ground up, to make sure that Xbox Music will be just as easy and a pleasure to use as Spotify.  After all, Xbox Music does carry the substantial amount of music that form the core of the whole Xbox Music service.  Unfortunately, content fulfilling isn’t enough for some people like me, because a clunky Xbox Music user interface in terms of creating and syncing playlists and weird Xbox Music errors do push people like me away from the service.  Furthermore, bad customer supports on Xbox Music do not help to alleviate but only enhance the Xbox Music problems.

In conclusion, I think Xbox Music needs to be better, and I think Microsoft has the resource to dedicate such a task.  Windows 8 ecosystem is great, but I think people will appreciate more if Xbox Music is a part of Windows 8 ecosystem greatness.  Thanks to Spotify, I like to stick to HTC 8X smartphone a lot longer.  There is one downside with Spotify at the moment is that it doesn’t work well with Windows 8 PC.  Why?  I experience that Spotify refuse to quit or to have its process to be terminated once you launch it on Windows 8 PC.  Furthermore, Spotify tends to crash too frequently on Windows 8 PC.  Perhaps, some people have better luck with Spotify on Windows 8 PC, but I don’t.  Some people’s answer to Spotify problematic issues on Windows 8 PC by launching Spotify on a Windows 7 virtual machine (i.e., installing Windows 7 on a virtual machine that runs on Windows 8 PC).

What About Lumia 920? (My Breakaway from iOS Ecosystem)

Usually, people would rather trade in their whatever brand of smartphone for an iPhone 5, but I did the opposite.  I ran away from iPhone 5 by gave it away to a family member, bought Lumia 920 instead.  What’s the big deal you ask?  Probably not to you, but it’s to me.  I like to think that I had successfully completed a challenge, and the challenge was for me to break away from iOS ecosystem.  Basically, once you’re tied into any digital ecosystem, whether that be iOS ecosystem, it would be super hard to break away from it.  Unless many digital ecosystems begin to have the same amount of apps and features, breaking away from one digital ecosystem for another is like to throw away all the money you had spent in one ecosystem for all that time.  For me, it wasn’t a big deal and I did not break any sweat.  How come?  Well, watch the video right after the break and you will know.  Within the video right after the break, I also make a brief comparison between iPhone 5 and Lumia 920.  So, enjoy!!!

DSLR Versus Smart Phone Cameras

With the influx of ready to go cameras that are being bundled with almost every smart phone out there, one has to wonder why do we even need a DSLR camera.  To tell the truth, even a compact DSLR camera feels heavy when holding, as we compare it to a smart phone.  Nonetheless, we have to be honest to ourselves when we want to get serious about taking photos, because any DSLR camera probably offers a lot more features and higher image qualities than any camera which melted with a smart phone.

For an example, with a DSLR camera that sports different types of lens, one can totally apply such lens to one’s “heart’s content” when it comes to being artful with taking photos.  Each type of lens is unique in a sense that it’s designed for specific photography task.  One can say, the len which allows users to zoom way in or way out is unique.  Furthermore, special lens might allow camera users to apply special effects even before the special effect features within the camera kick in, and a good example of this would be a len which allows the camera user to apply fisheye photographic effect.  With lens that allow a camera user to zoom way in, one can see the benefit of such lens as a camera user can totally manipulate the settings within the camera to take great closeup photos.  How about applying bokeh effect right at the moment of taking a photo?  Yes, with a right len and settings within a DSLR camera, bokeh effect can be applied right at the moment of taking pictures, saving one’s time from not having to apply bokeh effect through the usage of a photo editing software.  Beyond lens, many DSLR cameras have the benefit of allowing camera users to use sport mode when taking pictures, and this allows camera users to shoot consecutive pictures in the heat of the moment — capturing things that are in motion.  Sure, many point and shoot cameras do have this feature too, but I don’t think there is any camera that came with a smart phone can do the same thing.

Just as there are many great advantages of having to use a DSLR camera, there are as many disadvantages of having to use a DSLR camera too.  Carrying a DSLR camera around feels like you’re wearing a chain when it hangs around your neck.  When taking many pictures in a session, the holding arm can get really tired.  The holding arm can get really shaky if one does not know how to steady the DSLR camera in a correct holding posture.  One cannot hide a DSLR camera in a pocket, therefore one might also have to drag around a backpack or a huge camera bag.  Within a camera bag, there might be some oversized lens to accompany the DSLR camera, and this adds more weight to the already cumbersome DSLR camera.  Most DSLR cameras tend to be more expensive than point and shoot cameras and smart phones.  Indeed, the list for the negative things that associate with using a DSLR camera can be quite long, but one has to wonder why somebody is crazy enough to choose a DSLR camera over those super light, easy to pocket, cameras that melted with smart phones?

I think it’s all about how serious one wants to be when taking photos.  I experience this first hand!  Taking photos with a DSLR camera, it feels a lot more serious.  With a DSLR camera on hand, for some strange reasons my brain tells me that I better get really serious about composing my shots.  Perhaps, this seriousness derives from the variety of choices and features that a DSLR camera can offer.  Obviously, with so much features and choices, it’s a lot harder to use a DSLR camera than the one that melted with my iPhone 5.  Nonetheless, it feels great when I compose a shot that isn’t overexposed or underexposed.  It feels like you’re actually taking real photos when the shots you compose right there on the camera, in the heat of the moment, turn out to be just right.  How do you know when you have the right shots?  Most if not all DSLR cameras do come with some sort of screen to let you quickly preview of what you had captured.

With all that seriousness when using a DSLR camera, one has to wonder is it all worth it?  I guess it all depends on how one views the benefits of having a specific type of camera.  In my personal opinion, I rather use a favorable DSLR camera over the cameras that melted with those smart phones.  How come?  I think in most situations, if a person knows how to use a DSLR camera correctly, image quality might be a lot better than otherwise.  With my iPhone 5 camera, I cannot really compose the shots that I want.  For an example, I cannot zoom in too close, because the iPhone 5 camera introduces tons of noise into the image when I zoom in.  Sure, my DSLR camera can also introduce noise, but it’s considerably less than my iPhone 5 camera in most situations.  With my DSLR camera, I can zoom in a lot closer than my iPhone 5 camera, and yet I barely notice noise in the background.  I think lens make a big difference in the world of photography.  Without the right lens, the shots you want to compose would be impossible.  For an example, even with only a general 50mm len, I can definitely zoom in much closer than my iPhone 5 camera.

Besides the seriousness and the craziness of having to use a DSLR camera, it’s a lot of fun when composing shots with a DSLR camera.  Albeit, it’s also very frustrating when one does not right away know what settings a DSLR camera needs to be set at in certain unique photo sessions (i.e., in a unique environment when the lighting can be tricky), I think the fun outweighs the frustration in the end.  With that being said, one can just let go the frustrations when using a DSLR camera by switching a DSLR camera into auto mode or guide mode, because taking photos in one of these modes is like using a point and shoot camera.  Still, for some strange reasons, I rather torture myself in term of playing with the DSLR camera settings and hoping of getting the shots to be just right.

Let have some fun shall we?  Right below, you see that how easy it’s for me to compose a bokeh effect when shooting a picture with DSLR, but it’s not so easy for me to do so with iPhone 5 camera.

iPhone 5 Camera Water Bottle Image Without Any Retouch Effect

iPhone 5 Camera Water Bottle Image Without Any Retouch Effect

D3200 Water Bottle Image shot in raw format then export as JPEG with Pixelmator without any retouch effect

D3200 Water Bottle Image shot in raw format then export as JPEG with Pixelmator without any retouch effect

As you can see the images below, I can totally overexpose a picture even though I’m in the dark when using a DSLR camera, but it’s not the same when I use a smart phone camera.  Obviously, I could totally change the settings of the D3200 to make the shot of the iron to look like how it would have been taken by iPhone 5 camera.  This is why it’s really fun to use a DSLR camera.  You have more choices.  What about the noise?  I guess it is depending on what ISO setting I would like to have when using a DSLR camera.  If I use a very high ISO, my DSLR camera will introduce a lot of noise into the picture.  High ISO does help the camera to capture objects in really dark environment, but one doesn’t too careful might turn their otherwise so so noisy pictures into overexposed pictures.  Like the iron picture I took with my D3200 below.

iPhone 5 Iron In The Dark Room Image Without Any Retouch Effect

iPhone 5 Iron In The Dark Room Image Without Any Retouch Effect

D3200 Iron In The Dark Room Image Exports To JPEG With Pixelmator Without Any Retouch Effect

D3200 Iron In The Dark Room Image Exports To JPEG With Pixelmator Without Any Retouch Effect

How about taking pictures in the daylight? Image quality can totally be enhanced when using a DSLR camera, because one can change the settings of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.  Perhaps, I was testing only and didn’t configure the settings of the DSLR camera to my liking, therefore the image that I took with D3200 DSLR camera below might not actually exult the high image quality of a DSLR camera.  Anyhow, with most cameras that came with smart phones, one can’t change much, because the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings are set in stone for these cameras.

iPhone 5 Firey Tree In Day Light Image Without Any Retouch Effect

iPhone 5 Firey Tree In Day Light Image Without Any Retouch Effect

D3200 Firey Tree In Day Light Image Exports To JPEG With Pixelmator Without Any Retouch Effect

D3200 Firey Tree In Day Light Image Exports To JPEG With Pixelmator Without Any Retouch Effect

Some smart phones do actually allow the users to expand storage space with memory cards, and this is good!  Nonetheless, my iPhone 5 doesn’t allow me to do such a thing.  This is why I’m glad I have a DSLR camera, because I can capture pictures to my heart’s content and not having to worry about the storage space.  With a DSLR camera, I can expand my storage space in a photo shoot session by switching out the full memory card with another one.  One can totally purchase a memory card that comes with humongous storage space.  One example would be buying a 64 GB memory card for a DSLR camera.  Obviously, DSLR memory cards can be very expensive.  By the way, if you own a DSLR camera which allows you to take HD videos, you must buy a more responsive class 10 memory card, or else you will not be able to take HD videos since the write speed would lag a ton.

In conclusion, I think DSLR cameras still have a lot of advantages over the cameras that melted with smart phones.  Performance wise, DSLR cameras are versatile. Feature wise, DSLR cameras come with more options.  Cool factor wise, DSLR camera makes you look serious when you’re taking photos.  Capacity wise, DSLR camera sometimes or more often than not beat out the cameras that melted with smart phones.  With all of that being said, I can see why the cameras that come with smartphones will be the biggest threat to DSLR cameras as time progresses.  Cameras that come with smart phones are getting better at we speak.  The obvious benefit that these smart phone cameras have over DSLR ones is conveniency.  It’s convenient to have a phone which acts as a nice camera.  It’s convenient to have a camera which is also a smart phone, and it’s light (you can hold and caress it all day long).  As time progresses, cameras that come with smart phones might get so much better that all the DSLR advantages might not be so obvious anymore.  If such a time will come, people will definitely ditch their DSLR cameras in a heartbeat.  For now, whenever I take photos, I’m going to choose a DSLR camera over any camera that melted with a smart phone.

Lightroom 4 Photo Fun – Graffiti, Street Photos (November 3, 2012)

Saw some really nice graffiti on two walls that have always been lining alongside a small road, and so I decided to park my car nearby so I could get out and take them pictures.  I did it with iPhone 5 camera, because it was the only tool I had at the time.  I wish I did bring a better camera than the iPhone 5 one, because the images would turn up nicer and fill with even more details.  Anyhow, as always I used Lightroom 4 to see what sort of artistic touch which I might add to the photos, and the results are in the EndlessBit gallery.  You can click on the sneak peek image right after the break to visit the rest of the graffiti off the walls photos.  Enjoy!!!

Lightroom 4 Photo Fun – Sake Anyone?

Sake anyone?  I had lunch with a friend at a Japanese buffet, and the sake was good.  As an aspiring photographer, and so naturally I captured couple shots of the hot sake bottle and two empty cups with iPhone 5 camera.  Obviously, I wished I had brought a better camera along, but I stuck with iPhone 5 camera.  Anyhow, I used Lightroom 4 to make one of the photos even more glamorous and beautiful.  You can check out the photo gallery of a sake bottle and two empty cups out by clicking on the sneak peek photo right after the break.  Enjoy!!!

Lightroom 4 Photo Fun – Apple Store

Went to Apple Store and got a replacement for iPhone 5.  The one that Apple sent to me the first time around was Wi-Fi glitchy (i.e., disconnected and super slow) and camera glitchy (i.e., purple halo/flare glitch).  The replacement fixed the Wi-Fi connectivity issue, but the camera glitch had not yet resolved.  Anyhow, while I was at the Apple Store for the iPhone 5 replacement, I took two snapshots of Apple Store with the replaced iPhone 5.  Afterward, I used Lightroom 4 to stylishly glitch up the snapshots.  Check out the results right after the break.