Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Galaxy Note Too

After my iPhone 4 got lost  stolen, I had my cheapie clamshell as a stopgap fix to tide me over until I was going to get the new iPhone. The battery life was pretty amazing. I forgot how long it was between  charges. Something like five days. That's insane. BUT, unfortunately for me I had to choose a phone that didn't have any form of predictive text, punching a key up to three times for one letter was killing me!

Since we've all had some time to absorb the arrival of the new iPhone I don't mind it that much. I'm sure the maps will improve, and I think it's still a stylish handset. Apple says they want to keep it ergonomic for one hand use. I think they just want to sell some more iPads..

Anyway. I went to Akiba more often than normal lately. I was close to getting the original Galaxy Note. Secondhand, they are pretty reasonable and I'd be happy to have one. The Note II was going to be released soon, so I thought I should hold off at least till it came out.

Last Wednesday I found out there were some grey imports in Akiba so I made my way back. Most of them are around 70,000 yen. Quite pricey but still cheaper than an Sim Free iPhone 5.

One of the smaller shops had just got one in and he was nice enough to let me try it. My first impression was that it looked smaller than the first one, even though it was taller (About 3mm thinner). It had the same feel, but this felt more like a phone than a tablet. It was the only one I saw that day and it was raining heavily. The phone was white, but after seeing the original Note in black I thought I should wait a bit longer.

I found a white ROM online store that was bringing a shipment in, so I sent them an email and they were getting a Titanium Grey one to me. Yesterday I went to pick it up, and when he took it out of the box I was speechless. It's the feeling I'd hope for with the iPhone, even BEFORE he switched it on.

So I've been Jimmy-fying to my liking. Although I initially thought it was quite iPhone-like, it still takes some getting used to. I was VERY surprised to find it didn't come with any built-in Japanese. For that I installed Google Japanese Input which works fine for my needs.

Another BIG stumbling block is configuring the phone for S!Mail (MMS email). I set up an APN (Settings > More Settings > Mobile Networks > Access Point Names). I initially thought it was blocked but I found out if you hit the menu button (left of the home button),  you can add a New APN easily. I added a new APN using the information from here.

The stock messaging app wasn't working nicely with it, so I thought I'd try the Softbank mail app in the Play store. SMS went through fine, but emails were not going through. I experimented with Handcent, which also didn't work.

Finally I found GO SMS Pro. The interface is nicer than Handcent, has a very iPhone-like emoji plug-in. It can be used for both SMS and email. What made S!Mail work is the ability to change the USER AGENT. I used this - Vodafone/1.0/V802SE/SEJ002 Browser/VF-NetFront/3.3 Profile/MIDP2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1

I can find a lot of the same kind of applications as iPhone but I might miss the more music related apps which for guitar I think is a bit lacking at the moment.

For Mac file transfers you should download the Android File Transfer application. It works great. Much better than the iTunes-like Kies application. I downloaded to get a software update.

I was looking forward to an exciting multitasking split screen update which allows two apps on screen at once. 

The Hong Kong phone's update only updated Arabic as an input language (Japanese, please!?). I was quite disappointed so I manually updated it to a UK stock ROM with Odin. (I tried using a Mac equivalent Heimdall, but it was much more difficult. Odin works in VM Fusion).

The split screen is really great. You can virtually fit two iPhone 4S screen in each app space. Amazing. If I was Apple I'd be scared and sue too.  With things like this Apple really needs to step up their game.

Is the phone is too big? I don't think so. I managed to fit it in a microfibre sunglasses bag (Just, but it's possible). Domoco is likely to bring it officially in Japan as the SC-02E sometime, but in the meantime cases are impossible to find in Tokyo. I bought a cheap one from Hong Kong off eBay, so in the meantime I'll be babying it. I bought an iPad screen protector and cut it into shape with some boxcutters. I hate putting them on. It took a long time.

This new phone took up a large part of my day. Everything had to be checked carefully to make it all work. Unfortunately I couldn't get to the park today, but I think it was worth it.

Yes, I did say "My Precious" :)

Friday, 5 October 2012

Ess A Bagel in Tokyo

One of my favourite places to eat in New York was Ess-A-Bagel. I'm not a bagel fan but they were so delectable we went there almost every day for breakfast.

When I heard Ess-A-Bagel were going to come to Tokyo. I thought I'd have no reason to go to New York anymore. I wish it were true, but sadly not.

I don't know if it was just being in the land of "super size me",  but I could swear those bagels were bigger, and dare I say it tastier. Not only that, but what makes the New York ones so great was the mountains of cream cheese that they slapped in those suckers. Here it was sadly amiss.

It is only a small corner, that shares the New York "block" with other New York franchises. You can find it at Daimaru in the underground shopping mall (not far from character street) on the Yaesu side of Tokyo station.