Genshin Impact and all the things it does wrong and why miHoYo needs to address its future with the next patch

Whether you love or hate Genshin Impact. It’s truly one of those games that came out of nowhere. I didn’t know anything about miHoYo, and I’m not exactly a mobile gamer. True, miHoYo may have some established history already with Honkai Impact 3rd, which is another gacha game that the company works on.

Genshin Impact is itself a game that has an insane identity crisis right now. It doens’t know what to be. A full fledged gacha game? A single player with added gacha? An online game akin to MMORPGs (Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Phantasy Star Online 2)?

Whatever it is or whatever it was set out to be it is in danger if miHoYo doesn’t start defining what the game should be in the future. It is more that obvious that millions and millions of people are playing Genshin Impact already. I feel like miHoYo didn’t expect this sudden embrace. Or perhaps it did and wasn’t ready to tackle the “What’s next for Genshin Impact?”.

This is honestly a very short post. In a sense I have been wanting to post about Genshin Impact for a long time and have been doing so on my Twitter. My twitter right now is a huge Genshin Impact fanpage.

Truth be told, I’m super curious what is really next for Genshin Impact. I love playing this game and ultimately the content isn’t enough, so let’s start there.

Table of Content

  1. Current combat system
  2. Story progression
  3. Resin
  4. Character level and weapon materials
  5. Dynamic quests sucks
  6. There needs to be more exploration content
  7. Gacha needs to be redefined as it is predatory as it is
  8. Conclusion

Current combat system

If there’s anything I like about this game is the whole mix of party members just going out there and doing their party. Every party member in combat, except Amber, has something to contribute to the battle. You work through the enemies with elemental reactions, and that’s all fine.

The problem? Enemies don’t have counters. I feel like they should be smarter to counter things like being frozen. Right now the combat is okay as it is but I feel further down the line once you master your team the combat becomes dull.

Story progression

For a game that has been marketed as a gacha game. Genshin Impact not only provides a whole HUGE world to explore but has actual storylines and lore for the player to explore as well. The thing about the story is that it is so tied to the Adventurer Rank that there isn’t really enough content to play. The content of the game is exploring, that’s the main content, and that’s the biggest problem right now.

Once you complete most of the story parts there isn’t much to do besides exploration. And even if there was, the players have probably picked up all the chests and did most of the abyss.

In terms of content, as people are really treating this more of a single player experience I can see why they are annoyed that there isn’t enough to go through.

Resin

Recently miHoYo has addressed that they’ll add 20 more resin into the current system. Meaning you’ll get 140. The subreddit (official) community of Genshin Impact had a bad reaction to this because let’s be honest. That’s not a solution that’s just pure laziness.

miHoYo leadership seems to have missed the bus on this one and walked right into an angry mob. You don’t resolve a critical component like resin we just a small addition.

What I was expecting is for miHoYo to have reworked resin either rework it or remove it and introduce other things that could be done to get said materials.

In terms of even lifting the finger to do something miHoYo gets an F. This was of bad taste when the developer replied to the survey.

Character level and weapon materials

The thing about characters and weapon materials is that they are all tied to resin. At the end of the day you have to make a decision on how to spend your resin: Will you use it for weapon ascension materials or character ascension materials or weapon materials?

This is honestly the biggest issue with the game. The resin system sucks completely and I think they could have worked through it better.

Dynamic quests sucks

To define what is a dynamic quest is basically a quest that randomly appears from either an NPC or world interaction. There are dynamic quests in Genshin Impact but they are too simple or mediocre.

The lack of content and quests to do in this game has caused a content drought and I feel like if miHoYo doesn’t get smarter they will lose a good chunk of people.

There needs to be more exploration content

Let me define exploration content as exploration quests, something similar like Monster Hunter exploration, have an NPC hand out quests with specific exploration content of things to do and your rewards.

Basically, miHoYo missed the opportunity of fully utilizing the world they created to having a lot of quests out there to do.

Gacha needs to be redefined as it is predatory as it is

There are dozens of ways to do monetization in a product. Gacha feels like the worst thing to do as it is predatory for people prone to gambling. I feel like if they approached it the way Warframe did it would have been completely acceptable. But right now the gacha rates in this game are so bad it’s really not worth spending money.

Sadly, miHoYo has already cashed in and the community doesn’t foresee them leaving gacha. It would create an unprecedented amount of good will if they did but let’s not fool ourselves.

Conclusion

Honestly, I don’t think anyone ever expected a free to play game like Genshin Impact to just merely exist. I feel that miHoYo has done an insane job with Genshin Impact and it really shows. The world exploration is amazing, the discoveries while exploring really leaves an amazing feeling. Everything that Genshin Impact does visually is charming and amazing.

The content right now is just downright disappointing because there’s no “endgame” there’s nothing to do anymore. The subreddit community has said as much and it’s just a matter of doing your dailies and exhaust your resin and I think there’s more to the game than just that. And I hope people looking at things with a black and white logic that “it is a gacha game” realize that this game can be much more than that. miHoYo needs to realize that this game is more than a gacha game right now.

For that matter, criticizing the game is the right way for studios to take notice that there are things they can improve, if they feel like it.

If miHoYo fails to define a proper future for Genshin Impact then all that work will just slowly disappear and people will just move on to other games. And I think that if your game already broke even with the initial investments, then the rest is either good will or pure greed. And I feel like there can be good will and still make money out of your product.

On that note. I like Genshin Impact. I have been playing nonstop since its release. I have become a huge fan, but at the same time if I don’t see miHoYo improving then… what’s the point?

Was Microsoft Edge really ready for prime time?

Over the past few days I’ve made a full switch to Microsoft Edge being rebuilt on top of Chromium, a Google-based solution that you, the consumer, may know as Google Chrome.

Chromium is an open source web browser. As the words “open source” states any individual or entity can fork the code and do whatever they want with the source code. Microsoft decided to ditch away all the efforts they have done for Microsoft Edge and adopt Chromium. Up to this date I feel like they shouldn’t have done this but I completely understand on the why would they head that route. It’s actually quite genius when you think about it.

The first days using the new Microsoft Edge has been…. weird and I have complained about it in the past but this time it has become an on-going nightmare to really keep using it. All the issues starts when I unplug the AC adapter from my laptop… sadly I’ve seen the problem reproduce itself even with the AC adapter plugged and battery setting on Best Performance.

The issues I’ve had so far have been the following:

  • When watching a stream, it might lock-on into a frame. It causes the stream to look like it has frozen, but they audio continues.
  • When you are switching tabs and a video or stream is playing it might go completely black to the point you have to reload the tab.
  • When a video is being played, similarly to the previous problem above, instead of going black it creates colorful noise, not just to the video but the whole screen. If you try to minimize or maximize chrome it might affect your whole screen.
  • If in battery mode, the “smooth scrolling” is completely gone. It’s not like Safari, where you have that sleek user experience whether you are using battery or not… the experience with Microsoft Edge while the battery is in use degrades greatly to the point that it is noticeable to the user. You can see the scrolling around the pages “feels rough”, it loses that smooth slide.
  • And now, that one thing that led me to switch back to Firefox: I am a bilingual person. I know Spanish and English. I use the spellchecker of the browser for both languages… but for Microsoft Edge it literally chokes when clicking on a word it has identified as wrongly written. The behavior? I click on the word, to select the correct spelling… and the browser completely freezes for some time then displays the right context menu. As to why? I have no idea.

These issues, some of them are minor and others are glaring issues… lastly this is a fresh install. A fresh Windows 10 install. I willingly upgraded Microsoft Edge to the new chromium one… and honestly on paper it looks great, and it looks fantastic but was Microsoft Edge ready for prime time? I guess… I would say yes, but no? Maybe not enough time for testing on different laptops/computers?

I would love to come back to it when it’s more stable. I’m not writing Microsoft Edge off. I’m looking for it to mature because I know I WILL become a Microsoft Edge user eventually. Perhaps the right way to being more pro-active is to see how can I help the team test this and report back? Who knows.

Dell XPS 15 9500 experience so far

Ever since my MacBook Pro gave in and I couldn’t find a proper repair shop for it I had to sell it and look for options that gave me the freedom to open up my hardware and do the repairs myself.

I guess the first thing that I wanted out of a laptop was reliability and good hardware that could push through the things I would do professionally. Most importantly, a laptop that I could open and do the changes or fixes that I wanted without being dependent of the manufacturer.

Honestly, the biggest issue for me on all of this was Apple not haven’t proper repair services where I live. And furthermore, Apple not providing you any options for repair. Their store has no problem shipping you new products to where you live, but when it comes to repair, be ready to struggle a lot.

If you live in the United States this might not even be an issue for you. But those outside the states may run into bigger issues.

Spending two weeks with this laptop has been eye-opening. Like any device it has its pros and cons, but it has so far exceeded my expectations in many areas. The build quality is remarkable for the price. The hardware provided, for the price, feels too much and I’m a bit disappointed in the camera and keyboard quality. But overall, I feel like they nailed all the things they were set out to do with this laptop yet.

It’s a bit awkward that in 2020 there hasn’t been many laptops that have had the formula down of what constitutes a reliable laptop. Manufacturers like Acer leaves much to be desired most of the time. In fact, anybody I have discussed about laptops I just tell them to avoid Acer as a brand altogether. They are poor laptops with bad chassis, cheaps out on almost everything for the price they are asking.

Dell is a bit on the same note with the XPS. The market it as a high-end line, and to be quite honest the hardware in XPS is really good, but they do cheap out on things like the camera or providing a more satisfying keyboard experience. But in terms of having a reliable hardware? I’d say they have nailed it good.

But honestly, what is the perfect laptop? For me, it’s all about balance, but most important a laptop must always be reliable, and with a considerable amount of battery life. If you see that a brand cheaps out on battery, then it’s a brand you might want to skip. A laptop is meant to be portable, always with you. No matter if you are in or out of the house. If a laptop cannot last more than 8-10 hours turned on by just browsing the internet, or having an IDE open, or doing casual usage of it, then it’s not a laptop that’s worth taking a look.

And I feel like it sounds incredibly harsh criteria… maybe. Like, if you are affording this much for a laptop then you must ask yourself if the laptop fits the bill and your belief of what a laptop should be. If a laptop cannot last longer than I expect then the money they are asking is probably not worth it.

If you need to rationalize it into “but, I don’t travel a lot or I don’t use my laptop in a portable scenario” then I guess the first thing I have to say is why bother buying a laptop when you are going to remain stationary in one spot? You might as well just go for a desktop.

Now, this is at the absolute best just a “review”. It’s an opinion, like all reviews out there are opinions once they leave out the realm of hardware specifications where they lay out what makes a laptop technically great.

But the thing is that even if you had the best specifications you can still fail at delivering a good laptop. A device is more than just the components, and by components, I mean more than CPU, RAM, or GPU. Is the fingerprint sensor secure and reliable? Is the display screen crisp, color accurate, and doesn’t flicker or leaves artifacts around?

Is the keyboard good? Is the touchpad great? Are the ports used for USB-C/USB-A/Audio/etc of quality and reliable? There’s a lot more going for a device than just the main components.

And I guess that’s why there’s no perfect laptop out there. You could argue that MacBook could be perfect. And if someone said that to me I would say I disagree with your point of view and say that MacBooks are awful in general because they are overpriced. Apple’s anti-consumerism has forced me to change my mind, and ultimately if you have to depend on the manufacturer for repairs even after out of warranty then you might have to reconsider your point of view. Apple at the end of the day is anti-consumer, an

At the beginning

As someone that spent almost two-three weeks without a laptop I can easily tell you this was one of my most anticipated deliveries of the year. My work literally revolves around working with computers as a programmer. Not having one was very refreshing yet a bit… unsettling at the same time.

The package was very heavy. I would say it was around 8-9 pounds. A black box with the Dell logo imprinted at the front of the box. I felt like a kid in Christmas about to open his gift.

I opened the box and was presented by a very sturdy box that protected the laptop inside. It was packaged similarly to Apple’s MacBook Pro. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did that to just emulate that “premium feeling”. Whatever it is that they get when they open up a laptop. In the box the first thing you could see was, shockingly, the laptop itself wrapped in plastic. I lifted it and saw a black envelope, quite sturdy itself too with some instructions on how to use your new Dell XPS 9500 laptop. Basically, a handbook.

I took out the rest of the cables and proceeded to turn on my Dell XPS 9500. At first, I got scared a bit. I don’t know if it was because it needed to detect power, or I didn’t press the button with a lot of pressure, but it didn’t turn on. I just stared at the black screen like an idiot. I plugged the AC Adapter just in case, and proceeded once again to press on the power button, which is also the fingerprint sensor.

I was greeted by the Dell logo and my heart was relieved to see it turn on.

I proceeded to do all the mundane tasks you do when setting up Windows 10 for the first time. It was a much as you have guessed, a very soulless, heart-crushing, super boring task.

Performance

I wasn’t disappointed about the performance of the Dell XPS 9500. In fact, I would say the CPU could be as 40-50% stronger compared to the old MacBook Pro I had from 2017. It ran games better, it didn’t choke on anything I threw at it.

Honestly in terms of having metrics in this I would just say look at the performance of the CPU for benchmarks. CPU, while important for me, wasn’t the biggest thing I was worried about.

One thing I did notice however was the McAfee was actually impacting the performance of this laptop. I had to uninstall it for the following reasons: Imagine downloading a WordPress plug-in but when you extracted it with Windows 10’s default built-in functionality it would take longer than usual. It turns out that McAfee was the culprit for this. For every little file being decompressed McAfee would be incredibly intrusive about it. Why not let the compressed archive decompress then check the files as they are decompressed? I do not know.

All I know is that the “performance issues” went away when I uninstalled McAfee. And to be honest I’m a BitDefender user and thankfully has never gotten in the way of performance the way McAfee did.

As for performance, the Dell XPS 9500 CPU and NVMe storage are as good as you would expect from modern hardware. It’s speedy, it’s powerful, it’s incredible in its power saving.

Display, Keyboard, and Touchpad

Dell XPS 9500 definitely feels premium in a lot of areas. I went for the FHD model and was a bit troubled that I might end up with a bad display after being used to the Retina Display for so long. It turns out that my worries were for nothing. The Display is sharp and crisp. One of the biggest issue that Microsoft could fix but hasn’t is improving the overall of the text rendering in Windows 10.

It puzzles me to no end, even with ClearType factored in, that the text rendering in Windows is so bad compared to Apple’s macOS or any GNU/Linux distribution. How is it that they get better text support? What has Microsoft done for this? In 1080p the text rendering remains looking extremely pixelated at times.

Applications may at times take the liberty, given if they use hardware-accelerated GPU features provided by the hardware and on the OS-level, to improve the text rendering.

Microsoft really needs to investigate text rendering as a whole. I know they have done big improvements over the year but it feels like it’s not enough.

On the note of the touchpad and keyboard. I am personally not the biggest fan of the keyboard, but it is miles better than whatever the heck Apple was trying to do with its keyboard.

The touchpad is big, but smaller than MacBook’s increased touchpad I believe. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, hopefully.

Battery

Dell XPS 9500 biggest strength is in the battery. I’m not going to lie, it’s right now one of my favorite things about this laptop. If you are a developer you won’t be disappointed to know that the battery capacity is huge. Personally I went for a FHD model because I knew the UHD 4k display would probably drain the battery faster. However, as I write this, this laptop has been unplugged for more than 14 hours. I have been using Visual Studio Code to work on my project and browse the web.

The image should tell you that even though I set it on Battery Saver an hour ago. It still tells me that I have 5 hours left of usage for this. I have plenty time to keep writing this post right here.

Let’s take for a second a look at our battery report:

And finally the report:

As you can see, I’ve been using this laptop casually and it can easily tell you the interactions I’ve had with the laptop over in the timeline.

Dell XPS 9500 fits the bill for me in many ways. As a tool for professional usage, and for casual usage.

In conclusion

For the price that Dell is asking for this laptop I still feel the need to say that they are asking for a long given the hardware given to us. Dell needs to improve the camera, and Dell needs to include a better display on the lower models. They could have provided everyone UHD displays and I still feel they would have profited.

If InfinityEdge is meant to be spearheading Dell XPS as a product in the future then I think Dell needs commit to the idea that maybe they should uniformly give everyone a premium display for the price they are asking. If you are lowering a bit the CPU/RAM/Storage I can concede you that it’s in my book okay. But don’t cut corners on the XPS just to offer “lower models”.

The Dell XPS 9500 (2020) is an amazing machine. One that I would recommend if you have the money to spend. It’s still better than going for a Surface. You can open this laptop up, make your repairs, and be done with it.

I love you, Sony WH1000XM3. But you are too fragile. ?

I finally got my hands on the Sony WH1000XM3. They’ve been dropping the prices on eBay so I thought: Hey, you know what? It’s time to bite.

I have so many mixed feelings and all of them revolve around the build quality.

A friendly reminder that I’m still a bad photographer

On a fair note, I’ve been extremely spoiled by Bowers & Wilkins. Hands down I feel like Bowers & Wilkins understands that perhaps something that is priced around $350-400 shouldn’t be completely plastic.

Sony, Bose, and many other manufacturers continues to deliver poor build quality just to maximize profits and not compromise on giving people a better product.

Granted, the cans are actually amazing and I feel like while the sound stage isn’t as big as B&W PX it sure makes the B&W PX sweat when it comes to the bass.

This is my third pair of cans while having previously owned Sennheiser MOMENTUM, Bowers & Wilkins PX, and now the Sony WH1000XM3.

I’ll be talking about this on a consumer standpoint, not as an audiophile because I don’t classify as one nor do I have the knowledge many audiophiles have. However, as someone who owns the product I can talk about the differences I’ve found and so on.


I don’t think Apple’s thinness obsession is far off…

Over the time I have spent with my Macbook Pro I’ve learned to accept a lot of its cons such as a extremely shallow keyboard. Of course, my acceptance has a limit thus I will never accept the infamous touchbar.

I’ve been in disgust with my Dell gaming laptop, a Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY. It’s not a bad laptop. It has given me the joy of playing games with it with a really good IPS display that’s sometimes too bright and a not so bad GTX 960M that can tackle a lot of many things and better than this MacBook when it comes to gaming.

There’s a problem… I hate its bulky design. It’s unnecessarily huge, its weight is unacceptable. The Macbook Pro and Macbook Air has the right amount of weight without inconveniencing the user. This is something that I give the kudos to Apple. I’m the type of person that moves from spot to spot in a house and carrying my Macbook Pro around hasn’t been a hassle at all.

I also think there’s a huge problem with my line of thought. I want a dedicated gaming laptop and a general purpose laptop whose battery can last at least 10 hours. When the market baseline price is starting at MSRP of $2,300… then I don’t think at all that asking for a more sophisticated system is far off.

I think the Surface Book 2 in terms of design has achieved a middle ground… and this is the same idea that if put in perspective we could compare it to the Switch. Except, it’s not a gaming console. The Surface Book 2 is a giant yet elegantly designed tablet with a premium keyboard and GPU slapped in. Now, lets think for a second here.

The normal design of a laptop is that you would have all the components of a computer in the keyboard layer below. The CPU and GPU would be at best 11″ inches away from each other and at worst case scenario they would be near each other… punishing themselves with the heat generated by both.

Whether that’s a design to save money or not when it comes to the manufacturing process… it doesn’t change the fact that laptops cooling systems are behind… leagues behind.

There is one company that managed to click with me in term of design and my demands. A company that I was almost willing to throw my money the second they released the product. Razer’s Razer Blade.

The Razer Blade literally had all the things I wanted in a gaming laptop. An elegant yet incredibly powerful design. A thin form factor, and just the right amount of goodness in it. There’s a huge problem though and that is that Razer quality control is god awful. From all the reviews and experiences I read Razer products seems to last at best a year. because they all happen to die fast. If Razer doesn’t fix this… and apparently it has been an ongoing thing over the years… then I guess simply said they won’t get my money at all.

But maybe, just maybe I’m asking too much.

Perhaps I’ve fancied myself too much over the years. I don’t think going through a lot of life situations I would ever buy an Apple product… at all but here we are.

Sinking into paranoia with hosting services

Now, this post is more rambling and observations. There’s a new trend I’ve been noticing. I use LowEndBox from time to time because well, the offers are the site suggests are low end and I don’t need a 32-cores server as much as I’d love to have that power at my disposal. 

This trend is about the new hosting service providers that have been spawning out from LowEndBox. How they buy, rebrand, and offer the same servers when things go down. It’s business, right? A crappy service provider will give you subpar services. With LowEndBox, it’s usually a person, or two, or three running the hosting business. 

Then it hit me… who doesn’t like getting 16 cores (mind you, not dedicated cores, but vcores running at a really low gigahertz) tremendously cheap? It’s perfect… perhaps too good. You sell cheap services… people buy in, they get fed up after six months and leave. Now, what happens to the data? How do you know they haven’t been taking snapshots of your virtual machine? Even if you were to delete your data how are you trusting your data with in the first place?

At the very core a client leaves, and a normal hosting service will just wipe out the data. But, most of those who promotes themselves over LowEndBox are not your standard businesses. They probably create the business overnight, and say they have been in the business since 2011 but in truth they just acquired the domain in 2018 and Archive.org shows proof that between 2011 to 2017 there wasn’t anything in there. 

So, what I’m suggesting. Or just, simply rambling about because like I said. This is rambling. I am not accusing anyone or any entity. Most of these new hosting providers, behind them, are Chinese, or Koreans. Simply put, they are unreachable to face any real consequence if things go south. 

Now, imagine all the data waiting to be harvested. It’s just sitting there, waiting to be harvested. It’s the real deal here, because if you go with the wrong hosting services I can think of a thing or two that could go down. 

  • Client area logging password when you log-in, you don’t know what’s under the hood of a login area, usually nobody but the creators do. Password re-use becoming a real threat to users who participate in this activity. 
  • Risking all your users data and be held liable for choosing a hosting service that incurs in this practice of harvesting your data. 
  • All users could become targets in brute forcing, credential stuffing, have their mailing address and phone exposed. 
  • Some service providers ask for driver licenses. I would say under no circumstance you should consider ever handing your social security number if asked. 

In conclusion, it’s really scary when you sit and think about choosing a hosting service provider. You don’t know what’s behind each company. I don’t think many people ever sit down and think about this stuff, at least not big businesses or medium companies. But small business owners or entrepreneurs who don’t want to spend much and need that exposure for their service fast. 

As for me, I live on the edge on this one. You can see me promoting some cheap services like ArubaCloud. I don’t have anything of importance nor do I have client data so to be honest all I have is this blog. But, were I to load data from a client, it wouldn’t be service offers from LowEndBox or ArubaCloud. It would be with a reputable hosting service provider. The problem is, how do we identify a hosting provider with integrity? You simply cannot. You are paying someone to rent those servers because you don’t want to deal with all the administration behind it. These days you can simply save a snapshot of a virtual machine, redeploy, and call it a day. 

I don’t think anyone in the industry would ever be ready to accept major players like Amazon, Microsoft, Google scanning and perhaps mining the data being stored in their servers.

Iterative stagnation

I wasn’t sure how to open this blog post tonight. It’s a subject that has been on my mind for a long while and I’ll do my best to explain it. There’s probably a better term or word for this. 

Apple is a trendsetter. I think at this point we shouldn’t question that. Even if Apple isn’t innovating they are still doing iterations of their product every year. As long as there are diehard loyalists Apple will be fine. 

I’m not here to question what Apple has become or what it will become. Rather, observing a certain trend on the latest smartphone flagships.

Over one thousand reasons to say no

These days new flagships are not only having the courage the drop the headphone jack, for no legit reason whatsoever, but are becoming a luxury with the new prices. $1,000+ for a phone. What an insane price! 

Let me toss you an idea. It’s a very silly one, and I’ll probably sound like a conspiracy theorist at best… but what if we have reached the stage of stagnation where upgrading doesn’t make sense? 

If you buy the flagship from 2017 or this year, you are set for the next two or three years because it has gotten to the point that the hardware is just good enough. It’s not becoming that disposable device that needed to be kept replaced every year because the CPU was still crap back then. But from 2017 and on, I’m finding very little reason to upgrade. 

Have you seen the performance on a Pixel XL 2? Sure, it doesn’t beat the benchmark of a Galaxy Note 9 or a iPhone X…. but it’s incredibly smooth. It’s a phone I feel like can last for me until 2020, maybe 2021 until I start feeling that CPU degradation, or battery degradation.

So what’s in the price? I don’t think we are paying $1,000 because the technology behind it is the cutting edge. We are paying $1,000 because you are basically paying the two years you will skip upgrading because your new 2018 phone is powerful enough to last for a couple of years. That’s not good for business in any way. I think the new prices are future-proofing the losses of people not upgrading. 

I high doubt that Apple, or Samsung are paying $500 bucks to make those phones. At best they are probably paying $200-$300 per unit. Sadly, I don’t think there will be ever proof of what I just said so… I’ll take my tin foil hat off and let you folks be. 

Until next time.

Bowers & Wilkins PX ? makes me kokoro feel alive

I always saw myself only ever using Sennheiser products. I had a nice pair of MOMENTUM 2.0 which I ended up selling for the Bowers and Wilkins pair. There’s a very simple reasonable reason on why I ended up buying into a new brand. 

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 2.0 with the earpads off

It all started with the ears hurting every time I used the MOMENTUM 2.0.

I was getting dead tired of dealing with the same problem. After a session of 3-4 hours my ears would hurt in two different ways. The first reason is that my ears were too big and the cans couldn’t help but to clamp hard on me poor ears. It was painful to the point I ended up giving hours of music because if I kept wearing them the pain would increase and I don’t think I signed up for that. 

The second reason is harder to decipher. Sometimes when I listened for longer times and stopped momentarily for a few minutes my ears would be too overly sensitive. I couldn’t bare any sound without feeling disgusted or in pain. I had to stop as even listening to my coworkers was becoming a challenge.

So I set forth on looking for a new pair of cans thus, after hours of researching and hard work I found the Bowers and Wilkins PX.

If you thought of MOMENTUM as a dark and bassy headphone the Bowers and Wilkins has a slight more treble into it (not too much) and not overwhelmingly too light. It doesn’t shy out on the bass either but it’s obviously not a basshead’s go to for bassy headphones. (I wouldn’t know either, I don’t consider myself to be a bass or treble guy. I prefer a more well-balanced “jack of all trades” headphone)

I think what really surprised me about the headphones is how comfortable it is to wear. The build quality is great, sturdy even. I think they cheaped out on the buttons but it’s all forgiven at least from me… because for a product that’s ranged at $400 bucks at least they don’t have the audacity to sell you plastic like Sony or Bose does. 

I find the pair to be well balanced. I read reviews that the sound was muddy or that the product felt low quality… and after using them I was having a hard time believing it. The thing about the “sound sounding muddy” is that if it’s a low quality audio it’s truly going to sound like crap. And I’ve experienced that myself with a few remastered songs, I don’t think all types of genres shines with the B&W PX.

I think the first song that I was just baffled on how amazing it sounded was this track below: 

Listening to Lucid Dreams by Juice WRLD in Google Music (highest quality possible) made me realize that perhaps these were the headphones for me. I enjoyed listening to music so much to the point I would repeat tracks just to enjoy how they sounded and to this date I haven’t stopped doing that.

And it’s not just that genre. Anything acoustic sounds great on these cans. Electronic/Dance music is not inherently bad but I feel like other types of headphones may be more suitable. I just feel like anything electronic may not be best suited for the B&W PX. 

Sennheiser still has my heart with the HD6XX series, but my soul belongs to Bowers and Wilkins.

All that said, give the Bowers and Wilkins a try. This is by no means a throughout review nor do I consider myself knowledgeable in audio. I think after hearing the differences in Sennheiser, AKG, and now Bowers and Wilkins I can only hope to have a modicum of experience when it comes to audio. 

In conclusion, I am a very happy B&W user. My only complain is the sound leakage, it’s a bit of a problem in an office environment which is where I drive the cans. It’s not a deal breaker as I keep the volume around 60-70% but it also means I can’t fully blast it through at least in the office environment. But what I really gained back with the Bowers & Wilkins wasn’t just a good pair of cans I could go rock with everyday, it was restoring my desire to pursue different brands in audio and get to know them. 

I was giving up. After my experience with AKG I just felt it was a letdown altogether. Sennheiser wasn’t providing anything new to the table when you started comparing MOMENTUM and some of the headphones in the HD series. AKG felt more like a downgrade to Sennheiser, but in terms of design I would choose AKG in a heartbeat because I dig their designs. 

Then there’s Bowers and Wilkins which rocks in both design and audio. But don’t listen to me. If you have the opportunity, go try them out.

Two weeks with password managers (LastPass and 1Password)

As a rather “casual” paranoid person security is always something I obsess about to the point I have to take a break from obsessing about it because it just eats me alive. I feel like once you start focusing about security there are so many rabbit holes left open that you never stop closing them.

Whether that’s good or bad, it’s not really a healthy obsession.

I spent two (maybe three) weeks with LastPass and 1Password. Troy Hunt, a security-minded individual I follow and the owner and creator of HaveIBeenPwned has said it best: A secure password is the best you can’t remember. At first I had some real issues with that thinking, I’m used to memorizing long, unique passwords, and I also realized that there were issues with what I was doing. Password entropy being an important subject on all of this, and sadly still a subject that it’s hard to explain to people outside the field. I think xkdc explains it best

 

Another issue is password reuse, something I ended up doing because when you have accounts on over 40+ sites it’s impossible to remember all the unique passwords. I’m guilty, but at the same time I never reused a password on important sites (banks, paypal, etc).

 

Whether the comics comes off as arrogant or presumptuous it doesn’t eliminate the fact that having a good bits of entropy and avoiding password reuse are one of the most important issues. Password managers like 1Password gives you the ability to just “set it and forget it”. You’ll have a secret key and a master password, when combined it will derive a key to unlock your vault.

I started my journey with LastPass and it was an incredibly rough one to the point I was blatantly ignored when asking for a refund.

LastPass is great if your only focus is to just generate passwords and save them in your vault. Where LastPass falls, besides being plagued with security issues (you can make time for yourself to read their wikipedia entry), is that it immensely sucks in the storage area. I couldn’t for the life of me store a simple document of 2MB. It was nigh impossible, you just kept getting “Sorry, request taking longer than normal” to the point of needing to upload again.

I got fed up. I wanted to store my important documents in case I needed them “on demand”. I contacted support, requesting a refund and they proceeded to ignore my request to troubleshoot the issue. I actually played along because I didn’t have anything to lose but time… turns out uninstalling and installing the client doesn’t fix the issue. So I placed the request of refund AGAIN to be asked to record a video on how I’m doing the things. I refused to do so because I’m not comfortable of doing so.

In the end, I told them they can keep the money and shared that I had a very bad experience with them.

1Password by AgileBits, Inc

In waves of frustrations I discovered 1Password. I learned that 1Password had a very strong commitment to security and they were sponsoring Troy Hunt (which is how I discovered it).

The first things I noticed of using 1Password were the following:

  • The user interface is fast unlike LastPass
  • I could upload any big file with no timeouts or problems
  • The integration with OSX is lovely
  • iPad and Android support is superb
  • Had an additional secret key it generated per vault + your master password

Using 1Password has been a delight. I redid all my reused passwords from different sites that weren’t of importance, maintaining a healthy level of entropy in each generation.

1Password also features Watchtower which is an additional service that you aren’t forced to use. It checks how many times you have reused a password, match your password against Troy Hunt’s HaveIBeenPwned, match your email against Troy Hunt’s service. I think my favorite is matching your password against HaveIBeenPwned because THEN you know if your password has been truly been leaked and brute forced/cracked. 

Between HaveIBeenPwned and 1Password? Honestly, I feel secure and confident that my accounts aren’t going to be compromised. But, the thing with security is that you never have that certainty that you are secure. It’s a process of continuous improvement and continuous monitoring.

Beyond 1Password? I have been using multi-factor authentication as an additional layer and I’m currently researching Yubikeys to leverage an additional security layer on top of the services I use.

If you have any questions let me know, the comment section is below and if you want to contact me directly check my Contact page.

 

 

TheHumble.ninja now with SSL

I’ve made some changes to thehumble.ninja as I plan to restructure to site and start purging content here and there. There’s an article I’ve been wanting to write about and it’s about saving costs with Azure, the cons and pro of using cloud services, and how scary it can get if you decide to use cloud services like Azure, Google Cloud, etc.

With that in mind I’d like to emphasize that I do like Microsoft Azure and would love to use it without the constant fear of overage charges, but that’s another subject that won’t be discussed here at all. Now, going back to Azure I’ve read two articles from Scott Hanselman where he goes over demonstrating how to use Azure and deploy cheap containers.

In an ideal world, I would have supported every word he said. Using containers is amazing, wonderful, and just plainly awesome. It gives you that control of isolating services (mysql, httpd, mail, etc) into separate containers and you can cram as many, MANY, applications in your app service plan.

But I can’t simply support it and it’s honestly for a very silly yet incredibly harmful reason that I can’t agree that Azure is cheap. It’s harmful for anyone that wants to run a personal project, site. If you have disposable cash and have never in your life budgeted for a single thing then Azure is for you.

Bandwidth is my biggest concern. Not just for Azure, but for any cloud service. I think Azure VMs are decently priced and competitive, heck I even thought of paying a reserved instance myself for this site (well, many sites hosted in it). As of today, 1TB is $88.65 USD. If that’s not expensive for you then sir, by all means go for Azure as I won’t stop you. But an average joe with an average job like me who just wants to write, and deploy personal projects to the web? 88 bucks is too much + all calculated prices on top of it.

My suggestion to Azure team? Include bandwidth packages in App Service Plans, offer reserved instances to containers/app service plan and I’ll be more than happy to subscribe for the years to come (as long as the prices are reasonable). And it doesn’t have to be 1TB exactly. I think we all need that safety net most service providers offer with VPS and we don’t have that in Azure.

Why? Imagine an scenario that an individual is targeted. See, if the person gets DDoSed Azure has basic protection and I’m sure it can withstand any attack. More so if you have Cloudflare as your front and you keep a good chunk of malicious individuals out. But, hey, the malicious individual just found out that for some reason you are using cloud services to host your site and decide to download 1 million time a 100 megabytes zip archive you offer. That’s 100 TB bandwidth down the drain alone, and I doubt that Azure will throw the towel and say “it’s ok we understand you were targeted and attacked. So we will invalidate the bandwidth usage”.

And maybe my example is overly exaggerated, but my point is even if you aren’t attacked, and you have a medium sized site with 1TB bandwidth usage I highly doubt anyone would pay $88.65 when Digital Ocean, OVH, even Amazon with Lightsail gives you that bandwidth cap at a lesser monthly price. I get it. They are overselling bandwidth. Any service provider will probably monitor your VM and try to assess if it’s getting abused or that’s just the normal bandwidth usage of the server. If it is? Great, carry on, there’s no abuse involved. Most service providers won’t care in the long run because they have so many customers that use at the very least 3-4GB of bandwidth and it’s expected they will never reach 400GB bandwidth as it’s just a bunch of personal sites, etc. Now, if all their customers used 1TB exactly I guess they’d be running at a deficit. I honestly don’t know much of the deals involved with data centers and network usage and there are better people specialized in this sort of stuff than me.

In conclusion, because I never meant to write a post this long. As you can see, I want to use Azure, but Azure is a big threat to my wallet when it comes to bandwidth. Do keep in mind that my thoughts on Azure are going to be a larger post than this, but this is one of the issues that I really needed to throw out there to the public.

As for the site. It’s temporarily hosted in a Azure instance until I decide whether to stay or not. I highly doubt I would stay considering the bandwidth concern. I don’t use much bandwidth but I know sometimes it’s a good 10GB that is used, that doesn’t eliminate the concern though.