Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Time for New Beginnings..

Everything comes to an end. That's something life teaches us. From the best vacations, to the worst relationships, however interminable things may seem, they always end.

And ends aren't always bad. Sometimes the end is jagged and sudden, jarring like a collision of two powerful forces. And sure, the connotation is usually linked with weepy goodbyes, hard feelings, bad blood, tension or just general sadness. But it doesn't always have to be that way, because..

Sometimes the end is subtle, parting away slowly and imperceptibly, like a younger age being replaced by a new one. And beyond that, there are also the pivotal moments in which we determine the "end".

After all, there is no new beginning if something else doesn't yield its place. Fresh starts, new chapters- they never coexist with the past.

This week is one of these "ends" for me. My last week sitting at this desk, staring at this screen, plugging away hour after hour with intermittent coffee breaks. During this week, I've had moments of reflection as I walk along the halls, remembering my first few days and how unnerving everything seemed. In time, I carved my own path and constantly made it a goal to challenge myself. Now, nearly three years later, a new challenge awaits me, the biggest one yet, and it is outside these walls I've learned so well.

Moments like these always brandish mixed emotions. Excitement over plans ahead overlaps with apprehension of the unknown. But the reality of life is, sometimes the greatest growth lies just beyond our grasp. And that's exactly when we have to close a chapter, and reach towards a new beginning.

Because that is the thrill of being alive.



Monday, September 29, 2014

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Review

As most of you must have heard by now, Apple unveiled two new iPhones of sleek design and beauty on September 9th. The phones have checked off some of the biggest complaints from current iPhone users and jeering Android users, whom are always close by to remind us they’ve had these features for years. (Thanks for all the free beta-testing, btw)

And while it is true that Apple has included features that Android has had for a few years, the opposite is also true. Regardless of your phone preference, my purpose is not to bash Android, or Blackberry, or Microsoft or any other phone maker. I feel every phone and ecosystem has its own perks. I am perfectly happy with my Apple devices, and chose to continue the legacy with another addition to the family.

With these latest models, came not only larger displays, but the ability to use NFC for payments, much better cameras, and overall- a better phone. Yours truly had been holding on to her faithful (now primitive and dwarf) iPhone 4S, since June of 2012. So clearly, it was time for an upgrade. I would have held off even longer had I not managed to finally crack my screen in a fancy mosaic of sorts. (Talk about glass splinters on your thumbs)

The new and glorious iPhone 6 comes in two different models, the 4.7 inch screen iPhone 6, and the 5.5 inch screen iPhone 6 Plus. I pre-ordered the 6 Plus on Sept 12th, and received it later than I originally expected, but thankfully earlier than the horror backorder stories promised.

My good friend Ingrid opted for the iPhone 6. Now that we've both had a few days to mess around with them, we are ready for write reviews for those of you contemplating either one of these gems.

The features we will be looking into are Battery Life, Processing Speed, iOS 8, Camera, Overall Feel and Design. Keep in mind these reviews are not from your typical tech-savvy person- just the average user that wants a phone to be a phone, and also much more than that. 

Without further ado.. let’s take it away!

IPhone 6
Battery Life:
The battery life on the iPhone 6's doesn't seem like it’s any different. I have to say that apple could have done a better job with that.

Processing Speed:
The new A8 processor on the iPhone 6 is quite faster but not much any different from A7…..I don't know if it’s just me.

iOS 8:
The iOS 8 contents looks gorgeous and crisp!!!!

Camera:
I can’t really say much on the iphone 6 since it does not have the optical image stabilization like the plus….. at least the iphone 6 has digital stabilization.

Overall Feel & Design:
The fact that my phone fell inside the sofa……yes literally inside the sofa where the box springs are can give you an idea how thin the iphone 6 is. I am so glad I got the iphone 6; even with a bigger screen it’s very easy to handle.

Even though a lot of people might not care very much but I found that the Glass from the front that folds slightly around the edges gives it a whole different beautiful look.

iPhone 6 Plus

Battery Life: In this day and age in the arena of smartphones, it's almost a draw. All smartphones improve our life in someway, and are practical and efficient, with features unique to the phone. The dealbreaker for me is usually battery life. I use my phone constantly, as it contains my appointments, reminders, events, photos, photo editing applications, etc.. Therefore I need a phone that can handle the 9-5 without having to be chained to a power outlet. After full day usage of my iPhone 6 Plus, on slightly less than halfway brightness, the phone lasts an impressive 12 hours. This includes messaging, photo taking and editing, streaming music, calling, tinkering on apps, instagramming of course- reading news, i.e. Needless to say, I am more than pleased. I'm blown away that a phone with such a large screen and so many features also has a respectable battery. 

Processing Speed:
Man. Oh man. What a beauty it is to tap something and be taken immediately to it. On my aging 4S, clicking on an app, or switching from open app to notification took at least a few seconds. On my Plus, it slides over immediately.. I’m almost gliding from app from app, and sometimes I find myself a few steps ahead. The A8 processor is glorious. Faster than lightning diarrhea.

iOS 8:
As with any new massive update, there’s always a few glitches along the road. Most of the time these glitches come from apps that are two steps behind. But with developers zooming away to fix it all, I’m sure these apps will be back to functional perfection soon. One of my favorite post process editing apps, Repix, is not yet fully functional on the iOS 8. Technology will catch up as it always does though- and in a few weeks everything will be settled to normality.
iOS 8 has some really neat perks- living leaving group messages, naming them, sharing your location via the iMessage app and some other nifty tricks. This weekend I met up with some friends in New York, and we found each other quickly using this method.

Camera:
One word: Spectacular. The crisp and color in the photos are gorgeous. The ability to record slow-mo and time-lapse videos is impressive. The quality in the pictures, especially the ones taken in lower light, is a vast improvement over its predecessors. The front-facing camera got a boost as well, taking bright, vivid and sharp photos. I am not one bit disappointed.

Overall Feel & Design:
As with anything new, it takes some getting used to. Single-hand texting is an added challenge, but now with the addition of Swype, I can still manage to hold the phone with my right hand and text. After a week of using this phone, it doesn’t feel cumbersome or large at all. One interesting aspect is it alters your perception of other phones. For example, I can no longer tell the difference between the 5S or the 4S, as they both look small. I’m very pleased with my little gadget here, and can’t wait to take stunning photos on my upcoming vacation.

OH- how could I forget? The phone has NOT bent. I also haven’t put my entire body weight upon it for kicks and giggles. But even applying force to it, it did not bend. I dare say, you kind of have to be a baboon with your phone or venture out to bend it for it happen. I’m not sure why it’s such a novelty to people; it’s an extremely thin phone that is also light. Is it really that surprising that it will change shape if applied enough force?

I've always wanted the ability to carry less around with me, and with the nearing implementation of NFC payments, it seems I will be only needing to carry this slim and efficient device with me wherever I go. 

If you have any questions or comments about the phone, feel free to comment below!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

By Personal Experience

I'm quite sure everyone can relate when I say there have been some great pieces of advice I have been given that I wish I had taken. From saving money starting young, to fighting for something that may have been worth it, life is riddled with coulda, woulda, shouldas..

It strikes me as a phenomena that even though we can recognize at face value that the advice we receive is timely and appropriate, and sufficient conclusive evidence exists to support it, we may very well decide to do the wrong thing anyway. Then we suffer through it, build up our own awesome advice book, and try to convince a younger generation.

So what's the root cause of this situation? I can only speak from personal experience of course. When my parents first told me not to open up credit cards and max them out, I nearly laughed. Of course I wouldn't do that. Wouldn't that be foolish of me? Yet here we are two years later and I'm throwing money every which way at those sharks to zero them out.

I can't say I didn't know this could happen. I can't say I wasn't warned. So why did I let it happen? Because I thought it wouldn't happen to me, despite making irresponsible purchases and forgetting that life can change at the flip of a switch.

So that brings me to the main idea. Instead of just offering advice (which has historically been proven to be as effective as diet pills) maybe we should just explain choices and consequences. The little choices we make today affect us in big ways tomorrow. That goes for everything from health and lifestyle, to relationships and of course, financially. Not all is lost, of course. While your lungs still work and your walnut still ticks, recognizing where you went off course will always help you the next time you see a flashing sale sign, or a bad boy with an incredible flashing smile, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Just stop thinking you have everything under control, you know what's best for you, and it won't/can't/shouldn't happen to you. That kind of thinking takes you all sorts of places that are everything but fun. ( See Darwin Awards: http://www.darwinawards.com/stupid/ )

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup Madness

Every four years, the world stops for me. Well, in actuality, I just stop caring about the triviality of day to day even less than I usually do, and focus my attention and energy on the international, thrilling, unpredictable World Cup Games.

Brazil 2014 has already given us some major surprises, which is in part why I love soccer so much. You can have the world's most renowned players, experience by the boatloads, but that does not guarantee you a win. Spain, World Cup 2010's winners, were witness to this as they were pelted 5-1 in their first match against the Netherlands.

Yours truly was never expecting the upset between Uruguay and Costa Rica, the latter beating long-time South American favorite in a 3-1 final score. Yet, with two goals scored in four minutes, it was clear who was going home the winner that night.

Portugal stood defeated and awe-struck in a national spanking of 4-0 against Germany. Even US, against rival Ghana, waged an intense battle on the field that eventually led to their 2-1 victory.

This World Cup will definitely continue delivering more surprises, all the more reason to watch the games. And if you aren't a soccer fan, I promise you will catch a little World Cup madness too if you watch the intensity of this year's matches.

As always, I am loyal to my favorite team, Germany, whom so far hasn't let me down. And I will gladly watch some of the underdogs, such as Costa Rica.

Who are your favorite teams? Who do you think will go far? Will be a huge disappointment?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Happiness Advantage

We recently watched this video at work.. part of an all-encompassing positive change to the company.

At first glance, I thought the video would entail some sort of problem-solving or dealing techniques, a way to cope with life's pesky little problems. Instead, it was an hour long interesting discussion on how your brain is powerful and dumb, at the same time. That in a way, you can "trick" yourself to be happy and in doing so, become healthier, happier and more successful.

And it all boiled down to the philosophy that happiness is a choice, and one we must make every morning.

I listened intrigued, to the research that this Harvard graduate had combed over from years of observation and studying, finding what happy people have in common and how this relates to their health. And from that, he narrowed happiness down to five key factors; five habits that breed positive outlooks which in turn equate happiness.

I couldn't help but smirk when he went through all five. It sounded like he was narrating my life. All those habits were tactics I applied in some shape or form since I was a cognizant adult. Be grateful for three things in your life every day? Check. Smile more than three times a day, consciously? I'm surprised my maxillofacial muscles aren't permanently locked into smile mode sans botex. Send positive notes to at least one person every day? It's no wonder why my phone can't hold a charge to midday most days of the week. Spend 15 minutes a day doing some "fun activity" that requires physical movement? In most cases, it's 2-3 hours per day for me. And last, the cornerstone: Have a social support network, of at least 21 people. Since I can think far back enough, lack of people in my life has never been an issue. In fact, normally I am torn between saying no to a good friend because another needs something as well. So, I guess I should be super happy right? Well...

I am. Despite the occasional dark clouds that roll in, despite the potholes in the road and the inclement weather, I am a happy person. And on that note, I'd like to modify my previous statement that "Optimism is the staff and companion of those unblemished by life." It's not that life hasn't blemished us, or that we don't hurt at times because of events in our past; but we choose to rise above it and focus on the big picture.

I have great friends, a wonderful, united family, and everything I need to lead a fulfilling and satisfying life. I strive to see the positive in life, I don't sweat the small stuff, or things I have no control over. I like to cultivate and maintain friendships like careful little plants. My life is incredibly busy; I work full-time, I work part-time, I volunteer an average of 70 hours a month- and that's just how I like it. Being productive and busy in life has kept me focused on the future and the wonderful things that still lie ahead. However; I am not happy only because I do those five things every day. Surely, they play a big role on being optimistic.

But at the end of the day, what's my happiness advantage? It's derived from my stalwart hope of the future and the solid relationship I have with most important person in the universe.

Oh, and P.S. I plan on living way past 94..



Monday, March 31, 2014

Nina vs Aging

Well, I wish I had a more cheerful topic to ramble about as my first belated post of the year; but given as the weather has been anything but normal and the level of craziness has skyrocketed in my universe lately, you get what you get, and you probably will get upset.

I've been contemplating a lot lately; (I always do when the world around me ceases to be a place of amazement and wonder) drawing inwardly to reflect on life again and the crazy paths it takes us on, willing or not. I wonder to myself: What if aging is just a disposition of the mind? It seems the older we get, the more negative our outlook becomes, and the grimmer reality becomes. If we boil down aging to its nitty gritty: I truly believe we'd find pessimism and dissatisfaction in its basic form.

When we are children, most of us share a delusion of the world being bright and inviting; our "oyster" per se. As we grow older and run into concrete wall obstacles that are belittling and unrelenting; our stamina and courage dwindle. We begin to double think rash changes, speaking up, alternating course, plunging into unknowns. Because the fear of the unknown is crippling when the past has taught you disappointment can be waiting for you on the other side.

So we slow our roll, we hunch our backs, oppressed and capitulated, riding the waves of cynicism and skepticism, ruefully observing younger generations and scornfully amused by the future that lies in wait. Optimism is the staff and companion of those unblemished by life. And with time and trials that attack and consume this companion, soon all that's left is a glum recollection of days without a dark cloud.

Despite the chances that disillusions and let downs are part of life; we can't let negativity reign us in. After all, balance is needed in life. Should you toss the rose colored glasses? Yes. They only amount to greater disappointments. But on that note, toss out the smoke colored sunglasses, too.

After all- life may not be a merry boat ride of a dream; but it doesn't have to be a depressing opera, either.