TRIGGER WARNING don't read this if you are squeamish
Moonlight reflected off his pale skin as I ran my hands along his collarbone, pausing slightly before shyly tucking my fingers below the neckline of his cotton shirt.
His glassy, surprised and innocent eyes pierced into mine. I was excited now, hungry. I let my other hand drift under his shirt from below, feeling the cold hardness of his chest; the refreshing coolness of his skin against the fervor of mine felt sharp as a knife, and just as icy.
How I needed to strip him of everything, to dig my fingers under his skin and release pure red ecstasy into the night. I quickly took off his shirt and threw it aside, marveling at the sight before me. He was the pinnacle of purity trapped in a human body, such a pity. I desperately needed to tarnish the perfect whiteness of his outer shell; only corruption could save his soul now and release the ethereal being inside.
I closed my eyes and breathed in, shakily. I was too far in to be calm now, so close to setting him free.
I got to work.
The first was barely a scratch, a light abrasion that turned his white flesh pink.
The second was deeper.
The third released a stream that slowly crawled down his chest and stomach.
From this point, I have no recollection anymore of what happened. I became lost in the sight of that sudden flash of red against the darkness, entranced by the vibrance of his free flowing blood.
When I came to, I was already walking away with that brilliant red over my hands and knife, stepping over his entrails and leaving behind his mangled, stripped body. The single eye left in its socket watched me walk away, still glassy and surprised.
I smiled to myself.
I had done it. I had finally helped him transcend humanity.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
TRIGGER WARNING don't read this if you are squeamish
Posted by winnie at 7:16 PM
This was actually supposed to be published in September, but I forgot to push to my blog ._.
Since this time, a new software update is out which should fix a lot of the bugs I mention below, but I will do another review about that after I update my phone. But I will publish exactly what I wrote after 1 month of use. Pre-orders for the public will be opened pretty soon so I thought it would be pretty informative for people considering.
So as some of you guys know, I've been using the OnePlus One as my main phone for the last few weeks, ever since I left my internship at Facebook. Thought I'd do a recap of my first impressions after using it for a prolonged time to help people decide whether they want one when preorders open to public in October from the POV of a normal consumer.
Firstly I'd like to preface this with some background about my personal biases. I am reviewing this phone while in North America, where a lot of phones are on a CDMA network, where the phone is bound to a particular carrier. However, as someone who travels relatively frequently, I would never consider buying a phone which is not unlocked. I would also never purchase a phone on a contract, because I don't like being bound to using something for X number of months, since it limits my flexibility when something better comes out or if something goes wrong within those X months.
My smartphone history (relevant for comparisons I will draw):
2012, iPhone 4
2013 June, LG Nexus 4
2013 November, Samsung Galaxy S4
2014 August, Oneplus One
I first heard about the Oneplus One from my friend Luke Chang who was working at Samsung's startup accelerator in Palo Alto at the beginning of the summer. It was rumoured to have a 2 second boot time and crazy specs, as well as being shipped with stock CyanogenMod, for a very affordable price. So, when I received an invite for the Oneplus One in late July, I wanted to get one just to play around with it. I hadn't decided whether I wanted to use it as an everyday phone yet, since there wasn't that much information around about it yet, and my S4 was still functioning just fine. But anyway, I bit the bullet and threw in the order for a 64GB Sandstone Black model.
My phone arrived 3 days later which was impressively fast. The packaging was very striking and nice, with the red/white theme present through the entire package and accessories. My favorite part of the package was the sim card release pin, which looks like an adorable smiley face. :3
Going onto the phone though, the back was surprising in that its texture was not smooth but rough. I'm not sure what material it's made of, but I guess it's to go along with the Sandstone theme of the name. It's a bit like sandpaper but not as hard or gritty; at first I wasn't a fan but after using it I've grown to like it a lot. It means you don't have to worry about fingerprints or scratches as much as you do on lacquer surfaces, which is nice. I have had some problems with small particles becoming stuck between the grit pieces tho, but that's probably because i should stop putting the phone on the table when I'm eating. It also makes the phone more grippy, which probably prevents droppages.
I have been using the phone without a back cover or screen protector and there have been no noticeable scratches on the screen or backside so far, though I also haven't had any bad drops (yet) (fingers crossed) (I should really just order a case now).
The biggest problem I have with this phone is its size. At a huge 5.5 inches, the screen is not small enough for my right hand to reach all the way across it if I'm just carrying it with one hand. This means that I can't swype for messaging since my thumb doesn't reach the 'a' key on the other side of a standard keyboard. Luckily, Swiftkey provides a compact version shifted to the right which has been really helpful, but Swiftkey is not a free app (though I had already been using the Pro version on my S4 anyway). Might be alleviated if you have bigger hands than me. Fortunately, though the phone is big, it is at least super thin, so in terms of weight it isn't too significant of a change, and it's not super bulky at least in 1 dimension (tho since i'm a girl it still sticks out significantly from most pockets).
In terms of positives, my favorite thing about the phone is its battery. To compare -- on LTE data, my S4 dropped from 100% to 50% in 1.5 hours (let's not even talk about the Nexus 4, which before rooting went from 100 to 0 in 2 hours). While I was travelling, I didn't want to leave my phone plugged to the wall overnight so i'd frequently charge my phone for 1 or 2 hours a day and hope that it lasted, and by the end of the day my battery would have dropped like 30-40% only with moderate use. I'm sure that if I heavily used my phone, it would have dropped more, but I'm confident I can get through a whole day on 100% charge. This is due to its 3100 mAh battery, which holds more charge than the S4 (2600 mAh). Furthermore, the phone comes with a 2A charger, so it charges super fast. Probably can do a full charge in under 3 hours. This is a huge plus for someone who is out a lot and doesn't want their phone to die on them halfway through the day, and the charger is small and fast enough that you could just plug it into the wall for a bit and you'll have enough juice to go for a while. Ofc, batteries deteriorate so who knows how long this will last.
Overheating has also been less of a problem as compared to the S4. This may be a result of not having a case on the phone, but qualitatively I've felt that the temperatures the One reaches, though not cool all of the time, are at least only moderately warm as opposed to scorching, even during a charge.
In terms of photography, it's kinda ridiculous -- the One has a 5MP front-facing camera (to compare, the iPhone 4 has a 5MP BACKfacing camera), and a 13MP back-facing camera (same as the S4). It has a widest aperture of f2.0 which is pretty damn good, so the low light photos are not as noisy as I would expect at all. Sharpness is also on point, due to 6 pieces of physical glass making up the back lens. The focusing does get a little weak in low light, especially when trying to focus at infinity, but I think this can be fixed with software. It also has dual LED flash, but I haven't actually used the flash for photos yet, so I'm not sure how it behaves in practice. The torch is really bright though! I also really like the inbuilt HDR mode, the results are generally pretty good, see below.
If we wanna get into technical specs, I guess it's worth noting that the One comes with 3GB DDR3 RAM (S4 has 2GB, iPhone 5S 1GB). This seems rather ridiculous but I'll admit there has been pretty much zero lag on anything I've tried to do on this phone. Of course, apps have still crashed but it's unclear whether the crashes were memory-related. I know nothing about CPU so I'm not gonna bother trying to make much sense of it, but it's Quad Core 2.5GHz for anyone who understands more hardware jargon than me.
Another neat thing about the One from my personal experience is that it supports gestures on sleep mode, so if the screen is black, I can easily turn on the torch app with just drawing a 'v' shape on the screen. an 'o' opens the camera (though it has stopped working of late), and two lines 'l l' cause the music to pause. It's a small thing and kind of finnicky at times, but I was able to navigate around in the dark easily because of the torch shortcut in particular. A double tap on the screen also unsleeps the phone. Though, this is a double edged feature, it caused many false wakeups when I had a simple swipe unlock on my phone, so I had to add a pin pattern lock to counter the screen sensitivity (but hey, probably a good thing that it increases security?).
Another weird thing I've found is that I frequently try to hold the phone upside down when the screen's off, causing me to look for a button to wake it up which is not where I expect it to be. For some reason my brain just registers that it should go that way. It might be because the speaker on the top looks more like the input microphone to talk into, but I'm not really sure why I do this. The front camera should give it away but my brain is just silly.
In terms of the buttons, they are very subtle on the edges of the phone. It can be hard to turn on the screen with the button because it's so flush against the side of the phone (ditto with volume buttons). Another thing is the SIM card release hole is not standard -- I tried to use the pin that came with the iPhone/S4 and it wasn't long enough to pop the release. Which means, you either have to use the pin the phone came with or a paperclip. Not sure why they did this, but it's something I've had to deal with.
Stock Cyanogen is nice because it's super customizable -- I had been using Holo Launcher on my S4 because I didn't like TouchWiz and it allowed me to choose how many rows/columns I could fit on my screen and how big to make my text. The One allows me to do the same thing without the extra app straight out of the box, which I really appreciated. This is the first time I've used Cyanogen on Android (I had my Nexus 4 on Paranoid Android after root) and I decided I like it a lot.
More on this if other people are interested after I upgrade to the new software! But these were my thoughts after the first month. :)
Posted by winnie at 5:27 PM
Wowowow so much has happened since the last time I wrote anything I'm not sure if I can update properly.
We concluded that Vancouver is gorgeous.
Also I met up with Charleswong and we caught up and he took me to a really filling noodle soup place which was delicious and I felt fat but so happy because it tasted so good hehe. Food in Vancouver is definitely a highlight!
Posted by winnie at 8:28 AM
Over this summer, I started to get into a weird habit of asking people to tell me a story. I'm not really sure how it started, but I think one day I was sitting on the edge of a comfortable silence, ready to fall into awkwardness, when the words kind of rolled out of my mouth.
"Tell me a story."
Not like a polite request or an aggressive order, more like a curious command. The other person looked a little surprised, but obliged. Fascinated by the power of this simple phrase, I ended up using it over and over and again and again until my new friend was all out of stories over the next few weeks. I felt like I gotten to know a stranger and I had gained a new friend. And so I was satisfied.
I think a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they are boring people, or that not much happens in their lives compared to others. I'd like to contest that; I think most if not everyone has such interesting things to say if only they would pay attention and try to present it in book form. I'd bet that a lot of people would pay attention and be interested in what they have to say. In the end, I wouldn't say the stories I was told by others this summer were super extraordinary of anything, but they carry with them a sentiment of the familiar, of nostalgia that I too had once put away in a box in the back of my mind.
These are the narratives of our everyday lives, the stupidly ordinary tales we tell of silly things we used to do and think and eat and play with. Not only that, but they comprise an ever-changing narrative -- as we grow and learn and change, our narration reiterates into a more cynical, or dismissive, or hopeful lens through which we look upon the past.
Story-telling is a social habit with startling longevity. It's how we propagated our history before records existed, it's how we accumulated experience through generations and, of course, it's how we make friends and get to know people today.
I decided that stories are probably my favourite way of getting to know the inner workings of people's minds. You can learn so much about someone by their choice of language and their perspective on their experiences. In the purest form of translation, intangible thoughts and feelings are translated into something that can propagate to and blossom in others. And for each of us that tells a story, many more also gain something to retell through their own lens, leading to richer and richer experiences.
Can these still be considered truth, given that they've been pulled and stretched and warped beyond what the original storyteller ever intended? I'm sure different people would say different things, but my opinion is that it's irrelevant; the experience of sharing a story is like retweeting a tweet through a chain, where eventually you run out of characters because there are so many @tags of people's usernames -- though maybe the original tweet is lost, you now have a net of friends tied together with 140 characters. Storytelling is like the glue that dries transparently on relationships, so barely noticeable that you probably would never even attribute your friendships to it.
Maybe I'm just too metaphorical of a thoughtster, but I really enjoy the idea that such subtlety in language can reveal the beauty of an undiscovered mind.
Am I still a kid for making people tell me stories as if they were my grandparents? Yea I'd say probably. Still going to enjoy them though :) 21 and hungry for tales of adventure! Message me if you know a good one :D
Posted by winnie at 5:10 PM
Hi mom and dad (my primary audience, because nobody else cares)
watching the world cup final right now
nobody's scored yet :(
Man I'm just bad at updating derp. Okay things that have happened recently --
July 2nd, Bridgewater Associates held a recruiting dinner in Palo Alto which I was invited to. I honestly just accepted the invitation because I saw that the restaurant was The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse and I wanted a nice free meal (was not disappointed, legit hamachi shots + tuna sashimi as appetizers and then fresh fish, lobster bisque, scallops and raspberry and hazelnut themed dessert), but tbh it was also good to meet new people and find out more about the company, I'm a little more interested in them now. Anyway the reason I bring this up is because I met a Stanford grad student who mentioned that he did archery, and that he knew of an outdoor range nearby so we made plans to go in the weekend. Anyway I will do this in chronological order so this will be continued after a brief july 4 interlude:
Over July 4 weekend, some friends and I went down to Monterey Bay (it's ~1 hour drive south from where I'm living right now) to visit the aquarium and the beach. Many cute animals were observed. On the drive back, we decided we wanted to get fireworks/sparklers because it was July 4th. But, fireworks is actually illegal in most places in California because it's so dry here and it's easy to start forest fires. So we weren't sure if we were going to find anywhere to get them. In a coincidental turn of events, we were waiting at a stop light when we saw all this smoke coming up from behind the next building... so naturally we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a parking lot where people were setting off fireworks and someone had set up a tent selling them. So we found our fireworks for the night :)
Posted by winnie at 10:30 AM
Posted by winnie at 4:12 PM
WOW I LITERALLY
HAD THE MAKE POST PAGE OPEN
ON MY LAPTOP FOR THE LAST 4 DAYS
and didn't start writing until now :/ procrastinating hard on this June post clearly.
It's that awful thing where so much has happened since the last time you updated and you don't know where to start in describing it all or even if you should split it up into different posts to be more readable and then you push it to later and hand wave it all away...
I traveled to the west and bummed around in empty apartment for a few days
I made new friends and started grilling my brain in software
Alexpong visited last weekend! So I went up to SF and saw a Giants game with Alexpong, Anson, Tony + Rakeem. Garlic fries at the stadium are delicious. I stayed up there for the weekend had lots of fun going around SF and eating foods and going through rummage sale and buying cheap things.
Liiikee, this old lens for $20!
And I also ordered a film camera in the mail which should get here on Thursday... I think after that I might try to do another photography related post about lenses since it's going to come with 2 more hehe. I look forward to playing with them this weekend.
... and I just realized I have like nothing to say about my life wow fml.
Go download and play with Slingshot or something
[[uhh... it doesn't appear this post embed is working ._. unsure why]]
Oh so that reminds me (hehehe look a Facebook post embed) -- my first official task at work was to implement saved default embed widths. You can read about it in a blog post which accompanied last week's release here. I'm responsible for "per user default embed widths" which is the 3rd subtitle haha. Before, embed widths would always default to 466px, so now it remembers your last preferred width so you don't have to change it again the next time you want to embed something. It's a small extension but I was really happy that it shipped so quickly!
Uhh what else? I have been trying to go to the gym every morning. It leaves me very relaxed and numb for the rest of the day but is also quite tiring. But I like that I am feeling
I also had time to watch some movies -- the Grand Budapest Hotel, the new Xmen movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2. All of them were good and I enjoyed them a lot :3 I wish I had more time to watch movies derp but also I think I am getting old because staring at such a big screen for a long time gave me a bit of a headache. Or maybe I was just tired that day haha
Next week, I will be in New York at the Facebook NY office, so hollaaaaa if you're around and want to hang out after work.
Ah! I was accepted to the ACM SIGGRAPH Student Volunteers program, so I will be in Vancouver from August 8 - August 15, volunteering at SIGGRAPH :) I owe Professor Morrisett for being my reference, I am super excited and can't wait to go :D And then after that I will be traveling in Asia, in Seoul and Tokyo until school starts again.
Wow summer is going so quickly! @@ Before I know it I'll be back in Cambridge complaining about homework qq
Posted by winnie at 6:23 PM
There were two cameras that we used primarily to shoot with. One was mine, a Sony NEX7 and Alex's, an Olympus EPL1. As you can tell from the images, the type of camera used doesn't matter as much as the lens or the post processing. Unless you're doing professional photos, a good kit lens will do you pretty well. A step up from that would be a fast lens for bokehgons in the background. (A fast lens is a lens with a big maximum aperture, or low f-stop number. This means it can let more light into the camera at once, and there is a shallower depth of field for subject focus (see physics textbook). For instance, the image below was shot with a lens at f2.0 which is relatively low. My lens ranges from f1.7 to f22.)
So the reason I'm even talking about this is that because RAW files leave behind all the extra numbers, they're much nicer to post-process or edit since there is a lot of information retained that may have been lost if it had been thrown out in a jpeg compression. For instance, if you had been shooting into the sun and your subject's face is dark, you could easily pull out their features if you have the RAW file even if in the photo it looks completely black. This would be nearly impossible to do with a jpeg.
For the AAA photoshoot, I post-processed pretty heavily, since it was cloudy that day I wanted to add more of a warm atmosphere and brighten things up since it was supposed to be a spring photoshoot derp (it was actually slightly drizzling while we were taking photos). Here you can see some before/after comparisons for reference (I use Photoshop CS6 to edit my photos, you can also use Appeture or Lightroom for this task):
Posted by winnie at 3:09 PM