In this week’s digest, I will share about my previous experience as a ballet pianist, about shooting panorama photos, about upgrading your router, as well as a product launch event. To end off, I will discuss about the blogger engagement issue Xiaxue championed.

[Music] No More Ballet Exams Pianist

This is the first year since decades that I did not play for RAD ballet exams. While it is a relief on my part (it felt like I took exams myself), a little part of my life has faded into history.

Over the years of growing up, I picked up new skills, made new friends. Then as I moved on, I let go of some priorities and embraced new ones. Playing for ballet classes has been a part of my life since 1993. In fact, it is one of the most prominent activities of my growing years.

To say I miss it much is an overstatement. Over the years, I have gained other priorities to take care of, and have been trying to relinquish the job for the longest time. So in a way I am glad that I have laid the responsibility to rest. I appreciate the years of playing for all the ballet teachers and for the students, many of whom I literally watched them grow up.

[Photo] Panorama Photos Made Easy

Currently reviewing the OPPO N3, and I have to say, I have never enjoyed shooting panorama as much before. In the past, panorama photos require steady hands and a laborious panning movement which reaps inconsistent results due to the speed of the panning and the steadiness of the hand.

OPPO N3 has a motorised swivel camera that does the job. All you have to do is to hold steady the phone. Check these photos below.

Some of the objects (especially when they are moving) are not perfectly stitched, and that cannot be helped.

Stick around my blog for my full review of the OPPO N3. Join my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

[Tech] High-end router: is it necessary?

The review of the new D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 router made me read up and update myself on the Wi-Fi technology. It was like yesterday – 2013 to be exact – when I knew of the latest “AC” standard, but I felt there was no need to get the new standard. Fast forward to 1 over year later, is it time to go for AC router? The answer is “Yes” if you have devices that support 802.11ac, so that you can make use of the faster bandwidth of up to 433Mbps per stream – more if your device support muliti-streams. In comparison, N routers support up to 150Mbps per stream. Go read my DIR-890L review for more write -up on the AC3200 benefits.

[Tech] Dell Venue 8 Singapore Launch

On 10 Mar, I attended the media launch of the Dell Venue 8 Android tablet. It is:
– the world’s thinnest tablet at 6mm
– first tablet with Intel RealSense Snapshot Depth camera, which captures a depth map for every picture taken
– anodized aluminum edge-to-edge 2560×1600 8.4-inch OLED display.

Comes with 4 camera modules, 3 rear for RealSense and 1 front for selfie, the Venue 8 is one unconventional design. The cameras are located at the lower part of the tablet. Running what appears to be stock Android (4.4.4 out of the box, 5.0 ready for update) without much skinning, the Venue 8 is pretty much still a work-in-progress. Many apps that make use of the Intel RealSense are slated only for release over the next few months.

Dell has a good history of building solid Venue-branded devices. The first 4-inch Dell Venue smartphone in 2011 was made of awesome materials. But Dell stopped short of developing the brand, until a few years later. I could recall the time I reviewed the largest smartphone in 2011 – the Dell Streak – and the first landscape-oriented smartphone. It was a bold move, just like when Nokia released N-Gage.

Now with Venue 8, Dell is back and continues the great legacy of spectacular product quality. If you want an Android tablet, and you want it light and thin, and with ultra-high resolution, as well as a non-bloated UI, you will like Venue 8. Now selling at S$659 for Wi-Fi version. I will comment more on the whole user interface and experience when I get a review unit.

Specs Highlight:

  • Processor: Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz quad core)
  • OS: Android 4.4, upgradeable to 5.0
  • Memory: 2GB LPDDR3
  • Video: HD Graphics (Imagination PowerVR G6430)
  • Display: 8.4-inch OLED 2560×1600
  • Power: 5900mAh / 21 WHr
  • Wireless: 802.11ac 1×1 WiFi
  • Bluetooth: 4.0
  • Size: 6 x 124.4 x 215.8 mm

[Blog] The Blog Industry: Shaken, not Stirred

Xiaxue (Wendy Cheng) has shaken the blogging industry with her latest exposé that Gushcloud’s social media campaign with SingTel asks blogger-influencers to bad-mouth the competitors purposely as a strategy.

Some bloggers are kind of worried that it will affect negatively on the industry resulting in reduced number of assignments. They also suggested some form of an accreditation or licensing process to bring some form of control and assurance to companies who wish to engage bloggers.

My view that it will not work unless it comes from the regulatory (i.e. government). Take a look at some of the older industries like photography and music. You could form an association of sorts, but ultimately, whether practitioners choose to join or not, they can still get jobs – unless the association grows into a formidable platform that provides more benefits to members than non-member.

To a large extent, this fiasco does not affect me, because firstly, I do not blog for financial gains at all, as I captured on the newspaper below:

At the end of the day, the companies that engage bloggers must be fully aware of what they are getting into. If they are looking for exposure, by all means, pay for those bloggers who have lots of followers, doesn’t matter what they write or what integrity they have. If they are looking for effectiveness, then they would have to implement some form or monitoring to track the conversion rates (e.g. clicking likes do not translate to successful sales).

Similarly, influencers should not just accept any assignments or endorsements without considering them as a whole package. For instance, if a blogger has just finished a campaign for competitor A, he or she should not accept another campaign from direct competitor B, even though there is no exclusivity agreement. The blogger should think about the consequence: his or her followers would spot that he or she was saying good about A last time, but now is saying good about B.

But frankly, does it really even matter? Maybe not, perhaps that is because the followers don’t even care about the products from competitor A or B. The followers are probably only interested in the pretty photos posted by the blogger.

As a social media influencer, you have to work on your persona and stick to that. There are many bloggers I know who does that and are hugely successful because the engagement companies can see their persona and how it fits very well to their campaign. I find these bloggers deliver the most effective campaigns, despite not having as many followers or likes than others.

Am I an effective influencer? I think I am. I get a lot of friends and colleagues asking me for opinions. As much as I would like to help them, I am limited by the products I review. Also, my highly-objective nature prevents me from casually endorse the products I review (my reputation is at stake!), unless I really really feel strongly for them.

And when the people called me up to tell me how they love the products I recommend to them, I know that I have done my job as an influencer.

Article written by Chester Tan

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