5 Things: The iPhone Edition

Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? 🙂

1.      New dock connector (aka Lighting)

I know, I know, a few people are not too excited with Apple’s new dock connector. The thought of having an adaptor attached to your old docking system is underwhelming, to put it mildly. However, we need to think long term here. It’s been 9 years since Apple first introduced the old docking connector and Apple has indicated that the new docking connector is going to stay for a while. It’s smaller, reportedly faster, and best thing of all: reversible! How many times you have to guess which side to put the connector in in the dark? Heck, I’ve seen some even broke the pins due to excessive mismatch. This new one is going to be a breeze, plug and play at its most simplistic form.

2.      Camera

Again, some may disagree with this (cue iPhone 4S owners), but despite its similarities to iPhone 4S’ camera specs, Apple promise a much-improved low light picture quality. The new A6 chip includes a feature to significantly lower noise (picture noise, that is) as well. Of course, it’s just all talk at this point, but any significant improvement over iPhone’s current camera (especially under low light condition) is a welcome.

3.      Matte Aluminum finish

Other than cosmetics, this can only mean one thing: fewer fingerprints! One thing I hate about iPhone 4/4S design is the glossy finish of Apple’s otherwise great durable glass. It attracts fingerprints like no other. With this new matte (and aluminum, yippie yay!) finish, we can worry less about fingerprints and cleanups. A definite win for me on that front!

4.      Taller, but both thinner AND lighter!

There are some pros and cons regarding Apple’s decision to change the screen dimension. I’m somewhat neutral in this case since they have decided to keep the width, which won’t change the natural fit much. There are no pros and cons about it being both thinner and lighter, however. This is truly an engineering marvel. How can a bigger product be thinner and lighter at the same time? Almost 2mm thinner and 30gr lighter than the previous model. This change is my personal favorite, ‘nuff said!

5.      Cosmetics, finish, and fit

This is entirely subjective, but I’m in the opinion that this is the best iPhone design since The One That Changed It All in 2007. For me, nothing beats the original iPhone’s design. Finally, aluminum is back (although I’m not so sure why apple decided to keep both ends with glass/ceramic) and hopefully it will stay there in future iterations. Another win for me is the mirror-like bezel. Watching the cutting process on Apple’s website, you cannot help but admire the effort that Apple put into the manufacturing process. This is a high-end smartphone and it should look, and feel, like one. Apple have done an amazing job this time.

That’s my take on Apple’s new iPhone 5. There are a few other things such as: LTE, bigger screen, new earphones, new A6 chip, etc; but while I welcome them happily, I can only put 5 on my list J

Cheers, and let me know what you think!


England & the Lack of Talented Playmakers

If you ask me before the start of Euro 2012 whether I’d be content with a quarter-final-penalty-shootout-exit at the hands of Italy, my answer would probably be: Yes.

So why I’m still bitterly disappointed with yesterday’s result? I mean, a quarter-final exit for an injury-ridden squad with a new manager appointed just a month before Euro 2012 is not exactly disastrous. Or is it?

What irritates me is not about the loss itself, but the manner in which England made Italy as superior as Spain in possession and the ridiculous number of shots & chances that were created against them were just simply brutal.

Even with modest expectations, England still managed to disappoint. You can’t really blame Roy Hodgson, for which he has done his best in such a short time to re-organize the squad. Can’t really blame the players either, as they’ve performed to the best of their ability. So, who’s the unfortunate scapegoat this time?

It’s the Premier League. Yes, you read it right. It’s the so-called the best league in the world that failed England. See, the #1 problem in this England team (and the recent past) is the lack of technically-gifted players in the squad. Note that I use the word ‘technically-gifted’ instead of ‘quality’. England have plenty of genuine quality players. Ashley Cole is probably one of the best left-backs in Europe. Steven Gerrard’s has plenty of admirers for his all-round ability. Wayne Rooney is borderline world-class. However, you need technically gifted & creative players in order to control games and create enough chances to win a football match. These players are necessities regardless of tactics and playing style of a certain team.

The reason why England were considerably more successful in the 80’s and early 90’s was the fact that they have enough of these players back then. Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, just to name a few. Paul Scholes was probably the last breed of an England player who possessed enough composure, technique, and vision.

When you look at the top 6 teams in the Premier League, you can easily see why their success (domestically & in Europe) are largely based on the fact that they have supremely talented playmakers on their team. Guess what, none of them are English. Man City possess the mercurial David Silva & Samir Nasri; Chelsea have Juan Mata; Arsenal rely on the combination of Arteta, Rosicky, and van Persie; Tottenham Hotspurs own van Der Vaart & Modric. Only Man Utd are deemed exception to the trend, but even they had to persuade Paul Scholes out of retirement for that extra composure in midfield and attack. The main reason why Liverpool have declined so much in recent seasons was the loss of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.

You don’t need a lot of these players in a team (unless you are Spain), but at least one or two are needed to make a team tick. All of Euro 2012 semifinalists possess at least one: Schweinsteiger & Oezil (Germany), Moutinho (Portugal), Montolivo & Pirlo (Italy), and all of Spain’s midfielders. It’s no coincidence that these teams have been able to showcase their superiority against most of their opponents in this tournament.

It’s up to the FA to rectify this problem. Focusing on youth development is important, but something needs to be done to limit the number of foreigners in the Premier League. England is not a country blessed with a plethora of naturally gifted footballers, that’s why they need to maximize what they have by giving these players as much playing time as possible.

Jack Wilshere might be England’s best hope for present and future, but England desperately need more than a Jack Wilshere. Chelsea’s Josh McEachran showed a lot of promise the season before last, but has seen his progress stalled with a change of manager and the arrival of Mata. There are probably a few more out there that are waiting for a chance. Unless the FA make some sort of adjustments to the Premier League to better accommodate home-grown talents, England will always be at their current level: mediocre at best.

5 Things: Why I Rooted for a Chelsea Win

Despite my considerable hatred toward The Blues, I genuinely celebrated their amazing triumph over the mighty Barcelona. Here’s why:

1. It’s about time to dispel the notion that ball possession is a key element to win a football match.
Barcelona had 82% of the possession that night. While luck played its part, most neutrals would agree that Chelsea deserved to win the tie. Just like Real Madrid two days earlier, Chelsea managed to hit Barcelona on the break and made them pay for their lack of defensive cover. The amount of possession in a game is irrelevant, it’s what you do with it that counts.

2. Defending is an art, not just plain negativity.
A lot of people take defensive teams for granted, blaming their negative approach to the game. Defense is a lot more than just putting 10 players behind the ball (football term: park the bus). It takes tremendous amount of organization, discipline, and concentration to defend well as a team. You can field 10 good defensive players in a team and still concede a few without the three aspects above. Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea really demonstrated the art of defending, especially during the 2nd half where they had to defend ultra-deep with only 9 outfielders against the world’s best attacking team.

3. Chelsea is due for some luck in this competition.
They lost to Liverpool in 2005 courtesy of Luis Garcia’s Shadow Goal, then lost another semifinal against the same opponent to a penalty shootout in 2007. In 2008 CL Final, Manchester United beat them, (yup, you’ve guessed it), on penalties. They say if you keep trying, all your past misfortunes will even out eventually. And eventually, yesterday was the day.

4. Really, you don’t want yet another El Clasico this season.
First of all, Real Madrid will have to beat Bayern Munich at the Barnabeu (not exactly a straightforward task against the mighty Bayern), so even a Barca win wouldn’t guarantee an El Clasico final. However, you can’t help but thinking the possibility of yet another El Clasico. True, the magnitude and importance of a CL Final will be different, but after 6 (SIX) meetings this season alone, it’s safe to say that a final other than Madrid vs Barca final would be much welcomed.

5. Real Madrid vs Chelsea final would be emotional. Yet another priceless Jose Mourinho moment to savor.
Again, forgive me for my premeditated assumption on Madrid winning the tie vs Bayern Munich. A Real Madrid vs Chelsea final would be a dream for neutrals. The match would contain all the aspects that makes football such a wonderful game. It’s David vs Goliath, the Rookie vs the Grandmaster. Above all, it’s going to be Jose Mourinho’s final. Winning or losing, it would be very emotional for Jose Mourinho to face the team that he absolutely love. A number of his old personnel are still there. Chelsea fans still adore Mourinho like no other. I do hope for a Madrid win tonight, for the sake of an unforgettable Final come May 19th.

5 Things: Why I should Re-Visit London

1. Windsor Castle & Eton
I had to remove Windsor Castle from my itinerary due to an unexpected schedule change. It was either Liverpool FC or Windsor, of course I picked the former. I’ll definitely visit Windsor on my 2nd visit.

2. London shopping streets
Bond St, Regent St, Carnaby St. I went to these places, but only for a few hours. There’s just too much to see with such limited time that I had. You could spend the whole day there and it won’t be enough.

3. The backside of Parliament Building, London Eye, & Westminster Abbey Tour
Again, time wasn’t on our side. I absolutely love the structure and history of great churches, and Westminster Abbey is one of them.

4. London food
I spent days to come up with a list of restaurants that I wanted to try in London (30+ restaurants!). Again, we had to rush everything and never found the time to put our activity aside and experience what London has to offer.

5. London’s West End Theatre
Last but definitely not least! This was among the top of my list as I haven’t seen a proper play for ages! When I saw those half-price tickets @ Leicester Square, I said to myself, “Next time, Ray. Next time!”

Yup, I will DEFINITELY come back for a 2nd visit. London is such a great city. I could easily spend a full week without missing a beat here!

Selamat Jalan, Maestro…

Nama Bubi Chen sudah tidak asing ditelinga saya. Sejak kecil saya sering mendengar namanya.

Tetapi baru sekitar 2-3 tahun ini saya bisa mendengarkan sebagian karya beliau.
Saat itu saya sadar bahwa Indonesia mempunyai musisi jazz kelas dunia. 
Sayang sekali apresiasi musik Jazz di Indonesia tidak begitu luas.
Saya sendiri hanyalah seorang casual listener Jazz; tetapi seseorang tidak perlu menjadi expert untuk bisa mengagumi karya beliau.
Kecepatan dan skill piano beliau bisa dikatakan setara dengan musisi-musisi Jazz di negara barat.
Saya sangat beruntung bisa mendengarkan performance terakhir beliau, sekitar 3 bulan lalu di Surabaya.
Saat itu ada yang bertanya kepada beliau, “How are you Om Bubi?” Dengan tersenyum beliau berkata, “Staying alive.”
RIP, Om Bubi. Indonesia telah kehilangan seorang maestro. Semoga musik Jazz di Indonesia tetap eksis dan tidak semakin terpuruk.
You may not be with us anymore; but your music will, like you said, stay alive.

The Value of a Handshake

It won’t stop racism.
It’s only a gesture of intent, nothing more.
So why bother?
Suarez to Liverpool is what Cantona was to United.

Mercurial, that’s the word.
You don’t expect decency in attitude from them; you only expect performances of the highest quality…
Or just plain stupidity…

If you want to kick racism out of football, you can start with the so-called supporters.
Charles Barkley once said, “I’m no role model.”
You can’t expect superstars to be role models. They are what they are.

Why argue over a pointless handshake?
Gentleman’s conduct?
Bullshit. Just look at the fans.
This ain’t golf. This ain’t polo. This is not a gentleman’s game.
This is Football, the people’s game.

You can’t stop racism with a handshake.
You can’t stop racism, ever.
But you can limit racism.

On Luis Suarez

Haven’t been in the mood to write anything within the last few months, but I just have to make an exception on this one.

Not going to say much, just watch this clip:

To score a hattrick is by no means an easy feat, no matter who the oppositions are (well, Fiji doesn’t count).
To score 4 goals in a match is extra special.
To score 4 goals in a match without a tap in is almost unheard of.
To score 4 goals with virtually every legal parts of your body is just…(enter your own superlatives here ’cause I can’t think of any)
I still remember Robbie Fowler’s perfect hattrick against Arsenal  (gosh, how long has that been?!), but this one is even better.

Let’s just hope Liverpool can keep this player a while longer. He’s quite an exquisite breed.