I Got My Driver’s License

Dear Fall 2016 me, College Freshman me, High School Upperclassman me, and 10 year old me,

Remember when your older brother told you to look at dad and say “Dad, in 6 years I will be driving” even though you didn’t believe it? You were right, you wouldn’t be driving in 6 years.

Remember when you were 16 and everyone around you was growing up, getting cars, racing each other, and dipping their toes into independence? You knew you were a shy, scared teenager. You didn’t need to drive, but you couldn’t understand why the world expected you to do so. How could you see yourself ever behind a wheel?

Remember when you were a freshman in college and you had the freedom of choice but were still bound by the chains of transportation? You could take the bus, but time, schedules, and flat feet limited your options. Kids in high school were getting their license, having the freedom of driving, but you weren’t ready. And not to mention you knew access to a car mixed with your suicidal thoughts were a bad concoction. The freedom to go anywhere you like would also give you the freedom to kill yourself in an instant.

Remember when you got your second permit and were scared, but with the help of driving lessons and Prozac, you gained confidence and the courage to drive? You hated driving. Every time you sat in the seat, you felt the risk of hitting cars and other objects, the possibility of crashing, and the fear of losing control. You could barely change lanes without breathing heavily. Driving anywhere besides school and home felt life threatening.

We did it. We passed on the first try. Mom was so afraid you’d never be able to drive, but you proved her and yourself wrong. You only made 3 errors, one of which was something Mom nagged you about (not creeping forward enough at a stop sign). A week later (yesterday), you got your license in the mail, and you got to see yourself, with your freshly dyed, bright blue and green hair, scared of the unknown driving future that was ahead of you.

But you did it. And now you drive yourself to school, work, stores, and study sessions at Starbucks. You can be with your friends now. You can drive your little brother everywhere.

And to my future driving self, I hope the courage to drive the freeway by yourself comes soon, and the confidence to drive to far away places like Vegas and Little Saigon come sooner.

Welcome to adulthood.

Tech Review: HP Spectre x360 13-ac023dx

The following review is not sponsored not paid for by any company or other. I’m writing this out of the goodness of my heart and because I like reviewing things. I’ll be happy to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge in the comments section whenever posted, as soon as I see it.

School Use

The portability and versatility of this laptop makes it great for bringing around for anything. Thanks to its pen compatible touchscreen, I can pretty much put my whole backpack into this thing and bring it anywhere to study. I usually split my screen between my online homework (Mastering Physics or Sapling Learning) and OneNote (my workspace or scratchpaper).

The best part about this device is that it is a computer that can is as portable as a tablet. This means I don’t need to worry about compatibility issues with plugins, and my software is not restricted to an app store (although, Android is pretty lenient). I don’t use my Lenovo Tablet anymore because this laptop fits my needs, and that device is pretty slow.

I am currently working with my chemistry teacher to help her establish a paperless (as much as possible) classroom. Since buying the laptop, I have done all my worksheets and labs (in my own handwriting) on the computer and submitted them through Canvas. Some classes still require me to submit things the old fashion way- pencil and paper.

Gaming + Other Entertainment

When I bought this laptop, I made sure I got something that could do everything my Toshiba did (minus an optical drive) and more. That being said, Blade and Soul runs so much faster on my Spectre. It doesn’t lag, and the only problems I seem to have are related to my choppy internet.

However, I have a hard time playing DOOM (NOT the 2016 version. The classic version) on DOS Box. Also, I do not have an optical drive, so I will be playing DOOM and my Nancy Drew games on the Toshiba.

The laptop boasts audio from Bang & Olufsen. I don’t know who they are, and I have no idea if the sound quality is that big of a deal.

I’ve enjoyed drawing various pictures and edited a few photos using Paint.net and Krita Desktop. When drawing, I usually put the Spectre in tablet mode and draw with my pen.

In general, programs run much faster, thanks to its large RAM and high-end processor.

So many people told me I need to get a different laptop for gaming because Surfaces and Ultrabooks are not meant for that. If you’re a casual gamer, like me, then that will not be a problem.

Other Notes

I have two pens that work on my Spectre- the one that came with the laptop and a Surface Pen. Both work well. The Surface Pen (recommended and gifted from my friend. Thanks, Lawrence!) responds to the Spectre just as it would with a Surface, eraser and all. The only thing that I think doesn’t work is the end button functionality. Supposedly I can set the computer to respond to 1 or 2 clicks, but it does not seem to work.

I usually stay away from HP and Dell products because of the extra programs they add that slow down the computer (and as of recently, my family and I are done with Dell, an issue I may write about in the future). This computer runs fast, and the bloatware is minimal. The few HP programs it comes with are helpful, such as Tips and Orbit. Orbit lets me send files to and from my phone.

I know I have talked bad about Windows 10 in the past, but I really like how the operating system complements this computer. I prefer 10 over 8.1.

Cons

Sometimes the screen skips while I’m drawing/writing with a pen. I heard this is something that happens with a Surface, too. This seems to happen to me when my hand is close to the point I am drawing.

I’ve also had some weird mouse glitches recently where the computer interprets a single click as a double click. I assume this can be avoided using a different mouse that is not the ClickPad.

This computer only has 4 ports, 2 of them USB-C, 1 of them USB 3.0. I had to buy 2 hubs so I can use HDMI or plug more than one USB 2.0/3.0 peripheral. The USB-C hub I bought to plug the laptop into HDMI, another USB port, and another USB-C port cost about $16 from AliExpress. Basically, I need hubs and docks in order to use this like a regular computer.

The hinge is not as sturdy as I would like it to be. For example, if I put the Spectre at an angle between 270 and 360 degrees (raised tablet mode) and I write on it, I have to hold the screen on the other side, otherwise the screen will go down as I push it with the pen.

Unlike tablets and the Surface, I don’t think there is a case I can use to protect the Spectre. However, it comes with a leather case (with little padding) for carrying it around.

I’m still not sure how to turn off that setting that keeps the mouse from moving a few seconds after I use the keyboard.

I heard Best Buy is the only official retailer of Spectre x360s, other than HP themselves, so they almost have a monopoly.

Other Candidates

You can see my discussion on other candidates here.

Other candidates include the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book i5, Dell XPS, HP Spectre x360 15in, (future) Surface Pro 5, and (future) Lenovo Miix 720.

The biggest advantage this has over Microsoft Surface Pros and Surface Books is the price. A Surface Pro with similar specs (16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, i7 processor) would cost at least $1700, but I bought this at $1350. The Surface Pros and Books have better screen resolution than the Spectre.

Specs 

  • Windows 10
  • 13.3″ FHD Screen (1920×1080)
  • 2.7 GHz Intel i7-7500U Processor (Kaby Lake)
  • IR Camera that supports Windows Hello
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD Storage
  • 15 Hour Battery Life
  • Weighs 2.84 lbs
  • 2 USB-C Ports, 1 USB-A Port, 1 Headphone Jack
  • Bluetooth Enabled

Source

tl;dr I am so happy I got the HP Spectre x360 13in. I recommend this computer to everyone in the market for a Surface or similar.

Buying a New Laptop

I decided toward the second semester of my sophomore year in college that I want to integrate my school work with my computer. It started with writing notes in a OneNotebook rather than my composition book for Biology. I liked being able to copy-paste pictures, links, and files into the notebook. Additionally, I type much faster than I write, and I don’t finish class or study sessions with cramped hands. I was also impressed with my friends’ Surface Pros and Surface Books, which had touchscreens that worked with digitizer pens.

After a few months of contemplating and weighing pros and cons, I decided to go with the HP Spectre 13in over popular candidates, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Microsoft Surface Book, and the HP Spectre x360 15in. My priorities, in order from most to least importance, were pen compatibility, RAM, weight, and processor.  Continue reading

Re: Goals for Fall 2016

Just an update from the future.

1. You passed Biology with a B. It was so tough but you did it. 

2. You barely got the A, you homework avoiding shmuck. But you did that too. 

3. You got into physics 222 and passed that, 2% away from an A. You still got a B. Oh well

4. Yes, thanks to priority registration from work, you got the classes you wanted for spring. You got a great schedule. 

5. But no you didn’t get your license. 

Too Much GTA

About a month ago, my brother and I received our first TV console- a PlayStation 4. He’s enjoying Overwatch with his friends while I, who has little to no friends with a PS4, am wasting my nights playing GTA V.

I love the map. I love that it is a playground. I get my jollies from killing people and making them suffer.

But this game is too realistic for me. While I enjoy playing in an alternate Los Angeles, I am afraid of it affecting the way I drive in real life.

I saw a nice muscle car the other day and thought “wow, I should steal that car”. But then I realized I can’t do that in real life. I probably sound like a shmuck saying that but it is true. I’m also afraid of being chased by the cops, but then I remember that the possibility of that happening is much less likely then me running over real pedestrians for fun.

As far as driving goes, I am making great progress. I think I’ll be ready to take my driving test in two months. I drove my first full length out of town trip (1.5 hours each way) today, and overall I feel more confident as a driver than when I first started in September. 

Still suck at parking though. 

GTA has helped me understand reverse better. Hopefully I can learn to park from it, too.

I Don’t Like Seeing People From High School

High school was a time where I did not belong. I rarely found things in common with other people. I was “uncool” and because of that, I was not a person of interest for some people. I had a group of people with whom I discussed politics and other intellectual subjects, but eventually they abandoned me, and I still have no idea why they left me out.

This is specifically about high school students in my graduating class.

There are people from high school who make me feel happy. For some, I met them in college. For others, I have known them better after graduating. But overall, I’m glad most people went everywhere but community college. Continue reading