Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Keyboard: Fleksy

Sometime in May, I read an article about a young fellow named Marcel. He had broken the Guinness World Record for fastest typing on a smartphone and it was achieved with an app called Fleksy. Up to that point, I had tried on a lot of keyboards for my phone (previously), because I was not very happy with the one it originally came with. The article also mentioned that the creators of this particular keyboard were Greeks and as a Greek myself I felt patriotic and proud and decided to give it a try. And that was it, I was hooked. Fleksy had got me excited for typing.

The thing is, I don't usually get excited about apps. I see them as a tool for the everyday digital activities such as mail, notes, transport, social and general media, etc. This is the reason why I have the minimum amount of apps on my phone, each one of them serving its own purpose. I don't see the point in having a phone full of apps that I do not use, but that's just old me. Needless to say, Fleksy is the only keyboard I have installed on my phone.

Fleksy makes the boring task of typing an enjoyable experience. First of all, the design is minimal and elegant as you can see in the screenshots above. There is the option of a smaller size keyboard and also an invisible one. The gestures are innovative but they need a little practising at first; after a little while, every swipe feels natural and smooth. Emojis, colourful themes, multiple languages, earning badges while typing and powerful auto-correct complete the package that is Fleksy. As far as I am concerned, it is the best keyboard out there. Download it here.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Burger: Kuro

Burger King is launching "Kuro Burger" (Black Burger) in Japan this month. It has black buns and black cheese both made with bamboo charcoal. There is also a sauce containing squid ink.

Bamboo charcoal and squid ink? That sounds and looks delicious and not like something that would give you superpowers at all.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Book: Jeff VanderMeer - Annihilation

In February, I was in hospital for almost twenty days. Boredom had struck me early, frustration as well, due to the health issue but mostly due to my fellow human co-patients. My phone (previously), had also found this perfect time to present its first glitch and not connect to the Internet properly. Τhere was an available software update that would fix this Internet connectivity problem, but the lack of wi-fi connection at the hospital made that impossible. I managed to connect to the Internet using mobile data but it was only for short periods of time. During one of those, I read an article about a book called ''Annihilation'' by Jeff VanderMeer, the first of the "Southern Beach" trilogy. The plot intrigued me so I downloaded it and began reading. It was as good as it was described, possibly even more.

Four women, a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor and a psychologist are the members of an expedition to the uninhabited for years, Area X. The members of the previous expedition to that place returned changed and all of them died of cancer within weeks. The goal of this 12th expedition is for the women (the characters have no particular names, just their profession) to explore what is happening there and not get contaminated. They arrive and all hell breaks loose.

I will spare you the details and the possible spoilers. If you liked the enigmas of the island in Lost and enjoy stories that are creepy but also beautiful at the same time, then this is a book for you.

I'll just say this one: a dolphin with a human eye. Let that sink in.

Monday, 8 September 2014

An Ice Cream: Xamaleón

Xamaleón is a flavour of ice cream created by Manuel Linares, a Spanish chef and physicist. Its name is a variation of the word "chameleón" which is, you guessed it, the chameleon in Spanish. Chameleons are lizards capable of changing their colour according to the environment they find themselves in. This ice cream does a similar thing.

Its initial colour is this bluish/purple one.

While eating it, it gradually changes until it becomes fully pink.

This sorcery is due to the change of temperature as the ice cream is melting and reacts with its eater's saliva. The recipe is secret, but it tastes like tutti-frutti and if you want a try, you have to visit Barcelona.

Me? I prefer Cornettos.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A Course: Comic Book and Graphic Novels

A year ago I decided to do my first MOOC. For those unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with cows; it stands for Massive Open Online Course. I had recently heard about Coursera, a platform where anyone can attend free online courses on a variety of topics from universities all over the world.

The course I chose was called "Comic Book and Graphic Novels", it was offered from the University of Colorado Boulder and the professor was Mr. William Kuskin who was passionate about comic books and his favourite phrase was ''Onwards!". It consisted of weekly online lectures in which the professor analysed comic book pages and talked about the history of comics and multiple choice quizzes. This was the easy part.

In order to complete the course successfully I had also to a) write two papers in English (my native language is Greek, so why do you write this blog in English you ask, a good question I reply), b) create a four-page comic with a cover, art and story, all mine and c) evaluate papers and comics of other students. I had some general ideas for the comic but my drawing ability was limited. I began sketching and trying to write a short story with dialogues. I chose two characters and a near futuristic, kinda sci-fi theme. Page by page the project came to life and it was completed before the due date.

The title of my story is "Abducted" and you can feast your eyes upon it here. All rights are reserved although "Piece of Moon Comics" do not exist in real life. Yet.

The course is offered for a second time this September. I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to have fun, learn interesting facts about comics and graphic novels, discover their importance and create something of his or her own. The whole experience of the course was great and that was due to the professor and the people of the University and Coursera but mostly due to the enthusiasm of my fellow classmates.

Join here.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Chicken: Ayam Cemani

This breed of chickens comes from Indonesia and is called Ayam Cemani which means "completely black chicken" in Javanese.

Its name is the literal description of it as it is completely black including its feathers, eyes, tongue, beak, legs, nails, meat and organs.

It looks extremely beautiful and otherwordly but a single one of them costs around 2000 euros.

I'll stick with the common whitish ones.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Phone: Motorola Moto G

In November of 2013 I purchased a Moto G phone since my old one had tragically died by death of its power button. It was an old Nokia which I was using for over a year since I had lost my previous phone, a ZTE Blade, in a torrent whilst in a bus, don't ask, it's a story for another time.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a phone so when I came across Moto G and read all the reviews about it, I knew it was the one for me. It was cheap but not cheaply made, it had great specifications, an even greater screen and the thing that everybody was saying was that it was the best value for money Android smartphone anyone could get. So I got it and all I had read about came out to be true. It is a phone that runs smoothly, it is fast, the vanilla Android software is perfect and it hasn't let me down until today. The only disappointing aspects of it are its pretty crappy camera and the lack of a microSD slot but I knew about those before I bought it.

Today, Motorola announced some new products. Amongst them is the new Moto G with a bigger 5" screen instead of the 4.5'' of its predecessor, a better camera with 8MP and 2MP instead of 5MP and 1.2MP, front facing stereo speakers, dual SIM and a microSD slot.

Putting two and two together, the conclusion is that it is a better version of the last one, although I prefer the smaller screen. So, if you are in search of a low-budget but exceptional phone in an exceptional price (their slogan is dead-on), you should buy it. Even if it is only as good as the first one, you will love it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Song: alt-J - Every Other Freckle

I came across this song today. It is called ''Every Other Freckle'' and is by alt-J, an English band I like.

It is the third single from their sophomore album ''This Is All Yours'' which is to be released on the 22th of September.

You can find below two similar videos of the song, one featuring a man and the other a woman. They both also feature a cat, scenes from nature, first people references and human bottoms.

It contains the lyric "Turn you inside out to lick you like a crisp packet", so yes, it is great.

A Post: Hello

This is my first post and it's about welcoming you to my blog.

Mindful is someone who is attentive and aware of his surroundings or things that may be important. I believe I am a mindful one.

So, join me if you like and we'll see together where this goes.