Brevity Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II (T-Mobile)

DSC_0095Price as Reviewed: $370 on a new 2-year contract with T-Mobile (web-only)

After already reviewing the awesome Galaxy Note II on AT&T, giving it a solid score of 9/10, praising how awesome it was, in ever sense of the word, it was high time to do another review of it, on another network. So, it’s time to look at T-Mobile’s version of the Galaxy Note II: the same specs, sans LTE, instead going for T-Mobile’s overclocked 4G HSPA+ network. The results are a little less amazing; HSPA+ gets you anywhere from 5MBps to 17MBps in the download sectorin New York City and the surrounding area.

The included carrier apps are pretty much equivalent to the apps that AT&T includes on their version of the Note II. Multi-Window, a feature that was just recently added via software update, is fantastic and useful if you want to multitask or switch to other apps quickly — it also just looks cool when you use it.

South Korea Is Getting Ready To Censor Teenager’s Phones

Rocking it on the Porsche wheels.While we rant about the fiscal cliff here in the United States, as well as WiFi on planes or the next device to debut, South Korea is using its government to allow for censorship. Ministry Of Gender Equality And Family, the censorship would come in the form of mandatory filtering software installed on teenagers’ phones designed to block “illegal [and] harmful information.” Such information includes swear words and slang—the removal of which is intended to curb cyber-bullying—as well as pornography and nudity.

Now, this may all be good and well, but last time I checked, South Korea was full of extremely tech-savvy teens, such as myself, that would immediately reverse the software which would be installed on their smartphones. So, it’s time to put your hacker hats on, and get ready to pwn some n00bz.

ViaNewsisThe Verge

Samsung Offering Free TecTiles And Flip Covers For GS3 And Note II Owners

314038_10151153285121786_1640482703_nWant to sign off some details on Facebook, plus the serial codes to your new Galaxy S III or Note II? Well, Samsung will give you something in return for your information (apparently): the promise of a free Flip Cover and free NFC TecTiles in return for registering their device. The offer, available to Samsung owners in the US, requires users to register their handset on the company’s Facebook Owner’s Hub, with a “customized care package” of accessories in return. Not bad.

If a Note II or GS3 owner does go through with this, they’ll get the NFC TecTiles, which would allow him/her to tag apps or actions for their phone to perform, as soon as it comes into contact with the tag. The Flip Cover is simply a useful accessory, however but are only available “while supplies last”, plus delivery takes 6-8 weeks.

Hmph. Via: Samsung (Facebook)

Landsat 5, The Oldest Satellite Watching Us, Shutting Down After 30 Years

Landsat5Both interesting and somber: US Geological Survey will soon shut down Landsat 5, an observational satellite that has been running since 1984. Landsat 5 was designed for a three-year run, but it’s now orbited the Earth over 150,000 times and transmitted 2.5 million images in nearly three decades, making it the longest-running Earth-observing satellite (yay!), though not the oldest satellite still in orbit. Ready for the fun fact?

Okay, let’s see: “Any major event since 1984 that left a mark on this Earth larger than a football field was likely recorded by Landsat 5, whether it was a hurricane, a tsunami, a wildfire, deforestation, or an oil spill,” says USGS Director Marcia McNutt.

But as of December 21st, the USGS announced that a gyroscope had broken, putting it beyond repair. Thus, it will be decommissioned over the next few months. As for the other USGS observation satellite, Landsat 7, launched in 1999 and is still running, while Landsat 8 is scheduled to launch in February of 2013.

Via: Space

Gmail Phone Calls To Remain Free Until 2013, For The Third Year In-A-Row

googlexmasdoodleIn a rather refreshing update from the official Google Gmail Blog, phone calls placed through VoIP (essentially Google Voice) will remain free for the third year, extending through 2013. Is this good news? Yes. Of course, if you think placing phone calls while typing out lengthy emails in Gmail to any number in the United States for free is a good thing, then it is. Also, consider this your Christmas gift from Google.

Via: Google 

NASA Ready To Build New Rocket After Passing Design Review

663802main_SLS-Ground-View_25BB29_cropped_946-710Good news! The Space Launch System meant to eventually power a mission to Mars, has just passed its preliminary design review, a milestone that opens the door to building the rocket, in time for launch in 2017. What was the review looking to evaluate? Firstly, to make sure that the project timeline and costs are feasible, and that the core can successfully integrate with other parts of the rocket, like the boosters and main engines — you know, the exciting aspects of rockets.

Now, NASA says it will begin building initial versions of the parts, hoping to have a final design by the time another review comes up in 2014. “We are running ahead of schedule,” says Program Manager Todd May, “and will leverage that schedule margin to ensure a safe and affordable rocket for our first flight in 2017.” While this particular SLS rocket in in development, Orion, a capsule that’s meant to take astronauts to Mars sometime in the future, with testing planned for 2014 and the first manned flight in 2021.

Also, it is worth noting that NASA is not receiving much from the US government, so relying on public-private partnerships recently has been the norm, but in light of that, it’s managing the SLS program, contracting with Boeing (and others) to make these engineering concepts a reality.

Via: NASA, Image Credit: NASA

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Review: Simply Put, It Just Needs More Work


This is the Samsung ATIV Smart PC. An Intel Atom-based, 2GB of RAM, 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 resolution display, with back-facing 8MP camera and a front-facing for video chats. What makes the ATIV stand out from other tablets however, is that it uses Windows RT, the ARM version of Windows 8. And in this special instance, I have an AT&T version of the ATIV, with 4G LTE networking (a WiFi-only model exists as well, along with NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Off the top of your head, you’d expect considering the specs, software, and overall the idea on paper would work?

Well, it turns out, the ATIV may be a very compelling tablet, but there are a few choice words we’ve have for it — after the break.

‘Minecraft: The Story of Mojang’ Documentary Uploaded To Pirate Bay By Its Creators

The Pirate BayIn what can only be described as not only a tactical advantage/PR stunt, 2 Player Productions, the small production company behind the documentary, Minecraft: The Story of Mojang have uploaded their movie to The Pirate Bay. The documentary, which premieres exclusively on Xbox Live today, and it details Minecraft’s path as it rose to becoming a phenomenon worldwide. Post-Xbox screening, the film will be sold digitally for $8 in a DRM-free video format starting tomorrow; a $20 physical DVD will also be available.

But the question that has to be asked is: why? Well, it turns out the film studio made it easy to understand: “We’re just three guys trying to make a living doing what we love,” they say. “The reason we Kickstarted this movie in the first place was that we didn’t have enough money to make it ourselves, and even then, we still put A LOT of our own money into it.”

And that’s the end of it.

Via: Twitter