HP Spectre XT Ultrabook

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The HP Spectre XT is one of those sleek looking Ultrabooks, and the moment I saw it I liked how it felt and looked. My first real Windows 8 experience at the Microsoft store in Boston, after trying out several different machines I went for the HP Spectre XT. I liked the 15-inch screen and the touch and feel of it.

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It is a different machine then last years Ultrabooks, the ASUS Zenbook Prime I have is thin with a metal finish which makes it slippery and a very nice 13 inch screen. Its great for traveling, and light the battery wasn’t that great. But it was a great machine, but I wanted something a bit bigger then is more powerful and so that is why I went with HP Spectre XT. It has this industrial finish to it that makes it very appealing, it really looks like an Apple device, if I didn’t know it was an HP laptop. This was the machine I was looking for to jump into Windows 8, I’m not used to a laptop with a Touch Screen but it was an interesting idea, and people are always surprised when I make adjustments right onto the screen.

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Specifications

  • Operating system – Windows 8 64
  • Processor – Intel® Core™ i7-3517U (3 GHz/1.9 GHz )
  • Screen size – 15.6″ diagonal full HD IPS BrightView LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
  • Memory – 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Hard drive – 500 GB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • Secondary hard drive – Acceleration cache (32 GB Solid State Drive cache) with Intel Smart Response Technology

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Pros:

  • Beautiful Design, I Love The Clean Metal Feel
  • Touch Screen – Works Perfectly
  • Very Nicely Spaced Out Full Keyboard
  • A Decent Touch Pad, but the Windows 8 gestures get a bit annoying
  • The Sound On the laptop is very loud and clear, Which was Perfect for my need
  • Powerful Processor – Can handle anything I threw at it

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Cons:

  • Seriously Horrible Battery, barely lasts two hours
  • Substantially Heavy Machine
  • During Hibernation it Loses Battery Power

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Wrap Up

I got this laptop before the new Intel Haswell boards came out which was optimized and in all the ultrabooks. The reason why this laptop annoys me after several months of use is because of the battery, its a beautiful machine that I enjoy using but runs out of battery so quickly. It barely lasts 2.5 hours with the screen at full, and if you lower the brightness you can get it to 3.5 hours but just barely, this isn’t what we have come to know from laptops, we expect more of them. But as my first experience into Windows 8 I have to say that I enjoyed it and learned a lot, the machine itself is perfect for Windows 8, there was a lot to it that I had to figure out. For $1299 over it is a powerful laptop in a beautiful package, and the price decent, but the battery is annoying.

Rating:

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مبارك عليكم الشهر – Ramadan Kareem

BalahAlShaam

The first day is always a tough day, waking up early in the morning and heading into work like normal. It was 54 Degrees today, made it hard to hold onto the steering wheel. This is going to be another tough month, but as usual the streets were empty in the morning but lots of traffic at 4pm. Hopefully everyone has a good Ramadan this year, I’m keeping it simple this year. Going to work and going to the gym, that is the goal for this month, I want to be consistent with it.

Applecentric

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This post has been a long time coming, and at this point I think it is somewhat appropriate. I have been a Windows user for a very long time, some Linux and Solaris thrown into the mix for a little while but never really Apple. So over the past few years I got introduced to Apple, the first one being the Mac Mini from last year which was an impressive little guy. If you asked me back in 2006 if I would be using a Mac I would say that is blasphemy but now I will happily admit it. Over the years I think that Apple’s hardware has improved drastically and you get the better hardware for a better price unlike before, and OS X and higher is much better then its previous versions with better compatibility. Still I’m really annoyed that they don’t have NTFS built into OS X but I think its just Apple being their usual stubborn self so people can’t use the same external USB/Hard Drive between Apple & Windows Machines. I have been using my iPod for a while now, pretty much since the iPod Touch came out and the useful applications and games. So a few years later I got into my first apple, and it was as if I was walking into an unknown zone. Overall I think Apple does have a winning product but you can’t knock Windows just yet, it does have its good uses and I know you Apple fans do get crazy but it wouldn’t be dominating in the market if it didn’t do something right. A lot of you know how much I love Android products but I do love my iPad, I will admit which platform is better for which application, and Apple knows how to integrate all their products but its annoying how much they lock out other companies from innovating on their platforms. I prefer my Android over iOS by far but I wouldn’t mind it syncing with iTunes so I can get my music, of course there are ways to get around it but I’m too lazy to go through the hassle. Luckily for me I started using Spotify to a large extent and so I depended less on iTunes but still on an Apple device iTunes is worlds better then on Windows, for one thing it works.

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What I really think which is better in which:

Mac:

  • Graphical Items
  • Doesn’t Crash As Much, And Yes It Does Crash Under My Abuse
  • Very Smooth Interface, Very Nice Design Of Their Machines

Windows:

  • Network Management
  • Larger Software Compatibility
  • More Games, Alot More Games
  • Larger Variety of Manufacturers to Choose From

I haven’t really jumped into any video editing yet so I can’t compare between the machines, but most probably I will be trying it out on the Mac for sure. If you ask me which do I use more I would say its 70% Windows 30% Apple, and for work I can only use Windows. Apple can be used in Advertising or Media companies but everything else its Windows, too many work applications just aren’t compatible with Macs.

Abyat – Excellent Customer Service

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Recently we needed a few items for the office so we decided to pick it up from Abyat. We were fixing up the waiting room so it need a carpet, a few tables, and some print work they had available.

It’s simple there with everything available to you in all the different sections, we even picked up some lights from there to replace the old ceiling lights we had.

Some items were to be sent out for delivery, and the next day there was a mistake they sent the wrong color carpet but everything else was fine.

So we didn’t sign the delivery note, and the whole order wasn’t that large but the man took it back and they sorted it out the next day with the right items. But throughout that time the Customer Service called us, the Warehouse Manager called, and the person in charge of the section called. They really followed up which is excellent on their end to my surprise, and this was sorted and done without us even bothering to call them, and it was just one item so it wasn’t a hassle to sort it out in our case, but they made a fuss about it and got it done. It’s rare to see service such as this in Kuwait and I was impressed.

Friends – After 9 Years

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It took me 9 years to watch the last season of Friends, I was avoiding it for a while, but then I just decided to watch Season 10 from the beginning. I didn’t see the last half of it. So it was fun watching the show again, feels like everything is fresh again, then I realized that they had a CRT TV in the living room and still used cordless phones in the apartment. The old gang doesn’t really change, with Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Ross, Rachel, and Monica. Back then I only knew them as that, didn’t even want to know their real names. I remember when people used to buy the video tapes in christmas and summer to watch show in Kuwait, nothing was online then as much as now, we would wait months to see the show and I remember I was addicted thanks to my cousin. And then I got to watch it every Thursday on NBC at home in my apartment in the states, it felt like they were a part of our lives, I don’t think I got as attached to a show or familiar with a show as much as this. My apartment furniture was from Pottery Barn because of them, it has a somewhat same feel as to the friends apartment since I wanted to be comfortable. There is a lot I had tied to this show, and it was one of the reasons that I was looking forward moving to the states, that you would have a life like that, going out on the town, finding that crazy Chinese place you love, and these guys make you love it. So the ending was tough to watch so I didn’t want it, for 9 years, and I finally did and I have to say I’m happy I did. I do wish the show never ended thats for sure, I loved it and everyone on it. I pretty much look for any show with Joey or Chandler on it, because to me these guys will always be great.

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2013 Infiniti QX56 – The Beast

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I tried this car the first time around for three days in February, this time around I had a chance to drive the car for exactly 17 days and it is a beast, and I can’t blame anyone for loving this machine. Infinite have an amazing machine on their hands, excellent navigation, simple controls, very comfortable and spacious interior.

Things That I love:

  • 400 Horsepower Beast
  • Looks Like A Whale Or Rhino From the Front, Intimidating Machine
  • It handles and is fast, it accelarates like a rocket for its size
  • Extremely comfortable interior, drove it for 5.5 hours straight without a problem
  • Excellent sound system and navigation
  • Substantially Cheaper then the Lexus
  • Solid Machine, it can handle anything you can throw at it, and I roughed it up a bit
  • Lots of options to control rear seats and AC from the front in an intuitive way
  • Excellent Cameras all on sides and it works great when parking
  • Great Maneuverability, surprisingly fits in amazing places

Honestly I was very surprised how much I liked the QX56, it surpassed my expectations. I am extremely loyal to Toyota because the car just lasts after taking so much torture from my use, but this machine is a beast and I am seriously impressed. I am keeping it in mind in the coming future for an SUV choice. And I wouldn’t buy the Lexus over the Infinite, doesn’t make any sense, its a better car, more options, more powerful, and for a lesser price.

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Crippled With Out A Phone

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While traveling the last couple of weeks I was walking to a store when my Nexus 4 slipped out of my pocket and landed face first into the concrete side walk in Los Angeles. The phone had a protective cover so I thought that it would be fine even when I heard the flat splat when it hit. I picked up the phone and saw that lovely crack across it.

The was crack across a quarter of the screen, I could have lived with that until I got it fixed but then only 1/4 of the screen work, the other 3/4 of the touch screen didn’t work, so I literally couldn’t access anything on that part, all I could do was see the notifications and go to them and get stuck.

I went nuts, unlike the iPhone not everyone can fix a Nexus 4 or have the parts. It was Saturday afternoon I had to go travel on Sunday and they wouldn’t be able to fix it until Tuesday, and I was at loss, I would be back in Los Angeles in a week but still no phone for a week.

So I went into TMobile and picked up a Nexus 4 for $500, locked to Tmobile and my line was Tmobile, even though Google unlocked sold for $350 but I was in a spot where I didn’t have much options so I got it and signed in with my Gmail account which automatically downloaded all my Apps which were on my Nexus 4. Loved that, I love that Google did that automatically and I just left it to the wifi for an hour to get everything working again.

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The only thing I was crippled with was WhatsApp wasn’t working and that was my main mode of communication with family and friends. The reason it didn’t work is because WhatsApp groups I was associated with and people, are with my Kuwait line and they send a msg to that line, and this phone only accepts Tmobile lines not Zain. So I was out of touch of WhatsApp for a while.

I read somewhere that people can handle their cars being stolen, but they can’t handle their phone being stolen. I now really believe in that, in Kuwait I have a few other phones to back me up and I could be up and running in a few hours, in this case I was stranded and lost for a while, I couldn’t even call a few people because I didn’t have the numbers memorized.

I knew that Tmobile had a 30 day return policy and all they would take is a $50 restocking fee which I thought was worth it in this case after getting my phone fixed. But it took a bit longer and I had to live without WhatsApp and honestly it felt pretty good to be a bit disconnected while I was traveling, not totally disconnected but at least not my phone dinging every 30 seconds.

My screen was fixed but the battery was acting strange and the back plate was still cracked but I was very happy to have things back to normal. But it was very annoying situation to be in

Water Damaged – Nexus 4

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Liquids are one of the things that I keep far away from my desk, but every once in a while I have a bottle of water there, and even that I am very conscious of it. There have been a few incidents but luckily nothing has been damaged. Until the other day I was working late into the night on emails and posts, and I had a bottle of water next to my Nexus 4 and Keyboard. I turned around and I knocked the bottle over, I could even see it in slow motion, I was saying “Nooooooo”. I tried to grab it but my mind was operating on fumes so that didn’t work. I quickly lifted the bottle removed all electronics from the vicinity.

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I got some water on the screen of the Nexus 4 and the keyboard, everything else was fine. I soaked up the keyboard quickly and the Nexus 4, the keyboard didn’t have any issues. When I used the Nexus 4 it was fine but the speaker by the ear pieces sounded like a radio from the 1950s. I tried drying it with a kleenex and forcing it in but didn’t work, still sound crappy 15 mins later. There was only one solution that I knew off, I got a small glass flower pout and filled it with rice and stuck the phone in it all night long. Next day I used the phone crossing my fingers, and it was perfectly fine, no issues. I don’t know why but I always remember that rice can soak up water and humidity from electronics, they tell you to take the battery out but in my case I left it in there and charge it over night too, worked perfect the next morning.

2013 The Start Of A New Year

Everyone thinks of the things that they did the year before whenever they come to the new one. In my case I’m thankful for all the good things that happened in 2012 and learned from the bad. I managed to accomplish a lot of my goals and enjoy a lot of adventures, but there are a few things that I missed which is sticking to the gym and losing weight, that always seems to evade me, my craving for food is just too much.

2012 is the year of the Android, so many devices and so many advances and I’m happy I got my hands on them. Of course everyone went nuts over any new Mac Product like clock work, but there were a few improvements which I will admit to like the iPod Touch and a few other devices. I managed to ride in a few different locations this time around and I hope to ride in more locations soon, that is the plan for 2013 with regards to riding. I always have a lot of plans in my head I just have to action them, but happily I have made a lot of progress with a lot of projects, it was a very busy year but luckily nothing fell through the cracks. I need to be a bit more active, but that viral & bacterial infection that I caught at the beginning of December really knocked me out.

New Years was simple for me, just two other guys and I manned the BBQ & a few shows, keeping it simple was the goal this time around. What were your plans?

The M6 Impounded By A Police Officer With A Grudge

This was probably one of the dumbest situations I have been in because of a cop with a grudge. Took place around 4:00 pm on a Friday.

I just left 360 Mall and exited onto the residental road in Zahra to get to 6th Ring Road quickly, I was traveling about 50 or 60, taking my time just had a good lunch with a few of the guys. There is a police station lot on the right hand side after about 300 meters. A police car pull outs in front, about three cars in front, didn’t think twice I was driving normally, turned right and so did everyone else to get to the bridge that goes over, just like the map, below I was following the blue route. As I was taking the curving exit back onto 6th Ring Road he was still a few cars in front of me, and was the exit was merging he switched on his lights and people were passing him and as I passed he shouted “Owner Of The BMW Pull Over”, I thought to myself this will get interesting. He pulled me over at the red spot on the map just before merging onto 6th ring road.

I stepped out of the car right away and a young police officer stepped out and came to me, I told him hello and whats wrong? He said nothing, went to the front of the car and said license and registration I gave him both. He said your license place has been modified it should be in the center, then I said what do you mean modified, he said you can’t move the location I said that is the mount do you see any screws in the middle, he didn’t say anything, then I said it just passed Car Inspection and last I checked the License Plate has to be in front of the car bumper not specifically in the center. Then he said it was loud and I said this is from the dealer, then I asked him what car he thought this was, he said 625 (That isn’t even one of the models), I told him its not, its a modified sports version of it. He seemed to be ok with that and then the other cop stepped out of the police car and he was white and chubby. The First guy was Bader Al Mutari and he was pretty decent and didn’t seem intent on anything. The other guy came out, his name was Ahmed Yousef, I won’t be forgetting his name anytime soon, and hopefully Karma will bite him in the ass soon enough.

Going back, when the second guy came out the conversation took another turn and this time it was a twist and this is how it went:

  • Him: Write him up for a violation
  • Me: What exactly is the violation
  • Him: Your license plate
  • Me: Its in the front and you could see it

Then He Changes

  • Him: Your car is loud
  • Me: This is from the factory and its not a normal car, what car do you think it is
  • Him: You made a 635 this way
  • Me: This isn’t the same car and you should know the difference, this is an M6 which is louder and faster and a different color then the normal 6 series
  • Him: Where is your proof
  • Me: You have the Car Registration in your hand, look at it
  • Him: Ah, yes M6

Then He Changes Again:

  • Him: Your Car is Two Colors Thats Illegal
  • Me: What are you talking about illegal
  • Him: It says only Blue in your Registration
  • Me: Read under the second color, it says Black, just under the stamp and why would I change a color from the Factory, again its an M6, I think you as a traffic cop would know the difference between cars
  • Him: Ah, ok..

(Sometimes you have to BS some of these guys cuz they try to push)

Then He Changes Again:

  • Him: Your Car is Tinted
  • Me: Yes It Is
  • Him: Thats Illegal
  • Me: It was just recently legalized
  • Him: Yours is more then the legal limit
  • Me: I’m not gonna argue with you, it is tinted
  • Him – Talking to the Other Officer: Write him up, IN Total Violation Of Tinting Laws
  • Me: What exactly do I have to do now
  • Him: We are impounding your car
  • Me: WHAT! For tint, I wasn’t even driving fast, just heading home
  • Him: ….
  • Me: Take my license, my car registration, both, why the hell would you impound the car
  • Him: … (again ignoring me)
  • Me: What exactly is going on here, you stopped me for one reason and now want to impound me for tint, thats over the top

Things went south from there, I tried calling a few people but on a Friday nobody was answering and I was out of luck. He told the other officer to get in the car with me and for me to follow him to the Impound yard, which is in Sabhan. He also shouted that it is illegal for me to make phone calls while driving. When we got in the car I spoke to the other officer and I said I’m going to make a few phone calls, he said go ahead and try to talk to someone, he seemed like a normal guy. I asked him what exactly was his problem, he said you are under his mercy at this point. Just my luck nobody was answering their phones so I took the car and the lot in Sabhan is run by KPTC.

Throughout this period I was talking to them in a respectful way, even when we were at the impound lot the Egyptian Manager tried to reason with the police officer but he wanted my car put into the system right away. If the car is put into the impound system there is no way the car can be released without a direct order from the Minister of Interior or the wakeel. I called my friend, who we will call “Cake”, to come pick me up because he knows where this is. The police officer left and I had my sweater with a few things in my pockets from what I took out of the car.

The Egyptian Manager called me and said he tried delaying the car registration into the system because he wanted to give me an opportunity to make a few phone calls and get out of this. But the officer was on top of him to get him in right away, no one else he did that for, even the other officer tried to make up a reason to leave. Ahmed Yousef really had a grudge and I didn’t know why, but I stayed cool because there was nothing to do about a corrupt cop. He just going from one reason to another to try to impound the car. After I was sitting outside waiting for Cake to arrive people started calling me back and when I told them the situation they started making phone calls trying to get to this guy’s boss. And the best part was that the Central Radio System of the Police was down on Friday so they were communicating Via phone, the radios weren’t working to my luck. So if someone had an emergency they would call the officers not radio them.

A friend told me that this cop had it out for me and he was a dick and shouldn’t have impounded my car, it a difficult process to get it cleared since you have to go to a lot of places to get the paper work done. And even on Sunday he didn’t submit the violation into the system since I think he wants to keep it going at least another few days before I can even start sorting it out. This is the reason why we don’t respect police in Kuwait, when there is a reason for them to get involved they are not there, when they don’t have anything to do they just abuse their power. The problem in my situation is that the law is lax about what a police officer can do and even if he lies its hard to prove him wrong. A few police officers called me back and said that what he did was not within his right since he is from another department and his shift was done a few hours ago and why was he still roaming the streets. It seems it was just my luck and lets see how this turns out over the next few days.