Mastery

by Jinryu

[This post was written about a week ago but is only now being published]

I’m sitting in the law library of University of Sydney. This isn’t my school, (I’ll be starting at University of New South Wales in a couple of weeks) it’s [CM]’s, but I’m using their internet to get some work done while she takes care of some schoolwork elsewhere on campus.

Yesterday I went to visit UNSW and it was pretty different from what I’d expected, in a good way. The campus is way more modern than I expected. I’m so used to the style of McGill and Concordia back in Montreal. McGill has that decrepit historic (or simply outdated) look feel to most of it’s buildings, while with the exception of the rennovations and new buildings, Concordia always felt like it was a dirty city pretending to be a university. The new EV building is a nice touch I guess, but I can’t help but stand by my original impression: what a waste of so much public space for so much bravado. Students in the middle of a central commercial district need escalators, not marble staircases forever. Rent and land tax is extremely pricey– why not invest that money in student facilities instead of more large, cold, drafty and noisy public spaces? Concordia is surrounded by cafes anyway, and there are already tons of niche meeting places that are way more comfortable throughout the facilities: why pretend that having a huge ground level space is necessary? Do we really need a two story tall glass wall that illuminates, essentially, a giant floor sized hallway? Meanwhile, while all this ‘communal space for students’ was being built, some of the classes I attended while doing my undergrad were so accoustically terrible you felt you like you were trying to hear the professor in a cafeteria sized bathroom. And speaking of cafeterias, another class was in the Faubourg mall, before it was officially annexed by the university, and my class was right next to the food court, so you could actually hear and smell meat grilling down the hall if the windows or door were open.

UNSW in contrast is ultra-modern. I don’t know the facilities’ history, but I’d wager that there isn’t a brick there that is older than 25 years, so maybe they’ve got some advantage there. I haven’t seen the insides yet, I just took the superficial campus tour which went around the outsides, but so far, I’m liking what I see. I’m pretty glad that this second time around in university won’t be feeling like my first time around– it simply feels like such a new experience, so different from my undergrad.

I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s physically a different school (not to mention, a different country), but I think I just like how even the libraries look more modern and seem to have upgraded with the times.

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Speaking of the times, I recently got an iPod Touch, 4th generation. As you may know, I’m not much of a fan of Mac related discussion, but I never said that I didn’t respect what they could do. Apple’s done a lot to standardize and reach out to new generations by removing a lot of the blockades between new user and technology.

The reason why I got the iPod is because I can’t afford a smartphone anymore. Back in Montreal, when I was working full time, I didn’t think twice about paying over 80$ per month for my smartphone’s dataplan. By the time I left Montreal, I was on my 5th smartphone– I’d been using them almost since WiFi first became available on a phone. But now? Now that I’m borrowing money from the Quebec government and my parents to pay for law school, and I’m no longer working full time, it’s time to trim the fat a bit.

So, I’m using a very, very basic cellphone package with no frills. I’ve got 50$ to use this SIM card for 365 days, which I think is a pretty amazing deal– but I basically intend to use this thing as a pager to receive text messages and maybe voicemail. I’m actually using my old Sony Ericsson P1i, one of my earliest smartphones dug up from my past.

The iPod touch, well, it took some tweaking, but I can use it anywhere with WiFi as an instant messaging device as well as an outbound Skype / GoogleVoice phone. I’ve tried it already, and the call quality is surprisingly good. So that cuts my costs to about 240$ for the iPod, as a one time payment, instead of monthly payments on a smartphone bill. I think that between the WiFi at home, the WiFi at UofSyd (which I just got working a few minutes ago), and the WiFi at UNSW, I should be sufficiently ‘connected.’

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On that note, I just got the iPod to work at on the UofSyd WiFi. UofSyd was a bit of work to configure, because it requires the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) authentication, but that’s okay– I appreciate that a public hotspot like this is actually trying to make my connection a bit more secure. Not that VPNs aren’t hackable, but at least it looks like someone is doing something to put some basic safeguards across the board and make it mandatory. Hats off.

This is as compared to network at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, or the entire MUHC for that matter, as well as the Concordia University network.

About using an iPod…

I’ve found that many people were surprised that I bought an iPod. I guess that’s a resonable reaction.

My response to that is that I’m not someone who cares about brand names– what I want is something that does the job the right way. For the price, there isn’t an equivalent device out there serving Android that does what the iPod Touch 4th gen does.

That isn’t to say that the iPod is an amazing device. It works well at what it does, but, to be honest, compared to Android 2.2 (which is the last Android OS I’ve used) there’s a lot of stuff missing.

Lets just forget about phone abilities for a momment. Actually, lets forget about hardware altogether.

iOS in general looks pretty, and feels smooth. I don’t think I’ve ever tried a system before that tried so hard to be so fluid, and it’s an attention to detail that I much appreciate. It’s not that I need fluidity– but on any Android device I’ve tried so far, there are the occasional jerks and lags here and there that destroy the illusion. iOS is matched so well in the hardware that it feels like a constant environment.

However, the reason why Android does jerk and lag here I think is because it has so much more going on. I feel that Android gives you way more control over the basic environment, and that for any application, you get more options easily available. I find that the way that an iPod tries to oversimplify (or hide away and group what few settings it gives you access to) is kinda insulting. But that’s me. To be honest, I’ve not worked extensively with an iPad– but I imagine it’s something that would really fit the bill for my parents, who just want something basic that works simply. The technological advance of the “iStuff” in general is that it’s easy to use– but frankly, for all the iPhoners out there who won’t shut up about how much better their phones are than the Androids, they should probably just pipe down. That’s pretty much the equivalent of shouting at the top of your lungs that you’d rather sit down at a toy electronic piano when a grand piano is right next to you.

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