FiiO X1 MP3 Player Review

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A few months ago, I left my beloved iPod Classic on the subway. I then waited way too long to buy a new one and the classics were now discountinued. This left me with not much option in terms of iPods. Spending $300 for an iPod Touch didn’t seem to make much sense since I had an iPhone, while the lower ones lacked enough space to hold my entire library. I then turned to the internet to research affordable high-end mp3 players and concluded that my best choice would be the FiiO X1 player at $99.

I bought it in gold (silver is the other option). You can watch me unbox the thing here:

IMG_6254Inside the tiny packaging, there were a ton of accessories that I didn’t expect it to come with: 3 screen protectors (1 of which is already on the screen); a silicone case; 2 sets of decorational stickers. Oddly enough it does not come with earphones. You also have to purchase a micro-sd in order to use it as there is no internal storage. It supports cards up to 120GB.

IMG_7218The player looks a lot more expensive than it’s $99 price tag. There aren’t that many instructions that come with the machine, but it’s fairly easy to use. Here are two tips for future FiiO owners:

– You must go into the system settings and hit “Storage Formatting” on your new SD card if you wish to use your own SD card reader instead of the cable to transfer songs.
– Every time you transfer songs going to “Update Media Library” in the system settings is recommended as it refreshes all the album information. Otherwise, songs only shows up in the list of all your mp3s.

Besides the above, everything is basically drag and drop. You can drag your entire iTunes library (or whatever library you use) onto the SD card and leave all folders in tact. It plays FLAC, APE, ALAC, WAV, WMA, MP3, AAC and OGG files, with up to 192-kHz/24-bit resolution. I can definitely hear the sound difference. Everything is more crisp, clear and loud sounds don’t clip. I also hear a certain warmness of each artist’s recording setting that I didn’t pay much attention to before.

Album covers display, but only if they’ve been part of the original mp3 meta data. What this means is that if you did the “Get Album Artwork” thing in iTunes, it probably didn’t embed itself in the metadata, but elsewhere.

The battery lasts very long (12 hours I think) and the system preserves it well. The screen automatically turns off after a certain time and it also turns itself off. The buttons take time to learn but really once you understand how to hit enter (centre button) and go back (top right), the rest don’t really matter. $99 is totally a steal for this thing!
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I Joined We Heart It

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After hearing about We Heart It on a couple of tech blogs, I decided to check it out. It has been around for a few years but picked up in the media recently for having over 25 million active users. The network was created as a place to share inspiring images. It differs from Tumblr and Pinterest in that you can’t comment. You simply upload and “heart” stuff. This makes it harder for people to cyberbully or troll. If you don’t like something, you simply don’t heart it.

I had a first hand experience on how many people actually use this network. I signed up, uploaded the snowflake photo in my previous post and within half an hour had 100 hearts. That’s amazing considering I started out with no followers.

The network also has a beautiful iOS/Android app. Now excuse me as I go heart some more stuff. You can follow me here.

My Thoughts on the Google+ Integration on Youtube

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There has been a lot of chatter about the recent Google + integration with Youtube. Personally, I’ve been using the social network on and off ever since it first went beta. Right now, it is mostly auto-publishing feeds from my personal blog and Youtube channel.

In contrast, I haven’t actually been an active Youtube user until recently. Obviously I have watched countless videos on Youtube but since I wasn’t an active contributor I didn’t find it that necessary to leave comments. I did find however that I started to comment more after the Youtube name-change to connect ourselves with our Google+ identities. Maybe I wanted more followers on a network I had an iffy relationship with.

There’s a lot not to like about the integration though. For one, if you have separate Youtube pages for different things, you have to manage different Google + profiles. In my case, Ride the Tempo has a channel for occasional live videos. However, I find that the general music fan or listener isn’t highly active on Google+ (as I’ve tried managing a page in the past) so I wish that it could also be connected to my personal page, which people seem to follow. I do believe that there are plenty of users on Google+, as I am in more than 300 users’ circles. That’s more than the followers most people have on Twitter.

Another issue is the publishing of comment to the poster’s Google + feed. Although this can be an asset for users (as their content gets shared), it is somewhat of a nuisance when I want to leave a quick comment on something I don’t want to necessarily share (or share again if it’s my second comment on the same video). Since, it is Google+ based there is no longer a character limit on comments. As a new Vlogger, this seems quite intimidating and scary. Troll heaven. Or right now Bob and his stupid tanks world.

Instead of forcing Google+ on us, Google should have done a much better job explaining what it is for in the first place. It has some snazzy features (hangouts, photo editors) but the original marketing as a better Facebook or Twitter when those existed is comparable to Microsoft’s attempt to sell us the Zune.

I Met Chris Pirillo!

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This weekend was Buffer Festival in Toronto, the city’s first ever Youtube film festival. Personally, I haven’t participated in the Youtube scene until recently, but when I found out Chris Pirillo would be in Toronto I jumped on the chance to meet him.

I actually found Chris originally on Twitter in the social network’s early days. He was a recommended follow (and he followed me back!). I checked out his social feeds and was enticed by his wacky personality and had been watching his videos ever since.


His Buffer Festival panel, which took place inside the CN Tower’s Maple Leaf Theatre, was about tech on Youtube. The main point to take away was that tech is an enabler, not a destination. He also did a Youtube livestream review of the new iPad Air right in front of us. It was cool to see how the whole process worked and how reading comments could be rather addictive.

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After the panel, we met in the meetup room at the Metro Convention Centre and he signed my GoPro. I figured that would be the most appropriate since he was the one who had influenced me to vlog in the first place. The real fun started when the planned meetup was over and a few of us gathered together to have lunch with Chris! We all had different stories of how we discovered his videos. It was fascinating to learn how his videos had touched all of our lives in some way. He actually shared this in his vlog (life goal achieved)!

Through Chris I learnt that when creating content (Youtube or elsewhere), to always be myself. He’s made a living through just being himself and I hope that’s something I can achieve too, to just do what I love.

Of course, here’s my vlog of the day:

Why You Should Have An Online Presence

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I was having a chat with someone the other day about social media and I tried explain to an anti-social media person why it was important to have an online footprint professionally. I think nowadays social media is so accessible (with privacy statements continuously changing and all) that there really isn’t a line between what you can consider professional versus personal. The reasons are the same. This makes it even more important to own your online presence.

1.       To control what others find online. At bare minimum, it’s good to have a website that has a good headshot of your face, a mini biography about what you do and perhaps some work samples. A Linkedin or an About.me page is fine. This way you can provide an URL to your employers (or people you meet) for a first impression beyond your resume. Your employers are also probably going to Google your name so having a headshot is important to distinguish yourself from the other Joe Shmoe shotgunning a beer in a Youtube video. If you’re lucky enough to register the web domain with your actual name, go for it.

2.       Open yourself to new opportunities. I never went to school for social media. It was something I learnt by experimenting, while managing multiple websites. I was an early adopter of Twitter. Through it, I’ve met some of the most interesting and like-minded people who are now some great friends offline. I’ve also had the opportunity to do things I never thought I’d do (like meet Phoenix or dance on stage with Girl Talk). I also worked places I never thought I’d end up. I never applied to work at Exclaim. Despite not being a journalism grad, the director of operations actually found me online after meeting me at a show and sent me a Facebook message. There’s a lot of fish in that sea but you have to have some sort of bait to hook them!

3.       To be ready for what the future might hold. Maybe one day in the future, you might want to start your own business, write a book or even just raise money for that marathon you suddenly feel like running. Having a dedicated following on Twitter or Facebook (or whatever social networks you choose to use) takes time to build. However, a strong community can really aid to kick start that new project.