November 26, 2011

Arc Mouse

 A few weeks ago, I participated in a Microsoft raffle at my school and won an Arc Mouse. Before this mouse, I always used a Logitech Cordless Optical Mouse I bought with my laptop over two years ago. Here’s my review of the Arc Mouse.
The Microsoft Arc Mouse.

What: A surprisingly comfortable wireless mouse which folds for ultimate portability.

Why: You need a mouse with your computer and you are on the go a lot.

Folded view.
The key selling point of this mouse is that it folds up, reducing the size of the mouse by effectively 50%. The portability is definitely a huge plus because you don't want to be carrying a giant mouse everywhere. But the Arc Mouse fits snugly in any pocket.

It runs off two AAA batteries and uses a small USB transceiver to wirelessly communicate with the computer. Conveniently, there’s a groove where the USB attachment fits in magnetically.

Magnetic groove, side button, and battery cover.
Two standard PC buttons, a standard scroll wheel, and one button on the front left are the only buttons on this device. The left and right mouse buttons are pretty responsive and so far have been more than enough for my daily use and even a little gaming.

The scroll wheel is the kind where it has notches/levels instead of a completely smooth scroll, which I personally prefer. However, due to this, it does get noticeably loud when you scroll in silence. Otherwise, the noise of the scroll wheel shouldn’t be a problem. Another small issue is that it's relatively difficult to middle click sometimes, which is pretty annoying if I want to open a new tab, but fail to click the button.

Left / Right mouse buttons, scroll wheel, and side button.
I don’t quite know how to feel about the “back” button however. It’s placed a bit too far front to be pressed easily with the thumb. (Unless you have really long thumbs) I find myself having to lift my hand off the mouse to be able to press the button, which is definitely a hassle especially for when I want to go back really quickly.

Overall, it’s a decent mouse. I have used it extensively for the past two months and have had no major issues with it. It's pretty sturdy despite the giant gap underneath it. It’s also surprisingly comfortable despite how it looks. Like any mouse, however, it’ll take a bit to get used to its quirks and characteristics.

Verdict: I recommend this mouse for casual users or to those looking for comfort and portability. 

On a side note, what more stuff should I review?

November 21, 2011

Hugs From Strangers

Last year, around this time (or earlier, I don't exactly recall) I was struggling with my life. New surroundings, tough academic pressures, extracurricular responsibilities, internship hunting, all added to create a rather stressful environment. I was also a part of the Brown University Debating Union. Every few weeks, I would go to a tournament for the weekend and debate with other teams from different universities.

Most of these tournaments were held in Boston since there are many universities there. My friend from high school, Carol, also went to Boston University and I figured that we'd meet up since it had been a while since I saw her last. We made plans to meet up after my last debate round.

What is stress?
When I saw her, she gave me a hug because, well, that's what friends do. It wasn't a special hug in any way. It lasted the same amount and probably had all the same intentions behind it. But I felt so empowered by that simple gesture. The instant she hugged me, I had realized how long it had been since I felt wanted or cared about. I had been so caught up in my new life at Brown, that I had forgotten what it felt like to be hugged.

It was like an epiphany. I hadn't even realized how stressed I was and how much I neglected my own mental health. Even today, I have difficulties in admitting my own stress levels. I seem to have a history of this. I guess you could call that a weakness of mine?

When I was a Freshman in high school. I had an ulcer. To this day, I have no idea what exactly caused it. The doctors said that it was stress. But I don't really agree. Me? Stress? Seems like an oxymoron. I've never for a second considered myself as stressed. I don't like "stressed." I like "easy-going."

On a side note, I don't really know what I'm doing with my life right now.

November 03, 2011

Efficiently Lying

I've had so many occasions where I had a big paper due or a midterm in a few days time. In my mind, among the billion other things I'm thinking of, I begin to gauge my understanding of the subject material. Am I prepared? How long would it take if I were to start it now? Is it going to be annoying to do?

Yet, without fail, I always seem to overestimate my ability to work, and severely underestimate the amount of work necessary. It goes something like this:
Brain: Hey, Wonmin. You have a paper due next Monday.
Wonmin: Ya, brain. I know. But I've written papers for this class before and it only took like three hours. Don't worry man.
Brain: But this one is different, it's based on research, not previous readings.
Wonmin: Ya, but it's still only 1000 words. Calm down brain, we got this.
Brain: If you're sure...
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Of course, the paper doesn't go as planned and I stay up way past my suggested bedtime. Hours dwindle, I procrastinate on Facebook, I chat with my suite-mates. It's almost like a test to see how well I can not do my essay.

Have you ever had this happen to you? How do you feel afterwards? After having pulled that all-nighter, after toiling for hours on end cramming, do you make a promise to yourself to never do it again? Then when you inevitably repeat your mistake, you feel a sense of depression and guilt for failing to keep your own promise.

It's the same exact cycle every time.

How can you make sure you break free from this cycle? I suggest you first stop beating yourself up. We all make mistakes and the faster you accept that, the better you will feel.

Second, know what your limits and capabilities are. Five page essay? Should be around eight hours of work. Now is that an actual super efficient eight hours? Of course not, I'm most definitely going to be on Facebook for half that time. Okay. Let's double the allotted time.

This way, you always give yourself enough time to finish your work, even while you procrastinate. Do not feel guilty that you procrastinate. It's just a part of being human. Accept it and anticipate it. Include it in your time calculations. It's going to happen.

Next, do not think in "ifs." They are just a fairy-tale designed to distract you from the real problem and make you feel like crap. For example: "If I work really efficiently, I can do this paper in two hours," or "If I study really hard the night before, I'll be fine for the exam."

The biggest issue with this is, statements like the ones above make it seem like you really have the capacity to do these things. But, in reality, you don't. You procrastinate like the best of us. You get distracted. You have other plans. You have a life beyond academics. Shit happens, and you can never rely on "ifs" in life. Do not set an unrealistic goal for yourself only to be dismayed when you obviously will fail.

On a side note, sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I've just been busy with life and stuff. You know how it is.