Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (not a) Review

Warning: there will be spoilers. 

I very rarely read books reviews, I rather prefer to read the book and have my own opinion about it, and later I either choose to share that or not. Same thing happened with this latest “Harry Potter book”, but I did come across some especially disturbing “reviews”. People went as far as saying that Rowling should just go and die…what?… I only hope this was written by a poor adolescent soul plagued by hormonal changes, and not by someone who is from my generation. 

Anyway. 

I liked the book. It’s an enjoyable story. It’s a script for a play.

 I can’t believe people are reviewing the book with one star and complaining that they were misled, that they thought this was a, you know, proper book. It says on every description of the book that it is a – script – for – a – play. One would assume that buying a book meant that these people can, in fact, read. Silly isn’t it? 

The plot is set 19 years after Harry has left Horgwarts and fought Voldemort, and it starts precisely where the Deathly Hallows finished, platform 9 3/4, with Albus, Harry’s middle son, asking him what would happen if he was sorted into Slytherin. 

The story revolves around the father-son relationship between Harry and Albus, and Scorpius and Draco. The two boys end up being best friends, despite all the animosity between their fathers, which honestly I think it’s one of those things that can perfectly happen in real life. After many struggles, including using Time-Turners to try modifying the past, fighting (!!!!HUGE SPOILER!!!!) Voldermort’s daughter and using Polyjuice potion to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, we find that old enemies can become good friends, that we cannot alter the past no matter how bad it was, and that a father-son relationship can be mended, no matter what.

It’s true that I found some characters completely out of character; that I found gaps in the story; that I missed some characters; and that I missed, above all, the depth and breadth of the Harry Potter books. 

It’s true that it’s very hard to imagine Draco Malfoy ending up being friends with Harry Potter, but it’s not impossible.  We all have old relationships that may have had some animosity but after ten, fifteen years you just take it with a pinch of salt, forget about it, and even end up being friends; the gaps that I found in the story were easily filled in by me. The fact that the HP novels were so deep and well described/written gives us enough knowledge to fill in the missing pieces found in this story. 

So, no, it isn’t perfect, and it’s definitely not a Harry Potter book, however, it’ll make a wonderful play! 

Now what I’m really trying to get at: as soon as I immersed myself in this story, I felt a deep connection with all the characters, with Hogwarts itself; I felt like the teenage girl who’d spend hours reading a book under the covers with a flashlight, it felt like going back home. And even the father-son relationships felt incredibly close to my heart, because I am a parent now too, and I can perfectly understand all the reasons behind every actions and reactions. Reading the book was, for me, a revisit to the past, to a very very happy place, and as I finished the story, I realized that I could now stop wondering what is going to happen next – almost like giving me closure. 

The Magic world is safe, Harry, Ron and Hermione are happy, and so am I. 

RNI Flashback.

I’m a big fan of RNI products, and this new app is their latest development.

These days, people often try to go back in time with their photographs, despite the many technological advances, using apps, filters and whatnot to make their phone/camera’s photos look like they were taken with an old camera.

RNI Flashback does just that for you, in the most simple way. The one thing that bugs me in most apps is that you have so many filters to choose from and so many little tweaks you can use, that I end up either using it too much or not at all.


Flashback is a photography app that takes your photo 100 years back (or something like that) with just a simple tap.

With a tap on the roll of film, you give your photo a new profound look that emulates old film in a near perfect way. You don’t have to know the name of the filter, if it’s from the 40’s or the 60’s, you just need to keep tapping until you find the one you like.

With a tap on the little heart, you can mark your favorite films for that photo and go back to them.

And you can also make it look less filmish by editing the strength of the look, grain, contrast, brightness, dust and scratches, shadows and highlights.

You can then share your photo to the main social apps directly, or save it to your camera roll.


This app couldn’t be any simpler, and its results are simply astounding. I haven’t yet gone through editing a photo and find two looks that are the same, as there are infinite possibilities.

The look of the app is, for me, one of its major advantages: it’s simple, yet beautiful and performs spectacularly well.

If I wanted to point out something to improve, I’d love to have a way to save those looks that are really some of my favorites to apply in other photos, but that would defeat the purpose of the app: to create something unique.

All in all, this app is definitely a must if you want that special tone to your “flat” digital photos. The price is definitely fair for what these guys have done here.

Here are a few NYC photos edited with RNI Flashback.

Vscocam app review

This post has been written for a while now — I finished the 12th of June but I wanted to proof read it and change a few things, but on the 13th I had to rush to the hospital, so this kind of fell behind. I now had a minute in between breastfeeding and taking a shower and I finally came around to finish this. Hope you enjoy! Continue reading “Vscocam app review”

Really Nice Images — Review

I have always been a fan of VSCO film packs, for either the photos on my iPhone or camera photos with Lightroom. However that may be about to change.

I present to you Real Nice Images Film Presets. These guys have been around the block since 2012 and promises users the opportunity to enhance digital photos with Instagram-like simulations.

“What makes us getting back to distinctive analog colours and grain again and again? We believe the reason is character. It is something in human nature to strive for perfection but to love for character.” ~ RNI

I couldn’t agree more with this quote. We just keep going back.

About a week ago RNI, knowing my love for photography, offered me the entire pack of the new RNI Film V3.0 Presets, and I couldn’t be happier! I played with it for a while and it really surprised me the subtle way they can enhance a photo — so I had to talk about it here.

Having said that, a disclaimer is in order: this review is my own opinion and point of view; I was not paid to do it, and all of the following is unbiased.

RNI Film Presets are divided into five different packs, designed to give you different results: Negative Films, Slide Films, Instant Films, Vintage Films, and Black & White.

Agfa Scala 200 - Edited
RNI Black & White Film — Agfa Scala 200

more pics after the jump

VSCO film pack 4 – Review – before & after.

For a very long time (well, a few months) I’ve been wanting to write something about VSCO Film. If you are a fan of photography, either with a camera or with your phone, you most probably have heard about VSCO.

In a simple way, and because I don’t want to go into the tiny details, VSCO acts like a filter for your photos, giving your pics the film look that nearly all digital photographers search for. If you’re familiar with VSCO Cam, the company’s mobile app version, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. You take a photo, apply the filter you want, tweak it a bit, and voilà! you have a great photo with great tones and color on your hands.

Well VSCO Film is basically the same thing, but with your camera photos.

There are at the moment 4 packs of Film emulations by VSCO and I’ve bought all four (yeah, I really like their stuff) and I’ve been using them on all my pics, with more or less tweaks with Lightroom.

VSCO FILM 01: S-KODAK PORTRA 400++ — Tsukiji market, Tokyo. July’13

Since Film pack 4 is the most recent I decided to focus my attention on that one, even though it is not the one I use most; I’m a creature of habits (for the most part) and I tend to use the classics — Kodak Portra and the Fuji ones —, meaning the ones within pack 01 Modern Films.

But! There’s more to VSCO than just film emulation.
This baby takes into account the camera you’re taking your photos with, so it has specific properties for Canon, Nikon, Leica, Fuji, etc., which means using the raw files instead of jpegs will give you optimal results — this doesn’t mean you won’t get good results with cameras that are not supported. At the end, you will end up with an interesting photograph instead of a boring one with, literally, just one click. The way the pack simulates film is, in a way, almost romantic, and even though you know you weren’t developing film in a darkroom it really looks like you have!

VSCO FILM 02:S-FUJI SUPERIA 1600- — Tokyo. July’13
VSCO FILM 03: PROF; POLAROID 669 — — Kamakura-shi, Japan. July’13

Nonetheless, this wasn’t the reason I first got VSCO, even though I’m a film fan, I’m not fanatic, and what I really want, specially for the blog, is to take pictures, upload them and, rapidly, turn them interesting instead of boring (Ah! my secret’s out!!), meaning, I don’t really care about what ‘film’ I’m using, but I do care about the end result, which is that the picture looks good.

VSCO FILM 01: KODAK PORTRA 400 — Kamakura-shi, Japan. July’13 — my hands are in a weird position because were wet; yes, those are real flowers in a public toilet in Japan. How can I not love that country? yeah…
Tokyo. — This is one of those pictures that was edited with VSCO Film with just one click: kodak 100VS. Done.

 

Pack 4 includes an array of film emulations that distinguish themselves from the previous packs by being high in contrast. Emulating slide films, both moderns and discontinued, this pack has more options within each film, making it even easier for the ‘one-click-editing’ fans like me — more details check the VSCO Film pack 04 page. Films included are:

      • Agfa Scala 200
      • Fuji Astia 100F
      • Fuji Fortia SP
      • Fuji Provia 100F
      • Fuji Provia 400X
      • Fuji Velvia 50
      • Fuji Velvia 100
      • Fuji Velvia 100F
      • Kodak E100G
      • Kodak E100VS
      • Kodak E200

For a better feel of what VSCO is I took some photos, edited them with some of the films included in Pack 04, using Lightroom 4 and nothing else. I used the standard film and one of the options included for each film. All pics were taken with the Fuji X100S, hence using the Fuji part of the emulations.

For a before&after comparison mouse-over the pics — you might have to wait a bit for the mouse-over image to load, please. 

F-Agfa Scala 200

F-Agfa Scala 200 Contrast +++

F-Fuji Astia 100F

F-Fuji Astia 100F Balance Warm

F-Fuji Fortia SP

F-Fuji Fortia SP +++

F-Fuji Provia 100F

F-Fuji Provia 100F Balance Warm

F-Fuji Provia 400X

F-Fuji Provia 400X HC++

F-Fuji Velvia 50

F-Fuji Velvia 50 Landscape

F-Fuji Velvia 100

F-Fuji Velvia 100 Balance Cool

F-Fuji Velvia 100F

F-Fuji Velvia 100F Balance Warm

F-Kodak E100G

F-Kodak E100G Portrait

F-Kodak E100VS

F-Kodak E100VS +

F-Kodak E200

F-Kodak E200 Vibrant

As you can see, the photos gain a new life with each film and even if you don’t want to tweak the lights or shadows, it’s still a good photo! This is exactly why I think spending $119 (25% discount if you purchased the previous packs), even though a bit expensive, is still a good deal.

For others’ reviews on VSCO Film:

VSCO Film pack 01 // VSCO Film pack 02 //  VSCO Film pack 03 // VSCO Film pack 04

Enjoy the last few days of 2013!

Fitbit One — the ultimate review.

*note to self* stop trying to come up with titles for my posts.*

From now on, I’ll have a new category on the blog for reviews on different things I come up with. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now, but well.. life gets in the way — the up side to this is that I already have a few products that I own and want to review! yay! So let’s get on with this!

In a previous post I mentioned a little device that I promptly now call my new best friend, the Fitbit One.

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fitbit one. Beautiful sleek design.
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the back of the device.
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it also has a clock. The OLED display is very bright and 100% readable. The only trouble is in direct contact with the sun.

This tiny thing is, in short, a very awesome pedometer. But it doesn’t just count your steps, no sir. It can tell you how sedentary or active you are throughout the day, keeping you in check with your fitness performance. It records and analyzes that information giving you real time feedback, so you can act on it immediately and try to make changes if you want/need. Sometimes people need a little push to be more active and remind them that they need to get a move on to achieve a certain level of fitness, and that’s where Fitbit comes in handy.

It comes with a silicone clip on that enables you to wear it on your waist, your pocket or your bra, and it’s very discrete, people don’t even notice you’re wearing it. At night, you can put it in a wristband to wear it comfortably during the night, while you sleep. Yes, it can also track how restful was your sleep.

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It comes with the flexible and very comfortable wristband for you to sleep with the gadget, a tiny receptor to connect to your computer through usb, a silicone clip on that you can wear or not, and the usb charger.
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you can clip it to your jeans pocket.

What does it do?

Fitbit tracks steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, hours slept, quality of sleep and stairs climbed. I’ve been wearing it for a week now and I can honestly say that it definitely keeps me motivated to achieve certain personal fitness goals. The device syncs wirelessly with your iPhone through bluetooth and whenever it’s close to your computer (when you have the usb thingie plugged in) and both the apps and the web based dashboard are brilliantly designed to give you the most information in an easy and pleasant way. It also works together with different other apps for, let’s say, track what you eat and how much you eat like Fitnesspal, and how much you run with Runtastic, but the beauty of it all is that it is able to do all of that in one single app (Fitbit app)! And the syncing is effortless.

photo
the app home screen
image-1
screenshots for the app. very easy on the eyes and with everything you may need.

Another very awesome feature is its sleep tracker. When you put the device in the provided wristband and you hit the app to start tracking your sleep, it can tell you how restful your sleep actually was, letting you know how many times you moved around or actually woke up. The most brilliant thing: a silent alarm. You can schedule to wake up at a certain hour and the Fitbit One will vibrate you quietly awake — it works like a charm.

image
very easy to read graph and data.
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the wristband has a little pocket where you can slip in the Fitbit and it’s still easy to read the display and to touch the button.

I couldn’t be happier about the battery life. It takes about a week to completely discharge, and only two hours plugged to your computer to charge back to life. It’s brilliant.

The Fitbit One operates with a single button control that you press to get data on the different things it tracks. It also shows you a flower that grows the more active you are at the moment. I could easily live without this one. It does give you a sense of accomplishment to see the flower big when you check the device, but I find everything else much more important.

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the growing flower.

There’s a lot of word out there about its accuracy and the way it works. The Fitbit One has a three-dimensional accelerometer and altimeter that senses movement and measures your motion, like a Wii controller, making the counting of steps and the travelled distance an easy task to record. The stairs climbed are related with the altimeter, which means it will count a floor of steps if your elevation gain was roughly 3 meters (~10 feet).

The tracker is water resistant but not water proof, so you cannot wear it while swimming or showering (like you can with the new Fitbit Flex wristband), and it is also a little troubling to track your activity while cycling. Mainly because it counts steps and not your real overall movement. But that’s why the integration with other apps is great! You can use Runtastic to track your cycling and sync later with the Fitbit app or the Fitbit dashboard and the steps counted will be discarded and counted as a cycling activity.

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 12.45.18 PM
Again, nicely design dashboard with easy to read graphs and data.

You can also edit all of your goals. If you have a steps’ goal to achieve in a predetermined time frame, then you can edit that and that will be the number of steps you’ll need to walk. You can also use this, as pretty much everybody else in the community, to track your weight and achieve your weight loss goals. I am not trying to lose weight, so I can’t exactly tell you if it works or not in that department (and also I’ve only been wearing this for a week), but for me true weight loss (I’m thinking of people trying to lose more than just a couple of pounds) has to come with a different set of devices (like a whole gym) and a proper meal and nutrition plan. I do not have any doubts that the Fitbit One can help! It certainly can keep you more motivated to be more active, but I don’t think you can solely rely on that.

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.38.57 AM
this is also one way to keep you motivated if you like to win ‘prizes’ for your achievements.

What are the downsides?

The only disadvantages (if I really have to think of some!) is the size of everything. The usb cable is very tiny and easy to misplace and also the USB receptor is even tinier, making me have it plugged to the computer all the time, just so I won’t lose it. It also would be nice to have a GPS system in there, just so it could sync with the app and show me exactly where I was. Also you need to remember to put it on you, of course! This is probably the main disadvantage. Because it’s so discrete even you forget you’re wearing it and you can also forget to put it on.

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tiny cable and receptor.

Verdict?

Bottom line, I went from various fitness tracking apps to just 3 that I know will most accurately record all my data and display it in a comprehensive and motivating way either on my computer or my phone (which I’m basically attached to). Also the sleep tracker is one of the gems I like more. I always wanted to track my sleep and had tried different iPhone apps, but this one is certainly the best — and I found out I’m sleeping an average of 5 hours per night, no wonder I get tired easily!

I have often looked into the Nike+ Fuelband, but the idea of having to wear a big bulky bracelet all the time makes me flinch, so this is a great option! If, at the end of the day I didn’t walk the distance I should have, then I just take Akira out on a walk trying to achieve that goal.

I have never tried a different activity tracker but there are other popular choices, like the Jawbone band and the Nike+ Fuelband.

Fitbit One is lightweight, beautifully designed, with a nice OLED display, the clip on is sturdy and won’t come off easily, and it’s discrete. And the sleep tracker is definitely a winner for me.

 

So far I’m really enjoying the experience of knowing how active I’ve been throughout the day and know how well badly I sleep, it’s been giving me new insights about myself, definitely. Will it make me run a marathon in a week? No. Will it make me stop lazying around on a weekend? Definitely not. But it will surely make me move a lot more and get happy about it.


You can buy Fitbit One through the official website or through Amazon.

 

Hope you enjoyed my first product review and have a nice day!