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January 1, 2014
Yea, as you might have noticed, this particular page has now become my New Year blog and not much else. Still, this one is something I usually look forward to. It's good to reflect on the stuff that happened and then look forward with renewed optimism... or something..

It seems like only yesterday when some (few) people actually expected the world to end.. Well, now we move forward to somewhat less exciting numbers: 2014.. Is there any prophecy about anything special happening in 2014? Is there a book or movie where 2014 is the year that something spectacular happens? (Ok, lemme google it: nothing classical, just some recent stuff that was produced the last dec =) Anyhoo, it seems that this year will simply become what we make of it, ey? ;-)

For the sake of simplicity, let's just stick to my usual template and get on with it. Let's reflect over 2013 from a "techie's" perspective.
First of all, it was one of those years when I upgrade major parts of my home-built computer. Ye, I'm one of those who's sticking to a 17 kg metal full tower case and just fills it with stuff. I upgraded my main PC to a Intel Haswell 4770K unlocked CPU with custom cooler which I overclocked (ye, I've been an AMD faithful for many years, but let's face it, they've been struggling with the performance / watt value for the last couple of years.. Also threw in 32GB of RAM for some breathing room. Obviously I had to replace the mobo as well and in doing this my old sound card suddenly wasn't compatible any more, so I got me one of those Audigy Zx PCIE cards.

I hesitated for a long while, but after getting a couple of SSDs for my pimped up system I decided it's time to make the switch to Windows 8 (About the time 8.1 was coming out). Several months later, I can still name more things that annoy me than things that actually improved my experience over Win7. Until I get a touch-enabled monitor, the new Start Screen will probably stay largely unused.. (I mean, comon, do I need to see the frekkin calculator in full screen on my 24" monitor?) Anyhoo, Microsoft should be glad, because I bought Win8 for my secondary PC too..

Just to be clear, I have all kinds of computing devices except a laptop. (The ridiculously heavy work-laptop is... plenty...) In 2012 year I got my first tablet, an iPad, last year I got a Sony Android Tablet. A significant portion of the casual surfing is done in the couch now instead of in front of my PC, but for stuff like Photo Editing, I can't see how I could settle for anything but a large screen. Obviously, the tablets have high dpi screens but to sit and do actual work on a 10" screen... No thanks.. I'll stick to my bulky PC for a while longer... (Come on Dell, I heard you're releasing affordable 4k monitors in 2014, yay!)

Speaking of computing devices, it was also the "other year", you know, getting a new mobile every other year. I stuck with Samsung and replaced the GS2 with a GS4. I don't care that it's made of plastic instead of metal. I'd hate it if they sacrificed signal strength of the wifi, gps or 4g signals just to make some whiners happy ;-)
Anyhoo, as soon as you come home and unpack your phone, rumours about the next one start hitting the web. Now, I'm sure I'll be just fine for another year with the GS4 even if there is a GS5 with a screen that is so high res that it's far beyond anything the human eye can see.. (I mean, is 2560x1440 on a 5" screen really necessary at this point? Trust me Samsung, if I had any complaints about the GS4, it was NOT that the screen is too low res (1920x1080).

Ok enough about my own stuff, what about the epic showdown between the "Next Gen Consoles we were waiting for, for so long? (Well, you know, some of us) My post last year was pretty accurate about the chances of new consoles arriving before Christmas. Both Sony and Microsoft pushed out their respective consoles (even though not quite world wide yet). So now we have the Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One to add to our collections ;-)
So did they live up to the hype? In a word: no.. In my opinion they mostly improve on what was already there but the fact that the previous generation survived for so long maybe heightened the expectations for the new consoles. When the Xbox and PS3 were released their graphics capabilities matched those of a high end PC at least from the beginning. This time around, both Microsoft and Sony somehow decided to use pretty much the same chip from AMD. A fairly low clocked 8-core part with integrated graphics. It's a pretty fine chip, but graphics wise, it's quite far from High End. So what we got was not 7-8 years newer high end.. We god new mid-range to replace the old high end so to speak. The result is that the performance is of course improved, but not nearly as much as some of us would have hoped. Just the fact that some of the launch titles run in 1280x720 instead of full HD (1920x1080) 8 years later on the Xbox is just.. sad... Yes, Microsoft, it's SAD. We are entering the era of 4k TVs and monitors and the new console has trouble coping with ordinary Full HD. (Sony made the somewhat wiser decision to include GDDR5 memory for increased bandwidth - as I said, the chip/APU is very similar to the one in the Xbox.)
Well, specs aside, no console in history has ever succeeded based on hardware specs alone. Sadly the launch titles were not that exciting.. I'm sure a lot of good stuff will arrive during 2014 and when they do, I might just go out and buy a PS4.

Speaking of poorly specced consoles btw. For the last month of 2013 or so, I suddenly became addicted to the idea of retro-gaming. I picked up a bunch of old Nintendo consoles to add to my collection and in a not too distant future, you'll see a new section on my site called 'Retro Gaming' (or something similar). I'll announce it on Twitter, when it's up'n running.

All right then, a few words about my photography because it's still something I do. Gear-wise, it was a another slow year, but I finally ditched my old Sigma 18-50 and got the proper Canon counterpart (17-55) which I must say, I'm pretty happy with. The Sigma wasn't actually bad, but lack of IS and somewhat crappy AF finally got to me.

The big news last year was that I finally launched my rebuilt photo-site and it's still there and there were a bunch of updates there during the year. have a look-see: www.f-pixel.com
Among other things, I started out a bit with ND filters and long exposure photography.

Ok, enough tech-talk for one year, this brings us to the usual bit where I say a few words about my personal life. There was one event in 2013 that easily overshadows everything else - I became a father. Yup, my daughter was born in the summer and is now very much integrated in my daily life and I can barely remember how life was before she came along ;-) Yes,I'm getting less sleep and I feel like I'm aging faster, but somehow, one can adapt to new situations... ;-)
Because of the baby arriving in the summer, there was no proper summer vacation. We did manage to get a weekend in Rome in May but that was pretty much it.

Ok then... In conclusion folks, as always, I wish you the best possible 2014! Remember, the year is just a number, what you'll be looking back at in 2015 is up to you. And, come on Liverpool FC! It's another difficult year to win the Premier League, but top 4 looks achievable right now! Go, go, go! Never give up!

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