Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WhatsApp vs. Line

With smartphones, minutes are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Texting has become a more popular method of communication, and in countries with unlimited data plans (almost everywhere except the U.S.), paying for a texting option has given way to Apps like WhatsApp, and Line.
Both WhatsApp and Line are brilliant ways to text, using only data. So... Which is better?

Allows you to text other users using only data
Allows you to text international numbers registered by users
Free Calls or video Chat (like skype) to other service members
Where is is predominantly used?
First year free
$0.99 per year after the first
Free… Always!
(there are stickers and games you can buy in app, but they are completely optional, and there is no pushy advertising)
Allows you to send videos, and Photos
Available on iOS and Droid?

With the point of either app being to allow you to text any other user... both are perfect, they do exactly that, and work better than my regular system because they work using my phones internet, rather than my phones service ability (if I have service, I have internet, but sometimes I have internet but no service).
With WhatsApp, the first year is free, but every year after that is $0.99, and there is no calling service. It is the prefered method of communication here in Spain, so you will need to download it if you have a smart phone. It is a fair price for the quailty of the app, and I not had any issues yet with it.


With Line, it is always free, you can call other users. This App was widely used in Japan, and is the more popular texting system in Asia. The icing on the cake is the sticker feature, which I love. Most of Ben and my texts are exclusively stickers, they are a  cute/creepy/amusing... way to communicate with other users.
Bottom line, in Spain you will have to use WhatsApp, in Japan you will have to use Line. I prefer Line because it is always free, and way cuter, but when it comes to functionality, they are both perfect. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brain Drain

You know that feeling after you take a really hard test, where it is difficult to think, and simple words and phrases are impossible to remember? Apparently that's a real thing called brain drain, or mental exhaustion. Brain drain is my limiting factor here (and often the reason I end up skipping a post...), I've been over clocking my brain. Way before my body winds down, my brain gives up.
Learning a language uses a lot of mental energy, and since I have been working really hard at my Spanish here (with great success I might add), I've been wearing out my poor little brain. It can get to the point where I can't form coherent sentences in my own language.
I have noticed that stress, and not enough sleep make brain drain set in faster. So I really have to manage my time effectively.
I'm getting better at resting my brain drain gauge, and have come up with two great tricks that work as mental fatigue reset buttons.
1. Coffee naps!
I'm lucky to be learning a language in a country that has siestas. When I hit that two o'clock slump, where my brain can do nothing more than make train noises, I drink a shot of espresso, lie down, and take a 15 minute power nap. The caffeine wakes me up, and my brain is fresh and ready for another round of abuse. 
2. Exercise
A walk works really well, but I think it's better to break a sweat. My favorite way to reset my mental gauge is to cranks some really girly music (Miss A, Katy Perry, 4minute, Ke$ha...) and dance like a drunken monkey. After about 15 minutes, my brain resets and I'm capable of forming coherent thoughts again.
I find that more exercise I get, the longer I can work my brain before brain drain sets in.
(this is how I imagine I look while I'm dancing to my K-Pop)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Where am I?

To celebrate Tokyo winning the Olympic bid, we decided to treat ourselves to one of our favorite Japanese dishes, Okonomiyaki. It's like a pizza/omelet hybrid. It's a food that requires the right ingredients (namely okonomiyaki sauce) and so pulling it off in a foreign country can be very difficult.
The other day as we were wandering around the city, we found an Asian market, they had all the necessary ingredients for all of Ben and my favorite foods. I have a feeling we'll be spending a little too much of our time and money there, as it is less then a block from where we buy our groceries every day.
Our okonomiyaki was delicious, we used uncured bacon strips, cabbage, and shallots to make it as authentic as possible. I miss Japanese food, I dream about it. One of the great things about living in a large city, is that there are people from all over the world, slowly Ben and I have been finding some really authentic Japanese restaurants, so we'll be able to eat the food of the land of the rising sun.

 If you are interested in making your own okonomiyaki, check out the recipe below.
Cooking with Dog, video tutorial.