I have been playing Microsoft’s Captionbot today, it’s a lot of fun. Especially when you give it Apple related photo’s.
My first stop was Harvey Norman, where nothing of interest was found. Moving through the shopping centre the next port of call was Office Works, where the MMC-S30 was found. After reviewing the many logo’s on the box, and ogling it’s capabilities, the sale price of $179 was too good to pass up, and I brought it home.
The unit really does have a considerable amount of features. Quad core CPU, 8 Core GPU, Dolby Digital, DTS, HDMI, 3D, 4K, WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth… the list just goes on and on.
The unit booted up, and with a small amount of fine tuning (adjusting the scale and resolution to suit my TV, setting audio to SPDIF pass through etc) I was ready to dive in. After scrolling through the menu I settled upon the 7Plus Smart App to begin playing with. To my surprise, the supplied remote does not work with this (and many of the other) pre-installed apps. Closer inspection of the supplied instructions revealed that some apps need a mouse. There goes that spare USB port I was so happy about…now I have to go and buy a USB keyboard and mouse. In reality however, because the machine is running Googles Android operating system, most tasks require use of a keyboard and mouse. The operating system, normally used in phones and tablets is built for touch interfacing, and falls terribly short in a media player relying on a remote control. Play, Pause, and scrolling up and down through directories seems to be where the remotes usefulness runs out.
With a Keyboard and mouse plugged in to a USB hub, and the hub plugged in to that coveted 3rd USB port, I again began exploring the device. This time with a full set of capabilities. Navigation seems very simple and straight forward to me. Like a kid in a candy store, I went searching for my sample H.265 1080 videos. Upon launching them, the machine played them back effortlessly and smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised. It also coped well with my MP4 files.
Feeling game I delved into the Google Play store, and set about downloading some apps. Although my keyboard worked flawlessly elsewhere, I had considerable trouble typing in searches. It appeared as though each key I pressed was stuck down – “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. I ended up having to use the mouse to click each letter. After some time I managed to get my search term typed in – Tunein Radio. The app downloaded and installed, but flatly refused to play. My second choice for internet radio was 181FM’s own app, which downloaded and played, but repeatedly quit/crashed after about 15 mins.
The unit comes with an old version of XBMC installed, so I was quickly and easily able to download and install the latest “Jarvis” version of Kodi. SuperRepo also installed well, and before long I was flicking through channels and enjoying the benefits of the 10/100Mb Ethernet connection. The unit handles Kodi very well. The only issue here again was “sticky” keyboard behavior, which is odd because other than the Google Play store, the keyboard works well with every other aspect of the software
Next on my list of things to do was add some new files. This is where things turn bad for me fast. Being used to the WD TV Live Hub’s always on file server capabilities, and given the device has wifi and ethernet, I went looking for it on my home network. It was nowhere to be seen. I scoured the settings, and nothing I could do made the unit appear on my network. It seems odd to me that a machine with so many capabilities doesn’t come with a server option? I expected there to be several solutions in Googles app store, and there was, but nothing that worked as easily and efficiently as it should. Wifi File Transfer and ES File Explorer were the best of what I tried, but neither allowed me to upload new files to my USB drives from my computer.
Further research into this revealed that Google removed the ability to write to external drives in Android Version 4.4, which coincidentally happens to be the version of Android running on this device. My understanding is that writability been restored in later versions of the operating system, but until LaserCo releases a firmware update, it looks like this may not be possible.
In an effort to try and buoy my spirits, I decided to check out and admire the quality of some of the 1080P episodes of Arrow I have. This is when the MMC-S30 REALLY got on my nerves. The episodes are encoded with DTS sound, and the device played them back easily. My gripe however, is that a DTS logo is superimposed over the video in the top right hand corner. I thought this logo may disappear after a minute or so, but it didn’t. It was there the entire time the DTS file was playing.
As I used the machine more, I found myself getting frustrated with it. It always shows subtitles, and the subtitle button doesn’t seem to work with its video player app. I had to manually turn subtitles off with the mouse in each new file. There are also no fast forward or rewind buttons on the remote, only chapter skipping. Very basic and vague instructions were not helpful.
I posted on LaserCo’s sparsely utilised forum about setting the machine up as a file server, but have yet to receive a reply. I also sent a question to LaserCo’s support service about “Rooting/Unrooting” the machine. Whilst I did eventually get a reply from them, the procedures they outlined, and the firmware file the made available for download did not successfully root the device.
Snooping around on 3rd party web sites I learned that the MMC-S30 will not play Netflix in HD, and that it is also a re-branded clone of the many cheap Chinese players that can be found on Ebay for $50-$80.
And then it happened……
About a week after buying the machine, I disconnected it, put it back in the box, and pined for the many hours I lost trying to get to like this machine. I had had enough.
The bottom line, the hardware side of the MMC-S30 is great. But the Android operating system when applied to this media player is clumsy, unintuitive, buggy and frustrating. Unless a OS update is soon released to address some of these issues, I would pass on this machine. It’s not quite there yet.
I have been a Photoshop user for many years, and have been very happy with it. Recently, I purchased CS6 and have been blown away with it’s “Content Aware” powers. I have gone back and forward on Lightroom many times though. I have trialed it more than once, and was never 100% convinced I had to have it.
A few weeks ago a friend recommended I download and trial Abobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan, which features new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. It installed easily and was up and running quickly on my Mac Pro/Yosemite machine. My first impression was that it slowed my system and internet connection considerably (Spinning Beachball syndrome). It always seems to be phoning home for something, like telling me I need to update Acrobat DC, when I don’t have Acrobat on my system, but that is a whole other discussion. As usual, I found Photoshop to be amazing, and to my surprise I was also impressed with how Lightroom had grown since I last trialed it. The inbuilt lens profiles and new features like Dehaze seemed to bring it to life for me. Add to this the packages price tag of only $9.99 AUD per month, it was seeming to good to be true, and I started to feel like I would sign up.
Whilst looking for something else on the internet I stumbled upon This Article on Geek.com entitled “Adobe will try anything to stop a Creative Cloud cancellation”. This is the line in the post that really caught my attention:
“in order to protect that revenue they are using strong-arm tactics when someone attempts to cancel their subscription”
Strong-Arm Tactics? That sounded like a pretty bold statement, and initially I wondered if it was Adobe or the Geek.com author who came off looking bad here. I chose not to base my decision on this article, gave Adobe the benefit of the doubt on this one, and continued to research the plan. To my dismay I was able to find other similar stories on the internet about the way Adobe does business. After removing the flames and venom I was able to summarize those articles into a few points that are relevant to the decision I have to make. It appears that Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan is $9.99 for the first year, and then it jumps up to $19.99 for the second year and beyond. It also appears to be very difficult to cancel if you change your mind at some point, and it seems that if you are able to initiate a cancellation you will be expected to pay out the contract.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Photography Plan is still good value at $19.99 per month. However, my concern lies in the fact that there appears to be some important information that consumers are entitled to know about being hidden away. Adobe don’t appear to be being honest and transparent about how the plan works. I have searched fairly extensively on Adobe’s web site looking for the fine print, and there doesn’t seem to be any. Perhaps it may be revealed once I click the “BUY” button and start the purchase process. Right now, I don’t feel everything is being disclosed, and I am worried that I will be locked into an arrangement with hidden conditions and fee’s that whilst they may be visible if you know where to look, are obscured and buried away in a heavily texted poorly titled page guarded by a very stern Robots.txt file to block it from showing in searches.
Concerned, I went directly to Adobe and asked them straight out – “After the first 12 months, does the price jump up to $19.99 a month?” Please see transcript of the chat below:
I assume Vanessa is not this customer service agents real name, and this simple and direct question may not be on her answers flow chart (Not her fault). But after reading some other transcripts, the question still remains in the forefront of my mind – are Adobe playing games? Has Vanessa not been trained properly, and genuinely doesn’t know the answer to this very simple question? Or is Adobe hiding the possibility that the prices on their web site are introductory, will increase 100% after 12 months, and they will make it very difficult for you to cancel your account when you find out in the hopes that they can defeat your will and retain you as a customer, as many articles, stories and comments suggest?
As I am still undecided, I am very interested to hear your thoughts on Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and Adobe’s business practices in general. Do you think Adobe are a fair company, and the Creative Cloud Photography Plan is a good deal, or do you think Adobe are dishonest and sneaky, and the Creative Cloud Photography Plan is the cheese on the mousetrap?
If you have a moment, please answer the poll questions below (login not required), and leave a comment if you have one (email address required).
How Can I Clean Off Marks?
Magic Erasers seem to be the most popular solution in the Pop community. It is a block of Melamine Foam, and is sold under many different brand names. For Australians, it is a Chux product, available in stores like Coles. Other solutions include a small amount Rubbing Alcohol or Eucalyptus oil on a cotton swab. I have also read some people use acetone on a swab, but this sounds a bit aggressive to me, and will likely remove paint. I STRONGLY recommend you do not use this method. For those who want to give it a go on really stubborn stains, tread carefully and press gently, and don’t say you were not warned!
How Can I Straighten A Bent Dagger/Knife/Sword/Body Part?
There are two widely used methods, both involve heat. For thin parts, a hair dryer can be used to warm and soften the material, then maneuver the part into the correct location and hold it there until it cools. For thicker part, run it under hot water, or submerge it in hot water until it softens. Again, hold it in the right spot until it cools.
How Can I Make The Head Sit Straight?
Bobble Heads – Force a few cotton balls up inside the spring and manipulate it until the head sits correctly.
Non-Bobble Heads – Submerge the head in hot water until the glue softens, then gently manipulate it until it is in the correct spot, and hold it until the glue cools/dries again.
How Can I Repair A Crushed Box?
We all hate it when a Pop arrives crushed, but I have read on some boards that people have attempted to repair damaged boxes with some success. Whilst it is definitely not recommended, it seems crushed boxes can be improved by removing everything from the inside, flattening them out, putting a pillow case over them, and gently passing a warm iron with NO steam over them. Obviously, you would need to concentrate on the cardboard and steer clear of the plastic, but if the box is already trashed, you have got nothing to lose. I personally would opt for a stack of heavy books instead of an iron…
How Can I Secure A Loose Clear Plastic Window?
Use a regular glue gun to add a drop of glue in an out of sight place.
How can I re-attach a part that has broken off?
Know a good glue to use on Funko Pop Vinyls? Let us know about it by leaving a comment below.
The Ultimate Funko Pop Vinyl Beginners Guide F.A.Q is the best place for Newbs to get up to speed on everything they will need to know about collecting, trading, buying and selling Funko Pop Vinyl figures.
If you have any questions or answers you would like to contribute to the F.A.Q, please let us know in the comments section below.
What Is A Funko Pop Vinyl?
A Funko Pop Vinyl is a stylized vinyl collectible figurine manufactured by the Funko company in Everett Washington USA. They are identifiable by the uniquely embellished oversize heads on springs which bobble about when shaken, hence the term Bobble-Head. Although the majority of Pop Vinyls have bobbling heads, this is not possible with all characters. Some heads are fixed firmly in place with glue. Funko has licenses to produce 1000’s of different characters from Popular Culture like Star Wars and The Avengers. You can view them HERE. The best way to stay up to date is by following Funko’s official blog.
Display In Box or Out Of Box?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and there really is no definitive answer. It is a matter of personal preference. Some things to consider when making your decision:
Do you intend to keep your Pops forever or is it possible you might trade or sell them? If you intend to keep all of your Pops, it is fun to take them out of the boxes because they look so cool. If you think you might be interested in trading and selling, a MIB (Mint In Box) Pop will always be more valuable as it is clean and never touched or played with.
Do you have a lot of space to display your collection? If you find yourself heavily into collecting Pops, they will eventually take up a LOT of space if you wish to display them. A lot of people will take them out of their boxes so the collection can be displayed in a smaller area, and store or fold the boxes away carefully so they can be put back into action if required.
Leave Price Tags On?
Again, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people like to leave them on so they can see how much they paid, compared to current market value. Others think they look ugly, and like to take them off as they feel it spoils the aesthetics of the box. But be careful if you do decide to remove them, they can tear and damage the box reducing its value.
How Can I Clean Off Price Tag Residue?
Some price tags leave a sticky residue behind once they have been removed.
Price Tag Residue On Cardboard – The general consensus in the Pop communities is that a small amount of rubbing alcohol or eucalyptus oil on a cotton swab will do the trick. Make sure to test your solution on an old spare box first, or if you don’t have one, try a discreet part of the box like the bottom first to avoid major mishaps. Another solution I have heard of but not tried is to use a hair dryer to soften the glue. Again, proceed with caution.
Price Tag Residue On Clear Plastic – Remove everything from inside the box, then flatten it out. A small drop of cooking oil on a soft rag has been reported as working very well. DO NOT use alcohol or acetone on the clear plastic as it will melt!
What Are The Stickers – Should I Take Them Off?
The stickers on the clear plastic part of the box indicate that the item is some sort of exclusive or rarity (IE – From Comic-Con). You definitely DO NOT want to remove them even if they obstruct the view of the Pop, as these are part of what makes it exclusive and valuable.
Should I Keep The Boxes?
If you decide to display your Pops out of the box, it is well worth keeping the boxes because you never know, one day you might want to sell one, and it is way more valuable in the box. If you are certain you don’t want to keep the boxes, they are worth money, and there is a demand for them. Try selling them on Ebay or trading/selling them in your favorite Pop forum.
How Much Is This One Worth?
Pops are all worth different amounts due to their exclusivity. Some are produced by the thousands, while others are produced in very limited numbers. The best ways to figure out what a particular pop is worth to look for it on Ebay, filter the search to Australia only, look at completed sales and see what it has been selling for lately.
Pop Price Guide is not really relevant for us in Australia, as many pops considered exclusive in the U.S are regulars here, and vice versa.
For our friends in the U.S, poppriceguide.com is the way to go.
What Is An Exclusive?
An Exclusive is a Pop that has been produced in a limited amount of numbers, usually for a special events like Comic Conventions. They are identifiable by a sticker placed on the clear plastic part of the box. The Pop itself is usually different from the mass produced common version, featuring variations like different colors, metallic paints, and glow in the dark capabilities
What Is A Prototype?
Before a Pop is mass produced and released into stores for you to buy, several original prototypes of the character are made. These are used for testing and assessment of the new idea. Sometimes they are painted, sometimes they are not. These are considered Highly collectible and very valuable.
What Is A Chase Piece or Chaser?
When Funko ships box lots to retailers, they are sent in lots of 36. One of the pops in the case is called a Chase. Whilst it is the same character, it is slightly varied from the rest, making it rare and more collectible. Usually, Chase Pops have different colors or paint, and have a unique sticker on the clear plastic. Unfortunately, these are usually separated out by the retailers and sold at a premium price. They are rarely seen in the wild, and usually found on Ebay.
What Is A Flocked Pop?
A flocked Pop is covered with a fur like material which gives them a soft feeling when touched, and makes characters feel more realistic than the regular smooth painted vinyl surface. Flocked Pops are usually exclusives and harder to find.
What Are Dorbz, Vinyl Vixens, Mystery Minis, Hikari etc…?
They are other kinds of collectible figurines made by the Funko company. They are parallel product lines similar to Pop Vinyls. They too have very active and vibrant communities you can check out.
What Should I Collect?
There are so many Pops available now, it is very easy to be overwhelmed. The best approach is to start simple. Identify a genre or franchise that appeals to you, and start collecting in that sub-group. It’s also a good idea to start with current regulars/commons that are readily available and easy to find. For example, the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens set. There are roughly 15 Pops in the set, they are all current and readily available. When you have enough spare change you can buy one from time to time and gradually build your collection, with the goal of completing the set. Once you have completed the set, move on to another sub-set. Be warned, collecting Pops is VERY addictive. If you decide you want to start by collecting all of the characters from the Big Bang Theory for example, you are going to get disappointed pretty quickly, as some of them have been retired and are very hard to find.
What Is Collectors Corps/Loot Crate Etc…?
They are limited edition subscription collectors boxes that are released monthly, and contain exclusive items that cant be purchased anywhere else. These exclusive items do sometimes turn up for sale on Ebay.
What Does PC Mean In Pop Forums?
PC is short for popcultcha.com.au. It is a VERY popular online store in Australia that often has Exclusive and Hard to find Pops at regular prices. – http://www.popcultcha.com.au/
What Is Hot Topic?
Hot Topic is an online store which has lots of exclusives and is very popular amongst collectors – http://www.hottopic.com/pop-culture/collectibles/figures-and-toys/
Where Can I Trade/Buy/Sell?
There are numerous places online to buy, sell and trade pops. If you are looking to buy brand new Pops at regular retail prices, you cant go past Popcultcha.com.au. If you want to find something rare or retired quickly, Ebay.com is your best bet. If you are looking to trade or swap, as well as buy and sell, I recommend the Australian Funko Pop Vinyl Collectors Club group on Facebook.
Some retail outlets in Australia include:
How Can I Protect My Pops?
A number of companies make plastic sleeves and cases to keep dust away, and prevent discoloration. Called Pop Protectors, they usually sell for around $2-$3 each
How Can I Repair Damage?
See our page on Pop Vinyl Repairs HERE.
How Can I Clean Marks Off?
Magic Erasers seem to be the most popular solution in the Pop community. It is a block of Melamine Foam, and is sold under many different brand names. For Australians, it is a Chux product, available in stores like Coles.
How Can I Charge Up Glow In The Dark Pops?
Glow In The Dark Pops generally don’t just glow in the dark. They need to be charged. Some methods for charging them include placing them under U.V. lights, Taking them out into the sun, or placing them in front of a high powered flashlight for a few minutes. I have also heard of people using car headlights.
The most popular method seems to be purchasing a cheap UV Torch/Flashlight of Ebay. They usually sell for about $2-$3.
My Pop Keeps Falling Over/Wont Stand Up?
A small amount of museum putty (In Australia, we call it BluTak) on the base will do the trick, and gently secure it to your shelf.
How Can I Find Someone To Make A Custom For Me?
Pop Vinyl Facebook Groups and Discussion Boards are the best place to find customisers. They will usually post many photos of their work, and you can check their feedback from customers in the comments to see if they may be right for your job.
Where can I get more info on Customisation?
Check out The Funkustomizer Files website. There are a lot of tips and tricks, and examples of customs he has created.
How Does The Head Come Off?
For the Bobble Head style pops, the head screws off the body (more detailed info and an instructional video coming soon). For the non bobbles, submerge the head in hot water for 30-40 seconds to soften the glue.
Who Is Freddy Funko?
Freddy Funko is the Funko Companies mascot. There is even a blog page on Funko’s blog where Freddy gives a tour of Funko Headquarters.
How Can I Keep Track Of My Collection?
The best way I have found so far is with an iPhone app called Toy Collector 2.
If you have a better method, please let us know about it on the forum.
What Do All The Acronyms and Lingo Mean?
MIB = Mint In Box
NFS = Not For Sale
NFT = Not For Trade
ISO = In Search Of
GOT = Game Of Thrones
GITD = Glow In The Dark
OOB = Out Of Box
PC = Popcultcha
If you have any questions or answers you would like to contribute to the F.A.Q, please let us know in the comments section below.