Sunday, May 2, 2021

Good Does Not Always Win

 Despite what you see in superhero movies, good does not always win.

In Austin. the city lost its heart yesterday and passed Prop B. Now being homeless has become a criminal act.  People that are down and out can now be legally kicked in the face, metaphorically speaking.

You lose your job and your house and your car and you are in the middle of a pandemic but now it's OK to say you can't even have a tent over your head.

Evil has triumphed, and a formerly good city just carved out a bit of its soul.

But at least they won't have to look at those less fortunate, and that's the main thing. Out of sight, out of mind, we got ours, screw them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Vaccine

 I heard all sorts of things about the side effects of the Vaccine. In my case, the Moderna one. Usual stuff you hear about the Flu vaccine. Feeling down a few days. Under the weather. Sluggish. 

Except: none of that happened. The shot itself is fairly large in terms in liquid volume, so there was some muscle soreness related specifically to that.  I lifted an arm weight for a little while to ease that, and that was it.

No nothing. Its almost like I got a shot of distilled water. That would have the same level of side effects. 

I talked to friend of mine, and he said it was the same for him. Maybe we didn't get the microchip?

Kidding.

I give Austin Public Health credit. Once I got past the lottery, the rest of it was easy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Killer Apps

 If you are reading this series, you might be wondering why I bothered leaving Android.

I haven't. I have the S20. I have a Galaxy Tab S4. I'm a nerd, so I play with tech all the time. I always have had a foot in both Apple and Android. What has changed is my daily driver.

In Apple land, I have a Macbook Pro, an iPad Pro 12.9 (old one with touchid), an iPad mini, and now the 12.

The killer apps that made me switch to the 12 are 2.

Apple News

We have the family plan for Apple News. I want to pay content providers. It's important to me that happens. I don't want to pay a zillion of them. Apple News is a way to make sure that some content providers get paid with me having one bill. Two, if you count Daily Beast.

Now, iPhone or iPad or Mac, I can read the news. It's kind of been a news-full year too.

Apple Series 3 Watch

I know Series 6 is current. Mine is used. It's not cheap to keep all this tech laying around to play with. For my workouts, the S3 is so much better than anything in Wear from the hardware point of view that it's no contest. In the time of Covid, I want to track my fitness. Fitbit Versa did not work the way I wanted (though that might be a Fitbit to Android issue) and neither my LG Sport nor my Misfit Vapor could keep up with a three-hour bike ride either.

That's it. Those two things moved me away from having on-screen controls and better browsers.

They are still there. Just over there. On my desk now.

Auto versus Carplay

This is more or less a toss-up. Auto looks like Carplay so what's the point of Auto? Also, IM's quit working in Auto, so that's a non-starter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

30 KM Ride

We went for a 30 km bike ride today. When we were done, my daughter (who switched from S10E to 12 Mini) said 'I hate that the fitness tracker (Series 4 watch, used) is so much better!'

She had a Fossil Sport before.

Google needs to get back in the game. Instead of trying to be Apple, try to be better than Apple.

That's it. That's the post.

Monday, November 23, 2020

A Case for a Case

I am going to swim against the fan tide regarding the new iPhone shape. I picked up the 12 for the first time and my reaction was the same as the first time I picked up an iPhone 4 after having a 3GS.

How do you go from ergonomic and smooth and comfy to a lego?

The 12 feels old. Ancient.  Brand new out of the box. A bigger iPhone 4. A decade-old design brand new phone.

I understand that it is easier to design parts for boxes. The 12 is a form follows function device in that sense. It's easier to stack parts in the vertical walled shape. From an engineering/manufacturing point of view, it makes sense. Maybe that is why 12's cost less than 11's?

The visual cues are like old slab-sided cars from the 1970s. 

The 12 is retro.

The phone is also supposed to go in my hand. The function of the phone is to be touched. Not held in a bench vise. In form follows function there is nothing ergo about this. This is a phone shaped for Lego Batman

I bought a Tech21 case sight-unseen based on my love for the Tech21 on the G20. 

Opps! 

That was a mistake. It's still a good case, but it mimics the slab-sided shape of the phone. Not what I wanted. I wanted to round the sides back out. Make it fit in my round hands.

I bought a 'Humixx for iPhone 12 Pro Max Case Shockproof Clear'. Not cheap. The Humixx was advertised as having rounded edges and compared to the phone or the Tech21 they do. It's better. Still not exactly what I want, but better.

I tried a Floveme. Big old thick case. Textured for grip. Still has the slabbyness, but less so. Also, the buttons don't work well, and the bottom-up gesture that is already iffy to launch the tack manager does not work at all.

I now have 75 bucks invested in cases for this phone.

Back to the Humixx and no more online buys. Going to have to see it in person now.

The search for a curved, grippy case continues. Something that adds nice fat bezels so that my fingers are not always touching the screen. But that has working side buttons and lets me launch the task manager within a few tries. I have 'backtap' set to launch task manager (Apple calls it application switcher)

Also: apropos of nothing: I miss the S20's in-screen TouchID. I wish Apple would put that on the power button like they do that one iPad.

IOS VS Android

 I am a UNIX person. I therefore like Linux and BSD. 

IOS is BSD-based (jailbreak an iPhone, install a terminal app and try all the BSD flavor UNIX commands. They work) Makes sense as IOS came from MacOS (then called OS.X). Lots of begats between now and then but the point remains it's a good OS.

Android is Linux based. Root one, install a terminal app. Same thing. The differences are the same ones Linux has to BSD, but it is all UNIX flavored.

The difference is the GUI. Android 11 versus IOS 14 at the time of this post.

Android stacks up some software and even hardware advantages: 

  1. Better notifications with more granular controls. 
  2. Real browsers that run whatever rendering engine they like inside. Not forced to run Webkit.
  3. This one is huge: the dedicated button for 'back'. Another for 'home'. A third for the task manager.
  4. Replaceable launchers: You don't have to put up with whatever the phone came with.
  5. USB-C.
  6. Actual application drawer to keep all the apps in.
  7. Better weather apps and watch faces on Wear
  8. An actual, real file system
  9. Less restrictions around in-app purchases. You want to buy a book inside Audible? Go ahead.
  10. More app default options. IOS just now with 14 let you change mail and browser. That's it,
IOS has:
  1. The walled garden does make some things work better together. Apple earpods for example are way better integrated into the OS.
  2. You can break out of the walled garden to some degree. You can install Spotify, rather than use Apple music, for example.  
  3. Its heath application is superior to Googles. Far more data, far better presented. I bicycle, and the cycling in Android/Wear is really substandard.
  4. Better security (and more coming when we can control the advertising ID.)
Wear versus WatchOS is not so much a conversation about OS as it is about hardware. The Apple hardware is better for GPS, battery life, being able to look at while riding (the watch actual turns on when you look at it: Wear usually does not)

This is Apple developing its own chips versus Google waiting for someone to someday develop a decent watch chip. Qualcomm has been pretty slow to respond and seems to be making little effort against Apple's headway.

What one cannot get away from in Android space is the feeling that once Google dropped the 'Don't Be Evil' saying as a guiding principle, they decided to be evil. Tracking and selling you every which way but loose.

My biggest issue is that Google is trying to make Android into IOS. Removing all their advantages one t a time. Take Android Auto. it used to be its own thing. A cool card interface with each card embedding controls if they were needed (say for a media app). The weather card updated as you moved around and told you the weather for where you were at that time. I kept learning new place names all the time, not being aware I changed a city as I drove.

Then the update came out, and now it looks like Carplay, with the control bar at the bottom instead of at the side. Next, they started moving Assitant to the center, and if you have privacy control turned on, you can't even respond to IM's anymore.

Might as well have Carplay.

Google is working to remove the on-screen controls. The thing I love almost the most about Android is a dedicated back button in the same place all the time. It's still there in 11, but some phones make you turn the navigation controls on because Google apparently wants to be Apple when they grow up. Really: Gesture-based interfaces are not all they are cracked up to be. I still fight the iPhone to get to the task manager all the time.

Might as well have an Apple if Android is going to be an imitation version of IOS someday. If they are not going to get the Wear hardware world up to speed. 

Maybe they can't? Maybe it's like Windows. Windows always highly varies depending on how well the OEM designed the hardware and wrote the device drivers. Google writes an OS for the masses, that runs all over the place. Same with Wear. Wear is fine: I like it better than WatchOS, but it's slow and eats battery like crazy when compared to my old Series 3 watch. I can only imagine how a Series 6 runs.



12 Pro Max VS S20 Ultra: Screen and Size

S20 Screen

My Android is a Samsung S20 Ultra. 6.9-inch diagonal 3,200 x 1,440 pixels, 510 pixels per inch Aspect ratio: 20:9

The refresh rate can be 120Hz but I leave it on 60 Hz because I don't play games on the phone, so why use the battery?

Here is Displaymates review of the S20 Ultra screen: They give the phone an A+ on the screen

https://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S20_ShootOut_1U.htm

The screen is in a word beautiful. Bright, highly color accurate.

12 Pro Max Screen

The iPhone is the 12 Pro Max. 6.7  inch diagonal. Shorter and wider than the S20. The aspect ratio of 19.5:9, and I can see the difference in the extra width of the screen. 2778x1284, 458 pixels per inch, so lower resolution. 60 hz refresh but don't game so don't care.

Here is Displaymate's review. they give the phone an A+ on the screen

https://www.displaymate.com/iPhone_12Pro_ShootOut_1P.htm#Table

All of this is to say both phones have nice screens. I like the slightly wider screen on the 12 for text reading and the S20 for media consumption.

Small

Here though is the main point: Neither phone is big. You can read all over the place on the Interwebs that these phones are 'ginormous' and 'huge' and such. Reviewers rending their garments and lamenting the trend in size upward. They love the S10e and the 12 minis, and lament why can't those have all the features of the larger siblings?

I know some people like tiny phones. One of my favorites to hold was the iPhone 3GS, Perfect shape for a hand. By today's standards, a low rez screen. But nice in the hand. I get the appeal if all you are doing is talking on the phone.

I never talk on the phone. I surf the web. I IM. I write notes. I need screen space and a keyboard my fat fingers fit on. Neither the 12 Pro Max nor the S20 is big, I would love something bigger. I suppose that will be the point of the folding phones going forward. 

I would be happy if I could make calls from my iPad Mini. decent screen size. Touch ID home button. That would be the optimal size for me.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

iPhone 12 Pro Max / Series 3 watch / Fitness tracking

 My wife likes me

I recently started working out, riding bicycles. I have been trying to find fitness tracking nirvana for cycling.

Wear has problems. My Misfit uses all its battery on a ride and hangs all the time when I am trying to see where I am at.

I tried a Fitbit Versa 2 (on sale at Costco). It's A-GPS (grab the GPS from the phone) never worked right. turns out I needed a Versa 3 to have a built-in GPS. The packaging said the Versa 2 had GPS... not so much. I should have researched that better. My bad. I was sin Costco. they had a sale. Lesson learned.

Now on the Fitbit, I have no tracking other than heart rate. Useless for my goal., Nice for sleep tracking though.

Strava? Also useless. It hides the heart data collected by the Misfit Vapor 2 Wear watch unless I pay for it. I do not care about the social aspects of Strava. I just want to track my progress. 

Mine. Not Billy Bobs. Strava is about social workouts. I am sure there are people that like that. I do not care. I am not competing with anyone about anything. I want to know how I am doing. Finis.

I added a Wahoo speed sensor to the bike, and the ANT+ radio connection to the S20 worked fine. The S20 uses about 30% of its battery on a ride, and I assume this is mostly from the screen being on for three hours. The Wahoo app cannot consume heart data from Wear or anything other than its own heart sensor, which is limiting. The Wahoo heart sensor is not a wrist appliance.

My looking around (after the Fitbit lesson) said Apple would work better for what I want. So my wife bought me an iPhone. I'm unemployed so I can't. She also bought a Series 6 watch and deeded me her old Series 3.

It works perfectly. It is exactly what I want.

Now, when I go busting around the park for 20-25 miles, I see all the data I want to see. Routes and average speeds, and elevation changes, and heart rate recovery intervals. Right out of the box. I still use the Wahoo (via Bluetooth, not ANT+) for the real-time speedo. It still eats battery on the iPhone because of screen time. Samsung has an Amoled screen. Wahoo has a White background, enemy of Amoled.  iPhone has Amoled. Same / Same.

So: Problem solved. Fitness tracking exactly what I want. But now, suddenly, unexpectedly, I am an iPhone user again. My last personal iPhone was a 3GS.

Brave new world.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Form Follows Function: Phones

There are two schools of though in Design. There is Jony Ives pathological hatred for buttons, and there is my pathological hatred for lack of buttons. He made and makes a lot more money than me, so I assume more people are of the school that design is more important than ease of use.

Even though I have a Mac and iPads, I'm an Android phone user, for example. The is not a security position, but it is a functional one. I like fingerprint readers. I like back buttons. I dislike intensely faceID, and that was before Covid and face masks made faceID worthless.

My iPads are the older ones with home buttons that let me unlock them that way.  Rumor has it the new Air might put a fingerprint reader in the power button. I support that! The Galaxy S10e has that and it works nicely.

Related to that is the love affair with bezels, or lack thereof. Why? My fingers did not get skinnier just because the phone did. I know I am going to put a case on it anyway, but lately that means I look for big fat cases because the phone is all screen all the time and I have to hold it somehow.

I never really understood the curved screen thing Samsung did for a while either. How does holding your phone at angles to be able to read things make it better? No idea. Sure made me touch the edges a great deal though.

What never bothered me is notches. They had to put the front facing camera someplace. They were dumb enough to get rid of the bezel, so they left behind a bezel vestige. So? 

I never use the selfie cam or faceID unlock so I don't care about any of that stuff inside the bezel either, but I know there are entire YouTube pages that live and die by the selfie cam. 

I'll pay for the lack of bezels with fat cases, and the lack of headphone jacks with D2A converters (because wired headphones are still better) but please phone designers: Ignore the people calling for all phones to have smaller screens! They have small hands, and that's a good reason for them to get small phones, but bigger is better for the big handed out here! 

Function: Easier to read. Simple. 

I have a 6.9 inch screen on mine, and it barely fits most phone holders, but I would go with bigger still if it was out there. Hell: If my 7.9 inch iPad could make phone calls, that would be great!

A bigger phone has room for a bigger battery too, so even better. I have range anxiety on my phone far worse than I do on my electric car.

A feature that matters not to me: Wireless charging. Why? Slow. Range anxiety maps to wanting the phone to charge as fast as it can. USB-C fast.

An appalling number of people online whine about the big camera bumps on phones, but I love a good camera, so I don't care about big Camera clusters. The one on the iPhone 11 is big, but that phone takes a nice picture so worth it. Have to buy a big clunky case anyway, so easy to hide.

Function over Form is a lonely place to live...

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Edge Gone

I deeply hate the way that Microsoft pushed out the new Edge. I do not know why they are so desperate to get me to use Bing and their browser instead of Firefox/Brave and DuckDuckGo, but it is deeply annoying. Admittedly my Win10 system is only there for goofing around with Windows / MS tech, but that's more about looking at Powershell and the Linux Subsystem right now. 

After stupid anti-user old school MS junk like this, my HP laptop is in serious danger of just turning into a Linux system like so many Windows laptops before it have.

MS Pushed out the new Edge browser to the Windows box today. It took over everything. Tried to force me to set it up and take over. It did not want to be killed until it was done Borging the box.

I finally got it dead and started searching for how to get it off my system.

MS says to do it this way:

Press WIN+R to open Run then type: C:\Windows\SystemApps
Find Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe folder.
Right-click the Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe folder and click Rename.
Rename the folder Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.old and click Continue.


Did not work at all. 

So I tried this:

1. Open a new browser window in Microsoft Edge and paste the following into the address bar to find the Edge version number: edge://settings/help

2. Cut and paste the following address: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge\Application\[version number]\Installer in File Explorer.

3. Open command prompt window within the folder and paste the following command: setup.exe –uninstall –system-level –verbose-logging –force-uninstall

4. The “new” Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) is now removed from Windows 10

(from here: https://www.onmsft.com/how-to/how-to-completely-uninstall-microsoft-edge-on-windows-10 )

Did not work either. Said it had no idea what 'setup.exe' even was. This may be because I was running inside Powershell as Admin, but the instructions were not specific as to shell.

The stuff here probably would have worked:


But it's a lot of steps. I kept looking.


Looked easy. Did not work. Said that Edge was a part of Windows that could not be removed (assume this worked when Edge was voluntary but now it was force installed)


Update: I caught a sale on Windows Professional and installed it in a VM on my Mac under Parallels. It runs well, but this trick does not remove Edge there, and it's back to being unbearably annoying!

Edge is a fine browser that works well. I will never use it because of these tactics.

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-microsoft-edge-windows-10

The above link DID work. Edge is once again gone. Well: Reverted to the legacy edge, which is less whiney about not being used for things.

I wanted it GONE. So I followed the instructions there and :

TAKEOWN /F C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEMAPPS\MICROSOFT.MICROSOFTEDGE_8WEKYB3D8BBWE

That command made my Admin level account own the directory. Bwahaha! 

Then:

icacls C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe /gr

That command displays or modifies discretionary access control lists (DACLs) on specified files, and applies stored DACLs to files in specified directories. The '/gr' switch means 'grant me the user access rights' Bwahaha again!

Then I cd'ed to the above, and RM'ed everything. I'm in Powershell so Unix like commands work.

After that, I rebooted and deleted the Icon cruft MS left laying on my taskbar, desktop, and start menu.

Next, I looked at Cortana's search (Cortana is off already: This was just the command line search it leaves behind), which is littered with garbage. MS left no easy way to clean that up that I can find, so I deleted it from the taskbar, and installed a tool called 'Everything'. It has a taskbar launch option, so I can still search the PC easily, and if I want to look at the Interwebs, fire up Brave or Firefox and use DuckDuckGo.

It's not gone. Like any Android or Apple phone, you have to move the cruft out of the way that 'they' do not want you to be able to delete. I personally used to Jailbreak / Root every phone I had, but that game got old (as they meant for it to) so now I just create cruft folders for their corporate junk and shove it all there (Apple) or disable it (Android, but that doesn't work for some things like Bixby. At least they aren't on a Desktop anyplace.)

I might not have gone to all this trouble if MS had not pissed me off so hard with their tactics. Edge is OK. I have it on my Mac, and it works. I use Brave and Firefox there too though, so it's just for technical curiosity. 

The only MS application I personally use is OneNote. Its been dumbed down lately: The 2016 version that came with Office was better, but it's still nice for free form note-taking.