Tale of two…

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This is a tale of two cities… opps I meant two tablets.

Both from Asus, one a Windows 8 tablet and the other an Android tablet.

Both were mistakes (on my part). Praise God that I didn’t lose any money though. I really need to do something about my G.A.S. (that’s Gear Acquisition Syndrome, not the other gas…)

1. Fool me once a.k.a. Asus VivoTab Smart ME400C

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My first Windows 8 tablet. The full version of Windows, not Win 8 RT.

The processor was not sluggish in my opinion. And the ability to install ANY Windows app is really a killer functionality.

But… you knew there was a but coming didn’t you? 😉

a) Windows 8 Metro aka the tablet interface is broken.

The app store would not update apps. I had to update Windows multiple times before this issue would fix itself. And I was unable to fix in purely in Metro, I had to dip into Desktop mode too.

The default News app is crap. Looks pretty but with no ability to go back in a way that makes sense to me.

The lack of critical apps such as Facebook and YouTube. Yeah, I could go to the websites but for me the tablet interface is all about dedicated apps, especially for these functions.

b) Metro / Desktop schizophrenia

Dig deep enough into the Metro beauty and you fall into Desktop land. The problem is that the Desktop paradigm needs big screens, mouse, and keyboard. On a small screen, without those input devices it doesn’t quite work. And you are asking someone who is using this device on the go to HAVE to GO into Desktop mode. For the sake of changing some settings….

c) The aspect ratio

16:9 aspect ratio. C’mon! You tell me that this device, unlike others *ahem* *iPad* *ahem* is meant for creation as well as content consumption. Well you’ve basically knee caped this device with this aspect ratio. You can’t use this in landscape mode. It’s just ridiculous in that mode.

Even Android mostly uses 16:10.

Look at letter sized or A4 sized paper. Is it closer to 16:9 or 4:3? It’s the latter….

Having said that, the device itself is very nice. The display is nice even though it isn’t Retina standard.

The plastic used is nice to hold, not very grippy though.

Thank God I was able to return it to the brick and mortar store I bought it from for a full refund.

2. Fool me twice a.k.a Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013)

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The second device made my Asus. Again, very nice physically. Beautiful screen, simply beautiful (note I didn’t use it outdoors only indoors).

Grippy back surface so not really an issue with dropping it accidentally.

But… *sigh* there was a serious problem with the device. I think it might have been hardware relate ’cause I can’t see how it could have been a software problem. Let me explain.

Processes crashed. Even during the setup process. In fact the hardware reset itself halfway (not at the end) through the setup process.

And once it was set up it continued to have processes hang, and occasionally crashing/resetting.

I flashed thinking perhaps it was a faulty ROM but no luck. It continued to crash.

Again, praise God, I returned it for a full refund.

I think I’m still going to get a Nexus 7 (2013). But maybe after the bugs are sorted out…unless this two experiences are telling me that Asus doesn’t have good quality control and I should steer clear of Asus products!

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Microsoft and the French Connection

fcuk_canadaSome of you may be familiar with the UK fashion house, the French Connection. They like to refer to themselves as FCUK.Well in my opinion, Microsoft is FCUK-ed.

I mean the organisation has gone completely pear shape in recent years. I guess the rot started when Bill Gates step down as CEO in 2000. He was still working full time as the Chief Software Architect until 2008.

In those years, Microsoft released the original Xbox, Microsoft Office 2007 (darn ribbon!), and (ugh) Vista.
Well one out of three ain’t bad. And they did fix Vista finally by releasing Windows 7 in 2009.
But Windows 7 was the last hurrah on the OS front. Even then you can see the seeds of incompetence. (deletion of Advanced Search in File Manager).Office 2003 was the last good version, pre-Ribbon. Now each time I want to search Outlook for emails I need to tick “search sub-folders” something that was default behavior previously.
But after 2008/9? Now that Balmer is solely in charge what has he done in the last 4+ years? Look at the mass exodus of talent?
We’ve had Office 2010 and now 2013, Surface and Windows 8. Both are tremendous disappointments. Ok, the Surface hardware isn’t too bad but c’mon the 16:9 aspect ratio? Do you see any books in that aspect ratio? It’s like they are saying we only want you to consume movies and TV shows on the darn thing!
Office 2010 which I’m using is just a facelift. A lot of the old options are still there, just hidden away by a thin veneer of pretty. Dig deep enough and they pop up.Windows 8 is the same, dig a bit deeper in the Metro interface and you get thrown back into Desktop mode with the same ugly old Control Panel settings. Talk about a half-baked tablet interface! And then 1080p on a 10.6 inch screen? Not usable at all in Desktop mode unless you have super eyes!Metro is dead in the water as far as I’m concerned. Look at how long it’s taken Android to get tablet apps. And it’s coming from a strong mobile phone base, ie already has a lot of Android developers.

Windows RT and Windows 8 (Metro) does not have that strong base of developers. Heck, can Win 8 phone developers even switch to Win RT / Win 8 Metro development easily? That’s a question, not a statement – I don’t know.
This frustrates me because I think people just want to have a familiar desktop interface coupled with office software for the office. Well I guess we can all switch to Linux….
EDIT: Just wanted to add some points made by my friend regarding Windows Phone which I left out of the write-up.
MS is not responsive to basic and critical navigational feature suggestions made 3 years ago and I am sure they couldn’t care less. I think WP will either eventually die after the takeover
To sum up, the OS, the PC hardware (ie Surface), the phone, and perhaps even the console (XBone) is FCUK-ed….

How I decided on which smartphone to buy

Last month I was considering a smartphone replacement.

Before I begin I’d like to say that I’ve own, at various times, the iPhone 3GS, the INQ, the Google Nexus S, the iPhone 4S, and the HTC One X. So l like to think that I’ve experience a wide variety of phones and can speak with some credence.

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Recently my eyes have started to fail me. I can’t refocus as well as I used to, in fact, I have to remove my glasses when viewing something up close. To add insult to injury, I’m actually short-sighted!

It was only a few years ago that I was able to use the 3.5 inch screen of the iPhone with no problems. But after about half a year switching from the 4 inch screen of the Nexus S to the 3.5 inch screen of the 4S I noticed that I would, after using the 4S for 10-20 mins, find it difficult to refocus my vision onto things 3-10 meters away.

For that reason alone I switched back to Android, in this case the One X with its 4.7 screen. I would like something even larger but I find the 4.7 inch screen about the limit of what I comfortably use one-handed.

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My failing eyes means that unless Apple comes up with a decent smartphone with at least a 4.5 inch screen, I can’t consider an iOS device. 😦

Then again, perhaps my failing eyes is God’s way of telling me that I shouldn’t be using my smartphone so much!

So this leaves me with either a Win8 phone or an Android device. Win8 isn’t really a serious contender in my opinion which leaves me with Android.

 

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There is currently a shift from 720 screens to 1080 screens on Android. Having seen the benefits of a high resolution display on my iPad 3, I would rather have a 1080 screen than use a current standard screen which will soon be out-dated. This means that the Nexus 4, despite good hardware and the very real benefits of having a pure Google device is excluded.

The phones I have shortlisted at the moment are:

  • the HTC One (not to be confused with the HTC One X),
  • the Samsung Galaxy S4, and
  • the Sony Xperia Z.

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I did consider briefly even larger phones, the phablets. But when I saw a Huawei Ascend Mate in a store with its gigantic 6.1 inch screen I realised it was too large.

This means that the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is also out with its 1080 resolution 6.4 inch screen.

The three phones on my shortlist fulfil the criteria of haing a large 4.7 to 5 inch with a 1080 resolution. Of the three, the S4 looks attractive given the 5 inch screen in the body of a 4.7 inch screen phone. The Sony was initially a contender for first place, but the quality of the screen has me worried.

However there are rumours that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is coming out soon (the Note 2 is still 720 so is not a contender). Then there is also the next Nexus from Google.

Given I’m not in a big rush and the possibility of two much nicer phones coming out, I’m going to try to hold off until at least the end of August before carrying out my purchase. At the very least, even if I get one of the three phones that was on my original shortlist, it ought to be slightly cheaper at the end of August.

Knowing me, knowing you. A-ha! (Part 2)

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James 1:23-24 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Is knowing yourself essential? Maybe not. There are people who lack even the basic level of self awareness. Yet they appear to function, somehow.

Is knowing yourself recommended? Definitely!

It’s good to be in tune with your emotions. To know if you deep down resent someone. That way, the next time they ask you out, you can just say no instead of being forced to say yes just because you are a polite person.

In a way it’s about knowing your preference. If you didn’t know what kind of food you like, it’s hard to navigate a menu. And if you don’t know what makes you happy and what makes you sad, what your dreams are and what you secretly dread then it’d be pretty hard to navigate through life.

E.g. you could be with someone and continue to be with them just because you’ve been with them as long as you remember. But if you were in tune with your emotions and had self knowledge you might come to realise that you’ve grown bored of them much sooner. Then you could do something about it. Instead of wasting years in a dead end relationship without either breaking up or doing something to patch up the relationship.

Now, I’m not saying that knowing yourself is the same as loving yourself. When you get to know yourself there might be parts of yourself that you don’t like. Which are incongruent with how you see yourself, or your true self. In which case, self knowledge allows you to know which parts of you _you_ don’t like. So you can change it. Or come to terms with it. Whatever.

So yeah, be aware of your biases. Your cognitive biases. Or in other words, how your brain, biology and psychology sometimes conspire to work against you.

D30

It’s August.

The start of D30. I’m going to try be more productive for 30 days (hence D30 for Days Thirty, or thirty days). And the first step is to reduce the amount of time I spend on the internet which is non-work related, or paying bills. Basically stop visiting forums and tech sites.
To that end, I have installed the Chrome plug-in StayFocused.
I’ve entered my favourite websites and it allows me up to 10 minutes a day them (in aggregate, not 10 minutes per site).
Stack of gifts
In the days leading up to D30 I had a vision of unwrapped presents. And I think that it can describe some of us who live in the developed world.
Water is cheap and plentiful. It doesn’t even cross our mind that the water we get is potable. it’s just assumed. Blackouts and brownouts are, generally, unheard of. The internet, wired and mobile, is pervasive and somewhat cheap and fast.
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But what is the result of all this abundance? A populace that is distracted and impatient. Having things go smoothly does not help you develop patience. A multitude of activities and entertainment does not help with focus.
So that’s why I’ve decided to wind down. To slow down the pace of life and to smell the roses. To take stock of what I have, give thanks to God for my blessings (material and otherwise), and to start unpacking some of those presents that I have.
Salvos
Where I have more than I need, where there is excess, I will sell or give them away.
Where things have outlived their usefulness I will dispose.
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Where there are sentimental mementos I will keep them, but I will have to be judicious as to what qualified as memento and what is just kitsch.
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Where there are things I need to archive and file away, I will do that, and label and inventorise them so that I can retrieve them easily should the need arise in the future.
I might not achieve all these aims, but to me, goals are not necessarily things that must be completed 100%. These goals are more aspirational than mandatory.
I don’t know if I’ll be different in thirty days. But I do know that if I don’t do anything, nothing will change.