Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Q4 Mobile Thoughts

You know it is a slow day when I'm going back and watching old videos on YouTube. I seem to have missed this particular Colbert Report.

After watching it, I realized that there are sheeple in all of the camps.

Apple has their faithful followers who will buy anything that Tim Cook says is "magical," or "thinner," or "easier." Pioneering, I wouldn't say that. Maybe repackaging existing technology and making it look pretty with the Apple logo or something along those lines. iOS? Android did most of what it does now about 2-3 years ago.

Google has some of the same kind of followers, but they are usually a bit geekier or more concerned about making their device actually belong to them. I've determined that the Nexus line of products is really just a shortened name that really means "next us." This goes in line that they will turn the mobile device world upside down every time there's a new Nexus device released. Come on. That's like saying that with a new release of Ubuntu that we will finally have the "year of the Linux desktop."

Microsoft... Are they really a thing to worry about, other than them extorting royalties from hardware manufacturers that use Android on their devices? Nokia, Microsoft's right hand at pushing the new features for Windows Phone, has really lost their touch over the years. Just by looking over various statistics from some big sources, Nokia's market share has severely plummeted, which takes the base Windows Phone share with it. Every once in a while, there's unofficial rumors that Nokia will be making a new device that will run Android. I think this is to boost the hopes of would-be Nokia customers and to get the Nokia name back in the spotlight. Since Microsoft owns Nokia, I highly doubt they would ever let Nokia put Android on any of their devices happen. Needless to say, I don't believe that Windows Phone will be making any big splashes to awe the mobile device OEMs or the community in general to drop their iPhones or Droids to get that new Windows Phone device. When I think Nokia, I think of the old brick/candybar phones that break the sidewalk or used as weapons to battle the Zombie Apocalypse. This needs to make a comeback!

RIM and their BlackBerry line has all but fallen off the face of the Earth. They are pretty much on their last leg and fighting to stay above water. It's a fierce battle for them, since their devices are primarily marketed towards business people. Their Playbook 10 was mostly a last ditch effort to stay useful in a media based niche. The Q10... Let's not go there. This last line of BlackBerry phones from RIM are tacky at best and tried to make it look like an iPhone with a hardware keyboard attached. You're doing it wrong!

Viva la SideKick! That was one of the best devices I ever owned...until I got my hands on the new HTC G1. If only HTC would hear my constant pleas to reinvent the G1 with a 5.5" or so screen, modern under the hood specs that we all expect in devices of today, a decent battery life and gotta have that flipout 5 row keyboard like the original G1 had. Other requirements I would have on such a device is that it must be a world phone and must have a radio capable of utilizing the bands of modern carrier's 2G/3G/4G/LTE based on the SIM card that is in the device. Also, there needs to be a microSD port capable of sdHC/sdXC. Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. Bluetooth 4.0 LE or whatever the latest standard is at the time. NFC. GPS. A multitude of sensors. As a bonus, it would be nice to have 2 very good stereo face front firing speakers that doesn't clip the audio when it gets too loud. I'm saying quality media and social hub here. Navigation buttons on screen from the Android OS, not hardware soft buttons. I can imagine that this device would carry a fairly hefty price tag on it, but if it met my standards to what I want in a device, I would gladly buy it. Imagine if this design was one of the near future Nexus devices. Yes, that would mean unlocked, no Sense UI, no added bloat from carriers. Just a pure AOSP based Android experience as it was meant to be. I'm sure I'm dreaming. Heh heh, "dream" ... That is what the original G1 device codename was called.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Adventures in College: Part 1: Dislocated Worker

I am creeping up on a full month of my adventures of being back in college. For the most part, it's just business as usual. There are some issues I am still dealing with, but they are slowly getting resolved.

I was laid off from my job of 7 years back in June of this year. Staff reduction, they called it. The company said they wouldn't contest any unemployment claims because there isn't enough work to keep me on their payroll.

I applied for unemployment, but the state of Washington Employment Securities Department (ESD) seems to be training me to join the circus because of all of the hoops they are making me jump through. I have yet to receive any payments from them to this day. Hopefully that will change soon.

I did get a letter in the mail from ESD today about applying for some Commissioner Approved Training Commissioner Approved Training (CAT) program funding. This would've been nice to know about a few months ago as I was preparing what I was going to do with my life. CAT seems like a good program because it will grant me the unemployment payments while I am in school without having to file a claim every week. Win.

As I was attending various workshops at my college prior to the Fall quarter beginning, I found out about a few programs that I should easily qualify for.

First, the Washington Worker Retraining program. This program is designed for people like me, who have been displaced from their jobs, for whatever reason, and get them into classes that will train them in the skills needed for the available in-demand jobs. This program is also for those who want to start their own businesses as well. Win for me, because that is exactly what I want to do in the near future.

Second, the Washington Opportunity Grant. This program, if qualified, will pay for tuition, fees, books and supplies, but only for up to 45 credit hours. That is equivalent to an Associate's Degree. I'm hoping they can reimburse me for the $300+ I have already spent on books for the Fall quarter and pick up for the Winter quarter. We'll see what happens.

I have also been doing some searching for no-essay grants/scholarships, and found a couple, but I'm not too sure of them yet, so I will not list them here to confuse people. I will make a future post with further details as I dive deeper into them.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Super Googlio+ Bros 2014 Professional Deluxe

TL;DR: Broken Google+ for me, boo hoo, ideas for Google+ improvements.
NOTE: I may update this post in the future if I come up with more ideas.


Over the last week or so, Google+ has been much of a roller coaster ride for me for some reason or another. Not only have I been having some serious delays between mobile devices and desktop computers for getting notifications, but there are times I've missed whole conversations where I was mentioned in them and I did not know anything about it. *grumble*

I have a few thoughts about Google+ and things I wish they would do. This is more of a wish list than anything else.


Anything outside of the Main Timeline (home stream) should be moved off to an option menu with user selectable checkboxes (read as plugins) to be enabled or disabled. These options only control the desktop web interfaces. Keep mobile separate.

###["Home Menu" Optional Possibilities]###

[x] [Photos / Picasa] (Google+ Photos or Picasa? Which will it be? I know they are trying to push people from Picasa to Google+ Photos. Why not just merge them both in to Google Drive?)

[x] [Communities / Google Groups] (Merge one into the other. I'm surprised this hasn't been done already.)

[  ] Events (Put them in a Google Calendar and call the calendar "Plus Events" or something that can be ignored by unchecking this box. Some people abuse the Events feature of Google+ way too much, and it has got to a point of annoyance for many.)

[x] Hangout (Some people don't want to chat, I don't mind though. Disabling this may break live events like Hangout On Air on YouTube.)

[  ] Pages (This section seriously needs work. Business pages? Fan page? Pseudonyms for people to hide behind? Google, where are you going with this?)

[  ] Local (Does anyone even use this feature anymore? Sure, it's a way to find local people and businesses, but I really think Foursquare has that pretty well covered. Maybe buy Foursquare? :-/ )

###[Wanted New Features]###

[x] Disable animated images (Show first frame as still image and add a click-to-play feature.)

[x] Notification of new posts by individual users: link to select users from circles (Also, there should be checkbox when clicking the follow button asking if you want to be notified of new posts, or something similar to the little 'gear button' next to the 'Subscribe button' on YouTube. That works really well for what it does.)

[x] Filter keywords: link to filter list box popup (If a post contains listed words, the post will be rolled up and dimmed showing the poster's heading like normal, but tell the viewer that the post was filtered because of a keyword, link to the keyword box editor.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

George R. R. Martin Still Uses A DOS Word Processor

This is exactly why all the new blingie blingie shiny toys these days don't interest me much.



"Game of Thrones" written in WordStar 4.0 for DOS ... Scary thought. :-/

I hated WordStar with every inch of my will. I can't say WordPerfect for DOS was much better though. There was a version of MS Word for DOS, but I've never used that one.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Should I Juice?

I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix tonight. It is quite inspiring if the stuff that Joe Cross presents in the film actually works. His site, Reboot with Joe, is packed with a lot of great information as well.

I've been doing some research all over the place, other than Google and/or Wikipedia, for the last few hours and I came across some really good information regarding weight loss by "juicing." I even found a few podcasts like JuicingRadio and a couple of others that I bookmarked.

Now... I wonder if my brother would be willing to work with me and come up with some sort of plan to help me lose a few of these bowling balls I'm carrying around all of the time. Hey bro, do you have a juicer? If not, wanna go half and half on a good one? Then we'll just need to find some farmer's markets to hit up. I won't pay the insane prices at Whole Foods Market or Uwajimaya.

It's a New Year, but I've yet to turn the page to create a new me. I think it's about time to turn the page and head down the road of making a new me. The new page hasn't been written yet, and I want page 2014 to have a great story to tell.

Do I sound like one of those "me to" people that hears or sees something good and wants to jump on the bandwagon? That's not my intentions here. I really do need to lose a lot of weight and become active again. All I do is work, then come home and sit in front of the computer until I get bored, then I go to sleep. Lather, wash, rinse, repeat...day in and day out. Now I just need the motivation and people around me to cheer me on to get going with the process.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Keep A Notepad Around

Do you ever have those days where you come up with the most amazing thought? You go to write it down, but by the time you get to your notebook, find something to write with and flip open to an empty page, the thought is gone? Yeah, I just had that happen to me earlier. I've been trying to run though everything that has happened today in hopes that it would spark the idea up again, but so far I'm running into a brick wall with each attempt.

I used to carry a little pocket notepad with me all of the time for the very purpose of writing things down that I knew I might forget. Everything from simple things to pick up at the store to big ideas to near future todo lists to how I plan on taking over the world.

The brain only remembers things it absolutely needs to in order to get by. Some of us are cursed with having really useless knowledge that might help us in a game of Trivial Persuit or to bore someone to death by. Sometimes, the brain can be working when you least expect it to and actually comes up with something useful. If you don't do something immediately with what the brain has provided, it discards it as useless information.

Just a reminder. Keep something to write with and to write on within reach at all times and things like this won't happen.

Monday, March 5, 2012

If It Isn't Broke, Don't Fix It

Android has been made popular due to its increasing flexability and open sourceness. With the ever expanding list of APIs and device functionality, Android fits in the ecosystem very well. The possibilities of making your own uber customized builds to do whatever you want it to do is great. But like any product, it's not perfect.

If Android was perfect, there would be no reason for further upgrades. This holds true with Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows and just about everything under the sun. Android is far from perfect. People will constantly submit feature requests because the system doesn't do exactly what they want. Developers see feature requests as bugs. While bugs exist, new versions will continue to be released.

Over the last couple of days, I've had a conversation with someone on Twitter regarding Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone. About every year or so, Google licenses out the "Nexus" name to a hardware OEM to use for their flagship phone. In most cases, this flagship phone is also loaded with the latest/next major release of the Android operating system. This is a fantastic thing for those who must have the latest new toy. Yes, I'm calling that $700 phone in your pocket a toy. Me, being dead set in my ways, chose to argue that I don't need the latest toy in the smartphone realm.

I have a few good reasons why I don't see any interest in this device. I pay close attention to the mobile device websites and watch what credible people on Twitter say about the device, and it is getting mixed results. Big thing is battery life. OK, with some fine tuned tweaks to a rom, this can probably be solved pretty easily. Another thing that gets me is the price of the device. Sure, a good portion of the price can be subsidized if I wanted to switch carriers and get locked into a 2 year contract with them, or find one on CraigsList or eBay. No thanks.

I, personally, don't see what all the hub bub is about for having the latest thing on the market. That is just a sign to me that you either have too much money in your pocket, or a very worn out credit card. I have an HTC Sensation 4G (running Virtuous Inquisition 3.0.0, Android 4.0.3), HTC HD2 (hacked to run NexusHD2-ICS-CyanogenMod 9, Android 4.0.3), HTC G1 (the granddaddy of Android, running CyanogenMod 6.1, Android 2.2.3) and a fairly new Toshiba Thrive 10.1" 16GB tablet (running DalePL's rooted Honeycomb 0003, Android 3.2.1), which I am using now to write this blog post.

By all means, all of these devices all fall in the out dated timeline.

I just recently got the Toshiba Thrive tablet from a great deal on Woot. This is my first venture into the tablet arena. I'm quite happy with it and the abilities it has. Some ROM developers on the ThriveForums hacked some things up to make it do even more than what Toshiba originally marketed it to do. I'm finding that I'm using the tablet more than my laptop for most things. As a matter of fact, I've sorta turned my tablet into a laptop when I am at home.

The HTC Sensation 4G is my daily driver phone. I've put together some very nice things in an already customized rom and made it just feel right. The battery is lasting all day finally, even with moderate internet use for Twitter and some other stuff. This was HTC's first dual core processor phone. Rightfully, it wasn't made fully in compliance to be a power saver. There's ways around that though. I have no complaints about it.

I hacked my HTC HD2 the day I bought it. It originally ran Windows Mobile 6.5. I can't think of anybody who actually enjoyed using that system. A group of talented developers on the XDA Forums set out to make this device run Android. They went with this thought because the hardware in the HD2 is very similar to the HTC/Google Nexus One. First it was made possible by booting Android from the SD card. You would load the phone up into Windows Mobile, run a little app that would shut the phone down to a minimal level and restart using the Android rom on the SD card. This worked very well at first, until a developer named Cotulla found a way to hack the bootloader on the device and allow Android, MeeGo, Ubuntu and even Windows Phone 7 to be installed directly to the internal memory in the phone. Development still continues to make this phone run and do things it was not designed to do. I use this phone to play some games on.

My first adventure into the Android universe came when I got my HTC/T-Mobile G1. This is the device that introduced Android to the world. Many companies and individual people were skeptical about Android due to it being open source. They thought it would fizzle out like many tried and failed attempts to releasing open source Linux phones in the past. The G1 was slow and had very little internal memory to download apps. If it wasn't for Steve Kondik (Cyanogen) and his modded roms, we very well could be using some other system today, other than Android.

In conclusion, I just want to say that I am very satisfied with the devices I have. There is no point in running out to get the next best thing just because it is available. With a little bit of research, working with the community and lots of patience, the devices I have now serve the purposes I require of them. Just because a company is dangling a carrot out to entice you to spend your hard earned money on the latest toy, doesn't mean you have to jump on it.

IF IT ISN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!

Thank you for reading. I would be happy to see what you think about this in the comments below.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Battle of Open Source: Why Can't We Be Friends?

I just read an article on Network World[!] that has me totally floored.
The Banshee[!] developers made it where you can sample, buy and download music within their media player from Amazon MP3[!], and 100% of the affiliate revenues is donated[!] to the GNOME Foundation[!].

Upon further review, Canonical[!] has their own Ubuntu One Music Store[!] that Banshee would be competing with and Canonical wouldn't be getting any cuts from Banshee unless they used Canonical's affiliate ID instead of GNOME's[!]. Canonical wants 75% of the affiliate revenues, with the remainder 25% going to the GNOME Foundation. With the release of Ubuntu 11.04 swiftly drawing near, and Banshee Media Player replacing Rhythmbox[!], the Banshee team opted to disable the Amazon MP3 store all together.

Now it's time for my opinion. Banshee is a wonderful iTunes[!]-like media player for Linux. Since I am such a music buff, and I liked sorta liked iTunes back in the day when I ran Windows[!], I set out to find something similar. As I was searching through media players on Freshmeat[!] back when I was running Debian Linux[!], I came across the Banshee Media Player. It looked like iTunes and had many of the same features. This was the one I chose to go with. A couple of years later, I switched to Ubuntu Linux because of its rapid releases and programs were more up to date than Debian was. I stay fairly current with the happenings behind the scenes in Ubuntu development, even though I am not a developer myself. I even often times over voice my opinions a lot on Twitter about various things in development. I still use Banshee in Ubuntu to this day.

Back when Mark Shuttleworth[!] was pushing Ubuntu for open development, he didn't show greed or ways to control people or projects. He wanted his Ubuntu project to be available for EVERYONE. Sure, projects take money to develop, but there are other ways to go about doing. Changing the affiliate IDs[!] of other open source programs that you distribute is not the answer. That just turns into open source projects fighting one another and NOTHING gets accomplished.

By changing the affiliate IDs in programs such as Banshee and Firefox[!], Canonical is steering, shall I say stealing, possible development revenues from the original program developers. This is not only unfair, but it is just plain wrong.

What do you think? I would love to know your opinions. Please read the whole story from Network World at the top of this post, then either leave me a comment on the blog or better yet, contact me directly on Twitter at @jpyper. I would love to hear form you.