Tag Archive: Technology

Nexus One in 2017

May 10, 2017 7:05 pm Published by 1 Comment

I’ve been using my old Nexus One (running Android 2.3) for the past week, while a replacement Nexus 5X has been in transit. Observations:

Nexus One screenshot

  • I forgot how bad the screen was. Basically invisible in bright sunlight, even at full brightness and shaded.
  • How do I communicate? Talk is dying, Allo and Hangouts aren’t supported. Using an old enough apk of Hangouts that can be installed gives a modal “please upgrade” popup on start.
  • The browser isn’t horrible, but there’s apparently some cross-site SSL feature it doesn’t support, because I get warnings about buttflare certs being bad pretty much everywhere.
  • Twitter works! Crazy!
  • Maps works too!
  • Signal supposedly supports 2.3 but I got strange errors every time I tried to install it.
  • I forgot how slow HSPA was.
  • Gmail works, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to sync quite right. I very rarely can see the emails in my Inbox, even when Gmail says they’re there. Inbox isn’t supported, sadly. The browser-based Gmail is better, but no notifications obviously. Some HTML glitches too, but nothing horrible.
  • It’s seems like a bad thing that an OS released a little more than SIX years ago would be so unsupported. The Gmail/Hangouts/Signal/Allo situation is sad. To be fair, though, Ice Cream Sandwich (8 months newer) was a big departure and it seems like a lot of apps use that as their oldest supported version.
  • The vibrate is INTENSE.
  • The ringtones are horrible. The alarm tones are worse.
  • The camera isn’t actually so bad, but the 80db shutter sound is surprising every time.
  • I miss the trackball (especially trackball notifications).
  • Having to unlock to see/swipe notifications is surprisingly painful.
  • The calendar widget only shows your next event, not your agenda for the day. How is that useful?
  • I actually don’t hate the small form factor as much as I thought I would

Upgrading a 8-year-old TV

June 30, 2016 12:34 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

In 2008, when my parents sold the house I grew up in and started cruising the world in an RV, they gave me their flatscreen television for safe keeping. The expectation was that they’d do the On The Road thing for a couple of years and then take it back when they settled down. They’re still doing it, and the TV is now hilariously out of date. And a couple of weeks ago, the antenna connection stopped working, meaning it was time to upgrade.

The main requirements were: about 40 inches, wide viewing angle, at least 3 HDMI inputs, and never ever ever a Samsung. I was hoping I could also purchase it from a local brick-and-mortar store (instead of online) for an insignificant premium. We don’t need a 4k screen (at that size, and with our couch 11ft away from the screen, it wasn’t necessary. I spent lots of time reading Wirecutter, Rtings, and 4k.com.

The Wirecutter recommended TV (Vizio M43-C1) was very very close to what I needed, but it didn’t have a great viewing angle. I ended up deciding on a 43-inch Sony X830C. Great viewing angle and plenty of HDMI. Rtings felt the contrast wasn’t great and the surface was too reflective, but 4k.com didn’t really agree and general picture quality wasn’t super high on our list — I was sure it would be better than our old free screen.

Anyhow, it’s on the wall now. Six inches larger than the old screen, but covers up less wall. Definitely good. More detailed thoughts coming after I get more time to watch it.

UPDATE: After using the TV for the past two months, I’m definitely a fan. The reflectivity is not a problem, and the colors and viewing angle are excellent. We almost never use our Roku box anymore, which isn’t its fault, it’s just that our TV does everything we used it for. Android TV is pretty good, I think our TV has only crash-rebooted a couple of times (which is a weird concept). The UI could be a bit faster, but whatever. It’s nice having the Guide be accurate even though we only use an antenna (however our old TV used to get its guide had stopped working years ago). The biggest complaint I have is that the remote is sort of a disaster.

Apple’s Font Rendering and high DPI displays

June 15, 2007 7:16 am Published by 7 Comments

The release of a beta of Apple’s Safari for Windows earlier this week has resulted in an interesting flurry of activity in web designer circles. Nevermind the instant security bugs and the quick release of fixes from Apple. I’m talking about typography.

The day that the beta came out, Jeff Atwood asked “What’s wrong with Apple’s font rendering?” He pointed out that others had discussed this before, but it wasn’t until the difference was visible side-by-side on the exact same machine with the exact same fonts (and with presumably the exact same font libraries) that it became truly surprising. Joel Spolsky responded with the answer: Apple and Microsoft have very different priorities when it comes to font rendering, and at current screen sizes and resolutions, Apple’s total respect for the letter shapes can mean blurriness. Their diligence becomes especially impressive when you consider the work that Apple must have had to go through to get Safari to run on Microsoft’s home turf but render fonts the way it would on Mac OS X.

Dave Shea piped in with his own opinion and a caveat: I like Mac’s look better, but I think Microsoft’s is a better choice for the medium. But more importantly, he points out that as soon as higher-DPI screens are available, the whole question will be moot. Microsoft’s deference to the pixel grid will be essentially meaningless. Which brings us back to what Jeff Atwood does best: a big post with research and quotes and numbers showing how far screens have come since the release of the PC AT and Macintosh. Not far. The sad realization:

Short of some kind of miraculous technological breakthrough, I can’t see computer displays reaching 200 DPI in “a few years”. It’s unlikely we’ll even get there in ten years. I’d love to be proven wrong, but all the evidence of history– not to mention typical consumer “bigger is better” behavior– is overwhelming.

Can e-ink or OLED be the miraculous technological breakthrough we need? Possibly, but neither of them are yet ready to replace CRTs or LCDs.

[1] The always brilliant Joel ends with a great metaphor about how people usually prefer what’s familiar. He doesn’t say it, but I think he was implying that this is a big contributor to entrenchment in computing holywars: Mac vs. PC, vi vs. emacs, KNF vs. OTBS.

I Don’t Get It

December 18, 2006 8:55 am Published by 3 Comments

Would I be embarrassing myself if I admitted I didn’t get the notorious xkcd make me a sandwich comic? (Now being made into a t-shirt, due to its popularity.) As I read it, there are a number of possible explanations for the punchline, but the ambiguity is (I think) what’s contributing to my lack-of-getting-it.

  1. The seated character (lets call her Alice) uses sudo to make the request as root. Bob follows the request, since, well, you always listen to root. So does this mean that Bob is an executable? In that case, his first response of “make it yourself” seems out of place; something simpler, like “no” would have been more accurate. I think that this is the most likely explanation, but the first line is what throws me off.
  2. The comic leaves off a “-u bob” argument from Alice’s sudo command. In this case, at the end, Bob thinks he’s making a sandwich for himself. Alice plans some sort of future sandwich-stealing action. Maybe she hopes chown will be as effective.
  3. Alice is telling Bob to use the sudo command to make her a sandwich. (In this case, “sudo” is an adverb that modifies “make”. Replace it with the word “quickly”, and you’ll get what I mean.) Bob realizes that with different permissions, he’ll be able to make any number of sandwiches and escape responsibility for purchasing more jelly. Bob’s wily, and Alice’s laziness backfires.

Like I said, it’s probably #1, but Bob’s first response is poorly composed. Part of the allure of xkcd is the off-the-cuff style, evident in the stick figures, but in this case, I think spending a few more minutes considering the dialogue would have been worth it.

Where will the Wiis be?

November 6, 2006 8:55 am Published by 6 Comments

For those following the same strategy as me this fall — “If I can’t walk into a store and find a Wii, I wasn’t meant to have one.” — there’s some good news. Target’s allocation information was leaked to the Internet the other day, and since then, several Google Maps mashups have sprung up. For instance, this Wii Locator.