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Archive for November, 2011

Virgin Mobile USA is running a 50% off Android phones sale today. Okay, I’m in. I love my iPhone 3G S but I’d like more internet than my current 30MB per month and I’d like my phone to be a driving GPS. Google has a terrific driving GPS app, so I’ll give Android a try again. I don’t care about the real keyboard on this phone, but I do care that it has Android 2.3 (good autocorrect on a Nexus S I’ve tried), compared to 2.2 (zero autocorrect) on the Optimus V non-slider.

I really should wait for a phone with Android 4.0, from some review I saw mentioned on DaringFireball.net, but I’ll give this  a go today due to the fire sale.

The wife will try one as well, to replace her beloved Blackberry Curve. We’ll see how it goes.

 

What I expect to miss going from unlocked iPhone 3G S on T-Mobile prepaid to LG Optimus Slider on Virgin Mobile USA

Instapaper. But I think I’ll be okay with Instapaper on Kindle 3, iPad and MacBook Air.

A hard mute switch, for when I get to and leave the office, quiet environments, at bed time, etc.

Apple’s beautiful new iOS 5 notification system, which they ripped part of off from Android but did so much better.

I’m wondering

If the Android calendar app will suck

If the Android contacts/address book app will suck

If the Android 2.3 Gmail or built-in Mail app will be better than what I’ve seen in 2.2 and earlier versions of Android.

If the Android 2.3 on-screen keypad will be better than that from 2.2.

If the Android Twitter client will be any good

If there are any better Simplenote clients since I last tried Android for myself

I’m hoping that

I can set up Google Talk to transcribe my voicemails

There will be a decent SSH client for Android

Android 2.3’s text autocorrect will be awesome

Tasker will be awesome

There will be a good dictionary with derivations.

There will be a decent way to get music onto this thing.

It’ll be easy to find songs in the car so I can play what my daugther asks for from time to time

What I won’t miss

Inability to forward voicemail to GoogleVoice so they can transcribe my messages

Upgrade bullshit (waiting, long upgrade process) since I have to unlock my iPhone to use it on T-Mobile

Things. It’s a great todo list app which I own for iPhone, iPad and OS X, all purchased separately. Last time I went back to iPhone from Android, Things was part of the reason. But these days I don’t use Things at all. I use Simplenote for my todo lists. I haven’t opened Things (or OmniFocus) on any of my devices in months. Haven’t even thought about them recently, until today.

12 December 2011 update: I ordered an iPhone 4S (factory unlocked) late last week. I’m sending this phone back. It came the closest of any Android phone (considered along with the service and price thereof) of being something I could stick with. But Android 2.3 sucks hard in my view and I don’t want to deal with it. I want the excellent experience of an iPhone.

The only drawback of sticking with prepaid T-Mobile and an iPhone are no ability to forward my voicemail to Google Voice (bummer) and limited internet (30MB/mo.) The internet thing is mitigated by my TruConnect MiFi 2200 $4.99/mo + $0.039/MB mobile hotspot data plan.

What I expect to miss going from unlocked iPhone 3G S on T-Mobile prepaid to LG Optimus Slider on Virgin Mobile USA
Instapaper. But I think I’ll be okay with Instapaper on Kindle 3, iPad and MacBook Air.
A hard mute switch, for when I get to and leave the office, quiet environments, at bed time, etc.
Apple’s amazing new iOS 5 notification system, which they ripped part of off from Android but did so much better.
I’m wondering
If the Android calendar app will suck
If the contacts/address book app will suck
If the Android 2.3 Gmail or built-in Mail app will be better than what I’ve seen in 2.2 and earlier versions of Android.
If the on-screen keypad will be better than that from 2.2.
If the Android Twitter client will be any good
If there are any better Simplenote clients since I last tried Android for myself
I’m hoping that
I can set up Google Talk to transcribe my voicemails
There will be a decent SSH client for Android
Android 2.3’s text autocorrect will be awesome
Tasker will be awesome
There will be a good dictionary with derivations.
There will be a decent way to get music onto this thing.
It’ll be easy to find songs in the car so I can play what my daugther asks for from time to time
What I won’t miss
Inability to forward voicemail to GoogleVoice so they can transcribe my messages
Upgrade bullshit (waiting, long upgrade process) since I have to unlock my iPhone to use it on T-Mobile

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I ordered this two days ago, Tuesday, 15 November 2011. I like my 120 SR a lot, but this little thing could wind up being used even more since it’s small enough for indoor flight. We’ll see.

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Kindle Fire

Bought the wife a Kindle Fire (pre-order) the day they went up for sale, 8 September 2011. It arrived yesterday.

I played with it a bit at night after work.

First big complaint: The Kindle Fire doesn’t get loud enough. I was watching Ip Man via Amazon Prime on it and I couldn’t get the volume high enough. Same was true watching a couple YouTube videos about RC helicopters, which are plenty loud enough on my MacBook Air and iPad 2. This is a big problem. I didn’t point it out to my wife.

Also, I really miss having a physical home button.

I also miss having physical volume buttons. How the hell do you change the volume while playing Angry Birds? (My wife was playing, I don’t find Angry Birds very interesting to play for more than about a minute a month.) This volume thing sucks.

Web browsing is okay. Even my wife remarked that page loads are disappointingly slow. I’d seen a video comparing iPad to Fire page loading yesterday and the Kindle loaded pages in 14 seconds that the iPad 2 loaded in 4, so I was prepared for slow page loads. Hopefully this is just a DNS thing and I’ll be able to change the Fire over to using Google DNS without screwing with any of the Silk browser’s cloud-based web browsing acceleration magic. We’ll see.

The list of huge (pretty) icons of the last-used apps and such is annoying in that you can’t delete items from first position — you have to push them down in the deck by running other apps. I opened the pre-installed Pulse app to see what it was. I don’t remember what it was now, the morning after, but I do remember that I wanted that stupid thing out of my face.

Address Book: What does this sync to? I want to sync my address book to my wife’s Google Contacts so they in sync with her Blackberry. How do I do this? Is this possible at all with the Kindle Fire?

What’s Good

The price. $200 makes up for a lot of disappointment.

The Kindle Fire’s size is nice for one-handed holding. Nice for watching a movie while holding our five week old daughter. I like that. Though I couldn’t hear the videos I wanted to watch, which was a shame.

28 November 2011 update: Fire still sucks. But wife wants to keep it, even though she agrees that it’s pretty bad.

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The short version: If little helicopters interest you, buy one. They’re $20, come on.

Don’t buy the crap they sell at the mall — buy a Syma S107G. Don’t buy cheaper helis from other manufacturers. The best bang for your twenty bucks is a Syma S107.

My daughter, who is six years old, has crashlanded it in the pool, where it sunk to the bottom (and survived after I blew the water out with my compressor and let it dry overnight), stuck it on the roof where it sat for about ten hours and dropped it to the dirt from 25 feet in the air numerous times. Parts bill so far: $0.00. This thing is a tank, a submarine and a bit of a rocket. It’s not actually fast, but it hovers stably and is a joy to use.

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Costco had a 3.5-channel radio controlled helicopter. Leyna saw it before I did and went nuts for it. I put it in the cart immediately. I treed it that day and it took the neighbor kid an hour with a football to retrieve it from 30 feet in the air. He caught it as it came down, but the bottom main rotor mount was cracked. The next day, Leyna smashed its replacement.

So we ordered a Syma S107(G) in yellow. Leyna loves it. So do I, but it’s not enough and I knew it wouldn’t be, so before it arrived I ordered an E-Flite Blade 120 SR.

The 120SR came last night and I flew it at about 8pm in the dark with a flashlight. Bad idea, but nothing major came of it. I kept Leyna behind me and only broke one ting: The left-rear arm of the landing skid. I super glued it together and sealed it up with a band-aid. That was last night, 14 November 2011.

Today, at about 7:40am, before school, Leyna and I flew our birds in the yard. She did great. When her mom came out, Leyna landed her S107 on the roof. I made it worse by trying to fly it off the roof instead of just standing on a table and grabbing it. It’s still up there as I write this. I’ll get it tonight.

The 120SR is, in a word, scary. The thing is fast. Of the 25 or so times I took it to the air, I landed it once. I started to get the feel of the throttle control. I have a tendency to give it more throttle when I really just want to tip the nose forward. Whoops. But I got it into a stable hover once (no credit to me — it was just inherently stable) and a broader hover once.

This is fun.

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On 3 November, I ordered the well regarded Fuji X100 camera.

The same list of pros and cons have been repeated over and over about this camera. I’ll focus here on the things that bothered me and the things I loved, as my purpose is to record my own experience for later reference.

The Great

The flash on this thing uses some kind of magic that makes it not only omniscient but really omnipresent. It doesn’t overpower faces, even across a restaurant table. I wish my Nikon D90’s flash could be as amazing for close-up people shots as this Fuji’s flash. Totally unbelieveable. This is the feature I’ll miss the most about the X100. To get close, I have to be able to bounce my SD400 flash, which isn’t always possible and is always a fireworks show compared the the subtle, relatively unobtrusive firing of my X100. Nikon needs to bottle this magic or I’m probably buying Fuji’s next

Quiet! This thing is nearly silent. It made me hate the mirror noise from my D90, which I’d previously only found annoying (as it distracts my subjects, which is often kids, who stop smiling as soon as they hear that shutter click.)

The focal length and field of view are great. These suit me just fine. No complaints. I like to take pictures of family and friends and the X100 frames things beautifully.

The Bad

One function button. Suck. Really, I’d like this to have about three function buttons.

Price. This thing is a casual photography masterpiece, but it’s overpriced to me considering its numerous design flaws.

As others have stated, the menus aren’t smartly designed. Since I was taking most of my X100 shots with flash, I don’t care much to tweak my settings so the poorly laid out menus don’t bother me much.

Battery life sucks. This whole blog is a reminder list for me, so I don’t feel obliged to expand on this with pictures counts and such. But I shot it for a night at a Daisy Scouts campfire thing with my daughter and when I came home it was pretty much dead. My Nikon D90 would be able to handle three such outings on a single charge.

Only SanDisk (and one other make) SD cards? Please.

Slow writing to card. Annoying. Nikon wouldn’t let such designs out the door.

Close focus (<3 feet) was disappointing. Had to switch to Macro mode manually very often, or else it just wouldn’t get a positive focus lock.

The Awful

The manual focus takes about five hundred turns to travel its entire range. What the hell were Fuji’s engineers thinking? Is this a gearing issue or a software issue or both? I don’t know but MF on this camera is plain shit. This feature might be the one that turned me off the most. I just felt bad owning something this expensive with such a screwed manual focus, even though I don’t take manual focus people shots and all I really take are people and walk-around environment snaps.

The grip on this thing is actually not that great. I don’t get the positive purchase I do from my wonderful Canon S95. (But the S95 hasn’t got the big APS-C sensor or magical flash of the X100 — I’d settle for the flash by about three lengths.) But whatever, I didn’t drop it and I could get a wrist strap if I were keeping it.

Too long, didn’t read

In summary, I couldn’t spend $1200 on something with this many annoyances. The pictures are fantastic and I think so many people would be well served by this camera, as would I. But that’s a lot of coin for me. I’ll wait to see what Fuji comes up with next in this line. I do believe I’ll be back trying another Fuji X-series camera inside the next two years.

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Knees have been bothering me for over a year. Sure, I beat them up running hurt last year — bad idea. But they seem to have good days and bad.

Coming home three nights ago with barley and spring water to make formula for Evie for the first time, it occurred to me that perhaps the fluoride in our Pinellas water wasn’t helping my knee discomfort, nor the lingering issues with my elbows. A quick Google search supported this idea.

So… I’m off the fluoridated water. Drinking spring water for a while. We’ll see how that goes.

I will say that I’ve had some good nights lately.

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