I finally bought my self-indulgent birthday present today. I set up my new Samsung Galaxy S2 and immediately got upset because there was no stock SD card included. Normally there is a 4 or 8 gig card that I have to remove to put my 32 gig card in. There was no pre-existing card, which was a disappointment because I had plans for the stock card. Then I discovered that there is a built-in 12GB card, which adds extra storage to the 32 GB card that I put into the empty MicroSD slot. Awesome!
Then I installed Titanium so I could restore all my apps from the SD card back up rather than having to download and reconfigure them all. Of course I had forgotten that Titanium needs root. So 10 minutes after unboxing this thing I was downloading the latest Unrevoked rooting tool. Then I got hit with shock number 2. Unrevoked is only for HTC phones. Crap! I never noticed that.
So I immediately began the hunt for a more general root tool. I found the wonderful Super1click on xda-developers. It rooted my phone like a pro. It is so polished that I just *had* to donate 5 bucks to the developer.
After the quick root, Titanium made quick work of restoring all my apps in the same state as their last run time on the old phone. That is especially convenient since I don’t have to reconfigure them or re-authenticate. My games even retain the high scores.
I considered slapping the latest CyanogenMod on there but I mainly needed Cyanogenmod for my old HTC Desire because of its relatively low internal memory, which made it hard to find room for apps. Also, I want to get used to the Samsung apps and interface tweaks. One of their tweaks that already irritates me is the Samsung voice recognition. It works quite well but has hijacked the home button double tap, which I use for Quickdesk Pro.
Quickdesk is a home button add on. It lets you get to a quick app screen when you double tap the home button. Unlike the normal home button, it lets you select one of your goto apps without losing your place since you can dismiss it and go back where you were without using the task manager. For now, I’m using the single home button press to call up Quickdesk, which 9 times out of 10 will provide access to the app I need. When that’s not the case, a second press will call up the normal home screen. It actually works pretty well.
I must say, this phone is beautiful and really fast. It is loaded with the best hardware options I’ve seen. I’d post a picture but taking a pic of itself seems to be the 1 thing it can’t do.
Netflix is putting on the brakes regarding it’s idiotic split-account plan. Is the damage already done? First of all, I had absolutely no intention of using Netflix’s streaming only plan because I actually watch movies and their streaming catalog sucks. To be sure, if they could give me the same selection as they could with DVDs it would be a no-brainer. The problem is, they lack at least 3 out of 4 movies that I am looking for.
They were obviously counting on what I call the “mindless sheep effect.” [yes I'm just that cynical on public sentiment] It is true that people are loathe to let their dollars do the talking so I am always shocked when more than a handful of people will cancel their accounts over anything. I mean look at Bank of America. They rape people with the worst fees and highest interest rates in the country and are still able to grow because no one wants to simply find another bank even though there must be a few thousand of them.
Netflix seriously miscalculated just how bad a deal they were offering people. When you manage to motivate this many of the laziest consumers on the planet to walk, you know you have outdone yourself.
So here is the problem: I canceled my Netflix account before their deadline for the new price structure. Since then, I’ve been using Amazon video on demand. I am an Amazon Prime member so all but premium movies is free. I pay the $3.99 per movie via 1-click for first-run stuff. My first month’s 1-click total: $12. I’ve watched all that I want and I’ve spent less than I would have with Netflix. Plus, I get everything immediately. No DVDs–no waiting.
Netflix may find the same trend that Hollywood found after the last big strike they had. People got used to reality TV and networks got used to cheap productions and higher profits. Now, the demand for actors, writers, and directors is lower than pre-strike levels. Likewise Netflix has foolishly showed me and about a million other people that there are other ways to get content and that we actually don’t need them. They clearly overestimated the extent to which they were in the driver’s seat.
There are no doubt still people for whom Netflix’s offerings are most advantageous and it will make sense for these people to stay. Everyone else however, is up for grabs by Amazon, Blockbuster, and others.
Mubarak is reacting with admirable restraint for someone so desperate to hold on to power. He sacked his entire government rather than own up to the discontentment that has been building in Egypt. Americans watch the events there with great interest and a great deal of inner conflict. After all, it is always desirable to see a democratic movement succeed but the region in which this revolution is taking place is unstable. Nevertheless, Egypt has stood out as one of the most stable countries in this often volatile part of the world. Therefore, while we would hope that the Egyptian desire for a self-selected government is realized, we can not say with confidence that whatever might replace the current regime would improve the stability in the region nor that such a change would be in the interest of the United States.
What seems to be a sobering fact is that the democracy many Egyptians seek is so often taken for granted in the United States. In the 2010 midterm elections, just over 40% of eligible voters participated. Such an abysmally low turnout is tragic when you observe the pains that the people of Egypt must go through for the same opportunity.
Still, we must face the hypocrisy of people who now express hope that democracy will flourish in Egypt but who cynically supported candidates like Sharon Angle, who claimed that only election results which turn out favorably to one’s position should be respected and that barring that, “second amendment remedies” should be sought in order to ensure that one gets one’s way. This means, as I’m sure you’ve heard ad nauseam, that you should try to use the electoral process first and if that doesn’t work, start shooting people.
In any case, we can only stand back and see how this situation turns out. At the same time, we can reflect on how fortunate we are to have had our ancestors fight this battle for us. So the next time you hear someone mouthing off about how angry they are because the people they elected kowtowed to big business and special interests and let them ruin the national economy, remind them that the fix is easy for us because the hard part has been done already. All they have to do is vote for people who respect democracy whether they win or lose. Since leaders who value duty and honor above their own self interest tend to make decisions that don’t lead to international financial meltdowns, the rest will pretty much take care of itself. Don’t you think?
How seriously do Americans take the health of their democracy? In a time when far-right conservatives scream belligerently about taking their [unoccupied] country back, one wonders what country they think they live in. Nevada’s Republican senatorial candidate Sharon Angle is the face of extremist rhetoric with her call for “second amendment remedies” as a means of redressing political defeat.
One of the typical traits of third world politics is the rise of charismatic leaders who eschew recognition of political contests that they do not or cannot win. For these people, it’s okay to wave the flag and proclaim their patriotism when they believe they are in a majority but when faced with defeat, they quickly resort to deception, demagoguery, or destruction as a means of achieving their political objectives. What does it say about their commitment to democracy when they behave as if they are entitled to rule and will do anything necessary to impose their ideals on a nation?
One basic flaw of conservative ideology is the belief in its inherent rightness. This contributes to the current nonconstructive state of left to right and right to left dialog. Without the belief in the inherent rightness of conservative politics, it would not be possible for any rational person to vote for someone like Angle or New York’s Paladino. It would also not be possible for anyone with an average or better IQ to watch a channel like Fox News, which as I’m sure you know is the most biased news source since the Soviet era Pravda—legendary source of pro-communist, cold war propaganda.
During my time as a committed conservative who promoted Judeo-Christian values where ever possible, I watched Fox News (as do many traditional conservatives) so as to avoid the taint of liberal media bias. When they became an order of magnitude more right-biased than the most liberal of news papers was left-biased, I found that it violated my own ethical standards of fairness and objectivity and accordingly, I stopped watching them. This is why I know that it is not a matter of simply being jaded or duped. Anyone with a healthy sense of fair play and a healthy respect for the truth, would be concerned by the extremist political rhetoric spewing forth from Fox on a daily basis. Are we to understand that Islamic extremism is a threat but Christian or conservative extremism is perfectly okay?
This is why the coming mid-term elections worry me. Apparently, Americans are angry at incumbents and plan to vote Democrats out of office. Okay. Walk me through the logic here. Republicans spend 8 years destroying our economy, helping companies ship jobs overseas, are apathetic to global warming and the environment, and spend borrowed money like drunken sailors while expanding our national debt by more than a trillion dollars and the average voter wants to hand the country’s driver’s seat back to them? It would not be so bad if there was a viable third party that could give it a go. At least that would make sense. But to give the reigns back to the people who got us in trouble to begin with and who said “no” to every initiative that might have successfully dealt with the problem, makes sense in what way? It makes me wonder if Sharon Angle would endorse second amendment remedies to remove right-wing radicals as well. But then, they often forget that we have guns too…don’t they? Be careful what you wish for.
So that brings me back to the original question. Assuming that actions speak louder than words, what message are Americans sending the world when they vote emotionally without regard to the national political consequences or the long term affects on our democracy? What message does it send when the Roberts Supreme Court allows hundreds of million dollars by billionaires and corporations to pour into Karl Rove’s Republican funding initiatives in order to create a legislative climate where they can do whatever they want and answer to no one—but no one on the Republican side cares about the ethics of coming to power through corporate sponsorships? Who will these Republicans be loyal to, the people or the corporations?
Everyone who cares about our democracy needs to help keep it clean and honest (in as much as that is possible). Everyone should vote, no matter their political leaning. After this election season is done, we need to reverse the damaging Roberts court ruling on campaign finance and then reign-in the unwieldy Senate. Without both of these, we may end up remembering fondly the United States as a modern democracy.
I must once again take my hat off to the nearly godlike hackers over at Unrevoked for renewing my path to rooted Android, hackery-goodness. I put off dealing with this update for the last month because as you probably know by now, I went to Afghanistan for a short spell. I tried to avoid any smart phone drama until I returned but was rather unsuccessful as chronicled here. Aside from some of the minor annoyances mentioned in the previous link, you can’t go wrong with Android because it is not only free (as in freedom, not as in beer) but there are tons of things you can do with it whether it is rooted or not. The following describes my latest, if not earth-shaking, customizations. read more…
This is not a story about a laptop. Look for the story behind the story.
Here is another inconvenient truth. Sometimes you want to buy from a company that you feel you can trust. Companies spend millions upon millions building a relationship with their customers and trying to foster such a trust. Marketers have become so good at it that one can easily forget that it’s all smoke and mirrors.
I have a Dell Studio 17 that is just over 1 year old. Unfortunately for me, the LCD screen failed 3 months after the warranty expired. I was typing away one day and the bottom 2/3 of the screen just twisted horribly and became unusable. Having this happen when a product is still in its prime is always the worst case scenario for any product and is the thing we all dread. I have often counseled friends and colleagues to stick with larger, more robust companies when selecting a product, especially when buying a computer. So I got a shock when I called Dell Out of Warranty support and was told they cannot help me.
I said essentially that there must be some mistake. I have bought many Dell products and when I had to have one repaired previously, it went off without a hitch. I was actually quite pleased. My problem is that I work on a military base in Europe. The US Postal Service operates Post Offices on nearly every U.S. base. U.S. companies can send to them without customs charges and the costs are about what you’d expect to ship a package to New York. It’s meant to let servicemen and women enjoy the same privileges they enjoy at home. Dell happens to be one of the businesses that support this system along with Walmart, Kmart, Amazon, and most other retailers. With Dell, you can order your computer to your military APO right from Dell’s website. But that’s where the convenience ends.
Dell Sales and Dell Warranty Support have both gleefully shipped to me in the past. Now that I have a useless laptop which should still be in the prime of its life, Mr. Kumar who manages the Out of Warranty Department said, “Sorry, we can’t ship to you. You must have a normal U.S. street address.” I asked, “What do you mean can’t? Don’t you have a Post Office in your town?” His response, “Yes we do Sir but we can’t help you.” read more…
Technology pundit John C. Dvorak has bah-humbugged the cloud for years because of untested, unproven claims of its robustness. His concerns, which many have thought to be overly pessimistic were dismissed by many, including myself. I recently had an opportunity to observe the effects of cloud reliance during my trip to Afghanistan. I went there as an IT specialist to work on some of the bandwidth systems there.
Previously (I’ve visited at least once a year for the last 8 years), I used Nokias with their Symbian operating systems and various Windows Mobile devices. This past July, I finally gave in to my craving for an Android phone. As a person making heavy uses of Google products including Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Talk, yada yada, switching to Android was for me somewhat of a no-brainer. I fell head over heels for the Android OS.
In my field of IT, which mostly deals with satellites, fiber, and various other digital technologies, I rely heavily on electronic schematics and other technical documentation. Long ago, I discovered the convenience of carrying my documentation in electronic form. I remember the day when I had to carry around books the size of telephone books. That may not sound too daunting but for those of you who travel often, I’m sure you can appreciate being able to leave 30 or 40 pounds of books behind when you have to travel across continents, through customs, and through several changes of plane especially when you often have to claim your bags and lug them through an airport in order to switch airlines or to meet your next transport.
I eventually managed to fit all of the relevant documentation on a tiny SD card, which was easily swappable to the device du jour. Last year, I was using a Sony Xperia with Winmo 6.5. When I needed specifications for a satellite MODEM or amplifier, I simply pulled out my device and bingo presto, there it was conveniently laid out before me. I could view all of the relevant documentation on every previous device I’ve had for the last 5 years, including my old Nokia N-95. This time however, I had my HTC Desire with Android 2.1. read more…
Don’t mind the look of chaos. I switched web hosts a few hours ago and have to perform a bit of clean up. Wasn’t as bad as I thought. For the time being however, a few links and media content might be broken. All will be well in time…
Love the easy installation of plugins like the tweet button with WP out of the way. But dammit, seeing all the tweet counts reset to zero is annoying.
I love smart phones. I have used smart phones since their fledgling, rudimentary stages when compared to the smart phones of today. The arrival of Android has changed everything. It wasn’t first but it is still a game changer even in comparison with the iPhone. Why?
When I heard that Apple was planning to make one I thought that they would make a beautiful, elegant device that would be limited in what it could do or more importantly, would be limited in terms of what Apple would let customers do with it. I expressed that opinion long before the original iPhone was released. When it finally arrived, I was actually surprised at how much they allowed it to do. It’s features were quite liberal…for Apple. When compared to phones available outside the U.S. however, the multi-touch features and large button interface were really the only things that were new—and even then, only new with phones. Nevertheless, it sounded interesting until I heard the restrictions Apple placed on it. They made you pledge everything but your first-born child for the privilege of being allowed to buy one.
Obviously, the iPhone was a closed door to anyone who thinks like I do. I’m convinced that when I buy a device, I should treat it like it’s mine. Call me crazy. So I stuck with my Nokia 3870, then my Nokia N-95, followed by my Sony-Ericsson Xperia. Now that I have outgrown both Symbian and Windows Mobile, I wanted to go with a top of the line smart phone. Since I am unable to even consider an iPhone for obvious reasons, an Android phone was the obvious choice. This was a no-brainer especially because I make heavy use of Google and its most popular products every single day. read more…
Sometimes it can be downright frustrating to watch people skirt around the major points of an issue. People who do not feel a need to consider the feelings of others often complain about things like diversity training and political correctness. Such things can be just as annoying when taken to an extreme, as the kinds of negativity they are meant to combat. Unfortunately, there will always be people who see no problem with trying to swat a gnat with a grenade launcher.
If you look at the case presented in this CNN piece, Jennifer Keeton seems to reasonably want to protect her religious and speaking freedoms. It is hard to argue with her assertion that the university has no right to force her to change her beliefs. However on just a cursory glance, it is obvious that no university wants to graduate a person with a psychology credential who lacks the professional discipline to shelve their personal beliefs in order to give a patient the full benefit of their academic training, without bias against the individual due to the psychologists religious beliefs. If the university allows such a person to graduate and thus represent its alumni, it could irreparably damage the institution’s reputation. A damaged reputation could have all kinds of negative ripple effects such as decreased desirability by businesses to employ its graduates, reduced funding, or fewer high quality applicants.
The university curriculum requires a student to receive training designed to provide exposure to walks of life that many of its students will never have encountered. However it does not require them to feel any particular way about gays as a condition of completing the class. For this reason, Ms. Keeton’s objections are baseless. If she could demonstrate that she was being forced to change her beliefs prior to being allowed to graduate, I would agree with her but as of now, I’d say she’s probably just trying to unseat 2009′s Fox News favorite Carrie Prejean as the new evangelical paragon of virtue. Can’t we just skip to the inevitable nude pictures and sex tapes, which should appear right about the time she runs out of bleach and her roots begin to show? Come on. You know that will happen right?