blk: (smirk)
I've had this iPhone as my primary phone for a bit over 3 days now, which is about the right amount of time for me to acquire gripes.

OMFG I miss the Pre's Universal Search. Since probably almost nobody here knows what that is, with the Pre I could open up the keyboard (still miss the keyboard) and start typing anything, and it would search all kinds of things to give me options. For example, if I typed "cal" and then paused, it would offer up options to select which would include the Calculator and Calendar apps, my contact Calvin Klein and his phone number so I could call or text, a page from my browsing history where I visited calvinandhobbes.com, an email I got from someone named Caleb, and also an option to search my search engine of choice for the phrase "cal."

With the iPhone, I have to turn on the phone, navigate to the main menu, scroll through to find the app I want to look in, select the app, find the place in the app where I can search, possibly clear out whatever was in that field previously, wait for the virtual keyboard to pop up, type in my keywords, and find the search button. It takes FOREVER and it's WORK and I did not realize how often I used that feature (for basically anytime I wanted to text, call, or google search a thing, which I do a LOT) until I lost it. Or maybe I just haven't figured out how to use this phone properly. If someone can tell me how I'm doing this wrong, please do.

Other major complaints:

1. No external notification to show that I've missed a message. Yes I can turn on a bright annoying light that flashes from the back when I -receive- a message, but if I miss the receiving moment, I have to physically pick up my phone and turn it on to see if I got a message. With the Pre I could just glance at it sitting on my desk and observe if there was a subtle, low-powered, light on the front that would blink every 5 seconds or so and get my attention.

2. No basic, simple, works-well inductive charging. Why is this not a thing?? The touchstone charger was one of the greatest things about the Palm/HP devices. 6 years later and everybody has been trained to plug things in every day. I guess people who never had it don't know what they are missing.

Minor complaints:

1. All the apps work really well, and there's a wide, strong userbase, which means support for advertisements. Phooey. I was completely spoiled having a Pandora app that was too old to stream ads. :)

2. Different messaging systems are all their own app (with the exception of iMessage + SMS being combined). I suppose Pidgin has spoiled me for being able to put all my chat systems in one client, but now I have one app for texts, another app for hangouts, another app for FB messages (if I decided to install it), etc. So I have to remember WHERE i had a conversation with someone in order to go back and review it.

3. Cannot automatically save new contacts directly to Google, where all of my other contacts are already stored. In order to get new contacts there, I'd have to export my contact list and import it to google, a multi-step process that I'm sure is going to create more problems.

4. It's too big. I can use it with one hand, but it's pretty difficult.


On the other hand, the navigation is really nice.
blk: (avatar)
OK, I did it. I upgraded my phone.

I've been playing with my not-son's old iPhone 4S for a couple weeks, seeing what it does, how to configure it, etc, but not with an actual cell phone plan. I could just use it with WiFi for a while, right? But then Friday I bit the bullet and fully switched over.

Most of it was because my current Pre was starting to break down. The camera stopped working; the battery was too old - and I am taking this vacation and wanted to have a working phone camera with me and wanted it to last the entire day of wandering around. And my trial of iPhone stuff had shown that mostly everything I valued about my Pre was still available to me with a new phone, plus more, and it was either acquire a new Pre (and set it up) or switch to a different phone (and set it up). So here I am.

Things I like: It.... just kinda works. SSL certificate doesn't fail randomly. WiFi doesn't stop randomly. Facebook app works again. Camera works and is nice quality. New fun games available. Updates happen smoothly. Backups work really easily. Lots of new and interesting apps available. Syncs with my music easily. The battery lasts all day. Current web pages load properly.

Things I don't like: I really miss the physical keyboard. I miss being able to use my phone as a plain USB drive and transfer files directly. I miss facebook being more of a web interface (I already accidentally "shared" a link that I hadn't even read). I miss the smallness. I miss putting it on an inductive charging block with a generic micro plug and using it as a clock.

But mostly it's OK. I think I'll keep it.

RIP Pre.
blk: (computer)
Phone saga time!

Friday after work I went out to a local bar with some coworkers for some goodbye drinks. I had a drink, left at an early hour on my bike, came home, and realized I was missing my phone. Called coworkers and bar, nobody had found it. Quadruple-checked every where it could be (weren't many options), finally decided that if I hadn't left it at the bar, and hadn't put it into my bike bag, then the next likely possibility would be that I dropped it.

I drove back over, about an hour after leaving the bar, and found it half a block away, looking like this. I suspect I absentmindedly put it ON my bag instead of IN my bag; it fell off in the street, and it got run over by a car while screen-side down. Oops. But while the screen was clearly horrible and it wouldn't turn on, it otherwise didn't look like it had sustained much more damage.

Jim had a spare Pre 2 phone that he'd used for a while before it developed some database problems, but was otherwise working. So yesterday I decided to see if I could use that to make a working phone.

Steps I took, mostly for my own reference )

Total time: start to finish from broken phone to totally working phone looks to be about 4 hours, based on my chat logs, although that includes waiting for the battery to charge, a couple phone calls, and other breaks. I know the process above sounds way over the top geeky and desperate even to my ears, but this method really was less time, money, and effort than trying to acquire a totally new phone.

And now I have a new-to-me phone that has fewer scuffs, fewer minor issues (the volume down button on the old phone stopped working, and the touchscreen was getting persnickety). Everything is fast and smooth again, and I have a couple potential offers of other spare Pre parts from friends who heard my plight, for future insurance.

The one weird part is that I didn't delete the existing "HP Profile" account on the phone, since, because webOS cloud services have been shut down, I'm pretty sure I couldn't log into my old one, and I didn't feel like finding out what happened if I tried. But since there's nowhere for the phone to back up to, there's nothing connected to that "profile", so I don't think it will affect anything, except that it has his name on it.

The Pre is dead, long live the Pre!


1. The communications board, for these purposes, effectively is the CDMA version of the SIM card. It identifies my phone to Sprint. This is actually the comm board from my last Pre 1, inserted into a Pre 2 frame. It comes well-attached to framework that holds a few other minor things, like speaker, LED, and buttons.
2 These looked to be still working fine in the broken phone, but were clearly dusty from years of use, and only held in place with a little glue.
3 The buttons were missing in the broken phone. Probably popped out when excessive flattening pressure was applied.
4 I remember reading about this when I had weird horrible phone problems last fall, so it didn't take a huge amount of searching to re-find the solution. I really love having a phone that is so easily hackable.
5 I've done this enough I have a list of things and a directory of saved ipks for things I can't reliably acquire. In my last several builds I've gone ahead with most of the stuff in this list.
blk: (computer)
Sometime, oh, about 14 years ago, when I first went to work for CMU's Computing Services, I met the local LDAP admin, who started calling me "Babs." Now I don't go by nicknames much, and I thought "Babs" was kind of a weird one to get from Barbara, but for some reason he was so friendly about it I decided I didn't mind.

A few years down the road, after we'd been working together, I decided one day to ask: "So what's up with the 'Babs' nickname, anyways?" He looked at me, shocked, apologized profusely, gave me an LDAP book (since I was about to start writing applications that used it anyway), and told me to read the intro. And that's how I met Babs Jensen, a famous mythical manager.

She's a big sailing fan, and used to work as product manager in the rod and reel division at airius.com, but she later had a solid stint at University of Michigan. Her userid is bjensen, usually at example.com, but also at umich and some other places, although her number (originally 408 555 1212) is in CA. It must be a family business, as she is sometimes accompanied by her friends/family Bjorn, Jennifer, Gerd, Horatio, Fiona, Robert, Paula, and Ingrid Jensen.

Ever since then, every few months or so, another of my friends (acquaintances, SOs, etc) starts doing some kind of development involving LDAP, comes across the standard example for the first time, and pings me about it. I find it all terribly amusing, although I regretfully inform them that they're several years too late to be news. I've considered working it into a profile or resume somehow, just to see reactions from people who get it.
blk: (ow)
I have this phone rant that i suspect approximately one person1 reading will actually be sympathetic towards but i don't care, I'm writing anyways.

I have this phone. It's a Palm Pre (actually mostly a Pre 2 now). It is a perfectly decent smartphone, was head of its class at its time, but the line was completely discontinued when this model was less than a year old, so now I have this phone which is more than 3 years deprecated and cloud services are about to be turned off, which will make future recoveries significantly harder.

But it's a very nice phone.

Anyways, it started having some problems recently; first it was minor things like certain web pages didn't work, then google calendar stopped syncing reliably, then there were space errors, and then finally I discovered that I couldn't receive text messages or download my email or update contacts. I tried a few web-recommended fixes, but those failed to work, so I took the nuke-from-orbit option (which is totally a thing I can do with this phone), re-installed everything, and got it mostly back to working again in a few hours, except for two things: Calendar and Facebook. My phone's calendaring had already been unreliable, so I guess this total refusal wasn't surprising, although disappointing, since I liked having an accessible calendar. [Edit: found the a new synergy connector to fix this, so Calendar works again.] Missing phone Facebook also wouldn't have been that bad, except that the reason I wanted to link to Facebook is because one of the strengths of webos is that the Contact manager pulls in all my friends and their contact info from that account, but one of the weaknesses is that if I can't link to my account, I lose all the easily-reachable contact information that it had. Combine that with the flaky updating I had before the wipe and an absent-minded me not thinking to back things up beforehand (because I assumed I could log back in and get it all) means an end result is that I'm missing contact information for an annoyingly large number of people. If you haven't heard from me in a while that might be why. Send me a text and tell me who you are.

But blk, you say, why don't you just get a new phone?

This is a thing that is MUCH harder than it sounds. I haven't found ANYthing that I like. Some of the things the Pre does that I like include:
1) Fitting in my pocket. Sure, it's a bit of an awkward fit in my skinny jeans, but it does actually fit. Every year I'm sure they've reached a limit, and the voices of people clamoring for smaller phones will be heard, and the size fetish will start to reverse itself and start giving us smaller smartphones, and every year I am wrong. When I search for "small smartphone," every single result is 1 or 2 inches bigger than the Pre.
2) Lets me root around it in, install homebrew apps, and poke at its guts all I want. All of it without "hacking" into it or pretending I'm not supposed to. All without fear of bricking. Anybody can submit patches to bugs. Until now, almost every major annoyance or problem I've had with it had been patchable (or fixable with the Grand Nuke, but this is the first time that was required3 in years).
3) Other little things that I've gotten used to, like a good physical keyboard, pretty nicely durable hardware, an inductive charger, a good interface to (most of) my google lifetracking things, and unlimited ad-less pandora.

Really, I swear I'm not just a die-hard Pre lover clinging against hope (although I admit I am rather attached to it). I've actually been looking to switch for -years- now. And I know there would be good things I would get out of it. I'd have to get a bigger phone, but I'd get more screen space. I'd lose some of my beloved abilities and apps, but would gain a bunch of others. Inductive chargers do exist in other forms. People swear an on-screen keyboard is fine once you're used to it. I would finally be able to join the ranks of the Real Smartphones2. I just really wish I could find something that I -want- rather than something that will serve as a poor substitute because it's available. And I'm stubborn. And on top of that I probably not ready to leave Sprint yet, because we have a reasonably stable monthly payment that is supporting 5 smartphones with unlimited data (and free tethering for me), which means my phone choice is even more limited. Android theoretically appeals to me a little more, but I'm currently thinking that if I had to choose I'd probably lean towards one of the older iPhones.

My current plan is to keep what I have until it explodes again, because I don't really want to make a decision as big as choosing a new phone. Don't worry about talking some sense into me; I know it's irrational and will probably have me in a crisis sometime soon. I'll deal.

Just text me your name and number. I promise I'll keep a backup this time.

1 that one person being Xuth, because he has also has a Pre and shares my grumps.
2 I've had some version of this conversation SO many times and it makes me go into ragey fits:
Them: ... and if you have a smartphone, you can access us via this great app!
Me: well, I have a smartphone, but it's an older one, so your app probably isn't available for my OS.
Them: Sure we do! What's your phone, Android or iPhone?
Me: Neither, actually.
Them: Oh, well, you need a smartphone to do this.
Me: Yes, I have a smartphone, it's just not one of those.
Them: What are you talking about?

3 Edit: annnnnnnd I JUST found the solution to this entire problem on the forums that is a fairly simple database extent expansion. So the nuke wasn't actually required in this case, either (but I didn't know until too late).
blk: (computer)
[Poll #1817848]
Use whatever connotation for these terms you tend to default to.
blk: (computer)
After last month's angsting about e-readers, I made a choice to go with the Nook Simple Touch, B&N's second gen e-ink-only touchscreen reader. A couple people asked me to revisit the topic with my current thoughts. Disclaimer, I've only used it about a week, and mostly just for reading, so I haven't explored all the options, and I haven't rooted it.

The good:
+ works. WiFi connected, laptop recognized it by default and treats it as a USB drive. Calibre connected and transferred files on the first try.
+ physically attractive: It's cute, simple, lightweight, comfortable to hold. E-ink is easy on my eyes. Page refresh is pretty fast for e-ink. Fits perfectly into my new purse (which I got to be a perfect fit, so no surprise).
+ convenient hardware. the micro USB charger is actually the same one that my Pre uses, so I have no need of extra cables (haven't checked to see whether the Pre cable will do data transfer too).
+ interface fairly intuitive. I haven't actually finished reading the manual yet, as I got everything set up that I wanted to, and got distracted playing with functionality.
+ battery life good. I've been reading off and on for the past week+, and it's down to 76%.
+ nice screensaver. Pretty nature scenes by default, with no ads. Although it does seem a little weird that the screen is never simply blank.
+++ physical buttons. It has page turn buttons on both sides of the screen, so when it's cold and I'm reading with my hands under the blanket, I don't actually have to use the touchscreen to turn pages.

The meh:
- designed for buying. The 'new reads' section on my Home page apparently only shows new purchases or new subscriptions, not new titles I've just transferred from my computer. Which means that section will likely be perpetually blank for me. ETA: OK, not blank. I'll check out free options.
- buttons aren't awesome. I love that there are buttons. But they're just not as awesome as the Kindle 1st gen buttons.
- buggy? I've had one instance where the touchscreen stopped responding. It came back after I let it time out and sit for 10 minutes, so maybe it was a fluke?
- B&N vs Amazon. While I don't have specific complaints, the B&N experience just isn't as whistlingly smooth overall. Lacking 'cloud' and email features like the Kindle, but having never had them, I don't miss them. ETA: Wait, I have a complaint. I can't order a booksearch by "avg customer review"?? That's ridiculous.
-- filetype limitations. It doesn't read TXT, and while PDF is viewable, it can't be resized, which makes some files useless (I was hoping to put some of my commonly used bus schedules on it).
--- wifi limitation. WiFi is apparently only used for book purchases from B&N (and possibly some 'sharing,' although I can't really tell what). Book transfer from computer has to be done via data cable. Which means the existence of that feature feels useless to me (ETA: except for downloading free books, which it does quite easily). Although I hear that rooting opens up a lot more options, so I might look into that.

The pouty:
+/- too convenient. Now that it's SUPER AMAZINGLY EASY to just pick up my book and read, because I can carry it around everywhere, and start right where I left off, I've found myself grabbing time here and there (before my kid's school concert, while waiting for (and riding) the bus, while waiting at the doctor's office, etc). Which means that while I don't have to wait FOREVER to get back to my story, I am also lightly frustrated every time I have to put it DOWN again, because dammit, I want to keep reading! The last couple days have made me super aware that I still have to make sure to schedule a good solid block of cozy distractionless curl-up-and-read time to really get that deep book-escape feeling of contentment.
blk: (elfcostume)
Oh yeah, this Halloween thing happened lately. Good pictures don't exist, but bad puns do.

the kids )

the adults )
blk: (cygnus)
[livejournal.com profile] redglasses wondered on twitter the other day whether the wiki page for the planet or element would come up first for 'Mercury.' [Ans: neither; it's the car] Which got me wondering what order things would come up for the rest of the planets: planet, mythology, company, or other, and tried to predict the first few links before searching.

Mercury: company (car), company (engines), element, planet
Venus: company (clothing), planet, goddess, NASA
Earth: google, planet
Mars: planet, god, NASA
Jupiter: planet, god, NASA
Saturn: company (car), planet [mythology not even in top ten!]
Uranus: planet, god, NASA
Neptune: planet, god, planet (not wiki), NASA
Pluto: planet (ok, dwarf), god, planet (not wiki), NASA

Amusing point of the afternoon: [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I were talking about this while I was doing the lookups, and I mentioned that 'Saturn' maps by default to the planet for me, not the car, even though we own two. And this conversation ensued:

xuth: you know, Saturn is going away soon.
blk: it is?
xuth: yeah, GM is shutting them down.
blk: oh! the car!
us: *much laughter*
blk: well, y'know, it is a gas giant, maybe it was starting to dissipate or something. :)
blk: (computer)
1. I want an app that works with googlemaps so that I can input a route (or source and destination), optionally plus vehicle weight and axles, and get the total (and parts) toll amount that I would have to pay. For example, if I were driving from Boston to Philly, what are the various options for routes if I want to compare distance, time, and tolls? As far as I can tell, such a thing does not exist yet. This seems silly. The information exists on the web already. Someone just needs to combine it into more complex routes. Google? I'm lookin' at you, here. Hire me, I'm willing to work on it.

2. A lot of people are talking about the new Lady Gaga video, "Telephone" (warning full version NSFW). [livejournal.com profile] moominmolly linked to MTV's cheat sheet (and the supplement) of various pop culture references that are in there, but there's one I don't see mentioned that I really want to know about. At about 2:17 in the video, there's a background sultry woman's voice saying, "Hey baby, wanna go out? Wanna go out honey?" This is a sample I have heard in at least half a dozen different songs (and maybe a couple movies, according to the intarwebs), but I have no clue what the original of it is from (Richie Rich's "Real Pimp" has another few lines of it). I first heard it as a sample in a song by christian electro band Deitiphobia in a 1995 remix album, and so far haven't found any other reference that predates that. Anybody have any clue?

3. A box of thin mints I bought this year costs 175% as much and has 75% as many cookies as a box did 25 years ago. Sad. But I'm still buying 'em. Crack, they are.
blk: (spring)

might as well be spring

Spring is definitely coming, and I'm so very happy for it. The snow is entirely gone from my house and yard, thanks to sun and rain and above-freezing temperatures. All the things lost beneath the feet of snow are now in plain sight again. Everything is suddenly starting to wake up. Green bits are peeking through the ground. Flowers! Trees are getting more obviously fuzzy. I wake up to birds and sunlight. Well, I woke up to sunlight last week, and I will in another couple more. Better than darkness. My basement is dry, too, although we didn't get nearly the deluge that parts further east did.

spinning daydreams (and pie) )
blk: (computer)
When I got my Pre a couple months ago, one of the minor irritations that I noticed and mentioned in my initial review was that my Google email and calendar accounts would occasionally pop up with authentication error messages.

background story about my bughunt and solution )

While I am happy that my two months of debugging have finally come to a successful end, I am dumbfounded and somewhat incensed that it took this long, and that Google was no help. That in all their FAQs and help pages and question forums, that there is NO documentation (that I could find) that says "If we don't like your password, you will be continually bombarded with a captcha, which will randomly and occasionally thwart all of your automated sync and login attempts." That in the error messages I got, there was nothing that actually told me WHAT the error was.

Now, off to the forums to share my wisdom, and hope that nobody makes fun of me for taking me that long to finally change my wimpy password.
blk: (eyes)
For my birthday, I gifted myself with a Palm Pre )
blk: (computer)
This afternoon while I was busy yakshaving, working on getting my room a little cleaner, I came across the USB data cable that came with my phone. I had played with it a little when I'd first bought the phone, years ago, but had failed to get it working at the time. A combination of driver problems along with severe annoyance at Sprint for a) insisting I use their bulky, glitzy Sprint Connection Manager, and b) requiring me to pay $$ for every "feature" I want to use, made me shove the cable to the back of my metaphorical closet in frustration.

Read more... )
blk: (computer)
I'm in Chicago the last part of this week, taking advantage of Perl classes offered in conjunction with the local YAPC. Everything is held on the IIT campus, including low-cost housing offered by the dorms, since the semesterly students are gone for the summer.

Read more... )
blk: (but i'm cute)
"Indeed, gentlemen. May I point out that I had an opportunity to observe your counterparts here quite closely. They were brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilized, treacherous, in every way, splendid examples of Homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity. I found them quite refreshing."

"I'm not sure, but I think we've been insulted."

"I'm sure."

From here, my evening of not getting anything done says.

This does, of course, raise an obvious question.

what would mirror-blk be like? )

What would your mirror self be like?
blk: (computer)
Last weekend, I picked up some old computer games for the boys -- too old, it turned out, as one of them was for Windows 3.1, and wouldn't run on our current system. With some searching, I managed to track down a copy of it online, which ran easily. I also grabbed Number Munchers and Rocky's Boots, a couple of favorites from my youth that came to mind.

Then I started thinking about other old games I'd played and liked. There was this one that [livejournal.com profile] katybeth and I used to play together that was ridiculous fun: It started out with a screen of a short pinball-like game, with a drain hole at the bottom that slowly expanded, and was labeled with a category, and when the "ball" went through it, you went to that type of quiz. The quiz screens covered language topics such as rhyming and others, and there was a time limit to get a certain number of answers. It had almost no graphics, and was mostly text and some borders. Input was from keyboard only.

Katy and I searched for a while on various 80s Apple II computer game lists for the name of it, with me thinking it had "mind" (or "brain?") in it, and she (separately) thinking it started with an "M," when, from the dark recesses of her brain, she recalled the name "Mind Bind," which I am 95% certain is correct (and so does my mom).

Google, however, apparently doesn't think it existed. I can't find any reference to it ANYwhere, with various searches, no space in the name, variations on it, etc. We think we played it at some point between 1986 and 1990, on a Apple IIe (with a greenscreen).

Does this sound familiar to anybody out there?

[While scanning through old games lists, a bunch of awesome memories are coming back of things like Castle Wolfenstein (the original, bay-bee), Choplifter, Spirit of Glenmore Castle, Nord and Bert, Miner2049er, Olympic Games (summer and winter), Great American Cross Country Road Race, Hacker, THGTTG, King's Quest, The Coveted Mirror, Lode Runner, Marble Madness, Joust, Transylvania, Oregon Trail, and others. I will not will not will not go spend too much time on virtualapple.org.]
blk: (computer)
Those silly geeks. What will they think of next? Happy anniversary, :-) ! (Arrrrrrrr!)

blk: (Default)
Since meeting [livejournal.com profile] shayde, I've become a convert to the goodness of text messaging, or as it generally is around here, SMS. In simple usage, it is similar to Instant Messaging, in that it's an efficient, cheap, fast way to get across a brief message to someone, particularly in a situation where a phone call or other sound might not be optimal.

The idea of adding text message to mobile phones was in idea form from the early 1980s, although SMS as it is popular today was not available until the mid 1990s. Not all cellular text messaging systems use the SMS system, but a great many of them do. Once it was introduced, it started spreading like wildfire in business systems, and shortly after, between individual users. Worldwide SMS usage jumped orders of magnitude rapidly, from an estimated 0.5 billion messages sent in 1999 to over 1 trillion sent in 2005.1

filibuster vigilantly )

Edit: Oh! And in case it wasn't clear, I do have an SMS subscription with Sprint, which I never use all of, and y'all friends of mine are welcome to SMS me if you should so desire.
blk: (thinking)
Last night, over dinner with [livejournal.com profile] grouchyoldcoot, the subject of text messaging came up, and I mentioned that I've gotten pretty handy with the T9 interface. He didn't know what that was, so I explained and demonstrated it quickly, and enlightened him.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, T9, aka Text on 9 keys, is a predictive text technology, used primarily on mobile phones for typing text messages on a non-keyboard interface. It combines the letters on each number with a pre-set dictionary of words, and matches likely word patterns with keypress combinations. It offers a distinct advantage of ease and speed over the old process of selecting through each number for the letter you want, but I suspect it can also be confusing for people who are poor spellers when it won't accept the next letter you're trying to put in.

I noticed, amusingly, that the dictionary in my phone came with a few non-dictionary-standard abbreviations that SMSers are likely to use, such as ttyl, sms, and l8r.

And then, of course, I have my own list of words I've added to my phone's dictionary. What does my dictionary of added words say about me? words, words, words )

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