Sunday, September 22, 2019

As time has gone on, my definition of success is being able to be fat, dumb, and happy for a while.

Corky, snuggling up next to my tablet.

Passing thought: in a more perfect world, Apple's AirDrop and Microsoft's Nearby Sharing would probably have some kind of interoperability. 'Cuz at this point: why not?

For most of the rest of us used to heterogeneous more than homogeneous environments, these were never going to be our solutions to the problem anyway. But I find it kinda funny how that works, which is usually incompatibile solutions to the same problem and hardly a standard between them.

Despite how typical solutions work out, I'm also kinda glad for the flexibility. My first choice for solving this for a very, very, very long time now has generally been network file shares, be it between peers or my own file server. With the passing of time the options have only grown, and the amount of devices that call for cables or cursing the lack of Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Direct have shrunk.

It's probably funny that I consider e-mailing myself the lowest, most insulting way to move a file around but I'll actually Bluetooth a file without a quip. I'm strange.
I find it kinda curious how things work.

Traditionally, if you had a PC or a Mac: you operated on blind trust. Well, almost blind trust if you had faith in antivirus software. But by in large the architecture of these systems let your software do anything you can, so there isn't a gap between you uploading a file to Google Drive and some random time-waster uploading your super-secret.docx file to someone else's server. That's just how far the security architecture got by the time Unix and NT came into existence.

More modern platforms that rose up around touch screened phones aim for tighter security. Typically applications get strongly isolated from each other instead of being peers on par with the user, and restrictive access to your hardware instead of equal to yours. That's been real progress IMHO, and one of the things that I really like about Android.

Digging into iOS, I also find it kind of curious how this works out.

iOS seems to take a more shrouded approach to what applications can request, in favour of focusing your attention on what they are doing. You can view some top level data about what applications can touch, based on the privacy settings group. Which largely amounts to hardware features like your camera and common personal data like your contacts. Not so a technical view such as a friendly one. Trying to STFW about the perms apps have access yields rather different experiences if you swap the words iOS and Android around. So in the end, you're really trusting Apple far more than the application, IMHO. On the upside, it's easier for Apple to push patches to devices than pretty much anyone can push to anything Android based in practice.

Android on the other hand traditionally required applications to state their permissions in advance when the user installs the application. Thus the trust lays between you and the developer with a sort of contract like transaction. The move to runtime permission twiddling in Android 6 is a lot more like the current experience on iOS, and I assume adapted from what Apple was already doing at the time or had been planning. But it's easy to tell what an app can do, and all the more possible to look up online what permissions exist. No perms to access your camera? Then it can't. A little Google-fu and you can get a list of what apps can ask for, and grok at it to draw your own conclusions.

In the end though it still boils down to trust. Does a flashlight need access to your contacts or detailed location? Probably not :P. Do you trust Apple or Google to keep an eye on things? Well, if not there's always a flip phone.

At least modern operating systems aren't as really nilly as DOS and the old Mac system software was, in letting apps have total control over the hardware. Because let's face it, most programmer's aren't super genius about every aspect of your system.
Making a brief foray into iOS games, ironically begins with RΓ©publique.

It's been quite a while since the game came out (2013 - 2016) but it's quite nice to see the graphics quality. Scrolling through the app store, there were three real reasons I opted to play: more serious gameplay than I'll usually go for on touchscreens, far larger than your average app (~3.2G), and should show whether or not the GPU on this thing is worth while.

Beyond that, I'd say try the game 😜

I also found it kind of funny, the selection of banned books you can find laying around. More than a few are recommendations from family and friends over the years, and for better or worse ones I haven't gotten around to reading, lol.
One thing I’ve observed is that iOS seems to prefer what your doing and expeditiously updating stuff rather than staying in constant sync.

Which I imagine is thanks to the history that iOS has, back when background sync largely meant go buy a DROID and the size of iPhone batteries over the years.

Personally, I think that makes things like photo upload less dependable but overall I prefer battery life. Normally I’ll put my tablet on charge when I go to bed; don’t think my iPad has tasted charging cable since I unplugged it Friday morning. Plus it had to recharge ~1/3 of my Pencil on Saturday.

Current charge level is when I’ll seek my charger during the day.
Pretty much my greatest worry with the iPad migration has been whether or not I’d simply lose my mind in the transition. First few hours were borderline headaches trying to absorb the system quickly, but that comes naturally with such migrations.

Thus far, I’ve been able to use it without going crazy. Now that most stuff is moved over, I’ve made it about two days with it filling in as my primary device and I’m still sane, and haven’t wanted to pitch the device out a window even once. Pretty good signs.

Friday, I opted to leave Scarlet the Tab S3 home and bring Nerine the iPad along. This worked out the way I expected. Only real interruptions to my work flow was not being able to swipe words with the stylus, which arrives in the end of the month release if you don’t want to mess with third party keyboards. Second is not having my Exchange account setup, which is simply solved when I get off my arse.

Friday night and Saturday was more like tablet life as usual, and iOS seems up to that well enough. Really does help that most of the apps I rely on target both platforms. Face unlock also has wide enough a sensor range that I don’t have to lean very far to unlock it at my work bench, and most times it has failed at home involved a dog in the way, lol.

Overall I think that this is going to work. Versus someone finding me mumbling in the corner or half catatonic with rage.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Mysteries of iOS:

Added Pluspora to my home screen, and this opens stand alone with no real browser UI and its own multitasking entry. Reminds me of what Chrome used to do.

Added Blogger to my home screen, and this just launches Safari with the appropriate tab being created. Like any normal web page.
When indignation turns to comfort.

The look of indignation makes me think the bribe, I mean pretzel stick, wasn’t  enough treat.
If Misty was a highway dog, she’d be very “Your life or your muffin” about it. And now I’ve got a Johnny Cash song in my head.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Not sure if getting old, or just learning from comfy doggos about early naps.

Aslo, I'm pretty sure that used to be my bed...
As I begin to settle into my main machine running iOS, these are the Android apps I'll really miss big time.

Beyond that, pretty much everything I use tends to be cross platform. Much like how most of the desktop apps I use, compile and run on both Linux and NT: most of the apps I use run on both Android and iOS. Many of them are also similar enough that the deltas are local convention, much like how Windows and *nix builds often relocate where editing application settings go in their menu bars.

But of course there are a few Android apps that I'll miss, because they aren't cross platform.

Aqua Mail

There's not many mail clients that I like. In fact the next in line are the Berkeley mail program and the Mutt, both of which run in unix terminals; one of which could still be used on a teletypewriter with paper in place of a display So it's safe to say most mail clients are kind of meh in my eyes, and I've used a lot of them since the '90s.

Aqua Mail on the other hand is a superb client. Between how well it runs on my Tab S3 and my Chromebook, I wish I could transplant the damned thing to my Linux and NT machines as well. Be it my personal e-mail accounts or business accounts, it's become the gold standard in my sending e-mail.

FolderSync Pro

The cornerstone of managing my wallpaper collection for a long time has been FolderSync Pro. Over time it's great abilities to pretty much file sync anything to anything else have been pretty awesome.

Each of my Android devices have at least three jobs.

  1. Every night, move photos to my file server under Camera Uploads/{Host name}.
  2. Every week, sync my interal storage to my file server under Backups/{Host name}/Internal.
  3. Every month, sync Pictures/Wall Papers with the master in my cloud drive of choice.

Combined with alternate methods of syncing my photos offsite, FolderSync Pro basically makes it so I have to worry more about powering on my file server after a power break than I do about my device's local files.

Photo Wall FX

Been using this so long that I don't even want to check the receipt. Nor do I want to see when it was last updated, it's kinda orphanware now. Over the years, I've amassed a lot of wall papers. The way I have my Androids rotate between them at random is Photo Wall FX. In addition to that simple goal, it's generally been good about scaling and cropping the wide variety of images to fit my screens.

I've actually been worrying a bit, how the lack of updates and quirks with Android's evolution interact. When Google stops allowing old-ass apps on new-ass devices this would be the first one I'd notice gone.

ArtFlow Studio

When it comes to drawing with my S-Pen, I end up in ArtFlow. It's the most full featured drawing app I've met, and over time got good enough that I stopped bothering to look. 

By full featured: I mean whenever I go do something the process is like I'd expect from an app targeting desktops. To get any better than Art Flow, you'd have to talk to people that draw for a living instead of making this doofus glowy and happy.

Juice SSH

Since most of what I do depends on a Linux terminal environment, like literally if it doesn't involve reading web pages or responding to e-mails, I'm likely to be found in an xterm or on my tablet.

Juice SSH has been a long companion, I've been using it for at least 6 years now. First on my Android 4.x tablets and later on my Chromebook as well, where the performance beat the tar out of the Chrome SSH thing. If it were better at copying terminal contents ala xterm, Juice SSH would be nearly perfect.

Samsung's Calendar

Ahh, I remember the day I first realized how great it was. See, I used to have to take my mother to doctor's appointments and cover her copays. But my momma was the kind who used a paper calendar. I stopped using a paper calendar when I was still in grade school. Thus whenever we had an issue of something that was on her calendar but not on mine, friction occurred. 

Easiest way I found to solve that is when making the next appointment on our way out, just duplicate the event and update it with the new appointment. Actually it works so well, I do the same with my own health care.

So, I'm standing in the middle of the doctor's office and looking at my Nexus 5, and I'm like, "What the !@#$, why can't I just duplicate today's event and change the date, like on my Galaxy SIII?". In the years since a preference for Samsung over Google has become stronger. I mostly ignore Google Calendar on my current, non SamWiz phone.

Nova Launcher

Honorable mention goes to Nova because not only is it the best Android launcher I've used in the post ADW world, it beats the tar out of Apple's concept of a launcher 😜
Think that I’ve finally decided on a host name for the new iPad Pro. Not sure what is probably worse, that most names up for consideration were anime references or that the swimsuit cinched it.

An extract from my notebook:
Subaru and Starbuck are pretty cool.
Nerine is refined and powerful.
Mayumi is playful and not complicated.
Also Nerine looks best in a swimsuit ^_^

There’s at least three different TV related references involved there, and you probably should feel bad if more than one or two ring a bell. And thus Nerine it is.

Plus or minus, this time it isn’t a Marvel reference....hehe

Thursday, September 19, 2019

When you’re tempted to go get a midnight snack but your doggo is so comfortable....

Comparison of technology:

Where I come from:

  • Have "alarm sound I want.ogg"
  • Send to Android via {Bluetooth or cloud thing or usb or thousand different ways}
  • Stick in Alarms folder.
  • Oh, cool the whole OS knows that's an alarm tone!
Where I am going:
  • Have "alarm sound I want.ogg"
  • ffmpeg -i "alarm sound I want.ogg" -acodec aac "alarm sound I want.m4a"
  • Ahh fsck, I may as well install iTunes.

Of course if I was a normal asshole, I'd just put my alarms on my phone like everyone else. As opposed to my tablet. But hey, who said I am both normal and an asshole? 😜

As for Apple's part in this, their side of this was really simple and straightforward. Give or take feeling like I just teleported more than a decade back in time to the stone age of needing a wire to transfer files. At least USB-C is thinner than my null modem cable.
Thus far, I think I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  1. Google is better at building a larger “System “, but will kill you with a hammer to a few major sore spots.
  2. Apple will favor doing well whatever they focus on, but will kill you with paper cuts to many minor spots.

I’m also pretty sure that those responsible for the design of iOS, it’s been a very long trend of people that love gestures. I’m still learning to swipe friend in elvish.

For the most part it has been a pretty good experience getting to learn my way around an iPad. It very much reminds me that Apple is a products company that learned how to do software and services, rather than a software company.

Random things I love about iOS:

Password management is freaking awesome. Rather than bake it into the line edit widgets like Google did, Apple puts a button over the keyboard that lets you easily bring up the password UI and search for stuff. It is the best freaking way I’ve ever met!

The whole slide over thing beats the hell out of annoying floating windows and bubbles. Those suck. iPad slide over makes up for how chunky switching apps feels. I will sorely miss the double tap a button and switch to last app trick from Android, but will love and abuse the multitasking features of my iPad 😁.

Siri seems to have the best level of tweaking I’ve ever seen. Really, I’m not fond of voice assistants but being able to use it with apps is great. Go into settings and you pretty much know what shortcuts an app makes available; kind of like how Android had shortcuts you could toss on your home screen, apps make such shortcuts available to Siri. I’m less inclined to throw my Google searches at a voice thingy than I am to want hands free use of an app.

By being late to the iOS game, I’ve probably missed most of the things that would really piss me off.

Random things I hate about iOS:

Compared to Android the launcher has zero value. Because who wants to make it easy to organize your apps automatically when you can just make people drag folders of crap across four screens.

Dragging and dropping is even more pervasive on iPad than PC, and that is no surprise given the same company made macOS. Which is fine, and probably a great paradigm for touch centric devices. But I find that it is painfully slow. E.g. dragging and dropping a hyperlink to Safari’s Tab bar is neat, but it feels more like waiting for a car’s cabin to heat up in the morning than something smooth and fast.

More than a few things are counter  intuitive but fairly obvious. I’m pretty sure that in the course of time, I’m either going go insane or be a happy enough expat.

I despise how clunky and slow editing text is on my iPad Pro compared to my Android tablet. It’s less issues like keyboard management and more that it is a tap happy affair created by folks that love slowly dragging and dropping everything instead of quickly tapping and sliding a cursor pip around. The two finger track pad trick built into Apple’s keyboard is really a useful trick. It’s on par with using a scroll wheel to move your cursor left/right and being able to suddenly mouse around: but I only learned this trick by poking around the user guide in a browser. Otherwise I’d have no clue it existed. Beyond that, I really wish Apple would steal Google’s cursor stuff from Android!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Of course the first test of the iPad Pro’s camera I make, is a picture of Willow, lol.

Since my phone is usually tossed in a corner somewhere, when I’m home most dog photos I take are taken by my tablet. Because that’s the camera I have without walking into another room πŸ˜›. Having a camera that doesn’t suck versus my Galaxy Tab S3’s was part of the logic in going for the 11” Pro, alongside my distaste for replacing all my USB-C with that Lightning bull crap.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

If you've ever wondered how effective a trident would be as a weapon, all you need to do is get a finger caught between a dish and a fork while loading the dishwasher. Enough to go owey and break a layer of two of skin is all it'll take to convince you.

No, you should not make like Roman gladiators while doing this.
Forbes: Is Google Chrome A CPU Hog? Chrome Vs FireFox, Safari, Microsoft Edge.

A number of years ago, before Chrome was really a thing I came to much the same conclusion: the web is a resource hog!

I had a 64-bit Linux machine that would be constantly swapping if I was using more than a few tabs. Tried changing between Opera and Firefox without any luck. It wasn't the browsers being pigs, it was webpages making like Hungry, Hungry Hippos with memory. Javascript, images, network calls, heavy styling, etc. 2 GB of RAM just was not enough anymore. In the end, I put more memory in the machine and it sucked a lot less.

Yes, modern browsers are hogs, but not as much as modern web applications!
I think the decision is largely made at this point. The fruit company is my tablet computing destination, whether I like it or not.

The dire lack of Android tablets with a stylus, the Q/A that matches Chrome OS's rapid release cycle, and the shrinking number of companies making a 'real' Android tablet that is worth my time, has had me considering jumping ship for a while. Google's pox upon multitasking making its way to my Tab S3, is pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back.

Most of the software that I run on my Tab S3 supports both iOS and Android. Alternatives exist for the more systemy stuff at the edges, like the corporate printer or dealing with my file server. Pretty much if I find an analog to FolderSync Pro, the only thing I'll really be losing software wise is free editing support for Microsoft Excel and Word. Before ending up with a Samsung that bundled MS Office, my long term solution was OfficeSuite Pro which has enough compatibility to handle documents at work. So for the most part I'm not worried much about software. It also helps that by living in Android land so long, iOS has been working its big boy shorts for while now instead of their update notes sounding like a baby's toy.

When the 1" crack in my Tab S3's screen becomes terminal, I'll have little option but to replace it one way or another, and I have had a very long time now to contemplate what that will be. For now I'm just happy the what the hell moments related to the crack are few and far in between versus my heavy tablet use.

In Android land: the only things that are viable replacements are the Tab S4 and S6, which are old and new successors, respectively. Negatives to both are they will also come with Google's pox and they're widescreens. DeX isn't going to fix what Pie did to multitasking and I greatly prefer 4:3 and 3:2 tablets.

No Chrome OS device exists yet that aligns with my requirements, and the only ones worth paying for are too big to replace my Tab S3. And that just leaves iPads. Which for as little love as I have for Apple, and my lack of caring for iOS, solve the problem Android has been most screwing me with the longest--there's a lot more freaking iPads to choose from that support a decent stylus than their are Android devices with a decent stylus.

It's always been hard to find an Android tablet with a nice stylus, and Samsung while expensive has filled that role pretty swell. But they're kind of becoming the only vendor to choose from, both in terms of an Android tablet that meets my requirement for stylus, and Android tablets in general.

I also find it kind of funny how this works out. In the old days when Android tablets were quite new, I found the iPad excessively overpriced and Android underappreciated; Apple has at least solved that with their expanded selection. Likewise, most new iPhone launches were followed by me scratching my head and wondering how people lived so long without essential features; iOS release notes stopped feeling like a slow as hell iteration several years ago.

And then there's the fact, that I've never actually owned an Apple product. I'm more at home with an xterm than a Mac. More than a few of my friends have soft spots for fruity products, and have since at least as far back as the iPod and PowerBook. Me, never have. But I suppose there is probably a first time for everything. PineTime is a $25 Linux Smartwatch, Coming Next Year.

While I'd say it sounds more like a hack your pen than a consumer product, I have to admit it solves my number one beef with smart watches: cost.

You see, unless I can leave my smart phone at home there's not much you can offer me that's worth several hundred bucks. I don't live an active enough life to need the cool fitness features and it's unlikely you're going to replace my instant messaging any better than Google's failed to do so. Thus in the end, I still need a phone.

Most of my life between ten and twenty, I typically wore a watch. I also grew up in an era where a calculator and stop watch function was about as smart as most watches got. Then I got a smart phone around age 22, and shortly there after I just stopped wearing a watch.

I kind of believe that form follows function, and a traditional watch doesn't have enough function to me that it'd be worth spending for a really nice one. My smart phone is more than I really want to carry but is far more functional than a dumb watch. It's also got more features than a watch cool enough to sync to an atomic clock. In short, I'm not the kinda person you can market smart watches to, I'm the one in the back rolling his eyes. For some use cases smart watches are really nifty. They just don't fit into my life. A smart phone is more practical for my life than what current smart watches offer.

On the flipside, I find the PineTime kind of interesting. Because it's cheap and it'll probably be the easiest to roll your own software for. But multiply the price by ten, and not even that would be attractive for a mook like me. Most really good watches, and most smart ones, cost more than that.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Passing thought: I've had hard drives smaller than Nvidia's driver download, nevermind flash drives smaller.
Willow is disappointed that I positioned the tuna where she can't get a sniff, and Corky tries to console her.

The response to their treat for the night is a rather different one.

That my friend's jumbo sized iPad Pro casually outruns my desktop, is a little perturbing from the perspective that my Core i5 is getting pretty damned old. But at least, it still does its real job pretty well and that job kind of demands a massive GTX card.

That old reviews of the Air 2 suggest similar browser performance to my Snapdragon 820 on the other hand, is both comforting and annoying.

Trying to make some comparative analysis from old data is also tricker. People's choices in benchmarks have changed over the years, and in the case of iPads usually moot as you traditionally had no real choices, hahaha; meanwhile those of us in Android land, long had a lot more products to choose from.
CNET: Nintendo Switch's new SNES feature is ruining everything.

After reading this, I'm not sure if I should grumble or snortle for a number of reasons. But when I remember the difficulty of video games from my era, I kinda picture children today in tears.

My theory still is time oriented.

Big dollar games come out all the time. You play them. You move on. That's what the industry wants. Games these days begging easier, some of that is good design and some of that reflects that we won't be playing it very long.

By contrast the games I had as a child, all had long shelf lives. When I got my SNES, I played Super Mario World and Super Mario All Stars pretty often. Those were new, cool things when I was a little kid. When my SNES finally was retired, closer to the PlayStation 2 era than the N64, I still played them.

I remember a card game that I played around middle school age, called Yu-Gi-Oh. My Game Boy cartridge is sitting in the closet somewhere next to Pokemon Blue and Gold. You see, I used to play that Yu-Gi-Oh cartridge a lot. One day I figured out how the really simple A.I. worked. No matter what the long game looked like, the A.I. would calculate the best response to your move. Knowing this, it didn't take much crunching to decide how to manipulate the A.I. and defeat it. Always.

Why did I stop playing that cartridge? Was it because I lost my interest in the card game? Nope. In fact, I still enjoyed the trading card game for a number of years after that. I stopped playing the video game version because it was too damned easy. It went from passing time with some fun to wasting time with no fun. Thanks to removing the challenge.

By contrast, the only thing that really changed about how I play Super Mario Bros is the words I shout at the screen 🀣. When I revisited the game in my twenties, I wondered how I didn't smash it, and then remembered how hard it was to get new video games back then. Hehe.

Pie sucks at multitasking

Things that Pie has wrought: Google's curse.

Overview now has a more useful grid like view. Aside from the nauseating effect that happens when closing an app makes them all resort but at least it is really fast on the Tab S3's hardware. on the downside multitasking is now chunky and fundamentally broken.

In the previous version the overview screen was a chunky phone centric sliding flipper but apps had a button on the side of their card, so you could open them in the current side of the screen. Now each app has its icon on the top of the card, and you get a menu when you tap the icon. Containing app info (used to be long touch/hold), open in split view, open in pop up (floating window) view, or lock the app. Which is a lot slower but at least flexible.

So instead of very, very quick access to snapping an app to either side of the screen: you get very slow access to deciding if you want it split or floating. The ability to just turn the currently running application into a floating window has been removed. Which is both good and bad: the gesture was easy to trip when you didn't mean to but was also extremely convenient if you wanted something like a calculator floating over a web page. I'm not sure if the UI the device used on Oreo was a Sammy thing or a Google thing, but it was pretty nice.

Now here's why I say fundamentally broken in Pie.

Splitting the screen and hitting overview used to place the overview in the currently active side of the screen. So if you wanted to replace one of the applications, you just tapped it and hit overview. Vola, really fast and simple and obvious. And good if you decided both apps needed to change before you were done.

After updating to pie: the overview ALWAYS opens in the bottom or the right side of the screen, based on whether you're in portrait or landscape orientation. I have yet to find any way to invert the split apps--you used to tap the resize bar in between and have a UI to switch them. 'Cuz that is useful. Now you're stuck with the first app chosen being in the top/left side until you're done. You might think the first app would show up and you could just select it again? Nope, its card gets removed from the overview.

Likewise you can only stuff in apps from the overview grid that were running. I used to be able to hit a button and select apps from a launcher instead of requiring them to be already opened in the background.

But really, whose fault is it for destroying the multitasking functions? Google's. It's Google's fault. Why do I say this? Because my Google Fi phone running Android One and its pure Googely experience has virtually the same broken multitasking UI. The only real difference is my Samsung changes the string "Split view" to "Open in split view" and adds the popup and lock entries to the menu. Likewise on the phone sized screen it's a sliding view of the exact same cards rather than a grid view of them.

Suddenly I realize why DeX became so popular among users of newer model Tab S's that shipped with it. It's not because DeX mode is that more PC like: it's because Google fucked Android's multitasking experience. And I fear, if I was to dig up the CDD for Pie, it would say OEMs aren't allowed to fix it anymore, lol.

Of course my model being older, DeX is not a feature that was integrated into it. Much like how my model was the first to get USB-C charging but alt modes for driving a monitor didn't show up until the Tab S4, which does have DeX. Reasons to buy an iPad, += 1.

I find it a great shame. Samsung has done multitasking for so many years, I first used it on my Galaxy SIII phone a very long time ago.  In recent years it became a standard piece of Android, which was a really good thing until Google pissed down the feature's throat and crippled its utility for real multitasking.
As I watch my tablet upgrade to Android 9, I find my mind flashing to when my phone updated closer to Pie's release--and the distinct feeling that "All my icons are different for no good reason. Other than that: it's hard to tell anything changed."

But it's worth noting, I use my Galaxy Tab S3 excessively every day, but my Moto X4 is only lightly used. Because unless I'm literally walking around in public or answering a text message in the middle of the night: there's a 95% chance that I'll use my tablet instead.

Both devices were released in 2017 and had Android 7/Nougat as their original operating system image. The primarily difference is my Android One edition got Pie around Christmas time and my Sammy gets pie to the face shortly after Android 10 launches.

That's par for course for Samsung's tablets in the past, except seeing three major OS versions on one tablet is odd for them; I had the upgrade to Android 8/Oreo to be the Tab S3's final operating system based on previous experiences with their high end tablets. I've owned a lot of those.

If anything actually changes that makes me give a flying floop, it'll probably rely on Samsung's UI customizations. Because on the more "Pure" load my phone uses, "Damn it, my icons are all different", really was the most noticeable difference. The bit about text selection might be more in my face on a tablet but wasn't necessary on my phone, nor is it on my big screen; especially with pen in hand.

Friday, September 13, 2019

First world problems: when you're an Alien fan and you see Covenant on sale for such a low, low price that your Blu-ray collection must now become complete again.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A few notes for my own reference, Octane 2.0 and Jetstream 2.

Scarlett: ~9,000 ; ~20
-- Snapdragon 820.

Stark: ~23,000 ; ~65
-- Core i5 3360M

Centauri: ~30,000 ; ~80
-- Core i5 3570K.

Which amounts to my Tab S3, Latitude E6430S, and custom desktop with their scores rounded to the nearest whole number.

I'd also run things on Cream's N3700 but it's VNC session and various services make it an unfair candidate for such a test. Likewise I left Celes and it's N3060 at work because my Chromebook has been gathering dust as of late in favour of making Stark work harder.
Never brothered read Intel's errata sheets in the past. After reading the documents for some of the hardware that I have to deal with, I think I could use a stiff drink and a few checks for BIOS updates.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Passing thought: it feels like just yesterday, all the things required their own separate chargy things.

Today, I pretty much have two special purpose chargers in my daily life. The classic barrel based laptop charger for my Latitude E series and the 3.5 mm -> USB-A cable that charges my I don't think I wanna look up how old headphones. Which is really one because my laptop is never fair from a charger, and those headphones get charged every so many months.

To be fair my Xbox controller, Bluetooth keyboard, and my other headphones could also be counted as special in my little terrarium. But that's because of they're the last things I have running off USB Micro B for their charging needs, and none require frequent rechargings. But I look at these like the Mini B of old, pretty darned universal: just dying out over time.
A few wild ass guestimates from the long term planning bin.

Remaining in beloved Android country: ~$650.

  • Galaxy Tab S6: $650.
  • I hate 16:10 tablets.
  • What comes next?

Turning to an iPad Pro: ~$780
  • 11" 2018 model: $650.
  • Pencil 2: $130.
  • CPU on par with my desktop.

Turning to any other iPad: $479 ~ $589
  • 7th gen: $330 ; Air 3: $450.
  • Pencil 1: $99.
  • Lightning cable all the things ~ $40.
  • I already routed USB-C all the things.

The best price to performance in my opinion is the Air but simply put, I pretty much reject anything that requires a Lightning connection to charge. To me the cost delta between a regular iPad and a Pro is a time based one; e.g. by the time an Pro goes to the old folks home, just as much will have been spent on regular models in the name of faster SoCs. If Lightning cables littered my home the way USB-C and USB-MicroB cables do, I'd probably go Air.

I've been extremely happy with my Tab S3, and before it a Tab S2, and before that a Note 8.0. Damned 1" crack in my screen and the occasional side effect of that becomes increasingly worriesome as time goes on. But other than that, it has been a perfect device for me.

Samsung's Tabs S4, S5e (barf), and S6 make me question their road forward. No one else makes a suitable device. And the level of bugginess my Chromebook offers, the odds of me taking a 2-in-1 or tablet based Chrome OS device as an upgrade path aren't very high. Unless Google changes in larger quality assuring ways, I can't really call a Chrometab any better than suffering i[Pad]OS versus a real Android device.

The real question, I suppose is when my Samsung finally heads towards failure versus when my budget converges with a replacement.

Every now and then my device acts a smidge funny. Like today, it decided to stop taking pen input for a while. As far as I can tell the crack in the screen has not been visibly expanding but events like this seem to now happen several times per month. When you consider that if neither Direct3D nor bash are involved, my tablet is my primary computer at home and my secondary computer at work, that gives worries, alright. Sigh.
Passing thought: I'm not sure what's worse, that you can still get a really pocket protectors or that I was tempted to buy tw^H^Hone.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Mary Sue: 6 Parody Anime to Watch If You Like Making Fun of Anime.

Yes, you should watch all of these. Especially KonoSuba and Nozaki-kun. Try not to die laughing. But do watch 😁.
There are times when Willow needs a reminder that patience is rewarded.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Not sure that these photos capture the comfort and disturbed nature of these two dogs, or just goes to show how long my camera takes to adjust the colour balance in the dark of TV light.

My parsing of their expressions were that Willow is very comfy back there, and Misty is unamused by me shifting butt cheeks on the couch, in order to take a picture of them. We've all been calling the DualShock's X button the wrong name and PlayStation's had enough.

Calling it a cross would be the most logical in English, given we don't really have other words for two of the four symbols; and three are commonly known shapes. But in my mind, it'll always be the triangle, circle, ex, and square button because I'm strange πŸ€ͺ.
Digital Trends: Xbox One S All-Digital Edition review: No-Disc Dystopia.

Personally, I think the price point is the whole deal here.

In concept the game discs are a nice idea, if you can't handle downloading 60~80 GB in a single day beacause of your limited internet connectivity. In practice the disc is little more than a license key, for most games: you will still have to download enough data that it may as well be a small menary card with an activation code. For smaller titles the download might be a DVD or two worth; for big famous games it will still likey be Blu-Ray sized.

So really, all you are doing is making it so the disc must be in the drive to play, in exchange for being able to sell or trade the game in the second hand market. That's great if it is something you will play once and dispose of next week. For the rest of us, we will probably take whichever one costs less or won't require pants.

The reallity that the game will be complete and never in need of software updates is far more dead than releasing games on disc. Sadly IMHO, but at least we live in a world where publishers don't have to snail mail you a floppy diskettes in x weeks before you can get through that dungeon without a glitch making your sabatons fall off, and your character endlessly spin eastward for the rest of the game.

For me personally, the win of my original model Xbox One having a disc drive is the ability to watch movies on Blu-ray. All of my other devices are limited to streaming files from my server or external services like Netflix; most of my devices don't have an optical disc drive. And the one that does it's used for ripping discs for my private home streaming needs. I don't think you could walk into Walmart and expect to find a cheap ass Blu-ray player back when the Xbox One launched, so much as a free to good home VCR at the dump.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Kotaku: EA Received A Guinness World Record For Most Downvoted Comment In Reddit History.

That's kinda appropriate in so, so many ways. Also I may have snortled a lot while reading that page....
Willow: an expert in comfort.

Over the years, a number of things have attracted me to Android.

Around the time Android first showed up on the T-Mobile G1, it represented what I really wanted at that time. Which was something more like a computer and less like a PDA that could send e-mail or word files. Something that I could scratch my itches by writing software. Likewise at that time, I may as well have wanted a Porsche, lol.

What really made me enjoy the experience however was the moderness of the platform and the compatibility it offers.


It has long bothered me how PC software works. You run as a user, let's call you Bob. You go download some program written by someone else, and probably won't be compiling it from code. That program can do anything you can, Bob. Whether that's as simple as uploading your address book (if you actually, still have a local one), encrypting your files for ransom, infecting your files, or just being useful, like you know: doing that task you had downloaded it for. A frequent solution in PCs has been to require running software with elevated permissions. But usually in a nuclear form: where the program goes from being able to doing anything you can, to literally being able to do anything your operating system can.

Newer models like the one Android follows, I believe are the natural evolution. Rather than "Ahh, shucks, I'll just run it as root!", the solution is a service interface. Android applications don't shout "Hey Bob, I need you to hit the grant godlike powers button right now". Instead they shout, "Hey Bob, I'm gonna need permission to use location services before I can tell you the nearest shawarma place". That's how things should work.

Once upon a time, computers didn't really have permissions. Time sharing used to have more to do with computers being expensive rather than a commodity. Today, I wouldn't expect a non-nerd to know what I just said. To be fair when the IBM PC came into being, it didn't have a lot of horsepower and having fifty people using it at the same time was the least personal worry.

UNIX and Vista probably had the longest reaching impacts prior to Android. I say that for two real reasons. Firstly, Unix's concept of users and file permissions are not only pervasive but the baseline of what you can call a multi-user system today. Secondly, thanks to the CP/M heritage, it wasn't really until Vista that a lot of PC using mooks got smacked over the head with the permissions stick; despite how long NT supported ACLs. Yeah, I'm a asshole.

I really like the brokered model that systems like Android follows. You don't solve a problem by running as god almighty with power to touch all the pointy things. You solve the problem by a service that brokers access to that specific thing. Because why should a program have as much power as you do? Do you trust strangers on the side walk with your debt card's PIN? I hope not.

User Services

Over the years a lot of things have become broadly universal. Today, you would be hard pressed to find a network aware program that does not utilize network sockets. Likewise as GUIs rose, so did frameworks to ease the task of writing such software. No one makes a GUI program by drawing raw pixels into a byte buffer anymore, they use things like GTK and MFC. Often these interfaces become common (e.g. BSD sockets and winsock are very similar) or they become portable (e.g. Qt runs on just about anything).

But there are also a great many things that are not broadly universal, aside from the concept that we want those things to work.

There are no universal APIs to solve problems like syncing and managing your contacts, calendars, locations, and so on. We have tools not interfaces.

In Android, we have concepts like a Calendar. It doesn't matter if I'm using Samsung's calendar app or Google's calendar app, or someone else's. There's a concept called a damned calendar. Wanna create an event? Fill out a common intent and expect good things to follow. If you write a calendar app then you're expected to do some things deemed the right thing, to make this work for the user, and that is the right thing if you're writing a calendar app that supports events.

On my laptop, I have to run a program like Mozilla Thunderbird or KOrganizer if I want an event calendar. Can I write a program that opens a new event in them and pre-populates it with some user provided data? Probably. Is there a common interface for my program to say, "Hey, operating system: Bob would love me to add this appointment to his calendar called 'Medical'. Here's the info!". Nope, nope, and nope a doodle! That's just not how PCs have evolved.

On the flipside, I will confess that Windows 10 does one thing I actually like. My contacts, messages, calendars, etc are all synchronized in much the same way my Android device does; I do not have the gag reflex necessary to see if MS also added any decent interfaces for applications to trigger these data exchanges the way Android does. But using Microsoft's built in apps for that suck less than interfacing my Debian machine.


As a curious and opinionated nerd, I prefer easy access to knowledge and limited restrictions. I first used computers running MS-DOS but most of my time has been around Unix systems.

To me the best way to know how something works is to take it apart and study the pieces. Want to know how programs are loaded into memory? Read the kernel's code for loading and linking executable files. Want to know how files are stored? Read a file system driver; coincidentally one for FAT is usually pretty simple compared to modern, more robust ones.

While I am a fan of tight permissioning and siloing of software, I am not a fan of restricting the owner. You paid good money for the device and it shouldn't try to stop you from using it. Whether your taste is cat videos or bouncing boobies.

A lot of people have been uppity over the nature of app stores, and they probably should be. But I also see it as natural. Modern unix systems typically get their software from a repository, and any package manager worth its salt is going to do things like verify signatures on those packages.

Where we diverge with younger systems is control. Android has done pretty well at that--in that you should be warned about importing some random file that you might not even know is a program, but you're still free to do so. Most people should obtain their software from a repo that they trust. Whether that's something like Google Play and iTunes, or something like your local mirror of Red Hat and Debian packages. But you should always be allowed to decide what that repo is.

Android has managed to hang onto a lot of that openness, where Apple has preferred to maintain control. I mean, razor wire, triple layered concrete thick barn doors. Whatever.

Stable Runtimes

There is a pretty long history of being able to run a pre-compiled program and share it with others. We've been doing it longer than most people have owned a computer. I view a major key to the success of PCs, the ease at which you could write a program, compile it, and expect it to run on someone else's machine without having to ship a code monkey with each floppy diskette. And not have to have a warehouse full of every microcomputer known to man, usually. Since then, computer software and hardware have become more isolated from the other for a great many tasks.

Today software is very long lived. Further time goes on, the more likely the code you write is to outlive you and the machine it first ran on. How well that binary runs on future systems is a more variable story.

Android has generally maintained a pretty strong ABI for keeping developer's stuff running. Think of Dalvik and the Android APIs what you will, and please do feel compelled to make rude hand gestures, but an Android application tends to execute without shouting "Holy link error, batman!" and aborting back to the launcher. Unless you do something that you shouldn't, or someone upstream does something that should be considered violation between vendor and stability worth smacking with a Googlely test suite sized beating stick.

But nothing is perfect or forever. To evolve, platforms must both create and destroy.

When I install a program from eons ago and it just runs on my PC, this tends to be a testament to how stable Microsoft's ABI is, and how (insanely) much work they have put into backwards compatibility. I find it kind of amazing how often old ass programs just run.

When it doesn't run, this tends to be a testament to how well the program was written or how well its assumptions have aged. It could be anything from assuming every file on disk is writable, or that all of nVidia's graphics accelerators work the same as back in 1999.

Considering how many programmers that I've met had a source-only mindset, I find it amazing how stable Android's runtime is at running APKs. As a user, you probably need worry more about issues like the evolution of GPU or service brokering breaking the apps assumptions at runtime than the app will fail to run at all.

You see there's a really big distinction between API and ABI. In really simplistic terms, an API means the programmer's shit will probably compile and an ABI means the programmer's shit will probably execute.

The more complicated operating systems and frameworks become: the less likely this is to be the case. But it's kind of nice when you can install an old game or utility and enjoy it without having to fire up a virtual machine with an antique operating system.
During the time my journal rolled through G+ rather than a traditional blog platform, Android was one of the subjects that I most posted about and followed. Usually, close enough that up until Nougat: I typically parsed my way through the compatibility definition documents when they were published. Not just the user facing and developer facing release highlights because a lot of detail about what devices could and have to offer lives in the CDD. The stable release of Android 10 was earlier this week, and frankly I find it quite hard to care.

The difference between these two points kind of makes me said but in a way, perhaps it is natural given how much the platform has matured. Or just an indication of how much Google pisses me off these days.

For most of Androids history, new versions have brought new functionality that was both worth it for my user experience and of interest from a developer's perspective. In more recent years there's been a pretty thick lack of anything that impacts my experience as a user, aside from how to manage annoying as all fuck heads-up notifications that 5.0/Lollipop introduced. Much of what has interested me from the developer side has been incremental changes to the platform. Much of what the user experience has been has become change for changes sake, once the platform returned to the level of stability.

The way I use my devices has not changed much since Android 4.x. I still spend an excess of time on my tablet. I still tend to prefer Android apps on my big screen instead of desktop apps. What's really changed are methods and patterns.

From Android 2.2 - 4.3, I utilized my phone very heavily. At the highest point, charging my phone three times a day while my tablet was being repaired back in 2012. Today I just don't use my phone for a lot. Unless I am checking items off my list in the middle of the grocery store or something: my phone is not the device I reach for first. Usually it's the last device I'm going to use, because I usually can use two hands :P.

Tablets have been part of my flow since Honeycomb, and likewise became my main platform of choice. Be that as a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop like form factor. For many years I used a tablet docked to mouse/keyboard/monitor and been a lot happier than using desktop apps.

When I upgraded to a tablet that didn't support HDMI out, I eventually took the opportunity to upgrade my rarely used Chromebook to a model with Android apps; because that's what I really wanted. My fucks given for Chrome OS is pretty nill beyond as an Android platform that has a laptop sized keyboard attached and being less effort than loading Android-x86 on a regular laptop.

This year, I started using my Latitude as both my development system and my workstation. Because my Chromebook is just too slow for my workload and I'm tired of how buggy the experience is versus my Android tablets. Otherwise, I would have planned to buy a more powerful Chromebook. But I don't enjoy the experience as much as docking an actual tablet; unless I'm swiveling around in a chair in need of typing on a real keyboard at the same time, and I like to avoid doing that regardless of OS. I've done the keyboard / mouse / monitor thing with Android very heavily--so don't bullshit me that Android doesn't work well without a touchscreen :P.

In fact, the outlook towards 2-in-1 Chrome OS devices becoming more common is 1/3 of why I am contemplating making my next tablet an iPad. The other 2/3 is that Samsung is the only one really making tablets that interest me, and the only options when a pen is required. My opinion of Apple tends to run towards the negative but they at least are making it easier to pick your device and have a decent stylus experience.

The sad thing is as Android has evolved, my opinion of Samsung is considerably higher than my opinion of Google when it comes to a user facing device. Or as I like to remember it: when I bought Google's devices, all I got was a fast track to bugs being released or UI changes for the sake of changes.
We all agree that lazing out on the couch is a good plan, especially with a nap. Where the dogs and I disagree is on how cookies are people food, lol.

Much glares have been made in my direction over the course of eating to cookies. Enough that bribery with treats may have been a prerequisite for my continued survival....
The easiest way to tell I use my stylus a lot: the number of cringes between sitting down and getting up to go fetch my S-Pen from the next room.

Friday, September 6, 2019

After a good while, I've finally upgraded my main laptop from Debian Stretch to Buster. Unless your name is OpenBSD, I don't do zero day upgrades; and it's been a few months since Buster shipped. Enough for me to feel comfortable that any big, scaries about the new Debian stable would have made it to my ears by now.

It's long been my policy to upgrade a less important machine before pushing a major upgrade to one I don't want to wipe and restore from backups.

My guinea pig was a desktop that's been running Debian stable releases since Squeeze without a serious problem. The only issue I experienced with it on upgrade was that the antique nVidia card requires a very legacy driver version that doesn't really want to work with the current OS. But aside from that everything was peachy.

My laptop on the otherhand was a fairly painless experience. I only encountered two issues.

One is it looks like consolekit has been ejected in favour of systemd-logind. Frankly, I don't care. But I also am a weirdo who still likes to run XDM. Because beyond configuring PAM or my X session script, I don't give a flying floop about the modern login managers--my session still trucks through ~/.xsession and I don't need fancy stuff in my login screen. A small change to the xfce4 specific part seems to be enough to resolve that, or at least I can still reboot my laptop through the xfce4 menu instead of using sudo.

Second case was for whatever reason, apache2.service wanted to be enabled during the upgrade and was preventing lighttpd.service from starting and running my tweaked configuration. So when I saw my /var/www/html/index.html file about altering an NSA surveillance unit, I knew that was happening. That's actually why that file exists. If you're not using my configuration that makes content go to /srv/{hostname}, you get the cheaky file I left myself for being able to tell.  Because I know if I stick my shit in /srv/{hostname} rather than /var/www/html, probability of packages mucking with my webroot goes down :P. A simple disable + stop apache2.service and restart lighttpd.service, and bingo.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I've been trying to eat less pasta and rice, and more vegetables of late. Tonight however was the I need a nap not a cooking spree solution.

Willow was so thrilled at the fried chicken that she licked the camera, trying to get to it.

Things that I find sad += 1.

If I get in the car ten minutes early, leave on time, or sleep in for five more minutes: I arrive at work at approximately the same time. The difference is the level of traffic \o/

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Rediscover this day

Three years ago and Willow was definitely still comfortable, along with the rest of our tribe.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Ahh, I'm reminded of what really makes me hate NT: hardware support.

Ever since my good cable got a tad bent at the connector, I've only had two cables that really like to drive my Xbox One controller. One that's like 3 meters, and one that's like 30 centimetres: neither of which is particularly fun with my desk. But at least they work, if you deal with the cable lengths.

So, I figure let's try the wireless adapter for Windows. Well, guess what? It's shit.

The "Slim" model 1790 now available doesn't work with Windows 10, 1903, up to date as of what Microsoft lets my desktop get. As far as the base operating system is concerned there is no driver for this device--none, nadda, zilcho!

If you browse the go fetchy it catalog referenced in places like this and this, and get a bit creative in pointing Windows at various entries and fine one that'll actually match the device: the most you'll get is an error code: "The software for this device has been blocked from starting because it is known to have problems with Windows. Contact the hardware vendor for a new driver. (Code 48)". If you give up more easily than I do when I'm tired and almost ready for sleep: you'll just get a message saying it didn't find squat that works with the driver you extracted.

Because why would you expect Microsoft's driver's to work with Microsoft's hardware? That's a lot to ask, I guess.

In my experience there are really only three kinds of drivers for Windows.

  1. Those that just work, and often those come with the Microsoft's install.
  2. Those that almost never work; and
  3. Those that are about as stable as drunk with ten shots of rum in'em.

On the flipside scenario 3 is why error codes like 48 exist. Not being able to use a piece of hardware is frequently better than it turning the rest of your experience to crap.

For the extra curious nerd, the device reports itself as usb vid 045e pid 02fe in the device manager's GUI. 0x45e being MS's USB vendor id. Dunno what their product ids in the wild are, and I'm not buying multiple adapters to find out.

The Microsoft Xbox One Wireless Adapter for Windows kit also comes with a really nice but rather short length USB extension cable. Which aside from being an overpriced cable when you consider the wireless adapter is actually a paperweight until MS fixes the driver, does in fact solve my real problem. I.e. if I was smart I would've just bought a decent cable in a length > 0.3 & < 3.0 meters long instead of MS's wireless adapter. Ha! 🀣

Thus my real solution is to take the extension cable that came with the useless wireless adapter, plug in my too damned short cable I wanted to replace, hook up my controller and go play a damned game before my head droops and hits the desk.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sitting down to watch an episode of The Good Place during an afternoon break, and ending up binge watching all of season three: reminds me that is kind of how the rest of the show went.

A couple years ago: I had heard about it from a friend and decided to try a couple episodes. Didn't think much of it at first but then fork, I found myself binge watching the crap out of the first season. #TheGoodPlace was definitely worth watching ^_^.

Simple solutions for simple problems: couldn't figure out what to make for dinner. Made pasta and ate whatever I didn't have space for storing.

Plus that kinda takes care of lunches for the week πŸ˜€.