Command, Control, and Optionally conquer the Alternatives

In some ways it may be a touch ironic. For years, I used an Android tablet docked to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard as a workstation; quite happily in fact. Puttering around with iPadOS my only real beef versus doing the same with Android is the keys.

Having spent most of my life around PC based systems, I’m naturally used to the shortcuts on a PC. Such as using control plus left and right to move the cursor a word at a time. On iPad these are more like home/end keys because you use option + left and right to move the cursor a word at a time.

Further complicating the fact is that some familiar shortcuts are control + thing while others are command + thing. For example command + W to close a tab but the familiar control + tab to change tabs. Basically pay back for having owned many a PC but never a Mac, lol.

In terms of keyboard and mouse support the only difference today is that iPadOS sports the same type of mouse based text selection as a PC or Mac. Android and the initial version of iPadOS had simply used it like a finger substitute, and more kludgy in iPadOS’s case. Aside from that I haven’t really had much difference in experience.

One of the notable distinctions as a user however is the software.

Modern iPadOS sports a version of Safari that is as good as Chrome or Edge on my PCs. My Androids on the other hand, being relegated to Chrome was always a bitter existence even if the stability leveled off with the years — and often keyboard/mouse operation in Chrome made my eyes roll out of their fucking sockets at the silly. So let’s just say at web browsers, iPad’s Safari beats Chrome for Android.

For most users I’d call that a win. Most people I know have a heavy slant towards web apps, and thus their connection to the rise of Chrome. In some cases, clutching Firefox like a gunnut and their AR-15s. So the result is Safari doesn’t piss me off, but I’m still one to prefer an app over a browser if you do any kind of decent job at it.

By contrast iPadOS sucks as a terminal client. Networking limitations basically murder any chance of being able to use SSH and multitasking; spend too long away and the connection will be force killed. By contrast in Android land the only real issue with SSH clients I tended to have was the poor copy/paste experiences. Stuff like VNC equally suck on both, but is less multitask friendly on iPad.

For me that’s kind of a negative. 90% of my interest in PCs revolve around command line environment or 3D graphics environments. But given my shift back to laptops for the heavy lifting that’s not been to terrible.

That’s to say, my move from a Chromebook to a Latitude had more to do with Celeron vs Core i5 than it did at using Android apps for terminal work. Likewise, my move from Android tablet to Android apps on a Chromebook was basically generated by Samsung omitted video output on my last tablet.

Huawei’s HarmonyOS: “Fake it till you make it” meets OS development

Forking and building off Android is what I would call the natural response for Huawei’s situation. And pretty much as long as you respect the open source license agreements and such, nothing is wrong with that. The ability to do so is one of the best aspects of Android; the going it without the Google add ons one of the reasons fewer people do that with actual phones.
Ron kind of says it neat here:
Forking Android and launching your own rebranded operating system is totally fine. But be upfront about that. Say “HarmonyOS is a fork of Android” instead of “HarmonyOS is not a copy of Android.” Don’t call HarmonyOS “all-new” when pretty much the opposite is true.
Where the real ire of the story lay, and perhaps justly so. But the conclusion towards the end of the article also makes sense. Inside China the Google’less Android idea works, as an international product not so much.

Here’s why everyone should own a cheap Android tablet

An interesting if unusual line of reasoning for a site full of nerds and shifting attention spans.
Tablets are often more natural to repurpose than other computing devices. Phones are often too damned small or the only size you need. Laptops are often too damned big, or all you really want is the keyboard input. Tablets strike an excellent size between being so compact you can Velcro it to the wall, and being large enough to prevent and interact with globs of data like videos and web pages.
Kitchens, bathrooms, garages, craft rooms, head boards, often have space as a premium. If not at first then eventually, lol. If money grew on trees instead of being made from trees and tears, I’d probably have a dedicated tablet just for scribbling notes.
One of the open questions I’ve had since my Tab S3 -> iPad Pro conversion is what do I want to do with Scarlett. The cracked screen works fine most of the time, but I’d largely prefer to avoid putting it in a position where fluids and cleaning are regular needs. The old HDX7 has principally become a clock now that it’s long form reading duties have migrated to a conventional Kindle.
Currently it resides near the charger cluster of /dev/headboard. Which has shown promising possibilities as an electronic picture frame or clock in either room. Mounting it on a kitchen wall or the side of my refrigerator would readily solve the problem that I’ll need to update my grocery list for something, but don’t have the time to leave my kitchen to go get a phone or tablet. There’s also the perk that the S-Pen still works pretty well as long as you don’t rest your hand too heavily on the screen, or need fine lines near the cracked part.

Signs that this iPhone thing is going to workout:

  • Use of three and four letter expletives to describe messaging from my phone is down by 90%, effectively now at the level of autocorrect.
  • Use of same to describe messaging from my tablet is now down 70%, and is no longer filled with pain and agony whenever I do more than type.
  • I haven’t felt the urge to break the damned thing.
Part of the value here also lay in the use cases. Typically my tablet screen on time can be measured in hours per day. More if I’m using it, less if I’m mesmerized by some video game or book or Netflix or whatever. By contrast my phone screen on time can probably be measured in tens of minutes per day, unless someone sends me a lot of text messages in the middle of the night.
Which is a pretty stark contrast to years past, where I used my phone pretty significantly. Over the past five years or so, Android’s evolution and my usage patterns basically killed my phone use in favor of tablet use the rest of the way. While the transition to iPadOS was rather rocky, given my heavy demands in tablet: the transition to iOS has mostly been trivial.
You could say that my life around Android largely caused me to bypass the long ass wait for decency in iOS features, after eons of going “Huh, how the frak have people lived without that all these years?” whenever a new iOS release happens. Likewise the tablet use killing phone use, basically means I don’t give a frak. Jelly Bean was still a thing when I used my phone heavy enough to care as much about my phone, as my tablet keeping pace with my computing needs. So by now, iOS easily handles my demands upon a phone and mostly fits my demands upon a tablet or desktop.
Sigh. Here’s to hoping someday Google returns to producing software that I can depend on instead of software prone to pissing me off more often than not.

Google’s solution to the end of Hangouts is Messages. My solution to this problem has been, “Screw that”.

For the majority of my use case my SMS roll through my tablet. A process that Hangouts, as meh as a chat app is it has always been: handled well. In the years prior, I had relied on a Bluetooth connection between my Android phone and tablet to make the magic happen. In the post Hangouts world, I pretty much just relied on its integration.

Google Fi and Hangouts started the GTFO and use Messages push a week or two ago. Since Hangouts ends in January, I decided to give it a go and see how good the results would be. Well, an iPhone SE is how well that experiment went.

Using the web version on my tablet shifts from how Meh the current iteration of Hangouts is to “And why the frak am I using this?”. I figured, at least, it had to be worth while on my phone. Whether it’s the natural way it works, or an aspect of Google Fi: Messages sucks ass on my Moto X4. I dislike using the web version; I despise using the Android version. Even more so where the combination of web + phone often leads me to to using multiple profanities when the phone eventually catches up.

Originally, I had assumed that I would be using android messages when I upgraded from my old Galaxy S5 to the Moto X4. But most messages arriving through Hangouts rather than that, pretty much lead to me ignoring it. Not broke, don’t care. Well, at least for a few more years at that time.

My primary computer when I’m not doing real work is a tablet. Many of the Android tablets I’ve used ended up full blown keyboard/mouse/monitor driven workstations on top of being my general purpose tablet. Thus my phone doesn’t really see a lot of use.

Typically I use my phone when:

  • Checking off my shopping list at the grocery store.
  • I’ve gone to bed, and it’s easier to reach for my phone than my tablet to answer messages or read Wikipedia with one eye open.
  • I’m standing in the checkout line at the grocery store.
  • Waiting on food at the microwave at work.
  • Suddenly need a calculator or a stop watch, and other things that were cool on a wristwatch when I was a kid.
  • The rare times I actually want a one hand device more than a better device.
  • The few times I rely on Maps to make sure I don’t take a wrong turn.
  • The every few years I’m driving out of range of my favorite radio tower, and choose to jack a playlist into my car’s head unit.
In effect this means my phone represents 10 – 15 % of my non-productivity minded computing, and aside from answering messages in the middle of the night: I’m usually found on my tablet or I’m occupied and not available. Since I’m usually using a tablet, my phone’s data use represents an average of up to a hundred megabytes of cellular data. Drastically down from the years where I averaged several gigabytes.
Apple’s iMessage doesn’t really interest me. But it does two things for me. It fixes the suck-ass experience of using my iPad Pro with Google’s new plan for my Messages, and it makes me not want to flip my phone out a window whenever I wait for messages to sync back up 🤣.
Thus Bean Sprout has been retired in favor of Benimaru. So named because the Project (RED) design reminds me of Rimiru’s commander in chief in TenSura.

 Surface Duo postures: Every bend and fold you need to know

For some years, I’ve thought it would probably be awesome sauce if you took two tablets and put them in a book like case side by side, and made some kind of software pipe between them for opening apps and sharing via intents.

Microsoft’s Surface Duo definitely represents something much more complete and natural. And sadly just as expensive, or more. But it’s an actual product you can sell your left nut or right tit for. So there is that 🤣.

I would love to see more devices like this. Both in the Duo’s size that can bridge between a phone and a tablet, and something closer to a tablet than a phone.

 Tested: How much does Bluetooth actually drain your phone battery?

And this is pretty much why for the last decade I’ve had virtually zero fucks to give about Bluetooth draining my phone’s battery. The difference tends to be limited if your device doesn’t suck.

Unless you’re optimizing for the worst case scenario: like fifteen minutes of phone charge is going to make the difference between getting home and sleeping at the airport kind of scenario. Pressuring you actually use it for something: it’s simply more bother to diddle Bluetooth than to charge normally.

Which also reminds me of why I use a Bluetooth speaker at work instead of my tablet’s speakers. For comparable volume blasting my tablet’s four speakers all day sucks down more charge than running the Bluetooth speaker.

Rather the real train to turn off Bluetooth IMHO is because you’re not using it more than a handful of times a year, or to limit your exposure to some one in a ten million asshats trying to spam you with pairing requests, lol

The other day, I decided to plug in my old Thor model HDX7, since I couldn’t remember the last time I had bothered to charge it. Was surprised to find it with 6% remaining. But, my relationship with it regarding battery life has been kind of like the Energizer Bunny commercials with “Going, and going, and going”; or whatever it is they use as a slogan. I don’t think I ever managed to really ding its battery, aside from leaving it idle for a couple weeks.

Extra surprising: the last update it got for Fire OS was installed February, 2019.

That’s really not bad for a device I got free from a Dolby developer raffle. Still running a form of Android 4.4/K, but considering the device came out around 2013, and had internals on par with the Nexus of the day—I’d say the little thang has faired pretty well.

I suppose one of these days, I should probably finish turning it into a digital picture frame, or something.

Chrome OS has stalled out

Personally, I’ve come to have mixed feelings about Chromebooks but that mostly owes to a mixture of my own tastes and Google’s performance.

Pretty much if you’re happy to live in a full screen browser session, or can’t remember the last time you dragged anything other than a browser window around—Chrome OS is for you, and the appliance factor is a win. Just buy a better model with a better processor than average.

By contrast I’d like me, your interest is largely in an Android powered laptop: you will be disappointed or suffer the same slings and arrows that iOS users do. That is to say things work pretty well but you must avert your eyes from the problems more often than you should have to.

Android actually works pretty well with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. I’ve done that a crap fuck ton since Honeycomb. Chromebooks offer an easier path to the docked experience, and a tremendously easier path to a laptop style form factor.

But by in large Android on my Chromebook has been far more buggy and glitchy than any Android tablet that I’ve ever connected to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard; and I’ve done that to more than a few! The flip side is that the hardware strain of running Android apps tends to be less than heavy, complicated web applications.

So there are times that a cheaper Chromebook running an Android app can be more ideal than throwing the web app at the same hardware, or more appealing than buying a Chromebook that has a Core M or i series processor instead of dinky Celeron and Pentium processors.

Combined with the limited choices for high end Android tablets, not to mention ones with a true hardware stylus, my Android experience on my Chromebook is chunk of why I decided to buy an iPad Pro—because a Chome OS tablet won’t replace my Android tablet the way it could most people’s Windows beater.