If Smartphones were Star Wars Characters

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If Smartphones were Star Wars Characters

I just saw The Force Awakens (don’t worry, no spoilers), and I really enjoyed the movie.   In the days leading up to the movie I had Star Wars on the brain; I also had smart phones on the brain, which created a convergence in the force.   What came out of that convergence is this post.

Not all smartphones can be Star Wars Characters and not all Star wars Characters can be smartphones.  Other times the connections are so clear, that you can’t deny it.  Have a look at the connections that I made and let me know your thoughts.  Do you agree with my selections?  If you have other thoughts please share them.   Below are my connections.

ONE PLUS 2 – Han SoloHan Solo

 

In most people’s minds the One Plus started the “best bang for your buck” smart phone revolution.   Personally I think that the 2013 Nexus 5 should be wearing that badge of honour but hey, that is not what this post is about.  The one thing that I think we can all agree on is that the one plus is a rebel of a phone and so are those that carry it.  I have yet to see a One Plus 2 live, and I have only seen a OnePlus 1 twice but both times when I said “Wow, is that the One Plus 1?” The reply was not just yes or some other affirmative.  The first person replied with “yes and it is running Oxygen OS.”  The second person replied with “CM 12.1 nightly and he quoted the date.”  Who the heck actually knows the date of the last nightly they downloaded? That is bad ass!

One plus is still a relatively niche company with a non-conformist appeal.   In a sea of Galaxies and iPhones the OnePlus 2 has some roguish charm to help it stand out.  Even the company One Plus reminds me of Han with its crazy social media campaigns and invite system.   Plans never work out like they are meant to but somehow Han manages to keep things together only to fall into another mess, usually of his own making……. just like OnePlus

 

 

Droid Turbo 2 – ChewbaccaChewy

Star Wars had its fair share of tough guys but only one of them would rip off your arms if they started to lose at a Dejarik (Holo Chess).  Chewbacca is known for his strength and endurance, so is the Droid Turbo 2.   With a 21MP camera, a 3760 mAh battery and shatterproof screen this is a rough and tumble phone ready for anything.  Half of Han Solo’s charm came from the fact that his best friend was there through everything and would never let Han down.  Like Chewy, this phone is something to keep by your side through all of your daily adventures, something that will never let you down, even if you drop it into a trash compactor.    Motorola even calls the backing material Ballistic Nylon!   That just sounds cool to me.

The Droid Turbo 2 is not the smallest or prettiest of phones, but neither was Chewbacca.  The phone is definitely a man’s best friend or something that a princess would use to help her rescue her prince charming from carbonate status.

 

 

 

BlackBerry – Yodayoda

 

For eight hundred years has BlackBerry trained people to type with their thumbs, its own council will it keep on the use of physical keyboards.   Just like Yoda the BlackBerry can look old to young eyes but my fellow Canadians have been making phones and pages since 1984.  Before google existed and while Apple was planning to fire Steve Jobs, this company came up with the idea of seeing an email on your pager.  One thing led to another and the smartphone was born.

Yoda has been around for a long time and so has BlackBerry.  With hundreds of years training Jedi, Yoda’s influence can be felt throughout the force.   So too can the BlackBerry’s influence be felt thoughout the smart phone world.  Dependent on your age you may see the BlackBerry Passport as something irrelevant but market share matters not!  BlackBerrys are the phones that created the smart phone revolution and brought email on a phone to the world.  If you are close in age to me you can remember a time when texting was billed by the characters and you only had a number pad to type with.  Those were dark times, indeed. BB may not be doing much now, kind of like Yoda sitting in a swamp waiting for something to happen, but their genius can still be seen today in modern phones.  Have a look at the operating system of a BlackBerry from the 90’s and you can still see their influence on iOS and android even today.

These phones should have lasted forever, strong were they with the force, but not that strong.

 

 

iPhone – Emperor Palpatineiphone

 

This was perhaps the easiest connection.   Emperor Palpatine led the Galactic Empire through fear, fear of this battle station (Deathstar).   Apple leads in profit through fear, fear keeping up with the Jones’.   The empire was not an equal opportunity employer.   They used the Wookies and other species as slaves to build what the empire referred to as the ultimate power in the universe.   Replace wookies with Foxcomm employees and you can keep the arrogance of believing their creation to be the ultimate power in the universe.  Much like the Emperor, the iPhone’s overconfidence is its weakness.

There is no contradicting the fact that the Emperor was powerful, so is the iPhone.  The Emperor’s reach stretched across the better part of the Galaxy and the iphone’s reach stretches across most of North America and Europe.   The empire brought conformity to the galaxy and seemed unstoppable but rebellion comes to us in many forms.  With companies like Xiaomi, Obi, Wiley Fox, Microsoft, Nextbit,  OnePlus, and Nokia all looking to make their mark, or reclaim lost ground, there is a new hope!

 

I hope that you have enjoyed this fun little article.  If you have a few connections of your own, please leave them below.  I would enjoy hearing from others on this one.

 

Until next time…..

Episode Tuesday

 

 

Flashing ROMs like My Wife Drives.

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The Connections Between Chris Lacy, Muggles and Flashing ROMs like My Wife Drives.

 

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It may be hard to see how Chris Lacy is connected to my wife’s driving skills.  I can understand if you are confused, Chris comes from the land down under while my wife’s driving takes place in the Great White North.  Geographically Australia and Canada are rather far apart but if you throw in Muggles and some ROMs to flash it all starts to connect.  Let me explain.

For those that have read my posts before, know that I am a big fan of the RootJunky website.  I guess that is obvious as I always post on his site.  I also visit other tech site that interest me and I enjoy podcasts. One of my favourite podcasts is the blerg, from Chris Lacey .  I have been listening to his podcast for a few months now and I really enjoy it.  He does seem a little harsh toward OEMs, from time to time, but he does it without bias towards any operation system or equipment manufacturer.  I would call him “tech agnostic”, not sure what he would say about that but that is how he comes across to me.  He is an accomplished developer and if anyone is allowed to dish out some harsh criticisms from time to time, it is an accomplished developer.  Dursleys-from-Harry-Potter

Anyway, I have heard him use the term Muggles when referring to people like me, newbs or the uninitiated.  As many of you may know the term Muggle comes from the Harry Potter book series, a Muggle is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world. Muggles also do not have any magical blood. That’s a quote from Google.  Chris uses it to reference those who lack any sort of programing ability and were not born into the computer world or do not have any magical programming blood.  In the Harry Potter books it is a derogatory term, that the privileged few have for their lesser.  I don’t think that Chris uses it in that negative way. I actually like the way he uses it and I think it fits.

I remember the feeling of magic that fell upon me when I followed that first XDA thread, allowing me to flash slimROM on my aging Samsung tablet.  Installing Odin on my PC was done during a new moon.  The recovery was flashed while I danced naked with the witches of Salem.  Booting up the new ROM for the first time I sprinkled the blood of a Unicorn across the screen for good measure.  Just like magic or maybe because of it…….. my tablet booted up and ran like a dream.  It still runs to this day and runs really well on slimROM.  This whole process is very magical to me, so the term Muggle fits.odin-header

Chris Lacy can call me a Muggle anytime and I am OK with that.  I have magical friends like RootJunky to help me out when things go wrong.  Youtube is filled with great videos and XDA is always there.  If you have a problem chances are RootJunky has a video about it or the solution is waiting for you at XDA.  If you follow their magical directions you will be able to work miracles.  This bring me to my wife’s driving.

My wife is a great driver.  She is confident behind the wheel and has a good sense of the road.  A few years back when we were looking for a new vehicle, it was obvious that she would have preferred a high end sports car; too bad that was not in our budget, I would have preferred that too.  Sadly the Corvette in the photo is not ours.  Cars that had stronger engines, stiffer suspension and steering that let you feel the road was where her choices gravitated.  It was really interesting to watch her go through the process of testing cars because I happen to be a mechanical wizard.  To me she is an automobile Muggle.  Someone that is unaware of the magic that lies under the hood. Now just because my wife is a automobile Muggle please don’t think she can’t drive.  She may not understand the difference between 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines or understand what is taking place when you shift gears, but put her behind the wheel and she more than competent, perhaps even talented.  That is exactly how a thought I flashed ROMs, more than competent, perhaps even talented.  That is what I thought but I am not so sure now.

To me, guys like the RootJunky are wizards, Chris Lacey is like a level 20 Magic user and Chainfire is from another dimension. It is funny how many people there are like me.  We flash a few ROMS and then think that we can take down governments with our hacking abilities.  I really have no idea of what I am doing half the time and this became apparent a few weeks back.  When modding my phone, I follow the road as my wife does when she drives but I don’t instinctively hit my apex in the corners.  I would love to tell you how I have become one of the few, someone capable of magic but really I am just good at following directions.  In that respect I guess my wife’s driving is much better than my flashing.  She at least has an inborn talent for understanding space and the car’s place in it.  I am just good at following directions.

My ability to follow direction and my lack of any really Android knowledge became very apparent about two weeks ago.  I wanted to give Cyanogen 13.0 a try but I wanted to try out the CAF variant.  This took a little bit of magic and I…….I am just a Muggle.  I did get CM 13.0 CAF running on my phone but my actual phone app was crashing on me all the time.  Not much of a smartphone if you can’t make phone calls.   After a number of wipes and reinstall things were not getting any better.  So I did what I do best, I followed directions on XDA.  I started from scratch and got my phone back to stock Android. Oh the defeat and shame that I felt.  

It was at this time of defeat that I listened to Chris Lacey’s podcast and heard him used the term muggles again.  That is when all the connections hit me: Chris Lacy, Muggles, flashing ROMs, my wife’s driving and this post was born.

My phone is currently running well with CM13.0, but not the CAF variant.  I have decided to stay away from that.   It was a tough week for this muggle as I struggled through my phone issues. It was a little disappointing realizing  that after a year or two of flashing ROMS I am still driving without really knowing what is happening under the hood. I may never be at the level of a developer but as I have fun in the world that XDA has shown me I will improve day by day.  

Who knows, one day I may be able to flash ROMs like my wife drives!

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Episode Tuesday

Google and Apple Hate Italians

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Google and Apple hate Italians, Samsung hates the British but One Plus likes everyone.

First the back story

For those that don’t know me, I started writing for the RootJunky website about a month ago. My last post was a review of the Nexus 6P, it’s a great device by the way. Check out the review here. I ended that post with:

“Well it (Nexus 6P) may be the best value for your dollar unless you are Italian. Why am I picking on the Italians? Well I’m not, but come back to view my next post and find out who is”

So who is picking on the Italians? Well it looks like Google and Apples are teaming up against the country that brought pizza to the world.

Ok there are a few things that I should say right off the bat. I am not an economist or an accountant. I am not even a professional journalist. I am just a guy that likes tech and has opinions to share. This week I would like to share some interesting thing that I found when reviewing the price for the Nexus 6P.

I live in Canada and my good friend Tom the RootJunky lives in the USofA. It is standard knowledge that technology items are cheaper south of the border but after you work out the exchange it is usually a wash. A few bucks here or there, no big deal. While writing my review I had watched an angry Damir Franc rant about the price of the Nexus in German. I decided to investigate further.

Investigating prices

I started my investigation by picking a few countries spread throughout our little planet. I looked at the rate of exchange; this was in early november, and compared prices. Have a look at what i found out below.

6p

 

nexus 6P

If you compare the prices for the 32gb, 64gb, and 128gb models, Italians are paying an average of $285.58 extra for their phones. That sucks! Small wonder why Damir was so upset. He lives in Germany not Italy, but i am sure that most countries that use the Euro are very close in price. Things are not much better in New Zealand or the United Kingdom. My fellow Canadians are doing ok but the pacific side of the world, not so much. Australia is overcharged by $160, Japan by $130 and India by about a hundred dollars. Why? I have not clue. Honestly i don’t know why this happens. I decided to investigate a little further.

I thought to myself that this may be a Google thing? Perhaps Apple does it differently? Nope have a look at there numbers below.

6s

iphone 6s

The iphone 6s had nearly identical overcharges when compared to the 6p. Uk, Italy, Australia and New Zealand were within $15 dollars of the Nexus overcharge amount. Again, my hockey playing brethren had the best deal at $65 overcharge but those iphones are so damned expensive already. Japan did ok but India got treated like an Italian stepson by accounting department at Apple. Again I am asking why? Perhaps both companies have some long standing vendetta against spaghetti and are now planning to make the entire country suffer?

Did samsung come out any better? Not really. Their chart and numbers are below. Samsung was a little nicer to the Italians and India but they seem to dislike the people that brought us Dr. Who. Your average Brit is paying over $200 more than an american for the same phone. The south Korean company seems to like Canadians, as we are pay about $3 less than anyone else. As a Canadian all I can say is “sorry about that, eh.”

6 edge

Galaxy 6 Edge

Throughout this entire time I was researching prices, the question of why kept on coming around and I had not found a solid answer. While looking for that answer I did question my methods. I was using a dollar conversion rate from a random day in November, the prices I used for the phones were just pulled off of websites that were easily translated. My Japanese and Hindi are a little rusty so perhaps I could have found better prices had I been able to do some comparison shopping. Even with all my possible errors in approaching there is a pattern. Pricing is not even across the globe. There has to be a reason.

After looking at these three phones I started to think that this must be some kind of tariff effect. The taxes in these countries are set up to penalize technology. Not being an economist, I don’t understand the full workings of trade tariffs and taxes but we have all read about them from time to time and know that they exist and their basic workings. This was a pill I could swallow. It was not a perfect answer but the UK and European Union seem to pay higher rates for phones while Canadia seems to remain on par with the US. This pattern seemed repeatable. This seemed to make sense until i looked at OnePlus. Check out their numbers below.

1+2

OnePlus 2

OnePlus can somehow manage to be “fair” to everyone’s wallet, never mind what kind of bills you put into it. Looking at this kind of blows that tariff/tax idea out of the water. If OnePlus can keep their phones to within $107, why can’t everyone else? With OnePlus there are even some countries that are paying less than the United States. Canada, Japan and India pay less for the OnePlus 2 after conversation to US OnePlus .

 

Conclusion

I would like to know what others think but here is my two sense. Samsung, Google and Apple charge more because…… well I think it is because they can.  I don’t really think that any company would have it our for one country or another.  That is not how the world works, but the world does run on money.  OnePlus is a new company that is trying gain a reputation for giving its customers the best bang for your buck. You can’t do that and ask Italians to pay $280 more, all at the same time. OnePlus wants and needs the sale and that is reflected in the price. These other three phones are vying for premium spots in the market. They want you to associate them as top end. One way to do that is increase the price. If it is expensive lots of people will assume that it has value. That is my best guess.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts on this, especial if you are from any of the listed countries.  Have you been able to find better deal?  Area you leaning toward other OEMs like OnePlus because they are giving you a fair deal?  I would be interested in hearing what you think.

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

Nexus 6P

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Nexus 6 P

DSC_0255-minGoogle-Nexus-6P

What does it mean to be a nexus phone? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts? A bang for your buck champion?  It should be easy but it is a hard thing to explain the nexus brand.  Nexus phones have meant a lot of different things to people over the years.  Even Google’s own vision has shifted a little after each year.  Each time trying to adjust, trying to find the perfect vision and never quite getting there.  Knowing that you can’t please all the people all of the time, Google decided to have two phones this year, two visions of perfection. We are going to look at the phone marked with a P, the Nexus 6P.

The one trait that has remained the same about nexus phones; they push the limits.  They try to take what is current and improve it.  They take new technology and implement it.  Has Google succeeded with this year’s vision? Let’s review a few key areas and find out.

 

Look and Feel

The first thing that I actually noticed about this phone was how thin it felt in my hand; then I notice how good it felt, sturdy and well built. That something that told my fingers “this phone needs to have some thickness to it” faded after using it for a while. The phone does have some heft (178g) and I like that.  Huawei has made a solid phone for Google and that is a feeling that has not faded.

 

dsc_0017

The speakers are on the front, the only place for speakers in my opinion, and they blend in very well with the front fascia.  The antenna lines on the four corners works well and I have even started to like the camera visor. Early leaks on the internet made the visor look as if it protruded out like an ugly growth.  Even now pictures don’t do it justice.  In the hand and in person the visor looks to be part of the phone, a natural extension.  The power and volume rocker are located on the right hand side.  They sit just above half way to allow some single handed use.  The SIM card slot can be found on the left side.  Look to the back for a fingerprint sensor.  Perfect placement!  I would like to see the volume and power back there as well.  LG really has something with their “Buttons on the back” phone design. I hope more companies take inspiration from their design. Overall this makes for a very elegant phone and I would like to stop there but I can’t.

On the bottom portion of the back side of the phone is a plastic cover.  The plastic cover is there for antenna signals access and covers a few screws used to keep this thing together. The plastic cover really hurts the phones look.  There is a lot of effort to match the plastic and aluminum but plastic is plastic and aluminum is aluminum. You can’t hide that. Most people will put a case over their phone and that will moot the point but I still find this to be a hard pill to swallow.  80% of the phone is beautiful; the plastic cover is the other 20%.

DSC_0259_1

Multimedia experience

At 5.7 inches this is a big and beautiful display.  The colours really pop and this is to be expected from an AMOLED screen.  If there is too much colour for your eyes to handle you do have a built in option.  You can use the sRGB colour mode found in the developer settings if you want the screen to pop a little less. The colours tend to be more true to life with the sRGB enabled.  I have used both settings and I have to admit that I prefer the default settings.  The popping colours look really great when playing any game.  It made the experience come alive, even if it looks to bold to be real.  The only fault I have with the display is the blue/purple haze that washes over the screen when viewing it on an angle. This is most evident when you have a complete white background.  The coloured background of various apps and games can make this effect nonexistent. Just make sure that you are viewing straight on when opening gmail.

Viewing angles aside, this phone seems to be made for Netflix.  The visuals come in clear and crisp with the 518 PPI (pixels per inch) screen and the speakers are great.  This combines to produce a fantastic multimedia experience.  Five minutes into any show or movie and you are hooked.  You will forget that you are watching this on a phone and just enjoy the entertainment.

The speakers were so good that I had to compare them with an HTC phone and their Boom Sound speakers.  I assumed the sound would have been closer but you can definitely perceive better sound emanating from the HTC.  I am not an Audiophile but even my dull ears noticed the depth of sound that came from One M9.  Both are great, both are loud, but HTC had a richer and fuller sound.  I hope that more OEMs bring front facing speakers to their designs; it really makes a world of difference to the multimedia experience.

Under the Hooddsc_0055

For those that like specs, the Nexus 6P does not disappoint.  Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 v2.1 is the chipset that powers this unit.  This Octa-core setup is split in two with a Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57 64-bit setup, mated to an Adreno 430 GPU.   Memory comes in at 3 GB of DDR4 RAM and your choice or 32, 64 or 128 Gigabytes of storage.

Does that translate to a fast phone? Yep it sure does!  This phone is like a big block V8 with Android 6.0 Marshmallow at the wheel.  It handled almost anything that I could throw at it.  Even jumping from Clash of Clans to Star Wars Commander and back again, was handled thoroughly.  Marshmallow many not have come with a change in design language but it put a lot of grease in the gears.  Everything is silky smooth. The phone did get a little warm under heavy use but not noticeably warmer than any phone I have played with in the past.  The only thing that made the phone hiccup or stutter was the camera.  It was an odd thing for me; I tried to replicate the stutter but could not get a consistent result.  Sometime is just wanted to be a little slow getting in or out of the camera app.  Thankfully this was the exception and not the rule. Speaking of the camera…….

Camera

When I first read about DxO Labs giving the Nexus 6p a place beside the Galaxy s6 I was impressed.  The new Samsung combination of hardware and software has walked away with all the prices this year.  Even Apple and Microsoft (Nokia) fanboys have been forced to admit that it is the best Camera of 2015.  The new iPhone 6s may change that but early reviews don’t give me that impression.  Either way the 6P had something to prove.

Does it live up to the hype? In my opinion, no.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good camera.  I would even say great comparing it to other nexus phones but I personally do not think it can hang with the Galaxy s6 camera.  Over all the pictures come out rather nice, but there is a tendency to overexpose the whites.  It reminds me of the large megapixel camera HTC was pushing.  Both cameras are great in low light but both tend to overexpose or wash out bright whites.  This may be an effect of larger pixels.  The pixels size for the 6P is 1.55 microns which really isn’t that large considering the HTC’s were 2 microns across each length.  It has the ability to record 4k video but the results are not always great.  Too much motion with the camera or the subjects and things get pixelated, fast. It also suffers under poor lighting conditions compared to the 1080p videos.

That is the bad news and the good news is……. there is lots of good news.  The camera has an eloquent and simply designed interface.  Some have said that it is too simple but I disagree.  Most people want to just point and shoot.  If you are a shutterbug you already have a dSLR camera for adjusting exposure and ISO, etc.  If you really want to have the dSLR experience with a smartphone you could always download and app and have your fun.  Personally I really like the simple design, it make it easy.

The 8 megapixel front facing camera is a dream.  The photos are nice and crisp with great low light performance. The camera will focus quickly and keep the colour very true to life.  It is really one of the best selfie cameras that I have used.  It does not have the “beautification” mode that some cameras sport, but I find that a blessing.   I would rather have my ugly mug look crisp and clear than that waxy makeup image that comes from “beautification” mode.

The 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor is for your rear facing photos and even though it does occasionally overexpose like I mentioned earlier, it is still a great camera.  It is generally quick to launch, fast to focus and the colour representation is pretty good.   The AMOLED screen can throw you off a little but set it to sRGB or put you picture on your monitor to show your true colours shining through.  With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field.025024

 

With an aperture of F2.0 you can get some nice effects playing with your depth of field.  Notice the focus on the background and then the for ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The indoor or low light performance is better than most but still tends to pixelate when there are not enough photons buzzing around.  Optical Image Stabilization would have helped out in this area and could have taken this camera from very good to great.

The video quality is better than most but I recommend sticking to the 1080p resolution settings.  4K sound awesome but the results are for from superior.  It is acceptable for basic scenes with little motion but the camera seems to handle 1080p much cleaner when pushed to the limits.  Try chasing your kids around with the video on you will see lots of pixilation at 4k.  With most TVs and monitor still pushing 1080 I don’t see the need for the 4k video at this time.  I just wish Google would have done it better if they were going to offer it. Even with the nitpicking it is a great camera and great phone.

 

Conclusion

 

When I started to write the conclusion, I was looking at value for your dollar along with what it means to be a Nexus phone.  I am going to leave price off to the side for now and discuss it in a follow up article.  So, that leaves us with the question of what is means to be a nexus phone.  Does this phone push the limits? Is it a cutting edge flagship? Perhaps something meant for developers and enthusiasts?

What I know is the Nexus 6P is the best you can get from Google today.  Does it push limits?  Camera and Battery have never been so good with Nexus phone but others have pushed their limits further. Is it a cutting edge flagship?  Yes, it can run with the flagship crowd but it is part of the pack, not the leader.  Is it meant for developers and enthusiasts?  Despite the e-fuse that will let everyone know this phone’s bootloader has been unlocked, I would say yes.  There are already all kinds of support for this device in the libraries of XDA.  That will only grow over time.

So Google has succeeded? Yes! This is the best Nexus phone to date, as it should be, it the newest.  Is it a perfect phone? No, but it comes close and for the money it may be the best value for your dollar.  This is a phone that you can recommend to anyone, the power users or the casual Facebook viewer will both enjoy this phone.  I comes close to being all things to all people.

 

 

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

 

P.S.

Well it may be the best value for your dollar unless you are Italian.  Why am I picking on the Italians?  Well I am not but come back to view my next post and find out who is.

 

 

 

 

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Marshmallow Headache

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Marshmallow Headache

 

Google defines Hyperglycemia as:

A high blood sugar. An elevated level specifically of the sugar glucose in the blood.

The Mayo Clinic advised me that symptoms of hyperglycemia develop slowly over several days or weeks. The longer blood sugar levels stay high, the more serious the symptoms become. Early symptoms of hyperglycemia can be fatigue and Headache.  Fatigue and Headache!

So why are we discussing blood sugar levels? Why do i have fatigue and headache? Well I think that I may have a small case of hyperglycemia brought on by the sweet, sweet goodness of Marshmallow.  Please allow me to explain.

android-6.0-marshmallow

So a few weeks back I had no headaches and no regrets, but i wanted some more, something sweet.  At that point in time my trusty Nexus 5 was consuming a fruit and fiber diet of Cyanogen Mod 12.1.  There was also a sprinkling of Xposed modules to guarantee a well balanced diet.  Then Rootjunky (ohhh, such a fitting name to someone who deals in the drug of modifications), came along with his tempting video for rooting Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

I thought to myself, this is great, I will enjoy the sweetness of marshmallow along with root access. I decided to leave the bland taste of CM12.1 for Android 6.0 Marshmallow.  Afterall, there is s’more to love.  I honestly really like it.  My Nexus 5 seems smoother, and somehow more refined.   Battery life was never the N5’s strongest point so the doze feature on Marshmallow created battery drain as slow and sweet as molasses.  The honeyed improvements to the “do not disturbed feature” are greatly appreciated.  It is similar to what Lollipop had to offer, it has just been processed a little finer. I personally use this feature a lot at work and find it very handy.  Everything was so sugary. Even the new boot animation was like watching someone pulling multicolored taffy.

It was like saying “trick or treat”, when I held onto that home button to turn on, Google Now on Tap.  Each time I was blessed with a little treat.  Sure there were some instances where it do not provide me with anything.  I wish I could have thrown eggs at those time; like I would have at delinquent household, refusing to join in the Halloween candy giveaway.  Most of the time I was happy with the added functionality.  Using any app for the first time was sugared with permission checks.  Each time I consented to give access, I found the sweet taste of marshmallow was in the air.  

Sounds good so far, right?  Well this is when the gooey, softy, sugary sweetness of Marshmallow Android 6.0, started to cause fatigue and headache.  The first time I precieved Marshmallow was maybe too sweet for me, occurred when I noticed and new app from Chainfire call [root] LiveBoot.   Not sure how long this app has been around for but it was the first time that I noticed it.   I have been a big fan of his SuperSU and 500Firepaper apps so I knew that this would be worth the download.  I installed and tried to run the app but nothing……. It did not work with Marshmallow!  The new OS was simply too sweet and the LiveBoot app could not handle it.

White_Marshmallows

I should mention that sometime last week Chainfire brought the fibre.  He was like bowl of All-Bran; regulating sugar levels, as his update allowed the app to work with Marshmallow.  Not a moment too soon as far I am concerned. The app is really cool.  I have developed a habit of turning my phone off and booting it up in front of family and friends just to show off the app’s boot animation.  I let them think that I am some kind of supper moder who can read and understand the animation!

Turning my phone off and on made me notice another aspect of Marshmallow that was too sweet for my blood.  Powering the phone down only gave me one option – power off.  What happened to my enhanced menu with reboot options?  I know that with root access I can make that happen again but then I have to endure the bitter taste of finding just the right app to do that for me.  Before it was just there.

The sweetness of Marshmallow just became stronger as I stuck with it.  A new cyanogen theme was available for Halloween.  It looked really cool and guess what?  It does not work with Marshmallow, it is for Cyanogen.  For some reason with Marshmallow, Star War’s commander will not sync up with my Google play account?  I had a level 8 town hall, I am not going back to the beginning now!  All this Marshmallow sweetness and it is sweat, is giving me Hyperglycemia.  I have the symptoms, fatigue and headache.  Now what will I do?

First off, if I am honest it is really not that bad. There are apps that I can install to get back some of the functionality I had.  With Rootjunky’s help my Marshmallow is rooted so I have room to play.   I have also seen lots of hints that CM13 may not be too far off.  That is quite the accomplishment. I was not expecting anything before Christmas but looks like the Cyanogen crowd are working hard.

I guess I was like a kid during Halloween with Marshmallow candies.  I don’t not think of the consequences, I saw something sweet and went for it.  Now I am suffering with a sugar headache but you know what?  I will do it all over again next year.

By

E. Tuesday

 

 

P.S.

Have you ever installed something sweet and regretted it later?  Tell me about it in comments area.

 

P.P.S.

So while playing with Marshmallow and writing this article a few ideas came to mind.  Would you like to see a post about comparing stock Marshmallow to CM12.1 or CM13 when it arrives?  I am thinking of comparing two identical phones, one with stock and the other with a custom ROM (Maybe even kernal).  We could look at benchmark programs for performance and battery life.  We can also do some real world tests to see what if any difference there is.  What do you think leave me some encouragement below if you would like to see a post like this.

Android Launchers Part 3

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Android Launchers Part 3 – conclusion

Welcome to part 3 of our look at Android launchers. In this post we will discuss launchers in general and ask a simple question. Is all of this choice worth it?

To use a launcher or not to use a launcher – That is the question! Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the conformity of apple or take arms against the colours of touchwiz, and by opposing end them.

Publication1William Shakespeare wrote that, or at least something very, very close to that. I don’t want to make this post remind you to much of high-school English class but what was William trying to say? This is my opinion…….
We have heard the arguments before, people who enjoy conformity and more communistic viewpoint should buy an Apple phone. This is not a bad thing. They are great phones, and all comrades are considered equal. All use imessage, all use facetime, and with this comes the ability to streamline services and production. Apple is the icon of conformity and Android OEMs would love to have that level of success with their own apps and services. Samsung has tried to push its services in a wide variety of ways, HTC has Zoe and LG follows along with this approach but non can compare with Apple’s magical ability to glorify conformity. Are they wrong? Why does it matter if i don’t have a choice? If the correct and best option is already laid out in front of me why would i need to look elsewhere? As parents do we not lay out the best choices for our children and tell them what to choose? This is done with love and for the greater good. Apple has spent countless manhours creating the best icon for you, the best app for your needs and the best layout for your information. I am not saying this to be sarcastic. Many people, about 20% globally and about 50% in North america prefer the option of a ready made choice. And why not? It’s easy. The rub with this viewpoint is that the whole is more important than the parts. Your individual identity is lost.
Android is the choice for those that like choice or so it is said. “Be together, not the same” as the slogan says. But is android the choice of freedom? Yes and no. Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and the rest have tried to get you to enjoy their premade choices. They have each failed at their version of communism so they allowed more choice as the years have moved along. A little more colour in the pristine white of conformity. Is it enough? Sony’s themes have always been gratifying and improved over the years. Samsung has done wonders with the new touchwiz theme engine but again, is it enough? Is this preset amount of easy change something to Shakespeare would write about? Are these the choices of freedom, the ones that are truly noble in the mind?Publication1
Well they work and they work really well. Anyone can open the Sony theme engine on their Xperia and in a few taps have a new look on their phone. Samsung has also done amazing things in 2015 to allow colour into our lives. All the OEM have given in to bits and pieces of personal choice. This is good for us all. Even Apple has opened up little but little.
So why do we need launchers? They can muck up processors and slow our phones down. They can be difficult to work with. If you really want to make a launcher your own it can take hours of time and adjustment to get it just write. Why bother?

Shakespeare also said
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to your smart phone.”

That is what Shakespeare said or at least it was really close to that. This is the point i am trying to make; launchers allow you to be true to yourself. When my phone rings the Knight Rider theme plays. KITT even talks to me when I get a notification, sure he calls me Michael but i am OK with that. The point is that i feel like myself with the phone. And the best part is I can have a multiple personalities. So many different launchers, with so many different strengths, the possibilities are endless. I can change who am from day to day. We can all express our individualizam.
So go out and be true to who you are. If that means an iphone or sticking to touchwiz, great be happy with who you are. If you have a taste for colour in your life, if you need to push away from the ordinary, then go for the customization that launchers can give. It does not matter which one you start with, what matter is that you start to explore. There is an odd kind of spark that happens when you see someone with a heavily modded layout. You know that they also dream in colour, and that they are true to themselves.

Perhaps i am making much ado about nothing, a phone after all, is just a device. A piece of overpriced glass and metal. It has no soul. Thing is, not all of us are artists, not all of us can sing or paint. For some our phones are our canvases. The device may not have a soul but we all do. So let your colours shine.

E. Tuesday.

Android Launchers Part 2

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Screenshot_20151018-121159Screenshot_20151017-122712

 

We are back with part two of our look at Android launchers.  Last week our attention was focused on two of the best launcher for customization and stability, NOVA and Action Launcher 3.  I said that this week we would be looking at the fun launchers.  Two of the best launcher to use for sheer enjoyment are Buzz Launcher-Smart & Free Themes and LINE Launcher.

These launchers are built for fun.  They don’t have the clean and nearly invisible feel of Nova or the detailed care of Action Launcher 3 but they are still full blown launchers with a vide variety of customization tools and tricks.  I would say that all 4 launchers are in the same league but definitely not at the same level.  Buzz and LINE come with bloatware tied to the launcher and the launcher itself, general bogs down the system.  Thanks to RootJunky I recently installed Marshmallow and the launchers do seem to run a bit smoother than they did on Lollipop but they still slow me down, just a touch. Anyway if you are looking for performance look back to the first two launcher we looked at.  If you looking for fun…. well then, here we go.

Screenshot_20151017-115458

LINE LauncherScreenshot_20151017-123935

Let’s start with LINE Launcher. This has to be the most adorable launcher on the planet. I can’t help but fall in love with the simple fun you can have with all of these free themes.   There Screenshot_20151017-115548 Screenshot_20151017-120131is a great sense of anonymity on the internet and you dear reader, have no clue of who I am.  I could be the stereotype of a 15 year Korean girl that just loves all things cute and cuddly.  Thing is, i am not and I still like LINE launcher.  I am secure enough to tell you that all 220 pounds of my middle aged, manly fury loves these themes.  They are just such great fun.  With a quick jump to their theme shop you can browse by what is new, by season or colour.  It is so easy to find a theme that fits your mood or activity for the day.  I will be honest with you and say that do not keep these themes or this launcher on my phone all the time.  I will not be using these themes if I am have a beer with a friend and swapping some manly stories.  It just does not fit. However if i am going hiking with my daughters, now that’s different.  Halloween is coming and why not enjoy the time with a safe for work and safe all ages theme?  LINE launcher is definitely a lot of fun.  Check it out and I am sure that you will find something to like.  They do have a variety of themes and something to fit all tastes but they excel at cuteness.  If you have an old phone that you are handing down to your daughter, put this launcher on it and she will be the coolest kid in grade 3.  

Not sure why a kid in grade three needs a phone but we’ll save that for another post.

 

Buzz Launcher

Screenshot_20151017-115404

Screenshot_20151017-114825If all that cuteness was to much for you, focus on Buzz Launcher.  I see this launcher as the one created for and by Fanboys and even some Fangirls.  Buzz like all launchers allows you to customize your phone’s layout.  It is a powerful tool but not really different than any other launcher in capabilities. Where buzz really shines through it Screenshot_2015-06-21-17-48-14Screenshot_20151017-120828community involvement, and it is a community of Fanboys.  If you are into comics you will say “excelsior”  with every theme dedicated to Stan Lee’s Children.  Into Gaming?  Buzz has a theme for you.  Check out the Clash of Clans theme.  Tap the hog rider to open your phone and the Witch opens your app draw.  Prefer a different set up? It is fully customizable.  

As a Kid, i thought Knight Rider was the coolest thing ever.  And now my phone plays the show’s intro for a ringtone.  Hangouts opens when I press KITT’s voice box.  For that alone, I love this launcher.

But what if you are a 15 year old Korean girls that does not like comic, games or american TV shows from the 80’s.  That’s OK because Buzz Launcher has themes with the latest Korean Pop band.  Seriously, It has a lot of Korean Pop bands…… but 50 million Koreans can’t be wrong, so don’t judge!

It does not matter what you are a fan of, form Premier League Soccer to boy bands around the world you can find it on Buzz.  The app has a great setup for viewing and sharing your themes. You view themes created by fans of nearly everything, download it and make your own modifications, just to give it that personal touch.  If you have a super fan living inside of you, give this launcher a try. You will be impressed.

Buzz and LINE, two great launcher for your Android device.  If you are looking to add some fun into your daily driver these are great places to start.  What is your launcher of choice?  Is all this cuteness and fanboyism to much for you?  Do you prefer the more refined approach of Nova or Action Launcher 3?  Does your heart flutter at the cute characters on LINE launcher? Will Yoda or your favorite team stare back at you from your phone’s launcher?  

Let me know were you stand, comments are welcome.

Next week we will wrap up this discussion with an overview of launcher and their worth.

 

Until next time.

E.Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 


Android Launchers

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One of the best things about Android, it gives you the ability to be different, to separate yourself from the rest and it does not matter who you are.  You could be a global juggernaut bent on touchwizing the planet or a lonely Star Trek loving geek, living in your parent’s basement. It does not matter because the Android Open Source Project lets you “be together, not the same.”

This will be part one of three, in a series about Android launchers. We will look at the good, the bad and the ugly and try to be as honest as we can be about a very subjective topic – personal taste.  Although i really like Android’s new slogan,  “be together, not the same”  and it is my preferred platform, I  want to end the series with a simple question…. Is all this choice worth it?

Let’s find out……

In this post I would like to look at two of the very best launchers.  They are Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3. There are a lot of launchers out there and even more debate on which are the best launchers.  I have tried a number of them and the Screenshot_20151011-210528reason i see these two as the best is customizations and stability.   I have installed a number of launchers that slow my phone down and that i just can’t accept.  An unstable launcher just leaves you hanging. Literally, you are left hanging waiting for your processor to work through the math.

Action launcher 3

Action launcher 3 (AL3)is clean yet customizable.  It sticks to a stock android feel but adds some really beep modifications.  One of AL3 key features are the icon Covers and Shutters.   

From AL3’s webpage:

Covers: an innovative take on traditional folders. Tapping a Cover loads an app, swiping a Cover opens a hidden folder which you have customized.

Shutters: swipe a shortcut to reveal an app’s widget. Allows you to say preview your inbox or Facebook feed without opening the app.

Screenshot_20151011-210544

Have a look at the screenshot.  You can see that Games, Fitness and Google are covers, marked with a square, and contain apps within.  Hangouts is a shutter, marked with two horizontal lines, and previews the app with swipe.  If you look closely you may notice something about the Covers and Shutters.  They are automatically coloured to matched your app!  This is a small feature but it speaks to why i like action launcher.  The developer wanted to do his best and it shows.  When a developer takes time for the small things they gain my respect, It does not matter if you like another launcher over this one, you can’t help but respect the effort put into it and it does not stop there.

 

There are two other things that i want you to notice about this screenshot.  Look at the yellow of the google search bar and the blue of folder(Cover) background.  It all matches with the wallpaper!  AL3 calls it Quick Theme and it quickly impresses.  This feature can modify the status bar, search box, all apps background, quickdrawer and folder background all to match with your wallpaper.   You can play with it in the setting but every time i use it i really like the chosen colour scheme.  It’s not the biggest change a launcher can do but it is well thought out and the extra touches to make it complete.

There are lots of other customization and short cuts that AL3 can do but most are common to other launchers.  I should mention that the search bar can be a powerful tool for someone
using this launcher.  However, what really separates it from the pack is its stability and small touches like the quick theme.  This is a launcher that will take care of you, it will let you pick a wallpaper and then make everything look good for you.   That is why it is my second favorite launcher.  

 

NOVA Launcher

 

There are things that other launchers can do that Nova can’t but Nova is invisible and totally customization.  I can get lost in the infinite settings and options.  Nova does not coddle you like AL3 does.  You can see on this screenshot that Games, Fitness and Google are not marked as folders.  You need to remember how you have set yourself up with Nova.  You can see that the google search bar is white.  It has not been modified to match the colours of your screen.  All of these things are not negatives to me because you are actually free to modify anything and everything.  I could list what you can modify but that would make this article boring, just know that whatever it is, it can be modified on Nova.  Is your notification bar hard to see with your white Screenshot_20151011-210945wallpaper?  Change them to a dark icon theme.   Don’t like unread icon badges? That’s ok, don’t use them or if you do, place them in any corner you wish. This is the tinker’s launcher but that is not why it is my launcher of choice.  

Once you are done playing with the setting and options it works and works.  I sometimes even forget that i am using a launcher.  I will jump onto my wife’s Nexus 5 and only then do i realize “Ohh this is stock android, i forgot”.  

Not sure what kind of pixie dust they are putting in the programming.  What i do know is that it works well.  My trusty Nexus 5 is not a slouch but it can stumble if it has too many graphic heavy games thrown at it.  I notice the lag with other launchers and to a lesser degree with Action Launcher 3 but it runs like stock with Nova.  You can’t notice that is it there, it becomes completely invisible and that is why it earns my spot as top launcher.  

 

Nova may be my top launcher but it is not the most fun. Next week, in part two we will review two of the funnest launchers around.  Until then let me know your thoughts in the comment section.  Do you use either of these launchers?  Do you have a launcher that you think kicks ass, let me know.   Disagree with my opinion?  What are your thoughts?

 

Both of these launchers took time to develop.  If you have a few bucks kicking around and if you like the launcher, why not support the developer?  It can only lead to more development of new and better launchers.

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

The Microsoft Event – Spotlighting Lumia phones

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Lumia 950XL

“We see our opportunity with Lumia as we once looked at the Surface, to reinvent the category and make people more productive in new ways.” These are the bold words form Terry Myerson, spoken at the Microsoft on October 6, 2015. The event was done well and there were more than a few things to be excited about but will the new Lumia reinvent the category like the Surface did? Currently it is hard to find a PC manufacturer that does not have its own 2 in 1 tablet/laptop convertible. Will the new Lumia inspire new hardware as the ground braking Surface?  Let’s have a closer look.
There were three phones introduced but I would like to focus on the 950 and 950XL; essentially the same phone but for the processor and size.  The 950 covers 5.2″ and the XL variant will take up 5.7″ of your pocket. I will get to the processor in a minute.   First let us look at the hardware as they introduced it earlier today.
Adaptive antenna technology seemed like it was introduced only to allow Panos Panay the ability to say “No matter where you hold it”; a cheap but funny jab at Apple’s “you are holding it wrong”. Not sure it was meant that way but I am happy to pretend it was.

ThMicrosoft-Lumia-950-Smartphonee next thing discussed was the processors referred to as a Hexa-core and Octa-core processes. This is where things get a little interesting.  Microsoft initially listed the processors as Hexa-core ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53 processors for the 950 and Octa-core ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53 processors for the 950XL. Some of you may know these as the Snapdragon 808, and 810 respectively. The 950XL even has a contained water cooling system. I have to admit water cooling on a phone sounds cool but really, is that the best thing to do? Seem like a lot of engineering effort to work around the 810’s over stated heating issue. Although I understand why they may have wanted to stay way form referencing their processors the same way android phones do, it still did not sit well with me. Microsoft has a lot riding on these phones and the last thing they want is to have their product viewed as a lame alternative to an android device. So i understand avoiding the Snapdragon 810 name during the press release.   Still i would have respected them much more if they had the guts to say the phone runs a liquid cooled, fire breathing, SnapDragon 810 and screw you if you can handle it.  If you view their webpage now the processor is listed as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, in the Tech Specs area.  Good for you Microsoft. You came clean in the end.
Lumias have always tried for a good camera experience and I think that they do the job well. Apple has lead the market in overall quality and ease of use when it comes to cameras and camera apps but that is changing. Yes the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 are at least at the same level as Apple and many say superior but before they hit the seen we had the Lumia1520 to challenge the might fruit. It will be hard to judge this new camera until we can put it to use but it comes from good stock. I have faith that it will be a better than average experience.

Charging will be a quick. Half an hour for 50% battery life and that will be done with a usb-c cable. These items and the points above all lead to a good phone. But is it reinventing the category? Is this Lumia the next surface, ready to spawn a dozen copy cats? The short answer is, no. It looks like a really good phone with some neat features but that is just not enough to have people change their minds about the Lumia phones.

Add in the Display Dock and it just may be enough.

The Display Dock was introduced by Brian Ropert. It is a very cool accessory to the Lumia phones and something that just may change the minds of some users. This actually may reinvent the category. The Display Dock works with the Lumia phones and Windows Continuum for phones to create PC “like” productivity.  Not all of us work in the Microsoft Office world but many of us do. For those of us that do, this could really change what we do with our phones. I am impressed but hesitant. All things look good on a demo but if this works as advertised, it will change things. The really key here is phones for work.  Many of us have work issued devices, from laptops to phones.  If you where the buying your employee an phone for work, after seeing this demo, what phone would you pick?  The phone that can has Instagram or the one that can modify a PowerPoint with ease?  After a close look at these phones there is still one question that needs answering. It’s not about the processors or its incognito introduction. The question does not concern the camera or its low light performance. I don’t even want to ask about quick charging or usb-c data transfer rates

The one question is ….. can you root this thing?

 

 

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