Month: February 2016

Future of mobile?

HP-Elite-x3Would you use a mobile device as your ONLY device?

It’s an interesting question that up until now, I would have given a resounding and blunt “No”, but all that has changed.  HP just announced a new Windows 10 Mobile device called the Elite X3, which according to their claims is everything you need rolled into a single package.  Here is the spec page if you’re interested in peeping at it.  I’ll give HP some respect, it takes Mt. Everest sized stones to 1) release a Windows 10 mobile device and 2) make that device a super high-end corporate targeted device.  I can’t complain though, HP has really stepped up their game as far as quality is concerned based on my research into their Envy and Spectre laptop lines.  I actually did buy the HP Spectre x360 from the previous post and actually got goaded into getting the higher priced model with 512GB SSD and a half-quad resolution display (2550 x 1440-ish).  The display is absolutely stunning.

My belief is that this is going to be the first of many all-in-one mobile devices as the human race continues to adhere to Moore’s Law:  Computing power will double every two years.  The law has stood the test of time since 1970 when it was first introduced.  The interesting fact though, is that as transistors (basically connections on a CPU) increased in number, they continued to decrease in size.  The physical size of a CPU has essentially remained the same for the last 20 years, however the processing power has increased exponentially.  A good metaphor, although old, is that a standard solar cell calculator has the same processing power as the entire computer system that ran the Apollo Space capsule.  There were approximately 2.6 trillion transistors on a standard 6-core i7 (circa 2013) and only approximately 500 billion transistors on a standard Core2Duo (circa 2009).

I personally won’t give up my laptop for several more years as I find the form factor very conducive to my tech habits.  A mobile phone just doesn’t seem to fit very well especially considering that you need to carry the phone, a dock, a dumb-terminal laptop (travel) or a home monitor.  I have all I need in a single form factor, my laptop.  I also don’t see how, at this point, a mobile processor can even come close to rivaling even a laptop Core m5 or Core m7.  The power just isn’t there yet.  I do know one thing though, if the Elite x3 is the standard of flagship mobile devices to come, there are going to be some really beautiful mobile pieces of art in the near future.

New tech, a geeks purpose in life

HP-Spectre-x360This is it, my new laptop that will be in my hands sometime this weekend.  An HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 (Model 13-4103dx) if you’re interested in seeing the specs.  It’s taken me over a month to narrow it down to this point and thankfully its not going to cost me and arm and a leg.  I like both my arms and legs, thank you.  My original pursuit was to get the Microsoft Surface Book, but unfortunately, the price they are commanding me to pay is just too damn high.  I don’t think I could ever bring myself to drop $2k+ on any piece of hardware regardless of how good it is.

My wife didn’t give me much grief on wanting to get a new laptop as she knows that I’m not too happy with the one I’ve got currently.  It’s a great machine and has served me well, but there is just something missing that no matter what I do can’t be upgraded.  It’s a feeling that its just slightly less than what I need, slightly less than the ideal system I require to do what I need to do, just slightly less in general.  It was a budget buy to replace an ailing system I had a few years ago…..

With all my research that consisted of Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, LG and of course HP (pictured up there), I kept coming back to the HP.  Every other machine I looked at I found very quickly was being measured to the specs of the HP.  My list of requirements was lengthy of course, because I know what I really want:

  • 13.3″ 1980 x 1200 FHD display (don’t need anything higher)
  • Core i7 with 8GB memory
  • At least a 256GB SSD, 512GB SSD ideal
  • Windows 10
  • Minimum 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 8+ hour battery life on single charge
  • Reviewed well on various sites (CNET, PCWorld, LaptopGeek, etc.)

This laptop fit all those requirements and filled a few requirements I didn’t find to be a priority but are nice to have anyway.  After having gone through the hell I went through with my father-in-law and his desktop, I determined I would never ever own another desktop machine.  Laptop was the way to go.  Desktop power in a mobile format.  The other brands met some of these requirements, but not usually all of them.  Lenovo is big on battery life and huge format displays.  Asus is big on build quality.  Acer and Toshiba are big on reliability but generally are rather boring (form follows function here).  Dell is big into performance, especially with the XPS and Alienware lines, but pricing is on the higher side.  LG is too new to the field to make a decent enough judgement.  They’re only literally in their 2nd generation after never having made laptops before.

The HP is what I kept coming back to, each time.  I finally decided to just focus on the HP line and find the machine that fit my requirements the best and was a decent enough price, which is exactly what I found.  The reviews being fantastic on this 3rd generation x360 line helped a lot as well.  There it is, my new tech soon to be in my hands.  I’m looking forward to sitting down and typing out my first entry on my new machine.

Curse You Internet Ads!

I read tech news every day, literally. I take my hour long lunch break and fire up Microsoft News, RSS feed readers, and even go to some email links received from the previous day. What burns me up the most is the proliferation of and the aggressive in your face delivery of:


Seriously, I hate them. A year ago they were tolerable, hanging out on the left or right side of the screen minding their own business. Some of them would blink, or change quickly to catch your eye, but you could almost ignore them 95% of the time while you fed your inner geek with articles. Some sites realized how intrusive Ads could be and started offering premium services that the reader could pay for in exchange for the reomval of Ads. My experience with premium services has been mixed as they still get ways to get ads into the text, e.g., hot linked words or phrases that go to a specific service or application sponsoring the article.

Several sites lately, who shall remain anonymous, have started throwing pop-over ads on top of the content that remain there for a set period of time. You know the ones, the “You can skip this ad in xx seconds” and it counts down while you sit and stew over the fact that something you didn’t want is now parading in front of your geek content. Truly is annoying and frustrating! As if this pop-over ad, selling me something, is going to compell me to do anything other than NOT buy what they’re hocking. I have the same opinion about YouTube ads, the ads every 15 minutes watching on-demand content, and of course the most annoying “product placement” crap that has creeped into every show that I watch.

Some say its the price to pay for free content, but I argue it isn’t free because my eyeballs are assaulted with products and services somebody thinks I’m going to buy because I’m frequenting their site to read content. Now, some of these free sites are threatening to block their free-but-not-free-of-ads content for anyone using an active Ad-blocker in their browser. Fine, its their choice, BUT give me the option to pay for a subscription. Some sites I find so useful that I’d gladly give up $5 or even $10 per month provided the content stays the same or improves. Especially if that subscription allows me access to a group of sites affiliated with a large publisher. Even a plan where you pay per article with a points system or something. E.g., one article costs 1 point out of your points bank containing 30 points. You can reload your points bank for like a penny per point, etc.

The worst part of all this is now, very recently, pop-over and “dismiss after a while” ads are now dropping malware payloads onto your machine. These aren’t “I’m malware and going to do damage” payloads, oh no. These are dropping small pieces of malware payloads over a period of several days or weeks. As you visit the site, enduring the crappy ads, more pieces are dropped over time. Once all the pieces are on a target system, the final payload is the activator and the full malware is executed. With malware like CryptoWall, Locky, Dridex, etc. out there that do untold encryption damage to your files, these ads have to stop.

I hate ads. How I long for the days of the early Internet where they didn’t exist except in spam email.

Thank you for calling Hell, er, IT Support

MatrixITGoogleThere’s one thing that I dread more than anything else in my life lately.  That one thing is the phone call from the Father-In-Law (FIL) asking me to setup his new computer with the added detail that he “won’t open the box until I get there” which translates into “I’m going to stand behind you the whole time.”  I won’t tell you what he did other than I’m a damn good translator.

Some background first….  His current computer is a Dell tower with a pre-Core Intel processor that followed the Pentium II, III, 4; known as a Pentium V.  It has only 4B of pieced together RAM, an upgraded 1TB hard drive (previous hell), and came with XP that was upgraded to Vista then upgraded to 7.  To describe this machine as slow technically is an understatement as it literally takes over 15 minutes to be marginally useful.  The hard drive is thrashed constantly regardless of it being used or not as the OS most likely has remenants of three different OS’s over the last 12 years.  The new computer is a Core i7, 12GB RAM and a 2TB hard drive with a brand spanking new version of Windows 10.

Having backed up his 108GB’s of music, pictures, documents (all in one folder, no sub-folders), etc. to an external hard drive that prompted the multiple asked question “What is that?” and my response being “It’s an external hard drive.”  He would think for a few moments and then respond “It’s so small, I think I need one too.”  As the files were backing up, I started taking review of the applications that were installed.  Quickly running through the list and identifying only a handful I needed to migrate settings from, that’s where the problems started.

The one program that I got a lot of push back on was the installed and running version of Norton Security Suite.  He had just renewed for another year (377 days left on the subscription) and wanted it on his new computer.  Anyone that is even a marginal computer user realizes these security suites are a waste of money when there are so many free and much more capable applications out there that do the same thing.  Here’s the conversation, verbatim, that we had:

Me:  You don’t need Norton on Windows 10, there are free tools that are much better.
FIL:  But I paid for Norton, I want it installed.
Me:  All it does it look fancy and scan your files constantly drawing resources and making things slower.
FIL:  But I paid for Norton, I want it installed.
Me:  I’d just get your money back, its not worth paying for.
FIL:  But I paid for Norton, I want it installed.

At this point, I gave up as I wasn’t being heard.  Whatever, I took down the key and noted the site that I needed to download the shitty software.  I didn’t get it, I was being asked to help and that’s what I was doing, yet I was getting push back even when I was giving an opportunity to save $65/year on a piece of shit software program.  I moved on having conceded to the stubborn FIL.

We moved onto the large music library and was asked to install iTunes.  I quickly foresaw how this was going to go having been an outspoken and avid opponent to anything Apple or Apple related.  His theory, “iPhone requires iTunes”.  My theory, “iPhone sucks”.  Knowing this man for over 15 years, he’s an Apple fan boy, so I didn’t try to convince him to use anything else.  Here’s the conversation:

Me:  I got iTunes installed, its not seeing all your music.
FIL:  It looks different, its not what I’m used to.
Me:  It’s the Windows 10 version of iTunes, its going to look different.
FIL:  Let me sit down.
Me:  I’m not done getting iTunes to see all your music.
FIL:  Let me sit down, I can get it working…..  why does it look different?
Me:  I’m going to get some coffee.

I realized at this point that it was now almost 5pm and I wanted dinner.  I popped my head back into the office and said I’m leaving and wished him good luck.  I’m not even sure that he heard me as he didn’t turn around.  I’ve since received 5 text messages from him asking where his files are, where his music is, where the bookmark or the random site he had to get onto was, etc.

I turned off my phone.

Anatomy of a Coffee Addiction

Faces have been changed to protect their true identities.

Coffee addiction is a serious problem.  Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by the compelling need to run over, hurt, and generally cause damage in the pursuit of their first cup of coffee.  I know people that will get a headache if they don’t have a cup by 8am in the morning.  I count myself in that group, however I can push it to 9 or even 10am depending on how my morning is going.

My father on the other hand, is wholly addicted and will NOT function properly if he doesn’t have coffee in his system by 6am every morning, even the weekends.  It’s only mildly insane to me but downright ludicridiculous (ludicrous + ridiculous) to most others.  My mother doesn’t drink coffee, hates the taste, but loves the smell of it brewing.  Not quite sure where that fits into the spectrum.

The wife is definitely addicted to coffee, but not the cheap brew at home kind, oh no.  She is complete batshit crazy for the $5/cup stuff at Starbucks.  I get a stink eye when I get one of those every so often, but its all perfectly fine with her getting 3-5 each week.  Her justification is that her and her friend take turns…..  which if you’re partially logical, is the SAME amount of money she’d spend if paying for only her drinks.  I’m convinced she doesn’t realize I’m hip to her deception, lol.

It would seem to me with the amount of places to get coffee and people willing to drink even the worst tasting coffee just to get their fix is a big problem.  Going back into the past, the craziest thing I’ve heard over and over again is the fact that the Renaissance is attributed in part to the fact that people stopped drinking beer and wine (because the water was literally a cesspool) and started drinking coffee once water became cleaner.  People left their all day long drunken stupor and were polarized to talk about politics, money, oppression among other things all day long.  They would meet in coffee houses (where that little trend started btw) and debate among each other as long as the black gold kept flowing.

My personal endeavor is to try and decrease my intake of coffee to just 1-2 cups (16-20 oz each) per day no matter how bored or tired I am.  Being a stimulant, its pushes up blood pressure and for someone with already high blood pressure, the heart has threatened to go on strike.  The doctor hasn’t been happy the last few times I’ve rolled into the office fresh off a cup of coffee to drink while driving home.  I’m a hairline away from medication, which I don’t want to take.

Coffee is a blessing and curse rolled into one black liquid.  Curse you coffee and you’re smooth nutty undertones and bitter finish!!!

Back after some time off….

I had to take a break.  Starting a new job, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years…..  it all barely got too much to handle.  I contemplated starting over with a new site and just deleting this one, but I decided against that after thinking about it a little while.  No one I know in real life knows I have this and there isn’t anything I need to run away from.

A lot has happened but I’ve coped quite well considering.  My job is going really good, like better than I ever thought it would.  I was on the fence as to whether I wanted to get into an alternative IT field when I started in October.  Surprisingly I’ve found a stride and due to my experience, I have not had not to prove myself every step of the way.  In IT that’s a good thing as it quickly establishes respect with co-workers.

Things with the wife are getting better since last Summer/Fall as we’re both working on making things better.  We’re both not ready and were not ready to throw in the towel on our relationship.  There are still things that cause issues and although I used to get angry or walk away, I’m instead telling her what is bothersome rather than getting angry and not talking.  It’s helped but at times it has had unintended consequences that have caused some rough spots.  In the end though, its opening the communication we both forgot we had and she is not starting to do the same thing.

I’m hoping I have more time to get online, but I can’t make promises.