Have a new year….

I wrote this post a few days ago and scheduled it. I’ll most likely be at a party with friends I’d rather not see and do things I would prefer not to do. Any literary motivation would be sufficiently killed if I had sat down and published this on the day it actually was scheduled to post. That being said, I’ve reflected quite a bit on 2016 and the year that seemed to drag slower and slower the farther into it we got. There’s way too much to review in a post, and if I did review everything that impacted me, I would be writing this well into 2017 and probably never actually publish because it would have become too burdensome to proof it.

There were three things that really had an impact to the year that history will most likely judge harshly in the coming decades. Rather, three things that had an impact with me personally. Consider this a top three-year in review for w1nt3l. We all have our own top three, I’m sure, we might even share some, but I am so happy that this year is almost gone and really really hope that it doesn’t carry residuals into 2017. Well, here we go.

Windows 10 for Mobile, titanic shaft to loyal fans

My archives are littered with Windows 10 for Mobile (formerly Windows Phone) going back several years. I was a huge fan of Windows Phone (WP) and had three mobile devices that ran various versions of the mobile operating system. What I failed to realize with my last device is that HTC was going down the same path as Nokia and Blackberry getting complacent that they had their act together and no one could possibly take the top spot. Well, they were wrong, and HTC is in a bad situation right now losing ground to Samsung and Apple. A little known device that ran Windows Phone 8.1 failed to get upgraded by HTC to Windows 10 for Mobile. Multiple excuses were given as to why, there was even some finger-pointing between HTC and Microsoft, but in the end, it came down to the fact that hardly anyone actually purchased one making the user base statistically miniscule compared to the Android version of the same hardware. Windows 10 for Mobile was now a fail whale in my book and I decided to never own another device again. I switched to a cheap-o Android phone that I get frustrated with every time I pick it up; daily reboots, slow, locks up, apps crash, etc. Pure Android is awesome, it starts to suck hard as soon as a manufacturer thinks it can improve it, hence, the previous sentence rings true. 2016 was the death of Windows Mobile in my opinion.

Wasn’t the year of the third-party

I wrote off the Democrats months ago. I was never a Republican. This was the year I went independent and supported a third-party candidate for President. Despite Jill Stein having a really good platform and some ingenious ideas to help fix things, she never captured a lot of support from anywhere in the country. Gary Johnson had a real chance of at least getting to 5% of the popular vote to have a third-party receive national recognition, but one gaffe after another blew all the steam out of his sails. In an election where there was negative news on both Trump and Clinton, unfavorability for both Trump and Clinton and poor performances in debates from Trump and Clinton I would have thought that Americans would have sought an alternative. That was not the case, as Clinton-haters voted from Trump and Trump-haters voted for Clinton. I’m also convinced that a lot of people just didn’t vote because they didn’t like either of them. 2016 was not the year of the third-party candidate unfortunately.

War and terrorism

No one likes any of this. Show me a war or terrorist attack that actually had any positive impact. I made a comment on a post a few weeks back that listed the number of people who died in conflicts from the Civil War to the Vietnam War; ended up being hundreds of millions. Did we really need to let things get that far? Perhaps. Some conflict is just unavoidable when no one on either side is using so much energy for their mouth that they be come deaf and blind. I’m sorry, call me an apologist if you wish, but *I* think there is always a better way that doesn’t involve weapons, death or destruction. In recent weeks, I’ve discovered the true meaning behind “the pen is mightier than the sword” or a more modern version, “the keyboard is mightier than the AR15.” I’d ask when we lost the ability to listen and reason, but I don’t believe we ever had either of those mastered. I’ve chosen to try to make a difference, one person at a time, one reader at a time, until the knowledge pay-it-forward effect is perpetual. 2016 was not the year we chose something other than war.

Have a New Year

I didn’t mean for this to be a downer, but that is what it became. Blame 2016 for being such a year of suck that we’re all better off to have it in the rear-view mirror. The problem is that 2017 looks like a road under construction that is going to continue tearing at the under carriage of the United States and the rest of the world. Buckle your seatbelts, we’re in for some chop.

I’m so done with smartphones

While fighting with my mobile phone last night, I contemplated throwing it against the wall to make the insane frustration stop. Having paid for it off-contract though, I quickly put that action out of my head. This, you see, is my first mobile phone with Android as the operating system. Saying that I’m underwhelmed with its ability is an understatement. We’ll get to why I have switched in a bit. Recalling all the awesome phones I’ve had in the past few years (list below), the Android tops my list of “meh” as far as my love for the phone. I’ve listed these in order of my ownership, newest to oldest, the numbers in ( )’s is my personal ranking of these phones. #1 and #2 I would gladly take back if they were still relevant and not obsolete.

  • Samsung Galaxy Express Prime / Android 6.0 / (9)
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 / Windows 10 for Mobile / (7)
  • HTC One M8 for Windows / Windows Mobile 8.1 / (1*)
  • Nokia Lumia 920 / Windows Mobile 8.1 / (2**)
  • Samsung Focus / Windows Mobile 7.8 / (5)
  • Blackberry Bold 9700 / Blackberry OS6 / (2**)
  • AT&T Tilt / Windows Mobile 6.1 / (8)
  • Samsung BlackJack / Windows Mobile 6.1 / (4)
  • Palm Treo 650 / Palm OS / (6)
  • Various analog non-smart phones, too many to list

*I’d still be using this phone if HTC and Microsoft had decided to upgrade it from Windows 8.1.
**A toss-up honestly, physical keyboard (BB) is on-par with superior build quality (Nokia).

What’s striking about this list is that phones, some used over a decade ago, rank higher than my current phone. My current phone is literally being used out of necessity as the specifications are definitely in the “budget” range making any task painful at best. I’m still paying off the HTC One M8 for Windows (previous posts, here (towards the end of the post) and here, have all the background detail) and refuse to get a newer phone with payments until the HTC is paid off…. in July 2017. Despite me ranking the Lumia 920 equal to the Blackberry Bold 9700, I would choose the Blackberry (assumption is that the OS on both of these would be current to make the choice relevant). That was my tank, always reliable, and just worked. I hardly ever had to reboot it and it had 3-4 days of battery on each charge. The last phone on that list above that could do that was the Palm Treo 650, the true champion of durability tankness. I’m still a little disappointed that Palm couldn’t keep up with the mobile device market.

I’m using an Android phone now because Microsoft has flipped off this fan for the last time. They’re pointing a finger at HTC for not updating the M8 and HTC pointing a finger at Microsoft for not updating the M8 was the last nail in a slowly built casket. Windows 10 for Mobile is a damn good operating system and up until I stopped using the One M8, the previews ran flawlessly. As much as I hate to admit it, there was a lot of “workarounds” required to do all the things you can easily do on Apple and Android OSs with a simple app download. I managed though and was hopeful that Microsoft had finally turned the right corner and was building the ecosystem that was required. That didn’t happen. Focus has been turned elsewhere and Windows 10 for Mobile has been relegated to the “we also have this” pile. The downturn of desktops/laptops for the 8th quarter in a row paired with Android claiming over 80% of the mobile market, I fear that Microsoft is slowly heading down the same path as Blackberry, HP (webOS), and Palm (which a purchase from HP didn’t save). Sure, Windows 10 is fantastic, been setup for long-term support, and unified experiences across multiple platforms…… but those platforms are, in a sense, dying. The only platform that is growing is the tablet/2-in-1 market, barely, but mobile phones, rather, mobile computers are taking over. Microsoft has failed to innovate and penetrate this market, and 2017 is going to be a pivotal year for them if they can’t get the rumored Surface Phone released.

Some serious thought has been invested in moving back to a simple, dumb, flip phone that costs $30. If it breaks, just get a new one and move the SIM card. I can buy over 25 flip phones for the price of a Samsung Galaxy S7 and I don’t have to be locked into a stupid finance agreement with my carrier. It would also only cost me $14 (with taxes) per month for a flip phone compared to the $40 (with taxes) per month I currently pay (there are 7 lines on our family plan). Something to be said about not being 24/7/365 “connected” to the world.