Love to hate smartphones

This isn’t a new subject for me as I’ve written several times on both sides of the debate. I’m now, after switching to my cheap Lumia (Windows 10 Mobile) and then switching back to my equally cheap Galaxy Express (Android 6), at the point of ditching smartphones all together. These devices, with their screens bathing our peepers in blue light, are taking over every aspect of our lives to where we are actually crippled when we don’t have use of them even for a few hours. A pervasive piece of technology that has invaded, without our knowledge, and conquered our lives right under our noses without us even giving up a fight. In many ways, you can take any classic alien movie, replace the aliens with smartphones, and the story would most likely hold up. I’d watch the movie titled “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers” that chronicled our plight against the invading smartphone intelligence trying to take over the world.

Here is the debate raging in my head right now regarding the next smart phone I’m considering to purchase sometime early next year, which will be an unlocked version regardless of my decision, if I buy one at all.

Apple (iOS)

As if, these devices are electronic versions of Hell. They’re locked down, impossible to tinker with and Siri will speak to you in a condescending tone if you attempt to make any changes. I’m not an Apple fan, never have been, never will be. They’re expensive and once you’re in that ecosystem, it’s extremely hard to get back out of it. I’ve helped more friends than I can recall get away from Apple in favor of Android. In one case, I had to literally burn all their music to CDR’s, then rip them back to a non-protected, non-Apple, MP3 format. A total waste of time, but at least he has a sleeve of 50 CDR’s as a backup.

Android

This has potential, but Google has completely fubar’d the ecosystem so far. One of the most fragmented systems known to man in terms of the number of versions still being used and extremely vulnerable. A lot of the features from Marshmallow and soon, Nougat, will go unused because Android developers need to make apps available that are backward compatible. There are 10 versions of Android that currently make the graphic below from Froyo (2.2) to Marshmallow (6.0).

shareofandroidversions

SOURCE: Statista

The fact that malware is actively targeting all version of Android older than 6.0 means that 81% of all Android phones are at risk or already infected. How can you call a phone that runs Android a smart phone with those kinds of issues? If Google can rope in all these fragmented OS versions and exercise some control over their ecosystem, I think they have a chance of actually continuing their success.

Blackberry (Android)

I’m not discounting these guys out just yet. They just announced a huge deal with TCL China, a phone manufacturer, to continue building devices with the Blackberry name and running a secure version of Android. They already had marginal success with the Priv, and are announcing unlocked phones that will be sold worldwide in early 2017. I would certainly snag myself an Android Blackberry with a physical keyboard if the price was right. They have certainly kept up with regular updates on the Priv and there is a possibility that these phones will get Nougat as well.

Microsoft (Windows 10 Mobile)

This is a real disappointment. They had a really good phone OS that started with 7.x that was different from all other mobile phone systems and just worked. The apps were a real pain but there were some really good developers that created third-party apps that often worked better than the native apps for iOS and Android. The first mistake was forcing everyone on 7.x to purchase new hardware to be able and run 8.x. Again, they had a really good phone OS that got better, and with a decent selection of hardware, Microsoft was on a good track to get some traction, then, then, nothing. Windows 10 Mobile was announced and once the upgrade phone list came out, a lot of top end hardware was left behind. What few die-hard fans were left just got the shaft, again, and essentially wrote off the entire thing. I was with them from 7.x, got a new phone to get 8.x, and was left with hardware that wasn’t getting Windows 10 Mobile. See ya Microsoft, I’m out. Chances are slim that I would purchase another, unless the rumors of a mobile phone being released that can run desktop applications actually comes true. Then I have a mobile phone replacement for my laptop.

Decisions…

To be honest, the whole idea of a smart phone has been lost on me. It’s a necessary evil at this time that is a constant distraction for me and everyone around me. My wife is utterly addicted and will often be glued to the screen and barely answer “Uh huh” or “Ok” when consumed by the screens content. She often complains of having trouble going to sleep, except on the nights that she doesn’t use the phone before bed. I’d agree with her if the observations didn’t tell me otherwise, case in point “Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?”

I may just say f**k it and get a flip phone to keep the people who need to get in touch with me (in case of that elusive emergency) happy. We’ve lived on this planet much longer without smartphones than we have lived with them, how quickly we forget…..

#android, #apple, #smartphones, #technology, #windows

5 Reasons I Like Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Been a while since I wrote about technical stuff. Having been involved with the Windows 10 Insider Preview for a long time, and it being less than a week before the huge Windows 10 Anniversary Update, I’d cover some of my favorite features showing up in the next release.

Win10Start_NEW

Windows 10 Start Menu Awesomesauce

1 – Start Menu

The iconic start menu that’s been around in multiple forms since Windows 95, is FINALLY getting a refresh that actually makes sense and includes some of the better features from Windows 7 and Windows 8. A fantastic merging of all things cool from all the previous Start menu’s that we’ve come to expect from Windows. Shortcuts to the most used items on the left margin: Power menu, Settings, Windows Explorer, and Profile. Most used applications in the next scroll-able column with Recently added (both can be removed) and the scroll-able all applications list. The final area to the left of the apps column is a smaller version of the larger Windows 8 Modern UI. Fully customizable with anything you want it to show, its very handy for application you use a ton but don’t want to always scroll through an applications listing.

2 – Settings

More settings (formerly in the Control Panel) are now accessible in the Setting menu. With a ton of added functionality and some better sorting that is actually, dare I say it, logical. Most of the common settings we need to access are now in the Settings menu rather than having to dig through to find the Control Panel. As they release further updates to Windows 10, more and more will be ported to the Setting menu eventually making the Control Panel irrelevant.

3 – Booting / Startup

Anyone with Windows 7/8 and a mechanical hard drive (spinning disks) can say they have to wait up to 3 minutes for the computer to become usable without hesitations. Windows 10 on the other hand, puts a lot of the boot process on the back end once the computer is full booted allowing you to get to work faster and not have to wait. You pair Windows 10 with an SSD (solid state drive, aka, not mechanical spinning disks) and you get a 10-15 second boot time and almost immediate usefulness. For those of us that hate to wait (Me) an SSD is a gift from the heavens and I hear violins playing every time I push the power button and have to wait only 9 seconds to get working. Totally awesomesauce near-instant gratification!

4 – Edge browser

I can hear you all right now “Edge, what? Seriously?” Yes, Edge. For all the short-comings and bloatedness of Internet Explorer, Edge has managed to smooth out the rough edges enough to make this browser my daily driver. I find that most of what I add to a browser (password manager, adblocker, secureVPN) are all now available in Edge. It’s a lightweight truly native HTML5 browser that is lean and mean. It has a brutalistically minimalist design that appeals to me on many levels and for movies/videos, it gets out of the way without having to do anything, as in content driven “full screen” mode that is automatically enabled/disabled.

5 – Native Windows 10 Apps

The Microsoft Store has come a long way in the last few months. There are native applications now for all kinds of things like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. Native apps do not require you to open them in a browser and have direct connections to the back-end servers making it a much more pleasant experience. I love how the Facebook app works in Windows 10 and favor it over using my mobile device or the website now. I’m not an app heavy user though, so your own experiences may differ from mine and I’m also running the latest release ahead of the production release on Aug 2nd.

Final thoughts

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 already, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why are you waiting?
  2. Who doesn’t like “Free”?
  3. What are you truly afraid of?

If you upgrade to Windows 10, hate it with a passion, you can downgrade back to your previous version within 30 days. At some point in the future though, you’ll be forced to upgrade or face the Internet with an unpatched and vulnerable operating system. Ask anyone who’s still on Windows XP how they’re making out!

July 29th is the last day to upgrade for free! After that, it’ll cost $100 or more to upgrade. The only valid reason I can think of to not upgrade is that your current PC is not compatible. You guys get a pass with that reason as a new PC isn’t a small purchase.

#applications, #start-menu, #upgrade, #windows, #windows-10

An open letter to Microsoft and HTC

The History

I’ve been using Microsoft Windows Phone (now Windows 10 Mobile) since the first release of the OS after the appalling Windows Mobile 6.5.  Here is a list of the mobile devices that I’ve owned, all running Windows Mobile:

  • Samsung Focus (Windows 7.x)
  • Nokia Lumia 920 (Windows 8.x)
  • HTC One M8 for Windows (Windows 8.x, 10 preview)

Current Status

It’s just been announced that at this point there is to be no update to Windows 10 Mobile for my HTC One M8 for Windows.  This is a technically superior phone to the Microsoft Lumia 640 (that’s getting the update btw) that I purchased mainly for the fact that the hardware would easily get me 3-5 years of efficient usage or more.  In fact, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview for over 6 months without any major or minor issue found.  This is my daily driver AND is used for work as well through the BYOD program at my company.

The Rub

This says it all:  HTC M8 Is The Latest Windows Phone Model Not Getting Windows 10 Mobile

Open Letter to HTC

Dear HTC,

I’m disappointed that you have not stood by your products in the last several years.  You’ve developed some fantastic hardware that can easily be classified as flagship devices, however I’m concerned that you’re missing a huge market that I personally think is about to explode.  Supporting a device for two years is just that, supporting it.  Dragging your feet and delaying a response to customers on an upgrade, regardless of mobile OS, is just plain out manipulative.  At this point in time, I will never own another HTC device and will actively discourage family and friends from purchasing an HTC device.  I’m disappointed in you as a company.

Open letter to Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

Our relationship goes back to Windows 3.0 on my Packard Bell 486.  I’ve continually used a system that has had OS’s from Windows 3.x, 9x, Me, 2000, NT, 7, 8 and now 10.  It was an easy decision for me to jump on the Windows Mobile wagon as everything I ever used was called Windows or was from Microsoft at some point in time or another.  After the announcement that the HTC One M8 would not be receiving Windows 10 Mobile, which at almost 2 years old is still superior to the Lumia 640, is very disappointing.  In fact, its downright shitty if I’m being honest.  It seems that it was based on Insider feedback, which I personally always answered honestly, usually positive though as I worked through the minor issues with certain apps or services.  A techie does that.

The fact that now you’re not supporting a large fan base and leaving them out to hang stuck with Windows 8.1 on hardware that can easily support Windows 10 Mobile isn’t a good move.  I’ve championed Windows 10 for both PC and Mobile and now am questioning your commitment to making the Mobile part even the least bit successful.  It would seem that you’re focusing on the business market, which is what Blackberry did, we all see how that ended up.

My plea

I urge you, HTC and Microsoft, release Windows 10 Mobile for the M8 and let the phone users decide if they want to upgrade.  The Insider Preview has been running on this device for months without a lot of issues (that I’ve seen at least), the least you can do is release a version that can be used.  I still have over a year before I can get a new phone and having to face that year on Windows Mobile 8.1 just sucks.

Fix it, or I’m going to Android.

References for this letter:

  1. Windows Insider
  2. Microsoft
  3. HTC

#android, #htc, #htc-one-m8, #microsoft, #windows, #windows-10-mobile

Mango, mobile phones, happy geeks everywhere!

Anyone with a Windows Phone right now knows EXACTLY what the title means.  For those of you who currently sport an iPhone, Android “something”, or a Crackberry, here’s the short of it.  Mango is the code-name for Windows Phone 7.5 and it was just released to the owners of Windows Phones.  I would have put a picture of my own phone here, but it actually is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of a phone screen with another phone…..  weird.

Windows Phone 7 “Mango” (aka WP 7.5)

I opted instead for a picture of a phone and a disturbingly small Mango next to it.  Seriously, the guy that mocked up this picture couldn’t find a larger picture of a mango, like this one?

Sweet Succulent Mango

See, that’s a Mango that I’d eat provided I could scrape off the symbol and lettering.  Technically you don’t eat the skin, so as long as its not deep, I’d probably eat it.  Ok, enough pictures….

It took me almost 2 hours to update my Samsung Focus (highly recommend it) from crappy v7 to the new hotness v7.5 today.  I’ve been tweaking it ever since it was done after deciding that I needed to reset my phone to take advantage of the 8GB microSD card I’ve had installed in the phone since I purchased it.  Reset was required supposedly because it mirror’s or RAID’s the internal memory to the microSD card (another post, very geeky content).  What was once only 7GB of internal memory is now a glorious 13GB of internal memory.  Now I don’t need to be so picky what portion of the music I copy to it from my growing 50GB music library.

(soapbox) I’m always impressed with someone who decides that a “dumb phone” or “feature phone” isn’t enough of a challenge and decides to get a smartphone instead.  What isn’t impressive is the person that gets a smartphone for any of the following reasons:

  1. All their friends have one
  2. See the first reason

Tell the salesperson to bugger off (british slang!) and let you try out each phone.  Any Verizon, AT&T, and most T-Mobile stores have live demo phones on the floor.  Send a few random text messages, make a phone call, really give the phone a “once over” before deciding what is RIGHT for YOU. (/soapbox)

Sorry for the stray there, back to my original topic.  I won’t have a real handle on the 500-ish tweaks and updates that make up the .5 added to the 7 for Windows Phone, but you can bet that I’ll be writing about it.  If anything, I like to share, and perhaps make a few people more geeky in the process 🙂

#mango, #phone, #windows, #windows-phone-7-5-2