My Desktop – September 2014

I’ve decided to do some consolidating of machines. I wanted to combine my main desktop and home server into 1. So i dismantled my server and took my RAID card and hard drives and added onto my desktop. I also got alarger SSD for the OS drive. Here’s what I ended up with.

internal pic

Here is the list of parts that make up my current desktop.

Adding 8 hard drives was a bit of a challenge in terms of cable management, but I was able to pull it off. What do you think? You can also check out my video.

LG G3 VS985 for Verizon

I wanted to wait a few weeks of using my new LG G3 before posting about it. So far, it’s been a great phone. I’m a very curious person that is also technical. So I try my best to switch between iOS and Android every year. To preface, my previous phone was the Apple iPhone 5S running iOS 7.1.2 I decided not to get the iPhone 6/6 Plus mainly because of missing features in iOS.

The LG G3 was released some time in July 2014 for the Verizon network. I didn’t get it right away until I saw what Samsung was going to announce in IFA 2014. The Note 4 and the Note Edge didn’t really impress me much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great device but compared to the LG G3, that’s already available, not much more will the Note 4 give. Samsung’s TouchWiz may have been improved, but I don’t really care for it nor use it so that didn’t play a factor with my decision. Now LG’s Optimus UI exist but I think it’s less obtrusive than TouchWiz.

Here are some specs that may interest you. This phone is specifically the VS985 for the Verizon network.

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz quad-core
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • I have the 32GB internal storage model so it has a 3GB ram
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • 13MP camera on the back with f/2.4 and dual LED flash, with laser autofocus
  • 2.1MP camera on the front with f/2.0
  • 5.5” IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3

For more information, you can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_G3. So here are some pics I took during my unboxing.

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It’s just like any other phone where it comes with a manual, USB cable, and home charger. Now, normally smart phones come with headphones. Surprisingly, the LG G3 does not come with any. I double checked the box content lists and confirmed that headphones are not included.

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One of the unique features of the LG G3 is that there are no buttons on the front. To turn on the phone, you tap on the screen twice. You can also use the button below the camera on the back to turn on the phone. The usual Android security is still available.

  • Swipe
  • Face Unlock
  • Knock Code (LG implementation)
  • Pattern
  • Pin
  • Password

The current version of Android is 4.4.2. I’m hoping the Android L support will be available.

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The pic above is the back. You will notice the buttons below the camera, they are the volume and power buttons. It took some time to getting used to but I can see why they implemented it there. After a few weeks it feels natural.

Overall, the phone is great. Here are my favorite features with the LG G3 and Android.

  • Expandable micro-sd slot. I have added 64GB to my 32GB internal memory.
  • I don’t have to rely on iTunes for synchronizing content. I can connect using the USB cable and the phone mounts on my computer like it’s a flash drive.
  • Uses inexpensive and common micro USB cable. No proprietary and expensive cable needed (30-pin and lighting cable).
  • The combination of large 5.5” screen and quad-core processor makes multitasking a great experience.
  • You can use both front and back cameras at the same time.

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  • I can transfer files via bluetooth once again. And that’s any file type, not limited to just images or other media. This feature was not available on my old iPhone 5S as of iOS 7.1.2. From the iOS 8 preview, you can finally use Airdrop with the upcoming OSX Yosemite OS. My ability to transfer files between Android and PC can also be done on a Mac and is not limited to media files.

bluetooth_file_transfer

  • It’s cheaper to own an Android phone. My monthly insurance is $2 cheaper and the deductible is 50% less. My LG G3 actually not only cost less than my 16GB iPhone 5S, but it also has a larger capacity and I’m able to expand storage.
  • Removable battery. This makes 2 things possible – 1) you can carry a spare battery just in case your primary runs out and there’s no way to charge it, 2) if your primary battery breaks, replace it.

So far here are the things I’m not liking with Android which makes me miss iOS.

  • There is no Flashlight app built-in. You can download some off the Play store but many of them want access to all sorts of things – a flashlight does not need access to all those private things.

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  • When listening/watching to media in the car via bluetooth audio, the information or meta tag cannot be read/displayed on my car’s screen. This was no issue with my iPhone 5S using Spotify, even Youtube.

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  • Although, not too big of an issue, the battery life is shorter and charge time is longer.

Check out the video I posted on my Youtube channel.

Crucial MX100 CT512MX100SSD1

I just picked up the Crucial MX100 SSD 512GB model. I’m consolidating some machines at home and needed to increase space on my OS drive. For cost and performance ratio, it’s one of the best. It’s not the fastest but not the most expensive either.

I’m replacing 2x OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G in RAID0. I’ve done some benchmarks before I replaced the drives and reinstalled Windows. This time I’ll only be using 1 SSD, no raid, and SATA port will be in AHCI mode.

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After installing the new SSD, I used the same software to benchmark the drive.

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Crucial_CT512MX1_iops

IOPS for the 4K tests aren’t all that great in RAID0 at least for the drives I’ve used. I think I’m going to stay with non-raid OS drives from now on and get a larger sized SSD.

Here’s some pics while unboxing.

mx100

It’s a simple packaging. Only comes with the SSD and adapter that turns it from 7mm to 9mm.

mx100

mx100

That black piece is the adapter.

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After formatting and ready for Windows installation, you are left with 476.9GB from 512GB.

T-mobile Test Drive

I recently found out about T-Mobile’s program, test drive. This program allows you to use an iPhone 5S, which they provide, for a week on their network. All you have to do is provide a credit card. They will put a hold on the card for the amount of $700 plus tax. After a week, return the phone to the nearest retail store and the hold is cancelled. Make sure it’s a corporate owned store and not an authorized reseller. Also the phone must be in good condition upon return. They will charge you a minimum of $100 up to the original price of the phone.

I currently have Verizon and have been happy with the service. But recent events have made me want to look for another provider.

  • Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed more frequent buffering when streaming with Spotify. There have been reports of Verizon throttling connections to services like Netflix – so it isn’t far-fetched to consider them doing this to Spotify on their cellular service.
  • I cannot use Google Play edition phones on the Verizon network. The last phone that worked was the original Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
  • The monthly cost along with the bandwidth cap is starting to add up. I didn’t mind the price increase from my previous carrier (T-Mobile) as long as the data coverage is better, which it is. But after over a year of monthly cost increase, it’s adding up. To add, Verizon has a bandwidth cap, in our case it’s 4GB, which we easily can go over.

So I decided to check out T-Mobile. They provided a great service for us with the voice coverage but the data coverage was lacking. Which is why we switched to Verizon. Luckily they have the test drive program where we can access their network for a week and decided if it meets our needs. Here is the package I got in the mail.

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It’s a 32GB iPhone 5S space gray. It came with all the accessories, minus the Apple box. The $80 monthly access also includes an unlimited data plan. This is truly unlimited with no speed throttling after surpassing a specific amount of bandwidth. Their lower plans are considered “unlimited” at 5GB or less and once you reach that amount, you will get throttled to a lower speed. It’s an appealing package considering Verizon will charge you extra if you go over the cap.

So I played with my Verizon and T-Mobile iPhone 5S. I installed the Speed Test app and compared results. The 4G LTE areas for both providers are fast. I’ve gotten results as fast as 40Mbps down and 20Mbps up. They also have their areas of coverage and areas of limitations. The biggest difference is with T-Mobile, the phone just gives up and has no signal where as Verizon will continue to try and on many occasions able to connect or try its best to keep the connection alive – these are areas with the limited coverage.

It looks like T-Mobile is improving their coverage but has yet to win me back. I guess you have to pay a little bit more if you want better coverage. This is based on my usage and the areas I travel. I’m not implying that Verizon is the better provider for everyone. In my case, it is the better provider. T-Mobile’s test drive program is a great program and I wish more providers did this. I will try it again next year.

Going back to Android from iOS

I spent the last year on iOS. I had a Samsung Note 2 and switched to the iPhone 5S when it came out last year. Here are my reasons of the switch. Text wrapped like this In orange is my solution when switching back to Android.

  • I hate how slow (if it existed) the Android updates we rolled out on devices. With iOS, assuming you have the last 2 generations, you will have access to iOS updates as they are released. Yes, I can root the device, but I don’t have to do that with iOS to benefit from it. (I tend to upgrade phones almost every year. I guess it isn't a big deal gaining access to the latest Android version. I could always root it but I'm lazy. If there is a feature I'm after, I will consider it.)
  • iOS apps, to me, are of higher “quality”. (After a year, more developers are creating higher quality apps… hopefully. I could also stop installing free, ad supported apps that drain my battery and pay. Apps aren't that expensive and if useful, I should support the developer by purchasing it.)
  • iOS messages integrate across devices (Apple devices). This is great because I can send/reply/receive to SMS messages on the phone, my Macbook Pro, my iMac, or my iPad. (It looks like devices running Android 4.4 or higher have integrated Hangouts with messaging. I just can't bring over my messages from iOS.)
  • iOS has less bloatware (Stocks, Passbook, Newsstand – I guess to some these are useful). Compared to Samsung (TouchWiz), HTC (Sense), and the other manufacturers who add their own useless, resource taking extras on top of Android. I am aware of Google Play Edition phones but unfortunately they do not work for my provider, Verizon. (I considered switching providers to AT&T and T-Mobile so that I can use Google Play Edition phones but their coverage (data) isn't great compared to what I get with Verizon. Data coverage is more important to me.)
  • Many of my relatives overseas are using iOS. Instead of creating/showing them how to use Google Hangouts (which is cross platform), it was easier to communicate using FaceTime. (Initially, I thought I would use it frequently. I rarely used it on my iPhone. I ended using my iPad on wifi.)

Here are my reasons why I’m going back to Android.

  • To conserve on bandwidth usage and hitting my monthly cap fast, I ended up downloading Youtube videos locally to decrease my Youtube usage when away from a wifi signal. Unfortunately, with iOS, you have to go through iTunes and 1 computer. I use several computers daily from my laptop, my desktop at work, and my desktop at home. It’s such a chore to get the videos over to my phone since I always have to use my laptop because that’s where my phone is sync to. In short, you are a slave to iTunes and one computer. Android devices mount as an external device on your computer, doesn’t matter which one. I can easily drag files over. I’ve heard of people using BTsync as well.
  • 16GB capacity is becoming unusable nowadays – at least for me. Apps are getting larger, taking more pics and videos. You can get an Android device of double the size and sometimes more, for a lower cost. Even if you get a 16GB Android device, the money you save, you can purchase a Micro SD card to increase your storage. You can’t do that on an iPhone.
  • Google Now has improved and I feel it’s better than Siri.
  • The data part of the iPhone gets disabled when you’re on a phone call. Emails don’t come in, MMS, you can’t browse the internet. Android allows you to do that. It is not limited to the network, it’s iOS.
  • Android handles multitasking better. These are very expensive smart devices. Let them make your lives easier not just play Candy Crush or taking selfies.
  • In iOS, you are limited to transferring photos and other iOS devices. You can’t even use bluetooth to transfer files to and from iOS and Mac OSX. This simple task becomes trivial. It may be allowed when iOS8 is released but it’s still limited to Apple products.

That somewhat summarizes why I’ll be going back to Android. This is not to steer you in any direction. I’m merely sharing my experiences. Keep in mind that the way I use my devices may differ from you, so our expectations will not be the same. I was waiting for the IFA 2014 event in Berlin to see what Samsung will announce (Note 4). Unfortunately, the new features on the Note 4 didn’t really impress me. So I plan to get a LG G3.

I guess one last great thing about iPhones is the high resell value.

Avery template for Google services

I wanted to print out some labels using Avery products. They have templates on their website to help create them. Before, I would use Microsoft Word to do these. I’ve been trying to use Google Drive instead as a free alternative and cloud base. I found what I was looking for at the Chrome store but the warning scared me a little bit.

avery template

View and manage files in my Google Drive? Allow it to run when I’m not present? I think I’ll pass and continue to use Word. For those who are still interested, you can find more info athttps://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/avery-label-merge/onacejilpbdgdhhoijnggpjolbdajepo.