Going back to iOS

In just three months of using Android from iOS, I couldn’t wait to go back to iOS. I’ve been getting a lot of “I told you so” from friends because I went back to Android a few months ago and now I’m back to iOS. Like I said, I am a curious person and from time to time I bounce between the two to see what I’m missing. But my Android experience this time was a bit different. You can read about my LG G3 review here.

First of I’d like to address the limitations that iOS had that made me switch to Android and the solutions I came up with.

  • The bandwidth caps that most cell phone providers give their customers are horrible and doesn’t promote the use of the internet – unless you pay additional cost. I came up with a way to download content locally on to my device before leaving home so that I can access them when away without impacting my bandwidth limitation. In iOS, you are restricted to only using iTunes. It’s a pain and it will only work on one computer – and I use at least two on a daily basis. Solution: Currently we are using 4GB shared between two phones. We easily hit that every month. For $10 more per month, we can increase it to 6GB. Rather than add to an already expensive bill, we chose to watch our use. Recently, Verizon had updated their bandwidth tiers. Instead of increasing our cap by 2GB for an additional $10 per month, they increased it to a total of 10GB. For the situation, I guess this is a reasonable solution and we'll be considering it. I'd rather have unlimited bandwidth but that's another story.
  • For a user like myself, 16GB is no longer ideal. It is very expensive to purchase a larger capacity iPhone.Solution: Starting with the iPhone 6, Apple no longer has a 32GB model. It is now 16GB then it jumps to 64GB. I STFU, ate the additional cost, and got a device that fits my storage needs, haha. If it's truly an important, you have to shell out money.
  • Google Now actually bothered me more than I thought it would. I got mixed feelings using it. Sometimes it was helpful, other times it was creepy.
  • Verizon network still won’t allow data consumption while on the phone, unless you use VoLTE.
  • Multitasking is still limited in iOS, if not nonexistent.
  • Transferring files between devices is still limited. Although with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you can useContinuity and Air Drop. Unfortunately, it’s only compatible with devices that have bluetooth 4.0 (2012 or newer – my Macbook Pro is late 2011). I can swap out the bluetooth card out of my MBP. The part cost around $70 but I’ll see if it’s worth doing. Some of the capabilities are still there like Messages integration, answering phone calls – those kinds of things.

I’m going to miss having a smart watch. It’s not perfect but it had the “cool” factor for me. Plus I still catch myself checking my regular watch whenever I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I gotten used to it. At this time, I don’t think I’ll be in line or pre-ordering the Apple Watch. Smart watches are great but for the price, it doesn’t do enough. I’ve already sold my Moto 360 so that’s a good thing. I returned the Nexus 9. All that’s left is to sell myLG G3 and I won’t have any Android powered device. I’ll still have a Chromebook though.

Stay tuned. I will have a review of the iPhone 6 Plus that I just picked up.

iPhone 6 Plus VS LG G3

The iPhone 6 Plus will be replacing my LG G3 as my daily driver.

Switched From WordPress to Jekyll

We’ve been using WordPress since this blog was started back in 2006. There have been many great features that were implemented. But as more features were added, I started to notice that it took longer and longer for me to create a post. Pages started to take longer and longer to load as well. Blogging began to become more work than something I did on the side and enjoyed. There were great themes out there but to have it work that way I want it to took longer than expected and I ended up just staying with the previous theme. I could create my own but I just couldn’t work inside WordPress. The code is just a mess to me. These are just some of the reasons why I wanted to look elsewhere for a blogging platform.

Welcome Jekyll and the Markdown syntax. Jekyll is a static site generator written in Ruby. It is cross-platform compatible and for me, it makes blogging fun again. Markdown is the syntax used to create content. If you’re familiar with Wikis and their syntax, it’s fairly similar. Liquid handles the layout/template engine. You can check out a great cheat sheet at https://github.com/Shopify/liquid/wiki/Liquid-for-Designers.

So what does Jekyll give me that WordPress doesn’t?

  • Increase is speed loading. Jekyll compiles the content to HTML. No need to query a database and parse content. I also started to use a CDN for assets and images. I could have used CDN for images with WordPress but to do a bit more work to implement CDN for assets. I could use plugins but that adds more overhead. I could easily update the template file but every time there’s an update, don’t forget to add it again or it will be overwritten.
  • I can easily change the layout of the blog with a lower learning curve for Jekyll and Liquid. Aside from that, it’s just regular HTML and CSS.
  • No database means not having to manage or worry about a database. This also means I can host the blog on any platform and with low requirements. You can get it hosted for free at GitHub or even Amazon S3.
  • Less distractions while creating content. The WYSIWYG for WordPress is nice and helpful but there aren’t any shortcuts. For instance, if I had to bold, insert hyperlink, create a list, etc. I have to stop typing, use my mouse and click on some menus, and pick what I want it to do. With Markdown, there is no need to take your hands off the keyboard and use a mouse for the menus, you can use the Markdown syntax and continue typing. It does take some time getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature like shortcuts within Microsoft Word. Some examples are using an asterisk (*) with two spaces after it creates a list; surrounding textext with one asterisk will italicize; surrounding text with two asterisks willbold; the number of pound signs wrapped around a text will determine its heading value. There’s many more and for me that’s very convenient.

It sounds all good, but is there a down side? Yes there are a few I ran into but it outweighs the advantages.

  • It’s not a fit for everyone. You will lose the WYSIWYG feature. I’m fairly comfortable with the platform because I have a good amount of experience with technology and can have an easier time learning it. My wife on the other hand is not technical and loves how she can just log in and post. To help her, I have created a template on Google Drive that asks for title, date, category, tag(s). She can then freely write her content and with all the formatting she wants. I can easily translate that to Markdown. Any images she wants can be attached to the document in Drive and I’ll upload them to our CDN. Seems like more work but it’s a small price to pay.
  • There is no app so I can’t post from a mobile device. I had the capability but never used it so no big deal.

Other than spending time converting posts from WordPress to Markdown – I know there’s a converter but I wanted to do it manually to fix broken links and do some housecleaning, I had to figure out how to replicate features I was using with WordPress and plugins.

  • Comments: WordPress has a built-in commenting system. It does this easily since there is a database. To achieve this, you can look at third party services such as Disqus, Livefyre, and Facebook comments. You can even set it up and make it a part of Jekyll. Some people have comments emailed to them to moderate. Once approved, it is added to the content and pushed up with the site. I chose to go with Disqus.
  • Search: There are many ways to implement a search functionality with Jekyll. A common way is to generate a JSON file and use JavaScript to search through it. You can also use Google Custom Search Engine.
  • At one point on another, I may have implemented some sort of email subscription feature where you provide your email and it will send a notification when new article is published. You can use RSS for that without providing your email address. Just look for the symbol and click it. You can use your browser to subscribe or other RSS client. It will notify you of new articles similar to how you get emails.

That’s pretty much it with Jekyll. I’m excited to use it and we’ll continue to provide more content.

Goodbye Android OS

bye android

I have been using smart phones powered by Android for many years now. My first Android phone was myTouch Slide 3G. It was a great phone with a built-in keyboard. Next, I had the Sensation 4G. Another great phone from HTC. Sense UI is great as well. The third Android phone I had was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (vanilla from Google). Though I miss Sense UI, this by far was my favorite Android phone. My last phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – unlike the previous ones, this ran on the Verizon network.

Before starting my run with Android, I owned an iPhone 3G. It was with the AT&T network. At that time, AT&T was the only carrier that had it but unfortunately, the coverage was horrible. I really liked iOS but I guess the network coverage left a bad taste that it affected my decision for future smart phones – as well as AT&T’s exclusivity with the iPhone. I should’ve went back once Verizon started to carry the iPhone.

What I loved about Android:

  • It integrates with Google services seamlessly. Why Google? Because Google and its services seem to work with multiple platforms (Apple and Microsoft).
  • Battery can be replaced. Though I have yet to take advantage of this. All my batteries never needed to be replaced or upgraded.
  • Expansion of memory with the use of micro SD card. This was a big deal before but as many services are in the cloud, I find it less appealing. No need to store movies locally when there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go, just to name a few. No need to store music locally when there’s Spotify, Google Play, iTunes Radio, Pandora, just to name a few. In fact, for me, storage will be primarily used for photos and videos. 8GB internal memory may be questionable but many phones come with 16GB.
  • So many different offerings from different manufacturers.
  • Lower cost of the phone.
  • Wireless sync with Google (recently, iOS no longer requires iTunes for syncing).

So why am I going back to iOS after all these years? Here are my reasons.

  • iOS just seems to be a smoother user experience than Android.
  • Most iPhones get OS updates. For example, iOS 7 is compatible with 4, 4S, 5, 5S, and 5C. That’s at least 3 generations of phones. What Android phone has this? Let’s not include rooting. We could include vanilla Android phones from Google but it’s GSM compatible only – the 3 generations of iPhones are all carriers – so is it a fair comparison?
  • To enjoy vanilla Android, you must have a GSM carrier. I’m on Verizon, so that’s out of the question.
  • My last phone, Samsung Note 2 (Verizon) has been plagued with the wifi bug on 4.1.2. After weeks of this problem, no solution in site. After getting my new iPhone 5S, I ended up doing a factory reset and it looks like it fixed it. I didn’t want to do a factory reset before getting a new phone because the restore in Android isn’t as I expect (see next bullet).
  • Restoring data in Android gets unexpected results – compared to my experience with restoring in iOS using iTunes. My phone never restores the same since the last update. Apps are all over the place. Some apps are reinstalled, some are not. Isn’t restoring from a back up supposed to be how the device was from the last back up? Well it’s not with Android, at least in my experience.
  • Siri is smarter.
  • My Note 2 has a quad core processor and was considered a “flagship” phone. Where’s my Android update??? I’m still stuck in 4.1.2. Rooting is not an option! Why root to get the latest? I paid for this phone, I shouldn’t have to root.

After all the frustration, I think I’ve had enough. Goodbye Android, hello iOS… again

Switching out the stock heatsink

I have a computer that is running the Intel i5 2500K. All it does is it transcodes ripped movies. I originally had the stock heatsink fan that came with the CPU but Handbrake and X.264 uses up a lot of CPU resources that the fan kicks up and my temps get high. So I decided to get an aftermarket heatsink, the Hyper212. You can check it outmore upgrades to my i5 post.

It worked great. I was running at least 7°C cooler. But it was too loud – at least for my taste. I figured maybe if I put the stock heatsink back, it wouldn’t be as bad since it was quieter. Well, the temps got around 60-70°C with Handbrake running all my CPU. I didn’t like it and the fan, though quieter, was getting almost as loud as the Hyper212. I decided to just put the Hyper212 fan back since I was in the low 50s°C.

While switching, I decided to take some pics.

IMG_5172

Here is the stock Intel heatsink fan before I removed it.

IMG_5173

That’s the thermal grease on the heatsink and the CPU. You should clean it before switching fans even if you’re using the same grease. It’s only been a week since I swapped fans so it looks clean and new but I still want to remove it and put a new batch of grease in.

IMG_5174

Here’s the spray I use to clean the grease off the fan and CPU. It works real well. Just make sure you do it where it’s well ventilated. The smell is strong and can be toxic. Try to limit contact on your skin as well and don’t forget to wash after using it. From what I’ve read, it’s safe for it to get it on the electronics if you happen to over spray.

IMG_5175

Here is my CPU and stock fan, clean as new.

IMG_5176

Now I placed a drop on the CPU.

IMG_5177

I used the Hyper212 fan to “smoosh” the thermal grease around and spread it.

That’s about it. Just wanted to share just in case someone is curious.

Moving back to Windows?

It’s been over 6 years since I exclusively used Windows and have been using Apple. But recently I’ve had the urge to build a PC – mainly for games and video transcoding. So I started doing so research on hardware. As I am doing research, I’m starting to realize how much Apple has limited me from doing certain things and lacked support for some I/O devices.

I find myself running Windows virtually for doing simple tasks that I can’t seem to do with Apple either free or efficiently. For instance, if I need to edit metadata on a video file without having it render again is only possible with iTunes. But if I use iTunes, it has to be added to the library and not all file formats are supported. In Windows, I can accomplish this by using a free app called MP3Tag. I’ve looked and have not found an app for OS X – free anyway.

My second example. USB 3.0 and eSata has been available for years now (well eSata has been around for years) – no support at all by any Apple hardware. Yes, there is FW400 and FW800 but it isn’t as practical or affordable. I have many external devices that have both USB 2.0 and eSata. The eSata is begging to be used but I can’t. Even my HD camcorder uses USB and iMovie can recognize it – no FW support on the camcorder.

My third example. I have a bluray burner and have a lot of movies. Not all have portable media versions that come with it and even if they did, I would download through iTunes and have it be stuck (DRM) to 5 accounts. I’d like to throw this file onto my DLNA server and have it stream throughout the house. I don’t want to leave my iMac on all day just so that iTunes can share things – that’s why I have a Terastation with DLNA. Now I can rip blueray videos. I use MakeMKV to rip it then use Handbrake to create an MP4 file which would take around 9 hours to do. I’m hoping to cut this down by a lot on a Windows machine because Windows supports blueray format.

My fourth example. Time Machine is great. But without the expensive Time Capsule, I can’t do back ups over the network. I have found hacks but they are not 100%. Again, I have a Terastation and want to use it to its full potential.

My fifth example. My iMac that I bought in 2008 has been maxed out of its upgrade. The ram is at 4GB and the hard drive is 1TB 7200RPM (I think this model should recognize up to 1.5TB). I’m unable to upgrade the video card because iMacs are built like laptops. So whenever a new game comes along (Starcraft 2), I’m stuck with hardware from 2008. I’m able to get as high as medium setting and still experience some lag. World of Warcraft, I’m able to get 22-40 FPS in high populated areas. For my uses, I can’t upgrade the hardware anymore and would like to. If I had bought a Mac Pro, I probably could but for the price… no thanks!

So the plan is to build a PC that will let me have a better experience in games as well as transcode/edit videos more efficiently than my current iMac. I will be using an Intel i7-2600K processor and an H-series motherboard. The P-series is a little more expensive and I don’t plan on overclocking anytime soon – even though the 2600K allows me to. Now why spend the extra bucks on K? I just want to have the capability of overclocking once I do decide. And when I do, I just get a new motherboard. By then the Z-series motherboards will be available will have the Quick Sync capability and overclocking capability. I will be running 8GB DDR3 1333 ram for starters but the motherboard will be ready for 16GB when I am. For now, I’ll be running 500GB Sata 3Gbps, but in the future I’ll have it set up with 4 250GB on Sata 6Gbps with RAID10. That should give me a powerful and enjoyful experience compared to what I have now with my iMac.

I enjoy using Apple and OS X and will continue to use it. But as a desktop and for my current needs, I feel I’m better off on a PC running Windows 7 64bit. My MBP 13” will be my second desktop/laptop because I still don’t feel comfortable nor do I trust doing certain things on a Windows machine.

Once I get more comfortable and have a nice workflow set up on my new PC, I will be selling my iMac. But that won’t be for weeks. Hopefully, what I have read and expect is true. If not, my new PC will just be a gaming computer and I will continue to do everything else on my Mac.