Archive for May 2011

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 31, 2011

iPhone 3Gs – The Worst Phone I’ve Ever Owned

Soon I will be celebrating the anniversary of one of the worst technology mistakes I’ve ever made. First, some back story.

My first son was born in July of 2008. At the time, I was using a an LG V. For a gadget guy, I actually haven’t own that many cell phones. I’d had the V for several years,and it was a nice, sturdy phone for me. Both my wife and I work, so unfortunately, we had to put my son into Daycare instead of keeping him at home.

Here’s where the problem came in. I didn’t like the fact that any time I was away from my desk (like when I was in one of my many meetings), I couldn’t be reached if I was needed by my Daycare. The building I worked in allowed for virtually no Verizon signal inside the building. Even just a couple feet from the window, and signal dropped to zero. The same was true for every other cellular network I looked into, with one exception. AT&T. We didn’t want to switch to AT&T, so we toughed things out for almost a year before it was just too much. So, after talking to my wife, we decided to switch from Verizon to AT&T so that I’d be reachable inside of the building.

So, since we were switching networks anyway, we decided to splurge, and get smartphones. Really, at the time on AT&T’s network, the only choices were iPhone or Blackberry. I really didn’t want a Blackberry, so even though I’ve never been a big fan of Apple, I sucked it up and we each got an iPhone. The 3Gs had just been released, so we picked up the most current model.

For a couple months, everything was fine. Then it happened. My wife got a job offer out of state, and we decided to take it. Our new city (as it happens, Phoenix, AZ) didn’t have the greatest AT&T reception. There were many “dead spots” in areas where we frequented. Even in our home we sometimes barely get any 3G bars. I realize that this isn’t the fault of the phone, but the network, but it’s here for context.

One morning, we were heading out to work, my wife grabs her phone, and it won’t turn on. Plugged in, unplugged, we get nothing. We take the time and go to the Apple Store, and talk to one of the “Geniuses” there. He plays around with the phone for about 30 minutes, and gets nowhere with it. Apple graciously replaces the phone for us since we hadn’t even bought it a year ago. Unfortunately, with the new phone, none of her apps transferred to the new phone. Any pictures were unrecoverable (couldn’t even crack open the phone and change out the battery), so we lost a good number of pictures and videos of our now almost 2 year old son. We were not pleased with this.

Not long after that, I started noticing my phone behaving oddly. The phone would turn off claiming the battery was dead when the meter still was reporting over 10% charge. When I say that the phone “turned off”, I mean that the screen just blacks out. No warning. Apps were crashing left and right, and the phone was virtually unusable. Again, we took it to the “Genius” bar. The “Geniuses” played around with the phone for a little while, and then reported to me that the reason the phone was doing that was that there was a bug in the OS software that was telling me there was charge when there wasn’t. He suggested that I completely reinstall the OS.

Under the mistaken impression that these “Geniuses” might actually know what the heck they’re talking about, I followed my orders. I reinstalled the OS from scratch, completely rebuilding my phone. No change to the behavior of the phone. Still crashes apps, still dies before the battery meter makes it even close to zero.

We take it back to the Apple Store. The “Geniuses” tell me that the bug that caused the problem in the first place is still present in the current version of the OS, and that the next version of the OS will resolve the problem for me. All I need to do is wait for the next release.

Still, for some reason, thinking that they might have some semblance of a clue, I wait. Next version comes, and it doesn’t solve the problem. I rebuild the OS from scratch again, and it still doesn’t help.

At this point, I’ve given up on the “Geniuses”. They know what Apple tells them. I can’t use the word “Genius” without heaping derision on it when referring to Apple’s employees.

The phone is getting worse. The phone dies with 30% or 40% of the battery still supposedly charged. Apps barely run on the stupid thing any more, and many of the ones that I actually liked fail to load at all.

With about six months left in my AT&T contract, the phone has begun shutting down with 90% charge still apparently available. I bite the bullet and buy a Case-Mate battery extender. This thing is really the only thing that keeps phone working. It fools the phone into thinking that it’s plugged in. The Case-Mate battery only gives me about 3 hours charge, but right now, the battery in the phone is giving me less than 15 minutes. I have to keep the phone plugged in virtually all day, and when I can’t keep it plugged in, I turn on the Case-Mate so at least the phone thinks it’s plugged in.

Now, with under a month to go until this AT&T contract expires, I will be running (not walking) to the nearest Verizon store to replace this nightmare of a device as quickly as I can. I will replace this spotty network, and I will replace this disaster of a phone. I can honestly say that the iPhone was the worse tech purchase I’ve ever made, and the only thing it excelled at was making me miss my LG.

To the people that tell me constantly that the iPhone is “Magical” or “Revolutionary”, I tell you that you can take this phone. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

The countdown has begun.

There is an ending to my pain, and if I have my way, I will never own another Apple product again.

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 30, 2011

Top 1 Way iOS outdoes Android – BS

I just got done reading an article over at MSNBC on the Top 10 Ways iOS Outdoes Android. It really pissed me off. I want to do a break down of this article, and it’s stupid claims.

10. iTunes Media Store. OK, this thing is crap. It doesn’t sync wirelessly, yet the author still gives it credit for being seamless. When you buy media from Amazon, which you can from anywhere, it syncs directly to your device without having to find a computer and plugin. You  have access immediately, not after you do a time wasting sync with a computer that’s completely unnecessary. Stupid. The best thing the author can say about it is that it’s integrated. Goody for it.

9. AirPlay. First of all, AirPlay is useless if you don’t have more than one Apple device. It’s not an advantage of the iOS, it’s a limitation. It ties you to Apple products. This is a huge negative in my book, and definitely not something to call an advantage. There are other, better, more open solutions available, which he even goes so far as to mention. The fact that one kind of device will connect to one other device (which btw only like 10 people own), and only when you’re using Apple’s software is not an advantage over other services which will connect many types of devices to many other types of devices.

8. Find My iPhone. The author makes this claim: “It’s not like you can’t roll your own device-tracking setup on Android, but now that Find My iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) is free it’s no longer the best paid option — it’s just the best.” He makes no attempt to back that up, and doesn’t even acknowledge that there are many free ways of doing exactly the same thing on an Android phone that are just as good, or better.

7. A better support system. The author has the gall to call the Genius Bar a “better” support system. I can’t say the word “genius” without heaping derision on it when I’m referring to the Geniuses at the Genius Bar. Every time I’ve ever needed to use their service, they’ve failed to resolve my problem. I’ve had better luck with the Geek Squad. To call the Genius Bar an advantage of the iOS is deluded to say the least.

6. Battery Life and Management. This is just an excuse. Apple’s multitasking is a joke, so it says that it’s a feature meant to preserve your battery. No, it’s just because Apple’s multitasking sucks. To call this an advantage is ignorant.

5. iTunes and Tethered syncing. It seems every item on this list is more aggravating than the last. iTunes and tethered syncing is an advantage??? First of all, iTunes is a POS. It’s an archaic remnant of a time when media players were the norm, and Apple needed something to compete with WinAmp. It wasn’t as good then, and it’s a catastrophe now. The author states: “Android is missing iTunes in the same way iOS is missing Android’s wireless capabilities.” No, Android is missing iTunes the same way I’m missing an extra hole in my head.

4. No crapware. This is not an advantage of the OS. This is an advantage of the vendor, and Apple’s clout over the carrier, but not the OS.

3. A bigger and better variety of apps. I always find this one amusing when I hear iOS users use it. It’s the same argument that Windows users have been using against Mac users for decades. The only difference is, for Android and iOS, the condition is temporary. Android will have more apps than iOS in short order, and then iOS users will change to saying quality over quantity. And when that argument falls through, iOS users will switch to the “We don’t need that” argument. It’s all be said and done before. It failed then, and it fails now.

2. A well-designed, intuitive user interface. Let’s be clear here. Apple didn’t design a user interface. They made an icon grid. The same interface that’s been present on every single GUI since Xerox invented it. That’s all. Androids UI is customizable, and it’s much more functional with the inclusion of movable icons and widgets. Apple’s UI is limited and static. Again, to call this an advantage is delusional.

1. Consistency. This is another “advantage” that always makes me laugh. iOS users think that having the same IU as every single other person that has an iOS device is an advantage. It’s a limitation. Someone else has decided what the best thing is for you, and doesn’t let you say otherwise.

This article really raised my ire when I read it. It seemed like every “advantage” listed came straight from Apple’s marketing department, and required zero thought by the author. Too often, that’s the kind of thinking that I see from iOS users and Apple fans. It literally makes me ill. I can say that the iOS does have one advantage over the Android though. It definitely has more BS.

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 29, 2011

Linux: It Just Works

Recently, a friend of mine and I were discussing his phone and his desire to buy the iPhone 5 to replace his Android phone. Personally, think moving from an Android to an iPhone is a mistake, but that’s not really the point of this particular posting.

During the course of the conversation, the phrase came up “It just works.” I’ve heard this phrase countless times over the years to describe one OS or another, and it’s always seemed weird to me.

For something to “just work”, the task that you’re trying to perform has to be within the subset of tasks the device is inherently capable of. For example, if I were to want to browse the web, in today’s day and age, pretty much any computer or smart phone I picked up would “just work”. They all come with built in web browsers and networking capability. So the claim “it just works” could apply to any of them. A secondary, counter example would be, if I were to want to dig a hole in my back yard. Now, short of using the case as some sort of digging device, none of those devices could claim to “just work”.

What this really boils down to is this: Whether a device “just works” or not is subjective to a particular persons needs.

For me (and I’d go so far as to claim most people), what I need in a computer is simple.

  1. I need a word processor. This doesn’t have to be Microsoft Word, or Lotus something or other. To often, people get tied up in names. I’d be willing to bet that Open Office or LibreOffice can perform most if not all tasks required of an average user.
  2. I need a spread sheet. Again, it doesn’t  have to be a particular brand name, and again, Open Office or LibreOffice more than meet the needs of the majority.
  3. I need access to the Web. Linux supports Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and other web browsers. All are capable of browsing the vast majority of the web.
  4. I need to view graphics. I have a digital camera and two kids. I want to see video and images of those kids on my computer. Linux more than covers these bases, and does so with ease and style. No issues there.

So, when it really comes down to it, Linux does all the things that the average person requires from their OS. On top of those things, it’s easy to use, stable, and close enough to being virus free that it makes the Mac look like a cesspool of infection.

Based on those facts, I think it’s safe to say it.

Linux:  It just works.

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 28, 2011

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 27, 2011

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 26, 2011

Interesting Linux News for the Day – May 25, 2011