Saturday, June 10, 2017

An iPad Shaped Hole

I've been waiting to get a new iPad until Apple unveiled the new ones and then on June 5th, THEY DID! Except, it wasn't what I wanted. Is ever exactly what you want? I have been so happy with my little iPad mini 4 with an external Apple keyboard, I just wanted a refreshed version of that which allowed me to use the Apple Pencil, but it was not to be. In fact, it's probably never to be that the mini will have the pencil.
So would it be okay to get a larger one? But, of course, they didn't release an update to the 9.3" version, the released a brand new even larger 10.whatver" version. UG! BIGGER? The mini was such a great "just bring it along" size for me, but okay, back to the large on.
Then what? My final bit of sadness is that T-Mobile discounted it's "free-data for life" program where you got 200MB per month for the life of your device. It's not much, but exactly enough for those times when I'm traveling, trying to work, and there is no WiFi to be found. But that's gone too.
So with all these things weren't quite right, I had a stare down and thought I probably wouldn't buy the new iPad. But then, I said, "whatever." I mean, Apple isn't going to release a mini with a Pencil. The 9.3" version of the iPad Pro has vanished to the land of wind and ghosts, and T-Mobile isn't brining back their FDFL program. Now I just have an iPad-shaped hole in my life as I wait for it to arrive.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Feeling Comcastic!

Since we moved into our house we've had AT&T for internet, and since we moved in we've been annoyed about it. I have a baseline assumption that everyone is annoyed by their service providers, and therefore, there is no point in swapping willy-nilly, because, you're just going to be annoyed by the next one. Still - I have a few very big annoyances over the years.
The first is that I started on AT&T Home DSL at the fatest speed available and it was slow. I called a few times asking if they offered faster, and AT&T DSL did not. But here was the thing - AT&T DSL didn't offer faster speed, but AT&T U-Verse *did* offer faster speed over DSL. Huh? It was bizarre, but by calling AT&T U-Verse (who had a separate number from AT&T DSL), I was able ot get upgraded to faster internet speed.
Then, once or twice a year, my internet would slow to a terrible crawl. I would complain. Technicians would come out. Eventually maybe it would be solved for a time, until it happened again. At one point a technician changed me from a hot/cold dual DSL line to a pair-bonded DSL line and that helped a lot for a long time.
Part of the problem is I live in an infill community and for whatever reason, when they built it, they didn't run fiber through out little infill. Fiber runs a few hours down either direction, but not to us, so the best AT&T can get is 18 MB/s over aDSL and the upstream standards are defined at 1.5 MB/s. So on my aDSL add a couple of dropcams, a SkyBell, and I'm quickly saturating my upstream. I have to start managing QoS for the system to work. LAME!
So I switched to Comcast/Xfinity - which isn't the most loved company out there, but I have 100 MB/s down and around 5 MB/s up. Which means? Everything streams great. I'm lovin' it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Delaying the Upgrade

When I joined my current company the hiring boss asked me what computer he should buy for me and I said, "nothing yet. Next week is WWDC and I'll be they are going to announce something cool." It did not dissapoint as they announced the first retina computer and he got me a maxed out Retina MacBook Pro. That good and faithful servant lasted with me for four and half years and then finally gave out when it started to kernel panic everytime it swapped from the intergrated GPU to the discrete GPU. Funny thing about that? It happened precisely two months after Apple's GPU recall ended for that machine.
When my work computer died, I had a week where I exclusively used my iPad Mini to do my job and it worked pretty darn well. The most impressive thing I think I was doing is that every day I had to download a 80MB text file from SFTP, run some regex search/replace on it, and then upload the processed file to another SFTP. Holy moly, Coda for iPad did that with very few issues. Anyway, my list of Pro apps that I used!

  • Coda 2 - I don't actually do website development with this, but the SFTP engine (it's Transmit!) combined with a text editor that could actually handle regex process of files that are 800,000 lines long made this an amazing app for some of the work I needed.
  • Airmail - Funny thing here is that I would much rather have used Gmail app for this process, but it doesn't support split screen multitasking so I had to use this instead.
  • Microsoft OneNote - I know that Evernote is the darling of the industry, but when they changed their pricing model I swapped to OneNote.  Totally free and works great between my iPad, iPhone, and new MacBook Pro.
  • Hangouts / JoinMe - I spent all of my days in video conferences with coworker and customers and these programs work "just fine."  This is *THE* major blocker for me using my iPad for everything, because I need to be able to screen share presentations and web page demos.  Also - why doesn't Hangouts support split-screen multitasking?!?  (Google!)
  • Slack - yeah, we use Slack. It's gross and works fine.
  • OpenVPN - I was mostly just surprised that OpenVPN had an iOS app and it worked just fine.  I kind of expected that it couldn't, but it did, and that's cool.
  • Productivity - These all works great whether it was Apple Pages, Numbers, Keynote or Microsoft Words, Excel, Powerpoint or Google Docs, Sheets, Slides. We use all of them and it's great.

So for my real job that I am paid for there were two challenges I had. The first was that I couldn't screenshare the way I need to. That was basically a deal breaking.
The second was that I do a lot of REST API scriping for demo's using Bash and it doesn't look like I've got a good options for that either. The best bet I have is Pythonista, but technically speaking all of our scripting is done is Bash - so I'm going rogue if I use Python to do it.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bumper Crop This Year

In those first few years of home ownership, I really got a kick out of mowing the lawn every week, clipping back the trees and plans, and making sure the weeds were taken care of. Then the kids came onto the scene and where did all my free time go?
We noticed that the sidewalk in front of our house was much blacker and dirtier from the water drainage the side walk in front of the neighbors houses. On inspection, the neighbors have these nice drains that pump the water out from the backyard onto sidewalk, whereas our water seemed to just bubble up through the dirt. I mean, that seems like a reasonable explanation for why there was so much dirt on our sidewalk.
Then I got to wondering, when I moved to "minimum viable yard care" - did somehow I have drains where dirt erosion just covered them up? The answer was, yes and yes. There were two. Guess it would have been better to uncover before these record winter rainfalls.

Monday, March 13, 2017

So Long my Twitter Teen

There was this fun little movement a couple of years ago called #followateen - with the idea being that old fogies like me would follow a random teenager on Twitter to understand what the kids these days are up to. I jumped on board and started following this random HS Junior.
Six years later? Holy moly, this kid is graduating from college this year, but sadly his Twitter account got hacked last week. He has been retweeting also sorts of promotional content - much of it is in Russian and Chinese. Fun times, but I think the adventure has ended. It was a good run.
What did I learn from my six years following a teen? I watched his account slowly become less and less active over that time - I assume it was because Twitter got replaced for these kids by Snapchat and other closed-network ephemeral messaging systems.
My generation came online and passed down the warning, "everything you do online will be seen by your parents, your employer, and your children. Post safely." The younger crowd saw that warning and said, "none of that!" and went on to find ways to bring the casualness back to interaction through services that aren't public and that expire. Let a silly in-the-moment event be lost with the moment and not catalogued forever.
It's funny that this culture hasn't bubbled up. I want to be hip like the kids, but no one in my social circles of old kurmudgen technologist wants to move on to the slick newness of it all. Heck, we're barely one step away from using a private IRC server for our communication.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Ramen Bar

I am quite a fan of ramen, but it's a little tricky to eat when going out with the family, because having a couple of little kids makes it a bit tricky/scary to have a bowl of scalding hot liquid on the table with everyone. Seems like a natural choice when I head into the workplace to grab ramen for lunch, but lunchtime in the financial district is a trainwreck of lines everywhere.
A couple months ago I discovered "The Ramen Bar" near work and it so wonderfully meets all of my lunchtime ramen needs. It's in 101 California, which is the first building I worked at after college and that just brings back wonderful nostalgia every time I go. Much more importantly, they have an app for my phone where I can order ahead of time, pay with Apple Pay, and then just walk in and grab my food to go. Now my office workers ask, "do you just get ramen every time you come to the office?' Yes. Yes I do.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Really Mr. NFL Player?

Do you get a lot of email meant for someone else? I am alway surprised how much people sign up my email address for various services on the internet. I assume these are subscription farms paid to increase active user counts - they just go through the process of signing up known good email addresses.

I share the name with a NFL football player. For the most part, this doesn’t matter, why would it? Yet over the last weekend this NFL player apparently on some interview or his twitter account or whatever, asked people to send him their favorite stories about his NFL team and presumably provided them his email address. His email address and my email address seems to be similar, because I receive around 600 emails from people telling me their favorite stories about their team. That was fun.

I am totally proud of the four people who sent me an iMessage tied to that email address. Way to go! And you one very brave person who did a couple Facetime calls to me? You’re now blocked, but I love your gusto!