Stuff to save & play back for my son

August 12, 2017

Andy Serkis reads Trump’s tweets outloud… as Gollum

July 12, 2017

I’m pretty certain this is the best thing that I will see all week.


Henry Rollins: The One Decision that Changed My Life Forever

July 10, 2017

I love this video so much because I see so much of myself in it.

The line that got me was, “I don’t have talent: I have tenacity.  I have discipline.  I have focus.”

I remember in high school thinking, the truth is that I’m not inherently talented.  I just have some odd interests that make me unique & ultimately, I always try harder than the next guy.  And the next guy.  And the next guy.  Figuratively, I’m the last guy in the gym taking jump shots everyday.

The other thing Henry said was, “You better get plan B, C, D, E, F, & G, otherwise you’re going to starve to death in America.”

This is so true.  I could never understand people that didn’t prepare for when things didn’t go their way.  It’s part of what boggles me about Hollywood because there’s a saying here for folks in the entertainment industry that goes, “Don’t have a plan B because that’s a plan for failure & you’ll too easily fall back on it.”

My god, who in their right mind wouldn’t plan for failure unless they treated failure as something awful?  Failure is a learning opportunity & how fast & how well you recover from failure is what defines a person’s character.

The only time you really fail is when you don’t get back up.  And there’s nothing wrong with preparing to get back up… and go a head in a direction.


DirecTV & “Your receiver isn’t authorized to record this program”

June 22, 2017

I have DirecTV with an older DVR model – the HR20.  The other day I was watching a show & attempted to record it by hitting the “RECORD” button on the remove after about 35min had gone by of the 1 hour long show. 

I was greeted with this message:

“Your receiver isn’t authorized to record this program.”

I hit RECORD multiple times and it still wouldn’t work.  I’ve actually seen this before but never figured out what was causing it.  After doing some research, I’ve found out the following things:

This is apparently associated with a long standing bug in the DirecTV DVR software that affects numerous models – including mine:

  1. LIVE/IN-PROGRESS BUFFER
    If the program you’re watching & want to record is a good ways into the show, it is a known problem that attempting to record the show by hitting “the RECORD button may fail with this error.
    I’ve heard that it has to do with the live buffer being completely filled – i.e. all 3 hours of live in-progress buffer is filled with past programming.  This is why this doesn’t happen consistently:  If you or the DVR has changed channels within the last 3 hours, you won’t get this issue.
  2. CHANGING CHANNELS
    If you change the channel and switch back, you’ll find that hitting the RECORD button will now work… however you will have lost the buffer of the show’s progress. i.e. If you’d watched 35min of the show, then change to another channel and come back to the original channel, you will be able to record but you will not hae the previous 35min in the recording.
  3. RECORDING FROM GUIDE
    If you go to the channel guide and press RECORD on the show playing at that moment, the recording SHOULD still work.  This is the best workaround.

Differences between Windows 10 Mobile (Nokia Icon) & Android (Samsung Galaxy S8)

June 15, 2017

imageHere’s a list of things I’ve noticed that are different between Windows 10 Mobile (Nokia Icon) & Android (Samsung Galaxy S8) since I’ve moved over:

POSITIVES:

  • Device unlock & authentication using fingerprint is a seamless experience.  While really not necessary & just a ‘nice-to-have’, this is probably the most surprising & delightful thing I’ve discovered about moving to the Samsung Galaxy S8.  Every time I discover another Android app that supports fingerprint auth (Bank of America, Chase, Paypal, etc.) instead of username/pwd/pin, I smile.
  • Battery life is really excellent.  While it is a new phone, I would argue that the battery life on the unit is 100%-150% more than that of my old Nokia Icon.  I used to make do with charging in my car or carrying an extra battery like we all do. So far I haven’t needed an extra battery, so again, this is convenient but a ‘nice-to-have’.
  • Fast. Wow, this thing is fast. Apps run fast, both wired & wireless charging is fast, fingerprint/facial authentication is fast, browsing is fast.  Again, while this sounds exciting, it’s more of a ‘nice to have’.
  • Skype for Business client for Android absolutely kicks the ASS of the W10M version and that’s pretty embarrassing. Part of this has to do with how the app runs in the background all the time, while it closes when not in the foreground on W10M.  This is borderline revolutionary because I use Skype for Business so much, and a pretty good value proposition for moving to Android.
  • Thin & light.  It’s indeed the thinnest phone I’ve ever had.  Even with a gel case, it’s thinner than my Nokia Icon.  The downside is that you don’t feel like you have a grip on the phone they way you did with the Nokia. I’m dreading the day I drop it.
  • The display is a little longer – about 3/4” longer – than the Nokia Icon and that’s including the softkeys at the base (back, home, apps), meaning there’s a bit more real estate to display things.
  • The display is really beautiful.  There’s no question that it’s the most vibrant and easy to view screen I’ve ever used.  The auto-brightness is excellent as well.  This element of the phone is nearly perfect.  But because of the convex nature of the glass, you REALLY need to get a tempered glass protector over it – which is a simple $12 purchase.

NEGATIVES:

  • It hate having to page through grids of icons.  I used to be able to store 90% of what I needed on a single page because of resizable tiles under Windows 10 Mobile.  Now I have to have 4 pages of unsizeable icons.
  • Outlook for Android doesn’t appear to have the basic ability to set an appointment as “private”.  Nor does it have the ability to set categories.  Or make an appointment reoccurring. 
  • Configuration is a nightmare.  There are so many configuration menus & sections, it’s mind-boggling.  Easily 3x-4x more than W10M, and while that is partially due to there being more flexibility, a lot of it is just lousy UI.  Good luck ever finding what you need in that maze of knobs & switches.  Worst configuration panel ever.
  • The UI is very inconsistent between apps & the OS. “OK” or “Send” is top of screen, bottom of screen, left of center, right of center. Really annoying – especially when the send button is at the top of the screen & because of the length of the phone, you have to move your hand to the top of the screen.
  • Microsoft Authenticator doesn’t always pop up notifications when expected.  We use Microsoft Authenticator to verify two-factor authentication for everything from VPN into Microsoft to access to extranet sites and not getting the notification on your phone for TFA auth is disturbing.  You find yourself frantically opening the Authenticator app and checking to see if it’s working – which is usually is, but Android simply didn’t post a system notification for you to respond to.
  • Widgets suck.  They take up a horrendous amount of space, none of them look attractive, and they’re all poorly written.
  • Voice to text is super important for me, and Google’s voice to text is quite accurate – but it doesn’t autocapitalize proper nouns or the first letter of each sentence, nor does it add punctuation where it belongs.  Cortana voice to text is FANTASTIC.  It not only does a great job with capitalization & punctuation but also with proper nouns.  I really miss it.
  • Not having Outlook contacts sync with the local contacts of the phone is a royal PITA.  You can push all your Outlook contacts (via the Outlook settings) to your Android contacts but once they’re out of sync, you’ll get incoming calls/texts that have only a phone number… annoying. 
  • Android Notification hell is hell.  I remember seeing other Android users’ notification icons and saying, “Why do you have so many icons at the top of your screen?” and they usually just shrug and say they ignore it.  How stupid is that?  Every damned app has notifications access & to tune your notifications, you basically have to wait until something shows up that annoys the hell out of you & then mute it or turn off notifications entirely for that one app.  There’s no standards for notifications on Android… it’s horrible.  I don’t remember ever going through this hell on any other platform.
  • The device froze on me.  I woke up one morning and the device was completely locked up on my nightstand.  I have to do a Volume-Power button reset.  After doing so, the always on clock configuration was weirdly reset. I don’t remember my Windows 10 Mobile EVER locking up on me. It may have had other issues but that wasn’t one of them.
  • Audio stop & start.  If I get a call or a reminder while music or audio is playing, the audio won’t necessarily continue.  This appears to be a ‘per app’ thing – as in each app has to take care of this on their own.  For example, there’s a setting on Audible for Android to continue playing back audio if it’s interrupted by a phone call or a notification.  On other apps, that’s not necessarily available.  So when you get a phone call or a text message, the audio… just stops.  In the car or in the shower, that’s really annoyingly stupid.

The future of connectivity is cellular.

June 3, 2017

This past week at Computex 2017 in Taipei, Microsoft announced a series of Always-Connected PCs – some Qualcomm ARM CPU-based, some Intel CPU-based. One of the showcase capabilities of these devices are eSIM-based cellular connectivity.

imageTHE EDGE OF TOMORROW
If you’re not paying attention, you could very well miss what seems an obvious future:

Cellular networking will soon outperform traditional wired & WiFi-based networking.

Your cellphone & any cellularly-connected devices will potentially have network speeds & performance superior to any WiFi, DSL, Cable or even FIBER connection you might get at home, at the office, or in a coffee shop.

Need evidence?  Here’s a device that was announced March 2017:

This home router connects to a cellular network at home & provides 1Gbps Internet access at the edge (farthest from the cell tower) and 4Gbps optimally at close distances.

Now imagine a fraction of this speed in your pocket on your cellphone: Anywhere you go, you could wirelessly get Internet access better than what is available from your home or your office. (Some people get this today compared to a DSL line!) Yes, your smartphone may not get a full 1Gbps due to power requirements, but it could be as much as 300-500Mbps.

WAIT, FROM MY CELLPHONE?
Yup.  Prepare yourself for your cellphone to have blazing network speeds.  But so will ANY CELLUARLY-CONNECTED device…  such as eSIM-enabled laptops & tablets… and also:

DESKTOPS: This is why Microsoft is partnering with HW OEMs to produce laptops & potentially DESKTOPS with cellular networking in them.  If a person can get better networking from cellular than from the Ethernet port in the wall, why not just use cellular and get rid of all the wires & equipment? Suddenly management of those machines got a lot simpler.

SERVERS: Why can’t datacenter servers be connected this way too? Indeed: Datacenter servers could use cellular as well.  All traffic would be encrypted & it would likely save power, reduce heat dissipation, and reduce management costs.

A WORD ABOUT SURFACE: The decision to include/not include LTE in past Surface devices wasn’t really ever about demand. (a.k.a. the statement we made that “We aren’t including LTE in Surface because customers aren’t asking for it.”) C’mon – we know that there were, in fact, people asking for it, otherwise why would we need to make a statement about it?  No, it was more about hardware economics: At the time of Surface Pro 2 & 3, we couldn’t physically fit the LTE transceiver & antenna into the Surface design without it substantially impacting aspects such as cost, battery life, and ultimately the time/budget to rearchitect a design for something that a minority of device owners would use where others wouldn’t. With Surface Pro (5) enough hardware innovation has been done to incorporate LTE Advanced into the device design cost-effectively, but it took a bit.

BUT IF YOU’RE ON A PHONE NETWORK…
…then you can make voice calls & have voice mail, right? Now think about that: If you don’t need a physical network or WiFi & you’re already on a cellular phone network, why do you need a VOIP phone system?

In other words, if I get rid of my wired/WiFi network at work, can’t I get rid of my desk phone PBX as well?

Yup.  All those corporate PBX’s & VOIP desk phones suddenly aren’t really necessary if you’re using a cellphone for everything.  Now, all you need is virtual telecom management solutions that work with your cellular provider and you’re set.

WHEN WILL IT BE REAL?
This is not 10 years down the road.  This is next year in mid-2018. Among other providers, Verizon has committed to making 5G available in major cities by then.

Also, it’s important to understand that the technology is not new:

  1. The cellular bandwidth/speeds in Japan is regularly 500Mbps–1Gbps, while we in the US get excited about our smartphones phones doing 5-25Mbps.
  2. While 4Gbps 5G network performance is stunning, Japanese researchers in early 2016, had developed 100Gbps 5G network performance. Again note: This is GIGABIT speeds. conventional WiFi on laptops working in offices & coffee shops generally only do 300Mbps-1Gbps at optimal conditions.
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japanese-5g-researchers-achieve-breakthrough-100gbps-wireless-internet-speeds-1543485

Of course, this won’t be everywhere overnight.  But it will be in metropolitan cities & expanding.

WHY DOES ONE NEED PHYSICAL NETWORK EQUIPMENT THEN?
This transition is similar to the move from land line phones to cell phones:  If all your networking is cellular & and routing is all done virtually, where does this leave networking vendors who depend on conventional network equipment sales for revenue  Good question. I don’t really know. Personally, at first glance, I think it means they have to diversify their offerings as the market changes.

WHAT ABOUT MICROSOFT WINDOWS?
Windows 10 is actually optimized for cellular networking. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the cellular configuration settings that are in the OS:

imageThere is also an app called “Paid WiFi & Cellular” that comes with Windows 10 that allows you to purchase cellular minutes in areas not covered by unlimited data consumption for your eSIM enabled Windows device.

—————-

EPILOGUE:
REGARDING TWO BODY SOLUTIONS & COMPETITORS:
Two body solutions are stop-gap solutions.  Having a MiFi Internet Access device & laptop PC (or a MiFi USB dongle) may be okay for a subsegment of the world, but for most people buying computing devices: They want the connectivity built-in to the computing device itself. We saw this in past history in the mobile market and we’re seeing it now here. (I’ll explain that in another post later.)

One thing that was mentioned by some experts is that Chromebooks don’t have this – neither to Macbooks.  (iPads have historically had an early version of embedded cellular/SIM technology but the challenge has often been, how do you move from carrier to carrier on the same iPad.)  Additionally, cellular is incredibly important in markets where WiFi & LAN networking isn’t as readily available… like China.  Or India.

Isn’t that interesting?


Angry about the AHCA? How about doing something about it?

May 6, 2017

imageTwo days ago, Republicans in Congress voted to pass the American Healthcare Act – an insane piece of legislation that has only two purposes:  Spite & power.

  • Not a a single healthcare organization supports it. 
  • The House Oversight Committee never got the chance to study it and provide estimates on it’s impact.
  • Not a single Democrat voted for it.
  • AHCA effectively cuts healthcare from 24 million citizens – especially those with pre-existing conditions who desperately need it.

Documented here (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h256) the inhumane suffering & loss of life over the next several years will be staggering.  For an idea of the impact this will have, read this article:

So what are you going to do about it?

I’ll make it simple for you:

Almost every Republican voted for the bill.  If your Congressman is Republican, it’s likely he or she wanted to protect their own jobs & voted AGAINST the American people’s interests, believing you, their constituents, wouldn’t notice their actions when they run for reelection in 2018.

  1. AGAIN, ALMOST EVERY REPUBLICAN IN THE HOUSE VOTED TO PASS IT. (Click here for the House vote tally – the following Republicans did NOT vote for the AHCA)
      1. Biggs, Andy, AZ 5th
      2. Coffman, Mike, CO 6th
      3. Massie, Thomas, KY 4th
      4. LoBiondo, Frank, NJ 2nd
      5. Smith, Chris, NJ 4th
      6. Lance, Leonard, NJ 7th
      7. Katko, John, NY 24th
      8. Jones, Walter, NC 3rd
      9. Turner, Michael, OH 10th
      10. Joyce, David, OH 14th
      11. Costello, Ryan, PA 6th
      12. Meehan, Patrick, PA 7th
      13. Dent, Charles, PA 15th
      14. Hurd, Will, TX 23rd
      15. Comstock, Barbara, VA 10th
      16. Herrera Beutler, Jaime, WA 3rd
      17. Reichert, David, WA 8th
      18. Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana, FL 27th
      19. Donovan Jr., Daniel, NY 11th
      20. Fitzpatrick, Brian, PA 8th
      21. Newhouse, Dan, WA 4th
        (Abstained)
  2. YOUR CONGRESSMAN IS LISTED HERE.
    (Figure out who your Congressman is, if you don’t know. If they were Republican, they voted against public interests. Click here to look them up.)
     
  3. GET REGISTERED TO VOTE.
    (Prepare for the next Congressional election. Make your vote count. Click here to get registered.)
  4. VOTE & ENCOURAGE OTHERS. (November 2018 is the next Congressional election. Voting is the single most impactful action you can take. Click here to find out when & where the next election will be in your location.)