Ivor O’Connor

October 26, 2012

Google Galaxy Nexus Impressions

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 4:15 pm

I have had this Google Galaxy Nexus phone for about three days now. Other phones I’ve had are the Samsung Galaxy I and II phones with crapware preinstalled from the likes of Sprint and Verizon.

It came with “Ice Cream Sandwich” 4.0.4. as the operating system. Around here AT&T is used by Net10 and costs only $45.95 a month for unlimited voice, text, and data. And unlike using AT&T directly Net10 does not impose any data caps.  Within a day the phone forced me to upgrade the OS first to 4.1.1 and then to 4.1.2 which is called “Jelly Bean”. Everything went very smoothly.

First problem encountered was with the number of rings before Net10 would pick up and say the user has not set up their voice mail account and hangup after 20 seconds. Net10s first level of phone support was interesting. Some Indian that spoke decent English but did not understand the problem and because English was not his first language a solid connection was never made. He pretended to consult with his supervisor when asked. No solution. Then I asked to be transferred to his manager. The “manager” was an Indian lady who understood English about as well as he did. There were long pauses while waiting for her brain to connect. She slowly tried to comprehend and it became obvious she was not a manager but some new intern meant to handle calls nobody else wanted. Long story short nobody there had a clue. Over an hour was wasted as they continued to pass me from one “technical dept” to another. Fortunately my headphones are comfortable allowing me to do other things while they play games.

There were other people on the forums with similar problems. So I posted a message on the forum.  However these forums are very similar to their phone support in that they are polite but not helpful. Instead of openly displaying their inabilities to fix things they immediately reply with:

Good day, ioconnor. We’re sorry for the trouble. My name is Jessica TracFone and I’ll be addressing your concern. We need to take this issue offline so I can address it further. I will contact you directly with a private message. Thank you.

In the private messages they say please give the following info. Unfortunately you can’t reply because their system only lets regular posters reply! You can’t just post willy-nilly to game their system because they view all posts and only allow those that are contributing something. So a day was lost trying to get enough posts so I could reply back. Then they informed me they could change the time from 20 to 30 seconds before their automated system would hangup on my callers. Haven’t tested it yet.

Other than that the Net10 service of rebranding AT&T is quite good. No dead zones unlike with Verizon and Sprint. Download speeds using the phone as a tether are four Mb/s and upload is one Mb/s. Good enough to watch YouTube videos and such in places that Sprint won’t even connect in.

The Google Galaxy Nexus phone itself is fantastic. It is quick. It is big. No delays. Boots quickly. The built in wireless tethering just works so there is no need to root the phone. Basically this phone is how I expected the Galaxy Samsung one and two to be. Unfortunately the branding and all the crapware Sprint and Verizon burns on to those phones makes them almost unusable. This phone is very usable and I highly recommend it. Except for the price. Almost $390 after shipping.

Oh yes. They did not process the order for about five business days. Then shipped it the standard two day delivery with UPS.

October 23, 2012

When Black Is White

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 11:31 pm

There is really no difference between Democrats and Republicans is there?

…how the Obama administration, for the astounding sixth time, had used the Espionage Act — which is supposed to be used against spies — to bring criminal charges against a former government employee-turned-whistleblower. All other Presidents prior to Obama put together had used the Espionage Act in this manner three times.



October 21, 2012

Pandora Music Problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:49 pm

After using the upgraded version of Pandora for a few years some problems have bubbled up. And have grown to monstrous proportions until Pandora is now unworkable. I will not be resubscribing to Pandora when my yearly contract is up.

The problem with Pandora is repetition. The same songs are played over-and-over. The songs are great but there’s not enough diversity.  And giving the song a thumbs down doesn’t help teach Pandora my preferences. I want them to know what I like so I can’t give those songs a thumbs down! Skipping songs only works five times per hour and that is not nearly enough. In fact I use four different stations so that when Pandora says I must listen to the song I can skip to another station and continue skipping or giving thumbs down. It’s called the Pandora Game.

What’s really needed is a new button. Something like “don’t play this song because I have bought it but remember to play more like this” button. Then Pandora can continue picking songs based on tastes while avoiding boredom. There is about another six months on my contract. If they add the button I suggest or find another way around I’ll continue to use them. As it stands now I’m preparing my migration away from them.

It is too bad. I really liked Pandora at one point.

Never Vote Democratic Or Republican

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 2:19 pm

One more reason why I’ll vote for any third candidate regardless of their qualifications or agenda. As long as they are the front running 3rd party candidate I’ll vote for them. Doesn’t matter if they have a chance to win.  Some people say it’s throwing your vote away. I say it’s throwing your vote away to vote Republican or Democrat. Republicans and Democrats do exactly the same as each other.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday as they attempted to enter the grounds of the presidential debate site at Hofstra University. Like other third-party candidates, Stein was blocked from participating in the debate by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties. Stein and Honkala were held for eight hours, handcuffed to chairs. As she was being arrested, Stein condemned what she called “this mock debate, this mockery of democracy.” 



October 20, 2012

Mark Shuttleworth…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 11:33 pm

He’s been on a prolonged rant about people talking about his bad decisions. Almost every interview I’ve heard lately has had him on the offensive blasting away at his critics. And now he’s going to keep everything secret in the hope people won’t set him straight before he’s had a chance to mess up.  “Key parts of Ubuntu 13.04 will be developed in secret, to escape the critics’ ire” is his latest “craziness”. It’s not that I don’t agree with his ideas to get a version of Ubuntu out that will run on a pad or even a smart phone. And he actually recognizes those companies that give back (monetarily) to Linux while putting Google into the background. And that he has put marketing into his OS. All of these things though need an opt-out.  An opt-out so users like myself can continue to use the old styles we learned in the 90s and ignore all this new eye-candy. Otherwise we’ll write a few “Ubuntu Sucks” articles and then remove it from all our computers. (Yes I’m talking about myself.)

However I hope him well. I hope he manages to make Linux an alternative to Android, Apple, and M$. I hope he’s a visionary that is gathering money for the Linux platform.

Meanwhile I’ve been falling in love with the FSF. They have a list of recommended software. On their list is a recommended version of Linux. Gnu/Linux. I don’t know if it will be good enough to replace Mint XFCE but I’ll give it a try. All I want is an OS that works from the command line and tools that don’t change every few months.  I’ll leave the fad chasing to visionaries like Mark Shuttleworth.  Hopefully Mark Shuttleworth will eventually eclipse Steve Jobs.



Why Does It Take So Long To Boot An OS?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 10:15 pm

It seemed like just a few months ago developers were talking about how their OSs would load in 17 seconds. Now it takes about 170 seconds again. Or even 5 minutes. Have these system developers all moved over to SSD drives and don’t realize how slow their OSs load?

I’d like to see a new standard introduced. Something based on how long it takes to boot the OS. Perhaps that all OSs must always boot in less than 10 seconds on old hardware. Go back to the year 2000 and find the hardware that was in use then. Establish that hardware as the “new era standard”. Then let the developers keep working on their boot code until they have a full boot in under 10 seconds. Not a current “microsoft boot” which looks like the system has finished but the CPU and disks are spinning at 100% for minutes and minutes after that making it impossible to use the system. After 10 seconds the hard disk and CPU should be at rest. The boot process should be over.

If somebody has the fanciest hardware money can buy then the full boot time should be close to zero. We shouldn’t have to continue putting up with bad OSs.

October 18, 2012

Ekiga As A Skype Replacement

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:58 am

As most know Skype works on M$, Apple, and *nix. Skype voice quality is fantastic too. The price is great too. Slightly less than $100 a year for unlimited calling along with a real telephone number others can use to call you. From a simple users perspective the only thing that sucks about Skype is the constant spam.

There’s no way to tell Skype to only accept phone calls from valid telephone numbers and filter out calls from internet spammers. It would be very easy. Their “solution” is to only allow incoming calls that are in your address book. All I know is I *NEVER* expect or want to hear from anybody who isn’t calling from a real telephone number. And since I’m running a business I have no idea who will call next. So I’m constantly blocking and flagging incoming “calls” and reporting them as “abusive”. Skype never follows up. In fact Skype actively deletes forum postings about this problem!

The constant spam was enough to make me want to get rid of Skype. Looking at Richard Stallman’s Personal Page I noticed references like “Skype makes chats and user data more available to police” from the Washington Post. Fortunately Stallman has already done his homework and recommends the use of “Ekiga” as a Skype replacement. Tonight I installed Ekiga.

Ekiga is a little troublesome to use but the price, voice quality, and lag time are all on par with Skype. In other words I can hear a pin drop in the room next to me and every little mild inflection that makes up my voice. Perhaps it is better than Skype when it comes to voice quality. The troubles come from setting it up.

Ekiga requires you to register a SIP account. Then you must buy an outgoing VOIP solution for hooking into the POT network. Which naturally requires credit cards and more accounts. There is a different pay structure too. Instead of Skypes unlimited calling the default Ekiga setup through http://www.diamondcard.us costs 1.6 cents a minute. I don’t know if this price is for incoming calls as well as outgoing calls but I hope not. Hopefully not.

Support for Ekiga is almost non existent. I posted a simple question on their irc channel. No response. I went through their FAQ, manual, troubleshooting manual, developers blogs, GIT directories, etc., and it is all very sparse. As in maybe three postings a year sparse! I couldn’t find the solution to why my accounts were not validating but it turned out that I was just being impatient. I guess it’s like switching DNS routings. You have to wait until the new addresses make it out. I emailed the DiamondCard people a few days ago about their pricing  but haven’t received any response. I left a voice message with them today and haven’t heard anything back. Skype and Google are no different though. I guess in these times of austerity nobody cares about support.

Hopefully Ekiga will be a solution I can live with for years to come. I’ll continue to use Skype along side Ekiga until I’m sure though!

October 12, 2012

Linus Torvald Is Spot On Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 11:21 pm

“He really seems to be a f***ing moron,” Linux creator Linus Torvalds wrote of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney late last night on Google+, using two fewer asterisks than you see here.


What has got my interest is how so many people have expressed outrage. What is wrong with this country? You can’t call a spade a spade?

It’s very similar to not executing retarded killers because it is supposedly “inhumane”.

I for one wish more people, like Linus, would clearly state the obvious. We don’t need “choices” like Romney or Obama. We need Gary Johnson as president.


October 11, 2012

The Great Internet Wall of America.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:31 am

Google pretty much has a stranglehold on everything “internet” in America. They do have the best. However they have stifled competition to such a degree it’s not right. So how to get around them?

I’m thinking the first step is to keep them from tracking me. And Tor is fantastic for that. It installs a proxy encrypting all traffic to another country which then is multiplexed in such a way the end server has no idea where the traffic originated. I tried Tor a decade or so ago and it was unbearably slow. It’s much faster now and perhaps usable. 

Most of my online habits must change. I need to make use of sites that don’t require intrusive software like flash and adobe. Then I need to replace google as my search provider. I’m thinking google filters out the interesting stuff. Like where I can buy cheap textbooks in PDF format for instance. There’s so much to learn and I don’t think I have the time or zeal to follow through… 

October 7, 2012

M$ drinking Ubuntu’s Koolaide?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 2:10 pm

I can’t imagine it. M$ is suppose to be a business OS. Yet from skimming the following article it seems Windows 8 will be pushing the users down a mobile phone interface? Surely I must have read this article wrong?

From http://www.osnews.com/story/26434/_Paul_s_take_on_Windows_8_

And no, don’t peddle this nonsense about the desktop still being here – if you truly believe the desktop has a future at Microsoft, I have an Afsluitdijk to sell you. It’s legacy. Deprecated. It’s going away. Investing in Microsoft’s desktop should not be your long-term plan.

After months and months, I simply wondered why I even bothered – especially since all these issues could’ve been – and still are – so easily avoided. Windows is smart enough to know what it’s running on, so why doesn’t Windows 8 simply, you know, adapt? Aren’t computers supposed to work for me instead of against me? Aren’t they supposed to make my life easier instead of harder? Why on earth am I supposed to use a user interface designed for touch on a desktop computer – in 2012?

That was a rhetorical question, because I know the answer just fine. The only reason Microsoft is peddling Metro on desktops and laptops is to get people to buy Windows (Phone) 8 tablets and smartphones, much like how people originally wanted Windows at home because that’s what they used at work.

While that’s a fine from a business perspective – and it may even be bold enough to work – but as someone with so much experience with all there is to see in the world of user interfaces, I don’t care about Microsoft’s business reasons. I only care about GUI design. Haven’t we learned by now that cramming a desktop interface onto a mobile device – and vice versa – is simply very bad GUI design?

As Paul Allen notes, there are tons of small issues in Windows 8, but none of them are even remotely interesting when you look the big issue: you can’t drill a small hole in the wall with a belt sander.


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