Archives For February 2016


Just like all their competitors, including Apple, Samsung released the next iteration in their Galaxy series, the S7 and S7 Edge. There’s so much hype surrounding this release I’ll let you use Google to read all about it, if you haven’t been overwhelmed at whatever news source you frequent already. Although I switched to an Apple iPhone 6S Plus back in November, the Galaxy is still interesting enough to pay attention to. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.

  • The S7/S7 Edge have micro SDHC card capability again. My Galaxy S4 had it and I used it as well as Android 4.4 and Android 5 would allow, which wasn’t much. Google really screwed over users when they restricted external SDHC card usage as much as they did. That negative change was the first big push away from Android and Samsung and towards Apple. Fortunately for those who’ve stuck it out, Android 6 is supposed to make external storage devices like micro SDHC cards look like part of the overall storage pool. I have no details how that works as the only Android 6 devices I still own and use are a pair of 2013 Nexus 7 tablets. Of course, with the 128GB of device storage on my iPhone 6S Plus, the need for a piddly external micro SDHC device is pretty much eliminated. I’ve yet to read of an S7 being offered with 128GB.
  • The S7/S7 Edge are dust and water proof – again. The S5 (or at least the S5 Active) was dust and water proof, but the S6 wasn’t. No explanation about why that critical feature was dropped when the S6/S6 Edge were released, except perhaps Samsung spent so much time on making the S6 pretty they must have run out of time making it physically robust. The iPhone 6s Plus is reasonably water resistant (as reported here by Wired), so that was a big fat positive feature for me. Another reason to move to Apple.
  • The S7/S7 Edge are coming out of the chute with the latest version of Android, 6.0.1. That’s nice, considering that past Galaxies have been first released with older Android releases, and it took Samsung a very long time to release more up-to-date versions of their cooked version of Android. I have no idea how quickly Samsung will now follow Google when Google releases newer versions of Android going forward. Ideally Samsung’s release would be the same day as an Android update is announced, much as what Apple does when it announces a new release of iOS. I got tired of waiting not for major feature releases of Android on my Galaxy S4, but critical bug fixes that Google would announce. Part of the problem of timely updates is Samsung itself, part of the problem is AT&T. When I finally bought my iPhone, I did so knowing full well that even though AT&T is my provider, they don’t get in the way of Apple pushing out iOS updates.

The S7/S7 Edge look very pretty to be sure. And with the latest processor and support for even faster graphics, the S7 appears poised to make some spectacular mobile gaming possible. They even have a tie-in with virtual reality via Oculus; that’s one reason why pre-orders will get free VR headgear.

All exciting to be sure. But there’s one feature that nobody is mentioning that has my attention at the moment, and that’s on-device encryption. Apple is in a brutal battle with the DoJ, where the D0J wants Apple to create a backdoor into iOS in order to get the contents of a specific iPhone 5C used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. I believe in what Apple has done so far with iOS encryption on all its mobile devices, especially fighting incredible government overreach, enough to put my hard-earned money into buying Apple hardware. And it will stay that way, regardless of how pretty the latest Samsung phones are (or any other Android phone for that matter). Hopefully I won’t have to eat these words later, but I trust Apple to do the right thing on this important issue. That same level of trust is totally lacking with all Android handset providers, especially where AT&T is directly involved.

I made my switch to Apple back in November. I have no intentions of switching away.

2012-toyota-prius-5dr-hb-three-natl-angular-front-exterior-view_100384979_lI own a perl white 2012 Prius. You know, the Real Prius, not not one of the newer designs Toyota came out with that same model year. Since my operation I’ve been totally dependent upon my wife to drive me around in my Prius to where-ever I need to be. Driving for me is out of the question because I can’t yet flex my right leg enough to handle both the brake and accelerator pedals. So I’m forced by circumstances to ride shotgun.

Before this I never thought twice about getting into a car on either side. I just opened the door and slide inside and closed the door after me. A few seconds of activity. Easy-peasy as they say.

But with this leg in the shape it’s currently in I’ve had to learn a whole different way of getting into the shotgun side of the car. Keep in mind I’m 6 feet 4 inches tall.

  1. Open the right front passenger door.
  2. Make sure the right front passenger seat is as far back as possible.
  3. Make sure the back is at a 45 degree angle, not upright.
  4. Stand with both feet close to the open door essentially facing the driver’s side.
  5. Reach down and in and hold the top of the seat near the headrest.
  6. Lift up the right leg and put it in first, as far into the front as possible.
  7. Duck the head further down and into the doorway and pull the body over the seat.
  8. At the same time pull my left leg in after, flexing it so that I can then rotate 90 degrees from facing the drivers seat to facing forward where I can sit in the shotgun seat.
  9. At this point, once seated, reach back out and pull the door close.

Trying to get in the old way, left leg first, was a no-go as I couldn’t bend my right leg far enough to clear the door. After having practiced this since last Thursday when I to see the surgeon and imaging people, I’ve gotten to where I’m just as fast this was as with the old way. Which means that I can at least be driven to where I need to go for the next week. In the mean time I’m working on my at-home PT to get that flexibility back in that right leg. I’ve got to get back to where I can safely drive again.

lying about slowly healing

It’s been a week and a day since my right knee was fully replaced. I can walk about the house without any aid, and I can use my collapsible Traverse trekking pole when I’m outdoors to help with stability, just in case. Otherwise I stay indoors and move around helping to keep things clean and straight as best I can. These past few days I was able to do things like wash dirty pots and scrub the kitchen sink, as well as fix spaghetti Saturday night. These sound like such little, trivial tasks until you can’t do them or only with difficulty. Even getting a shower requires I wrap the incision with Glad Press ‘N’ Seal to keep water off and out of the wound to avoid any possibility of infection. Right now my dressing is almost totally clean when I change it daily. One more week of this…

I’m not the only one needing special comfort. Lulu went to visit the vet on Thursday, the same day I had to visit my surgeon for a post-0p checkup. She went to get her teeth cleaned and checked. Unfortunately for her she lost three, two of which are feline equivalents to wisdom teeth. When she came back she was OK, but she started to stay next to me a lot more than usual. Friday night she came up and slept next to me in my chair for comfort.

resting with dad

She’s since gotten back to her old Lulu self, but this past week seems to have deepened a bond between us even further.

The Florida Gingersnaps have been out and about in the central part of the house, running and playing. At 16 weeks, which was the week of my knee operation, they were six plus pounds each, or two pounds ahead of schedule. Kittens are supposed to add a pound/month. The Gingersnaps and Lulu seem to be getting along pretty well. More than once I’ve seen all three just lying close to each other on the floor, usually when the Gingersnaps get tired from chasing toys and themselves.

tos binging

February 15, 2016

Decal_29With my knee in its healing phase there’s not a lot for me to do outside of personal rest and home PT. For whatever reason I started to binge watch the original series Star Trek on Netflix, the series I came close to memorizing back in the mid-sixties when I was in the equivalent of middle school in Atlanta, Ga.

As a kid I’d gotten a small reel-to-reel GE tape recorder one Christmas, and I quickly pressed it into use recording the audio from each episode. I eventually had two stacks of tapes, one for season one, and one for season two. I never recorded season three; after spending one evening watching “Spock’s Brain,” I never turned Star Trek back on again because that episode was so bad. I spent the rest of the third season replaying my audio tapes, imagining the visual portion of Star Trek while the audio and music played from my tape player. After the original series was canceled I concentrated on Apollo up through 1972, when I graduated from high school and headed off to college. Those tapes got recycled into other recordings, and eventually into the trash when they were worn out.

Over the years that’ve followed I’ve watched some of the movies (“The Wrath of Kahn”), some episodes from the spin-offs like Next Generation, and even gone back to watch the occasional rerun of the original series. To this day I still can’t watch “Spock’s Brain” or any of the third season episodes.

These past few days were an opportunity to kill some time by binge watching TOS. I’ve had a Netflix account now for years, starting back when you got physical DVDs in the mail. The physical media’s long gone, but I still stream. So I fired up my iPhone 6s+, pulled up the Netflix app, and went slumming through all those old episodes.

The version of TOS that Netflix has are the updated episodes where CBS went back and redid nearly all the old special effects. Planets really look like planets, especially when that planet is Earth (“Tomorrow is Yesterday,” “Assignment: Earth”), the spaceships were cleaned up, as were the movements of ships in space. With all the science fiction that has been produced since TOS first aired, it only made sense to update the effects. And I certainly appreciated those updates.

The only problem is that those cleanups made all the episodes look that much worse for their age. What was entertaining and exciting for a middle-schooler in the 1960s now seems worn, frayed around the edges. The plot holes are too obvious and too numerous to mention, cause and effect too silly. I grew up during the period of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, watching real astronauts fly into space. It was watching real rocketry that made me believe we might have something like Star Trek in the future. When it all got shut down and replaced with the Shuttle, Star Trek became part of the “kid stuff” I left behind. Along with a lot of other silly Hollywood science fiction.

I’m glad I got a chance to skip through all those old episodes. I think I finally got the very last vestiges completely out of my system.

updating ubuntu

February 13, 2016

ubuntu-logo112I was forced into updating my ancient Samsung R580 notebook from 15.04 to 15.10 today. I didn’t feel the need to update to 15.10 when it was released back in October because it had nothing new I wanted and I was more than satisfied with 15.04. I’d planned to stretch out my use of 15.04 until the next LTS, 16.04, is released in April.

That plan got knocked to the side of the road when I checked with Software Updating to get the latest fixes and updates and it displayed a message that 15.04 would not longer be updated, would I please step up to 15.10. Sort of reminded me of Microsoft’s entreaties to me to update from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. So I updated the Samsung and everything updated and upgraded without a hitch.

I now have three key notebooks whose native OSes are, respectively, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Because the R580 is as old as it is I’m now in the market for a used notebook that’s current enough to last another 5-10 years to replace the R580. The R580 is old enough that it was originally sold with Vista, then later upgraded to Windows 7. That Win7 install eventually ate itself up, at which point I replaced it with Ubuntu 13.10 right after Christmas 2013. Except for one very brief side track to Fedora/RHEL, it’s been on Ubuntu ever since.

I’m not sure I’ll ever switch to Ubuntu the way Dan Gilmore did, but as soon as I get my finances back in order I intend to never spend as much on computers as I have in 2015. I have my strong business reasons for owning these three machines, but I don’t want to be dependent on any of them. But if I had to, I’d probably pick Ubuntu.