I read about people taking old phones or tablets and converting them into pseudo phones of sorts and decided to investigate how well this works. I have some pretty decent used stuff laying around so what I did was took a microsim out of an AT&T compatible tablet that was sort of mothballed and placed it into a AT&T compatible phone I used to use. Where I live a phone on AT&T’s network has a standard $40 a month fee plus the cost of however many gigabytes of data one is willing to pay for each month. A tablet however is $10 plus data package each month. Now the phone is identified as a phone but because of the sim in it only cost tablet prices! The thing is however, it won’t operate as a phone on AT&T’s network. It does work on their network to provide regular web services such as games, music, web browsing …etc. AT&T’s network coverage where I live is really pretty good. So I read and installed quite a few apps before deciding on one. What I found out is this actually can be done for free if one doesn’t mind being nagged by adverts. It is completely dependent on signal quality, whether it’s wifi or LTE but as I stated earlier where I live cellular is not a problem and just like most medium size cities wifi is all over the place. One potential caveat is I have lost 911 type services and I guess I won’t get emergency messages such as Amber alerts with this configuration. The adverts ridden nature of many apps though is pretty much a deal breaker for me. I did find one that would spare me the nags for subscription fee(s) of $33.86 per year. The breakdown goes like this $0.99 per month to keep it ad free text(s)+calls, $1.99 per year to hold a phone number so people can call from landlines and cellphones, and last $19.99 per year for unlimited calls in the US and Canada. This works out to $2.822¢ per month which I would call reasonable? If one doesn’t like the subscription model there are also a pay as you go options. I have been using this for about three weeks without issue. Calling various people and receiving texts from my wife and friends has worked seamlessly whether I am on a wifi or LTE network. The phone I have married this to is an LG-G3 which is above average and fairly recent hardware, but I am sure this would work with many other less recent handsets as well. Now I still have and use a Nexus 6 as my main phone but this is giving us (my wife and I) a second line with a real number that is mobile or wifi operable and can serve the purpose of everything from a phone, GPS, or portable media system for really what is not very much money. I am impressed! Oh yeah and for the record this is available for Android or IOS.
I had been wanting a largish phone for sometime so when the Google Nexus 6 by Motorola came out I more or less decided this would be the one. I am not overwhelmed by Motorola products especially, but I did have a reasonably good run with an earlier model called the Photon 4G. It was the first I guess what would be referred to as a smartphone that I owned. It was also the first device I managed to get root access on which more or less made an Android fan out of me. My experiences with Google Nexus branded electronics until now have been a Nexus 7 (2013) WIFI by ASUS which I purchased from Best Buy. The device was easily unlockable and since then I have kept an eye on Nexus devices. The fact they can be easily unlocked and usually come with an unmodified OS makes them intriguing. I say usually because starting with Nexus 6 AT&T has changed things a bit which really is their right since after all the units they sell will be used primarily on their network and they are a large enough competitor to treat their customers however they see fit. Myself I am not a fan or customer but my reasons are cost related and have nothing to do with hardware restrictions they might incorporate in their devices.
Well I got my phone before Christmas with T-Mobile which I find is decent around here but some people have warned me they are pretty bad in rural areas. I really can’t say that I have had any major problems though. I like the camera on the Nexus 6 but do find it struggles with low light conditions. Android 5.+ includes Google Camera which is very very basic. I do not mean bad however just a little to simplistic for my tastes. If one is a user of Google services G+, Gmail, Google Play Music …etc the integration is basically seamless on this device. The combination of Nexus hardware and Lollipop really feels fast. I don’t have any comparative benchmarks to substantiate this so it is just my opinion. I kept it stock about 2-3 weeks before I rooted it and installed a custom rom. I chose an AOSP based version of Android called LiquidSmooth which is a work in progress and seems to usually get better with every update. There have been a couple times I had to revert to a backup which should always be considered a possibility when “testing” software. Since I enjoy these kids of things I cannot recommend anyone who has never done these kinds of things try it until they have done some research first. Some people say the screen is to big but I find it the best available size in a phone at this point in time as my eyes aren’t the best and I prefer to look at things with the phone being held in a portrait position. The Nexus 6 is excellent under those conditions.
Above are three sceens and one camera shot. The phone is running LiquidSmooth as mentioned earlier using Nova Launcher with a Zooper Widget and at 5.96 inches diagonally everything looks really good. The whole customizable thing is the main reason I really prefer Android to other device OS(s). while not perfect (nothing ever is) I am really enjoying my time with the Nexus 6 so far. Oh and for the record the lady on my home screen is Joss Stone and while I don’t know her I think she looks and sings fantastic. Not really relevant to the Nexus 6 but I thought I would throw that in anyway.
Just a note to let anyone who might visit that I haven’t quit but rather on another site of mine I have been commenting a lot on things going on in Baton Rouge and Louisiana in general lately. One thing of note I guess is our governor here has presidential ambitions. Personally I think he is delusional and suffers with an overly inflated ego and sincerely hope most Americans agree with me and send this harbinger to ancient times packing. Oh well enough political commentary I will get back to posting tech bits with some frequency again shortly.
I just acquired a new computer a Macbook Pro 15″ to be exact. Everything I read about this model said it basically is not user serviceable, therefore I ordered it pretty much loaded and took the Apple Care Plan with it. I wanted something I could throw in a backpack and haul around with me. I haven’t had a Windows only PC in several years now as everything I find myself using runs OSX, IOS, Android, or Linux. However every now and then I do find myself needing Windows for various reasons so on 2 computers I own (Macs) I do run Windows as an aside every now and then. On my main desktop (a Mac mini 6,1) I run Windows 7 using Bootcamp and that works really well with only one caveat.. rebooting between OSs. On the Macbook I decided to try Parallels Desktop and Windows7 I have to say that I am impressed at how well it works. Full screen mode is awesome and the feature coherence works excellently. I had tried it on the Mac mini but the performance seemed sluggish which is why I opted to use Bootcamp instead. I am no hardware guru but the two systems are relatively equally matched except the Macbook has a 1TB SSD while the Mac mini is using a slower 1TB (5400-rpm) hard drive. The graphics horsepower on the Macbook Pro is more as well but in the VM role I think that the data access time is the most major difference especailly since I don’t run anything really graphically intensive. To quantify this I ran Microsoft’s Windows Experience Index Tool (WEI) to see how Windows saw the Macbook Pro hardware capabilities. I realize that this is a very basic benchmark but I do feel it provides a reasonable baseline view of a computers capableness as it relates to being able to run Windows . When I set up the Windows VM I split the resources between OSX and Windows equally and enabled every other performance setting. The resulting score was a 7.0 out of a possible 7.9. The Graphic gives the categorical breakdown of the score. All things considered I prefer this to Bootcamp and really do consider this a valid option (installable pay for it feature even) for anyone who owns a recent Macbook Pro and needs decent reliable access to Windows occasionally. IMHO it is more than adequate and really is an enhancement for Windows or OSX when they are used together. I am (on a Macbook Pro anyway) impressed.
According to several outlets on the web today this marvel of modern mega horsepower will beat quite a few more expensive offerings from Autoweek comes this observation, but the one that said it Z best IMHO is Patrick George on jalopnik.com ….
We all knew the 650 horsepower 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 would be fast. That’s the whole point. Now we know it’s gonna be stupid fast: the zero to 60 mph dash is done in 2.95 seconds, and it will run a 10.95 second quarter mile. Stupid fast, I say!
I can only say I would love a chance to get stupid with this car! Oh yeah almost forgot those numbers are with an automatic transmission no less.
There is a flaw that affects the “GNU Bourne Again Shell” (bash shell) and if that sounds familiar well it is as the bash shell is ubiquitous with Unix/Linux systems which probably translates to a whole lot of servers and devices are affected by this. Some vendors already have patches available. Others like Apple have not as of yet. This really does take in a lot of devices and systems. The best information I’ve found about it is at Ars Technica.
Chrome 41 (Branch point in Q1 2015)
Sites with end-entity certificates that expire between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016 (inclusive), and which include a SHA-1-based signature as part of the certificate chain, will be treated as “secure, but with minor errors”.
Sites with end-entity certificates that expire on or after 1 January 2017, and which include a SHA-1-based signature as part of the certificate chain, will be treated as “affirmatively insecure”. Subresources from such domain will be treated as “active mixed content”.
The current visual display for “affirmatively insecure” is a lock with a red X, and a red strike-through text treatment in the URL scheme.
Note: SHA-1-based signatures for trusted root certificates are not a problem because TLS clients trust them by their identity, rather than by the signature of their hash.
I often make make mistakes in the way I interpret things but I take this to mean website owners have about year and three months to get their certificates swapped out or have their vistors seeing warnings when they visit. One last thing anyone who is not sure what kind of certificate they have can check it out at this site.
THAW is a novel interaction system that allows a collocated large display and small handheld devices to seamlessly work together. The smartphone acts both as a physical interface and as an additional graphics layer for near-surface interaction on a computer screen. Our system enables accurate position tracking of a smartphone placed on or over any screen by displaying a 2D color pattern that is captured using the smartphone’s back-facing camera. The proposed technique can be implemented on existing devices without the need for additional hardware.
In a sense this would make all computer screens interactive touch enabled or not. At the very least it looks like playing with this could be interesting and I would love to see what developers could do with this!
This one isn’t about high performance vehicles rather what can a self hosted site owner do (cheaply) to optimize his/her website(s). I don’t post all that regularly but I do spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking things. I could just try and keep everything on the lean side but, I am philosophically opposed to that approach as it is very limiting. I personally do not believe that the future of Internet related things is well represented by the terms like minimalist or lean. Pictures, videos, writing, games, and music all comprise the experience we nonchalantly call the web. So the issue for the home hoster becomes how can I offer a diverse web experience and provide a fluid and smooth user experience at the same time.
I guess the first thing would be to quantify what one does have running. There are a lot of free tools out there to help with this. My personal favorites are PageSpeed Insights along with the validation tools for CSS, HTML and certificate validity. There are other tools for checking the integrity of ones site, these are ones I refer to most often to decide what I am or am not going to fix. Using these I can get an overall picture of what I have and with that I can start to optimize the site. There are tradeoffs here and there for instance there may be a feature I want to keep that adds an excessive amount of bloat. I will stay with the feature but will constantly be on the lookout for a better way to deliver it. Other tradeoffs would be I am not going to squash images to the point they are unappealing to look at. In my opinion that would be counter productive and not offering images would make more sense which as I stated earlier I am opposed to doing. So at least in couple areas I find myself making some tradeoffs.
Luckily there are some workarounds the most significant thing I have found is using a CDN. I had read all kinds of things about Amazon Web Services but didn’t have a clue about how to integrate some of the AWS offerings with WordPress. With some persistence I was able to find a couple plugins that helped me to get static resources into the cloud. The first thing I incorporated was a plugin to manage uploading and linking media files to the Amazon Cloud. This was good since it allowed me to spread numerous graphic and musical elements throughout the site with having to take an overwhelming performance hit. Next I wanted to get other static resources into the cloud so the track I took was to establish a origin pull style web distribution with the site being the custom-origin. This was even better than the the first solution in as much as I didn’t have to do anything other than link to the files. Once again I found a plugin to aid me in this pursuit but not from the WordPress repository but from GitHub. I know the two solutions could be overlapping if not configured correctly and therefore not the most efficient way to go about things but they do get the job done.
The last things I have implemented are some server side and plugin style integrations. These were an optimization in box server module from Google Developers called of all things mod_pagespeed or PageSpeed Module. This comes in Apache or nginx flavors so implementing it is within reach of most web hosts. Another server side thing I installed was memcache(d) and a couple plugins to interact with it. Finally the last two things I implemented were one plugin to dynamically compress html and another to handle scripts and styles.
In conclusion this is quite a bit of under the hood modification when it is all said and done but that is one of the perks of self hosting i.e. it is ones to tweak or break. Also whenever these kinds of tweaks are applied things will break so finding that perfect set of tools/plugins to support site features becomes a necessity before one can say it’s actually working. Does all this work? I included a couple screen grabs above to address that question. I would like offer a how to type piece but I am not really qualified as everything I have implemented is the result of experimentation or Googling topics to find suggestions and solutions.
I am a slave to fashion and am absolutely addicted to powerful vehicles. Not that I can indulge myself as much as I’d like, but it doesn’t stop me from at least looking. Unfortunately it looks like the closest dealer is about 80+ miles away and that in itself is probably enough to curb my interests. However at 558 pounds full of fuel and fluids, 100 horsepower, and $11,000 price point this thing sure looks nice. More information can be found at this link as well as numerous articles on the web.
I have pretty much concluded that I can’t keep up with the pace at which new models of tech items are released. I am I figure like a lot of people in as much as I am constantly upgrading something. The latest edition to our household is an iPad Air which replaces a third generation model which still worked but had a couple dents and slightly cracked screen and rather than just throw it away it was donated to a local recycling service.
Some may have noticed I serve the site over an encrypted connection lately. This is just more of a proof of concept thing I guess since the cost to purchase certificates is far more competitive than it used to be, the cost could even be considered trivial unless one wants a EV certificate. My goal is simple I just want to serve pages without users seeing certificate errors. Now recently when the heartbleed thing was making news I did check my site with an online tool the A+ graphic is an example of the results. To be fair however I could/did not do this without doing a little web style research first.
My other material addiction has been occupying a fair amount of time lately as I had been clamoring to get that last ounce of performance out of it. Recently I did drive it to Pensacola Forida and was surprised to find that on the interstate that it would actually get 23+ mpg. I was expecting a lot less as in city driving that number goes down by half or more. Just for the record this car will do 0-60 in under 5 seconds and one quarter mile under 13 seconds without any problems. Short of adding adding a supercharger or turbo I think I am at the limits of what can be achieved without a major reworking of the engine components not saying it won’t happen just won’t be now.