Archive: April 4, 2016

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Monday,  04/04/16  08:05 AM

You guys may know, I'm a "small phone" guy.  I loved my Palm Pre, it was the perfect size.  So when Apple went from the iPhone 4 form factor to the iPhone 5, I was not delighted.  I did upgrade, and for the past two years I've liked my iPhone 5S, but there was no way I wanted an iPhone 6.  (And as far as the iPhone 6 Plus, I already have an iPad :)

So the iPhone SE was designed for me; essentially an iPhone 6S in an iPhone 5S body.  I just got one and I like it.


  • The camera.  The picture at right of my cat Reggie is amazing; there was so much variation in light that I had a hard time seeing him by eye, yet the picture is great.  (click to enbiggen, but note that I've downsampled the resolution by 200%)
  • The battery life.  I got my phone on Friday, and powered it on Saturday morning.  I deliberately ran all day Saturday and Sunday without plugging it in, and on Sunday night I was still at 20%.
  • Apple Pay.  I'm all setup with nowhere to go; all the places I went over the weekend didn't accept it.  (The blank look on the DoIt Center cashier's face when I asked if they accepted Apple Pay was especially great.)  Still, I'm looking forward to using it and confident it will be cool.
  • "Hey Siri" without pressing the home button.  This is way cooler than you might think.  I'm not a Siri user - or at least I wasn't - but now it is so easy to try stuff that I do.  "Hey Siri, where's the nearest post office?"  Etc.  Siri still doesn't work that well, but the ability to access it just by speaking is game changing.
  • Faster.  Yep, it is.

That cool camera is capable of some amazing close-ups, check out the self-portrait at right, showing how the camera does not stick out.  (click to enbiggen; again, resolution downsampled by 200%)

Not so great things:

  • I was forced to upgrade to iTunes 12 in order to restore to this phone.  Okay, I get it, forward motion, but I was holding out because iTunes 12 seems like a step backward from 11.  All that Apple Music stuff that I don't care about ... everything moved around ...  Anyway IIWII.
  • As always, remembering all my accounts and passwords and re-logging into everything is a massive PITA.  Now that we have fingerprint recognition built into the phone, can't we do away with all this crap?  Seems like once I've authenticated myself with my finger, everything else should be known...
  • I still don't like the virtual keyboard.  It is so fast and the auto correction is so useful that it is almost as good as a real keyboard, but almost is not quite.  I mentally flirted with getting a Blackberry Priv for just this reason ... but I didn't pull the trigger.  (The reviews of the Priv's keyboard mostly said "this keyboard isn't as good as previous Blackberries)

All in all a worthy upgrade.  "Hey Siri, will the iPhone 7 be available in the 5" form factor?"




Monday,  04/04/16  10:55 PM

Wow!  Has there ever been a better ending to a better game than last night's NCAA basketball championship?  With 4.7 count 'em 4.7 seconds left, North Carolina launches an improbable 3 which somehow hits net to tie, and then after a frantic full court scramble Villanova bags a game winner with 0.5 cannot even count 'em 0.5 seconds left for the win.  Wow.

I had predicted NC would win in a yawner.  Missed it by a mile.

Talking of missing things by a mile, Real Science notes the Falling Sea Level on the East Coast of the US. 

Meanwhile, astronomers just discovered an alien planet with three suns that shouldn't exist.  Great headline for an interesting story.  What a time to be alive. 

I wonder if "My Three Suns" was considered as an alternate headline? :)

Space archaeology uncovers potential Viking settlement in North America.  Love this. 

Strongly reminiscent of Nevil Shute's amazing An Old Captivity, which imagines a Viking settlement discovered during an air survey.  A great read.

We seem to have reached "peak Trump", and with tomorrow's likely defeat in the Wisconsin primary, Roger Kimball wonders What Happens Now?  He's not sure and neither am I.  But we'd both love to see Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate... 

Political philosopher Scott "Dilbert" Adams considers Derailing the Trump Train.  "If you have been reading my Master Persuader series, you might be interested in why Trump’s persuasion suddenly stopped working. It’s more interesting than you think."  It's a wonder the charade lasted as long as it did; a tribute to the IQ of the voters and the media. 

News you can use: Star Wars, the Force Awakens is now out on Amazon digital video.  Well in time for May the Fourth. 

The economics of this are interesting; in the old days, studios would delay online release to make sure everyone paid to see the movie in a theater.  But in the new days, if they delay the release people like me will download a torrent instead of paying for a copy.  They should make the movie available right away so we can get it legally.

Incredible: The Arizona boneyard where old warplanes go to die.  There are over 4,000 planes there.  So much hardware, but also, so many stories.  (Click here to visit via Google Maps.) 

It is interesting to ponder, what should be done with old military hardware?  Ideally it would be sold and reused, but a lot of this tech is simply obsolete.  Leaving it sitting out in the desert doesn't seem like the best answer, just the most expedient one.  Maybe it can be teleported to another universe which isn't yet as technologically advanced?

Excellent: programming language makes circuits out of bacteria.  "Ultimately, this could lead to bacteria that solve specific conditions, such as reducing lactose intolerance (by improving digestion) or producing pesticide when bugs attack a plant."  And what could possibly go wrong? 

This seems like the perfect language for a biochemist-turned-software-engineer.  Heh.



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