The Chromebook Flip Story

I’ve been using the Chromebook Flip through today and have a few review type things if you are considering one:

Display Quality. The display quality is not that bad if you keep in mind that this is a small device. Its not going to be Toshiba Chromebook 2 quality but for what I do, it works pretty well. I don’t notice pixels or issues at a quality level with it. When you flip it to tablet or tent mode, it takes a bit of getting used to learning the so-called gestures. You have to practice when there is no touchpad to make it copy and paste, select all, etc.

Keyboard. The reviews made me think that the keyboard is minimal. That is not the case. I can type very comfortably on it and am doing so right now. When you flip it to tablet or tent mode, you get an on screen keyboard. That could use some work. You can “swype” with it but you don’t get a space inserted after a word. I wish it had more of the Android/Google keyboard in it. You also get word corrections on the top. Its just a work in progress I think. It does work for typing but you may want to flip it back and use the dedicated keyboard. That’s probably the real beauty of this thing. You have the choice of tablet or keyboard. On an iPad Air there is no choice. You can attach a keyboard but its still an iPad Air with a keyboard attached.

Portability. I wish that the display came off completely and you could use it as a tablet only without the keyboard at all. I am hoping that is the next mode we get on a device. I’d like one with a 11.1 inch screen or so and the ability to completely detach it. I’d pay a Asus or Acer $400.00 for that device. I think that’s the next step of the chrome convergence devices. But… Lets be honest here. This thing beats the pants off the Nexus 9 tablets. Its just that much better and the chrome OS seems to have a lot of the touch specific enhancements already in but some things would be nice. I would like it if we had the Android style “intents” for sharing to other apps. This is something that spoils me every time I use it. I got so messed up with the IOS sharing or lack thereof. Very frustrating for a media device the way apps just will not share easily.

Tablet vs Laptop. I think the real thing here is that its not “versus”. Its “and”. That’s the power here. You have both. I could see traveling with this using hangouts for calls and having the access to my google drive files and stuff on teh road. The next time I go, this Flip or the next generation of detachable devices will go. I don’t need a phone internationally with this thing. That’s the real power of the tablet and laptop functionality. Its a converged thing; not just a convertible. I don’t think the word convertible really does it justice. Its truly converging and integrating how we use devices. With some more spit and polish to the tablet mode and a device which frees us from having the keyboard attached, we enter the next big arena for the integrated Chromebooks.

I’m waiting for that one!

New Gadget Alert!

I decided awhile ago I wanted a chromebook in a convertible form factor. Right now there are three of them and HP is doing one soon. I went over a lot of reviews for the Acer R11 and the Asus Chromebook Flip. My main use is to have a smaller form factor in tablet or “tent” format than my Toshiba Chromebook. I want it for reading and content consumption sitting on my bed in my room. I don’t want a keyboard always in use. I never want another Apple device. I shipped both of mine off to a friend in Oregon.

asus-chromebook-flipSo, I went with the ChromeBook Flip. I particularly wanted something smaller and more portable and not bigger.

The idea of using it though with a keyboard every so often is desirable.

The final contributing factor is price. Lets just compare the iPad Mini at its price and my soon to be new Flip at its price. I paid $270.00 for the Flip. It runs the OS I use most often in the room besides my Nexus 6P. I won’t particularly use it for typing but more in the tent and tablet form factor. It also just looks like fun to use.

I would not get rid of my Toshiba Chromebook because its still very nice and I don’t really need to upgrade it. It works as it is. What I do want is something in a tablet form factor not running IOS or Android which I can balance on my lap, read websites, perhaps hangout with my daughter. And I want something that’s fun and different that runs Chrome!

I personally think Chromebooks still have a way to go but I never want to see them running full office suites or competing with Windows laptops for running heavy client apps. I want them sleek and fast and not prone to malware and virii. I want them to start in seconds and shut down the same. I want the upgrades to be painless and to be unlocked by my Nexus phone.

I already have a work laptop running Windows 10 which is fine for work. I never use it at home. Now I have a tablet device which is unique and tomorrow night I’ll play on the new tablet, test out the stand and tent form factor.

Yay!

Why is Why

I went out for a short break today at work. Got myself a bag of Frito’s and a diet AW Root Beer and sat by a Safeway store in the Irvington district in Fremont. Sometimes the phone would buzz a bit that I received a text or email or some notification. I just sat there and watched this one big cloud move across the sky. It was this dark gray color and I thought we surely would get dumped on but nothing really happened. It just moved across the sky and then was eastern hills.

texas-mapI thought of the places I had sat before and watched storms. One of the most notable and unique was in eastern New Mexico; on the Llano Estacado. This is like a table of land extending around New Mexico and Texas. Storms would gather far off on the horizon and it was so flat you would see it almost like a Indiana Jones movie. For some reason, Steven Spielberg would play with environmental forces I think. Dust from clothing, a far off storm with lightning flashing, wind blowing the dust from digging. It all was almost surreal when he filmed the Jones movies.

There on the Estacado I would sit on the porch and watch the far away storm gather. Lightning would flash and you could see the shadows of the rain falling. Slow or fast the storm would move. Closer, closer it would come and the clouds would come gusting in and lightning would flare and suddenly the porch got wet and I would move inside.

An amazing display; almost like Spielberg. I would wonder at how this power could translate itself so well across this flat tableland. There in Portales or out in Amarillo. You can see on the map the Texas places. In Eastern New Mexico it was Portales and Clovis that I knew best.

Anyways, I digress. I sat in the car and thought about how often I sit in the car and think. I would sit at TiVo and dwell. Now sitting in the car and dwelling. Perhaps on Chennai or maybe doing archeology or perhaps life before 2009 and after. So many changes. Kind of like a tornado that takes it times crossing my personal Llano. Now here I sit in a room about 12×16 with thoughts much wider and deeper. I go walk and smell the homes with the homemade cooking going and the voices of family calling to each other.

Time to eat. Come on in. Food is ready.

or

Trash needs to be taken out. Do you hear me?

or perhaps

You are not listening. You never listen.

But then I walk by and I’m glad. They can have their food and home and arguments. Someone told me people should not age by themselves. We need to have another around. Sure. Someone to ask

do you hear me? are you listening? you never listen.

I really don’t want any part of that. I’ll just stick it out only having to take care of myself. Thanks anyways.

Today Walking

I walk after work weekdays. For the last 5 months or so, I walked around Milpitas and San Jose down by the Levi’s Stadium. There really is not much to see walking there besides the numerous Cisco HQ buildings and a rather nice trail that is part of the Guadalupe Trail.

guadalupetrail

The trail extends in a few directions and has a paved and unpaved parts.

What’s nice about it is that it cuts through the area of the Stadium north to Highway 237 and south past Montague Expressway. I walked primarily the section called the Alviso section.

Today though I moved back to walking in the same places I walked before when living around Grimmer in Fremont. I had walked the roads there for months and really enjoyed it. I never really felt it was unsafe to walk during dusk and darkness and many times I got done with longer walks after sunset and dusk. Now I’m back there again walking after moving work locations to Fremont.

I wanted to write about walking again for awhile because it matters to me and its important. I have felt walking took care of me at a few levels and perhaps you should try it too. I feel more in control and able to think problems through if I take them with me on the road. There is a natural process to the working out of issues when I walk that just never happens otherwise. I can stew, get mad, cuss, but never solve or actually think a thing through until I take it out walking. It really does not matter if I walk on a trail or sidewalk although I profess to like walking the Alameda Creek Trail.

alamedatrail

The creek trail winds along through Fremont, Union City, perhaps Newark and has both paved and unpaved parts as well.

I like walking on the creek trail because of the number of access points spread out to allow turn arounds or accessing another park like Quarry Lakes State Park.

quarrylakesparkThe Quarry Lakes park area has a lot of trails and many gates besides the main one where cars get in.

I can combine the walk along the Alameda Creek Trail with accessing parts of the Quarry Lake Park and see the best of both parts. Even though the lakes are man-made, seeing them as the sunsets with the colors and the birds arcing overhead is a nice walking experience.

If you happen to live in the San Jose area and perhaps get up to Fremont and Union City, there are some great places to walk for sure! Some are tied together and others you can traverse into by gates or city walking.

I do think about walking a bit and I also remember walking over by Google, Microsoft, and Linkedin in Mountain View. The trails there are just excellent. SCTMap

Take the Stevens Creek Trail for instance. You can access the trail from many trailheads and see a lot of great natural views and also see a lot of the access points for the Bay trail.

The Bay trail is like a superset of trails I think covering almost all of the Bay area. The Stevens Creek Trail allows access to the Bay trail at various points.

Maybe as folks move here and want to find places to walk, they’ll somehow find this blog post and see that the SF bay area is rich in walking locales. I’ve been fortunate and walked in a few of them and found them to be well-maintained and easily accessible.

San_Francisco_Bay_Trail_Map.pdfAs you can see from the SF Bay trail map, you can pick so many areas where there are Bay trail components!

I’ve walked in a few different states including Oregon and Washington and been able to also walk in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. I also count Sydney as a great walking locale.

I just wanted to catalog the walking places here and the great trail access points across the Bay area. If you want to run, walk cycle; the different trails are superb for that. I also am adding a brand new category to my blog. The walking category will contain more thoughts on walking and let you see perhaps places I walk, some errant thoughts that occur as I do it, and how I managed to get to a place to do the walking.

Hopefully this adds some value to easily finding information on walking, running, and cycling trails all in one place!

My graphite wonder

So I decided to replace my Nexus 6 by adding a p on the end and got the 6p Nexus. A really slick device! I got the graphite phone with 128gb of memory because I should and I could and I did.

6p

The Phone is a joy to hold in the hand. Others have said the Nexus 6 is too big but I found it to be the perfect phone and companion for then. But now the 6p is the perfect phone for the Mike force now. It has this wonderful screen and the shape is unique. I’m still getting used to its features like the fingerprint support. The print support works really well at unlocking but I have not played with it with apps yet except for play store purchases. Here’s my subjective list of stuff:

  1. The phone is a perfect size for me but it is a tad slippery so if you get one get a case.
  2. The camera is legendary if you read the reviews and I have not really tried it. When I go on vacations, I have a nicer camera but I really don’t like packing two things for a single thing so I upload all the photos to Google Phots and then create albums. Works for me!
  3. Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 is the nicest and sweetest one yet I have found. The Doze feature really saves on battery. The phone looks more fit and finished and Android runs very nicely on the phone.
  4. Media management mostly for me is Spotify and wired earbuds. I’ve tried all the new-fangled bluetooth earbuds and perhaps my ears are defective but they just don’t work all that well for simply listening to music on 1.5 hour walks.
  5. Battery. The battery seems very well done and the Doze thing really makes the phone last longer.
  6. Daily use, I use the phone a lot. I read news on it, send photo’s, use Flipboard, make a lot of calls. Its not just a phone for me. Its a communication and consumption device of all different kinds. With 128gb of memory, I figure I will be able to do this for quite some time.

There you have it. Should you buy one? If you are a Nexus person, you should consider it. What happened to my iPhone and my ranting on the upgrades. Simple. I’m human and I got tired of the stilted UI, the non-changing desktop with its rows and rows of icons which cannot be changed. I sent it and the iPad Air 2 off to a friend who likes the gear. Now I have a chromebook and the Nexus 6p. No tablet. My take is that a tablet’s actual uses are dwindling except for the convergence devices. I’ve looked at the Pixel C for this and the Surface 3 and the new Samsung TabPro. I don’t see the real need there.

How long will the 6p be my daily driver? I don’t know. Tmobile is kind enough to let me use any unlocked phone. I want to see what comes this year later. I also want to see if Google does a new 7 inch tablet with Huawei.

 

 

New Job!

I started looking about 10 days ago for a new job and found one today. Moving back to a full-time job. This will be the last one I ever do. After I spend some time at this thing, I will be done forever with technology. This one thing sets me free from having to look every so often for work, facing a contract that is terminated, and lets me really plan what I will do. I don’t have a plan or a place to end up. Now I can look at a place I may want to live that is not in the US. I will be a hobo of space and time!

This is the greatest accomplishment so now its time to party.

Where does Android go next?

I’ve wondered this for awhile. I’ve used the idevices for months. They are no walk in the park for someone that wants to actually own their devices and not just borrow them from Apple. There are two concepts here. Freedom to use and access to ecosystems which make a difference. Let’s just let go of updates which we know is different between IOS and Android. What are the real things that matter and why is the concept of smartphone wars so like yesterday? Why do you really buy and use a platform? I’ll tell you why.

Because you like it and it makes you more productive and its more fun. There is a significant difference between how you get there on IOS and Android.

In the end Android has always been at  crossroads and will always be.  The reason this comes out is the difference between how Linux and Windows work. Do you know the difference?

If you do you already know. I want to have fun and enjoy the choice. Apple gear frustrates me.  Android does too. Here is the baseline for you. I have more fun in Android. Apple gear is too difficult and pisses me off by making assumptions that I cannot select a default mail or browser app.

I’m weak. I know. I’ll try to fix that with a Windows update but more likely an apt-get install will work better for me. I’d like to see Google and the OEMs fix the update thing and I think they could. It may mean the end to skins and UI with lots of IP in it. So who’s up for that? Samsung, LG, Moto?

More Data Points after Reflection

Lets see if there are a few more points to consider in this debate. IOS releases 9.2.1 and my iPhone 6+ gets it the next day. That’s cool. It bypasses all the carriers and comes straight from some Apple, Inc servers, installs OTA, and off we go. This is a lot different than hooking up iTunes from way back when. BTW, I will go out on a limb here and say that iTunes sucks. It has always sucked unless you use a MAC I think. It has never run on Linux so people there have to get a VM going with VirtualBox to make it work. Apple is their kind-hearted and monopolistic world view decided to sell more devices to those of us that have hatred going for iTunes or simply do not have the wherewithall to install it or want it. Now we get the updates direct.

Google decided on another route for android. We have the AOSP but the carriers decide unless you have a PIxel or Nexus product. This sucks! Right? But the carriers subsidize the model by adding their software as a default “load” on the phone. Suddenly a phone with only 16gb of memory has no real space left. Its because of the bloatware that ATT and Verizon decide we need. Up until recently there was no way to “de-bloat” unless you rooted and unlocked boot loaders, etc. So here we have the essence of the difference. The carriers and the OEMs add in things. The carriers their apps and the OEMs their skin and apps. In the end, the phones are this bloated and not centrally managed device which the user does not own and the carriers and OEMs do. Very frustrating! Then we come to updates. The carriers decide when and where and what gets it along with the OEMs. Not google. Never google themselves unless its a Pixel or Nexus device. This whole thing has caused problems because Android is the dominant mobile OS in the world but the keys to the kingdom are spread out in a decentralized manner. That’s the operative word. Decentralized. Apple is centralized and choice is limited as to what you can use or not use or what is default and what can be done short of jailbreaking to fix it. You cannot simply decide that Apple Mail is not worth it and tell an iPhone to use Boxer Mail as the default mail client. Its all centralized and controlled and managed for your use.

Android on the other hand lets things be up to the users. But at what price? The price is that Android is decentralized and we trust in the carriers and the OEMs to do us right. Hardly likely. For me, its to the point of never buying a piece of phone or tablet hardware again unless its made by Apple or as a part of the Pixel or Nexus family. Samsungs and LGs and Motos don’t cut it. We are just borrowers and the devices belong to them.

What to do about it? I have an answer but it will never be done.

The Answer of sorts

Remove the skins and UI elements and make every phone run stock Android. Reach an accord that AOSP will handle the updates and every phone is default Android with no Sense or TouchWiz or LG UI or Asus UI or skin. Each vendor will pull from AOSP and perhaps have their own GIT repo and produce the same builds and OTA updates that Google does or they all go in on producing a centralized update environment which manages all the device upgrades. Google owns the updates then in some manner. I am not sure how this would all work out; but its pretty clear that the current model does not work whatsoever.  There are a lot of smart minds that can hover over this and I think somewhere in there is an answer that will not piss everyone off nor make everyone happy. Its somewhere in the middle. But one thing I know. The skins and UI have to go away to allow the phones to draw from a central repository. The bundled apps have to go away. We get the phones the way they were intended to be. If you want to add something not in the play store, you perhaps get the choice of using another app store particular to your device.

So the final question. Will this be adopted? No. Of course it won’t. People invest time and money and resources and energy to these skins and UI. They want to include bundled apps because there is some belief that the legions of users actually want or use them. That’s a bunch of unmitigated BS. Give them the choice! Much like what Android is like by default.

Its about choice. And the carriers and the OEMs have removed choice. What will happen instead is that Android will become more fragmented and updates will remain the province of the OEM and carrier. More people will leave for the IOS pastures because they think its better. That “better” comes at a price too though and I’m not willing to pay it. I don’t like that ecosystem.

I hope that this gets some solution. I don’t see it though.

Maybe a new thing right away

I did rather good phone screen interview for a Infrastructure Program Manager position today. They want me to build replicable solutions for a variety of their offerings down to project plans, operations, storage, and network materials, etc. Its a full-time position! This means I would have some job stability and the position sounds like a lot of fun.

I think what they want in a Program Manager is what I’ve done and the interviewer was my reporting manager. I’ll know by Thursday if I get the work and they want me to start next week! This bodes very well for my finances.

I’m guardedly excited. After an 1.5 hours this Wednesday, I’ll know if I made the grade.

Other Days

image

2011 in beautiful Singapore

I want to go that way

image

Asking the coast drive north along Highway One