One last picture from my iPhone

Sep. 26th, 2017 12:42 am
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

This will probably be the last photo I take with my iPhone:

I was thinking of calling it Amazon packing robot fails again: I've long assumed that Amazon boxes with one little thing in a box at least twice the necessary size in each dimension were packed by robots whose algorithms needed an overhaul. An assumption predicated on the belief that no human would pack a box so poorly.

But the past couple of years have wrought havoc on my optimistic view of my fellow humans: In a world where people can be so casually reckless as to vote for a Brexit or a Donald Trump, it seems foolish to imagine that there aren't plenty of people who take no pride whatsoever in their work. And that a person in a crap job packing a box so lamely is at least as likely as a programmer having so little pride as to let code go into production that would have a robot do that packing job.

Bur I digress. And that way madness lies.


As I am a few days from becoming an Android user, I have some questions that I hope some of you can help with. One of the things I'm looking forward to is hackability. Am I anywhere close to reality when I imagine that the core telephone functionality might be scriptable? Providing an API that would let me script how incoming calls are handled? Maybe something along the lines of

if not callerID | (callerID not in myContacts & callerID not in myPlacedCalls):
    ring = silent
    ringtime = 1
    VMgreeting = dontKnowYouLeaveMessageMaybeIllCallBack.ogg
?

Please, please may it be so. Starting about two years ago, being on the national do-not-call list seemed to stop having any effect. First it was a few spam calls. Then they began to outnumber real calls. Eventually I stopped answering calls if my phone didn't recognize the caller. But every once in a while — for instance, most of the day today — I'm expecting a call from a number I can't know in advance. So today I was answering all my incoming calls. And, like every time I've done that for more than half a day in the past year, I answered a call from what turned out to be a spammer. Today, three of them. I've learned to ignore the phone manners my mother inculcated in me, and just hang up on those people. But I hate having to do it. And after every day like today, the irritation I feel on a normal day when I take my phone out of my pocket a number I don't recognize grows. Being able to just script ignoring those calls would be fantastic.

xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

Earlier this afternoon I did something I rarely do: Post a comment on a youtube video. I'm a veteran of USENET flame wars, so not much phased by the knuckle-dragger insults a thoughtful comment often draws there. But BITD, my newsgroup comments were also likely to yield worthwhile replies. Youtube, not so much.

But comment I did. And then did something I do even more rarely: Shared the video on Facebook. And now I want to share it with you as well. Starting with my FB introduction:

I've read a lot of excellent essays about art — literature, film, theater, even music. I've read a lot more that was crap, of course (or at any rate, started a lot more that was crap, before giving up in disgust). The point being that I know what well-crafted criticism is. And this video essay on how JK Rowling's characters — especially Hermione — changed from book to film is one of the best pieces of criticism I've ever seen. Well worth watching.




And the comment I left on youtube:

Thank you for a tremendously well-observed and thought-provoking close-reading. The Devil's Snare episode was one of my favorite parts of _Philosopher's Stone_ from the first time I read it. And when the movie came out, I leaned forward in my seat and literally waited with bated breath for URupert Grint to say "Are you a witch or what?" And left the movie muttering something about "best line of dialog in the entire book, and _they left it out?!_"

But I entirely failed to see it as part of _any_ larger pattern, let alone the sevaral you bring out. Good criticism is rare. In producing a piece of excellent criticism that's also entertaining and perfectly true, you've hit the trifecta. Great work. Thank you.

What phone?

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:44 am
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

Short Form

Six months ago, I was all set to replace my iPhone with a OnePlus 3T as soon as my iPhone's deterioration demanded. Then they announced the OnePlus 5. And I started seeing the first negative reviews of a new OnePlus phone I'd ever read. But they were still shipping the 3T, so I wasn't worried.

But now my iPhone's deterioration really is starting to demand that I replace it. And I appear to have been deceived about the OnePlus 3T still being available.

So I have a couple of questions for folks with Android clue.


Long Form

As I mentioned last week, my iPhone is on it's last legs and I've decided to switch to Android. I also decided, early in my current ride on the carrier-subsidized-phone-with-two-year-contract funhouse-ride, that the next time I bought a phone I was going to actually buy a phone. I've long thought that would be preferable in principle, and about when I was gritting my teeth and signing the contract my current iPhone came with, I started hearing buzz about OnePlus.

My memory (not confirmed by reading the Wikipedia article, FWIW) is that part of that buzz was about their US business plan being to sell directly to the consumer, forcing US carriers to get serious about supporting BYOD customers. Misunderstanding or not, it predisposed me to pay attention to OnePlus and to reviews of their phones, while none of the other Android phone manufacturers have garnered much attention from me.

And those reviews — as I remember them, at least — were consistently impressive. When my iPhone started giving me trouble earlier this year, the OnePlus 3T had just come out a few months earlier. And people were falling all over themselves to talk about how good it was. So it went to the top of my list of phones to look at when I could no longer nurse my iPhone along. An otherwise empty list.

Then in July they released the OnePlus 5. And the reviews were not entirely stellar. Certainly not the hosannas the 3T had garnered on its release. But I wasn't too concerned: given things like the Midnight Black Limited Edition page, with its conspicuous "Buy Now" button in the center of the page, it seemed clear that OnePlus was planning to continue shipping the 3T alongside the 5 at least into autumn.

I don't generally go for the leading edge unless I see a potential upside that well over-balances the potential downside. And for smartphones, I haven't seen that in 15 years — not since the Sony-Ericsson P800 was leading-edge. To my way of thinking, the OnePlus 3T is just about exactly in the trailing-edge sweet spot. And that limited edition Midnight Black: the cherry on top! So for the past six or eight weeks I thought I had a solid plan for when it came time to punt my iPhone.

But now that day's arrived. And it turns out that actually clicking that "Buy Now" button takes me to a page that — disappointment #1 — lists only the other two other colors. And — disappointment #2 — says, next to each,

Out of stock

And going back to that Limited Edition page and looking more closely, I find near the bottom:

Sold out
This limited edition release is no longer available in your region.
Disappointment #3.


Questions

  • Am I grossly over-reacting to the bad press the OnePlus 5 has gotten? (I'm certainly over-reacting. The emphasis here is on grossly.) Should I just buy a OnePlus 5 and stop gnashing my teeth?
  • Are there other Android phones readily available new, unlocked, and with full warranties, that are comparable to recent OnePlus models? Comparably priced? If so, which? Would you recommend any of them?
  • While no longer available directly from OnePlus, the 3T is still available from third parties. Some ostensibly new-in-box. None, that I've found, with any sort of warranty. At prices not much different, and sometimes more, than OnePlus' retail prices when they were available. Run screaming? Approach with caution? Does anyone know of a reliable vendor, perhaps in the tradition of small Japanese companies that help Americans get Japan-only products without having to personally fly to Japan?

Thank you!

Leaving Apple's warm embrace

Sep. 12th, 2017 10:03 pm
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

My now nearly four-year-old iPhone has been flaking out on me with increasing frequency for several months, and for variety of reasons I've decided to replace it with an Android phone. One of those reasons is that Apple's warm embrace increasingly feels to me like that of a boa constrictor. And today That concern became less general and more specific when a friend posted about their difficulties sending SMS messages to a friend who recently punted their iPhone. Apparently it is a known problem that when you switch from an iPhone it becomes difficult or impossible for someone who is also using the Apple ecosystem to send you SMS messages: Apparently — I'm hypothesizing at least as much as remembering here — Messages.app takes over when two iPhones SMS one-another, and if one person switches to a non-Apple phone, that person has to jump through some hoops with the Apple infrastructure or their iPhone-using friends' messages will go only to that person's Messages.app instances (wherever they happen to have it running, or possibly nowhere) but not to their new phone as SMS messages.

I'm writing this here not least as an aide de memoire because I don't have time to look into it in detail right now. If one of you happens to know of good guide to switching from an iPhone to an Android phone without getting entangled in this mess, please leave a pointer in a comment. Thank you.

Huh.

Sep. 12th, 2017 03:30 pm
[personal profile] cshiley
If I am logged in, I can't see images. If I am not, I am able to see at least some of them.

I am not strongly motivated to fix this. I feel like I ought to be.

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