Aging Machines Part 3: Kindle Fire!

Kindle Fire!
Fire!

3 Years of service
3 Years of service

My grandma received an original Kindle fire for Christmas 2011. She didn’t want it. So I adopted it! It was awesome! When the kindle fire first came out it was the first small tablet competitor. Sure the iPad was shiny and apply, but this little plastic slate had a touchscreen for $200. That a good deal, and amazon already had all my books so integrating was easy. I still read on it every night before bed. But that’s it. I hope my grandma gets a paperwhite next Christmas.

Battery
The Battery is amazing, it still lasts for weeks if I leave it off. The sleep mode is really a slumber. When watching netflix, it’ll last at least 2 hours. That’s better than the Macbook Pro. Overall the battery has exceeded expectations.

Good Bottom Clicks
Good arrangement of I/O

Hardware
I put a case on the Kindle as soon as I got it because I wanted a way to prop it up and keep it safe in transit. I put a Marware case on it and it works great, and even has a little slot on the back to put your hand in. The hardware is still working well. It looks good, feels good in the hands, and the charging port and power buttons still give satisfying clicks. However, It’s easy to see the dot matrix on the touchscreen, it’s picked up a couple of scuffs, and the charging light is too bright. Overall the hardware has held up very well.

Unclickable
Why are settings and this pbr ad so close together?

Software
This thing was great out of the box, snappy and easy to use. I was able to reasonably check email and browse the web without wanting to pull out my laptop. Now this thing is nearly unusable, highlighting text is difficult and using the browser stinks. It’s running version 6.3.2. Which in Kindle talk means absolutely nothing to me. There was only one update that I can recall and it didn’t change anything. A couple months ago I factory reset it, and didn’t install any extraneous apps. Netflix, kindle, Facebook, and IMDb. That was it. The thing is still very sluggish and hard to use, which is totally fine. I really like this device, and it’s perfect for an occasional movie and reading every night. It makes me laugh when I have to press on the screen 4 times because I’m not sure if the touchscreen picked up my input, and with the kindle app hiding everything, you have to click on the screen plenty. It’s like a wonder ball you never know what you’re gonna get. Its great. It does exactly what I need and nothing else. Overall the software is barely usable, but that’s okay.

This little device has aged gracefully into its niche. Fire!

Aging Machines Part 2: Mid 2010 MacBook Pro Core i7

I’ve owned this computer for 4 years. Originally released on April 13th 2010. It’s been a workhorse.

I purchased the Core i7 with 500GB HD for ~$2000, which is not cheap, but it turned out essential to my enjoyment of computer work that in turn sparked my interest in computer science! So just to get some advice out of the way. It’s worth it to spend a little more on getting a computer you love, especially if you know you’ll be using it everyday.

Gif of Macbook Pro
Trying out Lens Blur Parallax generator! Snort: http://depthy.me/#/

Moving on, this computer has aged very well, but I’ve helped keep it fresh. Before I even had it, I purchased a hard-shell case and an invisible shield. Having a case for your computer is a little dorky, but after spending $2000 dollars I wasn’t going to take any chances.

The first two years with the computer were flawless. It looked great, worked great, the battery was strong, and the software was moving smoothly. Around the third year I began to notice flickering and the computer was crashing more regularly. I read through forums that suggested all sorts of things to delete and clear out and that helped for another year with monthly maintenance.

It was also in the third year when I was noticing the battery lasting 3ish hours instead of the original 4ish. That meant more outlet finding and power brick carrying.

Now I’m on the 5th year of the computer’s life, and back in October Mavericks came out for free! And my computer was one of the oldest to be eligible for an upgrade. So I balked until I had some money to upgrade the SSD and RAM. So in December when I accepted a job at Microsoft I made the $300 investment installed more RAM and removed my old hard drive and installed mavericks on a fresh SSD, which helped a ton. Its fast and can handle Mavericks, and starting with a new SSD was great for my senior classes because I could try all sorts of different development environments without worrying about gunking up the computer too much. I actually restored it two more times to dial in a well organized environment! All in all, a very wise investment, but the battery was another story.

Dented Macbook Bottom
Little Dent

It has severely suffered, I get less than 2 hours of battery life now, which isn’t terrible, it just makes working on the go a little difficult. Also the outside of the computer has taken some damage. There is a dent on the bottom part of the chassis and tiny scratches can be seen on the screen. The keyboard, especially the space bar, is showing its age. The fan has also been running much more frequently recently, which might be Mavericks fault. Its been running really hot, so hot sometimes I can’t put it on my lap.

June will be this computers 5th birthday. At $2000 dollars originally with $300 in upgrades. The cost of this computer per year is 2300/5= $460 a year. That’s quite a bit of money, but I can see this computer getting another 3 years! Its still in great shape, especially with a battery upgrade or proper fan cleaning.

All told this computer has aged very well, WITH proper care. If you have any questions about upgrades or recommendations for further upgrades please let me know.

Picture of Macbook pro
Such MacBook

Next week on aging devices: Kindle Fire!

Do your electronics age? (Part 1: Nexus 5)

Mine do.

I have a 2010 Macbook pro that I’m currently typing on, and I love it to death. It’s been with me my entire 4 years in college and we’ve only gotten into one major fight.

But time takes it’s toll on all things, and I wanted to compare three of my aging devices to show how to balance longevity and relevancy. Computers aren’t like heavy duty boots. They go out of style and can’t always be restored, but they can be repurposed which is another fantastic topic! What I’m saying is, sometimes its worth making the investment in something nice, and sometimes its not. Maybe it is smarter to get the cheap thing and let it fall apart, or repurpose than shell out $2000 for quality you don’t need.

The three devices I’ll be comparing are: Kindle Fire 1st Edition, 2010 MacBook Pro, and Nexus 5

I’ve had the Kindle fire for over three years, its the first edition with none of the frills and all of the amazon. The 2010 i7 MacBook Pro with upgraded RAM has been in my backpack for 4 years, and the Nexus 5 for 6 months. Though different ages time has had an impact on all these devices. I also think this time period reflects how long into a product cycle you been to look for an upgrade.

Starting with the Nexus 5:

Every 6 months another cool phone comes out and you begin noticing all the flaws in your current device, and the new one has a better low light sensor, a better screen, and a better battery, and a new gyroscope, and the newest software, and a new e-ink display on the back and on and on until you just get so fed up with yours you decide to spend the extra money and not wait until your contract is up. Or you drop your phone, with only 6 months left so you decide to just pony up the money for the new device or steal an upgrade from your mom. Either way my device is aging.

Hardware

The battery is weaker. It used to make it all day without needing to be charged, but because of background apps, software not being as efficient as possible, and the tendency for lithium based batteries to lose capacity. The phone will make it most of the day unless I navigate for more than 30 minutes or play music or play music for an hour.

The devices also has scratches on the screen, they are very small, but noticeable in a bright room. There are also scratches on the corners of the device from dropping out of my pocket. Also, the camera doesn’t seem as crisp. Overall however the device is in great shape the buttons all function the camera is great, nothing wrong with the speakers or microphone. Overall, hardware wise, it held up very well.

Hardware Durability: Very Good

Software

Nexus software is all Google, and though rooting is fun, I wanted to keep this device purely Google just to get an understanding of what Google is prioritizing in mobile computing. This device has great software, stable smooth, simple. It uses the amazing Google Now seamlessly and is easily configured. I do have a whole list of separate interface complaints for this device, but the software has been performing very well. I have been experience recently that certain times the camera will freeze or not function especially after using snapchat. Also, when changing apps sometimes the double takes, where the device will flash momentarily to a previous screen will occur. Also memory accessing has become slower with the amount of photos on the device, and memory is running short. But, once again, this device has aged very well, better than the Galaxy devices I’ve used.

Software Durability: Very Good

Aging has not been a major part of this device’s 6 months of service, and I believe that’s a great thing. For $350 dollars without a new contract you can have a reliable, simple, and hard working device that you will not want to leave halfway through your contract then instead find yourself trying to root it again at 3am wondering why in the world you listened to that guy on YouTube and now have a bricked phone you won’t be able to fix until you get a Ph.D in Software Engineering. What I’m trying to say is, making the investment on a good phone is wise and will save you headaches in the long run.

Nexus 5 Overall: VERY GOOD!

Here's a photo of the tree outside my house taken with the Nexus 5. Actually most the photos on this site were taken with that camera!
Here’s a photo of the tree outside my house taken with the Nexus 5. Actually most the photos on this site were taken with that camera!

What to Bring to an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament

What to bring to an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament:
The Spirit of the Game
Water Bottle
Jersey (Light & Dark, double check w/ team)
Socks (2 per day + 1)
Underwear (2 per day + 1)
Compression Shorts
Cleats
Comfy Shoes
Sunscreen
Warm Coat
Rain Jacket
Comfy Shirts
Extra Shorts, Shorts
Sweat Pants
Headlamp
Lantern
Sleeping Bad, Sleeping Pad, Pillow, Tent
Cash + Extra Cash + Gas Money
Advil (Generic)
Nail Clippers
Drivers License, Costco Card
Warm Hat
Gloves
Spirit Prizes
Snacks (Cliff bars, fruit (not bananas), nuts)
Snacks to share & Gum
Music/Speakers + Charger
Musical Instruments
GoPro (Extra Battery, Extra Memory Card, Charger, Tripod, Mounts)
Waterproof Container/Dry Bag
Garbage Bag
Firewood
Chair
Cooler
Costume Accessories/Face Paint
Sharpie
Book
Cell Phone + Charger + Car Charger + External Battery Charger
First Aid Kit
Team Emergency Info
Cones
Disc Bag
Toiletries (Tooth Brush + Toothpaste + Deodorant + Allergy Medicine + Shampoo + Soap)
Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Baby Wipes
Water bottle
Muscle Roller
Keys
Homework/Flashcards
Cards
Fun Game Ideas, Sticks
Ducktape, WD-40, Multitool, and Jumper Cables
Towel (Most massively Useful)
Whatever else you carry
Discs
and your friends will already be there!

Moving to California

On June 23rd I’ll be moving to San Francisco.

I’ve never lived in San Francisco.
I’ve never lived in California.
I’ve never had a career.
I’ve never ridden a motorcycle.
I’ve never commuted an hour to work.
I’ve never had to pay $300 a month for parking.
I’ve never been on a business trip.

But that’s all about to change… and I’m stoked!
I can’t wait to go to California!
My whole life I’ve been thinking about living in California. Every visit something fun would happen. My grandpa is from California, that’s where my great-grandfather and grand-mother emigrated when they left Ireland! I want to experience the city.

I feel like I should defend myself for wanting to live in California that I need a reason. It’s ironic I happen to me moving there at a time of anti-technology sentiment, especially in the downtown area. I feel like I’m contributing to a problem, and I have to find some way to justify it. Also, the cost of housing is the highest in the nation?! Whoa, that’s kind of a coincidence too. What is happening in San Francisco that is driving the prices so high? I hope I find out.

Tahoe
Tahoe

A couple ideas for a fellow yuppie transplant:

Where to live?

Apparently San Francisco’s neighborhoods have “Personality”:This article from the Bold Italic was helpful

Finding a place is tough, I liked this website for quick browsing just to get a gist various areas, and they provide information about the surrounding neighborhood: Trulia

This guy, Jason Evanish, breaks down moving to the city nicely: How to Find an Apartment in San Francisco

How to pack?

Packing is not easy or cheap. I’m still working on this one if you have any advice please share. I’ve been looking at these Portable Storage Unit companies, and I can’t tell if its worth it, and there are so many, and the quotes are tough to get, and I don’t want my stuff that bad anyways…
Pods
U-Haul U-Box
Mayflower
ReloCube

Ahh man that would be a good idea for an app, a moving cost calculator. Compare moving options, describe how much needs to be moved, how far, how much storage time, and how much work you are willing to do.

What Luggage to buy?
As a burgeoning Evangelist, I’ll probably be doing some travelling, and as a future colleague of mine said, “Buy good luggage”. I’m heading her advice and doing some research now.
This bag from TUMI seems helped me get an idea of what features to look for in cheaper pieces of luggage: TUMI
The video helps as well.

Getting a motorcycle?
According to my cousin and her boyfriend getting a motorcycle is the way to go. In California they have lane splitting which means you don’t worry about rush hour or staying alive. California has a good DMV website, and the checklist for getting a motorcycle license is clear, and to save money on your insurance and to not take the driving test at the DMV you can take a Basic RidersCourse.

Happy Derpy Dog
Out of Context Happy Derp

I hope this helps someone out.
Let me know if you have any questions!

Using Databases and a potential Future-Power

Physical Database Design is not easy to learn without doing, and thankfully we have weekly labs to put into practice the concepts we gnaw on in lecture. Sometimes I feel like that’s all I can do to understand Databases, just gnaw on it until I write a reasonable statement.

Our class works hard to complete assignments during the labs so we don’t have to do them as homework, but that makes me wonder if we are really learning at all. Databases are exciting, if you like organizing data. Databases are boring, if you only care about finishing a lab. I’m still undecided, but I have found comparisons and parallels to the human brain, and recognizing the beauty of that makes me excited about learning more about databases.

If old cars could talk... They would probably be grumpy
If old cars could talk… They would probably be grumpy

Databases are boring and hard to use because you are looking at chunky graphs and dealing with SQL statements. Yet, I like imagining what it would be like to have a database like brain, or a database that acted like a brain. The current Oracle database is so static it stands as a monolith to the jungle of the brain. Rich with errors and inaccuracies, the brain could only scratch the surface of the sheer scope of pedantic information a database is able to hold. Conversely, the database is simply a stupid machine you have to fiddle with to get the expected results, not intuitive, but not overly complicated to understand.

Yet, they are able to produce so much information, and act as powerful tools in the hands or skulls of an adept craftsman. The speed at which the brain is able to access and process information is staggering, and the volume and the time to sort, select, and CRUD all of the information in a database is mind boggling. It’s working in millions without breaking a sweat.

The brain is able to rewire to process information quickly. The database is not able to rewire, but will not forget. The brain can hold emotions, images, scents, and memories. The database could hold every cultural artifact of mankind. If I could quote Shakespeare, consider the change in population of major cities, and listen to every piece of music ever created without having to think twice I would be a super hero.

If I could have any future-power it might just be database brain.

Symmetree
Symmetree

People want to make things

I was in Portland for Easter weekend to spend time with family and enjoy Portland, which changes in little ways every time I go back. It’s growing in a lot of cool ways.

85 Suburban
Ryan’s 1985 Suburban. It was previously a Sunriver service car.

Anyways, while I was there everyone was asking me what I was going to do after school, and it was really fun watching their eyes light up as I told them I was going to be helping people make applications. People love coming up with App ideas! My cousin Ryan gave me 3 or more right off the bat! He loves vehicles of all sorts and had ideas that would help car enthusiasts work on their transmissions. How cool is that! Even my Grandma had an idea!

This got me thinking about the power technology has to put building tools in everyone’s hands! Pair people’s ingenuity with easy to use tools and we’re going to be improving people’s lives!

TECHNOLOGY! SNORT!

Crazy Mika
Cats are crazy. Taking care of a Cat is like dealing with a crazy predator that will only kind of mess things up.

U Topia

A university would be a great place for a Utopia. A utopia focusing on learning, collaborating, and contributing to higher understanding would fuel a balanced lifestyle.

1393363443873The Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle U my soon to be Alma mater. For whatever reason certain things always look good.

Focus on Education is the main priority, I postulate that while we’re on earth we should focus on learning what we can about the universe and our world so we can take steps to make it a better place for its inhabitants.

Some examples:
Find a calling, have a meaning for your life: create a better world

Reasons for being there: Focus on Education, live happily among others with a similar focus. Work together to create things. Use technology to help our pursuits. Clean Energy, 3D printing, rapid digital communication and knowledge exchange.

Housing: You’ll be living with like minded individuals, without wasting time or energy commuting or managing logistics.

Food/Maintenance: This is pretty self explanatory, but I really like the idea of sharing food and maintenance responsibilities. Taking care of each other and the facilities would provide everyone a place in this society. Spend 1/3 of your time learning, designing, and crafting, 1/3 managing responsibilities cooking/cleaning/fixing, and the final 1/3 recreating/enjoying life.

Recreation: Fields and organized activities for everyone! Student clubs are integrated into your lifestyle, you’ll always be able to be part of new adventures, and when you can’t find a club to join you can create your own!
Proximity: A big part of this is just having everything nearby. If we don’t have to waste time getting to things we need or people we can collaborate with we’ll be significantly more productive.

I’d love to spend time in this community and in some ways I already do as a student, and I’m now realizing how valuable that time has been, and I look forward to promoting this style of institution in the future.

Chapel
Do leaves change in color in the spring like flowers do? Crazy plant patterns are beautiful.

Meatspace 3

Volvo Squish
Katie’s car was squished. Cars are amazing and fragile.

Delorean
I could take photos of this car all day. It’s so bizarre, what an awesome treat to see one on the street. According to Wikipedia their were 8,583 made originally and now they’re making them again or at least have been since 2008! I can’t imagine the performance being spectacular with a 2,700 pound vehicle equipped with a three speed automatic and 130hp engine. The wikipedia article is awesome: DeLorean. It’s so goofy!

White Wizard
aka: The White Wizard!

Seattle
Kerry Park always provides a great view, Seattle provides a great view.

Mexico and Compilers

IMG_20140323_182315
Sunset from the Condo!

Being in Mexico
I was in Mexico for spring break and it was awesome! We swam in the ocean, ate a lot of great food, and me a lot of really cool Mexican people. However, most of the time, it was difficult for me to communicate with them. My girlfriend, who has much more practice speaking Spanish, did most of the communicating, but I’ve been practicing with Duo Lingo for the past couple months, so I was able to understand almost everything, but couldn’t quite pull off an entire conversation. Either way, being able to communicate or at least being able to understand someone else is amazing, and learning another language highlights that feat of evolution.

Fruit Stand
Ordering fresh sandia!

Learning a new language
Learning a new language might be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Trying to reorder sentences is especially difficult. It’s really easy to use words, but to create sentences of different structure in a different language with words you’re hardly familiar with is nearly impossible without a lot of practice. Either way I’m stoked to continue practicing and learning (If any one wants to practice Spanish with me let me know!) All of this language thinking really made me want to draw parallels to the computer science world!

How compilers are like the brain translating.
Computers are just layers of abstraction, taking logic created at a lower level to build upon using instructions of higher orders of complexity. The logic gate is a lot like something existing at all. Now if we can get this thing to exist in a way we can tell it to take shape as anything we want, as long as we have enough power to control, conceive, and destroy an object it might as well actually exist. Again, it just takes a single thing existing to generate this amazing virtual object. Okay, I love this stuff… Back to languages, if this object can communicate with other similar objects it’s a lot like a language that we both understand, or a standardized protocol. But, if we are trying to communicate between two objects of different languages it’s a lot like compilation. (I just had my first day in a Compilers course taught by Prof. LeBlanc at SU) Compilers are a lot like the brain translating Spanish to English! Marking phrases, recognizing syntax and phrases, and parsing could be seen as functions of the brain. That is amazing.

Language is amazing. I’m excited to learn more about compilation.

IMG_20140322_101954(1)
Mount St. Helens from the plane. (Can you see the dome?)