Archive for June, 2012

Holy canoli, Hermosa 24!

June 30th, 2012, 1:20am by Jake

It’s today! Starts at high noon, back & forth b/w Hermosa Beach & Manhattan Beach piers. Last year I anchored 2 teams and covered 9 laps (30 miles). This year, I’m running solo, hoping to cover 15 laps (50 miles) over the course of the day, preferably with a few hours of sleep mixed in and time for a decent meal or two. Here’s the website and Facebook page (where there will surely be updates). Also, keep your eye on the webcam. And wish me luck!

What is the deal with Samsung?

June 26th, 2012, 2:17am by Kelvin

Companies like Palm have long argued that in the smartphone space, you had to own your own system in order to survive, citing the benefit of customizing software to take advantage of hardware blah blah blah. One of the biggest arguments against adopting Android when it was first introduced was that it would lead to a commoditized product, with no way to differentiate one’s products from low cost competitors. Nokia’s former CEO compared it to Finnish boys who would pee on themselves to stay warm in the winter– it only provide temporary relief.

Over the last 3 years, Samsung has defied this logic and built up a smartphone behemoth, capturing almost half of the Android market and is the industry leader in smartphone sales by units. It’s partly a numbers game, and they achieve huge volumes by selling sub-$150 Android phones into emerging markets that are not attached to data plans and are smartphones in name only. These phones are the spiritual successor to the Symbian “smartphones” that Nokia once distributed.

But even at the high end, Samsung is a force, second only to Apple. Their Galaxy SIII will sell 10 million units in 2 months. This is 10x times faster than the Nokia Lumia 900, 10X faster than the well reviewed HTC 1X, 20X faster than the Google branded Galaxy Nexus. How are they doing it? What makes them any better than their Android competitors with similar, sometimes identical high end components? With the original Galaxy S, there was the distribution (it was one of the first phones to launch on all 4 US carriers), the uncanny iPhone-like skin, and the breakthrough AMOLED display. But today, I don’t really see what their advantage is. Is it simply global branding? Marketing? Is it sustainable? And why? Why isn’t the Android market becoming the cutthroat price competition that many predicted?

Discovery Kingdom with the boys

June 25th, 2012, 3:29am by Kelvin

Derrick and Emily had some furniture shopping to do, so we took Brandon with us to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. Got a late start, but we didn’t care too much because we were all using season passes. By 2 o’clock, we were there watching the dolphin and killer whale shows, riding roller coasters, checking out animals from the African Savannah, and eating Dipping Dots.

Cooling down.

On Lucas’s favorite roller coaster, Cobra.

No one’s looking at the camera!

Massive water play area.

One of them is named Brandon.

Bored on the train

June 23rd, 2012, 10:12am by Mike

The other day I was on the train on the way home, and decided to retry posting from my iPad, using Blogsy. I’m psyched that we’re using The Board more lately, and I want to try to keep the ball rolling whenever I think of stuff to post. Unfortunately, the well is pretty dry right now. Some thoughts:

  • Movies: I’m going to see Prometheus this weekend, anybody seen it, or have an opinion? I think it’ll be pretty fun. Haven’t seen anything else in a while, but would like to see Moonrise Kingdom and the new Woody Allen movie about Rome.
  • Music: Nothing new or noteworthy, mainly been listening to stuff I own. Always up for recommendations. Kelvin, what did you buy with your coupon last week?
  • Reading: I’ve been struggling to finish a book (“1Q84“) that my Kindle tells me I’m 84% finished with, but I’m just losing steam. I have to finish it, I’ve invested too much! I just saw a book called “Ready Player One” at the train station, and remembered that I’d heard good things about it, but can’t remember who told me about it — was it you guys? Anyway, hopefully that will be next.


Windows Phone 8

June 20th, 2012, 3:01pm by Kelvin

Microsoft just took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8. They claim that they were only giving out details necessary for developers, and that they were holding a lot of the user-facing features back for now. Nice recap here. Big news its that they moved the kernel to the Big Brother Windows NT kernel, which matters not at all to users.

They did unveil a new Start Screen that features a new, smaller tile. To me, it looks like the Androidification of WP– so much clutter on a small screen. I liked the glanceable info on WP7, but I also like that it seemed organized. Oh well, you don’t *have* to use the new tile size.

Not upgrading existing users kinda sucks, and as it relates to us, I think it could be an unfortunate punch to Nokia at a bad time. On the other hand, Jake should be able to score a better deal for a used HTC Arrive…

Lies, Damn Lies & iPhones

June 20th, 2012, 2:10am by Jake

For those following me on Twitter, you’ve no doubt noticed my iPhone rage the past few days. While I dug the Pre, there were just too many issues so I decided to go with the easy answer… no mucking about with Android, no waiting for WinPho apps to arrive. Gimme the damn iPhone. Unlimited data on Sprint… that was the promise.

Well, call reception wasn’t good from day one. I would normally drop about 5% of calls at home or in the office with the Pre and the Treo (I NEVER dropped a call on the Centro). iPhone seemed a touch worse from the get go. I can deal with that. Well, it’s just getting worse. Typical download speeds over 3G are less than 200kbps. It may not be throttled, but might as well be. I tried to solve the problem in Januaryish, but Apple & Sprint both insisted the phone was fine. The past month, it got too much. I was dropping over 50% of my calls. I wouldn’t use my iPhone to make calls for fear of dropping. Last straw was dropping my calls in 5 minutes.

Backed up the iPhone & to the Apple Store. Originally they told me the phone was fine (again), and said there wasn’t any record of dropped calls. WHAT! Well, none software related so it would be a network problem. What the heck does that mean??? Keep that thought on hold. I assured the Apple employee that I had Sprint phones before that worked far better. That I had already been to the store & Sprint. That it was getting worse. BAMN! New iPhone. So, what’s the verdict?

Dropped my first two calls. Less than 200kbps from home, 280kbps from a parking lot with a clear view of the sky. What the heck! Pretty sure Sprint is getting WORSE! So now I’m debating either (1) going back to the Pre or (2) getting a WinPho or Android phone for under $100. And sell the iPhone for $500 or whatever it will bring (brand new!).

Now, remember that thought you held? Well, let’s link back to a classic Pyslent post from a couple years ago… and I honestly had no conscious recollection of that title when I named this one! Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics. Remember that stat about dropped calls? Well, I now wonder which “dropped calls” the late Mr. Jobs was referring to. Was it just calls that someone at the Apple Store would consider dropped (i.e., not “network related”), which would ignore the 30+ I’ve had the past month. Or did it actually include all dropped calls as it should have. I have my doubts!

Next step is to wipe the phone & see if I have any issue, then try to figure out if it’s a problem with the way I hold the phone. FFS! Meantime, I’ll keep you posted.

Ten Bagger!

June 19th, 2012, 6:34pm by Jake

Didn’t hold through the end of the day. But I bought SAM (Boston Beer Company) 14 years ago on the day Apple introduced the iMac. I bought more & have held every share. I also bought Apple that day, unfortunately I didn’t hold every share! Nevertheless, buying at $11.74 on May 15, 1998 until June 19, 2012 at around noon eastern, I had a 10-bagger in Sammy. Not bad! My $2000 investment is now worth a cool $20K. Apple would’ve been worth $160K! And at one point, I think I owned triple the shares. Ah, but if only wishes were horses.


Thoughts on Surface

June 19th, 2012, 12:02pm by Kelvin

Microsoft unveiled Surface yesterday, a tablet that represents their first computer products under their own brand. No idea what it means strategically in the long term for Microsoft or their hardware partners, but I think it’s safe to say that no one could else in Microsoft’s value chain could have pulled off a product suite announcement with as much fanfare and excitement as Microsoft just did. Surface is exciting to people in a way that no Lenovo, HP or Dell product has ever been.

I’ll leave the discussion of Windows 8u (and Windows RT) for another day. Suffice to say that the new Surface runs one or the other, and that means it has a cool, touch optimized tile interface like on Windows Phone. It also may or may not run all your old Windows programs. Not confusing at all :).

Design-wise, it has a kickstand that holds the tablet up 68 degrees from the horizontal when the tablet is in the landscape (widescreen) orientation. In this position, it is resting on the hinge of its cover, which flaps out and forms a touch keyboard. I would link a picture, but that’s hard to do from my phone. Imagine a small laptop, and that’s the general form factor.

While this makes for a cool demo, I find it a problem for a few reasons. As a laptop, it works as long as you are on a table top. Put it in your lap, and it won’t be stable. Ditto on your couch armrest or bed (where my laptop would be most of the time if I ever used it at home). Moreover, I use my iPad in the 22 degree orientation (slight tilt from horizontal) much more frequently. I occasionally wish my iPad could be at 45 degrees, but I never need it at 68 degrees. It’s not a useful position in practice, and yet it’s the only position the kickstand supports. To me it seems like Microsoft has bent over backwards to make this a laptop replacement, rather than look at how tablets are natively used In the wild. In the hand, as a tablet, I’m sure it’s fine, except Windows 8 does work much better in the landscape, which is awkward to hold with one hand (especially with a 16:9 screen aspect ratio, ugh).

The other thought I had was that it seems like Microsoft isn’t really positioning this as a big seller, despite the hype. They wouldn’t announce it 4-7 months ahead of launch unless they wanted “competitors” to copy. They are also only selling it through their 20 retail stores, which isn’t a recipe for success. They are just making a Nexus device, intended to be a concept car.

Plan to fix this persnickety iMac

June 17th, 2012, 8:54pm by Jake

It’s been a pain from about day 10. It should still be a blazing machine, but just isn’t. I think a big part of that is the Aperture library that grew to 550GB. And a hard drive that was nearing its 1 TB limit repeatedly. I’ve got external hard drives and NAS coming out the wazoo (I even have an extra Network Attached Storage — who needs one?). So here’s the plan.

I’m getting the iMac under 750 GB, at about 800 GB now and I think I can cruise under that limit by shuffling a couple more Aperture Libraries to external. Then, I’m going to clone the whole thing to a 750GB drive I have laying around. Then I’ll make an extra backup of some the not quite as ginormous Aperture libraries onto the NAS. Next, is the scary step… nuke the iMac! I’m going to wipe it out. Install Lion clean, install Aperture clean, then copy back my files. Always the scariest part is personal files that aren’t in the obvious places. So I’ll keep the cloned drive around for a few months. Meantime, I’ll start using Time Machine or CCC or Super Duper to backup to the NAS.

Hopefully, when all is done, I’ll have a couple 200GB Aperture libraries, several in the 50GB range and a computer that doesn’t get bogged down every time I do two things at a time. I think I still have cruft from the old PowerMac in this machine.

What am I missing?

Mom’s Show Was a Complete Success!

June 10th, 2012, 10:46pm by Jake

Thanks all for your help & encouragement over the past year. I had a vision, but it took many friends & family, online & off, to bring it to fruition. Also, in case it’s not obvious, I’m cross posting this just about everywhere. Save for the bottom bit. 🙂

I am happy to report that to date, we have raised $3,159.24 to donate to charity. I am very happy about that– at one point I worried we wouldn’t raise $500.

We sold about 10 pieces of original art. 25 small prints, 17 large prints, 13 little books, 17 large books, 3 XL prints, more than 20 ebooks.

Over 150 people viewed the exhibit so far. There’s a fair chance that selections from the show will be featured in the library & in ARC’s community gallery. Plus online sales will continue & expand.

If you want something, here’s what is still on offer:

Original Art, priced from $50 to $5000. The pieces are selling, both slowly and surely.

Large hardcover & small softcover books from Blurb. (If you ordered one from me, they will be shipped in a week or two.)

Prints from the show, but more importantly, view the virtual gallery and simply admire the artwork. That’s what true artists truly want.

If you want the eBook, just shoot me an email. The recommended donation is $5, but you can contribute as much or as little as you’d like. We’ll pass it all along to ARC.


Special thanks to Mike, Joanie, Adam & Emmie who journeyed all the way to the nether reaches of the North Shore to join in the celebration. I know you all would’ve been here if you could. You all really helped me out, especially giving me that lift in January for March when I really, really needed it. I can’t express in words what that meant to me. Thank you!

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