Dear Mature aged students,
Please stop acting like you're the lecturers best mate and constantly talk to them about shit in the middle of the lecture, just because you're the same age.
Monday, March 4, 2013
That would be right, I haven't been sick for about 8 months, and then starting yesterday (First day of Uni) I suddenly sound like Tina Turner and have felt fluey and gross all day. I'm skipping my 9am Math1002 lecture this morning because I feel so crappy (Even though I keep looking at the clock thinking "I could leave right now and still make it..."). At least today I only have one lecture to worry about - tomorrow my day is 8 - 4. I'll be living it up on Panadol and No Doz.
Friday, February 15, 2013
I FINALLY got my Nexus 4.
And yes, I own a lot of phones. It's kinda like a hobby. Ignoring dumb phones, I have
Samsung Galaxy S2
Samsung Jet S8000
LG Nexus 4
Nokia N9 in Smurf Blue®
iPhone (The ancient 3GS model)
Palm Pre (RIP Palm)
And a Nexus 7. But I'll talk about that another time.
My previous phone was a Galaxy S2, which I bought when the white variant first came out, and I paid $670 bucks for that baby. After owning and using the S2 daily for almost two years (which for me is a LONG time) I eventually became somewhat dissatisfied with it, my main complaints were:
- Junky Build Quality:
Despite it's high price tag, the S2 feels like it's made from discarded Chinese takeaway containers. And people aren't kidding - the back is comically thin and fragile. Not to mention that silver rim around the outside, (You know, the part of the phone most likely to receive scratches), was black plastic with an extremely thin chrome layer on top. This meant once the thin chrome layer scratched off, there were noticeable and unattractive black patches. The little silver speaker strip on the front is also slightly misaligned. And having 8.0 MEGA written on the back of your phone makes is so 2006, in a tacky, undesirable kind of way. Overall it felt like a very cheaply made phone.
- The Software:
TouchWiz is pretty terrible. Despite the phone being one of the fastest on the market at the time, it felt slowed down, and I hated virtually every single "feature" of TouchWiz, especially the iPhone-aping iconography. I tried to live with it for a few days, until it became painfully obvious that Samsung interface designers don't really understand… anything. It seems to be a disturbingly constant theme that custom builds of android only ever add crap and unwanted features to it. Once I made the decision to root and flash the ROM, it took me days to do, courtesy of Samsung making the process as difficult as possible - and I know what I'm doing. And not only that, Samsung released like two updates to their of-questionable-quality Android build, that were extremely late, and as an extra slap in the face, the Ice Cream Sandwich version was made to look and behave as similar as possible to the Gingerbread version, as if you hadn't gotten an upgraded OS at all.
When I first began shopping around for a ROM, I discovered that although Samsung outwardly supporting Cyanogenmod, they made zero effort to release drivers for the phone, so the Cyanogenmod team had to wait until a beta build of Touchwiz came out before they could start work on their own build. Lame. Dont think your drama ends with flashing your phone however, running Cyanogenmod is a constant life of checking new builds, updating, putting up with bugs, restoring all your software by hand yada yada yada, and lastly, the latest Cyanogenmod builds are getting bogged down with stupid shit like the incredibly lame loading screen, useless settings items, unwanted included apps etc etc.
- The Battery Life:
Was pretty bad. It had a fast, 1.2 Ghz dual processor onboard. What exactly are people doing with their handsets that require a dual CPU? I had to constantly recharge the phone every 9 or so hours which is super annoying when I start uni at 10, get home around 5 and then need to go to work at 8. My Nokia N9/Palm pre easily outlive the S2 when it comes to battery life (And build quality…. and software…). I'd rather have a slower, single core processor and better battery life.
- The Super AMOLED+ Screen.
This is the biggest area where I got burnt. Just as a backstory, I owned a Samsung Jet S8000 back in 2009 (Which ran an even worse non-android TouchWiz that got NO updates despite some very annoying and serious bugs), and that had an AMOLED screen. It was nice too. AMOLED screens were new back in 2009 and were arguably superior to their LCD counterparts.
The Galaxy S2 however, has a 480x800 AMOLED screen stretched across 4.3 inches. which though may have been ok back in 2009, was pretty poor in 2011, and in 2013 just looks crap to every other high end phone I've seen. The LCDs of high end mobile phones today have met, and long surpassed any AMOLED screen I've seen from Samsung (And I've extensively used my housemate's Galaxy S3). What makes an AMOLED screen so rubbish?
a) They have limited resolutions (i.e. Samsung achieves the not particularly impressive resolution of the S3's screen by using a pentile matrix. I'm not sure I believe people when they claim that the pentile matrix makes no difference at such a high resolution. I can spot a pentile matrix instantly, their hallmark feature is blurry text that when white has a slight red tinge on one side and a blue tinge on the other)
b) You can't see them in any kind of sunlight. Seriously, take a Samsung out into the sun and take a look.
c) Every single AMOLED screen Iv'e seen has strange banding issues with solid colours, especially grey (this including the screen on my N9 and the S3)
d) Longetivity issues. My S2 has developed weird colour spots. For example, the black bar where the android status bar usually is? If I turn my phone side ways, there is now a big blueish smudge where the status bar normally is. I've also noticed the screen has become less bright than when I bought it.
So I was eager to replace the phone. I didn't want an iPhone again because I feel Apple hasn't done anything interesting with iOS since version 2, and after my dramas with custom Android builds, I swore I would never buy a non-Nexus android device ever again. I didn't want a Nexus S, because it was also made by Samsung.
Then, Google announced its next Nexus device and it was… a damn Samsung.
My best friend bought a Galaxy Nexus to replace his ageing HTC Hero. The build quality and screen were just as bad as my S2, and the battery life was noticeably worse. This definitely confirmed that i was not buying it.
The next phone I briefly considered was a HTC One x, but after using my friends one, it was too heavily skinned, and HTC doesn't have a very good track record with updates.
I also even looked at a Galaxy S3 after my Father and housemate got a pair but
- The screen, although higher in resolution, had all of the previously mentioned issues of my S2
- the build quality of a Galaxy S3 is even worse than the S2. Samsung must be making a killing on these things.
- It's ugly. At least my S2 was a reasonably attractive phone. The generic rounded off edges, tacky fake brushed metal back, and bizarre key layout with the disconsolate home key make for an eyesore of a device. And the DAMNED CHROME RIM is still there!
Finally, Google announced the Nexus 4, which promptly sold out in 15 minutes in Australia, and wasn't back in stock for three months. I waited so long before I could buy one (I even considered allowing myself to be price-raped for one by a dodgy eBay seller, but my faith and resolve were strong!), and finally last week they came back into stock, and despite Google warning 2-3 weeks for shipping, I got mine 5 days after I ordered it. Pretty impressive.
What I like:
- It's very fast, and yet the battery life is decent.
There is no lag, anywhere at all. It doesn't feel that much faster than my S2, but that phone had a crazy fast processor for its time. The 2 gig of ram is a noticeable improvement, despite having a tonne of apps all working at once, the Nexus 4 does not slow down at all.
- The back is very cool
Its classy. Don't think it's all glittery like a disco ball like in the pictures, the tasteful shimmer is actually very understated and only visible on certain angles.
- STOCK Android with updates from GOOGLE ;-]
As far as I'm concerned, any issue you might have with a Nexus device is nullified by not having to deal with the fragmented disaster that is non-Nexus Android builds and their often non existent updates.
- The build quality absolutely shits all over the Galaxy S2 and S3
Doesn't' feel plasticky at all. No creaks, no manufacturing defects, no cheap plastic case. The edges are actually rubberised like my Thinkpad. The edges of the front glass are curved which leads to a… sensuous experience when you swipe on it. It speaks volumes about the different philosophies of the two phones, the Galaxy S2 is clearly just a product to make as much money as possible for Samsung. The Nexus 4 feels like Google wanted people to come away with a good impression of Android and of the company. They succeed.
- Beautiful screen
Perhaps not quite as fantastic as the HTC One X, but damn close, and damn better than the S3's screen.
- It's cheap.
I paid AUD $400 for mine . That's crazy (although I should note that the phone does not include any headphones). Makes me slightly annoyed when I think about how much money Samsung is probably raking in from their phones.
glancing at an LED notification light > checking your phone by turning on the screen every 15 minutes
What I don't like:
- The camera
If I had to point out one area where my much maligned S2 excelled, it was its camera. The one on the Nxus 4 is good, but my S2 takes better pictures. The flash is also slightly brighter on the S2 and more diffused, so you don't end up whiting out your photo subject. I've included some comparison shots between my N9, Galaxy S2 and the Nexus 4.
- The speaker
The speaker is absolutely terrible. I'd go so far as to say the notification LED is essential because I constantly miss notifications from the Nexus 4, even with the volume turned right up. is very quiet and not really much use. For example, it is overwhelmed when I try to listen to a podcast in my quiet room from the traffic outside.
Don't get me wrong, it's a way better built phone than my S2, but I dropped that thing four times that I remember, and aside from chipping the bad quality plastic, it was mostly fine. If I drop this phone, which is heavier and has a glass front and back, it's toast. I think the Nokia N9 is the way to go. Its slightly better build quality comes from it's unibody polycarbonate construction and limiting the glass to the front. Even Apple doesn't use a glass back anymore.
- No removable battery or SD card slot
But according to iTeardown, the battery isn't actually that difficult to replace. I'm not stinging over the lack of SD expansion either.
- The Buttons
The side buttons are deeply recessed and quite stiff, this makes them not only difficult to find the button with your finger, but difficult to press. Also there is no camera button. Once you've had one you instantly become annoyed at any phone you use afterwards that lacks one.
Here are some comparison pictures from the All set to AUTO. The order for each picture is: Nexus 4, Galaxy S2, and Nokia N9
MODERATELY LOW LIGHT (The Bag):
The best photo by far was taken by the N9 which has very little noise, and deals with the large spread of contrast across the whole image very well.
The S2 has slight colour balance issues (it looks red), whites out the carpet on the right side near the window and has a large amount of noise in the picture, seen near the wall behind the bed.
The Nexus 4 isn't too far behind, it doesn't deal with the contrast range very well; the picture is missing much detail and is too dark, the carpet is out of focus and whited out near the window, and also displays sharpness issues seen on the chest of drawers. It also has colour balance issues, the couch is not the correct shade of blue like in the N9 and S2's pictures, although the colour balance isn't as bad as the S2.
The Best: The N9 by a long shot
The Worst: Unfortunately, the Nexus 4, trailing behind the N9 and S2.
EXTREME CONTRAST (The Window)
The N9 took the best photo by far, which not only captures the correct colour green of the trees outside, but contains the most detail for inside the room. It is the only one of the three to capture the curtain ruffles, has the peace lily in the most detail, has the basket with perfect sharpness, and is the only image where you can actually tell there is another plant on the far left.
The Nexus 4 was next, it has incorrect colour balance for not only outside the window but the couch yet again, but good detail can be seen on the pile of dirty clothes, and it captured the basket in ok detail, although a little over sharpened. It was the noisiest image.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 took the worst picture, displaying colour balance issues on the couch and the trees outside. It was also moderately noisy, and over sharpened the dirty clothes, the windowsill, the leaves of the peace lily, and over sharpened the basket so much that it looks like it's made out of mesh.
The Best: N9 again, showing Nokia's camera chops
The Worst: The S2, but it's only just behind the Nexus 4
OUTSIDE WITH MOTION
The Nexus 4 took the best outside photo. It is the only one to capture the patch of blue in the sky, has the most detail of the power lines, has correct colour balance for the greenness of the trees, and everything in the image is sharpened well in in focus, especially the antennae which is by far the best of the three
The next best was the S2, capturing the most detail on the facade for the entrance to the houso dumps, good power line detail, and good motion capture. However, the camera displayed green colour balance issues, but only slightly.
The worst surprisingly was the N9, where virtually nothing was in perfect focus, very little detail of the facade was captured, the motion was slightly blurrier than the S2, and 90% of the power lines were not captured. It had the best colour balance of the facade however.
The Best: Nexus 4, but only just in front of the S2
The Worst: N9. But then again, not that terrible.
In the market for a new phone? The only issues that should give you pause in my opinion are the next to useless speaker and its fragility. But look at the big picture: For a bargain price, you get one of the fastest phones available on the market, a device that while fragile, is beautiful to feel and kicks the teeth in on any Samsung phone quality wise, and is pretty much guaranteed to be rocking the latest and greatest Android. What's there not to like?
Saturday, February 9, 2013
So I win at tutorial snap.
As usual, the Tutorial enrolment system for Newcastle University was utterly unpredictable, some courses opened 15 minutes early, some on time, some tutorials advertised were not even open for enrolment, and Math1002 opened a whopping 24 minutes late, so I got to sit around for half an hour refreshing the page very slowly. And all the SENG courses were an hour early to boot.
Behold, the timetable.
My first ever class for Software Engineering with be Geng1803. Gross. My tuesdays suck too, a single, 9-11am lecture. And being maths, there will probably be all kinds of shit going on the other projectors, so I'm going to have to show up in person for it. Fridays will be fun too, every second friday I will have 9am to 5pm worth of class, then 6pm to 12am worth of work.
Because I'm cycling to Uni, I will have to get up an hour and fifteen minutes before hand. This means I get up at 6:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 7:45 on tuesdays and Fridays
Oh well. I'm doing what I want to do.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
I've still been debating whether to get the Thinkpad X1 Carbon or the Macbook pro. Then out of interest I decided to see how the US model and the Australian models compare, and sorry for the bad formatting but the tools Google provides are pretty rubbish:
and the Australian:
So the Australian thinkpad is roughly 33% more expensive than the US model, and has lower specs (the SSD drive for example). And ignore the "eCoupon", for the American site, it's virtually permanent. The Australian dollar is worth more, and we are closer to China than the US is. I was previously conflicted about what Laptop to get, but now I'm pretty convinced that I'll just get the Macbook Pro. To hell with you Lenovo.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
You know what else sucks about xubuntu? XScreenSaver. How do you even bork up a screen saver?
1: Like Thunar, it's just unbelievably ugly. Behold the default icon:
It's gigantic, and it's in your face whenever you unlock your computer. I laughed and thought it was some kind of bad joke. Unfortunately it's not, despite a quick google search revealing that there are masses of others that think it's ugly too. When people ask when will the year of Linux on the Desktop be, this is one of my favourite tidbits to point out, because it's included by default in many distros and it's an extremely noticeable feature of the system. Why does it matter? Because I think it's telling of the extreme lack of polish most Linux distros have. What kind of impression do you want to give a company or a person who is taking a serious look at Linux and one of the most noticeable dialogues has THAT icon on it?
2: It's unsecure. When you let the computer idle and it switches off the monitor, if you move the mouse, no matter how long it's been idling, for about a second you can *see the complete desktop and all its windows* before everything fades to black and the login prompt comes up. And it gets better, if you put the computer to sleep, when it resumes, it doesn't ask for a password or anything. Dun doww. These are two issues that have arisen though daily use, I haven't even tried to play around with it.
3: It's difficult to get rid of. Just read this thread. I'm actually just going to leave it on my system because I can't be bothered
4: The developer is a total dick. Here's some choicest quotes from the XscreenSaver website:
"XScreenSaver is secure, stable, and mature; whereas gnome-screensaver is brand new, bug-ridden, unreliable, and a security disaster waiting to happen"
"They are, of course, welcome to shoot themselves in the foot in this way, but there's no reason you should. I don't support gnome-screensaver, and I encourage you to run xscreensaver instead"
"If that still brings you no joy, then I recommend switching to MacOS. I did."
and regarding the logo:
"If you are looking in here because you're trying to figure out how to
change the logo that xscreensaver displays on the splash screen and
password dialog, please don't. The logo is xscreensaver's identity.
You wouldn't alter the name or copyright notice on a program that
you didn't write; please don't alter its logo either."
how open source of him. The entire idea of open source is modifying and adding to programs that you didn't write.
I find the quotes about security hilarious given that I can see what's on a users desktop for a second before XscreenSaver kicks in, or how it apparently doesn't monitor when a machine is set to sleep. and that his solution to a known bug is to switch to MacOS. Nice.
Friday, January 25, 2013
So despite transferring my eCAF form straight from B Psychology to my new B Engineering (Software), according to myhub I've applied for a FEE-HELP loan, Which isn't even possible because I'm in a CSP degree. This is after double checking that I did indeed receive a CSP offer through UAC and that I've been deferring my tuition fees through HECS-HELP for my B Psyc the whole time. So now I've sent frantic emails to the fees department at Newcastle university, hoping that somehow some trollop hasn't fucked up and put me into a fee paying placement. It could be human error, but probably not. It's probably MyHub, which is the online software that handles this kind of student administration minutiae. And now I'm probably going to spend the next few days waiting for it to be fixed, or having to call them or something. Urghh.