Almost back to normal – a week after re-imaging my laptop

Last week, I had to get my laptop re-imaged. I had fouled up either my hive, or the install of Windows, so it had become incredibly unstable. Probably my fault. (ok, almost certainly my fault).

It has taken a week to get back to functional. All the key software is installed. The settings are back to where I like them (for power options etc), and I got all the essential drivers sorted (you really need to have the touchpad driver installed and configured if you are going to type on this thing, otherwise the incidental contact on the touchpad will cause the cursor to move, and drive you batshit insane)

We use Symantec endpoint protection, and I hate it. It is resource heavy, and there is no way (allowed at least) as an end user to adjust how it works. We also require our laptops to use whole disk encryption, which again is a resource hog. It only took 3 days for the 300G HD to initially encrypt (that took all weekend!!!)

The only thing I forgot to do was to backup my IE favorites. And since there are internal sites that ONLY work on IE, I have to re-create them.

Sigh.

What I miss about Tucson

After being in Chandler for a year, I do have some things that I miss from Tucson.

The weather – The predictable, and at times wild summer Monsoons. The smells of the desert after a storm is intoxicating.

The critters – The den of gila monsters near our house, the snakes (gopher and diamond back rattlesnakes). The Colorful banded lizards, the cotton tail rabbits, the javelinas, the coyotes, the bobcats, well, you get the picture. Suburban Chandler is nowhere near as diverse.

Cafe Poca Cosa – A local gem that I have yet to find a replacement for.

Tucson Int’l Airport – Nothing like a small, local, easily accessible airport. Phoenix is typical big metropolitan, and chaotic (but we do get to most destinations non-stop)

Living at the edge of town – We had a lot of privacy, and great neighbors who were friendly and supportive.

Coffee Xchange – local coffee house that was vastly superior to any big chain.

Mount Lemmon – 25 minutes away. A short drive, and you were at 9,000 ft. A different world.

Hiking trails – Sabino canyon, window rock, finger trail, Douglas Springs, Saguaro Nat’l park. All within a reasonable drive, delivering world class hiking.

Cycling – Saguaro East was always my favorite loop. Or head out Old Spanish Trail and into Vail for a longer ride.

Tucson McGraw’s – a cantina/grill on the hill with a fabulous view. Decent drinks, good food, and great views.

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol – Probably the best restaurant in town. Great views, entertainment, and fabulous wine list coupled with a great menu. A good splurge!

Ah well, it is only 2 hours away…

Switching back to my iPad

About 8 months ago, on a whim I bought a Nexus 7. Really to be used for testing websites I work on for how they look on that size screen, a few months ago I decided to give Android a fair shake. Caveat: I have been an Apple person since 2002 or so, and have been with iOS since the original iPhone, so I am clearly a biased opinion.

The fair shake involved me using the Nexus 7 for all my media consumption, and tablet like duties (email, magazine reading, newspaper apps, etc). I did not “root” my device, or install a modified ROM. It is plain Android (jelly bean 4.2 right now I think). I have only used the Android play store, and I have never sideloaded apps (unlike most of my Android phanatique friends, who load tons of pirate apps).

I have documented some of the annoyances in the past, but I will summarize:

  • The auto intensity adjustment is flakey. I read in bed, and the intensity switches levels a couple times a minute. I have never seen that with my iPad.
  • The interface is at times unresponsive. Mostly noticeable during games (for example Astra Solitaire is painful to play, because the UI at times take 2 or 3 stabs with your finger to get it to respond. But I experience this with many applications. From reading the forums, this is not an uncommon Android experience.
  • Gmail application. When I got this, it was great, very well mimicking the web browser version. But they have Google+’d it, and it sucks. I have gone back to using the “other” mail application.
  • Chrome is missing one killer feature. Safari on the ipad (and on my mac as well), has a “reader” mode. It strips all the miscellaneous cruft, and displays the main content in a larger, easy to read font. Yes, Chrome lets you double tap to size it to the window, but that often is still text that is too small to comfortably read.
  • The facebook application for android blows donkeys. It is just horrible. The iOS app used to suck, but about 4 months ago, a major rewrite made it killer and easy to use. Android still suffers here.
  • The Google Play music app is painful to use. Really hard to create/modify playlists on the device.
  • The accuracy of where it reads taps is odd. This is hard to explain, but for example, if you are looking at the device tilted back, and you pull up the email account selector on the gmail app, in the iOS world, it would know that you are looking at the screen tilted, and assume that you will tap a little low. Android misses this, and you select the one below your intent.
  • Battery life is atrocious. I don;t play much music, or video, but have to charge it every day to day and a half for 2 – 3 hours of reading, light browsing. My iPad (granted a much larger device), I get easily 3 – 5 days of that same amount of usage. And it is 2,5 years old, so the battery isn’t fresh. I suspect this is somewhat caused by a lot of background processes that are constantly active. Unlike my iOS devices, it does update programs and the system silently and in real time. So I often have updates in the notification area. IOS prompts me to upgrade apps, so I tend to do it all at once.

I have heard people on the interwebz saying that the Nexus 7 is the best tablet out there, period. I suspect that they have never spent time with an iPad. It is just enough more polished, and less intrusive to knock the Nexus 7 off the pedestal that some place it. I haven’t toyed with one of the updated Nexus 7’s, perhaps they fix these gripes, but I suspect it is more tied to the Android OS, than the hardware, so I would be skeptical.

So, I am back on the iPad, and I will keep dabbling with the Nexus 7, but it isn’t going to displace iOS for me. (as I said, I was biased)

Injuries – Foot edition

I have battled the scourge that is Plantar Fasciitis for a few year now. First cropping up in early 2010, it is a painful condition that really needs lots of rest and strengthening exercises. Returning to physical activity too soon is a sure way to make it far worse, and last longer.

What I have now is not it recurring though. This appears to be a sprain in the tendon on the top of the foot (instead of the plantar ligament), and affects only the ligament on the large toe. Ouchies. I have had this for a couple of weeks, and it seemed to fade pretty quickly (i.e. heal), but it came back with a vengeance on Saturday after a 26 mile bike ride. I guess the stress of pedaling on the upper ligaments of my foot are aggravating it.

Sigh, rest, stretching, and vitamin I (ibuprofen) to see if I can get it to heal without a trip to the podiatrist. If that doesn’t work, I am sure it will be another series of prednesone will be in store.

Getting old sucks. If your feet hurt, you are miserable. And foolishly exercising when you are injured is stupid.

Daniel Craig – Best Bond Ever

I have long been a James Bond fan. Started in the Roger Moore era, then the Pierce Brosnan era, and the single Timothy Dalton episode.  Then I detoured though the Sean Connery set of masterpieces. Loved them all.

But the new ones, with Daniel Craig as Bond are the best. Yes, the effects are amazing, but they always were the best that their time had to offer. The stories are better. They are more imaginative, and well written, and without a doubt less cheesy. But there is something else that Craig brings to Bond.

My wife hit on it last night while we were watching Casino Royale, Daniel Craig get cuts, bruises and he looks like he has been involved in the fights, battles, and action. It adds a level of realism that brings the character to life.

That, and Judi Dench is just kicks ass as ‘M’. Shame that they retired her in Skyfall, but I am sure Ralph Fiennes will carry the torch well.

Looking forward to the Bond/Moneypenny interplay!