Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Work life in the Valley

An interesting article about work life, power and the role of women in Silicon Valley.

It is quite different working for small start-ups and large enterprises.  Also I find it quite different the work attitude in the UK, Germany and the States.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heidelberg Sunset Photos

Here's the processed high-res photos from the Heidelberg Sunset timelapse (click to open):

Heidelberg Sunset - Paraglider Edition

A great remix of a timelapse I shoot a while back.

Now I just need to dust off my camera and get back to shooting :)

Wimbledon Windmill

I like this time of year, just before the cold sets in, the sunsets are really nice and the nature beings out it's darker colors.

This windmill is in located on the park between Wimbledon and Putney.  There's a museum and also a nice cafe in the back where you can get warm food and a drink.  The hike is quite nice, just wish they would get rid of the parking lot and make people walk to it to enjoy it like they do in Holland - but that would not be the British way of doing it would it?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Return to Simplicity

My previous post I wrote about the Samsung Siii Mini and the problems I had with it.  After giving it some thought, I decided to buy a simple phone and go back to the easier days.

Problems I had with the smartphone was this:
- Too distracting, at one point I was managing files on the train to debug crashes and clear up memory.  This started to sound like work.
- Too many bugs.  Google's music service is full of bugs, the cellular data reception is bad so it becomes frustrating trying to do anything while on the move.
-  I missed a few alarms already in the morning due to software crashes at night.  This is just unacceptable for me.
-  The navigation on system does not work, mostly because of the data problems.  Offline maps are also too slow to be useful.
- Battery management is a chore.

I started to compile a list of what I wanted and needed, the basics:
- Phone
- Time and data
- Alarm clock with days of the week (so it does not ring on the weekend)
- Long battery life

Solution was the Nokia 105.

A simple phone for 20 pounds and with a month battery life.

After using it for a week (and charging it last week) I still have half a battery, managed to wake up on time every day and have not been distracted by any software problems or bugs.

Note that I do have a iPad with a data plan, so when I need maps or check my email I still can.  But I don't feel the need to be distracted by twitter, email and software management every 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ordered a Brompton

I miss my old bike in San Francisco and commuting in London is not the most exciting thing in the world.  The tube does work (most of the time) and is ok, but the drawback is that it's madly expensive (I would put it up as the most expensive in the world) and overpacked for a system that is 150 years old.

Fortunately my current job is only 8 miles away from home.  I use to cycle to work in San Francisco (with real hills!) and enjoyed it quite a bit.  So it was a no brainer to get a bike in London.  My thoughts jumped around on what kind of bike I should get - a full size hybrid, a fast fixy, or a foldy.  After thinking it over the idea of a Brompton looked really attractive.

Advantages are that you can really take it everywhere, on vacation, on the tube if the weather turns sour during the day.  I also like the fact that they are built in London and are a local business employing people who I see daily.

Here's a photo of my order, it's expected to be ready by Christmas:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Samsung S3 Mini Review

I've been using a old Blackberry for many years now.  They were the original smart phone back in the day, making devices with real keyboards and access to email systems.  The software on them was as solid as the physical design on the phone themselves.  It's no wonder that people all over praised them and thought they were the best phone on the market.

Then the iPhone came out.  At first it was a toy then the App store changed it all.  The Blackberry was a solid workhorse that kept on working, but the iPhone and later Andorid phones were sexy with their glitzy apps.  Blackberry were seen as for work and iPhones for fun.

But is it really the case?  After my wife's Blackberry Curve was stolen in Rome (a true indication they are valued!) I got the green light to get a new phone as my wife gets my old phones.  So I did a lot of research and originally wanted to get a iPhone 4, but the price tag was a little too steep for a phone.  The Android's look interesting and I liked the form factor of the S3 Mini.
About the thickness of two pens

This review is after owning it for a few months.

Things I like about the Samsung S3 Mini:
- Small and compact.  I don't like the full size S3 or S4 as it's just too big for my liking.
- Replaceable and expandable battery.  This is a major selling point for me as I travel often and forget or don't have time to charge.  I've also managed to get a expandable 3-day battery for 10 pounds on Amazon.  It makes the phone a little fatter and it's easier to grip.
- Android OS and all the apps.  I already have a iPad and was using that as my mobile data source, so the S3 Mini was to replace the heavy iPad as my mobile computer.
- Mifi feature works great and the Giff Gaff unlimited data plan is fully compatible.

The camera indent is a handy grip point

What I don't like:
- Android OS is buggy.  I've already missed a few wake up alarms due to the phone crashing in the middle of the night.  The phone also looses it's mobile signal quite often and have to reboot it.  This is just unacceptable.
- Keyboard on the Samsung version of Android is terrible.  I have a hard time writing SMS's and forget about emails or notes.
- Design is too slippery.  I feel like it's going to break by the end of the year.  Already had it stepped on now just waiting to drop it.
- Battery life on the standard model is terrible, get yourself the expanded pack and enjoy the phone for a full day without thinking of charging it.
- Maps are bad.  I use to think Apple maps are terrible but somehow Google managed to make it's maps bad on the mobile phone too.  I may just come down to the data coverage in the UK, but I ended up buying a Tom Tom for my car and not using the phone for navigation (as originally I bought it for)
- Camera is bad.  Almost as bad as the Blackberry.  Only use it for taking notes and carry my Canon S100 for real photos.

Note the red indication, that's when there was no mobile signal and had to reboot the phone.

I've thought about going back to the iPad and getting a Nokia 105 phone for SMS, Alarm and Phone.  After all, when I need to text and call I want to be able too.  Don't want to have an expensive device that doesn't work.  If I need mobile Internet I can use my iPad that works and has a proper keyboard and screen.