Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nexus 5

Nexus 5 Black

Android 4.4 (or KitKat), is a subtle pack of changes (which in the IT world is the equivalent of a Service Pack), that was too impactful to make it less than a point release, but in my mind not large enough for a version bump.


To highlight these changes, Google commissioned LG again to develop the Nexus 5. I didn’t have the previous generation (Nexus 4), so cannot make a direct comparison. I did have a Galaxy Nexus, which is effectively the Nexus 3. And from that device to this one, the significant changes are;

  1. speed (smartphone processor technology is just moving in leaps and bounds) 
  2. screen size (I used to think the Galaxy Nexus was big)
  3. LTE support (not a huge deal for me, but a big deal that could improve according to some)

Unlike some other similarly sized devices I’ve physically handled, this device feels well balanced in the hand, is extremely light and pocketable. Battery life is still miserable, but understandable given the screen size. And for the price ($350), its a great deal.


I will always have a special place for Google and its Nexus line; this phone doesn’t disappoint.

iPad Air

Apple ipad air commercial voiced by bryan cranston 00

As with my previous Apple product-related blog post, this update too can be summed up as another incremental update. It doesn’t have a better screen, its a little faster, battery life is the same and it doesn’t do anything significantly different from its predecessor (or even its predecessor).


The most revolutionary change in the iPad world was the inclusion of the Retina display - that was cool. And the change to a Lightning connector - really reduced the number of inventory parts required. Again, this is a humdrum update which you would be best to avoid completely if you had the iPad 4, or if you had someone to give your iPad 3 to in order to get homogeneity across connectors.

iPhone 5S

Apple were not storing an image of your fingerprint on the new iphone

In a word, this review can be covered with one word; meh. Its the same form factor as the iPhone 5, except a bit faster, an integrated touch sensor and world-wide LTE band support.


To be honest, the band support is the only reason to change, and even then only if you plan to change continents (which I did). Or because someone gives you a stupid amount of money to trade in your old device (which they did). Otherwise, save your money.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (version 2)

The Kindle Paperwhite is an amazing device; I’ve blogged about it before, and have had a chance to use the new generation one for the last month now. Summary : no need to change if you have the previous one, but if you don’t, this is absolutely the e-reader to get (and yes, you need a separate tablet and e-reader).


To be honest, this really is an incremental update. No notable changes, except maybe the light source illuminating the page is now so well integrated that you can’t actually tell where the LED lights are.


The previous generation was perfect; this one, to be honest, makes a truly brilliant product simply sublime.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gazelle : Massive thumbs up!

I spoke of the site Gazelle in an earlier post; essentially an automated market place for trading in used electronics. I mentioned I was going to use it to trade in two phones. I had logged in and they had made two offers (one for each phone), which I accepted and that kick started the next phase of the process.


Two boxes arrived at the address I specified, suitable to ship the phones back in. Instructions were clear and unambiguous, and everything required (from the postage label to a sticker to seal the box) was included. I posted the boxes back on Monday, was notified by e-mail Thursday morning, and paid Thursday evening! Now that is prompt. A great service :-)

I get it, but I don't like it

Smarter thinking image

Sitting in Santa Clara, living the iTunes Match dream, I get it. Streaming media, all devices can see all content, lets live in the "Cloud", etc, etc. I get it. But what Apple and Google seem to forget, ironically, is that most of the world isn't hyper-connected. Networks do go offline, and mobile networks aren't as reliable or as cheap as you would think everywhere in the world.


I say this is ironic, because while I'm sitting behind a pretty decent connection (50Mbps cable) here in the US, most of the engineers who built these products come from countries with the same, or worse, data connectivity problems that we have in South Africa, or with prohibitive costs.


There must be a harder, but more elegant, solution to this problem. Solving the worlds connectivity problems is going to take decades, and in spite of the great effort of initiatives like the Alliance for Affordable Internet, often times telco gear is literally ripped from the ground faster than its laid.


Stop pretending connectivity is ubiquitous and cheap, smart Silicon Valley people. Try harder!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wells Fargo : no EFT's greater than $750 per day ?

Fails of wells fargo

I decided to use a bank called Wells Fargo when I arrived here; got an account opened up in a few hours, and was dealt with by a friendly and helpful banker. I've been pretty impressed with them, up until now. Its time to pay rent, and as you would, I ask the realtor to give me his bank, account number and branch code (in the US, a routing number). He correctly and accurately does this, and then starts the incredulity; there is no way to add an electronic payment / recipient to the banking site.


I phoned the call centre, expecting the answer to archaically be that I would have to come into a branch to set up a payment, only to be told "You can't make electronic payments larger than $750 per day using our system(s). For larger payments, we send the payee a cheque which they'll get in 5 business days". He was quite proud of their turn around time. What ? That must be the silliest thing I've heard of. The realtor alas confirms that this is true with Wells Fargo. What a fail :-(

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Moto x event 24 of 31

I ordered a Moto-X from Motorola directly last week, and it arrived. Man, what an awesome device! Nice to hold, so far good battery life, and amazing data throughput on T-Mobile's network. The T-Mobile edition of this device is carrier unlocked (tested by putting in my South African Cell-C SIM), so thats a huge win.


I really think this is now the Android device of desire; its devoid of that manufacturer-inspired modification of Android that other manufacturers (ala HTC and Samsung) do, which means those devices lag behind in the software upgrade cycle, and it is sanctioned by the owner of Android. Battery life so far is great, the "Ok, Google now" feature is pretty neat (although like its competitors, I wonder how much it'll get used), and the passive notifications that seem to be all the rage are pretty good (although frankly Samsung beat them to it).


Most important, it feels amazing in the hand, and audio quality is clear and unencumbered, which is what you'd expect from an old-school manufacturer like Motorola. Now if only it supported such a diverse range of LTE bands as the iPhone 5S does, it would be truly unbeatable. Oh well, lets wait until tomorrow when that behemoth hits.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Network locked phones


I and much of the IT industry in South Africa don't give ICASA much credit; there are plenty of complaints about them. But I can admire one thing they did; in 2001, phones that were sold were to be network unlocked.


What a big difference that made. We in South Africa take this for granted, but here in the USA, which you would expect to be a liberal and open market, phones by default are network locked. You have to generally pay more (to be expected), and wait longer (which you wouldn't expect), to get an unlocked phone. This is an incredibly frustrating process, which is usually made harder by the network operators themselves throwing up all kinds of false and artificial barriers. How long you have used the phone on the network, the type of service you have, etc, etc. See this article for an example by T-Mobile.


For once, our regulator did the right thing early.


Update: looks like the Obama administration agrees, according to this article.

Selling your iOS devices

Gazelle logo tm

Well, since the iPhone 5S and 5C were announced, there will be a plethora of older iOS devices available for sale. I have a 5, and my wife has a 4S, and I'd like to use this opportunity to upgrade to the newer devices, primarily to get supported LTE band support. It also never hurts to have the latest/greatest new devices :-)

So what to do with the old devices ? I'm going to give Gazelle a try. Essentially, you tell them what device you have, and they then ship a box to you which you put your device into, and at the other end out pops a cash offer to you. This seems to be the most effective and easy way to trade in your old devices.


I've submitted my requests for two devices, so lets see how the service works.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Google Voice

Google Voice Logo

Call aggregation or simultaneous ring are possible if your carrier plays nicely. Most don't; I'm not sure why, but I'm not familiar with too many companies who have this at the core of their value proposition.


Google Voice does offer this; formerly known as GrandCentral, the service allows you to present a single number, which

  • can receive text messages (SMS) and deliver them to all the capable devices and/or e-mail
  • can receive voice calls, and ring multiple devices allowing you to answer the call on the most convenient one
  • switch from one phone to another mid-call, as well as record calls
  • provides a single voicemail service, which can forward the voice message via e-mail and transcribe it to text
In addition, it allows you to make international calls at lower rates, as a pseudo calling card / VoIP service. I've installed it and will start using it actively, if only to mask my true mobile number and allow for a single voicemail across office and desk phones.


375641 hp laserjet pro 200 color mfp m276nw

I needed an office printer to scan & print, with a document feeder so I wouldn't have to stand in front of it. AirPrint support would be nice, but not essential.


I have always preferred laser to inkjet (generally for cost, speed and longevity reasons), which although up front costs more in the long run is easier and cheaper. I ended up buying the HP M276nw. What a great printer! Its not the cheapest, but setup and configuration was straightforward, and it has a direct scan-to-email feature, which I can PIN lock so that unauthorised users cannot scan things pretending to come from me.


My iOS devices can see it natively and it advertises itself as a Bonjour service, so configuration is literally non-existent.


For the price, excellent features!

Porting in 15 minutes


So back in South Africa, we're used to a number port taking a day or three, and usually failing or breaking. We've all heard the horror stories of the number in limbo, where the port failed or didn't go through. Not having personally experienced that, and ported twice, I was curious to see what the US experience was like.


I had initially taken out a T-Mobile voice and data service, having found their rates to be really good ($50 for unlimited voice, data and text) and more importantly, having a flat $10 service for unlimited land line and SMS to South Africa. But, their coverage in and around Silicon Valley has been average to mediocre, and often I would be without signal when deep inside a shopping centre, restaurant or building.


I decided to port to AT&T,  who have a mobile share plan which I decided to use. What a great experience - the porting that is. 15 minutes, all done :-) Now that is slick.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bank accounts and car leases

So, a tale of good service, and a story that has an undecided ending. 


We opened up bank accounts with Wells Fargo, in the Mountain View downtown. The process, while requiring a lot of processes, was painless and made effortless by the very gracious bank staff. Although it took 2 hours, we left the bank with debit cards and cheque books, ready to transact as locals.


On the car front, things are a little shakier. We rented a Chevrolet Suburban, probably the largest SUV I've ever seen. It's the vehicle on the right in the picture below, taken at a stop at the local Sunnyvale market.



I had arranged to purchase two Volvo's before we left South Africa, an XC60 and an S60. The pick up of the XC was flawless; its a great car, very comfortable and the handover was very efficiently done.



The S was a similar experience, until I parked it after driving it. As I got out of the car, I noticed scratches on the bumper, which I hadn't caused.


Then, after a closer inspection, I noticed scratches on the textile B pillar of the vehicle, which I again didn't cause.


The dealer has been informed, so lets see how they deal with it and rectify the situation.


As an aside, we've also had a lot of fun taking the children to park's, which are plentiful and very well equipped. The kids are loving them :-)


Moving to Silicon Valley, California!

So, if you're wondering why this blog has been a little quiet, its because my wife and I have been executing on a rather bold plan; a move to Silicon Valley!


Work starts tomorrow, Tuesday the 3rd of September. I hope to post more as I settle down and get into the swing of things.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jawbone Up

I'm not much of a health or fitness nut. To be honest, I tend to be rather pedestrian about affairs of health, only really listening when my wife (quite correctly) points out I shouldn't have that next slice of pizza, or to avoid that dread macaroni & cheese (yum!). Combined with both a genetic and extrinsic love of all things sweet and dessert-like, and very low levels of self control when confronted with the possibility of Italian kisses (for those non SA-based, small balls of ice cream generally covered either in chocolate, caramel or both), a fatalistic combination indeed. What you can't measure, you can't control.


Enter the Jawbone Up. In a word, I now have visibility in my movement during the day, how I'm sleeping, and a series of reminders and hints that effectively force me to think about my food intake (note, I said think, not necessarily dictate), and to provide some data and insight. I can highly recommend it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The last HTC phone that anyone will care about

HTC ProductDetail overview

HTC was a credible, solid device manufacturer that not only made great hardware, but paired it with its customisations of Android that in past years made Android a credible option for business users rather than a geeks wet dream. But it feels like someone sucked out all the energy and dynamism out of HTC, and threw it into Samsung. Now don't get me wrong; Samsung, while they make great hardware, make some god awful UI's and add (in my mind) almost no tangible value to the Android ecosystem rather than numbers.


But you have to face reality; HTC is haemorrhaging its senior executive team, and despite announcing it before the Samsung S4, has delivered the HTC One it to market in most markets later (sometimes by days, but often by weeks) than its feared rival. So is this the last great phone HTC makes ? I hope not, but fear it is.


Onto the merits of the phone!


  • Its gorgeous to hold in your hand, and feels so well built and less plastic than its rival
  • Those stereo speakers are truly amazing - no more tinny noise, thanks to those Beats-inspired additions
  • HTC Sense 5 is truly a breath of fresh air, providing a great skin on top of Android

But I'm afraid its not all roses :-(


  • The battery life is miserable - try running out of juice (properly) by 4PM in a business day
  • The lack of a large Calendar widget is a dreadful omission, given that its been there in almost every prior device
  • The design gives the hint that its not life-proof compared to its rivals


I like it; enough to make it my primary ? Lets run the battery a bit longer and see. But if it continues to be miserable, no.

Nokia Lumia 920 (aka the peak of irrelevance)

920 nokia lumia pureview jpg

I tried a Nokia Lumia 920 this week. Its well built, solid (I could use it as a traditional weapon its so damn heavy), and the unit I played with was a deep red (and came with a luminous yellow inductive charging pad). Quite eye catching.


LIke the Blackberry Z10 I played with a while ago, the Windows Phone has some great features. Its super responsive, the graphics are gorgeous, and its quite quick to get going. But, it doesn't take long for the Microsoft-ism's to come shining through. All the built-in apps only integrate with Skydrive; sorry Google Drive and Dropbox users, you're stuck. And Google users, there's no social networking, search, browser, Earth or maps. There's nothing. Unlike the Blackberry, this platform has been around long enough that if those applications were ever going to make it over, they'd have been there by now. The fact that they're not, indicates that they probably won't ever be.

Nokia Lumia 920 Wireless charging


And thats sad, because this could have been a great contender.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureMotion HD


Emphasis on could have been. Adios, Nokia & Microsoft. It was, respectively, a great (Nokia) and fucking goddamn awful (Microsoft) 20 years in the mobile industry; by hitching the two horses together, they'll just drown faster.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T


Microsoft Windows 8 has had mixed reviews; from the positive to the negative and everything in between. There is no question that Microsoft has taken a large bet on the mobile form factor, and Windows 8 is the company's response to the IOS-led mobile computing revolution underway. Most reviews have been lukewarm, and customer adoption has not been as rapid as hoped.


Is this because the software / hardware doesn't work, or is the idea flawed ? Having several Apple devices, I can confidently say that while they're amazing personal and consumer tools, they vary between amusing to downright useless as corporate devices. Three simple things that you can't universally do on an iOS device are;

  1. Correctly view, edit and contribute to a multi-user / versioned document with tracked changes
  2. Consistently view, present and edit a presentation
  3. Export, import or share onto a memory stick any content


While these are simple (and you would think trivial) matters, in a business context they're effectively show stoppers. I bought and played with a Microsoft Surface RT (RT stands for ReTarded), which was silly. The hardware is great, the folding thin keyboard is truly innovative but the lack of an Intel processor makes the app and program ecosystem pretty thin. Enter the mouthful; the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T (phew). A i5-based processor, 64GB SSD and built-in 3G modem makes this (large and heavy) tablet and associated keyboard cover quite an interesting beast. I've been using it for about a week now, and some initial thoughts;

  • Windows 8 isn't sure if it wants to be a tablet, or general purpose computing platform (Metro, desktop, and the confusion and lack of cohesion between the two)
  • Windows has a large and solid platform of software that allows you to do almost anything you need
  • USB ports are damn handy, as is an open and standardised set of file systems
  • 64GB is simply not enough storage; even with an additional 16GB MicroSD, disk space is so tight that you just barely make it
  • Windows 8 tablets and devices play nicely with corporate workflow, systems and architecture principles


Windows 8 (and this hardware) are not the prettiest, slickest, fastest or most appealing combo; a MacBook Air or an iPad 4 from a design, weight and general aesthetic perspective kick these offerings into the stratosphere. But as a business tool ? I haven't powered my iPad on since I got this. 


For me, even though I'm going to get ridiculed for it, the Windows 8 tablet is a compelling story.

Bose QC3 headphones

Qc3 si lg

Its very rare that you buy something that does exactly what its supposed to do, and does it so well that it blows all your expectations away. One such device is the Amazon Kindle; does what its supposed to do, and consistently. I'd like to add another to that (very short) list; the Bose QC3 headphones.


Yes, they are very expensive at $350. Yes, they only work when they're powered (i.e. the proprietary battery is charged). But oh yes, they are gorgeous and comfortable to wear (even for hours at a stretch). And oh yes, they sound amazingly neutral (which is rare these days). And oh yes, that battery lasts for ever (more than 16-18 hours). 


It comes in a beautiful hard case (which frankly doesn't look like it'll last very long if you don't care for it), an airline adapter (for those stupid airlines that don't have a standard headphone jack), a charger and a set of "world" adapters that will make the charger work just about anywhere. The only fiddly bit is the cable, which comes either as a standard wired cable, or as an Apple-compatible control set of buttons. On the plus side, its detachable, and on the minus side, they really should consider making these things wireless. Cables, while great for quality, really suck in real world use.


It really is surreal how the minute you put these on and switch the button (there is mercifully only one button on the whole thing), it sounds like all the air has been sucked out of the room and its eerily quiet. On the audio quality front, I can only reference these to the Klipsch Image X10i's in terms of quality and trueness to the recording; if anything, these are slightly bass heavier, but not distractingly so. Mid's and trebles are fairly treated, and overall quality is sublime. They don't get terrifically loud, but because of the design seem to focus the sound into your ears as opposed to bleeding out. And they're open backed, which means a much more neutral sound that doesn't eliminate external noises if they're loud enough.


Are they worth the price tag ? Audio quality and comfort are so subjective, its hard to comment without real-world comparisons. These are so good that comparisons are only for academic purposes, not necessity. it would be interesting to compare these with a pair of AKG 490NC's, which are roughly a third less. The Harmon equivalents that I have tried were so bass heavy (as were the Monster and Beats equivalents), whereas the AKG's are more supposed to be more neutral.


But these Bose; awesome! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I've played with a load of WiFi access points; from my very first Zyxel 802.11b access point, with its dorky associated PCMCIA card, to the latest/greatest Apple base station, most AP's haven't really differentiated themselves. Off hand, I can think of Proxim, Cisco, Orinoco, Xirrus, Colubris, Ruckus, Linksys, Netgear, Billion, D-Link, TP-Link & Belkin to name a few brands I've had the (dis)pleasure of directly configuring.

 Only four stand out, for different reasons.

  • Proxim, for having the most awesome WiFi meshing, going back more than 8 years. Although you had to connect to each one to configure them, wired or wireless was irrelevant; they would discover each other and backhaul over 5GHz and serve clients over 2GHz, with a single unified SSID. They were almost perfect, except for the price, which was about R5k at the time
  • Linksys, for having the most long-range device, the WAG54G. Solid, dependable, boring as sin but rock solid and worked well in almost any environment
  • Billion, for unarguably having the most rubbish radios and range, and being so unreliable that they're as good as useless
  • Apple, for having the most expensive and least functional devices on the planet. Other than that you can configure them from an iOS device, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about these AP's. Repeat, there is nothing redeeming about Apple AP's as WiFi devices
So, being a schmuck, I ended up with two Apple Airport Extreme devices, both cabled/wired, with two radios; one broadcasting at 5GHz and the other at 2.4GHz. Nope, they didn't speak to each other if they were cabled. Nope, they didn't form/create one SSID. Yes, iOS devices are particularly stupid and want to associate with the BSSID they last connected, not necessarily the one closest.
So, we had what I call the last shining light problem; the last AP the client device connected to, was the one it insisted on connecting to again. Even if there was a closer, faster AP in the same room. With the same SSID. This illustrated to me that you can't leave AP decisions to the client; work on the principle that clients are stupid (gosh, that would be a first!), and leave the intelligence in the network.
One evening, this happened once too many times and I got super annoyed. Quick Google search revealed that what I want to do is surprisingly difficult in the consumer space, and pretty rare even in the enterprise space. What I wanted is referred to as wired open or loose mesh; a mixture of wired and wireless AP's, that communicate with each other, and where an associated AP will kick a client off when a "closer" AP sees the client.
A quick call to Ruckus indicated they can absolutely do what I want; but at a price point I wasn't willing to pay for home. Meraki (now a Cisco division) seem to be able to do what I want, but again, at a price point that seems to be straying quite far from their original roots. I was about to give up, and then discovered Open-Mesh
Seemed ideal; cheap AP's ($60 and $80), cloud-based controller, two SSID's out the box, perfect! Also cheap enough to experiment, so I ordered four. Two were to be wired, two wireless. I expected four would be enough. The first awesome thing was that they told me the MAC addresses of the devices, before they shipped! Excellent, means I could add it to my DHCP-issuing infrastructure, as well as configuring it online, on the Cloudtrax portal. You create a master login, and from there, you can create multiple "child" networks each with their own independent settings.
And before you think you're locked into their AP's, essentially any AP running batman can join and be part of the network.
So how do you configure ? There are three high level decisions;
  1. Do you want to allow guests (i.e. an open network), and if so, what do you want to limit their traffic to ?
  2. Do you want to allow guests to have a premium service ? If so, what are your Paypal details and what rate limit would you like them to have ?
  3. Do you want to run a 2nd "private" SSID and bridge it to your LAN ?
There are a bunch of other decisions, like AP isolation (i.e WiFi clients cannot connect to each other), the ability to report outages via e-mail, but functionally, you have to determine the above 3. I configured the devices, by basically adding them to my network on a Google-backed map with their MAC's (which I had because they gave them to me), and waited.
They arrived, I plugged them in, and 15 minutes later, I had a meshed WiFi network that had two wired AP's, and two additional AP's hanging off them. As promised, network coverage was excellent and more importantly, I could roam from one AP to another with no dropped packets, a slight increase in latency and the ability to review my network from Android or iOS. I've ordered some additional AP's to ensure 150Mbps in every corner of the house, but basically, you could get away with 4 on a two story house for Internet access.
There is no longer a last connected light problem, there is now a shining light network; the closest AP is associated to, network access is full strength and the network is fault-tolerant.
I can highly recommend this service!
Edit: you don't need to tell the devices or network which one is cabled or not, which port is LAN/WAN; it figures it out dynamically.
Edit: it creates a virtual BSSID, and then dynamically remaps the closest AP to a client with that BSSID. It also creates its own DHCP range and NAT's on the guest network, and prevents clients on the guest network access to the LAN.
Edit: I've added three more nodes to the network, and it is highly extensible; here is a view of my home network.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blackberry Z10


Blackberry had lost its way over the last few years. It had frankly average hardware paired to cloud-centric intelligence in the form of BIS or BES. With both, polling of your e-mail, calendar data and the like was done centrally, and then results pushed to the end-device. You couldn't ad hoc add a POP3 account, for example; it had to be added at the centre.


So in my opinion, Blackberry has never really had smartphones; they've had smart terminals, but as smartphones, they were pretty poor. I've played previously with a Bold 9000, and a Curve 8520; nice enough build, average performance and downright rubbish app selection.


That was the past. When Blackberry announced the Blackberry 10 OS, based on QNX (of single-floppy bootable GUI fame), there was the promise of getting to par with Blackberry's unarguable competition, Android and iOS, at least in features. And while I've only had a Z10 for two days, I thought it good to share some opinions.


Gone is the requirement for BIS or BES to do anything useful! The device is actually a smartphone; it has ActiveSync support out of the box, IMAP support and the like. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are integrated into the central messaging environment (called Hub), as are your texts, BBM's and other messaging systems. In addition, your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contact data sync with your phonebook, so you can look at your contacts holistically rather than across multiple applications.


The device itself is very well made; it feels of premium quality, with a relatively minimalistic design. Easy and comfortable to hold, feels like a solid device and packs a 1800maH removable battery and removable microSD card. Yay, removable storage. Hardware is definitely a pass.



Software, on the other hand, is different. Not good or bad different, just … different. You can see that its got a UNIX or UNIX-like backend, and it feels like a polished skin on Android frankly. You swipe down from the top to access menus or additional features, you swipe up to access the task bar, and then its a swipe to the left to access the central message Hub, or a swipe to the right to access the fairly ubiquitous and Apple-like application menu.


So far, so good. In terms of the applications available, its a little miserable at the moment. The core ones (Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) are there, but nice to have applications like Skype and Whatsapp, and core applications to me like Google Drive, Google+ and in fact anything Google-related are simply not available. While I can live with these omissions for a short time, no matter how slick the experience is, I will ultimately be forced away from the platform due to a lack of "killer app".



And then the event (™) occurred. The device was charging, and several notifications for application updates, including one for Blackberry World, appeared. As you would, I chose the install all option, and went to sleep. I woke up and noticed the Blackberry World application's icon had changed, and it was now simply a square with a triangle, a circle and a crescent. And trying to run it would simply bring up the task manager. Hmmmm, this wasn't a good sign. And guess what ? There is no way to delete it, no way to repair, and no way to download another copy.



Ok, although its painful, lets reset the device. The only on-device option is called a security wipe, which other than taking very long, does what it says. All your user data is gone; and this is important, ONLY user data is removed. The phone rebooted and lo and behold, now I didn't have a broken Blackberry World application; I didn't have ANY Blackberry World application. Shit.


So, lets try and reinstall the OS. Oops, you can't. At least, not as a user. You have to give it to Blackberry. Given that this is a test device from Blackberry SA, I'd assume they were quite keen to resolve this problem quickly. Well, now been 24 hours since the problem was reported, and no action. Sigh.

Would I recommend this device ? Right now, no. In 3 months time ? Maybe.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Site head

Best. Screen. Protector. Ever.


No bubbles, good protection, easy to apply. And the dry auto application (yes, this is tech and no, its not porn) is amazing! Get from Emia Distribution.

iPad Mini

Promo split hero

When Apple launched the iPad Mini, I thought back to Steve Jobs saying that 7" was a rubbish form factor. Maybe it was all the other kick-ass 7" tablets that made them build it ?

Whatever the reason, they did. And its pretty. Its literally like they shrunk the original iPad; it feels good in the hands, size is perfect, texture is great. So, on the plus side

  • size is excellent
  • lightning connector is brilliant
  • price point is fair (I said fair, not cheap)


There are three caveats though;

  • why did it need a nano-SIM, as opposed to the micro-SIM that they made ubiquitous two years ago or a normal SIM for the 20 years before that ?
  • why not fit a retina display to it ?
  • why does it feel so damn sluggish and often pause when running multiple applications ?


As usual, Apple has released a great market and effectively reinvented a segment they already dominated. I suspect that you'll see over time the 10" iPad market stabilise (not shrink) with substantial growth coming from the 7" market. I suspect they'll piss off tons of early adopters by releasing a retina-upgraded version of the display by June 2013, and then a jump/quantum change in September/October (processor bump, better cameras, etc). But for now, its a damn fine piece of kit.