Android Oreo upgrade on my Nexus 5x

Nexus 5x with Oreo upgrade

3 days ago I received the OTA update for Android Oreo on my Nexus 5x. I wasn’t really expecting it, as I’ve been keeping an eye out for my next phone (which is likely to be a Google Pixel 2 even at its much higher cost than my Nexus 5x)

Honestly I haven’t seen much differences except the background tasks are now in your face. Which isn’t a problem as I don’t have a lot running all the time (Timeused, Pebble & Twlight), be interesting to see how long apps like Uber stay in the background

I have noticed a drain on battery, for example my battery is at 88% right now and will stay alive for the next 9 hours. But to be fair its a old battery, I think the same use on Android N would be closer to 92% maybe.

Some of regular menus are shifted around and the small text which I have my phone set to, really is actually small. I am surprised there is no native bluelight filter (redshift, twilight, etc) but I guess it might upset all those apps which do this.

The upgrade was painless, it took 42mins as I was watching an American TV show as it upgraded its self.

Generally I’m happy with the state of the upgrade and although I know this is the last upgrade for the Nexus 5x; it might keep the phone going even longer.

Google apologizes again for bias results

Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.

Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.

Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?

Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.

logged in google search for happy families
Logged into Google account using Chrome on Ubuntu
incognito search for happy families
Using incognito mode and searching for happy families with Chrome on Ubuntu
Search for happy families using a russian tor and chromium
Search for happy families using a russian tor node on Chromium on Ubuntu

 

How to copy contacts from Windows phone to Android, without going crazy

Nokia Lumia 635 and HTC Desire 635

Short answer: Setup a Microsoft Outlook account on the windows phone, sync everything to it then export a CSV of all the contacts on a laptop. Login to your Google account on the laptop and import them all. Sync that google account with the Android phone.

My painful experience

My dad has had a Nokia Lumia 635 for a while (over a year). He wanted to upgrade his ageing Nokia and went into Carphone warehouse to get a upgrade. The sales person must have rubbed their hands (I felt they took advantage of my dad saying he wanted a Nokia) and sold him a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone on it. I was pretty pissed about this because my dad already has a google account, chromebook and my mum has this and a Samsung android phone.

On Boxing day we went back and looked into buying him out of his contract. This was fine and he choose a HTC desire 626 as it had a big screen and didn’t cost anything to his contract. After taking it home, I set it up for him and boy did the fun start.

Some quick things… I’m running Ubuntu on a laptop, my parents have a chromebook, we all have google accounts and we now all have android phones. My parents are not technical and mainly use text and voice. They have broadband with wifi in the house plus a chromecast I bought a few years ago. The Nokia couldn’t connect to any wifi unless it was open with no security/encryption (I tried many ways to get this working but it seems to be a common fault, which requires a total wipe!)

Nokia Lumia 635

I plugged the Nokia into my Ubuntu laptop then copied everything off it I could see. Then copied it to the HTC phone, I also turned off my WPA security on my Nexus 5x phone to allow the Nokia to actually connect to the internet without using my dads low 4g data usage. Then setup his google account which I set to sync everything. When trying to sync contact information with the google account nothing would sync. I had my laptop open with the google account so I could see what was syncing and what wasn’t. I tried forcing the sync and Windows phone kept forcing me to sync with Outlook.com. In the end I setup a temporary outlook account and synced everything with that. I could see things syncing correctly on my laptop screen.

I thought with both accounts on the Windows phone it would now sync but no. So I had to export the lot out of Outlook.com on the laptop as a CSV file then import them into the google account via my laptop. Once syncing, I could setup the google account on the Android phone and everything was good except Gmail automatically creates a group for the imported contacts which I had to delete but keep the contacts.

HTC Desire 820_11

Once that was done, I forced a system update and greeted with the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) upgrade, meaning my mums new phone and dads phones are very similar making the learning experience a little easier between both my parents.

Ultimately I was quite shocked how difficult a simple thing task was. I mean dataportability should be simple and at one point I was going to give up and get my dad to write out all the contacts to a new his new phone. It wasn’t helped by not having wifi access on the Nokia. I did try Bluetooth and sending contacts as emails but nothing quite worked.

I hope this helps others as I was tearing my hair out to get such a simple thing working. No wonder Nokia has dumped Windows mobile and gone Android.

Little diversity changes in the valley?

Nancy Lee

Google’s head of diversity, Nancy Lee, is retiring from Google after several years of leading the company’s global diversity and inclusion team

In Google’s latest diversity report, we saw that overall representation of women went from 30 percent female in 2014 to 31 percent female in 2015. But the overall percentage of black and Hispanic people did not increase at all, with overall representation of blacks remaining at 2 percent and Hispanics remaining at 3 percent. In 2015, only 4 percent of Google’s hires were black and 5 percent of its hires were Hispanic.

It’s not clear who will take over as head of diversity or when Lee’s last day is. Google declined to comment for this story.

Although still (at the moment I write this) not confirmed and this isn’t a criticism of Nancy’s initiatives. But its not great news and looking back at the afrofutures talk I gave a while back, little seems to have changed when it comes to non-white or non-asian people in tech. I would have hoped the increase in women would be higher too, especially with all work and attention.

Seems little is going to change in the valley, at least for diversity and inclusion. I’m sure we will find out about Nancy’s difficult position very soon.

Data portability and the internet of things

Nabaztag on the Microwaves
I can’t help but laugh and partly shake my head at the crazy things which are being networked. You only have to follow internet of shit to get this.

I said heck no when a friend who I’d expect more thought from, suggested I should get one of the internet connected door locks; following my thoughts about Airbnb hosting. Not sure if they were being ironic or serious.

It comes as almost no shock, when reading the time that Tony Fadell sold me a container of hummus.

On May 15th a critical Nest product will go dark. I’m shocked this isn’t bigger news.

I don’t mean that the Nest product will reach end-of-life for support and updates. No, I mean that on May 15th they will actually turn off the device and disable your ability to use the hardware that you paid for.

Google/Nest’s decision raises an interesting question. When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer can intentionally disable it without consequence? Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products.

This littarly tingle’s of ethics of data; as I lumped data portability in the class of ethics a while ago. Theres been a few scary stories such as Berg cloud, the end of aibos and the famous nazbaztag saga. This is just the start, imagine when its your whole home system like in the example of Nest

Is the era of IoT bringing an end to the concept of ownership? Are we just buying intentionally temporary hardware? It feels like it. I own a Commodore 64 that still works.

The point is perfectly made. We have moved into a world of renting and/or licencing. I have many things which past their support date ages ago. For example my old Nexus 7 2012 edition, still runs and even has the latest Android 6.0 operating system on it. My pacemaker is coming up on 9 years old and there was a beta update 6 months ago! Even my Pebble smartwatch just recently got a update. And I can go back far further with other devices and machines. Heck my original Xbox and Playstation 1 still run and work..

Interesting to see Tony Fadell has stepped down too…

Instant Apps are the most fascinating thing

I like Dieter Bohn, was blown away by Google IO’s demonstration of instant apps.

The basic idea is simple: when you click on a link, if that link has an associated Instant App at the URL you get a tiny version of that app instead of the website. We played around with it a bit today at Google IO, and found that it was as fast (if not faster!) than loading up a web page with the same functionality. It works because developers can “modularize” their apps so they only serve you the parts that you need for whatever you clicked on — points on a map, a video, some home listings, a payment system, or whatever.

But take that idea and think on it a second: there’s a whole class of apps that you use once and never want to bother with again. Google’s example is a parking meter app. It works better as an app because it ties into Android Pay, but honestly you don’t want that thing cluttering up your app drawer most of the time.

YES!

This is why I tend to keep my Nexus 5X phone quite clean and clear of apps, I upload apps to my Nexus 7. If at all possible. Its discipline and I’ll be honest a bit of a pain, as my Nexus 7 relies on Wifi for network connectivity, but generally I think through the positives and negatives of installing each app and where it should go before hitting install.

Recently I installed the Easyjet app on my nexus 7, just so I didn’t have to print out my boarding pass (I have no printer and kinda hate printing). I used the app twice over a period of a week and that was it, uninstalled and gone. If I had instant apps, I would have been very happy with using it instead. Theres also other apps I just need for one task, like at a conference to vote (hey Thinking Digital & Herb), instant apps would so solve this problem; and if really that fast…!

Yes I hear the privacy concerns, but maybe it could be a standard android chooser/selector. Go to the play store and install the app, use instant app or force the service to give me a mobile alternative version.

Yes I hear, developers need to write their apps in a more structured way. But there can’t be much wrong with that? I remember back when I was still in Bristol, a talk about streaming apps, well its almost getting there; although I’m sure many will argue the webapp has already made this a reality.

My nexus 5x battery is pleasingly decent

I got to say this isn’t bad going for my nexus 5x with 4g, WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC on all the time. I was using my Bluetooth headphones at work for music and calls. Plus I got my pebble smartwatch on all the time.

I was pleased to see so much power without turning anything off or doing anything special to save power.

Nexus 5 with that X factor

Nexus 5x

My Nexus 5 which I have still but developed a problem a little while ago needed replacing. With that I decided the Nexus 5x makes the most sense and tried to get one over the holiday period. The Google Play Store had a discount, but there was a problem with the store and I missed out on the discount.

However, I was walking along Tottenham Court Road in London last week and saw Google had a special display in Currys. Funny enough the price they were selling it at was the same as the discounted price. I double checked the price on the Play store and it was still higher. So I bought it in store with additional bits thrown in, including a new Google Cardboard, £50 curry gift card and a android badge (yeah I know, not my thing either).

OnePlus 2

It was a reasonable deal but it was frustrating that I couldn’t buy a USB C cable in the Currys store. This was even more painful when I finally got the phone back to the hotel and found it was USB C on both ends, meaning I could only use the wall charger it come with. Could I find another USB C to USB A cable anywhere on Totternham Court Road or Oxford Street? Could I heck. Luckily I ordered cables and USB Micro to USB C from Amazon over the Holidays, so once I got back to Manchester I could use those.

It did remind me of when my HTC One X came with MicroUSB not MiniUSB. I would ask in shops and they would bring out MiniUSB or look at me with a question mark in their heads. I’m just very surprise Currys would sell the Nexus5X and not even supply accessories.

Advice for google, insist there is accessories and cases alongside a place you sell the phones!

Nexus5X_3

Ok so my thoughts about the actual phone.

Its good! But I really miss not having MicroUSB and having to replace a ton of my cables. I also haven’t seen the benefit of USB C (yet!) yes its reversable but without my MicroUSB adapter, I felt like a iPhone user, asking for some insane cable.

The actual phones construct is similar to the Nexus 5 in feel but looks like a Moto G with dual stereo speakers. Its also a tiny bit bigger at 5.2 inches with the headphone jack at the bottom instead of the top. I won’t lie the phone is big but not like the Nexus 6P, so it just about fits in one of man hands. It is a stretch to reach the top but with all the buttons on the side theres less need to do so.

Google Nexus 5X

The finger print sensor is actually in the right place. I heard elsewhere the Moto G’s area on the back was meant to be a finger sensor, and the finger does hover there all the time. You can also train the finger sensor at different angles, positions and fingers. I think you can do up to 10 configurations and the phone will unlock and turn on once its accepted. The nice thing is you can still apply other methods, such as smart lock, pattern and many other method. The time from finger to unlock is in the less than 500ms. Its bloody fast, needs no pressure and is the same quickness as pressing the power button! I keep forgetting its there and going for my lock pattern, its just muscle memory I guess.

The screen resolution has a crazy dots per inch and it really shows. Seeing my old Nexus 5 next to the 5x is quite something. Its like when I bought the new Nexus 7 and put it side by side with the old Nexus 7. There is so much extra space and google has used this space by include another row and column of icons on the home screens. The camera seems pretty good too, but not really played with it much. Surprising detail for low light and a shaky hand in the cold.

London with Nexus 5x
Shot of London from the south bank

On a whole the Nexus 5x is a great phone and I’m glad I waited for it. Now I just need to setup most of the apps again. I’m moving apps like Fitbit, Withings, etc off to my Nexus 7; as I noticed I only really use them when at home.

I’m sure once USB type C is everywhere, I’ll be a lot more happy. Also a shame I’ll have less use for my conductive chargers…

Looks like I may end up getting the Nexus 5X after all

Dead pixels on Nexus 5 screen

I saw the Google Nexus 5x on launch and was interested but decided my old Nexus 5 was still doing fine, so I won’t be considering the upgrade.

However yesterday on the train to Bristol, while my phone lied on the table next to my laptop, I suddenly found my phone screen had experienced a major dead pixel problem. The phone is 2 years old and way out of warranty period so I doubt google will send me a new one, but a discount would be very grateful.

Its not unusable but certainly a pain to use. At least my contract is finished, so I can get the best phone and sell it to make up the price of the new Nexus 5x. Maybe I’ll keep the Nexus 5 as a backup phone.

What do neural networks dream?

Neural net dreams
Neural net “dreams”— generated purely from random noise, using a network trained on places by MIT Computer Science and AI Laboratory.

James at work pointed me in the direction of Google’s neural network project.

Artificial Neural Networks have spurred remarkable recent progress in image classification and speech recognition. But even though these are very useful tools based on well-known mathematical methods, we actually understand surprisingly little of why certain models work and others don’t. So let’s take a look at some simple techniques for peeking inside these networks.

We train an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples and gradually adjusting the network parameters until it gives the classifications we want. The network typically consists of 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons. Each image is fed into the input layer, which then talks to the next layer, until eventually the “output” layer is reached. The network’s “answer” comes from this final output layer.

The results are right out of a trippy dream or a hallucination.

Inceptionism: Google goes deeper into Neural Networks

5 years ago, while I learned to speak again

Ward at Alpha Hospital

Its the June 2nd and its about the time I could barely talk (due to a trach) but my memory was less hazy and I can remember much more. My sister tried to create a communication board, so I could communicate without saying the word. It was pretty frustrating and too be fair i did tell her. I did feel bad about it, as she really trying to help. I remember writing, this is stupid and there has to be a better way… Luckily I didn’t need to wait long before I could talk again.

Ross and Carly came and saw me a few times and certainly helped with the healing process, by making me laugh and cough a lot. I think I remember Adrian seeing me at one point too, he gave me the printed information on Google IO 2010 and the much talked about Google TV.

This about the time when I started going a little stir crazy, as it was ICU, you were not allowed to plug anything into the wall.  My saving grace was my old kindle full with ebooks which I meant to read at some point. I also had enough of the woman next to me with her kicking action to get attention. I must have read about 10 or so books while I was in ICU, unfortunately lights out was 8pm and I didn’t have the paperwhite kindle at the time.

My parents did offer to bring my laptop but I originally said no (believe it or not!). They did bring my pacemaker which I had a hard time re-learning in the first hour but gave rise to a number of mixes later.

Not being able to get out of bed was a real pain, even when I could actually stand. The nurses wouldn’t let me go to the toilet alone and it wasn’t till I pretty much pleaded with a male night nurse to please let me use the normal toilet so I could have some privacy. I finally was happy again. Privacy is something while going to the loo is something I certainly like and the doctors did wonder if my body was operating correctly.

Hospital food is pretty bad but try having complan as your main supply of food, by this point I only had to survive a day or two on it before than it was via the drip in my nose. Food via a drip was weird and interesting especially when you are fully aware of whats actually happening.

The last thing I certainly do remember is the injections of  Anticoagulants better known as Warfarin. It was either have it in the arm or in the stomach. Don’t ask me why remember I hadn’t had hypontherapy yet, but I decided the stomach was best because I couldn’t move it and have it scratch and theres quite a bit of fatty tissue… It was painful but honestly it wasn’t as bad as in the arm. Having every day got me slightly use to it but any chance I could avoid it, I did. Unfortunately it would only work for a short while before they would hunt me down for another fix!

Mum and Dad kept writing blog posts on carringbridge thanks to Sarah and Sharon.


 

Ian had a very good day today!  He was able to stand for the nurses and was out of bed sitting in a chair for most of the day.  He was smiling a lot and laughing at jokes (which is helping to clear his chest).His breathing is continuing to improve and we hope the trach tube will be removed soon so he’ll be able to speak.

Hi everyone,Ian is progressing well.  He is breathing with very little help now.  They are thinking of transferring him out from ICU to a High Dependency Unit tomorrow.

Ian’s dad, sister and I have been back in Manchester with him since yesterday afternoon.The trach tube had to be resited and Ian is still having some ventilation through that just until his breathing improves.  They are reducing use of it and he is mostly breathing on his own.Ian’s sister has been reading him messages from the guestbook which are much appreciated.  However, at the moment we would still like visitors to be limited to family.  Ian is having ups and downs in his recovery, but on the whole is improving.  We want to make sure he rests and does not get frustrated with not being able to speak (this is temporary due to the trach tube).   He is communicating with us by blinking, nodding and occasionally writing, and he does understand everything that is going on.

Ian’s ventilator was removed again this morning.  To avoid having the ventilator back in, he has had a tracheotomy to help him breathe.  This is just a temporary measure until his breathing is stabilised.  The drain has been removed from his head, so now it is just the feeding tube in his nose.He indicated he was in pain due to having the tracheotomy, so he has had some medication to help with that.I have travelled to Bristol this evening, but will drive back to Manchester with Ian’s dad on Saturday morning.  Ian’s sister will also be back up to see him on Saturday.More cards arrived for Ian today and they are all being stuck up to the wall near his bed.  Thanks to everyone for all the get well messages.

No more Google SMS notifications for events

phonesauri

Important: SMS notifications not available after June 27th

Starting on June 27th, 2015, SMS notifications from Google Calendar will no longer be sent. SMS notifications launched before smartphones were available. Now, in a world with smartphones and notifications, you can get richer, more reliable experiences on your mobile device, even offline.

Shame because I got use to text messages 30mins ahead of a event as a sign I should go. However they are right, notifications especially since I have the Pebble smartwatch are good enough now.

Google photos vs Flickr Pro for my image backup

Speeding car

It all started when I came back from Tokyo to find my Spideroak storage full. I decided a terabyte of photos which are hardly private in a super secure storage is a little crazy and its time to put them somewhere else so I can make use of the secure storage better.

Originally I did look at using Amazon Glacier but quickly found out that its really not for general use in any shape. I looked at trove again to find trovebox has been shutdown…  but there is a Github community project for those wanting to keep developing.

We’ll be shutting down the hosted Trovebox service on March 31, 2015. We may extend this deadline to help accomodate customers to obtain archives of their photos.

A few of my friends said why don’t I use Flickr, especially since I’m already a pro member and have been since 2004!

I thought about it, because I tend to use Flickr to only upload photos I actively want to share rather than a place to upload all my photos. Basically I never really trust the privacy options and only upload things which I’m happy being public. It was time to trust Flickr’s privacy model but to be fair I’m still only uploading stuff which it doesn’t matter too much if its public.

Started doing that then Google announced at IO 2015, a revamped photo service with unlimited storage (if you are happy with them converting them down a bit).

This has got me wondering, if I should switch?

Flickr Pro is $ 24.99 a year but Google is $1.99 a month for 100gig,

Economically it makes sense to stay with Flickr as its unlimited even on high resolution photos and I have most of my good photos already there (incumbency advantage). But the google space purchase would only be used for photos over 2048x2048px big. Which I guess is quite a few as I switched to 5mpx and above very early on . I guess there’s the option of trusting googles image compression. I guess having the extra space in google drive would be useful but its not a big deal yet.

I’m going to keep uploading the photos and let google photo shake out a little. When the next year of Flickr comes up, I’ll decide then. Even made a google task to remind me. Hopefully there will be flickr to google drive exports or I’ll have gigabit internet and can upload the lot super fast.

5 years ago… Google IO 2010-15

5 years ago I woke up in hospital wondering what had happened, as it was explained to me. I asked a few questions. by the medium of writing on paper as I had a tracheotomy.

Ian wrote on a piece of paper asking for an article about Google, and one had been sent to him so he got to read it (thanks to the sender!).

What did Google announce at Google IO? If you remember I wrote about this and they announced (pretty doomed?) Google TV.

5 years later, I got to spend the time with my parents in Bristol. Yes I subjected them to Google IO 2015 but not live, so we could jump around a bit. I used the Chromecast I bought them 2 years ago. Quite funny to see my parents on google connected devices, very different from 5 years ago.

I have many thought about Google IO 2015 but those will save for those for another day.