The other day my work Dell XPS 13 which has been running Ubuntu 16.04.1 asked me to upgrade. This message has been coming up for a while but I decided it was time for a upgrade, 18.04 was running well on my server and well it was time.
However the upgrade broke and I was left with Ubuntu 18.04 with Busybox. I had backups but as it was a BBC R&D build of Ubuntu, I needed to go to work for them to reinstall it. All of this was just before I went away to Mydata 2018 in Helsinki. On top of that my ubuntu server also had a problem.
Ubuntu server down again, really need to switch to newer hardware 😣
It was clear I could reinstall Ubuntu quickly but I would need to do a bunch of configuration and that takes time. I have a task to create a live CD with a bunch of configurations just for me, incase similar happens again.
I’d been looking at Chromebooks since I bought one for my parents ages ago and seen how ChromeOS has matured. I’m not the only one. It was the ability to run Android and Linux apps which pushed to get one.
So I bought the Asus chromebook flip c302, and I’m quite impressed with it. The size is good and the performance is good. As a backup laptop its ideal. It also kinda a solution to my lack of a decent tablet now my Nexus 7 is pretty much dead. I was tempted with the Google Pixelbook but it seemed too close to what the Dell XPS 13 is for.
I did consider getting a second hand XPS and sticking ChromeOS on it myself actually.
The reviews are appearing about the Google Clip camera. Its not great but to be honest, the only thing I found interesting about it on the announcement, was all the logic/intelligence was onboard. Google has become well known for doing the logic via their own cloud systems, so this was a surprise.
the main reason Google Clips isn’t as worrying as “Google camera that recognizes your family’s faces and records them automatically” sounds is that Google made a few carefully considered technical choices to protect its users’ privacy.
The first is that everything on Clips happens locally. Nothing is synced with Google’s cloud at all — except the photos you save into Google Photos. All the facial recognition happens on the device using its own processing power. None of it is paired up with whatever facial recognition you may have set up in Google Photos. It doesn’t pair faces with names, it just recognizes faces it sees a bunch over time. It also tries to ignore faces it doesn’t recognize. So if you’re at a park with your kids, Clips will endeavor to only take photos of your kids.
The clips the camera takes are also stored only on the camera itself. They don’t try to sync over to your phone unless you ask for them. They’re also encrypted on the camera, in case you lose it.
On first look, I thought it might be a similar replacement for Google Glass, then I thought maybe its the Google GoPro but it doesn’t seem to operate like a point and shoot. So I thought maybe a lifeblogging devices like the autographer and narrative clip. But it seems to be a different category all together.
Its a interesting device, but certainly pricey for a new category camera.
But it will do for now, till it happens again and I’ll be demanding more. Right now its a spare/backup phone with my pay-as-you-go 3 sim inside. I did pause to think if I should upgrade to Android Oreo, but decided I should do it.
Wondering if I should upgrade to Android 8 "Oreo" on my @GoogleNexus5x ? Since thats what caused the motherboard to fry last time?
When I bought my Google Pixel 2, I received a free Google Home Mini as part of the pre-order deal. While in Madeira it finally came and today I went to Irlam to go get it.
I’ve never liked the idea of the Amazon Alexia and all devices which are listening for an activation word. I get the convenance but it doesn’t equal the given up privacy in my view. I turn off on my phones unless my screen is unlocked and I’m on the home screen (actively using the phone). I’ve been watching and reading how The Google Home mini has already received a ton of privacy strikes and disabled the touch controls.
My justification for getting the Google Home mini was purely to connect it to my Philips Hue lights. They are great but only if you have the app as the controls on the wall are way too simplistic to change colours, brighten and dim.
Unboxing the Google Home mini and getting it online, was pretty straight forward. I currently have it set with the mic on mute and the touch controls seem pretty basic (volume only). I’m surprised its powered with a micro USB cable not USB C and if I had a choice of colours, would have picked a darker colour instead of Chalk. Out of the box the home mini’s top touch fuctionality is disabled, I assume the firmware was updated when I setup the wifi.
I’m dispointment that there seems to be no way to connect the google home mini to the hue lights without doing it via the Philips Hue web. I currently blocking external access at my router for hue lights, so theres no way to control them remotely, although everything is on the same network. Honestly find it annoying that it can’t talk locally, especially since there is a good API via the Hue Bridge. I understand it needs internet access to do some processing but to control the lights? Sure this can be done locally?
I’m keeping an eye on dev sites to see what might come up, but right now its little use and I’d like to see more ways to muzzle its use to keep things local unless essential.
I left my flat Thursday heading for a train to York. Turning on my bluetooth headphones I noticed my Nexus 5x wasn’t connecting. One look at my phone and I noticed the screen was off. So I turned it back on and noticed the bootloader loop I had heard so much about.
While I made my way to York University, I tried multiple times to turn it on using different methods and it was in the taxi when I could actually type in my code to unlock the storage. Of course once it rebooted, it was back to the loop again. I also remember at some point watching the boot loader animation throw a error message which I wasn’t quick enough to snap. But I do remember it saying the storage was corrupt and it needed servicing?
Bloody heck, Nexus 5x is dead 🙁 Just as they announce the Google Pixel 2
By the time I was home again, it was dead. No matter how much I held down the buttons nothing would happen. I charged it up but there was no lights. Luckily I still have my Nexus 5 with the messed up screen, I had also thought about switching to the Google Pixel 2, but at £629 for the 64gig version, I just can’t bring myself to hit order (its a serious load of money especially since my Nexus 5x was £200) especially since I wasn’t sure if I would be in Manchester to actually get it. I had not realised it not actually officially available yet!
Right enough… Google Pixel 2 with 128gig it is. Not going to think about the money, just treat it as a good timely investment
In the end after working with my Nexus 5 for a day, I decided to get the Pixel 2 with 128gig and buy it from Carphone warehouse only because I can pick it up from Manchester or London if needed. Just he last 24hours has made realise how much I use my phone for things like Monzo, 2 factor auth and much more. In the meanwhile I’l struggle through with the minimum number of apps on my Nexus 5 & 7.
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.
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.
When I first heard about 60dB, I thought great someones finally made a object based podcasting client.
60dB brings you today’s best short audio stories – news, sports, entertainment, business and technology, all personalized for you.
Unfortunately I was wrong.
Its a bit like stitcher which is well loved by some people.s
It does seem to pick and play news stories. But the sources are specially crafted (ready for syndication like this) rather than the client processing the audio and picking out the parts most relevant to your listening preferences.
Its understandable because to do this you would need well thought-out metadata created by the original author/production. Without it you can’t have objects, without objects you are reliant on serious processing of the audio to build the metadata which the player can use (that or some serious computational power).
I had heard and thought it was a logical move for Google Play’s podcasting support would include some kind of basic automated metadata/transcript but it never happened. Another missed opportunity to show off the power of google and make themselves a essential part of the podcasting landscape, like how Apple did with itunes.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.