Descent into Madness – A poem

Attempt number two at getting back in touch with my creative side. I hope you enjoy it.

Descent into Madness

This is my descent into madness
It starts with grey
The thoughts
The day
The madness not rising but
The sanity draining away
Clarity receding
Giving way to the murkyness
Allowing the demons to show
Repeating the same actions
Expecting new results
Tunnel vision and lack of forethought
Dragging me down
Not willingly but not resisting either
This is how it begins…

Samsung Droid Charge: A real life review

I’m going to do a down and dirty review of the Samsung Droid Charge. In real world terms much like I did for the Motorola Xoom. So here we go.

I have had my Droid Charge for a 3.5 months now and I can finally give it a review, as it has been field tested. As with any review the bias will be my own, based on how I use the device, your mileage may vary. This will be a simple good vs. bad list.

Good:

The Screen: The Charge has a beautiful screen. it’s a 4.5″ Super AMOLED work of art. It has great viewing angles and produces eye popping color. The blacks are dark, rich, and best of all  BLACK. Not a washed out grey like most screens portray and call black. Videos have that vivid detail that high end flat panels boast about.

The Cameras: The Charge has 2 cameras. First there is an 8MP rear facing shooter that takes great pictures. It works well in lower light situations, much better than my Droid X ever could. Like most multifunction devices it has a bevy of shooting modes and filters so you can get your sepia fix. It has a macro mode, a standard mode and a “beauty” mode, for portraits and such. The stand out feature for me, however, is the panoramic mode. I can hear you now “My <insert device name here> does panoramic pictures”. Yep so did my Droid X but no where as intuitively as the Droid Charge does. It uses the gyroscope and the accelerometer to know where you should be for each of the 8 parts of the panoramic picture. It puts guides in and will not take the next shot useless you are right on the money, in terms of location. The result are breathtaking pictures that capture a huge field of focus. The front facing camera is no slouch either. while nowhere near the resolution of the rear camera, it works well for self portraits, video chats and stuff like that. It also works really well in lower light environments. The camcorder feature will do up to  720p class video and does a great job with it. It records decent audio and will zoom as much as 4x with interpolation. It won’t replace a real camcorder with that tiny little CMOS sensor but it will sure be a plausible replacement for that talent show or parade you happen to find yourself stuck at.

The Memory: The Charge comes with a 32GB card installed. I’ll let that sink in a moment. That’s right it comes with 32GB of space on board when you pull it out of the box. Great for storing copious amounts of data. Sure it’s only a class 2 card but it beats a sharp stick in the eye. The device itself has 1GB of memory on board for the OS and storage of key elements, everything else is stuck on your SD card.  Not an entirely bad way to do it, it works well enough for me.

Connectivity: The Charge is a LTE enabled device. that means if you are in a LTE area, you get high speed data access. it does pretty well at dishing it up too. I regularly get 13+Mbit speeds on it in my area; not too shabby for a phone. It does well as a 3G device and will revert to 1x as required too. You’ll get better battery life using 3G than LTE but more about that that later. The Charge has hotspot capabilities and will host up to 5 external devices via wifi and dole out bandwidth to all of them, if you’re willing to pay for the service. The wifi radio is sufficient but nothing to make you jump up and down. It maintains connections even when you have no bars. I’m not sure if the logic for reporting the signal strength is off or what but it never seems to have a full signal, even if i am within 5′ of the AP.

Voice Quality: I have had no complaints for voice quality with this device. People say they can hear me just fine, and the sound quality is excellent. I can say the same about when I receive calls. The phone produces excellent depth of voice and makes it seem like you are standing right next to the person when talking to them. Being a VZW device, coverage is excellent and there are very few areas where you can’t get reception.

Feel: Over all the phone has good hand feel. It’s a large device with some weight to it so it feels like a real phone. The plastic bezel and battery cover make it feel a bit cheaper, but it by no means feels like a kids toy. The touch interface is responsive, although it requires a bit more force to select items than my other touch screen devices have. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion, it makes it a bit more tactile, which is something most people miss on a touch only device.

BAD:

Battery life: There is a reason that the call this device the Charge and it’s not because it will go forever on one. Don’t get me wrong it’s not terrible, but it sure isn’t great. It comes stock with a 1600mah battery, which gives me just enough juice to make it to lunch time on a fairly busy day. If you turn the brightness down, and lock it into 3g only mode and make sure you have wifi on any time your someplace that you can get it, you can squeeze a couple of more hours out of it, but it in now way compares to the Droid X it replaces. I could go 12-13 hours on the standard battery with the X, and 18 or more on the slim extended one. I can make it 16 or so with the extended battery for the Charge but it more than doubles the weight of the device and adds a huge hump on it’s backside. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but you can’t use any cases, or mounts for it with the big battery in.

GPS: It works OK, but damn does it take its sweet time getting locked into a signal. It can take upwards of 40 seconds to get a lock. once it gets a lock it works like it should but if I’m standing in the wide open with a plain view of the entire sky it should not take almost a minute before I can use the GPS.

Button Placement: The volume rocker is placed directly across from the power button. While you may not think this is a big deal, just try using the power button. You’ll hit the volume keys every time unless you really put forth an effort to not touch them. It wouldn’t really matter but the volume keys are used to get into diagnostic modes such as recovery, so it you hit the power button and inadvertently grab the volume key too, you can cause yourself some headaches.

NO LED indicator: This boggled me at first. I wouldn’t know if I had something waiting for my attention because outside of the first indication (a sound prompt) you couldn’t tell if you had a message, missed call, email etc. because there is no little flashing LED to alert you. This means you have to either power on the screen (which only happens via pressing the power button by the way) or employ a third party utility such as NoLED to let you know. It seems like a minor thing but believe me it’s a major oversight in my opinion; besides having that little LED could save battery life, because you wouldn’t have to power up the big screen to know if you had a waiting item to be reviewed.

LAG: That’s right this phone suffers from lag. Not all the time mind you but a good bit of the time. I’m not sure if it’s due to the file system that Samsung chose to use or if it’s due to the single core processor or a combination of the two factors. Granted you can fix it with some hackery and some OS leaks that are readily available on the web but shouldn’t they just make it so it works quickly all the time?

Conclusion:

Over all I can say I would recommend the Samsung Droid Charge with a couple of caveats.

Don’t expect this device to be the be all end all. it’s a mid-class device. It can’t hang with the Bionics, or the SGII crowd. It’s a solid device in it’s own right but it’s now high end super phone.

Don’t expect to have awesome battery life out of the gate. It’s a LTE device with an awesome screen. Expect that to drain some juice from the under powered battery that comes with the device.

If you can live with those 2 items I’d say buy this sucker. If you’re into taking video and pictures, like watching videos or listening to music, this is a solid choice. If your looking for a mid-class all in one device that has a few trade offs for some really good options, this may be your device.

I feel the “GOODS” outweigh the “BADS” for this device and if I had to assign it a numerical value I’d give it a solid 8.5 out of 10. There you have it I have officially stated my position on this device, and That as they say is that.

Rob

On the subject of getting older or Rob grows up a little bit

As some of you know I have another birthday coming up soon. I will have survived 40 complete revolutions around a ball of gas bigger than myself on October 9th. In regards to this, I have been asked by several people if I intend to have a big shindig to celebrate this milestone.

My answer is always the same; I flatly say “No”. Why is that, you may be asking… Let me cast some illumination on the subject at hand for you. Growing up the way I did, holidays like Christmas were less than stellar events, with people fighting and walking and eggshells trying to avoid each other at all costs and birthdays were even worse. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a buzzkill, but to me personally birthdays are not that big of a thing.

I survived another 365 days living, what can be arguably called an easy 1st world life. Really, is it so much of an accomplishment to have survived this long in a place where food, shelter, medicine, and modern conveniences are readily available? Not really, now had I cured some disease, or developed some radical new way to solve a problem that plagues the world, I would have cause to celebrate, but merely surviving, that is no real reason for a big celebration.

I will however mark the occasion with quiet dignity, and perhaps spend time with a few chosen friends. I feel no need for gifts, as I can pretty much buy whatever I want for myself at this point in my life. If someone decides that they want to get me a gift, I will not refuse it, but there is no need to go out of your way to do such a thing. I’m just as happy to have your company as I am your tributes.

I know there are plenty of people who will not understand my stance on the subject, but I’m sure there are just as many who will just get it. My hope these days is that if someone wants to get my a gift make it a donation to a worthy cause in my name, or better yet, go out into our community and find a person who could use a hand up and help them out; no strings attached. A random act of kindness to a stranger in need would be just as good, if not better, as donating money to a cause in my opinion.

A few years back there was a movie called “Pay it forward”, while the movie itself was just OK, the subject matter was excellent. Now anyone that knows me can tell you that,  I don’t believe in many things that are intangible, but in the past few years I have really seen that our actions have consequences and what we do know will be reflected back at us in due time. Whether you want to call it karma, fate, serendipity, destiny, certainty of circumstance or kismet; the simple truth is what goes around comes around.

OK, I know it seems as I have veered off the tracks of the subject matter, but stay with me and you will see that we are indeed still on course. If I could have just one wish fulfilled on my or for my birthday it would be this:

For one day follow the advice of two fictional characters, Bill and Ted. As Abraham Lincoln said in the movie “These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which is as true today as it was in my time. Be excellent to each other.” I’m not going to attempt to dictate what that is to anyone. Everyone must decide, on their own,  what it means. For some it may be a simple act of kindness, for others it may mean going out of your way to help someone out. For some of the people out there simply saying thank you to someone for a change would qualify.

So there it is. I have laid it down. Will you pick it up? I don’t and most likely will never know, but I can say this: If just one person takes the initiative and decides to “Be Excellent” to someone else, it will come back to you. It may not be immediate, but be assured that making life, even the tiniest bit, more shiny for someone who is in a dark place is good for you. Try it some time, often, or even just once. The world will thank you in its own way.

Rob

A tech guy who is talking less and less about tech or How I’m trying to get back to things I did in college

Hey Look It’s Me

Yeah you read that right, As of late I have found myself thinking less and less about tech items. Now don’t get me wrong, I still like electronic toys. I have multiple DishNetwork receivers, 2 Logitech Revues, a Meraki cloud controlled wireless access point, a Xoom tablet, and Android phone and a bevy of other items that I use on a regular basis. I like my toys, and I like computers and networking but I  like not using them as much these days too. Unless I am playing a game or having to VPN into work to fix things, I rarely pick up my laptop anymore. If I need to surf the web I tend to use my tablet or my Google TV unit and that’s just peachy.  I have a smartphone because work pays for it, if they didn’t I would probably go back to a dumbphone.

Where the biggest fundamental shift has been is in the tech prognostication arena. I used to keep abreast of everything that was being discussed, thought about, tested, manufactured, and what have you. I used to be the go to guy for what the next big trend in IT was going to be for many people, but in the last few years I have noticed that I have, by and large, become less interested in the “what’s next”. I’m not sure if I’m burned out, jaded, tired, or just genuinely disinterested but the “tech future” area of my brain is getting smaller and smaller. It may be because I have made a few changes in my life, including more physical activity, and eating better.

I find that instead of  thinking about technology as much I am instead thinking about outdoor adventures; things like hiking, camping and as of late The Tough Mudder 2012 that I am going to attempt. I find that I think about places I could go for these activities instead of thinking about things that would keep me inside. Mind you my wife wouldn’t believe any of this, because of all the tech related items that float around our house, due to me being a beta tester for a few different companies, but I swear its true.

For years I would go to bed and have blissfully dreamless sleep. close my eyes and fade to black. I would awake refreshed but it would literally be as if I just closed my eyes. Time was instantly passed with no sense of time gone. In the last 6 months or so I have noticed that I remember dreaming. I rarely retain what I was dreaming about for more than few seconds but it’s a start. When I was a kid I would have very vivid and often times lucid dreaming sessions. I am hoping that those days return. I cannot say with certainty what is causing the shift in my neural activity but I honestly think it has more to do with my physical activity levels these days.

So it appears, from my perspective, that the increase in physical activity/fitness has made my brain stop thinking/caring as much about tech and in turn made me think more about more physical activity and creative things again. Sure the change has been slight in the grand scale of things but a change is a change none the less. I have recently began to think about writing poetry and short stories again. I have even toyed with the notion of trying to get back into doing art again. I could be completely off base here, it may have absolutely nothing to do with the lifestyle change. It may be caused by changes that come with getting older. Who knows, certainly not me, but I’m going to ride this out and see where it takes me.  So if you happen to follow me on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter you may notice less and less tech talk then again you may not. Only time will tell.

Rob

SOciopath – a poem

I used to do art work, not paintings, or sculpture. but odd prints made with turpentine and photocopies transferred to canvas or paper. I used to write poetry, quite a bit. Then I stopped doing all things creative and I’m not entirely sure why. I have a couple of hundred poems in various degrees of completeness in many notebooks, on scraps of paper, and rattling around in the chaos that is my mind. A couple of years back, my wife took a lot of time to transcribe all my scribblings into a compiled word document, which I’m sure took her quite a long time because of the voluminous amounts of verbiage, compounded by my horrible handwriting.

I was sitting at my desk today during lunch (thanks to crummy weather) and decided to try and write a poem. it’s similar in vein to many of my older works, but is heavily influenced by the fact that The Hollywood Undead were playing on Slacker, and I watched two episodes of Dexter last night. It is by no means complete, but it is what it is; me dipping my toe back into the creative waters.

Without further adieu, I present SOciopath (yep the o is supposed to be capitalized)

When you look do you see me
The real me
the one with the empty eyes, barren soul
the one who is callus and apathetic
the one I protect not
The me I project
the one with all the answers
the one with the confidence
the one who cares about the trivial little things in your life
The razor barbed nerves frayed and frazzled or
the charming gent who has you dazzled
SO
When you look do you see me
or who you want me to be