iPhone vs. Android Thoughts

This week I switched from my iPhone 5 to an a Google Nexus 5 to better use the functions of Google Glass.

I've only been using the the Nexus for a few days, but here are a few things I've noticed:

  • iOS has way more apps. While many of the apps are cross-platform, some big ones just aren't on Android. The most noticeable missing app for me was Amazon Instant Video.
  • Android is more transparent. iOS likes to hide files away from the user, while Android lets you have direct access. If you want to throw Music files into a Video folder, you can do it.
I've had an iPhone since the original, and upgraded every time I was eligible, so transferring data has always been a matter of simply plugging in the iPhone and having iTunes do all the work. With the Nexus 5, I had to first transfer my iPhone's Contacts to Google Contacts before syncing the Nexus.

Hearthstone Beta: Thoughts

I've been playing Hearthstone for a few weeks now, and Blizzcon brought up a lot of game design decisions about simplifying the collectible card game genre.

I loved Magic the Gathering: Online, and while it definitely had issues, Hearthstone corrects many of those issues and invigorates the genre. I believe that Hearthstone is to Magic Online what World of Warcraft 1.0 was to Everquest -- a good spin on an old genre.

Hearthstone uses the flavor of the Warcraft universe for the theme, and it's not hard to envision other variants using other Blizzard properties.

My main gripe with Hearthstone is that it's very turn based; unlike other Blizzard games where you're constantly in the action, Hearthstone is turn-based, and doesn't have responses the way MtG does with Instants -- the only Instant like action is in the form of secrets, which only three of the eight classes have and auto-execute when conditions are met; while this speeds up Hearthstone considerably (no more waiting for the other player to see if the move is ok, like in MtG), it also makes it so that there's no real reason for the player to pay attention when it's not their turn.

Unlike MtG, where any player can use any card to construct their deck, in Hearthstone there are class-specific cards and neutral cards -- class specific cards can only be used for a hero of that class, and neutral cards can be used for any deck. This creates some interesting dynamics, as not everyone uses the same cards in their deck.

One of the more interesting aspects is that Hearthstone is a Free-to-play game; the portions that cost money are buying additional packs and buying entry into the Arena, but these can also be paid using in-game gold. The Arena is similar to Draft (which is my favorite style of MtG), except that it doesn't rely on other players being present for the card selection. This makes it so that you can make an arena deck and you aren't committed to a 3 hour long tournament as you are in MtG. Additionally, playing in the Arena grants gold, packs and materials to create cards.

The cards used in Arena don't belong to the player (so there is no need to pick for rarity), and any cards in your collection can be used for constructed play. The money required currently looks like this: Constructed Play is Free, and 3 Wins nets you 10 Gold. 100 Gold will buy you a pack, and 150 Gold will allow you entry into the Arena. The Daily Quest will grant anywhere from 40 to 60 gold (or more depending on what the objective is) This structure is what makes it possible for players to never spend a dime on Hearthstone.

The only game mode I actually care about is Arena, though, as without the rare cards to construct a solid deck, constructed feels a little too random, since one will likely be missing some very common utility cards. Since it takes forever to get enough dust to craft cards, the packs won through Arena play usually includes cards that will make your collection bigger overall, and more competitive over the long run.

Review: iPad Air (Late 2013) (5th Generation)

When Apple announced the iPad Air, I wasn't even considering upgrading from my 3rd Generation iPad with Retina Display.

The Air moniker is due to the weight reduction, which is substantial, trimming off nearly half a pound from the iPad. The weight reduction is due to the change in dimensions of the iPad, the frame around the iPad has been narrowed, and the batteries are now lighter. The processor has been upgraded to an 1.4 Ghz Dual-core A7 (up from A6X in the 4th gen, and ARM Cortex A9 in the 3rd and 2nd generation iPads), which results in a very snappy response time. The improvements to the processor should help with a lot of those 3D apps. Additionally, the Air now has a M7 motion co-processor.

Setting up the iPad Air was extremely quick, and once I connected it up to iTunes, there was an option to restore the iPad from a previous backup (in this case, my 3rd Gen Retina iPad). Using the backup, reduced the amount of available capacity substantially, and within a few hours, I found myself out of drive space. My guess is that using the backup, it copied over all the application data, without checking if the application was still in the library. In my case, I had several apps from an old iPad that were no longer in the App store. Additionally, the new apps included with the iPad are pretty substantial in size, totalling about 3GB in total.

I cleared the data and reset the iPad Air to factory state, and reinstalled the Apps one by one -- while this worked for my iPad Air, users which have more data on their iPad may want to consider making sure they have their app data backed up before reseting after a restore. I'd also suggest that 16GB (12.8GB) may be too small for most power users, and that they would benefit from one of the larger capacity iPad Airs.

Battery life still seems to be very good with Apple advertising 10 hours, which is for WiFi/Surfing/Video and Music. Some reviewers have reported 12 hours or more.

Apple includes a 12W USB Lightning charger.

I did find that even though I had no trouble charging the iPhone 5 through a Lightning cable connected to USB hub, using that setup did not charge the iPad Air.

The new iPad Air is a good deal lighter than it's predecessor, and with all the improvements, there's only a few changes I'd like to see in the upcoming models -- the inclusion of the fingerprint sensor found in the iPhone 5S, and a bigger base capacity.

It's definitely a evolutionary change, and while I suspect it won't change the landscape of tablets or apps much, I think I will enjoy the new faster, lighter iPad quite a bit until the next revision.

Amazon knocks 15% off 3 of their Kindles - One Day Only!

To celebrate the use of electronic devices in airplane mode from take-off to landing, Amazon is discounting three of their Kindles by 15% for today only. You'll need to use the promo code: ThnksFAA to receive the discount.

Specifically, these discounted Kindles are the basic Kindle($59), Kindle Fire HD($118) and Kindle Fire HDX ($195).

Apple 2013 iPad Media Event

This morning in San Francisco, Apple announced updates and refreshes to many of their products. The highlights:
  • iPad mini now has a Retina Display variety
  • iPad Air which is thinner and lighter
  • Mac Pro gets an update in Dec with a smaller design
  • MacBook Pros with Retina Display gets a price drop
  • OS X Mavericks is a free upgrade on the App Store

Amazon: Kindle Matchbook

One of Amazon's new services is Kindle MatchBook -- a way of putting your past-purchased physical books on your Kindle for a reduced price. The service launches in October, and will go back to the books you purchased when Amazon first started in 1995. Not every publisher is included, but this will be great for all those books that are.

Mac: OS X and Excluded Macs

OS X is the operating systems of Apple's computers, and sometimes their requirements exclude Macs that would otherwise be able to use the operating system. Apple updates their OS on a pretty regularly annual cycle, but seems to rather randomly exclude Macs and upgrading their version of OS X. This entry is mainly a reference to examine the cycle and determine predicted lifetimes for Apple's computer lines.

OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) - OS X 10.5 Leopard

Since my Powerbook G4 was my first Mac, this is where my OS timeline starts. This portion of the timeline is largely irrelevant, as Apple transitions from PowerPC to Intel further down the line, and phases out all the PowerPC architecture computers from OX completely after Leopard.

OS X 10.4 (Tiger) (April 2005 - November 2007) (Final Security Patch Sept. 2009)
Tiger was the first version of OS X to support Intel Processors; this version of Tiger was packaged only with the first set of Intel Macs. Later Intel Macs came with later versions of OS X.

OS X 10.5 (Leopard) (Oct 2007 - August 2009) (Final Security Patch May 2012)

My 2002 800Mhz PowerBook G4 is functionally capable of running Leopard, but ran too slowly to meet Apple's satisfaction. While the 800Mhz PowerBook G4 was the top of the line upgrade when I bought it in 2002 (the lower configuration was 667Mhz), Apple tends to exclude computers from OS X on the basis of Mac line generation and CPU type.

OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) (Aug. 2009 - July 2011) (Last Security Patch Sept 2012)

Snow Leopard is the first version that is Intel only, which excludes all the PPC Macs.

OS X 10.7 (Lion) (July 2011 - Present)

The 2006 MBP is not functionally capable of running Lion because Apple decided Lion should require a 64-bit instruction set, and the Intel Core Duo on the early 2006 MBP uses a 32-bit instruction set (wheras the Late 2006 has a Core 2 Duo which is a 64-bit instruction set).

Lion requires: an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor. This excludes the first generation of Intel Macs (MBP Early 2006, Early and Mid iMac 2006)

OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) (July 2012 - Present)

Mountain Lion requires the following computers: iMac (Mid 2007 or newer) MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer) MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer) MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer) Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer) Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer) Xserve (Early 2009)

Some Macs Excluded from Mountain Lion, but not Lion: iMac Late 2006 (probably because the lowest configuration contains a 1.83 Ghz processor, 512 MB RAM, 160MB HDD, and a 667 Mhz System Bus. The Mid 2007 is a bit beefier with a 800Mhz system bus and 250MB HDD). For MacBooks, 2 years of MacBooks are excluded: (Late 2006-Late 2008)(Basically until the MacBooks have a 1066Mhz FSB and 2 GB of RAM). MacBook Pro (Late 2006) is removed (system bus is 667, and base RAM is 1GB), Macbook Air (Early 2008) (hard drive is below 120GB) , Mac mini (Early 2006 - Early 2009) (System bus is 667, no more than 1GB RAM) . MacPro 2006 (base RAM was only 1GB). There are no cases where Apple has continued to support a model based solely on the configured hardware. The oldest computers on the Mountain Lion approved list are the Mid 2007 iMacs and MacBook Pros (which typically have the newest hardware).

One of the things I notice is that further versions stop soon after the release of the subsequent version of OS X. This is likely that since this is the Mac operating system, Apple does not want to branch too far after the next version is made available. The security updates and such do not stop until much further down the line and seemingly at random (as few as 14 months, and as long as 33 months).

Since Apple excludes based on the Mac generation and a combination of the hardware, buying a higher end version of the Mac will not extend the lifetime of the Mac with regards to the operating system version. However, purchasing the current version (rather than the recently out of production version) may allow the Mac to survive one OS release further, with the caveat that Apple is sometimes fickle and excludes a massive amount of computers (such as with Mountain Lion).


With the weather we've been having lately, I've been craving something cool and refreshing -- enter gazpacho. Gazpacho is one of those things I've always heard about, but have never eaten. I knew it was a cold soup, but not much more than that. Reading up and doing research led me to this recipe for Andalusian Gazpacho, which I modified slightly by using heirloom tomatoes instead of normal tomatoes, and by omitting the garlic.


It's a rather time intensive recipe, about half an hour of prepping the vegetables, half an hour to let the juices expel, half an hour to freeze the veggies, and then another 10 to fifteen minutes to blend it all together. The result of all that time and effort is a fantastic soup for warm days.

I halved the recipe and still wound up with enough for 5-6 servings.


Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Mere minutes after the announcement, all my social media alerts flooded with news of Steve Jobs' passing. He touched a lot of lives, and there are a lot of messages regarding his passing.

Tim Cook's Message to Apple Employees

Apple Board of Directors' Statement

President Obama's Statement about Steve Jobs Passing

BoingBoing has laid out their website using a Macintosh OS theme

Wall Street Journal's Obituary for Steve Jobs

Flickr: Tribute to Steve Jobs

This Is My Next has a roundup of various statements from people in the tech industry.

Last year, I saw Steve Jobs at a local restaurant. It was the weekend, and he was enjoying brunch with his kids. I turned to my sister and said "I think that's Steve Jobs". She said "I don't think so." After we ordered our meal and drinks, the waiter came by and said that my drink was going to take a little longer, as it had accidentally been sent over to Steve Jobs. There are some old photographs at the front of the restaurant, and as Steve was leaving, he stopped for a minute to study the pictures before walking with his kids out to the car. Paired with his thinness, he seemed to quite tall, not something I had realized before.

My memory is of him being a family man and father, and of him being a guy at a restaurant on an Saturday morning who accidentally got my drink. Aside from moments like these, I mostly knew Steve Jobs through proxy.

With Steve Jobs being a generation older than me, I remember classrooms in elementary school being filled with Apple computers. I remember when he made his triumphant return when Apple was on the verge of going out of business, and partnering up with Microsoft. I remember hearing about his "reality distortion field" shortly afterward, that his enthusiasm for something could be so infectious that if you were near him, you'd start to believe in it as well. His passion for his ideas and his beliefs propelled Apple for the last decade. Apple was not his only company, he started NeXT, and bought and developed Pixar to become the major animation studio it is today.

When he stepped down as Apple's CEO, I knew this day was coming, though I wished with all my heart that he could beat his illness.

Farewell Steve Jobs, you will be missed. Thank you for giving us the future.

Steve Jobs gave a Commencement Speech at Stanford in 2005, in which he said:

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

James Jean: Rebus

Rebus, is James Jean's latest book, which is a rather sizable volume of his works; many of the them have been included in the previous Process Recess books, but it also includes a lot of his more recent material. 256 pages, full color reproductions, this book weighs in at a mammoth 3.9 pounds.

James Jean - REBUS-1James Jean - REBUS-2

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