They are my oldest and deadliest enemy. You cannot trust them.
If Hitler invaded Hell, I would give a favourable reference to the Devil.

Thursday, September 22


Moto G4 Play Plus Or Minus

My new phone arrived today - the Moto G4 Play.  It's not quite as physically impressive as the Xperia Z3 Tablet that showed up Tuesday.  The tablet is a premium device, and feels like it; it's just a premium device that came out in 2014.  The G4 Play is a 2016 release, but a budget model.

The back is removable to access the battery (replaceable), the two SIM cards, and the microSD card.  That's very practical, but makes the phone feel slightly cheap; there's just a little bit of give to the rubberised plastic rear cover.  (On the other hand, it's unlikely to slide off surfaces the way the glass-backed Nexus 4 does.)

In an expensive phone the plastic construction might be an issue, but at A$199 (US$149) I'm not about to complain.

As for use, so far: The screen is fine; only 720p, but that's enough for anything but VR, which doesn't really interest me.  It's IPS, but a cheapish one; there's a bit of a yellowish tint when viewed at a sharp angle, but it looks just fine when viewed at something approaching normal positions.  At one point I wondered why the screen was blurry, then I blinked a few times and that fixed it.

It uses a Mediatek chip with a 1.2GHz quad core A53 CPU.  This is perfectly zippy for basic functions - surprisingly so, about 60% faster than the Nexus 4, around the same as my late Nexus 5.  A high-end phone like the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 would three times faster than that, but that mainly matters if you're doing stuff I don't do on my phone - photo processing, videos, stuff like that.  If your phone is your main computer, it likely matters, but I have three desktop computers, two laptops, and four tablets to handle any serious computing.

The camera and speakers work - neither great nor awful.  Audio from the headphone jack is perfectly fine, and has a lot more volume than the Nexus 4 or 5 I used previously.  Maximum volume is far too loud on my Sennheiser PX-100s, instead of being the normal setting I use when I'm out and about.

It comes with Android 6.01 and about 11GB free of 16GB storage.  On a phone, that's plenty; the SD card will hold all the audio files I could want; a 128GB card equals about 2000 hours of MP3 audio.  (Okay, so I have about 2TB of MP3s piled up, mostly podcasts, but I don't need them all on my phone at once.)

Setup was dead easy.  I put in my WiFi and Gmail passwords, and it offered to import all my apps and settings from my Nexus 7.  I just needed to un-check Final Fantasy 1 through 6 and off it went.  That will take a while - it's about 100 apps - but that's a big improvement over selecting them all one by one in the Play Store.

Android itself is pretty much stock, with no layered cruft that I've noticed. I installed Nova Launcher - or rather, it installed automatically since it's on my Nexus 7 - and Paperland Pro, so it's set up just the way I like it.

I'm sure an iPhone feels nicer to user, more refined, but the current model starts at A$1079 and has only barely a higher-resolution display (1334x750 vs 1280x720), only supports one SIM card, doesn't believe that SD cards exist at all, and lacks even a headphone socket. (And don't even think about replacing the battery.)  So at more than five times the price it has inferior specs in several ways.

The only problem, if you want to call it that, is that now I've run out of microSD cards.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:13 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, September 20


Toys In Boxes

I've been looking for a while for a new tablet to replace my 2013 Nexus 7, and a new phone to replace my 2012 Nexus 4 (which was pressed back into duty when my Nexus 5 disintegrated).

Purely by chance I noticed that Sony was clearing out old stock of their Z3 Tablet Compact at 40% off - down from $499 to $294.  The only shortcoming of that device was that they only sold the 16GB model in Australia.  16GB is barely adequate if the device has microSD support - which it does - but not enough that I wanted to spend $499 on it.  At $294, though, I bit.

The only thing I really wanted from a phone was more storage, but all the cheap models have 16GB like my Nexus 4, or sometimes even 8GB, which is basically useless.  The new Motorola G4 Play has 16GB and a microSD slot - and I picked it up for $199 (normally $279).  Again, I'd rather have at least 32GB built in, but for $199 I'm not worried.  The storage is mostly so that it can replace my old 160GB iPod, and the three main audio apps I use support SD cards just fine.  I'll just need to keep prodding Big Finish to fix their app; their file sizes are huge.

The Sony tablet arrived today.  This thing is great.  It's an 8" tablet with a 1920x1200 screen, a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB RAM, and 16GB of storage, of which about 11GB is available and 9GB is free (they preloaded a lot of stuff).  That's why I don't like 16GB devices - nearly half is gone by the time you get it. 

That aside, it's very light (lighter than my Nexus 7 despite the larger screen) and very fast (the speed was immediately noticeable even under Android 4.4, and Android 5 is faster again).  The screen is bright, sharp, and clear, with vibrant colours.

It's a couple of years old now - it came with Android 4.4 (and a 63% charge, somehow...)  It's now on 5.0 and updating to 5.1; 6.0 is supported and should be available as an upgrade from 5.1.  Apparently it won't support Android 7, because Qualcomm have decided not to upgrade the graphics drivers for their older chips, but Android 6 (Marshmallow) is good enough.

I've stuck in a 128GB microSD card that was parked in my notebook but not really being used.  Shortly I'll see if that works with Android 6's adoptable storage, which should pretty much solve the 16GB problem.

If adoptable storage works out I'm tempted to buy another one; it's that good.

The one odd thing is that it seems to have a SIM slot.  I wasn't expecting that.  I wonder if it actually works...

Update: Don't think the SIM slot works.  But Android 6.0 is downloading now, so that's something.  On the other hand, I'm down to 7.3GB of space on the internal storage and I haven't installed anything yet.

Update 2: Sony have royally buggered up the storage on this thing.  First, it only has 16GB.  Second, they've mapped the logical SD card to internal storage, so that apps that support moving to the SD card don't actually move.  Third, they've disabled the Android 6 feature to mount an SD card as internal storage, which would have fixed the first two screwups.  Ugh.

Update 3: It seems to have decided that it can move apps to the SD card after all.  That's got me the best part of 2GB back.  What it won't move to the SD card is, specifically, the Final Fantasy games, some of which weigh in at 600MB - quite a lot when you only have 7.3GB to start with.  Oh, and the Kindle app data, which adds up fast if you have a magazine subscription (Asimov's and Analog).  But in both cases it claims it has put the data on the SD card, which is more than a little annoying.

Update 4: The Kindle app puts about half its data on the SD card.  Why half, I have no idea.  They probably did it just to irritate me.  The Audible app works properly, as do Google's Music app and Pocket Casts.

Update 5: I don't think the Kindle app puts anything on the SD card.  It says it does, but it's lying.  But I have most of my stuff installed, and I have 3.3GB left internally.  (And 103GB left on the SD card.)  And that's without firing up ADB and enabling adoptable storage.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:07 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, August 30


Smoothmouse + BetterSnapTool

I got myself a very nice iMac late last year - Core i7, 32GB RAM, Radeon 395MX, 1TB SSD, and the 5k Retina HDR display.  It's just about the best desktop PC you can get.

However...  The mouse and keyboard handling in MacOS sucks compared to Windows.   MacOS only has mouse acceleration control; the base tracking speed is fixed and very slow.  

That means that you have to keep picking up and moving your mouse because the speed at which it tracks is variable.  And since the menu is always at the top left of the screen, you tend to move your mouse more than on Windows, which just exacerbates the problem.

Also, my workflow 99% of the time involves two windows side-by-side.  On Windows, setting that up is just a keystroke; on the Mac it's just a complete mess.  You can do it, but it's unnecessarily complicated and hides the menu bar and the dock, so the moment you set it up you end up hiding the tools you normally use all the time.

After trying a couple of other options (Steermouse and MagicPrefs) I gave Smoothmouse a try.  It has an option that says "make my mouse work like Windows" which...  Makes your mouse work like Windows.

There's another couple of apps called BetterTouchTool and BetterSnapTool.  BetterTouchTool does a whole bunch of stuff for mouse and keyboard management; BetterSnapTool only handles snapping windows based on mouse or keyboard commands (which are completely configurable).

BetterSnapTool is on the Mac App store, costs just a few bucks, and works perfectly.  It's eleventy billion times better than the idiot crap that Apple came up with.

I've been tending to use Kei, my (older, slower) Windows machine instead of Taiga, my (shiny, new) iMac because of these niggling UI issues.  And now they're fixed.

The only remaining issue is that I'm running VMWare Fusion on Taiga with Windows 10 and Ubunutu 16.04 instances.  Each VM has 8GB of RAM allocated, meaning that half my memory is gone the moment I boot up.

The 2015 iMac supports up to 64GB of RAM - but because Apple idiotically used DDR3 rather than DDR4 (even though DDR4 is supported by the CPU), upgrading beyond 32GB costs about three times as much as it should, so I've been putting that upgrade off.

But apart from that, it's pretty good.  I just hit Ctrl-left-arrow or Ctrl-right-arrow and it goes Zip! Full-screen Windows 10.  Zip! Full-screen Ubuntu.  Zip! Back to MacOS.

Meanwhile, Smoothmouse and BetterSnapTool both get the coveted Does Not Suck award.

Update: Can't get VMWare Fusion to use both monitors.  Or, well, it does, but the guest OS is mirrored across them at a resolution selected by throwing chickens at a bingo card.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:14 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, August 27


Dear Netflix

Glitter Force is not a "Netflix Original".  It's a bastardised version of season nine of Pretty Cure

Speaking of which, Pretty Cure is up to season 13 with no signs of slowing.  Unfortunately only the first season is worth watching unless you're a girl between the ages of five and ten.  With the second season they narrowed their target audience, and since then their targeting has become laser-precise.  But on the fourth hand, the franchise is a massive commercial success, so I can't exactly blame them for that.

Season one - the real Pretty Cure - was directed by Daisuke Nishio, who also directed the little-known Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.  It's a lot more action-oriented than the later seasons, and that would go a long way to explain why.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:26 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Benzalkonium Chloride Contraindicated For Gregor Samsa's Kitchen

So, there was a cockroach in my kitchen the other day, and I didn't know where I'd left the bug spray, but if I went looking for it the roach would be sure to make its escape while my back was turned.

So I grabbed what was at hand - namely a squirt bottle of Dettol Healthy Clean Kitchen surface spray - and spritzed the filthy insect with it.

Whereupon it promptly gave up the arthropod equivalent of the ghost.


The spray is a 0.1% solution of benzalkonium chloride - the same antiseptic found in Dettol and Bactine - and supposedly more-or-less harmless, safe for use on food preparation surfaces.  The oral LD50 in mammals is given as 240mg/kg, so it would be easier to kill yourself by drinking low-alcohol beer than this stuff.

Unless you're a cockroach.

Also, my floor is very clean now.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 08:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, August 23


Hot Chips 28

The annual Hot Chips conference is on right now, where chip designers and manufacturers highlight new and upcoming produces, like Arm's new 2048-bit vector supercomputer CPU, Samsung's DDR5, GDDR6, and HBM3 memory (the latter will deliver 16GB of memory and half a terabyte per second of bandwidth in a single package), IBM's Power 9 architecture, AMD's Zen, and Intel's...  Skylake.  Which came out a year ago, but whatever.

I went looking for more details on some of the presentations, and now I'm hungry.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, August 14


Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress

Completely implausible.  These people are so dumb the zombies would starve to death.

It moves right along, and the production qualities are great, but dumb as a box of rocks.

Update: And every time you think it couldn't get any more stupid, it does.  I went to see what other people thought of it, and this was the first review I found:
Watching Kabaneri is like watching a 5-car pile-up on a busy intersection. It's devastating, but hard to look away from. With each plume of smoke breathes a new fiery furnace of stupor; divulging deeper into new unforeseen territories of shit writing. Where other shows simply crash and burn, Kabaneri decides to push forward with a broken axle and the power of irrationality to combust its engine. It's a wondrous, smoldering pile of fecal matter on wheels. A beautiful travesty captured in frame by uninspired creators, seeing just how close they could pass their hand over the surface of unoriginality without being scorched by the heat. And trust me when I say that Wit Studio got their hands pretty fucking close. Had they gotten any closer, we'd be naming this 'Shingeki no Kabaneri: Schlock Edition'. To say they're cashing in on an existing fanbase would be an understatement. These motherfuckers took the cash-cow home, milked it dry, then butchered it for any remaining morsels that they could scrape together. Kabaneri isn't just below average, it's the residual excrement that resides at the bottom of the barrel.
The author goes on at some length, but I suspect you get the idea.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:35 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Saturday, August 13


Oboontoo 2

So, I've done six Ubuntu installs so far this week.  Two on Virtualbox on Windows (desktop and laptop), one on VMWare Fusion on Mac (my shiny Retina iMac), one on OpenVZ on our development server, one on AWS EC2, and one on KVM*, upgrading from 14.04.  None yet on bare metal, but that's coming soon.

And...  Basically, all of them just worked.  Ubuntu 16.04.1 gets the coveted Doesn't Suck award.

* I'm moving / to virtualised dedicated servers - basically, small servers running just one virtual machine each.  The virtualisation makes administration much easier, which means that the servers are much cheaper.  I can get a full quad-core server with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for the price of a 4GB low-end instance in Amazon AWS.  About 20% slower than a bare metal server (or OpenVZ on bare metal, which has near zero overhead), but about 50% cheaper, so I can just get twice as many.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Bluescreenbird Of Unhappiness

Windows 10 has a new and much more cheerful blue screen of death.

You're still dead, though.  That hasn't changed.

Update: Usual story:

C:\> bootrec /RebuildBcd
C:\> bootrec /fixMbr
C:\> bootrec /fixboot

Though why it should be necessary for me to do this is another question entirely.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:17 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Wednesday, August 10




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