What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Wednesday, July 29


Nexus Qi

So my Nexus 5 disintegrated.  The material around the edge of the phone got scratched, probably from being stuffed into my pocket along with my headphones,* and then cracked and flaked off in bigger and bigger pieces, until finally the back started to detach and it couldn't find its SIM card any more and little bits of electronics started to fall out.

So I kind of needed a new phone.

I have a Sony Xperia Z Ultra, but that's too big; it lives in my notebook bag to serve as a mini tablet and 4G / Wifi hotspot.  So it was back to my Nexus 4, which is made of solid glass all the way through and so is still pretty much as-new.

The only problem is that...  Well, two problems.  Three.  One, it only has 16GB of storage, which is not enough.  Two, it's a superfluid, like liquid helium, and will not just slide off a level surface to fall on the floor, but will slide uphill to do so.**

And three, the USB port is a bit fiddly, which means at some point it will suffer the fate of my original Nexus 7 and I won't be able to charge it any more.***

If only it had shipped with wireless charging, so I could just plop it down on this wireless charging pad that is no longer in use by my Nexus 5 and HEY!

The Nexus 4 supported Qi wireless charging?  Did they, like, mention that to anyone?

* Sennheiser PX 100-II.

** Nexus 4 owners will know what I mean.  The glass back makes it the slipperiest phone in existence.  The edge is textured so you don't drop it, but when you put it down on any level surface it will swiftly migrate to the nearest available edge and make good its escape.

*** Until I went out and bought a wireless charging pad to see if that helped - and it did.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 08:12 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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XPoint: A Better Flash Than Flash

No, not the Adobe one, but the one that powers your phones and tablets and increasingly, notebooks and desktops.

Intel and Micron have announced XPoint, a brand new memory technology based on magic smoke and fairy dust* that is up to 1000x faster and 1000x longer lasting than conventional flash memory.

Such announcements are not uncommon, but are of mostly technical interest, because it takes a good ten years to get such a technology off the ground - if, that is, it doesn't run into serious problems of technical or financial viability, which happens, roughly speaking, 100% of the time.

Turns out in this case that Intel and Micron have been working on this for ten years already, and they're fabbing viable 128Gbit devices right now.  Products are expected to ship by the end of the year.  This year.  2015.  AD.  Update: It sounds like chips will be available this year, but end products aren't expected until 2016.  Darn.

The big difference between these devices and common NAND flash is that XPoint is bit addressable, like RAM, where with NAND flash you have to write a page (typically 4K) at a time and erase huge blocks (2M or more), which requires a lot of fiddling behind the scenes to work.  With XPoint you just write what you want, when you want, where you want.

Pricing is expected to be somewhere between NAND flash and DRAM - DRAM is about 20x the price of commodity flash.

Some use cases are obvious - solid-state caches for RAID controllers and enterprise-grade SSDs.  But if we finally have a large-scale non-volatile storage solution that runs at close to main memory speeds, that is going to set the cat amongst the pigeons in the database world.  It's the database holy grail, and the heart of every good database is software that tries to deliver that sort of performance without the requisite hardware unobtainium.

Now that unobtainium is due to be on store shelves for Christmas, the impossible is set to become commonplace.

* They haven't disclosed exactly how these devices work, so that's a bit of informed guesswork on my part.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:14 AM | Comments (16) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, July 28


Nexus 8

[Updated and bumped.]

It's the Nexus 8!  Or near enough.  Asus shook up the tablet market in 2012 with the original Nexus 7, a genuinely good budget tablet, and again in 2013 with the updated model, which was a great budget tablet (and which I still use for several hours each day).

Asus recently announced a slate of new tablets, but the crown jewel is the Zenpad S 8.0, which is exactly what I'd want to see in a Nexus 8 and aimed dead center at the iPad Mini on features and design, while keeping the pricing that made the Nexus 7 a runaway success.

 $199 for the base "C" model with a 1.3GHz quad-core 64-bit CPU, 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage (plus microSD), and a 2048x1536 8" IPS display.

It's the same size, weight, and screen as the iPad Mini, but $199 for the 32GB version vs. $349 for the iPad.  Plus microSD.  (Android's support for removable storage is basically poop, but iOS doesn't support it at all, so...)  

So if, like me, you prefer Android over iOS anyway, it's an easy choice.

The advanced "CA" model should arrive soon, and offers a 1.8GHz or 2.3GHz CPU, 2GB or 4GB RAM, and up to 64GB of storage (again, plus microSD), plus support for a pressure-sensitive stylus.  (I don't think the stylus is actually included.)  It's a little lighter than the base model, and includes faster WiFi and a USB-C connector like the new Macbook and Chromebook Pixel.

Update: Pricing for the top-of-the line 2.3GHz / 4GB RAM / 64GB storage model looks set at $299, with pre-orders now and product shipping in a couple of weeks.

All models include Android 5.something.  Either 5.0 or 5.1, depending on which site you believe.

The Android tablet market has been pretty dull the last couple of years, but these look like excellent performers and great value for money.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:23 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, July 05


Semantic UI

Semantic UI is Bootstrap done right.

Not that Bootstrap is awful; it's quite good and very useful.  It's just that Semantic UI actually makes sense.  And in the world of HTML, CSS, and Javascript, that's a rare thing.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:12 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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