Sunday, October 4, 2015

OnePlus Two Phone Review

OnePlus Two


I haven't written a review in a while, and since I just received my new phone it seemed like a good idea. At the very least I can see how difficult it is to write a review using mostly voice transcription.

First, I was surprised to get an invitation at all. The invitation system said I was 800,000th in line. Luckily, I eat breakfast about the time that the social media person at 1 + tweets their social media contest. I was able to submit one within the first 3 minutes. I purchased the new OnePlus Two phone, and received it within a week. This was a pleasant surprise, as I expected it to take a while, as the company has a just-in-time manufacturing philosophy.


The phone arrived via US postal mail. The package was tiny but well constructed. It contained only a phone and a cable and a plug. The setup was fairly standard. And I was able to connect it to my home Wi-Fi effortlessly. I had to go to AT&T to get a new nano SIM, as my old galaxy 3 note from Samsung used a micro-sim. Since I travel to Europe frequently, the ability to use a second sim will be very helpful.



The OnePlus Two phone is very well constructed. It feels solid in the hands. But having a galaxy note 3 with 3 extended life batteries in a Zerolemon case makes it seem kind of small. But it is extremely responsive. It is fast using the Microsoft apps, as well as Evernote, where I do must of my writing It also seems to play video reasonably fast as well. There is a little bit of trouble with my Wi-Fi at home, I have an odd set up, including a range extender which can sometimes confuse Samsung phones. This phone seems to be confused as well when travling between different parts of the house.

The screen is well lit, and bright as one would expect it to be. I will speak more battery life later, but my day one experience is that it is sufficient to handle fairly rigorous use for one day. It also is well constructed enough, because I dropped it once and it did not break.(See update below) This is a fairly important test for me since I tend to drop my phone on a concrete floor at least once a month. Let's hope I get another invitation in the event that this one breaks, though the initial feedback seems to be quite good.

There are three areas where I'm disappointed with phone and they are as a result of design considerations. The first is that there is no removable battery. I travel a lot, and often need several batteries to make it through the day, or the length of day that I'm experiencing due to time zones. The second major letdown is that there is no slot for external storage. As a marketer, I get why they did that, as it forced me to buy the 64 gigabyte version. However I'm going to have to let a file transfer happen overnight from my old phone to my new phone. 

The third major letdown with this phone is that there is no NFC chip, no I'm not entirely sure this is true. There are two metal posts on the phone and two metal contacts on the standard back of the phone. It would not surprise me if NFC was going to be enabled later. Nevertheless, Android pay does not work on this phone. I'm not sure that's a terrible problem because in San Jose most of the NFC terminals at checkout registers don't work anyway.

One of the major user interface oddities is that the back button is on the left side of the user interface, where on my old Samsung, the back button is on the right side. This is the only really strange user interface problem I have seen.

I'll come back in a couple of days.

OnePlus Two phone: 2 weeks later


I have a gripe or two about the power usage and the battery of the OnePlus Two phone. First, there is no removable battery. Let's be clear, I use my phone a lot. Why use it for email, my calendar, my media consumption, my newspaper reading, and so on. As a result it's easy for me to run out of battery fairly quickly. For the last two years, as I have said, I've had a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I augmented it with a Zerolemon battery case, which had something on the order of 10000 milliamp hours of battery. Before that I had three of the standard batteries that I would use one after the other during a single day. It must be said, that the downside of the note 3 battery was that you had to have a Samsung battery with the NFC chip in it for NFC to work. My second major gripe about the power use is that the battery that they have on the phone is relatively small.

Related to power, but not quite, is the use of USB-C connectors. I understand the attraction to the connector, because it's reversible and also very fast. However, it is an extremely new connector. So much so that they had none of them in stock at Fry's. We all know that Fry's is the arbiter of what is cool in technology, at least for consumer technology.

Lack of an external memory card slot is annoying as well. I had to set up a small FTP server on the phone to do the bulk transfer for the files I needed from my old SD card.

I will say that it did pass the first round of durability tests. I have dropped it twice onto a tile floor and nothing appears remotely loose and the screen didn't crack. But this doesn't wholly make up for the shortcomings.

In conclusion, the OnePlus Two phone is not perfect, but you can't beat the price, and the freedom of not being tied to a carrier. The phone is really fast, and going down to a 5.5 inch screen, from the Note's 5.7, was not a problem. I would recommend this phone to someone who wanted a phone off the beaten path with stock(ish) Android. We'll see how long it lasts. And lets home

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Notes on the 2015 Nicaragua Trip

Notes on the 2015 Nicaragua Trip

Weekend, July 11-12, 2015

The flight from SFO on Avianca was smooth. We landed in San Salvador, which is a larger airport than I imagined. I was deeply moved by the mural on the wall to the Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero. For my friends not steeped in the Roman Catholic church, he was Archbishop of El Salvador, and was an outspoken opponent of the extra-judicial killings, and was himself assassinated by a right-wing death squad, while saying Mass.

The flight to Managua was 38 minutes, and uneventful.  This is my 5th trip to Nicaragua with this group, and I remember being hit by a wall of heat when we left the airport. The heat and the humidity are powerful here. This time, however, i almost didn't notice it. 

We then traveled for 2 hours by bus to a beach-side community called Poneloya, where we had lunch by the beach. A family from our group, native Nicaraguans, hosted us at their house.

Sunday as usual, was a hike up the newest volcano in the Americas, Cerro Negro. The hike is more than just an athletic exercise.  It is a hike up a 700 Meter pile of black sand, and its very challenging. The important part of this trip is that we all help each other, no matter what our physical shape is.

Our Group at Cerro Negro


The first year of this trip was transformative. I was given a new way of looking at things, and a new perspective on life. It sounds trite, but it is true. However, I have been on this trip 5 times, and have often struggled with subsequent years, trying to determine what new I could learn from the trip. This year, it became clear that my purpose was, to paraphrase Saint Ignatius' motto for the Jesuits, be a man for others. I was able to help someone down the volcano who was terribly afraid of heights, and I know meant something to them.

Monday July 13, 2015

Today we worked in the community of La Chuscada, where we ave worked the past 2 years. the first year we put in the pipe, the second we installed Modern Bathrooms. (Link) This year, we're putting in a wall to build a defined space for the school. 2 years ago, the school was under a tree, this year its in a temporary building which holds grades K-6. We're building the wall for a more permanent structure for a school of 1000.

The work was hard, mostly diffing trenches, mixing cement and laying cinderblock. it was at least 95 degrees, and there was not very much shade. we got to the community, worked for a while, had lunch, and worked into the afternoon. The cement mixer broke down for a while, but would not be Nica if something didn't happen. At the end I was sunburnt, and tied, but we went out for a beer after dinner and reflection anyway.

Tuesday July 14, 2015

Tuesday we spent a a family's house, where they made us lunch, and we learned more about their lives. Here are the pictures: http://www.evernote.com/l/AJBOM8qa48pEJIjYdKOlVvuX_txLz-uDqpY/ 

Wednesday July 15, 2015

Wednesday is my favorite day in Nicaragua. We went out to visit a nursing home in Corinto, which is a little down on the Pacific Coast. I sat and talked to Guillermina. You can see the picture of us here. We talked a bit about our lives and our families, and I introduced her to Emma, who was on our trip. In the afternoon, I hung out at the Cafe of the hotel.

Thursday July 16,2015

My notes on the medical team visits are here: http://www.evernote.com/l/AJDEcZOf8ZlKJor-VQxWfUlMCphM3bUK4lE/

Friday July 17th, 2015

Friday was another work day, and we finished up with one full wall of the school's borders  done, with a little more of the next. In the afternoon we played games with the kids, and set up a baseball and soccer games. As usual, the kids from Nica won. Some of them are quote talented.

Saturday July 18th, 2015

On Saturday, I went with the rest of the team to Managua, to get them off on their plane. I went into town to prep for my meetings for VMware. On the way, we passed the shrine to Hugo Chavez, which you can see here.

The album of pictures is here.

The Video of our trip is here....




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Starting a Blog On Blogger.com

I am writing this down since I have committed to help multiple folks with their blogs in the last few days.

The process of starting a blog is *really* simple. Before you have it set up, you have to do the following:


  1. Set up an account on google.  It does not have to be a full gmail account, and it you have a non-gmail account you are fond of, register with that. The first time you go to blogger.com, click the "Create Account" link.
  2. Figure out what you want your url to be. All urls are of the form: X.blogspot.com. If you have a phrase or specific term you'll be blogging about, see if you can get that in your blog title. It will help you show up in searches for that term more often.

Once you have done that, go to blogger.com, and after you are logged in, click the "New Blog" link. At this point, all you have to do, is give the Blog a title, preferable with some of your main keywords in it, type in the url from #2 above, and pick a template. (You can change your template later).

After that:

  1. Click the pencil
  2. Start writing
  3. Push publish to make your blog visible
  4. that's it!

There are a bunch of settings you can try to make your blog more findable, but populate your blog first, since the best way to get found is to have great content.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Notes from 2014 Nicaragua trip (Unfinished)

(Note: These are unfinished, but adding them for the record)

Diary Nica Trip 2014

Welcome to another diary from my mission trips down to Nicaragua.

Friday 7/4 to Saturday 7/5

We left on the 4th of July, which is kind of hard. Its a day to be with family and friends and watch fireworks. But when I planned the trip, i was not sure of my work schedule and this is they way it worked out. We  left at 950p from SFO and got to Miama at 530am. I hate red-eyes, and i essentially forced myself to "go dormant", not sleep really, but also a form of rest.

We wandered around MIA until our plane was ready. There was a thunderstorm and our flight was delayed about 30 minutes. While waiting, I read the latest in a series of books I am a fan of: The Dresden Files. Its essentially a book about a good man who ends up forced into bad things and how he deals with it.

Sunday 7/6:

We climbed Cerro Negro, and I took the back way, which is like a normal hike in Quicksilver(LINK), with more uneven terrain. It was similar other years. See the comments HERE.

Monday 7/7:

Today we got to go back to the community we worked in last year, La Churcada.(APPROX gps location). This is a wonderful community with a big generous heart and a  great leader. We heard from Sebastian before we started digging, and he expressed his gratitude and said we were family. My group got paired with a woman in the community, Matilda, and we start by working at her house by building the septic tank for her modern bathroom. (PIC of hole). We also made the rebar mesh for the foundation.  There were a goodly amount of children there, probably 7-10, and they are all related. They were beautiful children, and we spent a decent amount of time playing with them as well.

The important thing to know is that we're replacing old bad water wells with a plumbing system which provides 100 gallons of water per person per day.

STORY about the PIG.

Tuesday 7/8:

Today we went back to La Chuscada to finish building the septic tank. We were able to build the foundation for the shower/toilet building. We also built the cover for the tank, which reminds me of my daughter Emma. The first year we were in Nicaragua, Emma had a great time mixing cement and building tank covers in El Chonco. We were able to mix the cement and make a cover, complete with rebar reinforcement. We were also able to finish the first stage of reinforcement of the septic tank, which needs to be up to 25 feet feet as it is supposed to last 30 years.

We also held some fun games for the kids. Here is a video of the shovel races.

(VIDEO  of Shovel race)

It was also very hot today, at least 100 in the shade. I ended drinking around 5 litres of water today, and ended the day with nothing more than a slight headache. Matilda, the woman at whose house we were working, made several things for us today, including more Limonada with fresh picked limes right off her tree. She also made fried pippin, which is a type of cucumber with home made cheese, which, like all the things were delicious.

STORY about Calvin and the Pieta'.

Wednesday 7/9:

Today I got a chance to deliver animals. The Pay It Forward Program gives cows, pigs or chickens to families in Nicaragua. They then have to give back an equal number of the animals in around a year or 18 months.  Some families have turned 10 chickens into 30, and 1 cow into three via breeding programs. It helps them provide income and a protein source for their families. We left Chinandega at 9am, and then headed up to Minas de Agua,  which is a gold mining community nerar Rincon de Garcia, where we worked 2 years ago. We got a chance to see the finished well an cistern up on a local hill. It was great to see knowing that we worked to start the relationship with the community. We picked up 2 cows there, and then drove 1.5 hours to the next stop.

(PIC of Minas de A.)
We then went to  Callemito to drop off the first cow. It was given to Carlos Sanchez and his family, pictured below.  The milk from the cow will provide important protein for health and milk fats for brain development of the children. We then drove 1.5 hours to our next stop.

PIC of Callemito

We then drove deeper inland to Marieta, which was a community deep in the hills. The couple, Elvi and Amada, had a beautiful little girl.

PIC of Carolin

You could tell by the streaks in her hair that she was likely defficient in B6 and B12, and was likely anemic.  The family already had some chickens, and the nurse with us said that she could see improvement since the family had eggs to eat and sell, but the milk and cheese would likely help her with her remaining deficiencies.

PIC of Elvi and Amada.

We then drove the 2 hours back to the compound in the 104 degree heat.

Thursday 7/10

Today was a rough day. I wasn't feeling good, but I had to get out to the community so  I could see the family. I had thought long and hard about a question from the mother of the house, Matilda.

The bathroom being finished and well designed. (PIC)

Hunting for Mangoes (PIC)

Mass in the Field for the new school (PIC).


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Getting Started with C and Eclipse (for Emma)


(6/15)Emma, (and any other UCSD rising sophmores), Here's what I recommend in order to get started on C under Eclipse:


  1. Download the latest Eclipse(Kepler SR2). I got it from here. 
  2. Install the C Dev Tools package thusly:
    1. Copy this: http://download.eclipse.org/tools/cdt/releases/kepler
    2. Go to Help>Install New Software
    3. Click Add
    4. In "Name" type "CDT" or something.
    5. Paste the url above into the Location field. Click OK.
    6. In the "Work With" field, type CD. it will auto complete to the CDT.
    7. Click both CDT Main Features and CDT Optional Features.
    8. Click Finish, and click yes on the license radio buttons.
    9. You will have to restart Eclipse
    10. Download a C compiler. I assume its on a mac, so I have no idea how to do that. (Still a hardened windows/linux guy. But this post seems to know what to do.
    11. Once you do that go into eclipse
    12. Go to File>New>Project...
    13. Choose c/c++ project
      1. Ignore any warnings about g++ if you get them.
    14. Create a file called main.c
    15. Paste this into it:

/* Hello World program */

#include

main()
{
    printf("Hello World");
}

Then do "Project>Build All" and then a Debug.

Then its all pretty standard.

FYI:
This is a decent handout from Stanford with some ideas on install and debugging.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Story of La Chuscada




This is the community I worked for in the Summer of 2013.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nicaragua Notes 2013

Nicaragua Trip 2013


I am back from my annual trip to Nicaragua, and while these notes are late, most of it was written while I was there.

Saturday(7/13)


We started with a 1215 red eye flight from San Francisco to Houston. We then had what seemed like an interminable layover. It took 5 hours and I was in a fog the whole time due to lack of sleep and liberal application of benadryl. We flew into Managua, and then took a bus to Leon. We then spent an hour in the Sandinista history museum, and got a fascinating read on the revolution and counter-revolution from a Nicaraguan perspective. The guide was a guerrilla from the 80s, and was very polite, but was very upfront on the US role in the revolution in the 80s,and the role of the US in the assassination of Augusto Sandino.  Most of his discussion with us was on the roof of the building which had a great view of the city of Leon. We then drove to Chinandega and had dinner.
The view from the Sandinista History Museum


Sunday


Today we got up at 7 had breakfast and went to mass at the church adjacent to the property. The mass was in Spanish but luckily the priest spoke slowly. After a brief orientation we got on the buses and drove to Cerro Negro. I have written about this  before, and I am confronted by a question. What happens when the transcendent becomes ordinary? Yes it was a hike in an amazing location, but the novelty has warn off. Then we took a 90 minute ride back to the compound for dinner.

The view into the major crater of Cerro Negro Volcano

Monday


This morning we had a brief orientation, and then went out to the communities. This year's project was in La Chuscada.  It is a community about a 20 minute drive outside of Chinandega along the highway. It is a 20 min walk into the jungle from the highway. Most of our work was along what appeared to be a viaduct from an old watershed project. For whatever the reason, I worked harder than I ever have, manually. It was gratifying, but also tiring. No trouble with allergies. Mostly work with a shovel and a pickaxe, which is called a piocha in Nicaraguan Spanish. I worked with a 17 year old boy named Alfredo,who was one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. There was also a 13 year old girl named Patricia who worked hard as well. I also bought cheese bread,  called a palmita, from Lola, who is from Santa Catalina, one of the first communities that this NGO built. It was a great day.
The crew working on the trench monday

Digging in the trenches with Beth, the Gales and Alfredo



Tuesday


We went back to La Chuscada today do do some more digging. We laid 740 feet of pipe, versus 500 feet yesterday. Today I dug alongside a 13 year old girl named Isabel who worked extremely hard...because she was building a project for HER community. We started early, 9am, and dug until noon. Then after lunch we took a community tour to see their new water tank. There were other people who made a big impact on me today. The first was another 13 year old girl named Milago, whose name means miracle. She was working with her cousin, and was not very tall. The contrast with my daughter Anna was stark, yet the all held the same traits, namely they are strong independent young women. The final person who made an impression was one of the women on staff. ( I'll protect her identity in case she reads this)    During evening devotional, she shared a story of how she made a decision that ultimately caused all of us to be late by 45 minutes...which in Nicaragua is being on time)  She said she felt terrible, and shared how she had struggled with depression. But that for the first time she had been able to realize how her negative thoughts were wrong and that she didn't have to be held captive by them. I stopped by to talk to her afterwards, an told her how strong and brave I thought she was. I also told her that what happened was important because she could now heal. What she was able to do was to recognize a negative thought, and self-correct. And that is one of the first steps in healing from depression.

Also, a bunch of the youth did the Harlem Shake in the trench they we're building. 


Wednesday

Wednesday's are my favorite days in Nicaragua. We get to visit the orphanage, and I get to visit Chilo. I have written about her in the past. I could not see her last year, since she had to have surgery, but this year, she was there, sitting in her chair. She is severely disabled, and has little motor control, but she enjoy playing "futball" where I hold the ball for her left leg to kick. She is so grateful and laughs in in the most miraculous way. Afterwards, we toured the town.


Thursday

Today we were back in the village of La Chuscada digging again, and I was working alongside Milagro again, who work has hard as any of us. I also had a chance to talk to the head of the village,  Sebastian, who kept using the word "historico" or historic, for what this work, the promise of clean water,  would mean to the community for the future of La Chuscada.

Friday

Today we had a "fun day" with the community. It was also the "triumph of the revolution"  day.  We went out to the community and had Mass. It was the first time many of the people in the village had seen in years. It was in both English and Spanish and was very moving. We prayed over Sebastian's wife who had cancer. We then had lunch, peanut butter and jelly as always, in the community. We then had a baseball game with the folks of la Chuscada. We lost badly. They have some great players down there, soccer too. And most of then play barefoot. We then had the talent show, and my team did a bad interpretive dance version of Genesis 1. We won the fan favorite version.
  And I got to say good by to the woman on staff, but not before telling her how brave and strong she was.


Alfredo, his pal, and the baseball game

Saturday


Saturday was a travel day, and we got home after 1am on Sunday.

Postscript


After a lot of reflection, it occurred to me that this is the most impactful thing I do in my life. Without the experience in Nicaragua, I would not have made it through the first half of this year. Doing this kind of work changes and deeply impact you in many ways.




Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter: The Value of Faith (for me).


Many of you know that I have had some bad luck lately. Some of it self-inflicted, some not. What this has caused me to do is strip out all the superfluous things in my life and focus on the important things.

One thing that has been a great comfort to me, in addition to my family, has been my Catholic faith.

Am I religious? I don't know. That's for others to determine. What I will say is that I could not have made it through these times without the lessons my Catholic faith taught me.

What are those things? There are really two things:
  1. Life is hard. And Life is unfair.
  2. Even though you are greatly flawed, you still have a path to salvation. There is always hope.
Consider the following people:
  1. Saint Peter, the first pope: He denies Jesus 3 times (!) and still gets to be the first pope.
  2. Saint Paul, the great evangelist: Actively persecutes Christians, until the Road to Damascus.
  3. Saint Augustine, the great teacher: "Grant me chastity  and continence...but not just yet"
  4. Zaccheus, the Tax Collector(Luke 19): Jesus chooses the despised to preach his message.
These men are all deeply flawed, and yet are welcomed by Jesus in one way or another. It is this message that, when facing the toughest times in my life, give me hope. It is the notion that, in all my imperfections, there is still hope for me.

During Good Friday, we say a litany that prayers for other Christians, our brothers the Jews, those of faith who do not believe in Jesus, and who have no faith. The latter gives me the most pause. Without my culture, my faith, I am not sure I could have made it through January and February of this year. And since bad things do happen, how do people with no faith make it through hard times? I really can't fathom this, unless they get help from other people. This is where James 2:26 comes in: Life is hard, and we have to help the people who need it. I must live a life of faith PLUS action.

This Easter, I am grateful for my family and friends, all of whom have helped me through a difficult time. I owe you more than you can know, and I'll be happily working off that debt the rest of my life. Thank you.



Thursday, November 1, 2012