Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

Archive for April 2011

“The Kings Speech” Reminds to Release Fear

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SPOILER ALERT: Plot of this movie is discussed.

I recently enjoyed the movie, “The Kings Speech” about a stammering prince who is about to become king. The prince’s stammering is worst when faced with his longtime fears of not being accpeted/admired by his father and brother.  In a turning point scene, with his father and brother now out of the picture, the prince realizes that he no longer needs to worry about their acceptance.  He is ready to become King.

The lesson I take away from this movie is a reminder that fear and worry choke you.  In fact, the word “worry” comes from an old German word “wurgen” which means “strangle.”  The prince worries about impressing his father.  These worries thwart his ability to impress.

So, I wonder: How do my fears hinder my ability to conquer those fears?

Someone once asked me what I am afraid of.  Surprisingly, for me the answer came quickly and easily: missed opportunities.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to do something great.  Or, to experience life to the fullest. Do I metaphorically “stammer” and hesitate when life’s biggest opportunities arise?

When I worry about being a good enough father, maybe I waste time reading books about parenting when I should be spending time playing with my kids.  Analysis paralysis?

What are you afraid of? Does that fear affect you in unusual ways to stop you from succeeding?  Robert Hastings said, “It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.  It is the regrets of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today.”

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Written by Jack Umano

April 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Philosophy

“Android OS” Battery Usage can be Caused by Background Data

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Android OS battery usageI’ve been performing more experiments to try to decode the mystery of what uses the battery on my Android phone.  I love that Android gives me the battery usage info and the graph of battery usage over time.  That gives me the tools I need to experiment.

The “Battery Usage” screen (Settings>About Phone>Battery Use) now says “Android OS” is the thing using the biggest percentage of the battery (See the picture).  Apparently the thing using the Android OS is apps using “Background Data”.  When I turned off “Background Data” (Settings>Accounts&Sync), I saw a vast improvement.

When Background Data was on, I left the phone sitting idle and saw the battery draining at 4% per hour*.  So, over one day: just unplugging my phone at 6am and not using it until 6pm, half the battery power was gone.  So, if I used the phone during the day at all, it wouldn’t last past dinner.

When I turned off Background Data, the battery drain went down to 1% per hour.

Apparently some apps are “calling home” very often to check if my opponent moved or if there are new messages.  I try to use apps that give me control over how often they check for stuff like that.  As I recently posted, the Yahoo! Mail app was calling home way too often and it’s use showed up as using the Dialer. Both of these point to a need for a better Push Notification system for Android.

More difficult will be figuring out which of my apps is the one using so much Background Data.  The only way I can imagine to do this would be to uninstall one app at a time and watch the battery drain for a couple hours each time.  This could take weeks.

* Don’t confuse my reported 4% per hour battery drain with the percentage shown in the picture.  I really do mean that the battery power went down 4% each hour.  This, of course, has nothing to do with the percentage shown in the battery usage screen (in the picture).  The “battery usage screen” shown above tells you that 56% of the battery power that’s gone was used by Android OS.  This has nothing to do with the battery usage drained per hour.

Written by Jack Umano

April 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Technology

T-Mobile Activation was Painful (But, I’m Loving the Nexus S)

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As you might have guessed after my rant about iOS slowness and my rant about iTunes bugginess, I have decided to ditch my iPhone and go with Android.  I just got a “Nexus S” and am loving it so far.  More about Android later.  First I had to activate my new phone.  The Nexus S is currently only usable on T-Mobile in the US (but it’s coming to Sprint soon).

Activation on T-Mobile was a nightmare.  Maybe this is part of the reason they have remained a small provider in the US.  Or, maybe the cause-effect is backward.  Maybe the activation process is left abysmal because the company knows that all their process will soon be swept up by AT&T.

Here was my process:

  • Call T-Mobile and ask for activation of a cell line.  I ask to not have a contract since the Nexus S is unsubsidized by T-Mobile.
  • The T-Mobile representative sets me up with a Flex Pay account.  I guess he assumed that since I didn’t want a contract, I would want to have a “paid in advance” account.  He never told me about any options here.
  • I ask if I could use the SIM card that came in the box with the phone.   “Sure!” he says (probably he didn’t want to say anything that might cause him to lose the sale).  He says I would get an email with my new phone number when our call was over and I should call in to set up that number with my SIM card.
  • Wait for that email – it never comes.
  • Call T-Mobile and explain it all.  This rep says keeping your current SIM is never the process and it cannot happen that way.
  • Wait for the new SIM card to come in the mail four days later.
  • Finally, the SIM card comes and I got the phone started.  I try to set up voicemail with Google Voice and it doesn’t work.  Researching points to the fact that it won’t work with a Flex Pay account.
  • Call again and explain it all to another rep.  They say, “Ok, start by tapping the icon that says, ‘voice’.”  They are reading from a manual on how to set it up.  They obviously paid no attention to the explanation that I had tried to set it up already.  I explain about the Flex Pay not working with voicemail on Google Voice and they put me on hold and eventually come back and say, “you’re right, it won’t work”.
  • The T-Mobile rep forwards me to new representative to change my account into “pay by bill” instead of the pre-paid Flex Pay account.  Explain my whole situation again to a new rep
  • It is not possible to change account types.  They forward me to another rep, explain it all again.  Now we’ll set up a new account and cancel the old one.
  • Starting back at square one, I set up an entirely new account.  I ask if they could credit me for the amount that I prepaid for the other account.  They say, “yes.”  But, now I have to wait for them to mail me another SIM card.
  • The new SIM card finally comes and we’re back in business again.  The data connection works for only a few hours and then stops.  I get a message on my phone that says I don’t have a data plan.  Calling in, the rep says, “Yeah, that just happens sometimes with new setups.”  -Huh?
  • The previous reps said I would need to call in to get the credit for the Flex-Pay account applied to my new account.  I call in and they can’t find any note on my new account (which the rep said he would put there).
  • The rep looks for the old Flex Pay account.  I don’t remember what the old phone number on the Flex Pay account was since I never used that number.  They do a search on my last name and still can not find the old account.  Eventually, he finds it and says the problem was the old account had my name in caps.  Huh? -their search didn’t match caps in a name?
  • There is a note on the old account.  But, this rep can’t apply the credit.  Sends me to the billing rep.
  • After explaining it all again to the billing rep, they can’t do it.  They send me to the Flex Pay Customer Service  rep.
  • Explain it all again and finally, this rep says he does it.
  • Two weeks later, I get a bill for the Flex Pay account.  Arrrrggg!!!!!  They have now billed me for the canceled account when I already pre-paid it and that amount should be sent to my new account.
  • I log in to my T-Mobile account to see if the amount has been added to my account and there is no billing information.  The billing info box is empty.  So, I have no idea what’s going on.
  • A month later, they appear for now to have it all straightened out.

I had at least 3  multiple hour phone calls.  I got passed around to probably a dozen reps.  All together, I spent probably 10 or 12 hours on the phone with T-Mobile.

Now I wonder what I’m going to do in a year when T-Mobile doesn’t exist.  Will AT&T start supporting this phone?  Will I have to switch to Sprint?

Looks like I’ll be starting over…again.

Written by Jack Umano

April 8, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Technology

Yahoo! Mail Android App Drains Battery Using Dialer

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On my new Android Nexus S, I’m figuring out which apps drain the battery fast. 

The “Battery Usage” screen showed that a lot of battery was being used up by the “Dialer”.  I removed the Yahoo! Mail app and that completely went away.  Apparently, the Yahoo! Mail app was “calling home” very often and burning through the battery fast.

So, now I’m just using Yahoo! Mail through the browser.

Upon further research, Android does not currently support “Push” notifications.  So, each app has to have it’s own “Call to update” function.  Keep working on it Google!

Written by Jack Umano

April 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Technology

To What should I Dedicate My Life?

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A central preoccupation of my life has been: To what should I dedicate my life? I see people on the news who have filled their house with their life’s collection – (Coke memorabilia?)  Ok, I want my life to mean more than that. What should I have as a bumper sticker? What t-shirt slogan should I wear in hopes that a random person would ask me about it.  To what should I dedicate my life?

  • My team? I really like one sports team.  But, it seems pointless to fill my life with merchandise when as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, you’re really only rooting for the clothes.
  • Macs or PC? I see people being evangelists for their favorite computer platform.  I do have a strong opinion here.  But, do I want to enter into this emotional fight? Nah. It’s just not that important.
  • My Country? I love my country.  It stands for freedom and justice.  But, I believe our leaders have sent us to war for the wrong reasons.  Sometimes I see the “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers. I believe this is a reaction to the Vietnam War poor reception that returning troops received when an anti-war public saw them come home.  Yes, the troops need our support.  But, for Iraq at least, I believe we should have never been there.  I wish we could let go of the “Us Vs. Them” mentality. As much as I love our country, I don’t hate anyone else’s country.  As Elvis Costello said, “Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone?
  • Religion? Many would ponder and arrive at religion as the best thing to which you should dedicate your life.  But, how can I do that if I believe that no-one really knows the right answer.  How can I proclaim a religion?  If someone pushed me on it, I would have to say, “Well, actually, I have doubts whether all this is true.”  A friend of mine suggested that the whole congregation didn’t really believe because, if they did, they would all quit their jobs and start evangelizing.  Sometimes, I’m singing the song by Poison, “Give me something to believe in.”
  • Fighting Discrimination? I will post on this someday as I think it’s important.  Unfortunately thought, I think discrimination is hard-wired into human beings.  The best we can do is minimize it’s impact.
  • Ending Homelessness? I have given money for this cause.  I’m not sure why it is, but homelessness is something that’s always touched my heart more than most causes.  I wonder how I could apply any talents I have to help someone.  I don’t own a restaurant. I’m not a carpenter. Maybe just giving money to shelters and homeless individuals is the best I can do for homeless people.
  • Family? Of course, I dedicate much of my life to supporting my family.  But, that’s not really a cause that I publicize for the betterment of the world.

Maybe I’ll just make small contributions here and there and, like Elenor Rigby, I’ll be buried along with my name. No moving epitaph on my gravestone.

Or, maybe my bumper sticker is the content of my blog.

Written by Jack Umano

April 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Philosophy