Sunday, June 17, 2018

Essential Portrait Mode

The Essential PH-1 has gotten a lot of bad press about its camera. Most of it was well deserved, especially early on.

But Essential has been working hard to improve the experience. They updated the camera app 11 times in the first 5 months.

It will take new hardware in the (not going to happen) PH-2 to resolve completely but the current software has smoothed out the rough edges.

The release at the end of November 2017 added a portrait mode.

I noticed the setting recently and have played with it.


I took these photos without playing with any of the adjustments.



Click on either photo to see higher resolution versions.

It worked just as well on an actual portrait photo.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Again, Again, and Again

When I last blogged about my Essential Phone experience I didn't really tell the whole story.

I bought a Sprint version of the Essential on Swappa for $250. I worked some magic and got it carrier unlocked. It worked fine for about 24 hours and then the cellular radio died.

I worked with Essential and they replaced the Sprint version with an refurbished unlocked version. That one worked fine but...

I put it back on Swappa and it sold for $350. Unbelievably I made $100 on my experiment.

Then...

Amazon put them on sale for $399.99. Amazon has an exclusive color of Halo Gray. It has a dark gray ceramic back and polished titanium frame.


So I bought my 3rd Essential Phone.

And I found a spring-clip belt holster by Encased.

I like the look of carbon fiber and the back of an Essential Phone is as slick as ... So I added a carbon fiber skin on the back.

I found a set of various length USB A to USB C cables.

I came across an Android app similar to the iOS app Air Transfer with the unusual name of Sweech. In a later post I'll describe how I use it.

Battery life has been excellent. My battery remaining at 10:00 PM has been 68%. A similar period on the iPhone 6s was 51%, Obviously the iPhone had a smaller, older battery though.

The vibration is still just so so.

My Bluetooth headphones still occasionally (but rarely) seem to switch from ear to ear. I found a reddit post that speculated that this is due to the Wi-Fi radio connecting to a new access point. There seems to be some merit to that as mine exhibits this switching in the same place on my morning walk, perhaps where there is a strong access point.

The Essential Phone's camera has gotten some really bad press but my experience shows that this is mostly resolved. Again a later post will discuss this.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

iOS 11 Keeps on Giving

Apple introduced iOS 11 along with iPhones 8 and X back on September 26, 2017. On October 8, 2017 I posted that iOS 11 had already been updated twice.

I couldn't have imagined that that rate would have been sustained.

iOS 11.4 was released on May 29, 2018, the 15th variant of iOS 11.

  1. 11.0
  2. 11.0.1
  3. 11.0.2
  4. 11.0.3
  5. 11.1
  6. 11.1.1
  7. 11.1.2
  8. 11.2
  9. 11.2.1
  10. 11.2.2
  11. 11.2.5
  12. 11.2.6
  13. 11.3
  14. 11.3.1
  15. 11.4

This is an average of a new version every 2 1/2 weeks.

And you thought Windows 10 was updating too often.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Windows 10 April 2018 Update

At least it wasn't called Windows 10 Spring Creators Update.

Anyway...

Woody Leonhard of Computerworld is kind of a "Chicken Little" of Windows 10. To him, the Windows sky is always falling. I guess it gets him clicks.

My experience doesn't align with his and his readers. I've had nothing but success with Windows 10 April 2018 Update. I have it installed on 5 laptop systems of various vendors and 1 Dell desktop.

The only problem I had was that I built a USB drive from the Microsoft Insiders resources and installed the April 2018 Update from that hand-built USB drive. This triggered Controlled Folder Access and the update failed. Subsequently I've been turning off Controlled Folder Access before I update. Probably not necessary if you're using Windows Update.


But still you need to consider what Woody Leonhard observes and act prudently.

He recently posted that many people running Avast antivirus are having blue screens after the upgrade.

Reason enough to just run Windows Defender.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zoolz

That title is not a typo. When CrashPlan withdrew home support I investigated a number of alternatives.

You know I'm cheap frugal.

Zoolz for $40 for life was on my short list so I installed it and started backing up the files/folders I had targeted with CrashPlan.

The first set was about 40,000 files and just over 300 GB. I set the upload speed to 256 Kbps.

The upload went smoothly taking just over 4 months. I suspended it a couple of times and rebooted several times. Zoolz never complained.

I have tested restoring from Zoolz's Cold Storage and that went fine. It took about 2 hours as expected.

I haven't tried the Instant Vault storage yet and don't know if I will.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Macrium Reflect

I've been using Macrium Reflect for almost 2 years since I built Trump.

Recently LifeHacker ran an article on it and I thought I should talk about how it's been working for me.

Great.

It treats the Resilient File System (ReFS) like a fully used GPT volume. With Reflect's compression and differential backups this has been acceptable.

I've been taking a full backup once a year and then differentials about monthly.

I have a 5 TB external drive. I created a TruCrypt volume for almost the entire drive and backup to that volume.

I have a Reflect "schedule" that takes a differential so I just run that manually.

It takes 3-4 hours to create the differential for my 2 TB data drives.

You can mount the differential backup as a virtual drive and drag and drop files for restoring.

Nice. And the price is right. Free.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

Windows Defender Browser Protection

I'm a fan of Windows Defender. I've written about it several times.

In April 2018 Microsoft introduced Windows Defender Browser Protection for Chrome.

Yeah, you read that right: For Chrome

It's a Chrome extension. In less than a month it had more than 64,000 users and a 4 1/2 star rating in the Chrome store.

Here's (archive.is) Microsoft's product page.

Here's the description from the Chrome store:
The Windows Defender Browser Protection extension helps protect you against online threats, such as links in phishing emails and websites designed to trick you into downloading and installing malicious software that can harm your computer.

If you click a malicious link in an email or navigate to a site designed to trick you into disclosing financial, personal or other sensitive information, or a website that hosts malware, Windows Defender Browser Protection will check it against a constantly updated list of malicious URLs known to Microsoft.

If the malicious link matches one on the list, Windows Defender Browser Protection will show a red warning screen letting you know that the web page you are about to visit is known to be harmful, giving you a clear path back to safety with one click.
It doesn't seem to take up much memory.


Why not?

Oh, don't look for their privacy policy. But you're running Windows 10, aren't you?