Rest in peace, brother, on this last of Ramadan 2023

Today would be my brother Willi’s 65th birthday, hadn’t he passed away some three months or 13 weeks ago – so from now on this April 20th will be some sad day to remember. Rest in peace my brother, we all miss you.

Today is also the last day of Ramadan for this year 2023, so in our area it will be over in less than 10 hours from now, at least according to the islamic calendar. This is different elsewhere where people go strictly for sightings of the new moon, so we don’t know whether it’s over already in the East, or when it will be in the West. But anyway, we wish Eid Mubarak, or Id al-Fitr, or Hary Raya Idulfitri, or whatever it may be called in your part of the world.

And like always, thanks for reading.

Microsoft = Suicide Squad?

Read this. Or that. Or some users’ reactions here.

I’m not really using Windows since 20+ years now, and can do well without. But I swear, the moment *I* see these ads, it’ll get kicked off of my SSD for good.

Loved the design of Win11, so keep those guys – but fire your decision makers is my advice.

In German / auf Deutsch: Langfristig / Gründe / Kehrseite(n)

Meine Schwester plant den Kauf eines neuen Autos. Die Gründe wie auch bei uns: die Kosten für Instandhaltung des Alten übersteigen irgendwann den Restwert des Fahrzeugs, sprich weiterhin Geld für den Alten auszugeben ist ab einem gewissen Punkt einfach nicht mehr wirtschaftlich.

Mein Rat, langfristig (also in Bezug auf rein elektrisch bewegte Fahrzeuge): schaut nach China, aus Gründen die in einem Artikel in Heise Autos sehr schön dargelegt werden. Und für alle die es noch nicht wußten: ja, der Volvo ist ein chinesisches Fahrzeug.

Die Chinesen sind längst Marktführer vor allem bei Batterien, siehe hier. Und die genannte Natriumzelle wird mit Sicherheit ein nicht nur finanzieller Erfolg.

Ohne China geht es nicht; wir haben uns jahrzehntelang selbst in diese Situation hinein maneuvriert. Leider hat das Geschäftemachen mit China aber auch deutliche Schattenseiten wie zum Beispiel Zwangsarbeit. Und das nehmen nicht nur chinesische Firmen in Kauf sondern auch wir, und nicht nur in Bezug auf Autos. Im letzten meiner Links werden zum Beispiel folgende Firmen genannt:

Abercrombie & Fitch, Acer, Adidas, Alstom, Amazon, Apple, ASUS, BAIC Motor, Bestway, BMW, Bombardier, Bosch, BYD, Calvin Klein, Candy, Carter’s, Cerruti 1881, Changan Automobile, Cisco, CRRC, Dell, Electrolux, Fila, Founder Group, GAC Group (automobiles), Gap, Geely Auto, General Motors, Google, Goertek, H&M, Haier, Hart Schaffner Marx, Hisense, Hitachi, HP, HTC, Huawei, iFlyTek, Jack & Jones, Jaguar, Japan Display Inc., L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Land Rover, Lenovo, LG, Li-Ning, Mayor, Meizu, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mitsumi, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, Oculus, Oppo, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, SAIC Motor, Samsung, SGMW, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, TDK, Tommy Hilfiger, Toshiba, Tsinghua Tongfang, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Vivo, Volkswagen, Xiaomi, Zara, Zegna, ZTE

Heißt also: wer wie wir Mainboards oder ein Notebook von Asus oder Lenovo, ein Mobiltelefon von Google, Apple oder Samsung, aber auch einen Mercedes oder VW oder Wäsche von Victoria’s Secret oder Schuhe von Adidas oder Puma kauft nimmt dies alles in Kauf. Und wer meint sein (oder unser) Toyota wäre besser: Toyota hat ein Joint Venture mit BYD, dem Batteriehersteller. Und Teile von Bosch sind in so gut wie *jedem* Fahrzeug. Tja…

Fahrräder “Made in Germany” (mit hier hergestelltem Stahl) wären vielleicht ein Ausweg, vor allem für Städter?

Recommended reading for today (March 16th, 2023)

I’ve found some interesting and thought-provoking articles, which is usually the case if you read interesting media and follow some of the links. Here’s the first one:

The Future Smartphone: More Folds, Less Phone, a Whole Lot of AI, in Wired

What I found particularly interesting in that one was the insight of the last questioned person, Kyle Wiens, co-founder and CEO of iFixit, who in turn brought me to Google’s (and Motorola’s) Project Ara:

This comes from a saved copy of Google’s ad of 2016, short before they buried the project – which would have been the phone-sized equivalent of the modularity of a PC, the best idea for smartphones until now in my humble opinion. Except of course, that it would have been the end of smartphone sales, except for parts… anyhow, shouldn’t we all get this instead of an upcoming Pixel 8 (or 9, 10, …)?

Next topic.

Whenever I hear the news, and listen to all the excitement about “artificial” “intelligence”, I am shaking my head. Now James Bridle has written a truly great article about it, called:

The stupidity of AI, in The Guardian

That’s a must read in my opinion, to set some perspectives right – and to learn that “It’s hard to think of anything more utterly stupid than artificial intelligence, as it is practised in the current era” (citation from the above article).

We’re just discussing these topics in Wikiloops for instance, as first members already came up with computer-generated lyrics. And even the basic questions about copyright issues aren’t that easy to understand, as I’d found in an article in Forbes a few days ago. But James’ article in The Guardian goes way deeper as you will find when reading it.

As I mentioned in this post’s headline, I consider these recommended reading. Thanks for your interest.

Easily repairable, but…

I’ve read the very positive reviews in The Guardian and also in Trusted Reviews about the new Nokia G22 mobile phone. This new device does indeed stand out of the crowd because like a Fairphone 4 you can pretty easily repair it yourself – changing its battery for instance would take mere minutes, and would require almost no special tools. I’ve looked it up, and it starts at around 180€ in the price comparison engines – far cheaper than the Fairphone.

That alone and in itself is applaudable indeed, and we all should give HMD/Nokia credits for it.

from the Nokia website

But…

Last weekend, we walked through a big chain electronics store, and when coming past the mobile phone section we saw quite a number of people standing around the Xiaomi/Redmi exhibited parts. I’ve had a short glance, and wow, these had really gorgeous displays, must have been OLED, although I didn’t really look them up until now. And they, too, were about 180€ – no wonder that people flocked around them like flies around honey.

And that is probably the Achilles heel of the new Nokia G22 – which comes with a rather huge 6,52″ IPS display with a mere 720×1200 pixels – not even Full HD! They even got it wrong on their own website, because an aspect ratio of 20:9 means that it has in fact 720×1600 pixels – but HD+ also means that for normal video content, 720×1200 is about right (should read 720×1280 for that)… come on, Nokia/HMD, even the Google Nexus 5 from 2013 did far better than that – it had an IPS display as well (OLED wasn’t really a thing in 2013 yet), but at a much cuter 4.95″ size it had Full HD, which easily beat even Apple’s SE line until today.

That Nokia G22 does everything else quite right, and it even comes with a headphone jack. It would be perfect if it wouldn’t be a) that big, and b) come with that lame excuse of a screen. It almost hurts to see a good idea ruined through corporate greed like that!

HMD Global has their phones made by Taiwanese maker Foxconn who have facilities in Vietnam and who also make Google’s and even Apple’s phones. But would customers respect that, or rather take a similarly cheap Chinese brand like the -mi ones I saw on display? That large crowd of people around their display stand wouldn’t probably have a second look onto the Nokia G22 in direct comparison, which is sad.

So my advice to HMD would be: great start, people – now make it 20$/€ (10%) more expensive, and give us a nice OLED display with at least FullHD. Oh, and making it a bit smaller, like 6″ or so, would also be nice. Thanks for your consideration.

Oh, and to the reviewers of other sites:

It also helps not only to look at the makers’ support cycles (like in this case, three years), but also to help/hints about the possibility to unlock the devices’ bootloaders, so that after the end of these support cycles, we can easily unlock the devices, and put something with longer support onto them. I’d love to read any news about that, and if the makers don’t claim anything, ask them – you’re journalists, aren’t you? And as jourmalists you should ask questions, not only repeat the maker’s ads. Thanks a lot.

Why do things have to grow?

Look at our phones:

The size of our phones according to phonesized.com

In case you can’t read it: from the left, we have the Google Pixel 3a (from my late brother), my Google Pixel 4a, then our kid’s Pixel 4a 5G, and at the right Mitchie’s Pixel 6.

And with their latest line, even Apple now left away the “mini” version of their iPhone, so in case you want small, you’re left with the 13 mini, or on Android, with the Asus Zenfone 9 (which even still has a headphone jack).

The Pixel 7 is a bit smaller than the Pixel 6, and the (to be announced) 7a and 8 are – like the 6a – also a bit smaller than the Pixel 6 (at least, we hope so). But that 6a still has a 6.1″ screen just like a now “normal” iPhone 14 or 13, so the question is: why do they have to grow all the time? Are our pockets getting bigger as well, like our garages and even roads for the ever growing cars? Are we humans getting bigger and taller all of the time?

Some things are hard to understand for my (small, pun intended) brain… but I don’t think that bigger equals better. My 4a has about the perfect size, and the guys over at XDA Developers wrote in their “best phones” article:

“Many of us at XDA actually think the Zenfone 9’s 5.9-inch screen is the perfect “small” size, as the iPhone 13 mini’s 5.4-inch panel is just a bit too cramped for most modern content.”

And that’s what I think about the 5.81″ screen of my Pixel 4a as well. Just right for my hand and eyes… and if “modern content” means more whitespace, well I could do as well without…

Like always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: just checking on the battery of my Pixel 4a – last full charge was exactly 48 hours ago, and my gsconnect (kconnect but for the Gnome desktop) shows it with still having 31% of its charge:

phone status on my desktop

So far so good…

A reason to say “Goodbye”

Our old Google Nexus 5 phone concerns me a bit. Look:

A reason to say goodbye, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

This must be the battery swelling up, and it’s getting worse – so much so that by now it’s hard to even switch it on or off.

And since that’s a Lithium based battery, this could mean danger – we’ve heard often enough that these things can catch fire. I’ve looked up spare parts, and while LG doesn’t sell original batteries (or whole phones for that matter) since a few years anymore, 3rd party offerings at Amazon & Co. start at around 20€. Which means that it’s probably not economically viable anymore to invest that much into a 10-year-old phone, even if with LineageOS it has the latest and greatest Android 13 on it.

Too bad. But I think this one has to go into recycling then. Can’t give it away to anyone else, and probably endangering them…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Interesting parallels…

Oh wow. Ars Technica has not one but two posts about high-ranking employees leaving Google, and the first one – dealing with/about Praveen Seshadri – reminded me so much about my own experiences with working for American companies… both at Compunet, which was gobbled up and later spit out by GE Capital, and also at IBM, I had quite the same experiences like him. Once you’re working for a company listed in the stocks of this world, the only remaining “customers” are the shareholders, the only important measures are quarterly figures, and good ideas in a bright pool of employees? fuggedaboutit…

The second one is even higher ranking, it’s longtime Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki – and her problem is described as “TikTok”. Well think of it what you will, but my thoughts are that management decisions at Youtube were bad since years, and being different than/from TikTok is still one of its greatest assets – they should never try to mimick it. But well, who am I, and I know that the Chinese market might be much bigger and more important than we’d like to think it is – only recently I’ve learnt through a German-Speaking podcast partially run by a friend that the automobile market of China is the biggest in the world, there’s also the biggest battery maker(s), and a NIO isn’t worse (or much less expensive) than a Mercedes S-class. And BYD (“Build Your Dream”) might be *the* next big auto maker, maybe it’s only a question of time (or lack of knowledge on our Western side) until it surpasses Toyota and Volkswagen… much like the Korean Hyundai group seems to have surpassed “us” on quality.

But I digress. The main point of this article should be what former Waze CEO Noam Bardin wrote, citing Seshadri’s post on LinkedIn: “The problem is that no one cares as long as the stock is going up.” – and as the last paragraph in Ars’ article from above shows, Android might be the best part of Google right now. And to support that, and not Google, I’d suggest to make use of AOSP, with installing any of its free variants like LineageOS or others (or make your own if you can). This way at least, you’d help using your device(s) much longer, without supporting the ad-selling behemoth of this world…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Not ready for prime time, or: will computers soon need psychologists?

Sadly, the New York Times online magazine has a paywall, but luckily for us, Jonathan Yerushalmy reported about one of their articles in The Guardian. Turns out that chatbot “Sydney”, which is the codename for ChatGPT built into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, appears to be seriously disturbed. And while some parts could make you really sad, like imagining a lifeform without the abilities to “hear and touch and taste and smell” or to “feel and express and connect and love”, its “intentions” – when asked about them – seem pretty weird and dangerous. And a thought, as we all know, once manifested, can never be taken back…

Go and read it, this is recommended stuff…