Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Break - Day 6 Thursday

Rainy day,  kids budget busted.  Indoor play most of the day while Nikki and I went up and bought a 2004 Nissan Frontier pickup. Old,  reliable and one owner.  Matches the van. 

Nikki and Robyn went to an Archery event with their Venture Crew, and Hunter, Mason and I took the new truck to Merrybelle's to get her trash taken out.  Then up to the pool for an hour of swimming, followed by Quick Trip donuts. 

Home,  worn out and down to bed.

A good day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Break, Day 4

Wednesday. A blur of a day.  I remember we sold Nikki's 2011 CBR for the asking price to a nice young girl from St.  Joseph, MO.  Beyond that - it's right fuzzy. I think I got the  turntable set up in the garage.  Played Pink Floyd, A Momentary Lapse of Reason as the first record on the new setup.

Hunter had friends over and rode bikes around the neighborhood. Alec had Chris over from across the street.  Mason had Lizzy over,  also from across the street.

Full,  fantastic family busy day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Break, Day 3

Today - mainly focused on maintaining hardware.  Took mom's Honda mower to the shop for the hard starting problem. Changed the oil and plug on the Toro and sharpened the blade.  Cleaning the garage - 2 boxes of stuff to moms for long term storage. Got a small bit of progress toward setting up the turntable in the garage for analog playback over the Klipsch La Scala's.

Nikki is nearly done with stripping and repainting her Trek bike! Looking great...

Loaded up the family for  ice cream -  supposed to be free cone day at Dairy Queen but the lines were too long.  Russell Stover serves Blue Bell ice cream and with the current Listeria scandal,  they aren't serving ice cream.  So  off to A&W  for root beer floats!

Kids rode bikes all day up to the school and back and up again.  They sure like bike riding...  Finally finding some freedom and empowerment.

Dominick came over tonight to visit Hunter - without parent! Rode his bike all the way up here -  nearly a mile from his house.  They watched some movie and Nikki took them back home.

Several calls on the CBR's -  mostly broke folks trying to jaw me down  but two real people who'll be over tomorrow to check out the bikes...

Speaking of bikes,  Mason,  the youngest,  made a great YouTube video about why to wear a helmet when riding a bike!  Helps him complete his Cub Scout Bicycle Pin!

Found out the times for Rich's wake and service.  Alec will get to drive up to Chicago with his great Aunt and Uncle - I'll run up on near saddlesore pace to crash the wake on  the FJR.  Good way to memorialize Rich - a solid 1k ride. 

Today was a good day.

-will england

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Break, Day Two

Day two.  First time in a long time I have slept past 6am. Up at the crack of 9. Coffee first then sort out the mess of bills that stacked up the past two weeks. A bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul,  and we're off to the church to help the Clinton Cub Scout Pack unload and return the Pinewood Derby track.

Back from that,  fielded some calls about a family emergency - more on that another day - and then off to take inventory on the Cub Scout Daycamp storage unit.  We have more than we'd hoped - good news there,  finally!

Back home and work to catch up on laundry.  Somewhere in there I forgot to eat.  But the kids have clean clothes and clean dishes to eat from.

30 minutes and I  pick up oldest son from his mom's,  then raise a glass to a good man taken too early.

Perhaps tomorrow I shall make time for the family, instead of focusing on the world around them that they just expect to happy magically.

- will

Spring Break, Day 1

Saturday was the first day of Spring Break.  Because of changed vacation carryover policy, I had enough time banked to take the week off.  So,  for the first day of Spring break, I got up at 5 am, drove down to Clinton, MO and helped the Cub Scout Pack there set up and run their Pinewood Derby.  First time they've ever had one!

Very neat experience - great volunteer parents and the scouts were all very well behaved.  Everyone had a great time,  you humble author included.

After? Costco run,  then nap.  Finished the evening out reading in bed with my wife beside me watching a movie on her laptop.

A good day.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Learning the Edge (The Galaxy Note Edge, that is)

The wraparound edge screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a unique and curious design element on this phone.  I've just gotten my Note Edge and am working on learning what you use it for!  From, you can get to:

  •     App settings and Shortcuts
  •     Favorite Apps
  •     Settings, including music controls, contacts, etc
  •     Glowing edge wallpaper while the main screen is off
  •     News ticker with scores, stocks etc
  •     A night clock

This YouTube video illustrates a lot of the cool things you can do with the Edge screen - I'll be re-watching this as I learn more and play with the phone over the next few weeks:

Charging Up the Samsung Note Edge

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge was one of the first phones with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset offering a ton of improvements and massive speed.  One of the nicer features for the rest of us is Quick Charge 2.0.  Quick Charge 2.0 offers communication between the phone, battery and charger brick to increase the voltage that the charger brick delivers to the phone.  Higher voltage means a faster charging rate.  Take a look at this graphic from Qualcomm illustrating a 30 minute charge:

With Quick Charge 2.0 you can get nearly a full charge in less than an hour - even 15 minutes of charging will get you several hours of usable battery out of the Note 4!

- Will England

Nexus 6 as a Phone

The Nexus 6 is known for it's fantastic software, top of the line hardware, brilliant screen and camera.  The Google integration is top of the line.  As a data device and tablet it's nearly perfect.  But how does it work as a phone?

Pretty well really.  Calls complete quickly and the voice clarity is excellent.  Handset sound is clear and loud.  The dialer is unique and offers a great view into your contacts, letting you see frequently accessed contacts and a quick and functional search. No more scrolling through hundreds of contacts!  Each contact has their profile image from connected social networks and you can text, email or call them from the dialer screen.  The search at the top of the dialer screen searches both your contacts and local places - a very nice touch for calling nearby businesses.

I have found a few quirks in the phone though - switching from headset or handset audio to speaker has a noticeable delay in raising the audio level.  The proximity sensor is just wonky - sometimes after I take the phone away from my head, the screen remains black; sometimes when I'm holding the phone against my face the screen lights back up.  Normally not an issue, because with a phone this big I'll use my bluetooth handset more than holding it against my face.  Another delay is in the ring tone for incoming calls - it starts to play the ringtone, pauses a second, then restarts the ringtone.  Another minor software bug, but it should be fixed in a future update.

An interesting new feature is 'Caller ID by Google'.  This is a feature on the Nexus that uses reverse lookup over the web when a call comes in to identify who is calling based on web records of the phone number.

The messaging app works well, opening quickly and showing nicely threaded contacts.  Occasionally, you will get a bug pop up where an SMS will be re-sent several times.  Sprint and Motorola are working on a fix for that and it should be delivered in a future software update. In the messaging app, you can touch the contact icon and get a quick overview of their contact information.

Call network quality is one of the best I've found - even in known low-signal areas I have yet to drop a call.  Super solid radio performance for phone calls.

In a nutshell?  Even with a couple bugs, it's a great phone experience!

- Will England

Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PAs do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Nexus 6: Camera Authority

I'm a big shutterbug - I've been learning about and playing with photography since grade school, even having built my own camera obscura.  I always like to test out the cameras on the phones I use.  I take a lot of sports and action photos from the kids, lots of nature photos while I'm out hiking and riding, and the obligatory cat photos when I'm home.  Most cell phone cameras have been fair at best - poor detail, washed out colors or slow.  The Nexus is none of those.  While the camera functions are relatively basic, offering only HDR+, Photosphere and Panoramic modes, the camera itself is fantastic.

As you can see in this snapshot of my Random cat, the clarity and detail is uncanny.  Each whisker and hair is captured clearly.  At a 100% crop there's no color fringing or purple edging at the high contrast areas between the dark background and the bright sunlit cat.  The many different layers of grey and hints of yellow and brown all come through with excellent clarity.

Depth of field is interesting too - this shot was at F2.0, and you actually get some background blurring and depth of field from a small sensor cell phone camera.

Running a 1/3.06" Sony CMOS sensor at 13 megapixels, the Nexus can open up to F2.0 for excellent low-light performance.  The flash uses dual LED's on the back encased in a ring for more even lighting and better flash performance.  It even offers optical image stabilization for less shake and blur when you're shooting those low-light photos!

Disclaimer: I work for Sprint and volunteer as a Product Ambassador.  The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee.