24 July 2013

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

James 1:27 NIV

23 July 2013

Reasons Behind the Decline of the PC

There is a lot being side nowadays about the decline of the PC as sales of tablets and smartphones boom. I still find the PC to be useful mainly because then functionality of most programs and websites on a bigger screen is enhanced significantly. Furthermore, typing on a physical keyboard is faster than a touchscreen keyboard because the touchscreen is smaller, meaning you need to use your use your thumbs to type, and on a large tablet the fact that there is no tactile feedback hampers the efficiency of touch typing. I can type quickly on a tablet, but not as fast as on a physical keyboard.

Another reason why I like to use a PC is because it is more ergonomic (see Are tablet ergonomics a pain in the neck?). Using a tablet for long periods of time causes your neck to move down and forward because you typically hold the tablet (or smartphone) down and lean down to look at it. A PC monitor, on the other hand, sits vertically in front of you, meaning it is safe.

So why do statistics show the PC is in decline? One reason, I think, is because many people already have PCs. PCs are necessary for email, banking, job hunting, and so forth. Because everyone already has a PC, not many people feel a need to buy another. They will keep it until it breaks. Not many people have smartphones or tablets, but that is changing. Many people are switching from features to smartphones and many are buying tablets.

However, just as many people are satisfied with their PCs and don't bother upgrading to the latest Alienware, I believe the smartphone market is not immune to consumers sticking to their old phones because it is good enough and not worth the upgrade. Many Apple users seem to stick with the iPhone 4 rather than upgrade to the 5 and I see many Samsung users sticking to their Galaxy S3 or S2.

One factor working in the smartphone's favour is that the smartphone is a public device. I carry my smartphone around with me and many people see me with my smartphone, so if I were very sensitive about other people's opinions of me, I will buy a beautiful and powerful smartphone to show others that I am stylish but also technologically sophisticated. The PC and tablet, on the other hand, stays at home, so getting something good enough for the lowest cost is the priority.

Many people carry tablets around, e.g. to play games or swatch movies on the train, but I only ever keep my Nexus 7 at home. I normally don't carry anything with me other than a phone, keys, and a wallet. I find it inconvenient to carry a bag or briefcase, and with everything done electronically nowadays, I think it is unnecessary.

To me, a tablet and desktop computer are similar in that they are devices used at home that offer more screen size than the smartphone. At home I rarely use the smartphone because I prefer the bigger screen on a tablet, and if I need a physical keyboard I use the PC.

PC software tends to offer more functionality than the tablet, but not by much, and although I prefer a physical keyboard, many people may not care, and if this is the case many people may find that they can save money by doing without a $500 PC and instead use a cheaper tablet. Decent tablets like the Nexus 7 cost around $200 to $300. You can check email, Facebook, do internet banking, pay bills, and job hunt on a tablet. You don't need a PC. Even if you do need a physical keyboard, you can simply buy a $50 Bluetooth keyboard to pair a $200 Android tablet, and you effectively have a laptop that costs less than most PCs (PCs typically cost around $500 or more).

All these factors I think explain the decline in PC sales. PC manufacturers should just switch and focus on making more phones and tablets.

22 July 2013

The Fate of the Misanthropist

I am so lonely. I'm lying in bed by myself listening to music and reading. My mind wanders to negative thoughts. I feel trapped, spending my days going to work where I am ruthlessly exploited by my bosses. Those with more power than you will always abuse you. It is human nature.

I've been thinking a lot about a rape scene I saw in a movie recently. I've been thinking about the social problem of rape but I couldn't devise a solution in my head of how the problem could be eradicated. Rape occurs because those who have power over another eventually choose to abuse that power for exploitative purposes. We see that everywhere, not just with rape but also with work.

It is not just work that bothers me. I turn thirty this year. I still live with my parents. I feel like I am forced to put my life on hold because my parents have become my dependents. I am not a stereotypical adult who lives with his parents. I am happy to leave, but my mother begged me to stay. My parents lean on me. They drag me down. I never flew too high, but when my parents weighed me down during my early attempts to soar, I crashed to the ground and haven't been able to recover since. I'm stuck in an endless cycle of wage slavery, bound to my parents due to massive debts. They tell me to find a girlfriend and to get married, but why would a woman want to be with a grown man who lives with his mother, who is broke and is drowning in debt, who toils all day at a job where he is bullied and tortured, and has all his free time taken up by study?

I go to work and go through the motions. I have no passion whatsoever. I hate my bosses. I hate them. They think they can dangle a promotion in front of my face and withhold it permanently so they can extract as much labour from me as possible, all while taunting and abusing me. I will not comply. My career is dead. It is finished. I have no hope left. My youthful enthusiasm died long ago. Most wage slaves persist because their children and their housewife depend on them and their careers. My career is over. I have nothing to look forward to but morbid exploitation. 

I am so disappointed with humanity. I have lost faith with everyone, not just my employer but also my family and even my friends. I've been thinking. I cannot be with others. I cannot be social. I need to slowly transition away from people and head to the mountains where I can live by myself as a hermit. If this is not possible, the pain will be unbearable and I know in my heart that I cannot go on.

Running from a Homeless Man

There is a homeless man who always shows up near a Woolworths near my house. He looked like a middle-aged man. He stands around wearing old, warm sports clothes. Sometimes there is a white dog next to him.

A few days ago, I went to put a Quickflix DVD into the postbox and he asked me if I had small change I could spare. I quickly checked my pockets and told him I did not before walking away.

After about a minute of walking, I thought about what I did. Running away from a homeless man was almost an automatic reflex for me. I felt like I wanted to get away. I rationalised in my mind that I actually did not have any small change on me, and so my response was truthful.

There are stories of wealthy beggars who choose begging because it pays well, but this man was sitting around in the cold and nobody seemed to be helping him. I couldn't imagine he'd be earning much, and a millionaire would not bother earning a few cents an hour sitting in the cold.

Then there are stories of homeless men using donations for drugs and alcohol. This was a valid concern, but I could have easily purchased a loaf bread or a coffee from a nearby shop and give it to him.

I just didn't have time to think about this details. When I saw a homeless man, my natural instinct was to run.
Homeless man sleeping on a park bench in Melbourne, 2013

Stock Android is Overrated


The opinion piece above from The Age has boiled my blood. I feel I need to address it. The piece claims that Android phones are bad because they are not pure Android phones and even if they are pure Android phones.

I currently have both a Nexus 7 running stock Android and a Sony Xperia Z running Android with Sony refinement. I find the Xperia Z to be much better than stock Android mainly because of added functionality, e.g. small apps and Bravia Engine. Many people actually want to pay more money for more features.

The Nexus devices make sense because they are cheap. The Xperia Z costs about $600 off contract compared to about $330 for the Nexus 4. It makes sense to pay less for something with lesser functionality and features. But $600 for a Google Play Edition Galaxy S4, which is the same price as the normal GS4? No thanks. The iPhone 5 is even worse, as you are paying $800 for an operating system with even less functionality and features than stock Android.

Rudd Asylum Policy Balances Compassion with the Demands of Rednecks


I am happy Rudd is back. I didn't mind Gillard, but Rudd is the best chance Labor has to defeat Tony Abbot whose right-ring policies will see 20,000 public servants fired.

Rudd's policy of sending asylum seekers to PNG if they come by boat I believe strikes the right balance between appeasing the rednecks while also treating asylum seekers with compassion. There is nothing wrong with settling with PNG, which is a growing and peaceful democracy. The asylum seekers will be treated according to UN standards. All this does not prevent legal refugees and skilled migrants from coming to Australia through more traditional means, as many do.

21 July 2013

The Importance of Android

The Android operating was invented in 2003 as a camera operating system. It was purchased by Google shortly after and the operating system was modified slightly for use on touchscreen smartphones.

The Apple iPhone was released in 2007 and quickly dominated the touchscreen smartphone market previously dominated by Microsoft's Palm devices. The Apple iPad was then released, also dominated the tablet market, quickly outselling Microsoft's Tablet PCs.

Android started slowly but its growth was explosive. Today Android is used on 70% of all smartphones. It is a free and open source operating system used by numerous manufacturers.

One of the benefits of Android is that the manufacturers who use it are faced with greater competitive pressure, leading to greater value for money for the consumer. If you owned an iPhone 4S and wanted to upgrade to get a faster phone, so you search online and realise that the fastest phone on the market today is the Samsung Galaxy S4. You want to buy it but realise that if you do, you will not be able to transfer your music on iTunes, your apps on the Apple App Store, and so forth to the Galaxy S4 because it uses a Android. So you reluctantly buy an iPhone 5, a phone that is more expensive than the Galaxy S4 but two times slower. This problem exists because you are trapped in the Apple ecosystem. But what if you were in the Android ecosystem and used, say, a Samsung Galaxy S3? Then your upgrade choices are infinite. You buy a phone from HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG, Huawei, Asus, HP, Oppo, and many more. You can buy a phone to suit your preferences and tastes, and if any company wants to rip you off, simply move to another one. You cannot do that with Apple. You are stuck with one company that has no incentive to offer you a better product for a lower price.

Although it is difficult to move from Apple to Android, it all depends on how invested you are in the system. If Apple takes advantage of its customers too much, they may get so angry they will be willing to switch to Android regardless of the costs, so the existence of Android does put pressure on Apple as well as Android partners.

06 July 2013

Astrid Shuts Down

Astrid is a program that maintains a to do list for your smartphone, tablet, and computer. I heard recently that Yahoo purchased Astrid. There were rumours floating around that Yahoo plans to kill off Astrid. I have recently received an email confirming this rumour (see below). Why in the world Yahoo wants to kill off something it purchased it beyond my understanding. Nevertheless, I found that as a to do list maintainer, Astrid was not helping much with my productivity. I simply had too much to do, and constant reminders by Astrid on my phone on what I needed to do next become so annoying that I ended up ignoring them. I will use Google Tasks for now.