The myth that iOS is easier to use

Apple hardware used to be great. I had three Mac laptops (and still use my 2008 Macbook all these years later although I run Linux on it now) and we still have a bunch of iPods around the house. I have to support countless iPhones at work (though being a BYOD company, I had nothing to do with buying them). The hardware quality has definitely gone downhill over the years – one particularly egregious example was chargers (2011-2012) with wires separating leaving exposed bare wires and there was no way to use any other kind of charger you have to buy a new $80 Apple charger and they only have the one that breaks. I could go on about bending iPhones, and now in iPhone 8 batterys apparently exploding.

But this rant is about iOS. There is a myth (much repeated) that iOS is “easier” which sets me off every time I hear someone repeat it. What they mean is –

iOS is more like the iOS that I’m used to than something which isn’t iOS

Its not “easier” by any real measure. What is a real measure? Here’s one: Try to use the operating system to get various tasks done and measure how long it takes to get them done, if you can get them done at all.

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Virtualbox in Win7 bridged network no adapter

I won’t get into why, after 10+ years I’ve switched my work desktop from Linux to Windows 7, but suffice to say its been painful. I still need access to a local linux install for various reasons so where I used to run Windows in a VM under linux, I now need to run linux in a VM under Windows. I ran into a problem which Googling didn’t immediately solve and since there were other folks with a similar problem out there I thought I’d write it up.

  • I have a Windows 7 64bit host, with Virtualbox 5.1.28 r117968 (Qt5.6.2) installed.
  • I have a Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx network card on the host.
  • I couldn’t get the guest (an Ubuntu 16.04 VM) set up with a bridged network adapter.
  • It would work with NAT, but I needed the guest to be on the same network as the host.
    I’m used to doing this the other way around (Linux host / Windows guest) and haven’t had any problems.
  • In the Virtualbox Settings for the VM, under Network, for Adapter 1 in Attached to: I selected “Bridged Adapter”
  • The dropdown below that (Name:) was empty (it didn’t see my host’s Broadcom adapter)
  • This is because there was no service “VirtualBox NDIS6 Bridged Networking Driver” listed on the “VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter”
  • I chose Install, Service, Add – and Windows knew that that service needed a driver, but the path under which it was searching for it was borked.
  • I took note that it was trying to find vboxnetlwf.inf but the path was pointing to a Windows Temp folder which no longer existed after the install of Virtualbox.
  • I navigated to that folder under:
    C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\
    instead, and it installed fine and bridging worked!

One year with my ASUS C201 Chromebook

I’ve been using an ASUS C201 Chromebook for a full year (see original post) now as my daily driver personal machine. I got mine used off Amazon, there was a sale going on and I think I paid around $120 for it. This tiny laptop is powered by a quad-core ARM 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 processor which is plenty quick for daily email, web browsing, reading and writing or watching videos. The C201 is very light – 2.22 pounds according to the kitchen scale and I can just slap it closed when I run off to do something and its instantly on again when I come back to it.

In this post I’ll go over what I like about this tiny laptop, why its become my daily driver for most tasks, and how I use it with crouton.

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The Pink Palace was torn down

I was cruising around Saratoga Springs, NY on Google Street View tonight checking out the area around Union Ave. by Congress Park to see what the pink palace was looking like these days (thats what we called the Skidmore dorm Moore Hall in the early ’80s when I was there over the summers) and I just happened to end up in a position in the west bound lane where the Google Street View car seems to have passed by just as crews were working on tearing it down. A quick search turned up this article in the Times Union and this story on the Skidmore site confirming that the old building is now gone.

Hold music from an old android

It being so close to St Patrick’s Day, I decided to finally deal with the non-working music on hold at work since it gave me a good excuse to put Irish music on. Many years ago I had set up an ancient PC running Damn Small Linux (DSL) with mp3blaster running in shuffle / repeat mode connected to the PBX (private branch exchange) phone system. I had created a bunch of short audio tracks with little advertisements that would play while callers were on hold and it worked pretty well. The PBX has a wire with a standard 1/8″ male jack that can be plugged into a music player, and so I had just plugged it into the speaker port of the PC. That machine (a Dell Dimension L400c) definitely had a good run. After it died I realized that it had been built in 1999.

To get some music playing again I looked around the office to see what I had available and my eyes fell on an old Acer A500 tablet (running Android 4.0.3 which I think is the most recent version of android Acer had pushed out to it). I didn’t want to set up a gmail account on the tablet, so I used the android browser to navigate to:
https://f-droid.org/
and downloaded and installed the .apk for F-droid (you have to change your security settings to allow from unkown sources to install). F-droid is an alternative “app store” for free and open source android applications which I’ve used in projects like this in the past.

Once I had f-droid installed I was able to install two key applications: OpenExplorer Beta which is a file manager that can operate on files located on an external USB drive (the A500 has a USB port which I intended to use to load music files). After copying over a bunch of albums to the Music folder, I installed Vanilla Music Player which I’ve read is very stable. I loaded it up and it found all the music files and seemed to parse them correctly into albums or artists. I created a new playlist for St Pattys Day and added each album to the playlist. I was able to set the playlist to shuffle and repeat and set it to play and its been running good all day!

By the way, the song playing in the picture is Hungry Man #1 by Millish