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Messages - Mike D. aka jmiked

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Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / Re: Cases are worth it
« on: August 16, 2017, 06:30:39 pm »
Being an old guy with a distinct touch of arthritis, I find a thin phone hard to hold. I'm much more comfortable with a case that is thicker. I went back to my OtterBox Commuter. It's about 12mm thick, and offers very good protection. Since I'm a hiker/bicycler/geocacher, I like the additional security. I've had a previous phone fall off my bicycle while zooming down a rocky dirt trail, and it survived without a scratch (yes, I did come up with a more secure way of fastening it to my bike).

I also use a slightly matte screen protector (I hate reflections). In my previous biking incident, the screen protector had a nasty gouge in it, but the screen itself was unharmed.

The OtterBox wasn't all that expensive, I think it was $20.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: Hearing Aid Advice
« on: August 14, 2017, 08:28:31 am »
Sorry to hear that. It is a hard way (and expensive) to learn a lesson. I bet you never do it again.

I wouldn't bet actual money on it.  ;D ;D

Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / Cases are worth it
« on: August 12, 2017, 09:49:14 pm »
Maybe it's because I'm sometimes very clumsy, but I've always put protective cases of some sort on my cell phones. I don't understand those people who walk around with naked phones.

Tonight I dropped my iPhone two feet onto a tiled floor, and it survived without a scratch. The case has a large crack in the hard shell, and is a total loss since it won't fit together any more, which is a shame because it has an auxiliary battery in it. I could get through a day of heavy use with the extra power. Now I'm back using my OtterBox, as I will probably get a new phone in the next two months and there's no point in spending money for a new battery case right now.

I recommend cases.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: August 04, 2017, 07:58:49 am »
Yesterday I finished binge-watching The Jonathan Creek Mysteries on Britbox. I liked the mysteries in the first two series, but I very much didn't care for the character played by Carolyn Quentin. She was portrayed as a very unpleasant, almost malicious person. Lead actor Alan Davies is almost somnolent through many scenes, seemingly uninvolved with what is going on. The other recurring character played by Stuart Milligan is completely self-obsessed.

So why do I (mostly) enjoy the series? I don't know. The mysteries get a bit less interesting as the series goes on, but I thought cast changes for the sidekick improved things otherwise.


I'm told area I'm going to be staying in most of the time is on a high plateau, and while the days are nice, the temperature drops fast in the late afternoon, and gets cold at night. Sounds a lot like Melbourne or Adelaide, and I deliberately try not to go there any more.

15C is cold for me these days, simply because its what I'm used to now. I haven't worn 2 jumpers in years now, and the leather jacket hasn't been worn since my last trip south.

I live in Austin and the historical temps in early November are lows around 13C with highs around 24C, and in late November are around a low of 7C up to a high of 18C. November can be unpredictable, we have a feature called a "blue norther", where winds from the far north can blow through and drop the daytime temperatures 10-15C in less than an hour.

I'm not sure any place around here qualifies as a plateau. The official elevation is 150 meters above sea level, and the highest point in the city is listed as only around 90 meters higher (and you have to climb Mount Bonnell to get there). You have to go some distance to the west of Austin to get to the Edwards Plateau, where elevations can get to 900 meters.

Sometimes these cases are the only way I can make it through the day between charges. Well worth the money.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: 13th Doctor announced
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:24:05 pm »

I really liked the first season of Broadchurch. The next was maybe not quite as good, but I still enjoyed it. I'm recording season 3 but have been busy so haven't sat down to watch any.

I bailed on the third series of Broadchurch three-quarters of the way through the first episode. It was not to my taste, although I watched all of the first and second series.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: 13th Doctor announced
« on: July 19, 2017, 09:01:47 pm »
It will be interesting to see how the character dynamics change with respect to Missy and River(should they return) and new companions.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: Hearing Aid Advice
« on: July 16, 2017, 01:48:05 pm »
My hearing aids were really, really dead.  :'(  So I've ordered a new pair, same as the ones I got before.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: 13th Doctor announced
« on: July 16, 2017, 12:58:32 pm »
Overdue. I'm not familiar with Ms. Whittaker's work. I see she is in the current Broadchurch, which has been stacking up on my PVR. I'll move it up on my TBW list.

Anything Else Amazon / Re: Engadget report on Alexa
« on: July 13, 2017, 07:31:36 am »
I'm not that worried about Amazon, I'm concerned that just anybody can get to be a developer and then have access to everyone's data. What's to keep the bad guys from doing this?

And it's not just asking Alexa what time it is, it's access to those intercom talks and conversations via the Show that are worrying. Are those included? I hope not, but we don't know.

If it happens, of course.

Anything Else Amazon / Engadget report on Alexa
« on: July 12, 2017, 09:14:30 pm »

Engadget is today reporting that Amazon is considering giving Alexa developers access to private transcript data of what you say to your Alexa devices.


I'm almost always reading on an eInk device. If for some reason I don't have my Voyage with me, I'l read on the iPhone. But that is rare.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: July 09, 2017, 05:40:02 am »
This week I'm binge-watching the Inspector Lynley Mysteries on BritBox. I'd forgotten how much the Lynley/Helen plot line annoyed me. That whole situation reeks of writers taking the easy way out. For all I know, they lifted it directly from the books, which I tried to read and just couldn't get into.

Let's Talk Kindle! / Re: Is there any way to turn off italics?
« on: July 08, 2017, 06:46:29 pm »
I know of only two ways to get rid of italics. One is to manually edit the CSS style sheet for each book. Not very practical.

The other is to export the book to an RTF file, pull it into a word processing program and remove all formatting. It may also work to export it to a plain text file. You have to generate a new AZW/MOBI file for either of these.

There's also a possibility you could set up a program like Calibre to automatically get rid of that entry in the CSS style sheet when importing a book into its database. You'd have to get rid of the DRM, though.

Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / Re: upside down photos
« on: July 08, 2017, 06:31:24 pm »
You can rotate it before you post it. The Photos app can do that on your phone.

It is reported that Kobo has been hit by ransomware and their order/shipping facilities are down. No word on when they might be back.

You may be able to buy them elsewhere, though.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: Hearing Aid Advice
« on: July 05, 2017, 06:59:04 pm »
Here's another piece of hearing aid advice: When you throw a load of clothes into the washing machine, check the pockets for your hearing aids. Mine dropped out of the jumble when I was transferring the clothes to the dryer. They were in the nice carrying case at the time, and didn't really appear to be that wet, or even damp. They are in a Tupperware box filled with rice for the next several days.

I'm glad they weren't all that expensive. Relatively speaking. And I'm glad my hearing is still mostly there.  :)

Not Quite Kindle / Re: What are you binge-watching?
« on: June 27, 2017, 08:36:45 am »
I've been binge-watching Hamish Macbeth on Acorn TV. It's been so long since I've seen them that I had forgotten that the series bears almost no relation to the books. It's a moderately humorous view of the life of a police constable in a very small Scottish village. There are actually murders in the 30+ books of the series. I have several of the books in ebook version, it may be time for a re-read.

Not Quite Kindle / Re: Earworm! What Song Is Stuck Inside YOUR Head?
« on: June 19, 2017, 09:49:23 am »
Paul Simon's Kodachrome has been reverberating in my head for several weeks.

Several weeks ago, I heard a catchy song being used for a lead-in to a segment of a podcast I listen to. The podcast is the recorded part of a live weekend call-in tech show broadcast on radio (simultaneously the video is being streamed on the internet), and the music is played during the live part and is cut from the recorded show. So I had to keep listening to the live part to find out what the song was, so I could Shazam the music and find out what it was. I finally ended up just using my laptop to record the show until that song came on. It was Kodachrome.

In case you're wondering why I didn't know this song, I was oblivious to anything except instrumental guitar music and classical pieces for most of my life, at least since the mid-1960s. Except maybe the Beatles. It was only 10-12 years ago I started really hearing other music. I still have large gaps in my musical knowledge.

Anything Else Amazon / Re: Echo - general
« on: June 14, 2017, 12:11:12 am »
  Amazon will not let the echo or the dot work on unsecured computers.

This sounds really bogus to me. What do they mean by "unsecured computer"? Who is your internet provider? How are you connected to the internet?

Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / Re: iPhone 7 plus
« on: June 13, 2017, 08:23:42 pm »
Does it happen in all locations? Are you sure you are holding the phone the same way all the time? Do you have problems hearing them? Are you using a case (if so, what kind)?

Not Quite Kindle / The world's toughest bike race
« on: June 12, 2017, 07:45:48 pm »
It's not the Tour de France.

This week I've been watching internet coverage of the 2017 Tour Divide, a bicycle race that goes from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells (on the border of New Mexico/Mexico). It's 2745 miles of unmarked trails/footpaths/fire-roads/gravel roads, fording streams, pushing bikes through two feet of snow, etc., that follows the Continental Divide as closely as possible. It's self supported, which means that you have to take everything you'll need (no meeting up with people for re-supplies) and you have to pay for everything and are responsible for getting to the start line. And then getting home from the finish.

No prize money. But occasionally you get confronted by grizzly bears. Really. Take bear spray. You are only monitored by GPS, there are no officials to oversee things. You may go days without seeing another rider, and there are places where you are 200 miles from the nearest services. If you have a flat or mechanical difficulties, you may be in a spot of trouble. It's not against what few rules there are for another rider to come along and help you, but some riders stick to the spirit of the race and won't accept help. Bike shops lay on extra help and work extended hours at the small towns along the way. And you should be prepared to sleep beside the trail if need be. Total vertical distance climbed is 190,000 feet.

If you really need help, there's an SOS button on the GSP SPOT tracker labeled "SOS". As one rider put it: "See that button? It gets you a $25,000 medevac helicopter ride.". Once in a while you do get cell phone coverage, though.

This year there are 190 people entered, 170 men and 20 women. A significant number between 40 and 60 years of age. I believe that the oldest person to have entered was 73. This year, an ex-governor of New Mexico is entered. He's 64. The top riders get along with 4-6 hours of sleep a day.

Last year's winner made the trip in 13 days and 23 hours. That's about 196 miles a day, with an average of almost 14,000 vertical feet involved daily. Highest peak is 12,000 feet.

There is a real-time internet map where I am following the positions and stats of all the riders, as well as a forum where pictures are posted by a number of residents along the way. The event is very popular along the route.

It started at 9AM last Friday, which means that the front-runners should show up at Antelope Wells around the 24th/25th. Although the winner could show up at the start line about then, as it's permissible to run the race from south to north, but most prefer the north to south route.

My hat is off to those riders. It's a brutal race.

Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod...) / Re: iOS 10.3 update
« on: June 10, 2017, 07:52:18 am »
Matt, what model of phone do you have? Have you logged onto the Apple support forums? They are usually very helpful.

As rumored, Apple unveiled an Echo competitor at their World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC). I watched it live via streaming on Monday.

It's called the HomePod, and looks similar to a small barrel cactus. The big feature that all their attention was on the high-quality sound the device will produce. I'll concede that the sound may be order of magnitude better than the Echo or Google Home units, as those aren't anything to get excited about sound-wise. Very little time was given to the Siri aspect of the HomePod, almost as if it were an after-thought.

Possibly they were not emphasizing it because up until now, Siri has been trailing the pack when it comes to voice interaction. I would think that if they had made big strides toward improving Siri, they would make it a big deal, instead of virtually ignoring it.

It does have some nice features, such as adjusting sound output to the room configuration, just as my Yamaha AV receiver does (which cost about as much as the HomePod will). It has multiple microphones just as the Echo and Google Home do. It seems to have the CPU of a two-year old iPhone controlling it (this is actually very powerful). If you have two of them in the same room, they will sync together. Presumably for stereo sound.

And only $350. What a deal.

They also announce a number of other hardware products: Updated laptops, updated desktops, major improvements to the iPad Pro hardware/software, and a killer iMac Pro that starts at $5,000 and can be ordered with an 18-core Xenon processor, and 128 Gb of RAM (with a really crappy keyboard).

No mention of the Mac Mini (which I was considering upgrading), or the iPad Mini. Or the Airport Extreme WiFi router. Or the iPod Touch.

Phones get announced in September, as always.

The iWatch software has been improved a lot, but I confess to not having paid attention to that part.

Also announced was that anything earlier than the iPhone 6 will not be able to run iOS 11. I pretty much expected this. I have an iPhone 6, and I plan on upgrading to a 7 Plus in October or so, when the prices drop.

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