Doing well

July 18, 2012 Comments Off on Doing well

Quick note to follow up on previous post How am I doing? 

Karen has her new knee. She seems to be able to walk decent distances nowadays. Her recovery was stalled mainly due to an infection (as large as an egg) right where she sits…hmmm. Not just a tiny bit inconvenient, because whereas walking was difficult after the hip replacement, this time sitting was something she had to practice!

Anyway, that’s done. She had another mammogram. Nothing to be seen there, which was a huge relief. So Karen is back in UK and hopefully that is permanent now!

I’m now 3 months into my new job and loving it. In two to three months, I’ll be working for a new company again. Only this time, it’ll not be down to me making a move, but rather down to Dell making strategic acquisitions by moving into the enterprise software industry. From what I can see at this point in time, Dell & Quest Software seem like a perfect match as there will be very little overlap and we will complement strongly some of Dell’s previous acquisitions. And face it, the industry can use another bigger player to compete with HP, IBM and Oracle.

How am I doing?

March 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

Fairly well, thank you for asking.

I haven’t felt this good since a long while. Not that I feel ecstatic or so, but I’ve been on such a low for such a long time that any improvement feels good. I’ve had a number of people asking how I was, and although I didn’t really feel like going over our ordeals, I had to explain. So for those in the know, skip next section…
For the others: Karen had to be admitted to hospital on the day I found my new job in London. All in all a relatively harmless but very painful disease in the intestines. I moved to London in July while she was still serving her notice. During that period, she went for her last mammogram in Brussels and that turned out not to be such good news. The cancer and pre-cancerous tissue were removed during two surgeries in August. That was followed in September and October with radiotherapy (luckily nothing in the glands, which meant no chemo!). Side effect of the radiotherapy was that her arthritis became very aggressive, leaving her hip bone-on-bone! On top of that, she can’t stretch her left leg anymore. So in January, she had a new titanium hip.
Insurance issues meant that she officially still lives in Belgium to receive treatment there. No way she could get private insurance with a pre-condition in the UK.
In November, I lost my job. A bit of a sad event, but a relief as I had personally started looking out for something else. I clearly wasn’t the right person at the right time. At least we shared that sentiment. I got an offer from a manger at Oracle, but they failed to hire me as the rules for re-hire interfered with my move to UK. The people in the US were convinced that I should survive in London on a Belgian gross salary (without the car, vouchers, rep costs, social security at 35% employer side,…), so they translated my Belgian gross salary into $ and then back into £. Silly Americans! As IF! (FYI: that was a salary decrease of well over 20% over previous job)

So here we are. I received a job offer last week to start on April 15th. Karen’s hip is really good. Only thing to get sorted now is her knees. If all goes well, she should have a new knee and be able to do a little dance before the start of the Olympics.
We’re looking forward to that! Maybe we can start planning again on getting married (yes, we’re still engaged).

The New iPad in the UK and why you should wait!

March 12, 2012 Comments Off on The New iPad in the UK and why you should wait!

So what are the main features of the New iPad that should convince you to upgrade?

1. Retina Display. Cannot discuss about this, it’s a great new addition and will probably enhance your experience browsing and using the few apps out there that can take advantage!
2. 5MP iSight camera. 5MP is not something that would necessarily wow me nowadays to start with. Fact remains that there’s not much room in the ultrathin machine for a camera. Anyone who knows about optics will realise that the quality will never be any good.
But what when you don’t need that quality, shouldn’t this suffice? Maybe, but I’ve been to a couple of events where people were taking photographs with their iPad and I can honestly say that it’s the clumsiest camera I’ve ever seen, especially if you want it to focus where you want!
Only positive here is that it’s probably the largest display I’ve ever seen, no complaints there!
3. iPhoto Great addition, but also available on the iPad 2. So although it’s on the “new features” list of the new iPad, it really isn’t.
For the people who still have the first version of the iPad: with the iPhone Configuration Utility you can enable the iPhoto program on your device. It’s not officially supported, but you’re only using Apple programs to enable it, so it’s not like you have to go jailbreaking your device to get it to work.
4. 4G
Let me just paraphrase the website:

The new iPad supports fast mobile networks the world over — up to 4G LTE.2 So you can browse the web, stream content or download a film at incredibly fast speeds. It also works on GSM/UMTS worldwide network technologies, including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA — the fastest 3G networks out there. You’ll see downlink speeds up to 42 Mbps with DC-HSDPA and up to 21.1 Mbps with HSPA+.3

So I’ve been in touch with O2 here in the UK, apparently they’d be the first to roll out 4G and have already tested in London (afaik).
So here’s my conversation with O2:

@mreys: What frequencies will the 4G @O2 network work on? Same as USA?
@O2: @mreys 4G on the O2 network works on the European LTE bands 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz. USA is 700 MHz and the AWS band.
@mreys: @O2 practically that makes the 4G part of The New iPad not possible in the UK, or do you know if there’s going to be a European iPad?
@O2: @mreys No idea, we’d recommend asking Apple on that one. 🙂

So that’s what I did:

Hi, my name is Veronica. Welcome to Apple!
Veronica: Hi there, thank you for contacting the chat team. How can I help?
You: Hi, I have a question about the new iPad and its 4G capabilities
Veronica: Certainly, I would be happy to help you.

Veronica: I understand, I am checking this for you.
Veronica: The iPad wifi and 4g model will work on LTE (700, 2100 MHz)
You: so not in Europe
Veronica: No, not at the moment just the above.

You: thank you

So there you have it: the only really valid reason to upgrade to the new iPad if you live in UK (and by extension Europe) is the new Retina display. I’d wait a little if I were you 😉

UPDATE: Wired.co.uk investigated a bit further when I mentioned this to them. Remarks: This new iPad does have HSPA+, which apparently is 3G on speed, but not really LTE yet. So it’s faster than ordinary 3G and will be available in UK (and Europe). The new iPad has new graphics processor, which makes it more suitable for playing games. (As I’m not a gamer, something I tend to overlook).

Whispersync for Twitter

March 6, 2012 Comments Off on Whispersync for Twitter

For those of us who know about Whispersync from Amazon, the title should be enough. No need to read on. For the others then….

Whispersync: what’s that?

If you read the same Kindle Store book across multiple Kindles, you’ll find Whispersync makes it easy for you to switch back and forth. Whispersync synchronizes the bookmarks and furthest page read among devices registered to the same account.

I can’t believe Twitter still doesn’t have a mechanism to keep track of what I’ve already read or not. OK, when it comes to my general timeline and lists, I can understand that that’s challenging. But my DMs and Mentions/Replies, that shouldn’t be too hard though, should it? But the truth is, if after a whole time, I decide to login to the twitter.com website again, I see all the DMs and Mentions I haven’t read since last login. Well, last login via the website at least. I’ve already read them on my Mac client and iPhone client, twice…

A small piece of technology that keeps track of what one’s already read, to be used across the multiple clients we use, that’s yesterday’s technology… still not implemented at Twitter Inc.

Philips Fidelio DS8800W/10

February 29, 2012 Comments Off on Philips Fidelio DS8800W/10

Dear John Lewis,

I’m bringing back my Philips Fidelio after numerous tries to get this product to work.

1. Product is not compatible with iPhone 4S (!).
2. Product interrupts Airplay at least once an hour.
3. Product “disappears” from the network twice a week in the middle of playing music.

Listening to music getting interrupted frequently is a dreadful experience, and one might expect better experience from a device this price.

Before judging too harshly, I undertook a number of steps to try and get this sorted:

I tried researching the website of Philips, which is where I found out that the product is not compatible with my iPhone 4S.
I tried to register my product to engage with Philips support. Philips website has been made incompatible with Apple computers, which is very odd knowing they are targeting the Apple customers. I managed to have a chat with an engineer who promised to register my product, but finally didn’t do this.
It is impossible to find firmware updates (should that be the problem I’m experiencing).

On my side, I have tried to stabilise my Wifi network (occasionally there was interference with the neighbours it seems), and although it made the interruptions go from every 10 minutes to once every 40 minutes, this wasn’t enough to get an agreeable experience.
To avoid the computer being the culprit, I am lucky enough to possess two Macs (one Macbook Pro and one Air), I tried both and I even went through the ordeal of re-installing the OS from scratch without additional software in order to prevent any possible interference. Unfortunately, even that didn’t lead to a better experience.

This only leads me to one conclusion, and that is that this product does not do what it promises on the box.

I know John Lewis prides itself on never having undersold knowingly, and I’m sure that at the time I purchased this, you probably had no idea. Now that you know this product does not do what it says on the box, it should not be sold any longer. The fact that Philips cannot be reached to get support, is what made me decide not to try a second one, but I’d rather go for another brand.

Best Regards,

Mike Reys

The people in John Lewis didn’t have too many questions about returning the product, understood why I didn’t want to try a second one (it wasn’t going to make the Philips support any better), and suggested to have a look at the other brands.
The gentleman with a broad West-Indies/East London accent was very keen to suggest the Bowers & Wilkins, with a bit of an extra uplift in price, but personally I’m considering Bose (Bluetooth technology and with rechargeable batteries) or the Pioneer (with integrated internet radio, Airplay and docking station).

Apple: wish list.

February 11, 2012 Comments Off on Apple: wish list.

  • Preferred networks on my iPhone
    With services like The Cloud and BTFON being omnipresent throughout London, I often connect to one of these services. I also connect to a number of networks like home, office, or my friends’ networks. Currently it seems like my iPhone will re-connect to the last network it was connected to. So if I come home, where BTFON is present, instead of connecting to my home network, my phone often reconnects to BTFON.
    Just like on my full blown Mac, I’d really think that a property list with network preference order and a small interface for that, isn’t too much asked now, is it?
    I have looked at options for this, oh yes I have, but Auto-Join is an option that I can switch off for some networks, but not for others. I have no idea what that is based upon. BTFON networks don’t have the auto-join option on the iPhone, for example.
  • Better management of music locations in iTunes. iTunes, currently at 10.5.3 is still made to either manage the location of your musicmedi manually in the places of your choice or automatically in one location.
    As films and television programmes are also part of the iTunes library now, the size of the library can become really large for a laptop. Some of my stuff, especially my films, would need to go on a NAS. And I’m not saying this is not possible with iTunes, it is, but the management of it all is quite cumbersome. (Consolidating your iTunes library, for example, leaves you with a shedload of duplicate files on your filesystem)
    People have come up with all sorts of solutions, like making links (ln -s) to the NAS in your music library, but it’s far from ideal. The best solution I’ve found for the time being is TuneSpan. It’s still in beta, but works pretty well. If it could come with some decent documentation, I bet that more people would start using it. Downside is that it’s Mac only… But really, Apple should come up with a module in iTunes to manage locations through an easy interface. Foolproof, like some of the other products.
  • Power adaptors for the MacBooks. All MacBooks have the power adaptors, I thought. That was until I went on holiday with our Air, and found out it wasn’t recharging anymore halfway the holiday. I thought something was broken, only to go to an Apple reseller to find out I was recharching it with my Pro adaptor.
    Problem here is that the piece going into the computer is the same for all, but the part near the plug isn’t (subtle difference in size, wattage).
    Now, most other tools in the Apple family are pretty foolproof. If it’s not supposed to fit, it won’t. But not for the power adaptors, clearly!
    I don’t know, give them different colours, make them not fit, I don’t care how this is solved, but if it’s not supposed to be done… make it clear!
  • iPhone settings profiles (as available on many cheap phones). Currently, there are two settings: sound on/sound off. But with so many individual settings, let alone the options for notifications, I would like to see many more profile options. I’d set up a number of profiles:
    • Public Transport
    • Abroad (no data)
    • Abroad (little data: i.e. only emails)
    • Notifications off
  • Moving files across volumes in Mac OS X, is that sorted yet??? I stopped relying on it and started using the command line for that, like I’ve always done when using linux. It’s not bothering me too much, but honestly? A company like Apple should have never experienced this issue before.

Do you have things to add to the wish list? Feel free to add in the comments…

Places I visited and to-do list…

January 6, 2012 Comments Off on Places I visited and to-do list…

Just like some other people (NL), I’ll share with you which places in the list of terre.sans.frontiere.free.fr of places to visit in the world I’ve actually been to.

  1. Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  2. Piramids of Gizah in Egypte.
  3. Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  4. Ankor What, Cambodja.
  5. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  6. Altiplano, Bolivia/Chile
  7. Aya Sofia, Turkey
  8. Venice, Italy
  9. Vatican City, Italy
  10. Coliseum, Rome
  11. Sixtine Chapel, Rome
  12. Acropolis, Parthenon, Greece
  13. Houses of Parliament, England
  14. Wat Phra Kao, Bankok, Thailand
  15. Eiffel Tower, Paris
  16. Louvre, Paris
  17. Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia
  18. Statue of Liberty, NY, USA
  19. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
  20. Sequioas, California, USA
  21. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
  22. Sydney Opera House, Australia
  23. Djemaa El Fnaa, Morroco
  24. Golden Gate, SF, California
  25. Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia</li>
  26. Petronas Towers, KL, Malaysia

Mont Saint-Michel -> Not done the one in France. But the monks left France for a much nicer area, Cornwall. There they built Saint Michaels Mount, let’s call it a v2.0. Well improved. Very pretty and much less touristic. So I’d add that to the list…

Most of the things listed above are indeed stunningly beautiful (my top favourites in bold), but it makes you wonder on what basis some other things were left out. Table Mountain is just one of them that is so remarkable and was even voted into the numerous world wonders, but didn’t make it in this list. And then there’s Las Vegas. How did that shit hole make it into the top 100 things to visit? Seriously!?!?
So for what it’s worth, I’ve done 26 out of the 100. Not bad to start with…

On the to-do list: all the rest, I suppose! Tanzania, New Zealand and Brasil up high on the list.

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