Hillary & Trump – Election 2016 – Is this the end?

hillary_clinton_vs-_donald_trump_-_caricatures

Many people who know me may tend to think I lean towards the “right”, but I do so much less than they have seen. My newer friends may see me leaning much more to the “left”, but I still have many views that are not. And considering my background, I’ll have to say my views are a bit more valid than the average voter.

In 2015, I dumped my republican registration and went independent. In good conscience, I did not have views strong enough to keep me, in my mind, labelled as a “R” or on the other side to be a “D”. So I just went, appropriately, to an “I” because my views, as a whole, are mine and mine alone and span between both ideologies and beyond. It is all about “I” (and those I care about). Many, on both sides, said it was foolish because in Kentucky, I now cannot vote in the primaries.

So here I am, a fairly fresh “I”, and now, hesitantly, I want to toss a few of my views into the sea of opinions, mass rhetoric and meme driven social discourse to try to bridge some of the “divides” that have been artificially created between the two predominant ideologies currently on display.

I really think that if people I know from both sides step back and honestly *really* look at things, they’ll be amazed at how far they’ve let themselves actually be led off the path they actually thought they were still on.

So in my mind, the biggest question is, “So where to begin?” – Here goes…

Gary Johnson & Jill Stein

Even though I and many of my disenfranchised friends on both sides support one of these candidates, it just isn’t (at this time) meant to be. The political, media and other establishments are not supportive (yet) of these third parties. I wish they were. I think people would be more likely to vote their true political alignment, instead of the “lesser of two evils”, if they were openly treated like the rest of the mainstream candidates and given equal time.

Multi-party is coming, but this election cycle is not the time and I have to reluctantly urge that you continue to support them financially and ideologically, but do not vote for them. It will, unfortunately, be a wasted one.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary, what a loaded person to really start with… I’m going to cover her career more since she has “more experience” (note the quotes).

I just deleted a few paragraphs that I started to write when I realized that it would take many articles, many “chapters”, many books, to even start to explain things about her… So I decided to break down a few issues and let you, if you care enough, do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Bill was Governor of Arkansas from 79-81 and 83-92 until he became POTUS. There were innumerable scandals during those days (not only the sexy ones). Many didn’t “see the light” until much later, but they still happened… Here are some keywords from those times and some prior. Do your own research…

Cocaine, drug running, Mena Airport, white water, Watergate (Hillary), unethical, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, persistent adultery, 850k settlement, cattle futures, SEC violations, rape, “Thomas Alfred Taylor”, “Kathy Shelton”, “Larry Nichols”, Epstein, “Lolita Express” and there are so, so many more that have been researched, investigated, and ultimately dismissed and/or covered up by friends, political appointees, people scared of the threats (political and physical), or rendered “inert” due to suicide, accidental death, plane crashes or the media’s irresponsibility to even cover them.

Why do I mention so much “Bill” stuff?

Hillary may not have been directly a part of all of the scandals, but she was involved in a good number of them. If she was aware of all that was going on, she is complicit. If she wasn’t then she was ignorant, it was all around her.

As First Lady of Arkansas she FAILED.

In November 1992, Bill was elected President. He finally reached the pinnacle of political accomplishment. He now held the highest office “in the land”, and Hillary, the highest spousal status… “First Lady”.

She attempted a healthcare overhaul and failed, even though she got a small part of it through (CHIP) and tries to use it as a net positive, she failed to get her healthcare plan passed and it just wasn’t the republicans that didn’t vote for it. Many democrats didn’t either.

A number of Bill’s sex scandals carried over from Arkansas to the White House and with Monica, and arguably others, many more were created. Someone as astute as many make Hillary out to be, she should’ve known (she did) the truth about Bill and his womanizing, sexual harassment and outright rape. I watched some old videos of them together in interviews with her defending him and him saying they loved each other. It was almost like watching episodes of ABC’s Scandal series or House of Cards. (It’s curious how people think fictional TV shows are more plausible than the reality right in front of them). Bill has said publicly in interviews that the marriage is based on love, I challenge someone to find Hillary doing the same. There is no real love there. It is a marriage of convenience. There is no active love between them. Maybe a nostalgic longing for “…what could’ve been”, but they are both in it for themselves (financially, politically and socially, in that order) and they will lie, cheat, steal and defend each other until their last breath on their dying day.

So, in my opinion and many others, as a more politically active First Lady of the U.S., she FAILED.

Then after the White House, the Clinton’s buy a house in New York JUST so she can run for Senate. She’s not even from the state, has no real connection with it (She’s a “redneck” from Arkansas) and uses the influence a senator of NY would gain to try and launch her presidential aspirations in 2008, but another senator (Obama), who had no real experience either, ran against her and was quite a bit more articulate and likable than she was.

The Obama campaign trashed her badly, she trashed them badly (they hated each other), even covertly creating the “birther movement” via Sydney Blumenthal, but it was not enough. Obama won.

She likes to say she “rebuilt” NYC after 9/11… OK… yea… Her main accomplishment was getting a federal building renamed, but “… Hillary’s Senate career is defined by safe, non-controversial bills, most of which were pure fluff and yet she couldn’t get them passed”- National Review

As a Senator and then first time presidential candidate she FAILED.

But, post election, Hillary didn’t give up, her and the Obamas conveniently became “friends” again and she was appointed to the position of Secretary of State by Obama. A pretty important job. Lots and lots of worldwide secrets pass through that office. One of the earlier scandals was the Wikileaks State Department Wire scandal. 100k+ wires leaked embarrassing her and ambassadors worldwide.

She also asked for a “secure” blackberry device, like one typically reserved for the President and associated officials. The NSA denied it due to the cost. So what does she do? Instead of using her state.gov email or coming up with a truly secure and compliant solution, she hires a guy name Brian Pagliano (A State Department Employee) to freelance and setup a “private” email server for her. Not a .GOV email in a secure federal data center, but @clintonemail.com on her own physical server. For those non-technical, a server is just a typically more powerful computer that is inherently designed to run at full capacity 24/7/365. But it is really no different, semantically, from a desktop PC you may be using now, and no more secure, unless made so by the administrator. He ended up getting immunity in the FBI investigation… Why would he need immunity if nothing wrong was done? Hmmm…

Back to Hillary’s setup. She had the servers setup in the closet of one of her basement bathrooms. Numerous hackers admit (and Hillary denies) that they broke into them, while at the same time she admitted the DNC email hacks and other commercial email hacks of associates happened and is the work of high level Russian hackers. But HER system in her basement was “secure”… Mmm hmm… No… Even the FBI director, that refused to recommend her prosecution, says as much.

I’m a technical person, I have setup many email servers, both “private” and hosted on third party providers (Google, Rackspace, etc.) I’ll even admit to having hosted them in the distant past from my home (on a commercial level setup). They were secured by disparate physical firewall devices, against a multitude of vulnerabilities. As I grew in technical ability, I learned professional data center protected and/or specific third party solutions, setup up properly, were much better and way more secure options.

She lied and avoided taking true responsibility for her mishandling of classified emails, avoidance of federal archiving laws, etc. Usually that type of thing, including lying to the FBI, gets you at least 5 years and/or $250,000 fine *per violation*.

Just because you are not prosecuted, does not mean you are innocent.

Again, I’m not going to expound on every issue, but what it comes down to is that Hillary has a knack for admittedly “Making Mistakes…” (private email server), surrounding herself with people who share her gift for drama (Huma/Weiner, Podesta, even Bill himself, among many others)…

As Secretary of State she FAILED

I’m leaving out a LOT of important issues here… I’ll do the same for Trump, although there are not nearly as many to leave out.

Overall, her entire career has been a failure.

Donald J. Trump

I’m not going to get too much into his TV career… It was TV. A lot of it was sensational and what some “stiff” folks would see as sexist, mysoginistic, etc. But I will say that even though MANY pundits and Hillary herself bring up Celebrity Apprentice as a negative for him, I honestly know they never really watched it… It was primarily a vehicle for celebrity contestants to raise money for their respective charities. Some are scrambling to criticize by saying some of the donations didn’t come from Trump directly, but via his foundation using donated monies. Who cares where it came from? He helped a lot of people at the expense, and with the connections, of “the rich” celebrities participating and charitable donations. Is that bad?

His bankruptcies then… Terrible!!

No. They were filed using existing finance laws on the books, bankruptcy isn’t illegal and is oftentimes good business practice. Some types of bankruptcies help a business restructure its debt to keep it in operation and *paying* its employees. Considering the number of companies Trump has been involved in (500+), six, seven even twenty bankruptcies is not bad. I believe the official number is six. 6 of even 500 is only (1.2%). He took many risks, some failed, but many more were successful and he has created many thousands of jobs. No one knows exactly because his company is private, which is wise these days.

Sure he may not have much foreign policy experience, as a government official, which he hasn’t been, but he has been an international business man. He already has much more than Obama had at the same point in his first election cycle. Probably more than many politicians had prior to their elections/appointments. Trump knows better how to deal with people and “get his way” in negotiations. Does Obama? Hillary? Yes? Really?! No…

Even the things that Hillary and Obama have done in private that have become public have been terrible and is bowing to the will of our opponents. Keywords: Iraq, Iran, billions, cash, flight, hostage release, ISIS funding, Libya… Bad instincts, lack of foresight.

I’m not going to get into his recent sexual “grab them by the pussy” statement, because it is so irrelevant and so common in the group vernacular among men (and oppositely in women), that almost every human who has ever existed would be disqualified for the same reason. Admit you’ve said or thought something similar and don’t lie to yourself. This happens to women, and happens to men… Even I, as a male, have been forcibly groped by a drunk female I barely knew and kissed involuntarily. I enjoyed it personally. 🙂 Guess that’s the double standard speaking.

Conclusion

I’m sure many of my more liberal friends will fret at my conclusion, some will defriend (Currently at 594 total), but realize that even though I don’t like Hillary and am not the biggest Trump fan, I’ve made my decision in this election cycle. The U.S. needs balance and that balance cannot be achieved if we have 4 or 8 more years of the status quo + the aftermath (Supreme Court Judges) that will result if Hillary “wins”.

Hillary does not like Russia. If we get her, the tensions will continue. World War 3 is already *much* closer than many realize with the current policies in place. Hillary will become an extension of these policies and likely implement worse ones with her anti-Russian rhetoric in the last debate.

Trump is a loud mouth, blow hard, unconventional candidate, but at least he is anti-establishment and when it comes down to it, that really is the primary positive to casting a vote for him. Establishment = Bad.

So let the defriending, acute disappointment and sympathy for the less enlightened one begin! 🙂 TRUMP 2016.

Disclaimer: If anything happens to me, investigate! 🙂

What he is saying now he was saying a LONG time ago…

PHP 7 so much faster than PHP 5

php7-transparentEarlier this year, I decided to make the leap to PHP 7 prior to it officially becoming a part of my servers distribution (I run Ubuntu).

It has probably been the easiest and best change I have made to my personal server stack in a number of years.

Granted, it wasn’t without a few minor issues. In the custom PHP code I wrote for clients, I got a little lazy over the years and did not open my PHP code blocks with <?php … and still just had php.ini to allow that, but I decided to go through my custom code and add the

Switching to PHP 7 gave a very large advantage… The speed. It is substantially faster than PHP 5. I ran benchmarks on my 1GB linode before and after the switch and PHP 7 literally doubled the speed of code execution.

Here are my basic server specs on most of my servers. There are minor variations.

Linode 1GB VPS
Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS
MySQL 5.5.50-38.0 Percona Server
Nginx 1.4.6
PHP 7.0.9-1 (FPM)

Along with the PHP 7 switch, moving from the unmaintained Cherokee web server to Nginx as well as adding WP-Supercache to *all* my WordPress sites, the speed increase is VERY notable. Almost like I’m using a CDN when I am not. 

Between my three primary servers, I am running 53, 43 and 37 sites on each. Probably 75% WordPress, 25% Static HTML bootstrap type sites. CPU load times are never greater that 1.0 and usage rarely exceeds 5-10% (Primarily thanks to WP-Supercache).

Linode Improves… Again!

linodeI know I talk about Linode a lot on my site here, but they are my faithful VPS hosting provider, so I want to support them as much as possible.

Recently, Linode made the jump to SSD drives for VPS and at the same time, doubled the RAM for them. SSD drives are not new for VPS providers, for example, Digital Ocean has used SSDs for over a year and at a lower price point for a basic server ($5/mo for 512mb RAM & 20GB space). Linode has a higher starting price point, but it’s well worth the price considering the robustness of the Linode experience including the control panel, very active support staff and excellent hardware.

I currently have 5 VPS on Linode, but manage another half dozen or so for clients. So when it came to “testing” out the SSD upgrade, I wanted to try it on my own first. It was relatively simple. The only caveat was that a few of my VPS were setup with 32-bit kernels. I had to change them to 64-bit and that was all. I clicked the “Upgrade” button in the Linode control panel and it only took about 10-15 minutes to migrate my VPS to new SSD servers with the 1GB memory upgrade. I then proceeded to update Ubuntu to 14.04 LTS on them all and they are running smoothly. Very painless.

Doing a hdparm drive benchmark, it is notably faster than before.

Before

Timing cached reads: 6854 MB in 1.99 seconds = 3442.87 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 404 MB in 3.02 seconds = 133.82 MB/sec

After

Timing cached reads: 19672 MB in 1.98 seconds = 9931.54 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 2856 MB in 3.00 seconds = 951.48 MB/sec

So, in conclusion, Linode continues to make major improvements to their infrastructure without raising the cost to the end-user. I hope they keep up the good work and they will have my business for years to come.

Linode “Nextgen” upgrades

Linode has invested over a million dollars into upgrading their network, servers and bandwidth to levels that are unparalleled when it comes to all the features they have already made available to subscribers.

There are three parts to the “Nextgen” upgrade so far.


The Network

“We’re spending $1 million making our network faster. Way faster. Cisco Nexus 7000 routers. Cisco Nexus 5000 switches with Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. Linode outbound network cap increased 5x. Outbound monthly transfer quota increased 10x.”

The Hardware

“We’re investing millions to make your Linodes faster. Crazy faster. We’ve begun a refresh of 3/4 of our entire fleet to a new ‘NextGen’ host hardware specification. And we’re upgrading all Linodes to 8 cores! Right now. As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode.”

RAM Upgrade

“We’re doubling the RAM on all of our plans. This upgrade is available to existing and new customers. New Linodes will automatically be created with the new resources. Existing Linodes will need to go through the Upgrade Queue to receive the upgrades.”


These upgrades represent a MAJOR upgrade. I went from 1.2 TB of outbound to 12 TB. That is quite substantial. The 8 core hardware upgrade is a little harder for most to quantify, but it’s better than the 1-2 “visible” cores I get on DigitalOcean or other “minor” providers. The RAM went from 512 (for me) to 1024. That is very substantial as well when you determine how many sites you can run on a single 512 machine and how many more you can run with double the RAM.

I actually, to Linode’s loss, removed one of my VPS servers and moved sites over to one of the newly upgraded ones. I’m sure, once I outgrow my latest linode, I’ll expand to a new one once more, but for the time being, I love having the additional resources. For my “first” linodes and client ones, it’s great to have the additional resources, especially the “pooled” bandwidth.

Anyone who is looking for a VPS server would be stupid not to get one on Linode with all they have to offer. I manage 9 linodes split between 3 different accounts and the piece of mind that my sites are “safe” is reassuring. I have linode backups on half of them. 30 day S3 and personal rsync backups on the others and do not have to worry about my clients.

Here is my referral link.

Why I like Linode (after using others)

When I started hosting websites for clients, I hosted them in-house, literally, in my house. This was nice because I had direct control over the servers and could quickly fix them or migrate data if there were hardware failures. But obviously, it does not scale very well when it comes to bandwidth, and if you need many servers, the power and cooling requirements can get out of hand.

GoDaddy

At the point when I felt my home setup was “obsolete”, I then took the plunge onto GoDaddy dedicated servers, 2 of them at the time. One was for websites and ran Windows 2003 Server with IIS. The other was a mail server and each had DNS running on them so I didn’t have to depend on/pay for a third-party DNS provider.

GoDaddy dedicated servers ended up being the biggest mistake I ever made.  They ran well for a while, but then a worm of some kind crawled around their internal network and came in through some backend they use to manage the servers.  I had everything well locked down, all Windows sharing turned off, including unneeded admin shares (C$, etc.) and had the firewall pretty tight. It took around 3 days to recover fully from the crash and even though the machines were virtually “destroyed”, I was fortunately able to FTP out all my customer data.

Crystaltech

I moved most of my ASP & .NET sites over to a Windows 2008 Server at CrystalTech. Including email (SmarterMail), which I love, but with the limited space on a Windows VPS, it is quickly filling up with email (people rarely delete things when using IMAP). I still use Crystaltech and they’ve been very stable, but their cost is quite a bit higher than other virtual solutions.

Slicehost

After the GoDaddy crash, all my PHP sites moved to virtual servers running Ubuntu with a standard LAMP stack. Apache got old real quick. It required constant tuning.  I explored many web servers to find one with better performance, at one time, I had three setup for ALL my virtualhosts where all I had to do was stop all the web daemons, change the config of the one I wanted to use to 80 and just start that one, bring up all my sites on a different daemon.  I finally settled on Cherokee and have NEVER looked back.

Slicehost, in my opinion, had HUGE potential at one time (pre-Rackspace buyout).  The support was phenomenal, everyone in the company was open and reachable. I many times talked to the founder via chat and email.  But all of that went down the drain with Rackspace and all Slicehost’s offerings and prices went stagnant.

I recently cancelled Slicehost completely after getting a hard to access domain, whose DNS was hosted with Slicehost, to change their nameservers to Linode’s.

Others

I’ve used a number of other minor providers from time to time that I won’t get too much into here. None of them seemed to be as “turnkey” as places like Linode and Slicehost when it came to the admin backend experience. They were either too complicated or did not even have some of the basics required for “full service” hosting.

Linode

Linode, so far (knock on wood), has been the best company I’ve ever done business with. Rock solid, great support at all hours, fast host servers, lots of datacenter locations, excellent control panel, iPhone app, etc. I can’t say enough to express my happiness with the service.

I currently host a number of VPS servers with them and have brought over a few clients onto their own server(s).  We host everything from test servers to full production and even PBXs. All runs perfectly.

It will be a sad day in VPS hosting land if Linode ever gets bought out by some mega hosting company like Rackspace.

To end this up, decentralization has been the best thing I have done and it is multi-faceted. I separated websites onto multiple, less expensive virtual servers, which prevent ALL my sites from going down when something happens to one of them. I’ve moved most of my clients to Google Apps for Domains, both business and standard, for email.

My uptime has dramatically improved, my customers are happier and that’s what matters.

What I think Apple Should Do…

Dear Steve Jobs,

I feel that with the “death” of the XServe Server and the uncertain future of Mac OS X Server OS, Apple should delve into offering hosted services to pull in entities who are now scattered among numerous other services such as Google Apps for Domains, commercial hosting, and numerous other third party hosted or self hosted apps, which require a lot of maintenance, multiple accounts, billing, etc.  Many of my IT associates who have switched to Apple laptops and desktops have commented to me that they hate still having to use non-apple apps to complete their daily business.

For example, the MobileMe interface already is an attractive and functional interface for email, contacts, calendar, iDisk, Photos and location services.  How much harder would it be to allow a company to signup and fully attach their own domain to the MobileMe framework.  Perhaps even create a separate enhanced version of MobileMe in their [Apple’s] newest “cloud” datacenter in North Carolina and, over time, have an ‘a la carte’ offering of additional new services that users need/request.  Maybe even allow developers to write custom Apps that can be cleanly integrated into the web interface and a matching app for the iOS device(s).

Keep the price reasonable, no more than $1-2/mo per user, which would be very attractive for small businesses, special pricing for larger corporations and perhaps discounts when Apple devices are purchased and attached to an account.  Perhaps 1 year for free when any iOS device is purchased to draw users in.

The advantages of this would be numerous, it would give small businesses and organizations a unified and complete “Apple Branded Experience” on their Mac PCs, iPhones, iPads, etc.  Almost everyone I know has a Apple device of some kind and many would prefer to use their own domain.  Apple does offer the capability of attaching a domain to your MobileMe webspace, but that does not extend to customization of the other services.

Also, with minor modifications to the existing MobileMe framework, it would bring a whole new potential residual revenue stream that millions of users could utilize.  It may also spur additional companies and users to buy Apple hardware knowing that all these services are so well intergrated. Adding similar features as Google Apps for Domains and improving upon them would make it a very attractive alternative.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do use and am VERY happy with Google Apps for Domains, but it would be nice to have some competition from another major player to keep things interesting.  Google does accomplish a lot of what I’ve stated in this email, but it’s not as “pretty”, well integrated and cost effective for those with many needs.

Perhaps Apple could even purchase a VoIP company and add that to their portfolio of services.  With an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and an old Mac Mini, it would be nice to get deep integration of all my communications needs while not being forced onto the @me.com domain.

I guess only time will tell how far Apple is willing to ascend into the cloud.

Need to Accept Credit Cards? Try Square!

Square Card Reader in iPhone 4
Square Card Reader in iPhone 4

Guess I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but this past week I discovered Square. Square is a, in my opinion, revolutionary way to accept credit cards, whether it be within a company’s location or anyone who is constantly on the go.

It is very easy to signup and really the only thing to do is verify your bank account, so Square can direct deposit the funds you charge and the waiting time for the reader itself. I only signed up this past week, so I’m still waiting on my reader. Once it comes in, it looks as if it’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod and some Android devices. Just plug it into the headphone jack, open the app and swipe away.

When you swipe a card with the Square reader, the fee is only 2.75% which is quite excellent. Manually entering the card is 3.5% + 15¢, which is bit higher, but still not bad for the convenience it provides. I went ahead and manually entered a test charge from one of my cards and it went right into my account, minus the transaction fee. So even with the higher charge, $20 came out to $19.15.

A photographer friend of mine uses Square and it increased his revenue quickly. An IT associate uses “Square Up” with his clients onsite and does not have to worry about monthly invoicing paperwork and running to the bank to deposit paper checks. You don’t even have to be a “business” to utilize this, even individuals can use it. Square can be very helpful for anything from flea market selling to adding a convenient payment option for garage sales. Heck, you could even sit outside at your kid’s lemonade stand and use it for the “larger” transactions.

I plan on primarily using this “app” when I do work onsite for clients or over the phone if credit cards are the best option for them. I may add a slight surcharge if it’s done manually. But I think with the convenience it provides, it’ll definitely help increase my revenue stream.

Amazon S3 Static Website Hosting

Sometimes you don’t need a full blown web hosting environment with MySQL, PHP and other dynamic components.  Sometimes you just need to host a static website.

We can host static websites on one of our normal servers and support quite a large number of hits, but sometimes you may need VERY high availability service.

Examples of this include:

  • Informational sites with links to many downloadable files requiring high bandwidth
  • A “micro site” that is being sent out to a large number of people simultaneously requiring a large number of concurrent connections.
  • Static file hosting, such as images.  For example, if you have a blog with a lot of images, you can host the main site on a normal PHP server and the images on a high power system.

This is where Amazon S3 Static website hosting comes in handy.

You simply create a “bucket” in S3, create the website endpoint, choose the “index” file such as “index.html”, upload your static website and add a CNAME pointing to the URL that is given to you in the S3 control panel.

Although it’s not too hard to set up this service, we can provide assistance in establishing the initial site and helping you setup a client to upload files into the web space.

One advantage we can offer is the ability to host your static website on Amazon and still have some dynamic capabilities such as email forms, entering form data into a MySQL database, etc.

Contact us for more information and a quote on setting it up.

New Verizon Android Phone: Samsung Fascinate

Over the years, I have always swung back and forth between Microsoft, Apple, Linux, etc.   I get into Open Source moods, then realize there’s something I need on one the more ‘closed’ platforms of Microsoft or Apple and lean back towards those.  Because of that, I currently have machines running all three major OSes.  A PC Desktop running Windows 7, a Mac Mini (Intel) running the latest Mac OS X and my old Desktop running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

I’m sort of the same way with other devices, for phones and PDAs, I’ve used Palm (legacy and WebOS), Windows Mobile, Apple iOS (v. Original-4.x), Symbian, etc. But I had never taken the plunge into the newer Android OS.  Perhaps I figured it wasn’t as stable or mature as iOS and some of the others that have been around for a while.

This past week, my wife lost her phone, so she met me at the Verizon store on her way home.  I was there about 20 minutes earlier, so I was admiring the new Droid X, HTCs and the Samsung Fascinate.  When she arrived, I suggested that we try the Fascinate since there was a “buy one get one free” special, we’d get rid of the MiFi 2200 since they have the WiFi Hotspot feature for only $20/mo more, and we’d come out a bit ahead.  We were both Upgrade Eligible, so I did everything I could to sell her on it.

Now my wife is NOT really a techy person and since she already used her iPod touch as a PDA, I didn’t think she’d go for it, but she did.  I was amazed.   Now I’m the happy owner of a new Android phone.

My first impressions are good, it’s fast, has plenty of features and customization, a decent selection of apps, great hardware while still maintaining really good battery life and form factor.

Virtually everything I needed and had on my iPhone 3G plus more are now installed on my Fascinate and I only paid for one app (WebSharing).  The camera (5mp) is excellent, the video (up to 720 HD) is also very crisp with GREAT audio quality for a phone.  The screen is very bright and does a good job auto-adjusting based on the ambient light level.

The only minor con is that there is only a Bing search widget available.  There is no factory option to change it to Google Search.  This is just wrong in so many ways.  Other than that.  The Samsung skinning of the Android interface is a bit annoying, but since I’m a first time user, it’s not too bad, but I did like the interface better on the non-Touchwiz Droid phones.

My favorite feature so far is the Swype text input.  You just draw the word on the popup screen keyboard and it intelligently pulls out the words, even if they’re names or website addresses and so on.  It is very accurate and intuitive.  The Swype website has a bunch of nice tutorials for more advanced input options.

Now that I’ve had it for a few days, I am sort of disappointed I waited so long.  Perhaps it was a good thing to let some of the early bugs get worked out.

iPhone 4.0 Announced (Officially)

Looks like the new iPhone has officially been announced.

As usual, it looks like and the new features are excellent, features we wanted are still missing and logical things that Apple could do like make MobileMe free (to spur wider use) still haven’t happened, although it is rumored.

Even though I did go ahead and get an iPad.  I WILL not get the iPhone 4 until they offer more carrier options.  There’s no way in hell I will go back to AT&T, so hopefully the fall release of a CDMA version for Verizon and/or Sprint, along with other smaller local carriers, will happen.  That is the only way myself and tens of millions of others will get the new iPhone.

Two other things that would be nice:

  1. Upgrade the iPod touch to the same form factor and feature set minus the cellular radio, or even include 3G data like the iPad for those who don’t want to switch or already have a good cellular plan.
  2. Make the whole experience more “open”… I’ll leave it at that.  Being tied to iTunes just to get the Apple Experience sucks.  I use a Mac, but not primarily, I use Linux a lot, Windows is almost out of my home-office IT Ecosystem.  Put it all on the device with ties to “the cloud”.

Otherwise, I hope Apple keeps up the innovative edge in design and function.  I look at a lot of devices and there is nothing that appeals to me more than their design, even though sometimes it doesn’t seem as feature laden as some other devices.

Simplicity+Function = Winner