Defection

[tl;dr; I got a new phone. Most boring blog post ever.]

After using a Windows phone for three years, and generally happy years at that (except for the last 6-7 months), I finally ditched it and went to an iPhone [sorry, Jack, but an Android just wasn’t for me].

I really liked the Windows phone UI. It was easy to use, nicely customizable  in terms of tile layout, and for the most part I had all the apps that I wanted. The cameras on the two Nokias I had were great, and the build quality was excellent. I’ll miss the mail client.

However, the Nokia 920 has some problems, the worst of which are some bits of the system software which refuse to sleep, spin like mad and make the device grow hot to the touch. After months of waiting for updates to fix things I was running out of battery mid-day and running out of patience.

Last week I talked to some AT&T storefront sales types about the sad, sad state of the Win8 phone’s low-level software and AT&T’s utter inability to address it, other than financially. And they weren’t interested in doing anything. Calls to multiple levels of managers went unanswered.

Turns out that if you go into an AT&T store with a fresh quote from T-Mobile and say, “Are you interested in keeping a customer? This is your last chance!” the sales types become a lot more reasonable. I got a replacement iPhone 5S (which I paid for), but kept my decent plan and didn’t pay the bogus early termination penalty. I did some research; they didn’t lose any money on me, nowhere near.

I’m sad to see the WinPhone go, but it really had to. The patch rate for such a new product (WinPhone 8) was pretty miserable, and not improved by AT&T’s foot-dragging. If Microsoft/Nokia fixed this and started releasing updates and fixes on a rapid schedule (I guess that every couple of months would be “rapid” in comparison) without fanfare, that would probably do a lot to improve their image through word of mouth.

Also, that “customer feedback” they gather? It should include device temperature. I’m just sayin’.

Minecraft / Brainfuck Computer

This description of a Minecraft-based computer implementing Brainfuck had me laughing:

The program code is stored using villagers with different names for each command. While the program is running they are moved between three compartments …

[These] are the 8 registers that store the data. Each consists of two droppers and two hoppers that exchange dirt blocks

Not unlike some web frameworks I’ve seen, quite frankly. Someone needs to implement PHP in Minecraft hardware.

Windows audio shenanigans

I just spent about an hour two hours twisting knobs trying to get my Windows 7 desktop machine to listen to a microphone jack. I have a relatively nice USB-based audio thingamy (yes, it’s by Creative Labs, but the USB protocols are dead simple, right?) There’s a jack there, it’s got something plugged into it that’s emitting sound, but my recorder app can’t even open it.

So:

1. Get the latest drivers from Creative Labs. Suffer the usual 100MB download (I care about maybe one megabyte of it). Install. Reboot. Cringe at the full screen bullshit that Creative inserts in the boot process. Go ahead, Creative, I don’t use my computer for anything other than running your glorious software, so have your way with it. Uninstall and reinstall some other software that the CL stuff is unhappy about coexisting with. Reboot again; this is Windows.

2. Still doesn’t work. Continue to twist knobs. After about 20 minutes I realize that enabling the “Listen” option (buried two or three nested and tabbed dialogs deep) on an input makes it impossible to select any other input as a default. The failure mode is, shall we say, not obvious. I think I know the guy who “fixed” this stuff from Vista.

3. Don’t get me started on the iTunes user interface. Apple can afford to buy whole countries but apparently they can’t afford an engineering team that can design UI. Maybe it’s just my familiarity, but the Zune UI is way better, guys. Shouldn’t that shame you into doing something with iTunes?

I had to do this on my desktop because the Linux laptop I wanted to use has incredibly crappy audio circuitry. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize how jaw-dropping miserable it was until I saw the noise floor. Really don’t buy Lenovo hardware.

Why do we make things so hard?