Dhruv Mittal

Some guy with a bunch of opinions. Let's see what he wants.
He's harmless, honest.

Nexus 5 and Sprint

You would think they’d tell you that you need their fake sim card to activate the phone. And then, you’d expect them to actually have that far at their stores. Of course, that would be absurd.

Above: Gentium Book

Below: Dosis

Done with you, serifs. I have no love left for you. I thought you looked crisp, but now you’re just old.

Newspapers, while mildly romantic, just aren’t clean. 

I guess we all knew something like this would happen sooner or later.

It was almost a matter of time, really, before Feedly started pulling some sort of shenanigans. After all, if they’re not charging most of us for their services, they have to make their money some other way. 

So now they’re going around stealing page views from authors. Which is skeezy in the extreme. 

If authors are robbed of page views, we’ll eventually end up with no independent writers on the web. Independent writers, of course, are one of the best things about the internet- anyone can start writing, with no company needed to publish their words, with no editors barring their thoughts from the public. If your writing is good, you can draw in more readers. If your writing is good, you might sell some ad space on your site and your writing could pay for itself. If your writing is good, your readers might form a connection with your site and even share it with their friends and followers. 

Unless, of course, the dominant Google Reader replacement snatches up your page views and rehosts your content with their brand and their ads. 

That’s kind of not okay. Please don’t do it. 

I liked you, Feedly. You were fast, responsive, and beautiful. 

What happened?

The Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Is, as expected, pissing me off.

The machine combines everything I hate about Windows with everything I hate about tablets.

My father got one- he likes the pen input.

It’s currently stuck installing update 15 out of 24. Please don’t turn off your PC.

We’re hoping this update makes the machine detect his type cover again.

This is actually the second one he’s owned. We traded in the first when the battery refused to charge past 16% on the third day of use.

My patience is wearing thin.

Hating the Logitech Harmony One

The Chromecast is Google’s new “set-top box” for the internet age. It’s a tiny dongle that lets you cast content from your Android and iOS devices or from the Chrome browser directly to your television.

It’s a $35 answer to the Apple TV.

Almost. 

Regardless, I bought one the day it was announced. I love it. I brought it home to meet my parents. They fell in love with it too. And then I took it with me when I moved back onto campus for the school year.

Now it’s thanksgiving break and I’m home again. To my great surprise, my parents bought their own Chromecast. Great! Now I can sit around on the couch and watch Youtube and Netflix all day.

But first I have to turn it on.

Let me explain:

My parents have a full “entertainment center” setup in their living room. This consists of:

  • A TWC Cable Box

  • A DishNetwork Satelite Box

  • An AVC Box

  • A Wii

  • The TV itself

  • And now the Chromecast

And it’s all controlled by the remote that haunted my childhood- the Logitech Harmony One. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great looking remote. Its touchscreen makes it easy to turn on cable and set the TV’s input with one click. The Help button adequately solves most common problems caused by some device being on the wrong input.

image

So why do I hate it?

The setup’s a bitch.

However many years ago, my father and uncles set it up. The first page of activites read “Internet, Watch DVD, Home Media.” Two of those three options did nothing at all. Watching cable meant scrolling to the third page, ignoring a half-dozen useless options, and clicking “Watch Warner Cable.”

So here I am, sprawled out on the couch. I ask my mother, “How do I get to the Chromecast?” “I don’t know.”

Whatever. I look at the back of the TV, discover it’s plugged into HDMI 4. Okay. So I need to turn on the TV and AVC (I want sound, after all), and flop that over to HDMI 4.

Ummmmm.

Activities.

Next Page.

Next Page.

Watch Warner Cable. Easiest way to turn all this stuff on.

Devices. Mess with the TV settings, right?

SAMSUNG TELEVISION 314890. Here they are.

Next Page. None of the options on this page make sense.

Next Page. Okay here are the HDMI options.

HDMI 4.

Okay “Ready to Cast.” Not too bad, overall. Took me a minute or two to dig through the menus, but there’s no way my mother’s figuring that out.

I know! I’ll just set up the Harmony One remote to turn this on with a single click. Duhhhh.

The Setup

“Hey dad, how do I set up the remote.”

“There was a webUI, I think”

Google -> logitech harmony -> setup my remote.

My dad had a password saved.

Oh look, a few logitech remotes we’ve owned. Hmmm, not the one I’m trying to adjust.

“I swear this is how we did it,” says my dad.

I read the small text on the webpage. It lists some remotes the webapp is compatible with. The Harmony One isn’t, but the One+ is. The “+” is too small for my dad to read.

Some more googling leads me to the discovery that there’s an application I’ve got to download. Alright, I say, whipping out my Macbook. Like a caveman, I install the app. Oh look, it’s just a wrapper frame for the older setup web app. There’s absolutely no reason I couldn’t do this in a browser.

And it uses a different login than the webui we’d previously accessed. My father has no password saved for this one, so I go ahead and click the “I have no idea what my login is” button.

This bit, they got right. Plug in your remote. It detects the account the remote is associated with, asks my dad a security question, and now we’re off to the races.

It’s an older interface, but it’s functional. A lot of dropdown menus where I choose what hardware should be turned on and what each button should do. An update remote button that starts the five minute process of pushing the instructions to the remote, rebooting it twice, and some invisible battery of tests.

I can reorder the activities list by moving each option up or down by one. Slowly but surely, I whip this remote into shape.

I shouldn’t feel this triumphant adjusting a remote. It should be…a lot less work.

And guess what, the new webui for the handfull of newer remotes? It’s made of the same five-years-ago web technologies, microsoft silverlight, and a custom logitech plugin for your browser.

Aviate Launcher (Alpha) is pretty cool. 

Gave Feedbin a shot.

It let me down. For some odd reason, I thought a paid, $2 per month service was going to somehow outperform the free Feedly. 

I thought wrong. 

Feedly just outclasses Feedbin in every way. Aesthetically, Feedly is clean. It puts your content front and center, and everything else shrinks away. Feedbin is very committed to its three column layout at the cost of cluttering the interface with things that you are not currently reading. On my 13 inch screen, Feedbin is mostly Categories and Columns. This is somewhat better on my 15.6 inch ThinkPad’s Screen, but I can’t go with an app that just can’t scale down. Additionally, feeds that have been placed in Tags are still listed as seperate entities, adding to the clutter. It just doesn’t look good.

Feedly also has better speed and performance than Feedbin, both on the webapps themselves and on the API. Feedly’s syncing to Press for Android is quick- much as Google Reader’s was. Feedbin spent 5 minutes retrieving 200 articles over WiFi. Feedly accomplished the same sync in seconds. 

That’s just unacceptable. 

Luckily, Feedbin gives you three days to try it out before charging you for the first month.

Now I just need Reeder for Mac to update with Feedly Support. I’m sure it’s coming, as Reeder for iPhone does support Feedly. It’s just a matter of waiting. 

The other cool thing is how accurate this stuff is. I typed “wkax” and it got “size.” 
Ignore the CPU monitor at the top. I was doing some governor stuff and need to keep an eye on it for now. 

The other cool thing is how accurate this stuff is. I typed “wkax” and it got “size.” 

Ignore the CPU monitor at the top. I was doing some governor stuff and need to keep an eye on it for now.