All posts by mikestrock

Apple CarPlay versus Android Auto

When I purchased my car in 2019 (Chevrolet Spark), I didn’t initially know that the car supported CarPlay or Android Auto.
I purchased the car with no options whatsoever. So I have manual windows, manual door looks, no key fob that locks and unlocks doors, etc.
But I found that the car supported CarPlay and Android Auto.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both allow you to do the following

– Navigation via the phone, either using Google Maps or Apple Maps
– Make and receive phone calls hands free
– Send and receive text messages hands free

Those are the basics. I’m sure there are more things, but those are the items I use it for 99.9% of the time

CarPlay has some significant advantages over Android Auto.

– With CarPlay, when you tell the system to read new messages, it will read ONLY your new messages. Android Auto will read ALL your messages.
– With CarPlay, if you are having the system read your messages, or replies, and a new message comes in, you will be given the opportunity to
read that message after your current messages have been read.

I find that CarPlay is more robust, and is more mature than Android Auto. While I prefer Android, because of the limitations of Android Auto, I have chosen to stay with iOS and CarPlay for now.

Windows annoyances and the Mac

I’ve used Microsoft Windows since 3.0. I’ve used most versions of Windows in beta form since Windows 95 as well.

Recently, my main laptop died (I only buy laptops about once every seven years or so). So I switched to using a desktop.

Recently, I’ve been helping my father in law out by staying at his house. So I switched to a different older Dell laptop that had Windows 10 on it. Worked fine. It’s slow, but it worked.

I emphasize worked.

Windows (in it’s infinite wisdom) decided to install updates on Friday night. After that, when it rebooted, it would get about 2-3% progress and then it would turn the laptop off. So I would turn the computer back on. It would progress 2-3% more, then turn off.

Finally, it got to 100%. At that point, I could log in and the machine would turn itself off.

Fabulous. I don’t have time for this. So I did a complete re-install of Windows. Worked fine, until I did a Windows update. Then I ran into the same issue.

So I gave up. I installed UBuntu Linux. I got the VPN working to my office. Works fine. I can use Remote Desktop to get into my work desktop and get work done. It’s not a long term solution.

Long term, my plan is to buy a new laptop. But I’m going to pick up a Macbook Air. I had one for about four months last year, until I decided to sell it because I was short on cash.

Big mistake. I loved the laptop. I was able to use it for everything I do, which is mainly through the browser, and then through Remote Desktop once I connect to work. I use Lightroom for photography,which works wonderfully and faster than my regular home desktop. Plus, it weighs about 2.3 pounds. My old laptop weighed 8 pounds.

Annoying, yes. But I think it’s time to move to the Apple side for my laptop needs.

Heat waves, and tiny houses

We’ve been having a minor heat wave in the PNW for the last few days. It was 100+ the last couple of days, but it has cooled down to a respectable ~80 degrees today.

Got me to thinking more about the tiny house idea.

The tiny house we stayed in when we were in Leavenworth, and many tiny houses, have mini-split systems. They both heat and cool the house.

Because the tiny house is so small (250 sq ft), it takes very little time to either heat or cool the space.

Would have been a great thing the last few days….

I had a guy come to my house about eight months ago to replace a thermostat. I talked to him about putting a mini split in the house I currently live in. He said it would work well for such a small house I live in, but then I asked him the cost to do so.

~$18,000.

I’m sure there are other alternatives, and getting different bids would be a must. Good to know.

Books, digital versus physical, part 2

Something I had not realized during my ‘e-book’ time, is that hardback books no longer ‘live forever’ in bookstore time. Granted, I probably haven’t been in a physical bookstore about 18-24 months (covid not the reason), but I was surprised by this, I guess.

I tend to read books in a series, or by a specific author. At least until that author either passes away, or in some cases, stops writing, for whatever reason.

A few authors I have read like that are;

– Tom Clancy
– Stephen R. White
– Janet Evanovich
– John Grisham
– Brad Thor
– Lee Child
– JA Jance – The Beaumont series, not her Ali Reynolds books
– Sue Grafton, until her untimely passing from cancer (damn cancer)
– Vince Flynn, who succumbed to colon cancer. Kyle Mills has picked up the baton there though

In the Vince Flynn series, I missed a book (not sure how this happened), call Lethal Agent. So I ventured off this morning to find Lethal Agent in hardcover in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I’m thankful they are still in business, but I miss Crown Books and Borders.

Alas, they did not have the book in stock, either in hard cover or paper back. I could order it and they could have it for me within a week or two.

Or, I could buy it in e-book form and have it immediately. Or, I could just order it from Amazon and have it on Saturday.

Digital books versus physical books

As many people who know me know, I’ve been a proponent of digital books (Kindle, Books on iPad) for many, many years.

I’ve gotten dozens of books digitally, and have read on a Kindle or an iPad for years.

But recently, I noticed that when I read on the iPad, or the Kindle, my eyes get tired, or I get distracted by the other apps on the device.

To that end, I’ve decided to start ordering physical books for a while. I usually order at least one book a month (Amazon loves me), but for my next book, I will be buying a physical hard cover.

We shall see how it goes.

I think it will be a nice change. I can’t afford to convert all my digital books to physical books, but going forward, I will probably stick to the physical hard cover books.

Lightroom 6 on an i5 versus Lightroom Classic on M1 Macbook Air

Same 64 images. Exported to JPG. 100% quality.

Lightroom 6 on i5 – 80 seconds – 16 gigs of ram.
Lightroom Classic CC on M1 – 32 seconds – 8 gigs of ram. Intel version of Lightroom Classic

Did another test with a different set of photos

Lightroom 6 on i5 – 4 minutes 52 seconds – 167 photos
Lightroom Classic CC on M1 – 2 minutes 18 seconds – 167 photos

Tesla and Full Self Driving

I’ve been watching a few videos from a guy by the name of James Locke on Youtube. He has the fully self driving beta for his Tesla Model 3 and has been posting videos of his experience with it, and the experience looks pretty good.

I think he *may* be a Tesla employee, but I don’t honestly know.

I can see a potential benefit to fully self driving, even for someone such as myself who enjoys the driving experience and long road trips.

– Driving at night
– Driving in the rain
– Driving at night, in the rain
– Driving over the pass (snow or no)

While I love to drive, and am unsure that I could fully give over control to a machine, the benefits of a self driving automobile, in my opinion, are plenty. There are lots of people who don’t enjoy (or have difficulties) driving at night. There are lots of people who don’t enjoy (or have difficulties) driving in the rain, especially at night.

Enter self driving. The driver still needs to pay attention, of course, but the car does 99.9% of the work and makes decisions based upon machine learning.

From the videos I’ve watched, they (Tesla) are on the road to having a fully self driving version available probably within the next year.

Interesting times, indeed.

Why I want to go tiny

I’ve been thinking quite a bit since our tiny house adventure this summer about why I want to go tiny. I think it is for a multitude of reasons, here are most of them:

– Easier to heat (a small fireplace/propane fireplace could heat the whole house)
– Less stuff means less clutter means less cleanup
– The money we save on utilities and the like could be used for other endeavors

The biggest downsides to going tiny

– I need an office space
– I want a dishwasher and a washer and dryer and a stove/oven
– I need land. Preferably at least five acres. I don’t want to live in a RV campground
– Downsizing would be a challenge. Doable, but a challenge.

Points to ponder.

The potential seduction of the Dark Side

I’ve used a PC since 1983. I’ve used every version of Windows, personally and professionally, since Windows 3.1.

I used to carry a laptop to and from work, until it died an untimely death. Now I use a desktop both at home and at work.

I’ve wanted to go back to using a laptop for quite a while now. I’m not one of those people who upgrades their computer every year. My desktop at home is four years old, and my desktop at the office is even older.

But, recently, Apple introduce new computers based on their own architecture. From reading the reports, the machines are quite fast.

The Macbook Air, which is the lowest level laptop that they sell, is $999. It weighs less than five pounds. By contrast, my previous laptop weighs at least eight, maybe nine pounds.

The battery life on the Macbook Air is somewhere North of six to seven hours. My laptop (which is at least 9 years old) gets no battery life. When it did get battery life, it lasted for maybe two hours.

Most of the work I do now is in the browser, or via Remote Desktop into a Windows machine.

I’m sorely tempted to get a Macbook Air because the portability would be awesome.

Also, if we do move into a Tiny Home down the road, I think we would both switch to using laptops, to save space. This would be a good step forward toward that goal of consolidating my computer equipment.

Also, I am hoping that 2021 will allow Laurie and I to travel a bit more. Having a good laptop for travels would be an excellent bonus.

We shall see. Gotta save those pennies and hope that 2020 doesn’t kill my business. In 2021, we shall see. I may move my computer usage to the Dark Side.

Android versus iPhone

This post is mainly for me, so that when I consider switching, I can look at it and see where the pain points are (at least for me)

Everything works for me on both platforms.

IPhone

– iMessages and FaceTime are proprietary, so I have to remember to turn off
– In CarPlay, for whatever reason, the phone responds more consistently than Android Auto
– WhatsApp backs up to iCloud, so if I go back to Android, I lose the messages in WhatsApp, even though they are backed up.
Haven’t found a way to back up to Google Cloud instead,at least on iPhone.

Android

– I can originate and reply to text messages in the browser. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Bad because it is a security risk. Good, because I am most frequently at my computer, and it makes it
very easy/convenient to reply to text messages. This is the main feature that brings me back to Android.
– In Android Auto, my phone frequently doesn’t respond to ‘Hey, Google.’ Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
Inconsistent. Mostly works, but when it doesn’t it’s a major pain, as I rely on it when I am in the car.
– WhatsApp backs up to Google Drive, so I can’t restore if I move back to iPhone.

For now, I’ve decided (painfully) to stick with iPhone. For now.