Thursday, February 26, 2015

Logitech G15 keyboard finally replaced


Couple of days ago, my Logitech G15 keyboard finally retired from the computer desk to the closet, because it stopped functioning due to a water spill or some other unexplainable cause. So it was time for me to buy a new keyboard. Fun times?


I guess you know what keyboard I bought but now. The Logitech G910 is an amazing keyboard, with a hefty price tag. With the amazing Logitech (sorry, Logicool) support here in Japan, this is the obvious choice when spending that much money on a keyboard. I guess you better read a review here because I'm not going to review it as I did NOT buy the G910. Sad scene!

You’d be surprised by my final decision. Read on.

My Logitech G15 keyboard died


Yesterday I stayed at home because I was not well. I was watching the match between West Indies and Zimbabwe when the PC screen went into standby, which shouldn't have happened as the video was being viewed full-screen. Thinking that Chrome was acting funny, I wanted to go into power options to temporarily turn off the display going into standby when the PC was idle for sometime. When I pressed the Windows button + X to make the system menu show up (it’s a Windows 8 thing, fyi), it didn't. I thought I had disabled Windows button because the baby loves pressing it when he is having his meals, which causes the cartoons to disappear, driving my wife insane. But I hadn't disabled the Windows key.

The keyboard wasn't responding to any key presses!!!!

I unplugged the keyboard from the USB port and replugged it. This has happened a few times, but only when I had LGS running. LGS is a buggy pile of crap software. That didn't make any difference, as I didn’t have LGS running in the first place. It’s not only buggy, but adds input lag which is a nuisance when playing Crysis 3 online.

Option two: I switched the USB port they keyboard was plugged into. No change again.

Option three: I tried it on the Asus T100 tablet and the MacBook Air. Nothing!!!

I have to confess that the keyboard wasn’t totally dead. The 6 G-keys seemed to register something, as I heard the exclamation sound of Windows 8.1 faintly but I didn't have the Logitech Gaming Software installed so I couldn't check it they really were sending out a signal. So, not 100% dead. but dead enough to be hardly useful.

So what could have killed the keyboard?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I won’t go without juice ever again. Bought a portable battery life.


In the previous post, I wrote that I decided to buy a portable mobile charger for my Nexus 5 and a Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth headset.

So what did I buy?

I decided that I would not need more than 10,000mAH capacity. When I checked the products available on Amazon, there were couple of larger batteries within my budget as well. Still, they were a bit more expensive than the 10,000mAH ones, so I decided to stick to my original plan. Unfortunately, none of the brand were familiar to me because this is the first time I've been in the market for a portable mobile charger. I couldn’t find any legitimate reviews either.

I was lost.

Finally I had to take a risk. Since I am buying from Amazon, I can return it within a month if I am not satisfied with the product. But that doesn’t mean I can test them all one by one and return all until I find the best one.

I had to pick a good enough charger, with the information I had at hand. I figured that

  • the price,
  • the build quality from the listed pics on Amazon’s product listing (unless I could locate it on the manufacturer’s website),
  • state of Amazon reviews and
  • the originating country

would be a reasonable set of criteria the base my decision on.

Decided to buy a portable battery charger for my Nexus 5

portable battery charger nexus 5

Image courtesy of this video from wwjoshdew

When I bought the Nexus 5, one of the biggest concerns I had was about the battery life. Lollipop was supposed to improve it but it didn't. Couple of days I ran out of juice before getting back home after work.

But after that I removed couple of apps that were using a lot of battery life, specifically ones that were constantly monitoring location. Furthermore, I decided to disable location services altogether when I was at work and enable it when I was leaving the office place. This made my phone last a full day without any issue. I would have about 30% or not battery life remaining by the time I got home. So I could delay the purchase of a portable battery charger further into the future.

But couple of events occurred during the last week that made me change my mind.

First event happened over the weekend when we went on shopping in Musashi Mizonokuchi. Since we went there after noon, I had used up a considerable amount of battery and there was no time for me to charge the phone. This the battery went dead while we were shopping. When I said shopping, I meant shopping for clothes and that means I'm hardly entertained during that period. (I usually use internet shopping when I shop for gadgets.) If my kid was awake, I could have had fun with him but he was also asleep during that time and I didn’t want to wake him up because he would have started crying if he didn’t get enough sleep. And these clothing shops are so terrible, that they don’t facilitate for the husbands who don’t give a rat’s ass about shopping for clothes but paying benches to sit on. Fine, if I had a phone with me as I would have found a way to entertain myself.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

One Drive 100 GB upgrade for existing Dropbox users?


Yesterday there were reports all over the internet saying that Microsoft was offering 100GB of free OneDrive cloud storage for one year if you are currently a Dropbox user. Their plan is to get you off Dropbox and hook you up with their services. I don't know what would happen after the 1 year. They might prompt you to pay for it if we wish to continue using their services. But I do not intend to subscribe so I'll have to move the data off of it before the deadline, which I hope would be reminded to me when it getting near.

I headed down to the offer link and tried signing up with the offer. Unfortunately, it was a failure.

The first time was tried on my Nexus 5. Thinking that could be the issue, I tried it on my Desktop PC as well, and that did not change the result.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Samsung 840 series SSD after 2 years and 2 months

The warranty for my Samsung 840 series 250GB SSD has run out. It was purchased in December of 2012 and since it has TLC flash, Samsung only granted a warranty period of 3 years. Usually, you would get about 5 years for SSDs with regular MLC flash.

But does that mean the drive is close to die? Far from it! Despite the low number of erase cycles supported (1000 per flash cell) by the flash on these drives before they are unable to m, they are good hundreds of terabytes, or even thousands all thanks to the wear leveling employed by the controller.

In my case though, I am nowhere near hundreds of terabytes. In fact, I haven’t even crossed 10TB!!! As per Samsung SSD Magician, as of today, the total bytes written to the drive is only 9.89TB.

840 small

Samsung SSD Magician info


SSDLife Pro info

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Got rid of the mouse pad


You all know that I'm an avid Crysis 3 player and I believe I'm reasonably good at it. (Click here to watch my Crysis 3 gameplay playlist on YouTube, and please subscribe to my channel if you find it interesting.)

However, I had been having difficulty aiming at the enemy for almost the entire time I had been playing Crysis 3. At first, I blamed the high ping for that. After that, I found out that I was getting a large input lag and I changed the blame to that. But, couple of days ago I figured it could be something else as I've tweaked the system to lower the latencies to the level that I'm comfortable tweaking (without going insane like this fellow at OCN) and my aiming hasn't improved a bit.

I use either the Logitech G500 wired mouse or the G602 wireless mouse in performance mode when gaming. One might say that the G602 could be the cause of the high input lag, but honestly, I don't see any lag with the G602 compared to the G500 in the performance mode. In the endurance mode, there definitely is a noticeable input lag. That said, I'm sure there are people who can notice an input lag difference between G500 and G602 mice, because at the end of the day, the G602 is wireless and there are inherent processing delays, even if you assume zero retransmits.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Accessing data from a PC over the network with an Android device–is a walk in the park!

The reason I bought a Windows 8 based tablet was because I thought that it would be the easiest to access data from my desktop PC, the place where I store all my data. If I went with the iPad, I would need to have an application running on the desktop which acts as the server and a corresponding client on the iPad. That might have changed by now because I bought the first tablet 2 years ago.

Now that I have an Android device with me finally, I wanted to see if there was a method to access content on the desktop from it. Apparently, there is. You don't even have to install any servers either. However since Android doesn't ship with a file browser, you need to grab one from the Google Play Store. Not just any file browser though. One that's specifically capable of accessing data from a network location.

Before today, I had a file browser installed for the sake of it but it could only browse the local storage. The name of the app was called Cabinet. While it was pretty looking as the developers have adhered to the Material Design guidelines, I had to look for something else. A Google search revealed an app called ES File Browser to me, and it indeed could do what I wanted to do: access the content on my desktop PC.


The app showing the Desktop PC on the network.

Android 5.1–when is it coming?

Androd 5.1 Lollipop

Android Lollipop, while looks pretty and polished, is buggy on the Nexus 5. There is a long list of issues, however the ones I'm facing are the slowdowns, frequent app crashes and faster battery drainage.

But it appears that the wait won't be that long until many, if not all, of those issues will be fixed because Android 5.1 is going to come out in the coming months. Funny thing is that it would initially be coming out with Android One devices. Those are the ones aimed at developing nations, this comes with less premium looking features. It makes sense to release it with these devices because the performance impact of these known issues would be much more pronounced with them than the Nexus line of devices.

Google might release it for the Nexus 6 shortly afterwards or at the same time because it is their number one premium device, however I doubt the Nexus 5 users will be treated similarly. Same thing happened with Android 5 as well, where it took about 3 months for the Nexus 5 to receive the over-the-air update. Many people would say that it is to balance the server load, but this is Google we are talking about. Plus, the Nexus line of devices' market share is insignificant compared to other brands.

While Google hasn't released any official announcements about the 5.1 update, many websites (here's one) have published about the alleged change log and even the build numbers of the firmware for different Nexus devices. Thus, the launch is imminent. It's sad that Google hasn't issued any details about it, not even a timeframe. Bad Google, bad!

Although the OTA update might be delayed for the Nexus 5, in sure you would be able to update manually by downloading the the official firmware from Google servers. Despite not wanting to go through that manual upgrade process again, I will definitely take that because I'm so eager to get my Nexus fixed. I guess the thought is mutual between every Nexus 5 user.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Clean installed Mac OSX Yosemite on my aging 2011 MacBook Air


In the previous post, I mentioned a battery life issue with our MacBook Air. To see if it was just a software problem, I wanted to perform a clean installation of OSX Yosemite. The OS the laptop had was a upgraded multiple times, from original OSX Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks and finally Yosemite. Upgrading is not my usual thing, but I didn’t care much about the Mac because I wouldn’t be the one using it primarily. I love my fully functional desktop PC.

Last night, after coming back from home, I decided to clean install Yosemite. I was going to install it from a bootable OSX installer on one of my 16GB Sandisk USB 3.0 flash drives. I followed this guide to make the USB installer and followed this guide to perform the installation. It went through without any drama and every finished within 30 minutes.

After I booted into the OS, the first thing I checked was the battery status. It didn’t have the “Service battery” status anymore!!!! Does that mean, it was just a software issue?

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.32.45 AM

It is too early to draw any conclusions, but I’m glad that I don’t have to take it to the Apple Store to get it serviced. Knowing Apple, they would have demanded a hefty price for it.

However, now that I know there could be an issue with the battery – false positive or not – I should think about selling this off and getting the latest MacBook or MacBook Air. Despite Intel not making much strides in the field of consumer processors, 3 years is a long time for a PC, especially when it is something that cannot be upgraded like a desktop PC.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Is the battery of our MacBook Air dying?

After a long time, today I logged into my our MacBook Air to do some maintenance. I only use it for that: OS updates and stuff.

There was an OS update (I cannot recall the version number because I have no interest in this OS) so I kept the power adapter plugged in because I expected it to take a while. I didn't take long, but I let it charge through to 100%. After a while I attended back to it and clicked on the battery icon in the menu bar near clock. (Again I cannot recall why I did that.)

There was a notification saying "Service battery" with an exclamation mark next to it in the info tray that was pulled down when clicked on the battery icon.

This was the first time I had seen such notification. Did you notice that it said 2:05 remaining? Just 2:05 with a 94% charge? Something must be up!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bought Lastpass premium again


A long time ago, when I had the iPhone 3GS I think, I subscribed to Lastpass premium because I use it to store all my passwords and you cannot use it without the premium subscription on a mobile phone. After it expired, I decided not to buy the subscription because I found out that I could use Keepass on the iPhone with MiniKeepass app, free of charge. Of course I didn't deviate from Lastpass on the desktop because it was way convenient than any other solution. So I had to sync the Lastpass passwords with Keepass once in a while. I stored the password database in Dropbox and opened it from the Keepass app. Then I had to copy username and password for each of the websites I wanted to log into. Tedious task, I know, but it would be quite similar with Lastpass as well unless you wanted to use its own inbuilt browser, which I doubt anyone uses.

Fast forward to 2014. With iOS 8, Apple made it possible for Lastpass to integrate with Safari. I still didn't want to switch from Keepass because I was quite used to using it and because Safari itself came with password auto-filling capabilities. Sure, you had to do the first time manually, but after that it was easier. I believe it didn't work with all website, still it was a welcome addition. Chrome also synced up passwords with desktop profile, however I hardly used it on the iPhone because Safari delivered a superior user experience.

And now it's 2015, and I have finally switched to Android. Specifically, Lollipop. With Android, you can do even more. Not only you can fill the passwords automatically in the browser, but you can do the same for almost all the apps installed in the phone as well. This is very useful as some of the banking and credit card apps don't let to save the password in the app for automatic login.

I felt that this was the sign I was waiting for to renew my Lastpass premium subscription. It was indeed possible to use Keepass on Android, but there was no official app. I had to use a 3rd party app, and it didn't want to store the master password for the database, so it was still a bit tedious to use, so Lastpass premium's benefits were real.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wireless charger for the Nexus 5

QiWhen I bought my Nexus 5, I thought I would get better battery life than the iPhone 5S, as it had a substantially larger battery. I was wrong. It gave similar battery life, however I didn't have to tweak the OS like I had to do for iOS to get the same battery life. I let all the Google services run in the background because that's the way you are supposed to use a smartphone. I apparently hadn't been using the iPhone like one.

With Lollipop, I thought that the situation would improve but instead it got worse. Everyone using a Nexus 5 is facing reduced battery life, among other issues.

When I posted about my disappointment on Facebook, Kalinga told me to buy few wireless chargers and place the phone on top of one whenever the phone is being used. What he actually meant was to use one at home and use another one at work. Having a charger at work would solve my problem. However, I'm not sure if we are allowed to use one, especially one which connects to the PC via USB, due to data security, especially with an Android device. With the iPhone, you cannot do much without iTunes – no such limitations with a Nexus.

I didn't know that the Nexus 5 supported wireless charging. It does, as per specs on Google’s Nexus 5 product page. It’s sad that they don’t ship it with a wireless charger. Google sells the official charger separately, but it is quite expensive: more than 10 times the price of the unit I was directed towards.

Finally bought a case for my Nexus 5

Rugged Impact Hybrid Hard Kickstand Case CoverEver since I bought my first iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, I had a case covering the fragile body of every iPhone. I have dropped phones, even right in the middle of the road while crossing it. But I am yet to get any of them damaged. In fact, I recently checked how my iPhone 5S was doing, which was protected by an iFace case (you can read about it here), and it was in impeccable condition.

When I bought the Nexus 5, I saw it having a screen protector kind of cover over the screen, but it had the text “nexus5” written right in the middle of it. Otherwise, it was a decent shield for the screen. At first I did not think I would need a case for the phone because of the polycarbonate body, but I plan on holding on to this phone for a while and I did not want to get it damaged in the event of an accident. So I decided to look for a case.

Case in the local Japanese market are quite expensive. But my friend Michael recommended me the case that he had on his Nexus 5, which could be bought from eBay at a very low price. (Click here to see it on eBay) However, at first I wasn’t moved by it – it looked bulky and not elegant at all. It had an in-built kick-stand, which wasn’t very concealing. However, after few thoughts, I decided to buy the case as it was only about $3.20. The only issue was the long wait. It would take 2 to 4 months to arrive, and I had to keep the phone out of harm’s way until then. The case was supposed to come with a screen protector as well, so it was a sick deal. Shipping was also free.

Since I did not think my wife would like the design at all, I decided to order just one for the moment. And I ordered the black model.

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