Monday, February 19, 2018

Washington's Birthday 2018

No, this isn't the first time you've read something like this here, but it's worth repeating.

It seems nobody wants George Washington to have a birthday anymore. Or ever.

George Washington was born on February 11, 1731. At least, as they used the calendar at the time. Great Britain and its colonies used the Julian calendar then, and the new year didn't begin until March 25. Weird, right?

Then, in 1752, Great Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar. That moved New Year's Day to January 1, in addition to causing a refiguring of dates. Among the changes was that February 11, 1731 became February 22, 1732.

Only, folks weren't done messing with George Washington's birthday. You see, 1879, the United States added Washington's Birthday as its fifth national holiday, joining New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Other days were added along and along.

In the late 1960s, there came a movement to make federal holidays fall on a Monday. In 1971, that was made to happen for four of the nine federal holidays. New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day kept their actual dates. But Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day were moved to Mondays. When Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. was added -- as it's properly known -- it, too, was designated as a Monday.

All of the Monday holidays fall on the Monday nearest the actual date, except one: Washington's Birthday. It's the third Monday of February, which means it can fall as early as the 15th, but never after the 21st. In other words, Washington's Birthday will never fall on Washington's birthday.

But wait! There's more!

In the last several years, there has been a diminishing of George Washington by people calling his birthday "Presidents Day." Well, it's not. Now, it's true that some states used to celebrate Lincoln's birthday (February 12) as a state holiday, and have combined Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday into one observance. But, that's only for some states. The U. S. holiday on the third Monday in February is Washington's Birthday. Take a look at United States Code 5 U.S.C. 6103 and see for yourself.

It's been rough for George Washington's birthday, officially and unofficially.

First, they move his birthday from February 11 in one year to February 22 in another year. Then, they make it on a Monday that will never match the actual date. Then, they call it something else. Do some people hate George Washington? Maybe so, After all, he did help secure the blessings of liberty and help found these United States.

I think he deserves his birthday to be called by its proper name. If you hear anyone call it "Presidents Day," you have my permission to beat them around the head with a stick. Two, if you think they really need it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Smartphone research for an old churchlady

There's a lady I know from the church that wants a smartphone. She's in her 80s. I've known her since the 70s. Not her 70s, the 1970s. As in nearly 50 years. I'm often the person she calls with technology issues. And, apparently wanting a smartphone is a technology issue.

Sure, I understand that she doesn't know a lot about them, other than they are little devices that people carry around like a phone but use to get on The Facebook or search The Google or get The Email or other some such stuff. And, since she doesn't know much more than "iPhone," "Android," and "Samsung" are words that smartphone people use, she's not sure if she wants a Samsung, an Android, or an iPhone. Maybe even an Apple. She's not sure. As long as she can make calls, send a text once she learns how, and can do all the other things you can do with a smartphone which she doesn't know what that is but wants to do. Since she's not sure what phone will let her do all that, she's asking me.

Well, actually, she asked me a few weeks ago, because she's worried her flip phone is about to die. No, it's not doing anything wrong, but she's had it a while and she thinks it might up and die soon. So, she wants to get a smartphone. So, I'm researching smartphones for her.

I'm looking at carriers. She currently has AT&T and is probably paying more for her flip phone service than you are paying for a smartphone. I'll recommend she not go with Sprint or T-Mobile, despite the fact those are good services. Where she lives now, in a small town in southeast Georgia, Sprint is practically useless. T-Mobile isn't exactly useless, but there are places she goes where T-Mobile service is bad. So, I'm going to recommend she stick with AT&T, move to Verizon, or use a smaller carrier that rides one of those two services.

I'm probably going to recommend a prepaid plan. There are certainly no credit issues with her, but my research has shown, like many of you may already know, that for single line service, a prepaid plan is often cheaper. I didn't know that. But my research has indicated that to be the case. Regardless, some of the services I'm researching are prepaid only.

The other thing I'm going to recommend is an Android phone. Now, you may know that I have an iPhone, and have had an iPhone for several years. So, why would I recommend an Android phone? Price.

Sure, you can pay as much for an Android phone as you can for an iPhone. And, you can find certain iPhones for under $200 brand new from some carriers. But, overall, she can find an Android phone, and a good one, for less than an iPhone.

There's one other thing about an Android phone that doesn't hold true for an iPhone. If she calls me with a phone problem, I can honestly say that I have an iPhone and she would probably be better off speaking with some of her friends that have Android phones to help fix whatever is wrong.

Selfish of me? I don't care. You want her calling you? I didn't think so.

Now, to be honest, Android is a good phone operating system. And, some Android phones are good quality phones. Not just those expensive Pixel or Galaxy S8 or whatevers. So, she can actually get a good phone at a decent price. No reason to pay iPhone prices. I will steer her toward good quality Android phones.

Here are the carriers I've been looking at:
  • Sprint (already ruled out because of poor coverage in her area)
  • T-Mobile (already ruled out because of poor coverage in her area)
  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Cricket (rides AT&T)
  • Total Wireless (rides Verizon)
  • Straight Talk Wireless (rides Verizon)
  • Simple Mobile (rides T-Mobile and therefore ruled out)
  • FreedomPop (rides AT&T in her area)
There may be other carriers I'll look at. I don't have experience with Cricket or FreedomPop. I've used Total Wireless, Straight Talk, and Simple Mobile. I've ordered a FreedomPop SIM that I'll put in an old iPhone to try it out. Not sure when or how I'll try Cricket. I may have another spare phone around here somewhere. But, I'm going to actually try out the service and confirm it works well. I want to be comfortable in my recommendation.

When I tried Straight Talk some years back, the Android phone I got was a rather poor device. I don't recall the brand. The Android I bought when I tried out Simple Mobile was a Samsung Galaxy J3 Luna Pro. I currently use it as a mini tablet for my youngest grandson to play games.

So, I've been trying things out and researching prices, and I want to be able to make a recommendation to her later this month.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

iPhone X (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago, I was going to tell you my impression of the iPhone X. And, as a reminder, it's pronounced "ten" not "ecks" because it's a Roman numeral.

Anyway, I took a side turn and ended up telling why I got an iPhone X instead of what I thought of the iPhone X. I do stuff like that, you know. So, at the end of that post, I said "I like it."

Well, I'm going to go into a little more depth. I'll cover some of what I spoke about in my previous post, but not the billing part (which is where I got really sidetracked).

The size of the phone was my first concern. I knew from handling the Plus series phones from family members and others that I didn't want something that size. So, when I found out the iPhone X had a 5.8-inch screen, I ruled it out. That's larger than the Plus series 5½-inch screen. I thought the iPhone X would be around the same size of, if not larger than, the Plus phones. But no, it was closer in size to the standard 4.7-inch device. Slightly larger, but not much. The elimination of the areas above and below the screen, made for the larger screen size. The Home button was gone (more about that in a minute), and the area of the front camera and phone speaker was reduced. That made for a much larger screen on a slightly larger design.

I don't notice the difference in the size unless I handle a 4.7-inch iPhone and then pick up the iPhone X. In regular use, it seems the same size most of the time.

Okay now, the thing I was worried about the most: the Home button -- or lack thereof. I don't miss it. That surprised me. To use the "Home button," since there isn't one, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. I have no problem using my thumb for that. I used my thumb for unlocking on the 5s, 6, and 6s by touching the Home button, followed by a press and release. Touching it allowed the Touch ID to confirm my thumbprint and unlock it, and pressing it allowed the screen to become active.

With the iPhone X, I simply put my thumb where the Home button was, let it rest there slightly, then swipe up while looking at the phone. The differences are the swipe up instead of a button press, and the looking at the phone. Now, I was usually looking at the 5s/6/6s when I unlocked and opened it, but not always. With the new Face ID, if I'm not looking at it, it won't unlock. I can use the Passcode, of course, if I attempt to unlock it without Face ID.

Oh, and about the Face ID vs Touch ID? There's not much of a difference from the end-user perspective. At least, not for me. If my eyes are closed, or I'm otherwise not looking at the phone head on, it won't unlock using Face ID. I don't know how well it will work at a McDonald's drive-through, as I haven't hit a McDonald's drive-through since I got the iPhone X.

I used to drive through McDonald's just to screw with the window crew. I'd pull to the window to pay, hold out my phone, and they'd get this panicked look on their faces. Often, I'd tell them what to do and they'd go along with it, and they'd be amazed that the register told them the meal was paid for. Sometimes, they'd call a manager, who would usually know what to do, but occasionally had to be walked though it, too. I'll eventually hit a McDonald's drive-though just so I can screw with the crew some more.

Okay, now I need to think about what else is different on the iPhone X. Hmmm. Oh, yeah. The double-click to access running apps (Multi-tasking). Used to be, you'd double-click the Home button to call up the apps that were running in the background. With the iPhone X, you swipe up, and hold. I have no trouble with that. My mother does. She can never remember to do it, and when she does, she swipes with her finger, like she's brushing dirt off. I notice a lot of people make a striking swipe with their iPhones. I never did. I do things like you'll see on Apple's support pages where why have little videos and animations using the features. You can find an example here. In fact, I'm going to let that page tell you how to use an iPhone X and focus on my impressions from here on out.

The double-click of the Side Button to install apps had me confused at first, but once I realized what the on-screen animation was trying to tell me, I was fine.

Accessing the Control Center -- that's a swipe down from the top right corner -- is different. Used to swipe up, but that's now unlock. Hmph. Apple.

That's the differences and changes in behavior to use the phone. As for the actual use of the phone? Well, it's not really much different. I don't do a lot of photography, so I can't say that I find the camera a lot better. But, I understand it is.

The Animoji rhinf? Big fat hairy deal. I can now be a talking unicorn or a pile of poop. Whoop-de-frikkin-do.

Wireless charging? Well, I haven't been using that. But others have, and they love it. So, while I don't have first-hand experience with it, family members do and they like it. A lot.

All that to say the gestures and button pressed to activate a few features is different, but easy. In fact, when I pick up a different iPhone, or even my iPad, I try to use the iPhone X gestures. I'm used to it, and it didn't take long at all to get used to it.

In my last post, I said "I like it." But you got none of the details.

Here's my new summary of what I think: I like it.

Told you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

iPhone X

I upgraded my phone recently. I've had an iPhone 6s for s couple of years, but now, I have the iPhone X.

When they announced the iPhone X -- it's pronounced "ten" as in the Roman numeral, and only silly people call it the "ecks" -- I decided against getting one. The reason? Well, the $1000 price was part of it, but so was the size. Or what I thought was the size.

You see, I used to have an iPhone 6, which was an upgrade from the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s had a 4-inch screen. It took a little getting used to the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6. When I went from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6s, there was no adjustment period, as I was comfortable with that size phone.

I never got any of the "Plus" series phones, which had a 5½-inch screen. My daughter, son-in-law, and ex-wife all had a "Plus" series iPhone, so I had the opportunity to put hands on the device. I didn't like it. It was a little too big. Maybe I would have become used to it, as I did the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, but I didn't want to.

When the iPhone X was announced, I found out it had a 5.8-inch screen. So, in my mind, it was even larger than the "Plus" series, and if the 5½-inch "Plus" was too big, the 5.8-inch iPhone X would certainly be too big, right?


It turns out that while the screen has a larger diagonal measure, the overall phone is smaller. The iPhone X is 5.3% wider than the iPhone 8/7/6s devices, while the "Plus" series is 10.1% wider than the iPhone X. The iPhone X is 3.8% taller than the iPhone 8/7/6s while the "Plus" series is 10.3% taller than the iPhone X.

The iPhone X screen covers nearly the entire front of the phone, meaning there is more screen per total phone size on it than on other iPhone devices. So, after I put hands on an iPhone X and realized it was not noticeably larger than my current phone, one of my objections was removed.

That $1000 price, though. How to get around that?

Well, I found a way. Or, more properly, the way was always there. You see, I have an old Verizon plan. It's a 30 GB plan, and I have a pretty good price on it.

Some years ago, when I went back to Verizon (long story for another time) they were running specials. How special? Half price, that's how special. You could get a 6 GB plan for the price of a 3 GB plan. Or 10 GB plan for the price of a 5 GB plan. Or, the one I got, a 30 GB plan for the price of a 15 GB plan. Add to that, the fact that I get 19% off my data plan because of an agreement with the company where I work, I'm paying only 40.5% of the cost of the 30 GB plan.

By the way, they stopped that offer after a couple of weeks when they realized what they were doing.

Now, I am paying $40/month to connect each device. For their Unlimited Plan, it would drop to $20/month to connect, but the cost of the plan (Unlimited vs 30 GB) would increase, and the overall bill would be higher.

Now, there's one other thing, and it makes all the difference. As part of the Verizon Edge plan (told you my plan was old) I get a discount for financing devices. The $40/month drops to $15/month, which is less than $20.

There's another way of looking at it, though. If I play down enough to leave $600 owing on the phone, my monthly payments for the phone will be $25/month. That's the amount of the discount. It's like getting $600 off the cost of the phone. Meaning I can buy an iPhone X for $400.

Heck, you'd buy an iPhone X for $400 if you could.

Now, every time I go into a Verizon store for anything, they try to get me off the plan I'm on and onto an Unlimited Plan. I'm not budging. You see, that 19% work discount isn't applicable on an Unlimited Plan. So, I'd lose that. I'd also pay more for the plan. And I'd pay more for a phone, about $120/device. ($40/month becomes $20/month, but no Edge discount, meaning a higher net cost per phone.) The total cost would be more.

I'm staying on the plan I'm on.

Oh, I was planning on writing about the iPhone X and what I thought of it. Then I got sidetracked.

So, here's what I think of it: I like it.

See, I can be succinct if I try.

Monday, January 1, 2018

37 years

Did you watch the Rose Bowl? Are you missing the Sugar Bowl? Yeah, I'm a fan of college football, and you know that I am watching the Rose Bowl (overtime). I wanted to watch Georgia get a chance to play for the national championship, so, after spending the weekend fighting a cold, I watched the Rose Bowl.

Why did I care about Georgia winning? Maybe being from Georgia has a little to do with it. I haven't been allot to go to a lot of college games involving the Bulldogs over the years, but 37 years ago, I managed to make it to two games. I mentioned back in November about the 1980 Georgia-Florida game, the first UGA game I went to. The second? The 1981 Sugar Bowl, which was at the end that Georgia's magical 1980 season.

I lucked out and got four tickets. I took my girlfriend, her brother, and some chaperone her folks sent along. Stayed at a cousin's apartment in New Orleans, went to the game, and had a good time.

Wow. 37 years ago.

[The YouTube]

I am so ready for that 37 year drought to end.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Quantum Leap

©1993, 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
I used to enjoy watching Quantum Leap. The only reason I stopped was because the show ended. When I went to Korea in 1993, I missed a bit of the last season. However, as you'll see in a minute, I really didn't miss much.

I'm not saying I no longer like the show, but I'd forgotten how stupid it was at times, particularly there towards the end.

Hulu has the show. I've been watching the episodes from the beginning. There have been a couple that I didn't remember, so I may have missed them along the way. I've still missed one episode. Season 2's "Disco Inferno" isn't available from Hulu. I don't know why. Maybe something to do with the music from the episode and difficulty in getting streaming rights. On the other hand, it's available for streaming through Amazon, so that may not be the reason.

Anyway, I managed to watch 94-96 of the 95-97 episodes. It depends on how you count them. You see, the first episode was a TV movie that was broken into two episodes for reruns and syndication. Season 5 opened with the two hour episode about Lee Harvey Oswald. So, if you count them as two episodes each, there were 97 episodes. If you count each two-hour episode as a single episode, there were 95 episodes. Either way, I've missed one, the aforementioned "Disco Inferno."

Oh, and I'm not even attempting to count the Season 3 two-parter "The Leap Home Parts 1 & 2" as a single episode, since it aired on two separate nights. The episodes aired as separate episodes. Neither am I counting Trilogy as three, or even two, episodes. They had separate o -screen credits, and separate production codes, so I'm counting them as separate episodes. The pilot and Oswald actually double-length episodes that were broken out in reruns and syndication. The other multi-part episodes were not broken apart after airing. They were always as they were.

Anyway, the whole concept of traveling through time has always been fascinating. The show was well written -- for the most part -- and well acted -- for the most part. And, I've enjoyed the episodes. For the most part.

Sure, there's the suspension of disbelief with any science fiction show. But some episodes were just too much. I did enjoy most, though. The pilot, where he leapt into a pilot and broke Mach 3, was an enjoyable episode. The one based on Driving Miss Daisy was good, even though it wasn't based on movie Driving Miss Daisy. The episode "The Color of Truth" first aired on 3 May 1989, and Driving Miss Daisy didn't hit theaters until 15 December 1989. It could have been based on the play, which opened off-Broadway in April 1987 and was on nation tour in 1988. Those episodes were the ones that grabbed me as a fan and didn't let go.

Season 2 was when things first hinted at the things I didn't like. Remember the one where the housekeeper turned out to be a ghost? Yeah, I didn't care for that one. If they hadn't shown her fading out, but had her leave and then had the drowning victim turn out to greatly resemble her, that would have been fine. But, no, they showed her fading out, meaning she was a ghost. I'm willing to accept junk science. I'm not willing to accept ghosts.

The episode "The Boogieman," where Sam inspired a young Stephen King, was another that crossed the line. The evil Al and the evil disappearing goat ruined it for me. The one where he leapt into the chimpanzee? Not a fan. The one where the lady he ran over in the cab was an angel? Too much. Just like the one where he found the mummy in Egypt. Old Ptah-Hotep coming to life and killing the bad guy? Yeah, not a fan of that.

The last season featured Evil Leaper was kinda hokey. It seemed like one of those plotlines that they added to spice up the show. Like when The Time Tunnel added the silver aliens, taking the show away from its time travel roots. Jumping the shark, so to speak. The final season also had the one where Sam's character being taken off by the aliens in the flying saucer. Oh, and the one where the guy ended up actually being a vampire. And the one where Bigfoot helped out.

All that, plus they changed the theme song to an arrangement that seemed better fit for The A-Team, meant that, to me, the final season wasn't that great. I did like the final episode, though, even though it was a bit odd. Al got a happy ending, even if Sam never made it home.

Yeah, I'm complaining a lot about some episodes of the show, but overall, I enjoyed the show. I don't know if it would do for there to be a reboot of the show or bring it back in any way. It was a product of its time, and I enjoyed. Well, most of it. It's over and done. But, with Hulu, I can watch it again any time I want. And, I did. But I'm done now.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2

  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.