Let’s Talk About… Net Neutrality #NetNeutrality

Let’s Talk About NET NEUTRALITY!
Article cited: https://thinkprogress.org/the-fcc-just-decided-to-repeal-net-neutrality-heres-why-thats-really-really-bad-64e376ea04d3/
#NetNeutrality https://www.battleforthenet.com/
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iPad Pro vs Pixelbook


*** iPad Pro vs Pixelbook Notes ***
Multitasking (App Switching)
Style / Design Ethos
Jank (?)
Voice Control
App Store Availability
Browser Experience
Cohesive Design Patterns
Intelligible Layout
Animations / Transitions
Default Keyboard & Typing Speed
Productivity Promise
Battery Life

iPad Pro Review: https://youtu.be/F5fkbJpFIDc
Pixelbook First Impressions: https://youtu.be/-JEmCyPcU_A
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Pixelbook Review: First Impressions



Pixelbook Review: First Impressions
Thank you Device Fund supporters! http://go.tagjag.com/devicefund

  • Screen flashes / changes when “too much” white appears suddenly? Unsure if it’s hardware or software, but insanely jarring
  • Some button styles during the setup wizard are styled differently than other ones (like, legacy buttons that haven’t been tweaked yet)
  • Both video and scrolling are relatively smooth, but there seems to be a blur at times – as though pixels aren’t able to keep up (one video seemed to exhibit frame drops at times with high speed object)
  • Generally, items are responsive when interacting with them on the screen. There’s still quite a bit of jank, but not nightmare-scenario.
  • Screen wobbles pretty badly when touching in “laptop” mode.
  • Android apps don’t like the touchpad as much as they like your finger for interactions (Instagram)
  • Keep tripping the Assistant key accidentally (while trying to use the
  • Alt key for shortcuts, remapped to work like MacOS Command)
  • App manager can be a bit confusing – mixed between Chrome apps and Android apps, sometimes unable to tell which is which (Google Play Music)
  • Awesome to see Chrome extensions working
  • Worried about silicone palm rests wearing down / getting dirty
  • Backlit keyboard ONLY useful in VERY dark rooms
  • Touch input lag with Android apps
  • Lap play is just fine, balanced
  • Tent mode will prove to be quite convenient
  • Trackpad is taking some getting used to compared to bring accustomed to MacBook trackpad
  • Bonus: 2 Years worth of 100GB on Google Drive
  • Bonus: 3 Months of Play Music (Saving me on YouTube Red, Family)?
  • Kinda starting to feel like a $500 experience, not a $1,000 one
  • Battery life seems to be okay – so long as brightness isn’t at full power
  • Seemingly wanting to use it more than iPad – but I have to consider when, how, why I would use it

Best iPhone X Review?!

Best iPhone X Review — are the new reviews confirmation bias?

Are you excited for the iPhone X?

How long should people have a device before producing a review?

iPhone X: Getting One?

Will I be getting an iPhone X? Are YOU getting an iPhone X? Why are you getting an iPhone X? The iPhone X will be hard to get, so good luck if you’re interested – but I’m still not interested in the iPhone X at any price. But https://go.tagjag.com/devicefund support!

The Best Way to Learn Code is Your Own Way

Keisy, a newly registered member of our community-powered Q&A resource LockerGnome.net, wants to learn code:

What would be better? Trying to learn code online with a good certified course, or trying it by attending an on-campus course?

The Best Way to Learn Code is Your Own WayCoding, or computer programming, is a subject of interest to many in the LockerGnome community; knowing where to begin learning is the elusive part. As our editor Bob recently pointed out, learning how to program is not the esoteric science that it seems, reserved for a select few genius practitioners. No, coding is not simply for the Mensa set; anyone can learn code. Like any language, computer code is more or less a set of terms structured in a way that seems unfamiliar and difficult to make sense out of at first glance. Deciphering computer code for the first time can make a person feel a bit like a dog being asked to read a blog. Yet as with any subject a student undertakes, once you begin to understand the basics of programming, everything else will come together as long as you are willing and have the patience to learn.

Learning Code or Learning to Code?

The first thing to decide when selecting an educational course of action is precisely what it is you wish to learn. In the case of programming, do you wish to learn how to program, or do you wish to learn programming?

The first approach to the subject, learning how to code (or how to program, or how to write programs), indicates a desire to learn the actual syntax, rules, language and logic of code so that you may then apply it. Software engineers, computer programmers, application developers: these are all professional titles applied to those who have learned how to program and are actively engaged in the practice of writing computer programs, whether they be desktop, Web, or mobile applications.

Learning code (or learning programming), on the other hand, indicates a willingness to explore the subject of programming from the view of a computer scientist who is not necessarily going to write code. Learning more about programming theory, best practices, varieties of methods and tools: these are all disciplines within computer science that will lead the learner to an occupation in project management, computer and information system management, or one of the many other aspects of the computer sciences that do not require one to regularly write code.

Learn Code at Your Own Pace Versus a Structured Environment

Once you’ve decided which aspects of programming you wish to learn, you’ll need to figure out what your preferred learning style is. Are you the type of person who learns best in a structured environment, such as in a classroom setting? Or have you found that you retain knowledge better when you discover it at your own pace? Recognizing the type of learner you are is nearly as important as deciding on what to learn.

Some people prefer the traditional method: the classroom. Both online and on-campus classrooms provide settings where the student is typically encouraged to engage in dialogue with a teacher and other students. Many have benefited from this type of setting, as it provides the type of environment that encourages the student to reach certain milestones in their learning under the guidance of a mentor and in competition with their peers. Relating with others through discussion, whether in person or virtually, can assist the individual in thoroughly comprehending and retaining the knowledge gained through classroom instruction. There are also hybrid courses that offer meetings both online and on campus.

Others have had difficulty learning in a classroom environment, finding they learn far better through self-study. Though many aspects of coding require the developer to work with others, particularly when working with a team, the act of writing programming code is most often a solitary activity. Just as the writer of novels retreats from his family and friends to type his words in isolation, the writer of applications inputs her code by herself. Programmers, like writers, often also study in isolation in order to better their understanding of the craft. There exists a vast collection of resources available for those who prefer self-directed study, including books, websites, DVDs, and podcasts.

The key things to consider are your own past successes in education. Did you learn best studying at your own pace? Did you prefer the structured setting of a classroom? Did competing with others help you to learn, or did you find that to be more stressful than instructional? Has it been important for you to be able to stumble upon information independently? Have you preferred to have others skilled in areas you wish to understand demonstrate their expertise? Once you understand how you best learn, choose the educational method that seems to best match. Many people learn using a variety of methods, both self-directed and in classroom environments.

For those of you who are interested but on the fence about whether or not you should learn code, I’ll leave you with a few remarks by programming language designer Mitchel Resnick:

When you learn to read and write, it opens up opportunities for you to learn so many other things. When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. When you learn to code, it opens up for you to learn many other things.

Wedding: Matching Tablets for the Honeymoon and Beyond

Which tablet would you choose - on a budget?

Christopher Smith writes:

I have a question for you and was hoping that you can help. I plan on using my tax return this year to purchase a new tablet (or possibly two, but more on that later) or similar device. The problem I have is that I am getting married in 2014 and will put a large chunk of my tax return also aside to save for the wedding. This will leave me with only about $600-$700 for a tablet and protective case. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for what would be an above-average tablet at that price range. In a perfect world I’d love to get two tablets (one for my fiance) as well, but I don’t want to buy two $200 tablets that are garbage. If there are tablets out there that could be purchased in a pair for a total of $600-$700, I’d do that. I have previously owned an iPad (first generation), but I’ve gotten rid of it. My fiance and I both have Android phones and she currently uses a first generation Amazon Kindle (that’s in desperate need of an upgrade). Do you have any advice for me?

Which tablet would you choose -- on a budget?
Which tablet would you choose — on a budget?

I don’t know how you define “above average,” and I’m not really sure why you decided to get rid of the first-generation iPad, but my immediate thought is to recommend two iPad minis. I’d consider the iPad mini above average in terms of build quality, app selection, and hardware feature set. You’d be able to get two of them, and they should each last quite a while.

You said you didn’t want garbage, so I’d avoid half-hearted attempts at ecosystems if at all possible. Plus, I think your new family unit would be happier with two tablets instead of one to share; if I were to suggest to my wife that we only get one tablet, she’d be the first to claim dibs on it — because of her superior dib-calling, and because I love her.

Don’t leave your bride standing there empty handed, man!

I know you have Android phones — which is great! There’s nothing saying you couldn’t try iOS again and see if it suits your tablet needs as well as those Android devices suit your pocket-computing needs. However, if you have your hearts set on an Android experience, perhaps the Nexus 7 would suit your needs — if you’re sure that you don’t want to give iOS a second chance. The Nexus 7 would allow your family unit to have one each and still be under the $600-$700 that you mentioned above, including protective case.

I hope this helps.

Image: 5 Top-Rated Tablet PCs by sidduz (via Flickr)

Why Would I Want to Consider Apple’s Ecosystem over Microsoft’s?

Jaren Lopez writes:

Although the Microsoft ecosystem is young and completely different from Apple’s, what are the major benefits of investing in Apple products instead of Microsoft products? I would prefer to keep myself in one ecosystem rather than having one Microsoft product, one Apple product, and one Android product. I’m leaning towards Microsoft, as I prefer the live tiles (Metro) interface, Xbox Music (free music), touch-centricity, and being able to sync settings across devices. But what is something that you can tell me about Apple’s ecosystem that would possibly make me change my mind?

Why Would I Want to Consider Apple's Ecosystem over Microsoft's?I hate to regurgitate one of the oft-repeated adages about Apple products being for creative types… so I won’t. For one thing, it doesn’t apply anymore, what with the steadily increasing number of quality productivity applications available for Mac OS X and even iOS. As for Windows-based PCs, a decade or so ago the strongest argument for directing someone to Microsoft’s platform would have been one application: Microsoft Office. Though the first versions of Microsoft Word first appeared on Mac systems over two decades ago, until OS X (and really, until the operating system had fully matured), the Apple platform had faced a number of shortcomings in being an acceptable alternative to Windows-based PCs in all but a few corporate office environments.

Importing and exporting Office documents between Macs and Windows PCs while preserving the original integrity of the documents was an issue, for example. This was just one shortcoming of working with Macs; there were also a limited variety of accounting, database, and other applications that most corporate office workers and even small business owners required to perform their daily tasks. Yet for anyone who was interested or already working in graphic design, desktop publishing, audio composition, video production, photography, or some other type of “creative” endeavor, the Apple Macintosh line of products seemed clearly tailor-made for such purposes.

Mac OS X was first previewed over a dozen years ago, and Apple, thanks in large part to third-party software developers, has since made great strides in office productivity. Most of the compatibility issues of bygone days have been overcome, and with the market share of Apple products continuing to grow, there is a continuous flow of new applications and apps being released for both OS X and iOS, many of which are dedicated to getting things other than media editing and artwork done. No longer is Apple simply considered exclusively the platform for artists, and regardless of what the Samsung smartphone commercials would have you believe, Apple mobile devices are not, and have never been, simply for hipsters and the technologically clueless. That’s not to say that some Android-based devices aren’t absolutely marvelous devices; it’s simply a marketing falsity to assert that the the iPhones are lesser device than Samsung’s Android-based ones. Both devices are exceptional, and deliver in the areas — and, by extension, the users — for which they are most suited.

With so many companies relying on social networking for their marketing purposes, iPhones (and even iPod touches) have for many purposes become preferable devices to use for sharing and distributing content. Unless the Windows Phone platform becomes more popular, most of the social marketing performed by those dedicated to Microsoft’s products will be performed using Windows laptops or tablets, since Windows Phone simply hasn’t reached full maturity yet, and developers are simply more interested in developing their best apps for the platforms that have (Android and iOS). So if you’re planning on sticking with Microsoft, consider purchasing an iPhone or an Android smartphone so that you’ll be able to get some work done, particularly if you wish to use the latest and most popular mobile apps.

One major consideration when looking into delving into the Apple ecosystem is one of major contention between both Apple advocates and the anti-Apple establishment: proprietary standards. Apple makes a good deal of profit by restricting the tainting of its products through quality control, and part of that control turns off a good number of potential customers. For example, every few years Apple likes to incorporate new types of technology into its products that aren’t yet widely adopted, such as its introduction of FireWire (Apple’s name for the IEEE 1394 standard) way before Windows-based PC vendors were incorporating the data-transfer technology into their systems. Apple also famously excluded floppy drives and optical drives from its computers before any PC manufacturers did. Most recently, Apple switched to a new type of connector for its iOS devices.

Whenever Apple introduces proprietary connectors or even open standards that are not yet widely used, the company causes just as many problems as it seems to be attempting to solve. Many peripheral manufacturers have to rush to develop solutions that will enable consumers to continue to use their products with Apple devices. Consumers have to spend more money to purchase the resulting solutions. And although many consumers are perfectly willing to pony up the cash for the changes that Apple introduces — since most of the technologies Apple introduces greatly improve the overall user experience and productivity for consumers — there are plenty of users who don’t appreciate these alterations. So you must decide if you are willing to be a flexible consumer when it comes to buying into Apple.

Apple also undergoes a more rigorous vetting process when accepting third-party developers’ apps into its App Store. This creates consternation for some developers, but for the consumer it usually ensures more reliable and well-built mobile apps. By comparison, Google Play (Android’s apps marketplace, formerly called Android Market) accepts far more apps from developers, resulting in what many perceive as a store of applications that is inferior to Apple’s. The subject is moot, however, as nobody has been able to reach a conclusion as to which platform offers the superior software. One thing that can be said for certain, however, is that Microsoft has a far smaller collection of applications available for its Windows Phone mobile operating system.

At the same time, with Microsoft’s new Windows 8 and Windows Phone strategies, you also have to be quite flexible. Fortunately for you, you seem to be enjoying the new interface and integration that Microsoft is offering with its latest products, so you won’t have to worry as much as other Windows consumers about upgrading into a new paradigm that may or may not turn out to be less inspiring than the advertisements would have it. So investing heavily into the Mac world may not be in your best interest at this time. If you can afford to, buy a Mac mini — you know, one of the “headless” ones that you can use with an existing display — and see how much it grabs you. It’s the least expensive way to gain a solid understanding of how Mac OS X operates. You don’t have to dive headfirst into the Mac ecosystem, and a Mac mini will provide you with what you need to test the waters before you decide to plunge in or not.

If you can’t afford a Mac mini right now, a good alternative may be the iPod touch or iPhone, which you may find you prefer to using a Windows Phone, anyway. With an iPod touch, you basically have a mini iPad mini and it’s the least expensive way to get a taste of the Apple user experience. Apple is still making a 16 GB version of the iPod touch 4th generation for $200 that runs the latest version of iOS, minus a few features (such as the Siri voice recognition technology). LockerGnome contributor Harold Johnson was able to find a 32 GB one for around the same price, brand new, during the last Cyber Monday sale, and you can find one on Amazon right now for slightly less than its price on Apple.com. That way, if you find you don’t take to Apple as much as you’d been expecting, you’ll at least have invested in what is still considered by most to be the best portable media consumption device available. It’s certainly still the best music player I have, particularly since it doesn’t rely on any type of wireless connection to play music.

Community: What am I missing here? What would you tell someone who is on the fence about exploring the Apple side of technology?

Image from Amazon

Questioning Office 365: Do I Need It?

Chris writes:

With the release of Office 365, I’m still a little confused. If I buy Office 365 Home Premium, it says I can install on up to five machines. This is great, but does that mean I can connect each machine to a different Microsoft (and SkyDrive) account?

If not, in my mind, this isn’t the way to go. I would want a different account to save to different SkyDrives for my wife and me.

Any thoughts?

Office 365My first thought is to remind you that you do not “buy” any Microsoft Office product. Normally you would buy some storage medium (DVD, etc.) and on it would be some software that you would be able to use under a license, the terms of which you will never read. That distinction is important when you contrast operating with software installed on your computer and having various parts of your system actually located elsewhere — as “in the cloud.” Office 365 is a subscription-based license. Unlike previous Office suites, it does not have a one-time fee — you just keep paying as long as you want to use it. This does not necessarily mean you will spend more money on 365. Your upgrade and usage habits will determine that. It is available in several variations including permanent, temporary, and Web apps. Check out Microsoft for details. Note that you get 60 minutes of Skype per month with a subscription. This is a clever way to promote the company’s new acquisition by bundling it with Office. There are more details in this video.

Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student costs $139 as a one-time fee. Office 365 Home Premium costs $99/year. Special pricing is available for students and teachers, if you qualify.

My understanding is that the SkyDrive account is different from the 365 account. If you had an account before getting 365, you can keep using it the same way. Likewise, if you and your wife have separate SkyDrive accounts, nothing stops you from accessing either — provided you have the passwords. That is not a trivial consideration. You log on to 365 with a Microsoft ID. That is fair. You do not want strangers to have easy access to your private stuff. You will shortly develop the ability to enter the ID quickly without thinking because you will be asked for it several times — like whenever you go to a different app.

But as long as you are considering alternatives, why not consider all of them? There are several good alternatives to Microsoft Office, and several of them are free! Microsoft will have slicker graphics, but others have compatible functions. You can easily import or export files from alternatives like LibreOffice and OpenOffice to Microsoft. You can still store things on SkyDrive or other cloud-based storage. Another cloud-based alternative, of course, is Google Docs, but that is limited compared to the power of a complete suite.

I think these alternatives are important to consider because most people use only a fraction of the power available in Microsoft Office of any variety. It is an awesome product. I use it all the time and constantly find new things that I can do, but for the average person using an Office suite for average things, the alternatives are more than adequate.

Chris, you started your question by saying you are confused. Think about that for a moment. You are obviously a competent computer user, and you are confused. Why is that? Could it be a part of the marketing strategy rather than a failure on your part? Marketing is a highly developed art, and anything that happens in a major rollout is likely to be intentional. Therefore, breaking away from the hype and asking pertinent questions like you are doing is a good thing. Keep it up.

What Career Path is Best for a Geek?

Bridgit writes:

Hi, Chris!

I’m an aspiring Web/app programmer trying to plan for an uncertain future. How can I make sure that the things I spend time pursuing are going to be relevant five to 10 years down the road? With the rapidly changing tech climate, it’s hard to know what path will best prepare me for times ahead. Any advice? Thanks!

The correct answer depends on guessing at the actual question being asked. If you intend an extremely short-term answer for a very specific task such as “what can I do for money right now?” then the answer is easy. Simply pick one of the currently popular platforms that you like and enjoy working with, and go for it. An expertise with C++ will take you far. HTML5 is not dead right now, and that means it could be the basis of a short-term solution to your career choice.

What Career Path is Best for a Geek?However, that might not be the real question you are asking. Since you are concerned about the trends and what will be relevant in five years, then you are really asking questions about the probable path your career will take over the next five years and beyond. This is a completely different mindset than finding a job right now to pay the rent.

I suggest starting by looking at mature people in the field now and projecting backward to see how they and the fields they are in evolved. Then using that trajectory, attempt to project forward for yourself. Talk to leaders in any field and you will generally find they are on their third career. Someone might have started as an engineer and migrated into management, and then left to start a business. Very few engineers and technical people continue to pursue exactly what they studied in school in the way they studied it. There are two reasons for this: (1) currently, technology changes faster than a human’s work lifetime, and (2) creative people always look for new challenges. This means they evolve. To take one example, Steve Jobs stayed in technology, but jumped through several areas in his career — the iPhone is a long way from the Apple ][, and do not forget Pixar.

Realistically, in five years you will be doing something that has not yet been thought up, and in 10 years, you will be doing something totally different from that. To prepare yourself, it is better to learn how to learn than to expect to always be using the tricks of coding C++. Aiming for the future, try to look for things about which you are passionate. Look around you again at the mature professionals. Notice the ones who put in their time and instead of getting 20 years of experience, get one year of experience 20 times. The people who are on their second or third careers are probably enjoying life more than the people who learned one thing well and stuck with it. To get started, here’s a video that might help:


We all cannot predict (or drive) the future like Steve Jobs did, but we can stay open to new opportunities and continue to invest in learning. For right now, look around you and try to find employment at something you like and have experience with, but do not think of getting that first job as a project: it is part of a process. The process is building your life, and that is much more important than which programming language you use or which platforms you are familiar with. You will very likely outlive both C++ and HTML5. Be prepared for it. That is my answer: be prepared. There is no magic combination of current software and hardware which is the right answer for the long haul.

By the way, forget Steve Jobs; do you think I took courses in school to do what I am doing now? (Hint: I was an English major in college!)

Image: from The Space Pioneers, by Carey Rockwell (via Project Gutenberg)