Category: Google

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The Cats of University Heights: Grape

Strangely, feline sightings along Shirley Ann Place are rare. I have only ever seen two kitties outdoors, and you will meet both consecutively as the series resumes pace after a deliberate slowdown. The first earns nickname Triumph—chosen for posture and demeanor. Our first encounter was Sept. 24, 2018, sitting atop a recycle can. The Featured Image, from Leica Q, was captured the next day. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/60 sec, 28mm, 5:42 p.m. PDT.

I shot the companion portrait, during the first meeting, using Google Pixel 2 XL. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/289 sec, 4.459 mm; 8:30 a.m. The kitty has triumphantly presented several times since, but these two humble photos are the best ones so far. 

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My Google Store Travail

Google Store’s bureaucratic ineptitude is beyond belief. My recent, unresolved customer crisis is an experience in artificial unintelligence. For a parent company whose core competency is supposed to be indexing, crunching, and disseminating information, it’s inconceivable that something so simple as fixing a single order error could escalate into a tragically comic Catch-22. I should have abandoned all efforts long before reaching the point of penning this post and looking back to the Apple Way.

To summarize: I received the wrong Pixel phone nearly a month ago. Google Store struggled to process a return authorization, because the device in hand didn’t match the one in the order. I eventually agreed to keep the thang, so long as the retailer could transfer the extended warranty—so-called “Preferred Care”—that I had paid for. But the process proved to be complicated, then necessity, after I unexpectedly needed to file a damage claim. You’ll have to read on for the sordid punchline, but suffice to say it all ends in a comedy of compounding errors.

Problems resolved! Please see:Thank-you, Google Store

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Google’s Newest Pixel Phone Color: Not White

Perhaps you know that the newest Google Phones come in “Not Pink”, as a third color choice. I discovered a fourth today when receiving a Pixel 3 XL “Just Black” instead of the smaller Pixel 3 “Clearly White”. Three support calls—spanning more than two hours—later, Google Store specialists struggled to resolve the order error. In their database, my “Not White” XL shows up as a retail model, based on the IMEI, which in no way resembles the number for the device supposedly shipped (and, of course, wasn’t). I did receive Pixel Stand, as expected, so that’s something right.

There is an absurdity about Google making me prove the error by providing photos of the shipping label, phone, and product box because they’re “vital for our investigation”. I obliged about the label, because the correct order number is on it. Request for phone pic came later, and to that I balked. The IMEI should identify model and color, but the image is necessary to truly confirm color is black—or in Joe’s new parlance “Not White”—a store shipping specialist explained. That’s not my problem. Truth will be confirmed when the phone is received, right? Wrong. 

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My Last Trip to the Apple Store Genius Bar

Yesterday, the local Apple Store emailed that my wife’s former 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar was ready. We picked up the laptop hours later. If you haven’t heard about specks of debris causing MBP keyboard failure, I can confirm from our experience that such problem occurs. In mid-June 2018, Apple initiated a free repair program, which we used last week with surprisingly positive results.

I purchased the custom-configured MBP in mid-November 2016, and right out of the box the spacebar occasionally skipped. The malfunctioning worsened over time, and, coincidentally (or not), reached crisis a few days after Apple admitted to problems with the Butterfly keyboard. The spacebar became stiff to touch, requiring considerable pressure to push, sometimes working but more often not

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Quick Update: My Apple to Google Switch

Doubt disturbed my commitment to give up the Apple Way for the Google lifestyle two months ago (yesterday). Preparing to pack up my wife’s 64GB white iPhone X, I was taken aback by how pretty it was. She kept the thing in a case, which protected from damage but also obscured beauty. For fleeting seconds, I wondered why switch. Product design that generates joy is another benefit—and one transcending any, and every, feature.

But the moment passed, and I boxed up Anne’s smartphone along with my 256GB black iPhone X. Google gave great trade-in values, which dispatched the hassle of reselling the devices on Craigslist. Eight weeks later, writing this post on Pixelbook i7, I don’t regret the decision. Confession: The transition isn’t quite complete, but we’re getting there. 

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Locked and Loaded for Your Browsing Pleasure

Late yesterday, this site underwent a minor, but significant, alteration. An account executive for my webhost sent email reminding about something already known: That today, Google would start aggressively designating sites secure or not secure, depending on whether they used https or http, respectively. The former is encrypted, and presumably safer to engage.

For many months, I had strongly considered moving to another host—not for dissatisfaction but to get more benefits while spending as much, or even a little less. But, as I have learned from painful past experience, migrating WordPress installations can go badly. Why take the risk, when everything works just fine? The account executive and I chatted about a pay-yearly discount (my preferred arrangement) to stay put and also purchase of a SSL certificate for encrypting the site. We reached an agreement. 

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My Tidal Time Ends

As explained yesterday, Google Store Father’s Day sale specials spurred along my decision to abandon Apple for Pixel devices and supporting services, nothing more. I had contemplated such a move for some time before acting, which brings me to revealing another change: Leaving behind Tidal.

I have subscribed to the high-fi, lossless music streaming service since its rebranded launch under Jay Z (and partners) ownership: April 1, 2015. A few other times I cancelled, mainly because of monthly cost ($19.95), but resubscribed during the billing cycle. Why? I can hear the difference, particularly in vocals, which pulled me back. Every other option makes muddy audio. But I have finally decided to, regrettably, put value before fidelity. 

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OK, Google, I Surrender

They say the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. That sentiment is root of a change in progress: Abandoning Apple for Google, choosing one digital lifestyle over the other—and not for the first time. If you’d ask me on May 30th about giving up the fruit logo company for the search behemoth, the response would have been a chuckle. Yeah, right. But, correcting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ grammar, in less than 30 days I think differently, which whys this reflection explains.

Like many other decisions, this one didn’t just happen. Like suddenly blossoming Spring, change had been budding for many months, as the cold winter ways of my thinking responded to nurturing warmth and water. I was never really satisfied giving up my Pixel lifestyle—whether Chromebook, smartphone, or tablet—but did so somewhat reluctantly in March 2016 for three simple reasons that today aren’t as important. 

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My Personal Tech Kit 2018

I am a big believer in change, as being beneficial, and I will occasionally switch computing platforms to shake up habits and my digital lifestyle. Watching Google’s advances with Assistant, and anticipating release of a new Pixel Chromebook, I expected to swap out my Apple gear before end of the year. But that isn’t the case. I start 2018 pretty much as I did 2017—looking at that bitten-fruit logo on my major personal devices.

There is the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that I purchased during the last week of November 2016. The other three gadgets released last year and replace like gear: Apple Watch Series 3 LTE (Stainless Steel); iPad Pro 10.5 LTE; iPhone X. Additionally, there is an Apple TV 4K in the living room. 

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I Buried My Pixelbook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, Pixelbook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry. 

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I Got to Giggle About Gaggles

Sometimes I can only laugh at the strangeness of Internet domain trading and squatting. In August 2015, I registered, for two years, the dot net, org, and xyz extensions for gaggles. The com was taken. I grabbed gaggles to create an email address for people to contact me to support my then-in-progress exposé about Google. With the sound geese make in mind, I sniped at the search entity’s new parent company and alphabet.xyz domain.

Last month, I let all three expire. I own too many domains that are too costly to keep for the value they give: None. Had gaggles.com been mine, though, I would hold them all. More renewals are passing by, or have gone. Meanwhile, I got to giggle about gaggles, because someone else snatched up the dot net and would like me to buy it back. Eh, seriously?