Tuesday, October 22, 2013

VNC and Android

About 3 weeks ago, I got 48GB of ram for my i7, upgraded my VM infrastructure to most recent version. I've also moved some of the services around, mostly MySQL off the VM host which is Windows based and into a VM running Ubuntu. After doing this, I was able to use some off the shelf MySQL backup scripts. With the extra ram, I was able to give more resources to my VMs so that the services can run faster.

I'm really excited about having more VMs as well, so that I have an extra playground to play with these open source services, such as VNC. I have come to like Ubuntu Server edition a lot for its speed and ease of installing services. With the additional resources, I can boot Ubuntu server in about 10 seconds. It is ridiculous how fast it boots. For a development box I built, I installed Gnome and VNC. I can connect easily enough from my Mac, but it got me thinking if I can connect to the box using Android. Lo and behold, I can. But more than that, I can actually attach a keyboard and mouse to the Droid tablet! I really like my Nook, except for a couple of things: speed and speed. I had gotten used to the speed of iPad 3. In terms of screen quality, the Nook HD+ is really comparable to the iPad Retina. One thing that I tolerated was the speed. It was slow reading books and comic books. Page turning was slow. And the other thing that eventually drove me nuts was clicking and its response times to my actions.

Well, I finally found the droid I was looking for: Google Nexus 10. The screen is really incredible: 2560x1600 in a 10.1 inch form factor. Can't really see the individual pixels anymore. It has a lot of speed and then some. Everything I've done with it has been responsive. I have all the apps moved over from the Nook to the Nexus and everything is faster! There isn't any lag anymore. One thing that I've heard from others is that Android 4.3 prevents a lot of bluetooth keyboard from working. So I'm not updating until I hear that the problem has been fixed. I can't live without a keyboard on the tablet unless I'm just reading. The only other thing that irks me is that using both a bluetooth keyboard and mouse together with wifi causes the keyboard to repeat occassionalllllllllllllly. I'm looking for a workaround because with VNC, it is pretty important to use a mouse. From what I've read, it might be possible to use a USB mouse with the micro usb port. I'm waiting for my cable to arrive.

One aspect of the droid tablet that I really like are the widgets that I can install on the home screens. I miss that feature from my Windows phone days. When looking at the lock/home screen, I can see a bunch of notifications without me having to launch the app first. That's sort of making me mad now on the iOS devices. I have to click the mail app to see my emails, then switch to the facebook app, then check my IMs, etc. Why can't my home screen just show me all the alerts at once?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Of Droids and Pen

On Father's day 2013, I got a nice present: the Nook HD+ 9". Yes, I have an iPad 3 and it is quite useful. So useful in fact, that we all share it. Li uses it to surf and read magazines. Richard uses it for learning and reading. I use it for all sorts of stuff, but mainly for reading. So the iPad is one of the most used device in our home. And I get to use it when no one else is.

So when Barnes and Noble decided to have a big sale on the Nook, I thought I would give it a try and see how good it is. Much to my surprise and delight, it is working out very well for me. For the main purpose of reading, it is great because of the excellent cross platform tools I use: DropBox, Box, Evernote, and of course Google Drive. My digital library consists of PDFs and epubs. So they are supported very well on multiple platforms as well. I also have a bunch of digital comics and it is a matter of finding the right application.

Of course, the Nook doesn't compare to the iPad in terms of pure CPU speed. The Nook is a fraction of the price. I would say that I put up with more stuff because it is so cheap. I wouldn't and didn't try the Nook at the previous price. But at little more than $120, it was worth a try. One thing I noticed, but isn't cause for alarm is that the device gets pretty warm just playing graphical games.