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This could never have come from Google…

It is a long time since I heard “Don’t be evil” from Google. Google has turned in to be a monster! And one thing you can be sure of, is that my next phone and tablet will not be from them.

There is a huge difference in the two business models, Google is selling *you* as their main product and Apple is selling *devices* as they have always done. There is a lot of truth in the saying:

“If something appears to be free, you are the one being sold”

Just think about it. The quoted text is the business model Google is using. But it is not easy living without Google. Their products and services are first of all fantastically designed, with a high focus on being easy to use. And free (with that hidden cost), and not all of us are prepared to pay for cloud services (address books, calendars, email, storage, chat and more).

My work phone is still a Sony Xperia Z, but I have managed to cut down the Google services to only be Gmail. “Luckily”, most of my chats and mails go through another company living from selling information about me, Facebook. All my documents, contacts and calendar information are today kept on servers at work and on my own OwnCloud installation. I am not totally happy with the user interface on OwnCloud, but it gets better on every release. But hey, for the first time in many years I feel I can say that I have control over the information that is important for me.

And for search I’m a long time user of DuckDuckGo and Chrome is replaced with Safari on OS X and Opera on Windows.

I guess my next set of mobile devices will be iPhone and iPad, simply cause they are the best ones to talk open standards. iOS talks xmpp, webdav, webcal and webcard straight out of the box, and can be connected to my OwnCloud server without any kind of problems. And I can say I know where my data is, do you?

Read the whole privacy statement from Tim Cook here.

 

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Windows 9 preview build

It’s about a week to Microsoft’s first preview of Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) and most likely a release of a preview build. The date is September 30.

So what do we know already?

First of all, the Start Menu is back! That is fantastic news for us that mainly work with Windows on desktop and laptop computers. But why the elements of Modern UI? I love the idea of a more personal Start Menu, but why not just go back to the Aero theme with the same elements? The Start Menu will not work well any way on touch screens! Having said that, Microsoft is on the right way, and I love the idea of the Start Menu expanding right across the desktop, so you can use Live Tiles and other features without leaving the desktop environment. In Windows 9, at least for desktop and laptop, apps are apps again, and all apps, modern or classic, will open on the same desktop. Sweet!

What about Cortana? I’m pretty new to Cortana. I’ve played with it a few times on Windows Phone and it is a well implemented digital assistant. Rumours say that the system is coming to Windows 9, and will add voice search, and other voice activated interactions, right into Windows 9. Do you remember the voice commands back in Mac OS 9 (Classic) more then 10 years ago? Oh, that was silly of me, both Siri and Cortana can do a lot more, it just shows that voice commands is nothing new.

This next thing is quite important for me, it is one of the main reasons why I prefer working on my OS X and on my Macbook Pro: Better support for High DPI monitors. Windows and its support for high DPI displays, such as the 3,200 x 1,800 resolution display, can only be said to be rubbish. One these devices, desktop apps often have implausibly small text or UI elements, which completely defeats the object of having nice, crisp high DPI screens. It will perhaps still not be as smooth as in OS X, but the support for High DPI monitors most surely have improved a bit!

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The last thing I want to pay attention to in the new release and this really makes me laugh, but it is gonna be fantastic to finally have it also in Windows. A virtual desktops interface is finally to be implemented in Windows. You know, Linux, BSD, OS X and BeOS (Haiku) have all had it as a core part of the OS for many, many years! Until now, for Windows you could only download 3rd party apps doing a lousy job at it. My question is will Microsoft manage to bring something new to virtual desktops, or just be playing copy cat also on this point? Would it be possible to do something special with virtualisation of desktops and RemoteApps here?

This little introduction to Windows 9 and what to expect sounded a bit negative, I must admit. But know this, I will be one of the first to run Windows 9 on my Surface and my desktop computer in the home office. At work, I’m still stuck with the old, but great, work horse, Windows 7. Rumours tell that a public preview of Windows Phone 9 will be made available January 2015.

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A new use of my photos

For some of the photos that I have published on Google+ I have added the location where the photo was taken (geodata). Google recently picked out a few of my public photos and added them to Google Maps.

I feel honoured, but all the photos are taken with my mobile phone. Three of them are heavily processed with Snapseed (A free Google tool), and last one is taken just outside my office at the University of Oslo.

I would have loved seeing Google make use of some my more serious photos taken with my SLRs!

 

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Apple iPhone 6

How dead is Windows Phone as a platform?

Numbers are fun and often tells a lot. So also this time. I picked up this news up on Paul Thurrot’s SuperSite for Windows:

Apple this morning reported record pre-orders for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smart phones. According to the consumer electronics giant, pre-orders topped four million units in the first 24 hours alone. That’s impressive on a number of levels, and even more so since Apple’s online ordering system was missing in action for much of that time. But here’s a sobering statistic: Apple sold as many iPhone 6 pre-orders in 24 hours as Microsoft/Nokia sold Lumia handsets in any two months of 2014.

Are you sure that buying a Windows Phone would be a smart idea? This platform (ecosystem) is for now close to dead!

And for Apple earning record amounts of money on the new phones. Yes, the new Plus version—with its bigger 5.5-inch screen—has a bigger demand than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

(No, I don’t have an iPhone. My main phone is a Sony Xperia Z)

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The Greenfinch Explored

Ok, I guess that I am color blind. The European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) looks yellow to me. In fact I first thought it was a European Serin. The name is also a bit misleading in both English and Norwegian. Chloris is from the Greek Khloros meaning “yellowish-green”. I got the chance to photograph this bird in Túrkeve this summer when visiting Hungarobirds. The photo above yesterday got picked to appear on Flickr Explore, and is the second to do so from this trip. As always it’s great with feedback and likes on my photos. I should just have had more time for my hobby. 3-4 days so far this year is not much!

greenfinch-singing

Greenfinch  is resident across most of Europe. It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south. I have of course seen this bird also home in Norway. The greenfinch is 15 cm long with a wing span of 24.5 to 27.5 cm. So, very similar in size and shape to a house sparrow. For breeding they prefer woodland edges, farmland hedges and gardens with relatively thick vegetation. It nests in trees or bushes, laying 3 to 8 Eggs.

The Greenfinch can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixing with other finches and buntings. They feed largely on seeds, but also take berries.

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Do you want a smartwatch?

I have always hated carrying a watch. A wrist watch feels like handcuffs, locking us to time. Never an excuse for getting five minutes delayed. Is it just me? I have a typical office job, working 08: to 17:00. Mostly sitting in front of a computer. There is always a clock in front of me, my desktop computer. The smartphone is in the pocket, notifying me of meetings when I am on the run and also works as my alarm clock.

Mobile phone vendors will this autumn tell me, that I need a smartwatch. Moto 360 sure looks awesome and yes it reinvents the wrist watch and I have read Ars Technica’s first impressions with great joy. This is how small a computer has gotten, 46mm in diameter and 11.5mm high. The 360 sports a 1.6” 320×290 (205ppi) display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy connectivity, water resistance in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes (IP67), wireless charging, 4GB of internal storage, and 512MB of RAM. This Android Wear smartwatch with an ambient light sensor and auto brightness. Isn’t it all impressive? (more…)

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Homemade Mexican Food

Outside the weather is beautiful, but I’m inside with a cold. It could have been far worse, but I’m enjoying myself and making Mexican food from scratch. Store shelves are bursting with tex-mex products, and most Norwegians have taco evenings every single Friday. Evil tongues are saying that Taco is Norway’s new national dish. Oslo recently got a new Mexican restaurant, TacoRepública, and it has been an eye opener for me.

So, here is my approach to it. And guess what, it tastes delicious! (more…)

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Making my own ice cream

Yay, here we go! I’m having my first Creative Friday in the kitchen after summer. Well, it’s still summer so I had to make ice cream. I strongly believe that a good story to the food makes it taste even better. And this time I even have two stories to my ice cream! A very dear friend of mine recently gave me a smoothie based on a ginger ice cream with a hint of coffee. It was delicious and it just begged to be recreated… And the fact that my lovely nephew has been running around the whole summer only saying two words Isch and Kake (Isch or is, means ice cream in Norwegian and kake means cake). I couldn’t stop laughing, but it must have driven my sister nuts! So next time, I might make a nutty ice cream ;)

Back to me being creative. Ginger and ice cream? I had never heard of it, but I’ve learned that it is very popular in the U.S. My first ice cream is also American style in another way, as it contains more then 10% fat. Gelato only contains 4-7% fat with intense flavorings that hit your mouth at once, but the taste is rather short lasting. My favourite ice creams are different, the flavor should come slowly forward and last longer. And that is typical for the American style.

A small little fact before we are getting started, and it almost goes without saying, homemade ice cream is so, so, so much better then most of what you get in the shops! And it isn’t that hard making it. This one needed a bit extra work, but it was all done in less then two hours. (more…)

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Any.do’s Cal looks really good!

Have you noticed that many calendar apps have two serious problems: they’re ugly, and they’re hard to use. That’s why I’m constantly on the lookout for better calendar experiences.

There are not many great calendar alternatives out there. Perhaps the situation is a bit different on the iOS platform then on Android? One exception in Play Store is Cal by Any.do. It was first available for iOS. It is both well-designed and simple to use.

If you have a todo in Any.do listed for the day, it’ll appear in your schedule beneath your planned events. You can also tie your Facebook account to Cal, and it will then display everybody’s birthday and let you send a text, email, or post on their wall in celebration of the occasion.

The best is that it seems to be that it also is an alternative frontend for the builtin calendar, cause I didn’t have to add accounts for Google Calendar or my Exchange account at work.

There is one small thing I dislike, it currently disables my phone’s power saving mode (Stamina).

 

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