Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rule the air, Niggah

I just bought an HTC Thunderbolt yesterday

My buddy Clay informed me earlier this week that Verizon would be releasing its first dual-core Android cellphone this week. This is the HTC Thunderbolt. Although I was (then) a customer of T-Mobile, I knew I was going to make the move to Verizon. Why?

· The T-Mobile Droid Pyramid is not set to arrive until sometime in May

· That’s provided they can hit their ship dates, which is a big IF.

· Pyramid will be a whopper, but T-Mobile offers nothing special in terms of extra content services.

· For reasons that will be made clear below, I am sure that I would be low-man on the totem pole to get a Pyramid when T-Mobile does ship them.

· Verizon, like DirectTV, has an exclusive on NFL content.

· If you want NFL-Mobile, and the NFL RedZone, you have to have Verizon.

· Being the total NFL-junkie that I am, you know that I have to have NFL-Mobile.

My trip the Verizon store

I am blessed to be less than one mile away from the Westfield mall here in Canoga Park. This is a very nice mall, which aside from other things, contains about 10 different cellphone vendors and networks. Ergo, getting the new Thunderbolt from Verizon should be as simple as driving 1 mile. Was it that simple? Well… almost.

I arrived at the Verizon store wearing my Sam Bradford #8 jersey in white, and was almost immediately approached by a customer service representative.

“Is it possible to get a Thunderbolt, or are you all sold-out yet?” I asked

“We’re sold out. Would this be for a new account or an upgrade to an existing account?” He asked.

“This would be a new account. I’m currently with T-Mobile.” I showed him my old cellphone.

“Come over here for a minute.” He directed me to the back of the store.

“We have two Thunderbolts in the back room here. They are supposed to be reserved for new accounts only. I just turned down two existing customers, and they haven’t left the store yet. Just give me a minute or two we’ll hook you up.”

There you have it folks. We have proof positive that stealing sheep is more important than keeping sheep. All cellphone companies want to grow by adding new accounts. They also want to damage competitors by taking away customers. All I had to do was show them my T-Mobile cellphone, and I was assured of getting one of the last two Thunderbolts in the store. I’m sure I’m not going to get anyone in trouble here because I this policy decision was taken at a fairly high level in the firm. I am sure that T-Mobile’s policy is similar or identical.

A minute or two passed, my salesman retired to the back room, and returned carrying a black box with a subdued Thunderbolt embossed on it. It turns out that the setup of one of these phones is rather complicated. It took about 45 minutes. To get one of these things going, you need to do all of the following:

1. Do the credit app and credit check

2. Pay the money

3. Open the box, unpack the gear

4. Request your new phone number

5. Add the 4G card

6. Add the SIM card

7. Add the 32GB flash card

8. Insert the half-charged battery

9. Apply the screen protector.

10. Put on the silicone phone cover

11. Enter you Gmail account

12. Set up voice mail

13. Transfer all you phone & contact information from the old phone to the new

14. You’ll set up facebook if you have it (I don’t)

15. You’ll set up Twitter if you have it (I don’t)

16. You’ll set up if you have it (I don’t)

17. You’ll set up Yahoo instant messenger if you have it (I don’t)

18. Go through a few tutorials

We did all that over the course about 45 minutes. It turns out that my salesman was quite a Ram fan, and he wanted to talk Rams during the course of this process. This surprised me because he was a very young guy, certainly not more than 24. I doubted he could remember when the Rams last played in Anaheim some 17 years ago. It turns out that his dad and his granddad were all Ram fans and they passed the legacy on. Evidently, grandpa once made the team as a special teams guy back in the 1960s. Of course, we talked about Julio Jones.

This is still more proof that the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area has not forgotten about the Rams. There is still a legacy here.

Once we got everything setup, my new buddy slapped me on the shoulder and said “Rule the air, niggah!” This was a very politically incorrect salute, so I naturally loved it. You know I shit upon all things related to political correctness. Incidentally, just in case you were wondering, my sales rep was (is) a black guy.

I guess this means I have officially made it. I am now BBA (black by association).

First impressions

Right now I am pretty impressed with this device. When you sit down and meditate on the question of what you might want to see in a mobile PDA device, my laundry list of features is pretty well taken care of by the default apps in this phone. There’s a place for everything, and everything works pretty well.

My only little complaint is that I have a 32GB SD-Card, and that is as far as it can go. My salesman told me that it just might be able to work with a 64GB card, but it has not been cleared for a 64GB card. I’ll have to look into it.

How fast is it?

Throughout the setup process, my rep kept commenting about how fast this unit was. Each step he had to run through was pretty quick responsive. The phone was responsive. He kept mentioning how much longer each step took on a single-core Android phone.

I, myself, never had an Android phone before this one, so I will never know the speed (or lack thereof) of an older single-core model. What I can say is that this little machine is pretty responsive. When I tell it to open an app, it opens quickly. When I tell it to switch back to the home desktop, it does so immediately. When I open the custom feature settings, it’s there. Everything seems to move along quickly, without any significant delays.

I guess this is what they mean by blazing fast.

It doesn’t surprise me that the new dual cores are considered so much faster than the older single cores. At the root of this new PDA sensation is the Linux operating system. This is an open-source, free, copyleft collection of software packages from an assortment of volunteer organizations in this world. It is a version of Unix. More importantly, it is a fully pre-emptive multi-tasking version of Unix. The kernel has a very nice scheduler.

This means the Android phone should make immediate use of that second core, and it should speed things up quite a bit.

What I mean by speed

How does this little Thunderbolt compare to a modern Desktop computer? If you want to talk about pure horsepower, the answer is “Not Well”. To borrow an expression from the NFL Draft scouts, it’s quicker than fast. On the other hand, desktops are faster than quick. What do I mean by that?

The desktop computer world is dying from a pestilence of confirmations, warnings, user notifications, restrictions, and User Access Control. Every single fucking time you want to do something on either the Mac OSX or Windows 7, it seems that you will be confronted with a message that says something like:

  • Oh NO! You just pushed close button! Are you really sure you would like to close this application at this time?
  • Oh hell! You just changed one byte of data on this document! You haven’t saved it yet! You should really save your changes before closing!
  • Oh crap! You are going to do something really powerful like back up your data! Are you really sure you want to do that at this time?
  • Oh shit! In order to move data outside of your user directory structure, you are going to have to have administrative rights!
  • Oh crap! You just issued the order to shut down the computer! Are you really sure you want to do that? If so, every single app you have open will flash up at you that you haven’t save changes, and this will prevent the shutdown.
  • If you choose to shut down the computer without saving meaningless changes to meaningless bits, each app that was forced to shut down (without saving) will bitch at you about an improper shutdown the next time you launch it.
  • Worse still, many software packages feel the need to pop up confirmations that simple common tasks were accomplished successfully. You will be forced to click “OK” on endless numbers of “Done” or “Success” message boxes.

· What we are talking about here is a pathological pattern of software development here that presumes we are all incompetent in the handling of important data, and attempts to protect every responsible adult from the consequences of his own decisions. This is an absolutely bass-ackward approach to writing software that must be stopped.

For the good of all mankind, the dummy-wrap software pattern must be destroyed. The only concrete result of dummy-wrapping is performance degradation. You are slowing people down. You are not helping them. You are creating an uncooperative tool, not a helpful one.

One of the main things I very much like about the Android operating system is that I have not yet seen such a warning from the Thunderbolt. When I want to open an app, it opens. When I want to leave, I leave. When I want to shutdown, it shuts down. This is a uber-popular consumer device folks. It’s made for the masses of dummies out there.

Android’s success constitutes proof positive that the pathetic pattern of dummy-wrapping described above is absolutely unnecessary and can dispensed with without difficulties. Indeed, the result of destroying this bad-pattern is a great increase in nimbleness and quickness. Despite the fact that this Droid is no match (in terms of pure horsepower) for my desktop, I seem to be able to accomplish common tasks much more quickly with my Droid than my desktop.

Microsoft and Apple better sit up and take notice. Dummy-wrapping everything is going to get you killed. Maybe it scored you some points in the past, maybe not. One thing is for sure: A dummy-wrap approach is going to cost you big time now.

It’s app time!

So, it is time for me to find some Android apps. I need to get the good stuff. Of course, this means Netflix and NFL Mobile. We’ll see what else I can haul down.