HTC One M8

Jun 10 2014

This review was originally published on May 1 on the Verizon Wireless Midwest Area site at http://vzwmidwestarea.com/htc-one-m8-farm-office/.

Verizon recently let me spend a couple weeks with the new HTC One M8. Announced in March and available earlier this month, HTC’s new flagship phone combines beautiful hardware design and high end specs with the latest version of Sense, HTC’s Android overlay. Using Android with Google Voice makes it simple to transfer all my apps and phone calls from one device to another, so I’ve left my Galaxy Note 3 on my desk and carried the One exclusively for the last several days.

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8) (Photo credit: Janitors)

The phone is big. It’s not as big as the Note 3, but it’s certainly larger than most phones. The case is aluminum and it rivals the iPhone in build quality and hardware design. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a removable back, which means it’s stuck with the 2600 mAh battery. The One doesn’t have the physical home button that plagues most of the recent Samsung phones, HTC having opted instead for the soft buttons that are the mark of a good, modern Android experience. The power button and IR remote are on the top of the phone, a microSD slot sits above the volume rocker on the right side of the phone, while the headphone jack and micro-USB port are on the bottom.

The most noticeable difference between the One and other phones I’ve used is HTC Sense. The One is the first phone to ship with Sense 6.0 and the typography is beautiful. While it’s not as clean as the stock Android experience, the Sense enhancements don’t seem to get in the way nearly as much as Samsung’s TouchWiz. The most obvious change to the launcher is BlinkFeed, a social feed aggregator that puts highlights from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more on a screen to the left of the home screen where Google Now normally appears on stock Android devices. I found the default keyboard to be unremarkable, and quickly installed SwiftKey.

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Nolan enjoys the teeter-totter as much as I enjoy the camera on the HTC One M8

The cameras on the One are the most notable hardware feature. The 5MP front camera is capable of HD video capture, and while it’s not really my thing, the filters and editing abilities of the camera software will make this phone a popular choice for anyone wanting to take great selfies. Realizing that there’s much more to a good camera than the megapixel count, HTC has put what they call a Duo camera on the back, comprising a primary camera with an advanced sensor and a secondary camera used to capturing depth information. This two-camera approach allows for some very delightful effects and the ability to refocus parts of the picture after the picture is taken, like this picture of my son on the see-saw after the Easter egg hunt.

On the farm, the camera on my phone is one of the most important tools I have. I’m constantly snapping pictures of part numbers, handwritten notes, receipts and surveys of crops for instant upload to Dropbox and eventual archival in Evernote. The 360° panorama feature on the new HTC One makes crop surveys not only fun but beautiful.

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It’s tough to prove with the time I’ve had, but I sure feel like this phone seems to get better service on the farm than my current and previous phones. The One can make calls and maintain data service in places where my Note 3 and Galaxy Nexus wouldn’t be able to dial out, much less be able to check email.

In the office and around the house, I’m always listening to podcasts with Doggcatcher and catching up on the news with the Press RSS reader. The large, bright screen and the loud, clear speakers make consuming this content a joy, but battery life will vary. A full charge lasted all day during my normal weekday work days, but it only lasted until about 6 p.m. on an active Saturday.

In summary, when I send this HTC One back to Verizon, I’m going to miss a few things. I’m going to miss the beautiful hardware. I’m going to hate going back to the physical home button on my Note 3. I’m probably going to double-tap the screen of my Note 3 to try to wake it up, a feature that I first found gimmicky but learned to love on the HTC One. Most of all, I’m going to miss the cameras.

I’m not going to miss the lack of expandability. There is no way to swap out an extended battery, which is a deal breaker for me. I won’t miss HTC Sense or BlinkFeed, as I still prefer the simplicity of the stock Android experience.

The new HTC One M8 is the most beautiful Android device I’ve yet seen. With snappy performance and amazing cameras, it’s the phone I’m going to start recommending to friends and family.

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Owensboro by prop

May 07 2013

I tweeted that before heading to the airport yesterday. Upon arrival at Mid-Continent, I learned my flight from ICT to ORD had been delayed, shaving my layover from a nice 30 minutes from arrival to boarding down to -10 minutes. That’s right. My flight landed in Chicago 10 minutes after my connector to St. Louis began boarding.

After the successful fat man’s sprint to the connector, I figured I was home free. A nice layover in St. Louis at the Schlafly restaurant let me fill up on their fatty fish and drink their beer. I can drink a lot of hoppy beer at an airport.

As I approached the gate to board my final flight to Owensboro, I realized something was wrong. I’d not heard of Cape Air. There’s a reason.

Cessna 402

Cessna 402

A local carrier that somehow found a niche serving the related areas of New England, Florida, the Caribbean and St. Louis, Cape Air flies Cessna 402s. It’s the first time I’ve been asked for my body weight when flying commercially. I got to subtract a pound or two for the sprint in Chicago.

The ride from St. Louis to Owensboro wasn’t bad, except for the constant roar. Landing at Owensboro, I learned from another passenger that the guy with the orange glow-in-the-dark pom-pom sticks on the tarmac guiding us in was also the guy who ran security and baggage check. Sure enough, after he got us our bags, he took his hat off and came out from behind the counter so I could ask him to call a taxi.

The taxi took 30 minutes to get to the airport, at which time I learned they didn’t accept credit cards. No problem, I thought. There’s an ATM in the airport.

It was out of service. The nice sole-proprietor of the airport told me there was an ATM at the hotel. I convinced the driver that I’d pay him after I got cash at the hotel, intending full well to tip handsomely for trusting me.

The lady at the hotel told me the ATM was in the bar next to the DJ booth. I turned around from the hotel desk to see the bar, entering to find a very smoky room and a 50-year old waitress dressed in a get-up that looked like something from a casino. Running to the ATM, I saw immediately that it was out of service as well.

The nice lady behind the hotel desk ended up giving me a dollar to add to my seven to make the eight demanded by the driver. So much for his tip.

I finally found a way to get cash – by buying something at the IGA with my debit card and asking for cash back…and buy something I did. Dinner. And forks.
Hungry Man

I will say that the place I presented this morning was pretty grand. RiverPark Center in Owensboro is home to not only a large music and theater venue but also to the International Bluegrass Music Museum. The view from its north side this morning around sunrise was pretty swell.

As I finish my second microwave dinner of champions, I’m thankful for in-room microwaves. I might trade it, though, for MSNBC on their cable line-up.

2013-05-07 07.03.05

Though unofficial, this is my last auctioneer education trip while a member of the NAA Speakers Bureau. It’s been a fun run, allowing me to go to Minnesota, Texas, Oregon, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, Alabama, New Hampshire and Oregon again. Other fun locations I’ve gotten to present auctioneer content outside of the Speakers Bureau include Florida, Missouri and, now, Kentucky. I’ll miss it.

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Joss Whedon endorses Mitt Romney

Oct 29 2012

Joss Whedon is a fantastic director and created the lovable Firefly TV series, among others. It seems he’s come out in support of Willard. It’s definitely worth the 2 minutes.

Thanks to both Fro and Naomi for sharing this on the book of faces.

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Farming

Aug 27 2012

It’s been nearly three months since my father left me with the farm. It was precisely one year ago today when he saw my newborn son in the hospital. While we were watching Nolan get passed from family member to family member in the birthing suite, he told me, “You have achieved immortality.” I thought about that a lot today as I sat today for 14 hours on the tractor, stirring up as much dust as the 1/2″ we received last week would allow.

I’m learning a lot, but I don’t know that I’ll ever feel that I’m learning enough. I’m particularly disappointed with the amount of quality agricultural audio content. KFRM is chalk full of commercials and religious and family content, Audible doesn’t have much in the way of quality nonfiction related to ag in any way, and the few podcasts I’ve found are valuable but they are too few. If you have any suggestions for high level and high quality content, let me know in the comments.

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Brian Traffas

Jun 05 2012

Brian Traffas, 59, died June 4, 2012, at Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital, Medicine Lodge, Kan. He was born Feb. 24, 1953, in Medicine Lodge, the son of Vincent and Mary (Gulli) Traffas.

A lifetime resident of Sharon, Kan., he was a farmer.

He was a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church, Sharon, Kan.

On May 22, 1976, he married Marilyn R. Marcotte in Victoria, Kan. She survives.

Other survivors include his mother, Mary Traffas, Sharon, Kan.; a son Aaron (Diane) Traffas, Wichita, Kan.; two daughters Megan (Andrew) Piester, Goddard, Kan.; Erica Traffas, Wichita, Kan.; two brothers, Dr. Vincent Traffas, Kensington, Kan.; Shawn Traffas, Buhler, Kan.; two sisters Elaine Graham, Kansas City, Kan.; Joan Berman, Fayetteville, Ark.; and two grandchildren, Nolan Traffas and Kylee Piester.

He was preceded in death by his father Vincent.

Visitation will be 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wed. June 6, 2012, at Larrison Funeral Home, 120 E. Lincoln Ave., Medicine Lodge, KS 67104.

Vigil service will be 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, at St. Boniface Catholic Church, Sharon, Kan.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m., Thursday, June 7, 2012, at St. Boniface.

Burial will be in St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery, Sharon, Kan.

Memorials may be made to the Brian Traffas Scholarship Fund in care of the funeral home.

Condolences may be left at www.larrisonmortuary.com.

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Magazine is broken iPad

Oct 17 2011

Big thanks to Eric Williams for pointing me to this video. I don’t completely accept the premise, but its interesting to think that my son may never have a print subscription of any kind.

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Is nitrogen in tires a scam?

Oct 01 2011

A computer rendering of the nitrogen molecule,...

Image via Wikipedia

I was in Manhattan, Kan., waiting on my truck to be serviced about two years ago when the salesman at the service station brought me a brochure. It touted the benefits of filling my tires with nitrogen. I had never heard of such a practice, so I read the entire brochure with amazement.

It seems that there are companies that market nitrogen for use in automobile tires. The language on a brochure or a website from one of these companies reads just like that from any popular pseudoscience or scam. Phrases like “amazing benefits” and “high purity” could just as easily come from a vitamin supplement company. In the first couple of above-the-fold paragraphs on the website from one such popular company, it’s explained how the high cost of this technology – generating and delivering nitrogen – has kept it out of the hands and tires of the common folk until now. Lucky us. Seems  it was the college kids with the nitrogen tanks for their kegorators who’ve had the secret this whole time.

Like any good skeptic, I’m not going to base an entire case against a product on poorly selected marketing tactics. Let’s think about what the product is trying to solve, decide if it makes sense and, if so, then decide if it’s economically viable.

The benefits for using nitrogen in tires comprise increases in fuel economy, tire life and safety.

Fuel economy
The hypothesis is that because nitrogen gas molecules are larger than those of oxygen, the natural seepage is reduced. Because lower-than-proper tire pressure has a negative impact on fuel economy, nitrogen must be better.

Tire life
The hypothesis is that the double bonds in the rubber of tires are susceptible to oxidation and that, over time, the anti-oxidants used by tire manufacturers to prevent this oxidation are degraded to the point that the oxygen in the tires begins to attack the rubber. Also, the moisture in air can cause corrosion on the rims. Because nitrogen doesn’t oxidize the rubber or corrode the wheels, nitrogen must be better.

Safety 
The hypothesis is that because the expansion rate of nitrogen is less than that of air. Because varying pressures in tires can lead to problems in the consistency of handling, steering and braking, nitrogen must be better.

Let’s look at the difference between oxygen and nitrogen. I’m not a chemist, but from what I can find the difference in molecular size between the gasses of oxygen and nitrogen is about 3%. Furthermore, the air we breath – the same air that is compressed to fill most of our tires – contains nearly 80% nitrogen anyway.

Here’s some math from the Car Talk website.

Under-inflated tires lowers gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every one pound of drop in pressure of all four tires. So, if you’re down by 10 pounds… you’re losing 4 percent in fuel economy… For every drop of 10° Fahrenheit in air temperature, your tires will lose one pound of pressure.

I believe that nitrogen-filled tire pressure does change with temperature, perhaps just not as much as tires filled with air. If nitrogen pressure didn’t change at all with temperature, then by this math, properly inflating your tires with nitrogen during the summer can prevent this 4% loss in fuel economy if the temperature drops 100 degrees. Or you can simply check your tires every few months and adjust the pressure accordingly.

Off-road tire

Image via Wikipedia

What about leakage? Does the 20% of the air in the tires that is 3% smaller than the rest really leak out so much faster that there is a change in pressure over the course of the few months between checks? I believe it may be slightly measurable – if using a highly accurate gauge - but I don’t believe it would be noticeable or significant to either the handling or the fuel economy.

We don’t drive our cars in a pure nitrogen environment, so the outside of our tires and our wheels are constantly exposed to oxygen, moisture and other more nefarious substances. I’ve never heard of anyone who had to replace a tire or rim due to holes rusting through from the inside of the wheels. Again, I suppose that it’s something that could be measured in the lab over the course of a very long time, but the wear on the tires will cause the need for a new tire long before the anti-oxidants (if this claim is even believable) go away. Likewise, the failure of other components on the car will cause the need for a new car long before the wheels corrode to the point that they need replaced.

The biggest logical fallacy noticeable in nearly all advertising for nitrogen in tires is an argument from authority. Because NASCAR and the US military use nitrogen in their tires, we average consumers should do the same. The high performance requirements – taking a turn at 150 mph or landing a bomber on a runway – require consistent, reliable air pressure. Both the military and NASCAR have large budgets, and at these extremes the slight benefit – only a percent or two based on the math above – of the nitrogen is worth the price which they don’t really care about anyway.

In summary, tires filled with air contain roughly 21% oxygen and 78% nitrogen and small amounts of water vapor and other trace gasses. Filling tires with dry nitrogen replaces that 21% oxygen with a molecule that is 3% larger and reduces moisture inside the tire. Does this practice increase fuel efficiency, tire and rim longevity, and safety? My guess is that it may be slightly measurable but certainly not noticeable – and most definitely not worth the additional cost for anyone who properly monitors tire pressure.

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

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Dad life

Sep 07 2011

I’m not sure that I fit the stereotype portrayed here just yet, but I’m noticing some disturbing trends. Thanks to Luke VanSkike for pointing me at this video.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-21

Aug 21 2011

  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-14 | #
  • I just accused my wife of giving my unborn child fruit poisoning. #
  • Dear iTunes Genius: When I start Genius on Tow Cow Garage, playing the Beatles is nothing but a #fail #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://t.co/imkhg4r Incredible Shade Illusion! #
  • @MediaGuyCarl Nope. It auto-tweeted the title of the video….I had no control over the punctuation. #
  • @MediaGuyCarl I've already used one of my two this year…I'm saving the other for the birth of my son in a couple weeks. #
  • lol // RT @EricaHops: Wearing my new favorite t-shirt today. http://t.co/IPgHVrA #
  • likes Sally, I've Been Shot by Two Cow Garage on Ping http://t.co/JRynMZq #iTunes #
  • First full day of coding in as long as I can remember – and it felt great. #
  • Massive fail by @tgw_tweets – can't pay for a purchase without giving credit card over the phone? Is this 1995? How insecure! #
  • #lastfm Artists: Ryan Adams (11), Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (11) & The Hold Steady (10) http://t.co/YMZYhR5 #
  • Anybody need a sand pump? // Georgia Iron Works 816D 10 x 10 sand pump | no-reserve auction on August 25, 2011 | http://t.co/X16zP60 #
  • I'm going to throw a tablet if I see another story that says iPad killed TouchPad. webOS was superior to iOS in many ways. HP didn't market. #
  • @TGW_Mike A Ping putter. You should really fix your relationship with Ping so that you can take payments securely. #
  • @TGW_Mike I finally got it ordered using your chat system. I felt sheepish when I learned later that you were in Wichita. #
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  • Hey iTunes, please never, ever add Bad Company to another Genius mix. Thanks. #
  • Quite right. // RT @MediaGuyCarl: @traffas It isn't usually the best technology that wins, but the first technology that's good enough. #
  • Plays that song that's so-illusive. #
  • Factoid: webOS Runs Twice as Fast on iPads Than on TouchPads – @Gizmodo via @natedrives // http://t.co/FptJETp #
  • WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The U.S. http://t.co/o2AW7Mm #
  • Really HP? You're spinning off all your hardware but you elect to keep printers? THAT'S what you kept? #
  • Happy birthday, Gene Roddenberry. #
  • I just spent a lot of money at TGW because my belly putter sucked. Should I stick with it? @TGW_Corey @TGW_Mike #
  • Each time I build something custom in WordPress it takes half the time I expected. Either I'm good or WordPress is. Probably the later. #
  • @dN0t God I hope that's autospam. #
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  • @dN0t Well she made over $10k a month working from home! No wonder they kept it a secret. #
  • In a map with no AWP, the Famas is the surprise long range pain stick. #css #
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  • Someone should create a website that lists places that serve Pepsi products so they're easier to boycott. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-14

Aug 14 2011

  • What stain of a designer at Netflix thought that horizontal scrolling would be a good interface? #fail #
  • Hey, @boxee, is there any way to put episodes of a series in order in the Netflix app? #
  • New post | Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-07 | #
  • Fun With Math of the Day http://bit.ly/rinPcA #
  • I just unlocked the "Century Club" badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/oPG3OK #
  • OH: "Accounting should be boring. It's when accounting becomes exciting where you know you have a problem." #
  • @MikeOMearaShow I just got hiccups from laughing so hard at a bonus show. #
  • @dN0t "No one wins at violent shows." #
  • @dN0t Hold Steady lyric. I wouldn't know. You'll have to take me to one when we come visit next year sometime. #
  • @rachelyohe You seem to be tolerant with your own capitalization, though. #
  • "Blackjack's headshot" 21 OF HEARTS http://bit.ly/rkFUJr #
  • STOP! IT MAKES MY BRAIN CRY. http://bit.ly/nLgDmf #
  • @rachelyohe Not nearly as bad as the "U/are" combo fail. #
  • Using a pound sign to represent the word "number" is like a lazy texting teen who uses the number 2 to represent the word "to". #
  • I liked a @YouTube video http://youtu.be/sBH_fN-wb6c?a Auctioneers Designation Academy in Vegas #
  • That's an even more vulgar use of the pound sign since it's lazy AND redundant. // RT @jdschultz: @traffas or sn# or vin#… Ugh! #
  • My Top 1 #lastfm Artists: Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akthar, Jason Howell (4) http://bit.ly/9P1d2t #
  • Born after 1976? You’ve never experienced normal global temperatures http://t.co/62os0dG (via @summify from @EricaHops) #
  • Trailer house flipped in the wind less than a half-mile from my house. Many trees down and it seems Sprint gave up. Hoping for power soon. #
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