Ugh, Google is buying Fitbit

My first bit device, back in 2011

Pretty sure you already had heard the news of Google buying Fitbit for about 2 billion dollars, and I, as a customer, don’t like it.

Since the very first devices, I had liked Fitbit’s discreteness. Surely their devices weren’t oriented for professionals, like Garmin’s, but small enough to carry them on daily basis, the battery last about three weeks, and they sync whenever you are close to a PC (or your phone). I’m not a sporty nor outdoor type of people, so Fitbit is a great for tracking my overall walking activity without having to carry my phone all the time.

Some people are worried about their data, to which Fitbit responded:

The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.

Of course, you don’t need to sell the data, or use it for ads, to profit from it: “IBM didn’t inform people when it used their Flickr photos for facial recognition training“. But fine, I feel my data on Fitbit’s servers is that important.

My gripe about Google buying Fitbit, is that the later would become a worse service. You see, Google is pretty inconsistent with their product strategies, for a corporation of their size that has been unable to sort out their messaging apps for so long, the future doesn’t look good for Fitbit. And Google’s customer support is terrible bad:

The lesson I learned a long time ago is Google products are great until you need to contact someone. I’m sure a few people have some ability to directly contact a real person at the company, but 99% of us are stuck with their product support forums that OP linked to, which frankly are terrible and rarely solve any real problems

ddtaylor comment on Hacker News: G Suite Horror Story

What I can see happening is:

  • Google will shove WearOS into new Fitbit-based hardware offerings.
  • All current Fitbit accounts will be migrated to Google’s, which would lead to existing features stop working and having to deal with “legacy accounts“.
  • Rebrand it a couple times, because why not.
  • If Google can’t make a significant bent on Apple’s wearables market share, they might decide to focus on something else, making Fitbit join the “Killed by Google” club.

Man, I’m sad about this. Just a few weeks ago, I was telling a few coworkers how nice Fitbit works. So much for trying to stir away from some of Google’s mess.

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

This short video by John Green perfectly explains why for a banana republic is very difficult to stop being “poor”. In Guatemala you will see the same: The capital has somewhat good infrastructure and luxuries (for a third world country, that’s it), while rural areas are nowhere near; child malnutrition, unemployment, crime, bad or even no infrastructure are very common out side of Guatemala City.

Must Watch: Chernobyl

Chernobyl - HBO mini serie

I can’t recommend enough to watch “Chernobyl”, a HBO mini serie/fiction-documentary of 5 episodes, which deals with the worse nuclear disaster ever occurred so far.

The production has been great reflecting how the soviet government wasn’t fully aware of the disaster and wanted to cover it up to keep up the proud soviet face. I had read a lot of the disaster and watched a few documentaries (360p days in Youtuve), and I’m still enjoying this show.

A year of reading books

Back in December 2017, I wanted to read a lot more books. I’m not a person that starts a new year making a list of goals, but this was the first time I’ve being serious about achieving something through the year.

My goal was to read more than 25 books, maybe even reach the 50 books in year; I tried hard a few months, but I end up at 32 books. It feels great, I got to read a lot of stories and really good books.

  • Reading this many books, made me feel like the year lasted longer. As if I had experienced in person all those stories, and visited the places told in the books.
  • Going through 25 books in a year feels doable as long as you stay focused on the goal (around 2 weeks to read a book). Achieving 50 or more books, that’s going to be hard if you have a busy life (work and other hobbies are going to interfere), or stick to picking light books (cheating 😉 )
  • I don’t really mind reading on printed books or ebooks. Some have good edition, others don’t. Each one has its pros and cons, I just wanted to consume the story.
  • One thing about reading printed books, is that the covers are attractive, so people might ask you about your read (more if they see you reading periodically at the same place). With tablets or ebook readers, people might think you are just checking Social Media.
  • It really helped me carrying a book everywhere, even to a bar. Reading while commuting a third world country is fine, while pulling a ebook reader could be dangerous.
  • Its funny because the more I read, the more books get into my wish list. I got a lot of follow ups from Scientific books. Still feels good to tackle a bound of entries from my list.

You can checkout the books I had have read at LibraryThing.

I’m going to keep with this goal through 2019, maybe should I call it an habit by now 🙂 Feels good to be able to read books, I should try to read even more.

Gyo – A horror manga

Gyo – a horror manga by Junji Ito

How can a manga be so awesome and disgusting at the same time? That’s Junji Ito’s work. Gyo really impressed me with its drawings of horrible mech-zombie bodies expelling gases, thanks to a germ developed by the Japanese army. I can’t recommend it enough, although the story is a bit short.

Continue reading “Gyo – A horror manga”

Sword Art Online – Alicization (Season 3)

Sword Art Online – Alicization

Heads up! The season 3 of Sword Art Online anime just started airing again 😀 (previous season aired back in 2014). SAO its one of my favorite series, and having had read the light novels a few years ago, I’m excited about this adaptation.

I think its been like 4 years since I read most of this season’s history arc, and just recently caught up to the #17 novel. The history is really long, I’m not sure how much of it is going to be covered in this season. We’ll see what makes it in.

You can watch it in Crunchyroll. Or Horrible Subs.

2018: Phones are mostly bezel-less so our cases can have big bezels

Essential Phone with Poetic case
Essential Phone with the Poetic case

This year most smartphone manufacturers have been pushing hard to reduce the size of the bezels on their phones (so called screen-to-body ratio); also using fragile premium materials of the back, instead of plastic, is cool. It funny because if you care about your phone, you’re going to use a case with it, and one with quite big bezels.

For a while I was tempted on getting one of the Caterpillar android phones, but the specs were kinda bad, so was the lack of software updates. Actually its becoming harder to find a flagship Android phone that doesn’t have a back made of glass or ceramic and tiny bezels in the front. But hey, that slippery back gotta feel premium!.

Looks like the future of smartphones is about wrapping their premium materials in Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) cases 🙄

What the next smartphone generation should aim for

5 years apart: HTC One X and the original iPhone

It’s been a long time since my first smartphone, and also my first mobile phone, the original iPhone. Since then smartphones are almost as powerful as netbooks, just look at the specs of my current phone, a HTC One X:

  • CPU: 1.5Ghz Quad-Core
  • 1280 x 720 4.7″ screen
  • 32GB on board storage
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 MP camera and decent sensor

Compared to the original iPhone hardware, everything is 3 or 4 times better. The Android OS is literally light-years from the crappy Windows Pocket/CE or Symbian OS experience, browsing from this phone feels almost like doing it from a traditional desktop PC.

I’m sure there is still room for improvement (specially on the little webkit browser), but also somehow feels like the phone hardware doesn’t to be that much powerful. I don’t think having a 8 core CPU will be noticeable unless you do really intense gaming. More Ram? hmm well, I’m not running a database server in the server; besides mobile OSs doesn’t run all applications in parallel at the same time, they keep one app active and the rest sleeping (plus services in the background).

More pixels on the screen? well, at 300dpi is already hard to see individual pixels. Same for tons of megapixels on the camera, that’s silly; at least HTC is betting for higher quality rather than just pack more megapixels.

However with all those improvements in the last years, there are two areas where I’d really like to see huge advances:

  • Battery life: It’s nice to have such a big screen, but tuning it on feels like burns the battery. Leaving my phone in stand by could easy past one day without charging, but it can’t take more than 6 hours of continuous use. I’d love so much to have a phone with a battery that lats a couple days like in the old days… I guess it’s too much to ask when every manufacturer tries to pack as much muscle on the phone as they can. Sigh.
  • Unbreakable glass screen: Scratches are almost no issue nowadays, but every time I drop my phone, I fear its going to shatter. I feel bad for iPhone and iPad mini users, because Apple loves so much pushing the glass to the border as much as they can… Beautiful aesthetics they say, shatter screens is what I see. At least most Android devices keep a reasonable ugly bezel, I like my devices being durable not just beautiful.

@neavilag's cracked iPad Mini

If you ask me about dreaming, I’d love so much my phone to be also my computer like the old Seabird phone concept:

To be honest, I don’t think this happening, Motorola tried to do something like this with the Atrix phone, it looked nice but it wasn’t powerful, after all the x86 architecture packs more force than ARM (if you don’t mind the power consumption). I don’t see phones and tablets reaching the same compute power (and versatility) as laptops anytime soon.