Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Complaint: Google Hangout Phone Quality - First impression

I am surprised that there are so many little things that have been bothering me from Google's products. They've always seemed very complete with at least the 80%, but recently there seems to be what I think should be common requirements that does not even seem to exist.

Online Status
My biggest issue that I noticed right away was that I am unable to see who in my list are actually online or offline. Sure I can leave a message if they are not there, but how do I know if I am expecting a response soon or never. If I wanted to leave a message, I might as well just used an email. What was the justification to force this upgrade on the phones without this requirement? At least on the PC, you can revert back to the old chat (but I need the hangout to get Google Voice to work).

Voice Quality
Voice in seems to be ok, but voice out seems choppier than when I used the old gchat. The other end seems to have complained that I sound much quieter. I am not sure why this would be different because it would only be an interface change.

Redial
There is no redial. There was an issue with our conference system where I dropped off the call randomly, so I found that I needed to redial but cannot find the option. I am not sure if there is an option from the call window because the call window does not recognize that the call was disconnected and I could not end the call through the interface. I had to close the window and redial in.

Button Tone
Once in the call, the tones of the button is very slight. At first, I thought that I didn't hit the button so I had hit the button again. This makes it difficult for slow automation call systems because I am not sure whether I didn't press the button hard enough, the browser didn't recognize it, or the call system did not recognize it. After a while, I just got used to this.

Speed
Answering calls takes significantly longer. Prior to hangout, it took gchat at most 2-3 seconds to pick up the call and around a second on average. Now, Googe Hangout takes several seconds 5-10 seconds to pick up. This process takes even longer if it is the first call since the browser was opened. Once, I have had the call reach voice mail after I clicked on Answer during the first ring. The calls were much faster in gchat where the call never reached my phone, but now my phone rings a 1-2 times after I click Answer. [[Is there a keyboard shortcut for answering a call?]]



Edit:
9/4 Added Speed, updated Quality


Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Honda Civic 2012 - Age 450 days

It has been almost half a year since my last cost analysis of my car.

In general, the car still drives well. In a long drive, I have actually managed to get around 49 miles / gallon for about a mile. I am not sure how much historical data the car uses to calculate that, but that was around 2 hours into my trip. My gas efficiency for the entire trip (calculating from my gas receipts) was around 44.5 miles / gallon. The ticket efficiency for highway is 41 mpg, so I am still quite happy about that.

During that trip and judging from the gas efficiency meter, the car drives most effectively between 55 mph to 65 mph. I think it is most effective around 55 mph including all the slight hills. When I reach 70 - 75 mph, the efficiency drops sharply just to maintain a constant speed. Also to note, there was a lot of rain during my trip. This may be a factor but I am not knowledgeable to know.

As for the life of my car, I am averaging around 35 mpg and $3 per day on gas. The cost per day for the total cost on the car has dropped to $54.28 per day from $81.73 per day since the previous post. This cost is estimated to reach $6.78 when the car reaches 10 years assuming gas and insurance remains the same.

It is still cheaper to not own a car in New York City and pay per trip ($2.50 per trip) if you go out once a day (including work). A monthly pass is clearly a cheaper alternative to a car. To top it off, the cost of the car would be greater than $6.78 if you need to pay for parking and lower fuel efficiency. The positive of owning and using a car is the convenience and possibly safety.

Complaint: Google Voice in Gmail - Cannot Receive Calls (Not Google Hangouts)

Issue with Google Voice in Receiving Calls within Gmail

My issue is very similar to an article I found in Google Groups. I have no problems when calling out of Google Voice. Gmail recognizes that a calling is coming, but when I answer, there is no sound on the other end. Before, I could press one of the number buttons which would initiate the call. I do not have problems when I answer the call from my phone. Even when I answer in Gmail, my phone will continue to ring. The same problem occurs in Firefox.

This problem started late last week, so for a few days. My workaround with the number button has been around for a while.

Solution

Although all the articles I found say that Hangout was the problem, I found that upgrading to Hangout actually fixed my problem. The articles are rather old so perhaps Hangout has fixed the problem but in the meantime broke the old chat.


Reference:
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/voice/KeGKxbyjSfs%5B1-25-false%5D

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Complaint: Google Chrome Crashed - Videos on Infinite Loop

Browser: Google Chrome
Version: 28.0.1500.95 m

Error Message: Aw, Snap! Something went wrong while displaying this webpage. To continue, reload or go to another page. Reload. If you're seeing this frequently, try these suggestions.


I notice that I get these if I leave something running particularly with flash or silverlight for a long time (8+ hours). My guess would be something with memory leaks. Some examples are with Pandora or YouTube playlists with a loop.

The issue is minor in that I just refresh the page and on rare occasions restarting the browser. I feel that FireFox does a better job on this where I've ran the same sites for multiple days without any problems. I cannot quite remember Internet Explorer since it has been a while but I think it used to just slow down my system to the point where I couldn't do anything else without close the browser.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Complaint: Mobile Blogspot / Blogger.com - Text Editing

Mobile Blogspot / Blogger.com - Text Editing Issues

Every so often, I try blogging from my phone. This time I tried editing an old post and found some odd behavior. On larger posts and using swype, the words start with a capitalized letter. This occurs after I tap anywhere to move the cursor. Also after I select a word from swype then tap somewhere else, the word appears in the new spot. This does not seem to occur in smaller posts.

Reference:
Blogger v2.1.1 on Motorola Droid RazR

Monday, August 12, 2013

Complaint: Scramble is Extremely Slow

In the latest update from Scramble (5.32) for the Droid Razr, the game is now extremely slow to start and upload a game. I noticed that there are much fewer ads, so I wonder if it has to do with it not finding the ads. Otherwise, I have no idea what may be causing it.

I wonder if there is a way to downgrade apps.

Review: Yogurt, Yoplait vs La Yogurt vs FoodTown vs Others (not a nutritional review)

Yoplait vs La Yogurt vs FoodTown vs Dannon vs Activia (not a nutritional review)

I have only started eating yogurt for the last couple years. I had a friend introduce Greek yogurt to me and it turned out ok. Mine was mostly fruits, granola, and honey. I tried it again later and found that I do not like plain Greek yogurt. I am still not used to the texture of it.

Because I heard of the health benefits of yogurt, I did not quite give up on it yet. I started with the other yogurt. I think it is referred to as regular yogurt? I will just call it regular yogurt or just yogurt. These are the ones you find in the supermarket not under Greek yogurt. At first, I also did not enjoy these either but kept at it and eventually it became more bearable.

Now I can eat them without any problems and on a regular basis. I buy whatever is cheapest in the supermarket which tends to be Yoplait, La Yogurt, and Dannon. Recently, I just bought some the generic Foodtown brand.

Overall, all of them tastes pretty much the same. Foodtown is clearly the lowest on taste but I still enjoyed it. Foodtown has the least amount of fruits in it. Yoplait and Dannon are usually on the top of my list. La Yogurt is a far third because I always seem to struggle opening the container (maybe that was why it was discounted?).

The 6oz size seems to be a great serving size even though I still try to compare sizes in the supermarket. Yoplait appears deceptively larger because it has a bump at the bottom. I really like that one 6oz can carry me through breakfast.

Even among the regular yogurts, I like the lighter version if the brand carries them. I do not like the whipped version which I find worse than the regular one. I think I was tearing as I reached the bottom of the first one.

I couldn't help looking at the health portion. In general, even the unhealthiest yogurt is a better option for me from my previous diet. But as I attempt to move towards a healthier life-style, I should start looking at the nutritional facts. I noticed that Yoplait has a lot more sugar which is probably how that was more tolerable for me, while Foodtown has 11g (less than half of Yoplait). Now that the other brands are now in my tolerance, I should start leaning towards those brands.

Although the link below says that Yoplait has as much sugar as a Snicker's bar, yogurt is much more filling. It usually can last me for an entire meal and it surprisingly helps with digestion (which I am going to assume a candy bar is not going to do that). I rarely have any digestion problems, but it seemed to help even when I feel a bit bloated from overeating the day before.

Now that I started cooking, the amount of sugar is now making more sense to me. Now when they say that Yoplait has 28g of sugar (about 7 tsp of sugar), I can relate more to those numbers now. I use about 1-2 tsp of sugar for an entire dish, so 28g is a lot of sugar... although I find it odd that 2tsp tends to be too sweet for me, so how am I able to eat 7tsp of sugar without it being terribly sweet?

I suppose I should start eating less Yoplait. We'll see how that turns out. It should not be too hard since I now typically have enough in stock to last me to a week that one of the other brands are on sale.


Reference:
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources/lifestyle_community/food/restaurants&id=9020555

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Interview: Dear Interviewer, Would you Answer Your Own Questions Honestly?

Dear Interviewer, Would you Answer Your Own Questions Honestly?

If you are new to interviewing, these are good starting points (or see link below).

What I have thought interesting since I started interviewing is how "textbook" some of the answers are to the interview questions. All questions are structured to get some sort of information about the interviewee, but do interviewers ever think about what the interviewee thinks about the company on certain questions?

One of the questions, "Tell me about the worst boss you ever had," the interviewer is "trying" to see if you are going to talk smack about your older bosses. Almost everyone will recommend that you try to redirect the question to something positive, but why not say bad things about a bad boss (unless you've only had 1-2 bosses then I would also recommend you avoid answering this directly)?

Is the new boss expecting to be bad? If he is not bad, then why would he worry about what I say about bad bosses? Who has not had a bad boss? I mean this is like asking, "have you ever lied?" We all know the real answer, and we know that is not the answer the questioner wants to hear. Basically, you want us to lie. Is that how you want to start someone's career at your company?

If going the route of "yes, I do lie," I would also suggest that you add what you did about it. Like when my boss hired someone that was weak, I wrote a report trying to avoid any personal bias. I told her that this is my opinion and that I respect her choice because there are usually other factors that they have to consider that I am not privy to. Another example was a poor process. I recommended a better process with analytic on how it is a better business strategy. I want to show that I will go to my boss with my experience and my knowledge. I do not jump levels and report to his boss about my thoughts on him. If you cannot back up your actions, then maybe you should stick with the suggest response from CareerBuilder.

What if your boss was doing something illegal? I have not actually thought about this... and I am not sure exactly what I should do on that matter. I'd probably read the employee handbook and probably should be handled by HR. Anyways, this is probably a bit too personal to answer publicly because if you happen to be my boss... it is probably better that you don't know what I would choose. To all the not-worst bosses, what would you suggest?

Another question is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Does anyone really know where they see themselves in five years that are relevant to work? Does the interviewer even know where they see themselves in five years with their current work? How can they expect that from someone who doesn't even know who is going to hire them?

I seem to dislike questions that really only have one correct answer. These types of questions only seem to serve one purpose and it is not to understand the interviewee. If you or your HR is not going to put effort into finding the right candidates, I have lower views of your company. Does that mean I will not choose you? Unfortunately for me, I probably would consider the option since most companies ask the same types of questions.

But like interviewers who are looking for that one ideal candidate, I am seeking for that one ideal employer and I hope to do so by being more straightforward about my profession abilities. If there was one recommendations for employers about their interview questions, that would be that you would be able to answer the same questions you ask: "tell me who was your worst manager that you've had," "where do you see me in five years?" If you do not like answering those questions, then do not ask those questions. Like interviewees, avoid lying because you will not get what you really want. It is a lose-lose for both parties.

On a different matter, these staple responses from recruiters and head-hunters are things that have always made me uncomfortable with them. Shouldn't they be people who should be making the hiring process easier by being more honest about the truths? Why has the whole interview process been mutated into something that favors people who know how to interview and not their real talent? Does a company really care if someone knew how to answer a certain question that is really irrelevant to them? Who cares if the person cannot see where they are in 5 years? Who cares if they had a bad boss or had all bad bosses? They only care that the employee adds value to the company.

I am not saying that the knowledge is important. It is important to know if we have ambition or have social issues. But you are expecting someone to know those with just one or two questions?

Sometimes I wonder about the use of recruiters. Their business model revolves around getting people hired. People don't get hired if the company already has perfect people. They love churn because that gets them the bonuses that they work out in the contracts.

I think there is a lot of room for improvements for HR, recruiters, and head-hunters to really make more long term solutions to the interviewing process. I think recruiters have the most to gain especially with the current technology in social networking. They can now keep in touch with people for several years without being very intrusive.

Why recruiters? Because companies do really not care much about employees or potential employees' life outside of their company. They want to focus on their product. Also on the political level, there are some managers that hire people they know over people people who are capable. It only takes one poor manager to make systems extremely inefficient.

And, people want to focus on their skills so that they can add value where they are talented at. Why should the person know who they work best with, especially when the employer does not even give them a say in the matter? People struggle to get themselves hired and you want them to know someone else?

This leaves the recruiters to find the best matches because that's their role in the process. They care that you did good work for Company A, showed loyalty in Company B, and demonstrated hard work at Company C. They should care that you had that one bad boss but you overcame it. They should have a better idea what your 5 year goal is better than the interviewee (isn't it kind of messed up that they call the company the client and not the other way or even both?) With their experience, they should know where you can be in 5 years and they should know what the company would expect in 5 years. They should know historically who you have worked best with. Not only that, that knowledge should be exactly the same except that you explain it in the perspective for that person. Too bad they only care about the person being at the right place and at the right time... if not, they move onto someone else.

Anyways, there's probably an infinite and one reasons to why the system is not that way. Unfortunately, I cannot help but think on these processes on a part-time basis as I would really wish to focus on processes on building new engineering technologies. I have been distracted by other industries because getting good coworkers is the biggest problem in process improvements. So here's my weakness... I am easily distracted by things that I consider the biggest problems on things that are preventing me from working on new engineering technologies.

Reference:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/worklife/03/04/cb.answering.tough.interview.questions/

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: twitch.tv - Free streaming for gamers

I heard about this through a gaming friend who was trying out casting his games. This is a very interesting concept in that it is almost like reality tv but of the person's computer screen. Twitch.tv broadcasts a bunch of casters showing them playing a sorts of video games. Some of the most common are LoL, Dota2, SC2, and a bunch of other games.

I found myself watching this a bit more particularly because of the eSports championships. This casts are of national and international championships. What I enjoy are listening to the casters explaining what is going on, so I can learn more of the details to the games without having to play. Kind of like watching tv, I get to learn about games (sometimes new games) without having to play and while doing other things so I feel more productive without really sacrificing a lot of time.

I also enjoy watching games I have not played before and kind of get a preview of the games. Sometimes it is just funny listening to some of the casters. Some casters also cast like a radio station. Of some of those even give out free prizes to increase viewers.

There are some channels that are kind of boring. There are some commercials but that has not bothered me. It is nice that it provides money for the casters so it seems to bother me less. The most annoying are some of the trolls in the chats. Even without the trolls, the semi-trolls are very annoying too. From what I've observed, casters can choose chat admins to ban users or delete messages.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Complaint: Google Drive - Numbered List, Screen Space in Landscape Mode

Numbered List 
I can't find a way to change the level of a numbered list in a document in Google drive on a mobile phone. For example, I have a list 1, 1.a,, 1.b, 2... I want to create 1.c. It just creates 2 thus making 2 into 3. Not sure if there is something like a tab. (8/5/2013)
Of course right after I posted the above, I found how to do this. In the text options at the top of the screen, there are more options by scrolling it towards the right. One of the additional options is to change the level of the numbered list.

Screen Space in Landscape Mode
In this mode, I can only see one line of the text. The virtual keyboard takes up almost the entirety of the screen. I cannot think of a better way to improve this experience. One thought is to somehow move the keyboard to the side, like a split view with the document on the left half and keyboard on the right half. Or split the keyboard so half on the left and other half on the right with the document in the middle. I'm not sure whether this would improve the user experience though. Or maybe a way to resize the virtual keyboard.

Screen Space in Portrait Mode
It'd be nice to be able to zoom out more. 

Life: What is Wrong with Stereotyping

"The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story." ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have never had a clear position on stereotype. I have always thought there were pros and cons to stereotyping, so I have always struggled enunciating my thoughts on this matter. So when I saw this video, the topic became a bit clearer to me.

One of the issues I always had issues with was the removal of stereotypes. What I mean by this is that when we see a stereotype, our society has a tendency to remove the stereotype because stereotypes have a negative connotation. For example, the Native American mascots in US sports. A lot of effort is being put into removing any references to Native Americans.

I had always thought it odd that people found it offending that a team would use an ethnic group. There have been teams that used a region's name. Is it just as wrong to use animals then? Why do we not have the same issues with Notre Dame's Fighting Irish?

My problem with understanding the issue was that I was not stuck on the stereotype of the Native Americans portrayal of the mascots. What I failed to recognize was that there are other people who are influenced by what I thought were minor details. This I see now as a problem that should not be tolerated.

It is still odd to me the resolution to most of these problems is to remove such a stereotype. Even if the stereotype is false, this seems like a good opportunity to educate the truth. A platform to grow our social identity instead of hiding it away.

I also find it odd that we think stereotype is bad or wrong. It is a part of us. A part where we are trying to simplify the world around us and make associations... debugging the world through our faulty senses. We see patterns even when we know is false like several consecutive even numbers from dice rolling or roulette. A stereotype could become a bad influence when it becomes over-simplified.

Making judgments based on stereotypes are bad, but where do you make a distinction between a stereotype and a trend? Is it wrong to take more precautionary choices when you fear for your safety? Where is the line where it is ok to be defensive personal safety (a stranger on a street) and not ok (a stranger in an interview)?

At some point it is about content, but safety does not always afford the time to learn the content. Danger strikes before a person can recognize someone's intent. On a lesser degree, someone can also trick or commit fraud. Even if you wish to avoid certain stereotypes, how can you avoid certain correlated trends? What if you mistakenly thought it was a stereotype when it really was a trend?

Is it just as wrong to stereotype people who stereotype? Is it wrong to feel safer among people you look similar knowing that people are less likely to harm those who look the same? Is it wrong to feel more comfortable among people of the same religious faith? Is it wrong to joke about stereotypes that I belong to?

I think it is impossible to avoid fitting in a stereotype. At some level, I have to accept what people perceive of me. I can only "educate" others of who I am whether I prove or disprove certain stereotypes. On the other hand, I have to recognize that stereotyping may also be influencing my decisions. But how can I learn if they do not express themselves?

Reference:
http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_mascot_controversy

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cooking: Guacamole

I made guacamole for the first time. Smashing the avocados was very difficult. The end result was not right but still turned out ok. It seemed a bit chunky and dry. Maybe I should get a blender.

Reference:
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_guacamole/

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cooking: Salsa (first time)

I did a variation of Chelsea Kenyon's salsa from about.com.
1. No chiles
2. 2 Roma tomatoes instead of the beefsteak tomatoes
3. 1 tbs Cilantro
4. 1/4 large Vidalia Onion
5. 1 tsp Salt
6. 1/2 squeezed lime
7. 4 cloves of garlic

I diced the tomatoes, cilantro, onion and garlic. Mixed it all together in a large bowl, and done. This was very simple to prepare.

I like my salsa spicy so I was a bit sad that I didn't have any chile lying around, but it turned out really good. I think this may have been a little heavy on the garlic and onion for some people because there was still quite a bit of kick to it. Freshness of the cilantro, onion, and garlic makes a big difference too. I just bought mine from the grocery store about 30 minutes prior to preparing.

My grocery bill:
5 tomatoes $1.51 ($0.97 / lb)
1 large garlic $0.68 ($3.99 / lb)
2 large Vidalia onions $1.71 ($0.77 / lb)
1 bunch of cilantro $1.99
4 limes $1.00

Total: $6.89

I probably used a quarter of each item. I think that made about a container of the regular salsa containers from the supermarket. So much cheaper than buying pre-made salsa. On the other hand, I like the consistency of the pre-made salsa. Mine did not seem to mix together as well and the liquid was watery so just sunk to the bottom of the bowl. I think I had to dice the tomatoes a bit finer. I probably could take out the liquid part of the tomatoes before dicing. All in all, the salsa turned out very well for my first attempt.

Sadly, the bag of chips cost $4.29 but I probably cannot make the chips at home. I wonder if the popcorn chips would taste good with salsa. Unfortunately, I didn't buy it although I was tempted since it was right in front of the checkout counter.

Reference:
http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/techniques/ss/salsastepbystep.htm

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Life: Professional Blogs or Online Articles' Basic Information

1. I would like to see some sort of biography to the author to understand what kind of experience or background that the author. Personally, I have actually worked with one of their branches so I know there is some legitimacy to the company.

2. The date that the article was posted. I want to know how old the information is. How else should I know which information is newer when they conflict? These sites lose a lot of credibility in my views just for this little information. I am surprised how many articles are still missing the date.

3. And the last thing I'd like to see is references especially when they talk about other sources. If the source is theirs and independent, then it should be stated that way. Otherwise, information without references just makes the article seem like it has other purposes besides the primary message.

I can understand the lack of these in personal blogs or hobbyists, but professional and corporate blogs should have these at the minimum for me to believe such information. I am not saying that I do not trust it, but I am forced to find other similar information elsewhere thus some credibility is lost.