Josef “Jeff” Sipek

iPhone 7 "Review"

I stopped by an Apple Store nearby, and played with the new iPhone 7 for a couple of minutes. Why? I have an iPhone 5s which is still working, but it is lacking some nice-to-have features. I got the 5s back in the day because I got fed up with my Galaxy Nexus—it got unusably slow, and I wasn’t really a fan of the screen size (it was too big). That’s right, I wanted a phone screen that was smaller so I could use it with just one hand. The iPhone 5s fit the bill perfectly.

Now, it is 2016 and the 5s is getting a bit old and the 7 just came out. Should I upgrade? The iPhone 7 is better in just about every way, but the screen…it’s bigger than the 5s’s. (Yes, I realize it’s the same as the 6 and 6s.)

Trying it out

My main goal with playing with the phone at the store was to see if I was OK with the size. I made sure to type on the keyboard both one-handed and two-handed, browse some websites (mostly scrolling around), and see which screen locations were hard to reach.

The new home button is certainly interesting. It is a fingerprint reader (this is nothing new by itself) with haptic feedback. So, “pressing” it results in a similar sensation to what the physical button provided in the previous models. It’s not the same exact feel, but it was surprisingly good. It felt like the feedback was coming from near the home button, not just the whole phone vibrating.

The phone certainly felt bigger than my current one. The test drive wasn’t long enough for me to make a determination based on this alone.

One-handed operation

While playing with the phone, I made an interesting “discovery” about my one-handed use of phones. Apparently, I hold smartphones one of two ways. If I am typing, I hold the phone further down; on the other hand, if I am mostly scrolling, I hold it closer to its center of gravity. Needless to say, this affects how far on the screen my thumb can reach.

When I’m holding the phone near the center of gravity, all icons (see above screenshot) except the top row and the Maps app are easy to reach. The Mail app is essentially impossible to reach without shifting the phone in my hand. The remaining ones are doable, but it takes more effort than just moving my thumb over.

If I’m holding the phone lower down (e.g., because I was just typing), then the top two rows of icons are hard to use—with the top left corner (i.e., Mail) being impossible to reach.

There is an accessibility option (called “Reachability”) which shifts the whole screen down 30–40%. This makes the top two rows of icons reachable. (Once enabled, trigger it by double-tapping the home button.) While it is neat that this is available, it feels a bit like a hack.

Specs

When I got home, I decided to make a table of the physical specs. Specifically, the physical dimensions, weight, and the screen size. In addition to the two iPhones, I included the Galaxy Nexus (my previous phone) and the Samsung Galaxy S7 (the current flagship Samsung Galaxy phone).

Phone Size (mm) Weight Screen
iPhone 5s 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 112g 100mm, 1136x640
iPhone 7 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 138g 120mm, 1334x750
Galaxy Nexus 135.5 x 67.94 x 9.47 135g 118mm, 1280x720
Samsung Galaxy S7 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 152g 130mm, 2560x1440

When I first made this table, I was surprised at how close the iPhone 7 is to the Galaxy Nexus. Size-wise within a couple of mm! Weight-wise only a 3 g difference. The good news is, I can use my 2.5 years of Galaxy Nexus use as a guide to answer my question about the iPhone size. The bad news is, I didn’t really like the screen size on the Galaxy Nexus.

Conclusion

I think the conclusion is clear—I am going to wait to see if Apple makes a smaller version over the next year. Until then, I will stick with my 5s.

Concorde

I just came across someone’s blog post full of cool Concorde photos.

It’s a hard choice, but my favorite photo is:

Concorde

(The black and white photography and the unusual camera position in these images remind me of the Wernher von Braun photo I posted years ago.)

Happy 50th, System/360

It’s been a while since I blahged about mainframes. Rest assured, I’m still a huge fan, I’m just preoccupied with other things to continuously extoll their virtues.

The reason I’m writing today is because it is the 50th anniversary of the System/360 announcement. Aside from the “50 years already?” sentiment, I have a couple of images to share. (I found these several years ago on someone’s GeoCities site. It’s a good thing I made a mirror :) )

I also came across this video from 1964:

Google Traffic

Ever wonder how Google gets its traffic information?

traffic

Apparently, there are two sources. The first is the Department of Transportation. The second consists of Android users.

You can always check Google Location History to see what sort of data Google has. (Of course, they may always have more than they show.) Seeing the data can be a bit unnerving. Since I’m not really into giving Google more data than they already have to begin with, and I see no reason for Google to know exactly where I spend my time, I decided to turn this feature off.

Turning it off

You can find the setting by running the “Google Settings” app. That’s right, not “Settings”. Once there, select “Location”.

traffic

As you can see, I want to treat Google apps like any other vendor’s apps. As an added bonus, it looks like my GPS is on way less often.

Cake

I’ve had the following draft for a very long time. It’s time to publish it already, isn’t it?

Yesterday, I came across a site dedicated to Cake Wrecks — in other words, cake decoration attempts gone wrong.

The best ones I’ve found on this site include:

Dr Who
Dr Who
Dr Who
Dr Who
Dr Who

Spiral

From 3 days ago:

This morning in arctic Norway, onlookers were stunned when a gigantic luminous spiral formed in the northern sky. Veteran observers accustomed to the appearance of Northern Lights say they have never seen anything like it. It was neither a meteor nor any known form of atmospheric optics. Rumors that the spiral was caused by the botched launch of a Russian rocket have not yet been confirmed.

Spiral
(original)

Linus & Windows 7

You might have already seen this image, but in case you haven’t…

Linus + Windows 7

Microsoft tried to torpedo the success of the Japan Linux Symposium by launching their Windows 7 product that same day. They even had setup a big promotion booth across the street from the conference center.

During a break, we decided to make some fun of Microsoft and dragged Linus over there. When we arrived there, Linus was sold immediately on the product as you can see in the picture. At least that’s what the sales guy thought. He obviously had no idea who he was dealing with. But in the end Linus surprisingly did not buy a copy. Wise man!

Spock

Spock

STS-128

The other night, just before midnight, STS-128 launched. I took a few screenshots of NASA TV. NASA described the launch as:

Liftoff from Launch Pad 39A was on time at 11:59 p.m. EDT. The first launch attempt on Aug. 24 was postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The second attempt on Aug. 25 also was postponed due to an issue with a valve in space shuttle Discovery’s main propulsion system.

The STS-128 mission is the 30th International Space Station assembly flight and the 128th space shuttle flight. The 13-day mission will deliver more than 7 tons of supplies, science racks and equipment, as well as additional environmental hardware to sustain six crew members on the International Space Station. The equipment includes a freezer to store research samples, a new sleeping compartment and the COLBERT treadmill.

Here’s the “beenie cap” with the moon in the background:
Beenie cap

A nice shot of the whole shuttle:
Shuttle

The engines:
Engine closeup

Beenie cap being retracted before launch
Beenie cap retracted

Later on, I found this image on NASA’s site. Wow.

STS-128 Launch
(original link)

Viewed from the Banana River Viewing Site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery arcs through a cloud-brushed sky, lighted by the trail of fire after launch on the STS-128 mission.

STS-127

I was just watching the STS-127 launch. I couldn’t help but take a couple of screenshots of NASA TV…

Right after solid rocket booster separation:
SRB separation

The fuel tank, and separation:
External Fuel Tank
External Fuel Tank separation

And, it looks like NASA has a nice photo of the launch:
STS-127 launch

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