My year with Android via Nexus 5

A year ago, I was ready for a change. I was tired of my tiny iPhone screen and the off-contract cost of AT&T cell service, so I switched to a Google Nexus 5 with a nice screen and T-Mobile with friendly and cheaper month-to-month service. But now I’m back to a iPhone and AT&T. The size problem has been fixed with the iPhone 6, though it’s still a little smaller than the Nexus 5, and my AT&T service is now employer subsidized. AT&T has also adapted to offering more T-Mobile-like plans.

Reasons I was looking to change back to iPhone/AT&T:

  • Battery life was terrible for my Nexus 5. It would barely make it 10 hours in sleep mode. I can only imagine that my cell/wifi reception was so poor that the phone was constantly waking up and looking for a better connection.
  • Poor T-Mobile coverage in this area. Too many places, I had no data coverage.
  • Android was not as convenient to sync with my Mac (iTunes/iPhoto). However, now I see iTunes and iPhoto aren’t as convenient as they used to be if you don’t opt in to the cloud sharing.
  • I missed having a hardware mute switch for the entire phone. Android has several different volume settings and muting one (like ringer volume) doesn’t mute the others (like app noise volume).

Things I will miss from Nexus/Android:

  • Convenient integration with Google Now. I get most of the functionality from the Google iOS app, but it’s not as convenient or as tightly integrated as on Android. Surprisingly often, it would tell me what I needed to know before I asked.
  • T-Mobile customer service. The fact that it was easy to cancel is a good sign in itself. Also, when we went to Toronto last summer, T-Mobile prompted me to buy a short-term international data plan (about $20), while my wife’s AT&T phone silently accumulated $100s in international roaming charges, and she thought she had cellular data turned off.
  • Openness of the app store, including being able to use Firefox and ad blockers.

One bonus of the switch-back is that my old iPhone apps carried over from before. Perhaps the downside of the open Google Play store is there is more a focus on in-app ads instead of paid apps. The ad-based Scrabble was unusable (a fullscreen ad after every move), so I’m happy to get back to my paid, ad-free Scrabble app on iOS.

One more thing: for some reason the iOS Google Maps app doesn’t show traffic as well as the Android version. These two screen captures are showing about the same thing before my morning commute, but the iOS version on the left puts the blue “your route” line over the red “slow traffic” lines, making it hard to see the traffic along your route.

Charity Solicitations Visualized

Way back in 2006, I tallied my charity solicitations, and since then the situation has gotten comically worse. So over the past year, I’ve tried to keep all the solicitations I received from various charities, some of which I haven’t contributed to in years. This time, instead of a simple table, I’ve made a couple kitchen floor charts showing the actual pieces of mail received. I probably missed a few, and phone calls are not represented.

Here are my “charts” of charities sending the most and least amount of mail in 2014.



Care is easily the most annoying (I even found another piece after taking the pic). I didn’t even know I had donated to Care, but they handled a donation for typhoon relief.

It’s good to see that Public Citizen and Southern Poverty Law Center are doing better. They were the top offenders in 2006, but they’re now mostly honoring my request for one solicitation per year.

Perhaps the annoyingness is exacerbated by my giving pattern, which is to give toward the end of the year. Unfortunately for me, common practice is to accept the December gift and then send an “annual renewal” just a few weeks later in January.

The worst offenders have either been dropped or switched to reduced anonymous giving, but I expect the junk mail to continue for years. And anonymous giving is expensive as far as I can tell. Network for Good adds a 5% fee and JustGive adds 4.5%. Hopefully, that includes the credit card fees, but I’m not sure. It shouldn’t been so expensive just to move money. Fidelity Charitable with a flat fee of $100 per year may be another option, especially if the credit card fee is separate for the other options.

My truly least annoying charity (annoyance == 0) is one that sent me no mailings or online annoyances: the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Thanks to Neil Sloane and many volunteers for that excellent resource. Wikimedia was also in the no-mailings camp, but they made Wikipedia pretty annoying to use for most of December, so I’m not sure where to rank them.

Tom Peters Apple Prediction

I used to follow Guy Kawasaki in the early Mac days, and I recently noticed he has a new book out. I haven’t seen it, but the announcement prompted me to check out some of his older books from my local library. One was called Hindsights: The Wisdom and Breakthroughs of Remarkable People and contains interviews with successful people. Only a few of the interviews are very insightful; Mary Kay Ash was probably the best.

In spite of the book’s theme, Tom Peters decided to show off his foresight:

I can’t imagine a scenario where Apple is a leader twenty years from now. Maybe it will be ten times bigger … but setting the agenda? That’s an insane thought.

The book has a copyright date of 1993, so the interview must be from about twenty years ago.

Running with Thieves?

After owning an iPhone for only two weeks, I’ve already lost my earphones. Searching for replacements, Google led me to, which I know nothing about. At $3.50 and free shipping, I figured it was too good to be true and went elsewhere.

The interesting part was the “customers also purchased” list:


Four of the items are related to breaking locks. I wonder if these earphones are popular with people that steal iPhones and iPods.

Carmine’s of Chapel Hill

It looks like my (mild) promotion of the term gluten freendly hasn’t caught on, but I have discovered another gluten freendly local restaurant. Carmine’s of Chapel Hill is a new Italian restaurant in the space that used to be Sal’s Pizza. I haven’t eaten in an Italian place since my Celiac diagnosis, but Carmine’s carries gluten-free pasta and even a gluten-free beer.

Both times I’ve been there, the chef-owner came out to assure me the gluten-free noodles would be cooked in fresh water and that my entire entree was gluten-free. I had the Veal Marsala, which was delicious, with a wine sauce made with real cream (no flour thickener!).

Obama Tie-dye

I figured out a folding pattern to make the Obama logo in one pass. After I made the first one for Beth, I made a second batch for other friends, though I think the first one came out better. I keep thinking I know what I’m doing, but it’s hard to reproduce a tie-dye pattern. Here’s the first one on the left and one from the second batch on the right.

Now, if only I had thought of this a year ago, they’d be all over the country…