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Six Weeks Living With The Pixel 4 XL!

Pixel 4 Six Week Review

Six weeks ago, I received my new Pixel 4 XL; and despite the lack of 3.5mm headphone jack, fingerprint scanner, and replaceable battery, I find myself extremely happy with Google’s latest and greatest overall.

Despite it’s bigger screen size, compared to my LG V20, the Pixel 4 XL has an overall smaller footprint, which, for me, is a little too large to use comfortably one-handed, I wanted the XL version, so that’s an observation, not a complaint. I recommend a case for the Pixel 4 XL, it’s a slippery device with glass on the front and back, I bought a Tech 21 Evo Check case, which makes the device slightly bulkier, but it feels more secure in my hand, without a case, I felt I needed to handle it with kid gloves constantly.

Initially, I enabled the on-screen navigation buttons, disabling gesture-based navigation, but I had to reenable the gesture navigation as I could not use continuing conversation with the on-screen buttons. And, after taking a day to get used to it, the gesture-based navigation is quite intuitive, and I cannot imagine going back to the traditional on-screen buttons, but the option is there for those who prefer it.

Although I do lament the omission of a 3.5mm headphone jack, using a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter does allow me to use my favorite pair of earbuds. And, the sound is fantastic, good clarity overall, meaty midrange and clear highs with the lower frequencies being punchy, if not the deepest bass I’ve heard through my 4-year-old earbuds, and the volume is adequate for most situations with zero distortion. The main downside to this USB-C adapter arrangement is that I cannot charge and listen at the same time.

The camera, the reason I bought a Pixel this time, is surprisingly good, even without manual exposure control. Google’s AI photography is excellent in most situations, even when zooming past the optical 2x lens. The AI does a good job of reducing the blockiness you’d associate with digital zoom, although I’d rather move closer and use the 2x lenses for better clarity, it’s good, but not the same as optical zoom. I do however wish that Google would allow shooting in 3:2, in addition to 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

Photos get backed up to the cloud, i.e. Google Photos in high quality, not original quality like previous Pixel’s, but, I can live with that. The quality offered by Google Photos is high enough to keep me happy. I am a professional photographer, so I would never use a phone for my professional work, I’d use my Canon 5DmkIV or 6DmkII for that, so the high-quality backup from the Pixel 4 is great for me.

Video is the Pixel 4’s weak point, it’s fine for capturing family events and casual video, but this is not a filmmaker’s phone despite 4K30 recording. I recorded a 1080p60 video of my daughter singing in her recital, and the video seemed a little soft and grainy, in good indoor lighting. But, the worst part is the audio recording, it sounded muffled like all the higher frequencies had been rolled off. I could recover it in post-production, but straight out of the phone, it’s terrible while listening through full-range speakers.

The Google Assistant is amazing, it understands my UK westcountry ‘farmer’ accent just fine, rarely misunderstanding me, which is a massive improvement over the Google Assistant in my old LG V20. I feel like I can actually use the assistant to send text messages and initiate phone calls now without sending gobbledegook or calling someone, other than the intended person. The only inconsistency is sometimes, the response will be silent, instead of verbal confirmation, which could be a problem while driving.

Battery life, which seems to be a bone of contention for many reviewers of the Pixel 4 XL, for me, is fine. I’m no power user, by any stretch of the imagination, but in my use, I easily get two full days, with 15 to 25% remaining at the end of day 2. My average screen on time is 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day, sending texts, Email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube viewing, and of course, phone calls, maybe 10 to 25 minutes a day.

Being a Google device, phone and security updates are frequent, in the six weeks, I’ve had the device, the Pixel 4 XL has updated twice, once mid-December and again, today, with a security patch update dated 1/1/2020. That said, both times I had to manually check for updates, I didn’t get a notification that a new update was available, but that might be a setting I have not enabled on the device.

After six weeks, I would definitely recommend a Pixel 4 XL; if that changes, I will update this review.


OMFG! Finally, A Breakthrough With My Son

Breakthrough

Another blog about my 15-year-old son, Conner, but this time, it’s a positive story, and the wife and I feel so much lighter, mentally. Why do we feel mentally lighter, you ask? Well, we finally made a breakthrough yesterday in regards to why our son continuously struggles with his school grades.

Conner refuses to talk to us about anything, he is so secretive, trying to get any information out of him, is like trying to get blood from a stone, I feel like I know our cat better than I do our son. Last night while trying to prise information out of him, it occurred to me that all these issues with behavior and grades began in the transition from elementary to middle school. So I asked the question “what changed between elementary and middle school?” and bingo, he suddenly opened up, saying the following.

“In elementary, I only had one class, but when I went to middle school, there were suddenly lots of different classes in different rooms, with different teachers.”, he said. Which, makes perfect sense, as his autism diagnosis stated he has issues with transitioning. We further probed him to find out that he has a hard time letting go of the previous class/subject because he feels he hasn’t completed the work, which is massively detrimental to his next class/subject, as his mind is still on the previous class/subject.

Now, we feel like we have something to work with; we just wish he had said something 5 years ago, while in his first year of middle school, instead of keeping it inside. We have an IEP meeting at his school on January 22, 2020, we will be discussing this new discovery with his teachers and will advocate massively for him to get him the help he needs, even if we have to go directly to the Wichita school district.

We hope that this discovery and a better IEP plan for him in school will also curb the lying, cheating and stealing we have experienced in the past 18 months. Of course, knowing this new information about Conner’s struggles in school does not excuse his recent behaviors, stealing from his family and the consistent lying is not acceptable, he knows right from wrong. We’re also looking at out of school therapy for these behaviors, talking with a psychologist might help turn around these dishonest behaviors.

I’m going to be taking more of a backseat, letting his mother and grandmother take a more prominent role in his life, dealing with these behaviors. As, although I discuss consequential actions with my wife, I’m always the one to hand down the punishment, which I believe has caused Conner to resent me as an authoritarian figure. I will take a tech support role moving forward, as a smartphone is back on the table. We want parental control software installed on it, so we can track his usage and limit the hours of use. However, if he disables the tracking, or breaks the rules of usage, he will lose it for a short period of time.

There still has to be consequences, it would be a bad example if his actions have zero consequences, positive or negative, As an example of a positive consequence, I unblocked his ROKU from the network, so he can use Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc again because he opened up to us about his school struggles. Obviously, even with changes made to his IEP, he still has to put in the extra work to get his grades to where they need to be, which includes taking advantage of the extra 24 hours he has to hand work in.

After 5 years of negativity from him, it’s nice to see him actually smile, albeit briefly, let’s build on that!


My Son: The Thief & A Liar

My son, the serial thief and liar

Apparently, it’s my fault that my 15-year-old son is a thief and a liar, that is what Conner, my son claims, another example of this bullshit entitlement attitude he has, nothing is ever his fault!

Just 15 days ago, on Christmas eve, he got busted for stealing a phone from his grandmother’s house, a phone that we had planned to give him as a surprise on Christmas Day, despite his shitty behavior, attitude and poor grades throughout 2019. If he was honest and worked hard to improve his situation, I would not have to be writing this today, or any of the previous blogs about his self-entitled attitude.

Last night, I was in my router administration panel, when I noticed a ‘Samsung Android Device” connected to my network that I did not recognize. I immediately blocked the device from accessing my network and confronted our son, Conner this morning about it. I could see on his face that he knew he had been busted (again), so he immediately handed over the phone, which I discovered to be another one of his grandmother’s phones, her old Galaxy S4, which she recently replaced with a Galaxy S10e.

I’m kinda annoyed with my mother-in-law because she discovered the phone missing a few days ago, and did not say anything to us, despite what happened 2 weeks earlier. She must have known who took it, there is no-one else with access to her house to take it. Clearly, Conner has no remorse or respect for us, the fact that after being busted for stealing one phone, 3 days later, he stole another phone, on the 27th of December. We are at a loss as to why he continues to steal from us, he’s been busted four times.

Here’s Conner’s logic as to why it is my fault, in September 2018, I threw out his Android tablet as he had repeatedly been breaking the rules we set out for him, using the device outside of allowed hours, into the early hours of the morning, as late as 4am. Conner claims that I made him a thief and a liar because I threw out his tablet, and he could not say goodbye to his online friends. Of course, I call bullshit, he had plenty of time to say goodbye when he stole my old Galaxy S4 some time between losing the tablet, which was only loaned to him and March 2019, when he got busted for using my Galaxy S4 in school.

I feel he has zero respect for myself, my wife, his grandmother or his sister, as once is a mistake, twice is unfortunate, but four times is a pattern. Let’s call him what he is; a thief, and a liar. He has been lying to us for years before I disposed of the tablet. He seems to have this entitlement attitude, which he believes justifies stealing from his family. After he got busted today, he tried to justify his action by saying “it was an old phone MiMi was not using”, personal accountability does not seem to exist in his world.

The reason I feel he doesn’t care about anyone but himself is that, despite me saying “if you were smart, you would not connect to the home Wi-Fi where you know I can see all devices connected”, after the last time. The first time this stolen Galaxy S4 was connected to the network was December 28, 2019 and had transferred 29.9GB of data in that timeframe. Clearly, he knew the jig was up, as when he handed the phone back, he had wiped the device clean, once he could no longer access the home network.

I’m done with the boy, if I could, I would sling him out of the door, today! I don’t want a thief and a liar living under my roof, on my dime. Clearly, he is too far gone, he doesn’t even attempt to show any remorse, instead, he looks at us with disdain when he gets caught red-handed. It’s a harsh world out there, when I can legally throw him out, he will realize how good he actually had it with us.


Goodbye Corsair K70 MK.2, Hello Steelseries Apex 7

Steelseries Apex Pro

I’ll start with why I switched from Corsair to Steelseries for my keyboard needs. Despite the K70 MK.2 costing close to $200 including tax, it, at least the specific Corsair K70 MK.2 I have, has been beset with problems, within a few months of purchase. Within just 2 months, the LED’s started failing, not holding their color. I keep my backlighting set to white, but some keys had a yellow tint, others a blue tint, and some with less brightness than others, despite all keys being set to the same #FFFFFF white color.

Although annoying, I could live with the color shift of certain LED’s, it was the locking up of the keyboard randomly, that forced me to switch to Steelseries. Literally, sometimes while typing, the keyboard would stop registering keystrokes, the backlight remained on, however, the keyboard was not registering input. Initially, I thought that maybe I had a bad USB port on my motherboard, but after switching to multiple USB ports, both USB2 and USB3, the lights were now off, but still no input from the keys.

The only way I could get the K70 MK.2 to come back to life was to reboot my PC, then switch USB ports. If I just powered down my computer, the lights on the K70 MK.2 would remain on despite my computer being soft powered off, meaning I had to unplug both USB cables or flip the switch on the PSU to off.

The K70 MK.2 locking up is seemingly random, sometimes it’ll do it while typing, 2 to 3 times a day, or it will have stopped responding after it had been sitting idle for a few hours, or after a remote desktop session, connecting to my PC from another PC, then it will be fine for a few days, before locking up again.

I researched the issue online and it seems to be a problem with a number of Corsair keyboard models, going back about 3 years. The stock response from Corsair via their forums is to update USB drivers, iCue, keyboard firmware, and BIOS, I did all four of those things and the problem persists. I even disabled “USB Selective Suspend” in Windows 10 power options, which was another suggestion from Corsair via their forum, again, that did not resolve the issue of the K70 MK.2 locking up/stopping responding.

The final straw was the USB passthrough on the K70 MK.2 failing 2 weeks before I finally replaced it with the Steelseries Apex 7. No amount of USB input switching fixed the onboard USB passthrough issue.

After previously owning a Corsair Strafe RGB keyboard, which had a failure of seven keys on the bottom left of the keyboard after 2 years, in addition to the problems with the K70 MK.2, I was not going to give Corsair any more of my hard-earned money. So, I did some research and found the Steelseries Apex 7.

My first impressions of the Steelseries Apex 7, red switch version. Like the Corsair K70 MK.2 it replaced, it has a solid aluminum plate with surface mounted switches and raised keycaps. The keycaps themselves have a soft touch feel, with good lighting shining through them, although, the LED’s are not able to produce pure white, having a very slight aqua blue tint, but this seems to be par for the course for lighting on all RGB devices, the K70 MK.2, my Asus motherboard, and GPU have the same issue producing white.

There is a small OLED display above the 10-key pad, which I feel is a gimmick, but also kinda cool, working with certain apps and games, I doubt I will ever use it other than to display a logo, which can be customized with your own logo in the free downloadable Steelseries Engine software. To the right of the display is a clickable roller, which allows for menu navigation, and media controls, volume (roll), mute (click), and button allows for media play/pause (1 click), next track (2 clicks), and previous track (3 clicks).

The fixed USB cable is routable through left, center and right channels for better cable management. On the rear of the Apex 7 is a backlit USB passthrough port, which I use for my wireless headset dongle, which helps with reducing electrical interference, getting the receiver away from my PC tower.

Like everything, it’s not perfect, I have one minor gripe, there is no indicator for CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, and SCRL LOCK. Just for one moment, I thought the number pad was not working, some sort of indicator would be useful, maybe the key backlight changing to another color, to signify that those keys are active.

After 24 hours, I am happy with the Apex 7, but only time will tell if that remains the case.

Update [Jan, 1 2020, 21:49]: The CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, and SCRL LOCK keys do change color when activated, unfortunately for me, that color is white, which means, as I have chosen whole keyboard white backlighting, I cannot see the color change and I cannot see a way to change it in software.


What the f**k is wrong with this boy?

Parenting Hell

Every Christmas we have some issues with our now 15-year-old son and this year is no different. My mother-in-law was keeping a Tracfone smartphone for him, which she was given by another relative. I told our son that his grandmother has a phone for him back in September, which he could have with service if his grades improved to an average level, no D’s or F’s, something he is very capable of.

My wife and I had recently given up on C or above grades in all subjects, as we’ve had a 5-year battle with poor grades and a lack of effort by our son in correcting those poor grades. Giving him back his video games, which we had previously taken away because of his refusal to put in the effort to correct his grades or accept help to improve his situation, you can read about this in my blog from a few days ago.

We had decided to allow our son to also have the phone with service, so he would have a way to contact us when he stays at home while my wife, daughter and I go out, as he often does not want to participate in family activities; and we do not have a landline phone in our home. The plan was to surprise him on Christmas day with the phone, but he had made another bad choice, so this did not happen.

That bad choice was to steal the phone from the drawer in his grandmother’s dresser a month ago. We had tracked it back from Email’s in his linked Google account to November 23, as the first time he used the phone, which was the Saturday after the Friday, he had stayed over at his grandmother’s house.

This is a disturbing pattern of behavior in 2019, in which he stole my old Galaxy S4 from my office desk drawer in February, then later in the year, he stole his 9-year-old sister’s Galaxy tablet, which we thought she had misplaced, and now stealing from his grandmother. We are so incredibly disappointed as we never raised him to steal, he could have most things he wanted if he just pulled his weight in school, we don’t ask much, we want him to achieve all C’s or above, it’s not like we’re asking for straight A’s.

I don’t understand why he does it, he always gets busted, he might get away with it for a month or two, but eventually, I spot a device on my network that shouldn’t be there. In this case, I knew there should not be an LG device connected since I switched to a Pixel 4. When we noticed my mother-in-law’s phone was missing, I logged onto my network and there it was, LgElectr Android listed in connected devices.

I don’t know what he was thinking, the gig was clearly up, but after discovering the phone missing, while at my mother-in-law’s house, we asked him directly about whether he had the phone and he lied to me, his mother and grandmother, promising he did not take it. Which at this point we knew was a lie, either that or he had stolen my old LG V20, which I recently replaced, in either case he was in deep trouble.

The bottom line is he has lost all privileges at home, the Internet is cut off to his room, so no video games, television or streaming media, and no more treats like chips or soda’s, for an indefinite period of time. He is 15 years old, he does not get a pass, he tried the waterworks on his grandmother, which is a common tactic for him, to get out of trouble, I’ve seen it so much over the years, I’m not buying it, I put my foot down and told him to stop with the bullshit, he will have to suck it up and accept his punishment.

I’m seriously concerned with his actions, how long will it be before he starts stealing outside of the family? from friends in school or even from shops, because he feels he is entitled. This is literally what he told us when he got busted for stealing my old Galaxy S4. One thing is for sure, if he continues down this road, I’m not going to bail him out when the police are inevitably involved, due to his entitlement syndrome.


I’m defeated, my 15 year old son wins!

Failing School Grades, D-

The struggle with my son’s school grades over the last 5 1/2 years has been well documented here on my blog. And, I have finally given in and gave all his video games back to him as grades for game time clearly has not worked. If he wants to ruin his life by refusing to put in the effort, so be it, it’s his choice.

He has finished another semester with poor grades, three D’s this time, just scraping out of an F by 1% point at the last moment, after having that F for almost the whole semester. Our son has an IEP which gives him an extra 24 hours to hand in his work, but instead of bringing the work home, he chooses to lay around in bed, sleeping away his life, instead of using that advantage to improve his grades.

We have offered to help him, but he always refuses, claiming that us getting on his case makes him angry. Also claiming that he is stupid, which he is not, the only way he is stupid is turning down help to achieve the grades we know he can get. At 15 years of age, only he can decide to make a concerted effort to improve his situation, after a 5 1/2 year battle, it’s clear that we cannot encourage a change in mentality.

I told him while handing over his video games and handhelds that only he can change is future, he can play video games day and night, as much as he wants, but once he is done with school and is 18 years old, he will need to pay his way, either paying his share to live in our house, or move out and pay for his own bills. I refuse to allow him to lounge about on our dime, which of course he thinks is fine right now, but he’ll be in for a shock when the Internet will be turned off in his room, meaning no TV, or games.

But, in the United States, that high school diploma is all-important, most employers won’t even look at you without that piece of paper. Meaning he will have to complete a GED instead, which does not carry the same weight as a high school diploma, limiting his options. He also claims that he no longer wants to go to Full Sail University to study game development anymore, We tried to dangle the carrot of FSU in front of him to incentivize him to put in the required effort to get the grades to be accepted into FSU.

I have deep concerns about his future in the adult world, as he has a mentality of entitlement like the world owes him something. When the idea of working a part-time job was floated when he was 16, he had the idea that he could keep all the money, while we still pay for everything for him. I fear he will not be able to hold down a job as he refuses to follow instructions, he will do it his way, regardless of how many times he is instructed to do it the correct way, which I doubt any employer will tolerate.

Finally, he does have a diagnosis of Asperger’s, on the Autism spectrum. Our son will use that diagnosis as a reason for his poor grades, which tells me how smart he is. If he can use that diagnosis to manipulate the situation, he is smart enough to get the necessary school grades, which he has proven time and time again, turning F’s into A’s in a matter of weeks in past years. Now in 2019, he has just stopped trying and accepted the video game ban, electing to sleep his life away instead, much to our dismay.

He’s my son and I love him, but I have to be tough on him, showing him the harsh realities of adult life, which he is only 3 years away from at this time, sheltering him from reality will not help in the long run.


It’s December 15, 2019, D-Day For Sign Up To The ACA!

Medicare-4-All is the only option

The need for Bernie Sanders Medicare-4-All is growing greater by the year, and we, as a family are not even that bad off as some, and we’ve had to make changes to be able to afford healthcare.

My wife’s policy from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas has jumped 250% from last year, her new premium is $247/month, up from $70/month. Which as I said is not terrible compared to some people out there, having to pay $1,500+/month with a $13,000 deductible for the cheapest family plan.

My health insurance through my workplace, also jumped more than 100%, from $190/month to $420/month. And this insurance is through Aetna, who continually reduce the drug coverage their policy covers, making me have to jump through a million hoops to get the drugs I need. So I have downgraded to the minimum insurance I can get, to make ends meet, so basically no healthcare for me for 2020.

My wife requires medical insurance, so I have made the decision to ignore my diabetes, to ensure that she continues to have decent insurance to cover her drug costs and emergency room visits for her Lupus and Fibromyalgia, plus spine issues, due to a car wreck about 8 years ago. I understand that I’m taking a risk with my health, but I must do what I need to do, The ACA without a public option is useless for most.

As someone who comes from a country where healthcare is a guaranteed right, the UK. I feel that the US needs to have the same, and the only plan, from all Democratic presidential candidates, is Bernie Sanders’ plan, which covers everyone, no exceptions, everyone pays into the system, everyone gets the benefit. Despite early indications, Elizabeth Warren’s plan to weak sauce compared to Sen. Sanders’ plan.

If we had to pay full price for my wife’s insurance plan, it would be a no-go, the total cost before the ACA credit is more than $1,400/month, which for a family earning $61,000/year is not affordable.

I’m hoping for a real progressive blue wave in the 2020 elections, on a state, national and presidential level, if for nothing else other than to assure healthcare for myself and my family. A system where insurance companies can override a doctor in deciding whether a drug is necessary or not is inherently broken. Let’s face it, having a profit-based system for healthcare, be it big pharma, insurance, hospitals or doctors offices will never serve the people, it serves the shareholders, and the almighty dollar is king!


Pixel 4 XL: 48 Hours On…

Pixel 4 Xl Example Photo

My initial impression of the Pixel 4 XL was that it’s smaller than I expected, it’s physically smaller than my 5.7 inch LG V20. I had to get a ruler to measure the screen size, as I thought that Google had sent me the standard Pixel 4 and not the XL model, the Pixel 4 XL has a 1/2 inch larger screen compared to the Pixel 4.

My second initial impression was how slippery the Pixel 4 is; super smooth glass on the back and front. I have been handling it with kid gloves over the past two days, while I wait for the case, which was actually shipped from Google before the phone itself, it’s due to arrive tomorrow. I bought a Tech 21 Evo Check, which is the same case I used on my V20 for the past 3 years, just in a different shape and size.

The initial setup was not as smooth an experience as I would have expected. I inserted my SIM card into the phone, powered on, connected to my Wi-Fi network, but despite being connected, I could not log into my Google account, it kept on throwing an error. After trying to log into my Google account 4 times, I skipped login, which got me into the phone. The Pixel 4 prompted me to connect my old phone and the new Pixel together using the USB-c cable, to transfer data, which sorta worked. After it said it had finished transferring data, it threw another error saying that not all data was transferred.

All data had been transferred except my lock screen wallpaper, which is a photo of my wife holding her phone, which I think is superglued to her hand, but I digress. Now, I could add my Google account, logging me in without an issue, I cannot explain why, but this was my experience of setting it up.

First negative, no fingerprint scanner, only Face Unlock, which currently is not supported by my credit union, Meritrust, Discover, American Express, or Credit Karma apps. Also, Face Unlock does not work well in dark environments, forcing me to use a pin number instead, obviously a fingerprint scanner would not have an issue with darkness. I think Google is trying to run before it can walk, fine, have Face Unlock as an available option, but also offer a fingerprint scanner until all app developers support Face Unlock. It’s quite irritating to have to type in a complex password every time I want to check my bank balance.

Second negative, the default camera app has zero manual exposure functionality. Yes, you can adjust the shadows and highlights and add fake bokeh, but I cannot choose ISO or shutter speed. From the few test shots I took, the Pixel camera app would shoot at slower shutter speeds, < 1/30 of a second, for example with an ISO of 64. Which does reduce noise, but trying to shoot a moving subject, like at a live show is impossible at 1/30 of a second, creating images with significant motion blur. Another oddity is that there is no option to shoot in 3:2 aspect ratio, which is standard in photography, only 4:3 and 16:9 is available.

So, I will be searching for a good manual camera app to use with the Pixel. I’m old school, I’d rather have control over my exposure than having clever software to fake it, often missing the target.

Honestly, I was expecting better, I had never owned a previous Pixel, I kept on hearing how amazing the Pixel is for photography, so I feel somewhat disappointed with the Pixel 4. It’s fine in normal lighting conditions, the fake bokeh is passable, although it does get it horribly wrong at times. Maybe I’m being too hard on the Pixel 4, maybe it’s a limitation of sensor size and I’m expecting too much from the phone?

Moving onto the positive, the phone’s small footprint is actually a positive, the Pixel 4 XL fits in your pocket like older 5.7 inch smartphones, with the tiniest of bezels on the sides and bottom. The top bezel is thicker to house the various sensors, which I personally like, a much better solution than a notch.

Audio quality, whether through the built-in speakers, headphones (via USB-c to 3.5mm converter) or via Bluetooth in my car is excellent, great clarity, good bass response, although it could be a little deeper, and good body in the middle of the frequency range. I would have liked a dedicated 3.5mm jack, so I can charge the phone while listening to music at the same time without buying a wireless charging pad.

Finally, battery life, which, the Pixel 4 has been much maligned, seems fine to me, I took it off charge at 7:30am this morning and at 1:07am, battery is showing as 62% remaining after 2 hours and 41 minutes of screen on time, and one hour of streaming Spotify to my car via Bluetooth, taking about 30 photos and general checking of Email, text messages and looking up information, etc. According to the battery stats in settings, it’s claiming that the battery will last until 8:15pm at the same usage level as today, which is damn close to 37 hours of usage before a recharge is necessary, obviously, your mileage will vary.

So initial impressions are a mixed bag, I like some things, other things I do not like. No 3.5mm headphone jack, no fingerprint scanner are two of the biggest things, but I also knew these things, before purchasing the Pixel 4 XL. I really like the audio, and the battery life for my use case.

Update [Dec, 8 2019, 14:40]: The battery did last a full 48 hours for me, at 8:30 this morning, it still had 4% battery remaining. 2 full days seems pretty good to me for a modern smartphone. I never got a full 2 days of usage on a single charge on any previous smartphone I have owned in the last 10 years. In that timeframe, I’ve owned a Samsung Exhibit 4G, Galaxy S4, LG V10, V20 and now, Pixel 4 XL.


Why I’m ditching my LG V20 for a Pixel 4 XL

Pixel 4 XL

After 3 years of ownership, I am switching from my LG V20 to the brand new Pixel 4 XL, which I bought for $200 off in Google’s Black Friday sale. I generally like the V20, I like the replaceable battery, I like the fingerprint sensor, I like the external SD card storage, but over the past year, it’s performance has diminished massively, so it’s time to upgrade to something better, especially in the camera department, where the LG V20 is severely lacking, even in well-lit conditions, since the last firmware update.

I was not going to buy a Pixel 4 because it does not have a removable battery, but most new phones no longer have removable batteries, so that point is moot, no SD card expansion, again, something most phones omit in 2019, or no fingerprint reader, a feature I like, but I’ll see how I get on with Face unlock.

The biggest reason I’m upgrading is for the photography capabilities, despite LG claiming the V20 was a photographers phone, it’s never lived up to that claim, it was fine initially in daylight, but over time, it has gotten ‘foggy’, even when the phone is focused, the resulting picture is soft at best and blurry at worse. While low light photography is horrendous, so much noise that it obliterates the subject of the photo.

I’m not a big user of smartphones, I don’t often have the phone in my hands, while at home, I prefer to use a computer. I don’t play games on my phone, so the latest CPU or GPU is not important to me. I use the phone to look up something, or check my Email, while out and about, but, my main use is photography at live music gigs or family events, as I don’t want to have to carry my Sony RX100V, as well as a phone, something I had to do with the V20, as the low light performance is so terribly bad.

The thing that has tipped me into buying a Pixel 4 is battery life. Yes, I know that I can buy a new battery, but all the other things that I am dissatisfied with on the V20 means that an upgrade is the only option. The battery on some days will last less than four hours, with little to no usage, and when I plug it in to charge after the phone had turned off, it claims that it has 40 – 67% remaining, but it won’t turn back on.

The Pixel 4 XL will arrive by Wednesday, and I am looking forward to giving it a test run, especially the camera, I’m really hoping it lives up to the hype that Google is generating with their newest Pixel phone.


OK, Mr Hacker, release the video of me satisfying myself!

Your account has been hacked! You need to unlock it

About an hour ago, I received an Email on a work Email address, that I only use for domain name registrations, so the hacker must have trawled the WHOIS. The Email claims that I have been hacked and that the hacker has access to my computer, including my microphone and webcam, and had recorded a video of me satisfying myself while visiting an adult site. Threatening to release the video to social media, if I do not send $500 in bitcoins to the hacker’s Bitcoin wallet. The Email reads as follows;

Hello!

I am a hacker who has access to your operating system.
I also have full access to your account.

I’ve been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this,
transfer the amount of $500 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is:  17nhAbZGm4UmSVj5Zx8amwAbjVXcxGtEAz

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 50 hours (more than 2 days) to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.

Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.

Best regards!

Clearly, I don’t believe this is a genuine threat, it’s trying to scare me into paying up. I have shared this message with the whole world, so dear Mr. Hacker, please feel free to distribute the video of me enjoying a five knuckle shuffle. If anyone else gets one of these Emails, please ignore it, they don’t have anything on you, it’s classic scare tactics, where they hope you feel they might have something on you and pay up.