Jupiter Ascending

I watched Jupiter Ascending last weekend. Yes, despite all the extremely low ratings and the warnings to avoid this movie, I went to see it. And what can I say… it was a nice movie. Really.

Don’t get me wrong – it definitely had its faults. Jupiter (played by Mila Kunis) is portrayed as overly naive, much more than she needs to be. She falls for people who want to use her twice, and both times it was clear as daylight what was going to happen.

The pacing and structure was also a little off, especially in the first quarter or so. The introduction of the different parties looking for Jupiter was weird, and it took me a while to understand who was supposed to be the good guys and who was the bad guys. I don’t mean that in the sense of plot twists or deception – that is fine if it fools the audience, even expected. But in this case I think the presentation of the different groups just was not executed well.

But apart from these issues, I did not really think there was something outright terrible about Jupiter Ascending. The dialog was sometimes wooden, but I didn’t expect something that would be winning any Pulitzer Prize soon. The overall plot was not the kind where you later walk out of the cinema and just think that this was the best story, it was just a generic action flick, but that’s what I expected from the trailers.

And what a lot of people really found laughable, the “dog people”… have you never seen fantasy movies before? In this case they even try to explain it semi-scientifically with spliced genes, etc. Sure, that is basically technobabble, but still, for a fantasy action movie that was pretty normal.

To be honest, I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending much more than Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. Those had gaping plot holes as well all over the place, and a huge legacy to live up to, and in my opinion they failed that spectacularly. Jupiter Ascending is just a random fantasy action movie without any baggage like that.

And: it is gorgeous. It was the best 3D movie I saw, period. Take it for what it is, just don’t expect the next Matrix, and enjoy the ride.

Necessary evils in UX

Among the many blogs I read regularly is Ignore The Code by Lukas Mathis. Most of the times I agree with what he writes on UX, and I generally like his insights. In his latest post “Windows 10: Re-Crappifying Windows 8” I think he comes at the problem from the right angle, but essentially ignores that a lot of people just do not use computers the same way he does, or if they do, they often are not savvy enough to operate them if something doesn’t just work.

I agree that computers should be easy for most tasks – the proverbial list people bring up now usually involves writing letters and emails, surfing the web, listening to music, and stuff like that. And for these people and use cases he is spot on. But then he mentions this:

Managing files requires dedicated features, which is why we’ve gradually moved file management into dedicated apps like iPhoto or iTunes.

No. A thousand times no. iPhoto and iTunes are not for file management. Thex are for managing photos and music. They are totally removed from files and file management. In iTunes I edit metadata for songs and albums, not for files. And this is totally fine. I used iTunes a lot (since I stopped iTunes Match and started using Sonos at home I start it a lot less than I used to, but still…). But I never used it to manage files, only to manage my music collection. If I wanted to add new files to that collection, I had to put the files into some folders, or otherwise manage the files that held the music. That is ok, but a distinction that doesn’t cease to exist because working just with music is nicer than working with files – but unless we want to deprive people of the ability to add their own music to their iTunes collection, or until ripping a CD works flawlessly with iTunes and doesn’t put my files in c:\Users\Thomas\somewhere, enables me to stream all my music (ripped ages ago, or bought with iTunes or Amazon or Google Play) to my iPhone and my Android handset and my Sonos system just so, then I will have to work with files, manually move them to different systems and copy and link them wherever I need them.

I wish this would just work, but it doesn’t. Wishing for Explorer and Finder to go away does not fix this though, and the numerous requests for help from the less technicallly inclined friends and family members shows me that we are not there yet. Files still need to be managed as files. Until someone comes up with a better system, and all companies and ecosystems follow along, the file manager is here to stay. I will use office.com and iTunes because they make a lot of tasks easier, but for many I still need to manually copy, delete, rename, move, or otherwise manipulate a file. And I need a real file manager to do that.

Apple + IBM Business Apps

This might be big: Apple and IBM just released the first information on their new collaboration into business (read: enterprise) apps for iOS. My initial thought, while scrolling down the overview on Apple’s overview page, was something along the line of… “hm, flight attendants who reschedule flights while in the air? Sure…” But the more I thought about this and the further I scrolled, I just thought this is just the first step – they even mention this being the first wave of apps. And then especially the Telco app is spot on for me: the last three years or so I had several projects implementing SAP Netweaver Mobile solutions for service technicians. Not Telco, but general industry, but still – technicians who have a daily schedule of repairs at customer sites, an inventory, service orders to fulfill… basically the same thing. And this would be huge. Ease of use like the presented iPad screens, with map overview, customer info, installation help in form of tech spec etc… if this ever becomes customizable and can be attached to a backend like an already existing SAP ERP or CRM at a customer site, this would sell like hotcakes. Definitely worthy to keep an eye on!

Passionate Programming

I just read the latest entry in Jeff Atwoods Coding Horror blog, detailing how he went from a very small reading list to the famous blog he now has… and immediately thought, “Yep, you wanted to start writing more often as well…” But then I always either am just too lazy, or find that I do not have anything to write about, neither about my work or something personal… How ironic that the last real physical book was The Passionate Programmer – and I haven’t even started it. Seems I lack the passion right now…

And even that might be something worth writing about. That seems to be a real problem. My last (and sadly, also current) projects at work both kind of burned out the flame I had due to mismanagement, mismatched skills, a bad framework, budget problems, you name it… but I want to rekindle the flames now. I just need to find something to start with. Maybe doing new and fun things in my personal life help, so this week I will get a regular license plate for my motorbike (a 2010 Suzuki Gladius) instead of a seasonal one and start driving again.

Nexus 5 – Unboxing

I just received my Nexus 5 this week (on tuesday to be exact), and took some pictures while unboxing it. The first is rather boring, but Google sent the phone out in a rather small box that just holds the Nexus box itself, nothing more…

The UPS delivered box

…as you can see on the second pic, where I simply opened the outer wrapping:

The opened box

The box of the phone itself is rather bland, or stylish and minimal, take your pick, but it continues the style of previous Nexus devices (I own a 2012 Nexus 7 and a friend of mine ordered her Nexus 4 though me). Good thing there is a Bluetooth logo on the back – I might not have known this phone comes with that technology in this day and age… but I guess that is simply a licensing requirement. Still, it strikes me as rather stupid.

The box: front The box: back

The box itself is just a typical sliding box, the printed blue outer piece contains a simple white inner box with a very plain Google logo in white printed on the lower right corner, and that’s it.

The inner box out of the slider

And surprise! In the box is a nice looking phone, with a thin protective foil on the glass with a “Nexus 5″ logo. Since the box is roughly two or three centimeters higher than the phone, Google (or LG) put all the other stuff underneath the phone, with a thin blue piece of cardboard separating the two compartments.

The phone in the box Taking out the phone with its holder The other contents

Included are a charger, a USB cable, the warranty text together with some safety tips in several languages, a single image explaining the power and volume buttons and the plugs, and a tool for opening the tray for the SIM card (Micro SIM, in case you were wondering).

All in all a pretty bland packaging, but that’s what I expected, considering this is a no-frills stock Android experience on the phone itself, which btw simply greets you with a simple Nexus logo on startup, and then starts the simple configuration process by asking you for a language.

First boot Starting the configuration wizard

From then one there was nothing of interest, except that the phone wanted to download an update to Android (around 130 MB) as soon as WiFi was configured, rebooted, and then started over with the initial configuration. It asked for my Google user name, and was simply configured.

One minor hiccup: on my Nexus 7 I have AdBlock installed, and set the tablet to use the local AdBlock proxy. Since Google syncs the network settings it knew to connect to the proxy, but that of course was not yet installed on the phone, so I had to remove the proxy from the network…

And that’s it! I will include some more screenshots from the phone itself, which really has a beautiful screen.