Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm About Done With Android

As the title states, I am quite disillusioned with the Android mobile OS. I'm not sure if I should blame T-Mobile, Samsung or the Android OS itself. Whoever is the culprit, my latest phone the T-Mobile Vibrant (a Samsung Galaxy S variant) is hands down the worst phone I've ever owned. It has a few bright spots like the super AMOLED screen but the faults more than counter any possible advantages a flashy screen might provide.

The problem - reliability. If there's one thing a phone should be it's reliable. For years we've dealt with Microsoft PC operating systems and have grown accustomed to the occasional hang in an application or even sometimes the entire OS freezing up. Where I don't need that happening is on my phone. Since I first got it my Vibrant has had issues with the Google Maps application. Sometimes it simply hangs when loading the app causing me to power cycle the phone. In a similar manner, after the latest OTA update the Gallery application (photo viewer) does the same thing about 1/3 of the time it's loaded. This is totally unacceptable!

Don't even get me started on the GPS performance - or lack thereof. Initially the phone had problems with taking a long time to get a GPS fix. Samsung FINALLY released a fix for this however it didn't help the GPS accuracy. It consistently drifts during navigation and puts me on streets which are nearby but not the one I'm driving on. This makes using it for street navigation a very risky business. Oh, did I mention the lockups? It's done that while navigating too. It's really a pain to have your GPS lock the phone up requiring a hard reset while driving on the freeway in Dallas at night.

As a normal course of daily operation the phone seems to lose the desktop icons periodically (roughly twice a day). This causes it to pause for 10-15 seconds as it restarts it's shell. You Windows users might be familiar with this, it's what happens when the Explorer process dies and the desktop icons go away for a few seconds while it restarts. Same thing on Android - again a desktop feature I do not need mirrored on my phone.

I have serious doubts about the availability of my phone for emergency calls due to the issues above. Am I going to have to wait 90 seconds for the phone to reboot because of one of the issues above before I can dial 911? Could be a scary situation to be in.

One thing I will never do is buy another Samsung phone - they just don't know how to get them right. Not to mention the lag in Android OS updates. Here we are with 2.3 released and we're still waiting for 2.2 which was promised this year but is yet another in the long line of broken promises from Samsung/T-Mobile. I should have known, Samsung has always had a bad reputation for updates after a device is released. Well, once bitten...

I may just admit that Android is too fragmented and go to the iPhone. Is a reliable phone that actually does what it's advertised too much to ask?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stuxnet - wow!

Ok, interesting tidbit for today. This is my favorite quote so far from the Symantec 63 page paper analyzing the Stuxnet worm. The paper is located here.

In the driver file, the project path b:\myrtus\src\objfre_w2k_x86\i386 \guava.pdb was not removed.

Guavas are plants in the myrtle (myrtus) family genus. The string could have no significant meaning; however, a variety of interpretations have been discussed. Myrtus could be “MyRTUs”. RTU stands for remote terminal unit and are similar to a PLC and, in some environments, used as a synonym for PLCs. In addition, according to Wiki- pedia, “Esther was originally named Hadassah. Hadassah means ‘myrtle’ in Hebrew.” Esther learned of a plot to assassinate the king and “told the king of Haman’s plan to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire...The Jews went on to kill only their would-be executioners.” Symantec cautions readers on drawing any attribution conclu- sions. Attackers would have the natural desire to implicate another party.

In other words - just because it looks like Israel don't necessarily make it so. ;-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Obvious Black Ops Devs Don't Own Guns

Ok this entry is dedicated to my disappointment with the new Call of Duty Black Ops game. To put it bluntly - I'm underwhelmed with this release. There are a lot of reasons like cheesy graphics, dorky sounds, ridiculous spawn behavior in multiplayer. These are somewhat subjective. However, I believe I have some items below that virtually everyone - especially anyone who actually owns a gun - will agree with.

- Makarov damage. I was glad to see the Makarov in the game although I doubt it would be considered a serious side arm for an actual soldier or black ops operative. The most bizarre thing about it though is that the damage settings for this gun are higher than for a 1911 .45 pistol. What?!?! The Makarov uses a 9x18 round which is actually shorter (and less powerful) than a typical NATO 9mm (9x19). The 9x18mm round produces between 185 and 215 ft lbs of muzzle energy. The .45 ACP produces around 400 lbs of muzzle energy. Why does Black Ops rate the damage from a Makarov higher than a 1911?

- Bullets penetrating concrete. No assault rifle can penetrate 4 inches of concrete - at least not without digging a hole with several mags worth of ammo. Yet in Black Ops diving behind a concrete barrier - similar to the ones you see on the side of the freeway - provides no cover as bullets pass right through it.

- Snub nose Python is more accurate? The Colt Python is a pretty powerfull .357 pistol. It comes in long barrel (4 or 6 inch, it's hard to say) and snub nose 2 inch models. In COD BO the 2 inch version is more accurate than the longer barrel. Again, have these folks ever even fired a weapon before?

More to come as I play this and uncover all the ballistic nonsense it contains.

Update 1: Ranks

My pet peeve about this game is the apparent lack of research that went into it. The bizarre weapon attributes above illustrate this. Move evidence of this is in the ranks as players move up in the multi-player game.

Players move through the enlisted and commissioned officer ranks which appear to match those of the U.S. Army. However, the officer ranks go from 2nd Lieutenant (O1), skip 1st Lieutenant (O2) and go directly to Captain (O3). Why skip 1st Lieutenant? Was there a reason? Once again, it makes the game look like a low budget hack where they didn't bring in military consultants to help make sure it was accurate. If the game is supposed to represent the real world then get the details right!