Smartphones and Phone-y Pricing

It’s that time of year.  All of the major players in the cellular and smartphone market are “leaking”, announcing, and releasing new phones, just in time for the holidays.

Motorola just officially announced the Droid Turbo 2 and Maxx 2, which are practically copies of each other, save for a couple physical features, and storage on shipment (the Turbo 2 coming in 32gb and 64gb options, and the Maxx 2 coming with 16gb).  Both are priced to what the market will bare, $624.00 (Turbo 2 32gb, no frills), $720.00 (Turbo 2 64gb, no frills), and $384.00 (Maxx 2).  Only the Turbo 2 is enabled in the Moto Maker web app, where frills are abundant, but the only extra cost is the “pebbled leather” option (at $24.00).

Phone Storage Cost
DROID Maxx 2 16gb $384.00
DROID Turbo 2 32gb $624.00-$648.00
DROID Turbo 2 64gb $720.00-$744.00

Google also announced two phones in September, and is shipping one of them now.  The Nexus 6P and 5X (the one that’s shipping now), and like Motorola, they have some options in storage, but not as many frills (only three case color options per device, not nearly as granular as the Motorola offerings).

Phone Storage Cost
Nexus 5X 16gb $379.00
Nexus 5X 32gb $429.00
Nexus 6P 32gb $499.00
Nexus 6P 64gb $549.00
Nexus 6P 128gb $649.00

Hardware comparison wise, the offerings from Motorola win in the camera field in just pure pixel capture.  The Turbo 2 and Maxx 2 come with a 21 megapixel camera built in, as did the Turbo and the international version, the Moto Maxx (not to be confused with the Droid Maxx, which is Verizon only), and the Nexus 5X and 6P come with 12 megapixel cameras.  Reviews from around the Internet say that the 6P is the superior camera in all lighting conditions, but they’re only comparing the 5X and 6P, not against the Turbo lineup.

Let’s focus on just the two bigger phones for the moment, the 6P and Turbo 2.  In terms of hardware, they are equal contenders, but here’s the differences between the two:

Nexus 6P Turbo 2
Networks All of them Verizon
Screen Size 5.7″ (~518ppd) 5.4″ (~544ppd)
Protection Gorilla Glass 4 Shatterproof*
microSD No Yes
Back Camera 12mp 21mp*
Front Camera 8mp 5mp
Qi Charging No Yes
Battery 3450 mAh 3760 mAh
Price (64gb Model) $549.00 $720.00

* We don’t know what Shatterproof means, and I haven’t seen any tests.  How much damage can it take?  Who knows?

** With the DROID Turbo (1), we have a 21mp camera too, but in order to use that, it forces the camera to a 4:3 resolution.  Don’t know if that’s still the case with the Turbo 2.

In that comparison, almost apples to apples, the price difference is $171.00.  The one with the bigger screen, the same chipsets and memory, and minor differences to features, is cheaper.

To the smartphone industry, I ask the question: Wat?

Why the obvious price gap?  Huawei produces the Google Nexus 6P, and is a newcomer to the market, when compared to Motorola, who created the first and most popular cellphone of all time, the StarTAC!  Shouldn’t Motorola have the resources and the contacts to make their phones cheaper?  Or way better than any of the competition?

And why does the price jump by $100 for the Turbo 2 32gb model to the 64gb model, when the Nexus 6P jumps only $50?  While I know phone storage is slightly different, a 32gb flash based storage drive is $20 for the cheap stuff, and a 64gb drive is $30 from Monster.  MONSTER.  The company that seems to enjoy ripping off customers!

So, dear Motorola, I will not be upgrading my phone to the Turbo 2 this year.  Your features are neat, but your price point doesn’t make sense.  Maybe next year.


If you’re just now getting here, you’ve probably been in the trenches like myself.  To the right, you’ll find my BattleTag™ ID, which is currently being used for Diablo 3 (hence the D3 logo).

I find that this is odd, however.  Why did they create BattleTags for D3, when they had the groundwork, and most of the job done, in StarCraft 2?  Why not just integrate what they did in SC2 into D3?  It’s roughly the same system, but apparently more enhanced, and gives the option to change your ID later (in case something goes awry).

My only guess would be that the SC2 system is, in its current form, very specific to the platform, and a rewrite would have to happen, and that the RealID™ system is too intrusive (you have to give people the name of your account, which is your email, which makes everything less safe unless you have an authenticator).

You can still access your RealID friends in D3, so that’s not broken.  But any friends in the SC2 system that are not RealID, you’re outa luck.

Plesk Panel and Third-Third Party Support

There are a number of things that a member of IT should adhere to, and I will openly state that I am slightly guilty of this particular rant today: Providing clear documentation on changes to a system.

This site, the server it is on, was reverted today due to a problem from a third-third party support team.  1&1 is my current host, but the Plesk Panel (made by the Parallels company, the same folks who do the virtualization alternative geared to the Mac OS) had a problem.

Specifically, Plesk has the ability to install software directly on the system, automatically with the variables you feed it (username, password, directory, subdomain, etc…), and bring it up with the database table ready to use.  On-demand/JIT installs.  Useful, similar to Fantastico/Softalicous, but baked directly into the control panel.  That was broken, reporting that there was no command line interpreter, which is apparently a common issue that the solution will not be divulged to the public.

1&1 had to go to the Parallels support team to have this resolved.  Oh, and they did resolve it.  Apparently, I should have my main site PHP handler set to using FastCGI instead of the Apache module.  How does that make sense?  Really, it doesn’t, as most bash commands are common between different *nix OS’s, and if it’s trying to initiate a command via PHP, it should be able to, no matter the handler (see phpShell, a web based bash command tool).

Now, the problem was resolved.  All good, yes?  Nope.

The Parallels person deleted the MySQL database for this site, the main site.  Somehow in all their tests and fixes, they installed WordPress five or more (5+) times.  And in cleaning some previous instances, deleted the database.

That brings me to my point.  If you are going to work on a client’s system, website, or other gadgetry, and it’s not in front of them where they can see what you’re doing, tell them.  Verbally, or in writing.  In some of my own website projects, I’ve added into the core configuration document (the one that most new admins will take a look at to get a clue of what’s going on) what configuration changes I’ve made, warnings about potential breakage if code is changed, and some tips on extending the code.

It’s just good practice.

The Great Server Migration of 2012

So, what went wrong?  Is it just that time again, when Bryan goes and forces the servers to balk at his every whim?  …well…maybe.

My services at Lunarpages, my previous web host since 2006, has been lack-luster of late, with something having gone completely wrong in the last couple of months.  It seems that when ever I worked on my website, and worked a little too quickly, I would trigger the Apache security module, mod_security.c.  This, of course, was a problem, as I was banning myself.  Shared hosting makes for tricky bedmates, as you’re not completely in control.

To resolve that problem I did what any good server admin would; review my options.  What I wanted was a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a Dedicated Server, so I could have complete control, and still have functions that I am used to.

  • Lunarpages has a VPS solution, but the sales person sized me up to the Xen Pro bundle, which for a one month contract comes out to $79.00
  • FDC Servers has a good array of services, but the cheaper ones are way under-powered
  • Dreamhost is about the same, cheap, has a lot of options, but the good stuff is way too expensive
  • 1&1 was who I went with in the end.  Good service, nice server options, which makes for the best bang for the buck

Needless to say, I had a few problems porting over.  I’ve had to reimage the server once, upload the site files twice, then finally say “FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!” and reinstall WordPress from scratch.  My wife’s site and forum are good, but everything that was the root of got wiped because of the weirdness.

Back to business.  St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, and since I’ve been reviewing brews, it’s crunch time.

Zynga vs. Everyone Else

Disheartening news just came though the /. newsfeed; Zynga, the publishers of so many of the Facebook games out there, has sued and settled with Vostu, a game company in Brazil.

The suit claimed that Vostu copied elements of Zynga’s copyrighted material (logo, website design, game design, etc…).  Not the smartest idea, in my opinion, but then, we’re looking at the pot calling the kettle black. Vostu has stated right back that Zynga stole what they are being sued about.

But, for all the copying and screaming of “I don’t want f**king innovation!” (thank you Mark Pincus), Zynga is not the only company doing this. Last month, SpryFox has filed suit against 6Waves LOLAPPS for the infringment, code theft, and complete a$$hattery surrounding the games Tripple Town (SpryFox) and Yeti Town (6Waves LOLAPPS).

Before I leave you with the official court document, I have a new entry to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Earth – The Internet

Casual Games: None.

Granted, these kinds of things are being created all the time. However, they are all the same game, and the myriad of delicate changes to the interface make new “copyright” filings, and thus “new” games are being created. In greater scope of the Internet, the “casual gamer” is always searching for a newer, better version of the game they are currently playing, no matter the minute changes, or who the new game producer is.

For a similar comparison, see “First Person Shooter, War Depiction Game”, also known as Battlefield and Call of Duty.

The suit document:

WordPress on Nook Tablet

The folks at WordPress are awesome, but there are some things they need to work on.  Like enabling WP for Android to work on the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. If its a cost to get on the B&N Market, just say so guys! Sideloading ain’t easy now!


Confessions of a Non-Completionist

I have a problem: I can’t finish games. I mean, to the end credits.

Not that I haven’t. Portal 2 was awesome all the way through!

But, let me start counting the ones I haven’t finished yet, on just the PS3:

  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • White Knight Chronicles (read more)
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Brutal Legend
  • Little Big Planet
  • Street Fighter IV

Of the 10 games I own for the PS3, I’ve only completed ONE!  What the crap?  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m so close to the end of RDR that I just don’t want it to end.

Almost the same with Batman, but the fight that I’m at is a bit difficult.

Brutal Legend got tedious, LBP doesn’t really have and end, and neither does SF4.

Dragon Age got caught in limbo when the PSN went down.  I should go complete that when I can get around to it.

Now for the “read more” part.  Remember when the PS3 was prepping to launch, and they showcased a number of games that were going to be launch titles?  Remember how many companies didn’t publish at launch?  Level 5, the folks to created White Knight Chronicles were one of them.  It was supposed to be awesome.  It turned out not so much. Lack luster, 30 minutes of cut-scene at the beginning of the game, and a fairly “meh” game play, destroyed the entire game for me.

BlizzCon 2011 Inbound!

Update: I am now going to the Benefit Dinner!  So yes, I have extra tickets.  As of the 10th, if anyone wants them, they have to go as me.

Yes, I have tickets! I landed in queue at 1,072, with a 5 minute wait! You may hate me now.

Adobe Soundbooth CS5

Just as a note, even though the great and mighty Adobe promised a Reverse command in Soundbooth for the CS4 release (and didn’t make it), they have also overlooked the command for the CS5 release. I brought the audio clip I wanted into Adobe Premiere, and was able to reverse the audio just fine.

As another note, Audacity, a free, open-source software, has the same command function, and has had it from the start.


And I added a new category to my blog: App Scorn.  Where software lacks in promised functionality, I will post!