About Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ, husband, father of 3 and called to build up the church. Primary author and editor of Attempts at Honesty blog.

The lesson I learned from Samsung

I have an Android phone and an Android tablet, both made by Samsung. I like Android as an OS. It has progressed and functionality has improved with every update. Because Verizon is the provider for my cell phone, they put pressure on Samsung to keep the OS current, so I have a much more recent OS on my phone.

But, the WIFI tablet that I purchased has not had an OS update since I bought it a little over a year ago. I am running Android 4.1.2 on my Galaxy Note 10.1 where the current version of Android is 4.4.4.

On one level this is not a huge deal because the tablet still works and is fairly stable. But on the other hand, there is no reason why Samsung could not invest just a little bit of money into rolling out an update for my device. Some of the apps that I use have functionality that only works with more recent Android updates. While having an update is not the end of the world, it is annoying considering that Samsung has the wherewithal to produce the update.

The fact that Samsung has abandoned my device leads me to think that they are only concerned about selling new tablets and not concerned at all about supporting older hardware. When any of us have contacted Samsung support, the only response is a canned response saying that they cannot speculate on when updates will be released.

It is too bad, because their lack of concern will push me to look harder at an Apple device the next time I’m in the market for one.

Samsung’s lack of response is like a football team who squanders a big lead through careless play in the second half. The lack of response by Samsung might be the fumble that gives Apple the opportunity to go ahead.

So, if you are thinking about buying a Samsung Tablet, look very hard at the iPad or just know that you will have to live without OS updates or learn to root your tablet.

None of these options is very appealing to me.

How Apple is preventing me from getting Android Kitkat on my Galaxy Note 10.1

090814_1700_1.jpgCaveat: This is a rant.

I am the proud owner of a 32 GB Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. I bought it around a year and a half ago when the latest version of Android was Jelly Bean 4.1.2. Three major updates to Android have come and gone and my Samsung tablet still has Jelly Bean 4.1.2.

I don’t know how much of an improvement Kitkat 4.4 would be over what I currently have. But I have to assume that with continued updates there are improvements from which I could benefit. But alas, I am still waiting.

There are many things that I don’t like about Apple, but one one thing that I do like is the way they do not orphan devices for several years after they are sold. When Apple releases OS updates, they are pushed to their older devices along with their new ones. Samsung obviously does not think that this is a priority for them.

Why is my tablet stuck at 4.1.2? When this question is raised on the Samsung support site, the tech support bots simply parrot back the following response:

Thank you for contacting Samsung.

While we appreciate your curiosity and interest in Samsung products, we cannot speculate on the release of updates to our products. We recommend you connect with us via our social media channels for future product & software announcements.



Thank you for being a Samsung customer!

The Samsung Online Support Team

The social media channels have no more information than the support site. They are nothing more than advertising channels for Samsung products. They are useless for the purpose of getting answers about OS updates.

If my tablet is not going to be updated, then perhaps Samsung should just come out and say so. If it is going to be updated, how hard would it be to give a target date?

But then again, if Samsung did follow Apple in the quality of their customer support, it is likely that Apple would file yet another suit against Samsung.

Therefore I can only assume that I have Apple to blame for being stuck on Jelly Bean 4.1.2.

On paper phone books

phonebook When is the last time anyone used a paper phone book? In an informal poll of friends and family I discovered no-one who would admit to using one in the last few years. Personally, I cannot remember the last time that I looked up a telephone number on anything other than Google.

Then why do phone books keep showing up in my ditch and driveway? Has anyone actually done a study to see how effective advertising in a phone book is? My assumption is that money spent on a yellow page listing is money wasted.

The fate of any paper phone book that shows up in the vicinity of my house is to be thrown immediately into the recycle bin. The is especially true of the ones that are thrown in the ditch by the mailbox. They are inevitably soggy and unusable anyway.

If you are considering advertising in a paper phone book, since you do not value your money, you can save time and effort and just send that money to me. Or, you can explain why I’m wrong in my assumption that it is a waste of money.

If you still use a paper phone book, can you share with us how you use it and why?

Lost in the superlatives

BestI read a Twitter bio this morning of a “best selling author.” Using the normal definition of best, one would conclude that this author has sold more books than any other author. Judging by the fact that I have never heard of this particular author I doubt that this is true.

One a related note, How can there be more than one best seller on the New York Times list?

I have had Seattle’s Best Coffee. It is very good coffee, but is it the best? Perhaps I am not sufficiently discriminating in my taste, but for me it tastes like every other dark roast coffee.

I have purchased products at Best Buy. Some times it is and some times it isn’t the best place to buy a particular product. But would you shop there if it was called Average Buy?

I have stayed in Best Western hotels from time to time but only when a better choice was not available. How ironic is that?

A search of “best” on Google yields 2.4 billion links. Do you think that this word is over used? 

I realize that language changes over time and that meanings of words can morph through different usage. There is room for creativity. But can we be a little more careful with superlatives?

An open letter to ESPN and Verizon

I would love to watch Monday night football. I like ESPN, but don’t like it enough to spend $30 per month to get it. Verizon will only allow me to get ESPN if I buy a bundle of channels that I don’t want to get the one or two channels I do want.

As large as ESPN is, perhaps you might negotiate with Verizon so that I can buy ESPN a la carte. Or, since I have a smart TV and fast internet, perhaps you could develop an app so that I can subscribe to ESPN like I do with Netflix or Amazon Prime. I would like to watch your stuff, but I don’t want to watch it bad enough to spend $360 per year on it. Out of the 17 weeks of NFL football, less than half of the games are interesting matchups and since I live on the East Coast and have a job, I can only watch until halftime anyway.

Verizon, I would think that with web enabled televisions, more people want the flexibility of picking their own channel lineup instead of being forced to subscribe to a bunch of channels they will never watch. I’m sorry, but I really don’t care what Oprah says or wants me to watch. I will probably never watch the Military Channel, MSNBC, CNN or HGTV. I get weather updates on my smart phone so the I haven’t watched the weather channel in years. The list of channels that I won’t watch is much larger than the ones I do watch.

With web enabled TV’s and the flexibility they provide, I would think that it is time for Verizon and other “cable” providers to rethink their bundling strategies and allow consumers to pick (and pay for) only the channels they want.

Learn the lesson of Blackberry. If you fail to innovate, you will be left behind. The old cable TV model won’t work in a web enabled world.

A small political protest

Republican DemocratI know that this may sound overly cynical, but my casual following of the budget and debt crisis in America has me thinking that we no longer have a two party system. They seem to have merged into what is basically one party, so I call them all Republicrats.

It seems to me that it does not matter whether a politician has an R or a D after his name, he still cannot do simple math. Even a third grader knows that if you have five dollars, you do not have enough money to buy something for eight dollars. This simple analysis is apparently too difficult for anyone who works inside the Beltway in Washington, D. C. and they continue to spend more than they have.

In the private sector, people get thrown in jail for such behavior. But somehow, because they are Washington politicians, this irresponsibility is considered acceptable. It is enough to make your head explode.

Since I have absolutely no influence within the Beltway, I figure that my only course of protest is to change my party affiliation to “No Affiliation.” Neither of the major parties represents my wish for them to be fiscally responsible so I will no longer align myself with either of them. They abandoned me; I abandon them.

I know what you think, this is a futile act and will accomplish nothing. But if enough people decided that neither party represents their wishes and a significant portion of them would withdraw from those parties, perhaps party leadership will get it through their impenetrable skulls that we, the people who they claim to represent, are not happy with their work.

Yes, it may be futile to become an independent, but it feels so much better than doing nothing.

5 reasons why I will likely never buy another premium theme for WordPress

September 2013 Update:  I did indeed buy a premium WP theme. I went with Genesis Framework. I found that the free themes did not provide sufficient flexibility to tweak the theme.

Early last year, I decided to buy a premium theme for my blog. I did my homework which resulted in my purchase of Standard Theme by 8Bit. Along with the theme, I bought the support license which would allow my to upgrade as they added improvements and fixed bugs in the theme. I was a happy camper.

Then, earlier this month, 8Bit announced that the partners are parting ways and that Standard Theme will no longer be supported. So much for my support license! I will continue running Standard until it breaks or another, better option presents itself. But, based on my experience with 8Bit, I’m unlikely to plunk down cash for another premium theme. Here are the main reasons why:

  1. My blog is mostly about the text, so while I want it to be attractive, I’m not relying on eye candy to attract visitors. There are many free themes that are attractive and user friendly.
  2. The main reason I purchased a premium theme is that I wanted my site to be responsive so that it would be attractive and readable on any device. There are now several good free themes that provide a responsive format.
  3. While it is nice to be able to upgrade with the same theme, WordPress makes it easy to change themes without reconfiguring the whole blog. Therefore if the theme I’m currently using does not provide a feature that I need, I can switch to another very easily. I don’t need to be locked into the same theme.
  4. While the offer of support seems like a valuable thing and I did sometimes read the support forums for Standard Theme, I find that since I really don’t have a desire to learn CSS or do any coding, I don’t get much value out of the support forums and can live without them.
  5. Did I mention that there are many really good FREE themes available?

I’m not drawing a line in the sand about buying a premium WordPress theme. But, the ease with which 8Bit abandoned its userbase will certainly make me wary of plunking down cash for something that I can get for free from another supplier. I remember Scotty on Star Trek saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Besides, free is my favorite price.