Δοκιμή αναρτήσεων μέσα την πόλη

Όποιος θέλει να δοκιμάσει τις αναρτήσεις του αυτοκινήτου του σε άγριες συνθήκες αλλά δεν έχει χρόνο να φύγει από την Αττική, μπορεί να δοκιμάσει να πιάσει την οδό Χαϊδαρίου στον Πειραιά (Παπαστράτειο) από την αρχή της – κοντά στις γραμμές του Προαστιακού: Μιλάμε για έναν από τους χειρότερους δρόμους της Αττικής, και μάλιστα χωρίς εμφανείς λακκούβες (κάτι που τον κάνει ακόμη πιο επικίνδυνο).

Αν περνάς από εκεί και οδηγείς με πάνω από 20-30 χλμ/ώρα θα με θυμηθείς😉

My life with my white gadgets

Those who know me well know that I don’t like the white color – at all. I never wear white t-shirts and white clothes in general, I don’t like white towels and linen and I wouldn’t buy my gadgets in white. Or would I?

The first time it happened was with my ill-fated Acer Aspire One 751h netbook. I found it on sale when I was in dire need for a small-form laptop and I went directly to the store to get it; alas, it was only available in white…however, the price was so much lower than the other colors available that I had to go for it. The netbook only recently hit the dust, so it is actually collecting dust in a drawer.

Then my Olympus E-300 broke down during a corporate event. I contacted the Greek dealer/official service only to find out that it could not be repaired (and it was way beyond its warranty). Instead, I was offered a demo model of an Olympus E-PM1; a dual-lens kit (14-42mm and 45-150mm lenses) and a body in almost mint condition in a very competitive price. I didn’t ask for the color; it was almost impossible to get in white. But I did. And I had no choice.

Then came my Lumia 720, my first Windows Phone 8 smartphone. I had a gift card from a specific gadget store and I was looking for a jnew smartphone. The specific store (a retailer chain in fact) had a very limited variety of Windows Phones (I even emailed them about that) and I kept checking out their page for updates. After a couple of months the 720 appeared – only in white. I was running out of time (the gift card was about to expire) so I bought that one. In white. About one year ago it was replaced by a lime green Lumia 735.

My WinTab’s keyboard recently broke down – in fact, the keyboard still works fine but it cannot plug into the tablet part anymore. I had plenty of alternatives in the form of Bluetooth keyboards but they were pretty pricey. Since I had to get one sooner or later, I was about to go for one of them and then I saw the Logitech K480 on sale – for just 30 euros. Amazing price for a keyboard that usually sold for 45-50 euros. Guess what? The price was only for the white version, and not the lovely dark grey-lime one hat I liked more. Since I was on a tight budget, I went straight for the white version. It’s working perfectly fine but it is white.

bluetooth-multi-device-keboard-k480
How much cooler is this dark grey/yellow version?

 

I am pretty sure that I’ll have to live with even more white gadgets in the near future. It seems to be my karma, my atonement for all the bad things that I’ve done in my life so far.

Logitech K480 Bluetooth keyboard: First impressions

So the winner of the challenge was the Logitech K480. But why?

  1. I needed a keyboard that would also act as a stand for my crippled WinTab (referring to the broken keyboard)
  2. I needed a keyboard with large keys, as I tend to type a lot, write long blog posts and I have fat fingers
  3. I needed a keyboard at a low price.

The Logitech K480 combined both 1 & 2 and as for 3, I got it brand new for just 30 euros – a real bargain! Setting up my first two devices (my WinTab and my Lumia 735) was as easy as it could be and switching between them was as easy as switching a rocker. Even though I hate white as a color for gadgets, the white version was the only one on sale…

logitech-k480-white

The keyboard is indeed convenient for typing, thanks to its (fairly) large size, about the size of a 10,1-inch tablet’s width. Round keys, easy to find and allow for quick typing. The slot for the tablet is also really neat, where a rubber-like material is used for avoiding scratching of the tablet.

I was worried to hear all these squeaking when I tried to press its edges but trust me, the keyboard does not squeak when one types – at all. It looks like a sturdy piece of hardware, and I hope that it will last long.

I have noticed that when I type really fast, there may be some characters (keystrokes) missing at some points. I have only noticed that while using Microsoft Edge (e.g. authoring blog posts) and I guess it might be due to some issues either with it or with the quality of the WinTab…I will have to check with e.g. MS Word documents but since the issue is not constant, I may have to test it thoroughly.

My overall first impressions are surely positive: The keyboard is easy to use, holds my 10,1-inch tablet both in portrait and landscape mode and connects quickly without any interruption. It may not be the most portable Bluetooth keyboard around (it is quite heavy and bulky, it is not foldable) but it does the work and can transform a tablet into a small-form notebook. I will have to admit that after using it quite a lot during a short trip, it made me rethink the role of my tablet – for the better😉

Wintab keyboard broken; what alternatives do I have?

I recently took my WinTab with me on the go (inside my backpack) but it seems that for some reason the keyboard was not correctly attached to the tablet (or it was, who knows?). The point is that when I took it out of my bag back at home, I saw that there was a gap between the tablet and the keyboard when it was closed. I took the two components apart and tried to reconnect them. Tough luck: it seems that the two “holes” on the tablet side (where the keyboard prongs attach) were slightly broken (both of them) and each attempt to attach the keyboard resulted in creaky sounds and the plastic around the tablet to come off…this would not be covered by the warranty (happened one year after the purchase) so I was in need for a tablet keyboard.

The truth is that I was never really satisfied by the tablet’s keyboard so I was already looking for an alternative. Not only the keys were a tad ser than I would like (for comfortable typing) but on top of that, the connection between the keyboard and the tablet was not stable, so every slight movement of the angle of these two caused an instant disconnection and lots of missing keystrokes in the meantime – just try to imagine keeping notes during an important meeting or conference, only to end up with incomplete words and sentences…

Getting a Bluetooth keyboard meant that I would have to live without the extra full-USB port that came with the original keyboard, but based on my typical usage, I could live with that (or without that, to be more precise). My typical setup consists of the tablet and its keyboard, a mouse and sometimes an external hard disk; however, the mouse could be connected to the tablet through a micro-USB to USB converted (that I already have) leaving the full USB for the hard disk. When both USB ports are occupied,  could charge the tablet (if needed) using the proprietary port.

 

I kept an eye on the prices of the following items during the last months:

  • Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard: The most lightweight and compact of all models I checked – plus it is spill-resistant (which may come handy in some cases). However, it was a bit pricey, could not be used as a stand for my 10,1-inch Wintab and typists mentioned an issue with the Space key, being split in two (which caused issues when typing). Its price ranged from 80-95 euros.

20150925153125_microsoft_universal_foldable

  • Microsoft Universal Mobile keyboard: It was a great candidate – adequate size for fast typing, rather compact and sports a magnetic cover which could also be used as a stand for the tablet. It was also a bit pricey for me though and in fact I found the size a bit too small for my fat fingers to type quickly and efficiently. Its price ranged from 55 to 70 euros.
  • Various foldable keyboards from Amazon.Some of them looked pretty interesting but they were mostly small and did not feature s stand for the laptop. Some of them were rather expensive, too.
  • Logitech K480: This one was really interesting, too. It was a tad larger than the competition, keys were adequately large and easy to use and there was also a handy gap to hold a 10-inch tablet along with a smartphone – it has the option to manage 3 different devices at a time by simply rotating a dial switch. However, it was the bulkier and by far the heavier one (so that it could hold the weight of the tablet). Its price ranged from 45 to 55 euros.

Choosing one of them was not an easy task; there were different factors affecting my decision and a price drop of one of them was a significant one. But which one was it?

 

Windows Anniversary Update is here

…and I am a sucker for updates so I could not wait until I got the automatic update. I spend my minimum free time during the past two days updating my two laptops and my one tablet (the infamous Turbo-X WinTab) to the long-awaited Windows Anniversary Update. I didn’t have time to check performance or issues but I got them all updated; that’s all that matters.

o92a2806

I had an issue of insufficient free disk space with my 32GB tablet (with about 20GB free) but it was quickly solved; I only had to plug an external hard disk, which was automatically detected by Windows as a medium for temp storage and so I managed to install the update.

On the other hand, it seems that Windows Phones will have to wait a bit before they are updated, too… things are not moving really fast there…

If you also want to get the update manually, check out this blog post by Microsoft.

Παραλιακή: Ένας δρόμος ίσων ευκαιριών

Η παραλιακή είναι ένας δρόμος ίσων ευκαιριών, άσχετα με το αυτοκίνητο που έχει κανείς: Βλέπεις δίπλα σου οδηγούς να χτυπιούνται, να χώνονται και να κάνουν σφήνες (συνήθως χωρίς φλας), να περνάνε κόκκινα φανάρια κλπ. – μόνο για να τους πετύχεις στο επόμενο φανάρι. Είναι πιθανό να κάνεις μια διαδρομή από τον Πειραιά μέχρι τη Βάρκιζα και να συνεχίσεις να βλέπεις τα ίδια αυτοκίνητα γύρω σου.

Το μόνο που αλλάζει είναι η κατανάλωση: Κάποιοι πηγαίνουν με 5L/100 χλμ. και άλλοι με 15. Πακέτο για κάποιους, αδιάφορο για κάποιους άλλους.

On the importance of hypermiling

On the importance of hypermiling

Are you familiar with the hypermiling concept? It refers to maximizing the fuel efficiency of your vehicle – and when you are like me and have to drive about 80km per day to and from the office, then this is really important. But let’s take things from the start:

I recently had to change working environment and since I do not own a car, this led to an increase in commuting time (using public means of transportation – PMT) from 35-40 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Ouch! With the current situation, I have to take a bus, suburban railway, metro and then walk for 15 minutes to get to the office. On the other hand, the route is about 40km by car (plus 40 km to get back home), so it would be quite expensive to drive to work (now that gas price reaches €1,5/L). However, after commuting to work for about 3 weeks, I almost collapsed…too much time wasted, too much time rushing to catch the bus/suburban/metro on time, too much walking under 30 Celcius, too much time wasted waiting to catch the bus/train/metro…

Then an unexpected gift arrived; my father offered me his Honda Jazz 1.4 / 83 PS (2007 model), with an automatic gearbox, for a few days, until we found a solution with another car. At first I was relieved that I would have a break from using PMT and then I started wondering about the cost of driving to and back from work.

Honda Jazz

I defined my strategy as follows: I would only drive the car in fully automatic mode, would avoid accelerating and braking suddenly, would not use A/C and drive as calmly as I could. Indeed, I started driving to work last week, trying my best to reduce fuel consumption. Honda Jazz is an amazing car with an amazing and efficient engine, so I managed to drive at about 2,000 rpm all the time.

The result was an average fuel consumption of about 5,5L/100 km, despite the awful traffic that I find in about half the route! After 5 days of driving to work (and some additional short drives) I have only used about half fuel tank  which is much better than I expected. If there was not for the heavy traffic (and we mean heavy; I can see pedestrians passing by faster than us for quite a long part of the route), the fuel consumption would have been much better.

I will have the opportunity to check the fuel efficiency of the car for a bit more, as my father was kind enough to give me a small extension (keep in mind that PMTs are usually on strike during these weeks, so commuting to work would be unbearable). I just hope that the car will prove to be so fuel efficient in the next days, too.

Τα κόκκινα φανάρια

Γιατί θα πρέπει η παραλιακή, την οποία χρησιμοποιούν χιλιάδες οδηγοί καθημερινά, να έχει σε κάποια σημεία της φανάρια κάθε 150 μέτρα και να σταματά όλη η ροή των αυτοκινήτων για έναν λουόμενο που θέλει να διασχίσει το δρόμο? Γιατί δεν υπάρχουν υπέργειες και υπόγειες πεζογέφυρες που θα ήταν πιο ασφαλείς για τους πεζούς και πιο πρακτικές για τους οδηγούς? Πραγματικά, μετά από μερικές ημέρες έχω την εντύπωση ότι θα πιάσω φιλίες με τους οδηγούς της διπλανής λωρίδας – περνάμε τόση ώρα δίπλα-δίπλα, ακούω τα προβλήματά τους, ακούω τα τηλεφωνήματά τους, τη μουσική τους κλπ.

Το να οδηγεί κανείς πάνω από μισή ώρα μέσα σε τραγική κίνηση (χωρίς να υπάρχει εναλλακτική) είναι άσχημη εμπειρία, τόσο ψυχολογικά όσο και οικονομικά. Πιστεύω πως θα έπρεπε να γίνει κάτι για να διευκολυνθεί η ροή των αυτοκινήτων προκειμένου να μειωθεί ο χρόνος μετακίνησης,  η ρύπανση και τα ατυχήματα με πεζούς και αυτοκίνητα.

Και το λέει αυτό κάποιος που για πάνω από 10 χρόνια μετακινείται σχεδόν αποκλειστικά με ΜΜΜ, διασχίζοντας πολλές φορές μεγάλο μέρος της Αττικής. Μερικές φορές όμως η χρήση των ΜΜΜ δεν είναι επιλογή (όταν π.χ. ο συνολικός χρόνος μετακίνησης με ΜΜΜ πλησιάζει τις 2 ώρες – και άλλες τόσες στην επιστροφή). Αν δεν βελτιωθεί η κατάσταση με τα (αραιά) δρομολόγια των ΜΜΜ, η χρήση αυτοκινήτου γίνεται ανάγκη, παρά το αυξημένο κόστος της…