First marathon attempt failed

I haven’t been blogging for far too long, so to catch up I have a lot to write. Let’s start with my plan to run the marathon of Rotterdam in 2014.

In January or February this year I decided on running the marathon held annually in my city. I still didn’t like running much, but I decided it was something I should do at least once in my life, just because I want to have the experience. Financial considerations were an important factor in this. I couldn’t afford to pay the fee for kickboxing lessons, which I used to do frequently when I still lived with my parents last year. After visiting one kickboxing school in my neighborhood, I didn’t like the atmosphere there, it wasn’t as good as my previous school.

Running, on the other hand, didn’t cost me anything. I don’t like running shoes and my shoes in general deteriorate quickly due to friction at my heels, so by running barefoot I could avoid having to buy expensive new running shoes.

Sounds dangerous, running barefoot in Rotterdam? Others have told me they think its risky because I might step on broken glass, but actually the streets are surprisingly clean. I’ve traveled several hundred kilometers through Rotterdam on my bare feet this year, but I’ve never injured them even once. And even if there were broken glass, if you keep your eyes open it should be easy to avoid. I’m more worried about stepping on dog feces.

Unfortunately, some of the asphalt in certain areas is old or badly maintained. This means it’s rather coarse and very uncomfortable to walk on. My greatest annoyances are the bicycle path north of Rotterdam The Hague Airport, the bicycle path west of the Erasmus University Woudestein campus and basically all the asphalt in the Kralingse Bos. So I decided to get myself some minimalist sandals to use for traversing these spots.

Apart from more comfort on lower quality asphalt, I have other reasons to use minimalist sandals. They can be a lot cheaper than shoes. They also last much longer because they aren’t affected by wear and tear as much. In wet weather, the skin under the feet gets softer from the water, which slightly increases the chance of injury. Similarly, if I want to run late during the day when it’s already dark, it’s hard to see where you are placing your feet, also increasing chances of injury. Even so, I still intended to run the marathon itself on my bare feet.

I bought the XeroShoes Connect 4mm sole from a Dutch dealer, Barefoot Schoenen. I paid something like € 30 for them and they come with a warranty for 8000 kilometers. This sandal is just a sole with separate laces and a hole punch, which you have to assemble yourself. This was were the problems started for me. Even though I tried to measure precisely, it was difficult to punch the hole at the exact right spot. Tying the laces was horribly tedious.

During my first run with the sandals they made a lot of noise because it was hard to get laces tied tightly. Because the hole in the left sandal wasn’t punched at the right spot, the left sandal didn’t fit well and gave a blister. The next time I ran barefoot again, causing the blister to move upwards from the bottom of my feet. I had never gotten any injury or blister when I ran barefoot during the weeks before I got the sandals.

Marathon practice blister
After that first run I never used these sandals again. I guess these do-it-yourself sandals might work for some people, but not for me. I continued training for the marathon on my bare feet and eventually succeeded in running 30 kilometers in three hours. At this time I had a part-time job for two days, so I would usually practice two or three times a week. While I used to get bored with running for a few kilometers, running ten or more kilometers was strangely satisfying. Maybe this was the runner’s high?

Unfortunately, my effort ended in a huge anti-climax. A week or so before the marathon would start at 12 April, I increasingly started to feel pain in my knees. During my final practice run a few days before the marathon, it was so painful that I could not run more than 5 kilometers. I suspect it was runner’s knee, caused by my desire to prepare for the marathon in just two months. I was very disappointed I couldn’t participate in the marathon anymore. After some days of rest the knee pain was gone.

I’ve already paid the entrance fee for Rotterdam’s marathon in 2015. This time I’ll start training earlier, at the start of January, so that I get at least three months to prepare, even though some think this will still be too short. I’ll make sure to buy read to wear sandals this time, probably the XeroShoes Sensori or Amuri models.

Embedding Flickr on my WordPress weblog

Since I switched to Flickr for hosting my photos I’ve used the Awesome Flickr Gallery WordPress plugin to embed photos in posts. To be precise I used a different version which works with the responsive theme on my weblog, because the original plugin is no longer in active development. Besides this, I wasn’t satisfied with the complexity this plugin introduced. All I want it to do is display all my photos with a specific tag: something which should be done with a simple line of code from Flickr itself rather than an entire plugin.

I understand this was possible in the past. However, since Flickr made some changes to how their photos can be embedded in December 2013, this no longer works. Fortunately there are some websites which allow you to generate different embed code with a lot of options for creating tag-based slideshows. The one I would recommend is FlickrIt, which I’ve already used to replace photos embedded with the plugin in a few of my older posts.

For example, the following code:

<div style='position: relative; padding-bottom: 76%; height: 0; overflow: hidden;'><iframe id='iframe' src='http://flickrit.com/slideshowholder.php?height=75&size=big&tags=blogbrycecanyon&theme=1&thumbnails=0&transition=0&layoutType=responsive&sort=5' scrolling='no' frameborder='0'style='width:100%; height:100%; position: absolute; top:0; left:0;' ></iframe></div>

Will produce a slideshow with all photos tagged “blogbrycecanyon” sorted from oldest photos first:

One limitation is that FlickrIt doesn’t allow selecting photos from both a user and a tag: if other users would use the same tag as I do, their photos would appear in the slideshow as well!

I wish Flickr would offer these two options for embedding on its own website as well, so I wouldn’t need to rely on external websites. Apparently quite a few people were upset by the changes to embedding. It surprises me that Flickr didn’t anticipate its users desire such simple features as these. For now I’ll use FlickrIt to replace the WordPress plugin, but I hope Flickr can implement these features soon. I’ve posted a feature request for it on Flickr Ideas.

My new apartment in Rotterdam

At the end of 2013 I expected to be successful in a solicitation procedure for an information management traineeship in the Hague. I knew it could still turn sour, but I was curious what kind of house or apartment you could get in the Hague. I started looking and quickly came to the conclusion that the Hague was expensive for my taste. In Rotterdam however, you could buy a reasonable apartment for a much lower price. I was enthusiastic about the prospect of living on my own. I was still living with my parents because I hadn’t found work since I graduated. When I was told I wasn’t selected for the traineeship I was quite disappointed, with my expectations dashed.

Fortunately my amazing parents offered to support me. They could offer me a home loan of € 55.000 with 3% interest if I wanted to buy an apartment. I quickly decided to see the cheap apartments in Rotterdam I had been eyeing. In the end my choice fell on an apartment on the ground level with a small garden for which I paid € 60.000. I got bang for the buck when I compare this with other apartments in the same price class: my apartment was renovated in 2013 by the housing corporation which owned it. So it has a modern central heating system instead of a gas furnace and a very nice shower cabin.

The apartment did have one big issue: it had a wall separating the kitchen and the living room, which made both rooms very small. It was also detrimental to cooking as a social activity. The first thing I did was hire some handymen to take out this wall for € 2.900. It turned out the wall didn’t support the weight of the roof, which made the job less complicated. The removal of the wall resulted in a merged living room and kitchen, a big improvement.

While that was done my family and friends helped me with cleaning, painting, laying the laminate flooring and other work. I’m so grateful for their help, for without their skills it would have taken me much more time and money. While I’m good at assembling computers, I have little experience with do-it-yourself tasks around the house and couldn’t have done such a good job as they did.

The original kitchen didn’t include a cabinet with a built-in gas stove, so I got one second hand. My father, the master handyman, managed to elevate it at the same height as the original kitchen cabinets so that it blends in reasonably well. The fridge was a present from family members, the convection microwave is new. The kitchen takes up a prominent place in the living room, so I’d prefer a new kitchen with built-in appliances, but that will have to wait until I have the money.

The garden is important to me because I got used to having a garden at my parent’s house. It wasn’t maintained for quite a while, so I’ll have a lot to do when spring comes. I plan to sow grass and some flowers. With a few dwarf evergreen trees it won’t look like a wasteland in the winter. I don’t like the small balcony which separates my garden from the back entrance of my house, it’s ugly and occupies space which could have been part of the garden. I would have preferred a small set of stairs from the back door. Apparently it’s difficult to demolish the thick layer of concrete which constitutes the balcony, but we’ll see about that later. The garden has a small shed were I can place my bike safely. Right now the rubble from the former wall in my living room is still in my garden because it was cheaper if I got rid of that myself.

I chose to live in Rotterdam primarily because this apartment happened to be here. My opinion of Rotterdam hasn’t changed much so far since I lived here last time, when I studied at Erasmus University from 2006–2007. It’s okay, it’s not a bad city to live in, but it lacks the beauty and atmosphere of Amsterdam’s canal ring and Utrecht’s center for example. Rotterdam is praised for its architecture, which was apparently the reason for Rough Guides to mention it in the top 10 cities to visit for 2014. But you’ll only find that architecture near the city center and the Kop van Zuid, not in the Tarwewijk neighborhood in Southern Rotterdam where I live. There you’ll see the same 1930’s era apartment blocks over and over. I haven’t explored most of the city yet, but I simply haven’t seen a cozy square with cafe’s and restaurants at all. Something similar to the Tolsteegbarrière in Utrecht for example.

On the other hand, some of the finest Dutch beaches in the Zeeland province can be reached within two hours with the public transport. I live at a distance of 1,2 kilometer from the Zuiderpark, the largest city park of the Netherlands with 215 hectare. I feel that distance is just a bit too long to go running there regularly though, in that light it would have been better if my apartment was located a few hundred meters further to the south. Rotterdam also has some nice gardens like the Cultuurhistorische Plantentuin and the Arboretum Trompenburg, which I intend to visit soon.

I haven’t made photos of my bedroom and bathroom because the 35 mm lens on my camera doesn’t offer a sufficiently wide field of view to photograph such a small space. I should get a wide-angle lens for that.

Review of the Panasonic TX-L42E6EW LCD TV

When I moved to my new apartment (more on that in the following post in a minute) I needed a TV. I didn’t want to spend much, but the TV still needed to provide a good image quality. After reading this review and considering the other options, I decided to buy the Panasonic TX-L42E6EW LCD TV for € 490. Having considered the competitors, I think this Panasonic model is one of the best choices in this price range. But another factor which influenced my decision is that Panasonic has a plan to adopt Firefox OS for their TV’s, which earned them significant goodwill with me. A photo of the TV is seen in the following post.

I chose a 42 inch model because the combination of that size with the distance from my couch allows the benefit of full HD to become visible. A larger TV would have been too dominant in the room. I think the white color of the TV blends nicely into the white wall and matches with the white Audioengine A2 speakers. I’m not really bothered by the supposed lower quality of the TV’s integrated speakers, but I got a separate speaker set because I also use my TV to stream music from Deezer. This way I don’t need a separate device to stream music, which would cost more money and consume more electricity.

I barely watch TV channels, so I didn’t bother with getting a subscription to receive them. The only thing I like to watch frequently is the TV news of the Dutch public broadcasting service, but I do that on my PC. For films and TV series I watch Netflix on my TV for just € 8 a month. So all I need is the Internet connection. With Tele2’s VDSL2 I get an excellent speed of 50/5Mb/s down/up for just € 10 a month (in the first year, in the second year it will be € 30). I actually measured 8,95 Mb/s down and 5,45 Mb/s up with the Speedtest website, but  I’m really satisfied with the fast upload speed. It allows me to upload large photos to Flickr quickly.

I’m satisfied with the TV, but it does have some issues. Downright stupid is that the headphone volume is separate from the main volume, and that the integrated speakers still keep playing when I connect with the headphone input. Obviously they should be muted, why would you connect a headphone otherwise? In my case I don’t connect a headphone but the Audioengine A2 speakers, as far as I know the headphone input is the only way to connect them (RCA cables don’t work). Because the remote control can only change the main volume I have to walk over to the speakers and change the volume by hand.

Three other issues are that you can’t design your own home screen without the live TV widget, which would be useful because I don’t have a TV subscription. Some of the smart TV apps require that you have a VIERA Connect account if you want to use them, even if they are free, which is silly. I would also like to a button to turn of the panel while the TV remains turned on so that energy is conserved when it’s streaming music.

Review of the Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate keyboard

With my new computer I also ordered a Cooler Master QuickFire Ultimate keyboard for € 83. Why so expensive you might ask? Because this is a mechanical keyboard. I admit it’s a luxury and in my experience so far it doesn’t really offer a significantly better typing experience. The difference is minor, but I appreciate it. Compared with a standard rubber dome switch keyboard the Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches in this keyboard require very little force to be pressed. This does allow you to type slightly faster, even though I don’t gain much because I only use my two index fingers to type. Compared to the other types of Cherry MX switches, the brown switches occupy the middle ground and are suitable for both gaming and typing.

Maybe an even more important motive for me to buy this keyboard is that it seems to be more durable. My previous keyboard was a Logitech UltraX Flat, which had rubber dome switches and laptop style keys. Nice keyboard, but when you want to clean it and pull off the keys you have to be very careful not to destroy the key press mechanism. Putting them back on is a challenge too. This QuickFire Ultimate comes with a key puller and allows for easier removal which is certainly not destructive. I still have to try this though because I didn’t need to clean it so far.

All the keys also have a red backlight which can optionally be activated. It’s a nice gimmick, but I never use it. I can touch type – with two index fingers –and my bedroom is adequately lit when it’s dark, so I don’t see the point in having a backlit keyboard. It might be useful for a laptop if you’re outside at night though. I’d prefer having no backlight at all and a lower purchase price instead. The keyboard is marketed towards gamers and that’s probably why it has the fancy name and the “Quick Fire” on the space bar, but I would have preferred a slightly more formal look. But this keyboard was the one of the cheapest mechanical keyboards and the only one I could find with Cherry MX Brown switches for such a price, so that’s why I bought it anyway.

One disadvantage is that it didn’t work at all when an OS wasn’t booted yet – i.e. in GRUB and the BIOS – on my older PC. My older PC had a Gigabyte P35-DS3L motherboard, but my latest PC doesn’t have this issue.

It was hard for me to justify spending € 83 on a keyboard, but in the end the fact that I use my keyboard every day convinced me. If this one can last many years and last longer than a rubber dome switch keyboard, it will be money well spent. I wouldn’t spend more than € 100 though.

Review of the Bitfenix Raider enclosure

For some months now I’ve got a new PC. I’m quite satisfied with the performance: the Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB solid state disk is really fast, it starts Fedora Linux within a few seconds. The be quiet! Straight Power E9 450 Watt power supply powers the Nvidia GeForce 770 GTX video card without problems when I run demanding video games, even though Nvidia itself says a 600 Watt power supply is the minimum.  They probably take low quality power supplies into account. The maximum power consumption I’ve measured is 265 Watt, so I’m fine.

The enclosure is controversial for me however. Originally I ordered a Cooler Master Silencio 352 enclosure which can only accomodate smaller micro-ATX motherboards. The webstore were I bought my hardware fouled up and sent me a ATX-motherboard instead of a micro-ATX motherboard, so I decided to return that enclosure and buy a larger ATX enclosure. I was in a hurry and quickly ordered the Bitfenix Raider because I knew it was a good choice in this category. It’s not a bad choice, but I think I would have preferred one of Cooler Master’s larger Silencio enclosures which can house ATX motherboards.

The Bitfenix Raider has good looks, offers enough room for cable management and a large video card like the GTX 770. But my main complaint with it is that it doesn’t have an option to cover the top intake opening. You could optionally place a fan there, but I don’t need it. Without a cover, dust will easily enter the enclosure, defeating the purpose of the dust filters for the power supply intake fan on the bottom and the fans on the front. I solved this by fixing a piece of black cardboard over the hole with adhesive tape, but I think an appropriate cover should have been shipped with the Raider. Cooler Master does include covers.

My other complaint is the manual. It describes the screws included with the Raider on the first page, but it turns out two pairs of screws look very much alike, even though they are used for different purposes. I confused some of these different screws, which could have been avoided if the manual had images of the screws to help me distinguish them. For example the black thumb screws used externally for the side panels of the Raider, and the black thumb screws which are used internally for fixing disk drives.

Why Deezer trumps Rdio and Spotify

A month ago I wrote about my reasons for preferring Rdio above Spotify. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that Deezer is even better than both of these music streaming services.

I decided that getting a PayPal account to pay for my Rdio subscription was unacceptable after all, so I took another look at the second-best option, Spotify. But after some more investigation it turns out that Spotify has a slew of other issues for me.

Using a TV for music streaming

Because I’m about to move to my own apartment (more on that later) I’ve been pondering what the best way is to supply my living room with music. I’ve considered many other options, but I came to the conclusion that using a TV for this would be the most simple solution which also keeps the audio quality intact.

The Logitech UE Smart Radio which I mentioned in my previous post could also be an option, but the sound quality won’t be as good as with separate high-end speakers. Using Bluetooth to stream from a laptop to the speakers requires an adapter and will lower the audio quality, other methods of streaming also require adapters and are expensive, streaming via DLNA with Rygel is too complicated and Sonos is way too expensive.

Currently my plan is to buy the Audioengine A5+ speakers (rated very highly in this review, in Dutch) and connect those to my TV. There are smart TV apps for music streaming services which then allow the TV to stream the music and pass it on to the speakers. As a bonus I can also use the speakers when I watch Netflix or play games with the Playstation 4 which I intend to buy later. This way I only need one speakerset in my living room and no extra devices apart from a TV; the amplifier is integrated in the speakers.

My issues with Spotify

The problem with Spotify is that they only have a Smart TV app for Samsung TV’s. While I like to have some choice, Samsung makes good TV’s, so this isn’t necessarily a problem. What is a problem however is that you do not get the improved sound quality. Even though you need a Spotify Premium account (€ 10 a month) to use Spotify on a Samsung TV, you don’t benefit from the 320 kbps bitrate offered to Premium subscribers. You get the default 160 kbps bitrate. Spotify has been aware of this for more than a year and their employee wrote (see link) that there is no reason for Samsung not to support 320 kbps. Even so, Spotify has done nothing about it.

Spotify’s web application doesn’t benefit from the 320 kbps bitrate either. If you do want it you can use the desktop clients for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. But I don’t want to use the desktop client, web applications are more convenient for several reasons.

Finally, just like Rdio Spotify doesn’t accept bank transfers or iDeal. Unlike Rdio though, you can buy Spotify gift cards in physical stores in the Netherlands. While far from ideal, this would allow me to pay for a Spotify subscription without using a credit card or PayPal. Still, there is no excuse for Spotify’s inability to offer iDeal as a payment method.

I can understand an American company like Rdio, which doesn’t do active marketing on the Dutch market, doesn’t offer it. But Spotify is Swedish and they do advertise actively on the Dutch market. And Netflix (which is American) offered iDeal right away when they started operating on the Dutch market. Spotify’s Dutch customers started asking for iDeal support over a year ago, but like the bitrate problem they’ve still done naught about it.

Deezer is the best alternative

Reading through the comments on the request for Spotify to support iDeal, I noticed it was mentioned that Deezer does support iDeal. They don’t seem to mention this anywhere on their website, but I’ve confirmed that this is indeed the case. And apart from Samsung TV’s their app is also available for TV’s from LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and Philips. That’s good, because I’m considering to buy this Panasonic TV instead of a Samsung TV.

And as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong, you’ll always enjoy the 320 kbps bitrate with their Premium+ account (€ 10 a month just like Spotify) which is necessary for using it on TV’s. Because they don’t have a desktop client, this high bitrate is available through their web application. Because Deezer has none of the disadvantages of Rdio or Spotify, I canceled my Rdio subscription and subscribed to Deezer’s Premium+ account right away.

However, apart from these two advantages of Deezer, I still think Rdio is qualitatively the better service. Its radio station functionality is much more refined, in my experience it chooses much more interesting music for me to listen. Deezer doesn’t even have a radio station for country music for example. Plus, Deezer’s interface is inferior to Rdio’s interface. Hopefully the Deezer developers could rip off the positive aspects of Rdio to improve their own service.

Testing the Fedora 20 Alpha release

Today I installed the Fedora 20 Alpha release with GNOME on my laptop to test it. Regarding the changes in GNOME 3.10, I love the move to merge title bars and toolbars into header bars. It’s good to save vertical space. The new applications like GNOME Photos, Music and especially Software are also nice, but I’m not sure about the integrated system status menu. It simply takes a lot more clicks to connect to a WiFi network now. As always, I’ve filed some bug reports and commented on some old ones:

Fedora:

  • Bug #904052 – Eye of GNOME should be the default application for viewing images
  • Bug #981963 – no touchpad edge scrolling in Fedora 20 with GNOME
  • Bug #1028734 – LibreOffice banner shown during installation of F20 alpha is outdated
  • Bug #1028758 – no easy way to change computer name before or during installation

GNOME:

  • Bug #329652 – add OpenSearch support to GNOME Web
  • Bug #664915 – GNOME Web uses wrong fonts on nos.nl
  • Bug #711774 – GNOME Software doesn’t display progress for downloads

I think the first and fourth Fedora bugs are evidence that the Fedora developers don’t spend as much time on usability as they should. The second one is a very nasty bug, but knowing Fedora’s development I doubt it will be fixed in time for the final Fedora 20 release. Fedora releases should be more polished.

The first two GNOME bugs are still preventing me to switch to GNOME Web from Firefox. They’re very old and there is no indication that they’re going to be fixed any time soon, I wish I could do it myself.

My review of the Geeksphone Peak with Firefox OS

I wrote in September that I had pre-ordered the Geeksphone Peak+ with Firefox OS and why I did so. Unfortunately the Peak+ was delayed and in October it turned out the delay would be longer than expected. At that point Geeksphone offered those who had pre-ordered the Peak+ to send them the original Peak instead, which had become available again.

Because I didn’t want to wait much longer, I accepted this offer. I received my Peak the next day on 22 October, after it was shipped from Spain to my address in the Netherlands in less than 24 hours. I also got a refund because the Peak had a lower price. Initially I was disappointed in Geeksphone’s communication of the delay. I learned about the delay through the order status on their website rather than an e-mail which they could have sent, but the way the handled this restored my trust in them.

The Peak smartphone

I think the hardware is very adequate for a phone which is sold for € 150. I haven’t compared it with the Android phones at the same price point, but if I look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 of my brother or my dad’s iPhone 4 I don’t get the feeling my phone is deficient. Sure, the Galaxy and the iPhone cost over three times as much and have better hardware, but I’m satisfied with it.

But there are a few things which I would have liked to see differently. The iPhone 4 for example measures 115,2 by 58,6 by 9,3 mm and has a 3,5 inch screen with a resolution of 640 by 960 pixels. The Peak measures 133,6 by 66 by 8,9 mm and has 4,3 inch screen with a resolution of 540 by 960 pixels. I like how the iPhone 4 fits in my pant’s pocket, but the slightly larger Peak is a bit more noticeable. I would have preferred the iPhone 4’s slightly more compact dimensions and higher amount of pixels per inch.

When I took off the Peak’s back cover to place the battery and SIM card I feared I would break it, but it’s sturdy enough. The quality of the enclosure won’t win awards either, but it’s good enough for me. What worries me more is that the Peak only gets half of the full reception quality in my home, while my former dumb phone would always get full reception quality. However, in practice I’ve never experienced problems with the reception during phone calls.

The Firefox OS software

Version 1.1 of Firefox OS does the basics right and I haven’t seen it crash. However, being an operating system in its infancy, it doesn’t have much good apps. For example, Here Maps which is included by default doesn’t have turn-by-turn navigation. EverNav does, but if you want to use it you to have log in, which is something I don’t want. I’m surprised no one has built a good map app based on OpenStreetMap yet. It would have been useful if a flashlight app and an app for taking notes were included by default, but they aren’t available yet either.

I often use the 9292 website, which is popular for planning trips with the Dutch public transport. Because Firefox OS hasn’t been introduced in the Netherlands yet it’s unsurprising they don’t have an app for Firefox OS. This isn’t an issue as a Firefox app doesn’t need to be much more than a simple manifest file which redirects to a mobile website. Unfortunately 9292 doesn’t detect the Firefox OS user agent and redirect you to their mobile website like it does for Android smartphones. You can visit the mobile website manually and than add it as a favorite to your home screen, but it doesn’t display 100% correctly in Firefox. And the favicon used for the home screen uses a very low resolution, so it’s not a pretty sight. I’ve already sent them a message to inform them of these problems.

I intend to build my use of the phone around ownCloud, which would allow me store my calendar and contact data with my own web host. This way, I don’t need to use services like Google Calendar and the big companies can’t poke their noses into my personal data. GNOME also supports synchronization with ownCloud, which allow me to work easily with the same data on my PC, laptop and smartphone.

It’s already possible to synchronize the calendar with ownCloud if you follow these instructions (in French). However, synchronizing the contacts with ownCloud using CardDAV is not yet possible though, all Firefox OS offers at time is synchronization with Facebook.

This and other issues I’ve noticed have been filed at Mozilla’s bug tracker, of which the first two were filed by others and the last four by me:

  • Bug 859306 – Sync contacts with carddav
  • Bug 901218 – [Peak] Back camera does not take photos in full resolution : 1.2M instead of 8M pixels
  • Bug 934092 – can’t set locale separately from language
  • Bug 934094 – “order by last name” setting doesn’t take surname prefix into account
  • Bug 934097 – alarm doesn’t trigger when the Peak smartphone is turned off
  • Bug 934099 – Firefox OS doesn’t use delta updates
  • Bug 934115 – m.9292.nl website displays two arrows in a drop down menu

The first bug is most important to me. If it’s also important to you, you might want to vote for the bug report.

What I like and dislike about Rdio, my favorite music streaming service

Some time ago I started testing two music streaming services: Spotify and Rdio. The former is based in Sweden and by far the most popular in the Netherlands, the latter is based in the USA and much less popular here. Both services offer two forms of paid subscription and have identical pricing. After giving the free accounts of both services a try, I decided to start paying € 5 a month for Rdio’s Web account.

Rdio versus Spotify

I like Rdio more than Spotify because its web interface is so awesome. It looks so nice and is so easy to use, unlike Spotify’s web interface. The other notable difference with Spotify is that Rdio has a large collection of genre radio stations, with many separate radio stations for subgenres. This makes it easier for me to discover new music.

Both Rdio and Spotify have a catalog of more than 20 million songs, but the availability of specific artists is slightly different. Personally I noticed both don’t have AC/DC and only Spotify has Inna. And Rdio only has three Metallica albums available. But with such a large catalog there is enough other music to listen too.

My issues with Rdio

Apart from these lacunae in the catalog there are several other issues which I would like to see improved. I’ve posted my suggestion for improvement to the Rdio public help center:

The Logitech UE Smart Radio is not such a big issue for me. When I get finally get a job and my own home at some point, I would like to have a device in my living room which can play music from Rdio. However, I could also buy the Audioengine A2+ speakers and connect them with my laptop through USB. This would give me better sound quality than the UE Smart Radio. If I place them in my living room I could probably connect them with my TV too.

With a laptop I can also keep using the € 5 subscription instead of upgrading to the € 10 subscription which I assume would be necessary if Rdio were available on the UE Smart Radio. This is also the case for Spotify, which is supported by the UE Smart Radio. Spotify considers it a mobile device, which will only work if with their premium account for € 10 a month.

Concerning my issue with the payment methods, if they are absolutely unable to do something about it I might consider getting a PayPal account again after all, at least PayPal is free and credit cards are not.