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Archive for the ‘Random Experience; Opinion’ Category

Observations Using iOS 11 for More Than a Month

Posted by Britrock on December 11, 2017

My iPhone 6 was splashed by an ocean wave in October 2015. Yeah, I fully admit, there’s a story that involves getting too close to the water’s edge but its not important. The phone still worked. Sort of. Despite drying the phone thoroughly with rice, the phone has spent 18 months glitching, overheating and switching itself off. The latter usually when I was trying to display my boarding pass at the airport. Weighing up the options, including switching to Android, thinking about when the iPhone 6 & 7 be obsolete/barely useable and how much better is the camera/processor….I eventually gave in and chose the iPhone 8+. Not an X.
With the AppleCare built into the price of the payment plan, it actually made sense, to me at least. If I think about it, the iPhone 8+ cost more than my first car. The iPhone X cost about the same as my second car. That thought alone was another reminder of how different life is today and what we can no longer “live without” compared to those halcyon relatively simple days. In fact the camera in the new iPhones would also be better than most of the cameras on the market for consumers back then.
Ultimately the camera was also the driving factor for me with this purchase, a phone that didn’t glitch, that had a functioning light, didn’t overheat, turnoff randomly and a working silent button also figured.
In the first few weeks, I’ve toyed with the camera and noticed the better clarity and contrast in colors (not in a horrible way) on iPhone 8+ to the iPhone 6 and marginally the iPhone 7 loaner without a contract, I’ve been using for 360 images. Improved stabilization means few blurry images, but generally I rest the phone on a static object as a makeshift tripod before making pics anyway. The faster processor appears to help with reducing the quantity of speckling/grain and making the image slightly sharper. Improvements in noise reduction may also be the result of better image stabilization, really need to find out more. One additional feature the plus models carry is the 2x optical zoom, great for impromptu portraits. Having a wide and small zoom is really handy, will definitely mean better options for street and landscape shooting. Very tempted to shoot a few headshots with proper lights and the phone to see what happens. HDR has been turned on automatically, it’s better than it was but this can be turned off in camera settings if you don’t want everything to look more natural.
Portrait mode has its quirks, the AI clips parts of the images, but overall its a nice gimmick for consumers. Have included a quick unprocessed ‘ straight out of iphone’ pic of the wife. First thing I noticed was the strange haircut it gave the subject. You’ll likely notice I used the iPhone flash for fill light, hence the tiny catch light and blown highlight on forehead. The sky ever so slightly turning pink, was automatically enhanced by the software to appear very pink indeed or there’s a new coating on the lense. In a dslr this effect would have been achieved by leaving the shutter open to expose for the background, perhaps this also explains the tonal range of the background color. Skin tones looked closer to natural when compared to my older phones, but that might just be the lovely wife’s skin care regime.
iOS 11 has several new updates, including a new image file format called HEIF (high efficiency image format). Apple adopting this format means we’ll begin to see better quality natural looking HDR images, but also potential for better quality photo ‘tools’ on mobile devices further down the road.  Wasn’t aware of this feature until I’d photographed my expense receipts and uploaded them to Google drive only to suddenly find them unopenable. A pleasant surprise, although I’m not sure the accounting department noticed tonal range difference in my 10 bit expense receipts, vs the old 8bit format. For those that don’t like it, formats can also be changed in camera settings.
Screenshots is another rather handy feature, that when taken on the iOS 11 device, automatically post to a small window that can be opened, annotated and saved. Posting to Google Drive made sense but unfortunately I wasn’t then able to open the marked up images in photoshop.
On the interoperability side of things, it’s nice that Apple have created a “Files” app that enables the opening of files from Dropbox, Google Drive etc., but still irritating that mature companies will not allow shortcuts to use the most popular apps of perceived competitors. Google Maps, Google’s Snapseed among them. ‘Open with’ on the MacBook works well, would be a nice touch to include on the iPhone, a device more people would use. Perhaps its the petty world we live in but that level of juvenility makes me want to avoid the monoliths.
Perhaps it’s just me but the Touch ID fingerprint recognition feels faster. On my iPhone 6, I need to place a full fat finger on the scanner before it would take a half second to acknowledge and then another half second to open the phone. Feels instantaneous on iPhone 8+. Picking up the iPhone 8+ also lights up the face of the phone. The splash resistance of this new device, certainly adds a degree of calm when a glass of wine is accidentally spilled next to these iPhones.
On the irritating side of things, the quick access menu that used to allow you to turn on airplane mode now includes limited function Bluetooth and WiFi buttons. Unfortunately they don’t turn off WiFi and Bluetooth, they simply disconnect from the current network or device. As a result, the phone spends battery life seeking a new connection in the background. Took me a few days to work that out, as did the ‘slow calculator’ issue. My work means I spend a fair amount of time quickly needing to accurately make calculations. When using the native iphone calculator, I began to notice what I thought was my inability to accurately press the + or – button but this has now been recognized as a bug.
Audio wise music and voices appear to sound a little less hollow when played on speakerphone. Aside from my issues with how awful iTunes has become for cataloging music, the experience has improved lately. Features that I’d relied on for years were removed, such as my nerdy obsession for providing a numeric 1 to 5 rating for all 35,000 tracks stored on iTunes. When making playlists I could easily sort music by how much I liked individual tracks. Or Genius, that gathered songs of similar beats per minute etc.  Now we’re forced to use the over the air subscription service iTunes Radio… not a great option when I spend most of my time listening to music on planes.
Ultimately I’m happy with the phone upgrade, even if the cost is a little steeper than I needed or wanted to pay for a new device. The upgrade to having a good quality consumer level camera, that is embedded in a device I have on my person almost always, has been a boon to experimenting with photography. Smartphone cameras are still a distance from replacing an entry level DSLR, but the gap is continually reducing with each phone release. Iphone 8+ might finally mean I’m shooting “iPhone photographs” as opposed to “crappy iPhone pics.”

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Ten keys to English Premier League fantasy football

Posted by Britrock on October 1, 2014

In true Bilip (bad Philip) style, I’ve just returned from a lot of travel in a short space of time, 50+ airport visits in two months, so naturally there’s lots to catch up on. And I’ve just spent two hours reviewing fantasy football lineups for NFL and EPL leagues I play in. Both seasons are relatively speaking, at a similar premature stage and newbies have either got the hang of it or are utterly lost. NFL fantasy obsessives have countless complex sites and tv shows that provide guidance, but the EPL has relatively few. Perhaps because EPL fantasy fans have more rich and fulfilling lives… or are too lazy/ambivalent to care. To help out two close friends of mine, new to fantasy EPL (Great midwest boys weekend StEvil B and the Pocket Dog!) I threw a few links and pieces of advice together. Make of it what you will. I’ve never won a fantasy EPL league and I’m a Saints fan.
Overall EPL dream team
Biggest factors in EPL fantasy:
  • Goals scored earn 6 pts (plus bonus depending on if the goal won the game)
  • Cleansheets/no goals conceded earn 6 pts for defenders (2 pts for midfielders)
  • Assists earn 3 pts
  • Captain doubles his pts each week
  • Two wildcard transfers a season
  • Playing 90 mins earns 2 pts
Ten considerations for fantasy EPL success
1) Scoring goals from setpieces
As goals are relatively difficult to predict, its good to consider the predictable moments e.g. set pieces (free kicks within shooting distance and of course penalty kicks) Last year Lambert earned me heaps of points because he didn’t miss any of his penalty chances and scored lots of freekicks. The aging legend is on Liverpool’s bench now, and Gerrard (while I don’t rate him much as a player; sometimes controls a game, he overhits 85% of his passes a fundamental skill for a midfield player & perpetually looks perplexed) he does take the penalty and free-kick chances for Liverpool.
So its worth looking at this link: EPL Penalty & Free kick takers

2) Consider the schedule
Southampton are going to have a fairly miserable time of things between the end of November and mid January as they play Man City, Man Utd (twice), Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and Everton. Naturally this will affect your teams ability to score points and my need to drink pints. Useful link of weird colored fixtures: Geekiest spreadsheet of EPL fixtures in existence
EPL 2014 Fixtures Ranking
3) Captains double your points
Selecting a team captain will double his points contributed. This should be your marquee player every week. Diego Costa would have earned you almost 100 pts as your captain every week. P.S. Its week 7 this week. That’s ridiculous return. In general the goalkeeper can only score a maximum of a cleansheet plus a bonus = 8 or 9pts. Diego Costa on two occasions this season has surpassed double figures. The caveats to choosing your best player as captain; if the opposition is difficult it reduces both goal scoring and cleansheets, or if he may not last a full game due to struggling with an injury or is Balotelli. The guy has a shot at goal every 15 minutes but hasn’t scored yet, and negatively affects teammates ability to score. Having said that Liverpool’s fixtures look favorable and he’s bound to go off like a firework from a bedroom window. Link to utterly unhelpful story about Balotelli setting house on fire: 
4) Wildcard transfers let you reset your team
Wayne Rooney is suspended for three games, Aaron Ramsey and James Ward Prowse are injured for multiple games, your goalkeeper is Hart sitting on a bench, Balotelli and Wellbeck are your strikers, for some reason you gambled on a back line of Stoke, QPR and Burnley players. Play your wildcard. Twice a season you can make unlimited transfers in one sitting, that will allow you to reset your team. Don’t forget bargain players at unfashionable clubs. Useful slightly hidden stats page

5) Make transfers at the end of the week
Premier League teams involved in midweek cup competitions risk having players injured and tired from these games, as a result its wise to wait for these games to play before making roster changes. A club with lots of injuries will obviously not play as effectively. Man Utd currently have at least 9 players out. Track injuries here:
6) Set your line-up before Saturday morning
Each week there is a deadline to set your line-up, chose your captain and make transfers. (generally a majority of teams will play on a Saturday morning).

7) Order of substitutes matters
Your lineup is set and contains a number of Man City players. Pelliegrini likes to rest players randomly, and as a result two of your players don’t play any part in the game. Not to worry, because those players not taking part are automatically substituted out and replaced with those on your bench in the order you have placed them. Make sure you leave your weakest player in the number 3 spot. Weakest is defined by ability to score points, not simply because he looks as skinny and weird as Peter Crouch.

8) Formations can change
Unlike Sam Allardyce’s rigid 4-4-2. You don’t have to play the 4 – 4 – 2 shape the form gives you each week. If you’ve built your team around Costa, RVP and Aguero, play with three up front each week. If goalscorers have the potential to earn more points by scoring goals why wouldn’t you play three up front if that’s who score the most goals? Because anyone can score goals, just ask Begovic. Play around until you see a shape you like. Remember midfield players receive two points for a no goals conceded, and forwards are most often substituted reducing their chance at 1 extra point for playing 90 mins.
3-4-3 4-5-1
9) Form & fixtures matters more than class
Balotelli, Van Persie and Dzeko or Ulloa, Berahino and Weimann? The former have 56 pts costing a combined 30.8 m pounds versus the non-glamor players have 98 pts at a current price of 17 m pounds. Track the form and fitness of players, ease of fixtures and potential suspensions.
Useful stats link: form stats

10) Its all luck with a little knowledge thrown in for seasoning. Or vice versa
If anyone could actually predict the result of sporting events they’d setup an organization that would allow them to pit their wallets against anyone who fancies themselves a sporting soothsayer. Not sure who is mostly likely to be the Jacksonville Jaguars of the EPL? See what the sports betting agents think collectively, its not as if they make money on this every week or anything. Combined betting perspectives:

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