maanantaina, maaliskuuta 03, 2014

Halvempaa pienissä pakkauksissa, osa 2

Viikonloppuna katselin Mignon-pääsiäismunien hintoja Myyrmäen Citymarketissa. Neljän munan pakkauksessa 37,45€/kg. Yksittäin 36,35€/kg.

maanantaina, tammikuuta 20, 2014

Halvempaa pienissä pakkauksissa, osa 1

Olen vaimoni mielestä ehkä pikkuriikkisen pihi. Kun käyn kaupassa, vertailen pakkauskokoja ja yksikköhintoja. Olen lapsesta asti elänyt siinä luulossa, että tavara on halvempaa suuremmissa pakkauksissa. Ostamalla perhekoon tai jättipussin tai maxisäkin saa "paljousalennusta."

Vai saako?

Viime aikoina olen huomannut, että Elovena-kaurahiutaleiden kilohinta on halvempi 1 kg pahvipaketissa kuin 2 kg säkissä. (Tai siis ainakin K-Citymarketeissa on.)

Jumbon Citymarketissa myydään elintarvikkeita suurtalouspakkauksissa. Esimerkiksi mustikoita voi ostaa 2.5 kg säkeissä kilohintaan 8,40 EUR/kg. Muutaman metrin päässä kuitenkin on mustikoita 200 g pusseissa hintaan 7,80 EUR/kg.

Valio appelsiinimehua saa lähikaupastani sekä 1,5 että 1 litran tölkeissä. Litrahinta on hieman halvempi 1 litran tölkissä.

Toisaalta kyllä kaupasta löytyy monta esimerkkiä siitäkin miten isommassa pakkauksessa yksikköhinta todellakin on halvempi.

Mistä tämä johtuu? Onko "paljousalennus" ostokäyttäytymistämme siinä määrin hallitseva myytti, että kauppiaat voivat käyttää sitä hyväkseen ja huijata meidät ostamaan kalliimpaa tavaraa? Vai onko pakkauskoolla ollenkaan merkitystä tuotteen hinnanmuodostukseen kaupan hyllyssä?

En tiedä miten asia on, mutta ajattelin kirjoittaa tänne asiaa koskevia huomioita. Katsotaan mitä siitä syntyy.

keskiviikkona, lokakuuta 10, 2012

Life with Android, part 3

Yesterday I made my Samsung Galaxy Ace much faster and improved the battery life by 50%: I uninstalled all apps I do not use several times per day and Facebook. I now have much more free memory, the phone feels much faster, the battery lasts longer and it does not run as warm as it did.

I really have to unlearn the habit I got with iPhone: I used to install apps that seemed interesting and then I might try them out later. I also had apps I had only used two or three times but thought they might be sometimes useful. That's not something you can do with an Android phone. It teaches you to live lean.

Today I learned it is a bad idea to take a call while listening to a podcast. When I had an iPhone and was listening to a podcast or music, a phone call would interrupt listening but it would automatically resume when the call ended. Not so with Android. The podcast app froze when the call ended. Android did eventually pop up a dialog telling me the app had become unresponsive and offered to force quit it. I did. But the phone was unusable after that. I tried to make a call but the screen went blank and I got a dialog telling me was not responding. I tried to restart the phone. It would not turn off.

I have also learned listening to music takes around 50% of cpu. If I press the Home button to exit the music app and try to do something else, the music playback starts breaking up. It's like I was back in mid-1990s when my poor old 486 PC could barely play mp3 files, but only if I didn't do anything else at the same time.

I can only think the Android phones decode music using the main cpu. My old iPhone 3GS never missed a beat even when I did something else while listening to music. Maybe iPhones have dedicated hardware for mp3/aac decoding?

perjantaina, lokakuuta 05, 2012

Life with Android, part 2

Every installed app consumes memory: Today I got a notification saying a text message could not be received because the phone memory was full. I began investigating and I think I now understand what is going on: I had been installing a few podcast applications and every one of the applications was running, consuming memory.

It seems every installed app leaves around a process, often two or more that just sit there using memory and a little bit of CPU. On a desktop computer that isn't so bad because modern operating systems can push unused memory to the disk and make it seem the computer has more memory than it really has. But this doesn't work on phones. There is only a limited amount of memory and when it's out, it really is out.

It took me quite a while and the use of some memory cleaning utility programs to clean up a few megabytes. (There actually is a market for utility apps that kill other apps!)

This means it is not possible to install many applications on an Android phone. Soon the memory will run out and then you need to uninstall something to make room for new apps, even if you had lots of space on your 32 GB microSD memory card.

In my opinion this is quite a remarkable difference to Apple's iOS, which powers iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. When the user presses the home button, the app that was running is stopped. If the app was in the middle of doing something important, the app can ask the operating system to allow it to run for maximum of 10 more minutes. Then the app will be killed. The app is really gone. It will not consume memory, CPU or any other resources.

This makes it possible to install many more apps on an iOS device than an Android device with comparable memory simply because Apple engineers found out the apps that are not used do not have to be running.

And still one Android device vendor claims: "Android has true multitasking, not just task-switching." If this is the cost of multitasking, I'd rather have task-switching.

P.S. If I'm reading a web page on the Android phone and hit the home button, make a couple of calls and then go back to the web browser, why is it the browser shows the page from the top, not where I stopped reading? This must be some form of multitasking I wasn't familiar with...

keskiviikkona, lokakuuta 03, 2012

Life with Android, part 1

I've been curious how the other people like their phones. I mean, of course, the people who use Android instead of the one true phone, the iPhone.

My teenage daughter has been torturing a Samsung Galaxy Ace for a year now and I suggested to her we could exchange phones for a limited period of time. She said yes, a bit too eagerly. I suspect I will have a difficult time getting the iPhone 4S back.

(I was told her friends at school said your dad must have lost a few marbles to do something so stupid as trade an iPhone for a crappy Android.)

Here are some observations from the last two days:

Battery: The battery lasts a day, barely. And I got a new, fresh battery for it. I have 3G, wifi, gps and bluetooth turned on, but I had them on in the iPhone too and it lasted almost two days with a single charge.

Unresponsive UI: Often you tap a button on the screen or the back button on the bezel and nothing happens. Thinking you missed the button you tap it again and then it suddenly wakes up and reads your tap twice. This could be due to the 800 MHz single-core CPU being too slow, but it never happened with my old iPhone 3GS, which also had an 800 MHz CPU.

Cannot be used as a clock replacement: When the power/lock button is pressed, the screen wakes up but the time is shown in very tiny numbers at the top-right corner of the screen. I think I will start wearing a watch.

Cannot be used as a music player: I copied files from my iTunes media folder to the /Music directory of the SD card. The built-in music player and couple of 3rd party ones I've tried do not understand the metadata of the .m4a files. Only the few music files that are in .mp3 show properly. The unrecognizable files are all lumped together under "Unknown artist". When tapped on, they do play, but it makes it difficult to find the song you are looking for.

I haven't yet found a good way to copy playlists. Software called doubleTwist starts reading the playlists from iTunes but did not finish even though I allowed it 24 hours to do its job. (I have about a dozen playlists, so the task should not be an enormous one.)

Software called TuneSync copies playlists and music over wifi and requires running a server on the Mac. It seems to work, but the free version only syncs 20 tracks. The full version is a bit expensive to my taste. (But I might go with that if nothing else works.)

A2DP profile on Bluetooth is not always used: I have a earpiece from Jabra that supports A2DP (stereo quality sound) but sometimes the phone chooses to communicate with phone quality protocol. This never happened with the iPhone.

Weather app thinks I'm in Hyvinkää. Every time I launch the built-in Weather app, it shows me the weather in Hyvinkää, Finland. That's about 50 km from my real location.

The Navigator is really good: I had never had a chance to use a turn-by-turn navigator app on a phone but I had plenty of experience on using the Maps app in iPhone while driving. Not fun. Usually my wife operates the iPhone on the car trips and she often gets lost. The Navigator app on the Android gave us clear, audible instructions that allowed the driver (me) to concentrate on the traffic and not play IT support.

I'll keep you posted on further developments.

sunnuntaina, toukokuuta 20, 2012

Reading Helsingin Sanomat on the iPad

I have been reading Helsingin Sanomat on the iPad for 3 weeks. Here some first impressions:

No News Stand integration

The HS app does not integrate into the iPad News Stand, which means the morning paper is not automatically downloaded and waiting for you when you sit in the breakfast table. The download does not take very long, so this is not such a bad thing, just a minor annoyance.

The download for the weekly Nyt addition, on the other hand, takes a really long time, a few minutes. And the same goes for the Kuukausiliite.

Only partial articles available

Nowhere in the HS for iPad description does it say the articles would not appear in full. In practice, it seems long articles are truncated on the iPad. Sometimes the articles are truncated in mid-sentence, which makes me think there is maybe some internal maximum length for the article that sometimes cuts off the end of the story.

This is really infuriating! Today there was a long article in HS about the trials and tribulations of the Talvivaara mine and after reading it for 15 minutes I discovered the article ends in mid-sentence.

HS for iPad is not available every day

Like I described above, the HS app does not integrate with the News Stand. Instead it works like this: When you open the HS app for the first time in the morning, the thumbnail of yesterday's paper flies away from the screen and a thumbnail of today's paper flies in. Then you can click on the thumbnail and a progress bar will appear and after the download is complete, the paper opens up in full screen.

Except on some days the old paper does not fly away and the new one fly in. I don't know why. There is no indication of any error. There is no button to force it to check for a new issue. I checked several times during the day but the paper was not available.

The next day the new paper flew in. And now if I check the archive view, I can see the missing paper there and I can download and read it a day late.

I appreciate I can read the old issues to get up to speed but I still think the idea of the newspaper is very much in it being there in the morning with fresh news. (And remember, in the age of the Internet, the news in the daily newspaper are not that new.)

The ads

And finally, there are the ads. Yes, even when you are a paid subscriber, you still get to see the ads. There aren't that many: There's the ad on the front page, like in the HS dead tree version and then there is a full-page ad between sections of the paper, like between domestic and foreign news.

I have nothing against there being some ads, because the ads are also there in the dead tree version. I understand the subscriptions do not bring in enough money for Helsingin Sanomat to pay for it's staff so they must sell ads. 

But I do not want to be bothered by the ads.

Some of the ads in HS for iPad are animated, they take a long time to load and while they are loading, you cannot turn the page. You just sit there swiping across the screen and nothing happens. Eventually the ad has loaded, starts going thru its animation and eventually the app starts accepting user input and turns the page. On any other device this would probably be normal, but on the iPad the users have become used to the device being fast and responsive. An app that does not respond to user input sticks out like a sore thumb.


I am on the fence. The things I described above are annoying. On the other hand, I value the investigative work that goes into making a quality newspaper and I understand it does not come free, and I would like to give them money to support that work. And the free articles on the HS web site are short versions of the ones that appear in the paid version. And the Kuukausiliite with its excellent content is only available for paid customers.

I don't know. If they would fix the issues above, it would definitely recommend subscribing to the paid version, but now... I just don't know if I will cancel or not.

sunnuntaina, huhtikuuta 22, 2012

Getting rid of banking trojans

Today the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) had a story about online criminals routinely stealing money from customers of Finnish banks.

I believe so far the banks have compensated customers for their losses. Of course, sooner or later, the banks must stop doing that because it will become too time-consuming and expensive. What will happen then?

Are the customers left to fend on their own?

Will the anti-virus industry step up their protection efforts and the problem will go away as soon as everyone has an up-to-date AV software installed?

Will Microsoft manage to lock down Windows so well that only the people who run old versions of Windows are affected and at the same time find a really good reason for people to upgrade to a newer Windows version?

Both of the latter scenarios are just extrapolations of current events. Undoubtedly, Microsoft will continue to improve security of Windows in upcoming versions. Just as likely, anti-virus software will probably continue to evolve to meet the challenges of the new threats.

Is that all? Is this the best we can hope for?

I think there is another solution. A very simple one. Unfortunately I cannot think of any way to make money out of it, so it probably won't happen. I will describe it here anyway, just in case someone decides to implement it.

Here it is: Banks should create a bootable read-only USB stick and give one to each customer. The read-only memory would boot a small Linux and run a web browser. The customers would be told to insert the stick into the PC and restart the computer before banking over the Internet.

There are a lot of details that can be debated: Should it be a USB stick or CD? Which Linux should it use? Should the browser run full-screen or in a window? Should it be made easy to use the Linux for other purposes too? Should the Linux be able to save files on the hard disk? Should it support Macs?

Those are minor details. Interesting details, I'm sure. But the core idea appears above in bold. If the banks would do that, they could sleep easy. The customers would know their money is safe.

This is such a simple idea I'm sure it has a ton of problems I have not thought about and because of those it just isn't a viable solution.

Just in case any bank decides to be bold and implement the idea, go ahead. I'm not going to charge money or patent the idea. And the bank cannot patent it either because they cannot claim the idea is theirs.