E. Balsa (page 1 of 2)

Kindle Oasis short review

I’m a fairly occasional book consumer, and a very frequent gadget user. I usually read books in their original format, but over the last couple of months I’ve started using my old, but trusty, Kindle 3rd Generation on my commutes to work.

I’ve never found the Kindle to be very comfortable to use – I always struggled to find a correct position to hold it – and the latest generations never seemed interesting to me because they kept the same physical format and actually made it a little bit worse by removing the buttons. I thought about buying the Kindle Voyage (name always reminds me of this) as it had a much better screen than my 3rd Gen. Kindle but contrary to all other models, reimplemented the buttons (kind of), but decided to wait for Amazon to come up with something new.

Low and behold – Kindle Oasis, the new Kindle is upon us. After the initial images I was sold, as the ergonomics finally seemed to fit with what I would expect from this kind of device. Once it was finally officially announced, and even though the price is quite high I decided that I would give it a try.

First reviews were all unanimous : great quality, good ergonomics, evolutionary but not revolutionary, expensive (some like the Huffington Post, even use the kindle as an example of consumer waste), not waterproof.

I honestly couldn’t care less about the waterproofing – not sure where people are using their kindles, but on my daily use there is no water involved. Price was obviously the biggest let down, but I still think that taking into account the quality of the device, and comparing it with other “gadgets” like tablets or smartphones, it isn’t exceedingly expensive.

The Kindle box greets you with a Voltaire quote “I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.” and informs you of the Kindle Oasis real name “Kindle Generation 8”. Inside it two boxes, one for the battery cover, and another one for the Kindle reader itself.

The device itself and the cover are great to hold – it would be great if they had 10 or 20 grams less, but you can see that they made an effort to make the weight balanced and the touch soft on both plastic and felt parts. The grip is great on both left or right hand usage.

Upgrading from the 3rd to the 8th generation also meant getting a new version of the Kindle software (users coming from Paperwhite or touch devices won’t see much difference) – X-Ray, GoodReads integration, new book shelf screen, etc.

Screen is amazing – instead of the greyed out screen I was used to, I’m presented with a white screen with great definition. Looking at the old Kindle screen now seems to me like looking at an old washed out book.

First usage issue I had was with the page up/page down buttons – even though they were on the same position as on my old Kindle, it just felt weird to use the top button for Page Down and the bottom button for Page Up. On the 4th Generation it felt much more natural as the buttons had different sizes. Amazon must have felt this could be an issue as they added an option allowing you to invert the buttons.

Second usage issue, was related to the touch. There is no way to disable page flipping on touch (I learned later that the Kindle Voyage suffered from the same issue). This is actually very cumbersome as any unintentional touching of the screen causes a page change. Amazon could easily add an option to disable page flipping or at least to define sensibility/time until touch acts.

All in all the Kindle Oasis is a great upgrade. Is it worth it if you already have a Kindle? Probably not, unless like me you have a Generation 4 or older device. But if you are looking for your first e-reader – this is the device to buy.

Don’t forget that like with all other Kindles, you can easily copy .mobi files and read them with the same quality as the books you would buy from Amazon. This Kindle has 4 GB of storage, so more than enough space for any “normal” personal library.


IKEA Electric Standing Desk

Ever since I started using an electric standing desk at work, I’ve wanted to have the same solution at home.

Up until recently this goal was put aside due to the very high prices of electrical standing desks ($1200/$2000). I even thought about getting a “normal” standing desk, but in all honesty, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t use it regularly – not only it’s not the healthiest of solutions (sitting all day long is bad, but standing all day long can be even worse…), I’m quite lazy and as such would easily revert to using some other desk in the house, or even worse – work from the couch.

Last week I noticed that IKEA had an interesting new solution (Bekant) for standing desks, and one that doesn’t break the bank (~$670) – only issue – the size! Even though they have it available in different sizes and forms (including corner solutions) – they were all just too large. After doing some research (that included reading some dreadful reviews), I was able to determine that I could actually buy the electrical feet and use a smaller desk top (I wanted something shorter than 80cm, was able to get 60cm ).

This solution is not “supported” by IKEA, but required almost no adaptation – I had to drill 4 holes on the table top to screw in the legs (took me around 25 minutes to measure and drill and an extra 25 minutes to assemble the legs). Table is sturdy and stable even when at full height. Motor noise speed is exactly the same as in all other electric standing desks I tried out in the past and is not disturbing at all. Getting from sitting to standing position takes around 10 to 15 seconds (see video at the end of the post).

Given that it’s also very comfortable when sitting I’m now using this very simple but effective standing desk app.

Next steps ? Arduino the hell out of it and make it change positions via the standing desk app. I already checked and the buttons don’t work by closing a circuit, so I need to do some further research (I would welcome anyone wanting to give me some pointers here).

Quite proud of the result 🙂

Addendum #1

As so many people have asked for the parts list, here it is:

Addendum #2

More than a couple of people asked for a video of the table going up and down, so here it is:

How to update a rooted Nexus device

Google has finally started to provide their users with monthly security updates.

This is good news for everyone, but more work for those of us who have rooted phones, as the OTA updates check if the system was modified before installing, and refuse to install if it was.

For rooted users, the solution, although a little bit extensive, is quite easy – flashing all the system files, and re-rooting the device.

The following is needed before starting:

Notice: The following procedure will keep all user data (some system settings are reset), but as with all system upgrades, a backup is advisable. Any and all damage you might  do to your device and your data is your full responsibility. I’m assuming anyone attempting this will already have experience using fastboot and adb.

Before starting make sure that USB debugging is enabled and that the computer you are going to use is authorised.

After extracting the factory image and booting into Fastboot Mode (usually Volume Down + Power), the following steps should be executed:

fastboot flash bootloader bootloader-angler-angler-xx.xx.img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot flash radio radio-angler-angler-xx.xx.img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot flash boot boot.img
fastboot erase cache
fastboot flash cache cache.img
fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
fastboot flash system system.img
fastboot flash vendor vendor.img

The system should now be able to boot, but it will be un-rooted.

To root it, the following should be executed after entering Fastboot Mode.

fastboot flash recovery twrp-
fastboot reboot-bootloader

After this, enter Recovery Mode (through the Fastboot Mode menu) and flash the SuperSU zip file (if needed, adb push can be used to upload the file). After rebooting the phone should be rooted and running the latest version of Android.

This was successfully tested on 2015.12.08, upgrading from Android 6.0.0 to 6.0.1 on the following devices :

  • Nexus 6p
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5

Playlist for a grimy day

To break the silence, here is a playlist suggestion for a grimy day.

Playlist Link

  • The XX – You Got The Love (Florence And The Machine cover)
  • Portishead – Give Me A Reason To Love You
  • Sleeping At last – 99 Red Balloons
  • Katie Melua – Wonderful Life
  • Radioactive – Madilyn Bailey (Imagine Dragons Acoustic Cover)
  • Antony and the Johnsons – Knocking on Heaven’s door
  • Vintage Postmodern Jukebox Radiohead Cover ft. Haley Reinhart – Creep
  • Lenna Bahule – Nakupenda
  • Vicente Palma – Como Um Sonho Acordado [Fausto]
  • Voz E Guitarra 2: Márcia + Dead Combo – Visões Ficções


Pripyat Gym

Pripyat Gym

After a couple of years of neglect, time has finally come to refresh this blog a little bit.

A new front page, new responsive theme and a lot of changes in the way information is organised.

Why all this trouble if no one is reading? No idea… 🙂

Nailed it!


They shot me down, bang bang…


First they integrate Google Buzz.
Then they decide to cripple all its social features (this is when I mostly stopped using it…) and “integrate” it with G+.
Now they say that it’s usage is in decline (wonder why…), and they decide to kill it.

What Google maybe didn’t think about is the consequences of this act.
The reason why people are confident in google services (like gmail, calendar, dns …) is because Google is always there.
Sure all of those services are free to use, but people trust them because they think that they’ll always be available, and as such are a safe bet.

But with the latest spring cleanings at Google this was proven wrong – solid services like Google Notebook and lots of APIs that where deeply integrated into several sites where shutoff with a few months notice.

This leaves me with an important question – why should I trust web services I can’t self host?

(so many github projects an not one self hosted google reader clone…damn!)

Apparently it exists 😉 – http://tt-rss.org/

Link Spam (cloud solutions)

PHP 5.3 alongside PHP 5.2 on a CentOS CPanel System

Long story short… I needed a way for a specific folder to use PHP 5.3 and to keep using PHP 5.2 for the rest of the system, and I needed to do this without breaking the existing CPanel (blergh) configuration (Luckily the system was already using suphp – if yours isn’t just change it using easyapache) .

In the end it was easier than I thought…

  1. Compile and install PHP 5.3 to a folder under /opt
  2. Add Application Handler to Apache Configuration
  3. Add Handler to htaccess on the folders I needed the PHP5.3 (this could also be done within the VHost config)

Read the rest of the post for the full details
Continue reading

Android 4.2 Nexus 7

And today Android 4.2 is finally available. As millions of other geeks I rushed to install it my Nexus 7, mainly because I was eager to try out the multiuser functionality.

I have to admit I’m impressed with the amount of changes 4.2 brought : Multiuser, new drop-down menu, screensavers, lock-screen widgets, Photo Sphere – a lot of things for a minor update.

Only thing that really disappointed me, was that it’s not possible to share applications between users in the same device. I had to add my a second google account to the second user so I could install some paid apps – and unfortunately there’s a small bug in this function – even though there’s an account selector, it keeps the last added account as the selected account…

If you have a Nexus 7 and don’t want to wait for the OTA, there’s a very easy procedure you can follow:

  • Download this file
  • Connect the nexus to the computer
  • in a shell type : adb reboot recovery
  • when the android with the exclamation point is on the display press power and the center of the volume key at the same time
  • select “apply update from ADB”
  • in the shell type : adb sideload 094f6629314a.signed-nakasi-JOP40C-from-JZO54K.094f6629.zip

(in case you don’t have the Android SDK installed you can use this ZIP from Android Central which contains all files you might need)

Older posts

© 2016 E. Balsa

Theme based on hemingway and unoUp ↑