Screaming Into The Abyss

oneplus sample image"The OnePlus 5 features the highest resolution dual camera on the planet,” says the marketing copy. After a few months of using the phone's camera, it’s easy to see that resolution has been squandered by software. In the early days of adding cameras to phones, it was expected that the quality of the camera would suffer greatly, but after a few years, they began to surpass many low-end point-and-shoot cameras. We’ve come to expect the camera in our pocket to be fast, clear, and have more features than most others, with dual lenses, depth detection and effects, and great HDR rendition. The 5 squarely hits many of these marks with fast focus, face detection, and a second camera to mimic shallow depth of field, but in low light or using HDR, the images show a distinct watercolor-like quality to them.
Some users have found that downloading a hacked version of the official Google Android camera fixes this problem, but risking malware isn’t what photography is all about. It’s important to note here, that if you want Google’s photosphere option, installing the hacked app is also the only way to add that feature to your phone. The interesting thing about this is it shows the hardware to take great photos is in place, but in forking Android to create Oxygen and eschewing Google’s code for the camera, OnePlus has gone the opposite direction they intended.
The vast majority of the 5 is great. It feels snappy, and the Oxygen OS is almost exactly like Android, but with more out-of-the box options for tweaking preferences. In fact, some of the default preferences will send you directly to the settings asking “how do I fix this?” One place they saved money in the process of creating a budget flagship killer is the screen resolution, but the screen is plenty high-resolution for most users. The fit and finish is top-notch with a textured plastic back that keeps you from dropping it but doesn’t feel cheap and very clean lines. I love that switching environments frequently is a breeze with the normal/DND/silent slider on the side of the phone. I won’t bore you with the specs, but there’s enough RAM and storage in this phone to last you quite a while and hold all but the most audiophile of users entire music collections.
In addition to the camera problems, I’ve run into some frustrating bluetooth and wifi connection issues, possibly because of cost-savings in the radio. When you’re in range of a recognized WiFi network that requires you to log in or accept conditions (think your favorite coffee shop) the phone will have zero internet connectivity until you turn off WiFi or log into it. Bluetooth audio has random choppiness, but it’s particularly bad when you’re anywhere near a WiFi access point and sometimes it will pause your music for no discernible reason.
So if you’re looking for a flagship Android phone and don’t care about the camera, this phone is probably perfect for you, but don’t buy it because of the photography-centric advertising on the OnePlus website.

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Expirimenting With AWS
By Ben Zvan
On February 05, 2017 at 16:15

AWS logoI tried out AWS's EFS (Elastic File System), which is basically a drop-in replacement for NFS. It made sense at the time as a way to allow scaling of my small (1 server) cluster of machines. Unfortunately, it took Wordpress's time-to-first-byte from 1 second to 6 seconds, which was not reasonable. As a result, I switched back to EBS (Elastic Block Storage). At some point, I might try moving to a mountes S3 bucket, but I'm not sure the software exists for easily doing that on Amazon Linux.

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Moving to AWS
By Ben Zvan
On November 28, 2016 at 01:27

For the past 16 years, I've had servers in my home office running, among other domains. After thousands of Watt-hours of power and multiple upgrades of hardware, it's finally time to shut them off and move everything to the cloud. Eventually, I'll have my one or two servers managed by Chef, but for the moment, I'm doing it the old fashioned way with Git and ssh.

Perhaps there will be a blog post in there somewhere, or perhaps there will only be this one that tests the functionality of my new AWS server.

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The Internet Countdown
By Ben Zvan
On January 30, 2015 at 12:32

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2014 MS 150
By Ben Zvan
On June 25, 2014 at 19:25

On June 7th and 8th 2014, I rode my bicycle 150 miles and raised $1035 of the $3,000,000 raised by the event for the National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter. Here are two videos, one for each day.

Day 1

Day 2

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Thomas Dolby's "The Invisible Lighthouse"
On November 06, 2013 at 12:59

Thomas Dolby

I took some pictures of Thomas Dolby at The Cedar last night. Steph wrote a review.

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An excellent ad campaign. Check it out.

UN Women

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Atheists need to...
By Ben Zvan
On August 09, 2012 at 09:32

While getting ready for work this morning, I read this on twitter:

So I thought I'd try some autocompletes. The results were interesting.

atheists need to
atheists need to shut up
atheists need to shut
atheists need to die
atheists need to chill

christians need to
christians need to wake up
christians need to die
christians need to stand up
christians need to grow up

muslims need to die
muslims need to be exterminated
muslims need to chill
muslims need to grow up

jews need to
jews need to die
jews need to get over the holocaust
jews need to be perfected
jews need to be exterminated

Nobody seems to know anything about mormons:
mormons need to
mormons need to work to increase favor
things you need to know about mormons
everything you need to know about mormons
what you need to know about mormons

I guess buddhists and agnostics don't need anything:
buddhists need to
agnostics need to

And taoists might as well be atheists:
taoists need to
atheists need to shut up
atheists need to shut
atheists need to die
atheists need to chill

So what about "atheists are?"

atheists are
atheists are
atheists are retarded
atheists are smarter
atheists are so stupid

christians are
christians are crazy
christians are ignorant
christians are hypocrites
christians are delusional

muslims are
muslims are exempt from obamacare (wait...what?)
muslims are animals
muslims are coming
muslims are crazy

jews are
jews are a race
jews are not white
jews are not a race
jews are white

mormons are
mormons are crazy
mormons are not christians
mormons are christians
mormons are a cult

buddhists are
buddhists are atheists
buddhists are killing muslims
buddhists are vegetarians
buddhists are hypocrites

taoists are
taoists think caves are
are taoists atheists
what are taoists beliefs
are taoists vegetarians

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Curiosity Landing
By Ben Zvan
On August 06, 2012 at 09:11

So we made it to Mars again and geeks like me everywhere stayed up extra late to watch the live event. We were not dissappointed. To see the first photos come back seconds after langing, even though the dust cap was still on the camera was an amazing thing.

I stayed up. I was excited. I wasn't quite as excited as the people in the video, but I was excited.

Here's what really gets me though. When Curiosity touched down after the sky-crane manouver, I was struck by just how excited the people at JPL were about this. My first thought: "Holy crap! It's like the opening of a Microsoft store ... except they're all wearing the same color shirt."

It's been 50 years since we first put humans on the moon. In 50 years, airplanes went from a tentative unpowered glider in North Carolina to the supersonic Bell X-1; why haven't we done the same for space flight? I mean...should we be this excited by going to Mars? Shouldn't it be old hat by now?

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited. The science that's going to come out of this mission will enrich our lives for years to come and the new technology that went into creating the mission is probably just hitting our cellphones and clothing stores. I just think we're missing out on a lot of opportunty. Heck, we spent the entire budget of this mission in less than a month in Iraq...Just think what we could be doing with more balanced priorities.

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The Debunk Files
By Ben Zvan
On July 23, 2012 at 09:38

I just wanted a place to keep handy links to debunk common misconceptions.


Global Warming

Volcanoes produce more CO2 than humans

Turns out the USGS has an artice on that one here.

Gas studies at volcanoes worldwide have helped volcanologists tally up a global volcanic CO2 budget in the same way that nations around the globe have cooperated to determine how much CO2 is released by human activity through the burning of fossil fuels. Our studies show that globally, volcanoes on land and under the sea release a total of about 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

This seems like a huge amount of CO2, but a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) website ( helps anyone armed with a handheld calculator and a high school chemistry text put the volcanic CO2 tally into perspective. Because while 200 million tonnes of CO2 is large, the global fossil fuel CO2 emissions for 2003 tipped the scales at 26.8 billion tonnes. Thus, not only does volcanic CO2 not dwarf that of human activity, it actually comprises less than 1 percent of that value.



Human Embrionic Stem Cells

Adult stem cell therapy exists, embrionic stem cell therapy does not

Turns out there's some promise in human embrionic stem cells. You can even start new lines without destroying the fetus (which was probably going to be destroyed anyway.) RPE therapy.

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New Pictures 8: Sarah Jones
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
04/18/2013—02/02/2014 - Free

31 Years: Gifts from Martin Weinstein
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
11/02/2013—08/31/2014 - Free

New Pictures 9: Rinko Kawauchi
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
02/20/2014—08/10/2014 - Free

Finland: Designed Environments
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
05/10/2014—08/17/2014 - Free


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
at State Theatre
06/21/2014 \ Doors 8:00pm
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