Jul 312015

Today, my BoWilliams.com visitors, for whom I hold significant adoration, I shall bang out a post from start to finish whilst totally avoiding our most common linguistic symbol.

(Not really, but I did manage an entire, meaningful sentence. Wow, writing without the letter E is pretty hard.)

Not sure what I’ve got for you today, dudes and dolls. My friend Cameron and I were texting so I asked her what to write about, and she laid a lot of good ideas on me, but all pretty heavy. I’ll suss out some things for next week from her input.

So, I’m all the way to the fourth paragraph without saying really anything at all! Are you impressed? I should write political speeches. I actually had a killer idea at lunch yesterday for a post I think would be screamingly funny, but I wouldn’t want my real name on it. Might need to give that some thought. I mean, it’s irreverent and potentially offensive, not just immature. If it were only about boogers and Pop Rocks or something, I’d put it here. Some days it’s a low bar, as longtime readers shall readily attest.

With that I’ll say I’ve stolen enough of your day, dear hearts. Have a marvelous weekend, and as always, thank you for reading BoWilliams.com.

 Posted by at 9:45 am
Jul 302015
  • I’ll be substantially participating in Huntsville Restaurant Week, and I’m looking forward to it. Stay tuned for details!
  • Our boys’ last week of freedom wanes. Lea’s enjoyed the time spent with them and is lamenting its imminent end. That’s got to be a big win when they’re 13 and 11, doesn’t it?
  • Fire Phone a week in: still a win. I like this hardware. If it’ll meet a need of yours, pull the trigger. Oh, and I never drop my phone, but I dropped this one seven feet directly onto a rock last weekend at the lake. It’s operationally unscathed, and I’d have to point the cosmetic damage out to you very carefully. (And we’d need full sunlight, or close to it.)
  • The new Saxon album is called Battering Ram, and it’ll be out this fall. If the last five albums are any indication, and I suspect they are, it’ll be great.
  • If you’re desperate to get me a present, I’d point you toward the Orient Mako USA. I like the blue dial model best, thought I’d take any color. A diver with a respected movement and sapphire crystal at that price is a slam-dunk. Thanks in advance.
  • I’m considering catching the new Terminator movie over a long lunch. Neither of the boys has any positive expectation about it whatsoever. Ergo, no need to make an event of it.
  • Alabama plays five weeks from the day after tomorrow.
 Posted by at 6:15 am
Jul 282015

I was less intellectually and spiritually sure of myself in college than at any other time in my life. That’s just how it should be. Higher education is about many things, but it must be about questioning everything we think we know.

It should be more difficult to be fat and happy with your beliefs at a university than at just about any other place in the world.

And that is why the proliferation of “safe zones,” the prattling about “microaggression,” and the massive growth of speech codes is one gigantic travesty.

Look, we’re all adults here. Let’s seriously consider the notion that if it takes longer than ten seconds to explain why using this term or that is offensive, then there’s a really good chance the offense is manufactured. Political correctness is obnoxious everywhere, but it’s hugely toxic on college campuses.

For example, I learned today—hat tip, Katherine Timpf—that the word “American” is offensive. Do go spend some time with the University of New Hampshire’s Bias-Free Language Guide.

You see, “American” excludes South America, as well as Canada and Mexico. (Never mind that there is not another country whose official name ends with “America” besides the United States of America. “United Statesian” just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?)

“Senior citizen” is offensive, too. Use “old person.” (Really?)

“Obese”? “Overweight”? No. “People of size.” (Presumably “lard ass” is verboten as well.)

I’m sick of this crap. You know if someone’s offending or not without reading some stupid “language guide.” Grow up.

 Posted by at 8:49 pm
Jul 272015

evenfloMeet the Evenflo Embrace DLX Infant Car Seat with SensorSafe. It’s a car seat that sounds an alarm when the ignition is switched off.

Because apparently a child is roasted to death in a hot car once a week or so.

I suppose I’m glad to see this product, because I’m sure it will save lives. I also remain appalled that the product is necessary, and I reject utterly the increasingly common refrain that “it could happen to anyone.” It could happen to anyone like leaving your infant alone in a bath could happen to anyone. Or, maybe allowing a high fever to climb out of control.

If you need this seat, you need a radical reexamination of how you’re living your life day to day. You’re doing it wrong.The act of leaving your child in the car should not be normalized at any level. It should not become just another one of those pesky little things we all have to deal with, sigh, you know how it is, whew, what say we get a bite?

I would support making it a felony to leave the very youngest children in the car alone for more than, say, 60 seconds. I’d support lifelong incarceration as a possible sentence for killing a child this way.

It’s not a package of steaks. It’s a person you chose to make exist, and one who is completely dependent on you. If there is an ongoing and legitimate threat of you forgetting this person in the car, then you may need more help than this seat can provide.

 Posted by at 10:38 am
Jul 242015

Amazon.com’s much-maligned Fire Phone is typically priced just south of $200 today. That’s an unlocked device with a year of Amazon Prime, so if you’re already a Prime member with no plans to leave the program, then you can even call it $99 cheaper than that.

I bought one about three months ago. I thought I might offer it to Lea if she didn’t warm to her new phone. But even if I wound up “stuck” with it, surely I could get $100 worth of value from it somehow, yes? I also thought I’d make it a daily carry for a few days at some point and get a blog post out of it, but I never got around to it until this week.


L to R: Lumia, Fire.

I’ve been running a preview version of Windows 10 Mobile on my Lumia 830. I like it. Nearly all of the significant design changes are unambiguous improvements. But functionally, it’s just rough enough around the edges to annoy me. The Twitter app crashes when I attach a photo. Cortana reads my texts to me in the car, but she can’t hear me when I reply. Swiping down to get to the Action Center works only about three-quarters of the time. You know?

And, despite multiple assurances that I could go back to Windows Phone 8.1, I don’t seem to have the option to do so when I follow the directions. So while I’m waiting for another Windows 10 Mobile build, I’ve moved into the Fire Phone full-time. Here are my impressions.

  • The Fire Phone has good fit and finish. It might be a little heavy, I suspect owing largely to its glass back. The screen quality is excellent. Speakers neither wow nor offend. Camera image quality is fine. Call quality is outstanding.
  • You can’t get to the battery without heroic measures, and there is no storage expansion. My 32GB Fire Phone had 24.7GB available out of the box.
  • There is a persistent question in reviews and comments about whether the unlocked version of this phone will make an LTE connection on the AT&T network, and that it may vary by geography. In the Huntsville, Alabama area, mine does.
  • It took me just about 10 seconds to think, again, that 4.7″ is an ideal screen size for me in a smartphone. The whole screen is “thumbable” for me at 4.7″. It’s not on my Lumia, at 5″. I did have to readjust to the smaller onscreen keyboard.
  • A consistent knock on the Fire Phone is poor selection in the Amazon Appstore. It seems fine to me, which tells me the Windows Store is probably in worse shape than I realize. Moreover, there are several apps here that are much more robust than their Windows Phone counterparts. WordPress is a pleasure on this phone. It’s a chore on Windows Phone.
  • I’m mostly used to the user interface and I think it’s fine, though I’ll join the chorus complaining about lack of a Back button.
  • I think the Dynamic Perspective (3D) feature is cool, though its effect on battery life is significant. I have a charger literally anywhere I ever am over the course of a day, so I’ve left it enabled. It’d be the first thing I’d kill if I thought I was going to cut it close, though.
  • I haven’t played with Firefly much, though I think it’s an interesting idea. It recognizes QR codes and consumer product packaging well. Doesn’t take long to get it wandering in the wilderness with anything else.
  • Working with text—moving the insertion point, highlighting to copy, and so forth—is a joy on Fire Phone. It’s dismal on Windows Phone 8.1. On Windows 10 Mobile, it’s improved, but still inferior to this.

If the mobile phone business stays like it is, I’m probably done with carrier-subsidized hardware. Basically, they don’t subsidize in exchange for your commitment anymore. They instead finance in exchange for your commitment. It’s better to buy hardware outright and bring it to your plan.

At $100 or thereabouts (with the year of Amazon Prime) unlocked, it’s hard for me to call the Fire Phone anything but a slam-dunk. It has its quirks, and if you’re not a big Amazon.com customer you may find its ubiquity on the phone distracting. But it’s a full-featured, high-quality smartphone for a C-note. I’d definitely recommend it for a pick-up-and-go answer.

Not that I’ll switch. I’ve invested heavily in the Windows ecosystem. I miss my live tiles. I miss Cortana. But during this hiatus, I’m delighted the Fire Phone is pleasant to use.

 Posted by at 7:00 am
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