Hit The Blog Refresh Button

Something Changed

If you visit my blog regularly, then you likely noticed some big changes around early April. I had started rethinking how I blog and what I could do to make it better…which led to a new theme. Plus it wasn’t just any theme.

Rethinking Is A Theme

So how was I thinking of blogging better? I wanted to post more often. In fact, the holy grail of blogging to me is posting every single day! Why is this so hard to do? I would like to achieve that, but awesome I am not. I guess I’m not very disciplined either.

Instead of blogging daily, I would settle for just more frequently. But long-form posts of 500 words or more are hard to come by for a dad with 5 kids and a full-time job.

So I thought about doing post series. I would maybe break up one long post into three short posts. The idea of doing short posts more frequently (hey look there, it’s the quantity versus quality issue again) stuck with me.

I pondered different variations of short posts. What if I challenged myself to write posts with a 100 word limit? Then it occured to me that WordPress has short post types built into the platform: Asides!

To me, asides are like tweets on Twitter. Why not put my tweet-like short posts on WordPress instead of Twitter? This would potentially give me more frequent posts. Then I could still cross-post to Twitter when I hit the publish button. Two birds; one stone.

Thinking about the Asides on WordPress set me off to searching for a new theme that supports the aside post-type. After much sifting, I found Baskerville 2 was the best fit. What is most noteworthy to me is the fact that this theme happens to be designed by none other than my favorite, Anders Norén! I’ve written about him before because, like now, I somehow always gravitate towards his blog themes before realizing they’re his.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

While still aboard the change train, I also decided to add more photos to my blog as Image-type posts. I like photography, and this would again increase how often I publish to WordPress. It would be kinda like replacing Instagram as my go-to fancy photo share spot.

Along with adding images and asides to my articles and changing the entire theme, I also added a new homepage and rearranged widgets. And in the process, all this helped me refocus on what I want to write: articles and notes on consumer tech, entertainment, and photography. It’s a lot of change!

So How’s That Refresh?

Almost two months later, I noticed that despite the big blog refresh in April, for some odd reason my posting frequency in May has slumped. And on top of that, I’m starting to wonder now if I should have narrowed my writing focus to three broad areas specifically as mentioned above or if I should have left it more open ended.

I’ll give things more time before I make any other changes or decisions. I still enjoy blogging and will keep striving to improve it when and where I can.

Sometimes blogging slumps happen; I’ve noticed sporadic cycles in my own writing too. Even when I seem to get into a groove, seasons change, life happens, and it throws off my blog vibe. But I always end up coming back to it one way or another.

Maybe I need more coffee.

Do you ever hit a blogging slump? What do you do about it? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Windows 10X

Have you seen the new Windows 10X operating system? To me, it looks and works a lot like Chrome OS on Chromebooks! I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Originally, it was designed for dual-screen devices, but now Microsoft has pivoted to first debut the new OS on single-screen gadgets. It’s all interesting to this tech nerd. But let me add that if Windows 10X is primarily using full-screen apps instead of windowed apps, then the system should not be called “Windows.”

Motorola Updates Upgrade Promise

A Promising Response

You and I both know that smartphones don’t last forever. But shouldn’t they last more than a year? I wrote about this recently in relation to a Computer World article that singled out Motorola for not playing nice with phone updates on its new $1,000 phone. Then another article appeared, this time on Android Central, calling out Motorola again on this issue. And you know what? The next day, Motorola responded in the positive!

Moto On The Move

Motorola has announced that their new Edge+ phone will get not one but two OS upgrades in addition to years of security updates. This is a nice change from the company that has shown it truly cares about clean Android software, as Joe Maring pointed out in his related opinion piece.

Moto has been on a roll lately, releasing bold and budget phones. With the premium Razr, the flagship Edge+, and the mid-range Moto G Power and Stylus, Motorola has shown it cares about hardware. And now with the promise of an extra OS upgrade for the Edge+, they’re reaffirming that software is just as important to them.

These are positive signs coming from one of the stalwarts in the mobile phone industry. Despite Apple and Samsung dominating much of the smartphone market, Lenovo owned Motorola isn’t anywhere near giving up the fight. If nothing else, their G line of affordable phones has offered incredible value for years, making them the go-to Android phones for buyers on a budget.

Like author Joe Maring, I too am fond of Moto’s brand. As mentioned, the company’s respect for stock Android software is a standout feature, not to mention the nice user-friendly touches they add, like opening the camera by twisting the phone as you pull it out of your pocket. About the time you lift it to eye-level, you’re ready to snap the photo.

Moto Memories

If you’ll allow me to reminisce a bit, I recall Motorola first grabbing mindshare in the late 90’s when their StarTAC flip phone made waves. I was on my college campus where a classmate showed us how cool it was! Years later when the original Razr was everywhere, I didn’t own one myself but I helped my brother buy one – because it was the Razr!

My first phone from the company was the Moto Q – I still like that thing! That was a “feature” phone sporting Windows Mobile, a physical keyboard, and buttons! Tactile feedback is very underrated. Much later, I got the first Moto X with custom wood back and orange accents.

Next, I bought an unlocked Moto G4, the Amazon variant. Guess what, although it no longer gets updates, it is still in use today by my Dad! And now, I’ve been enjoying the new Moto G Power for a month.

Besides being nostalgic, I say all that to underscore how good it is to hear that Motorola is serious about making great phones and pleasing their customers. Saying their new flagship phone only gets one OS upgrade but then improving on that later, albeit just meeting the standard, does quality service for their phone buyers, especially the loyal nerds like myself.

Meeting The Standard

Having said that, I want to call on Motorola to continue their winning streak by extending their OS upgrade promise to not just the fancy phones at the top, but to the huge installed base of fantastic mid-range phones – the G series!

As of now, Joe Maring points out,

“The new Moto G Stylus and G Power are excellent mid-range handsets, but you aren’t promised any big software updates beyond Android 11.”

One of the big selling points of Apple’s iPhones is their several years’ worth of reliable OS upgrades. The bar is set, and I believe Motorola is able to rise to the high standard. The Android market would benefit greatly from a company with a reputation of phone support for a great length of time. And that company would, in turn, reap the rewards. Nokia and Google are frontrunners in this regard, but Motorola has the mojo to standout as a leader.

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

The Smartphone Spectrum

Market Segments

Do you think about what category your smartphone is in? Like, does it really matter to you if your phone is a “flagship?” Maybe that term doesn’t even register. You might be like, “Um, I have a Samsung.” Or, “It’s an iPhone.” Fair enough!

Well, I nerd out about this stuff sometimes, like when I switched from iPhone to Android about a month ago. After being in the market for a while and doin’ some prospectin’, I knew I wanted a “mid-range” or even a “budget” phone. Money still doesn’t grow on trees, right?

Fuzzy Lines

As I looked on the web at phones, I wondered at times, just what exactly is a mid-range phone? Where do you draw the line between budget and mid-range? Is it by price alone? That would be convenient, say $0-$300 is budget, $300-$600 is mid-range, and flagship is $600+. Or does the mid-range start at $250? I don’t know.

Maybe budget Android phones are ones with a Snapdragon 4xx series CPU, and mid-range ones are Snapdragon 6xx class, then flagships have the 8xx Snapdragons. That’s simple enough. Oh, but then what about the Exynos CPUs? And the MediaTek CPUs? Where would those fit along the spectrum of specs?

You see, it’s not easy to define neat little boundaries for phones. The lines between them are too fuzzy. You might be wondering what the point is anyways. Who cares about what classification or category your smartphone is in? It’s just a phone.

Well, nerds care. Tech folks, like me, with an affinity for gadgets geek-out about this sort of thing. But you probably care about it too, more than you might realize. At least I know I’m not the only one.

Central Article

As it turns out, an author just wrote about this very thing! The article is on Android Central. It declares that the “mid-range” moniker makes no sense anymore and the way we categorize phones is confusing if not flawed. I both agree and disagree.

The author, Andrew Martonik, elaborates well on the nuances of smartphone specs, features, and costs. You know, all the things you and I consider when we think about buying a smartphone. The author is on-point when he talks about how the variety in phones makes it too difficult to neatly distinguish them into categories. He says,

“We’re just going to have to deal with the fact that there’s actually nuance in the comparison of phones that reaches well beyond grouping them into these big categories based on a couple of specs or features”

Andrew Martonik

So how do we categorize smartphones and how is that flawed? It’s simply a 3-tier system of high, middle, and low. That translates to “flagship,” “mid-range,” and “budget.” These are the three buckets Martonik addresses,

“for some reason technology enthusiasts are eager to put phones into buckets…”

Andrew Martonik

Well, it’s not just tech nerds like me who categorize phones. It’s human nature to organize things, make sense out of madness, bring order to chaos. If there’s a pattern to something, however subtle or murky, humans tend to find it. And it’s normal to group similar things together. The trick is finding the small distinctions among the similar. If you do that well, then you’ll have clearly defined buckets, or tiers, for phones.

Of course, complexity makes this hard, like when smartphones overlap. For example, what does the new-ish term, “Value Flagship” even mean? So keeping things simple makes categorizing easier. And the 3-tier system is just right, neither too few nor too many categories.

So how should we distinguish the nuances of the mid-range smartphone segment, you know, so we can add clarity? Adding more tiers or sub-categories beyond the three we have would make the system more complex and disturb the balance.

For example, since phones broke the $1K barrier, it seems there is a new 4th tier. It was like: Budget $0-300, Mid-Range $300-600, and Flagship $600-1000. Now we add Luxury $1000-1500! We could sub-divide the high-end into say three types of flagships: Value Flagship, Premium, and Luxury. But do you think that would really help?

We should stick with the 3-tier system, however muddy, because it’s the easiest for most people to naturally understand. We just need to remember that the categories are broad or general, so by definition there is nuance to make among the blurred tiers.

If we don’t simply accept this, we might need a Venn diagram to visualize our smartphone buckets. This would be fun for nerds, but normal people are just going to end up making two decisions when they buy a phone: is it a Samsung or iPhone? And what’s the monthly bill?

As Martonik astutely observed, beyond mere specs, a phone has other merits that appeal to people’s personal preferences. Brand plays into that too, thanks to marketing. But price is the bottom line. This is what people naturally weigh.

This gets back to why it is natural to classify phones purely by price. It’s reductive, maybe over-simplifying, but simplicity is a virtue, so you can understand why we do this.

Meet In The Middle

For most everybody, I don’t think it’s time to stop saying a phone is “mid-range.” Just keep in mind that the mid-range is a range; it’s a broad and general category. And that’s okay. Some phones overlap; no big deal.

For us tech nerds who like more distinction when organizing, I get it. Our 3 pound brains want some clear lines! We want to define absolute categories. Every tech thing should fit neatly into a single place, like ones and zeros in a computer. Then our analytical minds will be satisfied. So until the smartphone buckets make more sense, we’ll keep writing articles like this.

Maybe it would help if we stopped calling our smartphones phones and instead just called them computers.

Where would you draw a line for the mid-range? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!