Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

General

The Google Pixel 4 isn't a good deal

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
google-485611.jpg

Many friends and colleagues asked why I am not buying the Pixel 4, here is my diatribe.

I am a big gadget geek. I love everything new and shiny, I have been an early adopter of every single Nexus, and Pixel phone Google has ever made. The Pixel 4 is their first device I will not acquire and here is why.

Why I buy Google-branded devices?

I am a big fan of Google-branded devices because they show what Google believes their software can do running on optimized hardware. Their hardware typically is the first to receive new updates (both operating system and security updates). Usually, it includes limit-pushing software breakthroughs (e.g. think night sight and hybrid zoom).

An example of this was the Pixel 2. It was the first Google device (I consider) designed for mass-market adoption and showed Google's software prowess. After all, it had an average camera sensor but turned out to be the best android smartphone camera for years.

Not only have I owned almost all the Nexus and Pixel phones, but I also bought every Google Chromebook (starting with a Kijiji bought CR48). I was an early Google Home adopter and more. I want to make it clear that I am a huge Google fan.

So why not buy a Pixel 4?

The Pixel 4 is the first device that feels like Google has fallen behind (since the Pixel 2).

Remember that Rick Osterloh kicked off the event by saying Google wanted to build devices that were more useful for consumers.

It feels like they failed with the Pixel 4 especially when Marc Levoy

(Google distinguished engineer) stood on stage and told us why we didn't need a wide-angle lens and why a telephoto is what uncle Google believes we need instead.

"While wide-angle can be fun, we think telephoto is more important" Marc Levoy, Google Launch Event 2019 (timecode 1:03:43)

Google should have included both considering the price point of the Pixel 4 and the fact its competitors almost all include three lenses now (wide-angle, normal and telephoto). You cannot create a wide-angle shot with computational photography, and it is something I use often enough. This is the first reason the Pixel 4 isn't attractive to me. I need it to be a tool to accomplish what I need done and not what Google believes I should be doing with it.

As a father with young kids, I take a ton of videos and was disappointed Google's Pixel 4 has not improved in the video department (still limited to 4K 30fps). Since the Pixel 4 is now more expensive than the entry-level iPhone 11, we should compare the video quality of the iPhone 11 & the Pixel 4, and there is no comparison. The iPhone blows the Pixel 4 video quality out of the water (frame-rate, colour accuracy, high dynamic range, etc.)

I know the Pixel 4 needed a large forehead to house their new Soli sensor, but I find that sensor a bit gimmicky (the video they released two years ago showed incredible fine-grain control while the Pixel 4 uses it to switch songs.). Additionally, I am still not sure the benefits of face unlock outweigh that ugly 2017-looking phone design.

They touted the incredible smoothness and silkiness of a 90Hz screen. What we are now learning is that under 75% brightness, it drops to 60Hz (75% would kill your battery in no time). The other issue with 90hz is that it hits battery life and the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL already have mediocre battery life.

There are three ways to tackle battery life issues. You can make the battery bigger, you can design an optimized hardware/software set that sips battery, or you can add extreme fast charging.

Companies that have chosen the 5,000 mAh battery route include ASUS ROG Phone II, Samsung Galaxy S30M, Vivo Z1 Pro, etc. Apple has taken the hardware and software optimization road. OnePlus and Oppo have taken the fast charging route pushing 30+ watts, which means you can go from 0 to 75% battery charge in 30 minutes. The Google Pixel just has a mediocre battery with no mitigating features.

If the Pixel 4 were priced $150-200 less than its current MSRP, it would be a bargain, but it is charging flagship pricing. Even a gadget-loving early adopter like me can't justify this device. The other device I won’t be buying is the Pixel Go. I own a Pixelbook (with a pen I use regularly) and a PixelSlate. Both are devices that I love. The Pixelbook Go is a step back at what looks like an attempt to create a mass-market product.

I chose to get the OnePlus 7T that is a well-packaged phone at a very competitive price. Sure the Pixel 4 camera will beat the OnePlus, but overall; the OnePlus is just a better package.

Post Article

As I prepared to publish this article, I saw the below tweet complaining about a generalized slowdown 2 days into using the phone. I am 100% sure this will get fixed by Google but it shouldn’t happen on a device made by the Sultan of Search.

How to search the web while protecting your privacy

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
doors-1767563.jpg

They want to know everything about you

It is no secret that every advertising-funded site (Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc) works very hard to build a complete profile about you. They want to know as much as possible so they can sell expensive highly targeted advertisements.

Every search you perform, every site you visit, every link you click is recorded and analyzed.

You live in a filter bubble

The profile we talked about above is also used to return information the site believes you will like most (therefore making themselves more sticky). this is the filter bubble problem.

The site (e.g. Google) will return results that it believes are aligned with your view and this is what we call the filter bubble. At some point, you will stop seeing other opinions or points of view. In the most extreme examples, it can reinforce certain questionable points of view such as the earth is flat or other similar prejudices.

How do I search the web privately

There are many search engines that promise private searches but the problem with most is that they crawl the web themselves and their index of the web just isn’t as good as Google. This is where startpage.com comes in. It allows you to search using the Google web index without giving up your privacy.

  • Startpage.com does not log user activity and does not perform any type of user tracking or profiling

  • Startpage.com allows you to browse any of the pages returned in a search query anonymously

  • Startpage.com is based in the Netherlands which has better privacy protection than the US

Capture.JPG

Ok but are the search results good?

  • Search results use the Google index so they are as good as can be without profiling you to customize the response

  • The results layout page is clean and uncluttered

  • You can search the web, images or videos


Capture2.JPG
  • You have all of the advanced search options you could need (including words contained, avoiding certain words, dates, domains, language, file type, etc)

  • Some searches won’t contain ads and those that do clearly mark them with the word Ad

  • You can browse any search result link using their free anonymous browsing option (called Anonymous View)

Capture3.JPG

When you browse using the Anonymous View, the webpage is surrounded by a blue frame

Capture4.JPG

How it makes money

Startpagecom generates its revenue from clearly marked search ads and affiliate links.

These ads are not targeted (since they do not profile visitors).

The ads are segregated from the actual search results so as not to confuse the visitor.


Tell me more about Startpage.com’s privacy

Since most of its users originate from the US, Startpage.com has search servers located in the US to speed up searches. These servers are said to be hardened and properly secured.

This should be perfectly acceptable to most users but if you are extra paranoid, Startpage.com does offer users the option of choosing non-USA servers.

Their privacy claims have been independently verified (read this).

They have never showed up on any blacklist (that I can find)

They have an A+ rating from the Qualys SSL Labs site


Capture5.JPG


Don't buy the Zendure SuperPort or SuperTank

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Screenshot 2019-09-18 at 9.26.01 AM.png

The Zendure SuperPort and SuperTank are positively talked about on hundreds of blogs throughout the internet. I ordered (I paid for it) 2 SuperPort USBC chargers and a SuperTank 27,000 mAh battery. Both devices have the same design defect. When you have something plugged into the 100-watt port and then plug/unplug another device in the 60-watt port, it resets the 100-watt port every time.

My first 2 SuperPorts were sent back to Zendure for engineering review and the 2 replacements also exhibit the same behaviour. I just tested the SuperTank and can confirm it does the exact same thing.

I have been a Zendure fan and own all of their previous devices. None of them have this same defect. At this point I would recommend you look at other brands for your battery and wall charging needs. I have gone back to my Omnicharge Pro USBC for my battery and will carry an Elecjet and RavPower GAN USBC wall charger.

How to install Firefox on a Chromebook

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
red-panda-505146.jpg

There are many reasons why you may want to install Firefox on a Chromebook (could be for security, privacy or just as a technical challenge). You could install the Android app but that isn’t a full featured browser. Here are the instructions on how to install it in the Linux container.

Go to Settings

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.40.24 PM.png

Search for Linux and Turn it On.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.41.30 PM.png

You will get the installation window. Continue and let it complete.

Prepare Linux

You will then be presented with the terminal window, run an update then an upgrade.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.48.14 PM.png
sudo apt update
Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.48.40 PM.png
sudo apt upgrade

Install Firefox on ChromeOS

Now we are ready to install Firefox.

Got to the terminal and enter sudo apt install firefox-esr

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.53.08 PM.png

Now you can start Firefox by entering the firefox-esr command to invoke the app.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.54.59 PM.png

If you want to invoke Firefox-Esr but also need your terminal to work (at the same time), use the command firefox-esr &

It's time to evaluate your company

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
periodic-week-4420676.jpg

As we pass to the second half of the year, many companies start their annual merit review cycle. It is an opportunity for your leaders to evaluate the corpus of your work and determine how much value you delivered to the company (thus deserving a salary adjustment).

What employees often forget is that they too should use this period as an opportunity to determine if they are doing the right job, in the right company & at the right compensation level.

Read my blog entry The “You” Brand

The 4 power questions

  1. Do you like what you are doing?

  2. Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

  3. Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

  4. Are you fairly compensated

As we walk through each of these questions, it is important to remember that there is no "perfect" life partner and there is no "perfect" company. What we are trying to determine is: "Is this company the right one for your at this moment in time".

It is important to evaluate the questions in the order I have presented them.

Do you like what you are doing?

Ask yourself if you (honestly) are excited about the work you are doing. When Friday comes along, do you turn off “work mode” until Monday morning? If you do then you have a job, not a career. It means you are not passionate about your chosen profession and it may be time to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up”.

Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

Many leaders would probably break this question down into 2 separate ones (one for people and one for the company) but I believe they work better together.

You may like your job but do you like the people you are doing it with? There is no perfect environment but overall, do you enjoy collaborating and working with most of your co-workers? Are you surrounded by like-minded people who challenge you and respect you? Do the people you work with care as much about you, as you do for them?

In the same vein, do you like working for your company? Do you share the vision, mission and core values of your company? A 2017 MetLife survey found employees (9/10) would rather work for a company that shared their values than one that offered higher pay. The survey also found that employees were willing to take a 21% pay cut to work for that better-aligned company (jumped to 34% for millennials).

This is also the category I include work-life alignment in. Does the ratio of work-life balance the company expects to, align with what you are looking for?

Obviously, every employee’s requirements are different but the importance of this alignment is undeniable.

If you love your job (question 1) and you love who you work with (where), then work doesn’t feel like work. You can enjoy going to work and living your best life.

Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

Not everyone is looking for career advancement but most of you probably are. Does your company offer a supportive, nurturing environment where you can learn and grow? Are executives willing to take a chance with less experienced employees, allowing them to develop? Are executives willing to coach and guide employees to develop their skills in preparation for future promotion? Last, but not least, does the company promote from within or do they hire most leaders from the outside?

Are you fairly compensated

The question about compensation was purposefully left until the end. Every other question we have examined will feed into this one.

The old 1980's corporate mantra was :

"Employees work just enough not to get fired. Employers pay just enough so employees don't quit".

As stupid as this mantra sounds today, some older leaders still espouse this as a "nugget of wisdom" (do the companies values align with yours?).

The modern strategy of salary management dictates that companies must pay enough so employees aren't stressed about money and spend their mental energy on doing what they do best.

The real-world equation is more complicated and is a subjective evaluation of fair pay within the company (often difficult to judge because the information is not readily available), and compare to other organizations offerings for similar roles.

It is easy to understand why a company that compensates you properly, probably also values your skills and expertise properly.

Remember the MetLife survey, where employees were willing to work for less if the company's values aligned with their own? This is also true about the other 3 questions we previously discussed.

If you feel that the company's values don't align with yours and/or that the company doesn't offer career advancement and/or you dislike the people you work with, you may decide to stay but may demand a higher premium for the extra "suffering".

Conclusion

Ultimately this is a deeply personal introspection and one you must do honestly (regardless if you are a new graduate or a seasoned executive).

Your company evaluates you annually to decide if you are worth keeping, you should do the same and decide if the company is worth staying at.