Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nanjing Requiem, Ha Jin

The book chronicles another dark moment in history of humanity. In this one: Japanese soldiers attack and take control of Nanjing, the capital of China during 1937-38. Their actions towards every living being in the city is beast like. They slaughter, rape, torture anyone almost willingly, without remorse, with no conscious. And so it doesn't come as a surprise when a group of missionaries from around the world are there to contrast the evil with goodness and humanity; it's the Yang to the Yin. In the center is Ms. Minnie Vautrin, whose life is devoted to the Women's College, Jinling, she helped co-found. She is there to protect and be the voice of people who have been abandoned by their government. Her story of fighting the fight that is not hers inspires!
The book is classified as a novel. The fictional story is largely based on research of Ms. Vautrin's memoirs. The writing is to the point, says it as it is. The story touches on the emotions, the anger, and the sadness only briefly. Nanjing Diaries is a better suited title for this book.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Huawei Y6

Huawei is an Android phone; specs are here.

I use Android base phones only.  And I have had the opportunity to have many, because I leave them behind and despite having my contact information appear on the lock screen, so far I have never got back any of my phones that I left behind.  Thanks to Android's Device Manager feature, I quickly do a remote erase.  As a result my data has not been compromised so far.

Last time I lost my phone, I decided to buy cheap.  Huawei had the lowest price tag, $150 CAD.  The specs, I have included a link to above, and the customer reviews were OK.  Here is what I (dis)like about this phone.

I dislike the preinstalled apps: on the phone Y6's Calendar, Messenger, Fitness, and Browser.  These use too small of a font with  white back ground and blue borders, not an eye appealing design. The Browser opens with an error, "can't log in", but if you are stubborn like me and you type a URL anyways, it redirects you to the site!  The Calendar is not integrated with MAP so the locations of events appear as text only, and won't open up in any map or GPS like device.  The Messaging stacks up the conversation threads.  Although new messages appear in Messaging APP, after I installed and made Google Hangout  default APP to receive send SMS messages, but the status of message, read/unread, is out of sync.

There are two buttons to adjust the volume.  These are situated next to the power on|off button on the side of the phone.  Unfortunately, these only work when the phone screen is unlocked.  It's poor UI design to require entering the password in order to perform a function, adjusting the volume, that is not a security threat.

The Dialer gives the false impression that you can add new contact during the call.  However, the "Contacts" on the Dialer just takes you to the step by step process of adding information for all fields; note I used this functionality during the call, once done, I had no idea how to close the contact screen, and resorted to the phone "Back" button to go back to the Dialer.

Huawei  Y6  Phone Manager scans phone to provide option to optimize Application and Security optimization.   I tried both automatic and manual optimization neither one provided a clear indication on how it benefits. While NEXUS phone tries to put the phone user in control of customizing for Power and Security, Huawei Y6 takes control over the phone.  Huawei developers think that by nature of calling an APP smart, they can safely assume the APP knows better than the phone owner what's best!!

The traffic manager is useless to me.  My old phone gave me the option of setting and tracking my data usage during the billing period.  This phone only provides a line graph of use at discreet point in time.  My old phone also had the capability of setting quota, and would give a warning when the usage was close to the quota.  Huawei's traffic manager is useless to me!

These preinstalled APPS: Mirror, FM Radio, Flash Light, and lock screen, maybe useful and interesting to use one day.

The battery life ranges between 8 - 10 hours for me, so far.  I try to close all APPs after use.

With 1.1 GHZ CPU, the performance of opening some APPs, e.g. Lumosity, Google Sheets and or Docs, is really slow.

To get the phone screen to react, it requires a knock, as opposed to gentle tap.

Overall, my experience with this phone, has not been the greatest.  It's true you get what you pay for.

The snip from an article related to Huawei's new venture to have its own "Android Alternative" agrees with my observation of slow performance of the existing phones.

Like most smartphone manufacturers, Huawei has designed its own skin, or customized Android look. But that skin is often referred to as an iOS ripoff, and its UI layer is heavy with background processes, which slows the phones' performance.

The Marriage of the Opposites, Alice Hoffman

Set in the island of St. Thomas occupied by Danes, the story of Camille Pissarro, the French-Danish, impressionist of 19th century is overshadowed by perhaps too detailed story of his mother Rachel Pomie Petit Pizzarro.

The only daughter of a well respected, and well off merchant of the Island, Rachel learns from her father reading, writing and math; something that not very many Jewish girls are encouraged to do. Despite the fact, that she could never inherit, she learns to read the ledgers. Her youth is spent reading the books in her father's library and dreaming of living in Paris. As she reaches the marriage age, she finds it very difficult to fall in love. In fact, she doesn't believe in love. Her marriage to an older, widowed merchant, arranged by her father doesn't come as a surprise. Rachel realizes her softer side as the second Mrs. Issac's Petit. She has had a bitter relationship with her mother, so she is surprised to find an adoration for the three children of Mr. Petit.  Rachel's story is one of defiance of customs and traditions. The least of her worries is what others think of her.

Jacob Abraham Camille Pizzarro is the third of four children Rachel had with her second husband Fredrick, the nephew of his first husband who came to St. Thomas to take over his uncle's business.
Jacobo took three days to be born and cried all the time. He was his mother's favorite child, but Rachel never showed affection to the boy. He went to the all black school, because they were out cast from the Jewish community. (The side story of Rachel's love for and marriage to Fredrick, her first husband's nephew, as well as their effort to legalizing their marriage and registering their children in the book of names --is an interesting side story). Jacobo doesn't excel in his education, but shows interest in drawing. To parents who want him to work in the family business, this comes as a big disappointment, so they send him to a boarding school in Paris to acquire more practical knowledge and skills!

Although the author glosses over the "artist" creating his "art", I was fascinated by Pissaro's use of lively colors as described in the book. This quote from the Wiki captures how I felt when I read about him in this book.
"The brightness of his palette envelops objects in atmosphere ... He paints the smell of the earth."[9]:35

The title of the book is very confusing, as if the author changed her story but forgot to change the title!