#233 - Time is Dumb & Phones are Dumb

6 minute read

Motto: This Turned Out Longer than I Expected

Conventions that make no sense bug me.

10 pm
11 pm
12 am
1 am
2 am

Why does am/pm switch over before the numbers switch over? Why not simultaneously? Why do we start the day with an hour named "12", then go to 1? I'll tell you why. It's because people are dumb, and dumb people wouldn't understand a "0" hour.

Here's another, very confusing convention:


It's the 25th of February in the year 2015.

Why do we go (medium length), (short) (long)? That makes no sense. You can't sort by year. It's hard to parse out the day on which something happens. Why is it not 25/2/2015? Or, better yet, 2015/2/25?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created a convention for date and time:

2015-02-25 T21:00-06

2015, February 25th, at 9pm, 6 hours behind UTC. It's a perfectly self-contained, absolute time reference. Why can't we use this? It's sortable. It's easily understood. It's makes sense (except for the "T", which seems worthless).

Add on GPS coordinates and you have an absolute date, time, and location for whatever you're doing in one line. That's so much easier than saying the event is "on March 13th at 6pm, in the Jose Peppers on Johnson Avenue in Mission, KS." It removes all ambiguity, wasted "filler" words. Why couldn't we just say:

"Meet me 2015-03-12.15:00:00@38.9717N,95.2353W. Bring an umbrella and fresh underwear."

Zero uncertainty.

And now for a couple of other things before I sign off:

First - I made Battlefield highlight video for February 

(again, which I expect nobody will be interested in).

Second - the sad state of Android phones

Today is the start of Mobile World Congress, one of the two biggest tech shows that happen each year. Today's announcements include the next HTC One and the next Samsung Galaxy flagship phones. Given that my Nexus 5 is actively trying to die on me, I had a vested interest in how this would all play out.

The HTC One leaks looked really good:

Two models - one with a finger print scanner and one without.

The HTC One reality, however, looks like this:

Two models - neither with a finger print scanner, both with the disappointing "HTC" black bar between the screen and the bottom speaker.

Only, there isn't two models. That's the HTC One M8 (last year's phone) next to an HTC One M9 (this year's phone). Can you tell me which one is the new one?

Don't get me wrong, the HTC One design was pretty stellar. There wasn't much room for improvement, aside from the obvious "HTC" bar and the famously poor unique camera. The M9 does not remove the HTC bar and gives a new camera whose performance is being rated in the initial reviews as "mediocre".

Samsung is Samsung. Their new phone looks better than their old ones, but that might just be because the bar was set ridiculously low. They have moved away from "plasticy pieces of junk" and towards "super angular, metallic pieces of junk".

That's maybe too harsh. They are actually mid-announcement as we speak. The problem I have with Samsung goes beyond the plastic, though. It's their need to recreate their own version of every core Google service. There's the Samsung browser and chrome, the Samsung calendar and Google calendar, the Samsung mail client and Gmail, and the list goes on. I can't stand having stuff on my phone that I don't use. I can't stand junkware.

Unless I hear Samsung has a total change of heart, does a 180 and starts behaving like Motorola, I'm never buying another Samsung phone/tablet again.

So then, I've got a failing Nexus 5 and my "most likely candidate" to supersede it just stumbled out of the gate. I've already shown the HTC One - which I'm not getting. I've already talked about Samsung - which I'm not getting. I wish I could say something about Sony, but they signed a deal with the devil and are not available on any US carrier with respectable coverage in this area. Where does that leave me? What are my options?

The Moto X (2014)

This was the strongest contender right out of the gate. I like my Moto 360, so a phone by Motorola would surely be just as appealing.


  • I like the design
  • Motorola has some nifty add-ins on top of stock Android
  • Other than that, Motorola doesn't really mess with the zen that is stock Android
  • Updates from Motorola are really very fast
  • It's a fairly cheap off-contract option 

  • The 2014 Moto X and my Nexus 5 have virtually identical specs
  • The Moto X doesn't have wireless charging, which I've invested in pretty heavily and used almost exclusively
  • Why pay for a lateral move?

Nexus 6

The logical successor to the Nexus 5. I like my Nexus 5, so its big brother would surely be just as appealing.


  • It's a Nexus - first in line for updates and an 100% zen-mode stock Android experience
  • It's a solid spec-bump over my current phone
  • It DOES have wireless charging, unlike the Moto X which it is similar to

  • It's a 6 inch screen
  • Its screen is 6 inches
  • Its closer to the size of a Nexus 7 than it is my Nexus 5
  • The screen is huge
  • The screens resolution is 1440p - way WAY more than could possibly be considered "necessary" for a phone. If someone tells you "you really need 1440p to get crisp images" - they are lying. The 1440p trend is a stupid spec war that stopped being beneficial to the user with the advent of full 1080p screens (even 720p was fine, really). Anything beyond 1080p is a waste of precious phone resources (both battery and processing power). This bullet alone is actually more troubling than the physical size of the screen.


I didn't really consider it, but it's about the only other option out there.


  • That screen/bezel ratio is phenomenal
  • The specs are a solid bump
  • The screen on this is also 1440p, which I again will refuse to put money toward
  • LG is becoming more and more like Samsung with their bloatware
  • "Meh"

So... what's left?

The iPhone 6 (plus?)

Honestly, probably the best option there is left.


  • Probably the best phone camera there is
  • The actual phone is quite pretty
  • Compatibility with my wife's tech setup
  • My Moto 360 is completely incompatible
  • As is my wireless charging stations
  • ...and my NFC tags
  • ...and all of the Android apps/content I've ever paid for (quite a bit)
  • I would then be a Google-guy who uses an iPhone and owns a Microsoft desktop... an intermixing technological ecosystems is by far and away the least appealing idea I can think of. If I got an iPhone, it would be the start of a long-road of full-blown Apple replacements to my tech setup... most of which is very new and not worth replacing for years to come.
You know the situation is bad when I start barking up that tree (not the "Apple" tree, but the "reset everything" tree).

Top 5: Most Likely Outcomes of All This
5. I quit owning a phone and retire into the woods to live the lift of the yeti.
4. I deal with the disappointing HTC One release and buy it anyways.
3. I buy a Moto X (2014).
2. I buy an iPhone 6 (or 6 plus) and begin a massive ecosystem shift with a terrible hodge-podge of products by the three big manufacturers.
1. I put up with my Nexus 5 until it full-blown dies, then I switch back to the Nexus 4 until something decent comes out.

“Size doesn't matter. Have Melissa be your jetpack. It's awesome.”
- Joe, when we were talking about the prospect of me being the little spoon -