Google Nexus 6P

I finally decided my old Google Galaxy Nexus was done. I couldn’t use the phone in the house, it was having random meltdowns where apps would kill the battery in 4 hours, and was getting text messages duplicated inbound and outbound. Surfing was a slow nightmare. I just could not trust it as I could when it was new, and could not use it reliably for texting. I don’t text a lot, but I do need it to work.

So after reading a gob of reviews, I decided to go Google Nexus 6P, the new Huawei Nexus version in the phone form factor. I ordered the 64Gb version, and the Speck case in black and white. It quickly arrived.

Phone? More like a surfboard. Large, about halfway between the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 Tablet. Fits into my hand, barely. Gorgeous display. I downloaded a selection of apps, redid the 2-factor setups on several accounts, restored a backup using Helium (was Carbon). Called Consumer Cellular (AT&T MVNO) to transfer the number – had to go to local Sears first to get the Nano-SIM, my existing Micro-SIM did not fit. After a bit I had to order cables – it uses the new Type-C USB format, and I needed USB to USB Type-C for connection to a laptop and car charger. Love the format, hate having to buy new cables, but now I won’t ever again.

It calls and texts in the basement in my pocket. Old phone did not. I spilled coffee on it today. The Speck case seals around the edge, and a ArmorSuit Military Grade screen protector prevented anything from touching the screen. I have dropped it several times, no problem. I did get the insurance.


  • Fast charge, good battery life. Phone used for 10 mins/day, some surfing, mostly WiFi.
  • Great display.
  • Fingerprint unlock is the best. Grab, unlock, go. I would never go back.
  • Android 6 Marshmallow works and looks great for fans of stock Android. No crapware.
  • Unlocked and compatible with Verizon AND AT&T. Can’t wait to try in Canada or Europe.


  • Big, sometimes gets away from you. If have small hands, it won’t be an easy one-hander. Hard to stow in pockets.
  • New cables required for USB Type-C
  • Expensive
  • That’s it. Great phone.

Hero to Optimus S

So why did I switch to an Android phone with the name like an old Radio Shack speaker brand? My brother likes to get new phones especially since we’re on a two-year family plan contract from other phones, so he grabbed one of the LG Optimus phones. He played with it for a few days, then dumped it on me, and I kinda like it.

The LG Optimus S is about the same size as the Hero, same screen, slightly different buttons and no roller pad which I never really used any way except to activate the Hero camera. The HTC sense interface is much fancier and has much better eye candy, but I like lots of space for apps and a clean look, and with the new android 2.2 I can now install apps on to the SD card. the hero has a 5.0 megapixel camera, the LG only 3.2 megapixel. Better not forget my camera. The Optimus also seems much zippier, menus open and close faster, and the phone just seems more responsive. Not sure if that’s the 2.2, or better processor. It also has the Swype keyboard, with which I played with a little bit and am still trying to get used to. Battery life seems reasonable; I am not a power caller, but it will hold a charge with a few calls for a day or day and a half, and I just plug it into the computer.

So now I have to take inventory of the apps on the Hero.

Airhorn, Dan’s Blocks, SoundHound, Graffiti and 8pen keyboards, Dex Mobile, Barcode Scanner, KeePassDroid, Google Maps, Wi-fi Ruler, Dog Whistler, Skype, Instant Heart Rate (finger on the camera – neat trick),, Twitter (unused), Compass, Dolphin Browser, Yelp, Pandora radio, Whoopie Cushion, My Tracks, Color Flashlight, GPS test, Bluetooth on/off, Advanced Task Killer (not needed, I guess, especially for android 2.2), Any Cut, ASTRO File Manager, Ringer Toggle Widget, WBEZ radio, and Curvefish GPS on/off. Holy cow, I guess one of those backup utilities would be a good idea. Yesterday when I started replacing the apps I’ve found that a lot of them were not compatible with Android 2.2. This included the Graffiti keyboard by Access, which I enjoy, except now I’m starting to see advertisements on the finger pad. Just charge me already. Also, some of the apps that I bought are on a different e-mail address. One is the London Journey app, which was really nice, but is only useful in London, and then only with a wi-fi connection because my phones are CDMA, not GSM. And I just went with the stock power control widget, and left a few out, since I did not use them.

Google account sync went flawlessly, contacts are imported from two different Google accounts, manually entered from phone contacts on the Hero, and calendars are ready to go. they use the navigation app from Google, and I do like the way it works much better than Sprint one, except the Sprint may have voices are much clearer and easier to understand. So far, so good.

Etymotic ER20 Earplugs

A few years ago after a very loud concert, we decided to get earplugs. I did some research and bought two pairs of Etymotic ER20 earplugs. The high points were a flat 20db reduction across the audible spectrum and a comfortable design.

I must say they have performed magnificently. We use them at our periodic R.E.M. fan club concerts, and other venues. When we forget them, we suffer. Simple. At one outside concert (Rusted Root at the Minneapolis Zoo) we forgot them, and bought the disposable foam cheapies at the concession for $3. Nowhere near as comfortable, and you can definitely tell the poor audio response – however I bought an extra pair and resold them at the same show for double my cost – any plug is better than none.

They are comfortable for this type of wear – intermittent. If I had to wear them more, I would spring for the custom fit ones – same audio characteristics but molded to your ears.

A must have for any concert goer. We maybe go twice a year, but my ears are worth it.

Etymotic ER20-CCC

License Plate Frames

I hate the frames from the dealer. Cheap, floppy and advertising.

So while we were getting mats from MacNeil I picked up two license plate covers, the ClearCover with plastic over the plate for the front (suggested by the ever-helpful salesman), P/N 60020 and a ClearFrame (P/N 63020) plain one for the back.

Two things I don’t like about the Honda: One, the small pseedometer, and two the fact that the rear license plate mount includes only the two top holes. Four holes is much better – no rattling etc. So I had to deal with the plate flopping around. They have two little foam pads that are to stop the plate from hitting the body, but are too thin.

The frame did not quite do it. The frame wiggled enough that the plate hit the paint. So I went to the hardware store and found two rubber posts threaded with 1/4-20 brass. Combine that with a 1/4-20×3/8 stainless steel screw, and now the bottom sticks out a bit, but does not vibrate.

MacNeil Automotive Products
2435 Wisconsin Ave.
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515

New Mats

The CR-V has nice fuzzy floor mats, but they were already getting trashed – lots of water, sand and dirt. You can wash – but for a leased vehicle? Protect all you can. I already dumped coffee once…

I had heard of WeatherTech on WBEZ, and we purchased nice mats several years ago from them for the Volvo. I had been eyeing the Weather Tech FloorLiner Digital Fit system for a while, but we happened to be near Westchester with some time to kill. A quick email a few days ahead, and Derek confirmed they had the tan ones in stock, and I would be able to check them out when I got there.

It was very busy – lots of customers in the parking lot, and the will-call area was deserted except by customers waiting. People ducked in and out asking questions and they would vanish again. After a few minutes a guy came in and asked if i needed help. I gave him the info and he went off to get the mats. 5 minutes later he returned, and we headed outside to try the mats out.

They fit great – the old ones came out, and he put the new ones in, they even clicked over the retaining clips. Then the guy commented he had a Honda Pilot with the tan interior and black dashboard and he liked the black better – the tan was more browny than on the website. I did agree that the color was strange in the car, and he offered to run inside and grab a set in black. After 10 minutes, he came back out apologetically, and installed the black. Much better. We took out the tan, installed the black, and headed inside to finish up.

I grabbed a couple of license plate holders, and he poked at the terminal, and ran into a problem with the credit card machine. While we waited for help with the invoice, he confided that he was a geek, not a salesperson, normally he was working on the website. We chatted about geekish things about the site, the other guy came back and finished the transaction and eventually the deed was done.

Good service, nice product. Stimulate that economy! Made in USA!!!!

MacNeil Automotive Products
2435 Wisconsin Ave.
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515