Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 104.
As I mentioned on Facebook and Google+ last Friday, my wife has been in the hospital. As a result, the last 2 weeks have been quite hectic for me, and this newsletter will be a bit different.
Usually I include some tech-news, and some tools4movies.com site activity and status updates on my apps, but aside from answering email support questions, the majority of my time was spent in the hospital alongside my wife, so I haven't kept up with the tech websites that much.
The biggest thing in tech the last 2 weeks was of course Google I/O. The yearly Google spectacle where the next Android version is mentioned, new Nexus device(s), and of course Google Glass.
This year, aside from the announcement of a "Nexus" Galaxy S4 model, the main focus of Google I/O was more on social rather than hardware. Google Talk got replaced by Hangouts, which in turn integrates better with Google+. In addition to that, Google announced a Pandora/iRadio/Spotify version of its own with a monthly subscription service for unlimited music, and many of the core-apps got updated as well.Rather than releasing a full Android update, Google decided to update the apps instead, so there is no wait on (slow) device manufacturers for an update for their customers, which is pretty cool I think.
Also this week, Blackberry had its yearly Blackberry event. After years of losing market share to Google and Apple, and recently even from Microsoft, it is finally getting some momentum back. Now with around 120.000 apps in the Blackberry World store, it is catching up very fast, and with its soon to be released for Android and iOS Blackberry Messenger(BBM) app, it might be able to get some of its lost customers back.
As many of you know, I am still very fond of the way Blackberry's operating system works on the Playbook, and I am eagerly awaiting further developments from Blackberry.
The last 2 weeks, I've spent the majority of my time in the hospital to support my wife. Of course work never stops, so I have kept up with support questions, but with everything going on, I haven't done any work on the website or app development.
Since this isn't the first time it happened, and (I hope not) it will likely happen again, I figured it might be interesting to share a bit of what is going on.
For quite some time, my wife has been experiencing health issues. A chronic fever early in her life affected her heart and lungs, and the last couple of years, things have been progressing more and more.
She has developed COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) in her lungs, and a bad Mitral valve in her heart, and the combination of the 2 causes atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate) and tachycardia (accelerated heart rate).
No strokes or heart attacks (knock on wood), but for her, even something as simple as getting up from a chair and walking a few steps tends to result in her heart rate going up to about 150 beats per minute and her oxygen level going down to the low 80%. Usually standing still or sitting down helps in bringing things back to normal.
a bit over 2 weeks ago, early (5am) morning, her heart rate went up because of a bathroom trip, and this time it didn't went down. When she came out of the bathroom, her heart rate increased to about 150, and continued to fluctuate between 140 and 170.
The same thing happened to her back in January, but back then it was a bit more severe, with her heart rate exceeding 200 bpm.
Back then, they slowed her heart rate down with medicine, and did a procedure of restarting her heart to bring it back in a normal rhythm.
This time, it was still high, but at 170, it was quite a bit less than before, but still quite severe. Early morning, it started, and she ended up being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
It took a few days for the medicines to kick in, but they managed to get it under control, and after they got a lot of fluid out of her, she started to improve a lot.
In January, things were a bit confusing as to what was causing it, but this time, partially thanks to the longer stay in the hospital, things are more clear.
The main issue for her is the mitral valve, which needs to be replaced, but unfortunately, in her current condition, surgery is not an option. A lot of work needs to be done still on her end. A major change of diet, a lot more movement and exercise, and she has to keep the fluid-build-up to a minimum.
Right now she is doing quite good. Before, walking a few feet resulted in her heart rate jumping 50, from 90 to 140 in a matter of seconds, but now she can actually walk 100 feet without raising her heart rate as much as 5. Hopefully this will remain.
With my stay in the hospital, I've tried to continue to work. I have a (crazy) amount of different gadgets and devices, so while I was staying with her in the hospital, I was able to turn it into somewhat of a testing ground for me to see what would work best.
The main functionality I needed was email. Just about everything I have can do email, but I use some features of Gmail that make it a bit easier for me, and these are non-functional on email clients on devices or accessible through a mobile web browser.
In addition to email, I was hoping I would be able to do some development as well, so a device with a desktop operating system, capable of running my development tools, was my first choice.
The first thing I drug with me was the Surface Pro. It is the most powerful portable device I have, and with it running a full desktop version of Windows, it would enable me to do a bit more than just answer support emails.
I already have it setup with development tools, and it even has a couple of my favorite games on it so it was a natural choice.
Unfortunately, I ran into issues when answering my first email. The type-keyboard I was using had serious lag. While typing my response, multiple characters and even full words were skipped, forcing me to start over and type slower.
I can type at a reasonable speed, but I'm not THAT fast, so the lag was something that surprised me.
Then there was the setup itself. The kick-stand and the keyboard are nice when you are using a table or a flat surface of some sort, but trying to use 2 chairs, one to sit on, and another for a work-area, it doesn't work well. It took a bit of molding with a pillowcase to get the keyboard to sit on a flat area, and the kickstand has a fixed angle that didn't work well.
So I ended up with a pillow behind it to get it to a somewhat comfortable level.
(update: yesterday, I did some work with the Surface Pro, and ran into the same issue. I noticed it had some updates available (including a new firmware) and after I did those, the keyboard worked just fine.)
So, the next day, I grabbed my Vaio P.
Just like the Surface Pro it runs a full desktop operating system, and it actually works quite well with typing. The size and weight are just about perfect for doing support emails, and the screen resolution is enough to be able to do some development.
Unfortunately, it is dirt-slow.
I don't have the Vaio-P setup for development (before the Surface comparison article I posted a few weeks ago, I had it in its box for a while), so I just wanted to use it for answering emails, but even at that, it was unusable (which is likely the reason why I never did set it up for development).
I use Google Chrome for my work, and usually when I answer emails, I have 2 tabs open. One with the email itself, and another with either my website in order to pull a link from there that answers the question, or another email display for me to pull up the order confirmation of the person. But, 2 tabs on Chrome is enough to bring the Vaio P down to a stop.
The rest of the week, I ended up using the Surface RT, without any keyboard. I was stuck using Internet Explorer instead of Chrome, but the version on the Surface RT is almost identical to that of the non-RT version, and actually supports the extra email features I use.
The keyboard covers do work fine with the Surface RT, but I found that it was easier to use it as a tablet rather than a laptop, and was perfectly fine using the on-screen keyboard, and as a bonus, I had a bit more freedom than I had with the other 2 systems due to battery-life.
During the evenings, the Surface RT proved its worth to me as well. She loves her iPad 3, and she was playing with that for the majority of the time, but in order for me to put some movies on it for her, I needed to take it home. With the Surface RT, that is a lot easier.
I put a bunch of my wife's favorite movies on a memory card, and whenever she wanted she just grabbed the Surface RT to watch the movies, and for me to fill it up for her just involved filling up a different memory card and bringing it with me.
One of the nurses who assisted my wife pointed out something interesting. He noticed our Android phones, so he directed us to an app called Fooducate.
The app has a barcode-scanner, and it compares food products. When you are in the store, you scan a product, and it shows you the good and bad things in it. In addition to that, it brings up a couple of alternatives with different ratings.
If you are picking apple sauce for example, scan one, and it will show you different ones that are more healthy.
Of course we haven't had much time yet to play with it, but we will be putting it to good use when we are getting groceries.
They have an app for Apple and Android. More information can be found here:
Fooducate | eat a bit better
Unfortunately, my wife's health issues have been going on for a while, and will continue as well. If there is one thing that I have learned over these last years is that anything hospital-related involves a lot of sitting around and waiting.
In order to make it easier for both my wife and myself, I always have some device with content ready to go, just in case. Of course a tablet of some sort works best, but even something smaller like an iPod Touch, filled with at least some shows, movies or games will make the hospital experience a lot more bearable. Waiting in an emergency room until your name is called out, waiting for the doctor to show up with results of an x-ray, minutes often feel like lasting hours, but with something to watch or do, time flies.
While online services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Go are great, do think about some local content to keep yourself busy as well. Our hospital has wireless internet access for their guests, but the signal in my wife's room was a bit flaky, and 3G Cell phone data for streaming video is a bit painful. For me, it was an easy fix by just bringing in a spare wifi router in the next day which I connected to their wall outlet, but it isn't always that easy, so make sure that you have some games and/or videos that don't require an internet connection.
That is it for this week's "newsletter". Next week will be back to normal.
Thanks for reading, and see you next week.
About DVD Catalyst
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