Microturismo por Coghlan

Ayer se quedó mi tren yendo al trabajo. Como no me tengo que hacer mala sangre me bajé, me fui a pasear, saqué unas fotos, caminé un poco, y llegué justo antes que arranque el tren de vuelta.

Los grafitis y murales son de las paredes del hospital Pirovano, los flamencos de hierro son inexplicables.

The Pleasures of a Cheap Phone

When it comes to phones I am a cheap guy. I don't buy expensive phones, I don't buy flagship phones, I don't even buy "cheap flagship-like phones". I don't buy unknown chinese brands that make amazingly cheap but awesome phones, I don't buy mid-range phones, I don't buy mistery phones. I buy cheap phones. Or at least that is the plan from now on.

My previous phone was a former flagship, a LG G4 which had awesome specs ... for 2015. Of course I bought it in 2017, but still, it was like, nice? The camera took good pictures, and all the apps ran smoothly and the battery sucked and dropped to 50% before I had finished my commute.

I hated that phone's battery life. It made my life 10% more annoying. So I decided to try an experiment. I considered what the hell I wanted of my phone. And here is the full list, not in priority order:

  1. I want it to have Internet
  2. I want it to play FM radio (no data usage!)
  3. I want it to take pictures, but not necessarily awesome pictures. I am more inclined to do things like taking a picture of a funny street sign than anything else.
  4. I want a large-ish screen because I watch Netflix on the train sometimes, or read books in the Kindle app. No need for super-high resolution. Honestly, 720p is just fine. I know because I checked.
  5. I don't want to worry if someone steals it. Insurance here is totally worthless. I had it on a previous phone: it was more expensive to use the insurance than to just buy a new phone (really).
  6. I wanted a metal back. Why? I like how metal backs feel. Glass backs are idiotic.
  7. I want apps to run. I don't mind at all if there is an occasional slowdown.
  8. I want a battery that doesn't aggravate me

So I took those parameters and considered all the phones available. And I bought a phone most people consider a piece of crap. And I love it.

Let me introduce you to the glory that is the Moto E4 Plus (by Lenovo)

Let's cover all the items in my list.

I want it to have Internet

Because this phone comes in a "world version"by default, it supports pretty much every band out there. I get 4G and it's plenty fast. Or, fast enough? It does have a small problem in that for some reason it doesn't see my office's WiFi network but who cares. I have enough data.

I want it to play FM radio

It does! It sucks, but it works. Good for emergencies?

I want it to take pictures

It has a camera. That is about as much as you can say about it. It even has two cameras! Front camera has flash! They are both hot garbage! It's barely good enough for me.

I want a large-ish screen

Maybe 5.5 inches is not a large screen for you, but it is large for me. It is, in fact, about as large as I can use single-handed. So, yay. It's bright, and it's 720p resolution is not awesome but who cares? I can see what's in it even in direct sunlight, so all good. A bit of a fingerprint magnet.

I can read fine, Netflix pics look good. That's it.

I don't want to worry if someone steals it

This thing costs $120 (US) or so. Do I mind if someone steals it? Yes. Do I just walk to the next store and buy another one if it happens? Yes too. So, yes yes yes. In fact, considering it's last year's model it's probably worth even less now. So I may just buy a E5 plus now that it exists and give this one to my son. Or not, since it works fine.

I wanted a metal back

Yes, it has a nice curved aluminum back. It's a bluish grey and I think it's pretty.

I want apps to run

They do run! Ok! Most of the time! Sometimes (once every couple of days) things get slow for a second. Then it fixes itself. Sure, the Kindle app takes a second or two to start if I have not used it in a while. So? What can possibly be the problem with having a app that contains every book I bought in the past 6 years (and that's several hundred books) available in my pocket to read and reread at any moment taking 2 seconds to open?

I want a battery that doesn't aggravate me

Behold my battery graph a while ago. I had a heart attack and was in a hospital por 3 days, which means charging the phone was pretty hard (no USB ports on ICU beds) but the phone was the only way to be connected to people or not be bored out of my skull, so on 4G network and using it most of the time.

It says I have 6 hours of battery left. It's actually underestimating it a little. On normal usage it lasts two days. Two whole days. TWO DAYS. Not two working days, not two days on standby, but two whole days of just using it normally for smartphone-like normal activities like one does, playing games, using twitter, taking a picture of two, watching a movie on Netflix, reading on Kindle, checking email, streaming music to a bluetooth headset, making calls, and so on. TWO. Not one, but two days.

Did I forget to plug it at night? Who cares, I will plug it tomorrow.

The charger even lets you get 4 or 5 hours of usage by charging it for 15 freaking minutes.

I am in love with this phone's battery. I want to marry this battery and have little electric children that will run and run and run and never shutdown.

You don't know how much your phone's crappy battery (and yes, your phone's battery is probably crappy) stresses you until you are relieved of the concern.

Random Nice things

  • It's water resistant!
  • I dropped it on the floor a few times and nothing happened!
  • It has a fingerprint sensor that works well!
  • It can use the fingerprint sensor for controls and then you don't need on-screen buttons, so your screen is "bigger"!
  • It has pretty much stock Android, even though it's a version that is now a bit outdated.
  • Even though it's a bit thick, it's thinnest than your fancy thin phone after you put it in a sleeve because you care about it.

Random Not Nice Things

  • The speaker is garbage
  • The FM radio tuner is garbage
  • The cameras are garbage (yes, I already said it, but they really are)

Implications

I absolutely love this phone even though several of its components are garbage. It gives me peace. The battery gives me peace that it will work. The price gives me peace that I don't need to worry about it much. It does what it has to do. It feels good in the hand.

But why do people buy expensive phones, or new phones? If I were to buy an Iphone X, that costs about 8 times as much as this one, what would it give me that this one doesn't? Nicer pictures. Prettier screen. Not much else.

But it would make me feel like I spent a substantial amount of money on just that. Sure, one spends a lot of time using the phone, so it makes sense to spend money on making that time more pleasant, but ... the iPhone X is more expensive than my bed. And I spend 9 hours a day there.

And I would worry about that phone.

And I would care about that phone.

What can it give me that pays back even 2 minutes of worrying?

Nothing.

Quick Nikola Feature: document APIs using pdoc

A user asked in the nikola-discuss if there was a way to use Nikola to document APIs. Well, there wasn't and now there is. I took pdoc and wrote a wrapper as a plugin for Nikola.

And now you can just document python modules using it in a couple of minutes.

Here is the documentation for the re module from stdlib as an example.

Yes, the output is not great, and it needs CSS, and many other fixes, but it's easy to improve now that it's there, as long as there is interest.

So, I had a heart attack

Tl; DR: Yes, I had a heart attack, but I am ok.

First, some background.

  • I am fat (~130 kg recently)
  • I have had high blood pressure for a long time
  • I have fatty liver syndrome
  • I am insuline resistent

So, a heart attack is probably not an unexpected thing, but hey, I lived to tell the tale, so here I tell it.

I walk everyday when I come and go from work, around 20 blocks each way. That is good, and is something I need to do! However around august 23 I started having some chest pains when I did. I walked a few blocks, chest pain started, I stop, pain stops. Not a horrible pain, maybe a 4 in a 1-10 scale.

Because I am nothing if not good at ignoring messagesI don't want to get, I blamed indigestion, or whatever. It was mostly some discomfort. Who cares, right?

It turns out at some point before then I had had a freaking heart attack, and what I was feeling was lack of oxygen in my heart because of insufficient blood flow. I did not feel the heart attack, I was feeling the sequels of it.

BTW: coworkers! That means I went to the office a few days after I had the heart attack :-)

In any case: it turns out something between 30% and 45% of those who have heart attacks don't notice because of whatever reasons, and only figure out they did when they suddenly die (yes) or go for a routine check and the doctor says "dude, you had a heart attack at some point and didn't notice".

So, I kept ignoring this, but on the weekend my blood pressure was high. How high? Run-to-the-ER-high. 190 over 120 high.

I took my pills, it would go down a little, but on the next measurement it would go back up. So I would take my pills, it would go down, and then back up.

So, on monday I went to the ER. Got an EKG and troponine assay and ... "dude, don't worry about it, let's call an ambulance and take you to a hospital that has a coronary unit. You know, because you had a heart attack. In the meantime, here is some IV nitroglicerine"

I get carsick a lot. Riding an ambulance, lying down and looking backwards ... not good for me. But anyway, they took me to the Sanatorio de la Trinidad in San Isidro.

There I got more EKGs, more blood tests, and indeed it looked like I had had a heart attack, so they told me I would need a procedure. "It's not surgery it's just a procedure" ... and doubled the amount of nitroglicerine.

Funny thought: who was the first guy that decided to see if injecting unstable explosives into your veins may have a good effect? Because it does! It does a kickass job of opening your arteries thus lessening the chance of you dying right away. Also gives amazing headaches.

I got a nice room, got hooked up to monitors, IV, BP cuff, Rosario got a nice couch, and got put on hold.

If I were having a heart attack right then, then they would have done the procedure right away. Because I wasn't, it could wait a day or two. I will not go into the indignities involved in bodily functions when you can't move. There are a bunch of them.

I was having a killer headache, they were injecting anticoagulants in my belly, my hand had a IV hanging (which hurted), and they were drawing blood every 4 hours, so my OTHER arm was hurting, and the BP cuff was inflating every 15 minutes ... so, not a very restful night.

Next day they tell me I will get "the procedure". It involved opening the radial artery in my writst, slipping a hose into it, wiggle it all the way back into my heart, inject a liquid that would make my blood opaque to X-rays, then look and see where it went. If there were obstructions and they could be treated, they would do it right away.

A nurse gave me a quick bath (there was a chance they would go through my groin instead, so it was the polite thing to do).

I waited a few hours, and they took me to the hemodynamics room. Fancy monitors hanging off robot arms, nice chat with the anestesyologist, and then they gave me the paperwork.

It's a huge list of bad news.

  • The procedure involves continuous X-rays and it may be necessary to use high intensity.
  • All that radiation has side effects, so let us do it
  • Possible side effects include permanent depilation of the chest (really)

I signed off (because what's the alternative?) and they tell me "move a little to the left in case you fall asleep you don't roll off". Because yes, you are awake. Ok, awake-ish, at least I was in a drugged haze all through it.

I seem to have fallen asleep at some point and woke up just to tell them "my arm and my chest hurt a lot!" which they answered with "well, yes, we are poking inside your heart, dude" and sme gesture which I interpreted as "just put this guy to sleep already" because I woke up in my room.

They put three stents in my heart, because I had a bunch of obstructions, including one in the main cardiac artery, so, good thing they invented those.

Back in the room, I feel awesome. Really. I blame the drugs.

They slowly started cutting down on the nitro, so no more headache.

By that night I was well enough I could start playing canasta with Rosario (via an Android app: no need to deal a ton of cards, no way to cheat by making up rules, so awesome), watched a couple episodes of Forged in Fire, slept on and off.

Next day, wednesday, boring.

Next day, thursday, I was allowed a bath! I could walk to the couch and sit down! I could wear underwear! Almost civilized.

Thursday afternoon I was discharged. The dollar had gone up 30% while I was not looking.

Special note for my US readers: there was no hospital bill. My job's health provider (OSDE) took care of everything, I needed not pay a dime. I was just put in a wheelchair, wheeled to the door and told to have a nice day.

We went to buy all the medicine for my new regime (12 pills a day).

There is a anticoagulant pill I need to take for a year, and if I skip it I die. There are pills to control the BP, which if I skip I may die, there is a pill for the pain, which if I mix with another pill I wil die, and there is aspirine just because they needed something a little less dramatic.

Went home, and in the next couple of days had a couple more checks with a hospital cardiologist and with my cardiologist, a nice and wise lady who I should pay more attention to.

All through this my wife was by my side, a friend took care of our kid, and everyone at work was cool about it, asking how I was doing and in general being their usual awesome.

So, those are the events. What happens now?

I need to stop being fat, so I suppose I will try.

I am in sort of the same situation as Aeschylus. There was a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object, so he tended to stay outdoors. Then he was killed by an eagle dropping a turtle on his head, because it looked like a shiny stone.

I sort of know I will die of this. But there is no rush, and I will do my best to avoid it for many years. I will try to avoid the obvious ways, like Aeschylus. And if fate deems it necessary that an eagle drops a turtle on me, at least it will be a funny story.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

  • Author: Neal Stephenson
  • Rating:
  • See in goodreads
  • Review:

    Best Stephenson in years.

    Looks like having Nicole Galland as a co-author has done wonders.

    Plot is tighter, writing is even, and the book even has an ending! Yes, an actual ending!

    So this is probably more of a Galland book? I need to read more of what she has written.

Votan and Other Novels

  • Author: John James
  • Rating:
  • See in goodreads
  • Review:

    This is a good book, and a long book. It's three books, which are pretty different, and I am not sure the idea of grouping them was *great* but hey, it works.

    I got to it via a recommendation by Neil Gaiman, and the first two are a lot of fun.

    The third one ... is not. It's good, in a totally different way, and I feel happy to have read it even though it was so ... unpleasant to read? It made me feel unpleasant things a lot of the time? But that's ok.