Shopping for a new phone? Consider the Galaxy A5 & A8 before splurging on the Galaxy S9

This is not as timely as I’d hoped, but given that the Galaxy S9 is out and deals are everywhere, I wanted to give mention to a phone line which isn’t even on the radar of most Americans.  The Galaxy A series from Samsung has a lot of the nice features of the more well-known S series, but are sold completely unlocked and at a much lower price. They generally have higher end features like IP6X waterproofing, and have a nice speaker placement on the side of the phone versus the bottom which I really like.

Galaxy A5 (2017)

If you prefer your fingerprint reader on the front of your phone, or just like a smaller phone that fits in smaller or even average-sized hands, I highly recommend the Galaxy 2017 A5, which can be had on eBay for well under $300.  I would still be using it myself as a daily driver, except that with whole-device encryption enabled (for work of course) there seemed to be some minor stuttering in Youtube.  This may have been a temporary issue but something to keep in mind if you need full encryption. This device is waterproof, has great battery life, and something I still love on phones, capacitive home and back buttons!  I wish these had not fallen out of fashion recently.

One thing to keep in mind is that this line has been around for while, and the older versions are not quite as nice, so I’d definitely stick to the 2017 A5.

Galaxy A8 (2018)

The 2018 Galaxy A8 is a little bulkier than the S8 in terms of bezels (which I don’t even notice when using a case), and has a more efficient CPU meaning it easily lasts a full day on a charge.  As nice as the S8 was, I was constantly coming close to 0% battery by the end of the day and I’m not a particularly heavy phone user.  The A8 has an outstanding battery life, nice fluid experience, and a pretty incredible selfie camera.  The main drawback to the A8 is the rear camera.  If you are obsessed with photos, then definitely consider a flagship like the S9, Google Pixel 2 (or 2XL) or, yes, the iBone if that’s your thing.  But if this sounds like your thing, it also can be had for around 400 bucks on eBay.

I just want to raise awareness about less known phones out there which are a really good value for most consumers who don’t need mini photo studios in their hand.


Well my upgrade for security-paranoia’s sake seems to have wiped out the previous site, which was rather spartan to begin with.  I’ll try and put something together which looks slightly more ugly but less basic.  You’re welcome America!

On text editor bigotry

I have to say that as a Free Software developer, one thing I find very disappointing is people being needlessly hostile to a project of mine, and using incorrect reasoning to substantiate it. Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin is one of those gems.

Let me first say that I actually like vi[m] quite a bit. I’d even agree with people who say you can’t be a true Unix admin without knowing vi. Note I said knowing, not using for every task. On any Unix machine made before the turn of the century, you’re going to want to know vi to get around. Emacs I never got around to using; many of my coworkers swear by it. It looks like a fine program. I feel no need to needlessly hate on it just because I wrote a competing program

Originally I used elvis because it’s what the Slackware version I started with (2.3 IIRC) included; see trait number 4 from the article. I like vim as well. It’s a great program. It’s also very portable, as are emacs, pico and nano.

What vim is not however is ‘svelte’. It’s a pretty big boy these days, as it has a lot of features; that robustness and portability does have a trade-off.

How big is it? On my now ancient ia32 system it’s 1.5MB. Yes, megabytes. Too big to fit on a floppy disk by itself; remember those? Good times.

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1758932 2009-09-21 07:24 /usr/bin/vim.basic

emacs is a somewhat healthier 5MB. As the author mentions, emacs does have a substantial feature set as well.

Nano, however, is just a tad smaller than vim. And by a tad I mean an order of magnitude smaller:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 170040 2011-03-02 22:46 nano

That’s right, the bloated, easter-egg-including version of nano is 170K. So fine, let’s compare the
vim-tiny size as that’s probably a more fair comparison:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 687572 2009-09-21 07:23 /usr/bin/vim.tiny

650KB. Better, but still substantial. In fact, there are emacs implementations (and otherwise great editors) that are also smaller than vim-tiny:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 275724 2009-06-23 08:28 /usr/bin/jed
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 171736 2008-05-11 12:11 /usr/bin/jove

This actually isn’t a fair comparison either; the tiny
version of vim does not leave out its excellent on-line help system and probably a few features not absolutely essential for a ‘tiny’ vi implementation. In fact the full version of good old elvis is only 600KB. When we start paring that program down, its a little closer: elvis-tiny is 76K to nano-tiny’s 50K.

The point I’m making is don’t go around saying that vim is a sleek and sexy sports car nowadays. Its a great, feature-rich and rock-solid editing environment. It’s just not skinny, bony or gaunt, so don’t pretend it is.

Also I’m tired of this ridiculous ‘real sysadmins only ever use vi’ mantra. Now tell me we should only use the console even on our desktops, as X is just too cushy for a sysadmin and makes you weak over time. This is the computing version of that guy, you know, the one who’s really into cars and always is going on about how you can brake better with your foot than ABS could ever do. It’s 2011 for pity’s sake. Sysadmins coming out of school since 2000 have grown up on editors besides vi, they find the learning curve needlessly difficult and they had alternatives; they’re not bad people, they’re syadmins, i.e. they’re lazy.

Hate on other text editors if you want. Just don’t do it with incorrect information.