Using Huawei P9 Lite for a year

Or as I would write this alternative title: Long term review of Huawei P9 Lite with 3GB of RAM

So, here it is. A review of my daily smartphone after almost one year of using it. In that year I had used other phones trough work devices like Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) and even Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Also I got it to service center once (more on that later) and got new one (again more later). Today is right one year and one month of using phone so it is perfect timing for a long term review. Continue reading “Using Huawei P9 Lite for a year”

Using Open Source Operating System

Here we go, new Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is up and it would be one of better supported versions of Ubuntu in last 2 years. It already have couple of big changes like Gnome after almost 8 years of forcing Unity as main Desktop Environment and also it switched back from Wayland to Xorg (thank God for lot of users which use apps like TeamViewer).

As for somebody who use Windows as his main Operating System on his work and home computers, using Ubuntu is nothing more then easy* switch. For example: almost all apps that I use for work and college works in some way, shape or form in Ubuntu. Likewise Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator have great alternatives with Gimp and Inkscape, Adobe Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas Pro have good counterparts and also you can use older versions of sotware trough Wine* and PlayOnLinux, Microsoft Office have good alternative with LibreOffice and with college Office365 enabled account Office Web Versions. Those are just alternatives, for instance – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Sublime Text have native Linux applications.

For UI and system optimizations for older* hardware I can say from personal perspective that is great because it detects all drivers on first try even without any additional installation afterall. All drivers are detected OOBE which include graphics driver, WiFi and Bluetooth card and even Gamepad (Xbox 360 Clone Gamepad). It can have some hiccups with some random apps that can slow down machine, but those are really heavy duty apps and usage of older hardware.

I already mentioned apps which can run on Linux with native support, but there I forgot to write about games. Well, for somebody who is lately in older games and retro games from 1990’s and late 1980’s it can run them using few apps like RetroArch and Dosbox. Dosbox is used for old school DOS games and RetroArch is in first glance easy collection of old system emulators. Most of them are now power hungry and it can run titles from NES, SNES and Gameboy. As of PlayStation games I can run it from RetroArch, but for them I found PlayStation default emulation trough it is bit slower then on Windows with easy to use Playstation emulator.

Overall, using Ubuntu is like using any other Operating System for IT guys, but for somebody who is new it can be some pain in butt hole. For newbies I recommend Linux Mint with Cinnamon Desktop Environment.

*Note 1: It is easy, but then need to change some keyboard shortcuts to be more Ubuntu based.
*Note 2: Wine is app that can run Windows dll’s and executable easy and as native to Linux
*Note 3: Older hardware means Intel Celeron N2840 CPU with only 4GB of DDR3 with 5200rpm 60GB hard drive.

Alternative title: Or how to use Ubuntu as main laptop OS

Source for cover image is Betanews.com

Follow-Up on Chasing Ways for Perfect Page Speed Score

Last updated on 11.08.2019

As you might saw in post Chasing Ways for Perfect Page Speed Score in the end in update I wrote that after changing links to latest Speed Test Results I would had to write quick Follow-Up with new discoveries, so here we go.

First and now most important thing o chase isn’t Fully Loaded Page Speed, it is TTFB or in easier way said, Time to First Byte. As of end of last month (February) and begging of this one (March) Google started to prefer faster TTFB.

So as you might see from Screen Shot down below from Google’s own Page Speed Test, they prefer fast FCP (First Contentful Paint) which include TTFB. If TTFB is slow, then FCP would be slower by significant Margin. This is especially important if most of your visitors get from mobile phones where every second and every byte is important.

As you might see in this image, FCP median is around 1.1 seconds which is right in way that GTMetrix Tools say that TTFB is less then 300ms which is great. Keep in mind that for faster TTFB you would need fast and optimized server, probably VPS of some kind.

As conclusion if this short and now more informative post I would say this few notes.

Number one – optimize server because TTFB is mostly related with server optimization of loading scripts.

And number two – optimize your web code, it is also important.

Chasing Ways for Perfect Page Speed Score

OK, just to you all know here are my experience with speeding up and optimization of couple of web sites just to have good score like A or just B score on GTMetrix website. I also test sited on Pingdom Tools, but that is just for OnLoad Time. For full page speed always run page speed tests on GTMetrix. They are more reliable for me in my experiences.

So, how you can get to perfect score. Well, it depends. Really, it depends on type of site that you are running and what kind of content is on page.

For instance, one of projects – maskice.hr Web Shop – have got a bunch of small tweaks, almost perfect image compression and even perfect caching plugin named Swift Performance. And even using Cloudflare as CDN with Amazon SES + G Suite for e-mail servicing it almost always lately have B grade on GTMetrix with Load Times between 4.8 seconds up to 8 seconds. Yup, we tried couple of Caching plugins, from free like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and Autoptimize and some got problems with current theme and others had problems with crazy long TTFB (Time To First Byte) which may get you problems with latest Google Algorithms for Page Rankings. After some deep testings using DigitalOcean VPS with latest cPanel on it with Googles own PageSpeed Insights Module Installed so it can run server cache and JPG to WEBP conversion we saw that it works the best with WP Rocket and after few demo tries on Carbon Copies of web on secondary domain even better with current Caching and Minifying solution Swift Performance (as Ivica Delic say in WordPress Speed Up Gorup it is Swiss Army Knife like W3 Total Cache but in premium version).

What do you all think when see this image? You would go to images, but you would be all be wrong. Major problem with web shops in general is their complexity and connections to dozen of Analytics sites and as is always recommenced – Live Chat system. For instance, here are scripts that unfortunately can’t deffer or set up Leverage browser cache on it.

Here you might say that is bunch of Google Analytics and you would be correct. This site use Analytics for getting better experience with customers and provide customers with related content so here we go. It is getting better soon with better Analytics code. Also, yup Facebook with their inside code for helping us with Facebook Adverts.

As for another example here it is this web site. That’s right this web site. It is running currently on Shared Host which is provided by Studio4Web (not sponsored by this companies for now) and it loads in about 2 seconds total using GTMetrix tests. This seems crazy enough, but when you see that this site is actually one pager for most of content it is just fine. Site runs free version of WPMU Dev’s Hummingbird Caching and Optimization plugin and it optimize everything. Even with Optimus Image Compression and Optimization. I mean, that is small amount of tweaks with premium theme so it can be fast no matter what.

And now short conclusion which would most of people say:

  • Use CDN (Cloudflare, MaxCDN, KeyCDN)
  • Have a good Server like VPS with good configuration (examples: DigitalOcean with latest stable cPanel)
  • Optimize images
  • Use some kind of caching plugin (From premium section would recommend W3 Rocket and Swift Performance, and from Free section WP Super Cache and Autoptimize)
  • Compress and minify CSS & JavaScript, HTML is optional
  • Have less amount of images and content on site if it is possible
  • Use small amount of external Javascripts and CSS files, try to host them locally and defer parsing it
  • And finally – always check site for problems and speed, because of latest Google Algorithm changes

Important note: DigitalOcean, cPanel (BuycPanel.com) and Studio4Web are Referral/Affiliate Links. With signup’s and purchasing from those sources you help me get better discounts on products on next purchase(s).

Update: as of 11. March 2018. I found broken links to speed tests so links are updated. Needs quick Follow-Up Post Soon with new discoveries.

Update #2: As of 27. May 2018. all links to GTMetrix tests are removed.

Update #3: As of 14. October 2018. I removed few links and broken images which didn’t show up.

Switching Platforms

Say what, how can you migrate from this awesome blogging platform named WordPress to something else? What is wrong with you man.

OK, I already saw that this is coming, but here is my personal experience with migrating from one platform to another. Here is my opinion about migrating E-Mail platforms from Zoho Mail service which is my company using for e-mail last almost 2 years to G Suite.

You might be thinking, yeez G Suite (old name Google Suite for Work) is way better, why did’t started using it earlier. And reason is – money. Yup, money was issue. Then we used Shared Hosting with cPanel mail solutions for a while, and after getting info that Zoho Mail is free we switched to that platform.

In last 2 years it served us well, it had some weird spam issues and some minor outages but nothing special. But, after last months problems with slow sending e-mails to customers which are waiting Invoice we said, it is enough. We wanted to switch for almost 6 months, but now we made it.

Setup wasn’t painful if you have access to DNS Register where you enter some MX and TXT records for verification and e-mail processing. Simple as 1-2-3. And no, I’m not joking at all. It was just something like follow Guide and you are on the way. Even if you use Cloudflare as DNS Register then it is simple and super easy.

Now, when I started migration I had to tweak some settings in our test environment like Security and Name which some people can make go crazy. So, most of “standard” users use default Security settings, but for me, well if it doesn’t run with MFA and login confirmations from all logins then it isn’t OK. And yes, name. Oh boy, the Name was problematic. Well, you need to see this – our brand is actually our e-mail From Name. Yup, single word with dot in it. Most of people would go with OK part before dot as Name and part after dot as Surname, but I found one trick which works. Trick is entering brand name as Name and for Surname – well just enter a dot like ..

After some cumbersome Data Migration problems with Zoho Mail IMAP Service which made me go crazy searching in Settings because UI and UX is not so good and crazy separate mail backup (yup, in backup every mail is their separate .eml file with attachments) at first, it go easily migrated using G Suite’s integrated Data Migration Tool.

Simple and easy, except with Data Migration.

After 2+ years of usage of Zoho Mail service we had to say good bye, welcome to G Suite adventures!

Bootloops and bricks

So, you all might ask one thing right now:

Hey, why bricks and what the fuck is bootloop? I never experienced it on any device.

First of all, first part would be answered soon, and fit second question answer is – don’t lie bitch, you had an bootloop but you just removed battery and reinserted it back.

That is an bootloop. Problem which most heavy duty experimenters like me had on phone.

Latest bootloop was before couple days ago on Doogee when stupid plugin managed to stop booting Xposed Framework. I was pissed off at the moment, but still after some research I found problem and fixed it.

And finally what is a brick. Well, no one wants bricking phone. Brick happens when you flash wrong firmware to device. Also happened to me and I fixed it with reflashing ROM which have all OTA updates in it.

In short: all of us had at least one bootloop but we hate it. What we hate more are bricks. Nobody want bricked phone without help to it.

Doogee Y100 Pro – First impressions

Just one note: this is not a review per se, this are just my first impressions on this device after almost of week using it (6 days of use to be precise).

So let’s start with unboxing. I was pleasantly surprised when I found device already in protective case (transparent hard shell) and with screen protector on it. I still didn’t replaced that stock protector and I’m using phone with it.

In box I also found USB cable (1.5 metres long ~ 4.1 feet long), power brick (5V @ 1A), earbuds (flat cable one with solid bass and treble), another screen protector and finally documentation which I didn’t read.

For a first start I was shocked that it doesn’t had device setup apk installed and ask setup need to be done manually. For me it is not big deal, but for somebody who used let’s say Galaxy phone it would be:

What the f***, how should I do first time setup of phone?

Well you can all things do trough Settings. And first thing that I did was setting up my main Google account, checking for OTA updates which took me about half an hour with 5 OTA’s from original firmware that came with it.

After doing OTA and all of updates from Play Store it was time to root it and install custom recovery. This was simple as downloading zip file with root (SuperSU), booting into stock recovery, flashing zip file and rebooting device. After that I just installed Flashify application from Store and flashing TWRP aka custom recovery.

Last major thing that I did was installing different launcher (Nova Launcher Prime), Xposed Framework and one module called GravityBox.
In daily usage I don’t see any freezes or major stuttering in UI or in applications that use in daily basis.

Battery life is just fine. With this 2200mAh battery it can survive all day surfing on WiFi and listening music with average of 3.5 hours of SOT. Longest SOT was yesterday when battery died (I wanted to get battery at 0%) with 4.5 hours of SOT. Not bad at all.

Now to the cameras – they are fine, nothing special but they are OK. Flash isn’t something good, but it is OK for my usage. OK, it is a bit less powerful then on LG Spirit but still can’t say anything wrong about it.

Overall after this short amount of time with phone I can say that it isn’t best-buy for price range (~100-150$ and this depends from store to store which sells it) and that there can be found better phone for that price. One example is Xiaomi Redmi 2 or maybe Meizu M2 (not Note edition).

More detailed review should be written after a month of usage which is just fine for better testing of battery life and cameras.

New smartphone user – Baby steps

As on beginning of this post somebody might ask

Hey, why it is called new smartphone user? You are using smartphone for 5 years now?

To answer this questions – yes I’m smartphone user for 5.5 years now, and it is called that because it would be journey of moms learning how to use smartphone in daily basis.

This is post about her first week of phone usage. Let’s begin.

So day 0 as I like to call it. This was her first 1.5 hours of usage. In this first 1.5 hours of usage she learned how to unlock phone using back buttons and lock it that way. Also she learned how to unlock it using smart wake feature called double tap to wake. She is mostly using this feature for last 2 days.
She also had education from sister and me in few other things that she is using for last 2 days.

At the start of day one she managed to see that she is using QWERTZ keyboard layout (note: in Croatia we use QWERTZ, not QWERTY layout) not old phone style of keyboard. After all she have 50 years and this is her first real smartphone (already used old LG Optimus One, but with old phone style of keyboard and with Big Launcher and that was only for a few days while she was waiting until her old Samsung phone get back from service center).

Another thing that she learned is how to set up an alarm for good morning. That was easiest step in learning curve.

Day 2 was pretty much same as first one, but today she learned how to make pictures (and no selfies for now).

Day 3 – this was day when she discovered number pad in Google Keyboard. It was show when she wrote message to sister with her latest grade in math (or chemistry I’m not sure), but I know that was hilarious. Sister laughed for 10 minutes. What a day 😉

Day 4 – mom found that I actually installed WhatsApp to her phone. Damn mom, I didn’t wanna to find that so early. You still need to learn more about long press on something. Anyway, thanks mom now sister can’t have any profile photo that she wants (sarcasm at best 😁). And yeah, she also learned how to add new contact. Fast learning in one day.

Day 5 – boy, do I need to mention one thing that was new ? She found emojis in Google Keyboard. Now we are dead with them.

Day 6 – mom who told you to activate mobile data and use WhatsApp on job. Seriously why… Now your battery would drain even faster then before (even trough I set some battery saver config for regular day to day usage without 3G/4G LTE)…

Day 7 – did somebody say that she is now in new category called Child steps 😉 . That’s right, she managed to pass baby steps on smartphone and now she is regular smartphone user.

Switching phones – Part 2

Well this was fast post part 2 so shall we start with one announcement – review of Doogee Valencia 2 Y100 Pro is coming in next couple of weeks. Now, let’s say what are my 3 most important things when switching phones.

First and foremost – adding Google accounts in phone. You all maybe ask

Jeez why ACCOUNTS, why not only one account?

Reason for that is that I have couple of separate Google accounts for separate things. For instance one of accounts is for college mail’s, one is for checking private mail’s and server updates. One account is my main and on that is all contacts backup and also 95% of purchases on Play Store.

That is reason for at least 3 accounts connected to phone. Sometimes I link college Exchange mail and mail for collaborative YouTube account. That is just me.

Second thing is installing all of apps that I use regularly. There is about 30 apps which varies from communication to productivity applications. And all of apps are official (OK there are couple apps that can have good alternative but I’m lazy to search for it).

And as final step I would like to call setting up all of applications to my preferences. This can take me couple of days easily.

Bonus step: rooting device. Yup it’s just me. Current device is rooted, Xposed is installed and there is installed only one module – Gravity Box [LP].
This would be my procedure for setting up new device (like this Valencia 2 Y100 Pro).

For next month I would write about one thing and that is mom’s struggle to learn how to use smartphone. I think that would be easy switch from feature phone to smartphone (that I just think because she already used smartphone for some time, but that was before Android 5.x and on device with 3.2″ screen).