2x16: Indeskribable

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which the Samsung Galaxy S5 is too big (unless it’s too small), it’s certainly too old (unless we’re too old), and:

  • [00:02:00] News: DJI make over-the-air firmware updates for their drones mandatory, community spend only an hour working out how to circumvent it, 59 minutes of which was watching the eclipse... Stuart still harping on about being "forced" to listen to a U2 album one time years ago... the new Android Oreo release is out, along with the now traditional news blitz of articles explaining why you don't have it and how to force it anyway... how big your phone ought to be and intemperate rhetoric thereof... Github CEO Chris Wanstrath steps down to spend more time with his text editor, help find new CEO to "lead Github into the next stage of growth"...
  • [00:24:45] Jeremy reviews the Jarvis Bamboo standing desk from Fully, along with a bunch of discussion about whether standing desks as a whole are actually worth it and what the feature set you really need is
  • [00:41:10] What's the deal with AI and robots? On our forum, @paulgault talked about killer robots and asked: "will mankind terminate itself with its own creations?" We'll get into that, AI, and what this all means for our jobs and the future of the species. It's a big topic, this one. (And we'd love to hear your thoughts on it too.)

Extra music by bensound.com. Artwork by David Revoy.

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I can’t agree more with @sil, the size of handsets at the moment is bonkers. I’ve got a Pixel at the moment, as I wanted the pure android experience. However, I read an interesting article this evening about Purism, a Linux handset much along the lines of the Ubuntu Phone (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/08/purism-librem-5-linux-phone-crowdfunding). I’ll be making this campaign as I think it’ll be not only a great privacy focused phone, but at 5 inches, a more palatable size too. What do you guys think?


Interesting to see @sil bringing politics into this. I think there is a move within the UK in both directions simultaneously there is a definite move towards a more profit driven, more materialistic attitude in the UK but there is grass roots growth in socialism too. Jeremy Corbin has a big following particularly amongst younger people though I admit his politics are very close to mine.

@jeremy I’ve never been out drinking with @jonobacon but I was out with @sil a couple of years ago, Oggcamp in Liverpool; I don’t think he drinks that much.

I have an American friend who occasionally uses the term ‘bar hopping’ to describe a night out where you have a drink in several different locations. I can’t help wonder in the British term ‘pup crawl’ reflects a difference in drinking culture between the UK and the US

This looks like a nice phone, I suspect it won’t survive in the market as you need to reach a certain critical mass to take off. Microsoft have thrown a fortune into Windows phones but I think its fair to say Samsung and Apple are probably the only players who matter in the high end phone market.

My mobile phone needs are few: I check my facebook and twitter accounts occasionally and of course follow the Bad Voltage forum. Apart from that I just need the ability to send and receive texts and phone calls. I don’t want a particularly large screen but would appreciate better battery life.

While those two cultures are fairly different in that regard, ‘pub crawl’ is used quite regularly in the USA.


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Thanks for another nice review, @jeremy. Have you ever thought, if you tire of your current career, to go into audiobook reading? I could listen to you all day, I think.

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Great review on the Jarvis Desk, @jeremy. Ironically, I bought a Jarvis Bamboo desk myself not too long ago :sunglasses:, though I ended up going for the 72" version. I did dozens of hours of research, and ultimately settled on the Jarvis because:

  1. 7 year warranty
  2. 300lb weight limit
  3. The bamboo table top looks really nice
  4. Sturdy/Heavy build quality

@sil (I think it was you that brought this up), I had no problem getting it up a flight of winding stairs. And @jonobacon, I’m 6’ and have no problems with the height. It’s stable when at sitting height and standing height. My only suggestion in regards to height, if you have a long torso, you may want to consider getting something to prop your monitors on to keep them more at eye level when standing.

Here’s an image of mine: https://i.imgur.com/y6OkhGD.jpg (The other desk is my wife’s)


Steve Jobs, rest his angry soul, enforced a very sensible “rule of thumb”. Here’s a great blog about it: https://dcurt.is/3-point-5-inches .

Personally, I’d much rather have a phone with the form factor of a card deck then the current “slabs”.

I’m happy to disagree with @sil’s statement that there aren’t any decent smaller phones right now: I’m pretty happy with my current phone, the 4½" Sony Xperia X Compact ( specs from gsmarena ).

And, yes, I’m back (I admit it, I never stopped listening after @jonobacon’s tirade, just stopped commenting ;-)).

In another thread (Essential Phone: Thoughts?) I said “They’re all too bloody big apart from the iPhone SE and one weird Sony phone” – the one weird Sony phone I was talking about is the X Compact :slight_smile: I like Sony’s industrial design a lot. I do not like the company’s attitude to openness at all. The niceness of the device might have overcome that, but my OnePlus X is as good a design and isn’t from Sony, so I bought it. It is pretty disappointing that it’s not flagship, though; previous nicely-sized phones were mini flagships but the X Compact was cut down in ability as well as size, annoyingly. Has the Oreo upgrade come out for the XXC? (I see speculation that it’s going to happen, which is encouraging.)


I haven’t received an Oreo update yet, and honestly this is the first time I haven’t actively gone looking for one: I’m happy with how it works now (for a change) and don’t want to risk screwing it up: everything works; everything feels snappy; yesterday, I pulled it off the charger at 6am, used it thoroughly (it’s on my desk playing podcasts right now), and I put it on the charger at midnight with 43% left.

Of course, I have this phone because I bricked 3 phones in one week, trying to get an old phone working after giving my last “daily driver” (a (too large) 2015 Moto G) to my wife. Also, the Android Wear 2.0 update for my Fossil Q was a total disaster… so, maybe, I’m just gunshy :wink:


I use an “Ergotron” adjustable standing desk at work (purchased by my employer as part of a trial, I was one of the only ones who used it so at the end of the trial they gave it to me). It fits a nice gap between the super-fancy motorised multiple-height-memory models and the horrific Ikea hand-cranked models. It sits on top of a regular desk, has a keyboard tray and a raised surface for the monitor etc. There’s a flap under either side, you grab both and pull up, and you can move it up and down with the aid of springs (similar to a garage door), so it’s not too heavy. You can release the flaps at various heights and it locks in place.

It’s not changed my life, but it is nice to stand up for a change, especially when it’s hot, and I found I slouch less when standing.

Edit: Specifically it’s one of these: http://www.ergotron.com/en-us/products/product-details/33-406
Looks like they retail for about $450.

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@sil you made the claim that there aren’t any phones that are small, not just flagship phones. I came here to tell you that you’re wrong, but it seems as though things have moved on since I bought my reasonably sized and ok (only ok, nothing more :slight_smile: ) spec’d second gen Moto E, itself 6mm longer than an iPhone 5 and 8mm wider. Everything I can be bothered to find (aka what is in the carphonewarehouse website) apart from the thirty quid phones (which we can reasonably discount from the argument) are at 5" or above now.

My explanation for the increase in size would be that it is aspirational. I’d love a flagship phone, but can’t justify it (nor do I want the large size actually). Back in the day, only expensive flagship phones were big, cheaper phones weren’t. By making cheaper phones bigger you get some of that appearance of being a flagship. Then it becomes the norm and people accept it even if it’s annoying.

The normalisation argument applies to battery life as well. Charging every night is just part of life, I don’t think it would make a huge improvement to my quality of living if I could go more than a day without charging. I put the phone right by the charger anyway. Having said that, I’m a relatively light user so only normally need to charge at night. But compare that to pre smart phone days when you’d go a week or so without charging. For me that was occasionally more annoying because I’d forget to do it and get caught out.

At what point is battery life enough? One day? Two days? A week? I do think the answer in most cases is one day, as long as that actually means one day with a reasonable amount of battery intensive use. That’s what I’d be designing for if I was making phones.

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and sadly I am not :slight_smile: Yeah, I know. Things have changed. I don’t mind that; i don’t mind if most of the market goes elsewhere. I’m happy to be idiosyncratic. What I don’t like is that I am not alone and yet nobody is trying to serve the market I’m in. Maybe the Xperia X Compact is enough.


The Robot episode of the 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy show talks a bit about jobs are affected by technology and automation. The whole episode is worth a listen, but I’ve quoted some of Tim Harford’s words here that I think are worth repeating.

On Jono’s point that there poor and wealthy people alike can be nasty, that’s true but the wealthy person has a much better opportunity to affect the lives of others.


Yep, I’m holding out hope that there will have been a bit of a change when I want a new phone. Presumably at some point after all phones are 6" or bigger then having a small phone will be the in thing again. “Buy the Samsung Cosmos 9, it’ll actually fit in your pocket!”

Totally agree, and sadly some people use their wealth is terrible ways, but some use their wealth for humanitarian reasons. I think it really depends on the individual and their intrinsic motivations (and where they live, as tax can inform a lot of this).

My only contention with @sil’s comment was the broad sweeping statement of “the rich fuck the poor”, as if this were to apply to all people who are wealthy. I just don’t think it is healthy to make such broad statements about any demographic.

What is certainly true is that wealth provides people with more power, and some can use that power in negative ways.

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Yep, fair point.

This is certainly true but I do think @sil has a point here even if he is overstating it.

The system is skewed towards the rich abusing the poor but that does not mean the rich are all a bunch of expletive deleted .

I should justify why I think the system is skewed against the poor.

The UK becoming more capitalist and capitalism is about maximising profits and easiest way to achieve this is often to squeeze the little guy. The little guy being easiest to squeeze because he a little power.

If you a CEO of a company that is traded on the stock market you have a duty to your shareholders to maximize their return. I’m not suggesting companies should be run to lose money but there is a balance to be met here between making a reasonable income and providing utility to the community.

I help out at a local charity and we have a little café. Now since I volunteer and only provide a few hours a month I don’t get paid for this but the charity has one full time employee who cooks and sells and is also the cleaner. We took the decision that the café should pay its way and so is run as a business paying the one employees wages etc. We took the decision that since a lot of people dropping in for support don’t have much money we want to turn only a small profit, enough to cover the costs but not not much more.

Traditional companies however are pushed by share holders to maximise return and this tends to increase consumerism because you want to sell more stuff and that means convincing people they need the latest thing even if there is nothing wrong with what you have already. We are running out of room in my daughters room for clothes because she doesn’t want to be seen wearing the same outfit too often. I’d like to see a world where we make products better but expect to keep them for longer.

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Battery case for the win:

Phone with battery case taken off charge in the car getting to work this morning. Watch taken off the charger about 7am yesterday.

Indicentally, the iPhone 6s is about the biggest phone I think I can enjoy using. Loved the 5s / SE form factor (and still using an SE for work), but larger screen on the 6s isn’t as horrifying to my tendons as I thought it would be, and Reachability helps too, from time to time.

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