After all this time, has iPads been “Pro”?

Approximately 1.5 years ago, Tim Cook announced the "best ever" iPad that Apple has ever made — the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Up until now, this gigantic piece of glass is still the most relentless powerhouse among all IOS devices and even in the all tables market. Recently I have listened to quite a lot of podcasts of Canvas and Mac Power Users in the Relay FM programs, and I sort of find out the unsatisfying fact to all Apple fanboys that iPad is far from a PC replacement, and it is due to the software instead of the hardware of it.

Around two years ago, the IOS 9 has marked a huge improvement in IOS productivity field, by adding the share button and some iPad-only features like split screen. Continue reading

The Grand Tour – Legends never die

About three weeks ago, I bumped into a video on Youtube, and it was about one of the three original hosts and probably the most important one, Kai Man Wong, from DigitalRev TV which is a Youtube channel that talks about trends and trips for cameras and based in Hong Kong, has officially announced his leave from the channel. It was a destroying news for the fans, following Alamby’s leave (another original host) about three to four years ago.

Kai, who is a great host in the area of cameras, once lead in the production and script writing of the channel, was mysteriously headed back to Britain about one year ago, and since then I have sensed the potentials of his leave, sooner or later. What surprised me, though, is not his leave, because I have already skipped a lot of the videos of that channel since without him the shows from the channels just don’t look complete. What surprised me is, soon after his announcement, the cameraman of the channel, Lok, also announced his decision to leave.
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Last Automation done in Time-series class

For a long time, I’ve been a huge fan in automation, and it drives me to start my journey in coding. Honestly speaking, coding is never rooted in my heart and I only see it as a tool of mine to help my automated life, so I strongly recommend people who have passions in automating their lives to learn a bit of coding, no matter it is Javascript, Python, Java or C# or any other equivalent scripting language.

Going back to the topic, this fall is my last semester in my Master of Business Analytics program in USC, and the core tool being used in this program is R. Since I am taking one very interesting time-series analysis course taught by Professor Gabrys, I have thought about whether to write an article to talk about it, as well as wrapping up my study in USC. Now it is the chance for me, because I just summed up the basic ARIMA analysis in R, with the procedure taught again and again by my professor. This is an automated function that can help users to come up with candidate ARIMA models for the dataset.

For people who have no background in time-series data analysis or in ARIMA process, it might be a bit overwhelming for you at the beginning. It requires the basic understanding in time-series data analyzing process. This function, in which I mimicked how my professor emphasizes time and time again in class, will provide users with another way to explore potential good ARIMA models, despite of the fact that R has a lot of automated functions that do it all without giving the users much information.

The code, and the detailed manual are up on my Github. This perhaps is going to be my last share in automation as a USC student, and I have been always proud to be a Trojan.

Automation, on the other hand, is the very initial purpose of my blog, and one thing I have learned in my final days on campus is, automation, AKA, computer programs, shall never replace human minds. instead, we as humans, should learn how to use machines to enhance the capabilities and overcome the shortcomings of our brains — period.

How Longer Can APPs Still Survive?

Let’s get to the thing straight: are you still using a lot of apps like what you once did when smartphones were just created? For app-lovers, the answer might be yes, or even more, but how about for average users?

I completely deleted apps such as Instagram, Facebook because I no more need them to be always at hands and when I do need them, their web version "apps" are good enough to play with. These are two biggest contributing reasons why I think mobile apps are dying. Think about the times when you install 100 apps on the phone, but rarely use any of them because you are installing apps just because you love apps, not because you need them.


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Thoughts on Apple

Apple is still the Apple, but, the question is, really?

I’ve been such a long time and die heart fan of Apple products that I have literally ever missed any product Apple has made, and they are all awesome, until the launch of Apple Watch, well, series 1.

To be honest, Apple Watch is still the best overall smart watch on the market, just like its big brother – iPhone. When it is initially released, I couldn’t help buying one because it is so cool and advanced, despite of the lack of cellular signal and GPS module, I still enjoyed quite a bit of time using it.

However, eventually not long after, I stopped using it, not because it’s not cool, like I said, it is still the best, but a lot of other factors are implying this is not going to revolutionize the market. A good smart watch should be something unprecedented. Remember when people first saw an iPhone or iPad, we just didn’t realize there’s a way like that to improve life quality. For all the possibilities, iPhone and iPad filled them perfectly and even provided users with more functionalities.

But what? For an Apple Watch, people expected GPS built in, LTE signal enabled, fast interaction, independency relative to cellphones. No, none of that has happen, and even some reasonable hopes are not realized. That’s why I know it is not a revolutionary product, because there’s a huge gap between user’s hope and the final product.
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xmlrpc problem SOLVED!!

It is going to be a quick a small article, just to share about a tiny but prickly problem which I believe a lot of bloggers have encountered in their career, especially when they use a third-party blogging software to publish articles.

Okay…so the thing is, I wrote an new article recently and I wanted to publish it to my Chinese version blog, and as usual, I use Ulysses to type. Obviously, Ulysses just got a nice update with the feature of publishing to WordPress is supported now. Therefore, I said to myself, why not try it out this time, since I have already set up my custom blog account in it.

But it just wouldn’t make it. It kept giving me an error saying I input an invalid url. WHAT? “Man, I just got it right last time and what on earth is happening? You are ruining my mood to write!” After some initial search on Google, I still can’t figure out the problem, so I went to bed with the absolute confidence to resolve it tomorrow.

Now is the “tomorrow”, and I solved it, thanks to all kinds of search engines online, and my problem solver characteristic! At first, I was able to locate this problem to the file called “xmlrpc.php” because I realized I also have problem with the Jetpack plugin on WordPress, it shows “site inaccessible” all the time. The tricky thing is, a lot of related pages says if you can get a sentence like “xmlrpc.php only accepts POST and so on…”, you are all good with this file.

Dudes, it is NOT! I typed into the url like “www.suguswu.com/xmlrpc.php” and I can get the right thing, so I was seriously misdirected by some pages at first, only trying methods su ch as to set up a “.htaccess” file because I don’t have it even I selected to show hidden files. On Ulysses, and perhaps Byword, too, the error window gave me approximately zero helpful messages, and they have slowed down my pace quite a lot. Thankfully, I have another writing software called MWeb, and when I use it to validate my setting, it told me the error message like this:
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This is the right thing to do, and it came from a Chinese developer, a fact of which I was proud of. Based on the error message, it did tell me that the app can’t connect to the server, which is exactly what Ulysses and Byword are telling me. However, in the following messages, I found out it is still connected to the “xmlrpc.php” file, so the truth is, as long as you are using WordPress API, you are dealing with this file, no matter what error messages the apps are telling you. It is not the fault of code, nor the fault of WordPress, but the fault of the server providers, because they are blocking the request to “xmlrpc.php” file since it is an easy channel for attackers.
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Tweet imitator by Python

Currently I am reaching the end of my summer internship, and the company is in the social media marketing area. Basically it has dozens of social media accounts that can be used to reply to real users’ tweets about a specific topic, let’s say, a sports event, and in the replies would the robots attach links that are connected to some websites with promotional offers. Therefore, it is a good way to enhance the website traffic and do advertisements because it is not as annoying as sending you spam emails or phone calls, but to do that, we need really really authentic and sound robot accounts.
Screen-Shot-2016-07-21-at-4.48.28-PM.pngThat’s when difficulties kicked in. For example on Twitter, during the summer, my teammate and I have tried manually operating several accounts, by tweeting out posts, retweeting and all the stuff that normal users would do. However, it soon became a nightmare to operate even just 2 accounts at the same time since I felt like a psycho all the time, splitting up my life into different segments.

That feeling sucked, and I decided to research on the behaviour of robot accounts that mimicked real users. It soon got rewarding because I realized all robots follow a pattern, in which there’s a particular topic, such as fashion, food, sports or politics. They all seem to have at least one very outstanding characteristic.

Alright, since they all follow patterns in what they are tweeting about, why can’t I automate the pattern. The thought is, for example, if I am a foodie, I would often tweet about foods, and I will follow a lot of foodies’ accounts. If that is the case, I can design a program that randomizes the tweeting by using A-Basket-Of-Users method. What the hell is that? Well, it is just like how the currency policy works, by monitoring a bunch of important sources actively, but eventually it will finalize on one specific tweet to send out.

Yeah, I know it also sucks if I don’t know what I am going to send out, because there should be a way to graphically show what’s the outcome of the process, so I made a user-interface-version of it.
IMG_4332.JPGI can type in the account name I want to imitate, and it will send out that tweet using my account. If the tweet is over 140 character limit, it can also automatically truncate out unneeded url links in the latter part. Each time I hit the “upgrade” button, it will generate a new randomized tweet from the queried user, so hopefully nobody finds out who I am imitating if the “basket” is big enough.

For the server version, I also added in the “retweet” function since it is the most-used feature for those robot accounts, as they always retweet what they like. A potential timer module can be added to run this program 24/7 but I was, to be honest, too lazy to do that LOL.

I put my code open-source on my Github, because it is too long to show here in my blog post, and I value readability very much. Also, thanks to sixohsix’s gorgeous twitter API module in python.

P.S. Every experiment comes with punishments.
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Tech Gadgets that I enjoyed

It is not easy to justify the desire to buy tech gadgets these days, because you will be easily tagged by “Geek” or “Nerd” or something similar. Nevertheless, I want to share some essential categories of tech gadgets of mine to make my daily life much more joyful.

Smartphones

No need to say anything…right? Everyone deserves to have the best phones on the world in this age, regardless of Android, IOS or others. 1
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Efficiency is poisonous at times

Sounds like a horrible statement right? However, I started to feel that aiming for efficiency improvement is sometimes confusing and distracting, especially for IT workers or tech gadgets lovers. Why? Because these people are most likely to accept new “vague” tech concepts and give them a try, therefore resulting in los of waste in money and time.

Still don’t understand what I mean? Let’s make it this way: for instance, have you ever tried any new apps? Have you ever tried out new apps intending to replace the well-functioning but old one? Are you looking for new stimulus every day and you firmly believe with something new your efficiency will improve vastly?

Are they legible statement? Probably not. Actually I was one of those geeks who think in that way, and I suppose it is a very dangerous way of thinking because sometimes it is not going to help you except for wasting money and time. Quite often we can encounter write ups on the Internet, talking about new apps that worth trying out or new service that is unprecedented, and the writers seem to be eager to attract new users for those apps. I was one of their prey some time ago, therefore I’ve spent lots of time invested in unnecessary new things: for example, once upon a time I’d like to use 2do to replace OmniFocus just because my admiration to the MacStories editor Vittici. Fortunately, I did not lose my judgement, and after trying out 2do for a few days, I deleted it because it is no way better than what OmniFocus is contributing to my healthy lifestyle. Let’s focus on apps and take another example to illustrate my point: on IOS devices there’re tons of new apps showing up in App Store every day and some websites are potentially in cooperation with some of those app companies. There are a lot of new email clients apps, for instance, coming on stage every day and it seems like almost every email app is recommended by some long convincing articles that try to sell their points. If you cannot control yourself well on the curiosity, you might end up downloading new email apps and give them trials every day!
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How iPad Pro can help in digital life?

When the iPad Pro first launched last November, my first impression of it is like all others’ – Who on earth is this gigantic iPad for? As time went by, after earning enough money on my job and careful considerations, I decided to buy one and find out the reasons myself.(I got the iPad Pro at a discounted price of 799 at Staples)

Well, it is a huge iPad, and I don’t know how to describe my first glance on it on the stand at Staples. It’s like upgrading your Macbook 11 to MacBook Pro 15, seriously, because I have gone through the switchover from MacBook Pro 13 to 15, I can definitely tell that the shock in switching to iPad Pro is even greater. When I got home, I immediately started to transfer my data from my iPad Air 2 to my new iPad Pro. However, I quit this process and made a bold decision: I am not gonna to use those apps that haven’t support the iOS 9 features and iPad Pro resolution any more! Since I bought this device to act as a potential laptop replacement, I believed I am not going to fully blow its potential without using the right apps.

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