Thursday, December 28, 2017

Alohomora: Simple Security for Muggles and Wizards alike

Two years ago, I wrote a post specifically about passwords.
However, these days there are a few more things that one should be doing to protect themselves so I will be going over a few digital security topics in this post.

Wait! Don't be scared, I know security can sound hard but it doesn't have to be. I'd like this guide to be easy to follow so even someone without an interest in security can quickly start being secure online.


I've covered this before but I'll summarize the post here.

Password Setup Steps:
  1. Create two very strong, but easy to remember passwords for you password manager and email.
    You can do this by:
    1. Rolling some dice to create a Diceware Passphrase
      Easy creation site (use 6 words minimum!) and EFF's explanation on how/why 
    2. Use the Schneier Scheme
  2. Write down these passwords and put them in a safe place.
    This may sound odd, but even Bruce Shneier has said:
    If you can't remember your passwords, write them down and put the paper in your wallet. But just write the sentence - or better yet - a hint that will help you remember your sentence. Or use a [password manager]. Don't feel this is a failure; most of us have far too many passwords to be able to remember them all.
    - Bruce Schneier, Nov, 2008. Blog post link
  3. Choose a Password Manager
    There's a few choices out there but likely you'll look at the following
    1.  1Password (nicer on MacOS/iOS than Windows/Android)
    2. LastPass
    3. Keepass

Update Old, Insecure Passwords

This can be time consuming, but it's important to get clean up all your old passwords. You probably used the same password in multiple places, right? Use your password manager's password generator to come up with secure passwords, preferably as long as the service will allow.

This process can be daunting however, so unless you're ready to spend a lot of time doing it, let's make this easier. If you're using LastPass, I believe it will give you a password strength report to help you clean up.

I'd go about this slowly to make it easy. Whenever you log into a service, check the password. If it's weak, change it before you go about your tasks. Otherwise, grab a different password to update.

One day you'll have all your passwords updated!

Enable Two-Factor Authentication Everywhere 

Everywhere you can enable 2FA, and all other forms are better to chose over SMS. Here's a site that will help you find out what services you use that support 2FA.

There's a variety of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (a guide by the EFF here) but the main two you'll encounter are:
  1. SMS.
    Which works, but isn't very secure. Without going into too much detail, it's possible for a hacker to pretend they're another phone number and intercept SMS. So if there's another option choose that. If this is your only option, it's still better than no 2FA.
  2. Authenticator/TOTP
    This form of 2FA gets you to punch in a 6 digit code when you log in. Authy is a popular app to use to manage these codes for many services, as-is the Google Authenticator. It's nice to keep all of your codes in one place.
Using any 2FA method means you may be offered the option to print out backup codes. If a service offers this, definitely do it and store those codes in a safe place!

Use a Secure Messaging App

I'd recommend using Signal, or (if you trust Facebook) WhatsApp for private messaging (as they implement the same protocol to secure your messages)
I would highly discourage use of Telegram (here's one reason why).

I'd go into more details, but the EFF is also re-thinking what secure messengers need these days, so I'll hold off on giving detailed recommendations myself.

Best Practices

Overall best practices are hard to write. I'll try and give some useful advice though:
  • Always think critically before taking action.
    Who told you to click or install something? Think about why you might want to do it.
  • Not sure? Ask.
    Hopefully you have a tech-savvy friend you can ask to confirm something. If not, getting better at Googling things is a useful skill!
  • Use an ad-blocker (such as uBlock Origin chrome firefox)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Keymaker: Simplifying Your Personal SSH Key Management

Image from here. Screen shot from film The Matrix Reloaded

If you are like myself, and ssh into multiple remote machines, or even simply use Github over ssh this is for you.

The Problem

SSH has a lot of settings you can use, but when you're a relatively new developer you're not going to go mucking around in a config file you don't need to when there's work to be done! There are also security concerns with some settings, and issues if you have a lot of ssh keys. Also typing long username@domain strings can be annoying.

The Solution

The Keymaker o——m, a small script (fewer than 250 lines) to help create ssh keys for remote machines.

What does it do?

First it helps you create a config file. If one exists already it will rename it with the suffix ".BACKUP".

By default all ssh connections will show a randomart image (VisualHostKey yes) based on the public key provided by the host. This randomart image can be used to visually identify the host's key. This is much easier than trying to identify something like 16:27:ac:a5:76:28:2d:36:63:1b:56:4d:eb:df:a6:48.

Instead you get to look at a picture, which is easier to compare, and easier to remember. For instance, I've come to associate's key with this randomart that looks like a flame (note: this may and likely will change as github changes their public key)

+--[ RSA 2048]----+
|        .        |
|       + .       |
|      . B .      |
|     o * +       |
|    X * S        |
|   + O o . .     |
|    .   E . o    |
|       . . o     |
|        . .      |

The Keymaker's connections are also kept alive for an hour, in the event that you leave a terminal open it but need it open.

It also disables forwardingx11 (you may want to turn this back on for some keys) and only sends the keys it needs to (instead of sending all of your ssh keys to each host)

When you actually run the keymaker, it asks a variety of questions used to generate your ssh key, generates it, adds the information to the config file (for that specific host) and then finally attempts to copy the key to the server you are setting it up for. If you are connecting to a server such as github that won't let that command go through it will fail (and that's fine). You'll need to manually add your new public key via the web interface on Github (or whatever method the site/server uses).

One nice benefit is it works with non-standard ports and allows you to set a "shortname" (ie alias for that key/username/hostname/port combination)

This will allow for passwordless logins to that server with your newly created key!


Grab my script from github, place it in a folder that's in your $PATH (optionally rename it) and you're good to go!

When you run the script it will prompt you for information as you go.

Note: If you are creating an ssh key for Github you must use with no shortname.

Comments, feedback and PRs are welcome!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Variety Show: Small Updates #1

Back Home by CaringWong

Greetings Readers!

It has been a while since I posted anything so I feel I should do a quick write-up with a few small things.

Virtual Reality

I have been very excited about Virtual Reality (VR) since I worked with the Oculus Dev Kit 1 and consumer VR is just around the bend! The consumer Oculus Rift ships March 28th, with pre-orders backed up until the summer. (June/July last I checked). The Vive, created by an HTC/Valve partnership, ships starting in May. And finally, Playstation VR (PSVR) ships in October.

I had pre-orders for both the Rift and the Vive for a while, while I waited for more news, and to decide which one I would buy at launch (as I can't afford both, nor would I gain much from owning both). PSVR also looks promising and I will decide if I want to purchase a bundle closer to launch, as right now it's too far off to make an informed decision.

I have finally decided to purchase the Vive. It was a very difficult decision, but I think it was the smart choice for a pre-order. 

Both the Vive and Rift seem like fantastic experiences, but without more knowledge on Oculus' Touch controllers, I couldn't justify purchasing a Rift until later in the year.

I'll be sure to post a VR update either in May (when my Vive arrives) or sometime in the summer.

Managing Linux SSH Keys

As a software developer, I use Github and SSH on a daily basis. When dealing with remote machines there are some niceties and security benefits you can get by setting up SSH properly.

To aid others (and myself) with this problem I have written a small script to help manage ssh keys and configs.

I'll be posting a full blog post about ssh and my tool soon.

UPDATE April 8, 2017: My new post about my ssh tool, the keymaker

Expect more updates in the future as I build a new PC for VR in the next month!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's Time - Pebble Time Review

Photo from


 Background Info

I backed the Pebble Time Kickstarter and got the black watch. I waited a few months to write this review as wearable tech (and phones) often requires more than a week to understand how you actually use it once it loses it's "shiny new toy" status.

Before owning a smartwatch (smartch?) I would wear an analogue watch (A Timex Weekender Central Park specifically)  with off and on regularity.

The Pebble Time is however, my first smart watch. I had debated the original Pebble, but the clunky form factor turned me off and the Moto 360 had mixed reviews at the start. I also didn't watch to spend that much money on a Moto 360 for the first generation and will see what v2 will have to offer.

Several of my friends do have Moto 360s so I have seen them a bit for reference. I have seen an Apple Watch in-person once and heard a lot about them on the podcast I listen to weekly.

As you may know from my other posts I use an Android phone, so this review is based on using the Pebble Time with an HTC One (m7) and I'm not sure how it works with an iPhone.

Use Cases/Wants

There are basically three criteria I require from my smart watch:
1) It should tell me the time (that's a given though). However since it has a screen I'd like to see the time in a more novel way than a typical analogue watch or at least augment the analogue watchface with more information.

2) I want to see notifications from my phone and be able to dismiss them. I like leaving my phone on silent so this still gives me the notifications in a timely fashion without having to pull my phone out constantly. I also want to be able to manage those notifications and not get notified by certain apps.

3) I want to be able to get up at 7am to get ready for work with my watch and still be able to see what time it is at 2am that night.



The Pebble Time has an e-paper screen which helps keep its power consumption very low.
The screen could be a bit larger as there is a large bezel (the black border that can't actually display anything) but the screen fits most short blips of information and it's easy to scroll down if a message is particularly long.

The screen also has a backlight that can be activated with a flick of the wrist, with customizable brightness. The screen looks okay indoors, good enough really. Where it really shines is outside, where other smartwatch screens tend to fail. Its colours are much more vibrant in daylight due to the nature of the e-paper display.

The other benefit of the screen is that it is always on (even if the backlight isn't) which is something I don't care for about other smart watches.


I purchased the black Pebble Time so the colour descriptions are based on that model.
The back is a matte black plastic and curves ever so slightly around your wrist. The back is also where the charger connects. I haven't noticed any issues with the contacts corroding yet. I do take off my watch and wipe the back on my pants/shirt if I'm feeling sweaty however.

The front of the watch has a black plastic as well with a finish that makes it look like a gun metal gray/black. The screen itself is scratch resistent, but unfortunately the front case seems to scratch fairly easily. After wiping the casing however, the scratches are less apparent. The scratches are off/on noticeable and no longer really bother me unless I take a very close look.


The buttons feel much better than the limited experience I had with the original Pebble.
There is one on the left side (back) and three on the right (up/select/down). This simple system makes navigation quite straightforward, but does take longer than a touch screen would when selecting from a long list. Due to the size of the screen I feel it would be very difficult to use touch on it anyways and the UI can have smaller elements since you don't need to be able to poke at them.

With a recent software update a press-and-hold on the left button also quick toggles the "Quiet Mode". This mode simply turns off the vibrate but stills shows the messages.

You can also set hotkeys for the up/down buttons on the right side for when you hold the button. I have set them open a timer/stopwatch app and a calendar (that shows a whole month).


The band is some sort of rubber, but is surprisingly supple. It also has the


The battery life on the Pebble Time is fantastic! With a basic watch face (no seconds or weather data) and no background apps I lose about 10% battery per day. With a fancier watch face or background it can go down a bit faster (I don't have the exact number).

Luckily the Pebble notifies you at 20%, which translates to "charge me tonight... or tomorrow if you forget about this notification" and then again at 10% which I interpret as "charge me tonight".

This amount of warning has been sufficient to me. It means I don't have yet another device to charge every night and means my nightstand is a bit less cluttered.



There are quite a variety of watch faces from simple digital and analogue faces, to information-dense displays, to cool animations, to weather-based skylines.

The battery life is definitely decreased if the watch face gives you the weather or has an animation for seconds.

I typically use the "Bars" face as it looks interesting and when my battery gets low I switch to "Enigma" as it does not have an animation every second. I've also enjoyed the "70's Tech Style" and just started trying out the "Tetris Time" watch faces.


The UI uses neat animations and is easy to undestand. The only issue I have is when I am responding to a message with an emoji that scrolling can take a while. However I understand why this is the case.


I am not heavily reliant on my calenda so I find the timeline concept not terribly useful. However I feel the idea could be useful so I am still off/on attempting to add all events to my calendar.


I have sparingly used apps on the watch, the stopwatch and calendar apps are very useful. I will look for more apps and update this post if I find them notable.


Notifications work quite well. The icons for generic apps look good and a default bell icon is used for other apps.

The vibration level is configurable and is easily noticeable. The notifications are easily dismissable with the left button and many apps allow you to reply to messages and set an email to "done" in Inbox.

If an app is annoying you with notifications its easy to have the Pebble no longer receive the notifications. On the other hand, having a smart watch somewhat forces you to prune your phone notifications as over-excited watch notifications are more annoying than their phone counterparts.


After a number of months of regular use I quite enjoy my Pebble Time. The contacts are holding up, though the band is showing a bit of wear.

The battery is still holding up and the functionality has gotten even better than the first version of the software.

I still enjoy my Pebble enough that I would purchase it over an Android Wear watch.

Feel free to post comments and questions below!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Words on Password Security

Picture of a locked blue lock on a background of what appears to be a blue circuit
Image by: geralt License: CC0
UPDATED March 18, 2017 - LastPass has changed their business model and the mobile app does not require a subscription. I have also become aware of the Diceware passphrase generation technique. This post has been updated to reflect that.

Two years I wrote an article about an Offline Password Creator inspired the xkcd comic "Password 
Strength". Many things have changed in those two years. Most notably are the hacker tools that now take into account this xkcd comic.

In early 2014, Bruce Schneier wrote an article on choosing secure passwords and specifically stated the xkcd correcthorsebatterystaple method of generating passwords in no longer good advice.

Skip forward to present day, 2015. A friend of mine on Facebook discovered the aforementioned xkcd comic and other friends thought this advice useful. As someone with a bit of security knowledge through a university course and an enjoyment of reading security blogs, I felt I should help inform them. After typing a couple of hundred words in a Facebook comment, I realized I should write a new blog post to update you, my readers.

Below I will give my recommendations on maintaining a reasonable amount of security with your passwords.

Use a Password Manager
As I've mentioned before, I recommend everyone using a password manager.

A password manager typically requires you to create a "master password" that will be used to encrypt the password vault where all your passwords are stored. The manager often integrates with your web browser, making it very convenient to have a secure (long, random, unique, and a mix of character types) password for every website/application you use.

Choosing a Password Manager
So you want to use a password manager, great! Now you may find the task of choosing one to use a bit daunting so I will outline the options I recommend briefly below:

1Password - Cost: Paid (Free Trial) ~$50 (on Mac/PC ~$40 for students) - Platforms: Mac, Win, iOS, Android

1Password was the first password manager I used. It has a good user interface, is fairly straightforward to use, and has a browser extension. The browser extension is important to most people because it (most of the time) allows for a single click to fill in your username and password.
The password vault can be synced across platforms with Dropbox. The password vault is encrypted so this is fairly secure (always be mindful this is a relative term) but if you don't trust Dropbox I would not use this option.

Depending on how many platforms you use it can get a bit pricey, I paid for a student license for my Windows desktop and found it well worthwhile! However, I also use Linux (which is unavailable currently) and the Android client (at the time) was unable to add new entries.

If your use case is only on one or two platforms it's definitely worthwhile and is a friendly way to begin using a password manager.

Keepass 2 Professional Edition - Cost: Free (despite its name) - Platforms: Windows, Mono (Linux, Mac, BSD, etc). Unofficially on: iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry

Keepass is my current password manager. I wanted a free alternative to 1Password that I could use to create new passwords on my phone (Android) and on Linux. I use Dropbox to sync my password vault. The user interface looks okay, and functions well. There is a browser extension which is quite useful.

On Android Keepass (via Keepass2Android Password Safe) I highly recommend using the Keepass2Android keyboard to enter passwords. The keyboard simply has a "user" and "Password" button. This is safer than using the copy/paste method because any application can read from the clipboard (where the copied word gets saved) without asking for permissions.

Keepass is also open source, which is something I value.

This combination of cross-platform use, open source, and free helped make this my current password manager. If you don't mind taking the time to set it up (plugins required for the browser extension for instance) then it's well worth it!

(The following info on LastPass has been modified as of March 18, 2017)
LastPass - Cost: Free or Subscription ($12 USD/year) - Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Firefox OS, Surface RT

I haven't actually used LastPass, but I've heard very good things about it from my peers and would recommend it based on their recommendations and from my readings on it. During the Heartbleed incident LastPass was able to inform you of what passwords to reset. It also will rank your passwords and tell you which ones are weak. The subscription adds a few features (noted on the website) including a shared family folder.

Know Two Passwords
My recommendation is to know two passwords.


1) You need to know the password for you password manager, otherwise you can't access. So this one is very important. In the event someone steals your computer or hacks your Dropbox (or wherever the password vault lives) you want it to be very very difficult for an attacker to crack your master password.

2) In the rare event of your password manager breaking, the loss of your password vault (Dropbox has lost files after all), or other catastrophic event that results in the loss access to your password you need someway to recover them.

First of all: You should always make backups of files. Preferably following the 3-2-1 rule, but most of the time a simple external hard drive will suffice. But that's a topic for another post.

Second: In the case you still can't access your passwords even with a backup you want to be able to reset them. That's why the second password you should know is your email password. Almost all services let you reset your password via email, so this is crucial.

Now that you know why you need to know these two passwords, how will you remember them and how will you keep them secure?

You could:
  1. Create a Diceware password with a simple six-sided die (aka D6)
  2. Use a password manager to generate these two passwords
  3. Use something like the "Schneier scheme"

For a Dicware passphrase, roll a die 6 times and enter the number on this site which will create a word from a list. Do this for 6 or more words to create a strong password. Alternatively click the "6 Words" button.

Make them long, make them secure. Keep them secret, keep them safe. Bruce Schneier has suggested writing down your passwords and keeping them in your wallet, with your other small valuable pieces of paper (bills).

With these precautions, you now have two secure passwords in case anything goes wrong, and the password managers make sure you have a strong, unique password for every website and app you make an account for.

Image Sources:
Header photo: geralt on pixabay - License: CC0

Monday, January 5, 2015

Nexus 9 - A Review of My First Tablet

Background Information

Ever since tablets had become popular I wanted one. The iPad looked great, but I wanted something running Android. The Nexus 10 was out of my price range at the time, and the Nexus 7 was too small of a screen, I wanted something closer to 10" for watching videos.

Having set aside money for a tablet, the Nexus 9's release was perfectly timed for me. After using it for a few months I felt it was time to post a full review.

I own an Android phone (HTC One m7), a desktop computer (using Chrome), and a Chromecast already and I am a regular user of Google's services, which may affect my views on the Nexus 9.

The Nexus 9 I purchased was pre-ordered from the Google Play Store and is a Black, Wi-Fi only, 32GB model, shipped to Canada.

Use Cases

I knew I wanted something I could easily watch videos on, I also wanted something to browse the web, read PDFs without awkwardly zoom/panning and play video games on. I wasn't entirely sure how my use would evolve, but I felt the Nexus 9 would become useful and I would figure out my exact use for it over time.

School Life
As a student I have been studying a lot this year and many of my professors post lecture notes online. Looking up reference materials and reading PDFs has been great on the Nexus 9. If you want to read documents without zooming (or without much zooming) it's a great device for that. I have also found Wikipedia scale nicely, as do many news sites.

A site's decision as to whether it's a "desktop" or "mobile" browser seems to vary, but generally is "mobile" in portrait and "desktop" in landscape.

The battery life has been more than adequate for going to class for a day, is great for showing things to friends, and feels more portable than even my 10" netbook.

Desktop Companion
The "origami cover" was out of stock for almost the entire time I've had my tablet, so I ended up using my Wii U gamepad stand (the non-charging one) as it holds the Nexus 9 at a decent angle in landscape orientation.

This has been great for scrolling through papers when working on a research document on my desktop (and my second monitor was in use).

The Wii U gamepad stand is also great for watching videos at a desk and generally propping it up.

Couch Potato
I'll often spend a good chunk of time on weekends or after school or work on my couch so I can put my feet up and spend time with family (both human and canine). The Nexus 9 has been a very nice size to hold while reclining and using to control my Chromecast.

Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli, Lollipop!

My phone isn't due for an update in a while so the Nexus 9 has been my first experience with Lollipop (Android 5.0).

The new Material Design look and feel of Android 5.0 is appealing to me, and I like how everything looks with it.

Recent Apps
The new recent apps/Overview appearance is visually appealing, but can get quite cumbersome. Lollipop rarely (if ever) clears the recent apps so I have had dozens of apps open at once, which makes scrolling through them rather difficult. The new look is great for looking at the last few apps, but overall I prefer the HTC Sense version of the Recent Apps.

Another new addition to the Recent Apps/Overview area is the ability to "pin" apps. This is disabled by default but can be turned on in the Settings. When it's enabled you can "pin" the app you are currently on so the Home button (The circle in Lollipop) doesn't close your app. Instead you must press a key combo (with an optional PIN code afterwards). This is great for handing a device to friends, for children (who are apparently notorious for clicking the Home button and ads), or for simply preventing yourself from closing a game by accident.

The key combo they chose brings me to the next section.

OS Software Keys
This version of Android revamped the look of the UI in a number of ways, including the on-screen buttons. In previous versions you would see an arrow pointing to the left (Back), a house or physical button on Samsung phones (Home), and a stack windows/ stack of lines(Menu).

Lollipop switched these to simple geometric shapes: A triangle, a circle, and a square.

KitKat home screen and buttons Lollipop home screen and buttons
There's been a lot of debate over whether this was good or not in the Android community, the best argument (in my opinion) being it standardizes the buttons across devices and makes it easy to reference the buttons.

This would be great but Google completely ignores the shapes when referring to the buttons in my experience.

When I first tried pinning an app it told me to un-pin it to press and hold the "Back and Overview buttons", to which I said "The Back and what buttons?". A moment later I realized it was referring to the square "recent apps" or "menu" button. Speaking with another Android enthusiast, it seems I wasn't alone in that split second pause.

It appears on the phones it uses the term "Recents button".

I expected this new design language to translate into simple directions for people such as "press and hold the triangle and square buttons". In my opinion the combination of switching the icons and using new terminology ("Overview button") is more likely to confuse people, especially those new to Android or those who have difficulty with technology to begin with.

Hopefully Google (and other developers) will adapt to the new buttons and use the shape names in their descriptions, making it easier for everyone to understand.

Normally on my phone I use Nova Launcher for my homescreen. With the Nexus 9 I felt it was worth trying out the default, GEL (Google Experience Launcher), for a bit to see how it works these days.

I've been thoroughly enjoying the Google Now integration and have been making use of folders. The App Drawer simply looks like another folder now, which is interesting. There are two issues I have found with GEL though:

1) The app drawer (which looks more like a regular folder now) is white. During daylight hours this isn't an issue for me and I don't keep my tablet at my bedside. However, some have pointed out how blinding this can be late at night or in the morning.

2) I use folders for quick access to games and Chromecast apps. It seems that the new aspect ratio of the Nexus 9 has thrown off the stock launcher's landscape mode, as the folders cut off some icons (with no way to scroll) when I have too many in a folder.

The new notifications are useful for being noticed, but can be awfully distracting when playing a game or watching a video. I noticed that some games will also display the heads up notifications but capture all the click inputs (or something), meaning I can't actually go directly to the app, but have to exit the game first.

Let's Get Physical

I planned on playing lots of games so I purchased the 32GB model, and figured Wi-Fi will be available most places I use my tablet, so I went with the Wi-Fi only model. Finally I chose black as it wouldn't yellow or get dirty as fast as the white model.

The Front-facing speakers were a huge selling point to me but were initially disappointing. The HTC One (m7)'s front-facing speakers were fantastic for a phone, but it felt like they were just re-used in the tablet. Over time I don't notice it as much of an issue, though sometimes I will have to turn up the volume a bit more if the clarity isn't very high.

The "flex" on the back is noticeable as early reviewers pointed out. I don't play with it and it doesn't bother me.

The aspect ratio (4:3) is new to Android tablets, and in my opinion works great. The iPad has used this ratio for a while and has functioned well so I am glad HTC/Google took note of that and used a similar size. It feel comfortable in my hands, is easy to use in both portrait and landscape, and makes reading more comfortable. On the downside videos are framed with black or cut off, as they are designed for wide-screen primarily, but this doesn't bother me much. I've also noticed the default launcher doesn't handle the new ratio well, as folders with many items will cut off in landscape mode (a bug I will be reporting and should not be an issue in the future).

Playing games does cause the camera corner to heat up a fair bit, which bothers me a bit as I expected it to run a bit cooler, but no damage has been noticed yet so I assume it's just the games taxing the processor.

The size and weight are great and overall I love the feel.

Game On

Apps and Scaling
Overall apps have been scaling well on the device, the new Google Calendar looks fantastic. Reddit News (my reddit app of choice) works fantastically on my tablet, as does YouTube and Plex.

I'm disappointed with Twitter's tablet UI, so I mostly stick with Talon (which I compiled myself from the source code posted on Github).

Chrome makes use of visible tabs on tablets and foregoes the tabs-as-cards UI it uses on phones. This generally works well, but with many tabs it can get annoying. I haven't experimented with using tabs as their on activity in the Overview list, but have heard mixed reviews.

Games run very well on the Nexus 9, which was one reason I wanted a tablet. Hitman GO, Hearthstone, Scrolls, and Frozen Synapse are all great. However, I have run into some heat issues, nothing has overheated but it can get quite warm.

It should be noted that these games can take up a lot of space, so if you want to play a lot of games I highly recommend the 32GB model.


Overall I enjoy my Nexus 9 very much as my first tablet.

The performance and availability of apps is great, the front facing speakers work well (though not as well as expected, still quite usable). The new aspect ratio is a delight after seeing Apple products use it for so long.

My complaints are minimal, the heat may only be an issue with the early production runs, but for the price of the tablet I would have expected better. 

The price being the other issue due to some build quality issues such as the heat, some texture on the plastic when I first received it, and the flexing back. Had the price been lower or these issues not existed I would have been perfectly happy.

If you have the money to spend, and want a higher performance tablet I would recommend the Nexus 9 as a tablet. For a cheaper, lower-end tablet I would recommend the Nexus 7 (2013) instead.

Typos? Disagree with me? Have questions or find this review useful? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Quick Note

Just a quick note to any readers who are used to the old layout:

I switched it so it better matches my full website and no longer uses widgets that would break certain layouts.

Hope to post something interesting in the near future.