Canapeel

can·a·peel (noun) \ˈkan-ə-pēl\ – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I decided to get an Apple iPhone 6 Plus. It’s arrived, and here’s some of my thoughts.  (Granted, there’s probably nothing earth-shatteringly new here, but sometimes, ya just gotta say stuff.)

First off, the device is big. Really big, and that’s something that’s probably important to some people. For me, the way I use my phone is more as an Internet terminal rather than a phone, so the larger size is not all that important. When I need to use my phone as a phone, I’m usually using it with the speaker phone function turned on, so that mammoth physical size is really not that big an issue.

And frankly, while the width and height are generous, the thing is really slim, and doesn’t seem to weigh a ton.  And yes, it does fit in your pocket nicely … at least in my jeans.  If you’re a painted-on skinny jeans person, first off, I’m jealous, and secondly, it probably ain’t gonna fit in your pocket nearly as well as me in my baggy 550’s.

I love the rounded corners.  I tend to vacillate on this quite a bit.  When the iPhone 5 came out, I wasn’t a huge fan of the sharp edges, but I grew to like ‘em.  Now, the smooth contours of the iPhone 6 Plus have really seduced me.  It feels slick, curvaceous, and well molded for your hand.  I did buy a case (Spigen Thin Fit A), and while the case nicely fits the phone, and feels very protective, I really like the feel of the phone without it.  This case is small enough (but still sturdy!) that if you didn’t know the phone had a case on it, you might mistake it for part of the phone.  I’ve run with my phones both naked and covered, and this might be a phone that is prone to running around naked.  It’s just that nice.

iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus

The new screen is gorgeous.  It’s full 1080, and watching HD video on it is a dream.  Star Trek: Into Darkness is my favorite film to show off the crisp new display.  It just rocks on this device.  Really, really sharp, clear images from a well-done HD film.

One of the factors that drove me to this model over the regular iPhone 6 was the optical image stabilization in the camera.  On paper, this sounds like a really good thing.  In practice, I’ve only shot once where I was rocking’ and rollin’ (in the Jeep, handheld, going over some rocks), and it seemed to make a difference.  That’s not very scientific though, and is something I should try in a little more controlled environment against something like a GoPro, that doesn’t have IS.

Battery life seems to be much nicer than my iPhone 5.  I’ve found that the Facebook really drained the battery on my iPhone 5, and that seems better with the iPhone 6 (and that was with running the new iOS on both phones).  On the iPhone 5, I’d drain out to about 30% across a day of normal usage (including Facebook).  On the iPhone 6 Plus, I might drain down to 70% or so across the day.

And I really like TouchId.  Being able to identify my via the “belly button” is awesome.  I love not having to key in a passcode to unlock, and now having some applications using that as authentication within the application just makes it more magical.  Very, very cool!

Now for the ugly… The buttons.

The case redesign moved the volume and power switch, and I’m just not a fan of where they landed.  I like the fact that the power button isn’t on top, but my muscle memory always goes to the right side of the phone for volume, and that’s where the power button was relocated.  So when I try to change volume when listening to music, I turn off the iPhone.  Boo.  It’s just retraining, and I get that, but for someone that relies on knowing how to use his tools without looking, I don’t like changes to where controls are.  That’s one of the reasons that I tend to stick with the same brand on my toys — Canon cameras, Taylor guitars, etc. — so there’s not much (if any) retraining of my old brain.  I’m sure there’s a reason the volume control was moved, but I think you could move the power switch without relocating the volume control too.

One more thing I’d mention is the camera lens.  I really don’t like that the lens protrudes beyond the back case.  I don’t think you could hurt it, but that’s another great reason to have a case on the thing.  It’ll definitely keep it flat on a table.

So… a whole lot of goodness, and just those silly button relocations as a negative for me.  YMMV!

 

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak,Uncategorized and have No Comments
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Waiting for the Show to Begin

A gazillion years ago, when I was a kid — around 1970 — I was a big listener of AM radio.  I’d sit in front of my folks’ ginormous ol’ console system, and listen to the local stations — WDXB, WGOW and WFLI.  This was well before FM radio represented mainstream music, and so I got to hear popular music, not the talking heads that seem to own AM nowadays.

I can just remember listening to The Beatles on the radio.  I knew who they were, and some of their music.  When Paul McCartney formed Wings shortly thereafter, I was a little older, and they became a huge part of my listening experience.  When Wings toured America in 1976, I can remember talking with my friends about how much we wanted to go see Wings at the Omni in Atlanta (the closest venue to Chattanooga).  That never happened for me, but I did do the next best thing.

I bought Wings Over America.  On vinyl.  Probably with money earned mowing yards.  :-)

This was a huge set, on three records, and had many of my Wings favorites, along with some Beatles tunes.  I listened to it a ton, wearing the grooves out.  I could tell you every moment in that live recording, every comment by the band, every high and low.  It was one of those recordings that got in my DNA, and I loved listening to it.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I finally found Wings over America on CD.  Once again, I listened to that thing like crazy in its digital perfection.  (Yeah, yeah, I know there’s a whole argument out there about the warmth of vinyl, and the harshness of digital.  I get it, but the convenience of digital music has made it the right answer for me for a long, long time.)

Fast forward again, this time to this year.

Somehow, someway, I got wind of Wings Over America being re-released in a uber-special box, with extra tunes, video, books, etc.  I hounded it on Amazon for months, perpetually having it in my wish list, occasionally moving it into my shopping cart, only to pull back.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want this newly refreshed edition, and it was certainly within my finances.  I’ve just grown a little weary of all the re-releases of the music of my youth.  It seems like every month, there’s some other musical crustacean re-releasing a newly updated or re-mastered edition of seminal music from our shared youth.  And some of those are amazing (like the recent Pink Floyd Immersion Editions), and others aren’t exactly all that.

This was different though.  This was Macca.  He’s “big-three” territory for me, with Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd being the other corners of that triad that formed the foundation of my musical tastes in my youth.  So I finally pulled the trigger, and waited for it to arrive.  (How did we ever get by without Amazon Prime?)

I watched my phone to see when Brown Santa (aka UPS) delivered it, and dashed upstairs to grab it off the porch practically before the truck sped away.  And like a kid at Christmas, I tore into the box, and retrieved my wondrous new arrival.

And it was wondrous.

Packed inside was a really amazing-sounding version of the concert I knew so well.  Plus eight tracks from the concert in San Francisco in ’76.  Plus a DVD of Wings over the World.  And if that weren’t enough, there were four books included:  a retrospective of the tour, a scrapbook-like book, a book of photos from the tour taken by Linda McCartney, and a fourth book that collected sketches from the tour’s official artist.  I climbed in my comfy chair, and devoured those four books.  It was amazing to see that tour through “grown up” eyes, but reflected through the eyes of my youth.  It just blew me away.

And like Wonka with his Golden Ticket, there was a little extra something-something inside.  I found a little card in the set.  This card contained a code to visit Macca’s website, entitling me to pull down ultra-high resolution 24-bit/96khz versions with almost no sound processing.  It’s just about as close as you could get to the master tapes… and they’re glorious!  The sound is bright, uncompressed, and simply astonishing.  There is so much depth — things in the background, subtleties in the foreground — in these recordings that I’d never heard before.

I vaguely remember seeing Wings over the World in the late 70s.  The books indicate that CBS aired it back then, but for some reason I have a memory of seeing it on PBS in Chattanooga.  No matter — it was here, and I reveled in seeing film from the tour I never got to visit.  (And yes, I know Rockshow is out now, and it’ll be hitting my door soon.)  I was transfixed, riveted to the screen, watching this crazy second chapter in McCartney’s career unfold through live concert footage

This box set was a time machine for me, carrying me back almost forty years, and giving me a little door through which to crawl every now and then, and re-experience a really significant part of my musical youth.

And now I hear that Wings at the Speed of Sound and Venus and Mars are being released in similar editions next month.  I guess Amazon and I have a little more dancing left to do.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment,Music and have No Comments

It Never Rains, But It Pours

Gutdayzke

Gutdayzke

Yesterday, we lost my brother-in-law, Rob.  As my mother told me yesterday, it’s been a tough month.

Rob was a very cool guy, married to Becky’s older sister.  He and Carolyn were simply made for each other.  They struck me as relics from the 60s, still carrying the values of the youth of that era.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that for a long time I felt like I was temporally misplaced, and should’ve been a contributing member of the latter part of that decade.  As it was, I was just turning six at the dawn of the 70s, and so only read about that era.  To me, Rob and Carolyn brought that decade alive for me every time we saw them.

Rob was a hyper-distance runner, and man do I wish I’d talked with him about that!  As I continue to struggle through learning how to run and how to enjoy it, I’d love to have picked his brain around his running regimen, and how he kept motivated to do it.  If you search the internet, you’ll find records of him running from 50km to almost 200km in events through the midwest.  That’s amazing, especially to a big ol’ guy that looks at 5km as a big deal.

He was a gentle man, and a very unique guy in a world that needs more unique in it.

Run, Gutdayzke, run.

posted by Colin Wright in Family,Running and have No Comments

Looking for Answers

I’d been mentally queuing up a post to talk about my cancer survivorship. It’s a tough road sometimes to have an “easy” cancer story: going from diagnosis to surgery to cured in just about a month. That’s just not the typical story, and while I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet, and that there’re lessons for folks in my message, there are times when I’m just smacked in the face with how unfair stupid cancer is.

Yesterday, a friend lost his just-turned fifteen year old daughter to a really nasty adolescent cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. She went from diagnosis to passing in about fifteen pain-filled months.

Think of the future lost… school, career, husband, children, grandchildren. And all at fifteen.

And that’s why there are folks like me that question why they were dealt a relatively easy hand, while others are dealt the toughest fates there are. I mean, I’m an old guy who’s been around the bases a time or two, but she had a whole future ahead of her. Where’s the fairness in my still being here, and her being gone?

I’ll get past this question of “why me?” — I always do. After all, I know that God’s got a plan, and won’t put more in our hands than we can handle, even if we don’t understand it all. I can’t help but think about our friend and his family, though, knowing that I don’t have any frame of reference to understand their pain. I do have broad, strong shoulders though, and they’re welcome to them.

posted by Colin Wright in Cancer,Uncategorized and have Comments Off

Once Again, Into the Fray

Last week, Apple announced the new iPhone 6 models and the Apple Watch.  Since the Apple Watch doesn’t ship until next year, I went ahead and ordered the iPhone 6.  :-)

We’ve been with Verizon for the last two years, and it’s been a good relationship.  Unfortunately, Darla and I came into our iPhone purchases a little late, so we weren’t eligible until early October to order new phones, and I had resigned myself to a new iPhone arriving sometime in November.  Until today.

Upgrade Time!One of my coworkers clued me in that Verizon had changed the eligibility for some folks, so I called #874, and waited for the return text message…  Success!

With that, I pounced on ordering my new phone.  I skip every other version, so my iPhone 5 was starting to look a little long in the tooth.  I had a smaller memory model, expecting to leverage the cloud for my files, and while I’ve done that, I also like having my stuff with me.

With the announcement last week, folks have been asking me what model I was going to order.  Frankly, it was a pretty easy decision for me.  I use my iPhone more as a internet terminal than a phone most of the time.  And when I am using it as a phone, it’s either Bluetooth tethered to the Jeep, or on speakerphone mode.  I rarely hold it to my head.

With all that in mind, true 1080 HD resolution, and optical camera stabilization, it was easy to fall in line behind the iPhone 6 Plus.  Capacity was another question though.  For years, I’d bought the largest amount of storage I could get on my Apple i-devices.  In my last round of purchases, I’d opted for a smaller memory footprint, and leverage stuff in the cloud.  However, after two years of working within a small footprint, I’ve decided bigger is better, and opted for a 128GB device.  And if you’re keeping score at home, I ordered a Space Gray.

With all that said, the target delivery date range is October 16th – 23rd.  Had I ordered on October 3rd, it really would’ve been November!

I’m looking forward to playing with the new camera more than anything else.  I’ve always been impressed with the ubiquity of my iPhone, and it’s been my “best camera” because it’s the one that’s with me.  With the camera improvements, I expect that’ll get even more use from me.  And with the larger storage, I’m betting I’ll use it as much as my other camera rigs.

So watch this space — a month from now! — and we’ll see just what the iPhone 6 Plus brings to my world!

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comment (1)

Who Ya Gonna Call?

This year marks thirty years since Ghostbusters hit the big screen.  Odds are, if you’re under 40 or so, you probably haven’t seen it on the big screen, but on a 60″ or smaller screen.  That’s a shame, ’cause this thing was big.  Not Star Wars big, but big.

I first saw this in Chattanooga, and remember thinking that it had to be one of the funniest films I’d ever seen.  I literally fell out of my movie seat cracking up at the reveal of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

And quotable.  Man, this has gotta be one of the top five quotable films for me — Airplane, Spaceballs, and Stripes also come to mind.

Today, Darla took me to see the 30th anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters on the big screen.  I hate to say it, but it was sparsely attended.  We settled in, and waited for the magic.

And the first thing I noticed was how incredibly grainy the print was.  I hadn’t thought about how much film has changed in the last three decades.  I think almost everything nowadays is created on digital media, and film has kinda fallen off the map for most studios.  This was shot on real film, and it really looked it.

The film was still funny, although the impact of hearing and seeing it the first time is a one-time gig.  What was funny was to hear some folks in the theatre for whom this was apparently their first time seeing it.  They were definitely getting that “first time” experience!

It was odd, though, to see some of the cultural changes.  One of the moving men at the university had a cassette-based Walkman on.  There was a portable video camera used by one of the Ghostbusters, with a camera separated from a tape deck the size of a briefcase.  Sigourney Weaver’s character had a trimline phone in her apartment.  (And to further hammer home how old that reference is, my Mac has “trimline” flagged as a typo.)

So now, I wonder if this anniversary re-release is the beginning of a new trend, allowing us nostalgic geysers a chance to recapture our youth, while demonstrating just how cool this old stuff is to the young’uns out there.  We’ve got a theatre here in town that regularly holds “retro” film nights.  While this isn’t new — I saw The Graduate on an anniversary release back in the early 80s — it seems like there’s a lot more of it going on.

Maybe we’re just too busy looking backwards.  Maybe some films from my youth really have become classics.  Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing this one, and can’t wait to see the next “old geezer” flick at the nickelodeon.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comments Off

A Return, and a Farewell

For the last year (and change), I’ve been pretty silent around here. It’s not for lack of having anything to say, but I’ve really just been numbed by so many things… life, the universe and everything, to steal a phrase from Douglas Adams.  My mother taught me that if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  Blame my Southern upbringing for roaring silence then, for there’s not been much nice to say.

Or so I’d think.  But there’s nice things to write about.  There’ve been Jeep things and Jeep events.  There’s been my music… refuge, voice, and savior.  (Note the lower case “s” — I know the real Savior, and I’m on the right side of Him.)  Of course, there’s my wife and family and nutty canines, and the new life my niece and soon-to-be-nephew will begin this weekend in Virginia.  And no matter how much war, rioting, looting, plague and just plain ol’ evil is out there, there’s always something nice to say about something.  And that’s something I need to remember on a daily basis.

I’ll try to do better.

And despite the nudge toward the positive, what strikes my muse tonight is a farewell.

I can’t imagine what kind of demons one has to endure or house rent-free to drive you to give up one of God’s greatest gifts — your own life — but Robin Williams obviously found them, and succumbed to them.  I never met the man, and don’t know much about his life, aside from what’s been reported over the last few decades.  He genuinely seemed to be a kind man, albeit with his own struggles.  What I have seen is his work, across more than half my lifetime.

I can remember first seeing him, like so many others, in Mork and Mindy in the 70s, and falling in love with his quick, lunatic style.  To a teenager, that was the right speed, the right topics, and just silly enough to stick.  Your brain would barely get finished chewing on one gag before the next one was hitting your ears.

Oddly enough, it’s not his comedic work that ranks as my favorite parts of his film legacy.

I never saw What Dreams May Come in the theater, but somehow decided to buy it on DVD years ago.  It’s not a film that a lot of folks seem to like, but for me, it really captured a torturous afterlife in which a man whose life is taken too early struggles to come to grips with his own death.  It’s brilliant visually, and includes Williams’ character finding not only his family, but his dog, in the hereafter.  You can’t go wrong with that, and you’ll be emptying the Kleenex box before the thing is done.

My other favorite Williams film is Bicentennial Man.  I’d read the Isaac Asimov story in my teens, and was thrilled to see it come to live, but I couldn’t figure out how in the world someone like Robin Williams could possibly do justice to such a serious tale of a robot finding his humanity.  But he did, and made it a wonderful film.  Williams is appropriately funny, and appropriately serious, and by the end of the film — spanning nearly 200 years of human time — you’re just flat sucked into the tale.  It’s wonderful, and one of my half dozen or so “go-to” films when I just wanna watch.

Another favorite — this time more comedic — was his singing of “Blame Canada” from South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut when the song was nominated for an Oscar back in 2000.  There’s nobody that could’ve danced the line between the humor and bawdiness of that song and film, and bring it all to life on live television.  I remember thinking there was absolutely no way that could be done live.  It was, and it was Robin Williams that did it.  Google the interwebs to watch it.  It’s worth it.

But now he’s gone, and far too early.  I think I’ll miss that ear-to-ear smile of his most of all.  It was a smile that just seemed to engulf you, was infectious, and never seemed to end.

Farewell Mork, Andrew, Teddy and so very many others.  There’ll never be another Robin Williams, and I think the planet was a little better for having had him riding along with the rest of us.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comment (1)

NJT: Drake Billet Inserts, or, How I Gave My Rubicon a Nose Job

Yesterday, I spent some time working on the Lil’ Red Rubicon. Earlier in the week, I’d ordered a set of Drake grille inserts. For some reason, Jeeps don’t have any kind of mesh to prevent bugs from ending their lives against the radiator fins… some kind of insect genocide, I guess.

Before

Before

With that, there’s a whole bunch of instructions out there for DIY grill inserts/guards, and I’d thought about going that route — it’s easy and cheap, and can be done with parts from the hardware store. In the end, I wanted something a little more “finished” looking. Enter the Drake inserts.

These things are beasts, built of billet aluminum in three different finishes (I chose black; a choice I would later question), and can be installed with no glue or permanent alterations of the grill. Winner, winner, winner!

As I thought about putting these on the Jeep, I was also looking at “blacking out” the nose. Folks usually do this with Plastidip spray-on coating. This stuff is used for a lot of purposes, but I think it’s primarily for putting a rubberized surface on tools for better grip. It’s also dynamite as a removable coating for things like grills, wheels and fenders. I figured that as long as I had the grill off, I might as well black out the grill too.

Pulling the grill was easy. Drake’s instructions were spot-on, and I had the grill off in about five minutes. And then, I was confronted with how committed I was to changing the nose of my virtually new Rubicon.

I sprayed the first couple of coats on the Drake inserts — no commitment needed there. But, then the grill stared at me, challenging me as to whether I was ready to start blacking it out… and then I pressed my finger on the can nozzle. I was committed, and continued on about my spraying.

After

After

In the end, I used two coats of ‘dip on the grill, and four coats of red paint on the inserts. Starting out with black inserts was probably a mistake. It took a lot of coats to get the inserts to the color I wanted. Had I started out with brushed aluminum inserts, I think the painting would’ve gone easier … it’s just a lot easier to NOT have to cover up all that black.

Installing the inserts was easy, and re-installing the grill was a piece of cake. Frankly, I love the look. It’s unique, and I did it… both good things!

A close-up is worth a thousand words…

Close-Up

Close-Up

posted by Colin Wright in Jeep and have Comments Off

NDD: Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio

(NDD is New Doodad Day, btw…)

Another day, another new toy. Today’s is the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio.

I’ve been thinking more and more about a keyboard for my iPad, and starting to use it more as a mobile communication device, rather than just as an internet consumption device, which has been my primary use for it. Enter the desire for a keyboard. (Note that I didn’t say need!)

Plug it in (to charge it), insert the iPad into the pretty dang secure holder, and it was ready to pair with my iPad. From unviolated box to paired and typing in about 90 seconds. Pretty cool.

I will mention that the keyboard has a funky feel. It’s a covered, slightly membrane-like keyboard, so the keys have a little funkiness to their feel, both from the fabric and from the short throw action. However, it’s definitely better than typing on the glass, and I’m noticing just through typing this up, I’m getting used to the feel a bit.

More to come, I’m sure, as I play with this gadget on a more regular basis!

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comment (1)

Spam, By Any Other Name

So, yesterday I started getting some very peculiar emails from the GoToWebinar folks. The messages implied that I’d signed up for a webinar for “The New $2k+ Per Day Method” and that it was to start later in the day. Apparently, I must’ve really been interested, as I was signed up several times, complete with countdown-like notifications telling me was about to start, had started, and was underway.

Needless to say, and despite what anyone from “Platinum Millennium” (the hosts of this funfest) might say, I’ve never signed up for any such thing. (It appears to be some kind of deal to make money playing music, so I suspect my information was sold to them from some guitar/music site or list.) Sorry Ty Cohen — the apparent mastermind of this opportunity to “see money being made live, in front of my eyes”… I ain’t that gullible. Frankly, at first blush, this guy has an awful reputation out there on the wild and wooly internet.

The funny thing is that the emails are legitimate, and really do look like I subscribed to the Cohen webinar-of-the-hour club. Bravo to GoToWebinar — there’s a way to unsubscribe from this wild man’s spam assault through the GoToWebinar site.

I’ll give him credit for this — this certainly is a different level of spam attack, leveraging a perfect legitimate site to do his awful bidding.

Asta la see ya, Ty! :-)

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comment (1)
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