Category Archives: Geek-Speak

Geeky spaces lie within — be careful where you step!

Domain Hijinks

It’s been a little quiet ’round here, so how about some spammer fun.

Yesterday, I got a note from “Grace Anderson,” using some mysterious, weird looking Gmail account, offering to sell me a mis-spelled version of one of my domains.  To heighten the urgency, Grace let me know that they’re taking offers from any interested parties.  Well, that’s pretty much all it took.  Enjoy.

Hi there!

I’ll offer you a chicken.  That’s twice the offer I gave the person last week that offered this domain to me for sale... or maybe a similar one... so much spam, so little time.  I only offered them a Cornish hen, which as we all know, is significantly smaller, and will realistically only feed one or two people.  A chicken, on the other hand, will feed a whole family one meal, plus leftovers for making soup the next day.  And if you’re really good, you can make bone broth from the carcass after making soup.

You would need to supply the vegetables, however.  To qualify for vegetables, you’d need to offer something bigger.

Skywriting would probably get you some vegetables, but it’d have to be really, really good skywriting.  Block letters, in a nice serif font that could be seen for days, including a little glow-in-the-dark material that would keep everything nice and purty across a few days.  I mean, why have skywriting if it’s gonna just disappear, right?

Your pal,
Colin

A Tale of Two Drobos

(Yeah, I know it’s been a while.  I’ve been taking a break from running to let my body heal from the goofy stuff I attempted this spring, and allow the crazy heat of summer finally break.  While we all wait, I return you to some of my escapades into technology-ville…)

I can’t remember when I first heard about Drobo, but it was undoubtedly on some photography blog or podcast loads of years ago.  At that time, I was really scarfing for some way to manage my the growth of my already-large photo/scan/video catalog.  Drobo popped up in that quest, and while it was an interesting concept — RAID with any size or kind of drive that was laying around — I was nervous about their proprietary system, and didn’t pursue it.

Years of cobbling together oddball solutions, largely based on consumer offerings like Western Digital’s My Book Duo two-disk arrays… lots of them.  My thinking was that, despite the complexity of managing those discrete units and synchronizations among them, I was ahead of the game, because I could drop those almost anywhere, and they’d just work.

Late last year, Drobo ran a great deal on their 5Dt array, including an mSATA cache pre-installed, and three years of support, for a smoking hot price.  I couldn’t resist that, so I brought it in house, and filled it with Western Digital 6TB drives.  It worked so well for my day-to-day work, I put a Drobo 5C next to it, and used full array-to-array synchonizations to keep my stuff safe.

Fast forward to June, and Uncle Tim’s announcement of the new 5K iMac with Thunderbolt 3.  TB3 to me reads as “faster, faster, faster data”, and I snapped up a BTO model, and promptly dropped 64GB of RAM in it from Other World Computing.

And then it was Drobo’s turn.

Drobo announced a Thunderbolt 3 model of their array — dubbed the 5D3 — which would take advantage of my shiny new Mac’s TB3 ports.  Color me a happy camper.  I got one ordered a couple of days after ordering opened up, and I feverishly watched it’s march across the country until it got here.

My master plan was to sell my Drobo 5Dt, and daisy chain my 5C off the back of the new 5D3.  I reached out to Drobo on Facebook, and they quickly let me know that that configuration should work just fine.  That would simplify my cabling back to the iMac, and give me some nice ways to land the Drobo’s on my desk.

The 5D3 got here, and after a SUPER-SIMPLE migration of the drives from the 5Dt to the 5D3, I was up and running.

And noisy.

I reached back out to Drobo on Facebook to ask about the noisy fan in the 5D3.  They quickly reached out, let me know it shouldn’t be doing that, and wanted to give me a call.  Like I told Valorie from Drobo, them calling me was like getting a call from the mothership!  🙂

Valorie and I worked through some scenarios, and the only way the 5D3’s fans weren’t running full speed after five minutes of being active was to connect it via USB3.  That was a great discovery, as it kept me working, while Valorie arranged to have a new 5D3 shipped to me — overnight, no less!

It arrived today, and I moved my drives from the first 5D3 to the second.  Everything went smoothly, and after thirty minutes of speedy TB3 connectivity, I decided to attempt daisy chaining my 5Dt to the second TB3 port on the 5D3.  I’d gotten an Apple TB3-to-TB2 adapter, so I was set.

(And yeah, I decided to keep the 5Dt in the mix as the backup drive, rather than using the 5C.  If it had to become the primary, it’d be faster than the 5C, and it has a long period of DroboCare on it… why not use it?)

With the 5Dt connected, I fired everything up, and things stayed quiet for about thirty minutes.  I kicked of a 250GB copy between the arrays, just to give the new 5D3 a shot at getting hot.  It didn’t, and it’s sitting here, next to my iMac, purring right along.

Drobo couldn’t have made me happier with their support services.  I merely mentioned the noisy fan, and they committed themselves to understanding what was going on with my device, and making sure I stayed up and functional while my replacement unit shipped.  This was customer service executed in an amazing fashion.

So here I sit, Drobo’s silently humming along, cranking through video files, photos and music, and am enjoying my newfound speedy TB3 Drobo!!!

Jeep Wrangler RHB Radio Update

I bought my Wrangler Rubicon in the spring of 2013, and have loved it ever since.  It’s a wonderful, capable vehicle — much more so than me!  It’s a transformer… doors on or off, roof up or down.  Every day, it can be a different vehicle.

Like other parts of the Jeep, the 430N radio system also needs periodic maintenance, and mine’s been barking about the age of the maps for a while.  Unfortunately, those updates haven’t been available.

A week or so ago, I got a mailer that indicated that finally, map updates were available for my Jeep!  I ordered them, and they arrived late last week.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in the package, but what I got was a SD card reader, two SD cards, and a load of instructions.  The RHB software update was for version 50.01.01, and the Garmin firmware update was to version 5.11.  And along with that was Garmin’s City Navigator North America NT 2015 maps.

Thursday night, I got started.

Doing the radio firmware upgrade wasn’t too big a deal, and seemed to follow the instructions that Here (the distributor of the files) sent along.  However…

I started trying to do the map upgrades, and quickly ran into problems.  The mapping system is supplied by Garmin, and Garmin seems to always be goofy about licensing their material, making it funky to work with.  This time was no exception.

Following the instructions, I inserted the map SD card into the supplied USB card reader, and stuck it in the front of the radio.  Basically, the radio has to write something to the card, which, I believe, writes a file indicating the current device (the radio) and its map status.  This is apparently used as part of the map activation process.

As described, I removed the card, took it to my Mac, and tried to use the Here website to activate the map.  Unfortunately, it never seemed to work.

Undaunted, I backed the Jeep out into the driveway, and tried doing the map update, not knowing for sure if I had a valid activation or not.  The booklet said it would take up to two hours, so I started the Jeep, and I sat.  There was nothing on the radio screen as I let things percolate, although I couldn’t really tell if anything was happening.  The supplied card reader has a tiny blue light on it, but I couldn’t really see it well enough to see any activity.  After two hours, I pulled the Jeep back in the garage, turned it off, and then checked the maps on the radio.  No bueno.

I called Here Friday morning, and talked at length with them.  I described what I’d done, and the agent was convinced I’d done everything right.  He had me mount the SD card on the Mac, and he asked me to look for two files, gmapprom.gma and gmapprom.unl.  Neither were there, which implied that the map activation process didn’t work correctly.

He also hinted that there had been a ton of issues with owners of 2013 RHB radios (used across the Chrysler brands) trying to do these updates.  Here is just the middleman — Chrysler builds the firmware and Garmin builds the maps.  Here really doesn’t have anything to do with either end of things, but is the group getting the angry calls.  🙂

The agent indicated that they were working daily with both Chrysler and Garmin to resolve this.  He said he didn’t know when they would make progress, but that I could return the update within 30 days (September 15th), so I figured I’d give them until September 10th, and see where things sat.

Not giving up, though, I kept trying to activate the maps, figuring I needed to solve that before I would make progress.  One thing I’d noticed was that I was being prompted by the browser if I was sure I wanted to re-submit a form while on the activation page.  I kept clicking “no”, as it didn’t seem to make sense that the form with my information needed to be re-submitted.  Then I thought, “Well, why not?”  And, once I let it re-submit, activation seemed to take place, and I had a code on my screen and the expected activation files on my SD card!

So, today, I blocked off some time to install the maps.  This time, I decided to do it in the garage, leaving the engine off, yet having the Jeep key in the “on” position.  Also this time, I took my desktop SD card reader.  It has a big blue light on it, and it would be easy to tell if the card was being read or not.  The first time I tried, it appeared that the update was gonna work, but within a few minutes, it went back to the blank screen I’d seen before.  Guessing this wouldn’t be successful, I stopped the update, and started thinking about what else I could try.

And then I thought to try turning off the radio before trying the update… and it began working!  The blue light on my card reader was blinking, and I was seeing status displayed on the screen as the update was applied.

Twenty-five minutes later — not two hours! — I had 2015 maps on the Jeep, and all was good.

So, with all the yelling and screaming out there about this update, here’s the two things I did that I think were key.  The first was letting the form re-submit in the browser while on the activation page.  The second was turning off the radio before attempting the update.

And with that, I’m now current with my maps!

Say Hello to My Little Friend

iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)
iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)

I’ve had a love affair with music since I was a kid.  I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a huge piece of my life.  And because of that, I love running with music.

A long time ago, I picked up a tiny little iPod, the iPod Shuffle (2nd Generation) to carry music with me when I went cycling or traveling.  I loved that little thing, and it still works very, very well to this day.

However, as I’ve started to do more running, I’ve discovered that you cannot control that model of Shuffle with the on-cable controls — no volume adjustments, next/previous track, etc.  When I’m running, I’ll find that a particular track at a particular time doesn’t hit me quite right, and I wanna skip it.  Sometimes, I’ll find a track that was so good with my pace that I wanna repeat it.  While you can do that from the front of the Shuffle, you sorta have to fiddle with it on your waistband or pocket, and that’s a little distracting to me.

4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles
4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles

As I started to research, I got tangled up between the newer iPod Nano (I have an older one of those too!) and the newer Shuffle.  The new Shuffle pays attention to those on-cable controls and is really teeny, but the new Nano had Bluetooth for headphones.  I even bought some new Bluetooth running headphones to see if I could get them to fit my earholes and get used to them.  No deal.  You see, I love my Bose sport earbuds, despite being cabled.  They fit my ears like they were custom made for them, and ultimately, that’s what made my decision easy.  Shuffleland, here I came.

A few things of note.  First off, the price now is about half what I paid for my first Shuffle.  They both only sport 2GB of storage, but with an option in iTunes, you can “down convert” files to 128kb/s, putting more music in the small space.  Even at 128kb/s, the audio quality is fine for my old ears when I’m out running or riding, and 2GB has always given me plenty of variety when I’m out putting trails behind me.

I’ve had this little thing for a couple of weeks now, and I really love it.  It’s teency, even smaller than the previously diminutive Shuffle.  This time, I even got it engraved at the factory. The only complaint I have about the engraving is that it is really, really small, and is more like a printed message, making it very hard to see.  Still, I know it’s there, and that’s a good thing.  🙂

Packaging
Packaging

I was struck with the reduction in the size of the packaging.  In the photo, you can see the difference in size between the little plastic coffins these two devices were shipped in.  Apple’s gone to some lengths to minimize the amount of packaging in many of their products, and it really shows with the tiny little box for the new one.  One casualty of that move — you only get one Apple sticker, instead of two.

Charging
Charging

The charging system has also gotten smaller.  With the second generation device, there was a long cable and a little dock.  The new Shuffle has a little pigtail cable that plugs directly into the headphone plug.  I kinda like that, especially given that I’ll be traveling with this one to races around the country.  In fairness, it is a little awkward to plug into the back of a Mac or iMac, but works great with my MacBook or a USB hub.

So, after a couple of weeks of putting it through its paces, I think I’ve decided this new little piece of gear is a keeper.  Hopefully, it’ll last as long as my first Shuffle!

New Gear: The New MacBook

The New MacBook
The New MacBook

Apple is incredibly good at building sexy hardware… hardware I have a tough time avoiding!

A while back, I bought the then-brand new MacBook Pro with Retina screen (MBPr).  I fell in love with the luscious new screen, with it’s high resolution and vivid color.  Add to that a solid-state drive, and even with the big 15″ screen, the machine was a pound lighter overall than a regular MBP.  And it was fast.  Screaming fast.

At the time, I was really trying to build a very portable footprint, and the MBPr was a big part of that.  As it ends up, I began working from home last summer, and I began growing a less mobile desktop platform based on the new cylinder MacPro.

And then Apple announced the new MacBook.

Frankly, this new machine hit me a little funny.  This little laptop was gonna be light — just about two pounds — but have a pretty slow processor (by modern standards), and a 12-inch screen.  Add to that some shenanigans around a lack of built-in ports for USB3 and Thunderbolt, and this new machine was a little ho hum for me.

As I took in through some spring destination races this year, I kinda found that I needed something a little more laptop-like and less iPad-like for races on the road.  I didn’t like carrying the MBPr to away races, because that usually meant carrying a laptop bag, and while that wasn’t a ton of extra weight when packing for an “away” race, it did make things a little more clunky for travelling.

Those away races made me reconsider the little MacBook, and little by little, I started to fall for this wee beast.

Looking at how I use a laptop, I really wasn’t doing powerful photo processing, massive spreadsheets, or using other high-powered solutions when I was away from my desk.  Even with my MBPr, I was only using it to surf, write, and do a little light Photoshop work.

Suddenly, the little MacBook started to look a little more attractive.

I even came to terms with the weird situation with external ports.  The new MacBook only has a lonely USB-C connector, which is used for power and just about anything else, and a headphone connector.  That’s it.  Anything that’s externally wired has to go through the USB-C connector, which means a handful of dongles for USB3, Ethernet, video, Thunderbolt… and the list goes on.

Again, thinking about my use case, all that connectivity wasn’t that big a deal most of the time, and I didn’t mind too much having a dongle or two for those rare instances when I needed them.  Heck, I was doing that with my MBPr occasionally anyway, so that wasn’t exactly new territory.

I’d finally rationalized all the perceived shortcomings, and was ready to buy not long after they began to ship in April.  That’s when I discovered a wrinkle in my newfound excitement for this new laptop.

There was no availability.  Anywhere.  Apple couldn’t ship them out fast enough, with five week ship times for standard configurations.  Third party providers didn’t have them.  The supply pipeline just wasn’t full, which is pretty rare for Apple with a new product.  It’s usually demand that dries up the pipeline, but in this case, Apple simply didn’t have very many to ship out.

I watched for quite a while to see if the ship times from Apple would get better.  They didn’t.  And then one night I was looking at Best Buy’s web site, and on a lark, did a search for the new MacBook.

And shockingly, in mid-June, Best Buy had them in stock for shipping, and in the configuration I wanted:  1.2Ghz Intel M processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD — one of the standard configurations.  I wasted no time in making an order, and in a few days, the shipping box arrived with my new laptop inside.

The first thing that struck me was the weight of the box when the UPS delivery guy put it in my hand.  It weighed nothing.  I kinda wondered if the box was just empty.

Opening it up, I found the Apple box inside, and once again I was struck with the diminutive size.  The white-box was really tiny.  I had just packed up my 15″ MBPr for its new owner, so I was used to seeing a bigger box.  This thing was itsy-bitsy by comparison.

I opened the box, unpacked the machine and lifted the lid, firing up my new 12″ MacBook.  Once again, the Apple setup experience for the new machine was simply amazing.  It’s easy, quick, and everything just works, right out of the box.

And now, about a month downstream from my unboxing, the experience has been great.

So, to be fair, there are times when I notice the difference in processor speed… for a second.  That’s barely noticeable, and certainly not impactful.  I regularly use the Adobe Cloud apps, Microsoft office apps and iLife apps, and never find myself questioning the speed of the laptop.  It’s fast enough for what I need, and I think that’s the niche this machine fills… fast enough.

You’re not gonna do processor intensive work on this machine.  But, to be fair, it’s really not designed for that.  It’s designed to be the lightest OS X footprint device you can buy, trading weight for power.  It’s kinda like the lovechild of a full-sized MacBook and an iPad Air.  For me, that’s perfect.

The screen is really nice, with (apparently) even tighter pixels than my 15″ MBPr.  In fact, they’re tight enough that even with a 12″ footprint, you can watch full HD resolution content, and have some screen real estate left over.  The colors are vivid, and text is ultra-crisp.  And with the less powerful processor, there are no fans in the machine.  It is dead silent when running… almost unnervingly so.

Apple also introduced a new butterfly switch under the keys on the keyboard.  This has a really different feel than anything I’ve felt from them.  The keys have great tactile feedback, but don’t travel very far.  I know there are a lot of folks that don’t like the new feel, but for me, it seems pretty natural.  The other keyboards Apple’s been shipping always felt kinda “mushy” to me.  This one definitely doesn’t feel like that.  The key illumination is much better too, with each key having it’s own LED to brighten it up in dim conditions.

There’s also new trackpad.  And if I have any issues with the new MacBook, it’s with the new Force Touch trackpad.  This new trackpad allows for sensing how hard you click.  So, for example, a light click might do one thing, and a harder click might do something different.  For me, that’s taken some getting used to, as I’ve discovered I’m a heavy clicker.  It’s taken a lot of practice to get the real click-action I intended, and at times, that’s still a work in progress.

But, wait, there’s more!  The new trackpad is big, and with the smaller dimensions of the laptop, there’s not much room around it to rest your wrist while typing.  It’s very common for me to be typing, and suddenly have some kind of force-click action pop up.  If you’re a classically trained typist, and are used to keeping your wrists up, this won’t be a problem.  If you’re a lazy typist — like me! — that close proximity to the keyboard might be an issue.

Realistically, though, I’ve had nothing but fun with this new laptop.  I use it a ton, and am getting used to the subtle differences the new design introduced.  It’s crazy light, fully functional, and does everything I could possibly want.

Now, I’ve just gotta find an “away” race to give it a full road test!

Race #25 – Pi Day 5K

For my twenty-fifth race, I picked a doozy — a once in a century event.  You see, Pi Day is celebrated every year on March 14th (3-14) — the first three significant digits of pi.  This year, the once-a-century alignment of month, day and year creates an über pi day (3-14-15).   So now, start a race at 9:26:53am that morning, and you’ve got a major pi event (3-14-15-9-26-53 … the first ten significant digits of pi).

I drove to Columbus OH for this race, with most of the drive in a rainstorm.  Nothing like almost eight hours of pouring rain to get ya off to a good start, eh?  Add to that a temperamental GPS — I mean, who sends you through the downtown maze of interstate connections in Columbus at rush hour? — awful traffic, and a tired guy, and you have the ingredients for a grumpy driver.  I got there safely, though, and that’s the important part.

No Sand Volleyball Today
No Sand Volleyball Today

Saturday morning, it was still raining, but the temps were in the high 40s, and there was no wind.  If it’s gonna rain on a run, those are pretty good overall conditions.  And frankly, I enjoy running in the rain.  It’s settling, peaceful, and is usually a wonderful experience.

A few days before the race, the race organizer let me know that the packets for the out-of-town participants would be at the race site at the Very Important Pi People (VIP2) table.  it’s the first time I’ve been a VIP at a race, so I enjoyed that.  They really seemed to be unaccustomed to folks coming from out of state for this fundraising race for the local school district.  But with a cool event offering a really nice medal, I’m surprised they didn’t have more out-of-staters in attendance.

The race was awesome.  The foot pain that kept me out of the races in Lincoln at the beginning of the year flared back up, so I took it easy, and mostly walked the course, which wound through a suburban park.  I had no idea what to expect from the course, but it was a paved trail, and very easy to navigate.  And it was flat!

A little over four kilometers in, I started to see people go off-trail, and up into the woods.  I quickly saw why.  The trail was flooded for about fifteen feet, and they didn’t want to go through the shoe-high water.  After earning my water wings in the Sandmine Challenge a couple of weeks ago, I simply couldn’t go around, and high stepped through the mini-lake!  And of course, that meant I passed about fifteen folks that were up in the woods.  Woot!

Finished!
Finished!

I came around the corner, ran to the finish (because you always run to the finish!) and collected my medal.  They had engravers on the spot, so I turned my medal over to them, and had my name and time engraved… except it wasn’t.

Like most on-the-spot engravers, they had a feed from the official timing for the event (this time from Fleet Feet Columbus).  I got my medal back, and the time was about two-and-a-half minutes longer than my own timing.  And suddenly, I realized I was dealing with gun time, and not chip time.  Again.  Dunno why suddenly this year that’s been such an issue, but it is what it was.  As with last week, I’m claiming my “watch time.”

So, race four of six in the back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back race weekends is in the books, and with some irrationality!  (See what I did there?)

Race Course:
Pi Day 5K Course
Pi Day 5K Course

New Threads

Anyone who has been visiting Canapeel for a while (all five of ya!), have seen the old timey theme clunking along.  Well, I’ve discovered that there’s something in that theme that was creating duplicate Open Graph tags, which I believe is why posts here weren’t getting published to Facebook (at least; I know they’ve been shuttling to Twitter, and I don’t check Google+ enough to know if they’ve been appearing there or not).

So, enter a free theme from the WordPress folks — “2014” is the name of it.  Yearly, they seem to come up with something cool for a free theme, so this may just be transient, depending on just what “2015” looks like.  I like it though — slick black and white columnar layout, with loads of room for photos, and a nice, crisp bar on the left.

Nicely done Automatticians!

Apple MacPro, OS X Yosemite and Wi-Fi … The Honeymoon’s Over

OK, so I’ll admit it.  I’m an Apple fanboy, and have been since making the switch to Macs in 2005.  For geek profile purposes, I would tell ya that I’m an early adopter, and a realist about problems that may show up.  It’s hardware, and software, and even though there’s tight synergy granted from both sides of that coming from the same complex in Cupertino, I recognize that things will go bump every now and then.

That said, let me introduce you to my latest saga with the Apple ecosystem.

AirDrop is a pretty cool technology that allows Macs, and now iPhones with iOS 8, to create short-lived, ad hoc networks to transfer files.  This is pretty cool, especially if you use your iPhone as a primary form of photography (And for Rick and Tom, I’m not naming names here!), and for probably other uses as well.  Once I got both Yosemite and iOS 8.1 down, I wanted to give AirDrop a try.  The first prompt I got was to turn on the wi-fi card in my late-2013 Mac Pro cylinder.

As a note, I don’t usually keep wi-fi enabled on my Mac Pro.  This machine never travels, and does some big data moves across my network, so hardwiring it at gig-e speeds just makes sense for me.

When I tried to turn on the wi-fi on my shiny cylinder o’ fun, I clicked the button on the network preferences panel… and nothing happened.  I clicked it again.  Nothing.  And like any good techie, I continued clicking it periodically over the next few minutes.  Nada.

I decided to restart my Mac, and as though by magic, I was able to turn on wi-fi in my system.  I played with AirDrop, and then turned off wi-fi.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I took a walk at lunch.  Normally, I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to capture my travels, but for some reason, it was having trouble finding the satellites, so I did my walk, and then wanted to check the distance.  My go-to answer for years has been Google Maps, but I figured that since Apple had included this cool Maps application on the desktop, I’d use it.

Well… it barked about not being able to find my position without wi-fi being turned on, which means the app barks incessantly about how it can’t determine my location.  I even tried to feed it my location to shut it up, and it still was pretty dang insistent.  I know my Mac doesn’t have a GPS device embedded in it, so it’s obviously using my wi-fi network name to figure where I am, based on the network I’m connected to.  If I’m out in public, that’s pretty cool.  Sitting in my house, that’s a little creepy.  TMI, say I!  However, that misgiving aside, I turned on my wi-fi.

Or tried to.

Once again, I was left with a wi-fi system that didn’t seem to be active, regardless of what I’d do.  Once again, I restarted my machine.  I paid close attention this time, and noticed that the wi-fi was on when the machine came back up.  Whether I had hit the button an odd number of times, resulting in the post-reboot status being active, or if it just remembered that I was trying to turn it on, my cylindrical Mac came back up with wi-fi happy.  Oh, and Maps was much happier as well.

So, what’s this mean?  I’m not entirely sure.  Except that I need to be planful around when I want to use AirDrop or Maps, or anything else requiring the lil’ Mac Pro to have its wi-fi enabled.

I’ve done a ton of searches on this issue.  Unfortunately, there are loads of as-yet-unresolved issues with Yosemite around wi-fi performance and dropping networks, and those are clouding my searches with a lot of wild goose chases.  If I had to guess, I’d bet that something is being flagged to turn on wi-fi, but can’t complete until after a restart for some reason.  Or, wi-fi is really active, but all the indicators in the network preferences aren’t there. I should probably watch my Apple network gear (using my iPad or iPhone) to see if there’s every anything showing up on the router’s side, which could help narrow things down.

Just a little spot on my otherwise shiny Apple!

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!

 

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!