Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2012
Today while heading home from work I had to slam on my brakes to avoid being hit by somebody pulling out of a parking lot. I stopped so hard that I strained my neck. It was a crappy end to a crappy day... though, now that I think about it, there's still two hours left for something new to go terribly wrong.
In better news, today is the fifth anniversary of the original iPhone...
It hardly seems like it was five whole years ago. Partly because it still looks more beautiful and modern than the majority of mobiles on the market... but mostly because I know people who are still using their original iPhones to this day...
And I'm fairly certain I'd rather have a first-gen iPhone than anything I've tried from Android, Microsoft, or Blackberry (are they even around anymore?). Sure I'd miss the speed, the 3G data throughput, and the ability to run the latest version of iOS... but at least it's still an iPhone. Such is the price you pay for being an Apple Whore, I guess.
So happy birthday iPhone, and many more.
Now I'm taking a pill for my neck so I can go to bed. Yay.
Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2012
There's new products.
And then there's dangerously new products.
After I got home from work, I saw a commercial for "Krave," which kind of blew my mind...
Because, seriously... IT'S CEREAL FILLED WITH CHOCOLATE CANDY! Isn't it glorious?
Pour a shot of Jägermeister on top, and you've got a party.
My work Mac has been dying for a while now. It's been in near constant use for six years, so this isn't surprising. I'm just happy that it has worked so well for so long... and especially pleased that Apple supported it all this time. So far as I know, you can still run all the latest software on the latest version of MacOS X, which is pretty remarkable. Sure it runs slow, but not prohibitively so. If the video and hard drive controllers weren't flaking out, I probable could have gotten another year or two out of it. But, alas, the video gets jittery even when I replace the video card, and I keep losing files and having crashes, soooooo... I guess it's time.
At first I was looking into getting another Mac Pro. But then I noticed that Apple seems to be distancing themselves from their desktop computer line. It's rarely updated and no real innovations have been happening there for a while. Where the action is at is in the iMac line...
The top-of-the-line iMac is over twice as fast as my current computer. That's not as nice as a new mid-level Mac Pro, which would be four times faster, but an iMac is half the price, so there you have it. It's also pretty. So I ordered a tricked out a 27-inch iMac and we'll see how it goes.
Nothing quite like adding even more profit to Apple's bottom line to make you feel alive.
Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
I'm a huge fan, and he did not disappoint. Have to say though... Tom Colicchio saying "I've gotta agree with Pee-Wee..." is something I never thought I'd hear.
And speaking of things I never thought I'd hear (at least in this decade)... Washington State's Senate passed a Marriage Equality Bill tonight, which means we're one step closer to becoming the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage. That's a pretty big deal for a lot of Washingtonians being able to fulfill this country's promise of pursuing happ...i...ness...ss... and... HOLY CRAP THERE'S A SPIDER CRAWLING UP THE WALL!!!!!
Poor spider. He probably came inside to get out of the cold and I had to catch him and throw him back outside. Probably not a lot of food for him out there. Wah! I wonder if it would have been less cruel to smoosh him than to let him starve to death. But I can't bring myself to kill anything if I can help it. Argh.
I hate it when stuff like this happens.
My new work computer arrived today (thank you for the speedy delivery, Apple!). I admit that when I ordered it I was a little worried about how an iMac would fare for professional use. But, now that I've had a chance to play with it for a while, I have to say that I am very happy with the machine...
For anybody who's interested, I've put my thoughts on the iMac in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Yesterday morning was a mad rush to get to work. I had been attacking my to-do list since 4:00am, and really need to get to the office so I could get everything sent out. This meant skipping breakfast, throwing my crap into my backpack, then storming out the door.
Where I proceeded to drop my iPhone on the pavement.
And then accidentally kick it across the parking lot when I bent over to pick it up.
So now my beautiful iPhone has a giant crack running down the front along with assorted chips in the glass...
Not a pretty site.
What's odd is that this is the first time I've damaged an iPhone in the five years I've been buying them. Over the years I've dropped them numerous times... I even dunked one in a waterfall... but they've never been worse for wear. Which is odd, because before I got my first iPhone, my mobiles were breaking all the time.
I'm rough on phones, yo.
So, after drop-kicking my current iPhone, I honestly did expect to pick it up and have it be fine. To see that big-ass crack there shouldn't have shocked me, but it really did. Oh well. Given the abuse I heap on these things, it was bound to happen eventually. The good news is that everything is still working fine.
And now my iPhone is off to the good people at iResQ so they can replace his face. Don't ask me how I'll manage without it until Friday... I honestly don't know... but I'm sure plenty of comfort chocolate pudding is in order.
= sob! =
Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012
This morning when I woke up I reached for my iPhone... remembered it was gone... then burst into tears.
Well, okay, I didn't actually burst into tears. But I felt like I should have. iPhone is always with me no matter where I go, and to not have him by my side felt like a part of me was missing. Dejected and alone, I headed off to work... trying my best to face a cruel future while cut-off from the world.
But then my repaired iPhone was delivered and everything was okay again.
Until I found out that Washington State has introduced a bill to add even more fucking taxes to our cell phone bills. Never mind that our state already pays the second-highest mobile phone tax in the nation, our legislators have decided that we should pay even more to cover their budget shortfall.
This stupid shit is getting out of hand.
It would be different if we had taxes lower than the national average or something... but increasing taxes on the second highest rate in the nation?!? How can these asshole politicians think that this is a rational solution to their problem? Though I suppose it's only slightly less stupid than the non-candy candy tax bullshit they tried last year.
Look, I appreciate that we need to meet our budget obligations and be fiscally responsible and stuff... but why shift the burden to people's cell phone bills when they're already paying through the ass? It's not like my iPhone is causing the budget shortfall... so stop punishing me as if it is.
Maybe cutting the salary of the dumbfuck politicians who keep attacking us instead of balancing the budget in a way that makes sense is the solution. Where do I vote on that?
Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012
Hello from the land of rum and pirates.
As a Hard Rock fan, Grand Cayman has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I almost visited years ago, but a hurricane in the area changed my travel plans.
But here I am at last.
I wasn't going to do the whole "excursion thing" so I could just bum around George Town and hit the beach, but my face is still burnt to a cinder, so I thought "What the hell?"
Which is ironic, because the first stop was... literally... Hell. Hell, Grand Cayman...
I wouldn't have expected it, but there are chickens in hell. Chickens who like eating coconuts...
And here's a shot of Seven Mile Beach taken from the bus window. Sigh. If not for faulty sun-screen and a massive burn on my face...
Then it was time for a turtle farm. The idea is to preserve and protect the species, but the poor turtles looked incredibly bored swimming around in circles within their small, crowded tanks. I felt pretty sorry for them, as it didn't look like much of a life...
There were also other critters wandering around the place...
After the tour dumped everybody off in George Town, there was only one place I really wanted to go...
The cafe is a small, old-school property that's located at the end of the main shopping district downtown. It would probably do a lot better business if it were more centrally located near the cruise ship dock, but there you have it.
I would have eaten lunch at the Hard Rock, but I don't really care for their veggie burgers and fries. Since that's what I was craving, I decided to wander down to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.
What a huge fucking mistake that turned out to be.
First of all, they didn't have Boca Burgers like every other Margaritaville I had ever been to. Oh well, I decided to have nachos and a Coke instead. Not a big deal.
EXCEPT THEY WERE THE WORST NACHOS I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY LIFE! And I am including the time I had Australian nachos where the crazy bastards mix the salsa into the chips for a soggy mess. Because, hey, at least their nachos use actual cheese and are... you know... WARM! Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville nachos are inedible shit. And COLD! They take roasted chips... pour in some FUCKING DISGUSTING COLD IMITATION CHEEZ-WHIZ-LIKE CONGEALED SUBSTANCE... put a small puddle of melted real cheese on top... then add some shriveled olives, jalapeños, and crap. What you end up with is a bunch of soggy tortilla chips coated in this grotesque oily mess. And did I mention that they were COLD? They weren't "not hot" or "merely warm"... but FUCKING COLD!
Yes. COLD! I couldn't even bring myself to eat them they were so bad...
If that wasn't bad enough, the Coke was watered down and flat. I only drank it because it was something cool. I would have complained to my waiter... but I rarely saw him. The poor guy was given way too many tables that were too far apart. I did tell him when I hunted him down to pay, but his response was to give me a "souvenir glass" I apparently paid for but never wanted, and tell me he would tell his manager.
I'd chalk this up to a bad experience, but the table next to me didn't get hot food either, and the buns on one of their burgers was stale. So... lesson learned... when you're hungry in George Town, Grand Cayman... avoid Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville like the fucking plague. Which is such a shame, because all the other Margaritavilles I've eaten at have had excellent food and service.
Jimmy should be ashamed to have his name on this place.
And, thanks to my pricey souvenir glass I never wanted, I have something to remember one of the worst meals I've ever had for the rest of my life! Or until I throw the shit in the garbage.
Couldn't have asked for a nicer day. Lovely sunshine and a nice breeze to keep things pleasant. And then there's that amazing Caribbean Blue water here that looks like some kind of Photoshop hack, but really isn't...
Sweet! As I was writing this, I heard somebody telling bad jokes over a loudspeaker ("WHY DIDN'T THE SKELETON CROSS THE ROAD? HE DIDN'T HAVE THE GUTS!"). I thought it was coming from the ship, but it was instead a small touristy pirate ship thing floating by my balcony...
Yo! Ho! A pirates life for me!
And, just like that, my last excursion was over. We set sail for Florida in a couple hours.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Your Inspiration...
This should come as no shock to anybody who has read Blogography for any amount of time. Steve Jobs takes inspiration to an entirely new level. But he did that with most things. I know it probably rings hollow for somebody to gush over a person they've never met... but I miss Steve Jobs terribly and think of him often. What I wouldn't give for just one more keynote speech... just one more thing.
Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012
After my dentist check-up this morning, I went to meet friends for lunch. When we arrived at the restaurant, I noticed my iPhone was missing. I knew that I had it when I left the dentist, but had no idea how I could have lost it. Using the "Find my iPhone" app on my friend's iPhone, I saw that my iPhone was back at our initial meet-up point. I don't know how, but I dropped/left it there.
I was relieved, but also... a little freaked.
How would I explain losing my iPhone if I actually lost it?
OFFICER: What do you mean you lost your iPhone?
DAVE2: I dunno! I had it, then suddenly it was gone!
OFFICER: Gone? You don't lose something so precious as an iPhone.
DAVE2: I did! I swear it!
OFFICER: What are you hiding? Did you kill your iPhone?
DAVE2: No! I would never! I love my iPhone!
OFFICER: Why don't I believe you, Mr. Simmer?
DAVE2: =sob!= A DINGO ATE MY iPHONE!!
And speaking of iPhone, there's some kind of bullshit going on concerning a new SIM card standard that Apple is wanting. From what I can tell, it's a much, much smaller card than usual, which will give Apple more room to add cool stuff to their phones or make them smaller.
But competing phone companies like Motorola, Nokia, and RIM are crying foul. They want THEIR new idea for a SIM card to be the standard, and are saying Apple's idea isn't as good. So they're all appealing to some kind of ruling body for SIM cards to try and get Apple's card blocked.
I can tell you right now... if I were on that ruling body, I would totally have one thing to say to Motorola, Nokia, and RIM... SHUT THE FUCK UP! IF IT WEREN'T FOR APPLE, WE'D STILL BE USING YOUR OLD SHITTY MOBILE PHONES, INSTEAD OF THE APPLE-INSPIRED PHONES YOU'RE MAKING NOW...
Mobile phones BEFORE and AFTER the iPhone... Image taken from Digeratii
In all honesty, any "ruling bodies" should give Apple whatever the hell they want. Apple is the company that's driving the mobile phone market now, and everybody else can just get out of the way. Then Motorola, Nokia, and RIM can go back to copying what Apple does next instead of fucking up where Apple is wanting to take us.
Ooh! I'm more of an Apple Whore than usual today!
I guess that's what the trauma of almost losing your iPhone can do to you.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Place You'd Like to Go...
THE MOON, BABY! But I'd settle for Antarctica. Or India. Or even Cambodia.
Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2012
I've been so busy that I haven't had time to play with the new iPad (third generation) much. That's a darn shame, because it's kind of expensive to just have sitting around on my nightstand. I had to get one for the apps I help develop, so what can I do but sink even more money into Apple's ample coffers? The latest iPad has an all-new hi-res screen, and I have to be sure that stuff I design looks good on it. Otherwise, the iPad3 didn't look to bee much different than the iPad2, so I probably wouldn't have bought one otherwise.
Except, now that I've had a chance to read my comic books on it, I would totally have spent the money on it. I've read a few reviews in the press bitching about how iPad3 wasn't enough of an improvement over iPad2 for Apple to have bothered... which I now know is a huge load of bullshit. If you do any reading on iPad, this is a complete game-changer. Four-times the pixels make for a hundred times better screen, and I am loving it more than I ever thought possible.
The screen is so crisp and clear that I can now read ComiXology "CMX-HD enhanced" pages full-screen without having to zoom in on the individual panels...
Now, when looked at on a "regular resolution" computer screen, the change may appear subtle. But when reduced four-fold, the "SD" panel on the bottom becomes a blurry mess that's a bit difficult to read. The "CMX-HD" panel on the top, however, is razor sharp on iPad3.
So now the iPad is a real option for reading comics. Yes, the screen size is smaller than a "regular" comic book, but it's bigger than a digest, which is perfectly acceptable. And, unlike a digest, you can zoom in and see details if you want without having to find a magnifying glass.
So, my hat is once again off to Apple for once again making an awesome product even more amazing. iPad2 was already leagues above any of the competing "tablets" I've had a chance to play with, but this is entering a whole new dimension, as this snapshot from Apple's website demonstrates...
A few things...
Otherwise, for the most part, iPad3 is pretty much the same as iPad2. Which is not a bad thing at all, because iPad2 was so kick-ass. Indeed, when it comes to comparing it with all the tablets I've seen, Apple has the only game in town. Sure iPad is a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, and what you get is pretty darn amazing.
It's products like iPad3 that make it so dang easy to be an Apple Whore.
Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012
As I catapulted off the runway of San Francisco International Airport this morning, a kid in the row across from me shouted "WOW! THIS IS JUST LIKE ANGRY BIRDS!"
This was good for a laugh, which I desperately needed. Because as we were taking off at 10:10am, I knew that I'd be missing out on all the cool stuff happening back on the ground in San Francisco's Moscone Center. It was there that Tim Cook would be taking the stage to introduce some of the cool new stuff that Apple had been working on, and I was going to miss it.
After landing in Seattle, I drove 2-1/2 hours, went to work until 7:30pm, then (finally) made it home so I could plop in front of the television and watch the Apple WWDC Keynote stream from my iPad to my Apple TV box. What follows is the deranged ramblings of a Certified Apple Whore, so proceed at your own peril...
The Siri intro was pretty darn funny. Tim Cook was suitably channeling his inner Steve Jobs. The crowd was enthusiastic and the energy in the room was high. Then Tim ran through the astounding numbers touting the unprecedented success of the company and its products. After that, it was time for one of those heartwarming videos that Apple does so well... informative and inspiring without being sappy or tacky. And then? Off to what people really want to see.
I need a new laptop to replace my aging, banged-up MacBook Pro, so I was understandably excited when Phil Schiller took the stage. I wanted so badly to have a machine with the power and 15-inch screen-size of a MacBook Pro, but the thinner form, lower weight, and fantastic SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE from the MacBook Air. At first, I didn't think I was going to get it, because Phil just rambled off expected bumps in speed and features for the existing models. But then something happened...
Introducing the MacBook Pro with Retina Display... AND ALL THE STUFF I WANTED IN A NEW LAPTOP! Thinner? Lighter? Faster? Quieter? SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE?!? Yes please. I am now officially poor, as there was no way I could pass up on something that will save me a lot of time, money, and agony when trying to work while on the road...
• MAC OS X - MOUNTAIN LION
Call me jaded, but it seems as though innovation is coming a lot slower to Apple's desktop products than their mobile products. In fact, the features shown for OS X that interest me most were those that make it easier to go from my laptop to my iOS mobile devices. Where are the compelling new OS X features that are redefining the non-mobile user experience? I dunno. Instead we get tighter integration with Twitter and Facebook. Whee. Don't get me wrong, any improvements or new features are appreciated)... especially for a jaw-dropping $20 price tag... but come on. This was kinda lame. Especially when you take a look at what Microsoft is up to for their next OS.
• iOS 6
Uhhh... yeah... it all sounds great. BUT I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS FALL?!? I'm assuming that this release date will coincide with the release of a new iPhone, but sheesh.
In any event, the new features really do sound great. The new maps look fantastic (and apparently the data is served up by TomTom, so they're be functional too!). Siri just keeps getting better. FaceTime over cellular and Mail "pull-to-refresh" are long overdue. Passbook is going a long way towards helping people lighten their wallet. The new integration with Twitter and Facebook is nifty. And the Accessibility enhancements are GOLDEN when configuring iOS products for non-techies.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE "PHONE" PART OF iPHONE?!?
I still think it is embarrassing (and fucking stupid) that there's no auto-redial on my iPhone. WHY?!? Why in the hell would such an obvious and useful feature keep getting the shaft at Apple? Insanity! But at least they are addressing my long-standing complaints regarding having some control over your incoming calls. They call it "Do Not Disturb"...
FINALLY... AT LONG LAST... I will be able to block unimportant calls and mute non-essential notifications when I don't want to deal with the shit. LIKE WHEN I'M SLEEPING! And, from what I can see, it looks pretty smart. Apparently you can one-touch do not disturb AND have an automatic do not disturb schedule going... hopefully both at the same time.
And that's all she wrote. No new iPhone... yet. No new desktop Macs... yet. No new iToast... yet.
I guess there's always next year.
Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2012
And so Apple has made me poor.
Except not really. Yes, their new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has put me in debt, but it's also replacing my aging and busted MacBook Pro which I use constantly for my work. And replacing it beautifully. It is without question the most remarkable laptop... most remarkable computer... I have ever seen or had the privilege to use...
And while the "Retina Display" alone would make this machine a quantum leap beyond any other portable, Apple didn't stop there. They have adopted many of the same features which make their beautiful MacBook Air line so revolutionary. It's the crossroads of power and portability, and hands-down the ultimate laptop for graphics work like I do every day.
Except it's gonna cost ya. The cutting edge always does.
I'm going to run through all the specific features in an extended entry, but the bottom line is that the minimum baseline configuration for this machine costs $2,199. For work like I do, you really need the next step up, which runs $2,799. But I felt I needed something stronger, so I customized a machine that has the faster 2.7/3.7GHz CPU (+$250) and a maxed-out 16GB of RAM (+$200), which totaled a whopping $3,249. I stuck with the 512GB Flash Storage (Solid State Drive) because it was enough for me (it's bigger than the 320GB hard drive in my old MacBook Pro!) and I couldn't justify the additional $500 to bump that up to 768GB.
Now, when I look at that $3,249 price tag, a part of me wants to start screaming. But this isn't a toy that I use to just read email and surf the web... it's a critical work tool which I use to make a living every day. For me at least, it's a bargain. And every time I sit down to use it, I know exactly where that money went. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a boon to my productivity and a pleasure to use. I love it passionately, and can't imagine going back to a "regular" laptop.
If you want to know why, all my notes are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
I cut my foot. My car is making a funny noise. My wireless router is dead and my network is down. I had to re-book my upcoming flights because of a schedule change. The zipper on my new suitcase is broken. I just found out that Tower Prep is most definitely not coming back for a second season. I lost the $40 I got from the ATM yesterday. I'm way behind in my work. And I'm out of chocolate pudding.
It's a Monday.
And since I don't feel like re-living my pain by blogging about it, I'll just share a cool sale I found on an app I like. If you'll ever need to access your Mac or PC remotely from an iPad or iPhone, there's a great solution that's currently on sale. Read on...
Ooh... look! I'm working in Photoshop on my Mac...
Actually I am on my iPad at home working in Photoshop on my Mac back at the office...
This is nothing new. I once assembled, designed, and sent an email campaign on my office Mac from my iPhone while standing in line at Disney World 2500 miles away. Remote access from computer-to-computer or device-to-computer has been around for quite a long while. What's different is how much better the tools are getting. For somebody like me who travels a lot, this has been a Very Big Deal. And now the cream of the crop in remote access has released a new version, the amazing Splashtop 2, and it's on sale for a limited time...
Works as advertised. If anything, they under-sell it. You'll need to pay for an "Access Anywhere" account to use the automated login connection... it's a total bargain at $9.99 a year / 99¢ a month.
Here's a link to the iOS app for iOS-to-Mac or iOS-to-Windows. (Reg. $9.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
Here's a link to the Mac app for Mac-to-Mac or Mac-to-Windows. (Reg. $19.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
If you need to remotely access a Mac or Windows machine from an iOS device, I give Splashtop 2 my highest recommendation.
Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
And so Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson has gone and messed up their airport.
Back in May, they opened up their new "Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal" which handles all foreign flights. In theory, it's great, because it means you no longer have to claim your bag, then re-check your bag, then re-claim your bag again if Atlanta is your final destination on an inbound flight. Instead you just grab your bag and waltz directly out of the building to your car and... voilà!... you're on your way.
Assuming you drove your own car to the International Terminal and paid their hideously expensive parking rates.
If you didn't, Atlanta International Airport has just screwed you and you don't even know it.
But you will.
Since I (obviously) didn't drive to the International Terminal (my car is back in Seattle), I had to get back to the main terminal so I could catch a hotel shuttle. But there is no train to take you back. Instead you have to wait 5 minutes for a bus... wait another 20 minutes for the bus to fill up... wait another 15 minutes to drive all the way back to the Main Terminal... then wait for your luggage to be unloaded... then wait for traffic... then walk to the hotel shuttle area where you needed to be all along SO YOU CAN WAIT EVEN MORE for your shuttle.
Which, needless to say, IS A HUGE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME!
So now I absolutely HATE flying into Atlanta on an International flight, and will avoid it at all costs. Or at least UNTIL THEY BUILD A TRAIN LOOP TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE MAIN TERMINAL LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I mean, they can build a damn train FOR MILES out to the car rental center, but extending the EXISTING terminal train A MEASLY 500 FEET and adding a secure car to take exiting passengers back to the Main Terminal was too difficult? Apparently so. Or maybe they were too damn stupid to think of it.
But Seattle... frickin' SEATTLE... has figured out how to do this. It's EMBARRASSING that Atlanta... ONE OF THE BUSIEST AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD... has their head up their asses by thinking this absurd "bussing" idiocy is anything other than COMPLETE AND TOTAL BULLSHIT.
It's like the stupid-ass city I live in. The one thing we need where I work? More parking spaces. The one thing they made sure to eliminate when they re-designed the street? THAT'S RIGHT... THEY GOT RID OF PARKING SPACES!
Everywhere you look... from city planners to airport designers... the people in charge don't seem to know what in the hell they're doing. Nor do they give a crap. And why should they? They can just start screaming some bullshit about "saving money" or "having to make hard choices" (or whatever) to justify their short-sightedness. No more taking the time and money to do things right... it's all about making sure there's enough money in the project to pay their huge salaries, and everything else is negotiable. And the consequences? Well, for Atlanta-bound international travelers who just want to take the damn train into the city? FUCK 'EM! JUST FUCK'EM!! They can waste their time riding a stupid-ass BUS for a half hour to get to the MARTA train station! Who gives a shit about THEM?!?
And welcome to Atlanta!
Ever since getting my new MacBook, I've been increasingly fascinated with the pixel density of its beautiful "Retina Display." Everything looks so frickin' amazing on it that I have a really hard time looking at non-Retina-enhanced visuals now... especially when browsing the web. Most websites are built to deliver 72dpi graphics, which end up look pretty bad. And so I've been experimenting with photos here on my blog, trying to figure out how to delivery hi-res images without breaking things for readers who don't have Retina-type displays.
The easiest way is to just double-size all your images. I tried this in my last entry with the picture of the jitney door. It's actual size is 800x1200 pixels, but I define it as 400x600 in the HTML. So now Retina displays get a sharp image to look at, and non-Retina displays just toss out every-other pixel...
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right
The problem is this... visitors who don't have Retina displays are downloading much larger images with no benefit at all. Since their browser is just tossing 3/4 of the data, this seems wasteful of their time and bandwidth. And, unlike Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I give a crap about the people who spend their time visiting me.
And so now I just have to figure out the best way to approach this. All the easy solutions have serious drawbacks in one way or another, so it'll probably take some time and research to get it sorted. But hopefully, if you're visiting with an iPhone 4, New iPad, MacBook Retina, HTC One X, HTC Rezound, etc. - it will be worth the effort.
Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
My first three installs of Apple's latest OS X update, code-named Mountain Lion, went off without a hitch.
But the fourth time was not a charm, and so now my iMac is randomly crashing then rebooting every half-hour or so. Needless to say, I'm thrilled. Turning off everything I've got installed (even if it works fine on my other Mountain Lion Macs) didn't help. A clean install didn't help either. So now I'm wondering if it's a firmware update I missed, but nothing is showing up for that either. Blargh. I really don't have time for this crap...
I guess I need to sacrifice a goat to Steve Jobs or something. This really blows.
Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2012
And so Apple's latest release of Mac OS X "Mountain Lion" has turned out to be a festering pile of shit. Which I admit is a pretty unfair comparison, because at least I could fertilize the flower bed with the festering pile of shit and get something beautiful out of it. With "Mountain Lion" it's just misery on top of misery, making this the first OS upgrade in the history of Apple Computer that I deeply regret having installed. Despite Apple's claim of over "200 more features"... the number of features I'd actually use are incredibly small, making this a pretty much featureless upgrade for me anyway. The fact that it has hopelessly fucked two of the four computers I've installed it on is just icing on the shit cake.
As I mentioned yesterday, my new iMac is randomly crashing and rebooting for no reason I can figure... even with a total re-install. This makes getting work done incredibly stressful, and I find myself saving documents every two minutes just in case. To add insult to injury, waking iMac from sleep is horrible because the whole computer is lethargic and non-responsive. It's faster to shut down completely and start cold than even attempt putting the thing asleep. This is opposite of Mountain Lion on my MacBook, which wakes faster than ever. My older Mac is only half-working, sometimes acting a little schizo when it's asked to do something. On top of that, USB dongles, USB ethernet adapters, Samba networking, and a half-dozen other things I rely on are either not working at all... or only partly working... which is a huge bummer.
But, on Macs that ARE working properly, how has Apple done? Well, let's walk through Apple's big "feature list" shall we?
Apple's big catch phrase has been "It just works" and, for the most part, this is very true. Especially compared to Windows which mostly doesn't work and causes me overwhelming dread every time I have to walk over to use it. "I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?" I always say. But Apple has finally caught up to Microsoft because iCloud most definitely does not "just work." For one thing, it is actually lacking features of the iSync service it replaced! Want to sync your Keychain between all your Macs? Tough shit! You can't! And that's just the tip of the embarrassment iceberg for Apple, because the list of shit you can't sync with iCloud positively dwarfs what you can actually do with it. I have more apps syncing their stuff through DropBox because iCloud doesn't/can't/won't work for them. Even worse? It doesn't work for Apple either. You're supposed to be able to sync Notes and Reminders across all your Apple devices. Despite playing around for hours trying to make this happen, it doesn't work At least not completely. Some notes are just... gone... and even deleting them and recreating them does nothing to bring them into the iCloud so they can sync. Which is only half the problem, because one of my four Macs won't sync notes at all for reasons completely unknown. I have "Notes" checked to sync in iCloud, so what in the hell else is there for me to do?
This is amateur hour stuff, and if a Certified Apple Whore like me can't figure it out, what hope do everyday users have?
This is that on "killer feature" that was supposed to make Mountain Lion worth my trouble. But it has been the single most frustrating problem that I have yet to solve. Now, to be fair, a big part of what's going to make iMessage so compelling won't happen until Apple released iOS 6 this Fall... namely, tying your phone number to your iMessage account so you can actually get your iMessages on your Mac. Because right now, iMessages sent to your phone only go to your phone. In order to get your messages anywhere, you have to ask people to iMessage your Apple ID, which is pretty useless. If iMessage is going to take the place of texting, this is a critical piece of the puzzle. BUT ANYWAY... I was still looking forward to at least initiating iMessage conversations on my Mac. That way, when somebody replies, they're replying to your Apple ID and everything works as you want. Except... IT DOESN'T WORK AT ALL. Messages is just an epic pile of FAIL! that I fucking hate with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Because in order to get people to REPLY to your Apple ID, you have to actually be able to USE your Apple ID email. And, for reasons that make ZERO sense, it won't work on all my Macs.
Right now I am sitting here at my new iMac with my new MacBook Pro Retina next to it. They are running the same Mountain Lion OS. They are on the exact same network. They are plugged into the exact same router. They are set up the exact same. They are, in essence, the same damn computer. And yet... the MacBook will accept my Apple ID email address. My iMac won't accept it. No fucking clue why. But here it is...
Now, seriously, what the bloody fuck? I can sign into my iCloud account with my Apple ID email address on this machine with no problem... but when it comes to verifying the same damn address for use with Messages, you can't do it?!? WHY?!?? IT'S MY FUCKING APPLE ID, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!! And of course the address works fine on three other Macs, two iPhones, and an iPad, so I don't even know what to say here. Except that since I cannot set my "Caller ID" to be my Apple ID, Messages isn't going to work worth a shit for me and I might as well just use my iPhone for messaging.
Now, this is one of those little "extras" that's just mind-bogglingly cool. Basically, even after you put it to sleep, your Mac will still be working for you... checking email, syncing contacts and documents, even downloading software updates if you're plugged into a power source. So very smart. Or so I would imagine. My brand new iMac doesn't support it. My brand new MacBook Pro Retina does... but not yet, because the Firmware Update isn't available...
Something to look forward to, I guess.
UPDATE: That was quick. The MacBook Pro Retina firmware update was released on July 28th, so now I have the option of enabling Power Nap on my laptop.
Siri, Apple's "voice activated assistant" is a mixed bag that people either love or hate. Personally, I love Siri on my iPhone. It is an amazing tool that allows me to accomplish a heck of a lot with very little effort. Being able to say something like "Remind me to call Ronald McDonald in an hour"... and then have Siri ACTUALLY DO IT is a kind of magic that fulfills the promise of technology. And Apple keeps making Siri better and more accurate, so I have little doubt that within five years it will be a primary way that people interact with their Apple products. But right now it's still a bit rocky. And while iPhone gets the full "Siri Experience," Apple is moving their Macs into that realm with baby steps. Namely, "Dictation" which will take what you say and type it into words. The good news? For me at least, it's shockingly accurate. The bad news? It only works for snippets of text and you have to have a live internet connection... so no dictating your 500 page novel while on the beach. The worse news? "Dictation" is completely brain dead compared to "Siri" when it comes to actually typing out shit.
Here's a line of text dictated to Siri on my iPhone...
I am dictating a love letter to Taco Bell right now.
Here's that same line dictated to Dictation on my Mac...
I am dictating a love letter to cap taco cap bell right now.
I guess when working on a Mac, Apple thinks you'll never need to capitalize a word? Oh well... at least Dictation does seem to understand "period" and "question mark" so at least you can kinda type sentences.
Now, at first blush, this would seem an awesome idea. Any app can add a "share" button to automatically send some content to a specific app for further handling. For example, click the "Share" button in Apple's "Safari" web browser, and you're given options to add the page to your Reading List or Bookmarks... or email it... or send it as an iMessage... or even Tweet about it...
But there are some problems. First of all, you're only sharing a link to the page... which is fine for Twitter and such... but what if I want to email the actual page?? Well, you can't share that. There's no option to output a PDF or screen cap of the website and send it that way. You're restricted as to what Apple wants you to do instead of what you want to do. But it gets worse... you can only "share" with apps that Apple allows. If I wanted to "share" a link to that website with my blogging app, for example, I can't do that with the "share" button in any way. There's no global registry for apps to tell Mountain Lion what data they can handle, so Mountain Lion doesn't share unless Apple says it can. This is just a hopelessly flawed approach that I'm hoping Apple will fix very soon.
UPDATE: Oddly enough, other apps, like "Reeder" (my web feed reader) DO allow sharing with other apps... including my blogging app. I am guessing that this is something specifically coded into Reeder, so having some kind of global registry that works universally is still important.
No longer having to open a web browser every time you want to update your Facebook status? Great! But... oh... no... wait a second... Mountain Lion can't do that. The feature is listed as "Coming this Fall." Well how stupid. Why advertise it as a feature NOW if it's MONTHS away? You could say that about anything! "Mountain Lion will wipe your ass after you shit... coming August, 2027!" One thing I love about Apple is that they don't deal in vaporware. Most everything they announce is available that day... or very shortly after. This is a return to bad form and should have never been announced as a Mountain Lion feature. Just add it later when its ready and let people be thrilled to get a new tool. Anything less than that is not Apple.
Gatekeeper is an idea that's long overdue... helping users to be able to trust that a program they download isn't going to ruin their computer or damage their data in some way. And while a lot of times I think Apple goes too far in locking things down, when it comes to "Gatekeeper" I honestly don't think they went far enough. First of all, it's really just a warning device. It doesn't actually do anything to stop malicious code from running on your machine. Second of all, once Gatekeeper lets an app through, it just sits there like a dumb shit waiting for some new app to come along. Even if Apple finds out that an app contains a raging virus that will delete everything on your computer, Gatekeeper will only warn you if you try to re-install it... it won't in any way warn you that you've got a problem already installed. This is insanity. At the very least Gatekeeper should monitor the apps on your Mac and be able to alert you if one of them has been found to contain a problem! Oh well. At least the technology has been given a name that reflects its shortcomings. As for me, I'm waiting for fucking DungeonMaster to come along and watch more than just the gate.
Web browser competition is some serious shit. Every company wants to control your portal to the internets, and Apple is no different. Safari was developed specifically to counter the dominance of Microsoft's crappy Internet Explorer browser and, on Macs and iPhones at least, it has been working. But there's always a better browser being built, so you can't really rest on your laurels or savvy internet users will leave you behind. Apple knows this, so they've always been improving Safari so people won't move on to Google Chrome or whatever the flavor of the day is. With Mountain Lion, Apple takes a couple steps it should have taken a long time ago... #1 would be offline browsing. Nothing pisses me off faster than loading a web page to read, getting interrupted for boarding a plane with no WiFi, then opening my laptop to find that Safari has stupidly erased the page and is trying to reload it. Whomever made that fucking stupid decision should be punched in the face. #2 would be a unified address bar/search box. Having them be two separate fields for so long is an affront to the simplicity that Apple is supposed to be all about. So, bravo Apple for fixing two problems you really needed to fix.
But all is not wine and roses for Safari. Unfortunately, it remains one of the stupidest fucking browsers on the planet. And I don't mean "stupid" in that the whole app is bad... I mean "stupid" in that the whole app is ragingly unintelligent. A big example of this is something called "data detectors" and it used to be something Apple was really good at. Now? Not so much.
Let's take addresses, for example. If you get an email with an address in it, Mail will kindly detect this and allow you to add it to your Contacts (address book). Safari, on the other hand, doesn't know what the fuck it is, and just throws a kitchen sink's worth of crap at you when you right-click on it...
Now, you may look at this and say "Hey! You're WRONG! Apple has an option to look up that address in Google Maps, so it DOES know it's an address after all!" — And you would be right. Except not really. Because if Safari actually did recognize it as an address, I'd be able to add it to my Contacts (address book), which it doesn't. Nope... I have to copy and paste it. Except not really. Because Contacts is just as fucking brain-dead as Safari is... AND IT'S SOLE FUNCTION IS TO HANDLE ADDRESSES! Try pasting that as an address into Contacts and it fails miserably. Instead, you have to copy the street, paste the street... copy the city, paste the city... copy the zip, paste the zip... copy the phone number, paste the phone number... which is just a huge waste of time when Safari should be able to handle all this automatically like Mail does. And that's just one example of many I could give. Apple needs to do more than just fix problems they should have fixed a long time ago... they need to make Safari much, much smarter. Otherwise, they're just going to be left behind.
As for the other features on the list? Well, Twitter integration is pretty basic (you can post and receive mention notifications only), but works as advertised. AirPlay works great with AppleTV... just like it does from iPad/iPhone... but I'll rarely use that. GameCenter and new "China Features" I won't be using at all (I have a Wii and Xbox for gaming and don't speak or read Chinese).
So... all in all... Mountain Lion has been a massive disappointment. Coming from an unapologetic Apple Whore such as myself, that's saying quite a lot. It would be easy to pin this on the fact that Steve Jobs is gone, but I think the problem is much bigger. Apple's main focus is no longer Macintosh. Sure the division makes them a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the revenue generated by the whole iPhone & iPad phenomena, so that's where they concentrate their efforts. And if this sad, bad, and wholly disappointing update to their Mac OS is a sign of things to come, then Apple needs to take drastic action... perhaps as drastic as splitting the company apart... for the Mac to survive. Because Microsoft is just aching to steal the computer spotlight from Apple, and their latest Windows 8 OS offering looks like they're taking a serious shot at doing just that. This is something Apple simply cannot afford, because there's no Steve Jobs to bring them back next time.
And with that happy thought, I am actually worrying about Macintosh again for the first time in a decade.
Now that Mountain Lion has been more of a whimper than a roar and there's no more Big Cats for Apple to label their OS with... what's next? Hopefully an animal that's much bigger and badder than a Lion, but I have no idea what that might be.
Insert Honey Badger joke here.
Posted on Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Time to put down that Olympic remote... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Negative. When it comes to living in the USA, I cannot help but question the society we have evolved into when there's this incessant need to tear people down. This was made very clear to me as I watched NBC's continuing shitty time-delayed coverage of the Olympic games yesterday. Ryan Lochte had just won the gold in a swimming event with a very impressive performance. But this wasn't the focus of the coverage. The focus was on how Lochte had just "delivered a beating" to reigning Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who came in fourth. Once I heard this "beating" mentioned for a third time, I had to turn the channel.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Just four years ago, Michael Phelps won 8 out of 8 gold medals in the 29th Olympic Games in China. He was America's pride and joy and the media couldn't gush with praise often enough or fast enough for "the greatest swimmer of all time." And now? The media is using those 8 medals around his neck to strangle the guy by pointing out what a disappointment he is for not getting another medal. And, putting aside how crappy it is that they are so horrible to Michael Phelps... how shitty is it that this is how Ryan Lochte's friends and family watching at home get to experience his moment of triumph?
And why? Why? Why? Why? How hard would it be to say "Congratulations to Ryan Lochte for winning the gold, and way to go Michael Phelps for a terrific effort in snagging fourth place!" Because, seriously, even putting aside his Olympic championship status... out of all the athletes from around the frickin' WORLD, Phelps came in fourth! That's still an amazing achievement. And what the hell have you done lately?
But this, apparently, is not what the American public wants to see or hear. They want Michael Phelps humbled and humiliated. Building somebody up is great, but tearing them down is better. Yes, it's surprising that Phelps didn't medal. Shocking even. So say it's surprising and shocking... don't "give a beating" to somebody who trained hard and did their best. Even if it is somebody as accomplished as Michael Phelps, who still has a bunch of Olympic medals back home.
• Clarkson. And, speaking of tearing somebody down, this happened on Twitter...
Now, as a massively huge fan of Top Gear, I should post a disclaimer which says that I am a massively huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson. He's a total bastard in the best possible way, and one of the most entertaining television personalities ever.
So when he tells Mitt Romney to "fuck off" it would be easy to write this off as Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson. Except... Mitt Romney made a disastrous visit to the UK where he pretty much had his head up his ass the entire time. First he tells London that he didn't think they were ready to host the Olympics and questioned whether the Brits can "come together" and celebrate the games properly... then a quote from his book No Apology was widely circulated in the UK press: "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions." Nice. Not only does he show he's fucking ignorant about the country ("England" is not an island. "Great Britain" is an island that includes the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales) he seems to think the way to make the United States look good is to put other countries down. What an asshole.
So yeah, tear somebody down and you deserve to get torn down in return. I guess that works.
• Hey Jude. And speaking of something that England produced that nobody wants...
In my alternative history fantasy world, the Beatles reunited for the first time in 42 years to perform at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
As happy as I was to see Sir Paul McCartney close out the Opening Ceremonies... the mega-Beatles-fan in me will always want more...
• BILL! BILL! BILL! There's a funny YouTube video making the rounds called Mr. Wizard's a Dick! that compiles a bunch of snippets from the 1983 revival of Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert's television show which shows him...uhhhh... being a dick...
I was never much a fan of Mr. Wizard, but I was a big fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy. And now there's hope that he might start making new episodes of his awesome science show straight from the horse's mouth via Reddit...
Yeah, I really should be too old for a children's science program... but I would totally watch that show.
• Rotten. Let's recap my recent experiences with Apple, shall we?
So, basically, over the past week I've had more horribly bad experiences with Apple than I have had over the past 35 years. This hurts. It physically hurts me.
And now... time to see if I can un-brick an iMac...
Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012
Apple sued Samsung because Samsung copied the iPhone.
Samsung claimed that they totally didn't copy the iPhone... even though it was kind of obvious that they did. But, then again, Samsung copies most everything from Apple. There are even blogs dedicated to showing all the stuff they copy.
Today the jury dropped their verdict, which supports Apple's claims and totally called Samsung out for being fucking tracers...
And now all the hand-wringing has started because Samsung is crying that this verdict will stifle innovation. That companies won't make smartphones anymore because they'll worry about being sued by Apple. That consumer choice will be limited in the US because only Apple will be making phones.
Which is all a load of crap. Anybody can make a smartphone... just stop fucking tracing over Apple!
Instead, why not make your own damn smartphone design? Like the Nokia did with their Windows Lumia phone...
Looks nothing like Apple. Nobody's going to confuse that with an iPhone.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S...
Just admit it, Samsung. You're a fucking tracer!
And, because I just can't stop myself...
Such an awesome movie.
Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
I started the day with a flat tire. That would be bad enough, but we're on fire again.
I thought my hometown would make it through the summer without a massive wildfire outbreak in the area but, alas, it was not to be. The flames they are a ragin' in the canyons throughout the valley. Fortunately, things aren't nearly as bad as they were back in 2004, but the skies are filled with a smokey haze and the smell permeates everything...
This is bad news for me, because strong smells like smoke and incense make me sick. I get bad cramping that makes me feel like I have to poop 24 hours a day, on top of having a sore throat and headache. Sleeping is almost impossible. Working is a struggle. Eating makes me sicker. If things get much worse, I'm going to have to flee to the coast just to be able to function.
It's always something. Some cities get earthquakes. Some cities get hurricanes. Some cities get flooding. We get wildfires.
C'est la vie.
And in Apple news, this happened...
As a Certified Apple Whore, of course I want a new iPhone 5. I love everything about it.
Even though its improvements are not quite as drastic from the 4S than I had expected.
My main gripe with iPhone is that it just isn't as smart as it should be for a smartPHONE. With iOS 6, we're getting a new feature called "Do Not Disturb" which will help with some of my complaints...
My phone will be on "Do Not Disturb" 24 hours a day. Because 99 times out of 100, the calls I get are ones I don't give a shit about. Today while I was on my way to get my tire fixed, I got a robocall from a fucking furniture company wanting to give me a free wine rack for attending some kind of stupid event. After screaming FUCK YOU! at the recording, I was so enraged that I very nearly threw my iPhone out the window. "Do Not Disturb" will make this kind of bullshit a thing of the past.
But there's four more things that need to happen after that...
These are basic features that have been around forever, and are things that anything claiming to be a "smartphone" should be able to handle. Except the iPhone can't. But, hey... the new model is 18% thinner! Or whatever.
Maybe one day, when Apple has given us an iPhone that has artificial intelligence, a 3-D holographic projector, and fits on your fingernail, they'll finally get around to the basics.
Until then, I'll be sitting here watching the world burn.
Posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2012
Tonight will be my last night of refuge on the coast.
Tomorrow morning I bite the bullet and head back to my smokey home. So put on your gas mask... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Five. I stayed up until midnight so I could pre-order my iPhone 5 on Wednesday...
It was precisely the cluster-fuck I knew it would be. Couldn't order at Apple because my AT&T billing address is a PO box and they won't deliver to a PO box. Have no clue as to why I can't enter a separate street address for delivery... but whatever. And so I had to pre-order at AT&T's site, which is an even bigger mess. Every single time you press a button, you have to re-press it dozens of times in order for the site to do anything. Every time you fill out a form, you have to re-fill it out and submit it dozens of times in order for the site to accept the data. This took TWO HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES. Insanity. And I have no idea when I'm even going to get it. I may have stayed up until 2:05am for nothing. I understand that these sites are getting completely slammed by thousands of people... but come on. There has got to be a better way of handling this.
• Carrier. Make no mistake. The only reason I renewed with shitty AT&T was because I could grandfather in my unlimited data plan. The very minute that AT&T tells me that I can no longer have unlimited data is the minute that I switch to Verizon. AT&T call quality just keeps getting worse and worse, and now data service is in the shitter as well. In cities like Chicago and Las Vegas, my iPhone is practically useless. Hopefully having 4G-LTE will help in cities where 3G fails, because... damn.
• Bacon. In what can only be considered a boon to all humanity, you can now check a star's Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon directly in a Google search...
It never ceases to amaze me how Bacon numbers just keep falling. Mr. Bacon's appearance in X-Men: First Class really chopped a lot of numbers down for younger and up-and-coming stars.
• Trek. Speaking of Google... they had a genius interactive doodle for the 46th anniversary of Star Trek last week...
• Alcoholic. The news broke that Disney will be offering beer and wine for sale at their new French restaurant in Walt Disney World's "Magic Kingdom." Unsurprisingly, people are losing their shit. They're saying everything from "Walt Disney is turning in his grave!" to "BOYCOTT DISNEY!!" Never mind that the three other Disney World parks (Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) have all been serving alcohol for years... somehow serving it in the Magic Kingdom is going to DESTROY DISNEY WORLD! And never mind that visitors can just get shit-faced in the parking lot before they even enter the park... oh no... WE'RE ALL DOOMED! And never mind that the alcohol Disney's going to be selling at heinous prices is only available in the evening and must be consumed before leaving the restaurant... WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!
Give me a break. I am so sick and tired of people going bat-shit crazy over things that will ultimately have -zero- effect on them. Like a glass or two of wine with dinner is suddenly going to turn Walt Disney World into a drunken brawl where kids will have to stumble over hookers and heroin addicts on their way to "It's a Small World." I never thought I'd be saying that there are people too fucking stupid for Disney World, but here we are. Oh well... more beer for me then.
Blargh... time to start thinking about my last smoke-free sleep.
Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
And so Apple has (finally) unleashed the latest version of there iPhone-iPodTouch-iPad operating system. Unlike the Mac OS X updates which get cool names like "Mountain Lion," iOS updates get a boring number increment, which means we're at "iOS 6" now.
I had no problem updating my iPad 3, iPhone 4, & iPhone 4S and, so far as I know, everything is working perfectly. I'll get to my thoughts on the bulk of the iOS 6 new features tomorrow. But tonight I want to focus on Apple's controversial virtual assistant software named "Siri."
Siri is considered "controversial" because "she" is a feature that sparks a lot of strong feelings amongst iPhone users. Some people I know love her. Some people I know hate her. Most people I know ignore her and rarely (if ever) use Siri. Personally, I love love love Siri and use her constantly. For the most part, she understands me and interprets my instructions correctly. And there's just something magical about being able to say "I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 3pm" only to have Siri add it to your calendar without you having to type a thing. Welcome to the future!
Because, unlike the computer on Star Trek, Siri can be one fickle bitch. One minute she will understand something odd that you never thought she would get... the next minute she'll completely blow a simple instruction for reasons you can't fathom. Fortunately, Apple is improving Siri all the time, so she's getting smarter and more capable with each new release, but life with Siri is far from perfect.
One of the new thing Siri understands with iOS 6 is movies. I had thought this would be limited to displaying showtimes at local theaters, but she's much smarter than that. Want to know what the last movie Gene Hackman appeared in? No need for IMDB, Siri has got you covered...
Interesting that Siri knows to capitalize "Hackman" but not "Gene"... even though she spelled "Gene" correctly. But she still knows how to answer, which is pretty darn cool. Unfortunately, she's less smart for other queries. For example, Siri will still ask you "Which one?" when asking about a movie title that's been used for multiple movies, even if you specify the one you want...
With the new iOS 6 update, Siri also knows sports. As I type this, the Mariners are playing a game. When I ask how they are doing, Siri responds with a score and some stats...
Nice! One of the things Siri also knows about is players. At the Apple Event where iOS 6 was introduced, they showed how you could find out "Who is taller, Kobe or LeBron?" just by asking. This seemed very cool... until I found out that the number of players Siri knows is severely limited. If I want to check up on how Jarrod Saltalamacchia is doing, Siri goes brain dead. She doesn't know who Salty is no matter how I pronounce his name... or even if I ask for him by number. And she doesn't seem to know what "stats" are, even if you say a player she recognizes. This seems crazy given that she will bring up a player stats card when you ask somebody's height, but oh well...
Siri does have Saltalamacchia listed as a player, so I guess there's that...
Siri is supposed to have a handle on international sports, so I thought I'd try a name that wasn't as complicated as "Saltalamacchia." Like Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard...
Lampard is a hugely famous player. He's been with Chelsea for ten years now. How can Siri not know who he is? I dunno... maybe if I were in the UK this would be different, but overall I find player stats to be a hugely underwhelming feature (unless you're wanting to know about Kobe Bryant or LeBron James!). Maybe I'm asking wrong or something. But I tried dozens of questions about Frank Lampard covering everything from his height to goals and still nothing.
One area I was hoping Siri would get smarter about is travel, because she doesn't seem to know a damn thing. Train schedules, bus routes, flight times, or whatever... Siri is clueless. And nothing has changed in iOS 6. This would seem to be a no-brainer. I would love to get to the train station and ask "When does the next train arrive?", but I guess that's too complex for Siri to figure out. And she knows it...
When it comes to alarms, Siri can still be inexplicably stupid. She can't even recognize alarms she just made for you...
You can't set, change, or find an alarm for a specific day? Why the fuck not? These are the very basic things a virtual assistant should know how to do. And you set the alarm just fine, so why is deleting the alarm with the same language I used to set it a problem? It's things like this that make me understand why some people are not Siri fans.
One of my favorite things I use Siri for on my iPhone is setting reminders. They are frickin' genius because they are location-based. Tell Siri to remind you to make a call when you get to work, and she will do exactly that. So now that Siri is available on third-generation iPads, I was excited that I could add reminders from there too. Except... turns out you can't...
Can't create location-based reminders on this device? WHY THE FUCK NOT?!? You DO realize that any reminders I make on my iPad will be synced to my iPhone, right? I mean, I know that my WiFi iPad doesn't have a GPS, but I'm not expecting it to remind me of a damn thing... that's what my iPHONE is for! Siri should just create the damn reminder and warn you that it will only work for iPhone or something... not flat-out refuse to do something that makes total sense.
With iOS 6, Siri now knows about dining. You can ask her about restaurants in your area or types of foods or whatever, and she'll link with Yelp! to help you out. This is a very nice feature for travelers like me who end up in cities they're unfamiliar with. It can also be a very depressing feature when you're hungry for falafel and the nearest place to get it is over 70 miles away...
Added coolness points to Siri for being able to link up with OpenTable so you can make reservations in the restaurant you find.
Another new feature is being able to post to Twitter and Facebook as easily as you can send texts and emails. Siri will even warn you if you need to set this up before she can take action...
As always, Siri dumps anything she doesn't understand into a catch-all "Wanna look that up in a web search?"...
Not that I was expecting Siri to get into a deep discussion over how Mitt Romney has been so terminally fucking stupid every time he opens his mouth lately... or how utterly fucking tragic it is that politicians are screwing the men and women who risk their lives to defend this country... I just wanted to show how Siri does a bang-up job of figuring out what I'm saying, even if she doesn't know what to do with it.
And so there she is... the new and improved Siri virtual assistant.
Slowly getting smarter, but still in desperate need of an intelligence upgrade.
Which pretty much describes every person on this planet, so it's hard for me to fault Siri. Most of the time I still love her more than buttered toast.
To be continued...
Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
And now... continued from yesterday... my observations on Apple's iOS 6 update. For everybody who hates Apple stuff, sorry... but you have one more day to go.
• Messages. If there's one feature I was most excited about when it comes to iOS 6... it would be Unified Messaging. This means that whether I am on my iPhone, my iPad, iMac, or my MacBook... any time somebody texts me via Apple Messages it will appear on all of them. And I can reply from all of them using my mobile number as the return address so it's seamless to the person I'm communicating with. As if that weren't awesome enough, all my devices archive the complete conversation so it's seamless for me to move between them too. This feature alone makes the upgrade to iOS 6 worthwhile.
The only problem is setting it up. I thought it would all happen automatically but, when it didn't, I finally figured out that you need to log out and log back into your iCloud account on your iPhone, THEN do the same on all your other devices and computers. Works like a charm. All you have to do is choose which email addresses you want people to message you at... and whether you want your mobile phone number to receive messages on that device. Easy.
• Mail. Apple always seems to be hesitant to adopt things they didn't invent. Even when those things are superior to what they've developed. Which is why you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that Mail has adopted "pull to refresh"... a feature I've loved ever since I first saw it in Tweetie. Not only that, but they added a really cool widget that stretches and snaps when you pull. It's awesome. And I've been begging for it to happen in Mail for a long time. Another new feature is a VIP Mailbox which collects important email from Very Important People you designate. This can be tied to VIP alerts which will let you know when VIP email arrives. It's quite cool...
AND DID I MENTION THEY FRICKIN' ADDED PULL TO REFRESH?!? HOLY CRAP DOES THAT MAKE ME HAPPY!
• Do Not Disturb. It's a bit tough for me to dig up praise for a feature THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED ON iPHONE FROM DAY ONE. but I'm going to try. Because being able to have your iPhone or iPad shut the hell up during the middle of the night is something worth praising. Even if it's years overdue. Suffice to say that being able to selectively (or automatically) make your iPhone ignore everything but calls from critical people you designate is part of what makes a smartphone a SMART ... PHONE! Long overdue and much appreciated.
• Passbook. One of the buzzword technologies hitting mobile phones is "NFC" which is "Near Field Communication." This allows you to buy stuff or unlock stuff or transfer stuff very simply over very short distances. It sounds kinda cool. No more fumbling for your credit card or airline ticket or room key when you've got your mobile phone! Except... not many people are using it. Yet. And, like all new tech, we don't know if it will really catch on. So Apple is conveniently ignoring it. For now. As a stop-gap, they've come up with Passbook. It's kind of like a wallet for your cards and tickets and stuff. Except instead of using NFC, it relies on good old-fashioned bar codes...
The above image comes from Apple, because Passbook itself hasn't really caught on yet. I think it will. It's just too good of an idea to be ignored. Especially since the cards/tickets/whatever are "location aware" and will pop up automatically when you are near the place they can be used. I look forward to using it. Eventually.
• Facebook/Twitter. And so now you can Tweet and Facebook directly from the Notification Center. You can also Tweet and Facebook stuff from other various apps like Photos and Safari courtesy of the "Share" button. It's kinda nifty...
• Maps. There's no subtle way to say this... Apple's replacement for Google Maps (titled simply "Maps")... sucks. And sucks hard. First of all, there's NO Public Transit Directions. This is just awful for somebody like me who travels to new places a lot and uses public transportation. Second of all, the map data is often good, but sometimes pretty terrible. Things are missing or on the wrong place. Satellite views for some locations are so bad as to be indecipherable. It's just a mess, and even if Apple starts throwing millions of dollars at the problem, it's going to be a while before they are even close to Google Maps.
The good news is that when Maps works, it's pretty frickin' incredible... and so very very pretty. PLUS YOU CAN MAKE THE LABELS BIG SO YOU CAN ACTUALLY READ THEM! Sweet! But the feature that sets Apple Maps apart is their amazing "Flyover" feature that allows you to swoop around some cities in beautiful 3-D. I could play with it for hours...
Turning off the satellite gives you the geometry for Flyover...
There is some freaky imagery with Flyover in places... but when it works, it's pretty great. Like the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago...
Some famous places like The Coliseum and The Vatican are well-rendered...
Others, like the Eiffel Tower? Not so much...
I have no doubt that Apple is going to invest the time and money to keep improving Maps to the point that it eventually eclipses Google. The question then becomes... how long is that going to take? Could be years. Which means I really need my Google Maps back for serious use. Hopefully Google will give us an app for that... but, until then, I guess there's always their mobile maps site. Sure I'll lose the "turn-by-turn directions" that Apple has... but I'd take time-tested, reliable maps over flashy add-ons any day.
• Photo Stream. One of the things that drives me insane is how difficult it is to transfer photos. Transfer to my iPad. Transfer to my Mac. Transfer to friends. Transfer anywhere, really. At first I just emailed them to myself. Then I bought an app that had a klutzy way of setting up a link between my iPhone and my Mac. Apple's "Photostream" technology came along, but YOU don't choose what gets put there. Enter "Shared Photo Streams" with iOS 6. Now you can create your own custom streams, invite whomever you want to view them, then post photos until your heart's content. Bonus? You and others can COMMENT on the photos. Pretty sweet. It's not direct, instant transfer to somebody you're talking to, but it's good enough.
• Facetime. And so FaceTime over cellular is now possible with iOS 6. Unless you're unwilling to give up your grandfathered unlimited data plan. Then AT&T decides they're going to FUCK YOU JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN... THEY ARE GOING TO DENY YOU THE ABILITY TO FACETIME OVER CELLULAR LIKE THE GREEDY BASTARDS THEY ARE. Data is data. How they can differentiate how you use that data is pretty fucked up and should be illegal. And what about their customers that are deaf?!? A deaf person could really make use of this technology... but only if they want to sign up for a data plan that AT&T decides they can make money off of. Holy crap do I loathe cell companies.
That's not all the new features in iOS 6, but it's the ones that matter to me. Sure there are loads of other niceties... like being able to dismiss calls with a text... and the nifty panorama camera feature that's head and shoulders above the third-party apps for shooting panos... and shared iCloud tabs across devices from Apple's Safari browser is sure handy... etc. etc.
Well, as I said, Maps is a problem. It can be pretty, but it's not nearly as usable as the Google Maps it replaces. At least not yet. I wish Apple would have waited a while longer until their Maps were more functional. Other than that? Not a lot. My older iPhones don't seem to run any slower, which is always a concern. All the features that are available on each of my iPhones seem to be working as advertised. I suppose I could nitpick on little things, but the truth is that I am very happy with iOS 6... despite the fact that it's not much of a leap over previous iOS versions when it comes to the experience. Probably because Apple got it right the first time, but I fully admit I'd like to see a few more bells and whistles in the way things work. The iPhone 5 that's coming out tomorrow is leagues faster and more powerful than the original iPhone... why doesn't it have more whiz-bang visuals to take advantage of that? Not enough to distract or slow-down the gadgets running iOS, but something to make it feel a bit fresher than the original iPhone.
Because other mobile OS's like Windows 8 and Android may be behind the curve... but they're closing in a lot faster than Apple is willing to admit. Publicly. Hopefully behind the closed doors of Cupertino it's a different story.
Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
ROBERT: "Bottom line it for me, dude."
DAVE2: "Well, if you have an
Having owned or used every model Apple's made, I can say that the
And with that out of the way, here we go...
• Design. iPhone 5 is crafted out of aluminum and glass. I picked the black version, but a part of me now regrets that decision. The dark anodized aluminum looks like it's going to scratch quite easily. I don't think this will be a problem with the white iPhone 5, because the aluminum was left uncolored. Hopefully I'll find a cool case for it that will help me keep it looking pretty. The iPhone itself feels really solid despite being thinner than earlier models. It's also noticeably taller than other models, but still very comfortable in my grip. But the biggest change I notice is this... it is so frickin' LIGHT! It feels almost weightless and ethereal. Even when compared to my previous iPhone, which was already pretty light-weight. I'd give he design an A+ if it weren't for my fear of scratches.
• Cellular. Much to my shock and delight, my small rural city has 4G coverage. Note that I did not say
• Speed. Everything on iPhone 5 is fast. Very fast. The ultimate test of speed comes from goofing around with Maps Flyover, and it screams...
Everything feels snappier and more responsive. It's the most awesome iOS experience I've had.
• Display. Gorgeous. It's a Retina Display, so it's tack-sharp. It's got one less layer of material, so it's lush, saturated, and has less glare. And now it also has a larger 16x9 HD ratio, which makes modern television programs and movies bigger since there's no letterboxing. This extra space also allows for an extra row of app icons on the home screen, which is nice. I admit that at first I was worried I wouldn't like the taller screen (the old one felt perfect), but it's grown on me and I love it. Thankfully they didn't go wider so I can still operate the thing one-handed.
• Camera. I've pretty much ditched my pocket cameras. The iPhone cameras just keep getting better and better so there's really no point carrying two pieces of hardware. The new camera on the iPhone 5 is remarkable for a number of reasons. The light sensitivity is much improved. The video quality (1080p at 30fps!) is amazing. And the built-in panorama mode, which previously required a third-party app, is incredible. Not just because it works so amazingly well and is dead-simple to use, but because the resulting image is fantastic...
Given how smokey it is here, that's pretty darn good. But what if I told you that pano photo shown there is only part of the full picture I captured?
The full width of the image is 5400 pixels, all with terrific detail. I can't wait to try this somewhere with great scenery... and no smoke.
• Sound. The built-in speakers are urprisingly good for a frickin' phone. Louder and clearer than you'd think. Enough to fill a small room, really. And now Apple has new "EarPods" headphones that they're bundling with all their new gadgets...
The big selling point on these is that they've been designed to fit the widest possible variety of ears while still sounding great. Well, they got half of that right. They do sound pretty good... better than the previous Apple earbuds. But they don't fit my ear very well at all. The weight of the cord is enough to eventually dislodge them if you start moving even a little bit. If I were to dance around with them, they'd fall out immediately. This either means that I have mutant ears... or Apple is full of shit. Oh well. I didn't plan on giving up my in-ear headphones anyway. I guess my EarPods will make a good backup or something.
• Lightning. There's quite an uproar over Apple's decision to ditch the bulky and antiquated iPhone "dock connector" for their new, smaller "Lightning connector" which comes with digital goodness baked in. Needless to say, everybody who is sitting on a load of iPhone peripherals that require the dock connector are now sitting on obsolete technology. Apple has a "dock converter" which can help (in most cases) but that adds big bulk and big bucks ($29). Personally, this isn't a problem for me. The only dock connector peripheral I have (my car charger) also has a USB port. No big whoop. All that being said, I love the new Lighting port. It's tiny, but fits securely. What I don't understand is why Apple didn't design this to be a "MagSafe" type connector which attaches by magnet like a MacBook. Seems like a no-brainer if you ask me. Well, it is what it is. Since the only reason to plug in my iPhone is to charge it, I guess it's not a big deal. Wireless charging would have been nice, but I'm sure this would have added size and weight to the phone, so I'm okay that Apple didn't go that route. And I really don't give a crap that they didn't go with stupid "micro USB" either, because I don't have anything else that uses it.
• Battery. I've been using iPhone heavily all day... whether it be goofing around with it non-stop... or waiting for it to download all my apps and photos and crap. Still have 17% battery left. Given how much thinner the thing is, this is kind of surprising. If I can get away with using it all day and only plugging it in each night, I'll be very happy. With my previous iPhones, I've had to buy an external battery.
• Una Problema. As I've written about more than once, using your Apple ID for all your iCloud-based services is a handy feature that's implemented badly. If Apple is going to force you down this road, they really need to be on the fucking ball, but they aren't. Not by a longshot. Just as I get one problem with Apple ID fixed, another takes its place. And, sure enough, upgrading my iPhone caused my Apple ID to get all fucked up. Again. Now my iMac isn't registering for Messages again. AGAIN! I have no idea why Apple can't get this shit so it works reliably, but it's pissing me the hell off. So now my Macs aren't registering all my Messages conversations like they should. Random Messages are missing on my MacBook. They're gone completely on my iMac. No idea why this is happening when they were working flawlessly before I upgraded my phone. Guess I'll be calling AppleCare again. AGAIN!
• The End. No bones about it. I love the iPhone 5. Everything about it screams quality. Apple sweated the small stuff and it shows. I have my pick of any mobile on the market, and this is the one I'd pick every day of the week and twice on Sunday. None of the current competitors I've seen or worked with come close. Yes, there are a few features on other phones I wouldn't mind having... but I would be sacrificing too much on the features I use every day that Apple gets so perfectly. And that pretty much sums thing up... for me at least, iPhone 5 is perfect.
Posted on Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
I've once again escaped from the smokey side of the state! To celebrate, Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Move! I have tried for decades to understand how the car ahead of you will drive 10 miles under the speed limit... until a passing lane appears... at which time they'll start driving 10 miles over the speed limit so you can't pass... until the passing lane evaporates, at which time they'll drop back to their previous 10 miles under the speed limit again. What is wrong with them? How did they get a license? Don't they deserve to die for that? I know I'd certainly like to kill them for that. Where is Judge Dredd when you really need him?
• Case. Once Seattle-side, I stopped by the University Village Apple Store so I could get a case for my new iPhone. I worry a bit about the anodized black aluminum getting scratched, so it seemed like a good idea. Except... The Apple Store didn't have any cases. Which has to be one of the stupidest marketing decisions I've ever seen. Not even a frickin' bumper? By bypassing the add-on sales, it's as if Apple is saying "we don't need the extra revenue." Which, they probably don't... but this still seems outlandishly stupid. It's just as insane as if Apple had stacked up a huge pile of money in the parking lot and then set it on fire.
• Johnny? After surviving the shock of the Apple Store not having any iPhone 5 cases, I stumbled outside so I could visit the University Village Johnny Rockets. Except... The Johnny Rockets didn't exist! Which makes me wonder how long it will be until all the Johnny Rockets are gone. They seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate. Losing Pike Place Market was tough. Then Chicago. Then O'Hare. Now University Village. I don't know what my go-to restaurant will be if this continues. I would like it to be Earl of Sandwich but, alas, they're still pretty rare. Guess it'll be Pizza Hut or whatever.
• Soft. Across the parking lot from the heinously busy and totally packed University Village Apple Store is the mostly empty University Village Microsoft Store. From the looks of things, Microsoft copied quite a lot from Apple when they made their "retail experience" (except the crowds, of course)... right down to the name tag lanyard hanging around the necks of the T-shirt-wearing employees. As I drove by I saw one poor bastard whose job it is to stand at the door and ask (beg?) people to come in and look around. I felt like making a pity visit just because the whole situation was so sad... but I was just too hungry. Helpful hint to Microsoft: Start serving chocolate pudding and cookies at your stores so you might get some visitors.
• LTE. Having never experienced 4G LTE on a mobile phone before, I was pretty shocked to find that it seems faster than my WiFi back home. At least in Seattle it does. Web pages are loading almost instantaneously on my iPhone 5. Entire albums download in two minutes. Internet-powered apps are shockingly fast. Welcome to the future. Of course, it'll take ten years before I get it over in Redneckistan, so I suppose it will have to remain a treat for those times I'm in the big scary city.
And... I'm falling asleep. I'd post this, but I'm afraid it's not worth the $15 it would cost me. Holy crap do hotels get away with murder on internet pricing. Maybe they should be the ones policing our highways for slow drivers.
Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
One year ago today I was in Fiji. I had been out snorkeling with sharks, sea snakes, and fish. I had been on a boat following a pod of dolphins. I was heading to shore when my mobile phone beeped with a message. I didn't look at it because I rarely get texts when I'm traveling, and usually when I do get a text it's bad news.
Eventually I looked. It was a text from my brother. Despite the fact that I had prepared myself for something less than good, I was completely unprepared for what I saw...
Steve Jobs was gone.
And because of the time difference, I was hearing the news while in the future and half a world away.
It would have been nice if this cheat in time and space would have lessened the blow, but here I am a year later and it still hurts. One of the people I most admire on this earth and whose work has had a huge impact on my life isn't around anymore.
There's never going to be "just one more thing" ever again... and some days it's more than I can take.
Flowers left at the Sydney Apple Store.
Maybe next year will be easier. But today I can't imagine that there's any amount of time and space that will make me feel better about waking up and remembering that Steve Jobs is no longer here.
Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
As expected, Apple unleashed their iPad Mini at today's event... along with some other surprises...
• iPad Mini! The entire point of this product is to compete with the legions of other 7-inch tablets out there... in every way except price. Apple doesn't play the price game, they play the quality & value game... they make their product worth that extra money. Even so, I thought for sure the Mini would start at $299 and was fairly shocked that they went with $329 on the low end. Regardless, Apple is going to sell a bazillion of these things over the holidays...
But... not to me. My iPad 3 with Retina Display is absolutely perfect for the one thing I most use an iPad for... reading comics a full page at a time. The Mini's lower resolution would require that I read my comics panel by panel (again, like with iPad 2) instead of page by page.
But... I still want one. It's that sweet-spot size between an iPhone and iPad that would make it so perfect and handy for everything else I find myself reaching for the iPad to do... surf the web... read a book... check email... play games. And, unlike every other iPad I've owned, I would want it with a cellular connection so I could have internet everywhere instead of having to find a free WiFi hotspot.
I will resist the temptation, of course, because my iPad 3 is enough. But when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini with Retina Display... I just might break.
• iPad 4! The smartest thing Apple did at their press party was something nobody expected... a brand new iPad. This has a lot of people who just bought the iPad 3 six months ago in an uproar because the latest version is faster, has speedier WiFi, and better LTE connectivity. I don't care because I can't read comics twice as fast if the iPad is twice as fast, but there's a lot of people feeling burned.
Two things... 1) Apple simply had to get on a holiday release schedule with their new iPads because that's when most of them are sold... and 2) In the Android tablet world, there are a dozen manufacturers that are coming out with something newer and better every month. Apple is the only seller of iPads, so it feels worse than it actually is.
• 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display! While the small size is a killer feature for a traveler like me... I need a bigger screen to do the work I do. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display I have is perfect... and will be even more perfect when Adobe's apps are fixed to take advantage of the additional pixels. Still, for a lot of people, the compact size of this new model will be plenty big with the denser display being able to show so much more information than the old models.
• Mac Mini! For somebody wanting a cheap Mac, the new Mini is about as good as it gets. Even the low-end $599 model will provide an excellent experience for running desktop apps. And it's so ridiculously tiny, taking up almost no space. You'll still need a display, keyboard, and mouse... but a lot of people have those sitting around from their previous computer, so the Mini is pretty much a dream come true for somebody wanting to switch to Mac in the most affordable way possible.
• iMac! And here it is. The new product from the event that I am most jealous of... the new impossibly thin iMac...
I bought the last generation model of iMac for work, which now seems like a clumsy piece of crap compared to this stunningly beautiful machine.
People who have seen the display say it's one of the most amazing computer displays ever, even though it hasn't got Retina resolution. I still don't know how Apple is going to come up with the processing power to even run a
Apple also made it a lot more powerful... even though it's so damn THIN. But it's not the faster chips that make me covet the new iMac... it's the new "Fusion Drive."
I bought both a Solid State Drive and a "regular" Hard Drive so I could use the SSD for speed and the HD for storage. To make work go faster, I put the project I'm working with on the SSD, then move it back to HD when I'm done. A little bit of a hassle, but the speed increase makes it worth the trouble. Now Apple has come up with "Fusion" which combines the two drives and does all this automatically and seamlessly. New files go on the SSD half of the drive, which are automatically moved to the HD half when you stop working on them. Genius.
Of course I want one... I just can't afford one. Wah!
• Mac Pro? Still no Mac Pro. Apple obviously feels that the iMac line is powerful enough that professionals who use Macs will move to them. They added wicked-fast transfer technology like "Thunderbolt" to make sure of it. And they're right... I moved to iMac because there wasn't a new Pro model available, and I've been very happy with it. But... there is a gaping hole in their lineup that Apple has got to address sooner or later or else they are going to start losing customers (if they haven't already). Supposedly the new Mac Pros are coming next Spring. But it would have been really smart to surprise people with a release today to show that Apple is still serious about professionals that need the serious raw power and expandability that an iMac can't offer. Oh well. That ship has sailed for me, so I won't worry about it.
And... it looks like Apple is all set for the holidays. All their consumer products have been refreshed and made better than ever. Which means they are going to be raking in a fuckton of money over the next two months. Which is nice... I hear Apple could use the money.
Posted on Sunday, November 18th, 2012
Before you start celebrating that I finally made it home, you might want to chill for a minute... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Hostess. I haven't eaten anything from Hostess in decades. They use disgusting LARD in their products, so once I became a vegetarian they were scratched off my shopping list. But, as a kid, I loved Hostess products. Lemon Pies. Ding Dongs. Cupcakes. Twinkies. And Ho-Hos... oh how I loved Ho-Hos. Everything they made was magic...
So you can imagine how the news of their impending doom is a conflict for me. On one hand... who gives a rat's ass that people won't be able to buy their unhealthy crap any more? But, on the other hand... Hostess's unhealthy crap is an American childhood right of passage! Not that I have any doubt somebody isn't going to buy out the production rights for all those classic Hostess products... it's only a matter of time before people can buy Twinkies again. But something will be lost in the process. It always is.
If I'm lucky, it will be the lard that's lost.
Because, seriously, who the fuck eats LARD these days?
• Elementary. As I've said before, I did not have high hopes for yet another reimagined Sherlock Holmes. Especially when they moved it to New York and cast Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson. But, much to my surprise, I liked the show. And yet... the bigger surprise was yet to come. The show keeps getting better with each new episode. The mysteries have rapidly evolved into some of the best-written, most clever, least gimmicky, stories I've seen on the small screen. And, of course, Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are fantastic...
If you're not watching... I urge you to reconsider. This is some seriously great television.
• Five-0. Speaking of amazing television... I watched the Hawaii Five-0 reboot off and on when it first started, but the show didn't hook me enough to become a regular thing. Sure it had pretty scenery and the stories were okay, but it just seemed so "by-the-numbers"... like the cast weren't interested enough to make it feel "real" or whatever.
But something happened in the middle of the second season. The characters started clicking. The writers seemed to finally figure out what made everything feel "real." And now? Hawaii Five-0 is can't miss television for me. I love this show. And the biggest part of it is the chemistry between Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan. The smartass banter between them ranges from amusing to hilarious, but there's a warmth there that feels absolutely genuine...
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
And now we're in the show's third season where every episode has been gold. Seriously some of the best-scripted action on television, and well-worth your time to tune in.*
*Assuming that completely obvious non-stop Microsoft product placement doesn't drive you insane. Seriously, Microsoft must be providing free blowjobs and millions of dollars to all the producers and writers of this show.
• Maps. When Apple released their replacement for Google Maps, I hopped on the bandwagon to declare them a bad move. But most of my criticism came from the botched 3-D renderings and missing places I ran across (or didn't run across, as it were). Things just seemed so half-assed and "un-Apple-like."
But then I started using their turn-by-turn navigation just to see how goofy it was... and was floored to discover that Apple Maps provides better directions than Google Maps. My favorite thing about Apple's directions? They consider what side of the street your destination is on. Google regularly leads you to places while not giving a shit what side of the street it's on. This means you sometimes have to cross over traffic on busy streets... if you can cross at all. Apple? They provide a route that puts your destination on the right so there's no fighting to turn across the street...
So, yes. Apple Maps have some problems. And their navigation isn't perfect (I hate it when Siri says "KEEP LEFT" only to send you into a left-turn-only lane or something), but the more I use the app, the more I love it. And don't get me started on the beautiful vector maps. They load very quickly and are cached MUCH better than Google. Losing your internet connection in rural Georgia isn't nearly the tragedy with Apple, because your maps still work... they just cache so much of the area because the vector art is so small and efficient. Google turns the screen grey if you venture into a new location without internet. Not the best solution. So if you've been avoiding Apple Maps because of the negative hype... you might want to give them a second look. You might just be pleasantly surprised like me!
And... I'm going to have to cut bullets short, because I'm falling asleep as I write them. It's been a lonnnnng week.
Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Before I rip into the brand new version of iTunes that Apple unleashed on the world today, I thought I'd say something nice.
I love the kind of instant fulfillment that iTunes provides.
Tonight I was watching television when I saw Victoria's Secret's "Sexiest Gifts" ad. It had a really cool song playing that I liked. So I Google the lyrics... find the song title (All Eyes on You by the band St. Lucia)... and BLAM! I go to iTunes and the song is mine.
Then I see a commercial for Men In Black 3 and BLAM! I go to iTunes and the movie is mine.
While at the iTunes Store, I see that seasons 1-3 of Community are on sale for $15(!) each... BLAM! Mine!
No more having to drive to the store or order online and have to wait for it to show up. You want something... BLAM! it's yours.
And now a few comments on iTunes 11...
A classier, more elegant update to the ugly-ass iTunes 10 icon.
The new iTunes 11 interface is big and pretty. It's also a heck of a lot simpler. Everything that can be condensed and collapsed has been condensed and collapsed. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because all the basic functionality is easier to use and out of the way. Bad because some extraneous functionality is not as easily accessible and you have to dig for it. And let's not forget the ugly... "iTunes DJ" is gone for some reason (so is Ping, but that's probably a good thing).
The most important update feature (for me, anyways) is that iCloud is now completely integrated into iTunes. The upshot being that now you can stream your movies, videos, and television shows to watch on your Mac without having to download them first, just like Apple TV. Cool! Now the only time I have to waste space on my hard drive for my iTunes purchases is when I want to have access to them while offline. A bonus feature is that iCloud stores your position, so you can start watching a show on your Mac, then pick up right where you left off on your iPad.
It's not all peaches and cream with iCloud integration, however. Even though you can stream video from the cloud, your Mac will still force you to fucking download all your fucking video purchases even though you don't fucking want them on your fucking Mac. At least from what I can fucking figure out. This is fucking bullshit...
Yeah, delete that shit off your downloads list as many times as you want... they'll be back in your "Available Downloads" before you can fucking blink. Sure I can tell iTunes not to automatically download purchases, but they never go away. And sometimes at random, iTunes starts to download them anyway.
Since iCloud was basically added as a hack on iTunes 10, this idiotic bug upset me, but didn't piss me off. But now that iTunes 11 is "iCloud Functional"... it sends me into a thermonuclear rage that the only way to keep iTunes from wanting to download videos IS TO DOWNLOAD THE VIDEOS. NOTE TO APPLE: THIS IS FUCKING STUPID!
And speaking of FUCKING STUPID, does anybody have any idea why this dialog box keeps randomly popping up when I try to play a video?
It's not consistent. If I click to play the same video that gave me the above error, odds are it will play properly the second time. This is an amateur hour bug, and I cannot fathom how Apple lets this crap slip through. I'm using a brand new MacBook Pro. I've been using iTunes 11 for ONLY TWO HOURS and found this problem... surely they beta test for longer than two hours?
I was excited when I saw that Apple had integrated the iTunes Store into my library. How handy is that? No more being bounced out to the store every time I want to buy a new episode of a show or find similar series to purchase! Or not. Half the time when I press the "In The Store" button, I just get a list of recommendations. The other half of the time, I get NOTHING...
A smart e-retailer would pop up a list of more Cougar Town episodes for me to buy while looking at my past Cougar Town purchases. But Apple? They make me leave my library, go to the store, click on television shows, then perform a Cougar Town search. What a hassle. No impulse buys for me. I guess that despite Apple's massive success, they are still a little brain-dead when it comes to selling. Something tells me this will be fixed real soon. There's entirely too much profit to be made.
And it's not just taking my money where Apple makes things ridiculously inconvenient. Just finding my music in iTunes 11 is a hassle too. Let's say I want to play the Pet Shop Boys new album Elysium, so I search my library and up it comes...
I just click on the album, and I'm off and running, right? Of course not...
Even though I specifically clicked on the album I wanted to listen to, iTunes takes me to ALL of their albums. I have to scroll down to find it. Now, I know that I'm in "Artist" view, and if I were in "Album" view it would have worked properly... but why can't it work properly in "Artist" view too? It doesn't make any sense.
But, then again, more than a few things in the new interface don't make much sense to me. Just like in previous versions of iTunes, there's a "List View" where you can uncheck little boxes next to songs you don't want to have played. But what happens when you go to non-list views where there are no boxes to uncheck? Why, you still uncheck them! Metaphorically, I'm sure...
In lieu of checkboxes, "unchecked" songs are greyed out when you're not in "List View." Well, whatever. This just seems sloppy and lazy and un-Apple to me. "Well, there aren't any checkboxes in this view, but we can't think of a better way to handle things, so fuck it! We'll just pretend there are checkboxes!"
Meanwhile, back at the iTunes Store... things are equally screwed up.
Let's say that I'm shopping for television shows. I see an ad for the third season of The Glades, so I click through. Now, normally, if I wanted to see more seasons of The Glades I would just use the navigation trail at the top of the page...
But you know what? I clicked on that damn link a half-dozen times. And each time iTunes just reloaded the exact same page. Nope. In order to see what other seasons are available, it's back to the search box. And some wacky results..
This is about the most unhelpful shopping search results you could possibly get. The first results are just a bunch of random episodes. They don't even tell you which number each episode is. Hell, they don't even fucking tell you what order they're being displayed! I'm assuming they're sorted by popularity, but who the hell knows? And of course there's no option to change the sort... whatever it is. Want them sorted by date added so you can buy the latest? Tough shit! Can't do it. Even if you navigate to "All Episodes" they are still force-displayed in a seemingly random order. And when you click the back-arrow to go back to your search? Oh, sorry... refinements to a search aren't navigable, so you skip right past it. Useless. At the very least, Apple could put the "TV Seasons" at the top of your search results, because clicking on those will give you actually useful information... like episode numbers and air dates!
Blerg. With all this stupid crap Apple got very, very wrong... did they get anything right? Certainly! They have a new feature called "Up Next" which packs a lot of cool stuff in a small space...
My library is playing through on "Shuffle" and the "Up Next" dialog shows what's coming. I can quickly eliminate songs I don't want to hear... move a song up the queue... add a song to a playlist... jump to the album the song is from... jump to the song in the iTunes Store... give a star rating... and more. Kind of nifty.
Another nice improvement is the mini player...
It's smaller, but does more. Amazingly, you can even search your library from it...
Sadly, you cannot access mini player when iTunes is in full-screen mode. I guess Apple felt it would be way too handy to be able to drag mini player to another virtual screen in "Spaces" while leaving the main player at full screen. I disagree. (UPDATE: or perhaps you can?)
One of the best things about iTunes is not a new feature... it's the speed. iTunes 11 is blazingly fast. Scrolling, even in album view, is a quantum leap above previous versions. Given how much time people spend scrolling through their libraries, this is a really big deal.
And that's about all that jumped out at me.
I haven't spent but a couple hours using the update but, despite my problems above, I have to say that I like it overall. For most of the stuff you'll use iTunes for, the interface is a big improvement. Hopefully the details that are less than perfect will be fixed in time.
And in the case of removing stuff from your downloads list... it had fucking better be sooner than fucking later.
UPDATE: It used to be that the iTunes Store would let you know if you've already purchased an item. Now, it doesn't. I don't know if this will lead people to accidentally re-purchase stuff they already bought, but it's pretty lame.
UPDATE: And... iTunes 11 video streaming is complete shit. Movies, shows, and videos will buffer for playback... but never actually play back. Hitting the play/pause button does nothing, yet I can "scrub" through the buffer no problem. This is fucking insane. How in the hell did this pile of shit ever get released? Even if Apple isn't beta-testing their software any more, they could at least have somebody play with it for 15 minutes to catch these bugs before they ship! I never wanted to be one of these people who said "Apple hasn't been the same since Steve Jobs died"... but, yeah, if this is the direction Apple is headed, we're all fucked.
UPDATE: For reasons unknown, I can no longer stream my video purchases. I have to download them before viewing, which is some stupid fucking bullshit. Amazon and Google videos will happily stream to your Mac or iOS devices. Apple, on the other hand, is living in the past, and forces you to download you purchases... wasting storage space and wasting your time. As you might guess, this laughably antiquated idiocy has me fucking furious. Guess I won't be buying video from Apple until they can stream your shit like everybody else.
Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
And so... today I got pulled over for expired license tabs. Which means that I never got my renewal notice, because I always pay my annual licensing fees immediately after I receive that little card in the mail. Fortunately, the police officer wasn't a dick about it, and just asked me to get it taken care of. Which I did, straight away. And now I've told my iPhone to remind me every year so I don't have to rely on state government efficiency.
In other driving-related news... Google Maps is now available as an app for iOS...
Apple dropped Google for their mapping service because Google wasn't updating the iOS maps as quickly as their own Android mapping service. Android got turn-by-turn directions... the iPhone did not. And so on. This put Apple at a competitive disadvantage, so they really had no choice but to drop Google and create something of their own that would feature-map what the competition was getting.
And we all know how that turned out.
Now that I've actually been using Apple Maps... I prefer some aspects of their app more than I do Google (even on my Android phone). Especially when it comes to caching map data, turn-by-turn directions, and the look and feel. But there was one area where Apple falls flat. And continues to do so. Location data. Google's database for mapping locations is insanely massive. Apple's is pretty much shit. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, it's also stupid. Google can make pretty good guesses, even when you misspell something. Apple has a hard time finding shit even if you spell it out completely and accurately.
This is something that Apple will get better at with time.
And they do have to keep getting better (=cough= public transit maps =cough=).
Because that's what's going to keep Google from shitting all over iPhone users by refusing to give them the same features of their own Android OS maps. Odds are, if Apple hadn't dumped Google, we would still be without turn-by-turn directions.
But now iOS users have turn-by-turn on both Apple maps and Google maps. They can choose what works best for them.
For me, it will probably be a combination of both.
Whichever one will get me to the Department of Licensing on time.