35 Things I Noticed After Upgrading to iOS 11 and an iPhone SE

iOS 11 just happened to drop on the same day I bought a new 32 GB iPhone SE in order to replace my 16 GB iPhone 6 and switch over to a prepaid plan. The 6 was running low on storage space and the SE was on sale, so why the heck not upgrade my OS and my phone on the same day!

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#19-YUUUGE!
  1. First things first: Upgrade my iPhone 6 to iOS 11. Maybe I can use that as a selling point after I move to the SE.
  2. I can’t help but cackle at glee at how many problems iOS 11 is likely causing for customers at my old job. Jerks.
  3. Yes, I am saying my former customers and my former employer are jerks.
  4. Free space on 16GB iPhone 6 before upgrade: 900 MB. Free space after: 4.9 GB. WTF?
  5. When I hit the Wireless or Bluetooth buttons in the Control Center I expect them TO TURN OFF, not just disconnect. No bueno. iOS!
  6. Is a Location on/off button in the Control Center too much to ask for?  Android has had one in their Notification Area for years. Don’t you want to be cool like Android, iOS?
  7. On a related note, the fact that Apple constantly wants to know where you are is mildly creepy.
  8. Why would I want to turn off the cellular part by itself? Isn’t that what Airplane Mode is for?
  9. The “Do Not Disturb While Driving” thing is pretty cool.
  10. The Pebble smartwatch app is still standing; it’ll be a sad day when it or my watch stops working. Stupid FitBit.
  11. From the ‘what took Apple so long’ department: Files. Yeah.
  12. Only four app updates to install…so far!
  13. All in all, iOS 11 is pretty nice, with a few annoyances I can live with. On to the new phone!
  14. Why not Android? Let’s see: For $200 I can get a questionable phone with a lousy camera and maybe one OS update or a really good phone with an awesome camera that will get updates for a few years.
  15. Despite the smaller screen, I consider the SE an upgrade. Better CPU, twice the storage, and a better camera.
  16. Yeah, yeah. I shouldn’t have bought the 16GB model two years ago, but here we are.
  17. The SE is small enough to fit in my pocket and not be constantly clipped to my belt looking like it’s there for something important.
  18. I’m sort-of trying to not be tied to my phone so much.  I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but I’m trying!
  19. Funny how my old phone is nearly as big as the box my new one came in.
  20. Shopping for a case was a little annoying because the iPhone SE section at Ye Olde Electronics Store was cleaned out. It must have been one heck of a sale, or maybe the SE has become the ‘poor man’s iPhone.’
  21. Found an OtterBox case on the cheap at Wally Martinez (Wal-Mart) so maybe there’s something to that.
  22. Yay, another set of EarPods and Apple stickers I’ll never use.
  23. I can never put screen protectors on right.

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    Out with the old, in with the small!
  24. The gal at the activation line has an interesting accent. I wonder if she’s in the Philippines…FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON.
  25. Accidentally hung up on her once during the activation process. Oops.
  26. Apparently the dweebie at the Best Buy warehouse didn’t scan my new phone so it wasn’t technically ‘purchased.’ That led to WHY IS IT NOT WORKING ANYMORE ten minutes after activating it, which led to another phone call to Whereveritis-istan.
  27. Realization: I’m going to have to be super-careful to not drop this thing in the toilet.
  28. It took me a half day before I realized I hadn’t set up my ringtone.
  29. Apple productivity apps are useless to me without OneDrive support.  Buh-bye.
  30. Garage Band, iMovie and TV apps on a 4-inch screen? Um, no.  Gone.
  31. Free space: 22 GB  That’s more like it!
  32. What the hell is up with not letting me use my phone as a hotspot, cellular prepaid people? Crazy idea: If people use up all their data tethering, THEY HAVE TO BUY MORE DATA WHICH MEANS YOU MAKE MORE MONEY.  Idiots.
  33. Tethering seems to work just fine via USB, so neener-neener, prepaid cell phone weenies!
  34. Going to take a little adjusting to having a smaller phone, but I think the SE is going to work. Hopefully my new provider works out, too!
  35. I’m just waiting for that one friend (you know who you are) to see my new SE and say “OH MY GOD, IT’S A BABY PHONE!”
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21 Things I Noticed after getting an iPhone

technology2After hemming and hawing about getting an iPhone, I finally broke down and got an iPhone 6 to replace my poor old Nokia Lumia 530.  During the buying process, and over the first few months of ownership, I noticed a few things:

  1. I usually don’t buy cases for my phones but I am DEFINITELY getting one this time.
  2. I think the sales guy forgot to take off the plastic they put over the screen, gonna have to figure out how to take apart the case now >.<
  3. Speaking of the sales guy, he was starting to push just a little too hard to get me to buy another on-contract device.  Grr.
  4. First order of business: upgrade to iOS 9!
  5. Make that the second order or business, had to charge it fully first.
  6. Weird thing: My Apple purchases have been three years apart:  iMac in 2009, iPad mini in 2012 and now an iPhone. I guess I’ll be getting a new iThingie in 2018
  7. Picked up an OtterBox Defender case, which turned the slim, sleek, sexy iPhone into a big chunky thing. I may have gone overboard on the whole ‘protection’ thing.
  8. Then again, I like having a little heft to my devices, so it’s just as well
  9. There is something weirdly satisfying about snapping my phone into its OtterBox belt clip.
  10. It’s just as well that I traded in my Windows Phone, I don’t even think I could get few magic beans for it at this point.
  11. Speaking of which, I keep going OMG I CAN ACTUALLY GET THAT APP NOW instead of “Aww, no Windows Phone version.”
  12. iPhone is Coke. Android is Pepsi. Windows Phone is that godawful ‘Cola’ they have at the dollar store.
  13. I nearly talked myself out of an iPhone while waiting in the store.  I started thinking: “Well, maybe an Android…” but then remembered my past experiences with them.
  14. When did Android phones get more expensive than iPhones?
  15. Sign of the times: I didn’t realize I hadn’t set up my voicemail until I got a phone call the next day.
  16. I thought I’d have to charge my iPhone once it hit 10% but it took a while for it to get really low.
  17. Not sure what I’m going to do with the earbuds that came with it: 99% of earbuds don’t fit my ears so I’m not even going to try them on.
  18. I’m having to get used to having a good camera on my phone.  The iPhone has all but replaced my point-and-shoot Sony camera.
  19. That said, it was almost a full week before I took a picture, and it wasn’t even a selfie.
  20. Time since last charge: 51.5 hours standby, 7.5 hours usage 😀
  21. I already miss Cortana!

myPhone

technology2There are a number of things that I don’t mind, but at the same time it’s sometimes fun to wave my metaphorical Cranky Old Man cane at the durn kids with their newfangled doohickeys and double-you-step music.

Case in point: Apple.  I don’t mind them.  I own a 2009 iMac and an original iPad mini.  Both are quite good at what they do, and I continue to use them.  Despite that, I like to thumb my nose at the ‘Apple guy’ in the office (there’s always one) and have back-and-forths with him about why I feel Microsoft is better.  As if in retaliation, my original iPad mini has been slowly inching towards obsolescence with each iOS update.  Recently, I was frustrated at not being able to play the neato new Fallout Shelter game for more than a few minutes without the poor thing crashing.

While the thought of getting a new iPad has crossed my mind, the thought of dropping a few hundred bucks on another one is not a pleasant one, especially since my Windows 8 tablet has proven to be quite capable, Microsoft Office notwithstanding.

Because of its creaky performance, I have been using the iPad mini as a hotspot more than anything else as of late.  I would use my cell phone as a hotspot, but Cricket Wireless has internet sharing disabled on my Lumia 530.  Jerks.  So I send a few bucks to Verizon, turn on the iPad’s hotspot feature, set it down, and then use my Windows laptop or tablet to get things done.

Which brings me to my next point.  I am, for better or for worse, married to Microsoft Windows as well as their ecosystem.  Windows 8.1, Word, OneDrive and OneNote have all served me well over the years and I have no reason to stop using them.

In spite of that, I have decided to get an iPhone for my next phone.  As I am not on a contract, I can make the jump whenever it pleases me, but more practical concerns such as home and vehicle maintenance take precedence. Nevertheless, whenever I am financially ready to make the jump I will be more than happy to for the following reasons:

  1. Apple makes pretty good hardware – My iMac and iPad have been pretty durable and dependable over the years.  I’ll likely have to get a case for an iPhone, but I’m pretty careful with my phones; I’ve never cracked a single screen over the years.
  2. Apps apps everywhere – This is the Achilles’s Heel of Windows Phone; the limited app selection wouldn’t be so bad if Microsoft would keep their own apps up to date.  The iPad version of Word blows the Windows Phone one out of the water, too.
  3. Accessories – Because I often get cheaper (or Windows) phones, cases and accessories are rare or nonexistent.  Stores seem to have three sections for phone accessories: Apple, Samsung, and one with a big sign above it for everyone else that says EFF-YOU.
  4. Microsoft is on board – The fact that I can get Microsoft Word on iOS and Android means no more Brand X Office apps.
  5. Hotspot! – I travel, and it would be nice to be able to fall back on my phone as a hotspot instead having to carry another device to do so.
  6. Android = suck, WinPhone = bleh, iPhone = ? Android devices have been craptacular for me over the years and Windows Phone trips at the finish line despite its nice interface.  I have never owned an iPhone so who’s to say I won’t like it?
  7. Get rid of iPad – I still only have my iPad mini for two reasons: to use as a hotspot and for work.  If I get an iPhone I can do without it completely.
  8. Updates for all! – With Android and Windows Phone, you are at the tender mercies of your carrier for updates unless you buy an unlocked device.  My Windows Phone is one update behind because of this.  iPhones, on the other hand, usually get all updates.

Of course, there is some bad with the good:

  1. Increased Cost – I am currently not on contract with Cricket Wireless and its been pretty sweet: $35 a month for 2.5GB of high speed data and unlimited minutes and texts.  To get an iPhone I’ll either have to pay a few hundred for the device up front or go on a contract again.  Either way that means more money.
  2. Durability – It is out of sheer luck that my Lumia doesn’t have a cracked screen given all the times I’ve dropped it (thank you Nokia).  I will definitely have to get a case to ensure my iPhone doesn’t meet an unfortunate fate.  It will remain to be seen if the iPhone is ‘Eduardo-proof’
  3. Apple EVERYWHERE? – Despite having an iMac and iPad, I am barely invested in Apple’s ecosystem.  Except for backing up my iPad I don’t use iCloud for anything.  That should stay the same with an iPhone…I hope.

I was on the fence about getting iPhone before writing this blog, but now that I’ve jotted down all the ups and downs, I’m all but certain I’m going to pull the trigger on one…eventually.  $35 a month for cell service is going to be really hard to give up, though!

Apple Does Not Like Files

technology2As my iPad mini is my first iOS device, I have had to learn it and adjust to its idiosyncrasies. Some of the new things I’m discovering are good, like the ability to swipe up with four fingers and bring up a list of currently open apps and volume/brightness controls. Of course, there are bad things to discover as well, such as the ‘locked down’ nature of the device. In particular, I was initially miffed that I could not work with files like I could on desktops or Android devices.

I like files. I know how to work with files. I like to make folders for my files and organize them and e-mail them and sort them and rename them and open them and edit them and do all kinds of fun stuff with them.

Apple does not like files.

Apple likes objects. On an abstract level, apps are objects in iOS,not files.  Instead of having files scattered all about, like in Windows or Android, your stuff lives in the app that uses it. If you’re going to work with a picture, you open up Photos, select the picture you want to work with, and get to work. Music lives in iTunes, documents live in Pages, and so on and so forth. The app comes first.

iOS gets irritiating for people like me because unlike Android, where I can get an app like Astro and poke around at the underlying file system, iOS does not let you get ‘under the hood’ at all.  I can’t put stuff where I want it because Apple won’t let me, and coming from a world where files rule and I can do whatever I want to with them, that is frustrating.

Case in point: I use Dropbox to store stories that I am working on. Indeed, one of the first apps I downloaded onto my iPad mini was the Dropbox app.  I also got the Pages word processor because it had totally knocked my socks off on the iPad demo units. Awesome. I quickly learned that Pages does not talk to Dropbox. My file-centric brain then said: “No biggie, I’ll download a copy of my latest story via Dropbox, open it in Pages, do some editing, save my changes, then upload the newest draft back to the cloud. After all, that’s how it had worked on my Acer Iconia Tab A100.”

In response, Pages threw the finger at me and said, “NO SAVING FOR YOU.  You’re going to open the file in Pages and I’ll make a copy there. Its staying there after that, too, because I don’t like Dropbox and I ain’t giving it back.” So I end up with two copies of the story floating around, one in Dropbox and one in Pages. So much for keeping things in sync.

Ultimately, I found a Microsoft Office-compatible app talkd to Dropbox direclty, so that fixed that, but its just one an example of how I have had to work around iOS because it ‘thinks different.’  Its methodology is awesome for end-users because files are icky things and people don’t like dealing with them.  I think its because most folks can’t make the mental leap from objects (like documents, pictures, and music) to files. They can’t wrap their heads around the abstract concept like ‘computer people’ do.

If everything lives in the app, then they don’t have to deal with files at all.  If they want to do something, they open the appropriate app, and everything is there.  Instead of a list of files, they see pictures, songs, and documents, and that’s what they know.

Those of us that are more ‘computery,’ on the other hand, have a few options: muddle around iOS as best we can, jailbreak our devices, or just not bother with it altogether. Unfortunately, I think I’ve taken one step too far into the rabbit-hole, because for all that fuss, I’m still loving my iPad mini…even if it doesn’t want me to have my precious files.

RANDOM REACTION: iPad mini

The hands in these ads always look fake to me

As I mentioned previously, I was intrigued by the iPad mini because of its lower price and its size. The popularity of Apple’s newest wunderkind meant that I was going to have to hunt for one, but after a few weeks of looking, I finally got my grimy paws on a 16GB white iPad mini last week.

If there is one thing I have learned from owning my Acer Iconia Tab A100, it is that tablets are fairly close to useless without data, so I purchased a model with a cellular modem. I have used my iPad mini for just over a week and I am very impressed with it so far.

I have a friend that used to work at an Apple store. In talking with him about the mini, I found it hard to describe just how different it felt to use the iPad compared to other devices. He wasn’t surprised at that and mentioned that it was fairly common for folks to have difficulty in describing the experience of using one. I took that as a challenge, thought it over and I think I may have found a phrase:

The iPad doesn’t get in the way.

I know that sounds odd, so allow me to elaborate: In using my Android tablet, and indeed, this is the case with many portable devices, the device itself will not work as well as it should. I then have to stop what I am doing to deal with its idiosyncrasies, interrupting my work. For example, while typing, every now and then the keyboard on my Iconia would barf up a bunch of letters instead of what I wanted to type. I would then have to stop and correct the mistake before continuing. In contrast, I can type away on my iPad mini with abandon, fairly confident that the software will catch the overwhelming majority of my mistakes.

Android just feels clunky and half-done to me; a hodgepodge of different bits and pieces glued together to make a Frankenstein of an OS that works…but doesn’t work well.. iOS and its apps, on the other hand, feel more like a unified system. I don’t have to go through a relearning process with each new iOS app I install, and it is very responsive.

While I have no doubt that metaphorical wrinkles and dings will soon appear on my iPad as I get to know it better, I am a very happy owner so far.

In Defense of Apple

Despite owning a 24-inch iMac, I’m not a terribly big fan of Apple, OS X or even iTunes.  Its a fine machine, I just find OS X clunky.  That iMac still runs Snow Leopard, and boots into Windows 7 these days.  Indeed,  I seldom find myself venturing into OS X unless I have to.

The iPad was one of the tablets I was considering when I was shopping for one earlier this year.  I decided not to get one because it (indeed, all 10-inch tablets) ended up being too large to type on comfortably, and the price was more than I was willing to pay.  I ended up with a Acer Iconia TAB 100, which is a pretty good device, but its relatively short battery life (5 hours) combined with a lack of charging options (AC charger or nothing) have kept it from getting extended use.

Enter the iPad mini.  It almost sounds like a slam dunk: it does everything its big brother does, is smaller, has great battery life, and is less expensive.  Of course, ‘less expensive’ does not mean ‘cheap.’  Nevertheless, I am contemplating one, because for all the griping I do about Apple, I must admit that there are quite a few things they do right:

  • They make quality stuff:  My iMac is about three and a half years old and it still works as well as it did when I first got it.  The iPad mini may be pricey, but then again, its not made out of plastic, either.
  • Their stuff works together: Since Apple makes their own hardware, OS, and software, the integration between everything is pretty seamless.
  • They know when to say ‘no mas’: As I mentioned before, Apple has no problem ending support for old software; it’s a habit that many companies would do well to imitate.
  • They actually upgrade their software: Apple is good about updating OS X and iOS fairly regularly, and those updates are available to most users.  With Android devices, you are left at the tender mercies of your manufacturer, or even worse, your cell phone carrier.

Finally, as an iTunes publisher, I’m married to Apple whether I like it or not. So why not take that final step?

Mac Musings

Buy me now!

I own a 24-inch iMac.  I bought it when I had some extra money on my hands and I wanted to see how ‘the other half’ lived.  I’d also had a Gateway crap out on me after just three years.  The iMac came with Leopard, which I obediently upgraded to Snow Leopard, and I haven’t upgraded OS X since.  Yeah, I know, I’m a terrible iPerson for not shelling out the cash for Lion or Mountain  Lion or Griffin or Hydra or whatever their next update is going to be called, but I have no desire to.  I appreciate that OS X is probably wonderful for people that ‘aren’t into computers,’ but I am not one of those people.

In addition to Snow Leopard, my iMac boots into Windows 7.  To further add insult to injury, I keep a Windows XP virtual machine handy in OS X for when I need to do ‘real’ computer work, because OS X just doesn’t do it for me.

I cut my teeth on MS-DOS 3.1 and remember futzing around with AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS in order to play Wing Commander.  I remember making a 3.5” bootable floppy with a batch file I wrote called Kenny on it for those inevitable times when I would have to reformat my PC after poking at Windows 98 too many times with a sharp stick.  Plug n’ Play started out as Plug and Pray and we all wondered why we had to reboot our machines after changing the lousy screen resolution.  The Unix lab at the University was for Computer Science majors only and the servers had monitors that were as big as my TV set back home.  I remember the sysadmin telling us to clean out our core dumps when the drives filled up, and one guy being labeled “The JPEG King” because his directory was full of megabytes (yes, MEGABYTES) of porn, which was promptly deleted by the sysadmin.

Good times, and yes, I mean that seriously.  For folks like me, part of the fun of owning a computer is goofing around with it and watching what happens.  I don’t do that much anymore, partially because Windows 7 is pretty darn good, and partially because I’d rather be putting words together instead of spending hours under the virtual hood of my PC.

I completed the final text draft of my next e-book “Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories” a few days ago, and all that remained for me to do was take those words, squash them into an e-book, and upload it to the iBookstore for all to see and buy.  Of course, uploading it into the iBookstore would mean I would have to boot into OS X and send the .epub file to them using Apples super-special uploader program (iTunes Producer) because it, of course, its OS X only.

The first time I had tried to do so for “The Rules of Tech Support,” I encountered a problem with the .epub file I was trying to send.  The file worked just fine in Kindle, worked just fine on Nook and even passed ePub validation, but it just wasn’t good enough for Apple.

Luckily, Apple technical support helped me make my file Apple-friendly and all was well.  I was a little miffed to find out that the problem was that one line was missing from a specific file.  This time, I knew that I had to add that one line before trying to send the file to Apple.  I added the line, recreated the file, and waited for the upload to complete so I could start waiting for someone at Apple to bless it and put it up for sale.

The second time, for “One Sheet Stories” the process went without a hitch, so I was baffled, because this time I got a different error.  Crap.

I sent an error report to Apple, but I knew from previous experience that I was going to have to wait until at least until the next day to get a response.  To Apple’s credit, I always get a response within 24 hours whenever I send error reports, but I wanted my book uploaded now.  On a hunch, I fired up the aforementioned Windows XP virtual machine, did the exact same thing I did in OS X.  I resent the file and was rewarded with success.

While I was happy to have accomplished my goal, I was irked that OS X had failed me where Windows had handled the task with aplomb.  Sadly, if I wish to continue publishing e-books onto the iBookstore, I will need to keep the iMac, but like any good geek, I will always have a backup Windows machine handy.