Apple Services Sales Surge

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Apple Store New York

Two days before Apple’s next media event, where long-overdue new laptops presumably arrive, the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant released fiscal fourth quarter and closed full-year 2016. You could feel the anticipation after the Bell closed on Wall Street today—and, honestly, it had been palpable for weeks. Shares closed $118.25, up .51 percent. As I post, they’re down about 3 percent, after hours.

The drama is a TV thriller: Release of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus set against a backdrop of saturated global smartphone sales; launch of Apple Watch Series 2 into an already declining market for smart timepieces; analyst data showing calendar third quarter to again be bad for PC shipments—with even Macs losing momentum. So everyone wants to know: What was the quarter’s financial crop?  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Frisky

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On the afternoon of June 25, 2016, as I walked by the local elementary school located at Campus Ave. and Meade, a friendly feline popped out of the bushes demanding attention. Frisky is my name for a cat circling around and climbing up my legs and torso. I talked to my mom on iPhone 6s Plus at the time and asked her to hold while attempting to get a good photo. The furball moved around too much for that.

The original is blurry. But wanting to use it, I edited in rare fashion: high-dynamic range—in this instance applying Structured 2 filter using HDR Efex Pro 2. Vitals for the original: f/2.2, ISO 25, 1/298 sec, 4.15mm. The moment is more salvaged than pristinely preserved, but I couldn’t let Frisky be ignored in this series

Also featured: Scruffy, Roly Poly, Calico, Skull, Biscuit, The Colonel, White, and Chipper.

Gear Reviews

Master & Dynamic MW60 Review

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For Christmas 2015, I bought myself a new pair of Bluetooth headphones. After trying several sets, I settled on Master & Dynamic MW60, which were a fantastic choice then and are still my top recommendation nearly a year later. The wireless cans replaced my beloved Grado RS1e—no small feat.

Read no further and buy the M&D cans, if wireless listening is priority—and should be if using iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, which lack 3.5 mm jack. Authentic audio, spacious soundstage, and full fidelity (without over-punchy bass) make the MW60 the gold standard for Bluetooth cans.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Chipper

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With some furballs there are second chances. I first spotted Chipper on Sept. 24, 2016 along the canyon-side of Campus Ave. where it meets Madison. But the three photos taken around 7:03 p.m. PDT disappointed—in part because of the low light but more because the cat was excited for attention and moved all around me. Hence, my calling him Chipper.

We next met on October 4th at 8:12 a.m., when I easily shot four portraits from a yard where Campus and Meade meet. The photo is cropped from a HDR render captured using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/224 sec, 3.99mm.

Chipper is eighth featured feline. Others: Scruffy, Roly Poly, Calico, Skull, Biscuit, The Colonel, and White.

Gear Reviews

Grado RS1e Review

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Yesterday I sold my beloved Grado RS1e headphones, which get my highest recommendation. Parting ways, time is long overdue for a review, even if post-mortem. I let go the cans mainly because my lifestyle changed. Being tethered by wires is too confining; I listen to music more on the move now. As such, fine-fidelity Bluetooth cans—Master & Dynamic MW60—give great sound with more flexibility and mobility.

I purchased the RS1e direct from manufacturer Grado Labs in late July 2014, soon after release. Grado is a family-owned/run Brooklyn, New York-based business that opened in 1953 offering turntable cartridges. In 1990, the company starting selling headphones, which are hand-crafted and tested for the distinctive, sound signature that defines them. Founder Joseph Grado passed away in February 2015 at age 90.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: White

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White Cat

As explained yesterday, for weeks I walked down North Ave., looking to get a good shot of The Colonel. On Sept. 25, 2016, at 7:48 a.m., in his yard I spotted a stranger, whom I call White. Was this territorial invasion? I thought so until gathering more information.

White lives in the house behind The Colonel’s, and the two cats are often seen together. I only sighted her this one time, and my iPhone 6s Plus struggled with the contrasting areas of sunlight and shadows. This pic is cropped from an HDR original and auto-enhanced in Apple Photos, which boosted exposure and contrast. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 25, 1/777 sec, 4.15mm.

Also in this series: Scruffy, Roly Poly, Calico, Skull, and Biscuit.

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: The Colonel

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The Colonel

Easily the handsomest street roamer in my neighborhood is The Colonel—and, yes, that’s his name. I spotted the furball six weeks or so ago, meeting his husband-and-wife owners at the same time. East Coasters, like me. Even better: New Yorkers. That NYC attitude and frankness is so refreshing! Love it! They’re also renters, but a house with their first lawn ever.

Back East, The Colonel was an indoor pet, who spends more time outdoors now that he is a Californian. (Year is long enough to establish residency, right?) The cat doesn’t roam too far from home but moves about enough to have lost weight.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Biscuit

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Felines are territorial beasts, so I am surprised whenever seeing two traversing the same space. Yesterday, we met Skull, and comparing photos you will see Biscuit (my made-up name) stands on the same ledge in the same yard—eight days later, on Sept. 20, 2016. I captured the moment using iPhone 6s Plus at 9:16 a.m. PDT. Vitals: f/2.2., ISO 25, 1/120 sec, 4.15mm.

Biscuit was a single-sighting. I haven’t seen the kitten since, but Skull for sure. Other cats in this series: Scruffy, Roly Poly, and Calico.

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Skull

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This summer I started a daily walking ritual—typically in the morning before beginning to meet the day’s demands. Recently, I often will see a black cat in the yard next to the Butterfly House, which is a home-made sanctuary for Monarchs, Humming Birds, and other flying and flirting creatures. It is midway from Meade down Maryland Ave. The location is dangerous for cats, being diagonally crossways to a cliff leading into a canyon known to be a coyote habitat.

Timing is important for seeing Skull, which is my made-up name (not knowing the real one): When the sun is high enough to cast light over the houses. Today’s selection is from several shot on Sept. 12, 2016 at 8:35 a.m. using iPhone 6s Plus. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 25, 1/135 sec, 4.15mm.

Also in this series: Scruffy, Roly Poly, and Calico.

Gear HTC Mobility Tech

A Smartphone Sales Story

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I sold my sister’s T-Mobile HTC One M9 today. Nan lives in Vermont, where Verizon delivers consistently better coverage and where the market for a used smartphone is much smaller than here in San Diego. The buyer had previously owned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which she really enjoyed. While waiting until late November or early December for her matte black iPhone 7 Plus order, the woman has a Samsung Galaxy J7 loaner and hates it. She is familiar with the M9 because her mom owns one.

This lady is the fifth person I’ve met in just a few days who had bought Note 7. They’re everywhere—and a sorry lot of disappointment, too. Every one switched to an iPhone. What? Has no one read reviews claiming Google’s Pixel handsets are the Android iPhones everyone waited for?  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Calico

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calico cat

This Calico, who resides among apartments off Park Blvd. near Meade, is a fixture. I’ve seen her, and a littermate, around the same courtyard for years. Not nearly as long as I have lived in University Heights but definitely for a good half-decade. But this summer into autumn, though, she is alone—and I wonder about the other.

Google’s Android auto-upload photo feature saved these captures; I can find no digital hard copies anywhere. For about 28 days in autumn 2013, I owned the Moto X Developer Edition before returning for refund. I praised the camera for shooting what the eye sees, which wasn’t enough to offset huge variances in image quality, depending on lighting. I captured Calico using Moto X on October 15th three years ago. If not for Cloud backup, the pics would be lost.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Roly Poly

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Meet the second feline featured in this limited series. From Scruffy we go to Roly Poly (real name unknown). He and I first crossed paths on July 8, 2016 at 6:20 p.m. PDT a few meters onto Cleveland Ave. where it meets Monroe. He couldn’t stay still for long—moving from rolling around on the sidewalk to pestering a black cat meowing and growling on the other side of a hedge to lying flat. He preoccupied most of the time tormenting the hidden beast that I occasionally could see behind the brush.

I shot Roly’s portrait using iPhone 6s Plus. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 32, 1/120 sec, 4.15mm. Read More