Category: Digital Lifestyle

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Thinking About Apple HomePod

HomePod arrived yesterday at 9:40 a.m. PST; thank-you UPS for prompt delivery of my preorder. The device replaces Google Home, which will be dispatched to a new owner (hopefully), via Craigslist or NextDoor. Perhaps Big G’s assistant would have satisfied more if I lived the Google lifestyle like during my Android and Chromebook days. But I walk the Apple Way today, for better or for worse.

My initial reaction: Wow and uh-oh. The wow harkens back to the original iPod, which Apple released in October 2001. The company’s design ethic treated the overall experience as the user interface: Attach FireWire cable to Mac and device, music syncs. iTunes manages music on the Mac; for iPod, a simple scroll-wheel navigates tracks displayed on a small screen. The uncomplicated and understated approach defied the UX of every other MP3 sold by all other manufacturers. HomePod is a defining, roots-return that’s well-deserving of the portion of name in common with its forebear; both share in common emphasis on music listening as primary benefit. 

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You Dunno Where This Cat Lives

Another benefit using Leica Q, or any camera without GPS built-in: Location information isn’t captured with photos, and, as such, cannot easily be made available across the Wild Wild Web (yes, that’s what the WWW really represents). I know, from memory, that the Featured Image was shot somewhere along Adams Ave. in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. But I can’t exactly recall where.

Perhaps because kitties are so popular on the Internet, nearly four-year-old website “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” uses them to make a privacy point, by showing how pics shared online reveal location. Ah, like your residence! “Hey, Look. That’s Jack’s living room, and there’s Frisky”. 

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My Personal Tech Kit 2018

I am a big believer in change, as being beneficial, and I will occassionally switch computing platforms to shake up habits and my digital lifestyle. Watching Google’s advances with Assistant, and anticipating release of a new Pixel Chromebook, I expected to swap out my Apple gear before end of the year. But that isn’t the case. I start 2018 pretty much as I did 2017—looking at that bitten-fruit logo on my major personal devices.

There is the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that I purchased during the last week of November 2016. The other three gadgets released last year and replace like gear: Apple Watch Series 3 LTE (Stainless Steel); iPad Pro 10.5 LTE; iPhone X. Additionally, there is an Apple TV 4K in the living room. 

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iPhone X is a Surprisingly Super Shooter

Approaching rush hour on 805 marks my walk along Adams Ave. above to Pet Me Please, where I learned a valuable lesson. Always call ahead. I used Siri to check normal business hours, but there were none. A sign on the door announced that the shop would be (uncharacteristically) closed today because of the “Lilac wildfire“. Well, frak me. At least I got some good exercise and shot of slowing traffic.

I captured the Featured Image at 3:16 p.m. PST, through a small opening in the overpass bridge chain-link fence, using iPhone X. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/810 sec, 6mm. The image is an auto-generated HDR composite.

Tech reviewers rave about Pixel 2 XL’s photographic charms; they can have Google’s smartphone. I am wholly impressed with Apple’s tenth anniversary handset, which is a suprisingly super shooter compared to my (now discarded) 7 Plus—or any other cellular mobile to find its way into my grubby paws. 

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Google Pixel XL First Impressions

Next week, iPhone is 10 years old; sales started on June 29, 2007. Please see my post about that day—”The iPhone Moment“—and another on the tenth anniversary of the device’s unveiling, “The iPhone Metaphor“, from January of this year. Strangely, I celebrate by abandonment. Twelve days ago, my family switched to Verizon from T-Mobile, and in process I gave up iPhone 7 Plus.

Appropriately perhaps, as I write this sentence, Talk Talk’s “Living in Another World” streams from Tidal. Yeah, that’s me, with respect to iPhone 7 Minus—what I started calling the thing after learning that Apple makes two models, one of which in part is incompatible with Verizon and other CDMA carriers. You want model A1661 and not A1784. Rather than get another Minus, I chose to try something else: Google Pixel XL, which overall user experience is as good and in many respects so much superior. 

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Letting Pixel C, and also Chromebook Pixel, Languish is Foolhardy

To celebrate the launch of Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, I ordered Pixel C, which arrived three days ago. Worst case, the tablet can be returned for refund during the buyer’s remorse period; there ain’t any regrets so far—just the opposite. To my pleasant surprise, the tab is much more enjoyable than I remember, because Nougat is so pretty, efficient, and buttery smooth than was Marshmallow on the device. The screen scorches any available iPad, Pro or otherwise, and the performance is shockingly nimble. My Pixel C shipped with Android 7.1.1 and quickly updated to 7.1.2. I will soon install Android O; Google released Developer Preview 3 yesterday.

There’s a certain insanity to the purchase. I reviewed Google’s Android slate 15 months ago; that makes the thang ancient as measured in computing years. But Big G still sells the tab, and there must be a reason, right? I got another because a college student took possession of my first Pixel C in early 2016. With keyboard cover, the tablet makes a helluva handy carry-along on campus. 

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Bye Bye Apple Watch

I suffer from phantom smartwatch syndrome—an ailment that hopefully will disappear over time. Nearly four weeks ago, I put aside Apple Watch 2 stainless steel and replaced it with the simple but appealing ManchesterWatchWorks Iconik 3. Problem: Almost any shifting movement of the timepiece causes me to reflexively flip my wrist and look down; there is false perception of hepatic sensation. Apple has trained me well, and I’m tired of being its dog doing tricks. Woof. Woof. Growl.

I feel free! Gone are the nagging alerts—and I had them barreled down to a minimum of approved services: Some for breaking news; emails from a half-dozen people; and text messages. Among this still seeming torrent, the Activity app annoyed with congratulatory badges and prompts that one of the four main exercise goals (Calories, Exercise Time, Stands, and Steps)—Apple’s athletic lifestyle version of the four food groups—would soon be achieved. The badges are about as infantile as gold stars that teachers give kindergarteners and with similar purpose: To make the recipient feel good, whether or not deserved. The achievement badge for Earth Day flipped my goat. Seriously? I ordered the Iconik 3 that evening. 

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Lemonade Stand

The Fujifilm X100F is now my nearly-always outdoor companion—a role iPhone 7 Plus had filled. The camera is compact and light and comfortably slings over the shoulder attached to the ONA Lima strap. Earlier today, my wife and I walked down Maryland Ave. toward The Hub plaza in Hillcrest. Along the way, we passed a lemonade stand, with some kids fundraising for the local elementary school, Alice Birney. They had already raised $60 when I snapped the pic, at 1:15 p.m. PST. Somebody paid more than the requested 25 cents a cup. Hehe.

The Featured Image is a crop of the original, which is visible below the fold. Both versions are unaltered, except for horizontal cropping to the first and straightening of both. The visual cue is different in each, though. The first is aligned vertically with the lemonade stand and the original against the house in the background. 

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Amazon Books San Diego

My wife and I drove to Westfield UTC to walk around on this bright sunny day, and to reminisce. Soon after we moved to San Diego in late 2007, my daughter started skating at Ice Town (since renamed UTC Ice), which is inside the mall’s food court. There, Firefighters gave her a Santa’s hat on Christmas Eve, 2008. We hadn’t visited the La Jolla retail complex for at least six months, and I suspect much longer. Hehe, we missed out. In September 2016, the second Amazon Books store opened there. The first is in Seattle, and there is another in Portland, Oregon.

Eleven months ago, when Wall Street Journal broke Amazon’s plan to open the shops, I offered some good reasons why the strategy makes sense, even if it might seem nonsensical when bookstores are shutting around the nation— the online retailer’s Kindle ebook business being a major reason. I had no idea then, or until today, that San Diego was among the locations. UTC is a good choice. Amazon Books is diagonally across from Apple Store, in a mall that is very outdoor shopping/walking friendly and courts a clientele that would shop for titles they can hold and read; no device or screen required.