Tag: Digital Lifestyle

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Sign of the Times

Two weeks ago, while walking around Hillcrest, my wife and I briefly stopped by the local, massive, used bookstore. To my surprise, the place was three-quarters emptied and going out of business. Yikes! I hadn’t shopped there for nearly a year, when purchasing a paperback for myself later given to my father-in-law. While 5th Avenue Books is gone, online counterpart Schrader’s Books will continue selling used titles through Amazon. As someone who almost exclusively reads ebooks, I occasionally—but, honestly, rarely—shopped out-of-prints not available in digital format, almost always finding the sought-after read.

That last purchase: The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein, an old-time favorite selling for three bucks. When I first bought the anthology in high school, it came as a set with two other titles: Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. During the last year of my father-in-law’s life, reading became his main recreation. I donated the Heinlein title to that cause. Following the 95 year-old’s death nine weeks ago, I reclaimed the book to read and as remembrance. 

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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. 

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Apple Store, Bah Humbug

Apple sure knows how to keep its store stocked for the holidays. Ho, ho, ho, bah humbug. The shelves are bare, and you can get your must-have pretty thing some time next year. If you’re lucky. Let’s start with the delayed AirPods, which went on sale online last week. They arrived in stores on Monday, and whoosh were gone before the waiting line ended. My local shop had about 30 pairs. If you want them, first available retail pickup date is—cough, cough—February 8th. That is 2017. I had to confirm not 2018, because you never know with these dumbfounding delays. Straight-to-ship orders move your way in six weeks. Donald Trump will be president sooner!

Perhaps you’re pining for one of those pricey MacBook Pros—you know, the ones with Touch Bar that no sane person knows what to do with. Apple will miss Christmas, but you can still beat Martin Luther King’s birthday, with orders made today delivering sometime between January 4-10 or available for in-store pickup on the tenth. God Bless America and Made in China! 

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If You Can Vote for American Idol on Smartphones, Why Not Presidents?

Over the weekend, my 94 year-old father-in-law asked what I would do to assure that every American who could vote would do so. That was an unexpected question, but one I addressed gingerly. This post is my answer restated for a public venue.

Simple answer: Smartphone. According to PewResearchCenter, nearly 70 percent of Americans own one of the devices, but the number among voting age adults tops 80 percent, according to other estimates. Surely a program could be in place by the 2020 Presidential race, and if lawmakers were truly serious about universal suffrage, a Manhattan-like project could make it happen by the next Mid-terms. 

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Virtual Reality in a cardboard box?

Today the New York Times spammed my inbox: “We’ve just launched an innovative virtual reality platform that will transform the way you experience stories. As one of our most loyal digital subscribers, you are entitled to a complimentary Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer for an enhanced viewing experience”.

I took advantage of the freebie, thinking that this thing, which literally is a cardboard box, should be an April Fool’s hoax. I kinda heard about it before but ignored. Cardboard boxes are for Amazon packages and cat play after they arrive. High-tech gadgetry, c`mon? What? Is this the newest thing in recyclable tech? 

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Nexus 6P Early Review

Finely balanced and contextually practical are the terms that best describe my first impressions of Google’s flagship Android. Nexus 6P preorders are about to ship, and I was fortunate to receive a review model but with short embargo lift: Delivered Oct. 16, 2015 before every blogger and reviewer on the planet blasted out simultaneous reviews and first-reactions on the 19th. I choose the latter, because a scant three days isn’t enough time to rightly evaluate the smartphone.

Much of my experience is cast in moving from the previous flagship, Nexus 6, although there was a day between them where iPhone 6s Plus and I fitfully danced. The 6P is in many respects what its predecessor should have been: Smaller. Much as I like the larger Motorola-made phablet, its Huawei-manufactured successor has greater physical and feature balance. Both are superb smart devices, but the newer Nexus is better tuned to practical purposes. 

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Origin Story

Sometimes the Internet community surprises me. My last post, “Apple, How Did It Come to This?” is why. Everyone creating content everywhere wants to know the magic formula for generating reader response. The pageview-obsessed seek the golden ticket that consistently means clicks. Me? I write obsessively. It’s like breathing—a necessary and unavoidable act.

The “Come to This” post garnered quite a bit more attention than I expected, in part because of its origin. Some of the activity is Twitter, but more of it occurred on Google+ overnight. The post is an adapted Plus response to a comment to a shared BetaNews story that I wrote based on something else I posted first on Google+. Confusing, isn’t it? I’ll explain in linear fashion. 

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Pixel Me Life

I am in one of my moods today, waiting for the big Apple media event to start in about 30 minutes. For no reason, other than perhaps boredom thinking about what’s to come, I wrote a quickie poem—an ode to Chromebook Pixel. It’s all just for fun and doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

When you work alone in a home office and there is no one to tease with spitballs and paper airplanes, making fun is a singular effort. The poem is meant to be read with rapid meter. Confession: I don’t play a fife, but it rhymes with life. Maybe I will add more verses later. 

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I must kick the Autocorrect Habit

My apology goes to Art Alexakis, lead singer for Everclear. In a post last night observing his role as a tattoo artist in movie “Wild”, his name is misspelled. Funny thing, so to get it right, I copied and pasted from the web into the WordPress post editor. Yet somehow when published, and I missed, his name appeared as Alexis. My thanks goes to Scott Bell, who pointed out the error in Google+ comment.

It’s strange how tech meant to be beneficial gets in the way. More mistakes appear in my stories because of autocorrect than I make myself. The pattern is consistent: I will write, nix autocorrect’s misspelling, but later edit something else in the sentence. Word changes! As a long-time writer and editor, I revise constantly until publishing—and afterwards, too. The mistakes I most often miss typically are the ones made for me during spot edits. 

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What Good is Tidal HiFi if Content won’t Play?

Editor’s Note: Tidal resolved the problems long ago; I continue to subscribe a year later.

On May 1st, Tidal billed my credit card for the first month of music streaming. Yesterday, my subscription to Google Music ended. I should be satisfied with the switch, given how much more I enjoy 1411kbps lossless listening over the more typical 320kbps compressed streaming music. But recent, recurring service problems put my customer continuation into question.

Quality of content, or available selection of it, isn’t the problem. I find plenty of music to enjoy, and the default playlists are smartly curated. The high-fidelity is just that. But slow starts, drop-offs, and song skips disrupt the listening experience—and for a service costing twice as much as major competitors, like Beats, Rdio, or Spotify, I expect more but get less. There is no customer support option that I can find, either. 

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Contextual Cloud Computing is for Everyone

Keeping with my recommendation that “Writers, Own Your Content!“, I cross-post many, but by no means all, of my BetaNews tech stories here. As explained two months ago, much of my readership engagement takes place somewhere else, which is major reason there are so few comments here. Some of them occasionally deserve additional attention.

Late yesterday I posted my review of Chromebook Pixel LS, which Google released in early March. The write-up is purposely rah-rah to impose the importance of embracing contextual cloud computing and to shake up preconceptions about Macs being the tools of the creative elite. I also call “dumb” developers who may receive free Pixels during Google I/O later this month only to then sell them online.

One reader comment, from SmallSherm, to the BetaNews version caught my attention, for accusing me of calling him (or her) stupid and for insulting readers. After writing my response, I wondered how few people would ever see the interaction, which I regard as being quite valuable, there and absolutely none her. I present our two comments for your Tuesday thought train.