The iPhone is in the House!!

The circle of going Apple is now complete. First came George “The iPad” 2, a little over year later came AL “The MacBook” Pro, and just days later, Yves “The iPhone” 5 completed the circle. Maybe a triangle would be a better analogy, as I only have 3 gadgets. Regardless, my move from Windows/Android is now complete and I am now full on Apple.

I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was going to wait until my contract was up before making the switch to an iPhone. However, fate chose another path for me. I was on my way to the Apple store and passed by a Bell store and went in for a little chat. My landline, internet, and cable are from Bell,. My cell contract was with another company; but I would be adding a 4th service with them so it was only natural to see what kind offer I could get if I signed up for a cellular plan. To quote the Godfather, Bell made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. From start to finish I think the process of getting my number ported having the phone set up and running was about 30 minutes. It took me longer to get my account number from my previous provider than anything else.

Yves the iPhone

Yves the iPhone

One of my first surprises when powering up the iPhone was the lack of or should that be non-existence of bloatware installed on the phone. The MacBook had no bloatware and now the iPhone. Just the lack of not having to fight my phone/laptop to get rid of useless crap made the move worth it.

I have all my music copied over. I did get a little frustrated when I wanted to convert some mp3 files I had on my SG1, I used for ringtones and notifications. I found many sites explaining how to create a ringtone; but not one stated I had to change something in preferences first. It took a 3-year-old post in the Apple forums to find the answer. Once again, iTunes stupidity shines through. Instead of allowing me to choose version x,y, or z, to create a file; I have to change preference settings each time I want to convert a file. Wouldn’t it be simpler to ask what format I want to convert to each time, and not make changes in the preference menu?

Although I did figure out how to do it eventually in iTunes, I did find a web site that converts any file in a few seconds. If anyone reading this wants to quickly, easily, and without having to install anything on their computer create ringtones, have a look at http://makeownringtone.com/. It can convert to/from a multitude of formats, you can choose the length you want, the start and end point for your file, and a host of other options are available. This is the easiest way to make a ringtone/alert file for Apple products. Even though I know how to do it in iTunes now, the above site, will be my go to way of making tones.

As you can guess, ringtones and notifications have already been assigned to those who need them. I’ve already had people test text/call me and each time, the specified tone sounded. This is the opposite of what was happening on the SG1. The SG1 would sound the correct ringtone maybe, just maybe 1 out of 20 times. The only thing the SG1 did correctly was emit the correct sound when receiving a text message.

Everything that needed moving from the SG1 has been. I have factory reset the SG1 and now it sits and waits to be used again. I think the SG1 will become my out-of-town phone. I am not allowed to go carrier free on the iPhone until my contract is up. If I had bought the phone at full price from Apple for 650$ + tax, I could put any SIM card I wanted into the phone. I just couldn’t justify spending all that cash just so I could change SIM cards when I’m out-of-town.

There are a few things I do miss from my Android phone days. I miss the lack of or rather non-existence of widgets. I had widgets setup on the SG1 for just about every task I did multiple times a day and for a couple of my social networks. I still don’t understand Apple’s aversion to widgets. How can something so great be rejected so whole heatedly? I am waiting for a jailbreak to come out for my version of iOS because there are some things I have on my iPad that I want on my iPhone. For example, pushing one button to quickly kill all open applications is a dream or to configure the phone so when connected to certain wifi networks, it should not lock. However, the most important thing missing for me, are the toggles. I used toggles for turning on/off wifi, 3G, Bluetooth, and to quickly enter airplane mode. These are the kind of things the notification center should have. It’s great to have the weather; but how many times a day does someone check the weather? The notification center has so much potential; but Apple for one reason or another has decided to not use it properly. This is the one time, I think Apple should take a page out of Android’s playbook. The Android notification center does kick the iPhone’s ass.

The iPhone may not have toggles and widgets by default; but I couldn’t be happier the SG1 has been laid to rest. I know I’m just a jailbreak away from getting the phone to where I want it. Some of you may think I should have stayed with an Android phone if I wanted such personalization. However, even on the SG1, I rooted the phone to do all that I wanted to. I look at jailbreaking as just another form of rooting on Android.

R.I.P. Sammy “SG1” Samsung

Sammy “SG1” Samsung
Activated: 10 September 2010
Deactivated: 28 December 2012

It was deep regret and sorrow, I inform one and all of the passing of Sammy. His passing did not come as a surprise to those who knew him, as the Smartphone Alzheimer he battled long and hard against, finally beat him. He was a little over 2 years old, but didn’t look a day over 1. Throughout Sammy’s short and tumultuous life-cycle, there were good times and  bad times. There were tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Sammy gave and gave, until all those around him knew he could give no more. His final attempt at relevancy was showing a clock, that was only 4hrs behind the actual time. Poor Sammy, he didn’t even know his time was up.

As one chapter in my smartphone life closes, another has opened up. To replace the void left by the disappearance of Sammy, I have introduced Yves to the family. Yves, is a black iPhone5 with 16GB of memory and is expected to remain with us for the next 3 years, barring some kind of Sammy like meltdown.

So, as a new day opens, I raise my smartphone aloft and offer a toast to the late and not always so great Sammy “SG1” Samsung. May its inner circuitry rest in pieces.

The Good, The Bad, and The Getting There

Well, it’s been a little over a week I have been a proud Mac user. Well, I don’t know about proud, because of some of the things I have to search for answers to, are things I can do blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back, dangling 50 feet in the air if I was on a Windows machine. I feel as if I’m learning to use a computer all over again.

I have finally begun to master the gigantic Macbook Pro trackpad and no longer move the cursor by mistake while I’m typing. I’ve learned that instead of holding my hands straight in front of the keyboard, I have to type on the computer at an angle. The right hand is at about 5 o’clock and the left is at about 7 o’clock. I wish there was a quick way of turning off the trackpad for those times I don’t need it, when it becomes more of a hindrance than anything else.

Although I find the trackpad to be on the large side, I do see the benefits of such a large pad. It allows for many more movements to be configured on to it, for performing routine tasks. I have configured the trackpad for pretty much all my swiping needs. Well, I’ve configured it as much as I’m allowed to by Apple. I must tip my hat to Apple for the little videos that go with each type of trackpad configuration. I thought it was ingenious to show people exactly how to move, rather than describing how to move.

I’m still moving between desktops when all I want to do is move one word to the right or left. This might be my biggest frustration to date. Sometimes I even look down at the keyboard before doing the move one word left or right and there is a part of me saying don’t touch the “control” key; but there is 20 odd years of experience over-riding that urge and when I tap the “CTRL” key, I curse myself for having not listened to my little voice.

I still miss some of the applications I used under Windows. I’m still surprised, there are so many applications not available to Mac users. Even though I have been able to find some, for the most part the ones I really want are not available. I don’t think it is a problem with the App Store, as the small programs I have downloaded did not come from the App Store. I find Microsoft Office for Mac  similar to the Windows version; but with some of the best parts taken out of it. I sometimes think I’m using MS Office lite. I tried to use Open Office; but I can sum it up in three words, I hated it.

I absolutely love the batter life on a MacBook Pro. Over the course of the Xmas holidays I spent more time with it unplugged than plugged in. I could not believe how long I could go between charges. I also like that I can lie in bed and have the backlit keyboard. My fiancée can sleep and I can see what I am typing and don’t have to peck and poke at keys in the dark, hoping I hit the right one. I don’t understand why more laptop makers did not do this. It seems like such a brilliant idea. However, I’m not a fan of the keyboard itself. I do a lot of touch typing and I am very particular about my keyboards. Whenever I would go laptop shopping, the first thing I would test, was the feel of the keyboard. The problem with Macs, is that all the keyboards are the same. I could go with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard because I do like the feel of that keyboard; but that seems kind of silly.

I’m still amazed how easy it is to install applications downloaded outside the App Store. There’s no next, click here, click there, click on that, no click for me puppet, click for me. Just drag and drop into Applications. Could anything be simpler? Never mind I had to confirm with two people how to delete an application on a Mac. I thought the first guy was pulling my leg, until I asked my brother how to uninstall something and he told me just drag it to the trash. Wow, wow, wow. WOW!!!

There are a couple of features I’m still not sure exactly what they are for. For example, what is the point of Launchpad? Any application you may want to run can easily be launched using Spotlight. I know what Dashboard is for; but it seems like a waste being its own page. It would be better if the widgets could go directly on the desktop.

If I had to rate my experience after one week, I think I would give it an 8 out of 10. The two lost points are because sometimes I feel Apple wants me to do things their way. Apple limits customization to changing the desktop background only. Points are also lost because of frustration learning to things the Apple way. I know these frustrations in time will give diminish; but for now they are present and accounted for on an almost daily basis.

Why Can’t Geeks Get Along?

apple_vs_android_vs_windowsI was talking with a friend recently about my purchase of a MacBook and how I was two-thirds of the way towards being full on Apple for my daily tech needs. This kind of shocked my friend, as he is as devoted to Windows as I was and is no fan of Apple. His phone is an HTC Desire and his tablet is, well his tablet is really a Kindle e-reader. He told me I was making a big mistake changing my ecosystem and I would rue the day I went full on Apple. He even asked me if I liked the taste of the Kool-Aid I was given. His attitude bothered and annoyed me. I let him know in no uncertain terms, I had not drunk any Kool-Aid nor had I joined any cult. I had made a choice and was now following through on that choice. I explained to him, the decision to switch completely to an Apple world was not some spur of the moment idea. If it had been spur of the moment, my smartphone would have been in the garbage heap months ago and my laptop would have already been the paper weight it was always destined to become. I understood his point of view, as until a little while ago, I agreed with everything he was saying to me; but I was still annoyed.

What does it mean when someone says Apple users have drunk the Kool-Aid or joined the Cult of Apple? I did not join a cult, drink any concoction, nor did I choose form over function. I made an informed decision on what I wanted from my technology and proceeded from there. Once I knew what I wanted from my tech products, I looked at which brand could best serve my interests. If I thought I could have gotten everything I wanted from Microsoft, I would have gone full on Microsoft.

I have used the aforementioned descriptions when talking about Apple users in the past; but now that I am now an Apple user, I think those kind of statements are foolish and just narrow-minded. Just because someone has bought into a certain brand, why are we labeling them? No one ever says an avid Microsoft user sipped the Kool-Aid or is part the Cult of Microsoft. I think we label Apple users the way we do is because for the most part, they are avid supporters of all that is Apple; more so than a Windows or Android user is. They stand for hours if not days in line awaiting the newest latest product launch. Many of them replace their smartphone on a yearly basis when the newest model comes out. Who really cares? It’s their money and if they can and want to change their smartphone, tablet, laptop or any other piece of tech on a yearly basis, let them. I may think it’s a waste of money; but it’s not my money, so who am I to judge them? If devotion to a product is why we are labeling Apple users, shouldn’t we be labeling Android/Microsoft users instead? If we look at the number of people who use iOS vs Android or Windows vs Mac, it is the Android/Microsoft users who have drunk the Kool-Aid and joined a cult.

I often read on tech sites the verbal battles between iOS and Android fanboys bashing each others choice of smartphone. I’m pretty sure in the not to distant future we will be adding Windows Phone fanboys to the fight. In these epic verbal battles, each side is boasting how the smartphone they bought is the greatest and anyone who doesn’t own what they own, are fools to have wasted even one cent on product X. If you are an Android based smartphone user, you think iPhone users are fools because everyone under the sun knows the fill in the blank model of Android based phone is soooooo much better.

What difference does it make to anyone what product/brand the person has chosen? Is my user experience lessened because someone, whom I have never met before and in all likelihood will never meet, is not using the same product as me? I think these fanboys are not so much trying to convince others they made a poor choice; but rather they are trying to justify and convince themself, their choice was correct.

Each electronic gadget I buy has its own pros and cons. There is not one wonder product on the market that will fulfill everything I want out of a gadget. It is my job as the consumer to decide which product gives me the best bang for my buck. That is to say, which one comes the closest to fulfilling all I want my gadget to be able to do. What may be important to me, may be less important to some else and vice versa. The most important thing when buying a computer, phone, tablet, or any kind of tech is to be happy with your purchase. It should not matter who the manufacturer of your gadget is, as long as it does what you want it to do. I explained in earlier blogs why I am making the switch from Windows/Android to full on Apple, so I am not going to rehash my reasoning. What I will say, is that so far I do not think my tech experience has been lessened because I am using a Mac over a Windows-based PC.

In the end you may not like my product choices or may even think me the fool for what I have bought and plan to buy. I really don’t care one way or the other. I am not going to try to convince you to follow me in my pursuit of all that is Apple, so do not try to convince me that Windows or Android is better. The only thing you can do, is be happy for me because I’m happy with what I own and in turn, I will be happy for you, even if you are still using Windows and Android. Continue reading

Saying Buh-Bye to Samsung

I am the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S1 (i9000). When I got the phone, I loved it. I loved swiping to text (I still do), I loved that I could swipe to unlock my phone. I loved that I could put an external SD card and bring almost all my music with me. I loved that it was sleek and light. Yes, at the beginning I was in love my phone. I was a proud Samsung smartphone owner and laughed at my friends who owned iPhones or any other smartphone. Today the love I once had for Sammy has been replaced such animosity that I am counting the days until my contract is up.

My complaints with Samsung have nothing to do with the Android ecosystem. People call the Android world fragmented, others say Android phones are not as well made as iPhones. I have even read people saying there are not enough apps for Android smartphones. The not enough apps makes me laugh because Apple may have 750K apps in its store and Google may have just 600K in its store; but my question is do I really need all those apps? How many am I really going to need or even use for that matter. The only apps I am probably going to install will be something to track my 3G activity and a good Sudoku game, anything after that is bonus. No, my grievances with Sammy has nothing to do with the number of apps available, nor how the Android market is fragmented, or even the sturdiness of the phone. When I write of the sturdiness, I mean, I’m not afraid of what is going to happen to it if I drop it, not the internal workings of the phone.

I am not a new consumer of Samsung products, though the SG1, likely will be the last product I ever buy from Samsung. In addition to the SG1, I have owned a laptop, and a feature phone. What I have discovered when owning these products, that regardless of all the hype that surrounds them, they are utter pieces of crap. I am convinced that Samsung is Korean for crap. Let’s break down each of my purchases.

The laptop I bought, was directly from the manufacturer. The very day I brought the laptop home, it crashed and gave me a constant blue screen of death, the infamous BSOD. Every time I tried to install something it would crash. I complained to Samsung, who proceeded to take it back and keep it for two months. When it was returned it to me, I was told it had been fixed. I bring the laptop home, I turn it on and yes it does boot; but the first program I try to install on it, the machine gives me a BSOD. WTF!!!!! I call Samsung and demand my money back for the glorified paper weight they have sold me. It was explained to me that because my return period had passed, I could not get my money back. I ask them to replace the computer because in the two months that I had owned it, I have used it for a grand total of 5 minutes. I was told I could either return it to them for another repair job or live with the problem. Wow, nice customer service. I basically took my loss and went out and bought an Acer. Strike One!!

Like the dumbass that I am, I bought a Samsung feature cellphone. If memory serves me correct it was part of the SGH series. Anyways, at first the phone worked fine, but after a few months, it started to act strange. It would shut off or reboot itself for no good reason. I lived with these idiosyncrasies for about 18 months, but finally I had enough. As I did not have a contract, I was able to get a new phone at my expense. Strike Two!!

In September 2010, I was in the market for a smartphone, to replace the feature phone. The Samsung Galaxy (i9000) had just come out. When I received the phone, I was in awe. It was beautiful, it was light, it was fast, it was more than I could have imagined. However, over time awe turned to utter and complete disappointment. The first disappointment came from using Kies. Kies, for those who don’t know, is Samsung’s version of iTunes. I’m no fan of iTunes; but compared to Kies, iTunes might just be the second coming of the messiah. Kies would not see the the phone attached to my computer 9 times out of 10. If I tried backing up data from the phone via Kies and then did a test restore, I would be told the backup was corrupt and the restore had failed. Really? The backup was done less than 5 minutes ago and already it was corrupt? I am also extremely disappointed with Samsung itself. Since I bought the phone, I have received exactly zero, none, nil, zippo, nada firmware upgrades from Samsung. Any upgrade I have done, has been me going on the net, finding out how to do it and then praying that I don’t brick my phone. This last problem is indicative of the kind of customer service Samsung gives. Stee-rike 3!! YOU’RE OUT!!!!

Today, when I look at Sammy, it is with derision. The phone responds to my touch when it wants to. It reboots itself at random, even during a phone call. It freezes up sometimes, that I have to take the battery out to fix the problem. I can’t remember the last time I went a whole day without having to pop the battery out. Sometimes when it is booting up, it freezes on the “S” of the Samsung logo and I have to pop the battery out a few times to get it to finally boot properly. It has a tendency to call people all by itself. I watched it one time call the same person 10 times in a row. I kept having to hit hang up, before the call could be completed, but because it does not always respond to my touch, the call went through a few times and I had to apologize to the person and explain that I wasn’t stalking him. Sometimes I receive text messages, I open the app to view the message and right away the phone closes the app and returns me to the main screen. When this bug happens, I know this will happen five times before I am able to read the message. This same SMS bug can occur when I’m trying to send a text message.

If you couldn’t tell by now, my days of buying a product from Samsung are done. I even amaze myself that I almost bought the Galaxy Tab last summer. I am so thankful everyday that I did not, especially when I look at Sammy and remember my other poor experience with Samsung products. I think I had a momentary lapse of reason when I considered purchasing a Tab. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the Tab actually crashed out of the box, in the store three straight times. See? Samsung is Korean for crap. As I recently told a Samsung rep who was trying to convince me of the virtue of a the newest Samsung HDTV, I would rather be hung naked, dripping with honey over a bear cave than spend even one dollar on something from Samsung.

Even if I am bitching about my phone, there are a few things that I will miss. I will miss my widgets because I love widgets that give me the ability to personalize the phone and conform it to my needs. I will miss not having a memory expansion slot, thus allowing me to buy a cheaper model with less memory and adding my own at a cheaper price. Regardless of the things I will miss, there is so much more that I won’t miss about the phone, that I am more than willing to sacrifice a little personalization, for a more enjoyable smartphone experience.

Today, Sammy and I await the end of my contract. Sammy is on death row and there will be no last-minute pardon from the governor.