Apple Road Trip

Well, it’s a Monday afternoon road trip for AL and I. Just a quick reminder; AL is what I call my MacBook Pro and of course Yves (the iPhone) is with us as well.  We are sitting in a café waiting for the missus to join us after work.

It is weird to leave the comfort of your own home where one has pretty much everything at hand and go somewhere you will have to pay for anything you want. However, I had to get out of my house. The weather was somewhat agreeable to go for a short walk to my local Internet enabled café. The agreeable weather is a balmy -7C (-13C with the wind chill); which compared to last 10 days or so makes it feel like summer outside. Prior to today, the temperature hovered around -30C (-40C with the wind chill), so going outside was not an option I would have even considered. The more agreeable weather and the chance to get some fresh air is not why I decided to leave the creature comforts of home. I had to get out of my apartment because I could no longer take the noise all around me. To say the walls in my building are paper-thin would not do justice how thin the walls are. From the outside they look thick enough, but once you spend a few minutes inside, you quickly realize there is nothing between them but air.

When my fiancée and I visited the apartment last summer, there was no noise at all. All seemed peaceful and although the living room was not as big as I would have liked, the rest of the apartment was great. There are six apartments in the building; the elderly landlady occupies one apartment and another by her son and daughter in-law. The other renters are couples in their 30s. The building is within walking distance a few grocery stores and in the summer, is a 10-minute bike ride to an outdoor market. There are a few cafés, restaurants, bistros, and bars within the area. So when we signed the lease, we had no way of knowing what we were walking into.

We met our downstairs neighbor on our second day in the building. He warned us the walls were thin and that he was able to hear the previous tenant sneeze. He told me that if ever I thought he was being to loud, I should come and see him. I thought to myself, he must be exaggerating to how thin the walls were. Well, he wasn’t. As I mentioned, the landlord, her son, and daughter in-law live in the building and they don’t talk, so much as they yell. Not angry yelling; but rather just normal conversation yelling. Sometimes, they hold entire conversations between floors. I can turn off the volume on my TV and found what station my neighbors are watching, and I sometimes I feel a part of their conversations.

If it was only the landlord and her relations who were loud, I could live with it, maybe. However, the guy who lives on top of us doesn’t walk so much as stomp. There are times I think he is going to come through the ceiling the way he walks.  He’s another loud talker. My fiancée and I have nicknamed him Boomboom. When Boomboom comes down the stairs, it sounds like a charging herd of elephants. If any of you think I’m exaggerating, I will gladly have you over so you can experience first hand the stampede every morning and those evenings he goes out at night.

My biggest beef is with the guy who lives in the apartment below me. You remember him, the one who warned me the walls were thin and I should let him know if he was being to loud. This genius decided to install a home theater unit with what I can only guess is surround sound, speakers on the wall and ceiling. He watches TV or plays a video game sometimes so loud, that the floor under me vibrates. I can feel these vibrations sometimes when I am lying on the couch, that is how loud it is.

In a battle to listen to what I am watching/playing, I have to raise the volume on my TV. I have to raise it to such a volume that it is no longer pleasant to me. In the evenings, my fiancée goes to bed before I do, so I lower the TV so as not to bother her. However this asshole keeps his as loud as ever. Sometimes I end up watching my show; but listening to his. Some of you may be thinking why not go down and talk to him? Well, I’ve done that and my fiancée has as well. Each time, normal listening volumes lasted about a week. Neither my fiancée or I should have to go downstairs every night to ask him to lower the volume on his TV. If he hasn’t understood how loud it is by now, he never will.

I am not sure if these people don’t realize how loud they are or if they don’t care. In the end, I have two solutions. I can stay at home and live with the noise. I can keep complaining; but then I just look like a complete asshole; especially if I’m going down to complain about the noise at three in the afternoon. My other choice is to do what I am doing now, going out to a café. It is kind of sad that I find it quitter in a café full of people, than I do at home.

The only thing I am sure of is that we will not renew our lease on the 1st of July. In Montreal, it is necessary to give notice at least three months before the end of your lease if you don’t want it automatically renewed. My fiancée and I are now sixty days away from giving notice. The end of my lease can not come soon enough.

This blog entry may not have had much to do with my new life with Apple products; but it was written on my MacBook while sitting in a café, listening to music from iPhone.

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Ménage à Trois

Apple Love

Wikipedia defines a Ménage à trois, as the following:

… a French term which originally described a domestic arrangement in which three people having sexual relations occupy the same household – the phrase literally translates as “household of three”. In contemporary usage, the meaning of the term has been extended to mean any living relationship between three people, whether or not sex is involved.

Well, I am not having any sexual relation with my tech products; but I am having a love affair with my three tech devices. George the iPad, Al The MacBook Pro, and Yves The iPhone Five. These three techs keep me connected 24/7, whether I’m at home or on the road. I no longer have to worry if something I entered on my computer has synchronized to my cell and my tablet or any other combination thereof. The ease of synchronization between devices is what I have longed for, these past years.

The word ménage, is also French for cleaning. I feel as if I have cleaned house with my three main tech gadgets. I have swept aside my Windows and Android devices to come under the unified banner of Apple. Do I think Apple is the greatest and best thing ever invented? No. I do think it is the best means for me to get all that I want out of the technology I use.

As in any new relationship, the early stages are beautiful and whatever faults are found, can easily be overlooked. Over time these minor problems can become annoyances until one of two things happen. Either you decide to live with the annoyance or it bothers you so much that you decide to change. I have chosen to live with these annoyances, each day I am adapting and learning. Most of my annoyances, are in fact my fault as I am still new to the Apple world and still have a Windows mentality of doing things.

A few of these annoyances are when I try to close an application, when in fact all I’m doing is closing a window within the application. Minimizing when I know I should hide the application/window. If anyone reading this blog can explain to me the point of minimizing, I would love to hear it because to me, minimize in OSX is one step above useless. However, my biggest annoyance and this is one that I will never get to used to, is the on the fly system changes. I understand why I have to enter a password before I want to make changes to the system; but I can not for the life of me understand why changes to the system are committed without any confirmation. I find this practice dangerous, as the user can click on something without even realizing it and have the change applied.

When I look back at how I managed my technological lifestyle, I ask myself what I was thinking.  Prior to unifying under the Apple banner, my laptop was Windows-based, my cellphone was Android, and my on the go machine was an iPad. Ensuring that all the information I needed, updated everywhere was somewhat of a bitch. Although I did use Google Calender to keep track of meetings, I always had to log into it, to see what was happening when I was on my laptop. Now that I have iCal, at the click of a button I can see what I have coming up for the coming week. I have my personal and professional Gmail calendars, and my Facebook calendars all in one place.

Regardless of the above mentioned annoyances, I am absolutely loving my Apple experience. If I had only known before what life could be like if all my tech gadgets were under the same banner, I would have made the move years ago. It’s no longer me working to get my technology to get along with each other; but my technology seamlessly getting along without any input from me. I’m no longer embarrassed to go sit in a café and do some blogging, surfing or whatever on the net. I wasn’t embarrassed by the kind of laptop I was using (HP with Windows 7); but rather the mere fact it sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

I’m hoping this love-in with my tech will go on and on. I am now looking at new products I can get from Apple that will enhance my user experience, like an Apple TV or Time Capsule. Although everything Apple TV can offer me I can do through my XBox 360, the last vestige of Microsoft technology in my home. I’m not sure I can justify buying a Time Capsule, when I can buy a WiFi drive for half the price and do my backups that way. The only thing I have done, is add 4 more gig of RAM. I probably should have gotten 8Gb of RAM when I bought the computer; but for some reason chose not to. I don’t need the extra RAM at the moment; but rather I’m planning for the future. It was spend 100$ now to upgrade from 4 to 8 or spend 200$ or more in a few years time.

Regardless of what more I may want, buying something new is not something I foresee in the near future. I am just going to sit back for the moment and enjoy what I have and continue each day to learn more and more how good life is when one is unified under one tech banner.

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.