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.

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.

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.