Wednesday, October 22, 2014

iPhone 6

iPhone 6.It’s been more than a month now since I’ve gotten a new iPhone and I wanted to jot down my views and impressions to this point. This is not really a review, but a story about my personal usage of hardware and software that is available on iOS. I’ll start with the fact that I’ve bought iPhone 6 (4.7″ version) with 64GB1 (16GB was getting tight) in white. I just like to alternate my colors and I think this one looks particularly great in white.

Form Factor


As we all know this is the first time that Apple has released two new iPhones at the same time2 — iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Right from the start I knew that 5.5″ iPhone is not for me. I wasn’t quite sure how happy the fact that I had to go from 4″ to 4.7″ was. On one hand having a bigger screen was appealing. On another I really valued the portability of iPhone 5.

iPhone 6. Not possible for me to reach all places of the screen holding it this way.Now having the new phone for a while I can says that I wish it was a little bit smaller than it is. It just is big enough not to fit into my hand comfortably. I can’t grip it the way I want and as a result I end up resting the phone on my fingers when I use it with one hand and turns out I do use it with one hand quite often. The back side is quite slippery and I often feel that I might drop it. It makes it feel so insecure that I’m considering getting a leather case for it.

This is how I need to hold it to use with one hand. Unsafe.This brings me to the my next point — the actual design. It feels great. The rounded edges and tapered glass is so pleasant to the touch — a real contrast to the previous 4 hard edged phones. Sliding from the edge of the phone (back gesture for example) feels so natural. By putting a case on it this nice feel would go away. I’m not sure I want that trade off. The case would make it less slippery, a bit bulkier and would tuck the camera in. It would also hide a nice handy little mirror on the back of the phone in the form of Apple logo.

This is how I used to hold older iPhones. How tiny is this iPhone 4S though?Back to the screen size itself — it really is nice having a larger screen. Lately I have been doing quite a bit more reading on the phone since there is a lot of competition for iPad in our house between Arosha, Alena and myself. And being able to read on this new screen I don’t even have a need for iPad anymore. Also it’s amazing how quickly we get used to good things. When I had to set something up on Alena’s old 4S3 I was really shocked how tiny tiny that screen is. It really seemed astonishing to me.

iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6.The phone fits just OK in my pockets and even here it could be a little bit smaller. I’m looking forward to the day when Apple makes the screen go from edge to edge and reduce the physical size of this device just a tad. iPhone 6 Plus is just way too enormous and would in no way work for me.

New Features


Since I’m going from iPhone 5 directly to iPhone 6 there is a slew of new features for me. I’ve covered the most obvious upgrade of the screen, but there is a number of less visible (no pun intended) features. I’m really enjoying Touch ID. I’ve always had my phone locked with a pass code and having an ability to replace that with a longer password and not having to type it in is great. Touch ID works very well — it’s precise and quick.

Touch ID.The processor is much faster, but I don’t really notice it as the old phone was plenty fast. However this phone has a new motion chip (5S had it too) that tracks your steps and now stairs you climb. I found it really motivational and prefer to take the steps every time I have a chance instead of riding an elevator.

I’m also looking forward to using a new Apple Pay system with an NFC chip that is present in the new phone. Hopefully it becomes a real thing and becomes widely supported. It just got rolled out this past Monday. Adding cards was a breeze, and it seems to work in more places than I originally believed. I had a chance to try it at a no-name gas station that had an NFC enabled pay machine and it worked. And judging from the Internet buzz that will be the case — any place that has NFC machines will take Apple Pay.

But one of the biggest and most enjoyable upgrades is the camera. That one deserves its own section.

Camera


I’ll start with the fact that this phone comes with a little bit of a “non-Apple” quirk with the regards to the camera — it sticks out of the phone. It’s clear that Apple was faced with a decision of either making it flush with this thin phone and thus degrading its quality or make a sacrifice in “design perfection” to preserve and improve the functionality of the camera. I’m very very happy with the choice they made.

iPhone 6 camera and flash.My iPhone is by far my most used camera. Alena and I take tons and tons of family photographs with it. By making it focus faster and improving night time photography it gives us even more value. I’m also quite impressed with the True Tone flash Apple has introduced in 5S and carried over to this new phone. Before I would always have the camera on off and would never bother with it as it would just ruin the mood of any photograph with its cold blue light. After a few tests of the new flash I have it set to auto.

Taken with iPhone 6.The auto HDR mode also works well. It’s easier to capture a high dynamic range photograph with an iPhone than my SLR. SLR would need to be set on a tripod, and then it would take some amount of work in post to get the desired image. iPhone just takes one button press. Of course that works if the light range is a tad more than a single SLR shot can capture, but if the light range is high enough — well, SLR is your weapon.

iPhone mounted on tripod via Glif by Studio Neat.The new camera also has very cool video capabilities — slow-motion video at 240FPS is quite impressive. Actually the fact that the phone can capture video at such speed is not just impressive — it’s amazing. Fast focusing during video also works very well. I also enjoy making timelapse4 and hyperlapse videos. iPhone being our only video camera sure gets it a lot of use. And there is zero need for anything else.

Taken with iPhone 6.During our latest trip to Pocono Mountains I also have discovered the fact that it can take great macro photos. I’m using Camera+ (3rd party app) for it — check it out if you like the samples.

iPhone 6.Overall I’m very very happy with what Apple has been doing with regards to the camera. Even though it’s no SLR, I have it with me everywhere and all the time, while that is far from the case with my SLR which I still love dearly.

Taken with iPhone 6, post-processed.A side note is that I use two camera apps the most — swipe from the bottom for stock camera and Instagram. Also on some occasions I use Camera+ as I mentioned above.

Software


iOS 8 brought a lot of nice behind the scenes changes — extensions being the biggest one. I already have a lot of great apps that have instantly became much more useful once they have been updated to utilize the new extensions. 1Password is one obvious example — automatically inputs your credentials into login forms not inside an internal browser, but in Safari itself.

Before update for iPhone 6 screen.After update to support iPhone 6 screen.A lot of developers are taking their sweet time to get their apps updated for the bigger screen. Most apps run in zoom mode, which essentially rends apps in 4″ screen mode and then scales them up. I don’t really notice any blur, but the ones that have been updated do take full advantage of the bigger screen. The biggest tell if the app has been updated or not is the status bar on top. It gets blown up when any non-updated app starts.

My Homescreen


The most important thing of any platform is software. Software is what makes the phone. Now here is a list of software on my phone that I find the most useful. It’s organized in a quite simple manner — dock has my most used apps, home screen has apps that I use on daily basis, second screen has software that I use almost daily, third screen has a bunch of games my fourth screen has a collection of folders that I don’t use as often, but still like having on my phone.



I won’t go over every single one, but I will make a short list of the most interesting stuff on my phone:
  • Instagram — I personally don’t use it for its social aspects, but for its integration with Twitter. This is the fastest way for me to take a photograph and post it to our blog thanks to that Twitter integration and my blog to Twitter integration.

    I also love the fact that we can order posters and calendars from our Instagram collections with services like Printstagram. I like the map that it builds with its geolocation feature.

    Having said all that I have to point out that I use the stock camera app a lot as well by sliding to it from the lock screen.

  • Google Maps — I have given Apple Maps a go when it came out. I gave it another chance when iOS 8 came out. It still doesn’t cut it. Google Maps along with its search capability is unbeatable.

  • Fantastical — the best calendar replacement out there. With a lot of meetings and appointments spread out between different calendars stock calendar app doesn’t cut it at all. Fantastical presents you with a great visual view as to how your day looks. It also supports natural language to create and manage events among many other great features.
  • Continue Reading

  1. All my previous phones have been 16GB, but the current version is a rip-off. []
  2. 5C doesn’t really fall into this category as it was iPhone 5 “recased”. []
  3. Alena got my iPhone 5 after we got it back from Apple with a warranty repaired sleep button. []
  4. Using old mini-tripod with Glif mount from Studio Neat works really well. []
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

iOS 7

iPhone 5 running iOS 7.This year I’m making a serious attempt at demonstrating an inkling of self control and not buying a new iPhone 5S even though the new Touch ID and update to the camera and flash are quite tempting. Maybe we’ll trade-in our iPhone 4 and 4S some time later when things calm down to see if that would cover the cost of a new one.

However we still do get to have some fun with a brand new iOS 7. Just finished getting all our iOS devices updated which took quite some time. Apple servers are coming apart at the seams from all the demand right now.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

iPhone 5

Black Apple iPhone 5.On September 21st at 3 AM Eastern time Apple started a pre-order process for iPhone 5. I, as opposed to my friends, was sound asleep. During all previous years one had a whole full day to place an order and assure oneself and new phone delivered on the first day of release. This year was different. An initial batch of new iPhones has sold out within an hour of going up for sale.

I decided not to do a pre-order at all and try my luck at a local store(s) on the first day of release and so I did. I woke up at 6 AM. My original plan was to go to Apple Store Staten Island, but I dreaded going there knowing that the line would be enormous. So I figured I’ll make a slight detour through Brighton Beach Avenue and see if an AT&T store there has a long line.

The line was short enough that I decided to find parking and take my chances here. Store opened at 8 and in 15 minutes AT&T rep came out and proclaimed that 32GB phones were gone. Fine, that works for me, though I, as I wanted to get 16GB version. However 15 minutes later the same thing happened again, only this time for 16GB phones. So much time wasted for nothing. I got into the car and started driving towards Staten Island.

But I didn’t get there. I made another detour and stopped by our local Best Buy. There were people inside, but I was told that they will start letting buyers in at 9 AM, so I had to wait 30 minutes. I was first in line. However soon people started showing up and most of them had pre-orders at Best Buy. Soon a Best Buy rep showed up and said that they had a good bunch of phones for those who didn’t have a pre-order with the exception of those who needed an AT&T phone. More time wasted.

Back to the car. This time I did get to Staten Island Mall. It also had a Best Buy, which also had spare phones, but only for Sprint customer. At this point I figured I’ll just have to bite a bullet and stand in line at the Apple Store. When I got there the line wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. And at the end of the line there were Apple reps handing out cards, so you would know for sure that you’re not standing in line for nothing. One small problem — no more AT&T phones left!

At this point I kind of lost hope for getting iPhone 5 on the first day or any time soon at all. I decided to check AT&T store located inside the mall as my last stop before calling it a day. And to my dismay the store had no line:
– No line, no phones? — I asked a rep.
– If were you to pick a size, which one would you get?
– 16GB!
– And the color?
– At this point I’ll take any!
– But if you could pick?
– Black.

And what do you know? She yells at someone and they bring out a brand new unopened 16GB black iPhone 5 box. She processes my upgrade right there and then and hands me an activated iPhone 5. That was not expected.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S.First thing you notice is that the phone is noticeably thinner and even more noticeably lighter. It is so light in fact that it feels fake. Like there is nothing inside. And even though multiple tests other people have done show it to be much sturdier than previous version it just feels very delicate to me. A perfect piece of engineering.

It doesn’t stay that way for a long time. The black paint covering the aluminum back and sides scuffs up way too easily. Knowing that now I would probably go with a white version as I did with all my previous iPhones when I could choose. I treated it very gently and it already has two scuffs on the back exposing the natural color of aluminum. I imagine after a year of use it will look pretty bad and what’s the point of having a thin phone I’m going to put a case on it? I will not.

I’m really happy with their decision to keep the screen the same width — it is perfect for me to be able to use the phone with one hand. If they had to increase the screen they choose the least annoying way to do it. And after some use I actually enjoy the added height, but having an iPad I still will do most of my reading on it, not the phone.

I never really looked into LTE before and as a result I was quite amazed how much it clocked in on speed test — 30 Mbps downlink in Connecticut, and half of that in Brooklyn. Either number is bigger than my WiFi connection. But since we fit just fine in 200MB per month and since it costs us $15 per month I plan to use cellular data connection as much as I did before and will continue to rely mostly on WiFi.

The new connector is much better designed than the old one. It turned out to be a lot smaller than I imagined from the images that I saw online. I didn’t really have any gear that relied on the old port, but I do have a slew of wires that I can no longer use on this phone. This wire can be plugged in either side into the phone, so it makes it easy in the dark. All my old wires I have marked with a knife on one side to make it easy in the dark as well — don’t know why Apple never did.

Overall it’s a nice next step for iPhone. The only real exception is Apple Maps. They really are as bad as everyone says. Although it doesn’t really upset me all that much since I can do something as radically as open Google Maps in a browser and that works just fine. Not as convenient, but does everything it used to do in the app.

Our collection of iPhone boxes.One last topic on my mind in all of this is AT&T. I really hate the fact that AT&T refuses to unlock phones while they’re under contract. It means that on my trip to Italy I will not be able to use my new phone. I started looking into switching to Verizon and came to a conclusion that it’s even a bigger ripoff than AT&T. Even though they are willing to unlock the phones in 60 days their plans are just outright theft.

Old family plans are gone, new plans stick you with unlimited minutes which nobody needs (we do just fine with 700 minutes AT&T gives us on the cheapest family plan) and end up charging you through the roof. If you have an old family plan — stay with it and don’t switch to the new data share. That’s what my parents are going to do. Also even on the old family share plans the cheapest data plan is $30. On AT&T I pay $15 for 200MB which as I stated works just fine for us. On top of that we would have to cancel a contract on one of our AT&T lines and buy a 2nd phone.

It just was adding up to too much and having an unlocked phone was just not worth it. And then 2 days later I found out that my whole unlocking debacle is easily solved with a $13 through eBay. No jail-breaking, no nothing — a clean unlock through Apple’s database. I don’t know how I didn’t know about this before.

And in conclusion here is a pair of iPhone 5 wallpapers that I’ve made and am currently using on my phone.
LockscreenHomescreen

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pork Chops with Cranberries

I planned to cook pork with ginger and apples for today’s dinner, but the store was out of ginger. So I bought a bag of fresh cranberries instead (they were conveniently located underneath an empty ginger box) and figured that there must be some pork-apples-and-cranberries recipe on the net.

Not surprisingly, there are many. I picked this one, but enhanced it to my taste. It came out better than I expected. I will cook it again (hence the post)! So here is what I used: Continue Reading
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

iPad 2 — First Impressions

Black 32GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2.I’ve been an iPad owner for 2 full days now. I thought I would’ve posted something about getting an iPad on day one, but was completely unable to pull myself away from it. So here I am, writing this post on iPad1 at my parents’ house.

Which One?


As you know I wanted to get an iPad for quite some time now, however after the keynote on March 2nd my enthusiasm somehow went down. And it’s a good thing too for my sanity, since the release date was set to the next Friday. As the time went on and I kept reading the reviews of those who were present at the event and of those who got early review versions I got more and more anxious. I really wanted to get my hands on one as soon as possible.

iPad 2. 32GB. Back.I knew one thing for sure — I do not need a 3G version. $130 is too steep of a price for someone who will use this device in Wi-Fi zones most of the time. The fact that Wi-Fi version is missing a GPS chip is regrettable, but not a big deal in my case. Plus with the addition of Hotspot feature to iPhone I’ll be able to get it online while on vacation for an addition $20 a month if I want to. I also decided early on that I will get a black version even though a white one looks equally attractive. Since I was planning to carry my photographic portfolio on it a white border would just be too distracting.

As for the size I kept swaying back and forth between 16GB and 32GB version. In the end I figured that I might load several movies onto it, store a lot of my photographs in high resolution, upload pictures from my camera during vacations directly to iPad and I just don’t want to micromanage the free space. I’m glad I decided on 32GB version as in these couple of days I just put everything I wished on it without giving it a 2nd thought.

Release Day


Apple decided not to do online preordering this time around2 and the only way to get one on the very first day — March 11th — was to stand in line. I read that beside Apple stores Targets, Walmarts and Best Buys would get some stock on day one. Those reports however indicated that those stores would have very limited quantities — 10 of each model or so.

iPad 2 box. Getting ready to open.The best bet would be an Apple Store. There are 4 in Manhattan and 1 in Staten Island. Manhattan stores had lines from 10:30am (some earlier) for 5pm release. I decided to try my chances on Staten Island, but hearing how enormously long the lines were I thought my chances were pretty much non-existent. I can’t compete with people who got there in the morning.

I cut my work day short and got into to the car 10 minutes to 4. On my way to Staten Island I stopped by a local Best Buy just to see how things were. Around 200 people were already waiting. If they really did get 10 models of each my chances to get the one I wanted were zero. When I got to Staten Island mall where the Apple Store is located I decided to drive by another Best Buy located on the same very mall. I called Apple Store beforehand and was told that they had about 200 people waiting as well. But at least these guys should have decent stock I thought. Anyhow, Best Buy did have a line as well, but to my surprise there were only 30 people or so.

iPad 2 out of the box and cover next to it.I parked my car and got into the line. It was 4:40pm, 20 minutes before the release. I asked if the tickets3 were already given out. They were not. But 3 minutes later employees came out with stacks of paper. Soon after they got to me. I asked for Black 32GB Wi-Fi version and was given a ticket for exactly that model. I was also told that it guarantees that I will get it if I don’t leave the line. Needless to say I was ecstatic.

Less than an hour later I was inside the store looking at accessories and waiting for my turn to pay. They only had non-leather covers in blue, pink and green. When someone would ask for a leather one they were given some Griffin case and most people would buy it without realizing that it’s totally not what they really wanted. When I got out with my iPad in hand there was still a line of about the same size as when I joined it. People waited for a chance of others not using up their tickets and some leftover stock.

Smart Cover


Cream leather cover on iPad 2.I decided to go by the Apple Store and see how things were going there since I was on the same mall anyhow. I also wanted to try to get inside and see the covers in action and pick one up in a sane color. I figured I will try leather and polyurethane and grab the one I like. I was hoping for polyurethane to be nice enough as the leather version cost more than double.

I got to the store by about 6:30pm and the line was enormous. I only saw the portion that was inside the mall building, but some Apple employee told me that it was extending outside as well. And it seemed to be moving very very slowly. When I inquired if I could get inside the store in order to get something other than iPad itself I was directed to a different line. Luckily the line had 3 people and I was inside the store in no time.

Smart cover on iPad 2.To my surprise I was told that they do not have any open covers on display and I can only look at them inside boxes, but not touch them. Considering how much noise they made about it it was weird not to let people try it out for themselves. But after reading all the raving reviews I was pretty convinced that I’ll get one.

Anyhow after a close visual inspection of the textures I didn’t want to take a chance with polyurethane. I have no idea how it would feel in hand and with leather I had a good idea. Plus all the non-leather colors where quite bright and I wanted something calmer. I ended up buying a cream leather cover.

iPad propped up on Smart Cover. Cover view.I’m going to go ahead and say that I agree with all the raving reviews and I’m glad about buying one of these covers. I can’t say anything about polyurethane, but leather is very pleasant to the touch. The cover attaches perfectly every single time with no effort whatsoever. Removing it is even easier. Every time the cover attaches to the same very place and lines up perfectly with the screen.

iPad propped up on Smart Cover.I found it more pleasing to hold the iPad with leather on the back of iPad — the cover can be folded in half — instead of cold aluminum. I also used the cover as a mini-stand — it seems to make typing a lot easier than having it just lay flat on the table. And of course it’s much more pleasing to carry it with leather cover protecting the screen. I don’t think I’m going to buy any other cases for the iPad. I don’t really care much about the back of it getting scratched.

First Order of Business


After getting home and syncing my iPad, which by the way took no more than 5 minutes, I opened up our blog in Safari. There was a bit of misaligning and weird stretching going on. It also was using a low-resolution icon that I made for original iPhone on the home-screen.

iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Side by side.I created a new iPad specific icon and added two lines of code to let iPad know where to pick the right icon up and that the blog content is exactly 1024 pixels wide (as it was built to work on exactly that resolution) which made it look perfect on iPad screen. Exactly as it is intended to be seen.
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" sizes="72x72"
href="apple-touch-icon-ipad.png" />
<meta name="viewport" content="width=1024,
maximum-scale=1.0" />

Configuration and Customization


iPad is a very personal device. And as such I proceeded to create a pair of 1024×1024 wallpapers from my personal photographs to use on the home-screen and on the lock-screen instead of the default ones. I also loaded a small portfolio of photographs that I have prepared earlier. I plan on significantly expanding it. The photos look gorgeous on the screen of iPad.

iPad wallpaper.
I also proceeded to install my favorite iPhone applications — Reeder and Instapaper. The version of Instapaper that I bought earlier for iPhone was already a universal app, which means that a single binary works well on iPhone and on iPad. Reeder for iPad I had to buy, but I gladly paid $4.99 for my mostly used app.

iPad wallpaper.I will note that I tried installing a couple of iPhone apps that do not have iPad versions and the experience is pretty horrendous. You get stuck with an iPhone keyboard which even in double size doesn’t compare at all with iPad version. It’s way too clumsy and quite unusable.

The other apps that I installed that I either owned already that were universal apps or that are free — New York Times, Twitter, iBooks, Calcbot, WordPress, Dropbox and Gowalla among others. Although I don’t think I will get much use of the latter one for the fact that iPad is more home and office bound. Continue Reading

  1. Using Simplenote for iPad. []
  2. I got both iPhone 3GS and 4 online. I guess Apple wanted to ensure lines for iPad after Verizon iPhone release when everyone just bought one online and there were no lines. []
  3. Best Buy posted on their site that they will give out tickets to people in line at 4:30pm for the iPads that they had in stock. It was nice of them to let people know ahead of time if they will be waiting for a reason or just to take a chance. []
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thoughts on iPad

Apple iPad.In a surprising for pretty much everyone, including myself, turn of events I’ve arrived to a decision that I want an iPad.

My 30th birthday is coming up in less than a week and I kept getting questions about what I would like to get for it. And over the past weekend it kind of dawned on me. I wouldn’t buy one myself as I don’t really have a need for it, but getting it as a present changes everything. I asked my parents and my sister what my budget range is and it turns out that it’s exactly what I would need to get an iPad.

This is where the easy part ends and the “agony” begins. I have a lot of questions that I’m trying to answer and I have a lot of things to weight. The biggest question is this — do I get one now and get instant gratification or do I try really hard to be patient and wait for a 2nd generation? Below are my thoughts on the topic. Continue Reading
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

iPhone 4

iPhone 4.Apple has decided to surprise us all with an early delivery of iPhone. A lot of people got their pre-orders delivered on the 22nd instead of 24th and I think the majority got their pre-orders delivered on 23rd. Maruk and I were among the latter group.

A box from FedEx.I was fearing from the start that even if I get mine on 24th the activation tools would be plagued by the huge lines in all the stores and I wouldn’t be able to get it going on the same day. And that was in addition to the fact that I would be in the office on Thursday (24th) and would probably miss FedEx. Wednesdays I work from home office.

iPhone 4 box.Last year I got FedEx delivery at 10am. Also FedEx tried to make a delivery to us a day before and that was at 3pm. So when by 4pm there was no sign of them and my tracking page started showing delivery exception saying that shipper requested to delay the delivery until a future date I was starting to get really upset. But luckily I was wrong and FedEx guy simply ignored the exception. I had my iPhone ten minutes to 5.

Back of the new iPhone.The activation went through in 3 or so minutes. I had the phone up and running, fully synced at 5:15. The screen is amazing. To really see how great it is one should put an older iPhone next to it. Then the difference become very dramatic. I was actually surprised how I never noticed all the blur on the old phone before.

iPhone getting activated.The phone feels good in hand although it is more of a finger print magnet than the older ones — maybe because I used to use white iPhones. I’m waiting for Vaja to come out with a case1 — I’ll get one as soon as they become available. FaceTime works great — you just make a call. No software to install, nothing to configure. Although this is a feature I don’t see myself using very often if at all.

iPhone 3GS vs iPhone 4.I’m very happy with camera upgrades. If before I was considering of maybe getting a point and shoot for the situation when I don’t want to lug my dSLR along now there is no need. And I do always have the phone with me. 5 mega-pixel photos, 720p video and a flash — what more could I need?

Overall I’m very happy with my purchase. Although it’s subjective, I strongly believe that iPhone is still the reigning king of smartphones.

  1. I can replicate the widely publicized antenna issues in certain situations as well. It doesn’t really seem to affect me much as I don’t generally hold the phone that way, but in case I happen to — the case will help. []
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Monday, June 21, 2010

iOS 4

iPhone home screen in iOS 4.Folders in iOS 4.Apple has released iOS 4 at 1pm EST today and I’ve had it on my phone 15 minutes after. This year I decided not to install developer GM version1, but just be patient and get it via iTunes as everyone else. Upgrade was absolutely painless.

After having it on my phone for several hours I can say that some things are certainly nice. I have yet to see how useful the “multitasking” is going to be and I do have to update my app to stay in the background if user wishes it to — not an automatic thing that I thought it would be.

Folders are nice. Although it will take me quite some time before I sort out all the app mess that I’ve accumulated over the past 2 years. I also like the ability to have home screen backgrounds — that’s how shallow I really am. o.O

However not being to double tap the home button to pull up a phone application is going to be missed. What I really need now is my iPhone 4 itself. Only 3 more days left. teeth

  1. It turned out to be the same thing as the final release, just like last year. []
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Order Went Through

Apple OrderWell, after about 7 million tries my order finally went through. You can guess the rest, right? Now there is just 9 or so days of waiting and then more agony with activation. Somehow we’re eligible for upgrade on both lines, but we’re going for 1 phone only at this time.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Sacramento & Silicon Valley

California Capitol Building in Sacramento.On Friday, April 30th, we started the final leg of our journey. However we had to make some adjustments to our plans because of the snow. To get to our planned destination of Lake Tahoe we had to cross Sierra Nevada mountain range. And since it was snowing heavily in the past days all roads including interstates had a tire chain requirement in effect, and we had none.

However the situation worked out to our advantage. I was worried that we scheduled to little time for San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, yet we had to so many places to see and so many people to meet. So we canceled our hotel at Stateline, Nevada and booked on at downtown Cupertino instead.

Sacramento


Alena, Daniel, Clare, Oksana, Boris.We left Yosemite and took course towards Sacramento. It was a bit of a hook, but we had important plans for Sacramento. As we mentioned earlier we found a part of our long lost family. A lot of them still live in California and one of my Dad’s second cousins, Clare, lives in Sacramento. Also we like to visit state capitals as we can and visiting capitol buildings, and that’s what we did.

Dome of the Capitol.We meet with Clare in the old historic part of the town for lunch and had a good time sharing family stories. It’s so weird that we all “started” from a far town in a Siberia (even though most of us have never been there), had such different paths and ended up meeting in this country.

In front of the governor's office.Afterwards we took a short walk around the old town and have said our good-buys to Clare took off in the direction of capitol. The building itself was pretty impressive and looked no worse than the main one in DC. We were lucky enough to get a great state stamp of the format that we’ve seen at some other capitals. We also had a chance to go by their famous governor’s office, but the governor himself refused to come out and meet us. Oh, well. )

Cupertino & Silicon Valley


Apple Campus. One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA.After Sacramento our trip took us to Cupertino. The ride was pretty much uneventful and we got to our hotel rather quickly without spending much time in traffic. The hotel turned out to be very nice and cozy. The service was great and as requested we got rooms on the top floor. Cupertino itself was not what I expected. The town was very green (lots of trees) and seemed like a place I could totally live at.

Our and Masha's families.We were meeting our friend from Tashkent here who we haven’t seen for almost 20 years. Now she lives in the area with her husband and 3 daughters. We decided to meet for dinner at a local Outback that was 1 exit away and is located right across from Apple’s campus. During dinner we tried to catchup, but 20 years is a long time. ) And after dinner I ran across the street to see something on the Apple’s campus, but it was too late and too dark.

Apple Campus. Infinite Loop.The objective was the next day was simple. Get to San Francisco, while stopping at all the famous, at least to me, places that Silicon Valley has to offer. And that’s what we did. We started with Apple campus. Drove around Cupertino to make sure that indeed I could liver here, and yes, I still could. )

First Apple.On our way to Google’s campus in Mountain View we stopped by a computer museum where we actually saw the very first Apple computer built on a piece of particle board or something like that. There were a couple of mainframes there and some other things, but I expected more from it.

Google Campus.Google campus is more like Google town. It’s huge, with a lot of buildings. There are volleyball courts and there are bicycles laying all over the campus. Just pick one up and ride to where-ever you need to go. I could totally live here as well. There weren’t many people around, but I imagine on a work week day it’s packed.

In Tesla Motor's show room and head quarters.And finally on our way to San Francisco we drove through Palo Alto, checking in into Facebook HQ and visiting Tesla Motors showroom and HQ. We also drove through the campus of Stanford University, but we didn’t really stop and walk around. Overall Silicon Valley is a large number of small towns that feels more like a single big city.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

iPad

Rubinary on iPad.This past weekend we ended up on a mall in New Jersey and these days it seems that everyone of those has an Apple store. Remembering that this was an actual release day for an iPad we decided to peek inside. There was a line if you wanted to buy one (2 people), but you could go inside and touch one without standing in one.

iPad.That’s what we did. It’s pretty much what you would expect. Everything is well designed, works well and fast — nothing really surprising to an iPhone user. The fact that the screen is covered in grease is not surprise either. However I’ve noticed that it’s a bit on the heavy side. I would think that my hands would get tired fairly quickly if I were to hold it in subway. But then again, I’m not the strongest type. I’m sure it’s a fun gadget, but I still don’t think it’s for us.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack

Lowepro Fastpack 250.When we travel I end up lugging around a lot of gear. Most of the bulk comes from the fact that I have 2 bags — one for laptop, one for camera and lenses. I wanted to merge them together and the arrival of D700 kind of forced me to. The older SlingShot1 bag that I used for camera gear couldn’t fit D700 with 24-70mm lens attached.

Here is a short list of things that were a must:
  • Notebook compartment for 15 inch MacBook Pro
  • Good sized camera and lens compartment
  • Additional compartment
  • Ability to take out the camera body out of the bag easily without a fear of anything else falling out
  • All of the above in the smallest possible package

Lowepro Fastpack 250 next to Lowepro SlingShot 100 AW.I had good experience with my current bag and I liked the idea of taking the camera out without taking the bag off. Naturally the first thing we looked at was Lowepro SlingShot 350. In my opinion that thing is just hideous and just too huge. After that I read up on a lot of different stuff and in the end we had two main contenders — Tamrac Aero Speed Pack 85 and Lowepro Fastpack 250. I actually realized that when you have so much weight it better be a full backpack as opposed to a sling shot type bag, to distribute the weight better.

Both of these bags meet all of my criteria including the fact that you can take out the camera without exposing any of the lenses. Judging purely by design I would probably give slightly higher marks to Tamrac bag, but everything else went for Fastpack.

Lowepro Fastpack 250 loaded with gear.Fastpack has a lot more pockets and it really comes in handy when you’re carrying trip plans, passports, filters, wires and so on. Another huge plus for me was the flap that goes over the lens compartment. While traveling you can put put all the zippers under it and thus prevent anyone from trying to pull a fast one on you. We tried both of them on at B&H and Fastpack just felt more comfortable and more secure to me. Overall they are both very good bags and it will probably come down to your own preference.

This past weekend I tried walking around with it having several heavy lenses and a camera inside. It felt very good. I was able to take the camera out without taking the bag off and I think I’m going to be pretty happy with it. The real test comes at the end of April, during our California road trip. I’ll have it fully loaded for the plane and will remove non-camera gear for hikes.

Lowepro Fastpack 250. Side view.

  1. Lowepro SlingShot 100 AW. []

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