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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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

iPad Retina Wallpapers

When Apple released iPad 3 with a retina screen I had to update some of my favorite wallpapers to take advantage of the full resolution of the new device. I have been meaning to share these wallpapers with whoever might want to use them. For those of you who like the photographs, but have an older generation iPads I’m posting the images in both resolutions — 2048×2048 and 1024×1024.

Path


Path

Wood


Wood

Grass


Grass

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

NYC Panorama

NYC Panorama wallpaper on dual monitors.I found a cool use for my 6,000 pixel wide panorama of New York City that I took several months ago. Looks awesome on dual monitors.

NYC panorama wallpaper for dual monitors.You can download a 3840×1080 version that will work perfectly on a pair of 1980×1080 monitors. I use Actual Dual Monitors tool to manage my dual montors and it lets me set a single wallpaper for both screens.
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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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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wallpapers

Workstation wallpapers.Here is a small number of my photographs converted to desktop wallpapers as has been requested. There are 2 resolutions — 2048×1152 (16:9) and 1920×1200 (16:10).

Big Meadow


Big Meadow

Last Days


Last Days

Last Leaf


Last Leaf

New York


New York
In: Photography, Software   Tags: , ,
Time: 14:03   Comments: 2 Comments   Post a Comment  
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