Seven Plus…

Since my order on launch day didn’t entitle me to a “first day of availability” delivery of the iPhone 7 Plus, I exercised one of my lesser developed qualities and sat patiently until it was available for walk in sales. If I can’t get my hands on it right out of the gate, having it delivered to the house weeks later and then getting hit with the additional 6% State of Maryland premium was mostly a case on injury and insult. I didn’t anticipate that was going to take three months, but at long last my patience has been rewarded with a shiny new toy from the wizards in Cupertino (picked up tax free thanks to the fine people of Delaware).

I don’t have any assessment of it yet and in any case anything I find will have already been covered to death by the tech world. Suffice to say that it is small and thiner and from an initial test the camera is probably better than any stand alone camera I ever owned. I’m looking forward to taking this little number out for a test drive… just as soon as all the apps finish downloading.

Gone cold…

This Friday is going to mark the first time since 2007 I haven’t schemed, connived, stood in line, or woke at three in the morning to get my hands on a new release of Apple’s iPhone on it’s release day. The idea of it leaves me with mixed emotions to say the least. Living in Apple’s universe has never been about having cutting edge hardware or software so much as it’s about having a platform the feels somewhat more refined and well put together than the competition. There’s very little doubt I my mind that iPhone 7 will continue this trend, but if I’m honest, my 6S Plus is still feeling like a really solid device in terms of fit and function.

As much as I hate to admit it, iPhone has reached a point in its life cycle where it is already doing everything I need or want a cell phone to do. It’s capable of doing much more than that, really. I know there are plenty of features that I either purposely don’t use or find myself not even aware of until someone shows them to me. With this year’s round of incremental improvement there just isn’t a change significant enough to convince me to spend the $1000 to be an early adopter – although I have to admit the dual lens camera is looking pretty sick.

I’m not quite ready to concede that I may have entered a period where I’m no longer compelled to have the newest and shiniest tech. The 2006 vintage plasma television in my living room and the 12 month old phone on my hip may belie that point, though. Of course I reserve the right to change my mind a week from now or three months from now, but whatever desire once drove me to take a vacation day and track down the update on day one seems to have gone cold.

Most foul…

I went on a bit of a tirade today. It wasn’t the career dissipating type, mercifully. Surprisingly enough it had absolutely nothing to do with the office. It didn’t come flying out of my mouth until I was safely ensconced at the house, settling in with a hot meal, and relying on the glowing box to give me a 45 minute break from really needing to think about anything.

That’s not how it played out, of course. What really happened was I sat down, attempted to flick on iTunes, discovered that Apple TV couldn’t communicate with my computer and then spent the next 30 minutes doctoring my Mac Mini out of a startup loop with my temper rising more with each passing minute and failure of the damned dirty contraption to “just work” as advertised.

By the time I coaxed the whole set up back to life, iTunes found my external hard drive, and I was again ready to sit down with a hot dinner, the meal had gone stone cold, I could feel the blood racing through my temples, and I’d apparently been shouting loud enough to frighten both the dogs to the other side of the house and the tortoise under a log.

It clearly wasn’t my finest hour and my mood is still most foul. It doesn’t bode well for the balance of the week.

70% (or why I fell in love with my new phone)…

I’ve been struggling a bit to fall in love with my new phone. The “+” form factor just felt wrong in my hand. The balance was off and I found myself needing to use both hands for things that I could do for the last seven years with just a flick of my thumb. I liked the new model well enough, but I wasn’t in love with it.

After spending all day with it at work today, though, I’m getting turned around on all that. I left on schedule after what I would consider a regular day of use at more than 70% charged. With the last phone, I’d usually start hunting for a plug sometime after noon – and that was after giving it a boost during the morning commute.

I’m now officially of the opinion that if battery power alone were the only improvement from the last model to this new one, it would be well worth the upgrade. The new camera is impressive, with live photos being a bit gimmicky. 3D touch is fine and works as advertised – though I don’t find myself using it all that often. I’ve never particularly liked Siri and haven’t given her new incarnation much of a chance to change my mind.

Yeah, I’m a tech junky who probably doesn’t use a third of the capability of the gear in my arsenal. Sue me. I don’t need new and innovative ways to check email or ask for directions. I’m old school enough that typing on the screen is still ok by me. When Apple can beam information directly into my frontal lobe, then maybe I’ll be more interested in doing things the “new way.”

Is the 6S/6S+ a must have upgrade if you’re running the 6? No. Is it a respectable upgrade if you’re coming from one of the earlier models? Oh yeah. It’ll likely knock our socks off.

Even if that big beautiful new battery is the only thing I use to the fullest, it was well worth the price of admission. At some point maybe I’ll even get around to teaching myself how to use all the extra bells and whistles I paid for… or maybe not. It all depends on how and if I can see it improving my workflow in some way. Until then, I’m well satisfied.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Pumpkin Spice. I have no understanding at all of the obsession with making everything pumpkin spice flavored. In all my long years the only thing I’ve ever wanted to taste like pumpkin is Thanksgiving pie. Coffee, cookies, doughnuts, scented trash bags, english muffins, beer… all things that are fine in their “usual” flavors. I’ll be pleased when this fetish of the moment passes… except then there will be some new flavor to obsess over. Be on the lookout for eggplant parm yogurt, coming soon to a grocer near you.

2. “Small Government” Conservatives. My friends on the extreme right wing like to say they’re the party of small government. That’s great, except it’s not really true. You can’t really be in favor of small government but still want a government big enough to regulate what services are or aren’t available from healthcare providers. Small government means just that – it’s less intrusive, less regulatory, and less concerned with what legal activities its citizens engage in. A believer in small government is concerned with maximizing personal liberty and limiting how much influence that government has on our day to day lives. My read on most of our dearly beloved members of Congress who claim the mantle of “small government” are really just busybody prudes who think the universe needs to behave exactly as they want it to. I’m sure there’s a name for that but it sure as hell isn’t small government.

3. Apple. God love them. They rolled out a lot of slick looking new kit yesterday. Much of it immediately landed on my want list, but I didn’t see anything that fills the gap as a “must have” bit of equipment. I’m leaning towards upgrading to the 6S+ to get more phone real estate, especially after seeing them in use “in the wild” for a year. And while the new features, most notably the upgraded camera, look like something I’d get mileage from, I’m decidedly underwhelmed at the prospect of getting up at 3AM Saturday morning to drop in an order at full retail price (since AT&T insists I’m seven months away from upgrade eligibility). We’ll see.

Hey Siri…

Apple’s fall media event kicks off in about three hours. The fact that I’m home while the landscapers finish up the yard is purely a happy coincidence. Really. It is. I won’t bore apple-invite-sept-9-heroyou with what the Apple blogs are expecting to see this afternoon. Suffice to say I’m expecting to see at least one thing – and possibly two or three – that will eventually be showing up in my tech tool kit. God knows I don’t need all the things, but I do certainly want them. Whatever they are.

I wonder if this is what it felt like the day they rolled out the latest Sears catalog back when that was still a thing. Probably not. Sears wasn’t exactly a hype machine. Apple, on the other hand, is the master of making me want to gladly hand over fists full of cash.

In a world full of war, refugees, hunger, rape, murder, and all manner of pillage maybe that makes me a bad person. Probably. Still, the heart wants what it wants.

First impressions of a Watch…

If you’re on the fence about ordering an Apple Watch, a word of advice – don’t do it. I think it’s going to be one of those things you either love or hate and if you’re not chomping at the bit to have one on your wrist, the price of entry probably doesn’t justify the functionality you’re going to get from the device.

If you do think you want one, if you like having tech to fiddle with incessantly, or if you’re just trying to cram as much data as possible into your head all day, Apple Watch might just be for you. Other than getting s42sg-sbbk-sel_GEO_USuse to something other than my old, trusty Swiss Army watch strapped around my wrist, I can say definitively after three days that this new piece and I will get along just fine. It was touch and go there in the beginning. There is a seriously steep learning curve that goes along with it, but after some fits and starts and a lot of tweaking to get the settings “just so,” I have no regrets.

Some things I’ve noticed:

1. It’s heavy. That is to say even with the sports band the stainless Watch is heavier than the watch it’s replacing. With today as the first day I’ve had it on nonstop from morning to night, my left arm feels something between tired and numb. I have to think that by the end of the week I won’t even notice it.

2. Settings are important. If you get a lot of notifications pushed to your phone, you’re going to want to clean house a bit once you get your Watch. Having your wrist vibrate every 30 seconds isn’t value added (to me). However, now that I’m just getting notified about breaking news, calls, emails, and texts as they come in it feels like something worth having.

3. The battery is surprisingly good, but you have to remember to plug it in. I could probably get two full work days out of a single charge, but if I were demanding a lot of notifications, or initiating a lot of calls or messages from my arm, I’m sure battery life would suffer correspondingly. Mercifully the battery at least charges quickly.

4. The app store is still a little thin. It has the basics – a few news sites, Insta, Twitter, some games, calculators – but it’s going to take the 3rd party developers some time to figure out how to get the most out of this wearable piece of screen real estate.

5. It’s networked. That’s the real asset for the Watch. In some cases it’s also an Achilles heel… especially when you’re required from time to time to show up at locations that don’t welcome stray electronic devices with open arms. If you happen to work all day in a place like that, it’s probably best to stick with analog technology. Since it’s not a full time issue for me, I’ll just have to remember to take the thing off (and secure it) before wandering into those parts of the building.

If you’re hoping the Watch will replace your iPhone or iPad, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not and it wasn’t designed to. It was designed as an add on for one or both of those devices. Ultimately it’s a software based watch with some neat notification functionality built in. It’s enough to give you a glance at the news, switch up the song selection, and let you know if someone is tweeting, but it’s not a phone on your wrist – not yet anyway – but I think it’s pretty clear that’s the direction Apple wants to go in their pursuit of lighter and thinner.

It’s a watch – with some extra functionality built in. Once you take control over the settings it does most of what it was built to do remarkably well – not a surprise given it’s source. Ask me a month from now and I’ll bet it’s another device I’d be hard pressed to live without.

I wonder when I can start looking (and budgeting) for v2.0 to make an appearance…