Momentary inconvenience…

As I was sitting at my desk this morning going through the usual early Saturday routine of paying bills and administering the other minutia that goes along with running the household, the power cut out briefly. Looking out the window towards the woods, annoyed, I counted the seconds – fifteen of them before the genny cranked over and sent it’s homemade electricity surging down the wire and taking life from the 19th century to the 21st in a matter of no more than 30 seconds. From time to time I regret purchasing a big ticket item that isn’t strictly a need, but I can tell you true that I’ll always consider the cash sunk into that generator money well spent.

It’s probably a good day when the most annoying part of a power failure is having to turn the coffee maker back on and wait for the cable modem to reset. Momentary inconveniences though they are, I suspect I’ll be spending some time this weekend looking at battery backup options for some of those “key systems.” Because once you’ve eliminated the big inconveniences, the small ones somehow become even more obnoxious.

1000% over budget…

The first tool I bought on my own, as opposed to scavenging away from one of the parental workbenches, was a 12 volt DeWalt power drill. For most of its life it stayed in the back corner of a closet, or later on a garage shelf. I needed it about once a month and as long as I gave it some time on the charger it fired off and did its thing admirably… or it did until this weekend when the last of its batteries finally gave up the ghost.

Now I don’t think these 17+ year old batteries owe me anything at all, but the timing couldn’t be more inconvenient. There’s a three-day weekend coming and here on the homestead that almost always means taking on some project that I can’t jam into a regularly scheduled weekend. The one I’m looking at for this weekend is definitely going to need more than a black and yellow paperweight.

The problem with power tools, as I’m finding in my research, is that half the cost seems to be in the batteries. While I could buy a pair of replacement batteries, by the time I get them here, I’m into it for half the price of buying two more powerful modern batteries, a charger, and and a new drill. Like so much of the other stuff that comes into this house, it turns out power tools are just another disposable commodity – more cost effective to replace than repair. Plus, since it use to run off the same set of batteries, I get to replace a circular saw too.

Somehow by the time it’s over, my $50 project for the garage is going to end up running about 1000% over budget. There’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere, right?

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. CVS. They’re getting great acclaim for making the decision to stop selling cigarettes. It’s their business, I say God bless if that’s what they want to do. I’m left wondering if they’re also planning to stop selling Coke, Doritos, Snickers bars, and all the other items on their shelves that have been identified as cancer causing, bad for you, or just socially “inappropriate.” Let’s be honest with ourselves at least. CVS is a drug store. Their whole raison d’être is selling medications, many of which themselves can cause untold amounts of harm even when taken as directed. Call me cynical, but I don’t see them taking a principled stand in the name of public health so much as I see them making a public relations and marketing move.

2. Bugs. No, not the kind of creepy crawlies that sneak into the house and needs dispatched with the closest available newspaper, magazine, or shoe. I’m more agitated by the kind that live in apps and cause mysterious and damned near impossible to track down battery drain on my phone. Thanks to these gremlins, I get to spend a few hours backing up everything I have on my phone, tricking the thing into believing it’s once again fresh out of the box, and then reinstalling each app one by one so I don’t accidentally reintroduce whatever power hungry gremlin resided in the old version. For a device that “just works,” I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time poking around under the hood to keep things humming along without the need to recharge it every four hours.

3. Passwords. It took me five attempts to log into my own damned website today. That’s mostly because two days ago the site forced me to create a new one. It couldn’t be any old password, of course, but one that was at least eight characters included upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, special characters, hieroglyphics, quadratic equations, and the square root of pi rounded to the nearest non-repeating decimal. I get it. Internet security is important. It’s so important that apparently the best way we can manage not to lose all our secrets to the Chinese, or the Russians, or the NSA is creating the illusion of a random string of characters. If security is as important as the internet thinks it is, can someone please explain to me why we’re not using retina scanners, fingerprint readers, blood samples, or something, anything that would be more convenient than needing to remember a new 742 character password every third day?

Battery backup…

A couple of months ago I finally had to break down and face that my iPhone 5 was falling down on the job. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the blasted thing to hold a charge for any longer than about six hours under what I would consider not particularly heavy use. A trip to the Apple Store, a battery swap out, and all was right with the world. Or at least it was for about a month.

Apple_LogoI’ve been trying to avoid admitting it to myself, but when I looked at my phone at 9:45 this morning and saw it holding only a 48% charge I’ve been forced to finally admit that history is repeating itself. Which means come Furlough Friday, I’ll probably be trudging back to the Apple Store in the hopes that they can right what has once again gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Sleek as it is, I can’t say that iPhone 5 has been my best Apple experience. If it were my first, I think I’d have a tough time justifying sticking with the platform at this point. I’m absolutely dependant on my phone and need it to be something that “just works,” rather than something I’m hauling around extra charging cables and an external battery pack just to keep in service. My last, Hail Mary play is restoring the phone to factory presets and adding apps back one by one to see if I can determine if one of them is causing a battery sucking do loop. That’s pretty much the only big gun I have left.

If all else fails, I hope there’s a Genius in Delaware who can fix my phone. If we go for round three of this mess, it’s going to be time to start seriously looking at other options and that’s not a road I particularly want to have to go down.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Filling up the quiet time. Some people assume that because I’m not talking they need to find a way to fill in all the quiet time. Rest assured, if something needs said I’ll say it in front of princes, profits, potentates, or presidents without regard to their rank, race, or religion. I’m quiet, not shy. There is a difference. On the other hand, when I don’t have anything of substance to add, I’m happy sitting quietly. I don’t need an endless nattering buzz of small talk in my ear to make me feel connected. Most days I desperately wish some people didn’t have a pathological need to fill in the quiet times with pointless chatter.

2. iPhone. I love my iPhone 5. It’s been a workhorse since the day UPS handed it to me. Since then, we’ve gone everywhere together. We’ve been inseparable. Sure, the UI could use an update and I wouldn’t mind a bigger screen sometimes, but those aren’t the issues that make up the hate end of my love-hate relationship with this phone. It’s the battery life. It wasn’t great right out of the box, but over the last few months it’s gotten progressively worse. Through resets, wipes, switching off functions known to draw lots of power, and aggressively managing what apps are open, I can sort of slow the battery drain a bit, but that’s not exactly a substitute for a battery that doesn’t suck. I’m trying to think of a good reason why after three hours of pretty limited use, my battery is drawing down towards 50% and none really come to me. I’ll limp along with a handful of cables and a external battery pack until the 5S comes along… but if that battery doesn’t show some significant performance enhancements, it might be time to reevaluate iPhone’s place as my daily carry.

3. Turning left. When you’re the first vehicle in the left turn lane, you should go ahead and pull all the way forward to the stop line. That way the invisible traffic gnome knows that you’re trying to turn left at the intersection and can wave his green light wand to change the signal. When there’s a line of traffic 40 cars deep sitting behind you in the left turn lane, it’s sort of a bad time to be confused by basic effing driving skills, you useless excuse for a meat sack. I have no idea why it’s socially unacceptable to drag people from their cars and beat them with a Stick of Shame for such mindless asshattery.