iOS 7: Steve’s Take

Tammy and I traded up to the iPhone 5 a couple months ago, knowing new phones were in the pipeline.  I had a pretty good idea where things were going, and the “5S” to be was still mostly a mystery.  I figured a solid “5” in the hand was a better choice.  Now, with iOS 7 on board, I can see I made the right decision.  Here’s a few observations, in no particular order of importance:

* Siri is better — Using Siri for the same tasks as before is much better.  From more accurate speech to faster transcription, Siri is now at a mature baseline of behavior for me.  Using Siri for texting is fantastic.  The first time I used it was in the car, while driving, windows down and it nailed every word.  Later on, while in the office, it guessed at a poorly pronounced phrase and when I tapped the word to change it, it suggested the correct 5 words to replace it.  Simply amazing.

* Control Center replaces three laborious tasks —  I used to do three things frequently and Control Center has reduced my workload.  The flashlight button allows me to delete a non-essential Camera+ app.  I can now set a timer with one tap to hit the Timer app and go (skipping Siri too).  Finally, the toggles for Wifi and Bluetooth allow me the control I need for power management.

* Visual cues with app loading/switching give me confidence — The interface cues when I load apps, switch apps and go back to the home screen are a big win.  These small visual tricks give me mental reassurance as I quickly navigate the system, allowing me to focus on speed and not steps.

Overall, in the short 24 hours I’ve had the upgrade, I’ve concluded I would have paid money for this upgrade.  Fantastic work, Apple!

Anniversaries

I don’t write much here anymore and that’s OK.  I usually wait until I have something important to say.

Yesterday was my 17th wedding anniversary.  Looking back, it’s the longest time I’ve spent committed to anything or anyone in my entire life.  I can’t imagine living life any other way.

My wife, Tammy, wrote a great blog post that sums up things nicely.  I wish I could write as well (or as often) as she does.  I’ll let her speak for me–she’s the best friend/wife/partner that I could ever ask for.  When I’m asleep, dreaming of the future, she’s always at my side.

Here’s to 17 more…

Favorite ATC Phrases

I listen to live air traffic control audio to relax.  Yes, I’m weird.  Most of the time, I’m lurking on the Las Vegas Approach/Departure feed on LiveATC.  Favorite phrases:

“Descend via the Sunset 3 Arrival”

“Caution Wake Turblance”

Bonus–sometimes they have to control USAF traffic out of Nellis as they enter and exit Las Vegas Class B airspace.  The callsigns are great.  Usually they coordinate with a KC737 that’s pulling AWACS duties.  Truly insane amounts of words and traffic passing through there each day.

Hard Drives Fail

So, what’s your backup strategy? Do you have one? Luckily, I did because the two year old hard drive in our home iMac failed on September 1st.  I’ve had a Time Machine backup drive in place for awhile (with backups on that drive back to March of 2011!) so we lost a grand total of 1 hour’s worth of data.  In reality, nothing was really happening when the drive died, so actually, we lost nothing.

Here’s what makes it weird, though.

Our iMac has a special version of a common hard drive, one that I could replace off the shelf from Best Buy, but Apple has locked it with a special firmware. That means I’m forced to take it in to an Apple Service Provider for them to replace the drive.  That makes a professional geek like me a little frustrated to say the least.  With everyone closed for the US Labor Day holiday, I’m living in suspense of the final cost.  Here’s my guess for now–$250 including labor.  Ouch!

For now, I’m running off an old external 80GB hard drive, connected by USB to the iMac.  It’s got a fresh install of Mountain Lion and is happily working along.  In fact, I really can’t tell much of a difference in speed. Tammy and I can access all of our old data from the backup drive and, if we’re lucky, we’ll be back up and running by the end of the week. Considering we have the external drive to run things, we can safely put off the repair so we can plan ahead and not be without the system for any longer than needed.

Vintage Audio Gear and Updates

I’ve been working to update my vintage audio gear stack and I had a big score about a week ago.  I was able to score a Grado Gold1 — a high-end cartridge and stylus combo — for about half of it’s normal price.  I quickly moved it to our primary turntable, a Pioneer PL300, and have been thrilled with the results.  It’s got a much warmer tone, and much more definition at the high end of the spectrum.  I plan to move it to a Technics turntable and swap that TT to our main listening setup.

I’m slowly stockpiling some gear to repair and resell.  Springfield lacks any kind of serious vintage audio shop or a place with knowledgeable vinyl experts.  I’m hoping to change that over time, starting with some basic accessories and parts for turntables.  I think I’ll find some folks to survey and get some feedback before making a big jump.

Anyone out there have a turntable and records they play often?

 

The Ongoing

Sometimes the “ongoing” stuff in life catches up and forces me to post updates.  This is one of those times:

1. I’ve picked up vintage audio gear that’s starting to stack up on the workbench.  I need to write some blog posts that show what I’ve snagged and what I’m going to do with it.  The latest?  A Dual 1229 for $1 at a yard sale.  It’s pretty beat up, but the basics are there.  I posted at Vinyl Engine with some of the notes about the gear, looking for advice about where to go next.

2. It’s time to redo Tammy’s business website, and I’m looking for hosting.  I’m thinking Dreamhost.  Ideas?

3. Cleaning out old gear is fun and sad.  Fun because I get space back.  Sad because it’s stuff without a good use anymore.

 

Microsoft Surface

Update:  The “pro” version has a stylus (fail) that you have to charge (!)

 

Lots of things have been said about the new Microsoft Surface.  Read coverage at The Verge for details.  I’m watching the video of the press event, and more than anything, the utter silence at 10:39 into the video says it all.  The “reveal” video/CG of the metal shards turning into the name had just completed.  Steve Ballmer pulls out the actual tablet to show the attendees.  Utter silence.

That said, it looks cool, but many will think “I already have an iPad, why this?”

‘Nuff said…

New Apple Stuff That I Want

Apple took the wraps off several new items today.  Here’s my top 3:

  • Mountain Lion – upgrade for $19.99 and get a ton of new features including deep integration between iPhone/iPad and your home Mac
  • Airport Express – This new version of the lightweight $99 wireless access point will replace my old Linksys router once and for all.
  • Apple TV – now that I have an iPad, I have a genuine use for AirPlay sharing not to mention the Mac to AppleTV sharing.

Colorado Trip Notes

About 3 weeks ago, I found out that I had a chance to go to Colorado for a week long Cisco training course. I fired off a few quick emails to get approval and it was a done deal. Now that I’m here, I thought I’d share some observations and even some pictures.

Sunday Morning

I left the house at 5:30 AM and here was my view:

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I had to make a quick stop at my local Walmart to replace a mismatched wiper blade and I was off. The first three hours of the drive were familiar and boring – Springfield to KC – so not much to report. I hit the Kansas Turnpike and was greeted with my first surprise: 75 MPH speed limit! It looked like I was going to make good time. I allowed myself a side trip to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS.

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I was happy to have a break from the road and it showed:

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The trip added about 2 hours to my total drive, but it was totally worth it. I drove through some of the prettiest farm country and rolling hills I’ve seen. I wanted to stop and take more pictures on the way, but daylight was burning. That said, I had a promise to keep and that was a stop. At the Garden of Eden.

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Now it was time to push on to Denver. Back on I-70 I was able to make good time and Denver was soon in sight. I made it to my room by 7:45PM which made my total day trip time 15 hours. I was tired but not too worn out. I crashed and had plenty of sleep to start the training in the morning.

Tomorrow’s post: Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide