Good product integration is important

My iPhone 6 arrived in the mail, a few calls later it was activated and my old Note II became a paperweight. It’s not that I dislike Android or Samsung products, it’s just that my latent Phone Curse™ kicked in. After 2 years it was time to retire the old one.

The old phone was getting long in the tooth. It’s been months since the camera could focus (that’s important, right? For a camera to focus?) I routinely lost my playlists and the built in keyboard code would crash all the time. Even after I factory reset the phone and formatted the storage. CRASH! Instant phone grief.

It’s not the phone. It’s me and it’s always been me. Any electronic device that is near me for too long loses it’s mind.

What I like about Apple products

Apple does something really well that is evil, persuasive and disruptive. Did I mention how EVIL they are?

Their phones work well by themselves or with other things such as Bluetooth equipped cars.

See what I mean about evil? With my Galaxy Note II I had problems getting music to play in my car. I would need to start the music app on my phone and cross my fingers. To sync my music (I use both iTunes and Google Play Music) I would try different applications such as doubleTwist’s AirSync but that was always hit or miss. Occasionally the sync would go spa and I’d have to use harsh language on it.

Using the Google Play Music app always worked provided I had good cell coverage. Listening to music while driving where it pauses is enough to make anyone start drinking. If the music is in the phone’s cache cool but if not it could be a long ride.

With my new iPhone I get into the car, wait for the Bluetooth to connect and hit play. If the car was set to the phone player already then music would just begin by itself. No muss, no fuss it just works.

Text messaging? Oh yeah, iPhones do that but they extend it into iMessage. When you log into Facetime or iMessage and you have a Mac you can continue to message via the Mac. It’s a smooth transition and I can pickup messaging without my phone. Same with Facetime and it’s not limited iPhones. I can use my phone to message or Facetime my daughter on her iPhone (she got Lily’s old phone with no service) from my phone or Mac.

With my old phone I never used a lock screen. The Note II is huge and typing the code was like walking across the room. On the iPhone the fingerprint reader is almost transparent in its use. Press the home button to awake the screen. Leave your thumb there a little longer and the phone unlocks.

While on the topic, iPhone apps can use the fingerprint reader too just like your iTunes account. I use 1Password and unlocking with just my thumb is amazingly cool. I’ve been playing with Clef and I authenticate to that service in the same way.

Again it all just works, the integration is seamless.

Yes, I can do most of that in Android with 3rd party apps

That’s where Apple extends their EVILNESS. It’s built in. The messaging and Facetime like experience on Android? Skype on your phone and Skype on your PC or Mac. There is no Facetime or iMessage for the PC that I am aware of and that’s not a mistake. Apple is in the business of selling their products, not PCs.

Same with the music sync and car integration. Apple works closely with car manufacturers so when I play music I see the cover art, time passed, time left, can select from playlists, scroll through songs, etc. With my built in Samsung music player I can see the song before, playing and next song. That’s it. The doubleTwist music player has even less functionality.

The Note II does not have a fingerprint reader but current models do. I’ll assume that they can be unlocked in similar ways but I don’t think the 3rd party app support is there.

I am not an Android hater

I like well designed products. And I did look at HTC phones and the current generation of Samsung phones. They’re really good but the integration problems I’m having are inherent to  the Android operating system. With the new Lollipop version that may have improved. With the Motorola line of phones running a “pure” version of Google’s OS maybe the integration with cars has improved.

There’s also the “change is good” factor for me. IOS and Android apps really are not the different anymore. With IOS you get less built in buttons (my old phone had a “go back” soft button, IOS has a home button) and once you change gears to IOS it’s all the same.

In another 2 years or so I expect my curse to kick in again. Maybe at that time I will switch back to a Google phone. Apple has a huge market and support but future Android phones might get the seamless experience I am looking for.

Force logout Mac users

Yet another one of those write this down Jan, it will come up again posts. There’s almost certainly a better way to force log out absent users on a Mac but heck, this works for me.

To kill off all the processes of a user named joe who’s left logged in but used the user switcher, open up the Terminal app and run these commands.

sudo su -
ps aux | grep ^joe | awk '{ print $2; }' | xargs -I{} kill -9 {}

In my kitchen is the community iMac and I have set up accounts for my whole family. Sometimes people come over and forget to log out but used fast user switching to go to the login screen or a different user.

That’s not too bad, but some software combinations I’m running often take up lots of CPU needlessly. Yes, Firefox and Adobe Flash I mean you. The whole iMac becomes slow and unresponsive.

That makes for a sad Mac. More importantly at 5:30 AM it makes for a sad me. As long as you know Joe’s user id then this will zap all of his processes and log him out as a result.

If some of those processes are stubbornly cling to life then rinse and repeat.

My subconscious at work?

I’m beginning to believe my subconscious has developed super powers. I am jonesing for a new smart phone that works better than my antiquated iPhone 3G. Given the age of my phone that’s not a tall order.

To help me in that direction, my subconscious has disabled the ability of my phone to vibrate when someone calls me. I don’t know how I managed to do it but the phone does not shake anymore.

I dislike my phone ringing but (obviously) don’t wish to miss calls. I’m going to do the factory reset of the phone to see if that fixes it. I remain hopeful since I’m not quite ready to get a replacement.

This is not a new ability for me. I’ve been jinxing electronic equipment since my Dad had a TRS-80 Model I. But I now work in a field where this is not a desirable trait so it must be I am doing it subconsciously again.

Since I’m looking for a new phone I’ve been gathering information. Did you know that you cannot surf the web while speaking on Verizon’s network using an Android phone? I had heard that but thought that was just a rumor. Apparently it’s a CDMA limitation, but more information is needed. I’ve also read that while using LTE that limitation is gone.

I’ll take another look at T-Mobile and Sprint just to see if their networks are up to par. In the meanwhile I will continue to be impressed with my latent super powers.

P.S. No, I have not lost my mind, and yes I am kidding about the super powers. The phone is still broken though.

No iPhone 4 for me yet?

Not really news, but nice to see that Consumer Reports can send people the straight scoop.

This seems to put to rest the myth of this being a software glitch. I still plan on getting one. I was going to get the bumper anyways and it’s still an awesome phone despite the antenna flaw.

And now an iMac

I have way too many PCs in my house, but a couple of them have been elevated to “must have”. The notebook in the kitchen had become indispensable, like coffee in the morning.

My morning wake up routine became

  1. Drink coffee
  2. Check my e-mail
  3. Check out my social networks
  4. Do a little sysadmin on my servers
  5. Drink some more coffee

And all from my kitchen notebook. But the HP notebook was overheating and automatically shutting down on a routine basis. As a result Lily and I thought “why not replace it with a Mac book?”

Once we got to the Apple store we realized that the iMac was more bang for the buck, and the small kitchen notebook never moved from its place. We now have the 21.5 inch iMac cheerfully sitting on my kitchen island and I’m writing this up on it now.

We selected an iMac because the kids use them in school and more importantly, I just want the thing to work. It’s pretty straight forward and after I ran the software updater a few times I was up to date on all the patches.

It’s got a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. The mouse was easy to get used to (it’s a Magic Mouse after all) but the keyboard makes me do an occasional double-take. There are no insert or page down/up keys and while the chiclet keys are not small, the overall size of the keyboard is.

Adding my network printer to the iMac was a breeze. Once it found the printer on the network, all I had to do was confirm that I wanted to install it.

Overall I’m really pleased with it. Everyone likes the iMac and the display looks great. The only thing that I’ll need to do is find the equivalent versions of the software I use. I’m mostly a Notepad++, PuTTY, and Firefox user so I should be able to find Mac equivalents.

The iPad is announced! I just don’t don’t get it

With some fanfare the iPad was announced today. And if I am reading it right, it’s like an iPhone but big and fat.

I don’t get it.

It’s an iPhone without the phone. It does not multitask.  So while you are using it as a ebook reader, you can’t keep any instant messenger sessions in the background.  You can probably play music, but no streaming music via the wifi.  You can probably still cut and paste, but no switching ssh sessions ’cause that will make the ssh app to exit.

What’s the appeal again? Seriously, who will step up with a really useful little tablet? I’m hoping ASUS or MSI will deliver something that I actually want. I already have an iPhone.

Looks like I’ll need to try iTunes again

I don’t like DRM. It’s not an effective control since you can almost always convert the protected media into an unprotected version.It treats paying customers like trash and is meant to keep the fish swimming in neat little lines.

That’s why I buy all my online music from Amazon. I’m not an Amazon fan exactly, I just think that Apple is pandering to the music factory. The integration with my iPhone is broken so I buy music via the web and run iTunes and add the new files to my collection. There is a Firefox plugin but it works sporadically and I gave up on it.

Recently Apple relaxed their DRM.  Your account is still stamped on the downloaded music, but most of the songs are no longer encrypted. That means I can play that music on Linux, my XBox 360 (I think), etc.  For a not huge fee you can convert the songs in your collection from encrypted .m4p format to .m4a format.

It’s a start and I’ll give it a shot and pick up some tunes.  I’ll believe Apple’s iTunes Store is really “open” when the Creative MP3 player can plugin and sync using iTunes.

The iPhone 3G


I’ve had the iPhone 3G for a week now and have come to one inescapable conclusion:

I need to buy a watch.

The iPhone 3G is well designed and easy to use.  The screen is larger than my old BlackBerry Pearl but not too large. The built in applications are generally okay but a little on the “more is less” side. For example, the e-mail client is very functional.  I am able to have my mail delivered using my own SSL based SMTP AUTH relay (open SMTP relays are criminally stupid) and the client works well with my own IMAPS server.  Using IMAPS I get full access to my mail folders on my phone (finally!) via an SSL connection. I can view attachments such as PDF and Word documents with ease.  But the e-mail client looks sparse and drab.  It works well but could be spruced up a little.

The web browser is Safari, plain and simple.  It’s good but given the screen size I find myself visiting websites that support the iPhone directly.  Both CNN and Newsweek have good mobile websites and all of Google’s web sites are built to work well in the iPhone.

You can’t run multiple applications at the same time, so instant messenger is pretty much useless.  The only thing that will run in the background is the iPod application for playing music.  That works out for me since I read RSS feeds in Google Reader while listening to music.

The built in assisted GPS is great and I have enough apps that will let me find the nearest you-name it store.  I have not played with Google Earth on my phone but I’m told that it is insanely good and fun to play with.

Applications are plentiful and readily available from the app store. The price ranges from free to around $15, with most being less that $3.  I can recommend TouchTerm as an adequate ssh client and everyone should buy the addictive Bejeweled 2 game.  The free Facebook app is really easy to use. I have not been tempted to jail break my iPhone because I have no need to.  Except for IM, everything I want to do works.  Why hack my phone?

The video capabilities is surprisingly good.  If you have a collection of videos on your PC (oh, for talking purposes, say English subtitled Anime) you can convert them for using on the iPhone with WinFF. It’s a GUI wrapper for ffmpeg and works well.  One thing to watch out for is the audio.  Set the optional arguments in WinFF for “-async 1” and this will fix any audio sync problems.

My old phone only went as fast as EDGE so to me the 3G network is really fast.  On my first day using the iPhone and firmware 2.1, I took the LIRR train to the office.  I listened to the radio via the 3G network using an iPhone app.  I had to restart the stream twice but that’s pretty good for a 55 minute train ride.  In Manhattan I listened to the radio via the 3G network all week as I walked to Penn Station.

The iPhone 3G comes with an A/C adapter and a USB cable.  No software CD, no docking station, nada.  That’s generally OK as iTunes is available on Apple’s web site and you can buy lots of accessories.

Tonight I went back to the Apple Store and bought another USB cable and an Air Jacket set.  This contains a clear hard plastic case that protects the shiny back of the iPhone and a film for the LCD cover.  I’m using the anti-glare one and it works really well.  No residue and all I did was clean the screen with my lens cloth and used the pre-installation film for picking up any dust.  This second visit to the Apple Store makes it official; I am now one of the Apple Undead (a repeat customer).

Oh, and the reason I need to buy a watch?  With my old BlackBerry I would use it as a time piece.  The iPhone is slightly too large to keep pulling out of my belt clip to do that. So I need to buy a watch.

More legal Darwin award recipients?

oPtion$ book cover from AmazonLooking on Amazon and searching for Steve Jobs and parody comes up with just one hit surprisingly. I don’t usually read parodies since I prefer science fiction but Apple’s lawyers sure tempt me.

Anyone who can’t figure out that FSJ blog is, well, fake probably subscribes to those supermarket tabloids. The one’s that say JFK, Marylin Monroe, and aliens are all bundled together. With Elvis involved somehow.

Apple settled with Think Secret which I guess was good for the Think Secret author. So now FSJ is fair game? That’s really silly and now that FSJ has a sponsor odds are he’ll continue to lampoon Apple’s lawyers. Time for a Fake Steve Jobs Lawyer site?

Apple makes oodles of cash from iPhone mania. Why not take that money and just use this link to find all the sites that say The Great Steve One’s name and sue them for infringement? That ought to keep them busy. In the meanwhile I’ll just continue to read FSJ blog.