Categories
Gadgets

iOS6 Upgrade

Picture of the Verizon iPhoneUnless you’ve been on a desert island you know iOS6 is out now.

I upgraded both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3 on Thursday. While not completely uneventful it was relatively smooth. There were related Mountain Lion and Apple application upgrades on my Macs. In my case, it was iPhoto and Aperture that were upgraded. It took most of the evening to get everything upgraded although most of that was spent waiting, either for downloads or installs. I updated my iDevices directly, over wireless, rather than through iTunes. There’s also been a steady stream of iOS app upgrades since then.

So far I only had one real app problem, the UPS app crashed when trying to paste in tracking numbers. But that was fixed a couple days later with an upgrade.

My most serious problem is that my iPad 3 can no longer sync to iTunes over wireless. It just says it can’t find the computer when I tell it to sync. Of course, other apps can see the computer and transfer files to and from it. And my iPhone syncs to iTunes just fine. I’ve done the normal troubleshooting (reboots, re-enter settings, try a second wireless network, etc…) but haven’t dug into it. I don’t sync too often. iCloud backups work just fine.

Apple’s taking a lot of grief over the new Maps app. Based on the examples given it appears justified. The U.S. maps seem better than the rest of the world. They have the street I live on, they just don’t extend it as far as my house. Of course, my street closely parallels a second street once it reaches me, separated by a line of trees. The local directions seem fine. I already have another app I use for turn-by-turn so I haven’t tried the built in maps app for that. I never really used the old Google Maps app very much so the change is mostly unnoticed by me.

I like the “Do Not Disturb” feature, although I already keep most notifications off all the time anyway. I do wish there was a way to allow certain apps to alert all the time. Similar to the way “Favorite” callers aren’t blocked by DND. Guess we have to leave something for Apple to add in iOS 7.

The new Passbook started off by annoying me. It bumped an icon off my home screen to make room for itself. Then it didn’t properly link to the iTunes store  (which was the only action it would try to do) until I did this fix. Once I got into it I was underwhelmed by needing to install each vendors own iOS6 app to use passbook. The only other way to get info into Passbook was a 3rd party website. While it’s probably OK, the security implications limit its use.

I liked the clock app, especially on my iPad where it easily shows multiple times across the world. But I knew the clock face looked familiar.

I never found much use for Siri. I was more frustrating than useful. Being able to open apps by voice is a nice addition. Of course, the apps have to be pronounceable and real words, which isn’t always the case. (I’m looking at you Waze.) I may give Siri another tryout.

I can’t say I have an desire to get the iPhone 5. Sure, its better than th 4S that I have, but not so much better. The only hardware feature I would want is LTE, but for what I use the iPhone for now it’s not a big deal. My iPad has LTE so I can tether to it in a pinch. I also tend to do more web surfing on the iPad rather than the iPhone. My contract is up at the end of November which may be a good time shop for a phone. I’m not ruling out the iPhone 4S but it will be a tough sell. If I decide to stick with the iPhone I may just stick with the 4S for another year.

Anyone else upgraded to iOS6? How’d it go?

Categories
OS Quest Trail Log

The OS Quest Trail Log #67: End of 2011 Edition

Happy New Year 2012Despite the cliche, it is hard to believe 2011 is drawing to a close, probably only a memory by the time you read this. On the other hand, it’s still just one more month gone by so I’ll try to resist the urge for any year end wrap-up. But as usual I’ll recap since the last Trail Log among other things.

When I first wrote about replacing my cable modem I mentioned there didn’t seem to be too much difference in performance. Since then things have changed a bit. Typically CrashPlan would max out it’s upload performance at 2 Mbps. I added another 40 GB to the upload and it uploaded at 4 Mbps. Both speeds where as reported by CrashPlan. So there does seem to have been an improvement.

When I wrote about Cloudberry’s new Continuous Data Protection (CDP) I had decided to use it only for my critical data which had previously been backed up as an hourly basis. Since then there was one failure in that backup plan which caused it to stop and required a manual restart. I also found that email notifications worked in one case for CDP. As it stands now, I don’t have complete confidence in Cloudberry’s CDP, at least in their Windows Home Server 2011 Add-in, so I’ve gone back to an hourly backups for that critical data. I’m no longer using CDP.

I still like my Kindle Fire. I mainly use it for watching video – my own,  Amazon Prime and Amazon purchased. While there isn’t much memory available for local storage I’ve found that the Amazon videos are relatively small (at least the standard def ones). I find the standard def fine for viewing, even on my TV and the smaller size doesn’t needlessly use my capped bandwidth. If the movie deserves high-def I’ll go for a disk. I was able to copy a dozen videos (about 10 hours) locally without a problem and had them during my holiday travels. My own ripped videos are larger so it’s fewer of these. I also do occasional reading but find any LCD screen tiring so it’s usually for less than an hour.

A pet peeve of mine is comparisons between the Kindle and iPad as if it was a buying guide. Here’s my buying guide:  If you’re trying to decide between a Kindle Fire and an iPad then go for a iPad. If you want to watch Amazon video on a tablet, get a Fire. If you meet both criteria then resign yourself to getting both but start with the Fire since it’s cheaper and it might give you what you want in a tablet.

Even though my yearly backup review showed I was in pretty good shape it always gets me thinking about changes but I’m resisting the urge to make a change unless it plugs a gap. There’s a lot of options out there and I’ll probably check out a few. Unless I lose interest first.

Frustrations

My iPhone 4S is giving me problems. The external speaker died on Friday. The headphones work fine. Initially it would come back for short periods but would die soon after I started playing a podcast or song. Luckily it’s now completely dead. I say luckily because it’s much easy to deal with Apple (or any vendor) when they can see the problem themselves. With my luck it probably would have worked when I bring it in for my noon appointment on Saturday. Hopefully it will be quickly resolved.

I’ve been backing up my website to my Mac every night for over 4 years using iCal to schedule a Transmit automator task. Shortly after upgrading to Lion (but not immediately) the schedule task starting crashing, The problem became worse and recently became a daily event. I did the usual stuff like making sure all the software was updated. I also recreated the automator task. The frustrating thing is that if I run the task manually there’s never a problem. But it now consistently fails if it’s triggered by iCal. At this point it’s become part of my nightly routine to trigger the backup. I figure my effort is now better spent getting a backup setup on the web server itself and have it go directly to Amazon S3. So that’s on my project list for the new year although it probably won’t bubble to the top until I get really tired of having to double-click a file each night.

Google Chrome took away side tabs so now they’re back on top. It was never an official feature so I can’t complain too much. Despite that it’s really frustrating to have all those tiny tabs along the tap, differentiated only by their favicon if present. There is a tree tabs add-in i may give a try. I have a similar add-in for Firefox. I’ve considered going back to Firefox but that frustrates me too. The upgrade frequency and the way they do it is annoying. It seems add-ins are always breaking or flagged as not compatible. Add to that the annoying pop-up when there’s an upgrade and it’s drove me away. Google seems to do upgrades right. If I need to restart my browser there’s a little notification in the wrench icon. And after I restart all my tabs are restored, something Firefox doesn’t seem to get right. I really want to like Firefox since Mozilla only cares about a good browser (in theory) and Google and Microsoft consider us the product they sell to advertisers.But Google Chrome has been hard to drop, but the loss of side tabs may help in that area.

Servers and Storage

I’ve had the good fortune of having an Acer Aspire Easystore H342 Home Server pass through my hands. NewEgg has had them at clearance prices and a buddy on mine bought one as a low cost NAS and backup server. It’s Windows Home Server V1 so no doubt Acer is looking to clear them out (hopefully they’ll add a WHS 2011 box to the US market once the V1 is sold out). The price fluctuates but the current $260 is the lowest I’ve seen so far. It’s WHS V1 and not even the latest version of that, so the setup wasn’t straight-forward which is how I got my hands on it. I should have a write-up on it pretty soon. My overall impression is favorable (considering the price). Setting up a version 1 box was both nostalgic and frustrating. The software does feel and look old compared to WHS 2011 but the flashback was fun.

A second server will be staying, at least for awhile. I picked up a Western Digital DX4000 Sentinel Storage Server that runs Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials which has the same heritage as Windows Home Server 2011. I’m still getting to know it but I have to say that Western Digital got the ease of use right. Even when that Acer H342 was the latest software it’s setup wasn’t as easy as the DX4000. The DX4000 is less flexible in some areas (like supported hard drive and configurations) but that’s the price for ease of use.

I’ve also gotten motivated to start going through old hardware and hard drives to see what I have available and can put together. I’ve got 18 hard drives sitting in a cabinet as file storage. These are older smaller drives that were retired as they were replaced with bigger drives. So my current project is to clean up those drives and safely archive the files that are still needed. Then I should have a few good drives to use for various configuration in my MicroServers.

Another Year Ends

I think the most OS related fun I had this year was the short-lived Ubuntu Home Server project that actually began at the end of 2010. I enjoyed setting up the server and then learning about Linux software RAID. But that project ended in March when I returned to Windows Home Server 2011.  I left Ubuntu as things were getting a bit scary with all that data on it. Not that Ubuntu was scary but my maintaining that RAID array was. But that big WHS 2011 box was still more complicated than I wanted and I became obsessed with the HP MicroServers and my WHS 2011 server has been one of those ever since.

I’ll probably do a build or two this year, although mostly taken from parts I already have, But I’m hoping to spend more time diving into different OS’s and doing some web development.

And it will all be starting with a nice three day holiday weekend.

Happy New Year everyone!

Categories
Gadgets

Oh No! My iPhone 4s Is A Flop

Picture of the Verizon iPhoneHaving just gotten my new iPhone 4S I was depressed to see Daring Fireball link to an article listing the iPhone 4S as one of the top 6 tech flops of the year. OK, I wasn’t really depressed and fell for the  linkbait to read the orignal post. The iPhone 4S is listed third and begins…

While it’s no flop when it comes to sales figures the iPhone 4S remains one of 2011’s biggest consumer letdowns.

They go on with some more praise…

…is certainly nothing to sneeze at — it’s still one of the fastest, best-looking smartphones on the block…

The  reason given for being a flop is it didn’t meet the rumors and wasn’t an iPhone 5. They don’t actually define what they mean by flop but a best-selling device doesn’t meet any definition I can think of. Any “flop” would have been the tech blogs/journalists salivating over rumors and wish lists.

So now I’ll defend my purchase of a flop. I had an iPhone 4 but my Verizon contract is up for renewal and I could get the renewal discount plus another $30 rebate. I’ve no idea what the rebate was for (“customer loyalty”) or how long it would last. It’s actually been available for months. I’m happy with Verizon and I’m not looking to switch, having been with them for years. And having been on Android before Verizon got the iPhone I knew I didn’t want to go back to Android.

The main cost of the new phone would be the 2-year contract since I could (and did) sell my iPhone 4 for enough to cover my out of pocket expenses. OK, I didn’t quit cover but I upgraded to the 64 GB phone so it cost me a few dollars, if I stayed with the 32 GB I would have pocketed a few dollars. If I waited until the next iPhone in a year I wouldn’t have been able to sell my phone for much at all since it would be two versions old in addition to the extra year of wear and tear. Since there’s no change in form factor all my accessories can stay. So in effect the upgrade didn’t cost me anything.

So what do I get for my upgrade:

  • A better camera. I didn’t use the iPhone for photos very much at all. Prior to upgrading I made a conscious effort to use it more to get comfortable with it. I’ve been using it more and have liked using it.
  • Faster processor. I have some apps that ran slow on the phone but ran fine on the faster iPad 2. There could be several reasons for this but I have seen an improvement. It was most noticeable to me with apps like OminFocus which synced or loaded data every time I switched to it.
  • More storage. I probably keep too much on my phone but I was out of space. I’d rather add storage instead of trying to juggle what I want on the phone.

There’s also Siri of course. But it wasn’t a factor beyond curiosity and I haven’t been using it very much. I’ve used it so little it’s always ben available when I used it, unlike what I read from others.

Next year’s iPhone will almost certainly be out before I can upgrade at a discount and will almost certainly have significant hardware upgrades (NFC, 4G, higher resolution, better camera) so I’ll have to wait a couple months before I can upgrade at a discount (due to multiple plans I can basically upgrade once a year by transferring the upgrade between plans).

I’d agtree the iPhone 4S isn’t a significant upgrade over the iPhone 4 but it is an upgrade and if you want those features it would be worth it. I wouldn’t have upgraded if selling my current phone didn’t cover the costs or if I had to buy new accessories. Still, it’s certainly doesn’t meet my definition of a flop and it doesn’t disappoint me, but as an iPhone 4S owner I am biased.

Categories
Gadgets

Why I Got The Verizon iPhone

Iphone picture

Continuing the disturbing trend I started with the iPad, I pre-ordered the Verizon iPhone once it was available. There was a lot written about whether or not there would be a rush to the Verizon iPhone once it became available. I guess you could say I was part of the rush so I might as well get specific as to why. First, I didn’t leave AT&T. I’ve been a long time Verizon customer and used a Motorola Droid with them. While I don’t view Verizon as a customer focused company when it comes to their policies, I’ve always had a good experience dealing with their customer service and have always found their network reliable. Back when I was an AT&T customer it was a nightmare so going to them for an iPhone was not in the cards, even if they’ve changed.

So comparisons between the AT&T and Verizon network, such as simultaneous calls and data are moot for me. I’ve been happy with the Verizon network. I’ve been less than thrilled with the Motorola Droid. It’s been a solid phone but I’ve never trusted the app environment. So I pretty stuck with apps from companies who’s services  already used. I’ve never purchased a paid app or downloaded free ones to experiment. There are a couple free apps I downloaded based on recommendations I trusted but I was still using my iPod Touch for many apps. When it comes to phones I just want something solid that will work so leaving the Android platform wasn’t a hard decision. While I can intellectually discriminate about Apples “we know best” attitude and sometimes find it irksome, in this case it’s better suited to my needs.

So, my next phone was going to be an iPhone once it became available. There was still a reason not to get the hone yet – there will probably be an iPhone 5 in a few months. I’ve always felt that waiting for the latest tech meant waiting forever, although I admit it seems like it will be quick. I’ve never needed the latest phone tech and there’s nothing I’ve heard of related to the iPhone 5 that would make me want one (sure, it will be “better”). A bit of a bigger issue might be iPhone 6. Depending on the upgrade policies I might have to wait until after it’s been out a couple months. Oh well.

I will get a cost savings by buying now. I currently have a Verizon MiFi that I use as a hotspot. I switched that to the iPhone hotspot. While the Droid could do USB tethering (at an additional cost) I wanted WiFi for multiple devices. The MiFi was $60 a month, the iPhone hotspot will be $20 a month. I’ll get less data, but based on my history it will be enough.

The Ordering & Setup Process

Despite some reports of website problems a couple hours into the ordering process I didn’t have any issues. Choosing sleep over gadget I didn’t set my alarm to wake up for the 3AM start time. I woke up about 5AM and had no problem placing the order online. It was smooth and went right through. I ordered the 32GB model.

The phone was delivered by UPS about 11am Monday morning so at lunch I hooked it up to iTunes to activate it. I’ve already had a Verizon account and had the latest version of iTunes on my Mac. Activation was also straight forward. The only hitch was when I accepted the agreement nothing seemed to happen. It took another couple unresponsive clicks to realized the phone itself was saying it was activated. Since I could clear the screen I stopped and started iTunes and the second phase of the setup continued. I don’t think the problem was a capacity thing. Either a poor process design by Apple (unthinkable!) or a problem with my PC.  Other than that things were smooth.

I set things up not to sync automatically (my typical setting for iDevices) and went through and picked what I wanted on the phone. I was good to go.

First Impressions

I haven’t done any formal testing, rather I just started using it. As expected it’s replaced my iPod Touch which will either be sold or passed along to relatives. I had though I might need to keep it for music and video since I’m paranoid about my phone battery running low. So far I’ve been impressed with the battery performance. I haven’t done any formal tests, but it’s clearly better than my Droid. To get through a full day I’d often have to manage the wireless, bluetooth and GPS settings so they’d only be used when necessary. A day is from when I walk up to when I go to bed as I only want to charge at night. There were times th Droid didn’t make it, even though rarely used it for audio or video. The iPhone has been stellar, despite being used much more frequently. I haven’t had to manage wireless, bluetooth or GPS.

It’s a subjective impression, but the iPhone feels better in my hand than the Droid so it’s easier to type on. “Easier” is a relative term, it’s still a small keyboard. It also feels like a more solid device but that could be because the Droid has a slide out keyboard. The screen is much easier for me to read than my Droid, but that’s to be expected with newer technology and I’d probably say the same for any new phone.

The one thing I will miss is the Google Turn-by-Turn directions. I don’t need use the GPS routing a lot so I liked that the Droid made it easy and uncomplicated. The screen was clear as was the speech. This was all free and built-in on the Droid. It’s a add-on for the iPhone. I still haven’t looked for a replacement, but browsing the apps store tells me a replacement will be pricey.

As far as the apps, it’s mainly things I already had on my iPad or iPod Touch so there wasn’t much new there. But it’s nice to have them all on the phone which is always with me. I’d often not have the apps with me since carrying the Touch and my phone was cumbersome.

In Conclusion

So, overall, I like the iPhone. I was eligible for the upgrade and I didn’t have to jump carriers and don’t even consider another carrier, let alone AT&T. Add to that the $40 a month I’ll save by dropping the MiFi and the upgrade made sense. The iPhone’s not perfect and Verizon isn’t either, but it’s been a step up from my Droid. I don’t need to have the latest phone so I have no problem upgrading now despite the looming iPhone 5.

As for call quality it’s been fine, comparable to my Droid. I’ve never had an issue with dropped calls with Verizon and so far that trend has continued during the short time I’ve had the iPhone. Apparently Consumer Reports says there’s still an antennae problem. Maybe there is, but I’ve used the phone without a case and haven’t had any call quality problems while holding the phone normally.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the Verizon iPhone.