I received word this morning that Apple is raising the price of their Apple One Premier service by nearly 10% effective at the end of November (when my plan renews). This was the first email I saw this morning and I have to admit it really rubbed me the wrong way.

For those not in the Apple ecosystem, Apple One Premier is their online package that includes several components of their “lifestyle” approach to computing: 2TB of iCloud storage, Apple TV+, Apple Music, Fitness+, and Apple Arcade. Oh, it also includes Apple News+. I forget about that last one.

Apple is one of the richest, if not the richest company in the world. I know inflation is taking its toll on us all, but a 10% price hike for this package seems a bit much. While all corporations are focused on profit, in previous years Apple felt a little less like other corporations when it came to meeting bottom line expectations. Over the past few years that feeling has subsided and now it’s all about the corporate dollar.

I’m in the process of figuring out how to get away from Apple Premier One and go back to an a la carte approach. I’m the only one in the family that uses Apple Music, everyone uses Spotify. None of us News+ (the interface is a mess and it’s riddled with ads and really poor content). We have other storage providers in addition to iCloud. The biggies are probably iCloud Storage and Apple TV+. We’ll probably let the others drop away.

I tried to change my subscription this morning but by the 12th prompt to enter my password to get through the same screens over and over again I lost interest. If there’s one thing Apple does poorly it’s their online services and password authentication. Right on cue I had to re-enter my password for each of our HomePods. That was fun.

After all, It Just Works.


So last week Apple announced an upgrade to their iPad Pro line and their “regular” iPad. There wasn’t a big event around the announcement; it was more of a “here’s some new stuff” press announcement, which Apple occasionally does.

The tech world is not impressed. Neither am I.

A month or two ago I replaced my 2018 iPad Pro with a newer 2020 model. The reason I went this route is because I wanted to use the same Magic Keyboard from my 2018 iPad Pro for my new 2020 model, and I figured Apple would change everything about the 2022 iPad Pro. This is what people wanted, a new chassis with things like the front facing camera moved to the side (or the top of the iPad Pro in landscape mode), like a traditional laptop. They did not do this. It’s the same chassis, using the same accessories, just with the faster M2 chip. The current software available for the iPad Pro barely taxes the M1 chip announced back in 2020, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade to an M2 chip. There’s nothing out there that needs that horsepower. Plus, there was no Magic Keyboard refresh announced for the iPad Pro, so we still go without a row of function keys. Not good for a techie, we still rely on things like the Escape key.

The new iPad, or the iPad 10, has a new design. The webcam has been moved to the top of the iPad in landscape mode and uses the same design language as the iPad Air. However, the new iPad 10 uses the older Apple Pencil, not the magnetic version found on the other new machines. And because the original Apple Pencil is designed to use a lightning port for charging, and the new iPad 10 has a USB-C port, to charge your pencil you have to buy a dongle from Apple to convert the USB-C port to a lightning port.

Apple sure loves its dongles.

They’ve been saying for years that Apple has lost its way a bit since Steve’s passing. The company needs a strong leader that is willing to get their hands dirty coming up with solutions. I feel like Apple is devolving to their 1990s era when they had way too many products and the lineup was confusing. As I mentioned on social media last week, all that’s missing is the iPad Performa.

Apple Event.

So I watched the entire Apple Event while working today. Actually, I didnt. I tried to, but we lost our Internet connection for about 15 minutes so I missed bits and pieces, but I was able to catch up. If you havent seen it, here it is on YouTube.

The iPhone 14 seems pretty incremental in the way of updates from the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro seems fun with the new Dynamic Island thing going on around the pill that replaces the notch at the top of the phone. Im quite pleased with my iPhone 13 Pro and will not be upgrading this cycle.

One of the things that really struck me about todays event was the awkwardness of one of the presenters. Ironically, the presenter talking about the awesomeness of the new AirPods Pro 2 had a very awkward cadence to her voice, with very unnatural arm movements, which was all tied together with this weird shouting thing she did. At first I thought she was talking as if the had her new AirPods Pro 2 noise cancellation activated, but I surmised that couldnt be it. She just had absolutely zero charisma that one would expect of presenters at an Apple Event. I mean, these events are legendary, and theres huge shoes to fill with these sort of things, so I imagine the pressure is on. But it was pre-recorded, there could have been multiple takes to get it right, and honestly, I could do better with the scant amount of radio performances under my belt from a couple of decades ago. Yes, Im critical, but this Apple and I dont want to feel awkward when being convinced to spend money I dont need to spend. I eventually turned the volume down until she was done talking.

I have loaded the iOS 16 and Watch OS 9 release candidates on my iPhone and Apple Watch and Im quite impressed with the new functionality in these new operating systems. Its a shame they were barely mentioned in the event today; it feels like thats where Apple is really shining this year.

Once You Go Mac

or rather, once you go Apple, you never go back.

In July I traded in my primary mobile setup, a 2018 iPad Pro. I received an Apple gift card and its been sitting in my account. I figured I had a Linux laptop that I could lug around; the ThinkPad T460s is quite nice and running Linux is not an issue on the setup. Except theres quirks in Linux. And you have to do things to keep it working. And when you go to a public hotspot you spend 15 minutes going through a song and dance trying to get the Linux laptop connected to the public hotspot. And none of the applications really fit into an ecosystem, theyre all doing their own thing.

Its all manageable and I still have the Thinkpad T460s for tinkering, but in reality, I found myself using my Mac Mini in the office more than anything, and I missed having a mobile solution when were traveling.

Luckily, I hadnt traded in my Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard I had purchased for my previous iPad Pro, so after some discussions with the accounting department, I picked up my 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro at the local Apple store.

When did Apple start showcasing two large security guards at the front entrance of their stores?

The display is gorgeous; this model has the Liquid Retina XDR and it is easily the best display Ive seen in an Apple device. The performance is markedly faster than what I was experiencing with my 2018 iPad Pro. And in less than 20 minutes from unboxing, I was up and running, courtesy of my iCloud backup taken before I traded the old iPad Pro in for a gift card.

I am happy to be using this again. Im looking forward to the improvements coming with iPadOS16, and now that I have an iPad with an M1 processor, I can take advantage of all the goodies in the next update, like Stage Manager, which brings Mac like multitasking to the iPad.

Beta, Part 1.

I gave in and installed the latest public beta of iOS 16 on my iPhone 13 Pro. It has a lot of goodies baked in this upcoming release. I really like the looks of the new lock screen and the things you can do with photos, but the interface seems a little clunky.

As a good beta tester, I have submitted feedback to Apple.

More to come on my discoveries as I, erm, discover them.


Im always on a quest for minimalist, colorful, yet not intrusive wallpaper for my computing devices. I like all of my devices to match, that is, my iPhone, iPad Pro, Mac mini, and Linux machines all have to have the same wallpaper. The wallpaper cant be grainy in larger resolutions and has to look crisp. I find anything outside of these parameters distracting and Lord knows I dont need to be any more distracted than I already am.

YouTube suggested a video from a British chap who likes to talk about secret tips for using your Mac, and I spotted the wallpaper on his shiny new MacBook Pro. Since I dont have one of those, and Im not running the beta of Apples latest version of MacOS (Ventura?, I dont remember), I grabbed a screenshot of his wallpaper and did a Google reverse image search.

I found it. I like it. Here it is.

I *think* if you click on that image above itll be available to be downloaded in full resolution to your computer, if youre so inclined.

Update: I did some scouting around a bit more and found a better source for the wallpapers in question, you can download them from iDownload blog.

Good Enough?

As I get older I’m finding I have less tolerance for things that are “good enough” or “fine”, especially when it comes to using technology.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I have a Lenovo ThinkPad t460s laptop. It’s a nice little rig and I’m able to swap out parts and upgrade it all I want, which is the direct opposite of an Apple experience. Unfortunately, the overall computing experience with the Lenovo hardware is several notches below the quality of the experience on an Apple device. Linux works great and does everything I want it to do, and this older laptop has plenty of horsepower for what I expect it to handle, but the trackpad and the quality of the display are a bit of a mess.

I often run into this sort of thing with the computer provided for work. While I am much more productive in a Mac or Linux environment and work insists on everyone using Windows, it’s not Windows slowing me down as much as the cheapest laptop hardware possible. Like my Lenovo ThinkPad, the work provided computer has a tiny trackpad requiring a crazy amount of pressure to click anything, the keyboard is sized slightly off from normal, and the display is just too dim for my aging eyes.

I’ve been using my 2018 iPad Pro in tandem with the Linux laptop and I’m finding I’m getting more acclimated to using the iPad as my daily driver that I carry around with me. If I want to get into full geek mode I still have the Linux laptop, the experience just doesn’t have the fit and finish of an Apple experience. Doable. Good enough?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve earned better than “good enough”. Now, if my budget would only cooperate with my plans.

I know, first world problems.

It Just Works, Part 2.

The saga of the HomePod mini took an interesting turn yesterday. Even though the “Deliver-It” service said they had not received the product from Apple and that only the label had been printed, it was delivered by a person out of the trunk of a Toyota Celica. OK, fair enough. Several hours later I heard from Apple through iMessages, “enjoy your new HomePod mini!”

I looked at the order online and UPS planned on delivering the replacement HomePod mini today. And sure enough, it arrived via UPS this afternoon. Now I have two HomePod minis for the price of one. My credit card wasn’t charged again. This put me in a quandary. Do I return it to the store or arrange for a shipment back to headquarters? I actually wouldn’t mind having a second HomePod mini. I could probably just hang onto it and they’d never be the wiser.

My personal moral compass wouldn’t allow me to do that. I’ve seen too many people screw local businesses in a similar manner of the years and just because Apple is one of the largest corporations in the world doesn’t mean they should receive the same treatment. So I contacted them through the order portal. As suspected I could drop it off at the Apple Store here in Tucson or initiate a return through the online portal. I asked about buying it and the friendly bot on iMessages advised I could call Apple support and discuss it with them.

So I did. After explaining the situation the friendly Apple person on the line looked at the order and said, “Just keep it, you’re all set”.

So now I have two new HomePod minis. This is a welcomed addition to our home, as we’ve been fighting with Alexa a LOT over the past several months.

While I’m talking about Alexa, who thought it was a good idea to have her shoot an ad after every single request?

“Alexa, turn off the ceiling lights”. “Lights off, did you know I can organize your to do list?”

“Alexa, what’s the weather tonight.”. “Here’s the weather…. did you know I can read you a bedtime story?”

One of the reasons I stick with Apple products and pay the premium prices is to avoid ads. I don’t want ads. Ever.

Luckily, these new HomePod minis don’t belch ads at us every five minutes.

It Just Works.

I probably complain about my recent Apple experiences too much. I have a higher expectation of an excellent retail experience when it comes to dealing with Apple; this is the primary reason we pay the premium for Apple products for our technology needs.

I ordered a HomePod mini last weekend. Apple sent it out right on time with a promise of a delivery date of yesterday. Unfortunately, in this part of the country they use this shipping service called “Deliver-It” which is really wonky. The tracking website looks like it was created using Microsoft FrontPage in 1999. The website is never updated with tracking information like FedEx or UPS; the listing usually shows “Label Created” until the order is delivered, if it’s ever delivered.

For the holidays I ordered new AirPods for my husband. They never arrived via Deliver-It. I ended up contacting Apple and explaining the situation to them and they ended up shipping another set of AirPods via UPS Overnight. I don’t know what happened to the original shipment as Deliver-It never updated their page.

So the HomePod mini didn’t arrive as scheduled yesterday. There was no update to the website (I expected this) and no one at Deliver-It answered the phone. I contacted Apple this morning and they sent out another HomePod mini via UPS Express. It’s expected on Friday. I mentioned Deliver-It being a constant failure and they agreed. “We get a lot of complaints about this service”. I wonder why they’re still using it.

The Apple ordering system is weird. They added another HomePod mini to the existing order for $0.00. I then received an email telling me my order was on hold because they couldn’t authorize my payment of $0.00 against my credit card. I called again and was told to ignore the email and the HomePod mini would arrive as promised.

Let’s see what happens.