Apple.

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.

Smarter.

15 years ago today Steve Jobs spoke at the Macworld 2007 keynote and introduced the world to the iPhone. It’s safe to say technology shifted that day and our world is much different because of that keynote presentation.

Steve Jobs was the master of presentation. I could watch him lead a presentation all day long and not complain about it.

Night Sky.

I love the desert sky at night, especially when it’s moonless night. And the iPhone 13 Pro continues to amaze me with its night shot capabilities. These two photos were taken with me holding the camera as still as possible and a 10 second delay on the shutter. The first one was taken around 9:00 PM Mountain Standard Time, the second at 10:50 PM Mountain Standard Time. Check out the detail of the Pleiades.

I need to get the tripod out.

Steve.

Steve Jobs passed on ten years ago today. I really enjoyed the guy and found him to be an incredible visionary for this era of technology. While Steve drove Apple’s success, other companies desperately wanted to keep up with his vision. He helped move us to where we are today and it doesn’t feel like anyone has stepped up to the plate with his sense of vision and purpose.

I always loved his presentational style, I loved his charisma, and I was in awe of his tenacity. As much as I complain and dabble in other operating systems, I’ve been enamored with Apple products since the Apple ][+ days back in the early 1980s when I was in high school.

Steve changed all of our lives with his vision. His presence is missed.

Zoom.

I’m lying in bed as I type this. It’s Saturday so I allow myself to do this. I’m fiddling with the camera again, this time playing with the zoom.

All of these photos were taken from the same position on my side of the bed. I’m particularly impressed by the zoom in on the clock, and that wasn’t using the full zoom capabilities

Upgrade.

My new iPhone 13 Pro arrived this morning. This in itself is amazing to me, because Wednesday evening it was still sitting in Korea, so the fact that it’s here in Tucson, Arizona less than 48 hours later, by way of Kentucky, no less, is incredible. I also used a lot of commas in that last sentence.

I decided to step away from the gray for the first time in multi-decade Apple purchasing frenzy and I went with the Sierra Blue, 256GB model of the iPhone 13 Pro. It is noticeably but not terribly heavier than my iPhone X, even without the new clear case. The display is gorgeous and I like the way the phone feels in my hand. Even though I’m only 100 minutes into ownership of this phone, it’s already setup, everything has transferred over, I’ve done all the updates, and the entire process went flawlessly. For the first time in a few months around all things Apple, I am without complaint.

A comparison of the color on the box and the color of the actual phone. Photos taken with my old iPhone X.

The accessories in the box. Note, no power brick. I have plenty of those.

Size comparison, both in cases. iPhone X on the left, iPhone 13 Pro on the right. Photo taken with my 2018 iPad Pro 12.9″.

Comparison of camera quality. Both photos taken out my office window by holding the phones up to the glass. First photo, iPhone X. Second photo, iPhone 13 Pro. I had to reduce the size of the second photo by 6% to meet the upload requirements of my hosting provider.

The second photo shows much more detail and color depth at full size.

And of course, Truman is thrilled that I have a new camera. I’m sure we’ll be seeing slow motion video of play time. He’d now like to get back to his nap.

Upgrade.

Photo courtesy of apple.com

This morning I was up for work at 5:30 a.m., as per my usual schedule, and before leaping into the frivolity of a Friday at work I stopped by the Apple website and ordered myself a new iPhone.

I ordered the iPhone 13 Pro in Sierra Blue with 256GB storage. This is an upgrade from my iPhone X with 256GB storage. I will be trading in my iPhone X when the new phone arrives next Friday.

Going with the “non-gray” color is new for me. Looking back, all of my iPhones have been of the Space Gray variety, when any color option was available. My iPhones over the years have been: the original iPhone, 3G, 4, 6, 6s Plus, and the X. I almost went with the Graphite, but I decided to give the Sierra Blue a whirl. I also considered Gold, but I felt like it would be a little too flashy and I was concerned it would be a more urine color than actual gold. Let’s hope the Sierra Blue does not disappoint.

There are two things driving my upgrade to the 13 Pro: battery life (my iPhone X is starting to wane in that area) and the camera capabilities. I’ve wanted the Night Shot feature ever since it was available on models after the iPhone X, and the camera on the iPhone 13 Pro looks like it will be amazing. I’m hoping to try my hand at some astronomy photography once the new iPhone arrives.

Of course I’ll be watching my order progress through various status stops before it arrives on Friday. Let’s hope Apple’s retail management system doesn’t bomb out on my order. It seems to be struggling a little bit today. This makes me curious around the back-end systems used by Apple, because I don’t really think of MacOS as a platform for crunching numbers. It’s an unfair assessment, but when it comes to that sort of thing I’m more of a Linux guy.

Overall I’m excited about upgrading but I’m not swooning as I’ve done in the past with other iPhone upgrades. Either I’m getting old or there’s not too much to swoon about.

It’s all about the evolution, not the revolution when it comes to tech in general these days.