Bought an iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 ….. but not for me…..

This past Friday I totally forgot that it was the day to pre-order the Apple iPhone 8 and the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE!  Normally I set my alarm to wake me up but I was distracted by the fact that I had no internet at my home and my cell signal was barely a single bar and I couldn’t surf the internet even if I wanted to.  I’m personally keeping my iPhone 7 and my original Apple Watch (its not a series 1 but an ORIGINAL) but my wife has been in dire need of some tech upgrades.  I’ve written how her iPhone 6 has been failing her recently due to the crappy battery issues (it barely lasts 4 hours on a single charge) and she’s been without a watch for a while since her FitBit stopped working (it doesn’t like water).

Apple came out with some decent upgrades so we decided to get her the Apple iPhone 8 with the 256GB of memory (for all the pictures that I demand from her while I’m away for work). The 10 isn’t bad but since she liked the idea of having Touch ID like on her current phone and because it was $200 less it did’t take much convincing to get her that one.  I attempted to pre-order the phone at around 10:30am EST (so late!) and I wasn’t able to get an unlocked version.  However, since I’m with T-Mobile they give you an unlocked version anyway except they stick a SIM card in it.  That seemed like a good win to me in my book since the black one was really hard to come by and thats what the Mrs. wanted.  The new Apple Watch Series 3 now has LTE which should be kinda useful.  It’s only another $10 a month with T-Mobile and since they’re now paying for my Netflix I can use that $10 for the Watch.  The picture in this post is the one she is getting and I think it looks really cool with the white, black, and red.  I was considering getting a newer watch but its $599 (I want the chrome face like my current one) but I can’t justify buying it for that much when my current watch works just fine still.

The phone comes this Friday but the watch we have to wait for until sometime in October.  Thats not too bad really and I have recent backups of everything too.  I think I’m going to try and hold out for the iPhone 11 or 12.  The iPhone 7 is plenty fast and the only thing that I can see failing is the battery just like my wife’s iPhone 6.  I’ve already sold her iPhone to Gazelle so I can offset some of the cost of the iPhone 8 and Apple Watch.  Its not a large amount of cash but anything helps.  Hell I even sold her old iPhone 4s and I’m getting money for that too!  Can’t wait till Friday to see the new iPhone!

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Escaping Hurricane Irma

 

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma heading towards Florida

One of the biggest hurricanes in recent memory is heading for the state of Florida and it prompted me to actually evacuate from the state because…. I mean just look at the picture this thing is massive!  It covers the whole state almost from top to bottom and right now its not even on top of Florida yet, its still making trouble for Cuba.

Normally I wouldn’t have evacuated for a hurricane but when they said its going to be a category 4 or 5 and directly hitting South Florida, I took my wife’s advice and decided to button up the house as best we could and make for Atlanta.  Now when this was decided I had actually been in California for work so that meant I flew coast to coast twice in 2 days (essentially only a day trip) in order to get back home to evacuate.  My wife was awesome by doing almost all of the prep work for us to get going on the road, I only had to close up the shutters and pack up my clothes and put them all in the car.

Route to Atlanta

Your typical route going to Atlanta from South Florida

Our road trip consisted of following the Florida Turnpike to I-75 all the way up to Atlanta GA.  Now based on Apple Maps, Waze, and Google Maps, that journey should only have taken us 9 hours to complete.  Now that definitely wasn’t the case because just about everyone was trying to run away from the hurricane.  The entire drive end to end was really closer to 22 hours.  Now in that amount of time and with normal and not “holy shit we’re gonna die if we don’t leave FL” traffic I could have made it all the way to CT in the same amount of time.  The average speed going up to Atlanta was about 30MPH.  Thats slow by any standard and it was really painful.  Luckily my wife was kind enough to share the driving but unfortunately my daughter had to stay strapped into her seat for almost the entire way except for breaks.

The strategy that we decided on was to drive until we reached half a tank in the van and then refill the gas tank and keep on going.  The reason for this was that it is 676 miles to Atlanta and there was no way I would be able to get there on a single tank but I also didn’t want to run out of gas and get stranded.  In most of the gas stations on the turnpike was gas and the attendants were very good at guiding people to pumps.  There was only one station near Gainsville where I had to wait because the pumps were being refilled by a tanker truck.  As soon as I made it to my destination in Atlanta, I decided to fill the van up again just to be sure we had gas.  Since we were going so slow almost the entire way, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to replace the brake pads on the van soon even though I just had that service done a few months ago.  I’ve never been in such crazy stop and go traffic in my life.

Now me and the family are just waiting it out in Atlanta to see what happens with Irma.  Right now its heading towards the west coast but thats only the eye.  I’ve been getting email updates from Broward County of curfews and tornado warnings.  I’m hoping theres not a lot if any damage so that we can go home this coming week.  The biggest challenge will not be having any gas, food, water, and power at home.  Also there might be gas shortages heading back south so we might not even be able to make it all the way to South Florida in a day.  Since we’re here in Atlanta, might as well take advantage of being here by hitting up some attractions and taking the family to some spots I’ve eaten at while I’ve been here for work. And the first attraction for us was….. Georgia Aquarium!  But thats for another post.

Georgia Aquarium

Family trip to the Georgia Aquarium

The case of the dying iPhone 6

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It’s amazing how fast an iPhone battery deteriorates in only 3 or so years of use.  The photo in this post is from coconutBattery which is an app that I use to monitor the battery for my MacBook Pro.  The added benefit is that I can see the battery performance of an iOS device (it only works with the later ones, I tried it with an original iPad and didn’t get any data back).  Anyway, the phone above belongs to my wife and just this past week the phone would start turning off once it hit 40%.  Puzzled by this I decided to do some Googling to see what the problem could be.  This issue is pretty common with devices on iOS 10, especially the iPhone 6 and 6s.  I tried everything I could to see what was the matter and fix it short of blowing the entire phone away and reinstalling it app by app (its not my phone so I don’t want to do that).

The other thing we just tried today was to install the iOS 11 Beta 6 release.  This solved one problem which was to show the true battery level on the phone.  Now I can see that the battery level is at whatever percent and lets my wife know that she has to charge her phone up so it doesn’t turn off.  As the picture above indicates though, her battery is roughly at 50% of original capacity which translates into 5 hours maybe of web surfing and maybe 2 hours of talk time if she uses the phone.  Thats pretty shitty by any measure especially for an iPhone. Now the thing thats in her favor is that the iPhone event isn’t that far away, maybe a month and hopefully she can hold out until then so we can get an iPhone 7s or an iPhone 8 (depends on what Apple decides to announce in September).

As a stop gap measure we’re trying to remove data from the phone so that she can use my old iPhone 6s that I had for work.  The issue is that the memory on the 6s is half of what she currently has (64 vs 128) so when I try and do a restore iTunes doesn’t like it and decides to just stop doing the restore altogether.  Not very ideal, I wish there was a way to be selective on whats restored and you can do it via third party app but I have no desire to install more bloatware on my MacBook Pro if I can help it.  I’m going to keep plugging away at this issue, probably more this coming weekend during Labor Day since I’ll have some extra time and I’ll crack it by George or we’re getting my wife a new iPhone (well we’re doing that anyway, her phone is kinda OLD and she needs a better camera to capture those precious memories while I’m away).

MacBook Pro 2017 Keyboard is Awesome

I’ve had my MacBook Pro for a couple months now and I have to say the keyboard is pretty awesome.  I know the travel is really short and people have issues with the arrow keys but this keyboard lets me type really fast.  I have a Dell POS from work that I’ve used for maybe over a week and I’m ready to toss it into the ‘glades because the user experience is so poor.  The touch bar I haven’t used as much as I thought as I would but I still like using it to activate Siri, change browser tabs, and control the volume.

Just for the keyboard alone I would love to use this computer for work.  The touchpad might be a close second reason but definitely the keyboard would be a winner for me.  The lack of escape key (dedicated) hasn’t really bothered me that much.  I don’t use it often enough.  I can see the touchbar aspect becoming more valuable over time but it really is a gimic for now.

I wanted to write this post on my MacBook but WordPress is being difficult about loading photos from Google.  I’ve had to do this from my iPhone instead.  The previous 3 posts were done from the MacBooktgough. If I could bring it on the road with me I would but I already have too much tech gear in my bag. Maybe on the next vacation I’ll bring it to write some big posts while on vacation.

Downsizing to a single iPhone

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Lots of firsts this summer and I guess the significant one (besides switching companies) is that I am downsizing to a single phone for work and personal stuff.  In the past I have not wanted to do this for various reasons but the biggest one was mobile device management and the ability to either look at or do weird stuff to my phone centrally.  I recently had my work phone wiped out but it actually wasn’t bad since all it did was uninstall a ton of work apps and deleted my accounts and some of the profiles that were set up as part of Mobile Iron.

My new company does expense reimbursement for my phone instead of just paying for the service, so that presents some interesting challenges:

  • I would have to get a new phone number and add it to my family plan
  • Adding the new number means I have to switch my plan to T-Mobile ONE which isn’t bad but I lose LTE tethering unless I pay an extra $10 a month for it which I’m not really prepared to do
  • Everyone elses plan would also switch over  and I don’t know who uses tethering or not and it seems like a general hassle to do so unless there is major cost savings involved
  • I also lost some of my “card” room since I used to keep all my work cards with the other phone, now I have to find a place to keep my work cards since I don’t want to start using a wallet again

My new company uses Citrix Secure Mail as a way for me to get my mail.  They don’t have time and expense apps or other apps that I had as part of my old firm so that means no profile needs to be installed on my iPhone.  There is no Mobile Iron or anything like that.  If I install one of the company built apps then I will see a new profile being installed on my phone but since I have no intention of doing that I think I’ll be fine downsizing to a single phone.

Using a single phone for home and work isn’t bad, but then again I’ve only done it for a day.  I refused to install any work related stuff on my personal phone until I had more information on what it is they were going to install on my phone to monitor what was on it.  Granted most mobile device solutions by companies state they can’t see anything except their data and that the rest of my data is safe.  One of the sticky points I had in the past was Pulse Secure VPN that my old firm would use to connect to the network so I could do time and expense and other stuff like that.  The Citrix apps seem to not use VPN since I don’t see the icon for VPN on the status bar and I wasn’t forced to install a VPN certificate.

I’m going to experiment with this set up for a few weeks and see how it goes.  The only thing I have against this plan is giving work people my actual cell number which I have avoided in the past.  If they finally get around to letting me use Skype for Business as my work number then I’ll be all set!

Whoops I missed writing in July

This post will be a short one.  I just checked the archive links to my blog and for the first time I think ever, I forgot to write something in over 30 days.  I looked over to the right hand navigator and saw that I didn’t write a single blog post in July. Thats because there was a lot going on in July and I was probably writing about it in DayOne instead (although I have been lapse in writing there too lately as well).

I know that I’ve scaled back my blogging goal quite a bit but I think I can at least get out 12 a year (one for each month).  Anyway, I’ve written 3 posts today (2 just now including this one) so that should make up for my lack of a July post.  I have more to blog about but I’ll save that for another evening when I’m just messing around with my home technology.

Whats going to happen to Flickr?

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I remember a long time ago back in probably 2004 or 2005 there was this new photo sharing site called Flickr.  Back then there weren’t a lot of places to upload your photos for MySpace except for maybe Photobucket (maybe I still have an account there, I think I should check….) but Flickr was different in that it had lots of tools to edit your photos.  I now use Google Photos for such things but when Yahoo bought them and then their latest CEO said that you could upload up to 1TB of photos, I thought that was awesome!

Flickr was always for the pro photographer to show off his wares.  They had a premium plan so you could upload tons of photos and make unlimited albums.  The free account which I used had upload limitations but I didn’t care since I didn’t have a digital camera or an iPhone back then so I didn’t need much.  Now Flickr has become part of my photo backup scheme by integrating it and my iPhone with IFTTT.  Every time I take a picture a private picture is uploaded to Flickr if its on my iPhone.  On a given vacation day, I can take upwards of 100 photos if I’m in the mood and I have enough battery power.  Thats a ton of memory and storage but I’m not close to the 1TB I have available to me.

Now Flickr has become part of the purchase of Yahoo by Verizon.  So far everywhere I read on the blogosphere, people are asking what is going to become of Flickr.  I personally would love the service to continue, I have tons of pictures up there and its part of my backups in the event my NAS or Google Photos gets corrupted or something.  Granted the likelihood of Google Photos going away is very small, I still like having backups of my backups and I’ve been such a long time user I can’t see not using the service.  Although it technically would be hard to spin off the Flickr service into its own company again, there isn’t anything special about it that Google Photos doesn’t do anyway already.  Being a massive place to store pro photos is fine but they would need to do something like have pro tools like Photoshop or something similar to Pixelmator tools as part of the service plus online storage and be FAST to be competitive or even make any money.

I don’t do a lot of editing of my photos so all the pro tools in the world wouldn’t do me a lick of good.  I just want to be able to store my photos somewhere for free and privately and Flickr does that for me.  I’m hoping Verizon keeps the site alive and maybe makes some improvements along the way while keeping the 1TB upload amount free.  Maybe adding the ability to upload video???  I know that Google does that but it chokes on some of the bigger videos that I have right now (currently a surfing video of my daughter can’t be uploaded, for some reason Google chokes on it and it just hangs there all day doing nothing).

I haven’t actually gone through the website of Flickr in a while but there seems to be some nice discovery aspects to it.  Maybe they need to become more like Getty Images and charge for photos but have a portion go to the photographer since there is some really awesome stuff up there.  The one thing I do want is to be able to use Flickr with a different ID.  Flickr is the only reason why I still have an active Yahoo ID anymore ever since the data breach was announced a few months ago.  Finding another place to drop 30K images and videos is hard and it takes a really long time to do.  If my NAS had web browser capabilities I’d do it from that but since it doesn’t I have to rely on a computer.  I guess I’ll subscribe to their Twitter feed, maybe they’ll announce what will happen to their service soon.  I hope they don’t go the way of Winamp, there was an awesome program destroyed by a behemoth company and I don’t want the same thing to happen to Flickr.