Here’s something that I haven’t done in a good long time, actually pre-order an iPhone, or any apple device for that matter. I think the last time that I actually stayed up late to do a pre-order was for my iPhone 6. Since then I’ve only upgraded to the iPhone 7 and even then, that was originally my work phone and not my personal one so no staying up till the wee hours of the night for that one. So what made me do it this time? Well here we go with the rest of the post……
To my utter delight, I didn’t have to be up at 3am to do a pre-order for the phone. In years past when I would want to pre-order an Apple device right after the reveal, it normally went on sale at 12am PDT, thats 3am to me since I’m on the east coast. This time they pushed it back so the first orders could be done at 8am EDT. That means not being bleary eyed for the rest of the day due to lack of sleep and cursing at websites that won’t load because there are too many other people trying to order the same device that I am.
My iPhone 7 is frankly getting full, I have a lot of stuff on it from apps, movies, photos, and music and even though it has 128GB of space, I was always only 25GB away from running out of space. I have another iPhone 7 for work thats only 32GB so its basically stripped down to nothing with only the essentials for checking email and stuff. This time I bought the 256GB version so thats twice the amount of space. I figure I’ll need that space for all the extra videos that I can take at 4K with the new camera’s. I could have gone all in with a 512GB like my iPad Pro but I won’t be using the iPhone to import my GoPro videos to view and edit them on the go.
T-Mobile was offering a crazy trade in deal for my iPhone 7, they were going to give me $300 in statement credits if I financed the phone over a 24 month period. This is another first, I’m actually going to finance the phone, normally I pay for it outright but due to this great deal I decided financing was the best way to go. Apple was only offering me $150 for my trade in and they weren’t discounting the phone on their EPP website either. Even with the EPP discount and the trade in, the T-Mobile deal was way better. I have no intention of leaving T-Mobile in the next 2 years and I’m sure I’ll either be ready to get another phone after that or I’ll just keep it for an extra year like I did my iPhone 7. Besides, even with every vlogger on YouTube saying “wait till 2020 for the 5G iPhone”, I looked at the coverage map for 5G and its definitely going to be lacking for quite a while. There’s technically nothing wrong with LTE, the coverage is pretty good and the speeds are fine to stream video which generally hits all the use cases I have. The biggest thing for me is coverage since I travel for work, until thats there, I’m going to hold off till 2021 or 2022 for a 5G phone.
Oh I never said what I picked as a color! I decided on the Midnight Green this time. I’ve had black since the 3GS for my personal phone. I’ve used white for my work phones to differentiate it, and my daughter has a rose gold phone. I was originally just going to get black like always but my wife convinced me to try the new color. I’m excited to see what it looks like when I get it. That will likely be one of the last times I see it since I know the wallet case I’m going to use to cover it so I don’t have to actually carry a wallet. The ship time is Sept 21-24, thats beyond the actual release date of Sept 20, but I’ve waited this long so I can wait a little bit more. Only slightly more than a week to go!
If there is one necessity that is required if you live in Florida, its hurricane shutters. Way back when my townhouse was built, it included hurricane shutters. Hurricane shutters come in a few types, the two that I’m most familiar with are the ones that you screw into your house and accordions. Since living in Florida all this time, there have been very few times that I have had to put up shutters. I think the first time was during Hurricane Matthew and at the time I had the screw in shutters that came with my house. That was ridiculously difficult to put up on my own, I had to place each panel on an opening (there were at least 5-6 per window or door) and they had to be screwed into the house. Needless to say that was time consuming and back breaking work. The worst part was that I was only able to do the bottom floor, I left the tops alone and used duct tape to protect the windows (yep not recommended).
After some discussion with the Mrs., we decided to spring for the accordion shutters in anticipation of other hurricanes. Granted they cost about $5K and took months to get permits and the shutters actually put in but the benefit and cost were so worth it. Fast forward to Hurricane Irma, the only hurricane I ever evacuated for. This one was projected to come right to my community on the map. Since I had the new accordions, it only took 15-20 minutes to put all the shutters up and was relatively effortless. In the picture above, my neighbor still has the ones that you screw in and he was doing that for a few hours but he had help doing it.
With Dorian, it was projected to come to South Florida again, they said Category 3 but now its a 5 but it will skirt the state for the most part but I’m not taking any chances and I put up the shutters anyway. Most of my community has put up their shutters and there is a mixture of the screw in vs the accordions. The buildings that were built most recently don’t need shutters, they have impact glass. Impact glass is very expensive but then you don’t have to deal with hurricane shutters which is nice. You don’t have to live in darkness for a day or so. I don’t know if they’re rated to handle something like a category 5 storm but at least when something hits the glass it won’t shatter. If I knew that I was going to be staying in my home forever, I might want to invest in something like impact glass but since I spent the money on accordions, I think I’ll be fine for the most part.
If you live in FL and don’t have hurricane shutters, you’re just rolling the dice every June through November. We’ve been fortunate that the hurricanes to date have not made direct impacts to South Florida but that’s not the case in other parts of the state. I still see some people putting up plywood for their homes. The amount of time and effort required to do that is greater than having screw in shutters. While financially its expensive to put shutters on your home, at least you know you’ll be protected from a storm which is the most important thing. Now to sit and wait for the storm to blow over so I can take the shutters down and get some vitamin D in my life.
Living in the land of citrus year round means you need cold water. I’ve had water bottles of all types while living down here, most of them free from my employer or something that I got from a give away. They all held water fine, the issue was keeping it cold throughout the day. I’ve avoided buying water bottles because people just give these things away as freebies.
On a recent trip to Walmart with the family I saw that the Ozark Trail double walled water bottles were on sale. I figured, sure why not and picked up 2 of them, one for me and one for the Mrs. I’ve been using it for the last few months at home throughout the winter, spring, and most of summer and its held up really well. I normally don’t like to drink water but I think thats because in the past its never been quite cold enough but these water bottles keep my water cold for most of the day. If I fill it with 3/4 of ice, the ice normally lasts the entire day even with all the refills I do while working from home.
The downer of this water bottle is that it needs to be hand washed. I’m not a fan of hand wash only stuff but for this one I’ll make an exception. Being a blank slate, my wife used her Cricut to create a cool logo to put on my water bottle to make it unique. Since my last name begins with W and I was born in the north east, I figured the best logo to use would be the W from Wu Tang Clan. When I do travel for work, I have taken this with me on my travels but the water fountains don’t have particularly cold water and I have to sneak getting some ice from a fountain drink machine.
If I ever break this thing, I might spring the extra money for a Hydro Flask. My wife recently got one and I like how it looks and it comes in some pretty awesome colors too.
If there’s one thing you need in the south of France in the middle of nowhere its a rental car. I am not well versed in driving a manual transmission car so I chose an automatic. The manual would have been a lot cheaper but I’m not confident in driving one and I was also in a foreign country and I wanted to be able to pay attention to my GPS and the traffic. Per my company policy, I rented a compact car but I was not prepared on how compact it was. I was given a Renault Captur which was a tiny car even by my standards.
The size of the of the car was pretty dismal, I could fit my 20” roller and my work backpack in the trunk. Even renting the smallest car in the US, I would be able to at least put in a 25” suitcase. What I didn’t know was that there was a plastic plate that would make the trunk a little it deeper. I didn’t discover that until I had to transport some of my team members and their suitcases. Needless to say we needed to stack some of the bags in the backseat to accommodate everything. The front area wasn’t so bad, I had enough room but I’m not that tall to begin with.
The infotainment system was pretty good, I changed it from French to English so the next person that rents it is going to be surprised when they start it up. I was able to connect my phone via Bluetooth and play music and hear the voice prompts for my GPS just fine. One thing that surprised me was that the car lacked any kind of backup camera. I’ve really gotten used to having a backup camera at my disposal and the streets in France are not very car friendly so having one would have been really helpful.
I could tell while driving the car that it had turbo in it but man the car was weak. I guess thats ok considering that most of the time I wasn’t driving more than 50mph. Most of the roads I drove on weren’t really highways in the American sense, they were short straightaways broken up by roundabouts. The gas tank on the Renault was really tiny. It only holds about 8 gallons of gas, my minivan holds around 19 gallons so I can go almost twice as far in a vehicle twice as big with an engine that probably has three times the horsepower here at home. For what it was, the car is the right size for the streets of Montpellier and the surrounding area. I did venture into Montpellier and I didn’t see a lot of large cars or SUV’s.
I think one of the more unique things on the car as the key fob. It was about the size of three credit cards put together and it had buttons to open the doors and the trunk. Thats not the interesting part though, you took this key fob and inserted it into a port in the center console to turn the ignition into the “On” position, from there you had to press the brake and hit the start button like an American car. My personal car I can keep the key fob in my pocket and just press the brake and the start button and away I go. The key fob was not compact so it takes up a lot of space in your pocket. I think thats a design flaw but maybe its the norm for cars in France. I didn’t get to see any others while I was there so I’m just making assumptions.
Overall it was a good car, the pickup sucked but it handled ok overall. My Honda Accord with its V6 278HP smokes this little shit box. I definitely missed it while I was away. I did put my car on sport mode when I came home and man it felt good to just step on the gas and go to 80MPH in less than 8 seconds. Although the turbo probably helped the little car along, I would hate to try and drive it without the turbo, it probably would have been slower than it already was. It was definitely a good experience overall, I got to experience a car that I can’t get here in the US and I was also able to finally drive in Europe. I think I need to rent a car in Asia just to compare it against Europe and the US.
About 20-30 minutes from my hotel was a town called La Grande-Motte which is a beach resort town where a lot of the locals go to kick back and relax. I happened to go here twice, once on my own and another with my team. Both times were pretty cool which I’ll get into in a second. The drive there was also very scenic and I wish I had a dashcam to capture the drive. Maybe I’ll ask Santa for one.
On my first visit, I was really only there to eat dinner and being the American that I am, I wanted to get a burger. I went to a place called Gourmet Burger which was a little hard to find since it was tucked away on the boardwalk. The burger was pretty awesome and I had to add fries but I changed things up by drinking some orangina. Dinner took a long time because there is only one cook and she could only make the burgers 2 at a time since she had such a small stove. Normally I don’t like veggies on my burger but the ones that she put on there were excellent. Again I had a little trouble with the menu and communicating what I wanted but the guy at the front taking orders was nice and tried to speak English and I used my weak French to communicate what I wanted. Google Translate helped a little too but at this point in my trip I hadn’t downloaded French so it would work offline.
The boardwalk itself reminded me of the Jersey shore in that it had lots of hotels, cafe’s, and even an arcade. I didn’t play anything at the arcade, I have tons of games on my phone, but I did see a Ferris wheel and merry go round as well. The Ferris wheel wasn’t working but I took a picture of it anyway. There were also a lot of sand art sculptures too that someone took the time to create. I didn’t go onto the beach really, I don’t like sand all that much but I did enjoy going up and down the boardwalk. There were a lot of interesting restaurants and I went to another Italian place on my second journey there but they also took forever to get the food out. I don’t mind waiting for food but 1 hour is a little excessive for pizza and pasta. I guess I’m a little too American in that regard that I expect things to come out really quickly and not taking a slower pace to life.
The area beyond the beach has a nice small town feel and it was more modern than the walled city for sure. I didn’t explore it too much mainly because everything except restaurants were closed. Even then, the restaurants were closed fairly early, by 9:00PM most of the time with the rare restaurant closing at around 10:00. Thats ok, most nights I ended up eating late anyway because of work and my body wasn’t all that adjusted to the new time zone even though I did my best to fight the jet lag. The town at night was fairly safe to walk around at night since no one was around. There wasn’t much to see in the town since it was all closed and all the cool stuff was at the beach.
I was originally supposed to stay at La Grande Motte but due to the summer holiday, the 2019 Women’s World Cup and how late the hotels were booked for the trip, I missed out on actually staying in the area. I think it would have made the stay better overall since there were more places to eat and I wouldn’t have had to drive around so much either. It definitely gave me a good idea of what the south of France is like during the summer time. Kind of similar to how South Florida is almost all year round but with a different kind of charm and a less party atmosphere.
I remember a long time ago living at my parents place before the time of digital, we used a lot of different cameras from your regular 35mm to weird Kodak canister film. One of the cameras we did own was the trusty Polaroid that provided instant pictures after you took them. Back then the technology was awesome, you shot the photo and it came out of the camera so you could instantly see the picture that you just took (since there were no screens to preview the shot). The colors and what not weren’t up to the quality of professional film and print development from your local photolab but it provided instant gratification of having a photo in your hand.
Fast forward a few decades (man that makes me sound super old) and now we live in a more digital age where we have camera’s on our phones and we can preview every picture before its ever sent to a printer. Or if you’re like me, you don’t reall print you just keep your phone on you all the time and look at pictures whenever you feel like it. However my wife found the Fuji Instax online which is a printer that uses the old Polaroid type cartriges for flim to print from our phones into an actual print. There are other photo printers out there that produce 4×6 prints like they came out of the photo lab but this one producs prints that look like Polaroids. Even the way the picture comes out is pretty much the same as a Polaroid since you wait and watch the picture to come out on the picture. There’s also a space on the bottom of the picture to write something about the picture. The prints aren’t as big as a regular Polaroid used to be but thats ok.
The Instax connects to our phones wirelessly usging Wifi and you have to use an app in order to select, crop, and print the picture. I didn’t get a chace to use the printer a whole lot but my wife did during our daughters birthday to print out pictures for all the kids when we took their pictures in front of the Minions poster we had setup for my daughter birthday party. The instructions are pretty straightforward on how to use it and it prints pretty fast. The film itself is sort of expensive but I like how it looks just like a Polaroid. Before we decided on the printer only we conidered getting a camera that did the same thing but that was too unwieidly and why pay more money for a camera when I just need the printer?
One of the limitations is that you have to shoot your pictures in portait mode. You can shoot in land scape but you’d have to still crop the picture into portait since thats the only way the pictures come out or elese it looks a little funny having the wording on the side of the photo instead of the bottom. I’d say the last annoyance is that the printer uses some weird batteries so I can’t just go get double or triple A batteries for it. I have to go to Walgreens or order them on Amazon. The batteries should last quite a while regardless but still it is a slight annoyance. Oh and it came with a port to plug it in so it might have a rechargable battery or its so we can use it only when plugged in to an outlet but the pritner doesn’t comes with the A/C adapter for it, we would have to buy that separately. So far the printer has been working very well, and besides those two limitations I can’t say I regret the purchase. Can’t wait to try and take this on my next vacation.
I broke down and installed iPad OS…. on my daughters iPad Pro to try out the public beta. I use my iPad Pro heavily and my daughter barely uses hers so I figured why not, let me install this thing and see what’s new. I didn’t play with it that much. The only thing I was really interested in was assistive touch for the mouse and the widget screens on the home screen. The widget thing is cool but the weather isn’t working, not a big deal.
The mouse I used for additive touch was my old work mouse which is a Logitech Thin Mouse. It doesn’t have any physical buttons on it but it recognizes left and right clicks. It took some getting used to when I started using it for work but it’s the only Bluetooth mouse that I own. Getting to assistive touch was a little cumbersome since it’s buried in the settings but once enabled it was pretty sweet to use. I Lil that the cursor is big and doesn’t look like a mouse cursor. The cursor is really responsive when I move it around and when I use the left click it opens the apps just as if I was using my finger.
The right click action and the assistive menu is excellent. There are menus for doing custom actions, going to the home screen and adjusting settings like volume up and down. I thought it would be weird but after about 10 minutes it’s pretty natural to use. I was having trouble with getting the app doc to come up with the mouse, I still had to use my finger to get it to work but that might be a bug. I’m hoping it’s not a 2018 iPad Pro feature since I have the 2017 model. I still can’t justify spending another grand for another iPad since I just got this one only a year ago.
I almost want to install the beta on my iPad just to have mouse support. I’ll wait though for the GM for my personal iPad. I also need to start trying out the Files app. Personally the files app for me is fine as it is. I don’t use it much anyway, all of my files are on Box, Google Drive, or my NAS and even then I don’t access them too often. I’m still waiting for profiles. If I could have a segmented work profile that would be so awesome. This way I could keep work separate from personal and if they blew away my work profile through MDM my personal stuff wouldn’t be affected.
If I have time tonight I’m going to play around with the mouse and iPad Pro some more. I’m surprised at how useful it is and changes how I interact with my iPad when I have the keyboard on it.