20 Oct 11

Yes, it has happened!  Over the past two years I’ve converted to a completely Mac household.  In March 2010 I bought my 17″ MacBook Pro.  In March I bought my iPad2 (followed up by another iPad 2 purchase after leaving first one on an airplane in August).  And most recently, October 16 I made that leap I said I would NEVER make.  Yes, the iPhone now resides in my pocket, on my bedside table and next to me at work.

For those who don’t know my history AGAINST everything iPhone, it’s been a long hard-fought battle.  First putting the iPhone up against my far superior BlackBerry for so many years.  Then in 2010 I started in the Android craiz.

Here is the SmartPhone history of Richard Wood: 2005 – BlackBerry 7100 (AT&T), 2006 – 7130 (Verizon),  2007 – BlackBerry 8830(Verizon),  2008 – BlackBerry 9530 (Verizon), 2009 – BlackBerry 9550(Verizon), June 2010 – HTC EVO 4G WiMax (Sprint), April 2011 – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE (Verizon), September 2011 Motorola Bionic 4G LTE (Verizon), October 16, 2011 32gig White iPhone (AT&T).

My first SmartPhone - BlackBerry 7100 on AT&T

As you can see from the above, I’m a device junky.  I don’t dare attempt to tally up how much dough I’ve dropped on SmartPhones over the past 6 years, but I suspect we’re pushing $10k.


I’m going to layout likes/dislikes of each device and why the change from the previous device.

  1. AT&T BlackBerry 7100 – This was a love/hate relationship from the start.  At the time I received this device it was issued to me by my company and it was supposedly the most advanced BlackBerry on the market at that time.  AND since my firm issued ONLY BlackBerry devices my hands were a bit tied on selection.  I hadn’t owned a SmartPhone before this one so I was actually thrilled to get it!
  2. Verizon BlackBerry 7130 – I recall this creating an amazing amount of termoil in my homelife.  I had convinced my partner that when I received my 7100 (above) that he should convert from Verizon to AT&T so we could talk for free.  Well, I couldn’t handle staying with AT&T.  At that time he and I both had terrible call quality and phone calls dropped left and right.  That was the primary reason for jumping to the 7130 on Verizon.  I knew the call quality and dropped calls would essentially go away!  And they did.  It was a very solid device.  Still small like my 7100, but much more reliable.
  3. Verizon BlackBerry 8830 – I was now going to be playing with the big boys!  This thing was HUGE.  And in my mind it was the bee’s knees!  Big beautiful color screen, high(er) speed data network and the OS was leaps and bounds more advanced than the 7130.  The ONLY thing this baby was missing was a camera and I didn’t feel like waiting for the 8330 to be released.  I needed it and needed it NOW!  This was a “World Phone” and even made a trip to Mexico with me.  One disadvantage of this phone was the keypad.  I never fell in love with the VERY flat difficult keys.  It was also VERY difficult to see the silver keypad in any sort of dark(ish) environment.  I remedied this problem by swapping out the keypad from an AT&T 8800 (black).  Worked pretty slick even though it looked like crap.
  4. Verizon BlackBerry 9530 – The infamous “Storm”.  Eeesh, where do I start.  I had to love it!  It was my first phone without a physical keyboard, which means there was screen real estate to do ALL sorts of things with. Unfortunately, this phone was fraught with problems, although I rarely had the significant issues most people had with it.  For starters in order to select an icon or type the letter “A” (or any letter) you had to physically depress the glass screen until it clicked.  It seemed like an ingenious idea at first.  But it was really annoying when you figured out that it was not Multi-Touch and thus you couldn’t easy or quickly transition from one letter to the next while rambling in an email.  I saw this “bright spot” being that I would have to be more concise in my emails (everyone always wishes that I would have adopted that years ago).  Never happened. I eventually learned to type like a champ on there.
  5. Verizon BlackBerry 9550 “The Storm 2” – the physical form factor of this device was very similar to the origanal 9530 Storm.  But they did make some significant improvements, the biggest one I recall was the glass actually went to the edge of the case!  Because both of these devices had depressable glass screens they needed to be able to move.  However on the original Storm there was a lot of play with the glass in that it would often shift side to side and up and down.  No longer on the Storm 2.  Second major improvement was the multi-touch capabilities.  You could finally touch two different parts of the glass and have them recognized as individual touches.  This wasn’t so helpful in typing (after all, you still only had one piece of glass you were pressing on), but instead it was helpful in highlighting text.  You could place one finger at the beginning of what you wanted to highlight, then your other finger at the end of the desired text.  Pretty slick!  Processor speeds and a Rev. A CDMA chip also helped process information and data faster over their network.  I loved plugging this baby in on the train ride to work everyday and tethering my laptop, logging into work an hour before I even got there.  She was a work horse!
  6. Sprint HTC EVO 4G WiMax – By the time 2010 rolled around BlackBerrys were quickly become obsolete to the elite in the tech community.  BlackBerry was falling behind significantly with hardware AND software being rolled out.  After meeting a Sprint Store Manager and District Manager at a Social Media Club social event I was curious about what else might be able to shift my attention from BlackBerry to an alternate and better device.  This is where the EVO came in.  Sprint was JUST rolling out their 4G WiMax network and I had the great fortune of living in one of the first cities who rolled out WiMax.  I had just moved into a new condo and had EVERY intention of using this new AMAZING speed as my full-time home internet connection.  It didn’t take long to figure out that (at least at that point) WiMax was a flawed network that had VERY difficult time penetrating buildings and even windows for that matter.  So, you could easily get 10-15mbps downloads OUTSIDE, but the 4G would drop to about 0.2mbps once inside the condo (10 feet away, wooded structure).  I suffered this for 9 months, complaining a lot and ended up dumping the WiMax (which for 98% of the time I owned the EVO I kept the 4G turned off because it sucked the battery dead within hours).
  7. Verizon – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE – In 2011 Verizon rolls out its first 4G LTE network (technically started in December 2010, but that was only for a data-only dongle).  This network in and of itself was being sworn to promise 15+ mbps uploads with testing sometimes hitting in the 30mbps range (yes, I experienced this as well).  This was HUGE.  A giant leap forward in USA mobile networks!  Better yet Built on a beautiful HTC platform I was already familiar with because of my EVO.  This change did not come without its own issues however.  Two days into having this new phone, the highly anticipated 4G LTE network had a three day data outage!  Granted I could still use their 3G network, but these devices obviously favored the new LTE network because they did not work quite as reliably on 3G.  My only other problem with the device happened to come when I was traveling to Orlando, FL in May 2011.  I couldn’t get ANY service, 3G or 4G, at or around the hotel!  PANIC! I was at a conference for a week!  Verizon promptly overnighted me a new Thunderbolt (which the hotel charged me $10 to RECEIVE the package).  Same issue!  So, there must have been another outage of some sort, but “we” never did figure it out.  All I know is that it was fine when I got back to Seattle.
  8. Verizon – Motorola Bionic 4G LTE – The hardware on this device was suppose to change “everything”.  Duel core processor, 8mp camera, 1080p video shooting, weird dock thing that made it operate like a real computer, plus xGA display. This SHOULD have been a fantastic device.  However, after a month of owning it, I had too many issues.  Data connections being dropped several times per day, continued 4G data outages (not sure if it was phone or network, assumed phone), music would randomly start playing when it connected to my car’s bluetooth.  Mostly I just couldn’t rely on the data… and that’s why I had a SmartPhone… DATA!
  9. My most recent - iPhone 4S, 32gb White on AT&T

  10. AT&T – Apple iPhone 4S White 32gb – My roommate and I both had Thunderbolts at the same time.  After a few months he started grumbling that he just “wanted it to work… just work… no fiddling with it, no reloading roms, no rooting… just WORK!”  I thought this was kinda funny since I loved tinkering with the ROMs and software, but it wasn’t until I got my Bionic that I understood what “just work” means.  Do what I want, when I want it. WOW, novel concept. So, in hearing all the hype about the new 4S I decided to cut my losses and pride.  It was time to complete my metamorphosis into the next Apple Fanboy.  I would be sacraficing LTE 4G speeds and I COULD have stayed on Verizon’s network, but here’s why I didn’t, a) 4G LTE had been pretty problematic from the start (albeit less problematic than WiMax), and b) Verizon’s 3G CDMA network for the iPhone was SUPER slow compared to AT&T.  From what I read it was something like 0.75mbps on Verizon vs 7-10mbps on AT&T.  And since I rarely ever talked on the phone my hangups about call quality and dropped calls were moot.

So, there’s my SmartPhone history.  In the next segment I’ll review my iPhone 4S comparing some of its awesomeness to the awesomeness of my past devices.

Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid,iPhone,Mac,Mobile,Technology

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26 Aug 10

(From my Flickr Album)

Awww… ain’t she a beauty?

Well, my ex got the “nice Lexus” (2002 LS 430), admittedly a very nice car and I got the… 1992 LS 400.  Yes, she was a marvel in her day, but her day has LONG since past!

At first I was really MAD to have him “dump” the old clunker on me, but then I decided to turn this into a growing moment.  Knowing very well, I wasn’t going to keep either car (both gas guzzlers), the only difference would have been trade-in value.  And since this just meant he was taking less from my retirement accounts in exchange for the nicer car, I’m in the same position.  No big deal.

So, I wanted efficient. I wanted comfort. I’d owned two Lexus(s) previously and wasn’t really loving the idea of going to a Ford Fusion or VW anything or those ugly Prius(s).  So, just to prove I didn’t want a VW, I did go and test drive the new 2010 VW Golf TDI from Carter Volkswagen.  It was super cute, but ZERO frills.  Having been a Lexus owner for 5+ years now, that was a tad odd. No power seats?  Really?  Anyway, yes, it’s efficient as far as gas mileage goes, but I’m not a fan of the diesel engine from an environmental standpoint.  I know, I know, “this one is much cleaner and passes emissions standards in all 50 states”… yup, I knew that.  Anyway, cute little car that I would have HAD to get custom ordered all decked out with what they call options, which would take 3 months to get.  Never could get them to respond to my request to spec out the model I wanted.  Odd.  With all the frills I think it came to about $33k.  I thought that was a lot of money for a car with no electric seats and no leather!  Maybe it’s just me….

Next, feeling at a bit of a loss for my once held desire for the Golf, I decided to browse the inventory of the local Lexus dealers online.  And VOILA, there she was… the car that would soon be named Alfred (after Batman’s assistant, duh! She’s got more gadgets than the bat mobile!).  I searched all over the internet, reading reviews, looking for comparable other cars, but nothing was jumping out at me except lil Alfred.  SO, the website says, “Send a sales inquiry”, you fill out the form telling them your preferred contact methods (phone, email, etc).  About an hour later (maybe sooner) I received a reply email… asking me to call them!  HELL NO!  I had specific questions that I wanted answered via email before I called or went over there… and so that’s basically how I replied.  I get a second reply, “but I can answer your questions more easily over the phone.”  Nope… no go buddy.  I wrote them back, “You asked for a preferred method of contact and then tell me you can only discuss it over the phone.  Apparently you don’t like your customers’ preferences.”  The next morning I had a reply from the Internet Sales Manager apologizing for the odd behavior, he answered my very simple questions and, as expected, asked when I could come over to test drive her.  IMMEDIATELY was my reply, but I tried to be more subtle, by answering, “hopefully this afternoon”.

So, I took the “clunker” (LS 400, which every time we went to the dealer for a car wash we’d tell them we had our clunker Lexus and they’d get a kick out of it) over to Lexus of Bellevue.  Met Ken, my new sales guy introduced by the Internet Sales Manager who took me out for a spin in Alfred.  She’s purdy… but I couldn’t figure out how to start the darned thing!  I felt like a moron!  I’d driven a Honda Civic Hybrid several years back, but had totally forgotten all the intricacies of operating a hybrid.  No physical key, foot on brake, press the POWER button, flip the tiny little shifter thingy into drive and off you go!  Oh so quiet, like the passengers of a hearse!  Oh, the gas motor wasn’t yet running, DUH! Of course it’s going to be quiet.  I still was not disappointed when it did start (very very subtly) when I accelerated into traffic.

So, that was the beginning of my love affair with my hybrid transsexual car.  She looks like a girl, but has a boy’s name… oh yeah!  HOT!  😛

What do I think of her now?  Well, here are the great positives so far: averaging about 35 mpg (exactly on target with the manufacturer), the seats are deadly comfy (slept for 6 hours one evening after a drunken bender), plenty of leg and head room all around, a TECHNOLOGICAL MARVEL (simply amazing how much technology is built into this car), she turns lots of heads being the purdy “Matador Red” and having the optional tinted windows and larger 18″ wheels, and the gas peddle response is MUCH better than I expected from a car rated as 0-60 in 8.4 seconds and 187 horse power (going from 290 in my LS 430), I also love the bluetooth music and telephone!! Love sitting in the car and my  HTC EVO (by Sprint) connect automatically and will start playing music.  LOVE IT!

What don’t I like? Well, I don’t like the “EV” driving mode. “EV” stands for Electric Vehicle.  It’s a complete farce.  You have to be going under 20 mph and can’t accelerate “too quickly”.  Dumb, pointless. I SORT OF like the navigation system, but I can’t seem to get the web synced “eDestination” system working correctly, so I can enter my addresses from my computer and have them sync to the car automatically.  That’s annoying, but I have an appointment with the dealer’s tech expert to help me through all the technology that IS the HS 250h.  So another thing that’s hard to get used to is that the brakes are SUPER sensitive!  You’ll nearly put your passengers through the very expensive windshield the first time you try to stop.  Fortunately, the first time is usually a car salesman!  You get used to that very quickly.

Well, that’s all for now.  LOVE for Alfred!

Filed under: Social Media,Technology,Twitter

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14 May 10

So, since my last MacBook Pro update, I’ve overcome some major obstacles and have created a few.  However, I’m surviving… although not yet thriving.

I pledge that a month from now, I’ll be LOVING this little piece of beautiful aluminum (pronounce that however you like).

So, what do I love?  Well, I’ve learned to love VM Fusion!  Saves my butt a few times a week when I have to login to my work computer, but can’t seem to figure out how to VPN in with my Mac.  But as soon as Fusion is loaded we’re off to the races!  I did have to give up on Parallels.  Never did get that to work.  Oh well.

My biggest dilemma when I started this journey was figuring out the file system.  More specifically, I noticed that if I imported photos into iPhoto, I could only edit them AND see them in iPhoto.  I’ve since learned there are ways “around” that, but it’s supposedly a precaution to keep you from accidentally editing photos with other software… or something.  Anyway, I guess my initial inquiry was really two fold: 1) the file system issue as stated above, and 2) what photo editing software do I want to primarily rely on?

My answer to that SO far has been Aperture.  I really like it, have grown to love it really.  Has great integration with Facebook, Flickr, email, etc.  Also easy to organize photos.  Good news is that tomorrow I have a full day class on Adobe Lightroom.  That should be fun, yet will further my confusion as to which software I should be using.

Photo editing isn’t really like any other computer software.  Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.  For example, supposedly Photoshop does EVERYTHING, however, I can’t make it do anything because there are SO many things it can do all the controls confuse and scare the crap out of me.  So a step down from that is Lightroom and Aperture.  I find these both to be fairly thorough, yet fairly simple to use with some advanced features and add-ons available.  And then there’s iPhoto, Satin’s photo editor. Grrr…

So, back to my Mac.  I’ve been to my first official “One to One” and asked lots of questions about the Mac file system and did receive a pretty thorough explanation, none of which I can repeat back…. because I don’t remember it, that’s how “Greek” it was to me.  Doesn’t make a lick of sense.  Oh well, I’ll deal.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  One very complicated task I did figure out at my session was the whole pinch zoom thingy.  I know, I know, “everyone knows how to do that”.  Well SOME of us have never owned an iPhone, which apparently is why many Mac users know the pinch instinctively.  I felt like (and pardon the non-p.c. connotation) a retard!  I held my breath the entire time trying to zoom in or out on a photo or website.  THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY!  But yet, I’m pretty sure I turned blue in the face on at least two occasions and nearly a third.

So, what do I LOVE?  Well, the battery life ROCKS my world!  Five hours of normal heavy use fully lit screen.  That’s pretty amazing!  Jumps by hours if I drop the screen lighting any.  However, I think the listed “9-10 hours” advertising might be if it’s just sitting there on the lowest light setting.

I also love that my cat (Phyllis for those of you who aren’t Facebook fans of hers) has figured out how to use the track pad!  She can even scroll pretty effectively!  Granted, she loves to sleep on my voluptuous belly while I’m “computing” and occasionally her little paw slides onto the track pad and then if I try to move my mouse I’m scrolling all over the place, of course thoroughly confused.  Phyllis approves.

Filed under: Mac,Technology

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