Tag Archives: iphone

Picture of the Verizon iPhone

iOS6 Upgrade

Picture of the Verizon iPhoneUnless you’ve been on a desert island you know iOS6 is out now.

I upgraded both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3 on Thursday. While not completely uneventful it was relatively smooth. There were related Mountain Lion and Apple application upgrades on my Macs. In my case, it was iPhoto and Aperture that were upgraded. It took most of the evening to get everything upgraded although most of that was spent waiting, either for downloads or installs. I updated my iDevices directly, over wireless, rather than through iTunes. There’s also been a steady stream of iOS app upgrades since then.

So far I only had one real app problem, the UPS app crashed when trying to paste in tracking numbers. But that was fixed a couple days later with an upgrade.

My most serious problem is that my iPad 3 can no longer sync to iTunes over wireless. It just says it can’t find the computer when I tell it to sync. Of course, other apps can see the computer and transfer files to and from it. And my iPhone syncs to iTunes just fine. I’ve done the normal troubleshooting (reboots, re-enter settings, try a second wireless network, etc…) but haven’t dug into it. I don’t sync too often. iCloud backups work just fine.

Apple’s taking a lot of grief over the new Maps app. Based on the examples given it appears justified. The U.S. maps seem better than the rest of the world. They have the street I live on, they just don’t extend it as far as my house. Of course, my street closely parallels a second street once it reaches me, separated by a line of trees. The local directions seem fine. I already have another app I use for turn-by-turn so I haven’t tried the built in maps app for that. I never really used the old Google Maps app very much so the change is mostly unnoticed by me.

I like the “Do Not Disturb” feature, although I already keep most notifications off all the time anyway. I do wish there was a way to allow certain apps to alert all the time. Similar to the way “Favorite” callers aren’t blocked by DND. Guess we have to leave something for Apple to add in iOS 7.

The new Passbook started off by annoying me. It bumped an icon off my home screen to make room for itself. Then it didn’t properly link to the iTunes store  (which was the only action it would try to do) until I did this fix. Once I got into it I was underwhelmed by needing to install each vendors own iOS6 app to use passbook. The only other way to get info into Passbook was a 3rd party website. While it’s probably OK, the security implications limit its use.

I liked the clock app, especially on my iPad where it easily shows multiple times across the world. But I knew the clock face looked familiar.

I never found much use for Siri. I was more frustrating than useful. Being able to open apps by voice is a nice addition. Of course, the apps have to be pronounceable and real words, which isn’t always the case. (I’m looking at you Waze.) I may give Siri another tryout.

I can’t say I have an desire to get the iPhone 5. Sure, its better than th 4S that I have, but not so much better. The only hardware feature I would want is LTE, but for what I use the iPhone for now it’s not a big deal. My iPad has LTE so I can tether to it in a pinch. I also tend to do more web surfing on the iPad rather than the iPhone. My contract is up at the end of November which may be a good time shop for a phone. I’m not ruling out the iPhone 4S but it will be a tough sell. If I decide to stick with the iPhone I may just stick with the 4S for another year.

Anyone else upgraded to iOS6? How’d it go?

picture of plain cardboard boxes

Upcoming Tech

picture of plain cardboard boxes

Between new iDevices and a major Windows release due before the holiday shopping season there’s a lot of new tech on the horizon. Some of it excites me, some I’m curious about and some is “meh”.

iPhone

With a new iPhone all but officially announced it’s been the hot tech news topic. This one is “meh” for me, I’ve no plans to upgrade from my iPhone 4S. It does sound like this will be a major change. The two features I have a use for are:

  • Wireless networking on the 5 GHz band, The 2.4 GHz band is mighty congested in my apartment complex. The iPhone is the only device I have on 2.4 GHz. It doesn’t affect me much due to the way I use the iPhone, but there are times I turn off wireless to force 3G.
  • LTE – more speed is always good and a LTE hotspot would be helpful. But I don’t use this feature enough to justify the upgrade. My next phone will have LTE, but it doesn’t have to be the next iPhone

I need to skip an upgrade cycle just to prove I can. I made a mental note to come back and read this once I start hearing about the greatness of the latest iPhone.

iPad

I’ve no interest in a smaller iPad. As for the current size – I also want to skip the next upgrade cycle to prove I can. Based on how I use the current iPad I can’t envision an upgrade that I would need.

Windows 8

Finally, a tech I’m looking forward to. I’ve yet to actually run Windows 8 so my views may change. I’m excited to see Microsoft changing things up. I do plan to upgrade my main Windows 7 PC soon after the official release.

I tend to ignore the most intensive negative reviews since some people just don’t like change. I do expect to hate the new UI on day one. The question is what I’ll think on day 14. I do like what I read about enhancements and new features.

Windows RT

I agree with Paul Thurrott that this is Microsoft’s vision for Windows of the future. I don’t think the future of Windows is ARM only but I do think Microsoft is using this processor to shed the old baggage and showcase what they want Windows to be, I expect it to be severely limited compared to the Intel version, but I want to see Microsoft’s vision. Desktop apps are to Windows 8 what the Program Manager was to Windows 95. Microsoft kept the program manager UI in Windows 95, but deprecated and hide it until it eventually vanished. Microsoft couldn’t hide the desktop in Windows 8 all at once so used RT to get there on one platform. I think Microsoft wants the same for the current desktop apps, they want them to eventually go away.

I plan to get a Microsoft Surface RT tablet to get a flavor of that vision. I won’t go for an OEM RT tablet so I get the unadulterated Microsoft experience, for better or worse. Of course, there’s still no price and I don’t believe the $200 rumor. So my final decision depends on the price. Right now I’d say $500 (including the keyboard cost)  is a definitie buy and pre-order. A  higher may cause a delay and I may change my mind and look for a lower cost OEM model.

Windows Phone 8

I’m interested in seeing what a Windows Phone 8 looks like. I like the idea of it being different. While not a valid criticism, I do see the iPhone as being a little old and stoggy.

Getting a Windows Phone isn’t a done deal. But I am curious enough that an iPhone upgrade isn’t automatic.

Windows Home Server

My WHS 2011 box isn’t going anywhere soon. I don’t have any plans to replace it with one of Microsoft’s new server products. I’m so sure of this that I let my Technet subscription expire so I no longer have the server software to test unless MS makes eval versions publicly available.

If I jump into the deep end of the Microsoft ecosystem with both a Windows phone and tablet to go with Windows 8 there may be some benefit to using a Windows server for central storage. But I’m a Synology NAS fan and would go with it over a Windows Server. And like I said, WHS 2011 isn’t going away anytime soon. If I really want a Window “Server” I may just use Windows 8 as a server.

Wrapping Up

So, will I have the willpower to avoid a iPhone upgrade? That will be the first test. Based on past history I’d call the odds even on this since I have weak gadget resistance. So I’ll have to come back and read this to remind myself there’s no reason to upgrade. I’m not eligible for an upgrade until December anyway. Plus I may be forced into some contract changes making it easier to stand with what I have. Windows 8 Phones should be available by then. Will I switch teams?

While the Surface RT pricing isn’t announced I’ve no doubt that I’ll be getting one. I won’t wait in line at the local Microsoft Store (yup, there is one, although I’ve never been) but I expect a pre-order or acquisition soon after it’s released. About 90% of this is curiosity and wanting to see first hand how RT evolves over time. And if it’s crash and burns, I’ll want to know if it’s justified or not.

Any particular new tech you’re waiting anxiously for?

Happy New Year 2012

The OS Quest Trail Log #67: End of 2011 Edition

Happy New Year 2012Despite the cliche, it is hard to believe 2011 is drawing to a close, probably only a memory by the time you read this. On the other hand, it’s still just one more month gone by so I’ll try to resist the urge for any year end wrap-up. But as usual I’ll recap since the last Trail Log among other things.

When I first wrote about replacing my cable modem I mentioned there didn’t seem to be too much difference in performance. Since then things have changed a bit. Typically CrashPlan would max out it’s upload performance at 2 Mbps. I added another 40 GB to the upload and it uploaded at 4 Mbps. Both speeds where as reported by CrashPlan. So there does seem to have been an improvement.

When I wrote about Cloudberry’s new Continuous Data Protection (CDP) I had decided to use it only for my critical data which had previously been backed up as an hourly basis. Since then there was one failure in that backup plan which caused it to stop and required a manual restart. I also found that email notifications worked in one case for CDP. As it stands now, I don’t have complete confidence in Cloudberry’s CDP, at least in their Windows Home Server 2011 Add-in, so I’ve gone back to an hourly backups for that critical data. I’m no longer using CDP.

I still like my Kindle Fire. I mainly use it for watching video – my own,  Amazon Prime and Amazon purchased. While there isn’t much memory available for local storage I’ve found that the Amazon videos are relatively small (at least the standard def ones). I find the standard def fine for viewing, even on my TV and the smaller size doesn’t needlessly use my capped bandwidth. If the movie deserves high-def I’ll go for a disk. I was able to copy a dozen videos (about 10 hours) locally without a problem and had them during my holiday travels. My own ripped videos are larger so it’s fewer of these. I also do occasional reading but find any LCD screen tiring so it’s usually for less than an hour.

A pet peeve of mine is comparisons between the Kindle and iPad as if it was a buying guide. Here’s my buying guide:  If you’re trying to decide between a Kindle Fire and an iPad then go for a iPad. If you want to watch Amazon video on a tablet, get a Fire. If you meet both criteria then resign yourself to getting both but start with the Fire since it’s cheaper and it might give you what you want in a tablet.

Even though my yearly backup review showed I was in pretty good shape it always gets me thinking about changes but I’m resisting the urge to make a change unless it plugs a gap. There’s a lot of options out there and I’ll probably check out a few. Unless I lose interest first.

Frustrations

My iPhone 4S is giving me problems. The external speaker died on Friday. The headphones work fine. Initially it would come back for short periods but would die soon after I started playing a podcast or song. Luckily it’s now completely dead. I say luckily because it’s much easy to deal with Apple (or any vendor) when they can see the problem themselves. With my luck it probably would have worked when I bring it in for my noon appointment on Saturday. Hopefully it will be quickly resolved.

I’ve been backing up my website to my Mac every night for over 4 years using iCal to schedule a Transmit automator task. Shortly after upgrading to Lion (but not immediately) the schedule task starting crashing, The problem became worse and recently became a daily event. I did the usual stuff like making sure all the software was updated. I also recreated the automator task. The frustrating thing is that if I run the task manually there’s never a problem. But it now consistently fails if it’s triggered by iCal. At this point it’s become part of my nightly routine to trigger the backup. I figure my effort is now better spent getting a backup setup on the web server itself and have it go directly to Amazon S3. So that’s on my project list for the new year although it probably won’t bubble to the top until I get really tired of having to double-click a file each night.

Google Chrome took away side tabs so now they’re back on top. It was never an official feature so I can’t complain too much. Despite that it’s really frustrating to have all those tiny tabs along the tap, differentiated only by their favicon if present. There is a tree tabs add-in i may give a try. I have a similar add-in for Firefox. I’ve considered going back to Firefox but that frustrates me too. The upgrade frequency and the way they do it is annoying. It seems add-ins are always breaking or flagged as not compatible. Add to that the annoying pop-up when there’s an upgrade and it’s drove me away. Google seems to do upgrades right. If I need to restart my browser there’s a little notification in the wrench icon. And after I restart all my tabs are restored, something Firefox doesn’t seem to get right. I really want to like Firefox since Mozilla only cares about a good browser (in theory) and Google and Microsoft consider us the product they sell to advertisers.But Google Chrome has been hard to drop, but the loss of side tabs may help in that area.

Servers and Storage

I’ve had the good fortune of having an Acer Aspire Easystore H342 Home Server pass through my hands. NewEgg has had them at clearance prices and a buddy on mine bought one as a low cost NAS and backup server. It’s Windows Home Server V1 so no doubt Acer is looking to clear them out (hopefully they’ll add a WHS 2011 box to the US market once the V1 is sold out). The price fluctuates but the current $260 is the lowest I’ve seen so far. It’s WHS V1 and not even the latest version of that, so the setup wasn’t straight-forward which is how I got my hands on it. I should have a write-up on it pretty soon. My overall impression is favorable (considering the price). Setting up a version 1 box was both nostalgic and frustrating. The software does feel and look old compared to WHS 2011 but the flashback was fun.

A second server will be staying, at least for awhile. I picked up a Western Digital DX4000 Sentinel Storage Server that runs Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials which has the same heritage as Windows Home Server 2011. I’m still getting to know it but I have to say that Western Digital got the ease of use right. Even when that Acer H342 was the latest software it’s setup wasn’t as easy as the DX4000. The DX4000 is less flexible in some areas (like supported hard drive and configurations) but that’s the price for ease of use.

I’ve also gotten motivated to start going through old hardware and hard drives to see what I have available and can put together. I’ve got 18 hard drives sitting in a cabinet as file storage. These are older smaller drives that were retired as they were replaced with bigger drives. So my current project is to clean up those drives and safely archive the files that are still needed. Then I should have a few good drives to use for various configuration in my MicroServers.

Another Year Ends

I think the most OS related fun I had this year was the short-lived Ubuntu Home Server project that actually began at the end of 2010. I enjoyed setting up the server and then learning about Linux software RAID. But that project ended in March when I returned to Windows Home Server 2011.  I left Ubuntu as things were getting a bit scary with all that data on it. Not that Ubuntu was scary but my maintaining that RAID array was. But that big WHS 2011 box was still more complicated than I wanted and I became obsessed with the HP MicroServers and my WHS 2011 server has been one of those ever since.

I’ll probably do a build or two this year, although mostly taken from parts I already have, But I’m hoping to spend more time diving into different OS’s and doing some web development.

And it will all be starting with a nice three day holiday weekend.

Happy New Year everyone!

Picture of the Verizon iPhone

Oh No! My iPhone 4s Is A Flop

Picture of the Verizon iPhoneHaving just gotten my new iPhone 4S I was depressed to see Daring Fireball link to an article listing the iPhone 4S as one of the top 6 tech flops of the year. OK, I wasn’t really depressed and fell for the  linkbait to read the orignal post. The iPhone 4S is listed third and begins…

While it’s no flop when it comes to sales figures the iPhone 4S remains one of 2011′s biggest consumer letdowns.

They go on with some more praise…

…is certainly nothing to sneeze at — it’s still one of the fastest, best-looking smartphones on the block…

The  reason given for being a flop is it didn’t meet the rumors and wasn’t an iPhone 5. They don’t actually define what they mean by flop but a best-selling device doesn’t meet any definition I can think of. Any “flop” would have been the tech blogs/journalists salivating over rumors and wish lists.

So now I’ll defend my purchase of a flop. I had an iPhone 4 but my Verizon contract is up for renewal and I could get the renewal discount plus another $30 rebate. I’ve no idea what the rebate was for (“customer loyalty”) or how long it would last. It’s actually been available for months. I’m happy with Verizon and I’m not looking to switch, having been with them for years. And having been on Android before Verizon got the iPhone I knew I didn’t want to go back to Android.

The main cost of the new phone would be the 2-year contract since I could (and did) sell my iPhone 4 for enough to cover my out of pocket expenses. OK, I didn’t quit cover but I upgraded to the 64 GB phone so it cost me a few dollars, if I stayed with the 32 GB I would have pocketed a few dollars. If I waited until the next iPhone in a year I wouldn’t have been able to sell my phone for much at all since it would be two versions old in addition to the extra year of wear and tear. Since there’s no change in form factor all my accessories can stay. So in effect the upgrade didn’t cost me anything.

So what do I get for my upgrade:

  • A better camera. I didn’t use the iPhone for photos very much at all. Prior to upgrading I made a conscious effort to use it more to get comfortable with it. I’ve been using it more and have liked using it.
  • Faster processor. I have some apps that ran slow on the phone but ran fine on the faster iPad 2. There could be several reasons for this but I have seen an improvement. It was most noticeable to me with apps like OminFocus which synced or loaded data every time I switched to it.
  • More storage. I probably keep too much on my phone but I was out of space. I’d rather add storage instead of trying to juggle what I want on the phone.

There’s also Siri of course. But it wasn’t a factor beyond curiosity and I haven’t been using it very much. I’ve used it so little it’s always ben available when I used it, unlike what I read from others.

Next year’s iPhone will almost certainly be out before I can upgrade at a discount and will almost certainly have significant hardware upgrades (NFC, 4G, higher resolution, better camera) so I’ll have to wait a couple months before I can upgrade at a discount (due to multiple plans I can basically upgrade once a year by transferring the upgrade between plans).

I’d agtree the iPhone 4S isn’t a significant upgrade over the iPhone 4 but it is an upgrade and if you want those features it would be worth it. I wouldn’t have upgraded if selling my current phone didn’t cover the costs or if I had to buy new accessories. Still, it’s certainly doesn’t meet my definition of a flop and it doesn’t disappoint me, but as an iPhone 4S owner I am biased.

Guy surrounded by tech

Updates All Around

 

Guy surrounded by techIt seems like ever computer or computer-like device I have received significant updates in the past couple of days. The 8 security updates for my Windows 7 PCs and VMs were the least time-consuming updates, much to my surprise. Apple released iOS 5 today so the last couple of days have seen related updates from apps to operating systems. Let’s not forget all those iPhone/iPad apps that have been updated in the last few days. With new iPhones arriving on Friday (or before) I figured I better work on upgrading my phone as soon as possible, or wait a week. All this motivated to me finally upgrade my desktop Mac Mini to Lion.

Mac Mini To Lion

I’ll start with the quick and easy upgrade. My MacBook Air is already running Lion so I knew all the apps that mattered would work. I did allow time to get Synergy working again as I figured it would break. It kept right on working and Synergy was sharing my mouse/keyboard between my desktops – Mac Mini and Windows 7 PC. I installed Lion from the DMG file I extracted from my original Lion install rather than from the App Store.

The Lion install downgraded iTunes so I wouldn’t open after Lion was installed. I got an error that the library was an older version. Running software update allowed me to install the latest iTunes. It also presented the latest Lion update 10.7.2 which required a reboot. Once I installed those I was all set.

The iCloud configuration was presented after the 10.7.2 install but I ignored it for now since I wasn’t ready to tackle moving from MobileMe,

iPhone Upgrade to iOS 5

The upgrade to iOS 5 on my iPhone was more problematic. The upgrade sounded scary and complicated – a backup and restore that could take an hour or more according to the dialogs. The “upgrade” seemed more like a complete wipe and re-install as it included a backup and restore.

I upgraded shortly after I saw it was available (about 1PM ET) and received a “internal error” just before the restore part of the installation. The error implied old software or a security setting as the cause, but I suspected it was overloaded Apple servers. My software was already up to date so I removed backup encryption (since the error was just before the restore phase) and removed the passcode from the iPhone. It failed again one more time but then worked. At least it didn’t do the download each time but used the cache copy. Once the upgrade started it took just under 90 minutes to finish, including a very long sync after the restore.

iPad2 Upgrade to iOS 5

I tried the iPad 2 upgrade after the phone finished. I received a different error, but again right before the restore. Right after the progress message that it’s verifying the restore with Apple I received the error that the update server could not be contacted. By this time I’d seen enough blog posts and tweets to know it was in fact an Apple server load issue so I didn’t bother trying again. This is where I upgraded the Mac Mini to Lion, since it’s also my iTunes computer I wouldn’t be compelled to waste time trying the iPad upgrade.

I tried the upgrade several hours later and it went right through but also taking about 90 minutes. Although it seemed to be the luck of the draw as a second iPad upgrade after this failed with the same error.

Preparing For iCloud

All these updates were to enable iCloud in the Apple world. Despite that I’ve yet to enable iCloud on anything, First off, I have little confidence that the iCloud introduction will be problem free. Apple’s history with MobileMe and .Mac does little to inspire confidence, although the optimist would say they learned from their mistakes. I don’t use MobileMe for much, but what I do use it for doesn’t get migrated to iCloud. Namely syncing Transmit favorites, Text Expander snippets and OmniFocus data.

OmniFocus has their own sync service, OmniSync, which is in beta. I had used it months ago and had problems and OmniFocus syncing became my main driver for getting MobileMe. Despite this I decided to move back to it, mainly because I knew I had regular and reliable OmniFocus backups. This was actually more problematic than I thought. First off, I synced all my devices so they all had the same data. Then when I setup my first Mac to sync with OmniSync it failed silently so it was time to troubleshoot.

I went out to the OmniSync website and changed the password. The Mac setup didn’t prompt for a password so I though it might be wrong. I also deleted the registered devices (which hadn’t synced in months).This time it did prompt for the password and then it told me it was going to replace everything on the Mac with the server data – not at all what I wanted. I thought this might be a bad message so did a backup then did the sync. Yup, all my data was replaced with the really old data, So it was time for a restore. Then within the OmniFocus for Mac menu I found “File -> Replace Server Database” and that did the trick, uploading my data. For the other Macs and devices I let the server data update OmniFocus. Interestingly, the iPhone and iPad prompted to ask whether I wanted to use the local or server data, while the Mac software just takes the server data.

As for transmit and Text Expander I decided to go with Dropbox since both supported using it. I had cancelled Dropbox awhile back but signed back up for the free 2GB account. I don’t plan to expand my Dropbox usage, but for now this seems to be the best solution. The setup was simple enough as both apps have settings for Dropbox syncing, no hacking required.

Conclusion

It took about 8 hours (including breaks), but I got all my iDevices upgraded to iOS 5 and got my desktop Mac Mini up to Lion. Now that everything is upgraded I can finally start looking at what all these updates bring me. First off I’ll enable iCloud. While I don’t trust it will be smooth, I don’t have anything critical that will depend upon it. There’s still one older iPad left to upgrade but there’s no hurry and I’ll try again once things settle down.

Anyone actually using the new features? Is it going to be worth the trouble?