Opinions and Facts

Why I Choose the iPhone

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had the conversation with people asking “Should I get an Android phone or an iPhone?” on social media. Every time it happens I’ve thought “I should just make a blog post so I don’t have to keep typing out my thoughts on the matter,” so here it is!

Short answer: iPhone

Long answer:
Before I made the jump into the smartphone market, I did a lot of research because that’s how I am. Hell, I do the same thing if I’m thinking of a new toothbrush. I always painstakingly research and read and think, and ponder and weigh proc and cons and get opinions and check forums and reviews and try things out and everything else I can think of to do. In the end, I decided (and still feel) that the iPhone is the best smartphone out there. And this is coming from a PC user who loves all things Google, so that’s saying something. I’m someone who wants to love Android, someone who constantly re-evaluates and dips my toes back in the water hoping that this is the time that I finally convince myself to make the switch, but as of yet that hasn’t happened. Why? Well, that’s hard to answer and it’s all subjective anyway so there is no right or wrong, but for better or worse, I’ll try to remember as many points as I can.

First off, let me say that everyone is different. What we like as individuals is different. Our needs, wants and how we use our phones is different. For this reason, it’s really almost impossible to base your choice off anything other than experiencing it yourself, but unfortunately, most of don’t have the luxury of “living” with two different phones for an extended period of time and seeing which we personally like better. Before I had my own iPhone, I had played with many friends phones to at least get a taste. I dated someone who had an Android phone and so had a lot of experience playing with her phone and helping her with it (I’m a very naturally technically apt person so I end up being tech consultant to lots of my friends as well). I’ve borrowed friends’ phones as often as I can to play with them as well.

My first reason is choice of phones. If you get an iPhone, there’s nothing to choose really other than whether you get the latest model or an earlier one. With Android, there’s overwhelming choice. Which brand? Which version of Android is it running? Which “overlay” user interface do they use on that phone? Normally, I’m all for choice, but for me personally, I don’t like this. I feel the iPhone is an easily definable quantity and you know what you’ll be getting and the experience will be the same no matter what. I am not a fan of Apples benevolent dictatorship attitude of “we know what’s best so you don’t need choice” in general, but for me, it’s a good thing when choosing a phone and they have gotten better about that over time, introducing at least a little more freedom and options but still nowhere near Android. That being said, I still like the iPhone best.

In all my experiences with Android phones, it just felt clunky and kind of pieced together. I found the user experience often unintuitive and clumsy, especially for any non-tech-savvy people. And it will vary greatly from phone to phone. Overall, it just never “felt” as good as an iPhone to me.

9 times out of 10, when I wanted to suggest an app or play a game with someone on an Android phone, that app was not available for Android. In the best case scenarios it became available later, long after the iOS version was out. Being that iPhones seem to be the dominant phone, most app developers tend to concentrate on it first. I have only ever encountered the reverse scenario once (I want to play Ingress, dammit!). Most of my top used apps are not available for Android.

Intercompatibility between iPhone users is better and more consistent. This one is harder to explain, but there’s things like Facetime (not that I really care about that), iMessage (which can be handy, especially if you have a limited text plan and don’t want to use some third party app that many times requires others to have the app as well and/or won’t show as your actual phone number), but more importantly there all kinds of little things that just work like they should. Again, with Android, you’re at the mercy of individual manufacturers, carriers, OD version, etc. For example, I can text contact, addresses, a Google map location (yes Google map, not Apple maps) and such and it just works. I remember some of these simple operations just didn’t work when sent to a friend’s Android phone. They would get the text but couldn’t open the information. Now, I have no idea where the breakdown is and it very well could be Apple’s fault in the way they implement it, or maybe not. I don’t know. The point is, I know certain things will work with other iPhone users but will be hit and miss with Android users (who knows which of the various phone/carrier/etc combinations they have).

I’ve found so many tiny, little things about iOS that are just great thinking and programming, but are so mall that people may not even know about or notice them but just take them for granted. So much so I have a hard time thinking of them right now. One is the fact that the camera knows its own orientation (which I’m sure is probably true in Android as well). If I want to use the back camera to take a picture of myself (I refuse to ever use the word “selfie” as it makes me cringe…just typing it made me wince a little), it’s very awkward and precarious to hold your phone right side up from the bottom of the phone, with the back facing you and try to press the camera button on the bottom of the screen. So on a whim, I turned the phone upside down, so now I could hold the whole phone as normal but my index finger could easily reach the camera button which was now at the top of upside down phone. When I snapped the picture, it was saved with the correct orientation (i.e. no matter which way I’m holding my phone, the picture is right side up and wasn’t taken upside down even though the phone was upside down.) I’ve often discovered simple little things that made me think “that’s smart programming.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there is a lot about Android phones that are awesome, and probably some things that I would like even better but overall, nothing has been able to touch the iPhone experience for me. For you, it might be a completely different and opposite experience. Even as long as this post is, I’m sure it’s only the tip of the iceberg and just what I could think of off the top of my head. Nothing is going to tell you what your experience with a phone will be like or how much you personally will like one over the other. If you do seek out opinions though, try to find opinions based on facts, usage, etc., and not just blind preference for one over the other. I find that most people on both sides of the fence don’t offer much that is helpful but just zealous “Mine rules and other one sucks!” In fact, I find this subject so volatile and often Jihad inducing, that I’m disabling comments on this post. I hope this may have been helpful i some way and that in the end, you end up with a phone that you are happy with, no matter what it is!

I also really like the new “ear pods” that come with the iPhone 5. I’ve always thought the default iPhone earbuds were actually really great quality but the Ear Pods are the best yet.

And I know I didn’t even touch on Windows phones but, frankly, they’ve never entered into these conversations. In my limited experience with them, I thought they were actually quite cool but they’re just too much of an underdog for me to ever consider using one. If I had that much trouble with apps not being available on Android, I imagine Windows phones would be exponentially worse in that regard.

If other things come to mind (as they surely will), I’ll update this post.

My thoughts on the show, _Louie_.

I finished season 3 of Louie last night. This has to be one of the most original shows on TV in a lot of ways. I think it’s an example of what can result when you just let someone take something and run with it and not be afraid of experimenting or not following standard formulas. It really feels like his show that he made on his own the way he wanted to make it without network notes and suggestions and all that crap. It often feels raw, real and imperfect and it is perfect in its imperfection.

An Epiphany About Google+

I was reading a discussion about Google+ compared to Facebook and how many people are not yet seeing its full potential because they don’t understand it or are just looking at it as a direct Facebook substitute. The main thing that hit me was how using Circles you can have friends, colleagues, celebrities, and any other grouping of people in the same place on one website but you can choose to read/post to any or all of them selectively. Where this struck me was in relation to my experience on Facebook.

I started out with just my personal page. Then I started pondering if I should start a “musician” page. At first, I saw no reason for that but then someone made the awesome point that at some point, hopefully, my “fans” won’t necessarily be just my “friends”. People may want to see where I’m playing or hear my music but I may not necessarily want them all added as “friends”. So I started my musician page. Now I’m also an actor but I don’t want to make an actor page as well. That’s just getting silly.

However, even with my musician page, I still get friend requests from strangers who find my band pages or have seen some film I’ve done. When I first joined Facebook, I was extremely selective about who I added. They had to actually be a real life “friend” or at the very least someone I had at least had a decent conversation with at some point. As time went on though I became less and less discriminating, especially as potential film industry contacts started adding me. This was a wise move as these connections have directly led to work but now I have tons of “friends” many who I don’t really know at all. Yes I know I can hide anyone I want from my news feed but that’s just an extra annoying step and maybe I don’t want them permanently hidden but just separated from my true “friends”.

With Google+, this problem is elegantly solved. Sure, at this point it doesn’t have all the features of Facebook (or many of the annoyances as well, so there’s two sides to that coin) but I can add friends, fans, film industry contacts, funny strangers, Lemur lovers, peanut butter and banana enthusiasts, deep seaa Yugoslavian folk dancers and all other manner of people into their own “Circles” making it very easy to selectively read or post to any individual circle, combination of circles or everyone including the public.

Yes, Google+ is still in its infancy. Yes there are bugs, annoyances, things missing that many people may want (however that’s another Pandora’s box as any given feature may be wanted by many while being considered clutter or annoyance by others). But all in all, I personally think it is an elegant and well done improvement over Facebook and have faith that it will only continue to get better.

The Path to Enlightenment, or “I Knew I Should Have Taken a Left at Albuquerque”

Spirituality and more specifically, religion, is a topic I tend to stay very far away from. It tends to be very personal and, moreso, it tends to be very divisive and inflammatory. However, today I feel the need to explore these dangerous waters with you. “You” being no one really since I’m pretty sure my only readers are Google’s web scouring index-bots.

I am a very spiritual person. I, however, am not at all religious. I am not a part of any organized religion, nor do I care to be. That’s an even more inflammatory topic that I won’t go into as it’s not really relevant here. I have always had a very personal spiritual relationship with the universe at large. I think a lot of religions all have good things to teach and offer and so I’ve sort of made my own little spiritual casserole with a bit of this and a dash of that.

Eckhart Tolle was a name that had crossed my attention several times in the great zeitgeist. I’d seen him on friends’ lists of favorite books and seen references here and there and it always seemed to be from sources that made me think I should investigate. People with similar outlooks to my own. Recently, one of my closest friends who I feel more spiritually in sync with than anyone I’ve ever met, highly recommended Tolle’s works and lent me her copy of “A New Earth” along with Einstein’s “Ideas and Opinions”. Both are great in totally different ways. The Einstein is wonderful but very crunchy on the brain, in a great way. I have to digest it in tiny bites. The Tolle has been nothing short of life changing for me.

Now, my head is always filled to bursting with a million different things and my mind is always racing at light speed around the universe. It made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. Suck it, Han Solo. Recently, I have been going through a very difficult period. Full of anxiety, angst, pain and just a general maelstrom of tumultuous turmoil. I’ve felt like a barely functioning human being in a lot of ways. There is epic, gargantuan, really heavy stuff (to me any way) that’s crushing me and making me feel like I’m in a catatonic state just because I have to direct all available energy to fighting the storm, struggling to find the path through to the other side where it’s calm and serene. Truly caught between Scylla and Charybdis, where option A sucks and so does option B. Now don’t get me wrong, I am equally filled with love, beauty and gratitude but the funny thing is, even of your life is 95% absolutely amazing, that 5% can somehow seem like it taints and overwhelms the other 95%. Which is why this book could not have come along at a better time.

I swear to you this book is psychic. Every time I sit down and read it (and I mean every time), the next chapter addresses something that’s going on in my mind that day. I feel almost like I could think “Hmm, I’m so torn as to what to have for breakfast” and then I’d sit down to read and the first line would be “Chapter 12: Bananas and Peanut Butter”. When I’m reading this book, a still, calm peace comes over me and everything just makes sense. Unfortunately I have not yet mastered holding on to this serenity long term and as soon as I stop reading, like a slippery eel, the effects start to fade until I’m fighting the good fight again but I am getting better. Much better. Like going to the gym, I can feel my mental muscles strengthening. I can feel myself changing. I know I’m in the middle of a huge metamorphosis right now and that I am closer than ever to being who I want to be (though that is a journey that will continue for the rest of my life).

Luckily I had already come a long way down my path before reading this book so I was well ahead of the game but I find that I’m learning the finer tools to battle my personal monsters. I am becoming a stronger, better, more conscious person with every day of my life. If you find yourself lost, adrift, stagnant or just in need of something, I highly recommend this book but go with your own gut. It might not be for you. Your spiritual journey is not the same as mine. Your battles will not be the same as mine. I am still chock full o’ insecurities, doubts and fears but I know I’ve made progress.

I’m learning patience and to tame the control freak within me that wants to mold the universe into what I want it to be. I’m learning to let go and let the current take me to my destination. These things, however, all go against my nature so it’s not going to be an easy journey. The world doesn’t work like I want it to. People don’t work like I want them to. Relationships are not what I want them to be. I’m someone who needs to be fed. Not a lot but at least a morsel. Often. So many times I don’t understand why something happens or why someone acts the way they do and those voices kick in and try to read all kinds of negative things into it (one of the downsides to having a very vivid and active imagination) but more and more I’m able to recognize the static in life and tune in to the real signal.

Don’t be afraid to tell people that they are beautiful and that you love them. And if you are reading this, you are beautiful and I love you. Even you, Google Web-bots.

Wow. I cared!

There was something about this election. It seemed to me to be the most intensely passionate, most cared about election of my life. It was the first time I actually voted. It was the first time I really cared. It was the first time I actually had the election results on the TV all day. I feel good. I feel like finally “my people”, as in those that I feel the most kinship and connection with, my kindred spirits, have taken action and taken control. It feels like a new era, a revolution. I’ve never been a political person at all but this time I knew it really mattered. When I look at the totals of the popular vote and I know that I am one among that number, I smile. I’ve already seen much graciousness and much grumbling, sour grapes and sour comments. I hope that we can all truly come together as one nation united, and put aside that which divides us and makes us choose sides. For the first time in my 37 years, I care. No matter who you voted for, I hope your future is as bright as I know mine is.

“The Dark Knight” (No spoilers)

Wow. Frickin’ wow. Totally worthy of all the hype. Intense. It felt like two movies worth of experience, at least (in the best possible way). So dense. Heath Ledger is as amazing as everyone has been touting (or expecting). Not once was I pulled out of the movie by bad CG. Brutal without being graphically gory.
Though this movie obviously requires some suspension of disbelief, there was only really one thing that snapped my suspension of disbelief for a nanosecond but then I got over it and was back in this amazing film.
My one complaint, and it is oh so minor, Christian Bale’s voice when he’s batman and not Bruce Wayne. It’s just too gruff and affected. It makes him hard to understand and sounds like he’s desperately in need of a bat-lozenge for his throat. As one comedian put it after “Batman Begins”, it’s a little like cookie monster playing Batman.
“DO YOU HAVE A COOKIE FOR BATMAN?”
I WILL be seeing this movie again in the IMAX. It almost demands multiple viewings to process it all.
In another interesting twist, my acting career idol, Gary Oldman, plays probably the most boring, normal, plain part of his career. A part that’s so not “Gary Oldmanesque”. And yet, in a strange twist, it being so different in itself kind of makes it Gary Oldmanesque! Don’t get me wrong, he does a great job and I love his character, he’s just so normal, plain and kind of boring (the character, no Gary Oldman).
See this movie. Multiple times. Genius.

Chipmunk Punk

When I was a kid, I had the album “Chipmunk Punk”. This was a 1980 album of Alvin and the Chipmunks doing 9 songs that were not really in any way, punk, but were pretty cool and influential to me. This album actually introduced me to a lot of songs that I would later come to really love. At the time, I had never heard of “The Knack” and I don’t think I had heard of most of the other songs on the album either. I just knew I liked the Chipmunks as we had a cool clear red album of theirs from 1969.
Recently I was thinking back on this and realized just what a weird album this was. The track listing was:
Side A

  • “Let’s Go” by The Cars
  • “Good Girls Don’t” by The Knack
  • “How Do I Make You” by Linda Ronstadt
  • “Refugee” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “Frustrated” by The Knack

Side B

  • “Call Me” by Blondie
  • “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
  • “My Sharona” by The Knack

Now the first thing I noticed is that one third of the songs are from The Knack. Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Knack’s debut album “Get The Knack” which spawned all three of these songs, but to have three of nine songs by The Knack, who I had never even heard of at that time, seems an odd choice. Were the producers friends with The Knack? Did they get a hellaciously good deal on song rights?
Secondly, though I remember very specific changes they made to the lyrics to make them more kid friendly, those three songs from The Knack are racy! They’re all about trying to get laid. Sure they changed “Til she’s sitting on your face” to “Til she’s sitting in your place” but a few lyrical changes do not change the overall subject of the song.
I don’t really remember realizing at the time what these songs were about, but again in hindsight, WHOA! How did this album get made?
“You thought you heard her saying ‘Good Girls don’t’…but she’s been telling you ‘Good girls don’t but I do.”
“Frustrated” is all about blue balls, basically. Some girl not putting out.
“My Sharona”, all about lusting after this young teenage girl.
Again, I ask, HOW DID THIS ALBUM GET MADE AND RELEASED? All I know is I’m glad it did, because I played the hell out of it and was introduced to some awesome music. I own every one of those songs on CD by the original artists. Except for “How Do I Make You”. I can’t remember how that one goes but I remember I liked the Chipmunk’s version of it. Somehow I listened to this album repeatedly without ever really realizing how inappropriate some of the songs probably were for a nine year old boy.

Prejudice

I had an experience a few weeks ago that made me realize just how lucky i am to live a fairly prejudice-free life. I am generally surrounded by non-prejudiced people in a fairly non-prejudiced town, at least to the point where something like this actually took me by surprise which is a good thing.
I was at a band gig when one of my band mates was talking about his family trip to Disneyworld. This individual is a very generous generally great guy but he’s also an old country boy farmer. Sometimes these things just don’t seem to go together, such as when him, his wife and their teenage daughter were talking about how they happened to be at Disneyworld for gay pride day. And, oh my goodness, they were surrounded by GAY PEOPLE! Shock! horror! And, I quote, “It was disgusting!”
I sat there kind of fuming trying to figure out exactly how to handle this. I had no idea what to say or do. I wanted to speak up but in a non-confrontational way that would hopefully reach them and make them think instead of just alienating them but I just couldn’t think of anything to say. I ended up muttering sarcastically, “Oh no, gay people,” but no one really heard and I didn’t want to make a point by repeating it or whatever. I think the real shame is that their daughter, who is a bright, intelligent girl, is having this kind of thing put in her head.
There are so many people in the world and the vast majority of them are going to be different from you in at least some ways. Sometimes you have close friends who are good people and yet have some pretty major differences from you. Sometimes that can be really hard. I actually wondered, albeit only briefly, “Do I really want to be in a band with people like this?”

Thoughts on “The Twilight Zone”

I have always been a big fan of “The Twilight Zone”. I remember my uncle and grandmother watching reruns when I was growing up and I think that it probably stuck in my psyche somewhere pretty deep and played a part in forming who I am.
A while back I bought the entire series on DVD (box set with episodes in order of airing). We’ve started watching them from the beginning and I’ve noticed some peculiar things. Now let me first say that, yes, I do realize that TV was a completely different beast back then as well as movies and probably just general storytelling techniques. I still love this show but have noticed it’s tendency to assume that the viewer is so stupid as to be just shy of brain dead. This is kind of funny because on the other hand it can go to some pretty cerebral places too so it almost seems as if it’s catering to really smart folks and people who are dumber than a box of non-sentient rocks.
For example, in one episode, Burgess Meredith plays a man who loves to read. So much so that at lunch time he goes into the vault of the bank where he works to read. One day while in the vault, the world gets destroyed by H-bombs but he survives since he was in the vault. We see all this on screen. Well we don’t actually see the H-bombs and such but it’s all illustrated quite clearly.
Then, upon leaving the vault and seeing the state of the world, he monologues to himself (since everyone else is dead) something along the lines of:
“Oh my god! The world was destroyed by H-bombs! Everyone is dead except for me! *a look of realization* I survived because I was in the vault!”
Well. That was a bit of totally unnecessary exposition! And we just won’t mention the two dimensional character that was his harpy of a wife who refused to let him read at home.
Then there was another episode where these astronauts go missing off the radar as they launch. It turns out they’ve crash landed on “an asteroid” as they call it. An asteroid with an perfectly human compatible atmosphere and mountains and stuff. O.K. so they really should have just called it a planet. Then they have a conversation about how, from the looks of things, the sun appears to be the same distance and trajectory as from the Earth meaning that they must be on an asteroid in the same orbit as the Earth!
So basically, five minutes into the episode, they’ve just hit you over the head with their “twist” ending. OMG! It wasn’t an asteroid at all! It turns out they had just crashed in the Nevada desert! All that strife and killing wasn’t necessary after all!
As I said, I just find these things fun to nitpick. I still think The Twilight Zone is an awesome, brilliant, landmark show.

Literally

The misuse of the word “literally” has gotten out of hand. It’s everywhere. Even in the media and printed materials. Ever since I have had discussions about this with friends, we’ve all suddenly become attuned to it and have started noticing how rampant it is. It’s like when Roddy Piper got those sunglasses in “They Live!” and could suddenly see all the aliens or whatever they were. People say things like “It literally blew my mind!” Umm, no it didn’t. I know this from the fact that they were standing there telling me this.
Two recent observances that really stuck out to me were in video game related materials. In an ad for the Super Smash Brothers Brawl game it said “…literally anything can happen, and usually does!” Wow, that’s some serious technology they’ve developed there. So it’s totally possible and in fact likely that I could be playing the game and suddenly see Dennis De Young from Styx fly in on a half-dolphin, half-bagel creature with purple monkeys flying out his butt.
In a review of Assassin’s Creed on gamespot.com the reviewer mentioned how the game’s atmosphere was so great that it was “…literally a living, breathing world.” Again, I really had no idea this kind of technology existed! They should really let some top scientists study this stuff!
We have friends who use this word in what seems like every other sentence. It seems like they just use it for unnecessary emphasis or something like, “I was like, literally, just sitting there eating my dinner…” Really? I’m glad you specified because I thought you meant it figuratively. You know, that old colloquial saying, “eating my dinner” meaning that you were building a wooden effigy of the Bee Gees.