Category Archives: Gadgets

Mundane Update

I realized I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I should write something… apologies in advance because this is probably not going to be that great of a post since I don’t really haven’t anything all that interesting to talk about.

Nothing all that exciting has happened lately. I took a break from my canning hobby for a bit. This weekend was the first trip to the farmers market in a long time. It was pretty much just inspired by a recipe for “Dilly Beans” that I had found online. It is pretty much wax and green beans in a liquid mixture of vinegar, wine, and a little sugar and salt, and then some dill seeds, dill, and mustard seeds were added to each jar. I made it last night using some new Weck jars I picked up Sunday. This was my first experience with Weck, and I still have not decided if I like them or not. I think the standard mason jars are easier to deal with, but maybe it just takes some practice. The jars were also kind of large and made fitting them in the pot more difficult, and my jar lifters didn’t fit them well either. My current thought is just that I will stick with the mason jars, but I will definitely use the Weck ones I already have because the damned things are too expensive not to.

My new weekend obsession is the cafe in Grand Asia. They have dim sum on the weekends, and I am in love with their shrimp dumplings and the pork rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. They also have bubble tea, which is pretty awesome. And a some tofu “puddings” of which we have tried two. The spicy and salty one wasn’t all that great, but the (slightly) sweet one with tapioca pearls was wonderful. This obsession is fading since we have been three or four times now, but I still love it.

And we have of course been playing Guild Wars 2 constantly. Love that game! Although now TV shows are coming back so I don’t know which will win out yet… TV or GW2. It is going to be hard. It is tempting to try out an adapter to use my iMac as a TV!

I know everyone is wondering if we have the new iPhones yet, and no we don’t. We aren’t eligible for upgrade at the discounted price until next summer, and I don’t think they are waiving it this time. I am considering going down to an AT&T store to see if they will waive it though. We did briefly stop by the Apple store to play with the new one yesterday. They are so light they almost feel cheaply made. After leaving the store our phones felt about 10 times heavier. If we do get the iPhone 5, I want a white one for the first time ever; I liked the look of it a lot with the new backplate.

No iPhones yet. UPS sucks.

Ordering new iPhones has been quite the roller coaster. The saga began early June 15th, Pre-order Day. I happened to wake up, so I checked their site around 4am to find the store was down. I woke up again shortly before 6am and all I got was an “Oops!” message. Then I tried a few times while I was getting ready for work; eventually the “Oops!” was replaced with the familiar post-it graphic and then around 8 or so the store finally came back online.

From 8am until noon I tried repeatedly to order, getting hung up at various points in the process. Typically it was when Apple made the call out to AT&T to check account information that the process failed due to what I assume was a time out. Sometime around noon Sean said that people in his office had luck with AT&T’s site, so I redoubled efforts there. Still, I failed repeatedly. Sean began trying as well, and finally succeeded a bit after 1pm.

For a few hours we were happy. Finally succeeding in placing an order actually felt like an accomplishment, a hard battle won. Then the reports of cancellations and orders shipping late started rolling in, and we were left unsure of when or if we would get the phones we had spent hours trying to order. Finally AT&T released a statement saying orders placed before 1:30PST would be arriving on the 24th. We felt somewhat reassured, but kept checking the order status.

June 22nd came and a few people reported getting their phones early. The order status stayed the same, we began to lose hope.
June 23rd came and the status on our order was still “In Progress.” Sean’s co-worker, who had placed his order just before us, reported that his status had changed that morning, and he received his phone. Our status stayed the same.

Finally, the night of the 23rd the status finally changed and we had a tracking number. The phones were shipped Next Day Air via UPS. It looked like we were getting our phones on time after all!

I stayed home to wait, hoping UPS would actually come early in the day. FedEx always delivers early in the day, but UPS typically comes around 6pm… although sometimes earlier and I didn’t want to risk not being here to sign for it. So I stayed home and waited. All day. At least Sean was kind enough to bring lunch for me.

Finally, around 6:30PM the UPS trucked rolled down our street. We went downstairs to wait. UPS is known to vanish like ninja, so we didn’t want to risk coming to the door even a moment late. The truck pulled to the curb and stopped. We waited a moment, debated looking overly eager, then opened the door and stood waiting. We were excited our phones were finally here! Then, the truck pulled away.

Yes, the truck just left. I immediately picked up the phone and called UPS. When I finally made it through the menus and got a real person I was basically told it was too early to try calling the truck; they could always be sending it on another truck later and the status still said “Out For Delivery” so obviously everything was perfectly fine and the packaged was guaranteed to be delivered that day. I expressed my doubts, but was getting nowhere so I hung up and waited.

At 7:15 we called back. Sean spoke to them this time and managed to get the local people to call him back sometime after 8. They assured him it was unusual for UPS to lose a package and that we might get it the next day. Basically they lost it and just hoped it would be found that night when packages were scanned again. It was suggested we report it as lost to AT&T.
No way we were going to do that yet! I do not need the headache that would ensue if the package was recalled to AT&T or if we finally got the phones and AT&T had cancelled our order, or any other unpleasant scenario that was bound to happen if we told AT&T before we were absolutely certain our phones were lost forever.

Right now it is 3:45PM June 25, We are still waiting. However, there was a new scan recorded on their tracking page this morning, and it once again says “Out for delivery” so maybe we will get it today. I expect we will find out in about three more hours.

UPDATE: We did get them June 25th and they are awesome.

Preordered iPhones!

I was determined to order my new iPhone today, so much so that I even checked their website when I woke up a bit before 6am. But apparently everyone else on the planet was also determined to order a phone. By noon I was still unable to make any progress with Apple’s site and conveyed my frustrations to Sean via IM.

Apparently there were several people at his office also trying to order a phone. Sean said that someone had just managed to get through the ordering process with AT&T’s site, so I started trying (and failing) there as well. After a second successful order at his office Sean also took up the fight.

Somehow after my hours of trying, Sean managed to succeed within 30 minutes. That was irritating. But we ordered phones! Yay!! I really hope we get them on the 24th.

Updates

Thought I would take a moment to write some updates on previous topics, and let you know how things are going. There really isn’t much new going on. For a little over a week now I have been pretty sick, but I am feeling better now for the most part. If you care for the whole tale of my illness I will give it after the short updates.

Garden –
Our container garden seems to be going mostly well, and our roses are also in bloom. The one exception to the “going well” would be our bok choy. I knew we had it too close when planting it, but thought we could always move it later on. For a while it was thriving, but was bunched pretty tightly. Well, the caterpillars got to it before we could move it. They have pretty much destroyed all but two plants, and those are riddled with holes. I hope I feel up to pulling them out of the planter tomorrow. We will try to save the last two, but I don’t hold much hope. Everything else seems to be going well for now though! And I am excited to see how well the roses we planted last year are doing. The Joseph’s coat is full of flowers, and the knockouts are starting to catch up. I am also surprised at how large the plants around our front walk have gotten. Next weekend I will have plenty of work to do I think!

iPad –
It is still a fun gadget, although I am still not happy with it as an e-reader. At least, not completely happy. It is great for reading in the dark. That part I really like. And it is an e-reader, that is good. But… I am still unhappy with the iBook app’s lack of color options and there will be no iPhone companion for it until this summer. The iBook Store also has a somewhat limited selection. The Kindle app is nice, and I love that it syncs with the iPhone app. However, Kindle book pricing isn’t as good as Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, B&N still hasn’t released their iPad app. And the iPhone app doesn’t sync with Nook, so I am not sure that the iPad app will either. Syncing between the iPad and iPhone is a necessity in my opinion. I really hope the recently updated Nook firmware has this feature hidden in it somewhere. But my main problem? I can’t read in the sun. Or, at least not easily. There is too much reflection, and the screen gets washed out. Plus, while trying to read in the car on a sunny day the darned thing over heated. Who ever expects to see a temperature warning on an iPad?? So reading in the car is pretty much out. Plus it is so reflective the driver could be distracted/annoyed/blinded by it. This is irritating! I like reading on the deck and I want to be able to read on car trips. And did I mention it is a bit heavy? This leaves me tempted to buy a Nook, but it has that whole inability to sync issue… which means I might have to get a Kindle.

Illness –

The saga of my illness started last Thursday, April 15. Throughout the day I had a cough that got a bit worse as the day went on, and by dinner I felt a sore throat coming on. By that night I had a full fledged sore throat. Having been around someone with strep, and having an unhappy history with bacterial throat infections (but not in years!), I decided I should probably visit the doctor before the weekend. I stayed home from work and went to the doctor, not knowing how sick I would get before it was all over.

Friday the doctor said the culture was negative for strep, but we needed to wait three days to see if it grew any bacteria. At that point my only problem was the sore throat, a cough, and the beginnings of nasal congestion. The doctor said it was probably viral, and I happily tried to believe him… although I knew it wasn’t.

By Monday the sore throat was much worse, as well as the congestion and coughing, and my voice was mostly gone. My ears also felt funny. I felt miserable, or at least I thought I did. The real misery was still a couple days off. The doctor called to say bacteria had grown, and called in a prescription for me. I took that and by the next day (Tues) my throat was already better. Although while my throat improved, my ears had progressed from funny to painful and my eyes were puffy and red. Sean told me I looked like a zombie. I made an appointment for the next morning.

At that appointment it was confirmed the infection had spread to both eyes and ears. The doctor opted for “all night bender” rather than zombie. So basically everything above my shoulders was infected at that point. I got even more drugs and was sent home to suffer. I e-mailed the bosses to say there was no way I was coming back to work before Monday.

The eye drops worked wonders and the next day (Thurs) I went from zombie to bloodshot, by Friday they were mostly clear. At that point my throat was only sore from the coughing, but my right ear was still (and is still) pretty painful. The left ear also hurts, but is overshadowed by the pain in the other.

After 9 days I am still sick, but definitely better than I was a few days ago. My voice is still hoarse, but at least I can talk without pain. My appetite is a bit better, and my eyes look pretty normal. I am also still pretty low on energy, but that is getting better too. Now, if only I can get rid of this cough and the bum ear!

Today I even ventured out of the house. It was a short outing to drop Sean’s car for an oil change, put gas in mine, eat a lunch of 5 chic-fil-a nuggets, then grab a few things at Target. The Target part was pretty tiring even though we weren’t there long, and I was hit by a coughing fit so bad my eyes were streaming and I had to go outside. Now I am back home, fighting the urge to nap. I need to get back on some sort of schedule before work on Monday.

iPad!

Yes, I am one of the people that actually wanted an iPad. Yes, it has a stupid name. And no, it isn’t a laptop replacement.
I had been wanting an e-reader for a while, but was unimpressed with them. My iPhone e-reader apps were great, but I was growing tired of reading such a small screen. The iBook demo immediately appealed to me though. Finally there was an e-reader that worked just like my iPhone and did so much more. So, I reserved one just as soon as I could.

I really don’t know why everyone had to rush out and line up first thing in the morning for these things. That is why we reserved them right? To avoid that sort of thing? Which is why I was in no particular hurry today. I think we got to Crabtree around 11:30 and went directly to Robeks for a treat.

Of course then the Robeks dude, who was alone, said he had to run to the back for more frozen yogurt before he could make our tasty smoothies. “The back” for them really means leaving their kiosk and going all the way across the food court to that little access hall in the corner, and then going who knows how far beyond that. At that point I told Sean I was going to peak around the corner, and get in line if there was one. I figured there was no point in waiting at Robeks just to wait longer at Apple.

I was surprised to see how much space they had roped off for lines; I am not even sure where it ended! And there were two large coffee dispensers from Starbucks on a table outside the door. Glad I had enough sense not to go first thing in the morning. Even 2.5 hours later there was still a short line. Still, I was in the store with iPad in hand before Sean arrived. Apparently since he had two cups the employees manning the door believed him about delivering a drink to his wife and let him pass without standing in line.

It was lucky that Sean showed up when he did. Bank of America decided the purchase was “irregular check card activity” and blocked my card from further purchases. Yay. But that is a different story that subsequently involves calling them and spending a hour on hold before giving up. At least BoA didn’t seem upset at Sean’s card making the purchase though. I wonder how they make decisions on what counts as suspicious activity considering his card goes to the same account. But I digress.

Apple Employee No. 1 rang up everything for me (32GB iPad, dock, case, and Apple Care) while I stared at iPhone cases, then handed us off to Apple Employee No. 2 to activate the iPad. I let him borrow my knife to open the package, we got it activated, the iPad slipped into it’s case, everything bagged up, and we were happily on our way. It wasn’t until we were pulling out of the parking deck that I realized he still had my knife. I just wanted to be home setting up my new toy though, so we didn’t go back until later. At which point I got that iPhone case I had been eyeing!

The case I ordered from Etsy arrived today too. Great timing! I am not that excited about the colors, it looked much better in the seller’s photo. But I do like the design, and it fits over Apple’s case which is nice. Here is the iPad in it’s case, laying on top of the case from Etsy. And a shot with the iPhone on top for size reference.

So what are my early impressions, thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc? Hmm…

  • it is disappointing there are no screen protectors
  • the screen picks up fingerprints way too easily, I have stashed a microfiber cloth in the etsy case’s pocket
  • the screen is very smooth and your fingers glide easily on it; it seems smoother than the iPhone… but I have had an anti-glare screen protector on it so long my impression of that might be skewed
  • love that you can put six icons on the dock, and happy that you can arrange app icons 4×5… but think it could really be 5×5 or even 6×6. Hopefully this will change with a software update.
  • the screen is very reflective, the thing could double as a mirror, so beware of glare
  • apps designed for the iPad are wonderful, a world of difference compared to iPhone; I look forward to seeing more of them pop up in the app store
  • apps designed for iPhone/iPod work but are a bit pixelated, some worse than others; games like Katamari look pretty good, but B&N’s e-reader and other text heavy apps aren’t so great
  • if iBook has a white-on-black text option I haven’t found it, which is disappointing… hopefully they will update it soon, and hopefully whenever B&N finally releases their iPad reader this option will be there (it is for iPhone). Kindle, at least, does offer this option. And considering Kindle also syncs with the iPhone app to save where you left off, I might be using Kindle’s app rather than iBook.
  • it is pleasingly fast, with screen transitions being very smooth… quite happy with it’s performance, it makes my iPhone 3G seem a little slow and clunky
  • will probably be taking the dock back, considering I can’t use it without taking the iPad out of the case
  • immediately wished I had the 3G version, but I can probably learn to live without it; I didn’t realize exactly how much I took that for granted with the iPhone apps
  • the case is nice as a stand and screen cover, but the material picks up dirt easily and will provide little to no protection if dropped
  • That is all I can think of off the top of my head, and this post is much longer than intended. I think I am going to go lounge in bed and read an e-book now ;)

    My New Toy

    Wow, we are getting pretty slack about updating our blog. We meant to post last weekend, after we got back from Charlotte. So, allow me to catch you guys up on our exciting lives. (yes, that is sarcasm) I think I will break this up into two posts though, just because I ramble and this is bound to get very long. First I will tell you about my new toy, then I will let Sean make a post about Avenue Q later.

    Last Friday Sean and I (isn’t he a good husband?) went to the Apple store at 6:30 in the morning for an iPhone. I was tired of waiting, and I decided it wasn’t so bad to sit outside on a nice morning for a couple hours and surf the net on my Mac while waiting in line for a neat new toy. We were about 15th in line, yet by the time the store opened at 8:30 the line stretched all the way down the side of the building. If you are familiar with the Southpoint store… we were by the window on the side, and the last person in line was down past the drink machines.

    While in line we called AT&T… probably should have done that sooner. Evidently you can’t activate an iPhone at the Apple store (and you have to activate when you purchase) if you have any type of corporate discount… and it takes 4 hours to 10 days to remove it. Thankfully, once you have a ticket for a phone they will hold it until close of business though… and everything worked out. I went back and got the phone after work.

    I love my new phone! My only complaints are that the battery life kind of sucks and there is no landscape option when typing e-mail. Other than that, I consider this the best gadget I have ever had… it makes me even more devoted to Apple, more inclined to try to convince everyone that they should also go Mac. Of course, I am not sure people that don’t already have a Mac and a MobileMe account are as tickled with the iPhone as I am.

    I picked up a case and screen protector with the phone, thinking I would keep my pretty new phone in pristine condition while I waited from the invisibleSHIELD I ordered to arrive. Of course, Jack took care of that scratch-free idea by Monday. At least the scratches are minor. Contour’s clear case is a piece of crap by the way.

    Anyhow, the iPhone turned out to be pretty helpful right from the start. Saturday I used it to help find our way to and from Chris & Diana’s new house (we helped them move) and it also helped Diana and me find our way when we went to pick up pizza for everyone. Then, Sunday it was helpful again when we went out of town for Avenue Q. It has also been pretty helpful in the days since… I have set it up with MS exchange so I can use it at work, and it has been great every time I need to find a phone number or address. Not to mention the apps are great when I get bored!

    Yesterday my invisibleSHIELD arrived… I had ordered one for my Mac Book Pro and one for the iPhone. The iPhone shield proved to be a real pain to install, but the one for my Mac Book Pro was easy. I don’t really like the shield for my phone, I think I will take the front off and put the old static type back on it. The static one was much easier to slide my fingers across, and it seems to provide just as much protection. The back piece for the shield is nice, but very hard to align. The corners came out pretty poorly… I might have to try re-doing it.

    If anyone is considering getting the shield for the Mac Book or other laptop, I would definitely recommend it. It is so much easier to keep hold of my laptop now when I carry it, and the shiny finish looks great. I am not crazy about the piece that goes along the wrist rest though… kind of reminds me of people that put plastic on their furniture. I am going to give it a chance though. The piece that covered the touch pad is already gone though… I got tired of that one real fast.

    Sorry to bore you guys… but that is pretty much all that has happened for me lately! I got a new toy, then got stuff for the toy. Sean is going to cover Avenue Q (loved it!!) in a later post. Other than that, all that we are just trying to get ready for our move. We have barely started, but we suddenly find ourselves with only two weeks left… so we are feeling somewhat motivated to get it over and done with.

    Well, I gotta go… time to go get my car from Ford and then we are supposed to go out to Maggiano’s with George and Wendell tonight.

     

    Stuff…

    I noticed we hadn’t posted in a while, so I thought I would write a quick update. Nothing has really happened lately… we have just been settling into our new roles at work. Sean seems happy with is new job, and I guess I am happy with my promotion. These days I am really busy, and the work day flies by. It goes by so fast that usually I am staying late just to get things done. Both of us are pretty wiped out when we get home lately.

    Nothing new to report on the house really. The seller is supposed to be getting the things from the inspection taken care of… we are just waiting right now. We haven’t  even started packing yet; we have four weeks left now, so still plenty of time. I guess we should get started soon though.

    I still don’t have my new iPhone either. I really don’t want to stand in line for one. Right now people are still lining up around the store every morning to wait for them. I noticed Southpoint showed them as being in  a (online) last night, so I gave them a call just a few minutes ago… and they of course confirmed they sold out immediately. Evidently if I want to go down there at dawn every morning and stand in line I can get one. I don’t think I want one that badly though. I will just be patient and get one when they actually have them in stock all day. It looks like it is going to be a birthday present after all at this point!

    This weekend looks to be pretty full again. I had really hoped buying an iPhone would be part of the weekend events, but, well… I already went over that. We have tickets for Batman tomorrow, looking forward to that. We are also dog sitting again (only Lucy this time), and Sunday we are supposed to go hang out with Sean’s family. Maybe we can get motivated and start clearing out the junk we don’t want to take with us when we move too.

    Next weekend we go to Charlotte for Avenue Q!