Friday, November 21, 2014

Adventures in iPhone Land

PART 2 of a Multi-Part Effort

Adventures in iPhone Land

The iPhone 6 arrived via USPS on the afternoon of Tuesday, 18 November - which means I have had it for just under three days, and in that three days I have experienced much and have a lot to share...  Most of it good.

First Impressions
I have to admit that my first reaction upon opening the box was an eye-goggled jaw-dropped whaaa?!  The iPhone 6 Plus is HUGE.  Until the moment that I actually held it in my hands I did not truly understand the commend that my colleague Walt Mossberg made when he referred to the device as a Phablet - part phone, part Tablet.  

In almost every respect at least visually, the iPhone 6 Plus is indeed a Phablet.  But it is also a device that does not suffer from the downside of the Tablet or, interestingly enough, the wireless phone either.

What I mean by that is that where I tend to find Tablets ungainly and uncomfortable to use as a phone, the 6 Plus is actually comfortable in the hands, and easy to use as a phone.  

Note that while I was not aware that they had this feature until I actually experienced it - when you own an iPhone and an iPad, if both devices are turned on and logged into the same common WiFi network, when you receive a phone call on your iPhone it will forward the call to your iPad, so that you can take it there if that is more convenient.

And several times the iPad was closer to hand than the iPhone, and I took a few calls on it.  Even with the phone call on speaker and the device held comfortably in the hands the act of receiving a phone call via the Tablet was, to be accurate, uncomfortable.

That may be partly because it is an unusual experience, and partly due to the fact that taking a call under those circumstances leaves one at the mercy of the ambient noise in whatever environment they happen to be in at the time.  But either way, I don't recommend it.

A Question of Comfort?
While I had initial misgivings about opting for the iPhone 6 Plus once I experienced its over-sized footprint for myself, after just a few calls I have concluded that while there is a bit of getting used to to be experienced for me, personally, in the end I think I actually like the 6 Plus better than my old 4S.

Primarily I suspect that at least part of that inclination towards rapid acceptance is the fact that the 6 Plus is actually pretty close in terms of size to the sort of telephone handset I grew up using - that is to say the ear piece is just the right distance from the mic so that one is at the ear while the other is perfectly positioned before the lips.

Another strong factor for my ready acceptance is that we, as humans, tend to prefer what we know to something new.  And my comfort levels were never put to the test, because as soon as I turned on and properly charged the 6 Plus - or I should say while I waited for the 6 Plus to fully charge as per the instructions - more than a few minor matters were being attended to invisibly and behind the scenes.

While the new iPhone was charging, as I had followed the instructions with which it arrived and fully activated the device, adding my local WiFi security data, and authorizing the phone as my primary for both wireless service and iTunes, the following took place without my having to think about or actively manage them:
  • Contacts - the phone automatically - or perhaps automagically is a better phrase - reached out to the Cloud and grabbed my Contacts data and saved it to the new device.  In consequence of this, when I reached for the phone to make a call for the first time, rather than needing to look a number up on my old (and no longer connected to AT&T) device, the full Contacts were already present, so it was business as usual!
  • Weather and Other Data - while the phone did ask me to verify that I was, in fact, authorizing it to use my current location and the built-in location tracking features with which it comes as a standard feature - once I confirmed my permission for those, the new phone acted precisely as if it had been doing these things for me all along - or like my old phone basically.
  • Messages and Text - the conversations and the new additions to the same - for my ongoing set of personal and business interactions were simply there.  No need for me to seek them out; it was as if the phone knew what was important to me and made sure that that information and its associated data made the switch with my details, everything intact.
  • Important Dates and Appointments - all of the appointments on my calendar as well as the set of important dates that I had punched into my information management and productivity system three iPhones ago were just... There.
  • Images, Videos, and Backgrounds - all thanks to the Cloud present and accounted for.
  • The Apps I Use - note that I make a specific distinction here between the Apps that I actually use and the ones that happen to be on my phone because I had not gotten around to deleting them - and hey, the ones I actually used made the switch with me, without prompting, while the ones I did not - did not.
The important point to take away from all this is that I was not expecting it to be that easy.  In fact I was expecting to have to address and deal with all of this on my own, inconveniently, and over time.

The fact that none of that ended up being necessary is down to the genius of whoever came up with the programs that kick in when you upgrade phones.  Good on them!  Well done!

Second Impressions
Perhaps the most obvious point not in favor of this new and larger iPhone is the fact that pretty much all of the kit - with the exception of any Bluetooth kit - no longer works with my phone.

What that means is that some of it will have to be replaced.  In particular I will need to spend the time and the effort to seek out a MilSpec graded protective case for this bugger.  I will need to seek out and obtain a docking station for it because I use that particular connectivity convenience often in order to keep my phone and my notebook computer in-synch.

Having pointed that out though, it was very nice to be able to connect my earpiece and my over-the-ears headphones so that I could continue to use the stuff I am comfortable with and use often.

Big(ger) Screen Baby!
It is not that I am getting old, or that I have eyesight issues - but as one of the beats that I cover as a writer happens to be games journalism, and as mobile app/games play a significant part in that work that I do, the larger screen on the 6 Plus is a bloody beautiful thing.

Mark this down under the category of "you don't know what you are missing because you didn't know what you were missing" - but due to the manner in which mobile app/games of the city-building and grinder persuasion are built and played, it has been necessary for me to maintain multiple accounts and game sessions using different devices and log-ins.

I do that so that I can interact between the accounts using the multi-player side of the game play mechanics built into these games as a matter of convenience.  The increased screen size on the 6 Plus is so much bigger that I have not had a single missed - or incorrect - tap since I started using it!

That is a big deal, let me tell you.  Especially when you are playing a game like The Simpsons: Tapped Out in which you are making hundreds of taps and swipes in a single session!

So there you have it - in my opinion, for what that is worth - I find the new iPhone to be a major and easily experienced improvement over the iPhone 4S.  I suspect it is also an improvement over the iPhone 5 (all models) though having not used that generation at all, I really can't say with the sort of authoritative voice I usually use.

Keep an eye out for follow-on posts about this because I suspect, as I continue to use the 6 Plus, I will find other aspects and elements that I feel are worthy of comment.  And I shan't be shy in sharing those with you, I promise!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The Technical Stuff...

Thanks to my trusty copy of Geekbench 3 (Version 3.2.2 for iOS), I was able to run the standard tests and here are the results:
Model: iPhone 6 Plus / Model ID: iPhone7,1
OS: iOS 8.1.1
Processor: Apple A8 @ 1.4 GHz 1 Processor, 2 Cores
Processor ID: ARM
Memory: 976 MB

L1 Instruction Cache: 64.0 KB
L1 Data Cache: 64.0 KB
L2 Cache: 1.00 MB
L3 Cache: 0.00 B
L4 Cache: 1.00 B

Processor Benchmarks Report

Single-Core Score:1620
Multi-Core Score:2907


AES Single-Core: 1127 (988.3 MB/sec)
AES Multi-Core: 2211 (1.89 GB/sec)
Twofish Single-Core: 1034 (58.1 MB/sec)
Twofish Multi-Core: 2077 (116.6 MB/sec)
SHA1 Single-Core: 4559 (494.9 MB/sec)
SHA1 Multi-Core:  8998 (976.7 MB/sec)
SHA2 Single-Core: 2542 (110.0 MB/sec)
SHA2 Multi-Core:  5063 (219.1 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Single-Core: 1292 (5.25 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Multi-Core: 2540 (10.3 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Single-Core: 1544 (8.37 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Multi-Core: 3069 (16.6 MB/sec)
JPEG Compress Single-Core: 1366 (19.0 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Compress Multi-Core: 2714 (37.8 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Single-Core: 1881 (46.5 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Multi-Core: 3662 (90.5 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Single-Core: 1581 (1.26 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Multi-Core: 3137 (2.50 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Single-Core: 1490 (17.2 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Multi-Core: 2969 (34.2 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Single-Core: 1936 (70.5 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Multi-Core: 3748 (136.4 Mpixels/sec)
Lua Single-Core: 1666 (1.50 MB/sec)
Lua Multi-Core: 3283 (2.95 MB/sec)
Dijkstra Single-Core: 1540 (5.53 Mpairs/sec)
Dijkstra Multi-Core: 2655 (9.53 Mpairs/sec)

Single-Core Score:1574
Multi-Core Score:3103

BlackScholes Single-Core: 1746 (7.77 Mnodes/sec)
BlackScholes Multi-Core: 3461 (15.4 Mnodes/sec)
Mandelbrot Single-Core: 1146 (1.18 Gflops)
Mandelbrot Multi-Core: 2290 (2.35 Gflops)
Sharpen Filter Single-Core: 1326 (983.3 Mflops)
Sharpen Filter Multi-Core: 2604 (1.93 Gflops)
Blur Filter Single-Core: 1463 (1.39 Gflops)
Blur Filter Multi-Core: 2918 (2.78 Gflops)
SGEMM Single-Core: 1357 (3.80 Gflops)
SGEMM Multi-Core: 2648 (7.42 Gflops)
DGEMM Single-Core: 1270 (1.87 Gflops)
DGEMM Multi-Core: 2433 (3.58 Gflops)
SFFT Single-Core: 1662 (1.75 Gflops)
SFFT Multi-Core: 3284 (3.46 Gflops)
DFFT Single-Core: 1846 (1.68 Gflops)
DFFT Multi-Core: 3633 (3.31 Gflops)
N-Body Single-Core: 1969 (730.9 Kpairs/sec)
N-Body Multi-Core: 3896 (1.45 Mpairs/sec)
Ray Trace Single-Core: 2319 (2.73 Mpixels/sec)
Ray Trace Multi-Core: 4596 (5.42 Mpixels/sec)

Single-Core Score:1607
Multi-Core Score:1785

Stream Copy Single-Core: 2413 (9.63 GB/sec)
Stream Copy Multi-Core: 2411 (9.62 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Single-Core: 1452 (5.80 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 1608 (6.42 GB/sec)
Stream Add Single-Core: 1361 (6.16 GB/sec)
Stream Add Multi-Core: 1590 (7.19 GB/sec)
Stream Triad Single-Core: 1401 (6.16 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 1649 (7.25 GB/sec)

 Well there you have it - you compare the two - and granted they are actually separated by an entire generation... But still, whew!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventures in iPhone Land

PART 1 of a Multi-Part Effort

Adventures in iPhone Land

When the original iPhone launched on 29 June 2007 it joined its very well-established big brother  (and lots of cousins -- who are properly known as the iPod family and friends) to offer tech-savvy phone geeks the opportunity to merge their preferred entertainment platform with a very stylish  mobile (wireless) phone.

In theory that was supposed to be a good thing - after all  this advancement in consumer tech allowed the consumer to carry as much as three fewer devices thanks to the iPhone filling the role of wireless phone, PDA, Music and Audio Book Player, and mobile gaming device!

The only problem with the iPhone replacing all of those devices is that it only has so much power stored up in its battery.  Many users discovered that when they got around to making - and taking - the odd phone call they were usually very low on juice!

As the iPhone does not include a modular battery that could be replaced on-the-fly, what ended up happening was that power-users ended up using their iPhone as a phone and PDA, opting to carry an iPod as well as other entertainment devices, which blunted the primary selling point for the device.

I personally had already experienced that phenomenon with my Blackberry well before the iPhone came along - and as I was a confirmed Berry user I resisted making the switch to the iPhone for a good long time - in fact I did not convert to Apple until mid 2012, and I only did so then and under protest due to work necessity - I needed to be able to play iOS games to review and write about them.

My First iPhone

The iPhone 3GS was my first iPhone - and I continued to use that baby well into the following two generations, only upgrading to the iPhone 4S after the iPhone 5 released and AT&T offered me a free 4S when I re-upped my contract.

The iPhone 4S is actually a very capable computing device... As I am soon to upgrade to the iPhone 6 Plus I thought it was a good idea to do a little comparing - and see what I was getting for my money in the bargain - so I set out to benchmark my 4S in preparation for receiving the 6 Plus - which is due to arrive on Monday.

Whipping out my trusty copy of Geekbench 3 (Version 3.2.2 for iOS), I ran the standard tests and here are the results (note that if you are not a tech-head you may as well stop reading from here on as none of this is going to mean much to you):

Model: iPhone 4S / Model ID: iPhone 4,1
OS: iOS 8.1
Processor: Apple A5 @ 800 MHz (1 Processor / 2 Cores)
Processor ID: ARMv7
Memory: 505 MB
L1 Instruction Cache: 32.0 KB
L1 Data Cache: 32.0 KB
L2 Cache: 1.00 MB
L3 Cache: 0.00 B
L4 Cache: 1.79 GB

Processor Benchmarks Report

Single-Core Score: 215
Multi-Core Score: 407

Single-Core: 280
Multi-Core: 551
AES Single-Core: 16 (14.6 MB/sec)
AES Multi-Core: 33 (29.0 MB/sec)
Twofish Single-Core: 233 (13.1 MB/sec)
Twofish Multi-Core: 459 (25.8 MB/sec)
SHA1 Single-Core: 530 (22.9 MB/sec)
SHA1 Multi-Core: 1059 (45.8 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Single-Core: 342 (1.39 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Multi-Core: 650 (2.65 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Single-Core: 389 (2.11 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Multi-Core: 765 (4.15 MB/sec)
JPEG Compress Single-Core: 335 (4.68 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Compress Multi-Core: 661 (9.22 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Single-Core: 347 (8.59 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Multi-Core: 685 (17.0 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Single-Core: 383 (306.6 Kpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Multi-Core: 754 (602.4 Kpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Single-Core: 449 (5.18 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Multi-Core: 886 (10.2 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Single-Core: 262 (9.55 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Multi-Core: 511 (18.6 Mpixels/sec)
Lua Single-Core: 314 (1.58 KB/sec)
Lua Multi-Core: 616 (567.4 KB/sec)
Dijkstra Single-Core: 550 (1.58 Mpairs/sec)
Dijkstra Multi-Core: 817 (2.94 Mpairs/sec)

Single-Core Score: 182
Multi-Core Score: 363
BlackScholes Single-Core: 274 (1.22 Mnodes/sec)
BlackScholes Multi-Core: 545 (2.43 Mnodes/sec)
Mandelbrot Single-Core: 233 (239.3 Mflops)
Mandelbrot Multi-Core: 460 (2.43 Mflops)
Sharpen Filter Single-Core: 182 (135.2 Mflops)
Sharpen Filter Multi-Core: 360 (267.0 Mflops)
Blur Filter Single-Core: 176 (168.0 Mflops)
Blur Filter Multi-Core: 344 (327.9 Mflops)
SGEMM Single-Core: 157 (442.5 Mflops)
SGEMM Multi-Core: 301 (843.7 Mflops)
DGEMM Single-Core: 74 (109.2 Mflops)
DGEMM Multi-Core: 153 (225.1 Mflops)
SFFT Single-Core: 156 (165.5 Mflops)
SFFT Multi-Core: 315 (332.2 Mflops)
DFFT Single-Core: 182 (165.9 Mflops)
DFFT Multi-Core: 365 (332.8 Mflops)
N-Body Single-Core: 223 (86.8 Kpairs/sec)
N-Body Multi-Core: 461 (332.2 Kpairs/sec)
Ray Trace Single-Core: 268 (316.5 Kpixels/sec)
Ray Trace Multi-Core: 527 (622.4 Kpixels/sec)

Single-Core Score: 154
Multi-Core Score: 210
Stream Copy Single-Core: 240 (983.5 MB/sec)
Stream Copy Multi-Core: 308 (1.23 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Single-Core: 137 (560.3 MB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 238 (977.0 MB/sec)
Stream Add Single-Core: 130 (604.7 MB/sec)
Stream Add Multi-Core: 161 (749.2 MB/sec) 
Stream Triad Single-Core: 134 (603.4 MB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 166 (748.8 MB/sec)

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Single-Core Comparative Benchmarks

Comparative (Speculative) Benchmark Scores - Note that our iPhone 4S scored a solid 213...
Unless you know what these numbers mean, this entire section will be meaningless to you... So why do I bother?  Because some of you know what these numbers mean and they are as significant and meaningful to you as they are to me, that's why :)

Device Name CPU Benchmark* 
iPod Touch (5th Gen) Apple A5 213
iPhone 4S Apple A5 213
iPad Mini Apple A5 260
iPad 3rd Generation Apple A5X  260
iPad 2 Apple A5 262
iPhone 5C Apple A6 695
iPhone 5 Apple A6 710
iPad 4th Generation Apple A6X 771
iPad Mini Retina Display  Apple A7 1384
iPhone 5S Apple A7 1400
iPad Air Apple A7 1473
iPhone 6 Plus Apple A8 1590
iPhone 6 Apple A8 1607

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Multi-Core Comparative Benchmarks

Comparative (Speculative) Benchmark Scores - Note that our iPhone 4S scored a solid 407...

Device Name CPU Benchmark* 
iPod Touch (5th Gen) Apple A5 410
iPhone 4S Apple A5 405
iPad Mini Apple A5 490
iPad 3rd Generation Apple A5X  492
iPad 2 Apple A5 494
iPhone 5C Apple A6 1243
iPhone 5 Apple A6 1274
iPad 4th Generation Apple A6X 1402
iPad Mini Retina Display  Apple A7 2495
iPhone 5S Apple A7 2525
iPad Air Apple A7 2665
iPhone 6 Plus Apple A8 2839
iPhone 6 Apple A8 2873

* Bench Score translates to "Comparative Benchmark Score" - with the score listed being a representative sample taken from each respective physical device and type.

The numbers that are contained in the benchmark we ran on the iPhone 4S are pretty meaningless until we receive the 6 Plus and run the benchmark on that - then we can compare the two and at that point the numbers will have actual meaning...

Of the numbers above the one that is obviously of the most interest to me is the iPhone 6 Plus - and believe you me I am expecting great things from it...  I expect it will allow me to walk on water simply by holding it in my hand...  I expect it will pick the winning lottery numbers for me without me having to ask - and I expect it will translate what women are REALLY saying when they say things to me...  Yeah, it is going to be freaking boss!

More to follow in Part 2...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the iPhone 6 Plus

The newest generation of iPhone - the iPhone 6 - is a game changer literally
Shortly after AT&T announced its iPhone 6 plans - or rather its NEW iPhone 6 plans, I made the decision that, despite my dedicated reluctance to be an early adopter of any sort of new tech, thanks in part to my responsibilities with work and my need to have access to the new iPhone in order to review games that are made specifically for it, I bit the bullet.  Sort of...

Now, I qualified that with a "sort of" largely because in spite of Tim Cook's excited announcement on that stage in California, and despite the contention that the iPhone 6 is perhaps the most polished NEW iPhone to ever launch at Apple - when I placed my order for an iPhone 6 Plus with 64GB of memory on AT&T's website, I understood that there was both a wait-list and that the model I was ordering was one of the more popular - hence an even longer wait-list.

What I mean is, I understood that I would have to get in line with everyone else and wait my turn.

And wait.  Today is 11 November, 2014.  This is the first day that I *might* be sent my new iPhone.

The new Apple Watch - oh, wait, that's the TV watch from The Jetsons...  But if we could watch The Flintstones on our Apple Watch this is what it will look like...  Really!
The official notice that I received from AT&T basically explained that my iPhone was ordered - and AT&T sent me the following message:

Your iPhone 6 has been ordered and is preparing to ship!  Your iPhone 6 Plus 64GB has been ordered and it will ship to you between 11/11/14 - 11/20/14. 

They made it clear that I will get another text message when the phone actually IS shipped, but while they did not come right out and say so, the feeling I got was that it would be preferred that I did not call to ask them when my phone would ship exactly.

First of all, they made it clear that they did not actually know what the exact shipment date would be - and second, I don't want to risk having them decide I am a wanker and slowing it down even more or pushing me to the bottom of the queue...

iPhone Tech

You know, when the iPhone came along I remember thinking to myself: "Self, this is exactly the sort of cutting-edge forward-leaping technology that the writer pool at Screen Gems and the folks at Hanna-Barbera promised us..."

And let me tell you something, when I was a kid Hanna-Barbera was the last word in both cartoons and the future!  They knew, they just knew I tell ya! 

In addition to The Jetsons, they also brought us Scooby Doo, The Banana Splits, The Ruff & Reddy Show, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, Johnny Quest, and Josie & the Pussy Cats (well watched by boys aged 12 to 15 I can tell you), in fact if you were an animated character and you planned on going to Hollywood to make it on TV you had to make Hanna-Barbera your first stop!

Computer controlled dental hygiene - in the future homes will be automated with zoned climate control, automatic lighting, and the smart bathroom that includes computer controlled tooth care as well as health monitoring and how cool is that?

iPhone 6 Plus 64GB

One of the questions I get asked whenever the subject of the iPhone 6 comes up in convo with my mates is why did I order the 64GB model and not the larger model?  Hey that is a valid question and so I always answer it honestly: because I don't need more than the 64GB model.

Frank and sincere.  And almost always replied to with some variation of "How do you figure that??!"

My answer?  Simple math and personal experience.  That's how.

OK, here is the thing...  If you look at my past use pattern and habits you will discover that I don't use my phone for entertainment purposes.  I use it as a PHONE.  

The reason for that is simple - I discovered that way back in the day when I had my first iPhone, I would use up its battery playing music and audio books, or games, and end up with a nearly dead battery when I needed to make a call - or having to tell the people who called ME that I was running out of battery so make it quick.

That is NOT an ideal use of the device I soon realized, and it was also having a negative impression on the editors I work for and the people I was ringing to interview.  It wasn't a set of circumstances that I could maintain in other words.

If you are curious where I go to check out reviews of new tech, you may find me over at the website MobileTechReview where you can find entertaining reviews of tech like the iPhone 6 review embedded above...  Check out their NVIDIA Shield review and coverage - fascinating.

Once I grasped that basic dilemma I solved the problem in a most expedient manner: I purchased a Video iPod - which at the time was also known as iPod with Video - or Fifth Generation iPod - which was brand new and cutting edge at the time.

My new iPod could hold a massive 30GB of data, music, audio books, pictures, videos, and games.  Because inside was a little town in which elves who couldn't get work at Keebler were busy keeping track of and storing all my stuff, and sending it to the screen when I asked for it, and how freaking awsome was that?!

Problem Solved

Not only was my problem solved, that iPod ended up delivering services I hadn't known at the time I would need or want, and made my life - and job - all that much better and easier.  Let me list all the ways that it accomplished all of that for me:
When you are finished driving flying it, a simple push of a button causes this air-car to fold up into an easy to carry briefcase style that totally eliminates the need and expense of paying for parking.
  • Battery Savior - Where I was using the battery up on my iPhone, I now had a dedicated batter in this new iPod device thingy with which to play games and listen to media, and a dedicated battery in my iPhone thingy with which to take and make phone calls, record interviews, and keep and maintain both my Contacts book and notes.  So win-win.

    When the battery was used up on the iPod that was all she Wrote as far as games or media was concerned for the day - or at least until I could plug in the iPod.  Because I had made a deal with myself that I would NEVER use the iPhone like I had been - for entertainment.

  • Portable Media Safe - So here is the thing...  At the time (around 2006) the idea of a collection of thumb drives with which to carry around the data and programs that we need was not a naturally occurring idea for most people - myself included.

    It is fair to say that I did not see it or understand the value of it until, sitting on the bed of my hotel in Los Angeles after a grueling day covering the video game Disney World called E3, I put my brain in neutral and was entertained by a motion picture staring John Cusack that was called Runaway Jury.

    As I watched a bad guy - a really bad guy I just knew - had broken into John's apartment and was in the process of searching it.  What was he searching for?  He didn't know. But he knew he was searching for something - a file, a hard drive, something that John had stored data on...  Secrets that the bad guy needed to uncover.

    Now bearing in mind that the movie was already 3 years old when I saw it on TV in that nice hotel room in LA - and also bear in mind that in my daypack on the corner of the bed was a large collection - I remember counting them up on the plane on the way home and being shocked to discover that I had somehow managed to collect 43 thumb drives filled with press and PR packages for games - and I remember thinking that most of the writers that I worked with hated the things because they were just large enough to be tempting but too small to be useful...

    Now bear in mind that when they said that they were actually talking about the most common sizes of thumb drive that they were most familiar with and that they tended to be handed at events like trade shows and the like: basically 128MB to around 512MB with the most common memory size that my colleagues collected being 256MB thumb drives.

    Now on the one hand these were FREE - PRs gave them out to distribute the press kits that just a few years before that would have been large bulky and heavy printed media that, by the end of the day, caused you to be hauling around 20 pounds of paper.

    As I was the only one of my peers who happened to cover the video games beat, the following was of particular interest to them in that at first they could not believe what I was telling them.  And then when they did believe it - a feat I accomplished by handing them the cigar box that contained 43 thumb drives - most of them with silk-screened studio names and logos on one side, and the name and logo of the game whose press kit they contained on the other - and invited them to slot them into their computer and see for themselves.

    Of the 43 thumb drives from that E3 all but 6 were 4GB models. The 6 that were exceptions only contained 2GB each. 

    To put this in perspective for you - at that time a 4GB Thumb Drive could be purchased at your local area Best Buy - for something like $200 that is.  In my bag - handed to me like they were nothing more than the printed press kit - was over $7K in Thumb Drives.  Absolute madness.

    But wait!  The point of this was NOT that the game studios were giving away 4GB thumb drives - rather it was that in the movie John Cusack's character was using his iPod as a Thumb Drive (sort of) and storing lots of data on it as a portable media source.

    I distinctly recall thinking - how cool is that?  I started using my 30GB iPod like that - and as for the Thumb Drives?  I copied all of the press kits to the hard drive on my notebook and passed the drives out to anyone who wanted one - because 4GB was large enough to be useful!

  • Boredom Battled - The good times there are plenty, and thanks to some special apps when I am getting ready for a long trip I will select a handful of movies I will want to watch to keep myself entertained, and pop them, one after the other, into my PC.

    Each movie is then ripped from the DVD and imported to iTunes, and once I have the ones I want and I have selected the music I want to take along for the trip all I have to do is plug in my iPad and voila!  The entertainment is transferred over.

    Later while trapped inside a metal tube rocketing through the sky at nearly 600 miles per hour I am happily engrossed in Monuments Men, Fast & Furious 6, Saving Mr. Banks, and Frozen, while I know that Danny Carnahan and the complete works of AC/DC await my desires in the wings!

  • Actual Use History - I own a 64GB iPhone 4S on which (I just checked) there are 150 songs, 2053 photos, 0 videos, 32 applications, and something like 40GB of free space.  Now granted today I use my iPad in place of the iPod I used almost ten years ago to solve the whole phone battery issue, but still...  I am barely scratching the surface in terms of storage and memory use so what would justify spending the extra money to buy more than the 64GB I already don't fully use?!

    You know, when Sister Frank told me that math would be an important life skill I confess I did not believe her.  It turns out though that she was correct...

  • Replaces my Notebook - Thanks to the detachable keyboard on my iPad I no longer need to bring my notebook to events like E3.  Instead I leave it back at the hotel, and I bring my iPad and its accessories, which weigh far less and fit into a smaller space - my daypack - and use that to do any writing or posting I need to do.  And work gets done!
The prototype for the Roomba - a robot that keeps your carpet clean.  That's right the idea was conceived in 1963 but it took over fifty years for the R&D process and battery tech to reach the point where the tech was viable!

 Really Looking Forward to the iPhone 6

So, yeah, I am really looking forward to my new iPhone 6 Plus.  Really...  Can't wait till it arrives.  Well actually, truth?  I am terrified that it will arrive...

You see when it does arrive, I will be faced with the nightmare of juggling two phones with the same phone number for the several days it will take me to transfer and install eventything that needs to be transferred and installed...

They were supposed to make that part of the process painless and easy - but last time it was anything but painless or easy...

In theory I should be able to use the cloud for this, right?  I mean it should be relatively easy to simply back up the data files to the cloud, and then make a list of the apps I use the most (and take this opportunity NOT to install the ones that I never use) restore the data files and be done with it.  Right?

Here is the question - or rather one of them: When you pause to consider that the iPhone is supposed to be an integrated member of your Apple devices community, it stands to reason that once I enter my Apple ID and other pertinent infos into the phone and save them, how come my iTunes does not automagically KNOW what should be there and adds it on its own?

A powered chair network combined with a pneumatic chair lift system that permits you to strap your kid into a chair, hand them a bag lunch, then tell the system "Get this rugrat to school!" and it will!  That's tech we could really use today, let me tell ya...
After all that seems like a task that shouldn't br all that difficult OR outside of the reach of iTunes.  Right?  Right!  Heck in this day and age the ENTIRE PROCESS should be automated.  I should not even have to think about it!  And other than asking me to approve the list of data to be copied and apps installed, it should be able to handle all that on its own!

And while we are on that subject, just where are the personal aircars that fold into a lightweight and easy to carry briefcase??

It was over fifty-years-ago that The Jetsons first appeared on the TV - first entered our homes and promised us that in 2012 (that's right, the year that the show takes place in was 2012 - you knew that, right?) would be a fantastic future.

Colonies on Mars, a fully settled Moon, personal air cars, robot maids, automatic ovens, polite children, computer managed closets, grocery delivery, and wait, what about interactive movies and games?!

Man we were so robbed.  And considering that we were in fact robbed of that rosey future, can't we at least have painless iPhone upgrades?

I just know I am going to love my iPhone 6!  Some day soon...