My iPhone 4S

I have to say that after almost two months with my iPhone 4S that I like it even more than ever. It’s my first iPhone ever, having come from Android devices most recently. What’s really impressive to me is the usability of the phone. The screen is smaller than my HTC EVO but looks better. In fact, you can argue that a smaller form factor is actually better in a phone so that may not be a big deal at all. The interface is awesome though. Some may call it simplistic but it works and it works fast. Sure, there are crashes but they’re few compared to what I had to endure on the Android devices and it just kicks you back to the main screen rather than makes you wait a few seconds while the UI reloads on Android. That was so annoying.

Siri is not gimmick. I use it pretty regularly, especially when on the move. Taking the dog for a walk and being able to respond accurately to text messages is a godsend. It used to be that I would have to stop walking to type back a message on the touchscreen keyboard. Android had voice dictation too but having used it I can say that it’s not nearly as accurate. The only feature I miss is Swype. My friends and I did ditch voice dictation for Swype since it worked so much better. If Swype was available on the iPhone it would be perfect. Additionally, searching for things on the web is just easy with Siri. Like many things that Apple does, it just works.

Last but not least is the camera on the iPhone 4S. It’s hands down the best camera I’ve used. Yes, my HTC EVO had an 8 MP camera but the image quality from that camera sucked balls. On the other hand, the camera on the iPhone 4S kicks ass. I find myself carrying my point & shoot with me less and less but taking more & more pictures. Mind you, these are the snapshot variety that just documents life but I’ve gotten some really great shots with it. Some users have even made the iPhone 4S camera into a serious one making very decent art with it. They say that the camera that you have with you is the best camera and that is certainly true here. Most of the pictures I’m posting now are from the iPhone. But more than that, it does videos as well. The quality is very good, and not just for a phone! It’s just very good.

If you’re thinking about whether or not you should make the plunge, don’t think anymore. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s up with Netflix lately?

Am I detecting some problems with Netflix lately?  Not just from from their recent amateurish actions that alienated many of their customers but something even deeper.  As a Netflix power user, I’m beginning to see some troubling things.  Just to clarify though, I’m a subscriber of their DVD’s through the mail program only – I do not care for their streaming service since the latest debacle.  It was a nice add when it was included in the monthly fees but I’m not going to pay for it.  I understand Netflix wants to move here for growth and what they were trying to accomplish but full transparency would have been a better explanation (i.e. the content owners, read Hollywood, wants to charge more for digital content so sorry, we have to pass that on to you… but no, Netflix didn’t say that was the reason.  Dumb, dumb, dumb)

In any case, it used to be that the Netflix queue was super responsive.  That is, when DVD’s are sent back, the queue almost immediately shows that they’re received and the next DVD’s in line are being prepared for shipment.  Once they ship, they move to the part of the queue showing the DVD’s at home and an email arrives in my inbox.  Now, I don’t even get emails until after the fact and sometimes way after.  Additionally, the queue will show that some DVD’s are received and others are not while I know for a fact that they all have been.  They were all mailed back together for example and invariably much later in the day those DVD’s would then show it us received.  This did not happen previously.

Also, the queue ships out of order.  Sometimes DVD #10 gets shipped first and it’s happening with more regularity.  I tend to strategize my queue by placing the most wanted DVD’s or new releases at the top position and it used to work pretty well.  Now it’s a crap shoot.  Then there was a day recently when the queue disappeared altogether and I was told that if I wanted to receive DVD’s quickly I should keep my queue stocked.  Well, it was stocked and lost by the system somehow.  That day nothing shipped out.  But then miraculously the queue came back but seemingly out of order.  Later it resolved itself and things went back to the order I had left them in.

However, these strange events have me wondering if there’s something up with Netflix.  Maybe when they were getting ready to split the service between the streaming Netflix and the ill-fated DVD only business Qwikster they screwed up the system somehow.  Or it was at that point but when they tried to reverse course and bring everything back together.  Any way, it may be nothing but these are things that have not happened before and it just got me wondering if there are bigger problems at Netflix then we know about.  Only time will tell I suppose.

Borrego Springs Ride

This weekend I went on a long ride to Borrego Springs.  The route took me up the 15 to Temecula early in the morning when it was still freezing outside.  I met up with other riders and headed east through Rancho California Road, the 79 and then Wilson Valley Road.  The Wilson Valley Road was a detour off the 79 and was a gorgeous ride.  We came back onto the 79, through San Felipe Road, S22 through Ranchita and then down to Borrego Springs.  The route back retraced the way we came except me & another San Diego rider took the 79 south at San Felipe Road and came home through Ramona.  Enjoy the pictures!

At the overlook on County S22 looking down into Borrego Springs:

Downtown Borrego Springs:

An iron sculpture in the desert about 2 miles out of Borrego Springs:Iron sculpture outside Borrego Springs.

More sculptures:Iron sculpture outside of Borrego Springs.See all of the pictures here:

I hate CBS News

I honestly do.  Especially how they handle mobile users of their website.  Let me explain.  I, like 35% of other Americans (according to a Pew survey), own a smartphone.  I use Google News as my aggregator of choice.  When I see an interesting headline, I select it to read the full article.  Today I tried the same thing with an article about the teen tweeting about Kansas Governor Brownback.  Unfortunately, the source for that article just happens to be CBS News.  I should have known.

CBS News tries to be too cute and detects my browser and/or device.  On its own, it decided that I’m using a mobile device, which I am and then proceeds to re-direct me to the mobile site for CBS News.  There are several things wrong with this.  1) I have no say in this re-direct.  No friendly, “Hey, we see you’re on a mobile device.  Would you like to visit our mobile site?” like other sites have done.  It just does it for me and I have no say in the matter. 2) And more annoyingly, once it redirects me, it takes me to the mobile site’s home page rather to the article I want to read even though it’s available.  The reason for this is that somewhere in this re-directing process CBS News does not keep a record of the referring site, i.e. the page where the original was located so it doesn’t know where I want to go.  My smartphone is more than capable of rendering the full CBS News site.  On top of that, I have built in tools (Apple Safari Reader) that dramatically improve readability should I wish to use it.  The Reader tool is better than any mobile site I’ve ever seen.  Again, if I wish to use it.

I just simply despise the fact CBS News gives me no say in the matter and on top of that makes it a huge annoyance by not taking me to the article I’m interested in once I’m re-directed.  From now on, I’ll have to adjust Google News to simply never display any articles from CBS News again.  Problem solved.

Amazon’s Cloud Reader

I just tried out the new Amazon’s Cloud Reader ( built entirely on HTML5.  I have to say, I’m quite impressed.  All of your items are available on the Cloud Reader, save for the new lending program; that still has to be accessed via a Kindle device.  But aside from that, everything else is there.  The reading experience is very pleasant and more importantly, all of your bookmarks are carried between devices.  They definitely have a winner here and a nice way to skirt Apple’s restrictions for in app purchases.

Of course, there are some concerns but they have nothing to do with the Cloud Reader itself but rather how Amazon is slowly but surely locking their users into their content world.  Aside from this though, this is an admirable effort in really putting new technologies to work.

Canon 5D Mark II vs iPhone 4S 1080p Video

Nice… check this out to see how the iPhone 4S 1080p video compares to a high end dSLR. It’s not the same obviously but the conclusion is that it gives consumer end dSLR a run for the money!

Download the video to appreciate the quality. The lens they’re using on the Canon 5D Mark II is no slouch… it’s the 50mm EF f/1.4 – a very nice lens so the video quality of the iPhone 4S is even that much more impressive.

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