I hadn’t intended to upgrade my iPad this time around. But that’s because I didn’t know what Apple had planned, and I hadn’t considered the tax implications of a successful Kickstarter.
Coming from an iPad 2, the biggest changes to my experience so far are:
I didn’t get the Mini because I occasionally draw via iPad and 9.7” is already on the small side. Plus the comic thing mentioned above. Plus the movie thing mentioned above. Love the form factor, not a good fit for how I roll. And so the main win from the Air’s svelter self is that I don’t resent how tiny the Mini is. Well, not as much, anyway.
I am in the “s” waves of iPhone upgrades. Unless I’m willing to pay extra, or live with my phone for three years, or Apple changes the way they revamp phones, I’ll probably always have an iPhone Ns.
As such, except with the original model, I’m never the one with the visibly new phone. And I’m cool with that. I used to like sticking out, owning something that starts conversations. But these days I’m happy to fly under the radar. And the nice thing about the “s” models is that they are the perfected version. The iPhone 4S fixed the antenna issues of the 4. The iPhone 5 was nice, but the colors weren’t quite right and the edges scuffed easily. The second time around they get it right.
Upgrading from a White 4s to a Space Gray 5s is a dramatic visual change. I got that white one because it was new, and my wife and business partner both had black iPhones. But my favorite iPhone was the original, and the Space Gray evokes that color scheme so much I couldn’t resist. It is a very pretty phone, sleek and stylish and understated. In the Silver & Gold versions the fingerprint sensor gets a shiny ring around it, but the Space Gray is in permanent stealth mode.
Continuing to compare it to the 4s, it’s ungodly faster, the screen is gratifyingly taller (I could totally go for about 10% wider too), and obviously thinner and lighter. I’m already mostly used to new dimensions, and the extra thumb stretch is not too egregious.
I live in a house with kids who are permanently trying to sneak on the Internet, and I’m often on the road, so I always have a passcode set. Thus the fingerprint sensor is immediately a huge point of convenience, and I’m satisfied that a casual thief (or child) will not go to the great lengths required to steal my fingerprints. Pro tip to those soaking in it: dishpan hands defeat the fingerprint sensor.
I haven’t done anything significant with the camera yet, but the sheer speed immediately makes it more useable than the previous models. I have a GorillaPod stand, but my 4-series Glif is now the wrong size, so for a compact change I ordered a Joby Gorilla Mobile Mpod Mini Stand.
The lightning connector is wonderfully small and I love that there’s no wrong way to plug it in to the phone, but it’s going to be a number of years until every device in my house uses the same plug again, and that’s damned inconvenient, just as it was when I upgraded my MacBook Air a few months ago.
Finally I really really like the earpods. If they don’t fit your ear they are probably super annoying or just useless, but they feel at home in mine and the sound quality is noticeably better. By far my favorite part is the new control bar. The buttons are much easier to press, and have substantially better feedback. Bravo!
Almost two years ago I was in Chicago exhibiting at NCTE with Gene. Our booth was near the back wall, and I sat down one day to eat lunch. Twenty minutes later I was back at the booth and realized my iPhone wasn’t in my pocket. I looked over and saw it sitting on the floor where I had eaten lunch. I picked it up and… it was dead. At first I thought it was just discharged, so I plugged it in. No dice.
Finally I realized the bitter truth - right next to where I had lunch was a set of double doors leading to a storage room. Several times a day the doors would open and a forklift would bring a palette of supplies to a booth. This had happened after lunch. My iPhone had been run over.
I had mixed feelings about this. I bought the original iPhone at its original price, then upgraded to the 3gs, which improved the speed, camera, and bandwidth to make it worthwhile. By the time the forklift incident happened the 4s had just been announced, and I had just completed spending way too much time deciding that I could wait for one more year to upgrade my phone. And I was happy with the strength of character this demonstrated. I am not a puppet, to be manipulated with every Apple announcement! I have will power! I can resist!
Now I essentially had no choice, since I’m on the road so much that going without a phone (or downgrading to my original iPhone) was not really an option. So I took a bus to the nearest Apple store and got a 4s, weirdly disappointed to be upgrading. I was so resentful at this turn of events that I resolved to spend as little money as possible. Of course I could have gotten a new 3gs or 4, but that seemed silly. So I bought the cheapest 4s, the 16gb version.
This was a mistake.
I use my phone a lot. I use a lot of apps, and take a lot of pictures and video. The new camera meant that said pictures and video took up a lot more space. And this was a time when a lot of big iPad apps (like Pages and Garage Band) were coming to the phone, and they filled it up fast. Almost immediately I found myself having to make difficult choices about which apps to install, which music to have, and having to continually upload my photos onto my laptop. If time is money I have spent the money I saved many times over. Hardly a week has gone by when I haven’t kicked myself for this decision. I even tweeted “My greatest regret is getting only 16gb on my iPhone”, and only half in jest. NEVER AGAIN.
So last week I watched the iPhone announcement and tried to decide whether to upgrade. I had lusted after the 5, but my contract wasn’t up for renewal. This was my opportunity. And despite all the cool new features, the #1 attraction was the opportunity to upgrade the storage. Once again I had convinced myself that I had the moral fiber to wait another year. As recently as yesterday afternoon I had decided I could live with my 4s for another year. I had installed iOS7 a few days earlier, and it was like getting a brand new phone!
Then I spent an hour going back and forth between Safari and another app. Each time I switched, everything reloaded. And I realized iOS 7’s dirty secret - it is a huge memory hog. Ugh. Some apps are quite graceful about reloading, but most are not, and the idea of spending a year waiting for every app to reload on switch, combined with the storage problem I already had, made my choice clear.
So I stayed up until midnight last night and was one of the first to order the 64GB Space Gray iPhone 5s, “the most futureproof iPhone ever”. If they had a 128GB model I might seriously have considered it.
Let’s see if this one will last 3 years.
And oh crap, the new iPads are coming out next month.
I get a new laptop every two to three years. My laptop doesn’t stay on my desk - it gets toted around almost every day, often across the country and around cities. Three years of constant use would destroy the old plastic laptops (the polycarbonate MacBooks dissolved even faster) but the metal ones last a lot longer. So the main reason to trade up is speed, memory, and storage.
Two years ago I got rid of my then-two-year-old 13” MacBook Pro. There wasn’t anything wrong with it - it was in perfect physical condition, and plenty fast, and had lots of memory and expandable storage - but I’ve always been an ultraportable kind of guy, and I found myself leaving this fine piece of aluminum at home because of size and weight, then wishing I had it with me.
So I got a 2011 11” MacBook Air and never looked back. Except that isn’t true, because I had to compromise both memory (8GB -> 4GB) and storage (500GB -> 256GB). Less memory means more swapping, though the speed of the solid-state storage helped mitigate that. But 256GB just isn’t much storage these days, and I waste a lot of time managing free space. On top of that, the battery life is pretty sucky, because there’s just not much room for battery.
So I’ll be looking hard at the revamps of the MBA expected to be revealed at WWDC on June 10. The last round of upgrades got 8GB and 512GB, but I’ve held out for Haswell, Intel’s new chipset which should bring substantially increased battery life at similar speeds.
(There’s some buzz about Retina displays too, but I’d rather have the battery life)
UPDATE: I’m taking the plunge, even though every voice in my head is letting me know that the lack of other changes to the MBA means that an entirely new version is probably coming next year. But I have a lot of work to do between now and then.
So, I paint my nails pretty regularly these days. I also work as a barista/cashier pretty regularly these days. A few weeks back, I had a customer come in, a fairly typical, sheltered, suburban soccer mom, and she ordered a latte from me. She saw my brightly colored nails and said, “Wow, you’re so brave! My son asked me about painting his nails, and if it’s okay for boys to do that. Now I’ll tell him there’s a cool guy who does it too!” It was a nice moment, very cute.
Then, last week, she came in again, and said, “Hey, I’m so glad you’re here! I want you to meet someone!” She then brings her son forward, and says, “Okay sweetie, show him what you did!” And he throws his hands up, showing off his bright, sparkling blue nails. He shows them off, and I show mine off to him. He smiles. We fist bump.
Guys, I’ve only wanted to cry once at work before, and that was when someone ordered a large dry soy cappuccino on ice.
This time, though. This was a good cry.
I’m coming to the end of my fourth month eating Paleo (high fat/low carb, meat & vegetables, no grains/starches/sugars). Here’s what I have to report.
It’s easy. It helps that our whole family is eating Paleo, and so there are no special meals to prepare and, more importantly, no off-diet food in the house to tempt me. It also helps that my wife is a great cook. The only time I feel cravings is when I’m both tired and hungry, so on days when I’m low on sleep I make a special effort to eat more, and especially increase the amount of fat in my diet so I feel satiated.
I thought it would be hard to eat well on the road, but it just takes a little discipline and a certain amount of forethought. I’ve had a couple of paleo holidays (pizza in NYC, ice cream in Disney World) but I planned these out ahead of time. Again, so long as I’m eating sufficient quantities of fatty food I don’t experience much in the way of cravings.
I’m losing weight. I’ve dropped fifteen pounds so far. Just for the record, I haven’t exercised a wit, and I’m eating very fatty, calorie-dense meals. So that whole “eat less, exercise more” thing does, indeed, seem to be a sham. Another fifteen or twenty pounds and I’ll be as thin as I’ve ever been as an adult, so it will be really interesting to see what happens after that. Will I just get leaner and leaner until there’s nothing else to lose? I’ve wanted to be two-dimensional ever since I read Flatland…
Other health benefits. I was experiencing regular, painful indigestion, but within a week of cutting out carbs that went away and has stayed away. That, in turn, has made it much easier to sleep. And sleep is the number one key to weight loss and overall health.
It’s not a panacea. I had hoped that cutting out most carbs would dramatically decrease my levels of inflamation, but so far I’m only seeing modest improvements, if that. I’ll give it more time. I also plan to get back into cold water therapy.
It’s hard to mind my own business. It’s especially hard when I see overweight folks eating low-fat foods and complaining about counting calories. I am deeply empathetic because I’ve been there. I want to tell them that they’ve been lied to, and give them a copy of Taubes’ book. But aside from a few heated Twitter conversations about portion control, I’ve mostly kept it to myself.
I’m in it for the long haul. This isn’t a diet, it’s just how our family eats.
Today Gene and I announced something new - @bookblrb, a teeny tiny book recommendation every day. It’s a little thing, but it took us a long time to get there.
We spent the last couple of years chasing a book-oriented social networking project around in our brains. One day we were sure we had nailed it, the next day the holes in our approach became clear. We would put it on the shelf, then unshelve it a few months later, and start all over again. Repeat.
It was during the eighth or ninth iteration that the idea of a tweet-sized book review popped out of our brainstorming process. This wasn’t anywhere near our main idea, but we quickly realized that here, at least, was something new that we could do well. And that, maybe, we were uniquely skilled to do it. After all, as cartoonists we are in the business of brevity, and we’ve been writing concise book descriptions in our Unshelved Book Club for eight years now.
So rather than create a giant social networking project, we’re shipping a single Twitter feed. And I have to admit that I’m incredibly relieved.