annathepiper: (Emperor Fabulous)

If you follow me on Facebook you’ll possibly have seen me periodically posting about how my neighborhood in Kenmore is overrun by wild bunnies in the summer, and this year is no exception. One of the things I quite enjoy about the walk up and down our hill when I’m doing my daily commute is looking for bunnies–whether they’re hanging out openly in someone’s yard, or ducking under bushes, or what have you.

I take pictures of them when I can. Like, say, this one!

You might notice, though, that this picture is kind of soft and fuzzy, and I mean that in a “not just because it involves a bunny” kind of way. The reason for this, I have discovered, is because the iPhone (at least up through the 6’s, as well as the non-Plus 7, according to specs on apple.com) uses digital zoom. And digital zoom gets problematic the closer in you try to zoom.

The common wisdom I’ve seen is that if you want to take a pic with an iPhone, you need to not zoom at all, and crop to get what you want. This is fine if what you’re taking a pic of is pretty close to you. Like this bunny! (This remains my very favorite bunny pic I’ve taken to date.)

But if a bunny is more than two or three feet away from you, you kinda have to zoom to shoot it. Because if you try to get closer, it will very likely sense your presence and bolt.

Which brings me to how I saw Dreamwidth friend cruisedirector posting her own bunny pics! She’s got some nice ones here and here and here, and in general, I’m rather jealous of her zooming abilities! She informed me that Samsung rather gets the credit for this, and if I google zoom specs for Samsung phones, I see things like “10x optical zoom” for the Galaxy S4 and yeah, that’d be why she’s taking better bunny pics than I am. ;D

So then I got all “so what can I do to solve this problem?”

Googling around led me to learning that there are assorted third-party lenses that have been made for the iPhone. The top two contenders I saw in my research were the Olloclip and the Moment, and of the two, camera nerds I read up on have been saying that the Moment is the superior lens.

The problem for me though is that the way the Moment works, they expect you to glue a mounting plate onto the back of your device, and screw the lens into that. I was rather dubious about this–and moreover, decided that I didn’t want to go hunting for one of these, even though I’d read in an article I found posted on the Seattle Times from 2016 that indicated that these lenses would be on sale at the Apple Store in Bellevue.

So instead I opted for the Olloclip. And specifically, I bought this thing, which gives me a telephoto lens and a wide angle one. The telephoto one is the one I’m interested in, since it gives me some optical zoom capability… 2x optical zoom as well as a shallower depth of field. It’s super-easy to pop onto the phone, and I can flip it around to use the wide angle lens. Both lenses can line up with the front and back cameras.

The one drawback here is that I do have to take the phone’s case off, but I’m okay with that.

And so far, the one thing I’m not entirely happy with is that test shots I’ve done with notable amounts of sky in them have caused there to be a bit of a dark halo effect in the corners. So to account for this, I will need to practice aiming and then cropping to get rid of that.

Also, if I change phones and want to continue to have an external lens, I’ll need a different one because this one is specifically designed for the iPhone 6. So far though I’m okay with that, too! My current phone is still perfectly lovely and I won’t be updating it in the near future.

So for now this little toy should be perfectly lovely for my bunny-photographing needs, and I will also be taking it to Quebec with me–because I’m hoping the improved zoom will let me do better at taking pics of musical performances, too. 😀

Here are a bunch of test pics I’ve done with the lens clip so far (and if the thumbnails aren’t coming through for some reason, you can find them directly on flickr here):

Happy with the purchase so far. Playing with this is already fun! Looking forward to learning more!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Buh?)

There’s a lot of buzz going around about the iPhone 7 losing the headphone jack, as we’ve finally learned will indeed be happening. And, since I’m a long-running user of Apple devices and computers and software, this is naturally of interest to me. As I’ve described on Facebook and elsewhere, I’m finding myself of two minds about the whole thing. So here are some thoughts bouncing around through my head about this.

One: I made the jump to a set of Bluetooth-based headphones some time ago. I did this partly due to recurring irritation problems in my ear (which, I have since learned, may well be influenced by my deviated septum; more on this in another post), but it’s also had the benefit of improved audio quality when I listen to things on my commutes. I’ve also become a fan of not having to worry about cords, even though the headphones I’m using aren’t entirely properly fitted to my ginormous head, even when I’ve got them extended out as far as the headband will let them go. It’s still overall a win for me, and future headphones I purchase are indeed likely to be wireless in some way or another.

That said, I’m eying the price on the new airbuds askance. They’re significantly more expensive than what I paid for the Jabra headphones I’m using now, so I would have to be convinced that the audio quality would be worth the step up in price. And I’m also not convinced that I wouldn’t lose the buds on a regular basis, or that they’d stay securely in my ears. I’ve had a history of the wired earbuds regularly falling out of my ears, and at least with the wired kind, they’re still attached to my phone. One of those wireless airbuds falls out somewhere on my commute, that’s got “likelihood of my stepping on the damn thing as I’m trying to look for where it fell” written all over it. Or, if I’ve got ’em tucked in my backpack’s side pocket along with the phone, the fact that they’re wireless means that if one or both of them fell out while I wasn’t listening to music–as is possible given that on a bus commute, I often wind up turning my backpack sideways in my lap–means the chances of me losing one or both is non-zero. I’m not willing to risk that for something that’d ding me over $150 per purchase.

And while I do have some level of appreciation for audio quality, I’m not quite enough of an audiophile to really care about it, certainly not to the extent of having “risk of losing airbuds” outweighing price.

Two: Other than my commutes, the times I’m most likely to listen to things on my phone are when Dara and I take road trips. We’re very, very fond of listening to Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures when we go to Canada, or down to Portland for Orycon. Before we upgraded to our current car (the 2015 Honda Fit), we had to plug my phone into the car’s dashboard via an adapter that talked to the cigarette lighter.

Now that we’re driving the Raptor, though, we have several USB jacks at our disposal. So the usual Apple lightning-to-USB cord works just dandy for having the phone talking to the car’s sound system. And I don’t even really need the cord, either, since the car’s systems also talk Bluetooth.

So lack of a headphone jack won’t hurt me there, either.

Three: Since I do use my phone on a regular basis to process Square sales at conventions, the ability for my older swipe-based reader to talk to the headphone jack is kinda not optional. I do have one of the shiny newer readers that read chip-based cards and which talk to the phone via Bluetooth–but those do not actually deal with older, non-chip-based cards. And not everybody has chip-based cards yet, so it’s not like I can get rid of the magstripe reader.

That said, word has it that the magstripe readers will work with the new adapter for the iPhone 7. Which is nice, I suppose. But given that I’ve had experience having swipes not take with the reader plugged directly into the headphone jack, I’m a bit dubious about how reliable trying to do it via an adapter and the lightning port will be. I’ll be interested in further reports on this.

Four: Dara shared with me some things she saw covered in Buzzfeed’s article about this, and I have to admit I’m of two minds about this. From my tech-inclined geek perspective, “freeing up the jack space allows for improvements in battery life, camera functionality, and water resistance” makes sense.

On the other hand, I’m also a fan of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And I always have to be a little suspicious of “we’re changing this thing you’ve been using for years because PROGRESS!” In no small part because I can’t help but feel like a lot of tech “innovations” ultimately don’t improve things much for my day to day experience. Like, say, all the browsers deciding we don’t actually need a menu. Or, all the major tech companies deciding we don’t need RSS. (Why yes, I AM still cranky about the axing of Google Reader, why do you ask?)

Now, apparently, traditional headphone jacks are the latest thing that the Tech Powers That Be have decided are outdated. But so far, the arguments provided as to why the future of audio is wireless just aren’t quite cutting it yet with me. And there are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. While I’m certainly not immune to the lure of shiny new technology (as of this writing, I AM currently on my third iPhone in my history of smartphone owning), I also am not a fan of how often I’ve had to replace my headphones. I have gone through a whole hell of a lot of earbuds, because the damn things inevitably wear out. One side or the other dies, and oh hey look I gotta go buy a new pair of earbuds now! And I have no real choice but to throw away the old, now useless pair.

    That was another contributing factor to my switching to the Bluetooth headphones–at least with those, I can hopefully get a lot longer lifespan out of them. And therefore hopefully contribute less to the ongoing electronic waste we’re all building up. I’m going to use this pair of headphones for as long as they’ll last. Because…

  2. …while I am very grateful to have a well-paying day job that lets me afford buying shiny new technology when I want it, I do come out of a background where that wasn’t the case. In my family history, plunking down several hundred dollars for a phone in general would have been absolutely out of the question, without months and possibly years of saving. And when you throw in another $150+ just to buy headphones to listen to music on the phone in question, that’s just a whole extra pile of “yeah no I gotta spend this money on food and rent and gas, thanks”.

I get that Apple’s target demographic is people like me who can afford to buy shiny new toys every so often. But we aren’t everybody. And I’m not convinced that the future of audio is truly wireless, not when there are still a lot of people for whom buying a smartphone at all is a significant hit to the budget. If you’re in that income bracket, you will be way more likely to buy a pair of wired earbuds than you will a fancy wireless pair of pods that you’ll be at risk of losing. The Buzzfeed article mentions cost-benefit analysis; that’s exactly what happens when you’ve only got so much income to spare, and you have to decide what you can afford.

So Apple, if you really want to convince me that wireless is the future of audio, how about making some wireless headphones that aren’t so freggin’ expensive? Because otherwise, your wireless audio future will be shutting out a whole helluva lot of people.

Five: As Dara has pointed out over on her post today, the iPad apparently has no immediate future of losing its headphone jack. Which means we’ll have an potentially interesting split of functionality. Particularly for users like me who have both an iPhone and an iPad, for whom it’ll make little sense to have one pair of headphones to talk to one thing, and a different pair to talk to another.

In short, yeah, I’m of two minds about all of this. For me, it’s all pretty theoretical regardless; my iPhone 6 is still pretty new and perfectly functional, so I will not be justifying a phone upgrade for at least a few more years. (This being my balance between ‘how much I like shiny new tech’ and ‘general practicality and frugality thanks to my history’.) By the time I am ready to upgrade to a newer phone, we’ll probably be on the iPhone 8 or even 9.

But I’ll be keeping an eye on how all this shakes out. It will influence my decision, ultimately, as to what kind of phone I’ll want by the time I’m ready to upgrade phones again. I’ve seen reports that some Android phones are losing their headphone jacks too, so by then, I may not even be able to have that be a dealbreaker. We’ll just have to see whether Apple’s gamble will pay off.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Buh?)

iOS 9.3.5 has just been released, and it’s a very important security update. Important enough that it made the news–because it’s fixing newly discovered security flaws that had the potential to give a remote attacker pretty much complete control of your phone. So jump on this ASAP and get your devices updated, mmkay?

The BBC has covered the story here:

Apple tackles iPhone one-tap spyware flaws

(If you own an older device that’s running an older version of iOS, better check and see if a similar update has been released for your version, too. If your device is capable of updating to iOS 9, you might want to put serious consideration into doing so. If it’s not capable of updating to iOS 9 and Apple hasn’t yet released a security patch to your version, go get on them about that.)

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Final Test)

I installed iOS 8 on both of my iThings this week, so here’s a quick roundup of things I’ve noticed so far. In general, iOS 8 looks a LOT like iOS 7, and the stuff that interests me the most won’t really kick into play until Yosemite drops and I can update my Mac. But that said, there are some points of interest.

The Good:

The new Health app has a tab in it where you can fill in medical data about yourself that might be critical in an emergency–allergies, important conditions of note, meds you’re on, that kind of thing. This strikes me as super-helpful, and certainly in both my and Dara’s case, there are important things that medical personnel might need to know if we’re in an emergency situation. This data is accessible from the phone’s emergency screen, the same screen from which you can dial 911. Excellent idea, Apple.

I am pleased to note that not only have the recurring Smart Playlists bugs that have plagued me through the last several iOS releases not returned this time, but a few other bugs new to iOS 7 appear to have been fixed as well. Notably, I’m not seeing weirdly missing album art anymore. And I don’t have to restart the Music app after syncing now to un-stick the Not Recently Played smartlist as I play stuff on it. AND, they fixed the bug where my Not Recently Played playlist wasn’t showing me brand new stuff. So now that playlist is behaving like I originally expected it to. Good.

Playlists in the Music app are now showing a count of songs and a run time in minutes. This is helpful to have, particularly for my smart playlists like Not Recently Played, where I can see at a glance how big the playlist currently is.

The bug with setting wallpapers appears to have been fixed–this bug being the one wherein you were unable to actually zoom a photo to the size you wanted when setting a wallpaper. This was annoying and I’m glad it’s fixed. Let’s hope it stays that way as this rev of the OS gets minor updates.

On my iPhone, battery life seems like it’s better. I haven’t burned through the battery nearly as fast the last couple of days, even if I play music through a good chunk of the day.

The Not Bad Per Se But Not of Interest to Me:

Two things got added that I immediately turned off when I discovered them.

One is predictive text, where they show you example possible words in a bar above the keyboard as you type to try to anticipate what you’re actually about to say. I found this visually distracting. Fortunately it was easy to turn off in Settings > General > Keyboards > Predictive.

The other is that in the app switcher that they put in with iOS 7, when you double-tap the Home button, they’ve added a list of your recently accessed Contacts. I found this visually distracting as well, and turned that off too. You can find the setting in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Show in App Switcher.

The Bad:

I’ve had apps hang unexpectedly a couple of times since the upgrade, requiring me to kill them in the App Switcher. This isn’t happening often, but it IS new behavior, and it’ll be something I’ll have to keep an eye on. The apps I’ve noticed this on so far have been Plants Vs. Zombies 2 and Friendly+, my Facebook app. I don’t know if this is a fault of the OS or of the apps not quite having been updated correctly for the new OS, though.

The Stuff I’m Still Investigating:

Apple’s handling of podcasts has been a mess in the last couple of revs of iOS, ever since they split podcasts out of the main Music app and off into their own Podcasts app. I’ve had recurring issues with certain podcasts duplicating themselves in my listing, and podcasts I’ve listened to still showing up in my list even though they’re supposed to have been deleted.

Still investigating whether handling of this has improved. A new version of the Podcasts app just dropped last night.

The Stuff I Will Play With More When Yosemite Drops:

You’re supposed to be able to share files across iCloud now, and have an accessible drive to put them on, similar to Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, and other such services. It’s about damn time Apple implemented that, and I’ll look forward to checking it out–since it’ll make Pages finally actually useful to me. Pages doesn’t talk to Dropbox, which has been a source of frustration to me.

Continuity will be interesting as well–the ability to answer messages across devices, such as answering a phone call on the Mac. Or starting a mail on the phone and picking it up again on the computer when I get home.

Should You Install It?:

If you have a recent device like an iPhone 5 or one of the newer iPads, yes, go for it. So far this seems like it’s a better than average iOS update.

However, if you have an iPhone 4S, you should read this. According to that article, the 4S suffers noticeable performance hits with iOS 8 on it.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Final Test)

I installed iOS 8 on both of my iThings this week, so here’s a quick roundup of things I’ve noticed so far. In general, iOS 8 looks a LOT like iOS 7, and the stuff that interests me the most won’t really kick into play until Yosemite drops and I can update my Mac. But that said, there are some points of interest.

The Good:

The new Health app has a tab in it where you can fill in medical data about yourself that might be critical in an emergency–allergies, important conditions of note, meds you’re on, that kind of thing. This strikes me as super-helpful, and certainly in both my and Dara’s case, there are important things that medical personnel might need to know if we’re in an emergency situation. This data is accessible from the phone’s emergency screen, the same screen from which you can dial 911. Excellent idea, Apple.

I am pleased to note that not only have the recurring Smart Playlists bugs that have plagued me through the last several iOS releases not returned this time, but a few other bugs new to iOS 7 appear to have been fixed as well. Notably, I’m not seeing weirdly missing album art anymore. And I don’t have to restart the Music app after syncing now to un-stick the Not Recently Played smartlist as I play stuff on it. AND, they fixed the bug where my Not Recently Played playlist wasn’t showing me brand new stuff. So now that playlist is behaving like I originally expected it to. Good.

Playlists in the Music app are now showing a count of songs and a run time in minutes. This is helpful to have, particularly for my smart playlists like Not Recently Played, where I can see at a glance how big the playlist currently is.

The bug with setting wallpapers appears to have been fixed–this bug being the one wherein you were unable to actually zoom a photo to the size you wanted when setting a wallpaper. This was annoying and I’m glad it’s fixed. Let’s hope it stays that way as this rev of the OS gets minor updates.

On my iPhone, battery life seems like it’s better. I haven’t burned through the battery nearly as fast the last couple of days, even if I play music through a good chunk of the day.

The Not Bad Per Se But Not of Interest to Me:

Two things got added that I immediately turned off when I discovered them.

One is predictive text, where they show you example possible words in a bar above the keyboard as you type to try to anticipate what you’re actually about to say. I found this visually distracting. Fortunately it was easy to turn off in Settings > General > Keyboards > Predictive.

The other is that in the app switcher that they put in with iOS 7, when you double-tap the Home button, they’ve added a list of your recently accessed Contacts. I found this visually distracting as well, and turned that off too. You can find the setting in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Show in App Switcher.

The Bad:

I’ve had apps hang unexpectedly a couple of times since the upgrade, requiring me to kill them in the App Switcher. This isn’t happening often, but it IS new behavior, and it’ll be something I’ll have to keep an eye on. The apps I’ve noticed this on so far have been Plants Vs. Zombies 2 and Friendly+, my Facebook app. I don’t know if this is a fault of the OS or of the apps not quite having been updated correctly for the new OS, though.

The Stuff I’m Still Investigating:

Apple’s handling of podcasts has been a mess in the last couple of revs of iOS, ever since they split podcasts out of the main Music app and off into their own Podcasts app. I’ve had recurring issues with certain podcasts duplicating themselves in my listing, and podcasts I’ve listened to still showing up in my list even though they’re supposed to have been deleted.

Still investigating whether handling of this has improved. A new version of the Podcasts app just dropped last night.

The Stuff I Will Play With More When Yosemite Drops:

You’re supposed to be able to share files across iCloud now, and have an accessible drive to put them on, similar to Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, and other such services. It’s about damn time Apple implemented that, and I’ll look forward to checking it out–since it’ll make Pages finally actually useful to me. Pages doesn’t talk to Dropbox, which has been a source of frustration to me.

Continuity will be interesting as well–the ability to answer messages across devices, such as answering a phone call on the Mac. Or starting a mail on the phone and picking it up again on the computer when I get home.

Should You Install It?:

If you have a recent device like an iPhone 5 or one of the newer iPads, yes, go for it. So far this seems like it’s a better than average iOS update.

However, if you have an iPhone 4S, you should read this. According to that article, the 4S suffers noticeable performance hits with iOS 8 on it.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Final Test)

I had my doubts about iOS 7 when I first started seeing the screenshots for it, but I did go ahead and take the plunge and install it on both of my iThings this past week: my iPhone 5, and my iPad 2. And on the whole, I gotta admit, it grew on me pretty quickly.

Design

First, the things I like.

Once I got used to the new design, I really appreciated that it’s less cluttered. I didn’t like the various screenshots I was seeing of super-bright, super-flat backgrounds with all the candy-colored icons in front of them. But once I set the devices up and chose some of the darker, less gaudy backgrounds, everything looked fine. (Pro tip: the white text labels on the various icons are a lot easier to read if you do in fact choose a darker background.)

I also like how a lot more of the UI is oriented around text now rather than inexplicable buttons. (Although I also am cognizant of the localization challenge, there!)

Definitely liking that I’m finally able to stuff several of the icons for standard iOS apps I never use (e.g., Stocks, FaceTime, Newsstand, and such) into a folder so I can just forget about ‘em, and clean up some real estate space on my home screen. Also finally able to put more than twelve icons into one folder. YAY! This is helpful for my folders for games. And I do like the pagination of said folders, though this’ll mean I gotta remember to move the more important icons in a folder forward so I don’t forget about ‘em.)

Quebecois Guitarists are an Important UI Element

Quebecois Guitarists are an Important UI Element

The new layout of the lock screen, particularly on a device with a Retina screen like my iPhone 5, is nice–but it meant that the previous pic I was using of myself and Eric Beaudry of De Temps Antan was suddenly unacceptably fuzzy. OH DARN, I said, WHATEVER SHALL I DO IF ONLY I HAD A CACHE OF SUITABLE ALTERNATE HIGH RES PICS oh wait I DO.

And now, the things I don’t like:

Not a fan of the animations of swooping in and out when you unlock the device or when you’re switching back to the home screen. It actually makes me a little motion sick on my phone, though it’s not as bad on the iPad–possibly because there’s more screen to play with, I dunno. After a few days of having the OS on my devices, as I suspected, I am getting accustomed to the motion of app switching. Still though, given my druthers, I’d turn that off.

Also don’t like that the “Reduce motion” setting, buried under Accessibility, does not in fact reduce the animations. There’s no way to turn those off, as near as I can tell. That said, I did in fact turn that setting on because I’m also not a fan of the parallax of the backgrounds. See previous commentary re: don’t really need my phone making me motion sick, mmkay?

ETA: OH YES, I forgot to mention another thing about the parallax–apparently if you have parallax on, it impacts how you can center whatever photos you may be using on your lock screen. I noticed this on my iPad, where I’m using a photo I took of my signed Le Vent du Nord poster as my lock screen photo, and the centering of it went off once iOS 7 was installed. This problem went away once I turned on “Reduce motion”.

You can find this setting under Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.

Functionality

And now that I’ve talked about what the OS looks like, here’s what I like about what it does.

I’m really digging the new task switcher. It’s a lot more elegant, and it’s super-easy to get rid of a task just by swiping upward on it.

The new “Today” screen is very nice. Its arrangement is intuitive and the info it shows is useful, particularly the new layout of notifications.

I haven’t had a reason to find the new control center useful yet, but I’m suspecting I will. Particularly the next time Dara and I go to Canada, at which point quick access to turning wifi off and on will be nice.

They actually didn’t break my Not Recently Played playlist this time. Well done there, Apple. I’ve complained before about this–though to be fair, when they’ve broken this before, it’s seemed like it’s always been variants of the same bug, i.e., if you try to use a “Limit” criteria on a playlist. My “Not Recently Played” playlist was previously trying to limit to 200 or 300 songs depending on how long I felt like making it. And since I turned off that criterion on the list some time ago, I honestly don’t know if the bug with it is still in there.

So far the things I don’t like are few. I’m vaguely miffed that they moved podcasts out of the Music app and off into their own thing. Presumably to free up real estate for iTunes Radio, about which I give exactly zero damns since I never use Pandora or Spotify–if I like music, I’m just going to buy it, and if I’ve bought it, chances are it’s already on my phone anyway.

And, while they haven’t managed to break my Not Recently Played smart playlist this time around as has happened on previous major revs of the OS, I did notice that there’s a visual bug involving showing the wrong album art for several of my smart playlists in general.

My personal jury is still out on whether they’ve managed to make the Maps app suck less. I did give it a test run to see how well it’d handle live walking directions, on a walk that took me about an hour. I did follow its directions successfully, but I also noticed lag time several times in how fast the phone caught up with my position along the route. More than once it gave me a spoken direction after I’d actually passed the spot in question.

Other Stuff

Plantes contre Zombies

Plantes contre Zombies

And file this under category “never tried this in a prior version of the OS, but discovered it playing around with iOS 7 and thought it was cool”–just to see what would happen, I changed my phone’s language setting to French, and quite liked that you could do that on the fly. But what tickled me even more was seeing that both versions of Plants Vs. Zombies actually dynamically changed over to French, too!

What ultimately sold me on installing the OS on my devices were a couple of in-depth reviews, here and here–but also, just hearing from Dara and Paul that they were having positive reactions to it installing it on their devices at home. If you’re thinking about going for it, do go ahead and read the reviews first, so you can get an informed idea of what you’re signing up for.

Also, two other things I’ll mention that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. One is that there’s a potential vulnerability with the aforementioned lock screen, described here. I was able to reproduce the behavior it describes, though it does require you to be very quick to make it happen. On the other hand, I also noticed that I could not actually get to any applications in my task switcher which were not themselves accessible by the control panel. For example, I couldn’t get to either my Facebook app OR Echofon (the app I use for Twitter). So be on the lookout for this, be cognizant of what apps you’re running, and if you’re feeling paranoid about this particular thing, you might consider disabling the control panel.

The second thing I’ll mention is that if you’re concerned about privacy settings, go read this article about the various things you’ll want to make sure are OFF. In particular, eh, no, Apple, you really don’t need to know what places I commonly go to in my life.

TL;DR version

On the whole, I’m considering this a win, and certainly a less painful transition than going from iOS 5 to iOS 6 was. On the other hand, I’ve also got a reasonably new phone, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to install this on an older one. My iPad 2 does appear to be handling it well, though.

Drop me your thoughts in the comments on how the upgrade’s working for you!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Final Test)

I had my doubts about iOS 7 when I first started seeing the screenshots for it, but I did go ahead and take the plunge and install it on both of my iThings this past week: my iPhone 5, and my iPad 2. And on the whole, I gotta admit, it grew on me pretty quickly.

Design

First, the things I like.

Once I got used to the new design, I really appreciated that it’s less cluttered. I didn’t like the various screenshots I was seeing of super-bright, super-flat backgrounds with all the candy-colored icons in front of them. But once I set the devices up and chose some of the darker, less gaudy backgrounds, everything looked fine. (Pro tip: the white text labels on the various icons are a lot easier to read if you do in fact choose a darker background.)

I also like how a lot more of the UI is oriented around text now rather than inexplicable buttons. (Although I also am cognizant of the localization challenge, there!)

Definitely liking that I’m finally able to stuff several of the icons for standard iOS apps I never use (e.g., Stocks, FaceTime, Newsstand, and such) into a folder so I can just forget about ‘em, and clean up some real estate space on my home screen. Also finally able to put more than twelve icons into one folder. YAY! This is helpful for my folders for games. And I do like the pagination of said folders, though this’ll mean I gotta remember to move the more important icons in a folder forward so I don’t forget about ‘em.)

Quebecois Guitarists are an Important UI Element

Quebecois Guitarists are an Important UI Element

The new layout of the lock screen, particularly on a device with a Retina screen like my iPhone 5, is nice–but it meant that the previous pic I was using of myself and Eric Beaudry of De Temps Antan was suddenly unacceptably fuzzy. OH DARN, I said, WHATEVER SHALL I DO IF ONLY I HAD A CACHE OF SUITABLE ALTERNATE HIGH RES PICS oh wait I DO.

And now, the things I don’t like:

Not a fan of the animations of swooping in and out when you unlock the device or when you’re switching back to the home screen. It actually makes me a little motion sick on my phone, though it’s not as bad on the iPad–possibly because there’s more screen to play with, I dunno. After a few days of having the OS on my devices, as I suspected, I am getting accustomed to the motion of app switching. Still though, given my druthers, I’d turn that off.

Also don’t like that the “Reduce motion” setting, buried under Accessibility, does not in fact reduce the animations. There’s no way to turn those off, as near as I can tell. That said, I did in fact turn that setting on because I’m also not a fan of the parallax of the backgrounds. See previous commentary re: don’t really need my phone making me motion sick, mmkay?

ETA: OH YES, I forgot to mention another thing about the parallax–apparently if you have parallax on, it impacts how you can center whatever photos you may be using on your lock screen. I noticed this on my iPad, where I’m using a photo I took of my signed Le Vent du Nord poster as my lock screen photo, and the centering of it went off once iOS 7 was installed. This problem went away once I turned on “Reduce motion”.

You can find this setting under Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.

Functionality

And now that I’ve talked about what the OS looks like, here’s what I like about what it does.

I’m really digging the new task switcher. It’s a lot more elegant, and it’s super-easy to get rid of a task just by swiping upward on it.

The new “Today” screen is very nice. Its arrangement is intuitive and the info it shows is useful, particularly the new layout of notifications.

I haven’t had a reason to find the new control center useful yet, but I’m suspecting I will. Particularly the next time Dara and I go to Canada, at which point quick access to turning wifi off and on will be nice.

They actually didn’t break my Not Recently Played playlist this time. Well done there, Apple. I’ve complained before about this–though to be fair, when they’ve broken this before, it’s seemed like it’s always been variants of the same bug, i.e., if you try to use a “Limit” criteria on a playlist. My “Not Recently Played” playlist was previously trying to limit to 200 or 300 songs depending on how long I felt like making it. And since I turned off that criterion on the list some time ago, I honestly don’t know if the bug with it is still in there.

So far the things I don’t like are few. I’m vaguely miffed that they moved podcasts out of the Music app and off into their own thing. Presumably to free up real estate for iTunes Radio, about which I give exactly zero damns since I never use Pandora or Spotify–if I like music, I’m just going to buy it, and if I’ve bought it, chances are it’s already on my phone anyway.

And, while they haven’t managed to break my Not Recently Played smart playlist this time around as has happened on previous major revs of the OS, I did notice that there’s a visual bug involving showing the wrong album art for several of my smart playlists in general.

My personal jury is still out on whether they’ve managed to make the Maps app suck less. I did give it a test run to see how well it’d handle live walking directions, on a walk that took me about an hour. I did follow its directions successfully, but I also noticed lag time several times in how fast the phone caught up with my position along the route. More than once it gave me a spoken direction after I’d actually passed the spot in question.

Other Stuff

Plantes contre Zombies

Plantes contre Zombies

And file this under category “never tried this in a prior version of the OS, but discovered it playing around with iOS 7 and thought it was cool”–just to see what would happen, I changed my phone’s language setting to French, and quite liked that you could do that on the fly. But what tickled me even more was seeing that both versions of Plants Vs. Zombies actually dynamically changed over to French, too!

What ultimately sold me on installing the OS on my devices were a couple of in-depth reviews, here and here–but also, just hearing from Dara and Paul that they were having positive reactions to it installing it on their devices at home. If you’re thinking about going for it, do go ahead and read the reviews first, so you can get an informed idea of what you’re signing up for.

Also, two other things I’ll mention that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. One is that there’s a potential vulnerability with the aforementioned lock screen, described here. I was able to reproduce the behavior it describes, though it does require you to be very quick to make it happen. On the other hand, I also noticed that I could not actually get to any applications in my task switcher which were not themselves accessible by the control panel. For example, I couldn’t get to either my Facebook app OR Echofon (the app I use for Twitter). So be on the lookout for this, be cognizant of what apps you’re running, and if you’re feeling paranoid about this particular thing, you might consider disabling the control panel.

The second thing I’ll mention is that if you’re concerned about privacy settings, go read this article about the various things you’ll want to make sure are OFF. In particular, eh, no, Apple, you really don’t need to know what places I commonly go to in my life.

TL;DR version

On the whole, I’m considering this a win, and certainly a less painful transition than going from iOS 5 to iOS 6 was. On the other hand, I’ve also got a reasonably new phone, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to install this on an older one. My iPad 2 does appear to be handling it well, though.

Drop me your thoughts in the comments on how the upgrade’s working for you!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.

For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!

Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.

The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!

In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!

So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.

Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.

Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.

Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Aubrey and Maturin Duet)

I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.

For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!

Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.

The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!

In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!

So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.

Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.

Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.

Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Little Help)

This one’s for any of my fellow Apple users out there who have a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 (the latest update of Lion), and an iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.

I’ve got an iCloud account set up to sync reminders between my devices and my computer. This is working beautifully between my iPhone and iPad, and the reminders are also showing up in iCal on my Mac. But the problem is, on the Mac, I cannot edit them. I can’t even click a reminder to mark it as done; I have to go over to one of the iThings and do it there.

Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I try to doubleclick on one of my iCloud reminders from my Mac!

This don't make no sense

This don't make no sense

userinfospazzkat, who also has his Mac laptop and his iThings updated to the same revisions that I do, has not experienced this problem. However, the main difference I’ve been able to note between his system and mine is that he has a full MobileMe account, including an email address, that he set up to talk to iCloud. I don’t have a MobileMe account; I’ve got iCloud using my Apple ID, which is my gmail address, to log in. I would like to HOPE that this shouldn’t be causing my reminders to be showing up read-only on my Macbook, but hey, I’m QA–I know how theoretical functionality doesn’t necessarily line up with what the code is doing, even after it ships.

So what say you, fellow Mac geeks? Any of you experiencing this problem? Any of you know how to solve it?

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Little Help?)

This one’s for any of my fellow Apple users out there who have a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 (the latest update of Lion), and an iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.

I’ve got an iCloud account set up to sync reminders between my devices and my computer. This is working beautifully between my iPhone and iPad, and the reminders are also showing up in iCal on my Mac. But the problem is, on the Mac, I cannot edit them. I can’t even click a reminder to mark it as done; I have to go over to one of the iThings and do it there.

Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I try to doubleclick on one of my iCloud reminders from my Mac!

This don't make no sense

This don't make no sense

userinfospazzkat, who also has his Mac laptop and his iThings updated to the same revisions that I do, has not experienced this problem. However, the main difference I’ve been able to note between his system and mine is that he has a full MobileMe account, including an email address, that he set up to talk to iCloud. I don’t have a MobileMe account; I’ve got iCloud using my Apple ID, which is my gmail address, to log in. I would like to HOPE that this shouldn’t be causing my reminders to be showing up read-only on my Macbook, but hey, I’m QA–I know how theoretical functionality doesn’t necessarily line up with what the code is doing, even after it ships.

So what say you, fellow Mac geeks? Any of you experiencing this problem? Any of you know how to solve it?

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Path of Wisdom)

You can’t be on the Internet tonight and not be aware that Steve Jobs has died. That hit me bleakly–less because I’m a user of Apple products (Macbook and iPhone and iPad, yo), and more just because I’m a cancer survivor. And even though I didn’t know Mr. Jobs as a human being, his work nonetheless has had a formative effect on my life the last several years. I cannot help but feel for the loss of someone who’s touched my life like that.

I played “Da Slockit Light” for him tonight–by reading the sheet music for it out of the TunePal app on my iPad, which has become a critical tool for my session practice.

And after I did that, I fired up Le Vent du Nord’s “Lanlaire” on my iPhone, and listened hard via the earbuds to try to pick out the first few measures of Olivier Demers’ fiddle solo. Because, again, music, and music delivered to me on a device that wouldn’t have existed–certainly not in its current known forms, anyway–without Steve Jobs.

And I’ve raised a glass to him tonight: Ardbeg, mixed with Blenheim spicy ginger ale.

RIP, Mr. Jobs. Thanks for all you did, sir.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Path of Wisdom)

You can’t be on the Internet tonight and not be aware that Steve Jobs has died. That hit me bleakly–less because I’m a user of Apple products (Macbook and iPhone and iPad, yo), and more just because I’m a cancer survivor. And even though I didn’t know Mr. Jobs as a human being, his work nonetheless has had a formative effect on my life the last several years. I cannot help but feel for the loss of someone who’s touched my life like that.

I played “Da Slockit Light” for him tonight–by reading the sheet music for it out of the TunePal app on my iPad, which has become a critical tool for my session practice.

And after I did that, I fired up Le Vent du Nord’s “Lanlaire” on my iPhone, and listened hard via the earbuds to try to pick out the first few measures of Olivier Demers’ fiddle solo. Because, again, music, and music delivered to me on a device that wouldn’t have existed–certainly not in its current known forms, anyway–without Steve Jobs.

And I’ve raised a glass to him tonight: Ardbeg, mixed with Blenheim spicy ginger ale.

RIP, Mr. Jobs. Thanks for all you did, sir.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Minor Key Major Songs)

I’ve been total Scattershot Girl when it comes to blogging for some time–like many, I’ve found most of my day to day online communication shunted over to Twitter and Facebook. But that said, I’ve had several recent lovely things happen that are worth sharing with you all in longer, blog-based form. So! In no particular order:

  • Finally saw The King’s Speech, since userinfospazzkat got it via Netflix. That was a very satisfying film, and I’m not at all surprised that it’s spawned so much fanfic across my various Friends lists and such. Everyone in that film did an amazing job, and I have much increased respect for Mr. Colin Firth now. Also, mad love for the scene where the speech therapist’s wife comes home and discovers the King and Queen in her dining room. :D

  • Also, as of today, finally saw Source Code with userinfosolarbird. Mad, mad props to userinfomamishka for recommending that! It’s a nice, tight little SF flick, and if you like alternate-reality type plots, try to catch this before it vanishes entirely. If you’re local to Seattle, it’s still playing at the Meridian 16 downtown, and it’s running at the Crest as well.
  • I have finally found a way I might actually read more comic books: the Dark Horse comics app for the iPad. I installed this on the grounds that a couple weekends back, Dark Horse had a sale of all its digital versions of Serenity and Firefly comics. Since I didn’t have Shepherd’s Tale yet, I thought what the hey, I’d buy ‘em all. The iPad is definitely more suited to digital comics reading than the iPhone, that’s for sure, although the iPhone does actually talk to this app as well.
  • Also on the iPad, I have a shiny new app called TunePal, recommended to me by Marilyn, one of the fiddle players who attends the weekly session userinfosolarbird and I have been going to. Those of you who know the Shazam app will find the way this works familiar; it basically identifies songs. But in this case, it identifies traditional Irish tunes! You can play them at the app on an actual instrument, or, it’ll identify ‘em if you’re playing them in iTunes as well. Then it goes out and hits up a big ol’ database and yoinks back several guesses as to what it thinks you just played it. It’ll show you sheet music for its guesses, and it’ll play the sheet music for you as well. And, you can add tunes out of the database manually by searching for them as well. You can’t import your own tunes, which is my only complaint about the app, but it’s otherwise very, very cool. Any of my fellow music geeks out there who are interested in trad tunes, you should be checking this out.

  • Speaking of the iPhone, my coworker Joe pointed me at my new favorite iPhone game: Tiny Wings. You play a birdie with, of course, tiny tiny wings, and the object of the game is to get the birdie to fly as far as possible by tapping. It’s super-cute and only 99 cents, so check it out.
  • FOLKLIFE! Well, that deserves a whole separate post, but I’m noting it here anyway.
  • And while I am still technically on book buying hiatus, I’ve picked up a few freebies. And I will unrepentantly, UNREPENTANTLY I TELL YOU, break hiatus wide open to buy userinfoseanan_mcguire/Mira Grant’s Deadline this week. Because GIMME. Seriously.
  • My friend userinforavyngyngvar is sending me a Blu-Ray of a-ha’s last concert in Oslo! Thank you, Yngvar!
  • I am sorely behind on Doctor Who posts, and will shortly be doing a catchup post. It’s an indicator of how much I’ve not been paying attention to the net lately that I totally missed that BBC America did NOT air the second half of the two-parter on Saturday, to wit, bah. I did not however give enough of a damn about this to actually try to find and download the episode; it’ll air next week as far as I know, and I can wait that long. Especially given that we’re about to have the mid-season hiatus anyway. Just nobody spoil me, mmkay, those of you who’ve already caved and downloaded the ep anyway?
  • And because it’s always worth saying, mmmmm blackberries of my marketboys mmmmmm.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Minor Key Major Songs)

I’ve been total Scattershot Girl when it comes to blogging for some time–like many, I’ve found most of my day to day online communication shunted over to Twitter and Facebook. But that said, I’ve had several recent lovely things happen that are worth sharing with you all in longer, blog-based form. So! In no particular order:

  • Finally saw The King’s Speech, since userinfospazzkat got it via Netflix. That was a very satisfying film, and I’m not at all surprised that it’s spawned so much fanfic across my various Friends lists and such. Everyone in that film did an amazing job, and I have much increased respect for Mr. Colin Firth now. Also, mad love for the scene where the speech therapist’s wife comes home and discovers the King and Queen in her dining room. :D

  • Also, as of today, finally saw Source Code with userinfosolarbird. Mad, mad props to userinfomamishka for recommending that! It’s a nice, tight little SF flick, and if you like alternate-reality type plots, try to catch this before it vanishes entirely. If you’re local to Seattle, it’s still playing at the Meridian 16 downtown, and it’s running at the Crest as well.
  • I have finally found a way I might actually read more comic books: the Dark Horse comics app for the iPad. I installed this on the grounds that a couple weekends back, Dark Horse had a sale of all its digital versions of Serenity and Firefly comics. Since I didn’t have Shepherd’s Tale yet, I thought what the hey, I’d buy ‘em all. The iPad is definitely more suited to digital comics reading than the iPhone, that’s for sure, although the iPhone does actually talk to this app as well.
  • Also on the iPad, I have a shiny new app called TunePal, recommended to me by Marilyn, one of the fiddle players who attends the weekly session userinfosolarbird and I have been going to. Those of you who know the Shazam app will find the way this works familiar; it basically identifies songs. But in this case, it identifies traditional Irish tunes! You can play them at the app on an actual instrument, or, it’ll identify ‘em if you’re playing them in iTunes as well. Then it goes out and hits up a big ol’ database and yoinks back several guesses as to what it thinks you just played it. It’ll show you sheet music for its guesses, and it’ll play the sheet music for you as well. And, you can add tunes out of the database manually by searching for them as well. You can’t import your own tunes, which is my only complaint about the app, but it’s otherwise very, very cool. Any of my fellow music geeks out there who are interested in trad tunes, you should be checking this out.

  • Speaking of the iPhone, my coworker Joe pointed me at my new favorite iPhone game: Tiny Wings. You play a birdie with, of course, tiny tiny wings, and the object of the game is to get the birdie to fly as far as possible by tapping. It’s super-cute and only 99 cents, so check it out.
  • FOLKLIFE! Well, that deserves a whole separate post, but I’m noting it here anyway.
  • And while I am still technically on book buying hiatus, I’ve picked up a few freebies. And I will unrepentantly, UNREPENTANTLY I TELL YOU, break hiatus wide open to buy userinfoseanan_mcguire/Mira Grant’s Deadline this week. Because GIMME. Seriously.
  • My friend userinforavyngyngvar is sending me a Blu-Ray of a-ha’s last concert in Oslo! Thank you, Yngvar!
  • I am sorely behind on Doctor Who posts, and will shortly be doing a catchup post. It’s an indicator of how much I’ve not been paying attention to the net lately that I totally missed that BBC America did NOT air the second half of the two-parter on Saturday, to wit, bah. I did not however give enough of a damn about this to actually try to find and download the episode; it’ll air next week as far as I know, and I can wait that long. Especially given that we’re about to have the mid-season hiatus anyway. Just nobody spoil me, mmkay, those of you who’ve already caved and downloaded the ep anyway?
  • And because it’s always worth saying, mmmmm blackberries of my marketboys mmmmmm.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Blue Hawaii Grin)

As a Big Fish Games employee, it is my duty to inform you all that we’re having a massive sale of all our iPhone and iPad games this weekend–every last one of ‘em is .99 a pop. Go! Buy a few! You’ll be paying my paycheck, and hey, I’m FOR that. :D

I am personally very fond of Hidden Expedition: Amazon on the iPad (excellent soundtrack, fun plot, monkeys, and a dorky professor you have to find using clues left in his scattered journal pages), and Atlantis: Sky Patrol has some fun marble-shooty action going on, with a bit of retro, art deco sort of look to it. Drawn: The Painted Tower is gorgeous. And Azada is a nice family-friendly game that those of you with i-Devices AND kids might enjoy playing along with a youngster, since it’s all about various and sundry classic stories.

Search for Big Fish Games on the App Store, or, if you want a super-quick way to get to all of our i-games at once, you can find ‘em on our site right over here.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Blue Hawaii Grin)

As a Big Fish Games employee, it is my duty to inform you all that we’re having a massive sale of all our iPhone and iPad games this weekend–every last one of ‘em is .99 a pop. Go! Buy a few! You’ll be paying my paycheck, and hey, I’m FOR that. :D

I am personally very fond of Hidden Expedition: Amazon on the iPad (excellent soundtrack, fun plot, monkeys, and a dorky professor you have to find using clues left in his scattered journal pages), and Atlantis: Sky Patrol has some fun marble-shooty action going on, with a bit of retro, art deco sort of look to it. Drawn: The Painted Tower is gorgeous. And Azada is a nice family-friendly game that those of you with i-Devices AND kids might enjoy playing along with a youngster, since it’s all about various and sundry classic stories.

Search for Big Fish Games on the App Store, or, if you want a super-quick way to get to all of our i-games at once, you can find ‘em on our site right over here.

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Little Help)

Help me, fellow Apple geeks!

I have a whole helluva lot of RSS feeds I want to keep track of. Ideally, I would like to be able to sync reading these feeds between my computer, my phone, and my iPad, so that if I read an article on any of these objects, it updates the others as soon as I sync.

The problem is that quite a few of the feeds I want to keep an eye on are friends-locked accounts on either LJ or Dreamwidth. And the vast majority of iPhone/iPad apps I’ve found for RSS reading work by way of syncing with Google Reader–which is lovely and all except for the part where Google Reader doesn’t talk to authenticated feeds. :/

I do NOT want to use a third-party service (such as FreeMyFeed) to unlock those feeds and plug them into Google Reader, on the grounds of that would violate the privacy of those feeds. What I’d like to do instead is either a) let my Mac do the actual grabbing of authenticated feeds, and just sync that content down to the mobile devices, or b) find an iPad app that can talk to authenticated feeds locally, and just read RSS exclusively on that device.

So, do any of y’all have suggestions for how I can solve this problem? Let me know in the comments!

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Little Help?)

Help me, fellow Apple geeks!

I have a whole helluva lot of RSS feeds I want to keep track of. Ideally, I would like to be able to sync reading these feeds between my computer, my phone, and my iPad, so that if I read an article on any of these objects, it updates the others as soon as I sync.

The problem is that quite a few of the feeds I want to keep an eye on are friends-locked accounts on either LJ or Dreamwidth. And the vast majority of iPhone/iPad apps I’ve found for RSS reading work by way of syncing with Google Reader–which is lovely and all except for the part where Google Reader doesn’t talk to authenticated feeds. :/

I do NOT want to use a third-party service (such as FreeMyFeed) to unlock those feeds and plug them into Google Reader, on the grounds of that would violate the privacy of those feeds. What I’d like to do instead is either a) let my Mac do the actual grabbing of authenticated feeds, and just sync that content down to the mobile devices, or b) find an iPad app that can talk to authenticated feeds locally, and just read RSS exclusively on that device.

So, do any of y’all have suggestions for how I can solve this problem? Let me know in the comments!

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

annathepiper: (Blue Hawaii Grin)

Something that has really come to light for me in the last couple of years is that I’m really, really, really tired of the “my choice of technology is better than your choice of technology” attitude so many of my geek brethren espouse. Whether it be “Linux is better than Windows” or “Macs are better than PCs” or “Open Source is better than paid software” or “my smartphone is better than your smartphone”, I have yet to see that this is anything more than the simple human tendency to divide up into camps and loudly proclaim how one’s camp is superior to everyone else’s.

And you know what, folks? When it comes to geek technology, this is really kind of silly.

When you get right down to it, no matter what operating system it runs, a computer is pretty goddamn awesome. So are smartphones–I mean, c’mon, you guys, we are all carrying around tiny computers in our pockets. And when I think about this, especially when I think about how computers used to be gigantic boxy things that would take up entire rooms, it’s even more amazing to me.

I’ve been thinking about this this week because I’ve gotten the expected amount of shit for the fact that I’m getting an iPad. But really, I’ve been thinking about it ever since a coworker of mine showed up at work preemptively expecting that the team was going to give him shit for having a Windows phone. That struck me. If you’re going around automatically expecting your fellow geeks to hassle you about the device you’ve chosen to purchase, that really takes a lot of fun out of having it. And it shouldn’t, because again, computers are awesome. And smartphones are just tiny computers.

So I would now like to take this opportunity to celebrate all technology, no matter who makes it. I invite folks to join me in the comments to express love of whatever technology you have and why you love it. I’ll start!

I love my MacBook because it’s clever enough to dual-boot between OS X and Windows 7.

I love Windows 7 because it’s a version of Windows that is not only not sucky, it’s elegant, doesn’t get in your face with the UAC dialogs, and able to play nicely with Bootcamp.

I love Linux because I’ve found it to be an excellent platform to write Python code on. Also, excellent for running our home servers at the Murk, and for playing Nethack on, and hosting my web pages and blogs!

I love Open Source because of healthy respect for the ethic of creating programs just because you love to code.

I love paying for programs I need or games I want because I myself work in the computer industry, and I love supporting my fellow geeks for their work.

I love Firefox because c’mon, FOXES, how can I not?

I love Safari because it’s fast.

I love Internet Explorer 9 because whoa, hey, a version of Internet Explorer that’s actually fast and compliant to recent web standards? Awesome! Well done!

I love my iPhone because it’s a tiny, tiny thing and yet it lets me do so much.

I love my nook because it lets me carry around an amazing number of books with me, and in one small sleek package.

I don’t own one but I love seeing other people’s netbooks because small, cute technology that can go toe to toe with bigger laptops is awesome.

I don’t own one but I love hearing from friends who own Android phones or Windows phones just because a friend saying “I have a toy and it does this really, really cool thing” is awesome, too!

I love flatscreen monitors because yay for occupying less desk space, not to mention no longer throwing radiation at my poor neck.

And I’ll save telling you about why I love my iPad after I’ve actually had some time to break it in. :D

Your turn, people! What technology do you love, and why? (And remember, this is not about ‘I love technology X because it’s not technology Y’–please, let’s not snark. Let’s make this a celebration of all things that are awesome. Thanks!)

Mirrored from annathepiper.org.

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Anna the Piper

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