Just got my new iPhone 5

Switching from HTC EVO to iPhone 5 on Sprint.

The phone arrived today, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised, I really didn’t expect to see it until next week some time. I had only ordered it two days ago.

I have to admit to having become somewhat of an Apple fanboy ever since I started using an iPad 2 for work.

The HTC EVO was an OK phone but suffered from a couple of issues:

1) always chronically short of internal RAM with no way to increase it

I don’t have a great number of apps on my phone and I don’t really game at all so I was annoyed that I NEVER had enough room on my HTC phone. I was always using Titanium backup to back up stuff to my SD card and then remove it from active memory. Everything that could be put on the SD card WAS on that card and still I never had more than 60 MB free in RAM which was right on the cusp where it would start complaining to me whenever it was performing updates.

2) The Android required a lot of thought just to use it sensibly:

A proper backup requires rooting the phone and then installing Titanium Backup (best solution IMHO)

No default Tasks application

I always found it challenging to set the notifications reliably <– although this is probably just me

3) The Android was sluggish… all the time.

Say what you want about Apple products, they do know how to make the user experience a pleasing one. Even brand new, with nothing on it my HTC EVO would lag – just a bit – with every swipe. The iPhone almost starts moving before your finger hits the screen. It’s just that responsive. Now my iPad has had its share of crashes and mini freezes – most notably when using the web browser, but my android seemed to spend it’s life with a page half on and half off the screen as it paused doing who knows what.

In the beginning I wanted the Android because it was infinitely customizable (see Tasker if you don’t know how to take full advantage of your android) and it integrated VERY well with Google’s tools – gmail, contacts, maps – all of which I use heavily and – I admit it – I was somewhat of an Apple bigot figuring that only uninformed n00bs would overspend on such boutique gadgets. Ah well, you change with time…

But in the end I finally decided I wanted a device that had been well thought out and could be tweaked *enough* to keep me satisfied but not so much that it would be a fight to do what I wanted with it. My phone has 32  GB available to me so it is unlikely that I’ll manage to consume all that within its lifetime. I have a 4 year old 120 GB iPod classic that serves all my remote music needs so I don’t really need to store a lot of that space consuming stuff on the iPhone – I’ve never really wanted to expend precious cell phone power on listening to music anyway.

 

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

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2012 Home Renovations – Part 33 – Landscaping

It took a while to decide what we wanted to do with our lawn after the pool / patio project. The original lawn had heave issues, scarring from a water main replacement and was generally a mish-mash of unhappy fescue, crab crass, creeping Charlie and dead spots. Having a mini mountain of earth piled on it for a few weeks did nothing to improve the situation.

We got several estimates to:
1) Put in new grass
2) install an irrigation system (was an afterthought but became important when we realized how much it would protect our investment)
3) re-countour our front lawn tree/garden area
4) come up with something attractive for the strip on the right side of our driveway
5) re-invent our front walkway garden area
6) come up with transitions for our back patio and the lawn and our house and the lawn in pretty shaded area
7) address the stepping stones that we had installed but with which we were not really happy

Mardi Grass landscaping has been doing our lawn for a little over a year now and they came in with what seems like a reasonable quote when blended with all the facets I wanted covered.

Having them performing ongoing maintenance also gives me a comfort level that they will be available to stand by their work should anything go awry.

The first step was to scrape off the remnants of the old lawn, plus remove any new growth that had accumulated after the major construction of this summer ended.

Then the lawn needed to be leveled and *some* topsoil applied. I have heard wildly varying versions of how much topsoil the Emerald Zoysia grass needs when it is installed on dirt such as mine. Mardi Grass’ take on it was somewhere in the middle. Some, but not a lot.

Above is the remains of our front entry garden area after the driveway and walkway work. Note the brownish bolder in the foreground. This was the only really big boulder that was dug up while excavating for the pool. This is to be moved into the other garden area on the front lawn. Also note “The Yucca Plant that will not die”. We have removed that plant twice. Each time it comes back.. a little closer to the walkway… presumably with malevolent intent. You can’t get anywhere near that thing without it piercing you regardless of clothing or other precautions. Maybe third time’s a charm?

This strip along the side of the driveway has always been an issue for us. There is a lot of shade from the neighbor’s tree and it’s in an awkward spot to water manually. Note the truck with our grass on pallets on the street.

The front garden area is being recontoured with a border of  monkey grass (liriope) separating it from the lawn and visually separating it from the driveway.

Most of the workers are preparing the garden area while one person begins laying the grass.

Unfortunately I had to get to work so I was not able to capture the whole process. I saw the start of the use of the ditch witch as they laid the irrigation plumbing. Here they are relocating one of the sprinkler heads at the entry way garden to better cover the area near the garage. Notice that the boulder that was in the foreground in the picture above has been removed.

The grass has been laid. The little pink flags represent locations of sprinkler heads. The strip to the right of the driveway is still outstanding at this point

Here is the back yard. One of the new catch basins shows up clearly now in contrast to the grass.  Still outstanding back  here is the replacement flagstones by the door and gravel in the “splash area” next to the enclosure (rain dripping off of the lexan roof hits the dirt and splashes mud against the lower portion of the screen) and a kind of no mans land next to the house where we decided we don’t really want grass growing.

The total for all this? About $11,200. Of that about $2,600 was for the irrigation system.

I keep trying to capture how beautiful rain looks when it’s on the screening.  This is my best attempt to date. It looks like so many sparkling facets. Especially when the sun comes out after a shower…

2012 Home Renovations – Part 32 – Usable, final punch lists outstanding

Lights installed on far side of Lanai

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on November 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

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Endless Pool Fastlane in a Salt Water Pool – Issue

So I had a pool installed this year. The pool opened on Memorial day and all was good.

Included in the pool was something I’ve been working toward for about 10 years, an Endless Pool system.

This particular system is called a “Fastlane” and it’s intended to be installed in a normal pool. i.e. the original endless pool was a self contained unit that has water return conduits and is focused on being essentially a “water treadmill”.

My system has brackets that fasten to the pool wall and the Fastlane is attached to those brackets with hydraulic hoses leading out to a pump that powers the unit from a safe distance away (keeping the electrics and the pool apart).

Note the Stainless Steel handle showing just above the water level.

Overall I’m really happy with the unit. I’m a reasonably aggressive swimmer and this unit is easily able to meet and exceed my capabilities.

I’m finding out now that Endless Pools is not really happy having their units in a salt water environment. The unit comes with a sacrificial anode (basically a hunk of zinc that you attach to the unit to attract electrons that would otherwise corrode the unit). Anybody who maintains a boat in a salt water environment will know what this is. When I tried to sign up for their “Sacrificial Anode Club” a few months ago I found that they’d already given up on that idea as they were encountering problems due to the vastly different rates at which the anodes are consumed for different pools. Temperature and pool chemistry varies a lot between pools and it was just too much of a hassle trying to work it out.

My first anode actually looked fine for about 3 months and then I began noticing some rust around some of the screws on the bottom cage (water input for the unit), on touching the anode it just crumbled immediately. Which meant it had been spent for probably at least a week or so. I immediately picked up a honking big anode from a motorboat supply house and ordered 3 more “official” units from Endless Pools to have on hand.

New here’s where my mystery comes in.

The stainless steel handle of the unit has pretty rapidly turned black. It’s some kind of corrosion but I have not been able to figure out what it is. If you touch it with your hand some will rub off on you and it’s a bit messy that way. So it’s not just a cosmetic thing, I don’t really want guests touching it and possibly messing up their swim suits.

In retrospect we are VERY lucky that we ordered the blue colored unit rather than the entirely stainless steel one, I shudder to think how awful it would look with the entire unit turning a coal black color like the handle.

I contacted Endless Pools and the first thing the rep offered to me was to change to a chlorine based pool system.

I told him to take that off the table since it was not really an option. He explained that they’ve been encountering issues with Salt water systems lately and he didn’t really know what to say. Apparently the adoption of salt water by individual consumers such as myself has caught them off guard.

Of course I had checked this before I ever determined my pool chemistry solution, their own website FAQ says use of a Fastlane with a salt system is A-OK so I was not expecting any issues:

Although as I search today I see this somewhat light warning out there, I would not have noticed this in my initial research in any case.

So I asked him to get my request for assistance in front of one of their techs and to please contact me by next Wednesday. If I don’t hear back I’ll be following up with them anyway.

I am posting this as a warning to other Fastlane owners that have or are considering a salt water system so that they can be informed. I will post any solution I find here as an update to this blog entry.

 

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on November 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

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Karate KICK!

There is almost always more than one way to solve a problem.

FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

via Parenting Fails: Karate KICK!.

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on October 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

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Cookie Wisdom

I absolutely am in this camp. To this day I still get fooled by those evil-doers who bring these things to parties. I mean, what are they thinking?

FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

via WIN!: Wisdom WIN.

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on October 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

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Volleyball photobomb

Seriously, I can’t tell you how long it took me to figure this one out…

This is Photobomb

via When You See It.

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on September 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm

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Tissue Box WIN

Finally a tissue box that makes some kind of sense!

FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

via WIN!: Tissue Box WIN.

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on September 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

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