Six Things About My iPhone 6+

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So I thought about it for a minute or so, as I was feverishly refreshing the Apple Store page at 2:01 a.m. that sleepy and frustrating Friday morning.  Should I get the bigger iPhone 6 or the huge iPhone 6+?  I got the big, honking iPhone 6+.

It came down to two things.  And unlike most things, neither of them was money.  The pro- I almost never actually raise my iPhone to my ear.  I have Bluetooth in the car.  I rarely get calls on my iPhone when I’m in the office.  When I’m at home or at the farm, I either use the iPhone’s built-in speaker, Google Hangouts (where I’ve been involuntarily tossed from the no-doubt soon to be shuttered Google Voice), or- and this will become the default- the ability to talk on my iPhone on my Mac via the forthcoming OS X Yosemite.  I rarely handle my iPhone in a traditional phone manner.

The con- I work out a lot.  And during many of those workouts, I listen to podcasts.

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Which means I have to carry this giant phone around in my pocket.  The fact that all of my pants have big pockets was the deciding factor.  So now I’m toting around my gigantic iPhone 6+, with the wonderful iOS 8 and 128 GB of space.

I’ll admit to second thoughts.  But in the end, I’m certain I made the right choice.  Screen size trumps physical size, at least for me.  I think it would, if given a chance, for most people.  But it’s an adjustment.  For sure.

Here are six things I’ve noticed.

One, it’s slippery and very easy to drop.  The size, thinness and smooth finish conspire to make the iPhone 6+ a drop waiting to happen.  In fact, within (and I’m not kidding) a second of taking my new iPhone out of its box, it sprang from my delighted hands onto (thankfully) the counter in my study.  No harm done, but it could have been much worse.  I haven’t used a case with my iPhone since Around Me was the hot app de jour, but I have been weighing the odds and thinking about getting one.

Two, the screen is large and wonderful.  I didn’t use my prior iPhones for much heavy lifting when I was near a Mac or iPad.  The experience seemed very much like working on a phone.  You can do it, but it’s a little unsatisfying.  Photos or texts, sure.  But anything more than that had me grabbing another device.  Not so much any more.  The iPhone 6+ experience is much more tablet-like.  The resolution is superb and the extra screen space makes a ton of difference.  When I was holding Cassidy’s beloved (because it fits in her pocket) iPhone 4S last night, it seemed tiny.

Three, extensions make a huge difference.  If you’re a geek, you already know what extensions are.  If you aren’t, they allow you to do more stuff on your iPhone.  Apps can interact with one another (e.g., you can edit a photo in the native Photos app with another app, without having to back out and switch apps).  In other words, you can have more creative, seamless workflows.  You can also add widgets to the Today view in the pull-down Notifications window.  This may seem minor, but it is a major productivity boost.  In sum, extensions allow you to have a more computer-like experience on your iPhone and iPad.

Four, the native dictation feature works.  It’s accurate and, best of all, you can see what you’re saying in near real-time.  Previously, you said whatever you wanted typed, and then waited for the iPhone to process it.  As a result, I use voice all the time on my iPhone 6+.  Again, a huge productivity booster.

Five, working with documents will, eventually, be much easier.  iCloud (and iCloud drive) will be more powerful.  Handoff, which lets you start a task on one device and finish it on another, will lead me to use Pages much more than I have in the past.  At this point, other than its mandatory use for work documents, I have little need for Microsoft Word.  I also expect that much of my non-work document flow will migrate away from Google Documents to Pages, etc.  I use the future tense, because much of this requires the forthcoming OS X Yosemite to work.  I’ve been using the Yosemite beta since the day it was released to developers, and I love it.  One caveat: I have found it difficult to get handoff to work.  Hopefully, it will be easier with the release version.

Six, while iOS 8 doesn’t look much different than iOS 7, much of the magic is under the hood.  Developers are going to have a field day adding features.  Some of my most-used apps (Evernote and LastPass, for example) have already been updated to take advantage of things like touch ID and widgets.  I use Drafts (a must-have app for anyone looking for an efficient workflow) many times a day, and am anxiously awaiting its update (would love a beta version, guys).  Over the next few weeks, many, many apps will be updated to take advantage of iOS 8.  The user experience will be vastly improved.

In sum, the new iPhones are big and beautiful.  iOS 8 is powerful and expansive.  The combination of the two with updated and optimized apps will be life-changing.  You’ll think I’m exaggerating until you [hat tip to my editorial board in the comments] experience it for yourself.

You’ll dig it.  I promise.

Adios Yahoo Directory

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Those of us old enough to remember the birth of the web have seen some things we thought were awesome at first, that later turned awkward and silly with the passage of time, and ultimately got unceremoniously buried in the potter’s field of the Internet Archive.

There was Geocities.  It looked bad, even back then.  But everyone was there.  It was inevitable.  Like the Borg, and Sharknado 3.  There were web awards.  I remember this awesome technology that put current news headlines into your screen saver.  I have no idea why that app died- I’d use it now.

And there was Yahoo.  Front and center.  It was the search engine of choice for a while, but it was originally the directory for the entire internet.  Yahoo Directory was the digital equivalent of the boards you look at in building lobbies to see where you need to go.

In other words, it was a very big deal.

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There I am.  With a link that still works.  And only 7 spots away from Wayne Newton!

It seems silly now, but back in the day, we browsed that directory like the newfangled yellow pages it was, looking for whatever we were looking for.  It was fast and hip.  Or at least it seemed that way.

Now it’s about to go away.  At the end of this year, Yahoo Directory will be shuttered.  It’s a little sad, given its cultural importance, to the entire internet and inarguably to Yahoo.  Yahoo should create a digital museum and move it there.  But apparently that’s not the plan.

Which is OK, I guess  Wayne and I will absorb the blow, and move on.

Like time, and the web.

A hopeful postscript:

I understand Yahoo’s need to move somewhere, given, you know, Google.  And I get that one needs to chop off dead branches for the good of the tree.  But I hope Yahoo will keep in mind that technical achievement, even if now outdated, should be remembered.  I also hope they don’t start sacrificing cool stuff that still works just because it doesn’t attract enough eyeballs.  Yes, I’m talking about Yahoo Pipes.  It will bum me out if Yahoo’s ax finds its way to the wonderful and still useful Pipes.  Take away everything else Yahoo.  But leave Yahoo Pipes alone.

At least for a while.

Y’all Stay With Me ‘Till I Come Down

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Tramp
You can call me that
If it’ll make you feel good

Notice how Junior only sings about 15 words, but still owns this song.  And that guitar….  This and All Night Long, from his record God Knows I Tried, may be the best last two songs on any record.

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Awesome Songs on TV Shows

Pajiba, an awesomely named site that is a fairly recent edition to my daily feeds list, has a good post on The 12 Best Songs to Close TV Show Seasons.  I can’t argue much with the list, at least as far as the listed episodes I’ve seen.  But they got the one they picked from The Wire (yes, it is the best TV show ever) wrong.

They picked the song that played at the end of the series finale: The Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Way Down in the Hole.”  And that’s a good one.

But the best season-ending song from The Wire, and maybe the best ever, was this one from the end of Season 2.

Sobotka, Ziggy, Clay Davis, Beadie (Beadie!), Lester, Proposition Joe, Nick at the end….

Every camera shot in every scene in every season of that show was perfect.

Apple Watch: The Musical

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This is excellent.

End of an Era: RIP Macworld Magazine

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Time is a funny thing.  It marches on, making us older and making many things we once enjoyed obsolete.

I laugh (sometimes to myself, unless it’s Fox News and then out loud) at people who design their evenings around the television news hours.  I haven’t watched traditional television news in a decade or so, and I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone under sixty reading a newspaper anywhere other than the restroom.  I didn’t mourn the obsolescence of television news or traditional newspapers- I was happy to have the internet to access information that interested me.  Faster, and on my schedule.

I didn’t even mourn the obsolescence of traditional records, even though I write songs for them and occasionally receive royalty checks.  The greedy, inept record label cartel led me to embrace the new era of Apple, Amazon and direct distribution, even if it costs me money (though I really don’t think it does).

But even though I no longer subscribe to any magazines, the death of two of them has led me to stop for a moment and reminisce over days gone by.

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The first was when Stereo Review became whatever it became, on the way to whatever it is now, if anything.  Stereo Review, back in the Julian Hirsch era, was a wonderful, wonderful thing.  Back in the day, I would go to bed early on the day my copy arrived, so I could relish the stories, reviews and analysis.

The second was today, when I read that the print edition of Macworld is ceasing publication.  I subscribed to Macworld for a long time, but I confess to being part of the problem, as I have not subscribed to the print edition in several years.  Nevertheless, I remember learning about some of the coolest devices I ever experienced in the pages of that now shuttered publication.  This copy has a permanent place on my bedside table.

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Sure, Macworld will continue online in a vastly reduced form.  And thankfully, Jason Snell managed to save Clockwise, one of my very favorite podcasts (Jason, if you need some non-paid help in keeping that wonderful podcast going, let me know.  I’m in.).  But knowing that Macworld, in its traditional, obsolete-or-not, hard copy form will soon cease to exist makes me sad.

Maybe it was inevitable, but it’s still sad.

Come on Baby Don’t Be Cold as Ice

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You know what today is, right?

It’s One After 909.

Much of The Beatles’ catalog, while excellent, now bores me to tears, because I’ve heard every song several hundred times (or more).  One After 909 is an exception to that.  It rocks so hard.

While generally considered one of their later songs, it was actually one of the first Lennon-McCartney compositions.