October 21, 2016

iPhone 7 Plus vs. Google’s Pixel Phone

With the announcement of Google's Pixel phone, I really debated going back to an Android device. And while this would be my third attempt, this time I think Google has the hardware and software dialed in to truly take on the iPhone.

vs. I

Let me first start with a review of my iPhone 7 Plus (and the fact I can review “my” iPhone 7 Plus tells you which phone I went with). Of course, the decision to go with the iPhone was made easier because I’m stuck in the Apple Upgrade Program, and I can't just get out of that contract without waiting two years or paying a bunch of money at once. Also, Google announced the Pixel would be coming out exclusively on the Verizon network, which is not my carrier and cannot become my carrier due to coverage issues. I have; however, read some reviews that the unlocked version of the Pixel can be ported to any carrier, but I have not been able to confirm that through Google’s Pixel phone website. But here's my review of the iPhone 7 Plus:

I went with the jet black iPhone 7 Plus, which is beautiful. I love the look, I love the color, and I love the feel in my hand without a case. As a pianist, I love that it matches my grand piano and the black keys. I'm actually going caseless, because the Apple Upgrade Program comes with Apple Care Plus. Apple Care Plus now has a screen replacement cost of only $29, which is reasonable and cheaper than most cases you can buy. I've also noticed the longer battery life; although, I'm coming from a 6S, not a Plus (smaller phone, smaller battery). I love the new cameras, with its wide angle lens and a 2x optical zoom lens, although I think it should be more like 4x optical zoom. The phone is fast, responsive, and it is a great device.

But, it has its issues. I don't like the new home button. It's not a button anymore. It just a force touch area, that works with the tactile feedback mechanism, vibrating to let you know you've pushed the button. The button doesn’t actually move, but the tactile feedback it gives, is supposed to make it feel like it moved. In my opinion, it doesn't give enough feedback. Another issue I found involved pulling my facial hair when on a phone call. I put the phone up to my ear and in my cheek, and it pulled on my facial hairs. To me, this makes it seem like phone may struggle to be as water resistant as Apple claims. If my facial hair can get caught between the frame and glass, water will be able to seep in. And…I'm bored with iPhone. The software is good, but it’s the same as always. Often I actually think of this as a good thing, because it means they've done a lot to make the phone functional and feature rich, the way we want. But I'm bored with it. One other flaw I see is on the back. There is a camera bump. Why? Because of The Anorexic iPhone Problem. I wish Apple and other phone manufacturers would stop trying to make their devices thinner and thinner.

The thing Google did right with the Pixel phones is offering the two different models, a 5 inch model and a 5.5 inch model, with the same performance specs. Both have the same processors. Both have the same cameras. Google offers two sizes, but equal performance. The only limitation is battery size, based on overall phone real estate. With Google’s Pixel, you don't have to get the bigger phone just to get all a better feature, unlike Apple, who put the better camera system only in the bigger phone. I went with the iPhone 7 Plus because I wanted the better camera, not because I wanted the bigger screen. In fact, I hate the size of the Plus. I don’t want this big a phone. After using it for a week, I’m not even sure the camera zoom feature is worth it.

So, may wrap up and recap. The iPhone 7 Plus is a great phone, but for me it’s too big. The 2x zoom doesn’t offset the size for me. The Pixel is Google’s strongest move toward a device that will battle the iPhone’s success. I wish I was able to get out of the Apple Upgrade Program or have the patience to wait it out with a device for two years, so I could move over to the new Google flagship.

October 14, 2016

10 Things I'm Thinking About, and I Want to Return to Blogging

10 things I'm thinking about:

01.  The election: making a case for the lesser of two bad options
02.  Mid-life crisis: what I want vs. what I need
03.  Religion vs. Faith: actions vs. belief
04.  Technology: where it is vs. where it should be
05.  Career choices: enjoyment vs. compensation
06.  Parenting: almost 10 years in
07.  The USA: end times or just a rough patch
08.  Work ethic: is it dead
09.  Morality: is it dying
10.  Truth: perception vs. reality

I want to return to blogging:

I really miss writing my blog.  And, while it's really just for me (because I don't have an established purpose, or audience, or skills in writing), it's good practice for what I do at work.  Writing is a big part of my duties again, and writing a good report about a given incident is crucial.  The reader needs to understand the who, what, when, where, and why, and they need to understand all the resulting actions taken.  I need to "paint the picture" of events that occurred.

The items listed above are some of the things I've been thinking about as topics for the blog.  It's interesting to me that these are not the typical topics I originally wrote about when I used to blog.  Most posts from the decade+ of writing I've done are on the topics of automotive, beverages, technology, the Bible, or random rants about this or that.

Above are some of my ideas for where I may focus in the future, along with my previous post titled: 20 Things Currently Annoying Me.  The latter would be the typical negatively themed topics James Guhn writes about.  I mean, if you look back at my Twitter feed, it's a pretty negative place.  There's some good stuff too, but there is a lot of complaining about how things should be or how they "could be better if..."

Currently with the shift work I do, there is a lot more time I could spend writing about all sorts of things.  I now work 4 days one week and 3 days the next, giving me 3 and 4 days off each week to sit around being lazy.  Instead, I could be using my time to improve my writing style, while giving my opinions with more details and depth that my 140 character tweets allow.  

Previous posts that still excite me are my "If I Were CEO" and "My Bright Ideas" post.  These posts, as examples, give me things to look at years later for implementation in reality.  I get to see how companies take these ideas (probably not from me, but their own research) and implement them.  Microsoft is an example of a company that seems to have read my blogs on what I'd do if I were their CEO (here).

But I digress.  I want to write more.  I'll say, "I'm going to write more."  I just hope I use my time to do this more often.  Stay tuned (he said to himself).

September 29, 2016

20 Things Currently Annoying Me

20 things that are currently annoying me:

01.  My iCloud being full (Apple should offer more free space, like 16GB)
02.  Trying to decide Android or iPhone (AGAIN!)
03.  Heartburn
04.  Computer virus (Windows machine)
05.  New computer decisions, Mac or Windows? (pricey or virusy)
06.  People who don't like Law Enforcement
07.  People who keep racism alive (media)
08.  Low pay to love my job vs. good pay to not love my job
09.  Law Enforcement Officers being poorly paid
10.  Trump being the best option
11.  Getting old
12.  Still young, but not really feeling it (everything hurts all the time)
13.  Mid-life crisis without the $$ for my sports car (or truck, if I'm more practical)
14.  Time for blogging, but not the motivation
15.  Time to write music, but not inspired to write good words
16.  Missing workouts because I'm lazy
17.  Loving Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO shows that make me lazy
18.  Loving food, but not wanting to be fat
19.  Being hot (temperature, not looks)
20.  Not being able to think of a clever 20th item for the list, to end it right

August 20, 2016

Why So Thin? The Anorexic iPhone Problems.

Why do cell phones have to continue to get thinner?  Why do manufacturers think this is still the consumers' desired design element?  These days, my iPhone with its Apple designed leather case, is not so simple to pick up from a flat surface.  Why?  Maybe it's because I have fat fingers.  Or maybe, it's because the iPhone is too thin.  And why did this pique my interest?  Because jimmythegun.com is the catalyst for the work Microsoft is doing to correct itself; maybe Apple will read this and make some corrections.  Also, I'm full of bright ideas.  Just look at my old posts.  You'll see.

I read this article tonight and it made me realize, Apple has now compromised design and function for thinness.  The camera lens is thicker than the rest of the phone, causing the design flaw.  And the battery on the 6S is not good.  It suffers from size and capacity.  Oh yeah, and bear-paw handed people can't pick up the iPhone easily.  I want the feel of the old iPhone 3G back.  It's nice curved back sat nicely in my hand.

Rant over.

January 17, 2016

2016 Detroit Auto Show Highlights

I still love the automotive world, although I haven't had time to write about it much in the past few years.  With the 2016 Detroit Auto Show (also known as the North American International Auto Show) that's going on, I find myself wanting to highlight some of the standout vehicles from the show.  In no particular order, here are some of the most interesting and exciting vehicles I read about from the show:

Nissan Titan Warrior Concept
I am hopeful for this.  It's a striking design modification of Nissan's announced Titan XD truck.  Although, I'm not a 4-wheel-drive guy, this look is awesome.  And, with all the love I have for the service department guys at Future Nissan, in Roseville, CA, I'd love to buy another Nissan vehicle.

Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
After going to Ford and looking over the F-150 re-design, I haven't been a huge fan of it.  I was a little disappointed with some of the plastics and design issues.  This truck, like the Nissan concept above, is build and designed for some big-time 4-wheel-driving.  I love the exterior looks.

The Hyundai Santa Cruze and the Jeep Wrangler Truck
These two "trucks" are interesting.  I remember twenty years ago, I made all sorts of jokes about Hyundai.  Now, along with Kia, Hyundai is making really nice looking cars.  I'm not sure the life of their vehicles and the quality level, but initially the Sorento I drove and the Kias and Hyundais I see look like great vehicles.  And Jeep?  Well, they've been around for quite a while, are known for their 4x4 capabilities, and this truck idea has been kicked around for a while.  I don't think I'd move to either of these two, but they are fun designs.

2017 GMC Acadia
Aside from the price difference, in 2011 we looked closely at the Acadia and GMs other variants of this platform.  This is a strong looking crossover, with a tall stance that helps it look more like a truck than a car.  It's been a favorite of mine in the CUV class.  This refresh looks good.

Coming Sedans, 2017 Lincoln Continental and Volvo S60
These two cars are both working to reinvigorate their brands.  Lincoln, with the return of the Continental nameplate, hopes to revive a tired brand.  I am hopeful, again, for them.  I used to love the Lincoln Continental.  The Volvo has something special, to me.  I love the long oval grill and the sleek lenses of the headlights. I love this car company's history. 

Other Concepts, Acura Precision and Buick Avista
 These are two beautiful concepts, both from companies with very tired vehicles.  Acura has not designed anything I'd buy in 20 years.  I miss the named models (Legend, Vigor, Integra).  Although, I don't see the Precision coming to production, at least as seen at the show, it's a good move in design ideas.  The Buick Avista is amazing and could make Buick relavent again.  Currently, they are just rebadged GM cars and an ugly van thing built on the same platform as the GMC Acadia.

2016 BMW M2
My favorite thing to read about was this M2 from BMW.  It's a return to the small car that is a driver's car.  It's beautiful and powerful.  This is my best in show.

There were lots of other vehicles I read about on Autoblog and The Verge, but now I'm falling asleep.  And since I make no money writing this blog, I'm going to take a nap, without proof reading or reviewing for mistakes.

December 19, 2015

Hondugly. Honda's Ugly Vehicles.

Honda is a company synonymous with quality.  In the automotive world, their vehicles are known to last and last.  But, is their focus on quality mechanics all they have these days?  Judging by their vehicles' curb appeal, I'd say yes.

They sure are building ugly cars these days.  The CR-V has always been an ugly vehicle.

But, now the Pilot is taking on these hideous looks.  The pointed nose and long squinting lenses of the lights, make it more evident these vehicles are not SUVs but CUVs.
And, don't even get me started on the Oddessy.  Of course, who likes the look of a minivan anyway?  The latest version of Honda's minivan has confusing lines from the side profile.  The body crease is different from the line along the bottom of the window, which is different still from the top rail guide for the sliding door.  It's just too many different lines.
For the biggest name in quality and affordability, Honda has the economic Civic.  This car has had some variations and models that were appealing (at least until you drove them and found the gutless engines and poor handling, compared to the equivalent VW vehicles).  The latest version of the Civic, which I saw today, has the worst front end look I've seen.  There's some sort of front chrome piece that protrudes from the grill, like an old set of head gear used to straighten teeth.  This 10th generation should be a milestone model, with throwback ideas from the first generation, and forward thinking styling of a generation this far from it's beginnings, back in 1972.

 I'm not sure about what the thought was behind that front piece, but I don't like it.  Click to get a bigger version, or go check it out on Honda's site.  Awful.

Honda also had their Ridgeline, which only had one generation. Now, there is a tease site for a coming second generation, to be announced in January at The Detroit Auto Show.  We'll see if it looks like a truck, with tough, man-ish features, or if it looks like a forced CUV with a truck bed.

Here are a few versions drawn up, from people guessing or predicting what it will look like.  Motor Trend and Car and Driver posted these photos.

So, the question is, how do you make a quality vehicle that also looks great?  Do you have to sacrifice one for the other?  I have long wanted to be a Honda fan, because of their history of low maintenance costs, long lasting dependability, and their economic and environmental reputation.  But they are too often ugly, gutless wonders.  I've tried twice; once, with a Civic in 1999, which was beat out by my VW Golf based on power, performance, and price, and the second time was the Accord in 2008, which was beat out by my Nissan Altima for the 3 P's too.

I do want a truck.  Could the new Ridgeline grab my attention and be daily driver that performs as a truck with the efficiency of a car?  We shall see.