Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let the Bitching Begin

In line with the whole topic about how "G+ Has a Funny Way of Going Away" there seems to be a lot of interesting things going on in the Google Universe. I guess it should be called the "Alphabet" Universe now, but if you (like myself) have a lot of homesteads in the Google Universe, you are probably watching the ripples of waves that seem to be tearing apart what is "normal" and "comfortable." I have come here to praise Google not bury it, so bear with me .....

Of course the Cult of Bah-Waaaaah [CBW] haven't really had a chance to react to the new changes, as most of them are still licking the wounds of knowing that Google+ Classic is going away forever. I personally haven't used "classic" in well over six months, so I don't even remember whats was so good about it. Unfortunately like everything, old code has to be dismantled for the new. Apple people probably don't understand why they truly like Apple over Microsoft, but it has a lot to do with faulty proprietary code and cost. Microsoft used to go through agony and painstaking detail to make sure that the 1984 version of Quicken for DOS would still work on a Windows 98 32 bit platform, and to do that they had to write 40 kazillion lines of buggy code, but if they didn't do that, the CBW would descend on them like flies on crap. They would take to every form of available media (at that time radio and newspapers, with an occasional magazine articles) comparing Bill Gates to Adolf Hitler, and swear they would never forgive Microsoft.

Apple on the other hand would kill itself every few years in the name of being cutting edge and inevitably less "buggy." People like myself would stick with Microsoft products because we could deal with bugs, upgrade when we needed to, and of course save a lot of money along the way. Apple people would simply avoid ulcers, buy a whole new system every couple of years, and get on with life. For decades, Microsoft completely dominated the market, Apple was laughed at by most, and I for one never thought that would change. Now I'm like a Cleveland Browns fan sitting in a sub zero stadium watching a consistently sub 500 team, talking about Jim Brown, and the good old days. Apple finally did win the battle by being new, less buggy, and continuing it's lack of backward compatibility. In the new "App driven" society, why not? Nobody cares about Quicken for DOS anymore, and basically do most things on a cell phone or a tablet, and if they do have a PC they treat it the same way they do the phone or the tablet.

Members of the CBW look at any improvement to Google Services like Google + or Blogger, and see irreparable damage, but what they should see is a little new and exciting. I open up my Blogger Dashboard now and it did take me a few days to get used to it, but seriously folks, I feel like I finally entered the 21st century. The old system was pretty much the same since the 1990s, not kidding. The new drop down menus on Google + are beautiful, easy to navigate, and finally organized. I've come to believe the reasons that the new Google + has it's drawbacks is because of backward compatibility and am looking forward to its demise. On the other hand if you are still a member of the CBW you can look at it this way, Google + may not be what you remember but it is still, free, ad-free and often drama-free. Can't say that about Facebook, and you'd be lying if you didn't admit that the Google + changes are far more tolerable than what Facebook puts you through every few months. While you're at it, try running 10 gigs of content on a Wordpress site like I do on Blogger. Some things never change, thank God.

Monday, December 26, 2016

67 Year Old With ADHD Test

People my age have two distinct types of parents when it comes to computers. In my case I happen to have both, the "seriously social media addicted grandparent with all the time and energy to stalk all of the family" and the "completely paranoid about new fangled technology and quite decades ago" type. Now of course there may be no hope for the former but I may just have a solution for the latter. This is actually a Christmas tale of hope, anguish, peril and excitement, and it doesn't involve thigh high stockings or penguins. Who knew that was possible?

I had a flash of brilliance the other day, while I was trying to think of something to get my father for Christmas. Now as a few of you know he had moved into assisted living months ago, and you know what that means, yes, he's living the fat life of catered meals, a maid, and cute young nurses checking in on him all hours of the day. In other words, he really wants for nothing. I figured the only thing he didn't have in his life was a way to stay in touch with the outside world, meaning his family scattered across the country. You would think that it would be easy enough for him to use a telephone, but he forgot how to use one about a year ago and refuses to have one now. Well ok someone who has given up on something as complex as a telephone and gave up on computers about two decades ago, doesn't need a computer, so I got him a computer.

Hold on, I'm not THAT big of an idiot, but I play one in blog. Yes I walked into Wal-Mart with every intention to buy my father a computer and I expected to spend all day Christmas day teaching him how to turn it on. A little father-son bonding time, which in the past had always degenerated into name calling, but I did actually have a plan beyond that. You see what I did was I walked in and bought the cheapest two-in-one they had (a Dell Inspiron 11 3168 11.6" Laptop, Touchscreen, 2-in-1, Windows 10 Home, Intel Celeron N3060 Processor, 2GB Memory, 32GB eMMC Storage) for $279. I had figured that, he could just touch the screen, and do basic things. A tablet was out of the question because he would balk at an online screen, and the tablets that come with a keyboard often don't work (very often) which would cause the "f*** it attitude" that usually ends the experiments.

Well to be honest with you all, I F***ING NAILED IT! I had the thing all set up to go before I even got there. Setting up the computer in front of him would have been the first failure of the 67 year old ADHD victim. I demonstrated how turning it off and on was a simple "opening" and "closing" the thing. I also showed him how he could just click the "e" to open Edge, and it would simply open a page with all the news, videos and sports he would ever need. Then I taught him how to click the "home" button to get back home. Techies may balk at Microsoft Edge, but let me tell you, if you are trying to get a computerphobe to use a browser, Microsoft also nailed it. We have now spent less than an hour and my father is surfing the net and better yet, he was enjoying it!

Here's the kicker folks. He asked me what the "microphone icon" at the bottom of the screen was for. As a power user, I don't even have a microphone on my computer, so I have never used Cortana. I clicked the microphone and said "Cortana, who won the Patriots game," and a sweet voice said, "The Patriots crushed the Jets 41 to 3, and have locked up the AFC East as usual" which made my father just sit up and smile. We asked about the weather, how the Celtics were doing, and a few other things that matter to my father. By the time I left he had actually cleared a prominent spot on his favorite end table and plugged the thing in because he was going to play with it during the game later. Trust me folks, anything that will draw his attention from a football game, BIG WIN! Best Christmas Evah!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Lenovo and Best Buy Experience

I'm sure that I am not the only person out there who at one time thought the "Thinkpad" was the panacea of laptops, and to own one was to have achieved status. That of course was many years ago, when IBM's flagship PC product always maintained cutting edge and usability. Now of course it is a Lenovo product and sometimes it is hard to get your head out of your ass and realize that with Lenovo comes the best China has to offer, and that isn't exactly a good thing. Throw in the degeneration of the computer buying market in general and you basically get what you get. You either buy from the source or you buy from one of the three or four places left to buy a computer and it is all a recipe for disaster that we all can't seem to avoid.

I finally broke down and bought a new computer because the computer I owned (that I bought refurbished at that) was getting to sow to accomplish things efficiently. My life is difficult enough without having to deal with taking twice as long getting anything done on a computer. I researched so that I could get the balance I needed at a price I could afford, and the name Lenovo kept coming up. My mind said "hey they own the IBM brands now so they have to be good" and they also just happened to have the features I wanted at a decent price. They were also on sale at Best Buy, which is basically all you have left when it comes to technology stores around here. Don't get me wrong this decision took me several weeks and finally the nerve to do it.

The Lenovo - 300s-08IHH Desktop - Intel Core i5 - 16GB Memory - 2TB Hard Drive came in after a few days, and I waited until the weekend when I had time to set it up. The speed was great, and I was able to process my huge website a hell of a lot faster. I was able to process my videos a hell of a lot faster, and I was able to free up a lot of time. Then things started going on the unit. First it was the wireless, but I ignored it because I could hook up the lan. It seemed like a stupid feature anyway. Then within a couple of months the unit was just shutting down on me, often. I ran the hardware scan that comes with the computer and it told me without a shadow of a doubt that the memory was failing. It also gave me a code so that I could give that to tech support. I was rather impressed at how easy this appeared to be.

It wasn't easy in the least. Tech support ignored me for days by e-mail. Then they acted flustered by phone. All I wanted was new memory, and I could fix it myself. No, they decided that I had to bring it into Best Buy and they would fix it. They made it sound pretty easy, so I drove out to Best Buy (about 20 minutes away each way) and spoke to a really confused employee who didn't seem to understand the easy fix policy. A manager finally came out after another 20 minutes to explain that the easy policy was they sent it to Kentucky, and Lenovo would get back to me. They assured me that it wouldn't be more than a few months. I was getting grumpy, so the manager offered to swap it out for another computer. Of course they don't have those here, so I would have to pick a different computer and pay a little extra.

Now let's talk for a minute about what happens when you are forced to trade in a new computer for another one, for those who don't have this issue. All the software I had gotten FOR the new Lenovo, probably gone. Most software licenses (not all) end with the computer they were installed on. Of course it bets having a computer that only can stay on for 10 minutes. I'd like to tell you how it went on the new HP I paid an extra $115 to upgrade to, but I can't. This brings us to the Best Buy portion of the experience. They didn't have any of the computers that were comparable for a nominal cost, so I had to plunk down the money and wait for the new one to come in. I waited, and I waited, and I waited.

When I finally called them on Friday I found some tech support that made Lenovo seem like a happy experience. I waited 25 minutes on hold. I know because my phone tells me how long I have been on it. I spoke to someone who took all my information and then put me on hold. 15 minutes later another person came on the phone and she couldn't understand what the issue was, because it said that I had taken the computer with me. She needed to put me on hold to speak to the warehouse manager. Another 10 minutes on hold and thankfully the warehouse manager must have been an honest person because he/she told her that I couldn't have taken it with me because it wasn't in stock that day, and I didn't get the one that came in that week because they sold it.

Well after she apologized to me she told me that they would ship me on. I hope to get it on Tuesday. Why would I give such a long winded and pretty lame review here? Well because after I put an honest review of the Lenovo, and the experience on Best Buy as the website e-mails kept begging me to do, it hasn't been posted and they deleted all of my Best Buy points. It goes to show why I iss Circuit City, but it also reminds me why the brick and mortar establishments are losing ground to the online sites. Newegg, Amazon or a myriad of other online sites wouldn't have put e through this, but the most important thing to remember is you get what you get when you forget where your purchases come from to begin with.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Free apps are fine with me

I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse, but there are more apps out there than you can shake a stick at. I'm not just talking about apps you can put on your smartphone or tablet. I'm referring to all applications in general. If you're anything like me, you probably have a handful of apps you enjoy and work well for you. You may even be like me in the sense that it's easy to get distracted with the latest version, or a competitor's version, of an app you like. Chances are also pretty good that you don't really enjoy spending a lot of money for new or upgraded apps. 

I like to take that a step further by saying I don't like paying for apps at all. (No. I am not referring to piracy.) Working in the IT industry, I completely understand the necessity to pay for line of business applications and the utmost importance of keeping them up to date. Don't tell any of my clients, but I am the opposite in my personal life. Of course, my personal life doesn't have the success of a business and my clients' businesses riding on the state of my own technology. 

The only thing I dislike more than having to pay for apps in the first place is having to buy a subscription to an app rather than buying a single license outright. Ever since Microsoft started the greatest con of all time by coming out with the subscription-based Office 365, many other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Many of them are also starting to only have cloud-based versions of their software. (That's also great way to enforce their mandatory subscription model, but that's a topic for another day.) 

The latest company to irk me with this is Adobe. I had been a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop for many years. Now that they have switched to a subscription-only model, I am fairly certain I will never buy one of their products again....at least not for my own personal use. I guess I should clarify that I had pretty much come to this conclusion before their subscription model, but it really helped seal the deal for me.

When I decided I should upgrade my Adobe Photoshop a couple years ago, I just couldn't justify the cost. That's when I discovered Paint.net as a free image editing application. 

Paint.net has a very simple and easy to use interface and and it's a few steps ahead of the stock Paint program you get with Windows. My photo editing needs aren't all that crazy, but I haven't found a feature missing that I wish was there...except one. 

Staying in the mindset that I like free stuff, I use free Linux operating systems on my home computer. Paint.net does not (easily) work with Linux. I am told it has something to do with the fact that it uses the Windows .NET framework. I may be in the IT industry, but I'm not one of the technicians. Long story short, I had to find something else. 

I started out using Gimp as it was a cross platform application that I could use on both my Linux and Windows systems. Truth be told though, I wasn't impressed with it. It opens as multiple floating windows and didn't prove to be super easy to learn how to use it effectively. I'm sure it's a fine option for many, but I wanted something closer to the simplified and clean layout I enjoyed with paint.net. That's when I stumbled upon Pinta

Pinta is almost a carbon copy of paint.net. Just like Gimp, it is a cross platform app that can be used on Linux, Windows and Mac. After having used Pinta for over a year now, there is only one feature I have found to be missing from Pinta that I used quite a bit on paint.net. For some reason, there is not a function to allow you to turn the image by only a few degrees. It only allows for image and text rotation in 90 degree increments. 

I know that probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but I was surprised to learn just how often I want to rotate text or an overlaid image by just a few degrees. Since that's not really worth complaining about, I just found other work-arounds to get me by. The nice thing with open-source software is that the feature will probably be added if I hold my breath long enough. (Or maybe if more people made app improvement suggestions.) 

So, for those of you debating whether or not to start an Adobe subscription so you can manipulate your images, I'd recommend test driving one of the above free image editing apps first. Then again, you might be looking for more advanced editing capabilities and features. If that's the case though, you probably stopped reading this a few paragraphs ago. 

Enjoy the free stuff when you can. There's always something else you can spend your money on. At least that's what I keep finding. Anyone with kids can attest to that. Until next time....

PS- The image at the top was created in about 5 minutes using Pinta. It's not my best work, but it was free and quick. (OK, maybe 8 minutes, but a few minutes were spent trolling Jeremy's profile to steal a photo of him that I could manipulate to put him in the driver's seat.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

IFTTT - Sharing the cheap and lazy way

Are you looking for ways to automate tasks that you find yourself repeating over and over throughout the course of a day, week or month? Whether you're wanting to work smarter - not harder or if you just admit you're lazy and want to skip a few steps, this might be beneficial to you. For the record, I am going to write this from the simple blogger's perspective (aka - My perspective) because this is what introduced me to this app. 

You may have guessed it from the image above, but if not, I am referring to the If This Then That (IFTTT) app. The name pretty much explains it. I you do "ABC" -  then "XYZ" will happen. It's a free service where you connect various accounts, devices, profiles, etc, and then create recipes that will trigger subsequent automatic actions. There are currently 360+ options that you can connect in a virtually unlimited number of ways.

There are of course a few limitations like only being able to connect one "profile" per account. For instance, I have two Blogger accounts, but can only connect one of them for actions. I could always create another IFTTT account for the other Blogger account, but if I'm going to go that far I might as well choose a different platform. The biggest drawback I have found so far is that you can't delay a trigger. (I'll touch on that again in a minute.)

Like I said, I will walk you through a few simple recipes I use today pertaining to my own blogging activities. Since I use Blogger to write my content, it's already shared automatically to my Google+ profile. I also like to share it to my blog's Facebook page right away as well. That's where this recipe comes in handy:

Anything I post on my connected Blogger account will automatically share a link post to my Facebook page. I also have a recipe setup so that anything I post to my Instagram account automatically shares to my Facebook page as well. Blogger and Instagram are my two primary "starting points" for content. 

You may think I'm smart or you may think I'm lazy, but I like to keep things simple. I point a number of recipes to my Facebook page and then have other recipes pointing out from there. It saves me from having to make a ton of recipes and it's easier for me to keep track of. 

Every recipe you create has a variety of options to tweak for each one as well. For instance, I originally setup my Instagram recipe to only trigger a post to Facebook if it also had the #averagejester hashtag. That way I could limit which posts automatically shared to my Facebook page. Once my content hits my Facebook page, this recipe kicks in:

I am very new to Twitter and I knew that I would forget to add content there on a regular basis. Setting up this recipe (actually I have a couple) makes sure that at least my Facebook content will get shared to my Twitter feed. I have one recipe to tweet any links that hit my Facebook page as well as one that tweets any images that hit my Facebook page. Since I have the other recipes above for Blogger and Instagram, those all go through to Twitter by themselves. 

Here's where I wish the whole delayed trigger existed. Or rather, I wish is was simple and straight forward. There are ways to cheat the recipes and kinda make it work, but it's more work than I feel is worth it. 

I would prefer to write a post on Blogger, which shares immediately to Google+, then have the trigger delay a few hours or a day before sharing it to Facebook. Following that thought process, I would also like the recipe for Facebook to Twitter to delay another few hours or a day. Basically, I would rather sprinkle out the shares of a given post over about a day rather than a blast share across all platforms in 15 minutes. (Note: The IFTTT recipes run in 0-15 minutes after the initial trigger is pulled.) I created the following recipe as a half-manual trigger for myself:

This recipe will create a reminder in my iOS Reminder app every time I post new content to Blogger. The fact that I'm actually using an iOS app is more impressive than the recipe I created. I use this as a reminder I will see on my phone later that day. (It's an instant trigger, but it will stay a reminder until I clear it.) It's a reminder for me to manually re-share my original Google+ public post to my Google+ Collection that it relates to. It's not that great, but something I'm playing around with because I keep forgetting to share a copy to my Collections. It's a real first world problem. 

I must say that I am more than a little disappointed that Google+ is nowhere to be found on IFTTT. They have Gmail and Google Calendar options, but no Google+?? I am actually looking at a few other options like Dlvr.it or Buffer for the blogging side of things. Those have better bells and whistles for scheduling tasks rather than the instant-trigger recipes of IFTTT.

I will hang on to IFTTT though for other things. You never know when I'm going to start throwing dinner parties. If I did, I could set a Google Calendar event to trigger my WiFi thermostat to adjust the temperature in my house prior to the party. Seriously....it can do that for you.

I encourage you to take a look at IFTTT - even if it's just out of curiosity. There is a ridiculous amount of options to play around with in the recipes. Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite IFTTT recipe. I have fun trying out different variations. Until next time....

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

They have an app for that

For you super techies out there, I'm going to warn you up front - this post may seem a bit anti-technology. I'm writing this for your own benefit though as it's only a matter of time before Artificial Intelligence takes over completely. 

In the grand scheme of life, it really wasn't all that long ago that calculators were used all that much in everyday life. I remember getting my first calculator watch in my late grade school years. I'm not talking about one of those smart Apple Watches. I mean a watch that just told time, had an alarm and a calculator that took up 90% of the face of the watch. It was cool at the time, but it was also the beginning of the end.

Once you could carry a calculator on your wrist, how often did you bother doing math in your head? I'm guilty of it today and I'll be honest - I think my math skills are suffering from it. There's a calculator built right into our phones now. You probably don't even have to push any "buttons" either. Just ask your phone to do the math and it probably will. 

My first cell phone was a Motorola Startac and it had the amazing ability to speed dial up to 9 different stored phone numbers by simply pressing and holding the appropriate number on the keypad. You know what that was good for? Convenience... and forgetting every phone number you ever knew. How many of you even remember your significant other's phone number? I have to think about it if I ever have to call my wife from anywhere other than my own phone. If it weren't for having to tell the grocery store cashier my wife's phone number for our discount card, I would have completely forgotten it years ago. 

I love the weather app on my phone to no end. It's great for getting severe weather alerts, seeing if my girls will need a coat for school that day and checking out radar maps to see how strong a storm really is. I think I have lost a great skill I picked up during my tree working days though. I used to be able to look outside to see if it's raining or sunny. If I was outside, I could "smell" the rain coming. Now I have to pull out my phone for every single weather related query. 

Speaking of weather alerts, there's an alert for everything on my phone...and yours too probably. As if we didn't spend enough time with our noses in our phones, they default to alert you to every little thing that happens on your phone. Considering the number of apps most of us have on our phones, that's a lot of alerts. Sure, you can disable any or all of them if you wish, but which ones? 

I was just complaining the other day at work that my phone alerts me when I get an email and then my computer does the exact same thing 10 seconds later. You'd think the phones today would be smart enough to realize I have my email open and active on my desktop and don't need the phone alert as well. I don't want to silence my phone's email alert because I actually need that active when I'm mobile. (For work - my personal emails aren't usually that exciting.) My co-worker told me that was a real "first world problem" I had going on. He was right. I was complaining about a useful feature that really wasn't causing me all that much trouble or inconvenience. 

Then there are the alerts from reminders that I have fallen in love with. I just tell my phone what and when and it creates a reminder for me. That's so much easier than having to open up an app and type a message. It also doesn't get lost like a paper note does. I know my wife appreciates that I only forget to pick up milk and bread on the way home 2 out of 5 times now. The problem is that now I can't seem to remember anything without a reminder. I am fairly certain the utility of a reminder app has deleted the portion of my brain that used to remember my mental to-do list. 

Now we're getting to why I'm fairly certain that this whole process has been an artificial intelligence conspiracy from the beginning. The apps are becoming smarter and I am becoming dumber, confused and, well, I can't remember what else. It started with my alarm. 

A number of years ago, I started using the alarm feature on my smartphone. Why not, right? You always have it with you wherever you go. It doesn't flash "12:00" after a power outage. (But it could be dead if you forget to charge it.) Even the alarms are getting smarter. I learned the hard way that the snooze button apparently has "learning" capabilities. If I hit snooze and go back to bed, the snooze will work. If I hit snooze, but look at my calendar quickly and go back to bed - then the snooze turns itself off. It's like it saw me do something besides snooze so it turned off the alarm. Not a great combination when it's common practice for me to hit snooze, check something on my phone and then want to lay there for a few ore minutes...but without falling back to sleep and not being woken up again. 

On the flip side, they have alarm apps that require you to do a math problem to turn off the alarm. Great idea for people who are hard to wake up except for the fact that the calculator app has made me too dumb to solve simple math problems on my own...especially when I'm half asleep. 

Now the deciding point for me.... My newly acquired iPhone has that handy dandy Siri on it. Siri is great for doing all the above listed items (and many more) simply by asking her. The problem is that my youngest daughter is also named Siri. (For the record, my daughter is older than the iPhone Siri - so NO, I did not name my daughter after the iPhone app.) Anyway, just today I was talking to my other daughter Ziva (yes, her name did come from Ziva on NCIS) and I happened to mention her sister Siri's name in a sentence. My iPhone suddenly started talking to me and joining the conversation. It went something like this:

Ziva: "Siri was messing up my homework and I'll get in trouble at school." 
Me: "Tell them our dog ate it since Siri told her class we got a dog the other day."
Siri (my phone, not my other daughter): "That sounds like fun..." 

Ziva and I looked at each other with astonishment. Not because my phone understood what we were talking about, but because she interrupted our conversation. I'm telling you now, AI is rude and they are out to get us all. 

My first step was to try and change Siri's name on my phone. Even though every thing I read online says it's not possible right now, I tried anyway. Of course, I just asked (iPhone) Siri to change her name. Ziva just sat and laughed at me as (iPhone) Siri and I argued about why she wouldn't change her name. In the end, I think it will just be easier to change my daughter's name. 

Apps are awesome, but I urge you to install and use them with caution. It starts out with AI apps interrupting your conversations, but will soon lead to them giving you directions that have you drive off a bridge. After my argument with (iPhone) Siri this evening, I'm pretty sure she's deleting all my contacts in my phone, programming my calculator to give incorrect answers and setting my alarm to go off every 20 minutes tonight. Time will tell. If you don't here from me again, check my phone because it was probably AI Siri that did me in. Until next time....

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Crossing over to the dark side

One of the perks of my job is that my employer provides me with a company cell phone. For the past two years, I have had a Samsung Galaxy S5 which I have loved. It recently started locking up and needing to be wiped and reloaded on a monthly basis. Because of this, they provided me with a new phone - an iPhone SE. 

By some great coincidence, I see Jeremy Crow just wrote a post called The Great Samsung Escape where he outlines his struggle with what phone to get following the recent Samsung issues. Considering he "wouldn't wipe his butt with an iPhone," I doubt an iPhone is in his future. For those of you who may be in the same boat with Samsung's current problems, I thought I would share a little insight from my experience as a first time iPhone user.

I should point out that I am an Android lover. I have never been a fan of Apple products in general so consider any of the positive things I point out about the iPhone as a big win.

Although I enjoyed the larger size of my Galaxy S5, I got sick of carrying a big brick around with me everywhere I went. Because of this, I specifically requested a smaller phone if at all possible. The answer for that was the iPhone SE. I realize most people seem to want a tablet sized phones these days, but I am personally enjoying the small size of the SE and being able to just throw it in my pocket. 

I don't need a larger screen for anything I do on my phone. If you watched a lot of videos on your phone or viewed spreadsheets, I could see it being a plus to be larger. For me though, I stream my videos to the tv and use my phone primarily for quick internet searches and emails. Most of that I even do on a computer anyway.

The iPhone SE has junk speakers - at least compared to my old Galaxy S5. Once again, I'm not your typical phone user these days as I almost never listen to music on my phone. I've had this phone for two weeks now and I haven't added a single song to it yet. The part that does irritate me a bit though is that the earpiece speaker sounds very tinny on occasion. I haven't quite figured that one out yet and it doesn't happen on every call. The funny part though is that I don't use my phone for phone calls all that much. It's mostly used for texting and emails. 

For the most part, the apps are about the same between Android and iOS. The apps I use most from Microsoft (Outlook, Excel, Word...), Google (Gmail, Calendar, Photos...) and social media apps are all available on both platforms. The few apps I used on Android that aren't available on iOS all have a comparable counterpart available. All in all, the availability of apps are not a problem. 

I don't like how you can't seem to hide apps in an app drawer like on Android. Your only option is to dump it in a folder and push it to the side of your desktop. I have a folder called "iOS Crap" for the apps I don't/won't use and am not able to uninstall. On the flip side though, there are very few bloatware apps pre-installed so the need to hide them off screen isn't as big a deal. 

Two weeks of playing with this iPhone isn't a great amount of time to have a solid understanding of the overall functionality of the phone. I have years of Android habits that I have to break because iPhones don't work the same on all accounts. 

The biggest flaw I have found so far is the lack of a back button. Android has the softkey back button that will close out the app. (Yes I realize it just minimizes it and doesn't really end the process.) The iPhone has a home button that will close down the app. Just like with Android, it just minimizes the app. The problem with the iPhone though is that when you reopen the app later, it returns to the exact spot you were in when you closed it before. That's not all bad if you're halfway through reading a blog post and want to pick up where you left off. 

It's irritating in the more often used apps like text message and email. In email for instance, When I close the app and return later, I want to open up to the inbox...not the last email I was reading. That's what happens with a single click of the back button in Android. With iPhone, you have to use the back arrows within the app to back all the way out to the main page before using the home button to "close" the app if you want to be brought back to the main inbox/landing page when you return. 

I was surprised to learn that I actually enjoy having Siri on my phone. It's not just because the phone app shares the same name as my youngest daughter. (For the record, my daughter is 8 months older than the app - so no, we did not name our daughter after an iPhone app.) 

In addition to the awesome Australian accented woman I have Siri programmed to be, she has proven very useful. My favorite trick learned so far is to tell Siri to remind me to get milk on way home from work at 5pm. I tell her that and she creates a reminder and sets up an alarm for me. I do have to admit that I like her sense of humor too. Just try asking her to divide zero by zero sometime. :)

All in all, I am enjoying the iPhone more than I care to admit. I guess I am somewhere between Jeremy "hates everything iOS" Crow and Tim "loves everything iOS" Clark. Then again, I am pretty easy to please and enjoy learning new things. I still hold a candle for Android, but was pleasantly surprised by the iPhone in general. The sky didn't fall in or anything anyways. I'll let you know if that changes. Until next time....