The AirPods Experience

I’ve been using AirPods since the day they came out in December, and I underestimated how much they would improve the listening experience on my iPhone.

Before getting the AirPods, I would use Apple’s In-Ear Headphones for my commute to block out the sound of the train.Once I got to work, I used EarPods at my desk so that I could hear the ambient noise around me.

A few things bothered me about this setup, but I put up with it. The In-Ear headphones sounded really great but when I walked, I would hear the vibrations of the wire rubbing up against my coat – this was especially bad in the winter. Worse yet, also in the winter, the dry air would occasionally cause static electricity which would create uncomfortable sounds from time to time. It was rare though, so I put up with it, and they sounded really great.

When I decided to get AirPods, I was a little worried that the sound of the train would be annoying, as it would get through without the seal of the In-Ear Headphones. Once I started using them on the train though, I realized that it wasn’t that bad. I also realized that not having a wire made the dip in sound quality worth it. The freedom of not having a wire anywhere near me, especially in the cold Quebec winter, is incalculable. Even after several weeks of commuting, I am still delighted by the experience.

Once I get to work, that experience is also a huge improvement over the wired EarPods. For several weeks, I had phantom cord syndrome, where I constantly attempted to keep the wire out of the way when I moved. It reminded me of when I first got an Xbox 360 and I was used to the wired controller of my PS2. Not having a wire makes moving around my office a joy.

Any of my reservations I had about AirPods quickly disappeared after a few days of using them. They sound great. They don’t fall out of my ears. They have never run out of power. The range has yet to come into play. The only complaint I do have is one I have with every Bluetooth device in the winter. My automatic car starter seems to interfere with them and on rare occasions, weird connection issues pop up in the morning when my wife starts the car and goes to work. These connection issues are relatively rare though – maybe 4 or 5 times since owning them, and they’re quickly resolved by taking them out of my ears and putting them back in.

The AirPods are worth the price, and they have by far resulted in the most pleasant experience I’ve had with any ear buds I have ever used. They really make my commute that much better and I would highly recommend them.

Advertisements
The AirPods Experience

Air Pods are Tempting

Those Air Pods are really tempting, but I’m not sure I want to be dropping almost $250 on them. I have good Apple in-ear buds and I think that money will be better spent on a new iPad in the spring.

My first generation iPad Mini is starting to feel its age and I’m really interesting in the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. The money spent on the Air Pods would pay for a Smart Cover, a case, and a storage upgrade, so I think I’ll hold off for now. They’re really nice looking though.

Air Pods are Tempting

Observations

I ride a train to work, and during my commute, I can’t help but notice how people use their smartphones and tablets. As someone that follows the tech industry closely, I’m fascinated by how “normal” people use their personal technology.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that a few years ago, a legitimate troubleshooting tip seems to have spread among the general population: quitting apps in iOS. You achieve this by double pressing the home button and bringing up the app switcher view. Then you flick the app out of view and essentially quitting it. If you do a quick search, people think that it saves battery life, but they’re wrong. In most cases, doing this is completely useless and is a waste of time.

It pretty much does nothing except force the app to start over the next time you need to use it, in many cases making it slower to open. There’s really no need to do this unless the app is causing a problem. For example, if you see that your device’s battery is draining quickly, you can quit the app that is causing it once you know which one it is by checking the app battery usage. You may also want to quit an app that is acting strange, which can happen. In most cases though, just let the phone figure it out. That’s it’s job.

Observations

Mac Games

I figured that with my new iMac, I could give playing some PC games a shot again, since I have not really been interested in playing them for a long time. I decided to download Civilization V, which I bought a few years ago on Steam during one of their nutty sales, but never really played because it never ran well.

On this new Mac, it runs well, and looks great, but I really can’t bring myself to play it. I gave it a shot, but after very little time, I realized that it was not for me. I love video games, and I have a PS4 and a Wii U that I really enjoy, but I have a hard time sitting in front of my computer to play a game for an extended period of time. Maybe it’s the genre of game that I don’t connect with anymore. I don’t know.

I’m definitely going to give it another shot though. The Stanley Parable was on sale today for under $4, so I decided to buy it. I hear it’s great, and it’s downloading as I type this. I’m going to give it a shot and see if it keeps my interest longer than Civilization. I hope it does, because games look beautiful on this Mac.

Mac Games

Obsessive Backup

I have a slight obsession when it comes to backing up my data, especially my photos and videos. I find it hard to understand when someone is not concerned with making sure his data is safe. Yet, I will get asked a few times a year about the best software to recover data from a broken hard drive. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any, and when your hard drive breaks, you want to have an up to date backup.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’ll tell anyone who will listen that even though backing up computer files may seem like a chore, it’s relatively simple. There are a few strategies that can be used to make sure you have a good backup solution. The first one is obvious – get an external hard drive and turn on Time Machine. This is by far the easiest and quickest way to get up and running with a backup that will save you if the hard drive in your Mac dies. Newer hard drives, especially the solid state drives (SSD) that come with most Macs, are much more reliable, but they can still fail. Having a backup of all your data sitting on your desk, ready to go, is a good thing.

However, it isn’t a sure thing. Your hard drive can die because of a power surge, or something worse, like fire damage. If anything happens to the room that your computer is in, and the backup is near it, you can be certain that you’ll lose your backup along with everything else. This is why I recommend having an offsite backup solution. It can be as simple as leaving a second copy of your external backup drive somewhere else, like at a family member’s home, or at the office. Or you can use an online backup service like CrashPlan or Backblaze. These services have a fee, but are worth it.

I keep a lot of my documents in my Dropbox folder; this way, anytime I need to access something I’ve worked on, or am working on, I can easily retrive it. The only documents I don’t keep in there are those that have any kind of private information. However, any templates I use for work, or anything I’ve written (some things going back a decade), I keep in in my Dropbox folder. Anything in Dropbox is automatically backed up.

My photo and video backup strategy is a little more involved. These types of files carry a lot more sentimental value. Anytime I find out that someone I know is not backing up her photos, I cringe, because they will get lost, and there will be sadness. Currently, I have 4 external hard drives that are essentially identical and have all my photos, videos, music, and a whole bunch of other things on them. Three of them are in my house, and one I keep somewhere else. You don’t need ot have that many, but remember that two is one, and one is none. That’s a military saying, but in the context of nerdy computer stuff, I heard it from CGP Grey on the amazing Cortext podcast.

Along those lines, I don’t just have the external hard drive strategy. I also use two online services for my photos and videos – iCloud and Google Photos. Both are great, and I highly recommend using at least one. If you use an iPhone and a Mac, iCloud is the most convenient, but will cost you at least $1.29 CAD per month for the 50GB. Apple gives everyone 5GB for free, but if you do more than backup your iPhone or iPad, you’ll run out of space real quick. I have a huge photo library, so I pay the $3.99 CAD for 200GB.

Google Photos provides you unlimited space for free, but any photos over 16 megapixels, and video over 1080p, will be compressed. However, since my iPhone has a 12 megapixel camera, and I don’t shoot video at 4K, that doesn’t really bother me, and it shouldn’t bother you – even compressed, the photos look great. The best thing about Google Photos is that it’s really easy to search, almost to the point that it’s a little creepy. You can search for an object or location, and it will find it, without tags or GPS data. It’s really impressive.

I can blather on quite a bit about backing up data, and I could probably keep typing. For now, please make sure you at least have one external drive that has all your important files on it. Having a second backup is an even better idea. Keep in mind, it’s never a matter of if your hard drive will fail, it’s when.

Obsessive Backup

When Malware Attacks

One of the reasons I often recommend Macs to friends and family (if budget permits) is because OS X is relatively more resistant to viruses and malware. However, this does not mean that Macs are completely immune to malware (viruses are less of an issue). Case in point, I had to help a friend with some malware just recently, so I thought it would be good idea to let people know to have a good malware remover on your Mac.

I recently discovered Malwarebytes Anti-Malware app, and I highly recommend that everyone have it on his or her Mac, regardless of how confident you feel about your internet security knowledge. It’s relatively easy to download malware by accident because it can masquerade so well as a legitimate app. More often than not, a fake Flash installer is the culprit, and this was the case when my friend had issues.

Why not wait until you need the app to instal it? I learned something new about modern day malware. If you have it, it will do everything in its power to stay with you. Malware developers have become quite clever. Every time she attempted to go to the Malwarebytes site, she was redirected, and was never given the opportunity download the app. I had get the disk image and email it to her. The thing is, once she installed it, the app did its job, and after a quick reboot her Mac was back to normal. Ultimately, the best way to prevent any issues like this is to only download software directly from a legitimate developer, or from the Mac App Store. However, even if you are careful, you can get hit.

When Malware Attacks

My kid and the Apple TV

I brought home the new Apple TV tonight, and my daughter took to it quite quickly. She had been excited about it since she saw the demo presented at Apple’s September event. Yes, my six year old daughter wanted to watch Apple’s Apple TV event, and she really enjoyed it.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

I was impressed by how she effortlessly searched for a few things using Siri. This was something that she had been thinking about since she found out that she would be able to look for movies and shows by just talking to the remote. “Show me the Disney movies on Netflix,” she said. And there they were; all the Disney movies available to watch on Netflix.

It’s pretty neat that we can do that. When I was her age, I knew exactly where the Disney movies were; on TV when they decided to show them, and that’s that. No magic little thing I could talk to that would show me what I could watch. To say that I’m a little jealous of the cool stuff my kids get to grow up with is an understatement.

My kid and the Apple TV