November 15, 2014

Serial Podcast

Yesterday afternoon at work I had a couple hours of work to get through that wasn’t going to command all of my mental facilities. I decided I would start at the beginning of Serial, the podcast about a 1999 murder case with a lot of still unanswered questions. It is produced by the same people who make This American Life so I knew it was going to be awesome. I’d heard Serial was the most popular podcast ever, so my interest was really piqued.

I started listening at work, then I kept in on in the car after work while I ran a couple errands. I listened while I was cutting up veggies for dinner. I took a break and then listened again when I laid down to go to sleep. Before I fell asleep last night I had caught all the way up through this past week’s episode.

Wow. I expected this to be a well made and thought provoking story, but I didn’t expect to be so rapt by it. It is an audio version of a crime drama, and it is so good.

After I finished the episode last night I realized that this probably won’t end in a satisfying way. This isn’t a work of fiction with a scripted ending that will be delivered with a bow on it. When everything is said and done we likely won’t get any answers to. It is real life, not a Hollywood movie. I’ve been conditioned to want, to expect, a resolution to a narrative arc. I don’t know how Serial is going to end, but I’m interested to see how these very talented and smart producers approach it.

If you aren’t listening to Serial, and you have time, I would highly recommend it. Did I mention it is SO GOOD. I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

November 12, 2014

Some Thoughts on the iPhone 6

I’ve been using the iPhone 6 for almost 2 weeks now. I realize that far more qualified people have released reviews of the 6 & 6 plus weeks ago, and nobody really cares what I think about a new phone… but I’m writing this anyway.

The Big Screen

The 4.7" size of the screen is nice. For me the extra width makes it much more comfortable to type on the virtual keyboard in portrait mode. While I don’t think a ton of apps are taking advantage of the added pixels, the extra real estate is nice. Anything where you are navigating down a list is better, especially scrolling through the Tweetbot timeline. Sitting down with the iPhone and reading or typing is much improved.

However, anytime you try to use the phone on the go the experience is worse. One-handed use is difficult, and while walking it is almost out of the question. The phone is rounded and generally more slippery anyway. Combine that with trying to shift your grip so one hand can reach everything and you have a recipe for lots of drops. I have dropped my phone once in my house. I fumbled while trying to pick in up off the table and it feel onto our hard wood floor. Luckily it was in a case.

The Design

When I first saw shots of the new phone I quite liked the design aesthetic. When I saw it in person I liked everything but the curved glass on the screen. It somehow looked cheap. Now that I have the phone I can say that, aside from the nice big screen, the design of this new phone is worse in every way. It is the first iPhone that I prefer to use in a case. Apple is taking the concept of the naked robotic core to the next level. On its own the phone feels flimsy. It isn’t nearly as pleasing to hold as the 5 & 5s. I had a case for my 5s, but would periodically use it uncovered for several days at a time. By itself it felt solid, and it was always nice to get back the thinness and lightness of not having a case. The 6 is thinner and lighter, but I doubt I will ever use it without some sort of case. I bought 2 cases for it right away, and I have a 3rd on order.

I worried that the larger size would make the phone awkward to carry in my pocket. I was surprised how comfortable the 6 feels in my pocket when it is uncovered. I have one very thin case that feels pretty good also, but the added bulk of a tougher case does make it slightly uncomfortable in my pocket. Not a big deal though.

A phone has to strike a balance between being powerful and being portable. After using the 4.7" screen I don’t think I could ever go bigger. The sacrifices in comfort and portability would be too great.


Aside from the re-design, not a whole lot changed on the 6. I’m sure it is faster than the 5s, but not in any way that I can perceive. The camera might focus faster, but other than that I don’t see a major difference. The speaker is noticably better. It is much louder and clearer.

At first my battery life was bad. Anytime you get a new toy you mess with it a lot. I’m sure the screen was lit up a lot in the first few days, but the extremely poor battery life worried me. I noticed the gps arrow was showing every time I unlocked the phone, but could not identify which app was using it. After a google search I found a bug with motion calibration and more importantly, a solution. It has been better since I fixed that, but battery life is not noticeably better than the 5s. It’s about the same

Overall I like the iPhone 6. Most tasks, especially reading and Internet browsing, are improved with the larger screen. The extra width makes typing in portrait much more comfortable for my hands. But the phone feels a little unwieldy. I’m worried I will drop it. I try to avoid taking it out of my pocket as much as possible when I am out and about. Sometimes I kind of miss my 5s.

November 9, 2014

The Cubicle Life

I found reading this article at The Atlantic to be extremely depressing. Why does working at a corporation have to be this way?
…work is increasingly reduced to “make-believe,” that at the office, “image counts more than product, seduction more than production.
In a society where presentation is everything, it’s no longer about what you do, it’s about how you look like you’re doing it.
➔ The Art of Not Working at Work - The Atlantic