Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top 5 Reasons I'm a Die-Hard iPhone Fan

In 2011, I jumped on the smartphone bandwagon. The final straw was driving three hours to a meeting that was cancelled via email. That year, the wife and I signed a two-year agreement with Sprint. Mistakes were made.

This time around, Tiffany opted for the iPhone 6 Plus in Gold. I got mine in classic Space Gray.

The first mistake was choosing Sprint as our carrier. Traveling to a variety of rural areas across Illinois, I realized that Sprint's network isn't on par with Verizon or AT&T.

The next mistake was our choice in smartphones. I went with an HTC EVO 4G. Tiffany chose the first iteration of Samsung's Galaxy S series. (It was technically the Epic 4G.) Both of those phones worked...for about a year. Then battery life took a serious nose dive. The operating system didn't receive any more updates. And, the hardware began to fail in an epic manner.

I hated to admit it, but my dad was right when he recommended the iPhone 4. In 2013, we signed a 2-year deal with Verizon and went with the iPhone 5. This month, we re-upped with Verizon and chose the iPhone 6 Plus. Here are the top five reasons why I'll always carry an iPhone.

1. It works: This was actually my dad's initial sales pitch in 2011. "They just work." Armed with an Android phone, I was keen on telling him everything his phone couldn't do. Around month 18, I had already endured two factory resets. There was something to be said for a phone that just works.

I spent two years with the iPhone 5. In that time, I never had to factory reset it. In fact, I probably rebooted it less than 10 times in 24 months as a result of a frozen screen. For comparison's sake, by year two with the HTC, I had purchased an extra battery and external charger to make it through the day. My operating system was so bogged down, I couldn't even get a speed dial widget to work properly.

Here's a quick size comparison of Apple devices. From left: iPhone 5, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air.

2. iOS updates: About once a year Apple will release a significant update to iOS. When they went from iOS 6 to iOS 7, it was like getting a new phone. Many will complain about iOS being less customizable than Android. Fine by me. In my experience, all that customization usually ended up in a slow user experience.

Also, do you know when you get iOS updates? Like the moment Apple releases them. Don't get me started on the 6+ months it takes to get an Android update.

Lastly, unless you've ever bought a Nexus phone, you've probably never used Android as Google intended it. Samsung, HTC and LG load their phones with so much bloatware it's disgraceful. At least Apple limits it to a handful of apps -- not an entire skin with scrolling Facebook feeds and other crap.

3. Lightning charger: This thing is so under-rated. First and foremost, you cannot plug this in upside down. I LOVE that feature. No more messing around in a dark bedroom trying to figure out which way is up on a micro-USB cable.

Also, this thing transfers music. That's not a huge deal anymore with bluetooth. But, even the old 30-pin connector transferred music. I don't think micro-USB will do that. Correct me if I'm wrong. Have you ever seen a micro-USB sound dock?

4. Accessories: Good golly, iPhones are the king of the accessory realm. My case of choice is the extremely grippy Magpul Field Case. I ordered mine in University of Illinois orange (at least that's what I'm calling it).

If there's an accessory to be made, there will be an iPhone version. Now that the 5S is the lowest tier iPhone available factory new, case makers can capture more than 50% of the market with just three cases.

5. Apple ecosystem: I love how my iPhone syncs with the iPad. I can pick up right where I left off on a web article. The Photo Stream is a nice touch too. I rarely take photos with the iPad, but I can view them via Photo Stream.

Three years ago, I would have said this is a negative. Apple has loosened it's controlling grasp quite a bit in the past couple of years. Sure, they present you quite handily with their options for purchasing music, books and movies. But, you can easily go through other channels. Granted you can't purchase electronic content from Amazon via an app, but you can do it on Safari (or Google Chrome).

And it works really well. The days of needing an app to read a simple web page are over. I don't even have the Amazon app on the iPad. If I want to shop Amazon, I pull up Safari, just like I would on a laptop. Only in rare instances is a web page cumbersome on an iPhone. Heck, the iOS web browsing experience is so refined, I've written half of these blogs on my iPad, via the Blogger site on Safari. That's a testament of awesomeness.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Top 5 Annoying Gym Habits

I love people watching. The airport is a longtime favorite venue. However, the gym is a great second.

Here are my Top 5 annoying gym habits. All of these are based on real-life examples. If you do one of these, don't feel bad -- unless it's number five. Then you should feel really bad about yourself.

1. Gym selfie: I don't know what's worse: the dude who spends five minutes unabashedly flexing in the mirror or the guy you walk in on in the locker room and he quickly puts his phone away like he wasn't taking a selfie. I want to laugh at the first guy. But I don't because he is a 300-lb muscle-bound gorilla. As for the second guy, it's just so awkward. He glances up and quickly pulls the phone down like he was texting someone. You feel so dirty for catching him in the throes of his unbridled narcissism.

2. Gallon o' water: Why do people carry a gallon jug of water around the gym? Most often, the offense is committed by weight lifters. I'm sorry, but even an hour of weight lifting shouldn't require an entire gallon of hydration. Am I missing the point? Does it help reduce cramping? Still, why not store the gallon of water in your locker and carry around a water bottle? That's only four refills on a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle.

Got my supplies for leg month. Better take all this, just in case I'm trapped there.

Even more suspicious, many of these muscle bound nuts leave the gym with water still in the jug!! Why did you cart in 128 ounces of water only to carry 64 back out the door? Is lifting the gallon of water part of the workout?

3. 10 lbs of protein: These are probably the same people with the gallon jug of water. They show up at the gym with their entire 10-pound bottle of muscle powder. Why? Are you worried that you might get snowed in and have to spend the next month lifting? "Better bring the whole thing of whey protein, just in case, bro. Might need to drink like 28 emergency protein shakes."

4. Locker room smells: There's nothing worse than walking into the locker room and smelling the unmistakable scent of a fresh number two. The question is why are folks waiting until they get to the gym to do their business.

Right up there with locker room poo is locker room marijuana smell. It seems some guys like to smoke weed (a lot of weed from the smell of it) and then head to the gym. Unfortunately, they don't shower or change clothes beforehand. So, they show up smelling like a Cheech and Chong movie. The absolute worst is when these two smells combine. It smells like poop with an extra skunk topping.

5. Questionable attire: This one is inexcusable. There are mirrors covering every wall in the gym. Man in the white shorts -- how have you not noticed that your shorts are see through when they get sweaty? And, why are you wearing zebra print underwear?

My personal favorite comes from an older gent who used to frequent the gym. Before leaving his house, he would use a liberal amount of "bald spray." You know, the stuff that's basically spray paint for your head. Then, he would get sweaty and black paint would streak down his head and stain his shirt. How are you not noticing that?!!!