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Today was a good day. I was able to sleep in as well as get in a nap between church services. I was very behind on sleep as I helped out at a church camp for the youth of our church last weekend. It was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed getting closer to some of the kids. At the same time it was very hot and tiring but the positives far outweighed the negatives. Tonight after church and eating with friends, the wife and I went to Target and bought a bunch of household items like toilet paper, paper towels, & trash bags. I like to just get a massive amount of this stuff every few months rather than buy small amounts of it all of the time. I also bought some Pokemon cards while there because even after all of these years I still gotta catch em’ all! After that we went to Baskin Robins and got ice cream for dessert. It was awesome. I think the moral of this story for the kids is just enjoy being a kid. Someday you will turn around and be 30 years old and have adult responsibilities like a house mortgage and having to buy toilet paper. At the same time, you can still buy Pokemon cards and ice cream to make yourself feel like a kid again and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A new challenge

So I have been wanting to write more lately. After all, I own this domain and hardly ever post anything here anymore. I am going to try to write something everyday, which will definitely be a huge challenge for me. It will sometimes if not all of the times be very short but at least it will be something. I hope you will enjoy.

The iPad Pro

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I purchased an iPad Pro 12.9″ (the big one) a few weeks ago and wanted to give my opinions on it now that I have had it for a while. I got the silver 128gb cellular iPad Pro. I also purchased the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil (more on the accessories later). I was not sure how I was going to like it, at first it seems comically large, but after spending some time with it I absolutely love it.
The Hardware – There’s no denying that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is huge. It is also pretty heavy when compared to the standard 9.7″, 1.57 pounds vs .96 pounds, but it is about as light as it can be given the size of the device. The Retina display is a joy to look at & I just love how big the display is. In fact, it has quite a bit more screen space then my laptop for the last several years, the 11″ MacBook Air. The speakers are a huge improvement over the previous iPads. There are now four speakers as opposed to two and they are on each corner of the iPad Pro. They get really loud if you crank them, so much so that I have not found the need to connect it to a bluetooth speaker. The battery life has been really good as well. I’m getting 12+ hours even when watching a ton of video. And the standby time has been great as well. I love that there is just zero battery anxiety with this device, if you have it fully charged in the morning you will not run it down in the course of a day.

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The battery life on the iPad Pro is legit.

Another new hardware addition on the iPad Pro is the new smart connector on the bottom of the iPad when it is in landscape. This 3 pin connector allows it to attach to various 1st and 3rd party accessories wirelessly and with no power required from the accessory. This is a really cool new feature, one that I use nearly constantly with my Smart Keyboard.

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The Smart Connector

Lastly, the A9x chip and 4gb of ram make the iPad Pro 12.9″ super fast. Everything just flies on this thing.

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Test results from the Geekbench app on my iPad Pro 12.9″

Overall, I really like the hardware of the iPad Pro. However there are a few nitpicks that I have with the hardware:

  1. Apple ships the iPad Pro with a dinky 12w charger that takes a very long time to charge the iPad. The 12.9″ iPad Pro supports fast charging via USB-C, but you have to pay about $75 for the necessary charger and cable. This is ridiculous on a device at this price point. They should ship it with the proper adaptor and cable.
  2. The iPad Pro is really not a one handed device, unlike the mini or regular size iPad. It is pretty unwieldy in portrait orientation. If you want something to read books on or slip into your purse, this is probably not the right device for you.

The Software – The new multitasking features introduced in iOS9 for the iPad were just made for the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Multitasking truly feels at home on this big screen. It gives you almost 2 full size iPad apps side by side. Check out the multitasking view in the picture below.

Narwhal (Reddit client) on the left, Safari on the right, and a picture in picture baseball game on top.

 

I have found myself using the multitasking view so much more with the Pro than I did with my iPad Air 2. There are a few other new software features that the 12.9 Pro gets, namely a full size software keyboard with a number row & a two column today view. These are still the early days for the 12.9″ iPad so while I feel like things will get better on the software front, not everything is rosy right now. A few of my gripes are –

  1. You can only have the same amount of icons on the home screen as all of the other iPads. There is so much wasted space!
  2. Some of the apps are still not optimized for split screen (Pocket), picture in picture (YouTube), or even the new screen size 😡 (Facebook).
  3. The multitasking app picker is just awful at trying to find the app you want. There needs to be a complete redesign as well as a search bar.

The Accessories – When Apple announced the iPad Pro, it also announced two brand new accessories that only work with the Pro – The Smart Keyboard & the Apple Pencil. I own both and would like to tell you my thoughts on each.

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The smart keyboard is awesome, it has a full sized keyboard & doubles as a cover for the front of the iPad Pro.

The Smart Keyboard – Before I purchased my iPad Pro, I did a lot of research on various cases & keyboards. I narrowed my choices down to two options – the Smart Keyboard & the Logitech Create. Both keyboards have their pros & cons & both support the new smart connector on the iPad Pro. I decided on the Smart Keyboard due to it’s lighter weight, more minimal design, & the ability to pull it off as easily as a smart cover when I just want to use it as an iPad. That second part ended up not mattering much because I absolutely love the Smart Keyboard and would estimate it is connected to my iPad Pro 95% of the time that I use it. Some combination of it being a full size keyboard, it instantly responding to you pressing a key with no need to wait for a bluetooth connection, never needing to be charged, and all of the keyboard shortcuts available for the iPad in iOS 9, have just endeared me to this accessory in a way I had not imagined it would. I use it setting on a table, my desk, on my lap, as a stand for watching streaming content, etc. This is the accessory for the iPad Pro in my opinion. It also completely takes away one of my gripes with the 12.9″ Pro, namely it being a little hard to hold comfortably for extended periods. With the Smart Keyboard, my iPad simply rests on my desk or on my lap with no strain on my hands at all. Would it be better with backlit keys and a shortcut row of keys? Absolutely, and I hope that a future version does all of that but for what it is, I absolutely love it.

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😍

The Apple Pencil – Oh, the Apple pencil. It’s so beautiful and I love it so much, but I am not quite as bullish on it as I am on my Smart Keyboard. On one hand it is the best stylus I have ever used hands down. I’ve tried out a bunch of iPad styluses as well as the styluses for the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, and the Apple Pencil is just better. It has the least amount of latency I have seen and it is a joy to use. It is really fun to use in an adult coloring book app called Pigment. It is also really cool to take handwritten notes in Notability and Apple Notes. It’s useful for editing photos as well. But the main thing it is awesome for is for artists. If you like to draw, this is the stylus for doing that with. Unfortunately, I am not even close to being an artist so using the Apple Pencil for drawing is not something I can really take advantage of. This leads to me not using it that often and for what it cost, it’s hard to justify recommending it if you are not an artist or a big handwritten notes taker. I got it solely because I was excited about trying it out and because it looks so beautiful. I am trying to figure out ways that I can use it but right now it is not used as much as my Smart Keyboard.

So those are my thoughts on the iPad Pro. I love it and use it every day. I go for days without turning on my Mac since I got it. The fact that I can have a 12.9″ Retina display with tons of storage & power, LTE connectivity, all day battery life, and the huge app selection of iOS in a device that weighs what the original iPad weighed is just mind blowing to me.  At the same time, I know that the iPad Pro is not for everybody, especially the big one. It’s not a cheap device & some people are still more comfortable with a laptop or a desktop. That’s perfectly fine, use the device that is right for you but I firmly believe that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is the right device for me.

 

My Favorite Things of 2015

Hey guys, as we enter into another year I wanted to take minute to look back on 2015 and see what some of my favorite things of 2015 were. These are all things I acquired or enjoyed last year. Here’s to an even better year in 2016!applewatch1

Apple Watch – I love my Apple Watch for many reasons. I love how it looks, I love getting notifications on my wrist, I love how many times it saves me from pulling my phone out of my pocket, but most of all I love the fitness tracking and activity goals it provides. I have been more active this year than in the past 6 or 7 years and trying to fill those little activity rings every day was a big part of it. I even joined a gym for the first time in my life when it got too cold for me to exercise outside. Yes, this product is not for the masses yet but I couldn’t imagine going without it. Link

 

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It’s so beautiful.

S’well Water Bottle – I ran across these in a store downtown and instantly fell in love with the design of this water bottle. If Jony Ive designed a water bottle, I believe it would look something like this. It also keeps my drink cold for 24 hours plus which is awesome. It is expensive but I have loved using it all year. Link

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4th Generation Apple TV – I’ve had every version of the Apple TV but the 4th generation is far and away Apple’s best set-top box they have ever released. From the powerful processor that makes everything run so smooth, to the new app store with a ton of apps to download, it is a pleasure to use. Siri voice control works extremely well & the screen-savers (yes, screen-savers) Apple included are absolutely breathtaking. This is the box we use to watch everything now. The only time the PS4 get’s turned on anymore is for gaming. Link

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Joby Mini Gorillapod & Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount – I have fallen in love with shooting time lapses with my iPhone 6 Plus this year and these two items work together to help me shoot them. I love how compact this whole setup is. It is amazing what you can capture with an iPhone and a few simple tools these days! Link1 Link2

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Oakley Method 360 Backpack – I have a huge weakness for bags and picked up this one down in Austin this year. It has been my everyday bag from that day on. It has all the right pockets and can hold a ton of stuff if needed. Link

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Even with all the hype this movie blew me away. I’ve seen it twice and would see it again in a heartbeat. A true cinematic masterpiece.

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My first two boxes. Sniff.

Fiery Chicken Fries – Burger King – Burger King’s Chicken Fries are one of my all-time favorite foods & when Burger King brought them back permanently in early 2015 I didn’t think that it could get any better than that. I was wrong. In the summer for one month only Burger King released Fiery Chicken Fries and they were glorious! I ate so many of them that I got sick. As soon as I felt better I got some more. I have ate a lot of fast food in my days and I do believe that the Fiery Chicken Fries are the greatest fast food item of all time! Honorable mentions go to Wendy’s Home Style Chicken Strips & Jack In The Box’s Spicy Chicken Bites, may they both rest in peace.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook. I am ibmacin on everything.

Apple Pay

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My local bank has just recently started supporting Apple Pay and I wanted to post my thoughts on it now that I have had it for a couple of weeks. It was a long time coming with me frequently checking this site here to see if my bank had added support for it.

First, let me talk about how Apple Pay works. Basically, you add either a supported credit card or in my case a bank debit card to the wallet app that is on your iPhone or Apple Watch. Once you have that loaded up you can use it at any place that accepts contactless payments.

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If you see one of these logos, you should be good to go.

If you are using your iPhone you simply hold it near the credit card machine and it will prompt you to hold your finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on your iPhone and it will let you know that it went through. If you are using your Apple Watch you simply double press the contacts button on the side and hold your watch near the contactless sensor. The Apple Watch will give you a tap on the wrist as well as give you a little chime that it went through. That’s it. I just works and I must say it is delightful!

Next I want to talk about how I’ve been using Apple Pay. I have used it multiple times with both my iPhone as well as my Apple Watch & I gotta say, while it is cool paying for stuff with my iPhone it brings a real dumb grin to my face to pay with my Apple Watch. I cannot imagine it ever getting old either. It almost always delights the salesperson when they see what you have done. There is something so futuristic about it. So far I have bought several meals, a soda from a Coke machine at an outlet mall, as well as a toy “figurine” from Toys R Us with my watch. I absolutely love it!

Lastly I want to talk about what the future holds for Apple Pay. Obviously, more and more banks will be adding support for it. They all love it because your information is stored in a secure chip on the iPhone itself and it uses one time verification codes with the merchant so it is much more secure than swiping your debit card in a machine or handing your card to someone. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is more retailers supporting it. The dream would be to be able to use Apple Pay exclusively and no longer have to carry a bunch of cards with you. We’re not there yet. I am anxiously waiting for Target as well as my local grocery store to add support for it. For now, I’m happy to use it wherever it is accepted.

My First Youtube Upload

Hey guys I posted my first video to YouTube today. It’s a time-lapse of the Brazos River in Waco, TX shot from the McLane Stadium Pedestrian Bridge. I shot it with my iPhone 6 Plus and edited it in iMovie. It’s really amazing the things we can do with the phones in our pockets these days. I hope you enjoy it. If you do it would be super rad if you subscribed to my channel. I plan on shooting more videos around my town.

Feedly + Pocket

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I wanted to share how I keep up with reading all of my favorite sites online. Years ago I would bookmark all of my go-to sites and periodically check in on them to see what was new. This works ok but it is cumbersome and you miss out on things. There are the sites that post so many stories everyday that you can’t help but miss something and then there are the smaller sites that post infrequently and you inevitably forget to keep checking on them. You end up missing out on some really great content. Then there is the other problem of finding stories you are interested in but not having time to read them at the moment. You leave the site and then forget about the article. This sucks. Feedly and Pocket solve both of these problems pretty much perfectly for me and best of all they are free to use.

Feedly

Feedly is a RSS reader that is free to use and ensures you never miss an article from any of your favorite sites. Simply sign up for an account & add all of your favorite sites to it. Feedly will then keep track of everything and list every new article that gets posted to sites you added. Then you simply check out your Feedly feed when convenient and scan through all of the articles. When you are done just mark all as read at the bottom and you have a blank slate until more articles are posted. This solves the problem of missing out on articles from the sites you like. Feedly also offers apps on iPhone, iPad, & Android. You can also sign into your Feedly account on a number of 3rd party apps, Reeder being my favorite.

Pocket

Pocket solves my second problem of finding a great article online but not having time to read it right then. This happens to me all of the time. With a free Pocket account you can save any article you come across online and it will be saved for viewing later in a nice clean format and even cached for offline reading. You can save an article to Pocket in a variety of ways. You can add a button to your web browser that saves whatever article you are viewing with one click. You can bring up the share sheet on iOS and save whatever article you have brought up. You can email an article to your special Pocket email address and it will be saved for you. Pocket makes it very simple to save an article to your account.

Using these two services has completely changed how I find articles to read online and also how I read those articles. I typically check my Feedly feed on my iPhone and iPad throughout the day and save anything that looks interesting to Pocket with the handy save to Pocket button offered in the app. Then when I have free time to relax and read I go through my Pocket queue and enjoy all of those articles on my own schedule in the nice clean format that Pocket puts them in. This has been fantastic for me. It can also be great when you are really busy or on vacation as well. Don’t have time to check the web for a couple of days? All of those articles will be waiting for you in your RSS feed when you come back. I hope that this article may help somebody give a RSS service as well as a read it later service a try. There are plenty more out there if Feedly or Pocket aren’t your cup of tea but any of them sure beat doing things the old way.

Apple Music

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I wanted to post my first impressions on Apple Music since it launched on Tuesday June 30th. I have been listening to it every day since and here are my initial thoughts.

  • The 3 month free trial is very nice and will give me plenty of time to decide if I want to pay $9.99 or $14.99 for the family plan after the trial ends.
  • The service seems to work pretty good and almost every song I have searched for has been available.
  • The new Music icon on iOS and the new iTunes icon on Mac are pretty dope (a small but nice touch).
  • The curated playlists are really close to my tastes. I have very diverse musical tastes so color me impressed that they were able to provide me with stuff that is interesting to me.
  • Beats 1, the new radio station has been the biggest surprise for me. That Apple was able to pull off an old school radio station but at the same time make it modern for todays kids is most impressive. I have already discovered about 15 songs I really like that I had never heard before thanks to listening to Beats 1. Apple Music makes it very easy to save these songs for offline listening as well. Zane Lowe is my favorite of the Beats 1 DJs so far. I really like his energy.
  • One complaint I have regarding Beats 1 is it has had some hiccups ever since it’s launch. It frequently will stop the music for no reason and force me to hit play again for it to start back up again. Hopefully they get these issues worked out soon.

Over the last few years my music listening has pretty much disappeared as I started listening to more and more podcasts. When I do listen to music it is the same 3 or 4 albums over and over. I have stopped listening to any traditional radio as well as it seems to get more and more terrible as the years go on. I have really enjoyed using Apple music these last few days and while I don’t think I will ever go back to just listening to music I can see myself having a more even split between music and podcasts. Also, even if I decide not to pay for Apple Music after the free trial, Beats 1 will still be free to listen to and I plan to keep tuning in when I can.

The Apple Watch – First Impressions

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At 9:00 this morning I picked up my shiny new Apple Watch Sport 42mm Silver w/ White Sport Band at my local UPS warehouse. Pro tip: You can select to have your item left at the warehouse instead of going on a UPS truck, that way you can pick it up several hours earlier than the UPS truck would normally get it to you. I have been wearing it ever since and would like to give my first impressions on it. I am planning on reviewing it, but will need to spend much more time with it first.

  • The Apple Watch is very easy and quick to set up. I was up and running in just a few minutes.
  • The magnetic charging cable is pretty good. It attaches to the back very easily and it has a nice long cord.
  • It really is beautiful. I love the way it looks and feels on my wrist.
  • The raise to see the time gesture has worked flawlessly everytime so far for me. Just raise your arm and the watch comes alive. Put your arm back down and the screen turns off. Simple.
  • The taptic touches you get when a notification comes in is so cool. It’s way different than a vibration, just a gentle tap on the wrist.

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  • Force touch is really cool. You just press harder on the screen than you normally would to bring up additional information. I really hope Apple adds this to the next iPhone.
  • The digital crown on the side of the watch is great. Scrolling it with your finger is so smooth. It was a little looser than I was expecting, but it works great for scrolling through messages or emails.
  • Making and receiving phone calls works fine. Yes, it is a little weird talking into your watch, but it’s also incredibly cool! I feel like a secret agent!
  • Likewise, sending messages works great as well. You don’t type them out, but the watch will give you some suggestions or you can dictate a response. You can then either send the message it transcribed or just send the voice clip. It has worked great for me so far.

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  • I think I am really going to enjoy the fitness & activity apps. As I was driving for a couple of hours today, the watch tapped my wrist and said I should get up and stand for a little bit. Thanks, watch, I probably should!
  • There’s already a really good selection of apps available for the watch. There are around 3,000 apps already available on the first day. A few I think are pretty neat are Overcast, Yelp, Instagram, ESPN, and Evernote.
  • I was curious how noticeable it would be wearing it. My wife and I visited a large mall today and nobody seemed to notice it except a couple of employees at the Apple Store. It seems to blend in fairly well.
  • Battery life seems like it will be fine. I charged it over 12 hours ago and it is at 63% right now. Of course, time will tell if this is always the case.

That’s it for now. I am really looking forward to spending more time with it. So far I am very pleased with it.

*Special thanks to my wife for taking the pictures in this post!*

The LG Tone+ Bluetooth Headset

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I didn’t purchase much on Black Friday 2014 but one of the few things I purchased was the LG Tone+ Bluetooth Headset. I had been eyeing them for several months and Best Buy was selling them for $39.99, which is considerably less than the MSRP of $69.99, so I picked them up. I have been using them heavily for the past several months and wanted to give my thoughts on them.

The LG Tone+ have a fairly unique design in that you wear them around your neck and the earbuds pull out and go into your ears. The neckband always rests on your neck and houses all of your controls. I really do like this design as your ears aren’t having to support hardly any weight. The neckband is comfortable, doesn’t bounce around much, and the earbuds magnetically attach to the ends of the neckband when they are out of your ears, which is a nice touch. I think the best way for me to do this review is simply list the pros and cons of this headset below.

Pros

  • They can be connected to two devices at once. So if you want to be listening to music from your iPad and still have them connected to your iPhone for if a call comes in, you can. I really appreciate this feature.
  • Call sound quality through this headset seems to be good. I use this headset heavily at work and answer and make 30 plus calls a day and I haven’t heard any complaints.
  • The controls are well thought out and easy to reach. It took me just a couple of hours to memorize where everything is.
  • The headset will vibrate when you are receiving a call which is nice if you are away from your phone and don’t have the earbuds in. I have been notified of several calls I would have missed because of this feature.
  • They are very comfortable in my ears. They come with 3 sizes of tips for various ear sizes and I find them to be very pleasant to wear.
  • Each time you turn them on they will tell you the battery level they are at. They also will show the battery level in the status bar on your iPhone. They will reconnect automatically if you go out of range as soon as you get back in range.
  • You can activate Siri from the headset by tapping the call button. This is really handy.

Cons

  • Battery life is good but not great. I can typically get a full 9 hour work day out of them but thats about it. Thats with me using them for several phone calls as well as several hours of podcast or music playback. It’s not bad but I do wish I could go two days on the battery instead of having to charge them every day. They do charge fairly quickly at least. (about 2 hours)
  • Sound quality is just average on this headset. Sure you can’t really expect incredible sound quality on a sub $100 bluetooth headset but I still wish it was a little better. This is not a deal breaker at all, especially as the majority of the time I am listening to podcasts instead of music, but don’t buy these expecting to have stellar sound.
  • This headset looks a little dorky. I definitely have gotten some questions while wearing it. It’s not a big deal to me at all but if you are really fashion conscious you may want to look for something a little more casual looking.

That about sums up my thoughts on the LG Tone+ bluetooth headset. Hopefully this will help you decide if you have been on the fence about them. For the price I got them at I highly recommend them. They are incredibly nice for my work and I don’t see myself going back to my EarPods anytime soon. You can find them on Amazon here.