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.

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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.

The iPhone 6 Plus

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As many of you know I got an iPhone 6 Plus about a month and a half ago. I have used it as my only phone every day since and think that I have had enough time with it to do a full review. The model I got is the AT&T 64gb Silver version. Let’s get right to it.

Design

The iPhone 6 Plus (as well as the 6) are quite a bit different design wise than the previous 2 models of iPhone. While the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, & 5S all had flat edges and a chamfered cut, the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have curved edges with an all aluminum back. It’s quite a different feel in the hand and has it’s plusses and minuses in my opinion. While it feels better in the hand to me and is very pleasing when swiping from the edge of the screen to the sides it is quite a bit more slippery in the hand than the older models. Also, while I still think it is a beautiful phone, it just doesn’t have that classic Leica look of the iPhone 4 & 5. To me, those phones just felt and looked so solid. This is all just a matter of taste of course but I would have loved to have seen a bigger iPhone done in the style of the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 6 Plus is really thin. At just 7.1 mm thin it is the second thinnest iPhone ever. Only the iPhone 6 at 6.9mm is thinner. So while it is a lot bigger phone than any of my previous phones, it is by far the thinnest phone I have had. I really appreciate the thinness & at just 6.1 ounces it is really light for it’s size as well.

Another change that the 6 & 6 Plus have is the sleep/wake button has moved from the top of the phone to the right side. This is necessary due to the larger size of the phone which would make reaching the top of the phone much more difficult compared to the previous models. The volume buttons and mute toggle switch all feel fine to me.

The screen on the iPhone 6 Plus is a 5.5″ 1080p display (1920 x 1080) which is good for 401 ppi. I have no complaints about this screen at all. It has excellent color reproduction, great contrast, gets plenty bright enough, and is a great size in my opinion. It is quite a change going from the 4″ display of the iPhone 5S to this. You can see so much more information on this screen than you could on previous iPhones and it is just a pleasure to read on. I’ve found that I am much more likely to read on my phone now than I did in the past. It has definitely cut into the time I previously would have used my iPad mini.

The iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have a new “reachability” mode which you access by tapping the home button twice. Doing this brings the top half of the screen down to the bottom half so that you can reach the icons at the top while using the phone one handed. While this is a cool trick I don’t really find myself using it much at all. Instead I have just started holding my phone higher up than I used to and I can pretty much reach everywhere without doing this. If you have small hands, this would probably be more useful. Here’s a gif of how it works:

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A few nitpicks about the design: One, the antenna lines on the back are kind of ugly. I appreciate the effort to go all aluminum on the back but to me, the glass on the top and bottom of the previous iPhone models looked better. Two, the back camera on both the 6 and 6 Plus sticks out just a little from the casing, causing the phone to wobble slightly if laid on a flat surface. I know most people (myself included) will use a case which will negate this but it still kind of sucks if you are one that likes to go without a case.

All that being said I do really love the design of the 6 Plus. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the size coming from an iPhone 5S but I have fully adjusted and have no desire to go back. I have picked up my wife’s iPhone 5 several times since getting the 6 Plus and I cannot get over how small it now feels to me. I know all of the Android fans are like “We’ve had giant phones for years” but it’s nice to have the bigger size in the iPhone. Better late than never in my opinion.

Camera

If there’s one thing about iPhones most people can agree on, it’s that the cameras they use are excellent. While both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are still sporting 8 megapixel cameras, I believe that they are the best smartphone cameras yet. I can’t go into near the detail that these guys go into but I can tell you that for everyday shooting the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is great. It has incredibly fast autofocus and the built in optical image stabilization helps a lot in low light situations as well as when shooting video.

I still wouldn’t use it for taking vacation pictures or for something like my child growing up if I had one, that’s what my Sony NEX 6 is for, but for everyday photo taking for Facebook & Instagram it is more than sufficient.

It also takes some really nice panoramas, up to 43 megapixels. Here is one I shot downtown the other day:

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As far as video is concerned it seems to do a really good job. I have had a lot of fun playing with the new 240fps Slo-Mo mode. There is an excellent video of some skateboarders shot with this feature that I will put below. This was shot handheld with an unsteady hand and it still came out really smooth.

Performance

The 6 Plus comes with a 1.4 GHz 64 bit A8 processor. Performance on the 6 Plus is very good. I haven’t noticed any slowdown when using it. If I could change one thing it would be for Apple to give us 2gb of ram as opposed to the 1gb it has. This would seriously cut down on your safari tabs and apps in the background having to reload so often. Apple did give the new iPad Air 2gb of ram so I am hopeful that future iPhone models will as well. I have attached a screenshot of my Geekbench score below:

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Battery

This right here is probably the strongest part of the iPhone 6 Plus to me. This phone is an absolute beast in regards to battery life. I cannot kill it in a single day no matter how hard I try.

On weekends when I’m not using it much I can easily go 2 days without a charge. A normal work day of me getting up at 7:00 AM, using it hard throughout the day and night and plugging in in around 10:30 or 11:00 PM will have it at 40-50%. My iPhone 5S  could barely make it through a work day at all. I would normally charge it in the afternoon so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it dying that night.

I cannot stress how nice it is to not have to worry about the battery on my phone at all anymore. It’s one less thing for me to worry about everyday and that’s a very good thing.

Touch ID

After a month and a half, Touch ID is still working great for me. Touch ID is so convenient and it would be very hard to go back to a phone that doesn’t have it. I wish I had it on my iPad and my MacBook. It just works.

Apple Pay

I unfortunately have not had the chance to try out Apple Pay yet as my bank still doesn’t support it. I have emailed their support and they have responded saying they will probably be offering it sometime this year. If they do, I will be sure to come back and update this section with my thoughts on how well it works. Reports of people who have used it have been generally positive. This video does a decent job of showing how it works:

Accessories

I have bought a couple of cases for my new iPhone. As much as I would like to go without a case the phone is just too slippery for me to trust it. I am very careful with my phone though so I wanted something very minimal. I ended up buying the official Apple leather case a well as the Griffin Reveal. Both cases are very thin while providing much improved grip as well as negating the back camera bulge. The Apple case specifically gives the phone a really solid grip. The Griffin case has decent grip with the rubber bumper on the sides while having a clear back so you can still see the design of the phone. I really love both cases and switch between them constantly.

Wrap-up

So there you have it. Is the iPhone 6 Plus a good phone? Absolutely! Is it the right phone for everyone? Absolutely not! For some it will be just too big. Luckily Apple makes the iPhone 6 as well. But if you have been waiting for a big phone that runs iOS I would wholeheartedly recommend the iPhone 6 Plus. I am very satisfied with it and can’t imagine going back. Thanks for reading.

Extra

I love reading and watching tech reviews (big surprise). I have read and watched probably over 100 reviews of the iPhone 6 Plus. My absolute favorite one is by my absolute favorite youtuber MKBHD. Do yourself a favor and check out his video review if you are interested in this phone.

 

 

Links To The Past

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Welcome to another edition of Links To The Past. Here are some links I have found interesting over the past few weeks.

  • I’m not a fan of hockey but this GoPro footage of NHL players is pretty cool.
  • I really enjoyed this article about why you should buy a nice camera as opposed to just using your phone for all of your pictures. I am really glad I bought my mirrorless camera as it is really nice to have for trips and special occasions.
  • Walt Mossberg wrote a terrific article about riding the tech treadmill. As a tech enthusiast, I find myself getting caught up in this all too often.
  • Klay Thompson scored 37 points the other night… in the 3rd quarter alone. You can watch all of his baskets here.
  • Lastly, this longtime Mac user bought a PC for his kid and wrote about it. There’s something to be said for Apple’s simplicity.

That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading!