Where does my car phone go?

Not only are cars sorely behind when it comes to technology integration, even tech device physical storage within cars is behind the times. With your phone becoming (or already is for many) the central hub for audio and navigation in the car, it stands to reason that a prominent, safe, and secure location should be a priority. This, unfortunately, is not the reality. Every year that goes by, even though we get some good alternative car technology systems (CarPlay, Android Auto) from third parties, auto makers dig their heels in deeper and make even worse first party systems that are further proprietary and impossible to replace.

None of what I am saying is a revelation, but with a new vehicle (Range Rover Evoque) in our house recently, the issue of “where do I put my phone” has come up again. After about 6 months of driving and interacting with this car, I really have no other complaints about any part of the vehicle. The integrated “tech package” is marginal. No worse than any other, but not really any better either. The real problem I have is the complete lack of mounting locations for our phones.

My wife and I use the same phone, so a mounting solution only has to fit one model of device, which is helpful. I am completely against the suction cup mounts for the windshield. I absolutely will not stick anything to the beautiful pristine dash either. In all our previous cars (which were all MINIs) there was a great place to attach a mount to the back of the center mounted tachometer, but in this vehicle, no such luck. After A LOT of research, I have finally found a solution! The solution comes from a company called ProClip. They offer modular solutions for a huge number of vehicle / device combinations. On their site, you pick out your desired device / power combo, then follow that with a car make/model specific mount. Both pieces I received are excellent quality and fit perfectly. I highly recommend looking into ProClip for your mounting needs in your vehicle, rather than a generic suction mount. The install is fast, and the finish looks great. I am so happy to finally have a solid location to store my phone in the car.

iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 9.37.33 PM

It’s no secret that I have upgraded to everyone iPhone to date. So, of course, the iPhone 6 update would be no different. I did my usual stay up late and pre-order online for in-store pickup. So much better than the old days of camping out for hours and days at the Apple store. It was fun for a few times, but no reason to do it anymore for me.

I ordered the 64GB Space Gray iPhone 6. I really had no idea if the 6 Plus would work for me, but I figured the 6 would be ok no matter what. Not a whole lot to say other than I loved it the second I opened it. It’s a great phone and that should be the end of it..

Even though I knew the 6 plus was too big for me personally, there was this nagging voice in my had telling me I would never really know unless I tried it out as my actual phone for a little while. Off to the Apple Store I went to pick up my freshly ordered (for in store pickup) iPhone 6 Plus (same specs as the 6 I already had).

I used the 6 plus as my main phone for a total of about 7 days. No matter what, it is a really nice phone, that is for sure. At the end of the day, what phone am I using at the time of this writing? You may have guessed. The iPhone 6.

Why did I switch back to the 6 from the 6 Plus? Here are the main reasons that the 6 Plus and I were not destined to be together.

1) I like the ability to have the SplitView controller on my phone like on the iPad. Only problem is that this allows your phone homescreen to now rotate, which can be useful, BUT, this now means that when you take your phone out of your pocket, your homescreen can now be upside down or sideways. I found myself locking and unlocking rotation SO much that it become an annoyance.

2) The phone is just really damn big. The screen is gorgeous and I really do miss it, but damn. Holding the phone was a challenge. One handed use, for me, was not happening. You can use the reachability feature to get to the top parts of the screen, but there basically needs to be a sideways reachability feature as well or you can’t reach all the way across the screen.

3) Aside from the already stated size issue of holding the phone, it really just didn’t fit anywhere. Pockets were borderline. Anywhere you would normally store your phone in the car, it didn’t fit there either. Basically all the places in your life where you have always put your phone for whatever reason, this big ass phone was not going to comply and fit there in almost all cases.

If a giant phone fits your life, definitely get it, the screen is really awesome! I highly recommended trying to get some longer term usage of it if you can before buying though. It is quite a large adjustment if you are moving from any previous iPhone. Using the 6 Plus for a week, made me realize how incredibly perfect the 4.7” iPhone 6 really is.

 

Audio

User.Space | Nov. 20, 2014

Sony A7 Camera System

— Used a Nikon camera system for 6 or 7 years.
— Finally realized how many times I would opt to not bring my camera with me due to size and weight.
— Smaller Mirrorless camera bodies have been around for a while, but this new line from Sony has really taken it to the next level.
— Moving my Nikon D600 to the Sony A7, there have been zero downsides. The Sony A7 even has the exact same full frame sensor as the Nikon D600.
— The A7 body is very small and light.
— If you are a professional photographer and rely on a large lens selection, this would be the only place the A7 may fall down short for you. It uses Sony’s new FE lenses and the selection is still in its infancy, but definitely growing and a decent rate.
— Is it still easier to just bring your iPhone with you? Yes. But, having this kind of quality image creating hardware in such a small package is amazingly convenient.

How Do I Backup My Stuff?

I have been a backup junky for quite a while. I have lost my fair share of data in the past due to poor backup practices, and that just sucks. Backup is generally not on the top of everyone’s mind, but it really should be. Keeping a solid backup of your data is easier than ever, and the cost is trivial in comparison to what your personal data is worth. I was thinking about how all my stuff is getting managed and eventually sent to some kind of backup, and thought it may be helpful for some to see what I am doing to keep my stuff safe. This setup is kind of elaborate, and won’t fit your needs 100%, but parts of it I am sure can, at the very least, give you ideas of better ways to protect your data. Below is an overview of how various devices are moving data around to protect it, and then you will see a nice visual diagram of how all the parts are interconnected.

I would love to hear about cool ways you are backing stuff up and keeping it safe, or perhaps you have suggestions on ways to improve my system. Either way, let me know!

 
iPhone
– Nightly iCloud backup
– Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iPad
– Nightly iCloud backup
– Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iMac Internal Drive
– Locally connected Time Machine drive
– Network mounted Time Machine (Mac Mini Server connected to 4 Bay Drobo)
– Weekly image backup to external drive with SuperDuper
Arq backup of Home Folder to Amazon S3

iMac External 4TB Thunderbolt Drive
Chronosync mirror to Mac Mini Drobo

Mac Mini Server w/ 4 bay 8TB Drobo
– Internal Mac Mini drive weekly image backup to Drobo
– Drobo real time backup to Crashplan

 

 

How do I backup - October 2014

Click Image To View Larger

 

Multiple iOS Simulator Instances

If you do any type of web development, more than likely you will need to check your code on various iOS devices. The iOS simulator is great for this, but generally you are trying to check your layouts against multiple screen sizes, and the standard simulator only gives you one device at a time, with no possibility of viewing two devices side-by-side.

I created a little script that runs as an application which will launch two instances of the iOS simulator so you can view two devices at once!

Prerequisites 
- OS X 10.9.4+
- Xcode 6.0.0+

Using MultiOS Simulator.app
1. Unzip the app and move it to your Applications folder (or wherever you want)
2. Launch MultiOS Simulator.app. (You will see the error below. Simply click “ok” and move one of the simulator windows to the side to reveal the second instance.)

3. Important Select each simulator window and choose a device for each. Menu —> Hardware —> Device.
4. Important
 You must use 2 different devices. Running two identical devices will not work (this is what causes the initial error above).

That’s it, have fun! Hope this is helpful. Feel free to reach out with any questions / comments.

*Note* You may need to Right Click the application and choose open the first time you launch it.

Download MultiOS Simulator

MINI Takes The States 2014

We did it again! Another MINI Takes The States road trip has concluded! This is our fourth year attending the epic MINI sponsored event (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014) and it just gets bigger and better every year. The event started in 2006 and runs every two years, with the routes and events changing each time.

This year’s adventure began in San Francisco and headed out east, eventually ending up in Boston. We did not do the entire route this year due to time constraints, but we still turned it into an awesome adventure! After the New Mexico checkpoint, we turned back west to head for the Grand Canyon and then back home.

As always, this event remains one of the best events put on by any company in any industry. This is just another reason that MINI customers are life long customers. Thanks to MINI USA, and everyone who attended this year, and we can’t wait to see you all again in two years! Start the countdown!! :)

Overall the trip took us the following route.

Trip Stats
7 Days
6 States
2876 Miles
1 Speeding Ticket
8 Stops for Gas
0 Cracked Windshields
1374 Photos Taken
178 Minutes of Video

Photos and Video from the trip
MINI Takes The States Photos

MINI Takes The States Video

Grand Canyon Photos

Bearizona Photos

Bearizona GoPro Car Video

Bonus Photos
MINI LEGO Creation Set

Collection of all MTTS event Photos

Opinion: No More Carry On Bags

Dear Travelers,

Air travel sucks nowadays. This is not news to anyone, and it didn’t just start sucking last week, it’s been gradually getting worse. This is not the main reason for this post. There are many aspects to flying that make it miserable that cannot be changed no matter how much people think they can be. There are fortunately, I think, a few areas that you can actually change to make things a little more tolerable.

  1. Waiting in the endless security line. This is your first or second step upon arriving at the airport, and often one of the worst experiences. Poor treatment, rude people, and de-humanizing acts. The only way around this is to get a Known Traveler Number which gets you into the TSA Pre Check line. Basically this is what it was like to fly in the 1990’s. It does feel a bit like extortion, but it is well worth the money in my mind. Also if you fly internationally, you can go through the process of joining the Global Entry program which is basically Pre Check for international travel. Getting Global Entry will also get you Pre Check for US travel.

  2. Stop bringing your giant “carry on” bags on the plane. That bag is huge, not a carry on, and you know it. Check the damn thing and make everyone’s life easier. Pay the baggage check fee, or join an airline program that gives you free checked bags. The entire flight should not suffer and wait while you find a place to fit your bag that takes up the entire overhead bin, plus your overstuffed backpack, and miscellaneous bag of tourist stuff, because you didn’t want to check your bags like you should.

  3. Learn some manners and be respectful of others. An airplane is small, cramped, and you are no worse off than everyone else. It’s an airplane, not your house. Clean up your stuff, be quiet, and quit bothering people. Every action you take is magnified by 100 because you are in a small, loud, smelly tube with 175 other people.

The last thing I want to say is that I know “all airlines suck”, and of course there are definitely some scenarios where they REALLY do, but I wonder how much of it is directly related to the passengers. Be cognizant of your actions when you are at the airport and on the plane. If everyone can just think about their actions, we may be able to get this process moving a bit smoother to our next destination.

For what it’s worth, I fly Southwest for the most part, and find them to be generally good.

Chromebook’d

We first heard about the Chromebook when it was launched in the form of the Cr-48 by Google toward the end of 2010. The premise was pretty simple: an entire laptop OS based on the Chrome browser alone. Not a computer replacement, but rather an extension of your curent computing environment. Like many of the things Google does, it was an experiment, and an interesting one at that. I unfortunately was not at any events during the laptop’s lifespan that allowed me to get my hands on one, but it wasn’t long before it was possible to Frankenstein your own Chromebook. In early 2011, I did exactly that and built a Chromebook using an older netbook that was collecting dust. The Chrome OS was still in its infancy and my primary computer at that time was a laptop, so a Chromebook didn’t really make a lot of sense for me personally at the time.

Flash forward to today (2014). As mentioned here in a previous post, my current setup for the most part is a 27” iMac and an iPad Air. This is still the best combo for me, rather than just using a laptop. Every so often I find myself wanting to type more long form items, like this post for example, but the on screen keyboard of my iPad is not the answer. This got me thinking about Chromebooks again. An inexpensive keyboard and screen combo that lets me do research in the browser and write longer form entries in Evernote. Right about this same time, Woot had some Chromebooks, so I thought I would check out Chrome OS again. I got the coral 14” HP Chromebook, which has much better specs than earlier Chromebooks. It has a decent enough screen for browsing and writing, a fast enough processor, and enough RAM to handle what I wanted it for. Plus, as a bonus, it came with free 4G wireless data (200mb/month) from T-Mobile for the life of the device, and 100GB of Google Drive as well. A pretty awesome deal for $200.

I have to say, an HP Chromebook is NOT a MacBook Air in any way, shape, or form. But that is not what I bought it for, so it’s ok. Yes, it is kind of heavy, has a giant, gross power adapter, and is not made of aluminum. All that being said, it was purchased to be a third device, and it does an awesome job of it! Plus with all the bonus items it came with, I have no regrets and am very happy with the device.

Side Note: If you do not use Chrome as your main browser, a Chromebook is probably not the best idea for you, unless you really just want a blank web browser for your needs.

Chromebook Specs