Tuesday, March 30, 2010

iPod Touch Product Review, Apple

About a year ago, shortly after buying my iPod Touch, I reviewed it on these pages. It’s time for an update.

With the exception of a lot of copper and wood and tools for my work, I have bought almost nothing aside from food in the past year. I’m not much of a consumer.

That said, I do love books, music, films and art— and, yes, I have spent some money on those. And for all of that, the iPod Touch is wonderful.

After a year with my Touch, I actually like it more, and I am more amazed, more pleased and more impressed. It’s that good.

The iPod Touch strikes me as something as close to having tumbled out of the sky from another planet, superior aliens, as I have ever encountered . Holding the smooth, slim gizmo in your hand, it feels like something beyond what man could make. Did Steve Jobs swipe the design from Martians? Could be!

As explained in my previous review, my primary intention when I got it was to use it as an eBook reader. I still like it very much for that. Because it is always in my pocket ready to go, I have read far more in the past year than I would have without it. But my iPod Touch turned out to be much more than an eBook reader.

Something I don’t miss: going to the video store. I hated going to the video store! I love being able to check film reviews through Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster, and watch trailers on YouTube or Apple, and then click a button and get the film. Once downloaded (usually about forty minutes), it takes a couple of minutes to transfer the film onto my iPod Touch, plug it into our TV, and away we go.

The same goes for music. It’s great to listen first to a short clip on iTunes, and then flip over to either YouTube or MySpace and watch a video of the musician(s) playing before investing.

Over the past year I have discovered that the iPod Touch is great to have when traveling. Free WiFi is seldom difficult to locate (there's an app for that!), so you can stay in touch with your emails, check on restaurant and accommodation reviews, grab maps, get a weather report and so on.

Also when traveling, you can use Skype to call people. Yes, with a microphone enabled set of headphones, the iPod Touch serves as an excellent telephone.

So when traveling, I don’t need our laptop. I don’t need a cellphone. I don’t need heavy books. Lighten your load: get an iPod Touch.

As a lover of film, books, music and art, I would call the iPod Touch pretty darn close to the perfect gizmo. What about art, you say? Well, two things. First, I consider the iPod Touch itself to be a work of art: it is beautiful. Second, I have pictures of my art on my iPod. Previously when I told people what I do, so many would say they wish they could see my work, and now they can.

Finally, in my experience Apple provides excellent customer service. When dealing with corporate customer service, it’s rare to find real people who have real understanding, and real power to resolve issues; but I have found this to be the case with Apple. When my son had an issue with his laptop, they went far beyond what they needed to do (they didn’t actually ‘need’ to do anything, since it was six months beyond warranty), and promptly resolved the issue. When I had a small snag with my iPod, likewise it was taken care of immediately.

Five stars out of five for Apple customer service, and five stars out of five for my iPod Touch.

*This is an unpaid review.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back from Friendly Manitoba

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Canadian prairies, flatlands, winter, Canada, highway 1, trans Canada highway
There is a lot of long road that looks like this on the way to Manitoba from the West Coast

We hopped in the car and shot off to Manitoba during last week's Spring School Break. It was a wonderful trip! I had been back and forth across Canada a couple of times before, but always traveling in the summer. Winter is a different trip altogether. There are not many people in the summer, I have found, but even fewer in the winter. Of course, the biggest difference aside from the climate is that we could not camp (too cold, and sites closed). We got to see a lot of crummy motels. I didn't mind (much)-- that's all part of the adventure.

While I find pretty much all of Canada beautiful and interesting, one thing I that really stood out for me was that the slogan on the Manitoba license plate ('Friendly Manitoba') is true. Spending two nights and a full day in Stonewall Manitoba, where my oldest son is doing the second stage of his Katimavik volunteer program, I was blown away by just how friendly Manatobians are: total strangers waving cheerfully from their cars, as though you are a long lost family member. Nice.

Due to not camping, we ate all of our meals out. I'd say one of the things I like most about traveling like that is not having to cook or do dishes. Paradoxically, one of the things I least like is having to eat relatively unhealthy restaurant food all the time!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Early Spring on the Coast

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salmon berry blossom, spring flower, wild flowers
Salmon berry blossom, March 3, 2010

I love the first bright salmon berry blossoms that appear each year. The forests are always lush and beautiful year round on the Sunshine Coast, but for me the green and brown and more green becomes a bit tiresome by winter's end. So I rejoice when the first purple flowers appear. A little color!

Since I like that so much, I posted a picture of one of the first last year, too. I see that was on April 13, 2009. I must have seen the first one opening this year nearly two weeks ago, in mid-March, so it would seem to be much earlier this year. That makes sense, as it has been such a warm winter, and there have been several nearly T-shirt afternoons in recent weeks.

I was so pleased to have my camera along on my daily hike yesterday for the blossom picture, because as I moved deep through the woods, suddenly there was sunlight, and it was filtering through the trees and morning mist in a most attractive way. The picture is below. Enjoy.

Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada, nature, forest, mist, sunlight

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Coast Chimes, Work from the Past Year

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Some of my work as it appears on Flickr

Back earlier last year, I added a Coverflow page to my Coast Chimes website. The way it works is I upload pictures of recent works to my Flickr account, and the fifteen most recent works automatically appear on my website on the Coverflow page. So I use Coverflow to show what I have most recently made.

The process is automatic, so I had not recently actually gone to my Flickr account much. But the other day I was there, and I was struck by the thumbnail directory of my uploads, as shown above. That's a lot of work I did! Anyway, I thought the thumbnail directory looks kind of cool, so I share it with you.