An iOS 10 headache

Now, you can tell me I only have myself to blame, but I tried to update my iOS devices as soon as the iOS 10 update became available from Apple yesterday evening.

My iPad Pro 9.7″ updated smoothly and easily. I haven’t gone through all the details, but with a couple of hours’ use, I can say that I like iOS 10 on the iPad. It actually seems snappier and more responsive.

My iPhone 6s plus, on the other hand, was bricked by the over-the-air update. And I wasn’t alone. A quick look on Twitter highlighted that people all over the place were looking at their iPhones with the same mix of anger, frustration and shock.

Apple released a statement saying they’d noted the error, but for me, it was too late.

Cue several hours trying to update the phone, or even get it back into some semblance of working condition. I finally got it working four hours later – most of that time was spent trying to download software via iTunes. An app I rarely, if ever, open these days.

I never connect my iOS devices to iTunes unless it’s absolutely necessary. Back-ups are done over the air, everything important is in the cloud and there’s nothing mission-critical on either device that isn’t backed up somewhere else.

The iTunes experience with my iPhone just served to remind me what a bloated, outdated piece of crap the application is. I actually ended up completing the iOS update over-the-air again, as iTunes kept crashing.

The phone is working just fine now, but that was a colossal waste of my time. So much for “It just works”. It doesn’t.

Twitter was awash with helpful advice from tech writers but also quite a bit of schadenfreude from aficionados who pointed out “this happens every time” and “you have to be mental to update iOS on day one”. Not helpful, guys.

If the update is available on a given day, are we supposed to engage in some kind of ‘cargo cult’ mentality, cross our fingers and wait an arbitrary amount of time before it’s ‘safe’ to update? O should we trust the company that released the software update?r

I was super-keen to get iOS 10 on my devices as I think it’s a great advance for the platform. The shoddy update process left a really bitter taste in my mouth and I’d encourage Apple to think twice before releasing macOS Sierra next week. I won’t be updating my Macbook and iMac on day one – I couldn’t bare a similar experience.

The next Apple update will be treated with extreme caution. Which is a shame.

On a related note, I’m waiting for the delivery of my new iPhone 7 Plus. I’m expecting it in about a week. Much of the noise around its launch concerned the removal of the headphone jack and Apple spoke about the bravery involved in moving to a wireless future.

It would be nice if they could make this wireless future a reality when it comes to OS updates, removing iTunes from the equation completely. I dread to think what I’d have done if I was nowhere near my Macbook or iMac.

20km across London

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I went for my longest half-marathon training run this morning, hitting the 20km marker. Leaving Canary Wharf, I followed by usual route, looping round to Green Park, but then continuing down to Waterloo station. Where I paused for breath before hopping on the tube home.

I have to say I enjoyed every step of the run, feeling strong and confident as I went. I did slow down towards the end, but I have to say it was mostly due to volume of people on the pavement, not fatigue. But that’s what I get for running through Central London on a Saturday morning!

What was most pleasing was that I had plenty left in the tank for a final kilometre to reach half-marathon distance. My PB at this distance is 1:42, and I made 20km this morning in 1:45:56. So if I can repeat this in a month’s time, I’ll come in well below my 2:00 target.

The ‘Nike Running Club’ app seems to be behaving itself a bit more, now that it’s been updated several times. Voice updates working again, maps are back and I can track my progress in kilometres, not miles. I still think the interface is ugly and far from intuitive, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

I’ve taken the rest of the day at a slightly slower pace. Some lunch, some planning for our trip to Japan next month and now, some time in the sauna and jacuzzi.

That “Japan” feeling

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We watched the first episode of Joanna Lumley’s new series on Japan last night and really enjoyed it. She’s touring all the way from its very northernmost tip near Russia to its southernmost islands over three episodes. @FrankDJS and I both had several “remember that?” moments as we watched, thinking back to our visits to Japan over recent years.

I think I enjoyed it most because it wasn’t particularly touristy and definitely wasn’t ‘dumbed down’. Yes, she goes to a snow festival to see incredible snow sculptures and yes, she travels on a Shinkansen from Nagano to Tokyo. But she also visits a ‘dead’ town, abandoned since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and meets its lone resident, who stayed behind to look after all the animals. She goes bird-watching for rare cranes and hikes into the snow-covered mountains to visit an ancient pagoda. It was overwhelmingly a human-centred show and didn’t seem exploitative at all.

Not a Mario, karaoke bar or Cat Cafe in sight (yet!). 😀

I was particularly excited to see her visit the snow monkeys outside Nagano, as I’m heading out there myself (with @FrankDJS, of course – my own little monkey) at the end of October. Counter-intuitively, we’re hoping for cold weather, to increase our chances of seeing some of the cute Japanese Macaques who come out from the trees and stay warm by getting into the natural hot springs.

Ah… memories of my last meeting with Japanese monkeys. I’m obsessed, it’s fair to say.

The first episode ends with Joanna (we’re on first-name terms, it’s okay) arriving into Tokyo and disappearing into the crowds at Shibuya crossing. Can’t wait for next week’s episode, which promises more Tokyo and Kyoto.

(Though Joanna and I will have to agree to disagree over the quality of ‘Boss’ coffee from the drinks machines that litter Japan. Warm sludge, if memory serves. And heavily promoted by Tommy-Lee Jones, bizarrely).

I’d no idea the programme had eve been made, much less was going to be on TV last night. I’m not an big ITV viewer and most of our TV is consumed via Netflix or Amazon Prime these days.

A happy coincidence, then. Any other Japan-related TV shows I should be watching here in the UK? (Given several hours each week are already given over the NHK TV!)

iPhone 7 Plus: ordered.

Now the wait begins.

I ordered a couple of phones for @FrankDJS and I as soon as the online Apple Store opened this morning. Sat in bed, refreshing the iPhone app until the store opened, I used an old trick to guarantee we’d get what we want. Last night, I selected each of our chosen phones (and my new watch) and marked them as ‘favourites’. This morning, as soon as the store ‘opened’, the three items were ready to select and pay for in just a couple of steps.

@FrankDJS went for the iPhone 7 with 128GB in black and I opted for the iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB in black, as planned. No ‘jet black’ shiny shiny phones for us. (Or rose gold, but I would have thought that was self-explanatory…) I also got an Apple Watch series 2.0 in space grey.

The 128GB and the Apple Watch will arrive here next Friday, but I’ll have to wait until September 29th for my iPhone. Which ironically means I might be using my Nexus 6P for a week during the period between selling my existing iPhone 6s Plus and the 7 Plus arriving. I have an agreed price with one on the online gadget site and that price will only go down from this point.

More thought required to figure that one out. I really hadn’t anticipated a wait for the highest end model, especially as I ordered it at 08:05, just five minutes after the store opened! I guess stocks were low?

I’m really looking forward to putting the 7 Plus’s camera through its paces and enjoying all that iOS has to offer. That and adding swimming to my Apple Fitness regimen, now that the Apple Watch can track activity in the pool (or in the sea).

All in all (and putting the bluetooth/lightning earbuds to one side) it’s not a massive upgrade, but something more iterative. I suppose they’ll go for something more extreme to celebrate the iPhone’s tenth anniversary next year.

But let’s not get into that just yet.

iPhone 7 – taking the plunge?

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I missed yesterday’s Apple Event as it was streamed, but followed it via the liveblog from the Verge and sporadic tweets, all the time on a slow-moving train from Nottingham to London.

There weren’t too may surprises (Mario aside) and the phone and watch announcements were as expected. Yes to new black colours, yes to water-protection and no to inclusion of a traditional audio jack. Harrumph. It’s digital or bluetooth from now on, folks.

While I was impressed with the new iPhone 7 Plus, I was initially so annoyed by the the change to the headphone jack that I dismissed all thoughts of upgrading. I was a lot more interested in what the Series 2 Apple Watch has to offer. (The ability to wear it in water, for a start!)

The inevitable

But here we are, 24 hours later, and I’ve read a lot more about it and listened to a few podcasts. And I’m leaning towards getting one. Before you descend on me with an overpowering torrent of “I told you so!”, hear me out…

Here’s what I think the iPhone 7 Plus has going for it:

  1. Better battery life, which you can never ignore. I’m never happier than when I have some fully-charged gadgets about my person and never more anxious than when I’m down on single-digit battery notifications.

  2. A superb camera, which is something quite important to me. I’m not a photography buff, but I use the hell out of my smartphone cameras. The advances included in the 7 Plus are quite something.

  3. More memory, which I fetishise quite a lot. I’m opting for the 256GB model, as the volume of music and videos I carry around is fairly significant. I will never fill it, but that’s the point.

  4. It’s water-proof, (or thereabouts) so I don’t have to live in fear of its destruction every time I enter a bathroom with it. You know you do too, so don’t be so judgemental…

And yet

On the flipside, the need to use either the bundled earbuds (bleurgh) or something bluetooth has me far from impressed. I’ve never been able to use Apple earbuds – they continually fall out of my ears and cause pain after even short periods of use.

The bluetooth airpods Apple announced look laughable. I’m as geeky as the next guy (geekier, if I’m honest) but I could never imagine myself walking London’s streets with those things hanging out of my ears. Public humiliation aside, they look insanely easy to lose and of course, represent just one more thing that needs charging.

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That said, I’m confident some third-party vendors will release some appropriately designed and suitably affordable alternatives. I’ll just need to use Apple’s ear buds for a while, or keep using my Bose earphones and the disgusting dongle Apple are packaging with the new phones.

Although it’s good to know I’m not the only one with strong views on these ear-monsters, as evidenced by this tweet e xchange I had with Jeff Jarvis:

But wait, there’s more

Unless I have a real change of heart overnight, I’ll also be getting myself a new Apple Watch. I’m opting for the space grey model again, as I like the one I have. But a faster, waterproof model with built-in GPS is too hard to resist.

I used my Nexus 6P and Pebble Time in combination for weeks and loved it. But the Pebble pales in comparison with the new Apple Watch. The above purchases will be in-part funded by the sale of my Nexus 6P, Pebble watch and existing iPhone 6s Plus.

This means, a little sadly, an end to my Android experiment. I’m still using Google Apps for business and personal use, but I’ve come to the conclusion (with some gentle…ahem…”encouragement” from @FrankDJS) that life is simpler with Apple, macOS and iOS.

I’m taking this as a sign of my inevitable age-related decline. Going with the path of least-tech-resistance.

Now. Let the inevitable mocking begin. Go on, do your worst…

Great timing! Missing another Apple product announcement…

I’m once again going to miss the Apple iPhone announcement this evening, as I’ll be on a train back to London from Nottingham (the glamour!). I’ll have to make do with following the proceedings via twitter and hoping that my excited gasps don’t annoy too many of my fellow passengers.

Bad planning on my part, especially as the Apple Keynote was in my diary long before this meeting in Nottingham. But needs must in the world of business. And I can always watch the keynote on time-delay when I get home tonight.

That will give me time to check my bank balance to see how much Apple technology I can actually afford to buy this month! (And what can be sold to make up the difference…)

There are a ton of sources to follow along this evening, including:

See you on the other side!

Here come the shiny new Apple gadgets!

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By this time tomorrow, I’ll have gorged myself on all the juicy details from Apple’s event, pored over the blog posts, zoomed in on all the photos and decided if any of it is of interest to me.

I mean, I’ll be interested in it all, but I won’t be buying it all. My iPhone 6s Plus is most definitely the best phone I’ve ever bought and with the addition of the upcoming iOS 10, it’ll surely be even better. What could an iPhone 7 (or whatever it’s called) do that would justify giving Apple even more of my money?

(Let’s be honest for a moment. I think we all know there’s a very high probability of me getting the new iPhone, but do bear with me while I go through this annual exercise of protesting that I won’t hand over my cash just as fast as Apple can take it).

I’d love a bigger screen, but that doesn’t look likely. I’d love if it worked with the Apple Pencil. Again, not that likely. More storage is always welcome and since Apple never went in for SD cards, the rumour that it’ll come with a 256GB model is most welcome. The rumour of a missing audio jack is less appealing.

Harrumph.

Putting aside the inevitability of my future purchase, I have to wonder: are we reaching “peak iPhone”? Not in terms of sales, but more in terms of what a phone can actually do. It’s come on leaps and bounds since it was launched, but I don’t think I’m the only one who’s noticed a slowing down in shock-level innovation.

I’d love to be proved wrong tomorrow evening, all the same.

I’m really looking forward to getting iOS10 on my phone and iPad though. It looks great and, if they follow through on their promises about Siri, I might actually start using it more regularly. I stopped using Apple Music some time ago, preferring to use Spotify, which comes free with my mobile phone contract. I’m unsure if any improvements will bring me back, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Any improvement to watchOS will be very, very welcome. All the reviews of the beta that I’ve read describes it as being incredibly faster, and that’s even before we’ve seen an Apple Watch 2 – which may also arrive tomorrow. I really like my Apple Watch, but sometimes the wait for it to respond or to activate apps is infuriating. Here’s hoping for a little more zip.

I’ll hold off on an upgrade to macOS Sierra, until the various bugs have been identified and zapped. I really can’t do without my laptop during a standard working week. Upgrading the OS, when every other upgrade in history has come with various issues, is not the best of ideas.

Tomorrow’s event will hold some surprises. I can’t wait to see what Apple are up to with health, home and fitness. And if they do launch a 6-inch iPhone with its own Apple Pencil, then you’ll be picking me up off the floor.

More business travel: A tale of two hotel rooms

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I’ve spent the last few days in Jersey – a mixture of business and pleasure and have had a whale of a time. I’m awaiting my flight back to Gatwick, where I’ll hop on a flight to Dublin for work. And another hotel room…

The thing about traveling for business is that you’re frequently at the mercy of hotel staff (among other things) when it comes to getting a nice room. I’ve recently been on something of a roll when it comes to hotels and flights and have enjoyed quite a few free upgrades. I don’t think I’ve done anything at check-in to warrant this, but I’m also not looking this gift horse in the mouth. All upgrades welcome, all the time!

No matter what you might read online, I don’t think there’s a sure-fire way of getting an upgrade. When checking-in, I adopt the rule of “Don’t be a dick” and always try to smile and be as pleasant as possible. They’re doing their job, I’m doing mine. Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn’t. But regardless, I’d rather not remain in the staff member’s memory as the low point of their working day.

This week was no exception. I – somehow, no idea why – got a room upgrade to a suite here in Jersey. A spacious living area and a separate sleeping area with a gorgeous big bed. And boy, was it comfortable.

I enjoyed Friday night sprawled on that massive couch, eating room service and watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But it all seemed a bit wasted on me – it would have been nice to share the space with someone else.

This was quite a contrast with the room I had at Gatwick on Thursday night. I stayed at the Yotel again, and got one of their bigger rooms. But, as you can see from the photos below, “bigger” is a very relative and subjective term. It was more than enough for me – I got there late in the evening and just needed somewhere to sleep until 5:30am to catch my flight to Jersey.

As you’ll notice from the above, just a pane of glass separates the “bathroom” from the bed, so while you could fit two people in that bed, they’d need to be very, very comfortable with getting that intimate and familiar. But it’s the perfect solution for getting very early morning flights from Gatwick, seeing as the train service is like something from the dark ages. I’m a big fan of the Yotel business model and I think they’re the ideal solution for airport sleepovers.

I slept really well and managed to get myself up at 4:45am, wash and get dressed, all without the aid of caffeine. A miracle! That said, I hoovered up a couple of large mugs of the stuff once I got through security and into the BA lounge.

Here in Jersey, there was in-room coffee with real milk – none of that UHT muck – and a shower I could have thrown a party in. The water pressure took a few layers of skin off too! And seeing as my morning ritual is not unlike raising the dead, caffeine and power-shower were both very welcome.

I’ll be staying in a rather nice hotel when I get to Ireland, but as I won’t get there until 11pm tonight and will be leaving at 1pm tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll get to see a lot of it. Plus, there’s the work. Obviously.

I’m just looking forward to getting back into my own bed. It’s not a 5* hotel bed, but it’s mine and it’s the most comfortable one in the world.

Nudity: the great leveller

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I’ve just spent the past few days here in Sitges, outside Barcelona. My hotel is right next to the Platja de Balmins, which has the distinction of being ‘clothing optional’. I’ve been several times before and so knew what to look forward to: a small, sheltered cove, clean sand, a well-stocked bar and a bathroom within strolling distance. All good.

Oh, and dozens and dozens of naked people from around the world.

I freely admit I come to this beach due to a combination of laziness (it’s by far the closet to the hotel) and my well-documented naturist tendencies. If it’s warm, and it’s legal, I’ll strip down and soak up some rays. I’m long over any hang-ups about the size and shape of my own body and really couldn’t care less what yours looks like either.

I have a body. I’m on the beach. So like it or not, I therefore have a beach-ready body.

Continue reading “Nudity: the great leveller”