1:29AM

It’s 1:29AM and I am awake. I’m awake because a couple of days ago I was in Los Angeles and fully adjusted to Pacific time. That’s four hours behind Moncton time which means in about 2.5 hours, I’ll be ready to fall asleep. Despite being home since Friday at noon, I still feel myself unable to get back into routine things here.

Today was the big Fundy geocaching event and as proud as I am of what we did for that event and for Fundy themselves, I am still tired and feeling a bit blah about the whole thing. I talked to Tamara a bit about my thoughts on things tonite and it kinda goes like this.

I’m not someone who is very ego-centric. I try to be more humble than anything although I do think I sometimes come off as a bit show-offy when it comes to my travel. But when it comes to the things I do for geocaching, I really do try to be a lot more reserved. That being said, I’m pretty proud of myself for the things I have accomplished through my work under Cache Up NB. I mean, it’s something _I_ started. I took it on and moved it forward and look where it is today. It’s kind of amazing really.

I think that’s why when the appreciation comes in on days like today, I really need to soak it in as much as I can because it’s only the large things that people tend to really appreciate. It seems that when it comes to geocaching, and the stuff CUNB does, most people have no idea what goes on outside of a little website. It seems everytime I turn around it’s something else that we’re doing for people, but not a lot of folks realize, or acknowledge it. That’s why on days like today, it’s nice to hear a thank you and people supporting the work we do.

That being said, there are also times when I’m kind of tired of it all. I really do like the things I am doing but there are times when it feels like all this geocaching stuff is like another job. I don’t have many hobbies so I tend to throw myself into the few I have and I think this is where my passion is right now. The problem is, there are days, like tonite, where I’m jetlagged and really beat, but just not able to sleep cuz my head is swimming in what feels like 100 different things to do. Add to that, I’m supposed to leave the house at 7:30AM to go back to Fundy for another event. It just feels like a lot going on for just having gotten home.

Which is another thing. When I travel, it usually takes me a day or so to get my mood back to normal. I’m kind of an ass when I first get home. Short tempered and not much patience for much of anything. That’s the reason why I usually try to keep a low key for a day or so until things are sane. I guess that will have to wait until Monday.

I’m starting to yawn and my eyes are getting sore, and my typing is becoming error prone so I think it’s time to try to go back to bed. Hopefully I can get a few hours sleep before the madness begins again.

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Android vs iOS

I read a very interesting article today and I really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed most about the article was the fact that this guy seemed to really hit the nail on the head about what should dictate which platform you should choose. His point of view was very in the middle and he made a very good point.

The jist of the article is that if you don’t own an iOS or Android device yet, then the choice is entirely in the air and you can simply try out whatever devices you like and the one that you like the most wins. The other side was if you were already an owner of a device on either platform, it’s probably best for you to stick with that platform. Now, this isn’t always true, but the more I think about it, the more it made sense.

I’ve had discussions with friends who are big Android players and they always tell me about how my iPhone is crap because blah blah blah. It’s usually the same arguments I see all over the web about walled gardens and lack of openness and so on. I’m not going to get into that discussion but I would like to present a point of view that is a bit in line with what Mr. Kingsley-Hughes is saying.

I got an iPhone through work when the 3G was released. At that time, Android wasn’t even worth looking at. Even the most diehard fans of that platform can admit that the early versions of the OS was complete shit. Apple had a huge gain on anyone in the mobile market at the time and it took a long time for Android to catch up, and now perhaps in some areas, exceed what Apple had started at. Regardless, the iPhone 3G was the first smartphone I ever owned. That was around five years ago. Since then, I have upgraded twice to an iPhone 4, and now an iPhone 5. As a tech-head, folks might wonder why someone like me would stick with a device that seems so anti-customizable vs the open Android platform. In the end, it comes down to one very simple concept addressed in the previously mentioned article. I started with an iPhone.

In the roughly five years I have owned an iPhone, I have gotten used to, and enjoy the way it works. I’ve paid a considerable amount of money for apps on my own phone as well as my wife’s iPhone and the iPad. I’m in that world and have enjoyed being in that world for sometime now. Given that I have already invested a good chunk of money into that platform, and I’m quite content with the way it works, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to jump ship to Android because some people claim it’s a better platform. To give you another example, I present to you the very old argument of PC vs Mac.

In the world we live in today, desktop and laptop computers are mostly running Windows with Mac, Linux, and other OSes taking up a small portion of the market. Why do people choose PCs over Macs? I would bet that in most cases, it’s because that was the technology they were introduced to first. Many folks who own Macs have owned them all along and that’s the only thing they have worked with until they HAD to use a PC. For most Windows users, they have no reason to switch to Mac because for them, there’s nothing overly compelling that makes them want to switch. Those that do switch do so either because they have come to despise the Windows environment, or an application they need is only available on the PC. The same might be true for those who switch from Mac to PC.

The same is now true in the world of mobile devices. If you started with an iPhone, odds are you’ll probably stay with it and the same is true for Android. Yes, for some who feel Apple has fallen short on the innovation train (which I actually agree with) you may opt to abandon the platform, but I would bet by far and large, most people stick to what they know. I know this because the market share never ever went towards Mac. It stuck with Windows. There’s a reason for that. People like what is familiar to them. People do not like change and this is still true with their mobile devices. Yes, Microsoft won with their marketing of Windows so we saw it everywhere, but how many people do you know that started on a Windows computer, jumped ship and went to a Mac? It’s not a large percentage. I’d bet the number is even smaller of those who started on Macs that went to a PC. People stick to what they know and like.

The other point on this discussion for me has to do with actual reasons for switching. As someone who is fully immersed in the iOS world, for me to switch to Android, or any other mobile platform for that matter, there has to be a good reason to jump ship. Android lovers will always try to sell the idea that Android is an “open” platform so you can do whatever you want with your device as a reason to switch. They’ll talk about how Apple’s walled garden makes it “impossible” for you to do many of the things you want to do and that this should be enough reason for you to jump ship. Lastly, they’ll mention how much more advanced the hardware is for Android devices compared to iOS. A lot of the newer mobile devices have a lot faster CPU & RAM than many of the iOS devices and thusly, this should be enough reason for me to jump ship. Android fans will also list off “dozens” of features that Android can do that iOS can’t do, but will conveniently forget to mention the things iOS can do that Android cannot. In that regard I see it as being a level playing field but in the hardware and open platform debate, I can see their point. I however have a different view.

If I’m using a device I am comfortable with, the apps I run on it run very well and very effectively, and I am perfectly happy with the apps I have available to me, how does any of those “advantages” to Android actually help me? If I find the apps on my iPhone launch and run very fast and quickly, how is having a faster processor going to help me? Instead of it taking 1.5 seconds to launch an app, it takes 1.25 seconds. Does that really constitute a “need” to switch platforms? CPU & RAM enhancements are fine if you are running applications that require excessive CPU & RAM. I would argue that because Apple has such strict criteria on what apps can go on a device, they insure that only ones that will provide a quality experience pass the test and get approved. Therefore speed issues don’t really account into the equation.

A person has to really evaluate exactly what it is they use their device for and how well they use it. If I really like the way my device works and how I interact with the OS and the apps on it, any “new” device I get needs to be able to provide that exact same experience as good if not better than what I am used to. Beyond that, any new device has to “wow” me into wanting to change.

What I am really trying to get at is that if you take the best Android device and the best iOS device and put them side by side, much like what Adrian is talking about, they will compare quite evenly. Some things will work better on one vs the other, and some features will differ on each device, but at the end of the day, there’s no “killer feature” that exists exclusively on Android that makes a user go “WOW!” and their jaw drops and realize they NEED to switch today. Yes, I know that some of the Android phones support things like NFC which doesn’t exist on iOS, but since there’s no real standards for that in place yet, it doesn’t really help gain any credibility to Android’s support of them. And yes I’m sure some of the Android fans out there would point out other “features” that are nice that iOS lacks, but I would always come back and say that it’s more icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Little things are nice but if I’m going to abandon a platform I have invested a considerable amount of time, and money into, there better be a real good reason to do it.

Both platforms perform very well but there’s no killer apps or killer features. Think about the reaction the world had when the original iPhone was released. That was a game changer. Before then, smartphones looked like a Blackberry. Look where we are today? People saw what Apple was doing and went “WOW! We need to do something like that.” and now look at the mobile world. If all of a sudden Android phones came out with some sort of holographic projection phone calls, now THAT would be a WOW moment and something to consider jumping ship for. Letting me play my music or videos on certain models of smart TVs is not a killer feature. It’s called Airplay and iOS has had it for some time. It always seems that one platform releases a feature and then shortly thereafter, the other platform releases a similar app. The turnaround time is usually very quick. How long did it take Android to get to where iOS is today? It didn’t happen in a couple of months. It took several years. I’d love to see Android do the same to Apple because then I would seriously consider switching. But as it is now, it’s the status quo. Copy the same stuff your competitor made, say it’s better and now you’re even. Both Android & Apple are guilty of this but it still doesn’t yield the “killer feature”. When is Android finally going to do something that’s over the top and make people go “WOW!” like Apple did when the iPhone was released? If the feature is awesome enough, I’ll jump onboard.

Apple’s innovation has definitely died off in the last little while, but ultimately, I haven’t seen anything that jaw dropping from the Android community yet. If you want folks to switch from iOS to Android, you need to give them a killer reason to do so. Right now, it’s really just more of the same.

 

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My Displeasure With The UK Health Clinics

It’s Friday and in a few hours I start my journey home from Philly. I only had about 18 hours of being home last weekend after being in the UK for a week. To top it off, I was awful sick that week so it made for a horrible trip. However, the worst was a trip to a local clinic in an attempt to help myself. Here’s a little tale of my trip to London and how it made me physically ill.

It was mid-February and Tamara and the kids had been pretty sick. Somehow it managed to skip me and just hit them. But by the time Wednesday night came along, I was feeling it and waking up on Thursday I was definitely sick. Unfortunately because I had a training class to give that week, there was no sick days for me.

By the time Saturday came along, I was feeling a whole lot better but had to travel that day. I was headed to London via Toronto so I left Moncton at 7pm and thought all would be fine. My plan was to take a sleeping pill at 11pm and sleep on the plane and wake up in London feeling pretty good. Well, that never happened.

Instead, I landed in Toronto to find it in the middle of a blizzard. A freak storm hit the city and only lasted about two hours but was enough to completely screw up flights going out of the city. Delay after delay hit until finally at about 2:45AM, Air Canada cancelled the flight. Now, I fly AC a lot and I normally have no issues with them but what they did this time around was pretty sad. They didn’t bother to tell anyone the flight had been cancelled until after folks around got the notices on their phones. Then they refused to re-book everyone telling them they had to do it themselves. I then had to spend the next 6 hours or so sitting/sleeping in the airport to try and get back on the next flight.

After not being able to sleep in the airport, and not getting any rest, I felt the illness hit me again and by the time I hit London, I was a mess. I managed to get a little rest but I basically spent the entire week just barely pushing myself through my training class, coming back to my hotel, and going to bed. But after all of that, the one thing that irritated me the most was when I went to try and get some medical help from a local clinic.

I found myself at a clinic and got an appointment but was told that because I wasn’t a UK citizen, I had to pay a 50 pound fee to see a doctor. I expected this which was fine. But when I got into the dr’s office, he told me because I was Canadian there was nothing he could do for me and more or less told me to get out. I had paid 50 pounds (about 78 dollars CDN) for absolutely nothing. I WAS PISSED!

I was not able to get a refund but wrote a VERY nasty review of that clinic on the NHS website and have also written them a letter telling them they are nothing more than scam artists sucking money out of people who aren’t from their country. I never felt like such a second class citizen. I can tell you that this experience has seriously dampened my opinion of London. I always thought of it as kind of a cool place but after going through that, my opinion has been tainted.

I have two more trips there this year and trust me, if I have to see a doctor there again for any reason, I’ll be damn sure to get the facts straight before I go anywhere.

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The Decline of Microsoft

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile  but I only decided to sit down and write about it now since I’ve kind of need a break from my work writing. This time around I want to take a little jab at a company that used to make a difference in the tech world: Microsoft.

Back in the days when I was in college, Microsoft was a company that everyone both hated and loved at the same time. This was a company that owned the operating system market as well as the desktop office application world. I remember the days of me and my friend Chris saying that Bill Gates was the devil because his software was everywhere. NT4 came out and eventually lead to Windows 2000 and beyond. Many corporations were moving away from Novell and taking on the Microsoft platform and it just seemed like they were a big company that was never going to go anywhere.

Then, in 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO and took a back burner to new CEO Steve Ballmer. Gates remained in some capacity for a few more years until eventually giving up his controlling interest to allow Ballmer to do more on his own with the company.

Now, Windows XP was released in 2001 and this is an OS which quickly became the standard for all desktop PCs. Everywhere you looked there was XP. This was the first desktop OS to be released after Gates had stepped down as CEO. Now given that Gates still controlled some of the direction of the company, XP came out of that. That was also the same year that the XBox came out. Yes, there were other software releases as well but those are definitely two things that stand out as perhaps the last big things to hit while Gates still had some control of the company.

After that, the next “big” thing to come from Microsoft would be in 2007 with the release of the much anticipated new desktop OS, Vista. This would be the first major desktop release under Ballmer’s stewardship. After suffering an onslaught of delays, code changes, feature changes and removals, the software hit the shelves. This was supposed to be the replacement to XP and was supposed to be the next greatest thing in desktop OSes. It fell flat. Considered one of the biggest blunders in Microsoft’s history, the flack they got over Vista was enormous. Many machines wouldn’t boot, wouldn’t activate, and countless supposedly supported hardware didn’t work with the OS at all. It was a complete and total disaster.

It would take two years for Microsoft to finally admit that they had made a mess and fixed it with Windows 7. Ballmer himself even admitted that they dropped the ball on Vista. But that was just the beginning.

Microsoft released Office 2007 with what was considered the single worst UI “improvement” in Office’s history. The “ribbon” incorporated into the product was abhorred by users everywhere. Countless requests and calls came in for that feature to be pulled and changed back to what was working just fine before.

Since then, Microsoft has released several versions of it’s mobile platform, which has never really gone anywhere. Their tablets have shown to be subpar compared to what Android and iOS are doing. They released their long awaited follow up to Windows 7, Windows 8 (gee that’s original) which has been somewhat panned by critics as being a miss of tablet attempt vs desktop overhaul.

It seems that in a world that is now moving away from the PC, Microsoft is sitting in the back waving it’s hands and saying “Hey!!! We still matter!!!” while not bothering to put out anything of actual use.

I find myself wondering where Microsoft will be 10 years from now. At one time I would have thought that this is a company that wasn’t going anywhere. But now it seems that everytime they release something new, it just seems so out of date compared to what other companies are doing. They continue to play catch up and aren’t really doing much in the way of innovation. Their inability to understand that the mobile market is really where things are moving is going to be their undoing. Unless they find a way to successfully transition the traditional PC desktop to something more mobile, the days of Microsoft’s king of the hill status are numbered. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Microsoft one day end up much like Word Perfect did so many years ago. Pushed out of the way by other products who had a much better mass appeal.

Personally, I think Ballmer needs to go. Microsoft is falling behind and the best way for them to restart is to pull the plug on the man who brought us Vista.

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Violent Media Is Not The Problem

This morning I read yet another ridiculous article about how folks are still trying to blame violent videogames and other media for the recent shootings in Connecticut. This time it’s a group near Newtown that wants people to bring in their violent videogames in exchange for money. The plan is to burn all of the media obtained to try and send a message that violence in media is the cause of these types of abhorrent behaviour.

Seriously? You people actually think that these violent games, movies, and whatever else are the cause? You actually think that destroying them is going to make any difference?

Everytime I read or see an article anywhere that tries to claim that the violence on television, in movies, or in videogames, is the cause of so much violence we see everywhere else, it makes me want to find whoever wrote the article and punch them straight in the face. You just don’t get it.

There is not a single person anywhere that will ever convince me that someone who plays a lot of Call of Duty will turn around and murder people. You’ll never convince me that watching movies like Die Hard or Expendables is going to turn me into a maniac who opens fire at a movie theater. Why? Because NONE OF THAT STUFF IS REAL! It’s “pretend”, imaginary, art, illusion, whatever you want to call it but it is not real. Where the REAL problem comes in is when someone who has other mental problems that they either don’t know about or choose not to control properly, take things they see in movies or TV or games or whatever, and misunderstand that they are real or think that they are being communicated with through said media. The media didn’t make them crazy or mentally disturbed. They were already there.

Do I think that the violence in those games and movies contributes to it? I think in some cases, it’s probably the item that pushes them over the edge. But the truth is, if it wasn’t something they saw on TV or in a game, it would end up being a real person, or a bad experience that would do the same thing. If you removed all of the violent media we have around us, a mentally disturbed person will still be disturbed and still get to that edge and be pushed off by something else. It’s merely just convenient to blame media for the problem.

In the US, advocacy groups are always trying to pin major tragedies on TV and movies but they never consider the fact that the epidemic of violence that exists in the US is not anywhere near as bad in other developed nations. Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and countless other developed nations around the world consume much of the same media as the United States does. In Canada alone, how many movies or TV shows do you watch that are specific to Canada only? Pretty much every TV show I watch is an American show. I can’t tell you the last time I went and watched a Canadian movie. And as for videogames, Canadians play all the same games as they do in the US. For movies and video games, the same is pretty much true around the world. American based media is everywhere, not just in the US.

So with that said, why is it that the US seems to have more of an issue with violence than these other places? Sure, Canada has it’s share of problems, but school shootings and violent murder and attacks are not exactly something that Canada has a lot of. The same can be said of many of the other places I’ve already mentioned. We all consume more or less than same media and we don’t suffer from the same kind of mass violence issues you see in the USA. Even if you factor the population up to the same as the US, the crime ratio wouldn’t be anywhere near the same.

If TV, movies, and videogames are the driving force behind all of this violence, then why is it us Canadians, and other developed nations, don’t seem to be affected by it as much? I’ll tell you why, because it’s BS.

People will always want to blame someone or something for tragedy, especially violence. TV and movies are easy targets because yes, there’s a lot of violence on them and even more so in video games. But to say that they are the cause of the problem is irrational given that the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have that problem.

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The Inability To Take Suggestions / Criticism

Recently I had a situation arise where I found myself wanting to help someone else out. Specifically, it had to do with a particular geocacher and something they had done.

Now the thing is, most of the time I tend to just keep my opinions or suggestions to others to myself unless I am face to face with the person. But now and then I figure that a little friendly suggestion to others isn’t harmful at all. Well, I certainly learned to keep my mouth shut.

I sent this person a quick little email and mentioned how something they had done could cause some issues for other cachers. I didn’t tell them what to do but just told them what had happened before and that maybe in the future they might want to reconsider what they had done. I then received an email back basically tell me to piss off and that if I didn’t like the way they were doing it,  maybe I should do it for them.

A response like that, although not very polite, was annoying and frustrating because all I was trying to do was help. Ok, fine, you don’t want my advice, that’s perfectly fine. But then said person decides to go on Facebook and go off on a rant about how people are telling them how to do things and that maybe they should just give up what they are doing because they are getting so many emails making friendly “suggestions” and that no one is appreciating what they are doing.

I read the message and was pretty surprised. It would seem that I was not the only person who had sent them an email about certain things. Turns out they’ve received several other emails about subjects similar to the one I sent. Apparently all friendly, but definitely enough for this person to decide to go on a Facebook rant about people’s lack of appreciation.

I had replied to the piss off email and was quite frank about how I was just trying to make a friendly suggestion and not tell them how they HAD to do anything. I also told them that since they weren’t interested in being polite about it, that I would be sure never to make a suggestion again.

I read another comment from this same person today on Facebook and it certainly became clear what the issue was (from my perspective anyway). It seems that when some people start working on something and have been doing it their own way for awhile, when others come along and give them suggestions or give a bit of criticism of the things they do, some people interpret that as someone pissing all over their hard work. It seems that it doesn’t matter how friendly or how well meaning your message is, some people don’t want to hear it. They are going to do it their way and no one else’s suggestions matter.

It’s not like this is a giant revelation to me as many people don’t take well to criticism. What I don’t like is how folks then decide to go on a long rant on Facebook defending what they do when no one else has any idea what in fact has been said or suggested. It’s a very one sided point of view and when I read something like that, and I know there is a whole other side that people aren’t aware of, it irks me. No, there’s nothing I can do about it, and no I shouldn’t care, but it does irritate me to some extent.

Regardless, I learned my lesson. Unless I really know the person I am dealing with, I think that it might be better for me to just keep my suggestions to myself and then smile when I see the inevitable outcome. Either that or post a meaningless blog entry about my frustration :)

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Teaching my kids about technology

A few months ago, my wife told me a story about my son Dylan that concerned me a bit. Turns out he had been at a friends house and his friend, who is the same age as him, was quite skilled at using a mouse on a computer. Dylan was however not as skilled. He struggled to play the game on the computer. As a result of this revelation, I dug out Tamara’s old laptop and put it in the living room with the intention of having the kids spend a little time on the computer over the course of the week. Just a bit here and there to get them used to using it. The laptop has sat pretty much unused since it’s been brought out. We’ve turned it on a few times for the kids, but by far and large, they prefer the iPad. This brings me to my current quandary.

Dylan and Megan both know how to use the iPad very well. They both know how to navigate around it’s screens, launch apps, and use the apps they like to play. Dylan has become amazingly skilled at playing Angry Birds (loves the new Star Wars one which btw is VERY well done) and Megan loves playing her word games with Super Why and drawing with Dora. Both use the tablet without any issues what so ever. But when it comes to them sitting down at the computer and trying to use a mouse, they get lost, and frustrated very quickly.

Since tablet computing went mainstream with the launch of the iPad, and now multitudes of other tablet/touch devices out there, it got me to thinking about the future of computing. At Dylan’s parent-teacher meeting, we asked about when the kids would start using computers and the teacher indicated that they would get started in the new year with basic keyboard and mouse skills. Knowing that Dylan is going to learn in school anyway, it made me start to re-think whether or not it’s worth it to continue the same at home.

It’s not that I don’t think that learning how to use a mouse is important, but I started thinking about what the world of computing is going to look like to him and Megan as they grow. We are in a major turning point with technology in that it seems things like the PC are slowly dying, and things like mobile phones and tablets are becoming the computing platform of choice in the future. Dylan and Megan have already mastered the iPad and so any other tablet device they go to will be just as easy to learn. If that is indeed the future, is it such a bad thing that I feel like packing the laptop up and giving them more tablet time?

There’s the part of me that wonders if I don’t try and help them learn mouse and keyboard skills at home, I am somehow doing them wrong. But then another part of me wonders that if they are going to learn those skills in school, why not try and focus their at-home skills on things that are the wave of the future. They aren’t going to be using tablets in grade school anytime soon but by the time high school hits, that could be all that’s out there.

I’m somewhat torn because part of me really wants to help them learn more about the same things they are learning in school, but I also want to prepare them for the wave that is approaching. When the time comes that my kids need to have their own computer, am I really going to be buying them a laptop? Odds are they’ll get a tablet device of some kind that will serve them just fine. And if that really is the case, is it such a bad thing to just let the school handle the antiquated interfaces and I can teach them about what they’re going to be asking for down the road.

As someone who grew up with technology, I have been very careful in how much technology I have exposed the kids to. The last thing I want is them to be stuck in the house playing video games when they could be out “playing”. But I am now starting to feel that perhaps a little bit of guidance on all things technology is needed.

I guess the bottom line is that regardless of what I do, as long as they are learning, that’s more important than anything else. I just want to them to learn the things that will be helpful for their future.

Categories: Dylan, Megan, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve been blogging for more than 11 years?

According to what I could find, this was the earliest “blog” entry I could find for Bobsroom. It looks like some of the entries between there and here never made it into the current database I use for all of my blog entries. Still though, it’s a bit insane to think of the fact that in one form or another, I have been writing about my own life and blogging for 11 years.

Let’s put that into a bit of perspective. In 13 days I turn 39 years old. That means that for 28% of my life, I have been writing about what’s been going on in my life, or giving my own unique perspectives into the world around me. It also means that I was pushing towards 28 when I started blogging.

It’s a bit hard to fathom that this much time has passed and what has transpired in that time period. Since 2001, a lot has happened. Let’s see:

  • My grandfather died
  • 9/11 happened
  • I split up with my first wife
  • Got divorced
  • Bought a house
  • Changed jobs twice
  • Survived three company acquisitions
  • Got married again
  • Lost my first child
  • Had both a son and a daughter join me and my wife
  • My dad died
  • My step-father died
  • My longtime dear friend J.C. died
  • I bought a cottage
  • Watched many of my friend’s marriages/relationships fall apart
  • Had my gross income from my job actually double
  • Traveled to Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, London England, and Australia
  • Got to see Faith No More play live again (and met two more of the band members)
  • Reconnected with a longtime friend whom I’d been distant from
  • Bought a mini-van
  • Launched a successful regional geocaching website
  • Made plans for the biggest and most anticipated trip of my entire life
I’m sure there’s plenty of other things that have happened but those are the ones that I can think of at the moment.

When you start looking at all of the things that has happened to you in the last decade, it’s pretty insane to think about how it all happens so fast. I can’t imagine how my life will look when I make this list again in 2023.

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So long Coke. It’s been a blast.

On October 29th, I started what would become a pretty brutal week. It would become brutal because I was consciously deciding to stop being a Cokehead.

I have been drinking pop since I was young. In fact, I don’t ever recall a time in my life where I didn’t drink pop. Coke has been my drink of choice for many years. Since I don’t drink alcohol, nor have I ever, I’ve always relied on drinking Coke as my mainstay beverage. At some point during my youth I tried drinking Pepsi for awhile but that didn’t last too long.

Everyone has always known me to be a Coke drinker. For the longest time, I found myself saying that if drinking Coke was my only vice, I was fine. No alcohol, drinking, drug abuse, or excessive sexual promiscuity, my only crutch was that I found myself drinking the stuff every day. For a long time, it was a couple of 500ml bottles a day. Plus something with my lunch and supper sometimes. Then when I came to work at Whitehill and we ended up with free pop, it became at least 3-6 cans of the stuff a day. If you think about it, I’ve been drinking this stuff for so long, that it’s very likely I have been averaging between 1-2 litres of Coke/pop every day for at LEAST the last 25 years. That comes out to about 9,125 litres of pop I have drank since I was a teenager. That’s more than 20,000 pounds of pop or about two full grown elephants.

In the last year I had started thinking a bit more about my eating and drinking habits. I always justified my Coke habit by saying that I could be doing a lot worse to my body. Whether it be things like weed, LSD, cocaine, or even excessive alcohol, Coke was a mild crutch compared to many of the alternatives.

Then about six months or so, I found myself coming into work, going to the fridge, getting a can of Coke, sitting at my desk and before 30 minutes were up, the can was gone and I hadn’t even realized I had drank it. A few more weeks passed by and I started to notice that the actual taste of Coke was no longer all that appealing to me. So, I tried drinking Pepsi at work for awhile. The taste was different but yet somehow something just didn’t feel right. Then something strange happened over the course of the next few days.

I found myself going in to work and purely out of habit snagging that morning Coke but when drinking it, the flavour was not there and I was doing it more to avoid the possibility of getting a caffeine headache. Finally after a weekend away from the office, I came back in and consciously decided that this was it.

I came in that Monday morning and went to the kitchen and got a glass of water. I drank a LOT of water that day and by the time I got home, it wasn’t too bad. I did the same for the next few days and that’s when it got really bad. I have no idea what it is like to go through withdrawal as an alcoholic or as a former drug addict. But I can tell you what it’s like to go through withdrawal from caffeine. The headaches are brutal. I popped more Aleve that week than I ever have in my entire life. I continued to drink water, and the odd Ginger Ale, but no Coke or Pepsi, or anything in it with caffeine. After about a week or so, the headaches tapered off and I have absolutely no urge to drink any more Coke.

I have still been drinking water, but have also been drinking orange and apple juice. I have had Ginger Ale a lot in the last week but I have refrained completely from Coke. My only exposure to caffeine in the last few weeks has been about 3 cans of Barq’s root beer. Beyond that I have been caffeine free.

It is my intention to not only stay off Coke, but to now completely ween myself off any pop products at all, save for the odd one once in awhile.

The reality is, it’s extremely difficult to choose a more healthy lifestyle when so much crap is around you. Pop is everywhere so trying to stay away from it is hard not only because of it’s easy availability, but because I have been drinking it for so long it is SUCH a habit. I will say though I have not been tempted to drink any Coke any time I have gone by the fridge in the kitchen at work. With an unlimited supply of Coke and pop there, it could be very tempting.

So for now, I am Coke free. I’m not going to say that I’ll remain that way because life does change and who knows what will happen. But right now, I’m opting to try life without it and see how I do. So far, the only thing I lack is a bit of a pick me up early in the morning. Beyond that, I feel like I’m doing better. I also got my blood tests back from a long-overdue Thyroid test and my doctor told me that all of the other tests came back fine. Blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and all things heatlhwise, came out just fine. Knowing that, I think it makes a lot more sense to be more conscious of my health, and try to live a bit better.

Now I just need to knock of a few pounds. Anyone got a saw? ;)

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Getting sick of the Android/Google Vs Apple BS

Wednesday Apple will be announcing the iPhone 5. It’s no surprise. And given the amount of leaks that have been out about the product, it’s probably not going to be anything too surprising. Regardless, I’m reading through the news today and every time I turn around, I’m reading about Apple vs Android. Google vs Apple. Apple vs Samsung. Over and over again I am hearing the comparisons and it’s always one side vs the other. How awful Apple is for being the company it is and how Google is just ripping everyone else off. Seriously. Enough is enough.

I am an iPhone/iPad user. I’ve had my iPhone for quite awhile now and it was the first smartphone I owned. Prior to that I was a Motorola Razr user and never even thought about getting any kind of smartphone. When the option came in at work for us to get iPhones, one of the guys got  one and much like many were when they were first available, we were all pretty impressed at how well they worked. So, our whole group jumped on and got them. Since then, I have come to love using my iPhone. It works very well for the things I want it to do. I also have purchased many apps, movies, music, and books using the App store and thusly have a pretty large collection of “stuff” for my mobile device.

Not long after Apple came out with the iPhone, Google came out with Android and in no time flat, the phones followed. Realistically, the first Android phones sucked. They were horrid pieces of garbage and most people would agree that Google had a hard time getting their stuff together until eventually, they did manage to find a way to make Android work for them. Now there are plenty of Android phones out there that are just great and work very well for people. That being said, who did it first? Apple did. Apple chose to do something bold and came out with the iPhone and then somehow everyone else decided that what they did made sense so they made their own version of it. Have you seen what cell phones looked like before the iPhone? Was there anything on the market from anyone that was actually SUCCESSFUL that anyone was using? No. Apple initiated a fundamental shift in the way we use mobile phones. Android followed, as did the Windows touch phones as well.

I’m not saying Apple is better. I’m saying Apple did it first. I’m sure someone else out there can find some other obscure device that shows Apple didn’t do it first so for those people, I say Apple was the first to do it successfully.

Then let’s talk tablets. Prior to 2010, e-readers were really the only tablet device out there but they were all being used for only reading books. Microsoft tried tablets years ago but totally screwed themselves by trying to make them work exactly the same as a desktop computer. The product tanked and never worked as expected and thusly ended up in very niche markets and priced through the nose. Who wanted to pay $3,000 for a tablet computer? Just too much.

The e-readers from Kindle really brought the idea of tablets into the market. A company like Apple saw this and saw how they could expand their existing iPhone platform (iOS) onto something a bit bigger. 2010 saw the launch of the iPad. Then what happened? Oh ya, a whole ton of Android tablets came out something like six months to a year later and they all pretty much sucked. Since then, Android tablets have grown in maturity and now are quite viable and used by many individuals around the world. I have friends of mine who own both Android tablets and iPads. Once again, this is another example of where Apple was the first to do this successfully.

Now, with all of this being said, I’m really trying to actually hammer out two points. The first of which is no matter how much you love Android and talk about how superior it is to Apple (topic of next point), the one thing that Android fans cannot deny is that Apple did it successfully first. The entire concept of a “touch” based phone with “apps” did not exist in popularity or real use at the time until Apple came out with the iPhone. Regardless of how different Android phones are now, in the beginning, everything was being inspired by Apple’s original concept. They were the ones that pushed the envelope and said let’s try something different. I’m not saying that everything they did was right, but they did go ahead and make the first step. If someone hadn’t made that first step, everyone now might be using a Blackberry and we all know how innovative they have been.

I saw something on Facebook awhile back regarding the entire Apple vs Samsung business and I have no idea how accurate it is, but it did make me realize the direction things shifted to after the release of the iPhone.  I think it would be a similar story for other mobile phones.

I might also point out that they were the first ones to come out with a tablet computer that was actually successful. You can argue all you want about fanboys, etc. But NO ONE produced a fully usable tablet type computer device that was widely accepted until Apple came along and did it. Now we see copycat tablets and plenty of others out there. No one else had that guts to just go for it and look at it now. Like it or not, the iPad is still the most popular tablet device in the world. It might not remain that forever, but Apple did do it first.

The second point of this has to do with the whole Android Vs Apple business. Who’s better, blah blah blah. You would think from my article so far that I would be anti-Android but in fact I am not. Yes, I am an iPhone and iPad owner but I am not anti-Android. I’m a fan of iDevices because I started with an iPhone, went to an iPad, bought music, books, and movies with my iTunes account and have no desire to try and start from scratch on a totally new platform like Android. If I was starting out today, I would probably look for the device that I like the most and then choose from that. I’d also be looking at accessories, and things that I might want to do in my home with some of these devices and make an informed decision. I can’t give an unbiased opinion today because yes, I am an Apple customer and quite frankly, I like being an Apple customer. I like the services and products Apple has offered and some are nice, some suck. It doesn’t mean I’m some huge fanboy, it just means I like what they make and it works for me. Why does that somehow make me such a “fanboy”. I also prefer A&W over McDonald’s and Coke vs Pepsi but there isn’t a big war over those is there? I actually also own two Blackberry Playbooks and I love them.

What I do have a problem with is constantly clicking on a news site and it’s yet another Apple vs Android debate and quite frankly, it’s getting old. The real bottom line here is that as long as the device or devices you own work, and do what you need them to do, that should be enough. But instead, people (and unfortunately now I must count myself among them) go on rants about why one platform is better than the other. I’m sick of reading how when a new device comes out it is going to “change everything”. The new Kindle stuff came out last week and now the news is all a buzz about how this is going to destroy the iPad. Then you read some of the comments and it’s one giant war of Apple vs Android and I can’t help but wonder why the hell I even bother reading the technology news.

It really is just like the early days of Mac vs PC all over again. Buy the product that will work for the individual it is intended for. Don’t buy a product simply because you buy into the hype (which I admittedly did) and don’t buy a product because someone else has told you the others suck. Be your own judge and pick something you like that works for you. After all, you’re the one that will be using it right?

So to finish this off, I’m going to provide 10 reasons why Apple devices suck, and 10 reasons why Android devices suck.

10 Reasons Why iOS Sucks

  1. You are limited to apps on the App store unless you jailbreak your device
  2. You cannot play your iTunes material on non-Apple devices
  3. You cannot use standard USB cables for charging your devices
  4. iTunes is a piece of shit software and should never have been written
  5. You are asked to agree to the iTunes TOS far too often
  6. Apple is just copying things Android did first
  7. The battery life of the iPhone is complete crap
  8. The app publishing process is a ridiculous nightmare
  9. The price of iDevices are far too high
  10. The cameras on the devices are always far too dated

10 Reasons Why Android Sucks

  1. There’s 1,345,654,324,342,556,321 variations of the OS so it’s impossible to make all apps compatible with all versions
  2. Apps can be installed from anywhere (because the platform is open) and thusly entire markets of “virus infected” malware now exist
  3. Android is just copying things that iOS did first
  4. The piracy of Android applications is 54747x times that of Apple
  5. They claim to be “open” yet much of the code used on many devices is completely closed
  6. Many iOS apps are not available on the Android platform
  7. Android can’t play any of the Apple media files
  8. Android is a stupid name for an operating system
  9. The app development platform is a ridiculous nightmare
  10. Google doesn’t “get” the use of a standard interface

Actually, I do have one more comment to make. As someone who does own Apple products, I am willing to go as far and say that although Apple came up with some of these great concepts, their lead time has now dramatically dwindled. Since the launch of the iPad, Apple has not really come out with anything that causes jaws to drop or people to go “WOW”. Even someone like me who loves his iPhone has been somewhat disappointed by the fact that I haven’t seen anything really exciting come form them in awhile (I also haven’t seen anything spectacular in the world of Android either). I think the playing field is pretty even across the board now that if either side wants to make a serious jump, they need to come up with something better.

UPDATE: September 20, 2012

Since writing this opinion piece, the iPhone 5 has come out and there has now been even MORE attacks on how “meh” the new phone is compared to Android. There doesn’t seem to be a day go by where I don’t see someone comparing Apple to Android and I am even more annoyed than I was when I posted this. On top of that, I’m seeing a lawsuit from Samsung against Apple for what appears to be some of the same things Apple tried to sue them for. I mean seriously? When is this going to stop. Enough is enough.

I am really sick and tired of constantly seeing people posting articles about how much the iPhone 5 sucks because Android does the same thing, or does it better, or has had it for a long time now. Android people always bitch about how Apple “fanboys” just buy because it’s Apple. It seems that an equivalent can be said about Android fans. They can’t seem to stop bashing on Apple fans. No matter what Apple does, whether it is good or bad, it is all bad in the eyes of the world of Android and quite frankly, I’m sick and f*cking tired of hearing it. Yes. I get it. Android did that stuff a year ago. Do I care? No. I use my iPhone and iPad quite happily and it works for me. Why is that such a horrible thing? Do you see me going out and talking about all of the major issues Android has had (viruses, malware, inability to update your phone, app incompatibility due to differing hardware, OS issues created by carrier modifications, and countless more)? No. I use what I use because it’s what I like and what works for me. Why is that such a problem for users of Android?

I will be upgrading to an iPhone 5 but not because it’s some fantastic new device or that I HAVE to have it. No, for me it’s simply because it’s been 2+ years and I’d like to upgrade my phone. I already own plenty of apps and other content tied to the Apple environment and I am not willing to re-buy all of those apps, songs, movies, books, etc, simply to switch platforms. On top of that, I have other iDevices in my home that I already have integrated together. Switching to Android for me would be a VERY costly decision and so for me, it’s easier to stick with what I already have given that I’ve made a serious investment in my mobile devices already. If I had a way to migrate all my stuff from the iOS world to Android and the device was as fluid and easy to use as my iPhone, I would gladly entertain the idea. But today, that’s not possible so I’m sticking with what I’ve put money into already.

Do I think the iPhone 5 is awesome? Not even close. I watched some of the liveblog stuff from the announcement and I kept waiting for them to announce something that was going to make me, and others, go WOW. But it never came. I think the real reality here is that Apple’s lead innovation time has now expired. Yes, they make really nice products, but the hard truth is that nothing they are releasing these days is innovative enough for people to go WOW and want the device for that feature. To use an overrated term, there’s no “killer” app on the iPhone anymore.

In the early days when Android was in it’s infancy, Apple had an edge but they have spent too much time just floating along and now the Android army has caught up and is now surpassing them. Despite their loyal fans, Apple isn’t really doing anything that you can’t get somewhere else anymore. At one time they were but that has now passed and I feel a bit bad for them. This is a company who really did revolutionize the world of smartphones with the release of the original iPhone back in 2007. But here we are five years later and another platform has taken what Apple did first, and improved upon it.

Moving forward I think the Apple vs Android debate will go the same way the Mac vs PC debate went. I actually do see Android as becoming far larger than it is today (which is quite significant) and becoming the sort of “PC” version of mobile where the iPhone will remain the “Mac”. Unless Apple comes up with something else that truly does revolutionize the smartphone/tablet world again, I believe that their popularity and innovation in the mobile world peaked with the iPhone 4. It is unfortunate but I believe to be the truth.

 

Categories: Computer Stuff | 1 Comment