Tag Archives: iphone

Apple AirPods

OK, the Amazon link on the left[1] is included for comedy reasons only. At the moment, these are in short supply, leading to naughty people on the Amazon Marketplace trying to charge nearly twice the actual price of the product.

But hey, I managed to buy mine in the Newcastle Apple Store a couple of weeks ago (they had three in stock at the time), so I’d suggest you try your nearest Apple Store, or just wait a while if you’re interested.

And I can already hear you asking why I got these. Surely those nice Bose wireless headphones are more than up to the job? Well, yes they are, and they’re still working nicely, thanks for asking, but sometimes it would be nice to have something a wee bit, you know, smaller, something easier to take off and put away, something that isn’t going to mess up your hair or get caught up if I raise my coat’s hood.

And so, when Apple announced these, I was intrigued. I waited until I’d seen some reports from people who’d actually used them before buying, as I’ve had poor experiences with in-ear phones before.

Anyway, to summarise what you probably already know:

These are wireless earbuds with an added twist of Apple cleverness. Rather than the usual pair of buds connected by a cable[2], these are two genuinely separate items. They come with a case that has a Lightning port for charging, and the case in turn charges the AirPods. There’s a single LED inside the case that does two things: with the AirPods in their sockets, it indicates their charge level – green for fully charged. Remove the buds and it’ll show the charge level of the case. A Lightning cable is included in the box, but no plug charger, presumably on the grounds that anyone who buys these probably doesn’t need another one.

Now getting Bluetooth devices to work with phones and computers is often a frustrating experience, he said politely. Well, it’s often an exercise in staring at your devices and pointing while shouting

It’s right next to you, what do you mean you can’t find it?

Devices arbitrarily lose all recollection of things they’ve been paired with and sometimes need to be removed, reconnected, wrapped in clingfilm, fed to a goat, extracted from its poop and recharged before they’ll work. I may be exaggerating a bit there, but not by much. So what have Apple done about that?

To pair with your iPhone, you hold the case next to it and open the lid. So long as you’ve updated to a suitably modern version of iOS, that’s it. AirPods are now able to play sound from your iPhone. And that would be quite clever enough, but there’s more. If your Mac is using the same iCloud account as your iPhone, it’s auto-bloody-matically able to use the AirPods as well. Just have them close enough and you’ll be able to select them as a device from the volume control in the menu bar.

There are no physical controls on the AirPods – no volume control, no play/pause/answer calls, but a tap will activate Siri, who will do things if you ask nicely. Personally, this isn’t an issue for me – the only control I ever used on the Bose headphones was the on/off switch, which isn’t needed here, as in a bout of extreme joined up thinking, the music stops as soon as you take one of the buds out of an ear, and it restarts when you replace it, making them ideal for any interaction with humans that you might find yourself obliged to engage in. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll probably be used to controlling your music from your wrist, anyway, so you won’t miss the inline controller of Apple’s wired earbuds.

A common problem with earbuds (certainly for me) is that they’re often uncomfortable to wear (even the ones with numerous alternative rubber of foam tips), or have an annoying tendency to drop out. How do the AirPods cope?

Surprisingly well, as it happens. I’ve been wearing them on my journeys to and from work for the last couple of weeks, and I’m happy to say that they haven’t annoyed my ears at all. And, apart from on the first day I wore them, when I suspect I just hadn’t put them in quite right, they’ve stayed firmly in place, even when it’s been a bit windy and I’ve been walking around. I’ve heard reports from people who indulge in a strange activity called “running”[3] that even this doesn’t dislodge them, though as always, your ears may differ, insert disclaimer, etc.

But the main requirement is, of course, the sound. Well, overall, they’re not as loud as my Bose phones, but they’re as loud as I need my music to be consistent with still being able to hear traffic. The sound quality is clear and good enough for moving around – a test at home suggests that it’s actually very good when there’s no background noise to distract.

So, overall, I rather like them. There is the concern that these little things might be a bit easy to lose, of course. Apple will replace a single AirPod for less than half the price of a new set, or so I understand – though I’d suggest not losing any until the stock situation settles down.

Hmm, that’s my longest post for ages. Who’d have thought I’d manage over 900 words on a pair of earbuds?

[1] Assuming your ad blocker isn’t hiding it
[2] I had a pair like that, they just wouldn’t stay in my ears
[3] I wouldn’t know…

Weight and Stuff Report – 11 January 2017

Weight: 240 pounds (17 stone 2 pounds, 108.9 kg)
Steps taken: 3,336

Up again today…

Had a short walk at lunchtime, mostly for the essential monthly purchase of a kilo of coffee beans from those nice Pumphreys people in the Grainger Market[1], but also to have a look at some local minor drama. In high winds overnight, part of the roof of Eldon Square shopping centre decided it would like to take up a new career at ground level, resulting in the closure of Newgate Street. I took this photo with my iPhone showing the scene at lunchtime – you can see the overhanging bit of roof that might just do some more falling, a fire brigade inspection platform that was on its way down when I arrived, and some of the chunks of roof – looks like some kind of insulation material

Errrr, oops?

Errrr, oops?

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1600s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 13:13, 11 January, 2017
Location 54° 58.3532′ 0″ N 1° 37.0453′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 8 September 2016

Weight: 212.8 pounds (15 stone 2.8 pounds, 96.5 kg)
Steps taken: 3,812

Oddly down today.

It was a slightly different working day, as a couple of hours of it was taken up by my boss and me being taken to lunch by a supplier. This doesn’t happen often, and unlike some such things included and actually productive discussion as well as some rather nice food (the duck breast being particularly tasty).

But on a less light note, I’m afraid the time has come to say goodbye. No, no, calm down, I’m not going anywhere, but three of my friends are:

Goodbyeeeeee...

Goodbyeeeeee…

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/30s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 6400
Taken 19:22, 8 September, 2016

Yes, that’s my sadly neglected X100S and X100T being prepared to be sent away to be converted into money. But wait! What’s that?!?! Surely Les can’t be selling his lovely X-T1?? Well, yes, he can.  This is of course, part of a Cunning Plan which will involve something else for my lovely Fuji lenses to connect to, but that’s still to come.

But, but, I hear you cry, how will Les cope without his trusty X-T1 for days, or (depending on deliveries) even weeks?!? Well, I think I’ll manage. It’s not like I don’t have a decent camera that fits nicely into a pocket, after all. No, not the iPhone, the dinky little X70!

Always have a backup

Always have a backup

It’s the X70 that made me decide that I didn’t need to keep the X100T, and as the X100S has just been sitting on the shelf, it made sense for that to go at the same time. And as the X-T1 has to go, its vertical battery grip is off as well.

All of this won’t quite cover the cost of the Exciting New Toy, but does make it affordable now rather than later. And I’ve adopted a ruthless approach to cameras – don’t keep the kit you don’t use, especially if someone will buy it off you!

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 August 2016

Weight: 214.4 pounds (15 stone 4.4 pounds, 97.3 kg)
Steps taken: 8,191
If you’re reading this on Facebook, make sure to click through, or you’ll miss an more interesting photo than the one of me, and loads of words about my day off.

Back up a bit today, ho hum, never mind, etc.

Having worked in Birmingham last weekend, I decided to make the most of the long weekend by having an extra day off, which is what I did today.

I was awake at least as early as usual[1], and once I’d aught up with things, I headed into Gateshead to do some essential tasks:

  1. Renew the travel pass that expired the day I went to Birmingham, so I won’t need to keep buying individual tickets
  2. Pick up my prescription from Boots (I take these pills, you know)
  3. Pour the contents of my penny jar[2] into the machine[3] in Tesco’s

All tasks were completed successfully. The final one was more successful than my best guess – I was hoping for around £100, but it turned out to be £131 after the machine’s commission, which came in handy for my next set of tasks

Well, having got up and out moderately early, something was missing: breakfast. So I went to Frankie & Benny’s, where for a change I had their larger “Pappa Grande” option, which comes with more bacon, and extra sausage, a big potato rosti thingy and a slice of black pudding, which was previously removed from the menu. Oh, and toast is included. It was a big breakfast, and I ate the lot, making lunch unnecessary today. And it seems it’s a good job I went when I did, as the owners of the chain are reported to be planning to close the Gateshead Frankie & Benny’s, which isn’t good at all.

After that, I went to Newcastle for more essential tasks – it was time to buy coffee beans from those nice Pumphreys people in the Grainger Market. And then I needed a haircut. Well, I’ve needed one for about a month, but never seemed to have the chance at lunchtime, and everywhere is too busy at weekends. The cheaper place I usually go to had a lot of people waiting (all seats taken), so I went in search of alternatives. The more expensive place I’ve been to in the past is now appointments only, which doesn’t work for me, so I decided to give Supercuts a try. They’ve been around forever, but for some reason I’ve never been in. They’re strictly walk in, no appointments, and I was told I’d have to wait half an hour. Well, there were seats, the ambient temperature was comfortable, and I had my iPhone with me, so I said that was fine. In the event, my wait was closer to ten minutes[5].

After a brief discussion, and a quick attack of the clippers, my hair was washed, cut, styled and generally given a good seeing to. Price was a wee bit cheaper than the more expensive place, but quite a lot more than the cheaper place, but they don’t do the washing bit there, being more of a standard barber.

So, err, here’s the hair:

That'll be me

That’ll be me

I came home briefly, picked up my X-T1 and headed out, with no definite plan in mind. I decided it was a bit late in the day to aim for Blyth to see the Tall Ships (maybe tomorrow), so I settled for a short walk along the coast from Tynemouth, and then a bus back to Newcastle, and another one home.

Here’s a view of the old pool at Tynemouth. There is talk of restoration and making use of it again, which would be good. It’s also a view of the beach. It was also a test of Snapheal, one of the MacPhun tools, which I used to remove some humans who got into the shot where I didn’t want them to be. Silly humans.

The old pool

The old pool

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/11
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 16mm
ISO 250
Taken 14:05, 26 August, 2016
Location 55° 1.3412′ 0″ N 1° 25.2878′ 0″ W

[1] Though I did go to be early, so waking up early may be related to that…
[2] I call it a penny jar, but it gets all my change from 20p coins downwards, so maybe I should rename it
[3] These things no charge 9.9% commission, which is a bit steep, but I’d rather pay than spend hours sorting, counting and bagging coins, not to mention queuing in the bank several times[4]
[4] Mine has limits on how many bags they’ll take in a single transaction, and I’d have had loads
[5] This was either luck, or clever management of expectations[6]
[6] AKA the Scotty time estimate method

Weight and Stuff Report – 18 August 2016

Weight: 215.8 pounds (15 stone 5.8 pounds, 97.9 kg)
Steps taken: 8,857

Unsurprisingly back up after yesterday’s record low, but that was this morning, before I did a load of manual labour in Solihull. On the other hand, it was also before a pizza and a glass or two of wine, so it probably balances out.

It’s warm, and I’m in the midlands. The aircon is on, but it hasn’t cooled me down yet.

Here’s a quick iPhone photo I took on the way back to my hotel

St Martin's Church, Bullring

St Martin’s Church, Bullring

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/35s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 250
Taken 20:34, 18 August, 2016
Location 52° 28.6253′ 0″ N 1° 53.6208′ 0″ W
Update: any previous caption describing the church as Birmingham Cathedral are all in your imagination.

Weight and Stuff Report – 8 July 2016

Weight: 216.2 pounds (15 stone 6.2 pounds, 98.1 kg)
Steps taken: 4,215

Gasp! Down again today! If this goes on, I’ll meet an arbitrary target soon. Well, come to think of it, I have reached the arbitrary target of being below 15½ stone as well as the adjacent arbitrary target of being below 100kg. That’s the fun thing about using multiple units, you get more targets.

Today was the office “Summer Event”, which consisted of free food and drink and a live band at the Tyne Bar. All good fun.

After leaving the event at a sensible time and after a non-lethal amount of alcohol, I got a quick iPhone photo of something interesting parked[1] on the Tyne. This has been cropped and tweaked a bit in Lightroom. Depending on this and that, I may get back down there at the weekend for a closer view

Nice boat

Nice boat

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/2000s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 18:11, 8 July, 2016
Location 54° 58.2592′ 0″ N 1° 35.3933′ 0″ W

And this image shows the white version of my signature logo.

Bose SoundLink On Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones. I must have had dozens of the things over the years. Big ones, small ones, wired ones, wireless ones, comfortable ones, uncomfortable ones, well-made ones and completely rubbish ones. But for reasons that don’t really make a lot of sense, I keep trying to get the elusive Perfect Pair.

Ten years ago, I got my first Bluetooth phones, which turned out to be carefully designed to crack in such a way as to stop them working. I’ve had quite nice in-ear ones, but I’ve been finding those increasingly uncomfortable to use – no matter what kind of material is used, the bits that go in my ears either don’t fit very well or are irritating. So, after trying all manner of things, I’ve reverted to on-ear phones. That’s the moderately large kind rather than the enormous over ear kind that cover your whole ear. I tried a Sennheiser wireless set, but found they had two problems: one was that even at maximum extension, they weren’t a good fit for my admittedly large head, and the other was a distinct lack of volume – OK when pottering around at home, but not so good when out and about. And it’s not that I listen to music at extreme levels – I like it loud enough to hear clearly, but not so loud as to drown out my surroundings completely. I then got a much better pair of Sennhesier (see, no hard feelings about the wireless ones) on-ear phones, which were pretty good, if a bit bulky.

But then I got this watch thing, which I still haven’t posted about. And that lets me control the music playing on the iPhone (and yeah, I’ve got one of those to talk about, too), so the previous need for controls on a cable, and indeed a cable at all, seemed to have gone away. So I started looking at wireless phones again. I saw these in a shop, and tried them out. Ooooh. Comfortable. And Oooooh, loud enough.

So after Much Dithering[1] and muttering[2] I bought them from Amazon.

So, what do we get for the slightly expensive price?[3] Well, you get a well-built pair of headphones which expand enough to fit my head comfortably. There’s a nice bit of padding on the headband and the earcups (removable and replaceable covers). The ear bits fold nicely inwards for storage, making them a lot more travel-friendly, as does the supplied soft zip-equipped case (nicely designed for an exact fit, with a nice little piece to separate the ear cups. There’s a cable you can use to connect to your devices in the event that the battery dies or the device doesn’t have Bluetooth and a standard mini-USB cable for charging (no mains plug, which seems sensible enough, as it wouldn’t fir in the pouch and most people have computers or chargers already.

They arrived with more than enough charge  to get me home, which was nice. Pairing is simply a matter of sliding the on-off switch all the way up. The phones can remember multiple devices and some variety of jiggery-pokery[4] lets you switch between them. There are the usual volume and control buttons for managing music and phone calls, but I find it easier to use the phone or watch to do that.

The sound quality, as you might expect from Bose, is excellent[5], and capable of being much louder than I want or need it to.

Now the other thing about wireless headphones that’s often a cause of weeping, wailing and quite likely gnashing of teeth, is battery life. In most cases it’s basically useless. These, perhaps partly because they’re on the larger size, are different. For a start, when you switch them on, a little voice in your ear announces the current battery level as a percentage before reminding you what device they’re paired with. During the first week, they kept insisting the level was 100%. I assumed they were lying, as battery powered devices often do. But four weeks later, without a recharge, and with around an hour’s use on each working day, the level is down to 40%. So it’ll probably be another couple of weeks before I need to connect that USB lead. To be honest, I’d have been happy enough with a week’s use on a single charge, so a month or more is really very good.

So, count this as a medium-term report. No annoyances so far, and lots to like. The only negative point is the slightly unfriendly price…

[1] A village in Suffolk, I think
[2] Much of which was about whether I wanted the black (discrete but boring) or white (vivid by matching my phone) ones
[3] Bose appear to have an Apple-like degree of control over prices – I looked around a fair bit, and didn’t find any variation in retail prices…
[4] I’d have to RTFM
[5] For my music and my ears, anyway.

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 September 2015

Weight: 211.4 pounds (15 stone 1.4 pounds, 95.9 kg)
Steps taken: 2,123

Down a bit today, probably. Of course, the scale might just be having it’s usual bit of fun.

It was another day when I didn’t have time to go further than the sarnie shop at lunchtime, resulting in a very low step count. Shock horror, etc.

Here’s another iPhone 6S photo:

Bridges

Bridges

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1100s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 12:01, 27 September, 2015
Location 54° 58.0527′ 0″ N 1° 36.3433′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 September 2015

Back up again today, mutter. Or perhaps it is the scale having fun with me again…

I went out today to give the iPhone 6S camera a bit of a test. Results were, as expected, mixed. When taking sensibly lit shots like this, it does rather well:

The traditional wide view

The traditional wide view

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1700s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 12:26, 27 September, 2015
Location 54° 58.187′ 0″ N 1° 35.9542′ 0″ W

No tweaking done to the image other than a slight crop.

But if you do sill things like shooting in the direction of the sun, it gets a bit confused. I’ve mentioned before that getting a good exposure in Central Arcade can be tricky, as on a bright day most cameras will attempt to compensate for the bright roof. The iPhone 6S is no exception, as this example shows:

Overwhelmed by light

Overwhelmed by light

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1900s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 13:32, 27 September, 2015
Location 54° 58.4093′ 0″ N 1° 36.7738′ 0″ W

To the eye, the interior was quite bright, but the phone has rendered it in deep gloom. That’s because (like most sensors) it’s assuming that most things are fairly neutral in brightness, so that glass roof can’t possibly be that bright, and so it’s reduced the overall brightness. Now with my X-T1 or X100T, I’d be able to fix this easily by editing the raw file, but all I had to play with this time was a JPG, but I’ve managed to pull some detail out of it:

Adjusted

Adjusted

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1900s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 13:32, 27 September, 2015
Location 54° 58.4093′ 0″ N 1° 36.7738′ 0″ W

More playing will no doubt follow…

Kindle app – oooooooh

As unicorns regular readers might recall, I’m quite fond of my Amazon Kindle – I’m currently using the Paperwhite I got a few years back, as I haven’t been tempted by the newer hardware (and any temptation I might have felt was driven into the wilderness by a recent automagic firmware update, which made my Kindle much the same as the newer ones). On occasion, I’ve used the Kindle app on my iPhone, but it always felt a bit cramped – with the text at a comfortable size, there just wasn’t very much of it on the screen, so page turns were rather more frequent than seemed sensible. So, it ended up being an emergency only thing.

But while I was on a bus today, it struck me that with the bigger screen on the iPhone 6S, it might be worth a try. And it most definitely was. Lovely clear text, at a size easy to read with the phone held comfortably, and enough on a page to be worth reading. It’ll never replace my actual Kindle for longer reading sessions (like long train journeys), but for going to and from work it’ll do just fine, meaning I’ll have less to carry around with me. Yay.

This is what a page looks like:

Kindle

Kindle

Unless you’ve got a Retina or other very high resolution screen, the image above will be larger than that on the phone, but you should get the idea.

And if you’re intrigued by the text, a book review may be forthcoming once I get to the end.