Best. Quote. Ever.

“So do we pass the ghosts that haunt us later in our lives; they sit undramatically by the roadside like poor beggars, and we see them only from the corners of our eyes, if we see them at all. The idea that they have been waiting there for us rarely if ever crosses our minds. Yet they do wait, and when we have passed, they gather up their bundles of memory and fall in behind, treading in our footsteps and catching up, little by little.” ~ Stephen King.

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Let’s Talk About Steampunk

Keith has decided his Halloween costume this year will be a steampunk explorer. So, I have decided solidarity is the word of the day and have decided to go as a steampunk explorer’s right hand man (or girl, in this case).

I’m currently reading The Difference Engine in an effort to get a true feel for the genre, and I think I’ve got a good costume in mind.

I’m thinking tan pants, brown boots, a nice Gibson Girl type white shirt, fancy waistcoat, and either a tophat with goggles with a nice gears and cogs decoration or an aviator’s cap with goggles. I have a TON of supercool steampunk jewelry (most of it from Whimsy Beading, seriously, I have SO many steampunk inspired bracelets, it will be hard to choose! And, a kickass ring as well!). I also have a very nice pocket watch on a chain from birdzNbeez, which I MUST wear, as it is totally fitting.

Thoughts? I’ll post up pics as I go along, but helpful hints from those more experienced in the field would be great.

iPhone 4: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I recently purchased an iPhone 4. Now, let me just say that overall, I love, love, love this phone, but I have to say, Apple, there’s a couple areas where you really need to step up your game. Here’s my overall opinion so far (and I’ve only had the phone four days, so take this with a grain of salt and expect a follow-up post in the future, if I have a vastly different opinion). Also, I’ll be mainly comparing this phone to my first (and only) smartphone, my Samsung Eternity. The Eternity is not a bad phone, not at all. I just wanted a few things my dear Samsung couldn’t provide, so I took the plunge. Believe me, I agonized over this (being unemployed and all) but I think you’ll see as we go why I thought it might be a smart idea to upgrade. I’ve had the Samsung for a good two years and really haven’t had any major complaints, and as a matter of fact, it DOES do a thing or two better than the iPhone (BLASPHEMY!!!).

Oh, and let me preface this whole review by saying I am a total MacHead and have been for a good twenty years. So yeah, grain of salt people. Grain of salt. Still, I DID do my best to be objective. Really.

Read on:

The Good:

• Apps, apps, apps: Did I say apps? So many cool things, and so far most of the ones I wanted were FREE. Yes, you heard me, FREE. I’ll tell you some of what I’ve got on my phone. I can’t speak for anything I haven’t used yet (but I’m open to suggestions!).

• Social networking sites. There’s something for everyone here. I have Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare (I’m kind of new to that one, but the interface is WAY nicer than my Samsung Eternity was) and Linkedin. All free, all great. Easy to use, really intuitive, no problems at all. A+++ here.

• iBooks/Kindle/Nook: I see why iPad is so damn popular. Yeah, I know, the screen is too bright, yadda yadda yadda, but seriously, you can get ALL THREE apps for your iPad/iPhone – FREE! Now, I’m not going to do a lot of hardcore reading on my iPhone, I don’t think, but if I’m stranded somewhere without a book, this will suddenly be my most favorite app on the planet. Also, a lot of the classics are FREE. As an English major, this is GOLD for me. You may not be so impressed, but hey, everyone has their happy button. This one is mine.

• WordPress: Yeah, you got it. I can update, check comments, everything from my phone. I don’t expect to do any epic length posts from there, but it’s nice to know I COULD, if I wanted to.

• iSpeak German – Okay, I took German twenty years ago in high school, but I love this little app. It translates German-English or English-German. You can even ask it to speak the text. I like it. At two bucks, well worth it for me.

• Carb Master – This one cost me two bucks, but as an Atkins person it was a must have (and sorry, Atkins, but your app sucked). You can track your carbs daily (which I am FAR too lazy to do) or you can just check the database for carb count (this feature is good so far – some things are kind of randomly assigned categories, but if you use the search feature you can find it quickly). I’d have liked just a straight carb count index, but for a couple bucks this is way better than the well-worn pocket paper version I’ve basically worn away from riding in my bag. Also, it’s pretty damn comprehensive. I like it so far.

• Hello Vino – I haven’t test driven this one yet in a real world situation, but I did play with it for an hour or so and I will say, it’s a lot of fun. And FREE. You can look up wines by price, by what you’re serving for dinner, etc. and it will give you recommendations. I kind of like it so far. It’s fun, and it shows stuff I may not normally look for. Also, for you wine noobs (you can tell the app how much you know about wine, which is super cool) it will tell you how to pronounce the names. I find that kind of annoying as an intermediate wine drinker, but if you’re new to the wine scene, I think you’ll appreciate it.

• Mixology – FREE. FREE. FREE. Did I say FREE??? This app rocks. You can find mixed drinks based on a specific liquor or based on what you’ve got leftover from that party you had Saturday night. As a vodka whore, this is probably going to become my favorite app in very short order. Just sayin’.

• RedLaser: I just like this because it amuses me. Again, FREE. Scan a bar code and it will tell you if that item is available in your area and at what price. I can totally see the usefulness of this if you’re a big comparison shopper, but for me it’s just a super fun thing to do. Yeah, it doesn’t take much to amuse me – I don’t think that surprises anyone. For big purchases though, I can see where this might be awesome. Scan the barcode of that TV in Sears and see if they’ll match the price at Circuit City. Oh yeah!

• Log Your Ride: Still playing with this one. It couldn’t figure my speed when I tried to walk from my house to Keith’s – it finished the distance but it didn’t log my speed (I suspect because I was walking rather than riding). However, it locked up on me when I tried to tell it I was at my destination and I had to hard boot the iPhone to clear it. A great concept, and at three dollars, if I can get it to work it will be awesome. I’m going to try a bike ride in the next day or so, so I’ll try and remember to update this one. It’s gotten good reviews, so I suspect I just had a glitch somehow. We shall see. This is clearly the most expensive app I purchased, but this was fifty percent of the reason I got this phone. I’ve been DYING to know how far I walk/ride and how long it takes. So I REALLY hope I can figure this one out or find a reasonable substitute. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE: Got it working, and LOVE it! Tracks my route, time and MPH. I even got it to upload to Facebook. WIN!

• BBC News: FREE. Pretty self explanatory, but it IS a nice app. I like the BBC perspective on US news especially, and this app kind of gives me a visual reminder to check it. I like it a lot so far.

• Denver Post: FREE. When you’re too lazy to use Safari, this is it for Denver news. And, since my local paper sucks (Fort Collins Coloradoan, I’m looking at YOU), I go here to find out what’s happening in my town. Because apparently these guys can get a photographer and journalist up from Denver while the local guys are still napping on the couch. Win!

• The Weather Channel: FREE. You do have a Yahoo weather app that comes with the phone, but if you’re into the details, this is it. Nice to have, although I don’t use it much. Of course, next time we have a fifty-foot blizzard, I may change my tune.

• IMDb: Okay, you TOTALLY need this if you’ve ever sat at a friend’s house saying, “Isn’t that a young Eliza Dushku?” (Buffy fans, you know when I said this). Free, and totally awesome.

• Fandango: This one’s free as well, and I was totally impressed that it listed the teeny tiny indie theater in my town. For that, it gets an A++, even though you can’t buy tickets online for that venue. Hey, I give them credit for knowing it was there.

• Urbanspoon: Not bad, but the “roulette” thing is kind of weird. My jury’s still out on this one.

• iTip: Okay, I’m an accountant. Of COURSE I can figure the tip. The thing I think is cool, though, is that you can figure the tip and THEN ask it to split it multiple ways. I can see this being a VERY helpful feature in my social circle, as we often split the check between four or five couples.

• iRadarDEN: Denver area radar map. Actually, all of Colorado, but Denver is the center. Yeah, next time it snows holy hell, I will love this app forever.

• Angry Birds: Okay, I paid a buck for this and have probably spent ten hours playing it so far. Is it silly? Yes. Is it easy? You’d think so – it’s deceptive, though. Is it a great time-waster? Oh, HELL yes. Really, it’s awesome. I love how the little birds go “wheeee” as you shoot them off in the slingshot. And, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them say “ow, ow, ow” when they miss and hit a wall. I’m bad about putting my thumb over the speaker when I play, so I might be wrong. But they’re so cute when they win and they cheer. I can’t believe how addicting a silly game can be. And at a buck, well worth it.

• Texting the Bread: Okay, I had a hard time with the Apple keyboard when I first went to it, which was a little surprising after coming off the Samsung. I will say in all honesty, however, that when I bought the Samsung I was also looking at the iPhone 3 and the texting keyboard on the iPhone turned me off. I thought after being on the Samsung this would be easier, but surprisingly, no. The Samsung has a vibrate feature so that when you text you get tactile feedback, whereas the iPhone only has sound. Because of this, I looked for texting games and tutorials and found this. You have to kill the zombie gingerbread men (did I say ZOMBIE GINGERBREAD MEN? Yes, I did) by typing in their words before they kill you. Loads of fun and you really get the feel for the keyboard. This was a two dollar game, but totally worth it. Fun to play and useful as well. I love it.

• Maps: OMG, maps kick ass on the iPhone compared to the Samsung. Now, if I had WANTED to pay an extra ten bucks a month for AT&T GPS, I suspect it would have been better, but Google Maps on the Samsung were suggestions, at best. The iPhone is kicking ass at this, pinpointing me within a few feet, so far. After the last time I got my ass lost in downtown Denver, this is probably the biggest reason I got the iPhone. I’ve been job hunting, and I suspect I’m going to be going to the Denver Tech Center many more times. I need to know where the hell I am.

The Bad

• Lack of decent preloaded ringtones. Okay, this may just be me, but I’ve gotten to the point in life where I just want the phone to ring. You know, RING? No songs, no beats, just freaking RING. My only choice is an old-fashioned ringer (which, I am sad to report, is a ringer from an old rotary phone, which, HELLO! existed when I was a child/teen). Way to make me feel old, Apple. *grumble*

• Making me put my freaking password in every time you want to update something. Seriously? I appreciate your apps developers are constantly trying to make my life better/easier/happier, but you KNOW who the hell I am. Why must you ask me for my password every time an app wants to update? Do you honestly think that if someone steals my phone this is going to be an issue? Wow.

• I can’t Bluetooth to my MacBook. Okay, Apple, I get it. I have wireless. I have a USB cable. Sometimes, though, I just want to use Bluetooth, you know? Oh, was I not clear? ALL YOUR STUFF SHOULD BLUETOOTH TO ALL YOUR OTHER STUFF, APPLE! HOLY HELL!

The Ugly

• Inability to block unwanted calls. Really, Apple? All this software genius and THIS is what you exclude? My Samsung allowed me to block individual numbers, which sent them directly to voicemail without ringing the phone. It was a one-touch feature and I LOVED it. I can do it on iPhone but I have to set that particular number to a silent ringer – a HUGE multi-step pain in the ass. Step it up, Apple. This should have been a priority feature for you, ESPECIALLY since many people today only have a cell phone, and get telemarketing calls on it.

Samsung is kicking your ass on this. Seriously, they get apps, you might be in serious danger. I’d look at their phone, mainly because of THIS ONE feature. Food for thought, dudes. Food for thought.

So, there you have it, so far. Overall, I LOVE my iPhone, but there are a couple things I think Apple could do better, especially in regards to included ringtones and call blocking. And someone PLEASE make me stop playing Angry Birds!!!