Friday, March 16, 2018

Do we still like our iPhone Model Xs?

Do we still like our iPhone Model Xs?  A question I received this morning from reader (and all around crazy person) Dick M.  Answer: why, yes, we do.  The large screen in a small form factor is great for our ancient eyes.  The brandy-new biometric feature (face ID) works amazingly well, and it's been integrated with nearly all of the apps I use on the iPhone that require identification.  I love the resulting ease of use.  There's a security tradeoff there, obviously: someone who wanted something on my phone badly enough could tie me down and hold the phone up to my face to get access.  On the other hand, someone who wants access to my phone that badly is probably going to get access anyway. :)  The one situation I can imagine where there's a risk I don't like is border crossings, and if I ever take my phone across a border I will be disabling face ID for the crossing.  It's not the foreign countries I worry about, it's the U.S. border agents with their freedom to examine (and even confiscate!) my electronics.

And I left the best for last.  The iPhone X's camera is superb.  My videos are notably less shaky, and I find myself using the 2X optical telephoto very frequently.  The camera is enough better that I'd be happy with the iPhone X even if the camera was the only new feature.  But it's not!

A few mornings out of the year ...

A few mornings out of the year ... several things line up just right such that the morning sun angles into one of my office windows and strikes the “Tuscan yellow” wall.  The result is a bright, cheerful glow that lasts just a few minutes until the sun climbs high enough that the lit spot is on the floor.  This morning was such a morning...

So what has to line up, and why does it happen only rarely?  For starters, to our east are the Wasatch Mountains.  Generally by the time the sun climbs over the mountains in the morning, the angle is already high enough that my wall won't be lit up.  The point where the sun comes up varies over the course of the year, as the seasons change.  Within the range of sunrise points there are two “notches” from the perspective of our property.  This morning the sun rose in the bottom (lowest point) of one of those notches.  The other notch (which the sun comes up through in the summer) is so far north that the patches lit up in my office on those mornings don't strike any walls.  The sun rises through the other notch in late November and mid March.  Then there's another bit that needs lining up: the patch of sun has to strike the wall where nothing is hanging.  That's about half the possible time.  Finally, it has to be a nicely clear day – even haze will diminish the brightness enough to ruin the effect.

A good start to my morning!

A reader asks...

A reader asks...  Mary L. wrote to ask me if I use an ad blocker for my web browser, and if so, which one?  The answer is “Hell, yes!” I use an ad blocker!  I hate seeing those ads, and even more I hate the delayed visual “pop” when they populate after the text I want to read renders.  I have to say, though, that because I read so much on an iPad (with no ad blockers, dang it) I am getting to the point where tuning out the ads is nearly automatic.  I consciously (almost) never click on an ad, though, as I know that information will be collected and used to target more ads to me.  As things are right now, the ads I see are almost entirely comprised of three categories: things that I've looked at on Amazon, things that Debbie has looked at on Amazon (we share an account), and things related to electronics.  The latter, I presume, is because some vendor I've dealt with has sold my name to a list (I'm betting it's Newark, where I bought my 'scope). 

As for which ad blocker: at the moment I'm using Ublock.  I'm happy with its performance, it eliminates virtually all ads, and it's available for both Chrome and Firefox (I still use both browsers about equally).  It's also available for Safari, but I can't speak to its performance there as I almost never use Safari (because of compatibility issues on several sites I visit daily).