iPhone X

Following is a longer form blog post I wrote on Medium about iPhone X. You can find a link right here.

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iPhone X announcement

Attached is a longer form post I wrote yesterday on the iPhone X announcement. This post relates to Apple’s PR strategy and not the phone itself. I will save my phone review  for the next few days, after I get mine (hopefully on Friday) and have a chance to put it through its paces. If you’re at all interested, you can read it here.

My Favorite Running Gear

Those of you who know me know I have two main pasions: running and cool gear/tech toys. In many respects, with the advent of technology and wearables, running marries these two passions and as a result, I tend to take my gear pretty seriously (maybe too seriously!). And as such, I am constantly switching new products in and out in an effort to completely dial in my running kit.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, following is a list of my favorite gear. For today, anyway. Should something new and cool come along, which is of course inevitable, I completely reserve the right to change my opinion.

RUNNING WATCH; APPLE WATCH SERIES 3

Up until very recently it was the Garmin Fenix series. I still think it is a pretty bomber product and don’t intend to give mine up any time soon. I’ve used my Fenix 3 HR every day since purchasing it in mid 2016. But as I wrote in a separate post, along came the Apple Watch Series 3. I just love this damn thing. I can simultaneously use Strava to measure my runs, listen to music wirelessly as well as receive text and phone calls? All without having to carry my bulky iPhone? Yes, please. It is awesome in nearly every respect and I think that the heart rate monitor and GPS are slightly more accurate than the Garmin. I look forward to DC Rainmaker weighing in more on this one. The only negative? The battery drains rather quickly, which is why I’d only recommend it for runs up to about eight to ten miles. For longer runs I wear my Apple watch as a communications/music device and my Garmin on my other wrist for GPS. Pretty geeky, I know.

RUNNING VEST: NAKED RUNNING BAND

I’ve tried nearly ever running vest known to man, including those made by Ultimate Direction, Salomon and Osprey. A few minor niggles aside (weight, fit, pockets) most of them have ranged from pretty darn good to excellent. But the fact is, for runs less than 13 miles I prefer not to wear a vest. I find them a bit too cumbersome for shorter runs. And yet I am a bit of a pack rat and like to carry more stuff than I probably need. So, what’s a guy to do? Answer: get a Naked Running Band. This thing is absolutely amazing. It wears comfortably around the waist, can be easily hidden by a shirt and carries more gear than you can believe given its size. An astonishingly simple but practical product. And the kicker? It’s only $46; significantly cheaper than many alternatives. It packs easily and is easily washable, too. You can’t go wrong with this one.

RUNNING-FOCUSED HEADPHONES; JAYBIRD RUN

I very much like my Apple Airpods. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say thar I love them. I think they are Apple’s surprise product of the past few years. I use them virtually every day and they are a constant in my pocket. But all that said, I don’t love them for running. More than anything, I am afraid they’ll fall out, though this has yet to happen, thankfully. But then a few weeks ago, along came the Jaybird Run Headphones. Huge disclaimer: Jaybirds, which are owned by Logitech, are a client of mine and I received my pair for free. But that being said, having used them every day for the past few weeks I can say that they are absolutely amazing in every respect. They offer great sound (better than the Airpods, are incredibly comfortable and pair very easily. When they were first introduced I was concerned about the fact that they are more expensive than the Apple AirPods, but having used them exensively, I have gotten completely past that (although I will again disclose that mine were free), because I think pound for pound they exceed the Airpods in near every respect but one: the case is a bit cumbersome. Much more so than the Apple AirPods. As a result, they aren’t easy to carry either in a pock or while on a run. The Airpod case is better designed but just try these Jayvirds on once and you’ll understand where I’m coming from and why you should give them serious consideration, especially if you like listening to music while running.

RUNNING SHOES: SAUCONY FREEDOM ISO

This one is a bit more tricky, because there are a ton of running shoes that I like; I’m the rare runner who isn’t married to a particular brand. Over the course of the past 18 months I’ve ran in Hokas (Speedgoat, Hupana), Nike (Terra Tiger, Wildhorse), Salomon (S Lab Series 2) along with others I’ve probably forgotten to mention and I can honestly say that I like them all. This is the golden age of running shoes! But there’s a particular pair that I have worn for the past hundred miles or so that have really stood out: the Saucony Freedom ISO. I will be be honest: it was tough to bite the bullet on these. A $160 for running shoes is no joke in my opinion and much more than I have spent on any other pair of running shoes. But they received rave reviews, most especially from my friends at San Francisco Running Company and that carries a lot of weight. So I went for it and have had no regrets; they are one incredibly comfortable yet responsive running shoe. They blur the line between trainer and racing flat, which is really unusual in a running shoe. They are comfortable in the spirt of Hokas, yet don’t have the same stacked height and therefore proide a bit more “road feel.” I also feel like I will be able to double the mileage I get out of them. All in all, one really terrific road shoe (it probably could also be worn on Marin-ish trails, too though I personally prefer trail shoes for trails and road shoes for roads) and they are a great travel show too, particularly the black, which works well with jeans.

CAMERA: GOPRO HERO 5

I think am the rare GoPro user who uses it more for the camera than for video. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world and I like to snap occasional pictures during my runs. I carry my GoPro on virtually every one of my runs: it is light and portable (and fits great in the Naked band) and takes surprisingly good pictures (as well as excellent video). It is also much easier to tote than my iPhone.

So, that’s what’s mostly in my pack these days. Or at least these are the standout products, anyway. Curious if anyone out there has experiences with any of the above that mirrors mine, or whether you have other gear/products that you might recommend.

Saturday Night Sports

I think this past Saturday night may have been my low water mark as a sport fan. I have to be honest: I had a foreboding feeling all day.

Of course, I am talking about the Michigan-Penn State game (to the extent one would consider that a “game”) and the Yankees game 7. Of the two, I probably had higher expectations for the Yankees, because they play so loose. It’s always a disappointment to lose, most especially a game seven for the pennant – the pennant! – but all things considered, it was one hell of a year for the Baby Bombers. They were a very fun team to watch and their future definitely is bright. To a large extent, these playoffs were like playing with house money. Also, you have to tip your cap to the Astros; they are one hell of a team and Houston has obviously been through a lot this year. Should be a fantastic Word Series and will be nice to watch without high levels of stress.

In regards to Michigan. Well, that was not something I expected to see under the Jim Harbaugh era. That was just an old school, good old fashioned ass kicking, top to bottom. I did not expect Michigan to win, but at the same time, I didn’t expect to get beaten that badly, either. This is a young team, w which people are forgetting, but man; with Wisconsin and Ohio State in the wings, all of a sudden we are looking at a very long year.

And to top things off, the Warriors lost too! When sports gets me down, I always have the Warriors to turn too; let’s hope we aren’t in for a disappointment on that front too.

 

 

Apple Announcements

This was an interesting announcement for me, personally. I can say without question, that I’ve never been less excited about an iPhone announcement. And in fact, this is the first time since iPhone was launched that I haven’t pre-orderedor planned to get in line. I don’t know what it is about iPhone X but I just can’t seem to get excited about it in any respect. I’m sure it’s going to be cool and I am looking forward to the reviews, which I suspect will sway my decision. But – it just seems to be lacking he “it” factor of so many other iPhone announcements. The other thing at play here is that I am completely satisfied with my iPhone 7 Plus. I find it a near perfect device in every respect (including, yes, the size) and ther’es nothing that I feel needs replacing. In fact, if I was to order today, I’d quite possibly go 8 Plus over the X. I like the form factor and the pricing is much better.

Which brings us to pricing. Look, I am the guy who doesn’t really mind paying for cool devices and gadgets. Gadgets are my thing. But man, we all have our limitations. And I think crossing the $1,000 threshold is a pretty big deal, especially for a device that I personally plan to replace each year. I think that if I were to get the X I’d go on the leasing plan for sure. So, we will see. I think the facial recognition technology is cool, but I’m fine with Touch ID. I do think I might miss be missing something in regards to the whole AR platform. I think that very well might be the “secret sauce” behind the iPhone X. We will see soon enough (presumably. I think this phone will be very difficult to get ones hands on for the short term).

The above all being said, there was a product i am surprisingly stoked about: the Apple Watch. I thought Apple Watch (series 1) was a big disappointment. I wore mine rarely and ended up giving it to my son. I never thought I’d go back to it, but for me, the addition of LTE is a total game changer. In fact, I think this product was targeted to me, specifically! Now I can go out for my runs without my phone and still receive important calls and texts. That might not sound like much but I tend to run early in the mornings and I get a lot of messages from my colleagues in New York – enough so that I feel compelled to carry around my very bulky phone. I can also use it not just as a running watch (the fact that it has barometric altimeter built into it is a HUGE plus for me), but also as a music device that streams Apple Music. And lastly, my family can check on me while I’m out on a run. Might not sound like much but things can go awry while trail running. So for me, personally, this device is a no brainer and I am absolutely stoked about it. Enough so that I woke up in the middle of the night to pre-order (and I’m glad that I did as it seems to be sold out for six weeks).  My only “ask” now is that Apple allow me to port my data direct to Strava. TO the best of my knowledge, I still can’t do that. If I could, I cou;d see the possibility of the Apple Watch replacing my Garmin. For shorter runs, anyway.

So, that’s my two cents on the Apple announcement. Of course there’s Apple TV. Being that I just invested in a 4K-ready TV, I think that product is a no brainer too but not something I feel compelled to purchase immediately.

 

The Future of the Laptop is an iPad

Last week I bought an iPad Pro 10.5. Despite my predeliction for all things Apple, this wasn’t really my original intent. I was just fine with my iPad Pro 9.7 and was/am certain I could easily have gotten two more years out of that very fine device.

But, then my son went to college, which got me thinking. I didn’t want to get him a new laptop and at the same time, it didn’t make sense to me why he’d need to lug a MacBook Pro around all day, along with all his books. It seemed to me that a iPad with corresponding keyboard case would do the trick. Throw in an Apple pencil for good measure for noise taking and there you have it. During his orientation this summer I actually managed to run into the school’s head of IT and I talked to him about this gameplan. He thought it made perfect sense and told me he’d duo the exact same if he was a student. So, there was that. Maybe I should be a college IT direction. But, I digress.

So, I gave him mine old one (again, cheaper than a new laptop) and got myself the 10.5. My wallet aside (the new iPads are quite expensive) we both came out of this winners.

For the past year plus I have been using my iPad as a laptop replacement when traveling for business, which I do quite often. It does the trick, but to be honest after about three or four days, I start to pine for my MacBook. It was close, but not quite there yet. The screen was a little too small, the multitasking was close, but still not fully developed out and of course, there was no file system (thoughboth Box and Dropbox do the trick nicely).

However, having used this new device now for a little shy of two weeks, coupled with the Logitech Slim Combo Case (disclosure: Logitech is a client and we support this product), I can say without further equivocation, the future of a the laptop is an iPad.

I am running a beta of iOS 11 (I suspect this current version is pretty close to the Gold Master. it’s pretty much bug free, unlike the earlier versions, which were maddening to use) and it is very, vey impressive. I still don’t have what I’d categorize as full knowledge of every aspect of iOs 11, but it’s quite clear that this iOS was built with the iPad in mind, not the iPhone, which is quite a departure. The 10.5 absolutely flies, which is important when toggling between apps and screens, which this thing does absolutely seamlessly. The new screen is incredible and the Apple pen is even more responsible than on the 9.7, which makes note taking a breeze. Honestly, so far there’s nothing I don’t absolutely love about it so far and as stated above, I am certain there’s still a lot of ios11 I have yet to tap.

And if I can do a plug for a client, the Logitech Slim Combo is the piece de resistance that makes the entire thing work. I originally bought the Apple keyboard case, as the Logitech was on backorder. The Apple case is ok, if not a big rudimentary and I simply cannot see how they charge $159 for it. The Logitech case adds a bit more bulk but at the same time, quite a bit more protection too. And I particularly like that the keyboard very easily detaches when you want to use it for more traditional iPad purposes (i.e. reading, web surfing, etc). Again, I know they are a client but this is a killer product. And the fact that it’s a good $30 cheaper than the Apple keyboard doesn’t hurt either.

So, it will be interesting to here what the “pro” reviewers have to say once iOs 11 is officially released, but I think we’ve finally reached the “grail” that many of us have been seeking: using iPads as full fledged laptop replacement devices.

On Wisconsin!

Well, my baby boy and first born has officially fled the nest. He left bright and early this morning with his mom for Madison, Wisconisn, where he will spend the majority of the next four years (presumably). Man, talk about heavy duty moments; it seems like he was just born yesterday! Everything they say about the passage of time really is true. 

Anyway, I am enormously proud of him and hope that he has the time of his life at Wisconsin. I know college was the greatest four years of my life and I hope the same is true for him. If you happen to be reading this, Z Man, have a great time. We will miss you greatly and will be sure to hold the fort for you. 

I’m back

Alright, good peeps. I am back. MIssed you all. The Medium experiment went – ok. A bit less engagement than I would have liked but an interesting experiment nonetheless. I will continue to post longer form content on that site and wil probably link here as well. What I miss about this site is shorter form, more stream of consciousness type posting. So, that’s what I will do.

Not too much to report in the seven months since I last posted: been running a ton (the running streak still exists and is at roughly 3.5 years) and had a particularly exciting trip to Chamonix, which is like ground zero of ultra running. That was amazing, despite getting my head absolutely handed to me at Mont Blanc marathon. I have a detailed race report on that one over at Medium.

I’ve still been buying cool new tech toys. Typing this post on my new iPad Pro 10.5http, which absolutely rocks. I think my new “toy of the year” thus far is my new DJI Drone, the Spark, which I love. A link to more detailed thoughts on that is here. And oh yeah: in two days I am losing a kid to college. College! Gonna be a Wisconsin Badger and I could not be more proud. I will also miss him greatly. So – there. You’re all pretty much caught up.

Expect more soon – I hope to post at minimum, two to three posts a week. That’s the goal, anyway.

 

 

 

Anyone still here?

After a near year of messing around on occasion with Medium, I am thinking about moving my postings back to here as my “primary” blog. I figure when I do longer format posts, I can simply move them to Medium as well.

But before I do, a roll call please: is there still anyone out there receiving notifications from this site?