Wednesday, February 29, 2012

iOS Wishlist

Think about the technology you own in your life. Now take a minute to think about what piece of technology is closest to you at this very moment. Aside from the computer you are reading this on (if you even have it opened on a computer), the most likely answer is probably your smart phone or your cell phone. I break those into two separate answers because I believe that there really is a difference between an iPhone or an HTC modeled Android device and the flip phone with a camera that your aunt has had for the last five years. Keep in mind, when portable telephones came out originally, that's exactly what they were: portable phones with gigantic batteries that made having your phone with you more of a work out than a convenience. Being born in late '92 I was able to avoid these types of phones and my first phone was actually a Motorola flip with a camera. Eventually I may need to do a post on the development of texting just so I can share the story of the 700 dollar phone bill and why unlimited texting plans are always a lot smarter to get for a teen. Anyway, back to the point: a cell phone and a smart phone are two totally different animals entirely. One makes phone calls, sends texts, and possibly takes pictures while having incredibly scaled back capabilities with the web and media,  while the other pretty much does everything except scratch your back, although I believe in the future there we be an app for that too. 

Over the years there have been many smart phones to hit the market in various forms. RIM has always been known for the BlackBerry line of devices, BBM, and things like that. T-Mobile had a line of SideKicks that I believe are an early form of the smart phone. Google does the Android platform that can now be found on a viriety of phones, and Apple, the computer giant of the world, does the iPhone, which in  my personal opinion revolutionized the smart phone platform. Before you say anything, yes  I know most of what the iPhone can do was originally on the Android platform, but try to understand I've invested quite a few years in iOS so I do consider that my home, and I am damn sure gonna defend my home. The other reason I need to defend iOS is because of the point of this post, my personal iOS 5 wishlist. I realize this is a topic I have touched on before in various forums, but I think this is the type of topic that needs to be touched at least once a year because iOS 5 is always developing. As new features are  introduced, a new item comes to the list. So here is what I am hoping to see in later integrations of iOS 5 and of course iOS 6 when it finally comes out. 

*Increased Customization- To me, this is a big one. IOS has always enabled you to set a lock screen picture as well as a background home screen. With the introduction of iOS 5 you could finally install custom text message and alert tones, something that has ALWAYS been needed in the OS since day one. That being said, I think it's time Apple steals a move from the Android platform....again. The first area I want to be able to customize is in the messages app. As nice as the Gray/Green/Blue scheme is for text message bubbles, let's mix it up a bit. Maybe I want my iMessage bubbles to be red, my received texts to be a deep purple, and my own texts to be golden. Also, maybe I would like to be able to change the background of the text messaging app to make my texts pop a little more. Granted, I don't want to be able to put a picture in there because  that becomes  distracting, but you get the idea. 

After that I would like to be able to put my app icons where I want to put them. I have always hated the main app layout, mainly because it just allows you to move apps around, but not give them the exact placement you want. Maybe I want the middle of my wallpaper open so that I can see it, as opposed to having an app over my girlfriends face. 

The introduction of alert tones, at least custom ones, is also something I speak highly of, but let's take that above and beyond. Instead of limiting me to changing the tones for certain apps, let me change it for all of them. Maybe I want my Facebook app to make a ìStar Trek: The Original Seriesî communicator sound when I get an alert from that or maybe I want a dragon to roar every time AIM sends me an alert. It's the little things that make a difference. 
*Widgets- I know that I am going to get a lot of heat from iOS and Android users a like, but I think it is time for Apple to bake the concept of widgets into iOS as a standard feature. I had a chance to play with both of my moms android devices (and by play I mean figure them out so I could teach her how to operate them) and I noticed that widgets work quite well in Android, be it the messaging widget that lets you see your texts or a Facebook widget that lets you see your friend's status updates. The point is, one platform was able to integrate it so maybe it's time the other does. 

*Facebook Integration- There have actually been rumors about this one floating around in the iOS 5.1 beta, but I feel it bares inclusion as it hasn't been officially implemented on all devices yet. In iOS 5 Apple included integration with Twitter that allows you to tweet out a photo or a web page from the photos app or Safari respectively. Now that that is in effect, lets get something going for Facebook to make Photo, Video, and Web Page sharing a tad easier for those of us that still use Facebook. If I want to share something with my Facebook friends, I shouldn't have to jump through the hoops of the official Facebook app, that at times is great, and at other times sucks. 

*Albums in Photos- This one has already been implemented but the way it was done makes it USELESS! Here's how the app currently functions. I go to three separate  events on the same day and take photos at each. I make an album for each of the photos of each event. These photos are now in an album AND in my camera roll. What's better is that I can't delete said photos from the camera roll or they are also removed from the album. To top it off, there is no way to copy an album from the iPhone to a computer as a folder for easy placement in my pictures library. I don't know about you, but I really don't care to have to organize my photos twice: once on my phone and then again on my computer, just to sync the folders from my computer to my iPhone in the end anyway. 

*Game Center Sync- This is another one that was implemented, but was mostly implemented horribly. To me, the idea of cloud computing, or iCloud as Apple is calling their attempt at it, should be simple. I only have a few games that this applies to, but if I ever get a new phone or iPad I could see this becoming something I  could really need. If I am playing a game on my iPad and I connect to wifi at some point, I want Apple to upload all of my data to the cloud, so that I can then go on my iPhone and click a sync button, and download my progress so I don't feel like I am balancing two games on two devices. Maybe this is something that already widely exists and I missed something, or maybe the whole ìOpt inî to Game Center thing that was laid on the developers was what messed it up. Either way it needs fixing. 

These are just a few of the things I hope to see implemented in upcoming versions of iOS, how ever I will do another post later this year, after Apple announces a new load of features. Also don't think this is everything I feel needs to be done. I feel there is definitely more they could do, from allowing syncing with the Google Chrome browser to overhauling the appearance of the YouTube app, but we don't have all day for a mile long list. 

What features would you like to see implemented in upcoming versions of iOS? What smart phone platform do you use? If its something other than iOS what are your favorite features of your platform  of choice and what features would you like to see added or improved? Sound off below in the comments. 

Until next time, 


Monday, February 27, 2012

I Believe In Sherlock

It's time, everyone. I am finally getting around to writing my “Sherlock” thoughts, impressions, and review. Two things to keep in mind while reading this though:

1. I am writing this  as a “Sherlock” n00b who has finally had the chance to watch series one and series two of the show. I am not a long standing member of the fandom, but more someone who has just made a great discovery.


Now that my personal madatory spoiler alert is finished, let's get on with this. I guess the best place to start is the beginning, or my intorduction to the world of "Sherlock". Despite the fact that the series  has been on since 2010, I didn't actually hear about the show until a couple of weeks ago. Both my girlfriend and her sister have, at different points, asked me if I had seen "Sherlock" or even heard of it. I had said no and they both told me to watch it. I concider myself a film buff and a TV buff and really enjoy getting into shows either after they end or when they hit a hiatus. I went onto Google and decided to make a quick search of "Sherlock" just to see  what it was. As it turns out, the BBC decided to take a TV stab at a modern day retelling of the adventures of classic sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Prior to this, I didn't have much experience with the great Sherlock Holmes, outside of having to read "The Hound of the Baskervilles" back in the eighth grade, and that was pure hell for me at the time. I had no interest in the book whatsoever, I bombed every test, and I feel I came out a better person at the end for it.

I admit I don't exactly read a lot and it takes quite a bit for a book to really draw me in. Stephen King has been able to do it more than any other author. As I age a bit I find myself opening up a tad bit more to older literature, something my girlfriend thrives on. So that being said, I have never really bothered to read the classic Sherlock Holmes books and due to my middle school experiences I never even bothered to try and watch the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes, and I can't even tell you what the film is about. At some point I may venture down the road of that film and try to watch it anyway, if only to see how it compares to "Sherlock".

As a modern day retelling, quite a bit has been changed. The biggest change to the entire universe, aside from the time, is the age of Sherlock. In the books, Sherlock Holmes is a 60 some year old detective, while in the series, he can't be more than his eary to mid thirities, as at the time of this writing, Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who portays Sherlock Holmes, is only 35 years old. Some elemeents of the old tales are carried over however. Sherlock Holmes is still incredibly brilliant, John Watson has still served over in Afganistan, Sherlock still lives on Baker St. and he still wears that incredibly goofy hat, although in the series that is unintentional.

As far as the quality of the show itself goes, I was blown away from the first moments of "A Case in Pink". The show itself is supposed to be a BBC drama but I found pleanty of laughing moments from the character of Sherlock, and I credit a lot of that to the actors. The length of the show is also astounding compared to an American show. Here in America our weekly dramas run about 40-45 minutes with about 15 minutes of commercials. Because I watched these episodes of Sherlock online I can't tell exactly what the exact broadcast time is or how many commercials there are, but I do know that the content of the episodes is between 1 hour 27 minutes, and an even hour and a half. That's all in one sitting if you weren't following. The entire story plays out in one week, and that is a format I feel really works. Each "series", or "season" in America, is only 3 episodes long, but the length and the quality of the episodes quickly makes up for it.
I don't really want to get into a greatly indepth review of every episode or series but on a last note for this part I want to say that I love how series one and series two each ended on a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger of series one, involving Sherlock, Watson, Moriarty, and some random hidden gunmen was something that made me really want to see how the second series  began, but the end of series two is  just a cruel sick joke from the creators of the series. (Here's where the spoilers kick in).

In the last 10 or 20 minutes of the series, Sherlock is on the roof with Moriarty, who admits he has defeated Sherlock Holmes, and that unless Sherlock jumps from the roof, all of his friends will be shot and killed. Sherlock tells Moriarty that he knows he can get him to call of the gunmen and Moriarty admits he is right, and that as long as he is alive there is a failsafe, so he takes a gun out of his pocket, sticks the gun barrel in his mouth, and pulls the trigger. Sherlock, then realizing he is deafeated, gets on the ledge of the roof. Calls Watson, who is standing below and delievers his note. He admits everything Moriarty says is true, that he is a fake, that he arranged every crime he solved, that he researched John Watson before their first meeting so that he could impress him, and that the call was his note. He tells John to watch him, and not take his eyes off of him. He throws his phone behind him, flings his arms out, and then  plunges to the ground below. As he lands, Watson runs over, and is hit by a biker, hitting his head. His vision blurred het gets to the body, along with a crowd of people, and he sees his friend has died. In the next scene, he is at Sherlock's grave with their landlady. She gives him a moment alone, and he gives a heartfelt speech that would move anyone to tears. He tells Sherlock's grave that he still believes in him, and that no one can convince him he was a fake. He then asks Sherlock for one last miracle, to still be alive. As  he leaves the grave, the camera pans to reveal Sherlock watching John Watson at "his" grave.

That leaves the question, how did Sherlock fake his death? Look online. There are pleanty of theories  ranging from Sherlock landing in the truck that pulls away while Molly plants a corpse, to Sherlock sending Moriarty's corpse over the edge, to even more astounding stuff. I myself believe the truck theory is the most logical, although the writer/creator of the series has admitted that eagle eyed viewers can spot how Sherlock faked his death. I myself am working on a theory but I find it far from ready. How is that a cruel sick joke from the creators? Series 3 of "Sherlock" won't be airing on the BBC until the end of this year or the beginning of next, which seems more likely.

So how do you think Sherlock faked his suicide? Are you a fan of Sherlock? How did you discover it? Do you believe in Sherlock. Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

I believe in Sherlock.


Friday, February 24, 2012

It Gets Better

It seems to me that within the last year or so things have really changed in our world. Let's be honest: since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 we, as a nation, have had more ups and downs then we care to count. We also have had an astounding amount of technological development in the last 11 years or so. These advances are great as they have enabled us new ways to network, socialize, work, learn, play, and all of that jazz, but unfortunately, despite all the great advantages to being a connected world there's one large drawback. As human beings, especially in our formative years, theres always the person, or people, that somehow manages to get off on bullying another individual, be it at school shoving them into a locker or making fake social networking profiles. The behavior is the same, although the methods have changed significantly. With in the last year or so there's been several suicides committed by young men and women who had been "cyber-bullied"as it has been dubbed. I know this is jumping on the band wagon but believe me when I say it gets better. Eventually everyone matures and gets over themselves. 

I wish it was that simple. The existence of the WBC or the KKK should be proof enough that some bullies never get over it. I want to talk to all of you recipients of bullying for a moment though. Trust me when I say i know how it feels to be bullied.. I think for the first time in my life I want to speak out on the subject. 

In school, at least from first grade onward, I had to deal with the cold hard truth, not everyone in the world is not nice. I moved to my current now from a another, slightly smaller town a bit north of here, just after kindergarten. That was the one time I was truly happy: kindergarten. We had a class of twenty some kids and there was one bad seed in that group, and even he was just merely mischievous and not hateful. On the last day of kindergarten my family was swept down here and that's when the rose colored glasses came off. I'll never forget my first day of school: I walked in, found the desk with my name on it and sat down. There was a kid in the desk next to me who attempted to explain to me that I couldn't sit there because he didn't like me. In second grade I needed to get glasses as I wasn't blessed with great vision and that just opened a whole new can of worms. If I had a nickel for every time I was called "four eyes" I could retire now at age 19. 

Third grade brought on my next joyous encounter in the form of a bully who would torment me for years to come with the classic exploits of stabbing me in the arm with a pen and hitting me in the head with a book.. There were others kids, the ones who thought they ruled, who even went as far as telling the vice principals I had made various threats in middle school to try and get me detentions I didn't deserve.  The saying goes "high school are the best four years of your life". Please understand that isn't true.. Before I get to that though, I'd like to share a story from middle school about the time I got stoned, and I ain't referring to smoking pot. It was a recess after lunch in a big open courtyard with a pond and a dirt area. On this day in particular there was a short staff of teachers so a group of kids thought it would be funny to corner me at a wire fence and hurl stones at me. I realize that they were damn near pebbles and did little to no damage but it's the principal, and what it signifies. 

So on to high school. I think freshmen year was pretty much the only year I didn't want to put a bullet in my brain at some point.  Sophomore year became something else. I made friends with a former bully of mine, I got myself a girlfriend, life was going good. If you know me, you know what happens next. If you don't, I see no reason to bring the whole story up in a public forum, at least in respect to the ex girlfriend, as we are able to be peaceful with each other if we ever see each other in public, or talk in any capacity. As for the friend, once a bully always a bully. Case closed. Junior year was just as awful as the dust hadn't cleared from the year prior and then senior year I learned what trust really is. I learned not to take sympathy on someone as there are people sick and twisted enough in this world to fake being in need to take advantage of the generous. The only highlight of that year was that I was able to get myself a second girlfriend who's managed to stay with me for the last year. In a moment I'll explain why that's a shock, though first I want to say I know what it's like to be cyber bullied. There's a profile on MySpace of me that I had no part in the creation of. It's about me and it's hurtful. To this day when I see the page to show someone I ball my eyes out in tears from the memories that seeing it brings back. Don't be afraid to be who you are. 

The reason I'm in shock that my better half has stuck around the last year though is because bullying has an affect on people. If you are a bully, short term it seems great: torment the kid who vomits at the sight of mayonnaise to get a quick laugh. What most bully's don't realize is that the victims are forever effected. Things like trust are non existent. It's those exact reasons that I chose to speak out tonight on bullying. My paranoia kicked in and I just wanted to reach out because I know that theres others out there going through a lot worse than I am.  What I'm trying to say is this: if you are being bullied and are depressed or suicidal, reach out and get help. As a friend once put it "if you kill yourself, they win". Don't give them the satisfaction. Likewise, if you are a bully, back off. You aren't damaging your victim for a day or a week, your hurting them for life. With time, eventually, even these wounds heal. Don't give up hope though. I'll open the comments to discussion but if it turns hurtful I will need it. If anyone needs to reach out I'm opening an email address to this: send any messages or questions to me through my profile. You can find that at and I'll try to respond through that. With my next post this blog will return to my normal format but this needed to be said. 

It gets better.