Posted on 09/28/2013

Photo taken on September 27, 2013


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Phone Bliss

Phone Bliss
The iPhone 4S has so far been a treat. You’d think it wouldn’t be that big of a difference. Like it has to all be hype, right? And, after all, with everything else happening on Planet Earth, this IS Just A Phone. Isn't it all just perfectly designed packaging and product design where someone definitely understood the principle of knowing when to stop? I’ve been doing Apple devices for thirty years or so. But I was still delighted by what the phone offered over my Samsung droid smart phone (which was actually quite a dumb phone about as capable as the huge robot in the old Lost in Space series whose claim to fame remains Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!). Before that I used a Blackberry provided by the workplace. How many times could that thing have been flung across the room and smashed into its miserably incapable solid state parts?

I plead not guilty to boring others because I figure in this context people can Just Not Read. The phone at first did represent a bit of a learning curve in terms of setting it up until I realized that I was holding a tiny version of my desktop computer or a miniature iPad. Then it all became more clear.

First, there are a ton of hearing impairment features that ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING USEFUL. I can mostly hear my phone now. As soon as I turned it on practically (it Just Happened), my music on my iPod was on my phone and I played Oh Tannenbaum from the Charley Brown CD which has a wonderful piano jazz segment). I could hear the music directly from the phone and also through my hearing aid device which paired without skipping a beat. There is a setting which makes sounds clearer for people wearing certain hearing aids. I interpreted this as a kind of auditory version of contrast management. I figure since I have top of the line Phonak aids, albeit old, I’m “in”. I also have significant vision challenges. There again, I was amazed by how many (who could even understand them all?) visual aids there are. None of this, or a ton of other USEFUL features had to be downloaded from another location. It was all there out of the box.

Controlling the phone with speaking? I figured that would be a complete lost cause. Barely worth trying. But at one point I could not figure out how to make the Charley Brown CD stop playing (it is too early to listen to Christmas songs, don’t you agree?), so I was desparate and asked Siri to turn it off. She did without me having to say it twice (which is more than I can ever say about Chloe). I was able to enter text messages by speaking. You’d have to hear me talk at this point in my life to really appreciate the significance of this. I have a friend in Boise, ID who transcribes medical records and has been doing various things to certify herself and obtain higher and more diverse skills. She recently trained for speech recog and, admittedly, the records are complex which the physicians are speaking (for example, surgeries are being verbally documented), but she reported the system does not have an easy time of it. And yet here I am with somewhat garbled speech inputting text messages with hardly a blip. I spent zero time “training” the “computer” to understand my speech.

The camera is a delight because, as they say, the best camera is the one you happen to have with you and aside from a bit of noise, it takes pictures competitive with anything I was using, say, ten or more years ago. This image was taken after dark while walking Chloe. There are like eleven nail shops in West Seattle just along California Ave alone. ? There are several versions of this picture, some with mostly just these two windows. I further cropped one of them. I like how you can even make out the colors of the nail polish through the pink glass in the background. It isn’t bad given the setting: night, neon light, no adjustments made upon taking, a wild little dog on a leash with the leash on the parking lot pavement under my shoe continuously being tugged, me having had an alarming experience heading to the clinic at one of the bus stops on the way so now wanting to have eyes in the back of my head to see if anyone is coming up from behind me from the street or sidewalk in back of me, etc.). Took photos mostly in poor lighting yesterday which is a complaint often made but unless you’re managing light in a studio setting, hey, that’s life. Photos taken on the phone can be adjusted via a beautiful and simple and eerily comprehensive app called Snapseed. And the pictures you take on the phone while out are magically on your desktop computer when you get home. You don’t do a thing to make this happen except flip the digital switch.

The battery life on this phone is also noticeably longer no matter how much I do with it. There is even a flashlight on it: you can touch a little flashlight icon and the camera flash at the back top turns out a steady no-kidding light. This may be new with iOS7, I don’t know. Anyhow, I had the light on, the music playing, taking pictures, accessing the internet, and the battery barely shrugged. But as I examine the issue of a case for it, it becomes complicated. Around my neck seems best, but the stomach tube insertion device gets in the way and that just doesn’t work. But maybe I can find something that will allow adjust so that it isn’t too low. But if it is too high, it won’t be easily useable and stay around my neck. I don’t want waterproof I don’t think. The camera is designed so that you can set it up to allow good grip holding with the left hand (since I’m right handed) and use the right hand to do whatever. The screen is already super tough and has a what I think is called some sort of oleo resistive coating. Putting a shield over that seems unnecessary at my age. If you are younger, you have more going on and you are moving a lot faster.

Anyhow, the phone feels like a jumpstart to the holiday season and it also feels liberating. Someone at the clinic had an iPhone 5 (very expensive) and they are very large and impressive looking. But I like the handy dandy size of this one. The image is “retinal” so it very clear even though the screen is smaller than my prior phone.

All in all a nice relatively free process improvement to my daily life. Am grateful to ERJ for pointing out that this phone would be available free once the new line was released.

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