Updates

Time for some updates on some prior posts.

iPhone

A year ago, I noted I was nursing my old iPhone 3GS along, trying to maintain phone functionality while waiting for the new model to come out, and then finally had to bite the bullet, and get a replacement for the phone, because the the phone part of it refused to work. I’d decided to get the replacement, rather than buying a new one, because I would not be on contract when the new model came out.

As it turns out, I did get the 4S when it came out, (the first day in fact) and have greatly enjoyed it. I love the sharpness of the screen. Aside from the fact that the lens is a fixed focal length, the camera is amazingly good, both for stills and video.

I haven’t used Siri very much–it’s not nearly as omniscient as the ads assert. It doesn’t seem to understand what I’m saying very well, and when it does, it usually recommends a web search. Duh. I’ll re-evaluate it once iOS 6 comes out. I’ve also found that the alert sound for reminders isn’t prominent enough to grab my attention–either that, or it geofencing doesn’t work well.

As for the replacement 3GS, I’ve handed it down to my mother, after a minor tussle with AT&T.  I figured I could supply the phone, and transfer her old number to it. The person at the counter insisted the only way I could keep the number was by getting another free 3GS  from them (and being on the hook for another contract). I had no use for an extra iPhone floating around, so I said no thanks, got her a new phone number, and converted my plan to a a family plan.

Canon G12

The Canon G12 I picked up for Bonaire has worked out well, overall. It was fine during the trip, and I’ve shot a bunch of things on local dives with it too. Because I have the housing for it, it’s also been my kayaking camera too. When kayaking, I’m more concerned about drips on the camera, or being in a wet boat, than being submerged, so I don’t bother with the meticulous o-ring prep I do before I take it diving.

It’s mostly worked out well for kayaking; I’ve noticed some of the pictures are a little soft; I don’t know if that’s because it’s in the housing, or due to focusing errors. I suspect the latter, because it’s not consistent.

More annoying, both diving and kayaking, is its tendency to put itself to sleep after a while. Both activities share have longish periods where there’s nothing to shoot, and then suddenly there is something right there, that you need to shoot now, and often, the camera has shut itself down and takes several seconds to revive. On the last day in Bonaire, I set it to not shut down, which solved the problem during the boat dives, but it’s easy to forget to shut it down, and in consequence, it was out of power for the last dive of the trip. I guess what it needs is a better instant on feature.

DreamHost

In my very first post, I said that

I have to say, picking a hosting company has felt like shopping for a car. If you do a search, you’ll find lots of recommendations, but if you bother reading them, it becomes very obvious that a lot of them are bought and paid for. Also, it seems like most accounts you read are either horror stories or “I just love my hosting company”. What I was looking for was “I picked this company, this is what has been good, this is what I didn’t like, but overall, this is what I think.” Perhaps after some time, I’ll be able to write one here. Right now, I’m on the DreamHost two week trial.

So far, I’ve been satisfied with DreamHost. The site doesn’t get much traffic, so I can’t tell whether it can handle a load, but there’s only been one time that I wanted to access it and I couldn’t, and that was around midnight one night when I was working on a post, and I took it as a sign that it was time to get to bed. Billing has been straightforward, and the tools are easy to use. I ended up getting a fixed IP address and secure certificate, more because I wanted to do some direct SQL work on the site than any other reason. They have had a lot of downtime this year, but not all of it has affected me. They did have a security breach in January, but it appears there have been no repercussions from it, since they reset all the passwords.

Comments

It would appear that most of my posts have no comments, and that is only partly true. Some of them have managed to draw a ton of spam, but it hasn’t shown up because I have the site set to be fully moderated. A comment has to be approved by me before it appears, and there have been very few that I approve. Essentially, it boils down to two factors: either I have to know you already, or the content of the comment has to have direct bearing on the post content. If not, it goes in the spam bucket.

Some comment spam is blatant: they talk about booking trips or burning fat, or various meds. Others are more subtle: generally complementary, but written in such general fashion that they can be plopped onto any site: “Well I truly liked reading it. This subject provided by you is very constructive for accurate planning.”  (This was from the Apple v Samsung post, which has no advice for planning). Typically, they sound nice, but the point of the comment is to plant their URL on my site. And while it may be unfair to someone who really is commenting on a post, if there’s no direct relationship to the post, I’ll mark it as spam.

Lion and Mountain Lion

I’ve already upgraded my Mac to Mountain Lion. My main hesitancy about Lion was losing my PowerPC software, and I have to say, the computer is still a less interesting place without Freeverse’s 3D Pitch. I like games I can dip into for short periods of time, and don’t require a long time investment. I loved Pitch because you could play a game in about 3 minutes and be done. I’ve found a decent Hearts replacement, and there’s a good Solitaire game on the iPad, but I miss 3D Pitch.

I also still dislike the smaller “traffic light” buttons on the windows, and the Lion/Mountain Lion login screen. Anytime I run Snow Leopard, seeing the old login screen and larger buttons is like seeing an old friend again.

Mountain Lion doesn’t feel greatly different from Lion…I like Notification Center, and AirPlay mirroring. I’m on the fence on gestures. The ones in Safari seem to work well, but in Aperture, I keep moving between pictures when I just want to scroll through adjustment settings.

Herons

I mentioned in my post about the Nahanton Park Shuttled Kayak trip that I’ve been trying to  get a picture of a Great Blue Heron at Newton all season. I finally got one this Saturday:

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron near the Mass Pike overpass, not far from the Newton boathouse,

Also, I was carefully non-specific in the Nahanton Park post about the kind of herons I’d seen there, since I wasn’t sure if they were Great Blue Herons or Green Herons– some of them looked greenish. Well, I went kayaking with my birder sister Saturday, and she pointed out a green heron to me, and they’re much smaller. All the ones I saw last week were Great Blues.

Not so Wascally Wabbits

It appears that I may have libeled the rabbits this May, when I complained about the Wascally Wabbits that were decimating the garden. The rabbits are still around, but whatever it was that ate half the garden isn’t, and most of the plants have made an amazing comeback, aside from the lupine. The zinnias and morning glories had both been eaten back to stems, and several of each have come back, which really surprised me since the plants were very young when they were eaten, and I figured they wouldn’t have the strength to regrow. But regrow they did:

Morning Glory flower
Morning glory flower, shot this morning.

The consensus seems to be that it was actually a woodchuck that did the damage; hopefully it’s gone for good.

WordPress

Overall, I’m happy with WordPress as a platform. It’s easy to use, and I’ve been able to either find plugins or fix myself most of the things I’ve wanted to do. I do still have some minor irritations–I’d rather use the em tag rather than the i tag most of the time, and I’m not happy with the way header images are assigned. If I assign a featured image to a post, I have to make the whole site use that masthead image while the post is the first post on the home page. I also feel the header images should have alt text, even though they are decorative, since most of mine are recognizable, I can provide words that describe the picture, or could, if WordPress would actually use the alt text I provide.

The em vs i tag, I can live with, since I can edit the HTML directly. The header image is going to be more involved, but I do have a general idea of what needs to be done. As always, it’s just a matter of finding the time.

Correction:

It turns out I’m not very observant. I just checked, and found that even though the buttons are labelled “i” and “b”; they actually do generate em and strong tags. Yay!