10 Days With iOS 7

I'm sure you've all read review-after-review of Apple's latest iteration of its mobile operating system - iOS 7, and many of you will have already played around with it extensively.

Given these two points, this is not a review, nor an detailed overview. These are simply my initial thoughts of iOS 7 on an iPhone 5 in no particular order.

  • The refreshed Lock Screen is impressive. I'm currently using it with one of my old 'Desktop Friday' wallpapers which I've had as the background on my Mac for the past 5+ years.

  • Speaking of the Lock Screen, it took me a couple of days to realise you can slide to unlock anywhere on the screen, not just on the pulsing text. This seems a little strange to me.

  • Newsstand still can't be deleted, however it can finally be hidden in a folder.

  • Notification Centre's Today view is outstanding. I can't wait to see what third-party developers bring to this screen in future releases. Another tidbit I picked up on is the fact you can navigate between the Today, All, and Missed tabs by swiping diagonally rather than tap on the icons.

  • I love the new auto-update feature on the App Store. I was particularly happy to see an option to only perform these updates when connected to a Wi-Fi network to save 3G (or LTE) data.

  • I use my iPhone at two different brightness levels - maximum and minimum. I switch to the lowest brightness setting in just two circumstances. When I'm getting into bed at night, and when I'm running low on battery. No longer do I have to waste time delving levels deep into the Settings app to make this adjustment.

  • I love having quick access to the flashlight in Control Centre. This has allowed me to delete my prior go to flashlight app 'Light' and stop spending 99c over and over on each new flashlight app that hits the App Store.

  • I wish the iPhone was aware of your location and would automatically switch off things such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth depending on whether you're on-the-go, at work, or at home.

  • The fade-in/fade-out animation when locking/unlocking the phone feels awfully slow. It looks great, however I feel this animation needs to be cut in half (or sped up to 200%). In some instances it almost makes a modern iPhone 5 feel sluggish.

Interview: Shawn Blanc

According to Wikipedia, April 4, 2011 was an eventful day. Some may remember it for the record number of American storm reports in a 24-hour period, others may remember the day for the 6.7 magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of Java in Indonesia. I remember April 4, 2011 differently - the day Shawn Blanc started writing full-time.

Shawn Blanc is a writer that I've grown to have immense respect for. In quitting his job and becoming a full-time, self-employed writer he's displayed courage in doing something that many will dream about doing. Becoming their own boss, creating their own path.

I've watched Shawn's writing improve tremendously since he started publishing his weblog on June 28, 2007. He's now among some top names including John Gruber, Marco Arment, Benjamin Brooks, and Jason Kottke who I instantly click through to when a new article appears in Reeder.

Shawn took some time over the past few weeks between writing for his weblog, producing his daily members-only podcast 'Shawn Today', and looking after his son Noah to answer some questions covering all aspects of his freelance lifestyle.

Glenn Wolsey: At what point did you believe you could take your writing full time?

Shawn Blanc: There wasn't so much a moment or a metric where I looked at my website and said, "now is the time". Rather, it started as an internal dialog about if writing for shawnblanc.net was something I truly wanted to do as my full-time gig.

When I decided that yes, I did want to write full time, I brought it up with my wife, Anna, one evening. She was extremely encouraging and supportive of it. So I then went to work on projecting some numbers and spitballing ideas to see if it would actually be possible and how I'd go about making enough money to keep on writing.

At the time, my website was already earning a little bit of advertising revenue. It was great for the part-time endeavour that it was, but the income was nowhere near what I'd need for a full-time gig. But my gut told me that if I could put the time in, I'd be able to turn it into a sustainable, respectable job.

I figured if I could spend 6 months as a full-time writer on the site, giving my best hours of the day to my writing, then the site would raise to the level of energy I was putting into it.

And so, with the support of my wife, and the hunch that my leap into full-time writing could pan out, I decided to go for it.

Glenn: Was there a decisive factor involved in the decision to quit your day-job and start publishing your weblog full time?

Shawn: A big factor had to do with my wife and I wanting to have children. It was important to me that I be home and around my kids as much as possible. Also, I want to be a father who leads by example. If I want my kids to feel empowered to take risks and pursue their dreams, then I figured I'd better be willing to do the same. So that's a big factor for what prompted me to.

Glenn: I'd imagine you would have been anxious taking a seat in your home office that first morning. What have been the biggest challenges you've faced over the course of the previous two and a half years?

Shawn: Oh man, I was extremely anxious.

My first "official" day of writing the site full time was on the tail end of a month-long membership drive, but I'd still been working full-time with my old job up until that point. There was all this anticipation and excitement leading up to the day I would be quitting my job and writing full time. And so here it was, my first day at the keyboard, and I was there just staring at the blank page.

Since then, my biggest challenges have been staying focused on the big picture. It's extremely easy to get caught up in the little, seemingly urgent matters, and then lose momentum on the bigger projects.

Glenn: Some would view your work situation as almost perfect. No boss to answer to, no mandatory wake up call, and no long commute.

Shawn: Yes, I love my job. There are a lot of wonderful perks that come with the territory of working for yourself. For one, I can work from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection of some sort. Of course, the downside is that I can work from anywhere - going home for the holidays means I usually take work with me.

Working for myself is incredibly fun, but it's also quite challenging. For one, I can be a horrible boss to myself. I'm demanding, overbearing, and unforgiving. I also miss the community aspect of working with a group and leading a team. I thrive on community and group discussions and brainstorming and teamwork, etc. I've been sure to set some things in place so that I have as much community as possible - I meet with some peers every week for lunch, I work from my local coffee shop once or twice a week, I connect with folks on Twitter and app.net, and I have a small group of trusted advisors whom I send my biggest ideas and projects to -- but it's not a complete replacement for working with friends in the same office space day in and day out, and pulling long weekends together and spitballing ideas over coffee every morning.

Glenn: Your wife Anna recently gave birth to your first child - Noah. How has he positively impacted your working routine?

Shawn: Well, Noah's impact on my work life has been a mixed bag. It's been challenging because Anna and I share responsibilities, and so just about every day I'm in charge of Noah for at least 3-4 hours, and that's usually in the mornings. Also, with a one-year-old upstairs, working from home can be quite far from a "distraction free" work environment. And so there are some days where I never quite get in a "groove" and knock out tons of awesome work.

On the other side of the coin, however, is that I've learned to work when I can. I value the ability to get little things done here and there and know that I'm making progress towards a bigger goal. I consider it a great asset to be able to not underestimate even the small amount of work I can do in a short amount of time.

Glenn: What's your biggest source of inspiration to continue publishing content on a regular and consistent basis?

Shawn: The relationship with my readers. By far and away the most engaging and inspiring thing behind the work I do day in and day out is getting feedback from the people who read the site. Whether that be as simple as a quick shout out on Twitter saying thanks for a link or an article that I posted, to someone writing me a long email explaining why they disagree with something I said.

That feedback is so helpful, because, I mean, I write these words so they'll be read. And it's great to hear back from people who did read them.

Glenn: Tell me about some of your favourite things to read to keep this inspiration flowing?

Shawn: I get a lot of inspiration from The Great Discontent and I read pretty much everything Seth Godin writes. I also check in on Minimal Mac, The Brooks Review, Kottke.org, Daring Fireball, and Marco.org just about every day.

Right now I'm reading this book from 99u called, Manage Your Day-to-Day. And I enjoy the Offscreen magazines which come out about once a quarter.

Glenn: Shawn, I can't conduct an interview with you without delving into the geekier side of things. What setup are you working with right now, and how does it work for you?

Shawn: My one and only computer is a 13-inch MacBook Air, circa summer 2011. It's the specced out model: 1.8 GHz Core i7, 4GB memory, 256 SSD, Mountain Lion.

Since my iPad has become my "laptop", these days I mostly use the MacBook Air in clamshell mode. I've got it hooked up to a 27-inch Korean grey market IPS display I bought off eBay; I type on a Filco Ninja Mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches; and I use an Apple Magic Trackpad.

Speaking of the iPad, I have the 3rd-generation (Retina, 30-pin) with Verizon LTE. I often leave the house without my laptop and just my iPad and bluetooth keyboard. It's a great combo and I can do pretty much all my day's work of reading, writing, and posting.

For audio, I've got a pair of Audyssey speakers which I love (they look great and sound fantastic). And then a Blue Yeti USB mic for recording my daily podcast, Shawn Today.

Glenn: I know you've always been a great fan of the old-style Apple Cinema Display - especially the 23-inch variant. What made you decide on the Korean grey market 27-inch display over say, the more aesthetically pleasing Apple Thunderbolt Display?

Shawn: Ironically, it's my affinity for the nice Apple hardware that led me to get the grey market Korean IPS display.

You see, about a year ago, my aluminium 23-inch ACD went on the fritz and stopped working regularly. It needed to be replaced and my gut told me that new Thunderbolt Displays were probably just around the corner and so I decided I'd wait for the new ones before buying.

But I knew it would probably be a few months at least. Since I work at my desk for hours a day, I didn't want to just wait it out and work from my 13-inch Air's display only during that time.

So I had heard about these displays from Jeff Atwood's site, and I figured that spending a few hundred dollars on a high quality IPS display that didn't come in a pretty hardware casing was a great stop gap.

Well, it's now been over a year now and the cheap IPS display is still kicking and Apple's Thunderbolt displays still haven't been updated.

Glenn: I know you're a great advocate of Byword, what other apps are involved in your writing and publishing workflow?

Shawn: All my notes, ideas, and rough-drafts of links and articles usually start out in Simplenote / nvALT. I love having these documents synced between my Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

I do almost all long-form writing in Byword on my Mac. Or, if writing long-form on my iPad I use Writing Kit. From my Mac, all links get posted using MarsEdit. From my iPad or iPhone, all links get posted using an app called Poster which, alas, is now no longer available because it was bought by the guys at WordPress.

Glenn: You've developed a particular writing style on a wide range of topics. What do you most enjoy writing about, i.e. reviews, interviews etc?

Shawn: The long-form reviews are the hardest to write but they are also the most rewarding. In that regard, looking back at all the things I've written for the site over the years, I suppose the reviews are my favourite. But I don't know that I enjoy them more than other pieces. Really, there's no one particular type of article or post or link that I enjoy writing more than another beyond when I'm writing about whatever I'm most energised and excited about.

When my head is down and I'm in the zone working on a project or article, then that is when the joy of writing comes out the most. Some days I get to experience that, and some days it feels like trudging through the mud.

Glenn: When inspiration strikes and you're out and about, what's your go to tool to capture that idea/thought/paragraph?

Shawn: My iPhone. Most quick capturing is done with Scratch because it opens in about one second to a blank text field ready to go. And then I'll leave it there for the moment or else send it to Simplenote where it then is synced to my iPad and Mac.

Glenn: Obviously a number of apps on your iOS devices are work related. In one of the rare times you're using your the iPhone/iPad for pleasure rather than work, what are your favourite go-to apps?

Shawn: I don't play any games on my iPhone, which means there's a lot of crossover between my personal "fun" apps and my "work" apps. Instapaper, Twitter, Riposte (for App.net), and Instagram are all, in a way, work-relevant apps. But also they are the ones I go to when I have down time.

I guess Rdio is the most entertainment-centric app on my iPhone that doesn't have a direct connection to my day-to-day work. (Though I do now listen to music quite often when I'm writing.)

Truth be told, however, over the past year or so I've been intentional about leaving my phone in my pocket as often as possible. If I have down time at the auto shop or the barber, I like to just sit there and let my mind think and wonder and be bored for a while. I even wear a wrist watch in part just so I have one less excuse to pull out my iPhone.

Glenn: Along with writing your weblog, you've been heavily involved in podcasting. First through the B&B Podcast with Benjamin Brooks, and also through a number of guest appearances. Are there any other projects you'd like to pursue in the future. Say for example, and eBook?

Shawn: Absolutely. Two big ones in fact. One of which is an Audio / eBook that I'm working on right now and will be for people who build and design things.

A Little More About Shawn Blanc

Shawn resides in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Anna and son Noah.

Shawn started publishing in June, 2007, before focusing his efforts on the weblog full time in April, 2011. Since its inception, he's published over 520 full-length articles to his weblog, along with recording and publishing over 400 episodes of his (almost) daily podcast, Shawn Today.

His writing style has evolved over the years, while remaining witty, fun, personal and educative with his content. Some of my all-time favourite pieces of Shawn's writing include his mammoth MarsEdit and NetNewsWire reviews, his rare interview with the extremely talented John Gruber, and more recently, his thoughts on user interaction on Flickr and Instagram.

Shawn's income is garnered by the way of three main streams. By advertising networks Fusion & The Syndicate, and by the support of Members. His site can be joined for just $4 per month.

Shawn can also be found on Twitter, or App.net.

Arq

I've had a few emails asking me to explain in a little more depth how I'm using Arq to backup a portion of my files to Amazon Glacier, as explained briefly in The Backup Strategy.

The files I've got backed up to Amazon are in my opinion, the most safe, secure, and important files in my entire backup system. Should a major disaster strike my machine, my house, my city, or even my country - these files will remain safe. Stored remotely on Amazon's servers in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility.

This gives me peace of mind knowing that any kind of theft, fire, or natural disaster could strike and my most important and precious data would be available for download to a new machine.

Amazon S3 vs Amazon Glacier

Amazon S3 was launched on March 14, 2006. Almost 6 years later, on August 21, 2012 - Amazon Glacier launched. This gave customers an option for their backup storage, depending on case-by-case usage and access needs of the individual. Both services redundantly store data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility.

In a nutshell - S3 is excellent for data which is accessed frequently. Glacier is a more long term, hands off solution. Naturally, Glacier is the cheaper option of the two, storage speaking.

Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability of objects over a given year. According to Amazon, S3's design aims to provide scalability, high availability, and low latency at commodity costs. S3 offers 99.999999999% durability of your data. It's designed to withstand the concurrent loss of 2 data centres without losing your data.

Amazon Glacier is an extremely extremely low-cost, pay-as-you-go storage service that can cost as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month. It offers the same 99.999999999% durability. In order to keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimised for data that is infrequently accessed. Initiating retrieval from Glacier typically takes 3-5 hours, and Amazon charges for retrieving large amounts of data from Glacier.

How Arq Works

Arq is a fantastic menu-bar application made by Haystack Software which acts as a window to your Amazon S3 / Glacier account and provides an easy-to-use interface to manage folders and files that you want to backup to the cloud.

Arq essentially interlinks with your own Amazon Web Services storage account. You're able to encrypt your backups with a password, if you're that way inclined. Encryption is performed locally on your machine rather than using Amazon's server-side encryption.

Arq stores backups in an open, documented format. Haystack Software provide an open-source command-line utility called arq_restore that's hosted at GitHub. This gives me peace of mind knowing that if Haystack Software stopped developing Arq, I'd still have access to my data.

If you're replacing your machine with something new, you simply install Arq on the new Mac and you can adopt an 'old' backup set. This means when upgrading your machine, you don't have to go through the initial backup process again. Arq will continue to backup your files periodically at your set time interval like it was backing up the old machine.

There's nothing to think about. The only preferences you're left to play with is the ability to set a schedule for backing up, hourly, daily at a pre-defined time, or manually. You're also able to set a storage budget for S3 storage, pre-defining a maximum amount you're wanting to spend monthly. Arq will automatically purge old backups (think Time Machine) to keep you within this set budget.

Once Arq is setup, you can completely forget it's there. It'll periodically do its thing in the background (you can even disable the menubar icon for complete transparency).

How I Use Arq

Arq is essentially an easy interface to my Amazon Web Services account. With an interface designed with the sole task of backing up, it provides an interface much cleaner and streamlined than accessing the same account through an FTP application like Panic's Transmit.

At this stage, I don't backup all of my local files to Amazon Glacier. This is due to the current DSL connection I'm working with at home. This will change late-2014 once my street is connected to the new fibre network. Then - I'll be backing up 100% of my local files to Amazon for redundancy.

Currently, Arq is set to kick in every hour and backup these files.

  • Dropbox Directory
  • Aperture Library
  • iPhoto Library (Masters)
  • Documents Folder

Arq is smart and works out for itself when drives are connected/unplugged. For example, the Aperture library listed above is stored on my WD Passport drive which is only plugged in from time to time. If Arq picks up that the drive is connected, the backup is updated. If it's unplugged, Arq will simply skip over this portion of the backup without annoying me with any notifications.

The data stored on Amazon's servers is my absolutely worst case backup. I'd only need to spend the time, and few dollars to access the data if my MacBook Pro was stolen or destroyed, along with my local Time Machine backup, and my two external off-site drives.

Arq can be purchased directly from Haystack Software for $39.99. This includes a license to run Arq on one machine, if you're wanting to use it across two machines (desktop + laptop), there's a 2-license discount which can be purchased for $69.99.

The Backup Strategy

As a self-proclaimed geek, I enjoy talking about storage. I love to see what other professionals in different fields do when it comes to their data storage and backup. I thoroughly enjoy mulling over data, backup, and storage solutions.

In the past year-or-two, as I've taken on more responsibility in my life I've often gone months without a second thought to updating, let along checking the integrity of a local data backup. At times, I've completely ignored the need altogether for an all important off-site copy of my data.

I've always been aware of the importance in backing up frequently and the techniques involved in putting a bulletproof system in place. However, laziness took over up until I found myself at a point when I knew my data wasn't secure and should something go wrong - I'd be starting from scratch.

The system I ended up following for the majority of the past few years was risky to say the least. I'd plug in an external drive as often as I could remember and let Time Machine do its thing. I also had a drive with a copy of my iTunes & Aperture libraries at my parents house however this backup was lucky to get updated at a bare minimum of once every 12 months.

The system needed a drastic change in order to prevent a data-loss catastrophe.

What I'm Storing & Backing Up

By no means am I at the higher end of the scale when it comes to data storage requirements. I've got roughly 600GB of 'live' data on my main external WD Passport drive, consisting of a 150GB Aperture library, and almost 500GB of video content.

It's often been said - the only backup solution you can rely on is one that's completely automated. Having a system in place which requires no human interaction is the only way to ensure you're running a bulletproof system - I settled on my current system 6 months ago.

After a thorough review and regular tinkering, I settled on backing up my data using a three step process. Locally, via Time Machine. Remotely, using two 1TB external drives in rotation. To the cloud, backing up with Arq to Amazon Glacier.

The Local Backup

Ever since the 4-drive Drobo was released, I was very eager to pick up a unit for myself to store my ever-fast growing Aperture / Movie libraries on.

I never ended up purchasing a Drobo, as before long, the need for one was eliminated due to large 2TB, 3TB and even 4TB internal hard-drives hitting the market. These large drives eliminated the need for slow, cumbersome, and expensive external storage. The rate I was collecting data wasn't nearly as fast as the rate the drives were increasing in size.

My local backup reverts to my original habit which involves plugging in a Seagate FreeAgent USB powered drive from time-to-time and letting Time Machine kick in automatically.

I've managed to get in a habit of plugging it in at least once a week which is mainly due to the fact it sits in the top of my bag and follows me everywhere I go. If this was my sole backup, I'd be setting myself up for failure. It's the backup regime I explain below which completes the full picture.

The Offsite Backup

I've got two 1TB drives I use in rotation for my offsite backup which take turns heading an hour and a half down the country to my parents house.

I'm very - very lazy in keeping these rotation on a regular basis, however these backups are my in absolute worst case disasters should both the local copy, local backup, and cloud backup all fail. Impossible? Almost - but never-say-never. An offsite backup is a very important piece to any 'bulletproof' backup strategy.

The only items I factor into my offsite backup is my iTunes Library, and Aperture/iPhone catalogues. Backing up iTunes remotely has become less important after the introduction of iTunes Match. I'm still keeping my iTunes Library backup off-site as collecting the drive and transferring 100GB of data, is much quicker and less expensive than downloading it.

Both of these drives are backed up using SuperDuper! I take advantage of the Smart Update feature in SuperDuper, meaning only files that have changed since the last backup are updated. This keeps the time involved at a bare minimum, while providing me with a mirror image of the internal drive.

The Cloud Backup

The speed of broadband in New Zealand is nothing to write home about. The time it's taking for a complete rollout of fibre gives me even less to write home about.

Presently, at best - my broadband connection runs at roughly 8 MBPS down, and 1 MBPS up. The rollout of fibre for my region is set down for late-2014 which theoretically has promised speeds (depending on provider and plan) of up to 100 MBPS.

In saying that, the stability and speed of DSL has improved to a point where backing up to a cloud based service is do-able, provided you've got enough patience for the initial upload to take place.

The system I've put in place for backing up to the cloud is primarily made up of an Amazon Glacier backup. However, there's also a number of other services and applications which store their data remotely in the cloud for easy access. This is a huge positive for extra data redundancy.

Amazon Glacier

Having previously becoming frustrated with the user-interface of Backblaze, I read an insightful review of Haystack Software's Arq by Shawn Blanc, an menu-bar based application used for automating backup to Amazon's servers.

Amazon offers, and I quote 'average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive'. It's designed to withstand the concurrent loss of 2 data centres without any effect to your data.

Glacier storage pricing is $0.01 per GB / per month with no charge for any data uploaded. Pricing for S3 is $.14/GB per month (or $.093/GB per month for Reduced Redundancy Storage). In more simple terms, Glacier/S3 storage is dirt cheap. The most recent Amazon bill I received was for just $7.98.

I've altered Arq's settings to automatically kick in every hour and backup my entire home folder in OS X. Arq also backs up my Aperture library (kept on my external storage drive) each time this drive is plugged into my MacBook Pro.

This is my absolutely worst case backup location. I'd only need to spend the time, and few dollars to access the data if my MacBook Pro was stolen or destroyed, along with my local Time Machine backup, and my two external off-site drives. Theoretically, this backup would remain untouched under any data loss circumstance, bar a natural disaster hitting two cities over 100KMs apart.

Dropbox

Dropbox is the backbone of my file system, this is where I store all of my active and archived documents, PDF files, work files, drafts, etc.

While I love the ability to pick up my files online no matter which machine I might be working on at any time, I don't find this is a feature I put to use as frequently as I could. The number one reason I'm so in love with Dropbox is the peace of mind knowing my files stored are continuously backed up and accessible via the cloud.

Dropbox is the most indestructible aspect of my day-to-day file storage. Anything stored in my Dropbox folder is stored locally on my machine, remotely on their servers, on my local Time Machine backup, and the folder is also included in my hourly Arq backup to Amazon Glacier.

iTunes Match

iTunes Match isn't something I've necessarily incorporated into my back-up workflow on purpose, but I love the redundancy it offers. All 10,994 items in my iTunes Library are matched and uploaded to Apple's servers with iTunes Match.

While these are also stored locally on my Time Machine drive, and off-site on one of the two 1TB drives I have in rotation. An absolute worst case scenario would still allow me to re-download my entire library directly through iTunes on any machine.

iCloud

By far my favourite feature of iCloud is the automatic backing up of my iPhone each time it's plugged into a power source. Additionally, a number of my frequently used applications (including Byword and iA Writer) store and sync data using Apple's iCloud service. This adds another level of redundancy to my working files.

Restoring

If something was to happen to my MacBook Pro, I could simply head down to the Apple Store, pick up a new machine and have it up and running mirroring the file-system of the stolen/lost/destroyed machine within a couple of hours.

  • Launch the Mac App Store and re-download all purchases.
  • Install Dropbox and sync files.
  • Login to iTunes Match and start the download process of my music library
  • For my Aperture and iPhone libraries, I'd have the option of connecting my Time Machine drive, or pulling down my photo collection from Amazon Glacier depending on if I was at home, or out and about travelling.

The most important factor in backing up is making sure at least one copy of your data is backed automatically without you having to think about it, or lifting a finger to make it happen.

For me, this 'fingerless and thoughtless' backup is Arq to Amazon Glacier. I don't have to think about this backup taking place, it simply happens in the background as I'm working on my MacBook Pro.

The 'Perfect' Backup

I'm constantly tinkering with various aspects of this backup system. In a perfect world, I'd configure my laptop of choice with (at least) a 1TB internal SSD. (we've only 256GB short of this build-to-order option, the current MacBook Pro can be configured with an SSD up to 768GB in size.)

This would allow me to store my iTunes and Aperture libraries locally on the SSD. I'd purge and delete as much of my video content as I could, keeping only the most important content local.

My local backup would be via Time Machine to the new Time Capsule, and I'd continue to mirror the internal SSD to Amazon Glacier via Arq. I'd continue to rotate two drives off-site with SuperDuper!

I'd do away with the messing around with with external drives when trying to find, which means I'd be able to fully utilise the potential (and the whole point of) owing a laptop.

This backup regime will be constantly changed, as new services, applications, frameworks, and devices are introduced. The next planned change is outlined above, eliminating as much local data as possible, and turning my local backup into something that requires no attention or thought.

265 Days With The iPhone 5

It feels much longer than 9 months ago that I lined up on day one to purchase my iPhone 5 (32GB, white) when they arrived in New Zealand. Now just 100 days short of a year have past, I've adapted to the decreased weight (and increased physical size) of the phone that I just can't help chuckle to myself when picking up the preceding 'archaic' iPhone 4S.

The 'old' iPhone 4S. The all-glass device which showed off the true potential of Apple's hardware design flair in comparison to the plastic iPhone 3/3GS, now feels like a toy in side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 5.

I enjoyed the full glass body of the 4/4S due to the fact it felt 'safe' to put down with either side facing up on any surface. I find myself 'babying' the iPhone 5 much more than I did with my 4S. I'm incredibly meticulous in making sure it's placed glass side down, as to not scratch the anodised aluminium back.

As I liked to feel the presence of the phone in my pocket, I didn't initially enjoy the lighter feel (3.95 oz vs 4.94 oz). In hindsight, when now picking up my fiancés iPhone 4, I can't get over how much heavier and uncomfortable it feels to use.

Observations & Oddities

  • One marked improvement is the Lightning connector over the previous 30-pin connector. There's no 'right way' to plug it in, eliminating the need to fumble around when connecting the phone for charging.

  • My biggest gripe with the Lightning connector is the current unpopularity of the cable. With any previous iPhone using the 30-pin USB connector, I never had to worry about leaving the house without a USB cable as the majority of the time, a workmate, friend, or coffee shop would have a cable available for charging purposes. I expect this issue to fix itself in time as more consumers transition to the latest iPhone/iPad/s.

  • Frustration kicks in every single time I power up the camera on my fiancés iPhone 4. I can't believe how much quicker the launch and shutter animations take on the iPhone 5. There's a night-and-day difference between the time it takes to pull the phone out of my pocket, and start snapping pictures.

  • There's a fairly noticeable difference between the saturation and crispness of the Retina display on the iPhone 5 compared with the iPhone 4S.

  • In my usage, the battery life is very similar, if not slightly worse than that of the 4S. As is the same with each previous release of the iPhone dating back to the first 3G I owned, it's difficult to make the phone last a full day of regular use.

  • Apple decision to cease production of the charging dock was disappointing to say the least. The Apple branded dock was the most convenient and tidy way to charge the iPhone on my bedside table, and on my desk at work. The Elevation Dock is currently the best third-party alternative available.

  • Apple indecision in the most appropriate location is for the headphone jack on their portable devices is extremely frustrating when using multiple (different) iOS devices. The location of this port needs to remain the same across the iPhone, iPad, and iPod/s. It's incredibly awkward to continue 'normal' use of the phone while the port is in use.

  • If you're looking for a full review of the iPhone 5, there's only one which remains completely relevant and begs to be read. That's John Gruber's ever detailed and witty piece on Daring Fireball.

Clean Slate

Welcome - I'm back. I promise.

So much has happened in my life since I was was regularly publishing this weblog. I'm not a fresh faced 16 year old blogger anymore. I'm now 22 years old, married, living in a house my wife and I recently purchased, and working in the retail banking industry.

While lots has changed, one thing that hasn't is my passion for all things technology, Apple in particular.

The Relaunch

I was extremely disappointed in my negligence in the up-keep of this weblog, and losing the most up-to-date database due to poor server backup regime. I'm thoroughly excited at the proposition of starting fresh with a clean canvas and empty database.

The power of the clean canvas gave me the ability to go back to the drawing board and work out exactly what my goals were for the relaunch.

I enlisted the help of designer Will Dawson who tirelessly plugged away at the code keeping this iteration of the design as lightweight, text based, retina friendly, and distraction free as possible. We tried to 'un-design' this layout as much as possible. Pealing away as much of the distraction as possible and just leaving the essential design elements.

I also made the decision to ditch WordPress, my CMS of choice for the better part of 10 years. While being an amazing creative platform, I was only utilising a small percentage of what WordPress had to offer for the limited functionality a weblog needs.

What you're reading now is powered by Anchor. Anchor is a lightweight Markdown friendly CMS which fit my goal to take away as much clutter from the weblog as possible. The installation weighs in smaller than a standard JPG image at just 150Kb. Far lighter than the standard WP 3.5.1 at 5.2MB.

What You Can Expect

It's incredible how things have changed since I was active in the 'industry'. I'll now be the one seeking out an interview with Shawn Blanc, rather than the other way around! I can credit Shawn immensely in providing me with a much needed kick of inspiration to start fresh and jump back on the bandwagon.

I'm not going to make any promises in relation to a frequency or schedule for publishing. What I can't promise in volume, I will make up for in quality. I'm dedicating myself to publish highly informative, well thought out pieces whenever inspiration strikes and time allows. What I can promise is I won't go a year in-between entries like I have in the past!

Content wise nothing much will change versus the content of yesteryear. I'll continue to publish software and hardware reviews, opinion pieces, and interviews - all while remaining Apple focused.

I'm committed to replying to every single point of contact you have with me. Whether that be via email, or Twitter. I don't plan to let my inbox/es weight me down like I have in the past. If you've got any questions, comments, or suggestions - please feel free to email me and I'll do my absolute best to respond promptly.

Updates will be broadcast via the RSS feed, or alternatively via Twitter.

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