Happy 4th of July!

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To celebrate Independence Day this year, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the road trips I’ve taken in the past few years. Because what’s more American than cruising down our amazing highway network to explore our great country? I got the inspiration for this post from an article I saw earlier today on Jalopnik, and I thought I’d expand upon that thought here, to bring some life back to this ghost town of a blog.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken a few road trips in my short life so far. The first one was only months after I got my driver’s license. I drove to upstate New York with my band in my dad’s 2003 Toyota Sienna, hitting up Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Jamestown. It was a lot of driving and I was the only driver, but it wasn’t too bad because I had a bunch of friends in the van. We played one show in some random community center in Rochester, and then we played a show in an indoor skate park in Jamestown. Those were some great times, and I still have great memories of that little tour.

The next road trip was several years later, in my recently purchased (and crashed) 2003 Hyundai Elantra. I had just gotten the radiator and brakes fixed a few days before the trip. I loaded up everything I owned into that little car, including my guitars, my computer, my clothing, my girlfriend, and all her clothing. Somehow it all fit. I split the roughly 2,600 mile trip into 5 days, driving roughly 8-9 hours a day each day. I saw so much open space in the country; it makes me wonder why everybody squeezes into these tight cities. It was awesome to see the weather change in a matter of days, from freezing cold in the north to a wonderful summer in the south. I drove through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. I remember speeding down the mountains of Flagstaff hoping that my brakes wouldn’t fail. I was so excited when I reached the Phoenix city limits. That little Hyundai did the whole trip without a single complaint. It even got respectable gas mileage after it all. It died two weeks later; I guess it gave its last breath to get us across the country.

My most recent road trip was a month or two ago, in my 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. It was a quick little weekend trip to San Diego via the I-8. It was a lot of fun speeding through the desert, flooring that tiny little four-banger to get it up the mountains. San Diego was quite a bit more hilly than I remember when I visited as a kid. Nonetheless it was quite pleasant to see the city and the ocean again. I had a pretty good time there, and the trip back was perfect.

My next road trip will be in my new (to me) 2001 BMW 540ia, which I’m fixing up right now. You’ll hear more about it later. Once it’s perfect, I’m going to drive down the Pacific Highway in it. I’m planning to go all the way up the west coast, as I’ve never done that before.

If you have a car and some free time, get out there and explore the country! It would be downright un-American not to.

We’re Back Again

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I have this terrible habit of posting a few times in a row and then disappearing for a few months when it comes to writing this blog… So let’s try this again. Since the last time I’ve posted, a few things in my life have changed, while a few have stayed the same. I still work at the same place, still have the same car, still have two wonderful cats, and I’m still happily with my girlfriend for over 5 years.

Last December, my family drove down to Phoenix to celebrate the holidays with me. I gave them a tour of the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area in my Hyundai. Somehow all six of us fit into the car. We had a great time celebrating Christmas and welcoming in the new year on New Year’s Eve. Words can’t really describe how nice it was to see my family again after so long. I talk to my parents on the phone/Facetime every week, but there’s nothing quite like being with family in person. It was a great time, easily one of the highlights of last year.

As for my living situation, I’ve moved from my apartment in Glendale to an apartment in Tempe last May, and then to a house in Chandler this January. I quite enjoy living in a house again, it’s the only way to live that feels right to me. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent my whole life up until recently living in houses. Anyways, it’s a nice three bedroom house in a quiet community. Having a two-car garage is nice for when I get a second car, and just having a garage in general is great for the summers here. Otherwise it’s nearly impossible to touch the steering wheel with how painfully hot a car gets in the sun. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the HOA here, but they’re not the most strict so I can live with it for now. It took me a while to furnish the whole house, but I’m glad to say that I’m like 90% done at this point. All I need is a TV and some decorations to liven everything up. The cats love the house too, there’s lots of room for them to run around.

I’ve lived through last summer, and it’s the beginning of another summer right now. Last summer was relatively mild, according to people that have lived in Phoenix for a while, and this summer is definitely shaping up to be a scorcher. I know a lot of people can’t stand the heat, but I personally love it. I’ll take extreme heat over the cold any day. I certainly don’t miss winter. My electric bills so far are pretty reasonable, but that might be because I keep the AC at 81º instead of cranking it to 65º. I don’t even like it that cold indoors, I’d rather be comfortable.

Work has been great for me as well. I’ve really grown as a web developer in the year that I’ve worked at Fervor, and I’m still happy to go to work. Which is more than I can say for a lot of the jobs that I’ve worked in the past. The Christmas party we had in December was pretty sweet too, it was 70’s themed and it was a lot of fun.

I’ve bought myself a few new guitars and I’ve been doing a fair bit of audio work as well. I finished rebranding my studio to be Affinity Recordings, with a spiffy new site, new Facebook page, and business cards. I enjoyed the opportunity to do some design work again, as I mostly do web development work nowadays. Now that I have a large house I can record bands without worrying too much about noise.

As for this blog, I’ve brought back the theme I had on here for a few years, but with a few small tweaks to make it more current. It’s still not responsive and looks a bit dated, but I can live with that for now. Eventually I’ll build a modern new theme, but it’s not a high priority at the moment.

As of now, everything is going pretty well, and I couldn’t be happier with life :)

What If Steve Jobs Had Presented the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch?

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This article reimagines Tuesday’s event if Steve Jobs was the one running it. The first part of the text makes some interesting points and criticisms of the actual presentation, followed by a Steve Jobsified reimagining of it. It’s so spot-on that it hurts to read, and it makes me realize just how much the world and Apple lost when Jobs died. I miss his presentation style, and even though Tim Cook makes references to it (“one more thing”), he’s still not Steve Jobs. Makes me wonder if maybe Apple should just have a hologram of Steve Jobs do the keynotes…

13 Years Later

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It’s been thirteen years since that fateful day in September, yet my memory of that day is still crystal clear. It was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect, and America was on top of the world. We were invincible, or so we thought. Then the towers came tumbling down, and with that, the perception of our safety and global dominance were torn down as well. Past the initial shock of the tragedy, the effects of 9/11 are still felt around the country today.

Even after everything that’s happened, we still stand strong, and I still firmly believe the US is the best country in the world. We’re not without our faults, but there’s no other place in the world that’s like the US of A. No act of terrorism will take away our love of this country and its freedoms.

Thoughts on the iPhone 6, Apple Watch, and More

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Yesterday’s Apple presentation left me wishing they would have more secrecy around their iPhones. The whole iPhone 6 and 6 plus part of the presentation was just checking off boxes of features that I had heard of months ahead. I wish I could have been truly excited instead of ambivalent. The updates themselves were much-needed to keep the iPhone competitive with the Android market, though personally I don’t care for big screens.

The Apple Watch was the truly exciting part of the presentation, and I won’t lie, when Tim Cook uttered the infamous “one more thing” line, I got chills. This is a major step for Apple, as it’s their first new product since Steve Jobs’ death. What’s particularly interesting is how it’s called the Apple Watch instead of the rumored iWatch name. It makes sense though, as the “i” stands for “internet,” and the internet is so ubiquitous now that it’s pointless slapping that “i” on every new product. As for the watch itself, I was mostly surprised by how many options it was offered in; three main editions, each with their own color schemes and watch bands. Clearly, Apple is positioning themselves as a serious competitor in not just the smartwatch industry, but also in the general watch industry.

The Apple Watch takes an interesting approach to the smartwatch, as it allows you to do things as opposed to just receiving notifications like with Android Wear. The “digital crown” interface is quite an original take on the smartwatch, and in a way it’s the spiritual successor to the iPod click wheel. The way they completely made a new OS for the watch while still keeping the look and feel of iOS 7 is definitely an accomplishment. They’ve really put thought into making the watch genuinely useful. Contrary to rumors, it was not the iPhone 6 displays that were made with sapphire glass, but the Apple Watch display. It makes sense though, starting small with sapphire glass before moving on to a much bigger display— much like how Apple introduced their Retina Display on the iPhone first before bringing it to the iPad and subsequently the MacBook Pro. The videos and photos of it look nice, but I’m curious to see what people will say once they actually come out early next year. The biggest concern right now is battery life, as it can ruin even the best attempts at a smartwatch (Moto 360). At $350 it’s not unaffordable, especially when you consider how much an iPad or MacBook Pro costs, but it definitely has to prove its merits. Though I might just wait for the next version of the Apple Watch, as first generation Apple products have always proven to be far inferior to their second generation versions.

What’s interesting is that because a 128gb iPhone edition of the iPhone was announced, the iPod Classic has officially been killed. The next generation iPod Touch will most likely be available in 128gb too, as it tends to follow the iPhone pretty closely. It’s the end of an era for Apple, with all of the clickwheel iPods officially dead at this point. I’m wondering if the iPod Nano will be updated, but I’m betting it will be killed off in favor of a cheaper iPod Touch, as having an iPod Nano with a touchscreen but not iOS puts it in a weird place. It also looks rather dated with the glossy icons and iOS 6 visual style still being used on it.

Apple Pay was a long time coming, and if Apple can deliver on their promises of security and ease of use, it could really take off. Google started pushing NFC-based payments with NFC-equipped Android phones, but not every Android phone has NFC, and the system didn’t always work perfectly. With Apple’s push, NFC payments could become a new standard, just like how iTunes revolutionized buying music online.

It’s certainly an exciting time for Apple, but I have one concern, and that’s the amount of products Apple has been making in these past years. They now have four iPhones available (iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6+), at least nine editions of the Apple Watch (regular, sport, and “edition,” each in at least three metal colors), and three iPads (iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini). While it’s nice to see Apple offering options, I get uneasy as I remember the Apple of the 90’s, where they made everything and anything. I certainly hope Apple doesn’t lose its focus now that it doesn’t have Steve Jobs to trim the excess.

Tomorrow

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Apple will reveal the iPhone 6, which while nice, will be fairly routine and expected, no thanks to a million leaks. However, it’s the iWatch (or whatever it’ll be called) that I’m most intrigued by. Unlike most of its iPhone updates, we barely know anything about the iWatch, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

I don’t plan to buy a smartwatch, but knowing Apple, they’ll make me want one. Plenty of manufacturers have been hammering out smartwatches like there’s no tomorrow, but I’m confident that Apple will make them all look like jokes. Based on the intense secrecy, special presentation venue, and being a completely new product, this will be *huge*. The last time Apple was this secretive was in 2007 before they announced their iPhone. Smartphones had existed prior to the original iPhone’s launch, but the iPhone was announced and made all of them obsolete in less than two hours. Blackberry, Microsoft, and Palm may have been laughing, but two of them are dead at this point— the iPhone got the last laugh.

I believe this iWatch will be as groundbreaking as the original iPhone. It’s typical Apple; waiting until the right time to come into a market and conquer it. They have the manufacturing capabilities, their own processors, a Sapphire glass factory, and some of the best industrial designers in the world. The timing could not be any more right.

Pun totally intended.

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