Monday, July 18, 2016

iPhone 6S review

Three generations of mobile phone.
When my iPhone 5 was failing to charge properly and struggle to recognise my SIM card I knew it was time for an upgrade. Although I was holding out to see what the iPhone 7 would look like I didn't feel like my current phone would last that long so I bit the bullet and got a 6S.

I know Apple isn't quite as fashionable as it used to be – not that I particularly care – but their stuff still seems to work on the whole and is pretty long-lasting (in my experience, anyway).

I almost went for the new SE, as it was a bit cheaper but because they seemed to be out of stock all the time with my new carrier of choice (Giffgaff) I opted for a 64GB version of the White 6S. After having to cope with a 16GB iPhone that was constantly telling me it was almost full, the next size up seemed to make sense (despite the extra cost).

Overall look and feel: it feels nice and solid, a bit heavier than my old 5. Its white face was slightly disappointing ... it's almost translucent and it's as if the darkness of the technical gubbins inside can be seen throughit.. A minor issue but noticeable all the same. Another design feature that lets the phone down is the camera lens that sticks out slightly. If you lay the phone flat on the table it wobbles all because of that stupid protrusion and I think this is something Steve Jobs would never have allowed – it ruins the aesthetic, and comes across as badly-designed (shock! horror! for Apple!). Thankfully, because of the case I got for it (an essential item for anyone wanting to protect their expensive gadget), the phone lies perfectly flat so no problem there. The size of the screen takes a lot of getting used to and the moment I got the 6S I started wondering if I should have held out for the more compact SE. You see, the 5's screen size (the same size as the SE) may be small but it's the perfect fit for my hand (and a lot of other people's, I imagine). I could hold it one-handed without any problems, texting or scrolling while my other hand was free to do other things. With the 6S, however, this is not really possible – both hands are required to hold it comfortably. Either that, or I need to prop it up against something when I'm sitting down with it. My fingers simply aren't long enough, it seems. OK, it is possible to use it one-handed but it's not very comfortable and feels very precarious whenever I do it.  I dread to think how people cope with the 6S Plus which is even bigger.

Interface: Having gone from a 5 with the latest iOS, the jump to a 6S wasn't a massive leap (apart from the issue with the screen size). Having played with Android, iOS wins hands down in my opinion. It feels grown up and intuitive in a way its competitor never has. The only marked difference between the 6S and 5 is the speed at which the phone boots up and opens apps. It feels very slick and zippy and the screen is bright and crisp. The 3D touch is an interesting feature, but I never really use it. I've got a feeling it will come into its own when the new iOS debuts, but we'll have to see. It just feels gimmicky at the moment. I'm pleased I can now use ApplePay, as I often find myself without a wallet or cash so it's another option that might save me when I need to buy something. The only problem at the moment is that I can only link my credit card, which I try to avoid using at all costs. The main thing I love about the 6S is the camera which takes great photos and slow-mo videos. I'm still playing around with the slow-mo but hope to use it more and more, especially for my work as I'm sure it will come in handy.

Summary: Overall, I'm fairly satisfied. I resent having to fork out a wad of cash for something that most of the time I will only use to surf the web, make calls or send text messages. To me, products never quite live up to the hype. Apple presumably touted the 6S as the 'best iPhone ever' or words to that effect when it debuted, but with the iPhone 7 expected to appear in the autumn those words seem woefully hollow. The main thing is that it works and means I won't need to think about upgrading for a while.

Although, if the iPhone 7 looks amazing, I might be sorely tempted...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A bit of gardening love

Apples / Oranges??
Tomatoes, melons and radish

My parents are verdant horticulturalists, and were always a bit disappointed that none of their sons never took up horticulture as a profession. They had at least hoped that their green fingered-ness might rub off on their offspring in some way, but none of us (all five brothers) have been particularly adept at gardening.

Potatoes (various varieties)
I'm not saying I'm green-fingered, but I have started to get a bit more interested in growing things, however, since I got a small plastic greenhouse for Christmas. Our garden is, unfortunately, quite small so there's no way I can grow rows and rows of luscious veg but I can at least put things in pots and make some use of the limited space. At the moment I'm growing strawberries, melons, tomatoes and potatoes (and they seem to be growing!). I've tried to grow a pineapple from a leftover stalk but it doesn't seemed to have worked. Not a huge variety admittedly but for someone who's never really grown anything before I think it's a good start.

The real test will be whether the plants actually bear anything edible!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The post #Brexit post

After all that's happened over the last week it's easy to lose hope and despair for our future, but while I'm not a natural optimist, I think optimism is the one thing we as a nation need right now.

A lot of people (half the country more or less) are angry and frustrated at the referendum result, but we have to accept the outcome as a democratic decision and the will of the people (regardless of how misguided or divisive the referendum was). It's good that people are so wound up because it's the opposite of apathy and apathy will never help change things, so let's use this energy for something positive.

Because we're in the social media age we think posting funny memes, sharing thoughtful articles, linking to videos of comedians ripping into politicians, changing our profile picture or signing online petitions will make the world a better place (believe, me I've done my fair share of those things), but the reality is armchair activism isn't enough. Those things are all well and good but they're too easy and are usually only seen by people who agree with us anyway.

If we want to see real change, we've got to get our hands dirty - talk to people, really know the issues, try and understand why people are so angry and disillusioned. Not only that, but we need to let those in power know that we've had enough.

The 'establishment' have been dealt a massive blow not seen in years and here is our opportunity to reshape and rebuild politics for the people. Those in power – or rather, those on the cusp of power – won't let that happen easily though, and that is why now more than ever we all do our bit to create something good for the future.

Join a political party or support organisations like Hope not Hate. Lobby your MP about the issues you care about. Get stuck in and see what you can do in your local community.

Then, maybe – just maybe – things will turn out for the best.