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A report from a non-power, non-internet zone
by Richard Bruning
Six weeks ago or so, I (iSensei) wrote about my frustrations and concerns over life without the internet. At that time it was a relatively simple (albeit challenging) matter of the Verizon router acting weird. Last week, many of us experienced a much more profound version of that problem, which, at the time of this writing (8 days later) Verizon FiOS and its attendant offshoots of cable TV, landline phones and internet service are all basically kaput. And
the cause, of course, is the monster/super/deadly storm named Sandy (what an innocuous name for such a potent annihilator).
Interestingly, the service that in the past seemed the most essential was (landline) phone service. This time around, with cell towers still up and running, if you’ve got a charge on your cellphone, you’ve got communications. The landline becomes moot. And if you’ve got a smartphone (e.g. an iPhone), you’ll have internet service also. With an iPad offering cellular service, you’ve not only have the ability to still use the internet fairly comprehensively but even the option to watch films or TV/video on it. Although not anywhere as exacting an experience, it’s amazing to think it can partially replace all three primary services. There are even app/paid services – we have LINE 2 – that allows one to use your iPad (with cellular option) as a telephone too.
We’re VERY fortunate here at iSensei HQ that we did not lose power, as most of our neighbors did and many are still without. Some without hot water too. Ugh. We’ve happily become a central resource for friends needing to charge their devices, take a shower or even sleep overnight. Watching this storm unfold in all the areas around us, some to virtual total destruction, has been a very sobering and humbling experience. Seeing people’s homes trashed like balsa wood model kits, flood waters up to the second floor and giant trees smashed over like snapped pencils creates a true sense of vulnerability and makes one realize how all our grand plans are but dust in the face of extraordinary/abnormal weather. (But, hey, as many Conservatives like to say, this climate change stuff is just a bunch of hoohah)
As a country we simply do not have the infrastructure to deal with this kind of weather, any more than we did almost exactly one year ago when devastating ice storms buffeted our end of the world. Powerlines still hang delicately in the air, intertwining trees, sewage and drain systems with a fraction of the capacity needed and civil disaster planning adequate for the 1920s. Water levels in NY, at least, are rising at a formerly unimaginable rate, yet most of the large commercial (as well as private) generators sit uselessly below ground/water level. Power substations also are easily submerged.
And folks, when you throw all of us, whose lives are built around easy and essential access to electricity, into the dark, there are many who revert quickly to a less civilized state. It was frightening to see and hear reports of looters breaking into homes, many still occupied by helpless people.
Our government leaders dither around the problems, using actual disasters as political coin. Some rise to the occasion, but what we need now, as a country, is a non-partisan long-term vision for rebuilding our deteriorating and under-powered infrastructure, ill suited for contemporary needs. Yes, these a Big Expensive projects but that is exactly what we need, and more importantly, what we MUST have. It’s not an option. Unfortunately, it’s hard for us to imagine undertaking something as big as the National Highway System of the 50s, but that transformed the country and its future. In New Jersey/New York, we couldn’t even get the already-in-progress and much needed additional access tunnel for the (way) over capacity Lincoln Tunnel (Thanks Gov. Christie). He said we could not afford it yet projects like this offer short and long term employment and economic growth. We’ve become a country that, at best, plans for the next four years.
There are those who say/hope that the troublesome weather of the recent past will wake up people and politicians to the need for long-term planning and development of not just another giant skyrise but utilities and infrastructure improvements that will prevent us from being thrown into another very deadly and debilitating black hole.
PS: While writing this the power went out. Let’s hope that condition does not last. And I hate to think what impact all of this will have on Election Day. Ah well…
iSensei will return for his irregularly scheduled postings as soon as this $h!t clears up!
As we’ve discussed previously in “Here’s What iOS 6 Is Doing In iPhone 5!”, Passbook is a new service from Apple by which you can carry digital copies of a boarding pass or movie tickets or coupons right in your iPhone. And, because they update themselves automatically, you can get the latest info regarding your flight’s status or new coupons being added automatically to a store account.
One problem has popped up though in Apple’s implementation of this new clever-sounding function: “How the Hell do I use this thing?!” Apple, in its ‘less than infinite but better than most’ wisdom, provides zero instructions in how it works. But iSensei isn’t going to let that take the fun out of it for you as it does seem an ultimately sensible service.
To help out, we’re going to turn again to what is fast becoming one of iSensei’s fave Apple websites, AppleGazette.com. They recently posted instructions on how to make this feature work for you (unless you run into some of the built-in problems cited in this article), plus an up-to-date (we believe) list of what third-party businesses are working with this system.
PS: This Passbook function only works with iPhone and iPod touch. iPad need not apply.
Today’s the day, O Faithful. The release of iOS 6 (the new ‘iDevice’ Operating System) is here, which is built to take full advantage of the new iPhone 5, but also adds significant functionality and coolness to existing iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. (See list at bottom for what models can work with it).
I’m going to rely on a new (to iSensei, at least) Apple site, AppleGazette.com for their excellent step-by-step suggestions of how to best prepare for the iOS 6 installation. We’d like to thank one of iSensei’s favorite Apple sites, MacDailyNews.com for alerting us to this site/post. We’re reposting it here verbatim, with additional comments, in italic, from iSensei. Here’s the direct link to the article on AppleGazette, which I recommend visiting anyway for all their other useful information. OK, let’s get on with it.
(Soon after 1 PM EST, Sept 19, Apple dropped the 6th version of iOS on iPhones, iPods, and iPads everywhere.) Before you download that upgrade, here are five important things you should seriously consider doing first.
1. Back up your device(s).
If you don’t sync your iPhone, iPod, or iPad to your Mac via iCloud, then you should consider this one a requirement — particularly if you have a lot of personal files on your device (like music, movies, pictures, etc.). Connect your device to your computer with your connector cord, fire up iTunes, and right-click on your device’s name in the left-hand column. A new box will appear, and near the bottom, you’ll see “Backup.” Click it, and let iTunes back up all of the contents of your iDevice. This ensures you won’t lose anything if there should be any problem with the iOS 6 upgrade process.
iSensei here. Personally, the All-Knowing One would recommend upgrading to iTunes 10.7 first, inverting Steps 1 and 2, but it’s likely no big deal. iSensei’s going through these steps as he writes to see what happens first hand. He is willing to risk all so that YOU don’t have to!
The other thing you might question is whether you should backup iCloud or your Mac. Either is fine unless you only have the 5 GB of storage space that comes free with iCloud, which may not be insufficient, depending on what else is being stored there. If space is tight you might as well just backup to your Mac.
2. Upgrade to iTunes 10.7.
Right after the big Apple event last week, an upgrade for the Mac version of iTunes was made available. This isn’t the major overhaul that was shown off at the event; that’s iTunes 11 and it won’t arrive until late October. The current version is an incremental step up from 10.6 to 10.7, and what it brings is compatibility with iOS 6. So once your iPad, iPod, or iPhone is updated to the new version of iOS, you’ll want your computer’s iTunes to be able to connect to it without any issues. Upgrade here.
3. Update your apps.
It’s always a good idea to install the latest updates for your device’s apps as soon as they become available, regardless. But it’s an especially good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date across the board right now, because most of the app updates going out at the moment provide compatibility with the new features of iOS 6. Kind of a no-brainer, ain’t it?
This touches on one of iSensei’s most deeply held beliefs - update frequently - which, in his book, is every time the little UPDATES app icon – as seen above – has a number in it. You never know what benefit or fix you’ll be gaining from doing so and it’s fast and free.
4. Get ready for Passbook.
Passbook is a new built-in app that comes with iOS 6. It collects all of your customer loyalty cards, coupons, and memberships (such as the frequent-flyer account with your airline of choice, or your Starbucks member account) in a single place. It’s really pretty nifty how it works, because it’s tied in with your device’s GPS. Say you’ve got a Target gift card saved in Passbook; your device will remind you about your gift card right on the lock screen when you walk inside the store. It’s even better for airline ticketing, because not only will it store your boarding pass, it will give you updates in real time should your boarding gate change, or if your flight is delayed, and so on.
To use Passbook, you’ll need to scan or type in your personal account numbers and whatnot, so rather than wait, why not gather those materials now? After downloading and installing iOS 6, everything you need will be in one place and ready to go.
iSensei: since we haven’t used Passbook yet, we don’t know exactly what’s going to be required. This suggestion is practical though not essential. You can input this info at any later time.
5. Grab Google’s YouTube app.
Due mainly to Apple’s ongoing cold war with Android, Apple is doing away with the YouTube app that has always come with iOS. The good news: Google knew this was coming, and they’re ready with a proprietary YouTube app of their own. You can download it for free right here. The bad news: it’s not made for iPad yet. An iPad-friendly update is coming, but for now, it’s only for iPhone and iPod Touch.
A few last tips…
- Podcasts have been removed from the iOS 6 iTunes app and now have their very own app (called Podcasts amazingly). If you subscribe to any podcasts and plan to listen to or watch them on your iDevice, you should grab the new Podcasts app.
- It wouldn’t hurt to delete old apps from your device that you no longer use. Remember, you can always download them again from iTunes, anytime you want. (iSensei concurs. If nothing else it makes it harder to find the one tree you’re looking for in an overcrowded forest.)
- Like the YouTube app, the built-in Google Maps app is going away with iOS 6, in favor of the new, Apple-made Maps app. Apple’s app looks great, but it doesn’t have satellite maps or Street View. Google is working on a Google Maps app of their own for iOS, which should be released in the near future, but it’s not ready yet. So if for any reason you depend on those soon-to-be-missing features, you may want to put off upgrading to iOS 6 until Google’s new app is released.
As promised, here’s what hardware will work with iOS 6:
- iPhone 3GS and later
- iPad 2nd Generation (2011) and later
- iPod touch 4th Gen and later
Best luck to all with the preparation and installation all across the nation. And thanks again to AppleGazette.com for this timely and helpful advice. Ciao!
Dan Moren, one of our faves over at Macworld.com, has an excellent and succinct explanation of how to work magic, i.e. control a Mac remotely. Well, it’s not really true magic, like touch-sensitive iPads are, but you still feel a wonderful and slightly creepy feeling as you watch the mouse traverse the screen of a computer 2 floors or 2,000 miles away. Requires no additional software as it comes native to all Macs.
It’s not too techy and though it’s not useful for everyone, anyone whose seen this trick who found it to have practical applications was very anxious to try it out. It sometimes doesn’t work (for reasons iSensei can’t explain) but it usually does. Also, you might have problems accessing your computer at work if the IT Dept there has erected security barriers to prevent this kind of “invasion” into the company network. Doesn’t hurt to try (though if it lands you in jail, do NOT call iSensei to bail you out).
Thanks again to Dan Moren and Macworld.com. Be sure to check some of the hundreds of FREE useful tips available on the site. Just head to the HELP & TIPS section.