Two months with the new iPhone 6 Plus

IPhonesAt the end of November, Jean and I decided to shout each other new phones for Christmas. The iPhone 4S that we each had were showing their age and the new iPhone 6 was beckoning.

Having heard about short supply and 2 week delay in delivery, we went shopping at the end of November assuming we’d get phones just before Christmas. As it turned out we walked out of the Spark shop on Lambton Quay holding two new iPhone 6 Plus’ which were active within a hour. Well done Daniel from Spark, two happy customers.

As a side note, we were Vodafone mobile customers but after their cock up with Jean’s roaming in Italy in August and the 59 minute wait on the phone for their call centre help a week or so prior, we were moving. Sorry Vodafone, you’re losing the plot in terms of support and as a result you’ve lost us as customers. By the way the 59 minute wait ended only because I hung up, not because they actually answered.

After two months using Apple’s biggest phone, I’m pleased to say that neither of us would swap them for anything. And so far, both phones are unbent and undropped and have become a necessary part of our lives.

And yes, bigger is better. The idea of using our 4S phones to sit and surf the net wasn’t an option given the screen size, but the 6 Plus is regularly used to do just that. In fact I no longer carry my iPad around as the 6 Plus has become the computer in my pocket.

The landscape mode – where you can swivel the phone 90 degrees and the desktop follows is great and the ability to use a split screen for mail and browsing is also a bonus.

It’s fast too, with all apps running without any lag and video and photos looking superb.

The downside of “Plus” is the stretch required to reach the top of the screen. Apple thought about this and with a double tap of the Home button the screen slides down for easier access but at times it is cumbersome to use and two hands are needed.

My litmus test for size was the ability to slip the phone into a jacket inside pocket. It fits perfectly and the lightness and slimness both help to not make it feel bulky.

Would we go back? No way. And now all we need to go with it is “the watch” – so roll on April.

 

The Sicilean All Black supporters kit

AB KitToday the All Blacks played the Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Cup test. Despite a TV with over 500 channels these Sicilean AB supporters could find no TV coverage of the game.

Compounding this, the villa internet connection is the narrowest broadband connection in the world and so video was all buffering and no streaming.

But the saviour turned out to be the Radio NZ iPhone app which streamed the radio commentary of the game perfectly. And when broadcast through our portable JBL bluetooth speaker it gave us stadium quality sound.

And what an All Black victory – 51 points to 20 – tutto bene.

A post for geeks

Tech DisplayIn the old days the only technology we took on holiday was a still camera and maybe a video camera. These days that’s all changed and our bags are full of various bits of tech.

This trip we tried to minimise what we took but still ended up with a fair collection of things – as can be seen in the photo. The only piece of technology not shown is the camera I took this shot with – a Nikon D7000 with a 50mm 1.8 fixed lens.

Clockwise from top left – Sunpak PZ42X flash gun, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, Nikon 18-70mm zoom Lens, Pebble smart watch, WD 500GB portable hard drive, Transcend multi card reader, MacBook Air – 11.6 inch, iPad, JBL Charge bluetooth portable speaker, 2 x iPhone 4S, TomTom GPS, Apple mouse, Sony T500 camera, Nikon 70-300mm zoom Lens and 3 iPad and iPhone chargers. Not included are all the cables that connect this stuff together and various charges for camera batteries.

Nothing like travelling light I say.

 

 

Cheats guide to Rome

Jean and I have been to Rome many times over the last few years. We have got to know the major sights as nodding acquaintances. Sitting in Piazza Navona having lunch or ambling past the Trevi Fountain after an evening meal was our forte and while we had a general idea of the history of these places it was in no way a detailed knowledge.

On our recent trip to Rome with Mike, Charmaine and James it became clear that our “and there’s the Trevi Fountain…” approach to tour guidance was not going to be sufficient. When was it built? Why is it here? Who was the sculpture? Quite rightly, all these questions came up and clearly we needed to know more.

Thankfully with the help of our iPhones and local data roaming we could instantaneously turn into Rome tour experts. As it takes a few minutes to walk between sights, we had time to secretly search Wikipedia about upcoming attractions, learn the key facts and then be able to dazzle with our knowledge when we arrived.

“The Pantheon – built in 31BC by Marcus Agrippa and rennovated in 126AD by Emperor Hadrian. The dome is 142 feet high and the diameter is also 142 feet. The largest unsupported concrete dome in the world. Originally had bronze sheeting under the portico but this was removed by Pope Urban VIII …..”.

It worked a treat.

So next time you’re in Rome and would like a guided tour by expert english speaking guides, give us a call.

Rainy afternoon in Siena

Yesterday we had our third language lesson in Siena. The day started out sunny but with thunderstorms rumbling around the hills in the distance. By 4pm our lesson had finished and we adjourned to a bar in the Campo for a well earned drink or two. The thunder was closer and the sun had been replaced by clouds although the temperature remained in the low 20s. Clearly the locals expected unsettled weather as the awnings and umbrellas that protect the bars and restaurants around the Campo from the sun had been kept in place.

Rain falling in the Campo.

At 5pm the heavens opened and the rain came down. Big, fat drops and unusually for someone from Wellington who expects rain to fall horizontally, they came straight down.

The crowded Campo emptied immediately as tourists rushed for shelter, some in shops but the majority straight to the nearest bar – all forced to buy drinks they didn’t really want at Campo prices. The Sinese locals produced umbrellas and continued going about their business as if nothing had happened. After 10 minutes the rain eased, the skies lightened and tourists flooded back into the Campo. All about €10 poorer for their drink.

More rain.

We took this opportunity to make our way back to the Peugeot congratulating ourselves on our timing. Not so fast, about halfway to the car the rain started again and, like everyone else we headed for the nearest shelter. In our case it was a bag shop in one of Siena’s small side streets. But for the period of the rain it sold umbrellas – as did every other shop in Siena. Bins of brightly colored umbrellas had appeared from nowhere and were prominently displayed just inside the shop doors. We took two – €16, Grazie.

Yet more rain.

However Siena is described it is, above all, a city of merchant traders.

Please note: photographs used have been digitally enhanced to highlight moody weather.