The Problem With Settling - Reviews of some cheap/not-so-cheap iPhone 4 cases

There aren't many iPhone 4 cases on the market yet, but here's my informal review of 3 cases and 1 screen protector.

I snagged the aptly named Speck Black/Grey Candy Shell case on release day. Well padded for possible drops, but just too much lovehandle for My Lean Baby - it blocked the MP3 line-in on my stereo. It took 10 minutes of intense wiggling to squeeze my poor iPhone back out of its girdle, and I immediately vowed, "Never again!" As a stopgap measure, I've stuck on a pair of Zagg Invisible Shields. (My brilliant comment to the AT&T sales clerk: "$29.99? Really?!? That's a ridiculous price! Fine! Mumble, mumble, mumble.")  Verdict: improves grip-ability, but I suck at putting these on, and the two microscopic specks of dirt stuck under the plastic annoy me every time I run my finger across them (yes, that's about once every 30 seconds). 

I now handle my iPhone 4 like nitroglycerine.

My husband grabbed the Incipio Silicylic Yellow Gel/Shell Combo case. A self-diagnosed klutz, he assumed that acrylic plus gel was the perfect protection scheme.  (Even despite the fact that its dayglo shade of yellow - which shall henceforth be known as "Danger Will Robinson! Yellow!" - blinded all around him.) He took it home, put it on, and immediately decided it felt too flimsy. Back it went to the AT&T store.  He then stopped in at Best Buy and bought the plain Rocketfish Mobile case in red. Cheap, adequate protection until something better comes along. (Is this an inherent male attitude?)

All was well until we went on our cave tour this weekend, when he finally learned the dangers of "settling". (Hah!)  Guess what you need to use when taking photographs in a cave? That's right Class, a camera flash! Despite the cutout not covering the flash in any manner, it still reflected enough color to ruin his photos.

For comparison, here's a photo I took in the cave using flash without the Dread Red Case:

So, now he gets my (not yet returned) Speck, the Rocketfish hits the garbage can, and it's back on the search for decent cases. With 1.7 million iPhones sold, here's hoping the good case manufacturers manage to get their products to market soon!!  I miss my Seidio Innocase II and belt holster immensely.

AT&T Really Needs to Work on Their Order Database

I've had my phone a week. AT&T emailed me today:

We are working hard to fulfill your order as soon as possible. Due to the extraordinary demand for the iPhone your order is not yet available for shipment. Reservations are processed in the order that they are received. Thank you for your patience.

Check the status of your order at any time at our website by clicking here or by calling our automated system at 877-782-8870.



Sichuan Garden, Round Rock, Texas

Had lunch at Sichuan Garden  today.  It's always a treat to have real Chinese.  We stopped in around 3:00 p.m., so absolutely no one but us was there!  Service was (understandably) good, although they had trouble understanding when I asked if they could give us an orange or apple for (our overly picky and not hungry) Number One Son.  He avoided scurvy and starvation via apple juice, instead.  In his favor, our waiter helped me learn to pronounce the Chinese word on my fortune cookie at the end of our meal.  I can now call loudly for wine the next time I decide to get drunk in China - Jui! Jui!

The hubby had promised the kids "meat on a stick", so we had the the Fried Dumplings and Beef Stick appetizers.  Not bad, but not great.  The mu shu pork filling was good, but we had to fold the pancakes ourselves (not my best talent), and they tore easily as they hadn't been steamed.  I'll follow along with the rest of Yelp and give two big thumbs up to the House Special Crispy Spicy Chicken.  The hubby avoids bell peppers as they easily irritate his stomach, but he couldn't stop sneaking bites.  Number One Daughter highly recommends the non-spicy beef noodle soup - as the name escapes me, and is missing from the online menu, I can only tell you it was item D8.  She asked on the way out if we could eat here again on our next trip through.  Generous portions, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 1 entree soup, 1 soda, 1 juice - $40, very reasonable.  We'll be back!

Welcome to Texas

Everything is bigger here, even the trucks!  Yes, that's a stretch Ford Excursion.  One can only ask, "Why?!?"

If I Were a Rich Woman

Unless I was a courtesan in ancient Babylon, I would not wear these shoes.  That's 24K gold plate, and $600, at the outlet store!  They're still irredeemably ugly, thanks anyway Christan Dior. 

I might consider wearing these Manolo Blahnik's to a garden party, if my name was Poison Ivy, and everyone who had seen me wearing them would soon be dead of unnatural causes.

Thank god I'm not rich, and can wear sensible flats. 


She likes it! She likes it!

My wallet is unbelievably grateful that my kids are still at the age where I can foist old tech on them, and they don't know enough to complain. It's a summer Friday, so we're not as picky about bed times with the kids, but the 10-year-old just can't put her new iPhone down. (Although since it doesn't have cellular access, perhaps it should be called some hybrid name - iPhod? I call TM!) She's even having fun with the email feature. Here's the conversation (misspellings and grammatical errors included):

Emma to Mom (10:25 p.m.)
Subject: To morrow
Hey dad what are doing to morrow? Emma

Mom to Emma
Subject: To morrow
This is your mother. Try again. Mom

Note the change in subject line - she's not figured out how to reply to an email yet.

Emma to Mom (10:28 p.m.)
Subject: My other letter
I met you! So what are we doing to morrow. Emma

Mom to Emma (10:41 p.m.)
Subject: My other letter
Spelling - I meant you. And I don't know. Mom

At 11:00 p.m., she was sent to bed. (Yeah, right.)

Emma to Mom (12:13 a.m.)
Subject: To morrow
Hey mom just wanted to know what we are doing to morrow. Emma

It's nice that I've gotten my gender back, but why am I getting an email after midnight from a 10-year-old that's within yelling distance?

Mom to Emma (12:20 a.m.)
Subject: To morrow
Emma go to sleep before I confiscate your phone. Mom

And here's where we enter the halls of "Ultimate Parental Ironies". She doesn't know how to reply to my email, but decides that despite the threat of confiscation, a reply is required. So she sends me yet another email.

Emma to Mom (12:23 a.m.)
Subject: Go to sleep
FIne. Emma

She's just not gone to sleep so she can respond to my instruction to go to sleep. At this point, I start laughing, never a good thing when you're trying for that "strict parent" mien.

I think she likes her iPhod(TM)!


Even Geeks Get Old

Yesterday was a roller coaster - work was hell, but our new iPhone 4's came in to make up for it.  I went home and we started the transfers at 6:00.  Pretty straightforward, just took a while to restore our data to the new phones and play with the fun new features.  Facetime is awesome!

By 8:00, it was time to wipe our old iPhone 3G's to give to the kids.  Being the chea... frugal parents that we are, they were just to be iPods, no phone service.  Sounds easy, right?  Hah!  Since I wanted to share my iTunes library between the 3 phones (so I can control what apps and media they load) I had to research the best way to sync that wouldn't require connecting to my Outlook. I then cleared my data off the phone manually - slightly faster than the 1 hour data wipe. Next, I had to go look up Emma's Gmail password, get Gmail sync to work, rename the phone, arrange her apps, select which playlists, etc.  Dinner was thrown on my desk at some point, and by 11:00 we had "EmmaBox" up and running.

Then it was time to setup Alex's new iPod.  Strangely, it would show the proper apps and data on the phone in iTunes, but it wouldn't remove them or write new ones during the sync.  After THREE attempts trying to arrange and load apps and having it fail to sync, I finally set off the 1 hour wipe, and then went through all those fun steps above.

At 3:00 a.m. when I finished I sent an email to the immediate family to let them know they should email the kids regularly this week, so the rugrats would start getting in the habit.  Then I emailed the kids the following:

Hi kids!  As a thank you for the many hours I spent setting up your phones, you could fold my laundry in the dryer.  You can email me any time and I will get it.  Mom (Sent from my iPhone)

When I didn't have any emails back by lunchtime today, I called the eldest, who explained that his email settings weren't working. Joy. (He made a half-hearted case that I should give him the email password, and I countered with a have your dad call me when he gets back from the store.)  So, first thing when I get home, I spend 30 minutes correcting email, helping him shop in the iTunes store for a "few" apps, and yet another sync.

After picking Emma up from summer daycamp, I managed to grab a quick late lunch in the car. When we hit the house, I suggested to the kids that they check their email. Emma jumps right in and proceeds to start emailing me (while sitting all of probably 10 feet away). Here's the conversation:

Hey mom guess What I'm not doing your laundry  Emma  (Sent from my iPhone)

I'm not taking you shopping in the iTunes store then.  Mom (Sent from my iPhone)

Fine but Alex has to help    Emma   (Sent from my iPhone)

Sounds like a plan.  When done we can load Monkey Ball on your iPhone.  Mom (sent from my iPhone)

Ok that sounds like a plan.  so how was your day?  Emma (Sent from my iPhone)

Long.  Going back to work now.  Mom   (Sent from my iPhone)

If you have any new videos of luren please send them   Emma  (Sent from my iPhone)

Lauren.  Email Uncle Bill and ask.  Mom  (Sent from my iPhone)

So, despite being the penultimate geek myself, I started to wonder if the kids having unlimited email access was really a good thing.   I suppose I can always make the router reject their DHCP requests as necessary.

I need a nap . . .


Free Music Day

Today was free music day around here – Emma was listening to the Fratellis, and so I started surfing. Levi’s, of all companies, is offering a bunch of free mp3 downloads from people you’ve actually heard of. I got them all, and these were the ones I like:

The Swell Season (Glen Hansard from the Commitments and Once, both of which I loved. They have one of the Amazon $5 albums this month, which I also grabbed.)
Jason Mraz
The Shins
She & Him

You have to sign up, but that’s why we have a junk email addresses.

I also poked around in the Amazon MP3 store. My favorite so far reminds me a lot of Paul Simon - Josh Roushe's I will Live on Islands.

Total spent today: $1.98. Number of songs added to iTunes: 76. I stick them all in my “New Tunz” playlist, listen a few times, and then figure out which "real" playlist they belong in, if any.

Must admit my fav so far was one of the $0.99 songs – Michael Buble singing the Spider-Man theme.


The More Things Change . . .

Whenever any of the 3 P's (politicians, pastors and parents) mount their moral soapbox and start talking about the moral decline of today's youth, etc., I have to bite my tongue to keep from from laughing. Sex, drugs and rock and roll are something new, eh? Now I don't have to quote anyone in response, I can just whip out my phone and show them this:

Apparently, current thinking is that Botticelli portrayed Mars on an acid trip - all the way back in 1483.


It's a Whole 'Nother Country

I've lived in Texas or Louisiana half my life, with a family heavily involved in the oil industry. Now, I am to my family as Austin is to Texas: a lonely dot of liberalism in a sea of red conservatives. While I don't think anyone out there deliberately caused the spill - there was just too much at stake - it's turning into a surreal, dark comedy. So I love this post by Terry Border entitled "Black Gold, Texas Tea":

It's a clever little piece of art and political commentary.

Trying to look on the bright side, I think the graft from this disaster might just be enough to finish rebuilding New Orleans.

Aww, Nuts

I recently sent a quick email to a friend to ask, "Am I a bad person if I want this t-shirt?"

Her immediate reply: "No dear - you are just married . . . "