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Good Advice Is There. We Just Have to Listen to It

9 Oct

It happened again this weekend: I got lost.

I went to Wilson Farm up in Lexington, and from there, my next stop was Target in Watertown.

The area’s not completely foreign to me, but I decided to use Apple Maps anyway.

I hit the road, and Siri began telling me where to go.

When I got about a mile from the farm, she told me to make a turn … and because it didn’t look right to me, I decided to ignore her.

She recalculated, and I ignored those new directions too.

She tried a third time, and no, I didn’t follow those directions either.

I knew where I was. Sort of. Siri had to be taking me on a bad route. (Not an outlandish assumption to make.)

Except she wasn’t. Siri was trying to get me to my destination the fastest, most direct way she knew how. I was being stubborn, as usual, and not listening to her.

As a result, I wound up going places where I had no idea where I was.

Continue reading

Insanely Great Jobs

6 Oct

Many, many people will write tributes to Steve Jobs today that will be better than mine, so I’m not going to compete with them.

But I wanted to take just a minute to recognize his passing by recalling one of my most memorable Steve Jobs experiences.

It was in January 2007, on the day the iPhone was first introduced to the world. Continue reading

Lost and Found

19 Aug

I got lost yesterday.

Again.

My company had its annual summer outing at the Nashoba Valley Ski Area, and on my way home, I decided I didn’t like the route the Google Maps app on my iPhone was suggesting (i.e., Route 2).

So, I opted to go back home the same way I got to Westford: By driving past Walden Pond and through the ‘burbs, by my office, and then onto 128 and the Pike (or up Trapelo Road, if there was traffic on the highways).

I thought I knew where I was going.

I was wrong. Continue reading

Thanks Again, Google Maps

21 Mar

Yesterday, with the temperature up in the lower 70s and the sun shining bright, I decided I had two options for how to spend my day: I could go for a long drive or I could go for a long walk.

I decided to combine the two and head out to the outlets in Wrentham. Continue reading

Life Was Good

31 Dec

Generally, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve, but this year especially, I’m not looking forward to it at all.

You see, unlike many people I know, and contrary to general trends in the economy, 2009 was a great year for me. Really and truly it was.

So perhaps I jumped the gun when I called 2008 “The Year of Martin” because I enjoyed 2009 so much more.

Here are some of the reasons why. Continue reading

It Was a Beautiful Day

25 Oct

People often ask me, “Martin, if you don’t like cold weather, why have you stayed in the Northeast your entire life?”

And invariably, my answer is, “Because of days like today.” Continue reading

Listen Up

23 Sep

Tuesday was one of those big multimedia purchase days that I have every so often.

The third season of 30 Rock was released on DVD, and David Gray, Mika, and Harry Connick Jr. all released new albums.

When I was at Costco, I noticed that A.J. Jacobs had a new book out, so I grabbed that, and because I hadn’t purchased it yet, I also picked up the third season of Brothers and Sisters on DVD.

A mixed bag of music for sure, and maybe not your tastes, but I always enjoy new stuff from artists I like. (The David Gray album is particularly good. I’ll let you know about the others when I hear more of them.) Continue reading

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

19 Jul

There was an article recently in GQ about how we’ve all lost our ability to get lost, thanks to GPS and other tools that show us where we want to go.

Well, ironically enough, in the month or so that I’ve had an iPhone, I think I’ve gotten more lost than I ever have, because rather than just rely on directions I’d printed out, now I check and re-check the Google Maps app, re-calculating my route when I think I’ve made a wrong turn, over and over — which, of course, only makes it worse. Continue reading

iLove It

24 Jun

It’s official: I’m in love. Oh, don’t act so surprised. You had to see this coming. After all, a person doesn’t wait three hours for something he’s going to dislike. Yes, that’s right, I love my new iPhone. I love how nice it looks. I love how fun it is. I love how convenient it is to check email on the go. I love the seemingly unlimited battery life (at least compared to my old lame-ass Motorola phone). I love being able to take spur-of-the-moment videos. I really love listening to and watching baseball games live, thanks to the MLB At Bat app. I love having more memory capacity than I know what to do with. I love checking Facebook whenever and wherever I am, and updating my status accordingly. I love most everything about the iPhone 3GS, and I’m baffled as to how I was able to live without an iPhone for so long. Just about the only thing I hate about the thing is how it’s turning me very quickly into that guy — the one who stands there on a movie line or when he has nothing better to do and just plays or checks his messages or whatever. Wasn’t I always able to amuse myself just fine before I had an iPhone, and didn’t I mock people like that?

Jeez, you’d think the iPhone had just come out the way I’ve been going on about it the past few days. Yes, I know it’s been around for two years and I’m for sure not the first person to get one. I’m late to the party, and it’s not the first time. But so what if it took me a while? I love having an iPhone, so I’m going a bit overboard here. Don’t mind me. I’m just a man in love.

2.5 Years and 3 Hours Later

20 Jun

I remember the first time I learned about the iPhone. It was January 2007 and I was in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show in the press room. Details about the new Apple device, which was not actually on display there in Vegas, spread like wildfire, and just like that, everything else at CES was rendered insignificant. But as much as I wanted an iPhone when they hit stores that summer, I knew I should wait for the second version.

Last summer, my family gave me an iPod Touch for my birthday, and I returned it because I wanted one of the new second generation iPhones, which had just hit stores. But then I heard that a higher-capacity version would be out around the holidays, so I decided to wait a little longer. Obviously, that rumor didn’t come true, and at that point, I had waited long enough so I decided to wait six more months for the third-generation iPhone.

All year long I waited for news of the announcement. And as the Worldwide Developers Conference approached, reading the Unofficial Apple Weblog became a daily habit. I’d even go to various Apple stores to check some of the things I heard, but the salesfolks always kept mum. Suffice it to say, when it was announced two weeks ago that the iPhone 3GS would go on sale on June 19, I blocked that night on my calendar so I could go to the Apple Store and finally get my iPhone.

Let’s cut to the chase. After work on Friday night, after getting shut out at the Chestnut Hill store (because I didn’t pre-order my phone in time) and learning via phone that I’d be no more successful at the Cambridgeside Galleria, I headed down to the Apple Store on Boylston St., where I was told they had an almost unlimited supply of phones. I got there at 6:50 p.m. and got in line outside the store. Lindsay, one of the friendly and enthusiastic greeters, came by with water, granola bars, and candy for us, and then she hung around to answer any questions we had. People on the street, a surprising number of clueless ones, would stop to ask what the line was for. And then, at 7:20, I went in … and got in another, longer line. Thankfully, I stood behind a guy who already had an iPhone (he was there to get one with his girlfriend), and after telling me about some cool apps that I should get, he gave me a tip on creating my own ringtones for free. Other greeters passed out more water, granola bars, and candy, and hung around to answer questions. Despite the wait, spirits were high all around.

Finally, at 9:05, a salesperson named Elias came over to help me. They say the S in the iPhone 3GS stands for speed, but clearly that speed did not apply to those of us waiting in line. Why did it take so long? Well, it’s mostly because Apple’s customer service is so good — and I say that without any hint of irony or sarcasm. Elias, like all the other salespeople were doing with other customers, worked with me one-on-one, answering all my questions, showing me any accessories I wanted to see, and walking me through the entire purchasing process. He did this enthusiastically and intelligently, without pressuring me to buy things I didn’t need. How he was able to do this with such a positive, patient attitude after working all day I just don’t know. But suffice it to say, I was impressed.

After my sale was final, Elias took me upstairs, where a “genius” named Lee helped me activate my phone, set it up, and get it working. Again, he did so with a smile and patience, and didn’t make me feel silly for asking some basic things. Whoever is training these Apple retail folks is doing a damned good job. It made the fact that when I finally left the store, I hardly noticed that it was three hours after I had arrived.

Of course, the point of the story is this: The wait is over and I now have an iPhone! Woo hoo! I’m very excited, even if that makes me sound geeky. And so far, it was totally worth it. My iPhone is so fast and cool and I love it. I’ve already loaded the thing up with music, videos, and a few apps. More of each to come. Woo hoo! Kudos to Apple for creating such a cool-ass device, and for having such great people in the store selling it.