Apple Versus AOL

Argh. Sorry in advance, this is a frustration rant about email/usernames. Read if you’re interested in my Apple VS AOL plight.

Today, my ambivalence toward Apple as a company has changed. Usually, I couldn’t care less. I don’t know how to use an Apple computer because I’ve always had a PC. That’s fine I guess. I use my iPad primarily as an eBook reader. It’s pretty cool; I like it. I’ve never had an iPod or iPhone. Because of my husband’s distaste for Apple (though he has an iPod, has had an iPhone, wanted a Macbook, and yes bought me that iPad…I’ll never understand men), I have never actively sought out any Apple products. It’s not that I dislike them; it used to be that I couldn’t afford them. Now, I’m used to PC and Android and that’s fine with me. Or at least it’s usually fine with me.

Though I’ve never bought any Apple electronics, I’ve always used iTunes. I tried Windows Media among other players and just genuinely prefer iTunes. The setup is easy to navigate; the store is good. I’ve had some issues with songs duplicating themselves in my library or the file not being found but that was my own poor organizing skills. Alright, fine.

Well, today I got a cute email from Apple saying that my AppleID needs to be changed because “AOL will no longer support your ability to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store.” It also went on to state that if you logged in with your usual AOL email, “You will automatically be taken through a few short steps to complete the process.” I figured this was a minor annoyance that could easily be fixed. Instead of using my email as my username, I’ll just switch it to my typical moniker and have my contact email as my AOL email.

Nope. Apple doesn’t work that way. You see, your AppleID HAS to be a valid email address. For most people, I guess that’s probably not a huge deal. Just switch it over to whatever other email address you use. Here’s the problem. I only use AOL email addresses. Oh sure, I used to have some yahoo account that expired from infrequent use. Yea yea, I have a school email. I would, however, clarify that I use my school email primarily for school business only. This is because school email addresses have a tendency to expire after you graduate. I don’t want to lose access to my Apple account merely because I graduated and moved on with my life.

So, what are my options? Lose my account. Nope, like I said, iTunes is my music player. That’s also how I install apps on my iPad or buy books in iBooks. Make a new email address. With whom? Yahoo? No, I always forget to sign in and then it expires on me. MSN? Same problem. Hotmail? Eh. Oh wait, what is that random email that I get on my smartphone? Gmail. I have a Galaxy, an Android phone, with Google written all over it. That means, somewhere out there, I have a gmail address. Of course, I don’t get emails in my gmail account, except for the ones from gmail telling me the terms and conditions have changed or one of my YouTube subscriptions has uploaded a new video…and I only check those because I literally have to click on a notification and they pop up on my screen.

*Sighs* Well, fine then. I guess I’ll change my AppleID to my gmail address. Thanks Apple. Thanks AOL. You guys are obnoxious.

So, I guess today my ambivalence toward Apple turned into minor frustration at their ridiculous username VS email ID setup. Will it negatively affect my perceptions of Apple (or AOL even) as a company? Probably not. But it was annoying enough to rant about on a public blog.

P.S. When I tried to contact customer support, Apple advertises an email contact. However, when you go through all their contact prompts, they distinctly refuse email contact and force you to call them. No thanks, I really just wanted to send you a whiny email telling you to get your act together and make yourselves compatible with my regular email.

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Apple VS Samsung

Hi all,

I recently (or relatively recently) posted about my minor annoyance with both Apple and AOL. Today, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my newest experiences with Apple and Samsung.

So a couple of weeks ago, I was due for a cell upgrade. I previously had the Samsung Galaxy S3. It was a pretty neat phone, but that could just be my own sentimentality. After all the S3 was my first smartphone. That’s right: I actually waited until 2013 to get a smartphone. After a couple of years, the S3 started running slowly and having battery life issues. The battery thing was probably due to my status as a graduate student in the deep, dark basement. No service kills a phone faster than any app I’ve ever used. (Update BestFiends kills battery worse than No Service!) And the running slow was my own fault, since I had bogged down most of the memory with photos and videos.

Regardless, I went to the Verizon store with every intention of getting a new phone, probably the S5. I had the advantage of seeing it firsthand when a friend upgraded her S3 to the S5. Because of the draining battery and possibly a minor irritation with the awkward-to-navigate settings menu, I knew I would at least check out all the other available phones. I walked through the store and saw another Samsung that looked a whole lot different from the S3. After checking it out for awhile, I noticed it was called the Galaxy S6 Edge. Alright, whatever, so they came out with an S6. I also checked out the S5, a Blackberry, a Windows phone, an HTC etc. I briefly glanced at the iPhones. I’ll admit, I didn’t give them much thought because I’d rather not provoke a divorce.

Eventually, a sales associate came out. I asked questions about the differences between the S5 and S6 what the purpose of the edge screen was on the S6 Edge, and more. He told me that the hardware differences between the S5 and S6 were big (though mysteriously and disappointingly, no specs were quoted). He also said that the edge screen has no purpose. The phone is $100 more and it’s just for looks. Oh and by the way, we have none in stock. We also don’t have the S6 in stock. We have basically nothing in stock. You’ll have to go to BestBuy. (Uhm, OK?! Usually, my only complaint about Verizon is their prices, but this experience was weird.)

Showed up at a BestBuy Mobile and talked to their representatives (which took seconds rather than 10’s of minutes). The edge screen does have a purpose, in fact more than one. It functions as a night clock, notifications bar, a color coordinated emergency contacts lightup thingy, a newsfeed for News/Twitter/other stuff I don’t use. Out of curiosity, I had them tell me the difference between the iPhone6 and the S6 Edge. Now, I’ve done no external research to verify, but the guys at BestBuy tell me that the camera is twice as good and my processor is an octo-core (8 cores) instead of dual-core (2 cores). I would guess that means my processor is about four times better. That’s right, I said my…so I bought the S6 Edge. After a few weeks, I’m impressed. The graphics are better, the battery life is better, the curved screen is sweet, and the price was reasonable. I guess I’m a Samsung enthusiast, for now.

TV Series Review: Fringe

Ok, so my husband and I have a tendency to watch an episode or two of whatever show we’re involved in before bed time. I believe it was on recommendation from my Mom but we started watching Fringe. I liked it pretty much from the beginning. Now that we’ve finished the series, I’m trying to work out how I feel about the show as a whole. Be warned this show has a convoluted plot so the post is going to be pretty long.

**SPOILER ALERT** I would like to talk about this show as a whole so if you don’t want to hear about major plot twists or the ending, stop reading. Go watch it then come back.

The premise for the show is pretty cool: FBI agent (Olivia) starts investigating cases that are on the strange side and needs help from the scientist that invented much of the technology that makes these cases strange (Walter). He’s in a mental institution and can only be signed out by his son (Peter). Olivia tracks Peter down somewhere in the Middle East where he seems to be conning people and running from life in general. Peter has a very strained relationship with his father but agrees to help Olivia and, to his dismay, winds up becoming Walter’s caretaker and mad-scientist-translator.

Eventually, Peter and Walter become permanent consultants for the FBI and with Olivia are made into a “Fringe” team. Think Scully and Mulder except with a crazy uncle hanging around saying weird things and self-medicating. That’s one thing I thought annoying about the show: quite a bit of drug usage. 

The events and technology that the team investigates are interesting, though often seem far-fetched. Whatever, it’s sci-fi; I kind of expect that. Along the way, we find out that Peter is actually from an alternate universe where almost everything is almost the same. Everybody in “our” universe has a duplicate character in the “alternate” universe. Turns out Walter’s son Peter died as a child and so he kidnapped alternate Peter and raised him as his son. His crossing of the universes winds up tearing holes in the veil between the universes causing all kinds of mayhem and almost destroying both universes. Walternate (alternate Walter) is ticked both at the loss of his son and at the damage to his universe where people are dying and being set in amber (like fossils).

He sets out to bring his son home and then destroy the universe that Walter is in. Of course, the Fringe team wants to stop him. Peter winds up in Walternate’s universe but is told that everyone on the side he was raised on will die. He has to make the choice of staying with his real (somewhat evil) father or go back and fight for the universe he was raised in. At this point, Peter’s relationship with Walter has grown enough to where you can see him not wanting Walter dead (though he does feel betrayed about the whole kidnapping thing). In a heartbreaking scene between Olivia and Peter, she finally tells him that there’s a bunch of reasons for him to come home, but the only one she really cares about is that he belongs with her.

About time. Shortly after, Faux-livia (alternate Olivia) infiltrates the team by switching places with Olivia while Olivia is held prisoner by Walternate. Relationship drama ensues when Olivia comes home only to find out that Peter never realized Faux-livia wasn’t her. Oh and when Faux-livia goes back to her universe, she finds out she’s pregnant. Yikes.

Despite the relationship drama, the team learns they have to save the world by putting Peter into this creepy machine that the Walters designed and built. It’s supposed to destroy one of the universes but instead he builds a bridge between the two universes, forcing the team to work with the alternate team to try to save both universes. This erases Peter from the timeline.

Here’s where things get tricky. The show starts doing weird things with time travel. Much of the plot above results from actions of the “Observers,” genetically engineered men from the future that come to observe the humans from our era. One Observer is told to erase what’s left of Peter (sort of a ghostly echo) but he disobeys and Peter manages to squeeze himself back into time and the universe proper. Only to find out that everyone has forgotten him. He thinks he came back into the wrong timeline and tries to get Walter (who believes both Peters died as children) and Olivia (who never met Peter in the first place) to help him get back to his timeline. The group works together for awhile and sort of regrows their friendships. A pretty miserable circumstance for Peter.

Eventually, Olivia remembers the first timeline (reference is made to relationships touching hearts in ways such that the soul cannot forget). And winds back up with Peter, having a daughter Etta (Henrietta). But the Observers get a little handsy and take over the universe. Etta is kidnapped at 3 years old; Peter and Olivia fall apart as a couple. He searches for Etta while Olivia works with the Resistance to fight the Observers. They all get ambered and Etta revives them after 21 years. Walter has a plan to save the universe but they have to scavenge all the parts in the places he’s hid them. Observers kill Etta, nearly destroying Peter and Olivia’s refound relationship.

Peter sticks an Observer’s brain chip into his own head and nearly becomes an Observer himself but removes it when he realizes he will lose Olivia (Observers have no emotion and therefore don’t love). They eventually get everything they need, including a child Observer (sort of) that needs to be taken to the future to stop the scientists from creating the Observers in the first place. Walter plans to take him (and is inoculated for the trip) but the boy’s father inoculates himself to take Walter’s place. Unfortunately, in the final gun battle, the boy’s father is killed and Walter must take the boy to the future. He has to stay there because otherwise there will be a time paradox or something.

In another heartbreaking scene, Peter calls Walter dad and tells him he loves him before Walter leaves for the distant future with the boy. This erases the Observers and the final scene shows Peter and Olivia playing with young Etta on the day when the Observers would have invaded. They seem to have no memory of the events or of Walter.

My interpretation of this is that there was a lot that they tried to wrap up kind of quickly. Maybe they realized they were not going to be funded for more seasons and decided to close up the best they could. Not bad, if that’s the case. The part that bothers me though, is that last part…I felt like the entire purpose of the show, the main message, the whole point, was this broken relationship between father and son (ok so kidnapped son). As the show progresses, Peter goes from darn near hating Walter, to tolerating him, to caring about him, to loving him. If everything happens and he just forgets that Walter ever existed, well then that kind of kills the point. Plus, without Walter the two had no reason really to ever meet and fall in love and have Etta.

That’s not even including the fact that if the Observers never existed, then Walternate wouldn’t have missed the formula for saving Peter from the disease that killed Walter’s Peter and Walter never would have kidnapped him. So Peter wouldn’t even be in the same universe as Olivia…not ideal for falling in love and again having Etta. And then finally there’s the growth of Peter and Olivia. Similar to the growing relationship between Walter and Peter, the relationship between Olivia and Peter similarly grows and hits major speed bumps and grows.

At the end, you really feel like a lot of who they are as a couple, their strength and love for each other, is what it is because of what they’ve been through. So how can they be the same people and not remember what made them who they are? I don’t know. The not remembering is too tragic. So, in my head, they remember.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. Feel free to chime in if you have opinions.

Book Review: The Eye of Midnight by Andrew Brumbach

Hi all,

I recently received an ARC of The Eye of Midnight by Andrew Brumbach as a contest winner for the incredibly useful blog Literary Rambles (http://www.literaryrambles.com/). Of course, I’m always willing to read more books so here’s my opinion on this one.

Recently, I read somewhere that the young main character going off to a grandparent’s / other elderly relative’s home for summer vacation is a tired trope. That premise inspires no disdain or otherwise negative feelings for me; so I’m fine with the premise of this book.

Which is: young cousins William and Maxine are sent to their grandfather’s manor for the summer. Maxine arrives at the manor first, and upon exploration finds no one present. She holes up in the library for awhile until William arrives. The cousins get the chance to explore more thoroughly before Colonel Battersea (their grandpa) finally shows up. After receiving a weird telegram though, he rounds the children up and starts traveling for NYC. He tells the kids that he’ll put them to bed in a hotel and then head off to collect a package from a courier.

When the group gets off the train though, Colonel Battersea disappears. The kids try to get help from law enforcement but eventually decide their best bet is to meet the courier. This decision starts a grand adventure to rescue the courier’s package from gangsters, their grandpa from secretive assassins, and themselves from all the danger in between.

In my opinion, this was a fun story. The characters are engaging, the plot appropriately paced. The language was a bit flowery, almost in a poetic way. I’m not sure if that’s a product of the author’s voice or the historical setting. Regardless, it was done well and not overdone so I like it. Also, I’m glad to say that this book is totally kid appropriate (good thing since it’s aimed for a younger audience). And Colonel Battersea’s adventurous ways are built up with some good wisdom and hopefulness that shows up near the end.

Accolades to the author; I would be intrigued enough to buy into this if he intends to make it into a series. (It seems like that’s where this is headed since the kids’ summer isn’t over and now they’re on to a new adventure.) Particularly, I want to know about Nura’s (the courier) journey to bring the package to Colonel Battersea.

Book Review: A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

Hi all,

So I’ll put this right up front. I liked this book. In all honesty, it’s not really my typical genre (horse ranch plus some romance) but it was Christian and free so I thought I’d give it a try.

The plot is more or less: traumatic event triggers panic in pampered rich kid, Noelle. She runs as far as she can before exhaustion drops her in a small town. As the tour bus loads up and leaves her behind, she finds out the town only has two rental places, one rundown shack or the horse ranch. The owner of the ranch, Rick, usually only rents to fellow Christians (and his stubborn brother, Morgan) but is led to let her stay. Painting the beautiful mountain scenes brings in enough cash to pay her rent for the summer months but the ranch is a seasonal business. Rick gives Noelle an ultimatum: tell him what she’s running from so he can decide whether or not he’s willing to help or she will have to find another place to live.

Unfortunately, you can’t run from the past forever. Eventually, it catches up. And leads the characters on a somewhat heartbreaking journey toward forgiveness, faith, and healing.

Again, not being familiar with the author, I was a little concerned this book might take the overused basis: girl meets charming Christian boy, temptation and trials ensue, girl conveniently finds her faith just before boy’s interest is lost forever, happily ever after. I am happy to note that this was not the case. Noelle’s road to salvation occurred on both a realistic timeline and over an emotional growth that was believable. Kudos, author.

As far as criticism goes, no serious complaints. I thought the plot seemed reminiscent of Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks. *Shrugs* A lot of books remind me of other books or movies. No problemo. I do have to agree with other reviewers that the writing was longer than necessary but all authors have their own styles. Ms. Heitzmann’s style seems to be more literary than I’m used to.

Noelle’s behavior was sometimes a bit weird to me. I blamed it on her life as a sheltered rich kid and her PTSD. Also, I’ve also known people who seem to pick the stupidest of all possible choices no

matter what. A lot of people out there are emotion-driven and will throw common sense out the window when they get upset or scared. So that’s not really a big deal to me because I know people who would act like that.

Overall, I liked the book. If I happen to notice other stuff by this author in stores and the plot looks compelling, I’d buy it.

Book Review: The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Some of it is genre research and some of it is just stuff from my favorite authors that I found at the local used bookstore. Of course, every time I go through the mall, I make a pit-stop at the aforementioned bookstore. I always check to see if there’s any Ted Dekker books that I haven’t read.

For those of you who don’t know, Ted Dekker is actually pretty prolific. I own or have read a lot of his stuff. Imagine my surprise when my last bookstore visit went something like: “Got it, got it, got it, read it, got it…got it. Wait do I have that one? (Picks up like-new, hardcover copy of The Sanctuary and skims the flap description.) I don’t think I’ve ever read this one.”

Which leads to my current problem: I don’t know how I feel about this book! Most books I read have some message behind them. The Biblical parallels in The Circle Trilogy (*cough* you can’t add a fourth book to a trilogy *cough*) Series are beautiful and unique. Skin talks the reader through a discussion of true beauty. The Sanctuary guides the reader down a path that I’m sure is laden with something…I just can’t figure out what.

From the very beginning, you’re introduced to two characters with immense love for each other. Renee is a neurotic mess fretting over the fate of her beloved. Danny is behind bars, serving time after confessing to murders Renee committed. Danny’s not so innocent himself. He’s murdered his own fair share of people.

I’m not opposed to a good vigilante story. And after Danny tells you why he killed those people, well you don’t really feel that bad for his victims. The plot comes in where Danny is transferred to an experimental prison run by the Warden. The Warden is intent on “breaking” Danny by torturing him until he renounces his recent vow of nonviolence and kills somebody. The Warden doesn’t really care who, his prisoners are pawns in his creepy game.

Meanwhile, Renee enlists the help of a former cop when she gets a ransom-like “I’ll kill Danny if you don’t do what I want” warning. This sets her and the former cop on a somewhat epic adventure. Here, I’m thinking one female lead, two male leads. One of the men is going to die. That’s just how these things work. Ok, I was wrong; the main characters don’t die. Kudos to Ted Dekker! The only author who I’ve allowed to kill off a main character (without my renouncing his/her books forever and wanting desperately to throw the book and maybe the author across the room) is Dean Koontz. Plus, The Sanctuary twisted things in a way that defied my expectations.

But I’m not sure I’m ok with that this time. No spoilers here: but I was somewhat disappointed in the final reveal. Shocked, yes, that’s always good. But also annoyed. I don’t want THAT to happen. Urgh. Well, it’s not my story and the ending did turn out pretty good anyway but really Mr. Dekker? *loud sighs*

Also, I’m still not sure where the lesson came into this one. If you love someone with love as strong as God’s love for you, you won’t be able to control the need to protect and defend them? I’m just not sure if I’m getting this one.

Overall, it was a good book. Not a favorite of mine but everyone has their own tastes. As usual for a Dekker book, the language was clean. Some fighting, torture, and reference to sexual abuse. Maybe not good for the faint of heart. But if you’re faint of heart, I’d never recommend a Ted Dekker book anyway. They’re too robust. Too scary, too thought-provoking. Too real. Which is why I’ll still keep picking up his books.