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Why I Returned My iPhone 6

As I recently wrote in a Macworld article, Why I’m returning my iPhone 6 (well, maybe), Apple’s latest phone just doesn’t work for me. When I wrote the article, I was still on the fence, but this morning, I’ve returned the iPhone 6.

I found it interesting that a large number of commenters to the Macworld article agreed with me. I thought I would seem like a curmudgeon, but I’ve been hearing from many people by email, and on social media, that they, too, just don’t find the iPhone 6 to be to their liking.

The only reason is its size. My iPhone is a very personal device, one that I carry with me most of the time, and one that is a link to the world, whether by phone or text (which I actually use very little), or by email, Twitter and other services. For me, the iPhone allows me, in part, to not be at my desk all the time. As a freelancer working at home, I like the freedom I have to not work set hours, and having the iPhone in my pocket means that if something urgent comes up, I can be notified, and get back home.

I used the iPhone 6 for a week; I went back to the iPhone 5s on Friday, to see if I really liked it better. And I did. This may be because of its familiarity; it’s a comfortable size. I can hold it comfortably in one hand, and do most of what I need with just one hand. The iPhone 6, however, felt alien, as though it was just not the right size for my hand. Granted, iPhones have always been smaller (I don’t consider the taller display of the iPhone 5 and 5s to be that different from previous models), so the iPhone 6 was very new. But it just wasn’t right for me.

I’ve always bought unlocked iPhones, and I’ve bought them from Apple, so I have the option of returning them within 14 days. I appreciate Apple’s return policy that allows me to try out a new device. I’ve never returned any Apple products for this reason before; I’ve exchanged defective Macs, but never sent back something I simply didn’t like.

In the latest episode of my podcast, The Committed, our guest, Christina Warren, asked if I wouldn’t feel tech lust not having the latest iPhone for a year. I don’t think I will; it’s a wonderful device, but there’s nothing really compelling in the iPhone 6 that I’ll miss, other than the ability to have 128 GB, so I can store more music on my device. Sure, the display is a bit nicer, the camera a bit better, but if the device isn’t comfortable to use, then what’s the point?

This will be the first time I’ve kept an iPhone for two years. I’ll certainly upgrade next year, to the iPhone 6s or 7, whichever model they release. I may not have a choice next year, and may have to choose a larger iPhone. But I think with the number of people who still want a smaller model, Apple is likely to offer three sizes with the next iPhone. We’ll know in a year.

How To: Prepare an iOS Device for Return, Exchange or Sale

If you ever need to erase an iOS device completely, to return it (as I’m doing today with my iPhone 6), to exchange it, or to sell it, it’s a simple process, but you need to make sure you do it correctly. You can’t just wipe the device in iTunes, using the Restore function; that will still keep it linked to your Apple ID.

2014-09-29 11.14.12.pngGo to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll see a dialog asking if you’re sure you want to do this; if you are, go ahead. The device will erase everything but the OS, and you’ll see the welcome screen that you saw when you first set it up, or first installed the latest version of iOS.

But there’s another thing you need to do. In iTunes, go to the iTunes Store, then to your account. In the iTunes in the Cloud section, you’ll see a Manage Devices entry. Click Manage Devices, then check to see if your iOS device is listed there. Reseting it should delete it from the list, but it may not. Since you can only have ten iOS devices linked to your account, you may be near that limit, if you have a couple of Macs, an iPhone, an iPad, and a couple of devices for your spouse, partner or children. If you find your device there, click Remove.

That’s it. You can now return, exchange, sell or give away your device.

Just Sitting: The Zen Practice of Shikantaza

Once or twice a day, I sit facing a wall in my home[1]. I just sit. I sit for twenty minutes, a half-hour, sometimes more. But I just sit. I sit and think not thinking; I do that by non-thinking.

This is the Zen practice of shikantaza, or “just sitting.” You sit, cross-legged if you can, and let your mind alone. When you stop thinking, you reach a point of non-thinking. It’s one of the typical paradoxes of Zen that makes your brain try and twist around those words, “not,” “non-” and “thinking” to figure out what they mean.

Unlike other forms of meditation, shikantaza doesn’t involve concentrating on an object, such as your breath or a mantra. It is “objectless meditation,” where you focus on everything you experience – thoughts, sounds, feelings – without attaching to any of them. When you get there, you know what it is.

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“Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking? Non-thinking. This in itself is the essential art of zazen.”[2]

I’ve been practicing meditation off and on for about 25 years. After following the Tibetan tradition for a while, I drifted among other forms of practice, notably Theravadan insight meditation, before settling on Zen. There are many different schools of meditation, and even in Zen, there are two main currents: Rinzai and Sōtō. It is this latter, Sōtō Zen, founded by Eihei Dōgen in the 13th century, that feels right to me. It’s the one whose main practice is just sitting.

But you don’t need to follow any school to meditate, or sit, as we say in Zen lingo. In recent years, mindfulness, or a secular form of sitting meditation, has become mainstream, notably as a tool to reduce stress. Many studies have shown that meditation of any kind is good for the brain. Even if you don’t want to follow a path of meditation, or a particular tradition, just sitting for a few minutes every day can be a wonderful way to get back in touch with reality and recharge your brain. You can use just sitting to ground yourself, to take a few minutes away from the vortex of the world around you.

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The New Maria Callas Remasters: Good or Bad?

The other day, I posted about the new box set of Maria Callas’ Complete Studio Recordings being available for download on the iTunes Store. I had a few exchanges with Andrew Rose, of Pristine Classical, which restores historical recordings, and Andrew said that he thought the Callas remasters were not good. He told me he was writing something for his newsletter, and granted me permission to reproduce it here.

Here’s what Andrew Rose has to say about these remasters.


There’s been a surprising amount of fuss about a new Maria Callas box set recently. Music and tech blogger and Macworld writer Kirk McElhearn noted its appearance on iTunes – “This is the first big classical box set I’ve seen on iTunes sold as a set” he wrote on Facebook this week. I’ve also seen it popping up on music websites – on Qobuz, for example, the music is being promoted with a picture of a box set, but it’s actually being offered across individual albums in various formats up to and including ultra-hi-resolution 24-bit 96kHz lossless downloads.

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Learn about LaunchBar’s Six Superpowers in My Latest Book: Take Control of LaunchBar

Updated for the recently released LaunchBar 6.

I’ve been using LaunchBar for nearly as long as it has been around on the Mac. It’s the first utility that I install on every new Mac; with LaunchBar installed, I can get on with everything else I need to do.

LaunchBar has superpowers. It won’t give you the power to cloud men’s minds or climb the sides of buildings, but it will turn you into a Mac superhero. Anyone can master LaunchBar’s basic uses: launching applications, opening files, searching the Web, and more. But this book will teach you the six LaunchBar superpowers so you can work far more efficiently on your Mac. Yes, six; if you had the previous version of Take Control of LaunchBar, you recall there were five superpowers, but the wonderful developers at Objective Development added a sixth superpower to version 6 of the app.

And, LaunchBar 6 sports a great new interface:

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Learn how to use LaunchBar to carry out nearly any Mac task more efficiently. To help you develop a mental map of all that LaunchBar can do, I explain LaunchBar in the context of its five superpowers — key LaunchBar techniques that no Mac user should be without.

  1. Abbreviation search. The primary way you select things in LaunchBar is by typing a few letters associated with the item you want to find. LaunchBar is smart (so the abbreviation doesn’t have to be obvious) and learns from what you type (in case it guessed wrong the first time).
  2. Browsing. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you want to work with until you see it. Abbreviation search won’t help there, but you can browse folders, recent documents for an app, clipboard history, snippets, and more.
  3. Sub-search. Too many results in a list to browse? Try a sub-search, which is an abbreviation search limited to a list of search results.
  4. Send To. Want to open a PDF in PDFpen rather than Preview? Or attach a document to a new email message? You can send anything on LaunchBar’s bar to another application, folder, action, or service.
  5. Instant Send. For those who want to save the most time, Instant Send is the fastest way to put a selected file or bit of text on the bar, ready to open in another app, move to a folder, send to a Google search, look up in Dictionary, and more.
  6. Staging. This lets you select multiple items in LaunchBar—even if those items are in different locations—and then act on them all together.

LaunchBar 6 has loads of great new features: a new look; live feedback for searches, calendar events, reminders and more; calculator history; access to emoji characters; text transformations; and usage statistics to help you understand which superpowers you’ve mastered, and which you need to learn more about.

But LaunchBar does much more. You can do more than 1,000 things with this simple utility. Let LaunchBar’s superpowers save you from a lifetime of Mac drudgery: get Take Control of LaunchBar for just $10. Check out this comic for a concrete illustration of LaunchBar’s five superpowers.

Read how much publisher Adam Engst learned from editing my book.

Don’t have LaunchBar? Buy it from Objective Development.

Press

For the first version of Take Control of LaunchBar:

Shawn Blanc:

“If you use LaunchBar, you’re going to want this book. I’ve been reading through it over the past few days and have learned several new things that I’m putting to good use already.”

 
MacVoices Podcast

Hear (and see) me discuss the book with Chuck Joiner on the MacVoices podcast.

 


The Committed Podcast Goes In-Depth on the iPhone 6

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray and I welcome Christina Warren (Rob couldn’t make it), and we talk about the iPhone 6. We have a lot more to say than in the previous episode, because, now, we all have iPhone 6s. But I am likely to return mine, because it’s too big, so we discuss that, Christina tells us about jailbreaking Kindles, and much more. Oh, and, sorry, the audio quality isn’t great…

Listen to The Committed, Episode 51: 500 Different Scenarios of Awesome.

Some Thoughts on the Potential of ApplePay in Europe

The highlights of Apple’s recent new-product announcements were certainly the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. But a big part of the presentation was spent discussing Apple Pay, the contactless payment system that will leverage the iPhone 6, and, eventually, the Apple Watch. This is certainly a big deal, because of Apple Pay’s added security and ease of use. However, it’ll be a bigger deal in the United States than it will be in Europe and other parts of the world.

Read my Macworld article.

My Review of Blogo, a WordPress Blog Editor and Manager

If you run a WordPress blog from your Mac, you’ve got a couple of options when it comes to editing the text of your posts. There are, of course, WP’s own built-in HTML and WYSIWYG editors, which you access in your browser. But a desktop editor makes the process easier (and can be more powerful than the online alternatives). Red Sweater’s $40 MarsEdit is the king of the desktop WordPress editors for the Mac, but it’s not the only one: Blogo first came out in 2008 (Macworld reviewed version 1.3 in 2010) but then disappeared for a bit. Now it’s back—but maybe before it’s ready.

Read my Macworld review.

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