Friday, October 28, 2011

Nutshell iPhone/Otterbox case review

If you are like me, you want expensive stuff to really last. For my iPhone, that meant getting an Otterbox Defender. I always get a slightly nervous feeling when I see someone handling an iPhone without a case. It really doesn't take much of a mistake to destroy one. If you aren't familiar with Otterbox by the way, their cases are about the toughest thing going. Well worth a look.

The Otterbox Defender is a great case. You iPhone will survive a lot of situations that would demolish it otherwise. It does have one serious problem though. The included belt clip is junk. There is just no other way to say it. It is a hard plastic clip contraption that holds your phone by friction more than anything else. If you rely on the stock belt clip, your phone will fall out sooner or later. (The Defender will save it from damage mind you but but not from loss if you don't notice that it's gone) That's where Nutshell comes in. You know those thick leather holsters the police carry their guns in, think of that, but for a phone. Nutshell uses strong, high quality, leather and a very rigid reinforced steel belt clip. The interior of the case is felt lined and the Velcro tab secures the top quite effectively. Additionally, the interior side of the case is extra stiffened so that if your iPhone is inserted screen side in, there is almost no way to break your screen.

The example you see above has been worn daily for two years. It's picked up a few scuffs here and there but is otherwise functioning perfectly. In addition to snugly holding an iPhone/Otterbox combo, this case also works perfectly with the Mophie Juice Pack Air, at least on my 3GS.

The total price for this sort of protection will run you about $100. That sounds expensive to be sure but it really beats the expense and hassle of replacing a destroyed iPhone by a wide margin when you think about it. After two years of daily use in all sorts of conditions (NYC Subway every day, cycling all over the place, numerous vacations, and lots of roughhouse play with my kids) my iPhone doesn't have a scratch. That's the best recommendation I can make.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nice day for a ride

Elizabeth and I had a wonderful day in the park. The weather was perfect and we took our bicycles for a nice long ride. She asked me if she could try riding my three speed folding bike. I thought about that for a bit and figured, hey, let's try lowering the seat and see if she could do it. It worked out perfectly. In fact she liked riding a three speed so much that she asked me if she could have it. I figured, you know, I've got my big Worksman cruiser now so I don't really ride the little folder too much...why not.

Elizabeth is very excited about her new bike. Unlike her little kids bike, this one has handbrakes and three speeds. It's a real road bike and she's coming to realize that she can go much faster on this that she could on her old bike.

I'm very happy that she likes to go bicycling. So many kids nowadays just sit around all day doing nothing. It's nice to see her get out and about getting some exercise and enjoying a nice day in the park.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It ain't looking good...

When the history of our time is written twenty or so years from now, I believe that it will be recorded as a depression, not merely a recession with a weak recovery. My reasoning for this relates to one of the harshest aspects of the Great Depression of the thirties. Back then, the amount of money in circulation plummetted to such a great degree that prices had to collapse in response. A loaf of bread and a quart of milk could be had for fifteen cents, at the worst of those times. What struck me today about this sort of deflation is why its opposite, rapidly rising prices-inflation, is not occurring. The major world powers, not just the U.S. mind you, have been rapidly increasing the world's money supply through a variety of financial "bail-out" methods. It should follow then that a large increase in the money supply should cause high or hyper inflation. And yet, it isn't happening. Yes prices have risen a bit here and there, perhaps 5% or so. That doesn't make any sense to me unless something else is operating to drive prices down. And this is why I'm thinking Depression. It seems likely to me that the reason that a huge increase in the money supply hasn't triggered run-away inflation is that it is being balanced by a large increase in deflationary pressure at the same time. The two forces are largely operating in a state of equilibrium. This is not a recipe for long term recovery, much less stability. We can't keep injecting money into the economy forever.

To pull out of this, we need to do something that quickly re-establishes confidence in the economy as a whole. I would suggest two simultaneous approaches.

First of all, instead of berating businesses, work with them. Pull the leadership of the Fortune 500 into a closed door meeting and pointedly tell them that you want them to hire 5 million people. Then throw it back to them by asking what they want from the government to make that happen. Some might want tax abatements, others exemption from regulation, others trade protection, whatever. Make the deal and make it happen and hold them to the hiring goal.

Secondly, stop the bleeding. Create a new system to address the consequences of layoffs. Empower the Department of Labor in the following fashion. Any employer contemplating an economic based layoff (disciplinary layoffs are, obviously, something entirely different) should have to confidentially inform the Department before any action is taken. Upon receipt of this notice, the Labor Department would have the power to pay the employer the value of the would-be laid off employees unemployment benefits. In return, the employer would only be able to reduce the employment hours of the affected workers to the break-even point. The layoff thus does not happen. To be sure, the employee is adversely effected. But these employees will still remain employees who have to get out of bed in the morning, put gas in their cars or get on the subway. They will not have to tell their families that they are unemployed. They will not have to tell a prospective new employer that they became unemployed. And, the cost to the treasury should be the same as it would have been had traditional unemployment benefits been paid out.

This isn't a perfect proposal. There is potential for abuses by many different parties. That being said, abuses can be prevented and dealt with by appropriate enforcement mechanisms. I increasingly believe that unless we change course economically though, our future is very bleak indeed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The iPhone 4S

I have been reading the reviews of the iPhone 4s. So far the overall opinion seems to be that the device is a disappointment. I have to admit that I agree with this assessment. With the exception of the new camera the 4 S does not seem to offer anything new. Even the new voice input system is largely available through Dragon. I am actually dictating these comments into my original iPhone 3 GS. This system, while not perfect, does work reasonably well. The question thus becomes, is the $199 price tag of the new iPhone 4 S, worth it for a camera upgrade. Bear in mind that you will have to pay $100 for a new apple care plan and $30 for a new activation fee along with the cost of a new case should you be upgrading from an iPhone three model. With tax the bill could easily come to nearly $400. That may seem reasonable to some people but frankly I think that's very expensive for what you are getting. Accordingly I think I will pass.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Just watched the iPhone 4s intro

Honestly underwhelmed. It is an iPhone 4 with a better camera and some sort of voice input system for twice the 4's price. I'm thinking pass on this one.

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