Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My festival/tennis summer vacation idea

I've not been to many festivals even in the United States - I had an opportunity to go to Bonaroo back in the first couple of years, but didn't do it for whatever reason. There haven't been a whole lot of other opportunities since then - most of the US festivals are on the coasts or elsewhere. Lollapalooza has really not been that interesting to me, and that, along with the much smaller (snooze) Pitchfork festival are probably my closest options.

I discovered this high-def only channel when we bought our new TV called Palladia, which seems to be an outlet for Viacom to repurpose HD content, but good HD content. It's actually about the (mostly live) music, as opposed to their mainstays which have very little to do with music anymore and are more lifestyle oriented (and surprisingly, we don't get in HD yet, but we do get this other, awesome channel)

Watching Palladia has helped fuel my wish to someday go to the Glastonbury music festival to fuel my love of multiple different kids of music (specifically rock and dance), and while I'm at it, take in some other things that go on at that time of year. It would involve going over to the UK and Ireland for 2 to 3 weeks to take in Glastonbury in the UK in the last weekend of June and the Oxegen festival in Ireland which is usually the second weekend of July. In between, I'd want to take in some tennis at Wimbledon (my favorite Tennis tournament for whatever reason) and the sights of Ireland and the UK. I haven't spent any time anywhere other than London and I was 15 when I was last there, so it'd be totally different.

I feel like I'm skewing on the older end of the audience for these festivals given the crowds I've seen in various films of the past festivals. And I could potentially skip the Oxegen festival if the lineup was close enough (the same bands tend to do the festival circuit in Europe, which lasts all summer). Going to Glastonbury would probably be enough.

I have no idea how hard or easy it is to get tickets to any of these things either - Glastonbury sells out in less than 24 hours and many people get shut out. I have no idea if there's a secondary market for it. Wimbledon also seems like it'd be an expensive endeavor. I'd also have to figure out how to work the family into the mix, a tougher proposition when you have a wife that's not a huge live music fan and small children, not compatible with anything.

It's still just a crazy idea in my head, but maybe it'll happen someday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The summer of buying stuff - iPhone 4

I have not been good about updating here. At any rate, it's been a good summer. My wife is back at work and the little one is doing quite well.

I talk quite a bit about things I buy on here, and it has been quite the summer for that. I talked about my TV in a previous post and I've talked about phones.

We did end up getting iPhones a few weeks ago. I liked what I saw with the iPhone 4, and I planted the seed with Katie that she could get one too (I figured that she'd use it more than some other smartphone/device). My Sprint contract expired and that happened to coincide with Katie getting water on the contact of her Palm Centro that she was using and rendering it useless (not before I managed to rescue her contacts in one last sync!).

We have various old Sprint phones lying around from 10+ years of being a customer, the problem is that most of the chargers got thrown out when we moved for whatever reason. So switching Katie to another phone was not really a viable option. I was oh-so-tempted to just re-up with Sprint and get an Evo and get her a Palm Pixi or something similar (she liked the QWERTY on her Centro). But I resisted the urge to do that, and we finally ended up deciding to switch to AT&T and get iPhones.

This was a few weeks ago, and at the time, there was still a shortage of iPhone 4's. If I had a lot of time, I would have ordered through the corporate discount site and waited, but since Katie was sans phone, I decided to try and track some down locally and deal with converting the account to the corporate discount later on. I printed out a list of stores and Katie started calling. Low and behold, the first Apple store she called on a Sunday morning had a "few" 16GB's (what Katie wanted) and "a lot" of 32's (what I wanted) in stock. So I went over there shortly after they opened. They must not have had that many 16's, because they were out when I got there, but they did have 32's and I picked up two of them.

Say what you will about the Apple store. It does have a weird cult-like feel to it, I do admit. But their service is stellar. I was in and out in 20 minutes flat with the new phones. I had left my old phone with Katie and attempted to call her on my blackberry and tell her it was switching over, but the iPhone in my pocket was already ringing. It happens that quick to port a number (never done it before, as I've been with Sprint the whole time). The Apple store employees are top notch.

I got home and got everything set up. I had rescued Katie's contacts from her old phone via Outlook, and I exported those to her Google Account. I had our Google accounts linked via exchange and push in no time flat (done that config several times on my old ipod touch). Boom, all of our contacts are just there, calendars are updated, and my mail is streaming to the device. It just works. I've heard people complain about being a Google platform junkie with iPhones, but hey, it works fine for me. You can use the HTML 5 web apps in Safari and those work very well as well (I use Reader a lot on it, and like it quite a bit). I mean, clearly, android would have been a good fit for my Google loving self too, but Apple plays fine with that world (ironically - thanks to a Microsoft technology!).

I've been a fervent iPod touch user for several years, and this experience is not that different. There's a camera and a phone, and you can access data anywhere but that's really the only difference.

AT&T still leaves a lot to be desired from a pricing perspective - Sprint definitely had them beat there. But my net is going to be a savings of about 10-15 bucks a month. I was actually paying Sprint for things I wasn't really using, which I can get around on AT&T. We went aggressive on the minutes, but have roll-over and won't have to worry about that after a couple of months. I also went really aggressive on text messages, since I don't use that many any longer. I turned off all the services I had texting me, because the iPhone has an app with alerts for most of those things as well (and frankly, I'm trying to funnel everything through email since it's much cheaper to use that on an iPhone than text messaging).

So far so good. Katie likes her phone quite a bit. It does seem to drop calls more than the average phone, but maybe that's just a fluke. I don't know. Verizon and Sprint did not work particularly well within the confines of our house, and AT&T seems to have much better signal strength (I can maintain a call in our basement on my iPhone, I couldn't do that with my old phone consistently).

I guess they all have their flaws, and I'm willing to put up with AT&T for the iPhone. Sucked in by Steve Jobs. I'm still pretty sure I'll end up on Android at some point, but for now, I'm liking what I've got.