Why the iPhone 5S Delivered


I’m going to say something that I never want to say about Apple products, but must say for this one:

The iPhone 5 was a failure.

It wasn’t a colossal failure. It still sold a heck of a lot of units. It had some improvements from the 4S. But it was the first ever thing from Apple that I was like “pfft, I don’t want that. There’s nothing new”. (And yes, that even includes that ridiculous Apple iPod Hi-Fi thingie).

Think about it for a moment. The iPhone 4 to 4S was a major step because the camera was much better improved and there was support for Siri (let’s ignore the fact that you could hack Siri on to an iPhone 4 if you really wanted to). Battery life was also somewhat improved on it.

iPhone 3G to 3GS wasn’t that much of an improvement but there were still good processor and graphics upgrades and, more importantly, the 3GS was able to maintain relevance all the way until now with iOS 7 (not supported on iPhone 3GS). In addition, the iPhone 3GS had a 3.2 MP camera with AutoFocus and zoom; the iPhone 3G had no such thing.

But the iPhone 5? Same MP camera and “faster shooting” (the faster shooting honestly could’ve been somewhat overcome by using a third-party app). Apparently there was better low-light photo taking, but obviously not good enough if the new iPhone 5S keeps touting that True Tone Dual LED flash (I’ll get to that in a sec.).

More RAM and processor speed with the iPhone 5 did happen but we EXPECT that to happen. And the screen? Cool, 4″, that’s great. Screen size should never be one of your most touted features unless we’re talking 5+”. It was also skinnier than the 4S. woo hoo. Oh and it had LTE. OK, cool, but expected (just like how people were clamoring and shouting for 3G on the original iPhone).

Enough history talk though, the 5S…even if we knew basically all the details with all the leaks that came out, I still came out feeling somewhat impressed. Here’s why:

  • New color options: finally. That might seem superficial to you and that’s correct. But we’re all human and therefore we care about superficial crap. I hate the Samsung Galaxy S4 because it looks like a piece of crap. I could get a 3D printer and within a week do better than that plastic piece of junk. The HTC One and Xperia Z are great examples of quality Android phones though. But anyway, colors. Not the whole black/white thing anymore, but rather two-toned, fresh exteriors. Good start.
  • That Camera. OK, so yes it has the same number of megapixels. But remember, megapixels are just one component of a camera. This time, though, the sensor is actually bigger and the aperture better as well. (And apparently there were complaints on the camera in the iPhone 5 about purplish photos). In addition, there are some REALLY COOL FEATURES only present on the iPhone 5S (intelligent burst mode, slow-mo video IN 720P, etc.). I don’t think people are harping enough about the 120 fps at 720p…that’s something that not even the Canon Powershot S110 (their high-end compact camera) can do (120 fps @ 480p). OK, so there’s probably going to be a lot of artifacting/compression, BUT it’s still a major feat. True Tone flash? Not exactly completely unique (other Androids have done it before), but the interpretation of it is still very cool. My iPhone 4S is my most often-used camera now (and I own a Canon S90…and I like good pictures), but the 5S will probably make my S90 TRULY obsolete.
  • Touch ID. I had forgotten that the Motorola Atrix had this feature…and, well, the Atrix didn’t do so hot. But the point is that Apple seems to have done it right, or at least done better with this than Siri or Apple Maps. The most important thing here, though, is that it seems to be the stepping stone for “something else” (hint: TouchID identification for purchases on iTunes). The interface is pretty cool and it seems very easy to use
  • The Specs. Most people who care about cell phone specs don’t have iPhones, and fair enough. It’s not that Apple’s specs are horrible, they’re just not the highest end specs in the world (no, we don’t have to say “Apples v. oranges” here, like when Apple was still using PowerPC vs. Intel). But not this time. Name me an Android phone with a 64-bit processor. You can’t. Now you could argue Samsung has their octa-core S4. But more cores that are still 32-bit. To the average consumer (including myself), this doesn’t mean a heck of a lot…until you realize what kind of apps and things you can truly do.

So should you get the iPhone 5S? If you’re a 4S user, heck yes. It only gets better. An iPhone 5 user? It still sort of depends. But the leap is enough to make you wanting more…heck it’s better than the jump from 4 to 4S, that’s for sure.

And will you see me in line for one? Yes. Depending on whether or not, you know, I can actually get in a line in time.

Satchel’s vs. Blue Highway, aka: Personality vs. Practicality…well sort of.


So this article is absolutely 100% freakin’ biased because of the fact that I was able to finally, finally, FINALLY sit and eat in Satchel’s van yesterday. But, in reality, I actually believe this is really just a culmination of my thoughts all along that were capped off by my last visit there.

First of all, if you’ve never been to both of these restaurants stop reading right now and take some time to go to them. You won’t really understand this article as much until you go. I’d recommend going multiple times to each place, but you must go to both of them once at least.

I should also add that this is referring to Blue Highway’s Tioga Location.

With obvious disclaimers out of the way, and this blog piece already being too long for my most “hurried” of readers, let’s get one thing out of the way: Satchel’s is better.

There’s something about Satchel’s that makes you feel happy and unique for a moment, even though it’s Gainesville’s worst-kept secret. One of the things I look at extensively in a restaurant is its ambience…and, even when you’re not in the van, the ambience is far superior to that at Blue Highway because you don’t feel like you’re in a restaurant at Satchel’s. You feel like you’re at home. The exhaustingly long waits (both for seating and pizza) (which, btw, Satchel’s will warn you multiple times at least) encourage you to actually, you know, TALK to the people you are with. The servers, albeit nice, have a little bit of a hipster edge to them and will grumble and mumble about their iPhone ordering system. They’re somewhat brusquely honest. They’re human.

Blue Highway isn’t necessarily a bad restaurant. The environment passes…as a restaurant. The service passes…as a restaurant. But notice what I said here repeatedly: as a restaurant. Of course, it’s not Blue Highway’s fault that it’s practically in a shack abutted to another shack. And Blue Highway doesn’t need the weird and whimsical shop of Lightning Salvage to have a personality. But Blue Highway is just, well, there. Acceptable front facade. Decent painted walls. Normal chairs. Friendly servers all in uniforms. Woop-de-doo.

Alright, Sey, you superficial ass, so you like the atmosphere of Satchel’s. But what about the food?

This is honestly one of the most contentious points of discussion I have with classmates, friends, hell even random Gainesville-ites I meet on the streets. Without talking about actual taste of food for a moment, let’s consider philosophy. Satchel’s menu really sticks with three things: pizzas, calzones and their famous salad. Satchel’s will give a few suggestions for calzones and pizzas you should get, but they’ll also let you make their own.

Blue Highway? They’ll give you a laundry list of pizzas they want you to have, and then they’ll put their “Make Your Own Pizza” option at the end. Customizable calzones? Not a chance. They also have pastas, sandwiches, and salads (notice the plural). Choice is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a list of choices…not “imagine your choices”.

OK, fine, well what about the taste? Well I can safely say that Blue Highway calzones stink. They taste like cardboard with cardboard cheese. I’ve never been disappointed by a Satchel’s calzone save for one time which was my fault because I got crap toppings. The pizza? I’d say apples vs. oranges…the way each makes their pizzas is just different enough (although a nod to Satchel’s for offering a Deep Dish option). There are times though when I thought the cheese at Blue Highway was too salty. I know I’ve complained a lot about Blue Highway but the fact is their food is actually passable, when chosen right. Kind of like how Chipotle I could love almost everything but when I go to Moe’s I only like some things.

The most important thing, however, is the question that even the highest of Michelin-starred restaurant owners will ask: “Would you want to come here again?”. Either location of Blue Highway (Tioga or Micanopy) always seems like a chore. And what do I get when I make that 20 minute drive to the middle of nowhere? A sterile environment. At least when I’m forced to give my right lung and a hand to Sabore the ambience has a little more flare to it (albeit their food is, well, “meh”). Going to Satchel’s feels more like a field trip adventure.

You can decide all you want about which pizza place is better, but I’ve finally made up my mind.

So why didn’t I include Leonardo’s by the Slice in this mix? Well, let’s put it this way….Leonardo’s is for starters in Gainesville or people who just want to get nostalgic…or a quick bite. Good pizza, for a quick bite. Different philosophy and different clientele and different use for the restaurant. Simple as that.

Five Things About This Past Year


This is probably the most selfish, look-at-me post I’ve done in a while…as if all of my posts haven’t had this element in some way or form. But this is my blog, or at least it has my name on it, and I feel entitled to it. I’m also really bored and need to get out of the apartment somehow (and yes I really only blog at coffee places these days. Yeah, yeah, you can call me pompous whatever).

Without further ado, here’s the list:

5. Quitting the IT Chair position

I don’t actually know why I’m listing this as a good highlight because in all honesty I kind of miss the position. Scratch that, I really miss this position. It made me feel important and a somebody rather than a nobody (not that I’m really a nobody now, but the position played to my strengths). Honestly, though, I was just ridiculously unlucky. I didn’t realize that when I had taken the job I was going to be face-to-face with a widespread underlying problem that reared its head right in the middle of my first semester. The problem has since been for the most part resolved, but it kind of set the tone for the work I’d have to encumber myself with throughout the whole semester. The main issue/point is that I got way too involved with fixing computers instead of fixing people. And, frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t affect me substantially academically in my first semester, although it very well could have. 

I don’t really blame anyone that much for running me out of my job except myself. I could’ve stayed in the position if I really wanted to and had originally planned on doing so. But in the end there were more pressing matters I had to focus on. There were also other political matters at hand that are beyond the scope of this blurb on this blog, but in all I’m glad I left. The position is in more-than-capable hands currently and I’m still glad that I did it. But I’m also glad I’m left because now I can just defer computer problems without feeling guilty about it.

4. The Second Preceptorship

You can only learn so much from books. Books are finite by their very nature. (OK Game of Thrones might not be so finite, but whatever, it’s going to end eventually. It must). Yet learning on-the-job, in-the-field, [insert other three-hyphenated-word sequence here] gives something a book could never provide: a dialogue.

OK, smart-ass, yes I realize there is dialogue in a book. But there isn’t really dialogue with a book, something that a preceptorship (basically an internship of sorts) provides.

I went into my pediatric emergency medicine preceptorship thinking “ermahgerd. fast-paced action. helpless me being overwhelmed by fast-paced action. LOUD NOISES”. The potential still exists by all means; it is, after all, an emergency room. However, it was not really much like it at all. A bunch of colds, abdominal pains, and maybe the occasional broken bone or so.

And yet, I was still excited. I learned so much, albeit in a much more abbreviated manner, and in a way that might make some primary care physicians cringe (oh well). I learned finally that even in specialties I can still feel rewarded for doing something without necessarily having that element of continuity of care. EM, in general, finally gave me the inspiration to not just pass medical school but to go above and beyond…even if I don’t end up in EM. And that was something I desperately needed. (But I need a break more importantly first of all).

3. Getting that White Coat and passing First Year

You would think that I’d put this first, and had the events in #1 not happened you’d be 100% right. And I should also mention that me putting this event as #3 doesn’t by any means entail that I thought first year was easy, far from it. A documentary I watched about medical school put it best: [rough quote] “no amount of preparation could get you ready for first year of medical school”. Not to mention I really had a rocky road, especially in the second half of the year.

But I think that rocky road, ironically enough, was what made me realize that I was definitely more relieved than happy that I had passed this first hurdle. Weirdly enough, relief and happiness can be mutually exclusive…I was just more relieved to have finished. I wasn’t obviously mad that I had finished, but if anything I was more tired and I never let the feeling of relief age into elation.

And the white coat? Well obviously it was a good feeling to get that, don’t get me wrong. But even as early as a week after I got it I realized that I felt extremely weird wearing it. Sure, we were on our primary care preceptorships and surely we deserved SOMETHING for our merits of completing our first semester of medical school….but a white coat?  I don’t know. I was one of those people who actually preferred getting our white coats after completing second year; I felt that the coat was truly a symbol that we were ready to attack the wards.

But then again I guess we were much more ready for our preceptorships than the (now) third years were, at least from what all the preceptors had been telling us. So who the heck knows. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure as hell glad I’m 1/4 of an MD now, but there are still three more years to go (and at least one more year of basic sciences).

1. (tie) Dance Marathon and Grad Cup

It’s really stupid, I know. Well, the Grad Cup part, not so much the Dance Marathon part.

I love sports, I really do. I don’t know the intricacies and the finer rules of my favorite sport (football. and by that I mean American football), BUT any sport where I have a personal vested interest in I will scream and shout like crazy (see me at a Gator game, you’ll know what I mean).

Grad Cup is an annual event that pits a bunch of the professional schools at the University of Florida against each other in 5 sporting events: softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and football. There is also a blood drive that acts as the competitive community give-back component of the Cup.

The month that Grad Cup was happening was a particularly rough time for me…I won’t go into the details really but what I will say is that Grad Cup probably singlehandedly kept me level-headed. It gave me something to be really, really excited about, but also provided that vehicle I needed to let out all my frustrations and disappointments. As sad as it sounds, it was only 2/3 of the way through my first year and I’m pretty sure I was already burnt out. At that point, it wasn’t even a struggle to get to the end of the semester: it was just a struggle to get to Spring Break.

The drama and intrigue of Grad Cup (which as stupid as it sounds, there was definitely drama and intrigue…or else I wouldnt’ve blogged and tweeted about it as obnoxiously as I did) gave me that little bit of fuel I needed to, you know, adequately survive for at least a few weeks (how I managed to get through the other weeks beats me).

As for Dance Marathon, well, that was a project that was stewing in my head ever since even Junior Year at UF. I’ve gotta admit that when I had first heard about the event I didn’t really think much of it; in fact, I really thought for the first two years I was at UF it was a Greek-dominated philanthropy and I didn’t even have a chance to participate. I never got the chance to visit Dance Marathon until my Senior Year…to which I then really regretted not ever participating.

I can’t describe it…but every preconceived notion I had (partially minus the fact that it’s a Greek dominated philanthropy) kind of vanished. And I was sad because I had thought that surely I couldn’t participate in it anymore because 1) I didn’t even know if I’d get into UF COM and 2) Would I even dare think that I had time to do it?

Turns out I did. Barely. And even though my teammates will probably immediately say that I was pretty darn whiny starting near hour 15 (barely halfway through 26.2 hours), and probably near the end, I will say that I enjoyed every little bit of it (but especially the end obviously when the UF Dance Marathon finally became part of the $1 million club :)). There was something rewarding and intriguing about the whole process, as draining as it was, and it made me want to say “we have to go back“. There’s no doubt in my mind that I want to do it again. When, though, is the problem.

 

So that’s pretty much it. One year of medical school in the books..and second year doesn’t look any better. In fact, it’s going to get a lot worse. But at least this time around I kind of know what I’m up against and I have some great friends behind me this time. Will it get me through this year? One would hope so.

Dance Marathon at UF, 16 hours in. Maybe 17. Idk.


You’re really not supposed to look at the clock in these kinds of events. DM covers the clock in the study room, they never show a clock in the dance floor, and it used to be that cell phones were verboten/forbidden in the dancers favor such that they couldn’t look at the clock.

And yet you always somehow get the time. And it inevitably hurts.

After the rave hour morale and strength amazingly precipitously drop. The study room is really the only solace for some sort of distraction to get thru the next x number of hours.

Delirium doesn’t necessarily hit a high. But it does something.

And yet, still, that mantra of FTK runs through our veins. The miracle families constantly remind us of our duty and how grateful they are for it.

And that’s what keeps us going. We don’t know exactly how we/I’ll manage to survive the remaining stretch. But we know we have to. We know somehow we have to. And we will.

Somehow.

For the kids.

Review: Hiro Asian Sandwich Bistro


Does the wizard of casual pan-Asian food still have his magic touch or has he finally hit a Great Wall?

Read more of this post

Review: Piesano’s Stone Fired Pizza (Tower Road)


I realize it’s been way too long since I’ve even made an attempt at blogging. But it’s hard, it’s a hard hard life.

Thankfully, I still have to eat.

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, Piesano’s should ring a name for you…it’s the pizza place that “Steinbrenner” falls in love with when George Costanza was eating a calzone from there during an office meeting. Steinbrenner refused to get food from anywhere else for a decent amount of time.

Once you get to eating Piesano’s in Gainesville, you might just feel the same way. And, because I’m such a nice person and since you haven’t heard a blog from me in forever, well, you’ll get two visits for the price of one review. HOW DO YOU LIKE DEM APPLES?!

My first visit was at lunch…I was with a group of people and we had to do an activity out there on Tower Road. Now anyone who knows Tower Road/West Gainesville knows that other than Haile Plantation and the South end of Tower (where the Publix is), there ain’t that much in terms of eateries. I just randomly Yelp’d and found Piesano’s, saw that it was good enough and took a risk.

I ordered a custom made pizza with meatballs and extra cheese, and I forget what the rest of the group ordered to be honest (oops). But we were waiting and my mind was preoccupied on other stuff at the time…and I didn’t notice that it took a little longer than I had thought until our nice waitress came out and apologized meaningfully that my order would take slightly longer because the pizza they had made for me first “didn’t look right”. They were making another pizza for me AND letting me keep the first pizza for free.

Wow. OK…but let me try the pizza. First of all, the first pizza would’ve been perfectly fine for me; it didn’t look that messed up at all, but I think they forgot the extra cheese. but I didn’t care, both pizzas were amazing…absolutely amazing. I don’t think the rest of the group complained about their food either.

Fast forward about a few months later, to about a week ago maybe. I was craving Italian food badly. But the Gainesville Italian scene quite frankly has gone kinda wonky the past few years. It held stable with Manuel’s being king of the crop, Pazza Bistro serving pastaphiles, Olive Garden serving the needs of those who like chocolate mints, and that was about it. Sure Piesano’s was around a while, but I didn’t know, so therefore it didn’t exist (kidding). But Pazza unexpectedly closed, Bella Donna fills a weird niche, and there’s really no good in-between place.

Then it came to me: Piesano’s is the place. Sort of.

After getting the blackened chicken parmesean pasta and trying my friend’s Chicken Parmesan…both of which I fell in love with, I realized that Piesano’s was the only hope to save that niche in between. Yes, its prices are somewhat akin to Olive Garden’s, but the food is vastly better. You’re not intimidated by the environment and prices like Manuel’s, but you’re not eye-tired with the familiar Olive Garden-ness of Olive Garden. And you’re not wondering “this was a hot dog place” as if you were at Bella Donna. You feel comfortable, relaxed, from beginning to end. Except the desserts were clearly not fresh and were brought in frozen. (Prove me wrong guys and I’ll give you an A+).

I rarely talk about restaurants west of I-75…I don’t think it’s right to review restaurants that are completely too far away for anyone’s own good (7+ miles from my residence). But let me tell you something….Gainesville is overrun by Mexican restaurants (both real Mexican and fake Mexican). To find something as pleasant as Piesano’s is rare, it really is. The service is admirable and the food is outstanding. It’s not fancy shmancy, but whoever said that Italian had to be fancy shmancy?


Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Piesano’s

Grade: A

Pros: phenomenal food both day and night, keeps it simple but flavorful, reasonable prices

Cons: Dessert was clearly frozen

Quick Reaction: Apple Event


Recall that I’m an Apple fanboy and that I have an iPhone 4S, but I honestly thought this was the weirdest/most disappointing keynote ever. It’s not just because the leaks were exactly spot-on to what was released today for the iPhone 5…but because Apple has finally hit a brick wall. They hit the brick wall somewhat softly (I’ll explain in a bit), but they really did hit a brick wall. Why?

There is no design change.

I could care less about the tallerness and two-tone background and glass+alumnium-only body and thinness. There IS NO EVIDENT DESIGN CHANGE. I don’t expect it to be shaped like a coconut, mind you, but rounded corners? More color schemes? Some sort of design change that wasn’t color-related? (and no, the FaceTime camera moving ABOVE the earpiece is NOT a radical design change, sorry). Yes, it’s slimmer. So what? Expected. Yes it’s taller, OK, cool, I can fit ONE more row of scramble with friends. YAY. I’m very glad actually that Apple didn’t follow the trend of going 4+” because I think the whole 4.7-5.1″ craze is absurd….but that’s it. The iPhone 3G(S) to iPhone 4 was a radical design change. The iPhone 4 to 4S wasn’t, as expected. But iPhone 4S to 5? I expected better. Samsung at least changed the design from the S2 to the S3 (probably to avoid another fracas with Apple but whatever), and Nokia’s phones look cool. This change though? Doesn’t fly with me. Not one bit.

There are no new features.

Panorama? On iPhone 4S’s  via iOS 6 coming next week (and been available through third-party apps and Android for years). Durability? Drop your iPhone 5 without a case and tell me if the screen doesn’t (horrifically) crack. New earbuds? Um….OK. sure. I don’t think people bought phones because of earbuds (minus the old HTC phones that came with Beats headphones standard). LTE? Already on some top of the line Android and Windows Phone handsets. Nokia came out with NFC (basically paying for stuff with your phone) and Wireless Charging for their Windows Phones, and the Nexus line is continuously advancing as well. New processor? Big deal. My iPhone 4S is fast enough. Camera with sapphire lens? Sweet, but again my iPhone 4S has actually replaced my camera now sadly but surely (although Samsung could take notice and put back in top of the line optics like they did with the Galaxy S2…heck the camera on there was better at times than the 4S). If you have an iPhone 4S and you tell me you want an upgrade to iPhone 5, I’ll be furious to say the least. I like my tech, and I like new tech….this isn’t new tech.

Apple went backwards

They violated what I think is an unwritten Steve Jobs’ tenet: no adapters. I don’t think he even liked Mini-DVI to DVI adapters (if any of you have Macs, you know that it’s a pain in the ass to get an adapter to connect to a monitor). Steve Jobs would’ve said “screw the consumers/product manufacturers, we’re going hog wild with this new connector and if they want to get on board, great. If not, fine.”

Honestly the iPod Touch is a more innovative “step”. 

The iPod Touch, to me, should be the more worthy “looker”. Yes, it’s basically a non-phone iPhone 4S (dual-core A5 processor, 5MP optics, all same as iPhone 4S probably), but it is the direct counter to Samsung’s Galaxy Camera.  Finally, the damn iPod Touch has a backside flash. If you want a thin point and shoot camera, I’m gonna come out and say it, but this would be my choice. In addition, I do love the matte finish; reminds me of the stubby iPod nanos of long ago.

But credit Apple for not giving into NFC.

I know it seems REALLY odd, but Apple is looking towards Passbook as their future rather than supplying an NFC chip to do the dirty work for them. There has to be some sort of mischievous reason why, but I also do think that NFC  is STILL not ready for prime time just yet. With credit card number theft happenings on the rise, think about how “easy” it could be to wirelessly steal your credit card info from your phone without you knowing it? In addition, tell me one place in your city that accepts NFC payments right now. Didn’t think so.

The iPod Nano is weird.

Color scheme is off (worse than the iPod Touch’s color scheme), and I feel like I’m looking at a bad Chinese knockoff at times. Bluetooth is actually a nice addition though, and I’m amazed that they fit it into such a small body.

All in all, a disappointing day.

I wasn’t going to get an iPhone 5. Now I know I’m REALLY not getting an iPhone 5. There’s no point. I’m content with being on 3G, and while a 4″ phone isn’t too big for my hands, my current 4S fits me just fine. I’m just glad to get my grubby hands on iOS 6…ON MY BIRTHDAY WHEE.

Don’t expect the iPad Mini to be better…or maybe expect it? 

The iPad Mini will not have what you seek. It’ll have a 7″ screen and that’s about it…..unless it has a new screen technology we don’t know about. Or maybe something else? Apple wouldn’t put up a new event for a product that was the exact mini copy of its current products unless there was something radically different about it. The iPod mini? Different because it was cheaper and had colored bodies compared to iPod. The iPod nano? Flash storage. I expect Apple to do something similar, but it needs to be good. If this keeps up, you might see me with an Android phone next year. Maybe.

 

PS: I have no energy to talk about the new iTunes. It looks crappy though; the play controls are too close to the X/-/+ buttons on the Mac version as far as I’m concerned. And I hate organizing by album. But to each their own. 

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