Friday, July 20, 2007

iPhone Rant

So, I gave in and bought an iPhone.

No, I didn't wait in a long line but yes, I did pay way too much money.

$600 to be exact. And it's more beautiful than all of the images you've seen... without even being turned on! After about 17 hours of activation problems (waiting for an activation e-mail, calling to upgrade my plan, getting my old phone de-activated WHILE my new phone was NOT (but was supposed to be) ACTIVATED, then tracking down a (now rare) payphone and being on the repulsive thing for 35 minutes) I was able to turn it on and operate- oooooooh! ahhhhhh! Man I love Apple products.

It is the most user-friendly machine... a phone, iPod, computer, Internet, camera, calendar.... all in one! I have to admit though, I almost returned the damn thing during the whole activation process. After the activation, I spent a couple of hours exploring and discovering all the functions. It didn't take long- it does a LOT but using it is so intuitive that you don't even need a manual (it doesn't come with one.) By the time I arrived at the Apple store for my "beginner's" iPhone class, I had figured nearly everything out- and I am no genius, especially with technology.

I have almost returned the iBrick (as it has been called) approximately 11 times since my purchase. In the past 13 days I have had it, I have unearthed way too many flaws- mostly things that Apple has total control over and could "fix" very simply with a software update, but they choose not to because they don't HAVE to. They want that second wave of record sales when the next version comes out- like they can't quite make a perfect product even though they COULD. That is the one thing I hate about Apple: their products are so far ahead of other products that they have ALL the power- they are so far ahead in the game that when they don't fix these things, customers can't really complain (I mean, we DO, but they don't care)- there is nothing to compare it to. All those times I came THIS CLOSE to returning it, I found something new about it or I realized that there was a function I have been using that I just can’t live without on a phone.

Naturally, I will compare my new phone to the old one- a Nokia 3120 from 2004. Ancient, I know, but it did the job and was more reliable than any boyfriend I have ever had. I dropped that Nokia down sooo many flights of concrete stairs, in the toilet (once), onto numerous streets and parking lots and it has fallen out of my (old) truck and my car (I sometimes drive with my phone in my lap and forget about it and then when I get out-- let's just say my old phone LOOKED thoroughly used. I LOVED my old Nokia....

Yesterday I filled out a survey that was e-mailed to me by AT&T. They said it would only take about 5 minutes. It took me 25 minutes. In it, I alerted them to the following flaws, which you should consider if you contemplating an iPhone purchase:

1.) I can't receive picture messages in my SMS inbox!! I get this stupid message that says: "I sent you a multimedia message. You can view my message via the internet at using MsgID v1mabb3x2 Password juts4pill"
And you can't even "click" on a link in the message and go directly THERE... and the damn phone HAS INTERNET CAPABILITIES!! How ridiculous is that? On my ultra ancient 3-year-old Nokia, I could receive photo messages sent from other camera phones. Granted, my beloved Nokia didn't HAVE a camera, but dammit I could GET PHOTOS! (F.Y.I.- I think I paid about $70 for that phone new....)

2.) I have to take 5 actions (press or slide) to dial the last number I called. (This took TWO consecutive presses of the green button on my Nokia.) I find this highly annoying.

3.) There are 25 "ringtones" to chose from (ONE of which is acceptable so EVERYone uses it) and you can't download any new ones. Some of the ringtones include: bark, bell tower, boing, crickets, duck, motorcycle, robot and sonar. Yuck. Upside: there IS a "doorbell" ringtone, so when visitors call me from the keypad at the entry to my condo building, it sounds like I have a doorbell!

4.) There are exactly 19 "wallpaper" options. You can use a photo from your iPhone camera, but the quality is not great- it's only 2 mega pixels with no flash.

5.) There is no flash for the camera.

6.) The iPhone is set up to be connected to your e-mail account so that you can check e-mail from anywhere by simply pushing the "mail" icon. Unfortunately, the e-mail accounts that this function supports are: Gmail, Yahoo, .mac and AOL.
I have Hotmail!! GRRRRRR! By the way- if you DO have a POP (e-mail) account setup on your iPhone, you can receive PHOTOS in your inbox THERE, just not in your text message inbox.

7.) The Edge network that iPhones use when there is no Wi-Fi available is sssllloooooowwwwwwww......zzzzzz......

8.) There are 12 "widgets" (aka “Internet Applications”) and 4 function buttons. You cannot add, delete or rearrange any of them. This is BS. When the hell am I going to use the "stocks" button? And- there IS room for 4 more applications…. But WHERE ARE THEY?!

But the straw that broke the camel’s back (or DIDN'T) was researching my alternatives…. I went to the AT&T retail store yesterday. I went to check out all the new innovations in cell phone technology that didn’t cost $600- I had my eye on the Blackberry Pearl in particular. I very quickly realized that I couldn’t go back to any other phone!! Even other "top of the line" phones didn't compare at all graphically or functionally. I may regret this decision to keep the iPhone- part of my struggle has been that I didn't want to buy the first version of something "so revolutionary" fearing there would be too many kinks that haven't been ironed out. Turns out, Apple seems to know about all of these kinks and just flat out refuses to iron them out for their cult following. On my first iPhone visit (before I purchased), the associate told me that all of the other phones go through 3,000 hours of testing and research & development before they can be sold in stores.... but the iPhone was tested for 10,000 hours. That made me feel a little better even if it wasn't true.

Ok, ok. So I have railed on the phone pretty hard. But, for the most part, I really like it. Really! I like it because:

1.) It’s NOT a flip-phone. I will never own a flip phone. That thing would be broken in half in a matter of days if not hours.

2.) The Calendar- this thing really is a PDA! You can set reminders, repeat events, and write notes for any date.

3.) “Notes.” This is probably my 3rd most used function. I write grocery lists, to do lists, everything here. You can even e-mail any of your lists!

4.) Ease of Use. Again, Apple makes the most intuitive products I have ever used.

5.) Durability of the Screen. I was skeptical. The AT&T associate told me that Apple had plexi-glass screens originally, but at the last minute they changed them to scratch resistant glass. So far, so good.

6.) “Visual Voicemail.” This is the most efficient voicemail system ever! You can SEE all of your voice messages by the caller’s name and arranged chronologically by date, which is also listed next to the name. All you do is “click” on a name and the message plays- no more listening to ALL the rest of the previous messages to get to the message you want to hear! And the voicemail screen has a little timeline at the bottom so if you need to hear a portion of the message again, you just slide the cursor back on the line.

7.) Text message Format. For each contact you are texting, the phone shows your entire conversation in a list- your responses are in green text bubbles and your contacts’ are in a grey (until you clear it.)

8.) “Maps.” Any address you have anywhere in your phone, you can click on and it will map it in Google for you. You can also just “click” on the maps icon and type in an address- it is Google Maps in your pocket!

9.) The Resolution is Absolutely Stunning. I don’t know that I will ever watch a movie or TV program on my iPhone, but I have watched part of “Lost” on an iPhone and it was more crisp and clear than most full-size televisions

So, now you can decide. Are you content with YOUR phone?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dieting and Progress

I have been on a superfitnessandhealth kick since I started Boot Camp at the end of April. I feel like I have always been interested in nutrition (some of what I know, I chose to ignore) and less about fitness but I realized that the things that I DO know aren't rocket science and so I have decided to share some of my health and fitness tips with you. This is really motivated by Daniel, my Boot Camp Sergeant, and also a fellow Boot Camper's blog site, "Everyday Athlete" at right. Check it out.

As a form of credibility- I was measured yesterday and I lost 1% of my body fat since the beginning of June! I also lost 5 pounds, 1 1/4" in my waist, 1/4" in my arms, 3/4" in my legs and 1/4" in my chest. Also keep in mind that I have lost 30 pounds since 2003.... and I'm vegetarian, uhhh... pescatarian.

Nicole's Top 10 Tips for Eating RIGHT

1. EAT 5-6 SMALL MEALS (or "snacks") PER DAY. You should eat "just enough" food- don’t ever gorge yourself!! You should never feel full! I like to think of this overeating as "stretching your stomach out" so that you can eat more and more and more- while your body's metabolism stays the same.... YOU do the math! I still have issues with this- I was always taught to clean my plate which is SUCH a bad habit, especially as much as I have eaten out! When you eat less, your body processes food more efficiently because it has less to process AND your stomach shrinks to its natural size so that you are full on less food.

Here is a sample day*, approved by my Boot Camp Sergeant:
At wake up: drink a full glass of water- this helps to flush out toxins.
Breakfast: 1/4 C. uncooked oatmeal (cooked according to directions) and a serving of fruit.
Mid-Morning snack: a handful of almonds and a serving of fruit
Lunch: a large salad w/ 3-4 oz. of protein. Use a small amount of light dressing or vinegar/oil.
Afternoon snack: 3/4 C. cottage cheese and a serving of fruit
Dinner: 3/4 C. quinoa or brown rice with 3-4 oz. of protein and steamed or baked veggies.
After-dinner snack: an apple with some almond butter or a protein shake

*Anytime you workout, eat something EASILY DIGESTIBLE right away- like a (hard-boiled) egg and some fruit or a protein shake.

2. STAY AWAY FROM REFINED SUGAR AND ANYTHING WHITE (bread, rice, pasta.) Instead of oatmeal packets, eat regular steel-cut or Irish Quick-Cooking oatmeal- the only ingredient in your oatmeal should be OATS. Most foods that are processed have sugar (in some form) in them and companies disguise the ingredient "sugar" by calling it all kinds of different things: corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, sucrose (there are more than 100 different sucrose substances), high-fructose corn syrup, maltitol, sorbitol, and mannitol. Anything ending in "-itol" and "-ose" means SUGAR! I was appalled to learn that the government subsidizes corn and there was so much corn produced that farmers didn't know what to do with, so they "invented" corn syrup!! And now it's in everything!

If you really want to NOT have that afternoon "crash" at work, don't eat refined sugar!! (Natural sugars are ok, like the sugars in raw fruits, stevia and agave.) Your body comes down from your lunchtime sugar high and that is what causes the crash. Try strictly eating foods with low a Glycemic Index: Some people are more sensitive to GI than others.

As an alternative to pasta, a super fabulous product I have found is Shirataki noodles (I call them miracle noodles!):
Look at this unbelievable Nutritional Info:
Calories: 20
TOTAL FAT - 0.5g
Fiber 2g
Sugars 0g
Protein - 1g

3. EAT A LOT OF FIBER. Keeps you regular! Eating fiber along with sugar (only if you must) helps your body process it!

4. DRINK A LOT OF WATER. You should drink AT LEAST half your weight (lbs.) in ounces of water each day. For example, let's say you weigh 150 lbs.- then you should drink MORE THAN 75 ounces of water daily. I believe the rule is half your weight in ounces + 10%, so 90 ounces. This is really hard to do if you don't drink a lot of water already. Hint: it's a lot easier if you exercise....

5. LOWER YOUR CARBS AND EAT MORE LEAN PROTEIN. In general, American eat waaaaay too many carbs. Think about all the regular things we eat and the carbs content: pizza, sandwiches, burgers, pasta... Zoiks! All we eat is carbs!! "Lean" protein is generally fish or chicken. A good rule to remember is, the less legs, the better- so fish, chicken, beef/pork, etc.....

6. CONQUER CRAVINGS, EAT MORE LEAN PROTEIN. This is a great site for eating good things instead:
I find that the days when I crave sweets are the days when I don't eat enough protein. And amazingly enough, once you ween yourself from sugar, you will find yourself NOT craving it! Not surprisingly, when I do eat sugar, I want more....

7. EAT MORE NATURAL FOODS- READ LABELS!! Processed food= bad! Generally, the fewer ingredients, the better. Apples:apples! If there's anything you can't pronounce or don't recognize on a label, it's probably bad for you in some way.

8. BALANCE CARBS, PROTEIN, FAT. 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat. Yes, it is ok to eat fat! (And, usually products that are "fat free" or "low fat" have a LOT of sugar in them.) This does NOT mean that it is ok to eat french fries and ice cream everyday. (Refer to the Shirataki noodles nutritional info above.... MIRACLE NOODLES!!)

9. DON'T DEPRIVE YOURSELF. If you like pizza and ice cream, schedule a "cheat meal" once a week. I don't believe you should go without the things you love to eat, but don't be surprised if you follow these tips and crave all the "bad" things less and less!

10. TAKE A MULTI-VITAMIN. They can't give you perfect health, but they give you most of the vitamins and minerals that you need regardless of whether you're eating right or not. I like SuperNutrition's "Simply One Women One-per-Day" -no fillers and vegetarian. My beloved mother recommends Reliv.... (She would LOVE to talk to you about it if you want to contact me.)

This may all seem overwhelming, and it is. But we as Americans have gotten so far off track of what we SHOULD be eating that we don't even know what's what anymore. I will tell you that it took me about three years to get to this point where everything came together, makes sense and WORKS! I can't tell you how terrific I FEEL... EVERYday. I 'm not tired at work; I have so much energy and I WANT TO workout! Unbelievable!

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