First Run New Balance Fuel Cell Propel – RunLog 11/9/19

Another first run in a pair of new shoe – the New Balance Fuel Cell Propel.

Short review that says it all – me likey.

I have been searching all year for a pair of daily trainers that I can run longer distances in comfortably on and off for most of the year. The closest shoes have been the New Balance Beacons versions 1 and 2, but they have been just a bit too firm when I get into the double digit range.

Since September I have tried several bands/models, but they all had fatal flaws that made them not work for me.

As usual the other night I was wandering around the internet and had a price alert on a pair of New Balance Propels at almost 50% off on Amazon. I didn’t immediately get them, I did a lot of reading different reviews (all pretty much positive) about the Propel, searched to see if there were better deals and then went back and forth between getting an 8.0 and 8.5.

Finally, after thinking about it arguing with myself about the pros and cons, how much trouble I would get in with the wife and did I really need yet another pair of running shoes. I decided to go ahead and just do it. They came in yesterday afternoon.

This morning I went through my new shoe ritual which means I inspected them closely for flaws, weighed them and wore them around the house for a while to see if they fit and felt like something that I wanted to keep.

They felt great, my size 8.0 fit like most other New Balance size 8.0’s tend to so they are pretty much true to size.

Saturday’s are my longer run day, but it was also pretty chilly out there first thing this morning for Bennie’s wake-up me up walk at 14*F with a light breeze. Luckily for me by the time I got out the door it was almost upta freezing and the the sun was shining.

A photo from Bennie’s 2.0 mile walk before my run

Planned Workout Description: I figured that I would head towards Goodhue and if the Propels began to bother, I could just turn around. Also today’s run was not about running faster, it was about putting longer miles on the legs.

• Day: Saturday

• Type of Workout: Longer Run

• Course: Goodhue Road 7.0 miler

• Distance: 7.0

• Duration: 1:04:18

• Pace: 9:11

• Clothes: Adidas running pants, Reebok compression shorts, Reebok black tech s/s tee, Adidas orange tech l/s tee, Brooks running jacket, Nike running vest, Saucony Beanie, Nike ball cap and running mittens.

Yeah, it was a little overkill, but I was not cold.

• Rating (1-4): 2

• Running Streak Day #: 16

• Weather: Clear/Sunny, 33*F feels like 27*F, humidity 47%, Wind 6 mph SW

Variables that impacted the run: First run new shoes, chilly, left hip and glute tight at first, left instep a bit of a nuisance, but went away

Comments: I ran most of the run comfortably at an easy pace, where if I had been running with someone else I could have maintained a nice conversation. Even though I wanted to push the pace a few times, but pulled back on the reins pretty quickly. I am attempting to be more disciplined on my runs and not overdo the workout.

Today, I was able to do that, whereas in the past I would have tested my new shoes a little differently than a comfortable longer run.

This getting older thing does have some advantages, i.e. I am not quite as impulsive most of the time.

Shoes: Mileage: New Balance Fuel Cell Propel (7.0) – They did quite nicely for a first run and a longer one at that. No hot spots, blisters, soreness caused by the shoes during or after the run. Which is gratifying. The Propels felt nicely cushioned but firm enough that if I wanted to I could pick up the pace pretty easily.

However, the Propels do not feel like a fast shoe, but they are definitely a comfortable shoe. Which is exactly what I am looking for. I have other shoes that I can run faster in or have more snap, but I need/want and maybe found a pair that will not bother my hard to please feet for daily trainer and long run duties.

I am not going to get my hopes too high, but it would be nice to finally have found something that freaking actually works the way I want, especially for longer runs. That running in discomfort or pain stuff, just takes all the joy out of the runs.

The other part is that the outsole is perfect for where I will be doing most of my runs. A nice multipurpose one that will grip in bad weather, light snow, a little slime (mud) or non technical trails.

Very good first impressions.

How did this run move me towards my goal(s)? I have been searching for that elusive daily trainer that is light, cushioned, comfortable, able to run on multiple surfaces and not break the bank, for it seems like forever.

About the only thing I would change is to make the toe box more rounded like the Beacons. It wasn’t an issue, but I could feel my big toe pushing slightly against the toe box at times.

I don’t know if I have found the beast in the New Balance Fuel Cell Propel, but this was the kind of first run that I have been imagining for quite a while.

Cardio Total: 4.22

Weight: 156 A/R

Salomon Sonic RA Max v1 – 50 Mile Review

This review is more for me and to remind me about how these particular running shoes worked for me this summer.

After writing this post back in July, I decided to put the RA Max v1 under the dresser, give them a couple of months off and figured that I would get them out at some point down the road. Well it is down the road time and after wearing them twice for a mile walk, there has been no change from what I initially wrote back in July.

So I guess it is time to let them go to someone who can actually run in them.

This is what I wrote initially

Have you ever had a pair of running shoes that you really, really love, but they just don’t work for you no matter the little tweaks you attempt or how much you want them to work. That is how I feel about the Salomon Sonic RA Max v1.

It is not that I cannot run in them, because I have gotten them to 50 miles. However, to run in them I have to accept a certain amount of discomfort in my right foot, that varies from run to run, without any rhyme or reason to how much discomfort I will have to endure during a run.

The primary cause is that my right foot has a Tailor’s Bunionette that drives me crazy and limits the type/style of running shoes that I can run comfortably in. The Salomon RA Max v1 is one of a long line of great running shoes that are not comfortable for me to run in – at least in my right foot. My left foot loves theses shoes.

This Spring it seemed as though I had gotten beyond the fit issues that I had with the right foot, but for some reason the problems have returned with a vengeance since my injury (??? No idea why) and unfortunately the RA Max v1 are the shoes that it has affected the most in my current rotation.

Enough background noise.

Let’s get back to my thoughts on the Salomon Sonic RA Max v1

First and foremost I love the Vibe technology and do believe that it was a big part of my being able to return so quickly from my most recent injury – a stress fracture/reaction in my left tibia. This technology is supposed to dampen the tibial vibration and in my opinion, it works exactly as advertised. I could tell a difference between the RA Max v1 (and Sense Ride v1) and other running shoes that I walked and ran in during my recovery. It has a feel that I prefer, which is between cushy and firm that is hard to describe, but I know it when I feel it – this shoe has it.

The weight is great for an everyday trainer and easy run shoe:

For as much rubber is on the outsole, I am very quiet when running in the RA Max v1. The grip is great on dirt roads and even wet tar. I even believe they would work quite nicely for light snow, although wet heavy stuff or mud would cake up pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, the outsole also has a tendency to pick up small rocks and pebbles, which is more annoying than an issue. However, I have a feeling that the outsole will wear quicker than some other shoes, since in several places I can see where the nubs are peeling rubber off, but at the same time, I don’t see it becoming an issue for 300-400 miles.

The upper, is where I run into some issues, but only with my right foot. If I was to base running and wearing the RA Max v1 on how they felt on my left foot, I would consider them to be extremely comfortable running shoes.

Unfortunately, I have this weird right foot and it does not like the fit of the RA Max v1 at all in the toe box/sidewall. While they have a fairly wide toe-box, it seems that the angle of the shoe going past the toes to the end of the shoe is just enough to push my little toe into the 4th toe while running.

Also the structured fit while it holds the foot quite well, one of the side stripes sits directly on my Tailor’s Bunionette and pushes against it just enough that during a run or walk I notice it. When I run my finger between the midsole and lace hole, I can feel the raised ridge of the internal support on the under side of the upper, while it is is not a big deal for most people, it is just enough to bother that damned Tailor’s Bunionette.

Which after walking or running in them I feel varying levels of discomfort ranging from –

  • okay I notice it…
  • I gotta stop and take the damn shoe off

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of rhyme or reason on which level of discomfort is going to happen while I am wearing them. I have tried several different lacing patterns, different style/weight socks, different insoles and how tight I snug the laces up without a lot of success on getting the fit – just right.

Which sucks!!!

Because I do like the RA Max v1 a lot, if I could get the fit of the right foot to match how they fit the left, they would be a great running shoe for me, but unfortunately so far they have not.

So for me the Salomon RA Max v1 is not the answer to my daily trainer search. It is a great shoe for someone who doesn’t have issues with a tailor’s bunionette, but I will keep searching for a daily trainer that I can wear without worrying about what level of discomfort I will have to endure during a run.

Tomorrow, they go away.

Thoughts on Running by Feel, by Matt Fitzgerald

Over the past month I have been really looking hard at my running again and what my real goals are versus my various delusions of grandeur. Which also means that I have been re-reading some of my old running books (ebook and hard copy), to ponder on what people who are much smarter than I am, write about running. You know books like the one below:

No matter what I want to believe, eventually Father Time wins all his battles. However, I do want to keep making the old bastard chuckle at my feeble attempts to keep running as far and fast as I can, for as long as I can.

Which means that I have to work on my knowing what I am “supposed” to do as I get to be an old fart according to the experts versus what I think I know, in addition to actually doing the work when it comes to MY running. Continue reading “Thoughts on Running by Feel, by Matt Fitzgerald”

First Run – Reebok FloatRide Run Fast 8-10-18

Another first run in a pair of running shoes Harold. WTFO???

These are a little different – a pair of running shoes that were released recently and were a birthday present from Mary. They are also the one pair of running shoes this year that I wanted to try more than any other.

The Reebok FloatRide Run Fast. Yes, I have tried the Vapor Fly 4% :-).

I ran my shoe test course for their first run. It is a very good test of how a shoe is going to work for me.

Now I have run this course several times and run over a 1,000 miles this year and when I run this way, without going into race effort levels, it tells me that something has changed.

The only thing that changed today was that I was wearing the Reebok FloatRide RunFast running shoes.

I know that these times are nothing special and are probably pretty soft. At the same time I haven’t run this fast this year. These times are for 2018 only, but to do this on the first run in a pair of shoes, on a day when I couldn’t decide whether to crank it up or hold back to save myself for the 5K Race in the next morning – says something.

Let’s back up a little.

Reebok running has come a long ways over the past few years from what I can see and have gone from department store level of running shoes to shoes that elite runners are looking at closely. Which in my mind is a very good thing, since I enjoyed running in some of their offerings back in the mid 80’s/early 90’s. Glad to see that they have made an effort to get back to their running roots.

After UPS delivered the RunFast last night, I walked around the house and was immediately impressed. The fit was just slightly long, but I had ordered the 8.5 and I am a true to size 8.0, but otherwise I liked the way they felt on my feet. Unfortunately, they were delivered too close to supper to get a run in.

Which meant that I had to wait for that first run.

This morning was a bit crazy around the house and my run didn’t happen until after noon. Which meant it was the hottest part of the day and I had a few walks and doggie day care stuff that left me a bit more tired than I wanted for that first run.

Also tomorrow is the Doc & Marcie 5K in Waterville and I have planned for a while to run the race, so I didn’t want to get too crazy running in them today. At the same time I wanted to see what they would do, so I planned to run fairly hard down to the end of my test course (Pepin Road) and then go easy on the way back to see how they were at a slower pace and running up a big hill.

With that being said, the RunFast once I started to run, wanted to run fast.

I started out and just ran, I did purposely slow down a little at the speed limit sign and then sped back up once I started down the hill. I didn’t give a race level of effort, but I got a bit above comfortably hard through the end of the first mile.

While running down Philbrick Hill I didn’t feel beat up like I have in some shoes this year and was able to quickly transition from the hill to the flat section. No issues with the RunFasts.

Once I got down to Pepin I cruised to the end and then shut down the effort level.

Coming back I purposely just ran easy to see how the RunFast performed at slower paces. I could tell that I had pushed a little harder than usual coming down and paid for it going back up Philbrick, but the legs/shoes were not the issue. It was more that thing called being able to breath well that was the tough part.

No blisters, hotspots or anything other than let’s go faster from the RunFast’s.

The FloatRide RunFast’s are a scary arse shoe to me and I have a feeling will encourage me to run faster than I probably should at some point. They are an easy shoe to just “go” in.

Now to get some miles on them and see what they really can do, I just wish that I could do them justice, but they are shoes that deserve someone much faster than me to be wearing them.

You know a crazy old fart who refuses to admit he is getting too damn old to have toys like this that encourage him to be foolish. :-). Naw.

First Run Nike Speed Rival 6 – RunLog 7-15-18

Another pair of new to me shoes, this time courtesy of eBay for a price I couldn’t resist. Did I really need a pair of race day shoes? Ummmm actually yeah.

While I love the Green Silence and have been using for that purpose, I can feel that they are a bit long in the tooth and don’t have the “pop” that my newer shoes have. While I don’t have that many miles on them, the midsole does feel pretty lifeless and I need every little edge I can get. So I had been sort of looking at what would be a nice race day shoe for me going forward.

Since I don’t see a pair of Nike Vapor Fly 4% in my rotation anytime soon, I needed to find something else.

I had read some pretty good reviews of about the Speed Rival 6’s and that they had a wider forefoot, which is unusual in a “racing” shoe. While I hadn’t purposely been looking specifically for them, when I was wandering around eBay last week and came on these. I figured why not put in a minimum bid and see what happened. Especially, since the seller said they had only about 5 miles on them.

I won.

When I got them in, they looked like new and only weighed 7.0 ounces.

Walking around in them the heel felt a little loose and I knew that I was going to have to play with the lacing to get the right feel with them. Also I will be honest, for a pair of Nikes (a company that prides itself on the great looks of its shoes), when I look down at them – they just look fugly. They look like some of the vintage shoes from the 70’s or 80’s with how the toe comes to a point from both sides, which is not always a good thing. Continue reading “First Run Nike Speed Rival 6 – RunLog 7-15-18”

Milestone Footpod – Initial Thoughts July 2018

Even though I ordered the Milestone Footpod by accident from Amazon, it was something that I was interested in looking at closer after reading a little about it and how it was recently acquired by Zwift. I was putting on my Wishlist, but when I made an order the other night, it showed up in the same package.

I had lost my Garmin Footpod last spring and was looking for a replacement for running on the treadmill and the Milestone seemed like a pretty good option to replace it. My Garmin 230 is not very accurate when I am using the run indoor activity setting. At about half the cost of the Garmin Footpod, the MilestonePod was a better value and looking at the website a few more metrics were being measured.

It seems that I was supposed to have the MilestonePod sooner rather than later.

Sometimes things happen for a reason – now to figure out what the reason was.

Enough background, let’s get to what I think after my first couple of runs with it this morning.

Unpacking and setup was quick and easy. Syncing between the pod and IOS app was done quickly. It was probably one of the easiest setups that I have done in a long time. It was intuitive and any questions I had were quickly answered on their website.

I did do a lot of reading of Milestone blog’s posts to get an idea on how things really worked and how to interpret the data that was going to be provided. I just wanted to learn more about the device and how it was supposed to help me with my running.

Today

This morning I wanted to run a mile to calibrate it to my Garmin 230’s GPS. The Garmin came in at 1.01 and Milestone pod 1.11 (out of the box), so that is pretty close.

I have a feeling that I will calibrate my runs a few more times for my own peace of mind. Although I imagine that I will have to re-calibrate when I move it onto the treadmill at some point. Which is the real reason that I looked at the Milestone Footpod in the first place.

So what did I learn from the first runs using the Milestone Footpod?

I am a heel striker – yeah, no news there.

Rate of Impact – Surprisingly I did a lot better here than I thought I was, especially when I was bombing down the big hill.

Leg Swing – this is something that I have to work on. I need to get things into the high range and I am primarily in the mid range – not quite an old man shuffle, but it means that I am not using my gluteus (my butt) as much as I should and extending the legs. I knew this, but to see in graph form really make it obvious what I am doing.

Cadence – Was over 170 – right about where I have been for a while. If I am running faster my cadence is faster. Although I was surprised at how well I maintained my cadence going up the big hill.

Stride Length – When I have a longer stride length – I go faster. No surprise there. When I shortened the stride to go uphill with a higher cadence my pace slowed. 🙂

Ground Contact – The lower the better, I did pretty good until I started going back up the big hill and then as my pace got slower, the ground contact time got higher and then when I picked the pace back up the ground contact got lower. While it wasn’t bad for the 8:00 minute or so pace I had for most of the run, it did show that I can improve, though I will never get to that elite level of sub 200 ms.

Runficiency – This is Milestone’s overall scoring of your run and it gives a score that can be used for comparison purposes.

So far the Milestone Footpod and app have piqued my interest and make me want to see if I can change some of the metrics for the better, even when I am running slower??? I don’t know if that is possible, but it will be interesting to work on.

I did run into one glitch – when I attempted to upload my data to Strava, I got the spinning wheel of death and had to send an email to support to see if I was doing something wrong or if there was a bug.

Other than that, not having to rely completely on a GPS watch as much, is something that I think is a good thing. If I want to use my Ironman watch, I can and still get mileage states that I like. Also it gives me some information on other things that I have wondered about, but never figured out how I could measure them.

The MilestonePod lets me do this to a certain extent – no I just have to figure out how reliable it is for me. Like anything else that is new, you have to gain confidence in it. So far things seem pretty promising and I am looking forward to using it.

By the way it is waterproof, after this morning’s runs in the rain it still works just fine.

Skechers Forza 3 – 50 Mile Review

A semi new shoe review for a change. Yes, they are the Forza 3, but they are the Houston marathon special edition and I bought them for a very reasonable price from Running Warehouse.

Unfortunately, they are a running shoe that doesn’t work for me, just the way it works sometimes. However, due to too many factors that do not work for me, they are a shoe that I don’t look forward to running in.

I have run treadmill workouts, double-digit long runs, medium distance runs outside in the rain, dirt roads and sand/salt mixtures on the side of the roads (a present from sanding the roads last winter). So I have a pretty good idea of how the Forza 3’s work for me on a variety of conditions and runs.

The Short Version

The Forza 3’s are a pair of running shoes that I can run in, but don’t look forward to using and as a result of my experiences in them have decided that they make better walking shoes than running shoes for me.

The Rest of the Story

There are three primary reasons for this:

Continue reading “Skechers Forza 3 – 50 Mile Review”

A Busy Rest Day – RunLog 4-25-18

I took yesterday as a rest day, after my 10+ miler on Tuesday, falling and bruising my body as well as my ego, along with having a 15 day running streak going…well it was just time for a day off. I don’t do well at streaking too long and this is about as many days in a row as I usually get to before I start feeling stale, sore or grumpy.

Needless to say I still wanted to go for a run, so I had to play that game, well I can do it later most of the day.

However, I was good and even though I was sorely tempted when Mary went out for her run (before the rain started), instead I opted to clean out the old garden plastic that we had been storing under the house over the years. Five lawn and leaf bags later I got all of that plastic ready to take to the transfer station.

It was one of those nasty/dirty jobs that you procrastinate doing, so needless to say, I really would have rather run, but this had been on my todo list for a while and needed to get done.

We did go up to Waterville to do errands, so that occupied a good part of the afternoon, which made things a little easier as far as me avoiding running.

In the late afternoon, I usually get on the elliptical for a bit, but if I am going to take a rest day, I try to make it a real rest day and not do any workouts, so I needed to keep myself occupied.

Which got me to thinking about and looking at my Forza 3’s and GRR7’s to see what it is that is making them less than my ideal running shoes and what I have done to improve them for me.

Forza 3’s

Even though I had a really nice 10+ miler in the Forza 3’s Tuesday, I just don’t feel entirely comfortable running in them there always seems to be something going on that makes me think about my feet when I wear them for a run.

With the stock insole in them (it is the same one as the GRR7’s), the Forza 3’s are fairly firm, which is not a bad thing for a light support style of shoe, but I tend to prefer a more cushioned feel. I did replace the stock insole with a thicker one before my long run and that seemed to help quite a bit with how they felt during the run.

The size 8.5 fit is a bit too long and the shoe feels well a little sloppy unless I really snug down on the laces. In the photo above, I will have to snug them down a bit more, which will bring the eyelets too close together. Probably an 8.0 would be a better fit for me in this model, maybe even an 7.5.

For some reason the loop style lacing holes, when I replaced the laces with a different pair (I dislike flat laces and prefer the more rounded ones), it seemed to allow them to keep snugging up the laces each time I put them on. Then I wouldn’t realize how tight the laces had gotten until I was out on a run, which bothered the top of my feet. So I replaced the regular laces with LockLaces this afternoon to see if I get a more consistent fit.

The other thing that I finally figured out was that the heel flare is fairly wide and angled in from the outsole. I am hitting my other leg when I stride a bit more than I have in a long time in the Forza 3’s

Part of the blame is that duck-footed stride of mine, but it after the 9th or 10th time of me clipping the Forza’s heel against my other leg, it does get a bit tiresome. I knew that it was happening, but didn’t notice how much until I saw the tell-tale streaks on the inside of each leg after running down back last week and then during the long run the other day when I got more tired it became more of an issue. No real solution for this, with the way I run other than to keep my feet straighter when running.

The photo above is after I wiped my feet on my boot cleaner, the pebbles are mostly out, but during the long run the heel section was caked with sand, grit and pebbles that wouldn’t clear unless I dragged, stamped my feet on the tar.

For me the outsole design is a pebble magnet, which when I looked at the bottom of the Forza 3’s after I fell on Tuesday, were fairly well coated with embedded pebbles. So I tend to think when with the pebble build-up in the outsole after 10 miles, combined with hitting the sand on corner may have contributed (no it was not the only factor) to the lack of traction, which resulted in that crash and burn.

Unfortunately, it is just the way it is that there is a lot of sand, dirt roads, sandy road shoulders and bit of mud where I run.

While I have run fairly well in the Forza 3’s, there are an accumulation of little things that make them a shoe I can run in versus a shoe I want to run in – which is a big difference. Hopefully, with the changes I am making, it will make them a more comfortable for me to run in and something that I want to run in.

GoRun Ride 7

The GRR7’s have been my favorite running shoes this year, but experienced significant wear on the heel of the left foot and right ankle well at just under a 150 miles.

Enough that I was afraid of blistering from both spots, so I stopped running in them with less than 150 miles on them. However, I believe that I have solved the riddle of why those issues occurred.

When I got the GRR7’s I put LockLaces in, however I did not use the last lace slot, which I now know was a mistake with these shoes. By not using that last slot, my heel slipped too much and prematurely wore a hole in the heel cup. So to solve that I tried lacing through the last hole with the LockLaces, unfortunately, that made the shoes too tight feeling when putting them on and uncomfortable to wear for a long periods of time.

Since that did not work, I decided that I would put in regular laces and see if that worked. Just wearing them around the house they feel a lot more comfortable and I noticed that my heels felt a lot more locked down.

As for the ankle wear, it was one of those things that I wrote about shortly after getting them and while the rubbing on my ankle never caused a blister, the high sidewall was something that was a slight distraction when running in the GoRun Ride 7’s. My solution is to put a thicker insole in and see if it lifted my ankle up off the ankle well enough or not. It almost worked, so I took a pair of scissors and cleaned up the area around the wear spot and it feels a lot better.

Now that I have made these changes I want to see if the GRR7’s can be run in again. If I can run in them again, that would be fantastic, because they are a great shoe to run in.

The reality is that

While I didn’t run yesterday, I think that I have positively done some things that will help me run better in the shoes that I have in the house. I really hope that those things work, especially for the GRR7’s, which is a shoe that I really loved until I wore the hole in the heel cup and felt that I had to stop running in them.

Please don’t take all the negative things that I have written about the Forza 3 or Ride 7’s as anything other than things that I need to improve for them to work better for me. My body is weird and most runners will not have nearly the issues that I have had in either model. The fact that I want to fix things shows that I do like running in them, instead of me just putting them in the back of the garage to eventually go away.

It is pretty amazing to me how much difference a different shoe laces and/or a pair of insoles can make to the fit and feel to my of running shoes.

A pretty good rest day if I say so myself.

First Run Skechers GoRun Forza 3 – RunLog 4-11-18

Hey, a new 2018 course record on my test course by 15 seconds, despite not really going all that hard. I started out fairly slowly and then picked up a bit as I went down Philbrick Hill. When I got to the flats I did pick it up just to see how things felt.

Oh yeah, it was also my first run in the Skechers GoRun Forza 3’s.

Let’s start from the beginning. Continue reading “First Run Skechers GoRun Forza 3 – RunLog 4-11-18”

Moving to Apple – Six Months Later

I moved back to Apple’s tech silo, err ecosystem or whatever to hell you want to call it last October and wanted to reflect on the process or should I say my progress a little.

When I decided to move to the world of Apple it was using my:

• iPad Pro 10.5 • iPhone 7 • The wife’s PC – albeit grudgingly • Garmin 230 GPS watch – just to screw with things

This setup relies on IOS as my primary operating system and in some instances IOS is not quite there when it comes to being the daily driver OS. Unfortunately there were and still are a couple of compromises that I have to make to use my iPad Pro as my primary computer.

Which is not ideal, but it has not stopped me. 😉

Even so, I am comfortable with the direction that I am heading with my move to the Apple tech silo.

So Why Apple?

I have lived with a fragmented computing lifestyle for many years both personally and professionally.

To be honest the fragmentation and all the different tech silos, products and biases makes using technology/computers/Internet more difficult, while at the same more interesting and yes, diverse. There is some sort of solution out there for just about anything, even the things that we don’t think or know about sometimes.

Over the past few years, like many people I have used a mixture of Google, Apple, Android, Chrome, Microsoft, Linux based devices — along with a vitual mishmash of various (productivity, entertainment, work related, games, etc.) apps, software and all the different social media sites. Oh yeah, I can’t forget about the many cloud based services and solutions that have sprung up.

Needless to say they often do not play well together.

Really what I ended up with is a fragmented shitshow that confuses, frustrates and makes you at times to want to throw things against a wall – usually not good for the device that hits the wall.

After retiring in June 2017, by October I had enough of the shitshow, frustration factors of competing technologies, hardware, apps, software, OS, philosophies and decided to move to one tech silo. The time was right since I was no longer tied to any one silo, hardware or software and had the opportunity to chose one that I wanted to use – not something that someone else choose for me.

Looking back, I had had good experiences with Apple’s products, when I was teaching and while they do collect mountains of data from their customers, they have not as yet monetized that data collection. The idea or at least the perception that I am still the customer, not the product, to me is still a big deal.

When you look at Apple’s hardware, the apps/software and the level of integration that their products are moving towards (they are not there yet), it made a lot of sense for me and how I see things in the technology world, to move to the Apple tech silo.

My Experience

Honestly, moving back to the World of Apple, with the devices I chose to make this journey on, was the path less travelled. It has not been without more than a few bumps, a steeper than anticipated learning curve, some straight-up swearing at my devices and/or Apple, a few creative work-arounds and finally leaving some things to worry about for later.

My biggest issues were IOS’s limitations and overcoming Apple’s history of keeping the iPad as a complementary device and not someone’s primary computer.

The other part I gotta admit that I sort of enjoyed, even if it was frustrating at times. The part where I experimented with different settings, trying too many apps, workflows and weaning myself off Google/Microsoft/Linux ways of doing things.

Over the past six month I have found that often less is more and often “good enough” is good enough, when it comes to keeping things simple and as stress free as possible. Since that is the main purpose of this change — to keep life and technology as simple/efficient as possible.

Keep working on the K.I.S.S. Principle – it works.

The best part is that I am continuing to learn new things all the time about my devices, IOS and the apps I am using. Which means I do foresee a few tweaks here or there as I get more sophisticated, with my knowledge of Apple’s realm.

What are some of the particulars that stick out in my mind about switching over.

Hardware

I love my iPad Pro 10.5, iPhone 7 and how they complement one another.

However, if my iPad Pro did not have a keyboard and I would be looking at some sort of a Mac to take its place.

I ended up with the Zagg Bluetooth keyboard because it provided the best combination of protection and versatility for my iPad, a keyboard that I liked, plus it was on sale at the time.

iPad Pro 10.5

Part of my problem is that I think that until recently Apple tended to look at the iPad as a “nice to have” device. The iPads were not initially designed to be your primary computer – it was more a peripheral device, like a smart phone that was there to complement to your main computer.

Although this perspective seems to be changing with the iPad Pro models, there are still too many instances where the “official” way to do things is to plug your iPad into a “real” computer – which is a pain in the arse when it occurs and should not be the “answer”.

Even with all that I would not trade my iPad Pro 10.5 straight-up for a similarly spec’d MacBook, MacBook Air or some other OS laptop computer.

Yeah, I like it that much.

iPhone 7

Simply the best phone I have used.

IOS

It is nice to not have to think in terms of multiple operating systems and figuring out how to get my primary devices to work well together, where the commands are hidden that I want/need to change and then worrying about the update cycles, who does them, how they will effect compatibility moving forward. All that kind of stuff I worried about when attempting to get different operating systems to play nice together.

I don’t worry about that stuff anymore – two devices, one operating system, things just blend together nicely so far and with each update that Apple does, the iPad is becoming more of an “independent” computer and less a peripheral device.

Productivity

Apple’s apps do most everything that I want to do and/or I can find an app that will in the App Store. However, Apple’s apps/software do things from a slightly different perspective than Microsoft’s or Google’s similar apps/software do, so there was a learning curve.

As I use iWork and Apple’s other apps more, the less I like the other ones. I find Apple’s offering most intuitive for me, but not always as powerful or feature heavy – more minimalist, but more than good enough to get what I want done.

Browser

I like the Safari browser in IOS on the iPad, but don’t do much browsing on the iPhone – unless I have to. I prefer to browse the Internet on a larger screen. Unfortunately there are too many sites that do not render correctly in Safari i.e. Garmin Connect among others for it to be my only browser.

So I do need to have another browser to see those sites correctly – I am using Chrome for now, since I am still in Google Drive for my photos and have used it for several years. Although I am thinking about moving to the new Firefox and seeing if that works out okay.

In IOS I do not live in my browser like I did with Google or even with Windows, at first that was a bit of a jolt, but now I have gotten more used to it and actually like it better.

Email

After many years of bouncing between multiple work emails, personal Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail/Outlook or back in the day AOL, I have finally taken the leap to move my primary personal mail account to .icloud.com.

Eventually, I plan to retire all but the iCloud accounts – it will take some time, but I think it will be better for me in the long run.

I really did not realize how much email I actually receive at my legacy mail addresses. I am finally figuring out where some of the “junk mail” is coming from, now that it doesn’t automatically go to the junk mail folder since I separated the old email accounts in Apple Mail.

As a part of this change I have also setup an alias .icloud.com account for subscriptions or websites that require a email address that I do not want to use my personal email address. Which acts as a filter that helps me identify people/important stuff versus “stuff”.

Over the past few weeks, I have unsubscribed from literally 100’s of lists, promotional crap and old sites that I signed up for and haven’t been back to for years.

Like I said it will take time.

Music

I recently subscribed to Apple Music and am liking/using it a LOT more than I thought that I would. I was getting tired of Pandora, never really liked Amazon Music or Google Music and disliked iTunes even back when I had to use it when I had a Mac and an iPhone.

It was also a pain in the arse getting my personal music collection into my Apple account (and it still is not all there) and finally I had to use iTunes on my wife’s PC to get most of it on my iPad Pro.

This is the biggest reason why I went with the Apple Music subscription – I just didn’t want to deal with iTunes.

I had not planned on getting Apple Music, but now that I have done it – well I am happy with how it is working for me. The bad part is that the subscription price is higher than what I can really justify based on how I see me actually using it.

We will see on this one.

However, I am finding old songs that I haven’t heard in years – Sugar, Sugar by the Archies brought back more than a few smiles and thoughts of years gone by.

Photos

This is probably the biggest area of frustration that I have had with moving to the Apple ecosystem – the difficulty…well near impossibility without owning a Mac.

I simply am looking for a simple solution to get my scanned family photos from Google Drive/Photos to iCloud and on my iPad. My iPad Pro has plenty of space for all my photos, but getting them on it has not happened yet.

After way too much time attempting to figure this one out, the best advice I got was to download each one individually and put it in my library that way. Nope, not with almost 40 gb of photos that I want to move to the iPad.

It ended up being easier to keep much of that “legacy photos” in Google Drive as my archive and to start mostly fresh with Apple Photos.

The bad part was that it took me almost a month of wasted effort to come to this realization. That was frustrating as hell.

Files

I still have to work on learning the new file management system in IOS and how it relates to iCloud, other cloud services and how I can use it. When I do that some of the issues I have with moving stuff to my iPad should be taken care of.

It might even be as simple as getting the “camera dongle” at some point or an Apple lightning thumb drive.

The reality is that

Moving back to the Apple ecosystem has been a good, but bumpy experience at times that is taking me in the direction that I want to go.

One tech silo for my computing and online needs.

My iPad Pro is my daily driver for 95% of everything that I do on a computer and my iPhone 7 is a great companion device. Once in a while I still find that I have to use my wife’s PC to do something, but that seems to becoming more rare as IOS becomes more mature.

Looking at the way things are right now, if someone offered me a similarly specced Windows, Chrome, Linux based laptop computer or even a Mac, I would be hard-pressed to take them up on their offer.

I like the way my iPad Pro 10.5 and iPhone 7 complement one another and how this combo meets most of my now fairly basic computing needs very nicely.

However, it does mean that I know that I will have to update my devices within 3-4 years, in order to keep current in Apple’s ecosystem, as they will at that time have limited support for my “old” devices.

As long as I continue to be their consumer and not their product, I have a feeling that I will deal with the higher prices in exchange for that little extra slice of privacy that I imagine that I have inside Apple’s tech silo.

However, as I have said for almost 20 years, if you or your computer can connect to the Internet, you really do not have any privacy, it is more how the big corporations that already have, will continue to have our data and how they use it.

Who knows maybe Apple will stay to the high road.

Now if only Neverwinter Nights or Neverwinter Nights 2 were on IOS, I would be very happy :-).