Fonzing my iPhone

This is fun.

I’ve had problems with my iPhone button on and off for months. Late Sunday, it stopped responding (again). No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to click. I’d press dozens of times, and the screen would just sit there, taunting me. Restarting the phone every time I want to change an app is no fun, I must say.

Originally, I blamed the hardware. The button on my last phone wore out after about a year, too. Later, I blamed software. I thought maybe a badly coded app was sticking it to the OS. Then I updated iOS, and it happened again right after the update. My suspicion turned to iOS itself. But that wasn’t consistent. I’ve come full circle, now, back to hardware.

The most recent episode lasted until Tuesday, during which time my iPhone was essentially useless. Then I dropped it while trying to juggle the device and a few other items as I signed the paperwork to enter a local 5K.

Bingo. Dropping it on my foot jarred back into place whatever doesn’t work behind that button. Responsiveness for days. Or hours, at least. It stopped reacting to clicks again later that day. Bam! I clunked it hard on a table on the headphone-jack side. Back in business. Fonz, meet jukebox.

At least now I know how to fix it. Funny. We build these advanced devices that get more and more advanced all the time. And when they break, it’s still a swift kick or a good thump that fixes them.

Facebook and good enough

I recently updated the Google+ app on my iPhone, and it’s as stunning as it is useful. It makes the Facebook app look like the broken down amalgamation it is. The problem? You can’t be social without other people.

It frustrates me. Facebook is good enough, and that’s good enough for most people. But I care about my social media experience and I’m sick of dealing with Facebook: the games, the sticky social readers, the interface (mobile and desktop). I yearn for something clean, uncluttered. Facebook, essentially, doesn’t make me want to use Facebook. What Facebook needs is a 2.0 version that isn’t a kludgy cobbling together of everything that developers have added to the site over time. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

Competition abounds: Twitter, Google+, Path. Even Diaspora. All of these elegant services have a user experience that doesn’t get in the users’ way. So, with the exception of Twitter, why do they fail to pull in users? I wish I knew. I bet their developers wish they knew, too.

Friends of mine on Facebook likely notice that I almost always post there from Twitter. Twitter doesn’t constantly tell me who played what word in the latest social crossword game. Yes, I block these things. New ones come on line all the time.

Facebook going public will only accelerate the monetization of interactions. That means more games, more ads, more of everything that I think gets in the way of social interaction.

The only solution? Diversify. Google+ isn’t the Facebook alternative. It is one alternative. Try Path (which is mobile-only), Pair (for something really intimate), Diaspora (if you want an invite, ask me, but it’s about to open to everyone), or Twitter.

I know the inertia of staying. But I also know Facebook’s interface bugs me more and more. So, who’s with me?

Riding the pa-liptical

Riding an elliptical or as girlie calls it, the “pa-liptical,” doesn’t come naturally to me. It just doesn’t. Call it an inherent lack of rhythm. Call it a bias for running. Call it what you will, it’s not easy for me. But I’m learning.

We bought an elliptical a few weeks back of Craigslist. About the same time, I developed a pain above the medial side of my left ankle. And no, it’s not from lifting the elliptical and helping to move it downstairs (that damn thing’s heavy!). The pain, I suspect, is a minor overuse injury, so I prescribed myself a few weeks of not running.

That’s where the elliptical comes in. I still wanted exercise, but needed zero impact. After several uses, I’m finally getting the hang to it. It’s like running in sand: It’s difficult and you don’t get anywhere. But it keeps my legs moving and gives a modicum of aerobic action, so I can’t complain.

That said, I still can’t wait to get back to running. The ankle’s improving, so I’m optimistic. This weekend might be good. Waiting a full two weeks, which would be middle of next week, might be better. Either way, I think I’ll stick to an elliptical session a week or so; I think it’ll help build leg strength.

In other running news, I registered today for the North Country Run 2012 marathon in August. Stoked to renew the marathon card, and it looks like a fun event. Registration even includes a barbecue and beers at the finish line. How can you beat that?

True digital native

I shudder to think what the future holds for girlie in terms of technology. How we rely on and interact with technology has changed fast in my lifetime, and the pace of tech evolution seems to accelerate by the year.

Girlie’s skill with tech started earlier than I expected: She’s been able to operate the slide lock on my iPhone since about 15 months. Since then, she’s grown into quite the adept. She zips through screens on our iPhones and iPad finding “her” apps. PBS Kids is a favorite, where she can find Dr. Seuss and Noah Comprende shorts. She also likes Youtube (and has a knack for finding Annoying Orange videos) and Penguins, which is a live cam of the California Academy of Sciences penguinarium. And Koi Pond.

She’s never known a world where she can’t video chat with her uncle and his cat on a mobile phone. Yesterday, she told me she wanted to see grandma on my iPhone. I forget just how she asked in her two-and-a-half year-old’s vocabulary, but she wanted to video chat with grandma. It’s as natural to her as ketchup on chicken nuggets.

Things change fast. I won’t recognize her world in 20 years. But, then again, I thought we’d have flying cars by now.

Nice surprise

I forgot to post this weeks ago, but a neighbor who snapped a photo of me at the Detroit marathon gave me this print. This shows a rugged me (in bandana) coming off Belle Isle at about mile 22. I had dropped a water bottle about 100 yards earlier and almost didn’t pick it up for fear I couldn’t get up again.

Clash phase

I’m too young to be an original The Clash fan, so I won’t even front. The group form ed when I was 3 years old, and I was 6 years old when the seminal London Calling came out.

Lately, though, I just can’t seem to get enough. I jam to The Clash at home doing the dishes. I rock out in the car. I just emptied my Shuffle, and filled it with The Clash to take on runs. Is there nothing this band can’t make better?

Enough yet?

I’ve had Combat Rock as long as I remember. And, really, that 1982 album was the first I exposure I remember. Rock the Casbah got high rotation on MTV (two asides: it’s my ringtone, and if you put that song on at a party in 100 years, like Groove Is In The Heart,” it’ll still rock the joint.) A few years ago I ripped London Calling and Sandinista! from our library. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the UK and U.S. versions of The Clash, the eponymous debut. This month, I bought Give ‘Em Enough Rope, their second, and the Clash on Broadway retrospective.

The only original studio release I don’t have is Cut the Crap, which apparently is as well regarded and received as Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. I may leave that one.

Phases of rotation

Like I implied, it’s a phase. I go through periods where only one artist or album will do: Steve Earl, Wilco, !!!, Minus The Bear, whatever. Rush and the Wilco release Sky Blue Sky were recent hooks. Now, The Clash gets a turn.

I have been through enough of these phases to learn to enjoy the current one and eagerly anticipate the next one. But, until that happens, I’ll strap on my earbuds and run mouthing the words to Brand New Cadillac, ’cause you definitely don’t want to hear me sing.

Daddy’s pink

I’m pink. Or so says my daughter. She’s brown, mommy’s brown, and I’m pink. The realization of race sets in early: She’s not quite two and a half.

“Are you different?” she asked me the other day. She had just pronounced me pink again.

I stammered, briefly flummoxed. Thanks, fatherhood, for another one of these moments. “Yes, we’re all different in a little way,” I told her. “And that’s a good thing. Would you want everyone to be the same?”

She thought a second and quizzically cocked her head. Then she smiled and jabbed my knee with her little index finger.

“You’re pink,” she said, and giggled.

Odds and ends

I finally feel like I’m much closer to mended than broken. The course of antibiotics ended Tuesday and I stopped having the weakness I think the drugs caused. In fact, I ran 7 miles Wednesday.

So, I’m encouraged. Running makes me happy, and not running or hitting bouts of weakness when I did frustrated me.

Other than that, I’m just trying to get back to the business of life. 20120301-230438.jpg

I found a fun iPhone app, which can make whole comic books a page at a time. Doubt I’d make a whole book, but making single panels is fun. Girlie has starred in a couple of them, like this one. She likes the PBS show “Super Why!” and has taken to wrapping herself in her blanket like a cape. She runs around the house cooing “I’m super!”

The results, of course, are adorable and perfect fodder for ComicBook. The app has a straightforward simplicity, like a comic book. I highly recommend it.

In other ruminations, I look forward to this weekend for not one, but two!, date nights with Mrs. Blocletters. We have a more formal event Friday and another night out planned Saturday. Apart from making our sitter rich, it’ll almost be like those carefree pre-parenthood days. We take ’em as we get ’em.

Oh, and one last thing: I doubt I’d use it, but I halfway want to give these people my money just for proof of concept. It’s another iPhone app, this one called Zombies, Run! It turns exercise into a narrated game based in the zombie apocalypse. How cool is that? I just saw it hit the App Store, and looks like it’s also available for Android. Need a little motivation to run? Being chased by zombies can help. It’s $8, so some may think that’s a little steep. But, I stand firmly in the camp that good software is worth sacrificing a couple Starbucks runs.

It’s simple: soap and water

I ran day before yesterday for the first time in two weeks. Two miles. Two little miles. I felt great out on the road, but also felt it the next day in my legs. I had gotten out of the hospital six days before that, one of those unexpected detours life throws at you. But Wednesday I felt strong and didn’t want to miss a window.

Long story short: I caught a bacterial infection. Longer: It involved four and a half days in the hospital hooked up to an IV getting antibiotics that made me weak and nauseated. Half my face inflated like a balloon giving me a constant headache. That required painkillers, which also made my stomach roil. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Scared the hell out of me and my family. The scariest thing? I’ll never know where it came from. Sure, the doctors have theories. It came from daycare. It came from the YMCA. It came from a doorknob or a computer keyboard. For all I know, it came from the Black Lagoon. It doesn’t matter. What mattered is it came with a vengeance.

The best defense, the doctors say, is washing your hands. Thing is, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fastidious about washing my hands. And now that I’m a dad, I must wash my hands dozens of times a day. I often say about driving, I’m damn good at it (years of pizza delivery experience) but it’s the other people on the road I worry about. Same maxim applies here. It only takes interacting with one person who hasn’t washed their hands, or surface not sufficiently cleaned, to get such a horrid infection.

I try not to be preachy or freaky about hand washing, but I see it not happen all the time in public restrooms. I see it not happen at work and other places. Saturday, Mrs. Blocletters and I saw “Fela!” in Detroit. Before the musical (which was fantastic) I went to the restroom. Five men were there when I went in. In my time there, each one of them left without washing. After what I’d been through that week, I wanted to punch them: one sucker punch to the kidneys for each antibiotic my doctors had to try before they found one that this infection responded to.

So, my PSA for the day: If you don’t wash your hands, particularly after the restroom, that’s just nasty. Think about it. You touch your junk. You touch the doorknob on the way out. You go back to your keyboard. You shake hands.

Have you seen Contagion?

It only takes 30 seconds. Do it.

/rant