Can iOS 12 keep me on iPhone?

As an iPhone user, there are a lot of gripes that I have with the iOS ecosystem. I’m gonna be honest: The iPhone is not bad. It’s a very decent and very capable device. However, there are quite a few things that I wish they did differently, and a lot of this stems from Android.

And with iOS 12, some of those things may get fixed. Notifications have been a very huge reason for me to make this switch, and the same is true with Siri, the Home Screen, and the Default Browser. Now, out of those four, the home screen and default browser are being left out, however, they are improving Notifications and Siri.

With the Notifications, the complaint is very simple: Why is it that when I’m in, say, a group chat with about 20 people, each and every single individual message gets its own notification? Those notifications drown out literally every other one, leaving to miss Twitter notifications, Emails, individual messages, SMS, etc.

Now, iOS 12 is adding grouped notifications, and all I’ve got to say about that is THANK YOU!!! I’ve disabled notifications for each of the group chats I’m involved in simply because I can’t handle all those notifications, but after this update, I can finally leave them on and get involved with groups once again.

Now, with Siri, the complaint is simple: She’s adequate. She’s functional. And that’s it. She’s not good. She’s not great.

It all stems from the fact that when I ask a question, and Siri doesn’t already know the answer, I only get search results. That’s it. Contrast that with Google Assistant, who does a Google Search and reads off the result.

In this case, the system could be much better. For example, I just asked, “When did the Nexus Three come out?” I got a bunch of search results from that. However, imagine if Siri did a Wikipedia search of Nexus Three, being redirected to the Galaxy Nexus, searching for that area in the sidebar where it says “First Release”, and parsed where it says “17 November 2011” and responded “According to Wikipedia, the Galaxy Nexus was released November 17, 2011”.

How about prices? I asked Siri “How much does the Pixelbook Cost”? Instead of doing a Bing Search, why not search “Pixelbook” on Amazon, take the first result, which shows the current cost of a Pixelbook being $749 with the original price being $999, and then responded, “The Pixelbook is on sale on Amazon for $749 right now”. Maybe even report that it’s supported on Prime Shipping. “The Pixelbook is on sale on Amazon for $749 with Prime Shipping right now”.

For crying out loud, when I search how much the MacBook Pro costs, Siri doesn’t even tell me out loud: She says can tell me the price and pulls up a button to go to the website. If I wanted to do that, I already would have!

Notice just how much better that alone would make Siri? Take questions, do a search on a relevant website, and parse the data to find what information could be helpful. If unsure, ask the user if the information was helpful. There’s no shame in collecting feedback in order to make Siri better!

That being said, however, Siri is finally being opened up in that app developers may now integrate features into Siri. Now imagine being able to request an Uber ride with your voice? Imagine if it all worked with your Apple Watch, or even Homepod when the iPhone is close enough to be seen?

The third item that I really dislike is the Home Screen, and this one is very simple: Just let me place a clock and weather widget on there. Maybe even a mail widget on one of the pages. Please?

And finally, can I please replace Safari with Google Chrome as my default browser?

Just these changes would honestly make iOS and the iOS Ecosystem nearly perfect for me. I love the Control Center, I love Apple Pay, I love iMessage, I love ARKit, and Face ID looks very promising.

To be honest, Apple should release a “VRKit” with their answer to Google’s Daydream platform. Or, in a twist, integrate the iPhone into Daydream. Then again, I’m not planning to order a Google Daydream View headset, I’m planning to go Oculus Go, which is why the device I’m switching to is the OnePlus 6 and the lack of a VR System in the iOS Ecosystem is not a dealbreaker.

However, the notifications are broken, Siri is simply adequate when she should be great, widgets are not available for the home screen, and I can’t change the default browser to Google Chrome (I’ve had a number of times when I’d enter a website like Amazon, and it’d redirect me to the Amazon app, for example, and then redirect me into Safari… PLEASE STOP DOING THAT), and they don’t even allow me to choose where I purchase my movies and my music (I DON’T WANT TO USE iTUNES). These five major gripes are honestly the reason I want to go back to Android.

However, with grouped notifications and app integration into Siri, it’s very possible Apple could hold onto me for another year. I just had a look at the Product Red iPhone 8, and it looked very good.

And if it turns out to be better than expected (especially with the shared experiences in ARKit), I very well might order their other products: The Apple Watch, Apple TV, Airpods, Homepod, and maybe the MacBook Pro (although I’m also thinking of sticking to Chromebooks for a little while longer). I’m still going to heavily use Google Software, such as Google News and Google Play Products, however.

With all that being said, iOS 13 better be absolutely amazing if you want to keep me on for 2019-2020. There are other decently priced Android Phones that very successfully rival you, Apple. iOS 12 is only lowering me from five major gripes to three, and Siri will still have problems. Honestly, letting me choose my default browser LIKE ONE CAN DO ON A MAC and allowing me to purchase digital media from Amazon and Google Play should not be that hard. This kind of thing is what Android users call the “Walled Garden”.

An Open Letter to CNN: Marketing to Millennials

Dear CNN,

I understand it’s difficult for you to deal with the fact that milennials like me enjoy shows from independent YouTubers over Corporate Media. However, your smear post about YouTube’s advertising system shows a clear misunderstanding of how it works. Either that, or you’re purposefully omitting this information for your smear.

I think we all understand which one of those I believe.

However, I’m going to come at you with a radical idea: Millennials are not a lost cause when it comes to live TV. I watch a few shows from the TYTNetwork. If they grabbed a TV channel through Dish, or even YouTube TV, that included all their shows like The Young Turks 2-Hour Live Broadcast, ThinkTank, TYT Sports, TYT Politics, What the Flick, Pop Trigger, TYT Interviews, Nerd Alert, Jimmy Dore, Secular Talk, Sam Seder, The News with Dan Rather, The Humanist Report, The Bill Press Show, and The Point, I would probably tune in on a regular basis.

And it’s not like I don’t watch Live TV at all. I watch Disney XD. I watch Boomerang. I watch BBC America. I watch Nickelodeon. I watch TruTV.

And the reason I started watching these channels are pretty clear. I liked Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Phineas and Ferb. Those shows are on Disney XD. So, I tune in to that channel to see much of their other content. This introduced me to Milo Murphy’s Law, Kick Buttouski, Mech-X4, Beyblade Burst, and even more. Yes, there are shows I’m not so fond of, but I tune in on a semi-regular basis, simply because I like the majority of their shows.

It would be the same with TYT Network. I watch their 2-hour broadcast almost daily when they come live. I watch Secular Talk. I watch The Jimmy Dore Show. I watch The Humanist Report. I started watching Disney XD on the basis of two shows. If The Young Turks got a TV channel that included each one of their shows, I’d easily tune in, and even be interested in many of their other shows in this way.

Yes, TYT has a Pluto TV channel, but it only includes, like, three of their shows, and often does reruns.

It could be the same way with CNN. Start including actual progressives in their network. Allow them to speak their mind without a filter. Cut a deal with Google to include Google AdSense on the TV Channel. Introduce some of your shows on YouTube through a YouTube Channel. I’d eventually check out one of the shows, and if it’s good I’ll like it. Eventually, I’ll check out some of the other shows on your network and eventually I’ll actually check out the CNN channel. If your content is genuinely good, I’ll tune in pretty regularly.

While I can’t speak for other millennials, I can tell you this marketing strategy will indeed work for me. It worked with Disney XD (their shows are on Netflix and Hulu). It worked with BBC America (Doctor Who on Netflix, occasionally watching Star Trek with my Mom). It almost worked with TYTNetwork (if they included all their shows on a better schedule, I’d tune in more often). It would certainly work with me.

And I bet you it would work with other millennials.


Marco Salin

Club Penguin Rewritten to Return

On February 12, 2017, Club Penguin Rewritten was launched in response to the announcement of Club Penguin’s closure. This service was provided to continue the Club Penguin experience, by continuing to hold parties, and encouraging community engagement.

On March 4, 2018, Club Penguin Rewritten was discontinued for the safety of the staff.

Now, it’s time for the return of Club Penguin Rewritten. Club Penguin was a part of my life, and the ability to continue playing it despite it’s closure is really nice to have, especially in the face of it’s replacement, Club Penguin Island.

I wonder if they were able to recover everyone’s user accounts, though. I hope so.

I want new tech

Hello, all!

I am a massive fan of technology. I follow YouTube Channels such as Technobuffalo, Unbox Therapy, EverythingApplePro, TechQuickie, Linus Tech Tips, and soon resubscribing to The Ben Heck Show.

However, in terms of the tech I actually have… comprises of a Dell Latitude 3340 that my school issued me (and will soon be taking), an iPhone 6S that I got from my sister, a cheap Smartwatch that I don’t even wear anymore, An Amazon Echo Dot that I gave to my little sister, A 6-year-old desktop computer that I stopped using as a result of it being too slow, An Amazon Fire TV Stick which… is actually very good, though occasionally slow, a Nintendo Entertainment System (primarily) for gaming (I do have a Wii and Nintendo 64, but I don’t have many games for the N64 and the Wii is for emulation), and a Google Cardboard headset for Virtual Reality.

Given my spot, I do wish to get an upgrade on practically every front. Yes, I can live with what I got, and the upgrades are simply a want, not a need. Regardless, I’ve done some looking around and determined, finally, what I wish to obtain.

And here it is:

  • A Surface Pro for my laptop, with a Type Cover and Surface Pen, for taking notes when I go to College.
    • A Pixelbook or other Chromebooks would also be nice.
  • A Samsung Galaxy S9 for my Smartphones, for reasons I hope is obvious to anyone who follows tech.
    • A Pixel 2 or OnePlus 5T would also be nice.
  • A Huawei Watch 2 Sport for my Smartwatch, mainly for easy access to Google Assistant and notifications (as well as, obviously, the time).
    • An LG Watch Urbane would also be nice.
  • A Google Home Max for my Smart Speaker, replacing my dumb speaker plugged into my TV.
    • A Googe Home Mini would also be nice.
  • An Alienware Area 51 for my Desktop.
    • I can also use the Surface Dock to use my Surface Pro as a desktop, though not for gaming.
  • An NVIDIA Shield for my TV.
    • I can keep my Amazon Fire TV, it’s already a nice device.
  • A Nintendo Switch for Video Games.
    • I also would like to upgrade to the New Nintendo 3DS.
  • A HTC Vive for Virtual Reality.
    • An Oculus Rift would also be nice. Not applicable if I can’t get a Gaming PC.

One main thing I wish to get out of this is a deep integration with Google Assistant. The Samsung GS9 has Google Assistant, the Huawei Watch has Google Assistant, the Google Home is a Google Assistant device, and the NVIDIA Shield has Google Assistant.

The only reason I don’t pick up a Chromebook for my laptop is an uncertainty of if I can work with my primarily Microsoft Office college using a Chromebook, but I may change my mind to using a Pixelbook or a Dell or Samsung Chromebook. Although, only the Pixelbook has Google Assistant at this time, leading me to lean closer to that.

I’m definitely not using a Chromebox, though. The desktop is for gaming. That’s why I’m wanting an Alienware.

Keep in mind, these are wants. Not demands. This is a wish list.

What do you think? Is this a decent setup? Please note, too, that this lineup may change over time… it would take me months to meet this if I meet it at all. This is just my current wants.

Arizona Teachers Vote to Strike

Yesterday, teachers voted to perform a state-wide strike on April 26, 2018. This strike is in protest of insufficient funding in the education system here in Arizona, including the low wages the support staff gets.

Our governor did agree to provide a 20% raise by 2020, however giving teachers a raise really does nothing for the students. It doesn’t update their textbooks. It doesn’t repair the buildings. It doesn’t provide better lunches. It doesn’t bring technology to the classroom. It also doesn’t support the school support staff who work hard to keep the school functioning properly.

Being a teacher is one of the most important positions you can have. It’s saddening that those in power refuse to pay them as such. Even many other states have tried to lower the pension their teachers were promised in contracts. Schools in Oklahoma are even using textbooks that claim George W. Bush is the current president, despite 8 years of Obama and now nearly 2 years of Trump. Indeed, the textbooks are at least a decade old. A decade old. Textbooks are typically updated yearly, even if the update is nothing more than rearranging the information.

Public Schools are failing in America. Not because Public Schools don’t work, but because our government, state and federal, refuse to properly fund them. Instead, they want us to utilize standardized testing to determine school funding, causing teachers to teach the test, having students fail the test, causing the school to get less funding, making it harder to even teach the test, leading to more fails on the test… rinse, repeat, and you have what we got today.

But, I guess it should be no surprise. Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water (despite their governor claiming the problem is over), and our infrastructure has a grade of D+. Meanwhile, we keep increasing the military budget by massive proportionate and giving tax cuts, tax breaks, tax loopholes, and even corporate welfare to the rich.