First listen: U2 – Songs of Innocence

Songs of Innocence

I’ve never actually sat down and listened to U2 before. I’ve heard their songs and have a good idea of what they sound like but I’ve never listened to any of their albums, or really actually paid attention to any of their songs. A lot of people love U2, I’ve just always known they’re not a band for me. Heck all I even know about U2 is they have hugely popular concerts, Bono wears sunglasses all the time and they seem to be involved in a lot of causes and world politics (whether this is true or not I couldn’t say).

U2 has been in the news a lot lately because Apple in a sense ‘bought out’ their thirteenth album Songs of Innocence and released it to half a billion iTunes users for free during their iPhone 6 reveal. Who doesn’t like free music? Well apparently the internet doesn’t. People immediately complained that the album snuck into their iTunes libraries unwanted. Personally, I feel the complaints are absolutely absurd and there will always be someone out there who will complain about anything. They could’ve given a $10 iTunes gift card to everyone in the world and somewhere out there on the internet someone would find a way to complain about it.

U2 songs of innocence iTunes page

Since I’ve never listened to U2 before I’ve decided I’d give the album a listen and write down a few thoughts about it. So here we go, I’m hitting play.

Aside from a handful of moments, (“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”, “Volcano” and “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight”) I can’t say I’ve found much to like in this album. Most of it sounds unremarkable, background music that falls apart when listened to closely. Reading the lyrics in the digital book as I listen doesn’t help. Most everything just comes off as boring.

The parts I like most is when Bono doesn’t sound like Bono. “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight” and the verses of “Volcano” stand out as favorites (not a huge fan of the chorus). I like the darkness in his voice in those two songs in particular. The verses of “Volcano” even have a slight Marilyn Manson sound vocally which I love. If the rest of the album had more of that dark sound and less of the typical, soaring sound that has bored me for years without even having had to listen to a U2 album.

Songs of Innocence

I rated every song as I listened, and going off of the iTunes star rating Songs of Innocence gets 2 out of 5 stars based off my first listen. Seeing as how I’ve never listened to any other U2 album I can’t really say whether this is a particularly good or bad U2 album. I read in TIME that U2 sees this album as one of their best, so it may just be that I don’t like U2.

 

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Bioshock is now available on iOS

Bioshock iOS

So I was browsing the App Store today and was surprised to find that Bioshock is now available on iOS for $14.99. I had absolutely no idea that it was even coming to iOS, and now here it is, ready to be enjoyed on the go on my iPad Air! I was quite excited when I saw it, so I just wanted to pop in and share the news in case anyone else was unaware that this was actually coming.

I’ll be sure to share my experience after I play it a bit. Most of the reviews are quite positive so I’m excited to dig in and enjoy this wonderful game yet again!

Ordered the Samsung Galaxy S5

I’m posting from my phone, so this will be short and to the point. I’m an Apple guy, I love the company, the hardware and the software. I’ll never not own an Apple computer, I absolutely love my MacBook Pro.

I’ve enjoyed the last couple of years with various iPhone’s, but this week I’m upgrading my iPhone 5 to the Galaxy S5. I jumped onto the AT&T Next program and preordered the S5. It should ship Tuesday.

I kind of decided to make the switch on a whim after a coworker posted on Facebook that he had ordered the s5. I started looking at the phone and it just caught my eye and my love for new gadgets took over. I liked the ads, the preview videos of the phone. I liked the way the screen looked and the pictures it takes. I’ve been enjoying my Tab 3 and the way I can use widgets.

So that’s basically it. I’m never going to hate the iPhone. I’m still a fan of the iPhone and believe it’s one of the best phones out there, especially with iOS 7. I just want to try a new gadget.

Realized I’ve only finished one book since college

Cuckoos Calling

I’ve come to the realization that since I graduated with a BA in English in 2010 I’ve only finished one book. That book, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It had me hooked, every chapter seemed to end on a cliffhanger and I had to read on to figure out what was really going on. And just when I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. Maybe I need another book like that?

I started reading JK Rowling’s ghost written The Cuckoo’s Calling about six months ago, and though I enjoyed it, I still haven’t finished it (I’m on page 431 on iBooks on my MacBook). I also have about 30 other books in my iBooks library that I’ve either read a page or two of or haven’t opened.

Part of it might be that I no longer have my iPad which I’d use to read in bed (I had intended to get an iPad Air but ended up with an Xbox One instead). Even then I’d get distracted by Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, CNN or several other apps or websites. Yet I can’t find myself ever wanting to touch a paper book again. I just don’t like physical media. I subscribe to the New York Times but read it via the Chrome app (which is nice because it’s still laid out like a newspaper). Paper books and newspapers are just an unecessary waste of resources. Same goes for DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc. Why waste all that plastic when you can just go digital?

iBooks for Mac

Anyway, enough ranting. Maybe I’ll finish one of these books while I’m on vacation. I don’t mind reading on my MacBook (I love that Mavericks included iBooks) but again I can’t force myself to sit still long enough to focus on just one task.

OS X Mavericks is here

I finally got updated to OS X Mavericks on my MacBook Pro this afternoon and I have to say I’m mostly enjoying the upgrade. For the most part things feel the same as before, so it’s no jump from iOS6 to iOS7, but it still has some nice features. Mainly, iBooks. It’s nice to be able to read books on my MacBook, I’m not sure why it took so long to implement this feature.

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What’s missing though, is Newsstand. I was almost certain that with iBooks we’d see Newsstand, but it’s nowhere to be found. I’d love to read my newspapers and magazines on my MacBook, but for whatever reason we can’t do that yet. I can only hope it’ll be coming sooner or later.

Another feature that should be nice (haven’t tried it out yet) is the improved multiple monitor support. I like to connect my MacBook to my TV via HDMI when using my Dish Anywhere service or NFL Sunday Ticket. For some reason I occasionally run into some weird issues where things don’t work the way they should. Maybe it’s just me, but for example if I set the output to anything other than 720p I get black bars on the sides of the screen, even on a 1080p TV. Also if I send a window over to the second monitor (the TV) and hit full screen, on some apps it goes fullscreen on the MacBook screen rather than the TV screen. I hope outputting to a TV works better with Mavericks. I’ll check it out later tonight to see for sure.

There’s also some improved performance and battery features that I will probably never notice, a new notification system (which seems nice so far), tabs in finder (could be useful I suppose) and a few other new features.

Lastly they added Maps to OS X, though I can’t understand why. If I’m on my MacBook why wouldn’t I just go to Google Maps in Chrome rather than using Apple’s map app? Especially since Maps already is pretty much useless when compared to Google Maps on my iPhone.

iOS 7 is here!

So I’ve been crazy excited for iOS 7 to arrive and today at 11AM (Mountain Time) it did! I had no problems downloading and installing it on my iPhone 5, but so far I’m having issues with my iPad 4. It downloaded the update but when I try to install it it says ‘software update unavailable’.

Anyway, I love the new look and feel of everything and the way it switches between apps now is awesome. I’m particularly in love with iTunes Radio. I love the design and I’ve been listening to ‘Ra Ra Riot Radio’ for the last hour and have discovered more amazing music than I ever have on Pandora and Spotify. I’m pretty certain I’m going to end up subscribing to iTunes Match as a result.

I don’t have much else to say right now, but I just LOVE the look:

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Control your Mac remotely with your iPad

Oftentimes I’ll connect my MacBook Pro to a TV to watch movies or stream content from the web, and it always used to annoy me that I’d have to get up and go to the computer to type something. I could use my wireless mouse to click anything from the couch, but if I ever needed to search for something I was out of luck.

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The first app that solved this problem for me was Air Keyboard, a free app that replicates a Mac’s keyboard and allows you to control your Mac as if you had a bluetooth keyboard (it works over WiFi). You simplydownload the app on your iPad and install the companion app on your Mac and that’s it. You know have the equivalent of a bluetooth keyboard, complete with a touch pad and plenty of other features.

 

 

 

Next up is Splashtop 2, a remote desktop solution. Splashtop 2 is $4.99 for the iPad Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.56.44 PM(there’s a separate iPhone version)for basic functionality with two subscription models
for advanced functionality. Splashtop allows you to not only control your Mac remotely, but also allows you to see the screen on your iPad. Therefore you can control your Mac from anywhere in the house. You can leave it on your desk and access it via Splashtop to e-mail a file, or play a movie that’s on your Mac and view it on your iPad in bed. Also you can use your Mac to access websites that require flash from your iPad.

Splashtop only allows you to control your Mac from the same WiFi network. If you’d like to access your Mac from anywhere you can subscribe to Anywhere Access for $1.99/mo or $16.99/yr.

Both of these apps have made my life easier and more convenient. I’ve included several screenshots below that allow you to see the apps in action.

Air Keyboard (FREE)

 

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Splashtop 2 ($4.99)

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