timhillrocks.com

My (mostly) incoherent ramblings.

Thoughts on iOS 7

Posted

Since everybody is doing an iOS 7 post, I figured I might as well do one too. I’ve been using iOS 7 on my main device (an iPhone 4) since the day that the iOS 7 beta 1 was release.1 It’s been interesting to watch as it has progressed from “Why did I install this on my phone?” to “How did I live without this?” Here are a few of my own thoughts on iOS 7:

  • The look and feel of iOS 7 is very different from all of the other previous version of iOS.2 I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of designers and non-designers complaining about how they don’t like it. Most of these people had never used it. I admit it was a little jarring when I first switched, but after a week or two I was loving most of the changes.
  • Control center is pretty awesome. I frequently change my screen brightness and this makes it much easier. Also, quick access to the camera and flashlight (sorry 3rd party flashlight apps…) is very hand as well.
  • You can now ad contacts to a block list. I now have a contact called “Spam.” Any time a telemarketer calls me I add the number to the “Spam” contact. It’s like heaven.
  • You can take square pictures with the camera app. Quite useful if you’re an Instagram junkie like I am, but don’t like taking your photos with the Instagram app.
  • While I’ve been enjoying iTunes Radio,3 the Music app is a step backwards for me. You can no longer search albums by genre, which is how I typically browsed my library. Also, when you select an artist, instead of listing their albums it lists all of their songs sorted by album. This is fine if you only have one or two albums by that artist. If you have eight and want to listen to a song on an album that is last on the list you’re going to have to scroll through every song of every other album first to get there. Since I switched to iOS 7 I’ve been using Rdio4 as my main music library. The only time I use the Music app is when I want to use iTunes Radio or really want to listen to a song that Rdio doesn’t have.
  • Multi-page folders are great. Now if only I could stick a folder inside another folder…
  • Automatic app updates are great. I hated updating my apps manually so it generally only happened once a month when I had dozens of apps that needed updating. Now it’s one less thing for me to think about.
  • I love going through all of the newly updated 3rd party apps/icons. Some are awesome, some kinda suck, but it’s been fun exploring all the newness.

I think the biggest thing for me is this: I had to use my girlfriend’s phone for something about a week ago. She was still on iOS 6. I was annoyed after using iOS 6 for a few minutes when I had been using iOS 7 for about 3 months.


  1. I’ve done this with ever version since iOS 5. However, I highly recommend that you do not do this, unless you have a second testing device or you don’t mind your main device being barely functional for a few weeks.

  2. No, it isn’t at all like having Andriod on your iPhone. Thank God.

  3. I pretty much immediately cancelled my Pandora One subscription. I already had iTunes Match. Oh, and I hate ads.

  4. I used to want Apple to buy Rdio and integrate it into iTunes. However, seeing how Apple keeps making iTunes/Music app worse, I do not want this anymore.

Writing Is Hard

Posted

So remember my first blog post at the beginning of the month? Yeah, well, as expected I’ve been slacking off in actually writing things. Sure, I’ve been thinking a lot about writing, but I haven’t actually been doing much of it. I was good tonight and have thus far written a few hundred words for various reasons. I’ve been trying to get more into fiction writing. Again, I’ve been spending more time reading/thinking/watching videos/listening to podcasts about writing than I actually spent time writing. For me it seems very much so like an uphill battle.

Since I’ve taken the time to talk about my writing procrastination, I may as well share some of the (pretty awesome) resources that have been distracting me. The first is a great set of videos from a BYU creative writing class taught by author Brandon Sanderson. There is a lot of great information here, both to help your writing improve and also to help you succeed on the business side of the things as well. There is an entire semester worth of lectures here, plus they’ve just started uploading the 2013 classes this week.

Sticking with Brandon Sanderson, I’ve also started listening to his podcast Writing Excuses. Sanderson along with novelists Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and comic artist Howard Tayler provides all sorts of insights and advice for writing fiction, with a focus on fantasy and sci-fi. Also provided are weekly writing prompts and audio book suggestions.1

Finally, I’ve been using Story Starters: A Workbook for Writers by Michelle Richmond.2 This contains 50 days work of exercises with the end goal of having you be able to produce flash fiction (about 750-1,000 words) that would hopefully be publishable. I’ve had this workbook for about 2 weeks and I just finished Day 2. As you can see, I’m doing a great job of spending a minimum of 20 minutes a day writing like the book stipulates.

So there are a few useful resources for you whilst you procrastinate on your writing. At least you’ll be doing something to help improve your craft while you’re slacking off.


  1. Though these are technically ads for Audible, they’re still recommendations of fantasy and sci-fi stories from sci-fi and fantasy writers, so they’re probably good for a listen/read if you can.

  2. Note: this is the only thing listed that isn’t available free of charge.

This Is a Test

Posted

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as more of a writer. I’ve tried blogging before and it always ends up the same way: over the course of a couple months I’ll write few posts and then abandon the effort. I’ve decided to try this again, because you know what they say, 7th time is a charm1. Hopefully it sticks this time.

I am using Octopress (slightly modified) for this reincarnation of my blog. My original plan was to create my own custom blogging platform because I’m a bit of a control freak, but this proved to be a lot more difficult/time consuming/frustrating than I had originally anticipated. There were things I needed to write and Octopress was the most attractive option available. Doesn’t hurt that it’s awesome as well. Still, there are many things that it doesn’t do or doesn’t do the way I’d like to.

There is still a lot to be done. I’m working on a custom design for the site (though the default Octopress theme is quite nice). I haven’t abandoned my efforts to create my own customized platform either, just put it on the back burner for a bit. The work I have done thus far has been very educational and nothing beats that feeling when you finally get something right.

And so begins my blogging journey. Again.


  1. This is a (probably wrong) guesstimation.