Cloud Service Bliss

OK, so here goes… Now that I have my private domain up and running I have one email address to rule them all! To help with the consolidation of craziness I have decided to revisit Yahoo! cloud services because this time, if I do decide to change again down the road, I no longer need to forward emails sent to the Yahoo! addy, I just make the forwarding change at the domain level instead.

Also, Yahoo! has awesome mail apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone making it the most vendor neutral solution across all mobile platforms. In addition to mobile platforms it has the most complete integration out of all other providers (outside of iCloud of course) in OS X. With my Yahoo! account I can utilize the native Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Notes, and iMessage apps whereas with Gmail you get Mail, Calendars, and Notes. As for Outlook.com, well, that is non-existent on OS X and from what I have looked at online a lot of manual intervention is required to configure just email alone! This is not the case with Outlook.com on iOS though, so I am a little perplexed as to why there is such a lack of integration in OS X for Outlook.com.

Another thing I like about the dedicated Yahoo! Mail app for iOS (and no doubt Android & Windows Phone) is that I can send emails under the guise of my private domain email address.

My setup as of today now consists of:

Desktop OS = Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
Mobile OS = iOS 7
Mail, Contacts, and Calendars = Yahoo!
Reminders / To-do’s = Yahoo!
Online Storage = SkyDrive
Browser = Firefox 24.0
Bookmark Sync = Xmarks

Now that I am on a consolidation kick (thanks Cult of Less!) I am thinking of signing up for Dropbox, so that I have a cross-platform online storage solution that I may be able to use to finally work on my hybrid local & cloud storage configuration using my RaspberryPi NAS setup.

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Tech ADD

I am 100% convinced that I have Tech ADD, meaning an attention deficit disorder for all things technology! One minute I am all about this browser, that OS, those plugins, these add-ons, this cloud service etc. I just can’t frigging decide, which ones I want to stick to!

Lately I have been on a cloud service binge and have once again switched from iCloud as my primary email, contacts, calendar provider to Gmail and then recently over to Outlook.com. I love Outlook.com, but I know there will be a point where Apple or Google or maybe some brand new provider suddenly does something spectacular that makes me go “Oooooh! I want to use that service now!”. As a result of all of these changes I then change my email address, swearing to all those affected by having to update their contacts list, that this will be the last time I make a change.

Well, a very good friend of mine made a very good suggestion to cure (at least for those affected) this need to switch up providers and change my email address every other week. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (no, I’m not friends with Lord Voldemort) recommended that I purchase my own private domain and use the email address associated with my domain as my permanent email address. Then, forward emails aimed at my@domain.com address to the cloud service of my choice. Magnifique! I never did this before because I didn’t want to fork out the dollars for a domain, well, when I finally found the domain I wanted it is a mere $12.99, which is not exactly breaking the bank! So for the sake of my sanity (and those around me) spending those dollars will give me one email address that I can use for all of my online accounts and doesn’t tie me into a single ecosystem should I, scratch that, when I decide to switch platforms again.

Also, I have plans to utilize my domain for a private blog that my family can follow. I will also utilize my domain to create an authentication system whereby my family will have an @domain.com login to utilize, so that they can login to the private blog and eventually some private repository of photo’s etc.

I Have My Knickers in a Twist

I just can’t decide! Less than two weeks after switching to Gmail services, as a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 purchase was imminent, I am now lusting over Outlook.com again!

The reason being, and this probably comes from my Apple ways, is that I just like nicely done and well finished products. Google has all the features I need on a daily basis: Email, Contacts, Calendars, Online Storage to name a few, but to use them they’re just so “meh!”.

Outlook.com on the other hand is very tidy with it’s simplistic design, even better than iCloud.com in my opinion. I think iCloud.com has gone too far (I’m sure Jony Ive would disagree) and there is just too much white space for my liking. I see parts of iOS 7 are the same too, it just feels so empty.

I’m not going to make a brash switch to Outlook.com just yet, as I want to do some more research and planning to see how switching to Outlook.com affects me for the other things I use e.g. mobile devices and Linux.

In other news I have decided to start using Firefox again in conjunction with Xmarks for bookmark syncing. The reason for this decision is based on being able to use Xmarks across any browser without having to worry about syncing my bookmarks specifically with Gmail or iCloud based on whether I use Chrome or Safari, and in this case where it works really well, a completely different browser that has no ties to Google or Apple.

Lastly, I have been running Windows 8.1 Preview natively on my HP Pavilion dm4 this week and so far I really like it, especially the ability to snap two “metro” apps side-by-side, which comes in handy. They have also brought back the Start button, which doesn’t act like the Start button from Windows 7 and older versions. It works the same way as hitting the Windows key on your keyboard, but apparently a lot of people were very upset with Microsoft over it’s removal as it wasn’t so obvious on how you could get back to “metro” mode, which is no longer called metro due to some lawsuit, so forgive me…

Platform Agnosticism Prevails!

I can’t help being a plagtech, plain and simple! I decided to delete my previous post “So long and thanks for all the fish!”, as I want the flow of this blog to continue as if I had never stopped posting. However, to give you a little summary, I basically decided that I was going to stick to an all Apple solution for mobile & laptop, as well as the corresponding cloud services for mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, and entertainment. 

Then something called iOS 7 happened… I have to remind myself that I am running the latest version of iOS on two year old hardware, but despite some lag it’s the overall OS that I just do not like. It’s vastly different to look at, but at the same time it’s so “meh”. To quote somebody at work it is like a “Fisher Price toy phone” or a “girly version of Android”. It also reminded me that Apple is not necessarily the best at everything. If you ask me what I think of my MacBook Air I would tell you that I love it and that its 12 hour battery life is simply amazing! If you ask me what I think of my iPhone 4S I would tell you that I love the design and it has a quality feel to it while holding.

However, there are so many other quality phones out there. The HTC One, Motorola MotoX, Nokia Lumia 928, LG Nexus 4, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are all beautiful phones. Now, the SGN3 is ginormous with its 5.7″ screen, but Samsung has really upped the quality with the latest version of this phone whereas the SG3 & SG4 still feel like cheap and easily breakable plastic phones.

As you can see, my focus is around mobile phones. For me, in the desktop/laptop category the battle was already won with the arrival OS X. Sure, I’ve dabbled with Windows 8 (and still think it is good by the way) and sure enough I have downloaded the Windows 8.1 Preview to install on my older laptops BootCamp partition. Then of course there is Linux with Ubuntu being my favourite distro hands down. But, the real question is, if I had to pick a desktop OS to use full time what would it be? It would most definitely be OS X. 

It’s easy being a plagtech on a desktop/laptop computer as well, but on the mobile devices there are certain things that work better on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone if you use Apple’s, Google’s, or Microsoft’s services. Each one provides more seamless integration to their own ecosystem if you use their corresponding cloud services. With iOS & iCloud for instance you have the “Find My iPhone” feature as well as seamless integration with iTunes Match in addition to your standard mail, contacts, and calendars. The same goes for the Google/Android and Microsoft/Windows Phone offering too. 

The BIG difference is this… Up until recently, if you stick to iOS you only have one phone to choose from when it came to upgrade. This changed just recently with the introduction to the iPhone 5C, which are more suited for high school kids in my opinion, and then the iPhone 5S being the upscale version (which looks exactly the same as the iPhone 5). 

With Android and Windows Phone you have a lot of devices to choose from, but here is where it gets tricky. The Windows Phone options are mostly Nokia based with a handful of Samsung’s and HTC’s to choose from too, but in terms of the software you get a consistent user experience regardless of manufacturer. When choosing an Android device not only do you have to consider which hardware you are purchasing, but also which “skin” or “flavour” of Android you are going to be using too. I’ve always said that if I was going to buy an Android device it would be in the Nexus range, so that I could get stock Android and any updates would come directly from Google. This seems rather limiting though, as even though the Nexus range changes a lot each year, there are still so many other devices out there to choose from, so I would most likely pick any device, wipe it, and install the stock version of Android. 

Lastly, Verizon just emailed me about a new plan they offer called Verizon Edge. While on my current plan I technically still have one more year to go before I can upgrade at the subsidized cost, but should I upgrade earlier then I would have to pay the full blown retail price, which can be anything up to $700 on some of these new phones. Well, with Verizon Edge I can upgrade now, but rather than paying $700 upfront, for say the SGN3, I can still get that device, but it would add $24 per month to my normal $69 monthly bill. After six months I can then upgrade to whatever new device comes out and still only pay the additional $24 per month. Something to think about…