My Favorite Photos of 2016

After lengthy deliberation I have selected the photos that I took in 2016 that are my favorites. I originally published this post with 10 photos, but soon after decided I needed to   add a few because 10 just wasn’t a large enough group to represent my favorites.

Most of the pictures I selected were right here in Easton, PA, along with a few in Montclair, NJ, where I once lived, and New York City, another former home city of mine.

All photos with my iPhone SE or my iPad Pro 9.7.

Nisky Cemetary, Bethlehem, PA

Spring Garden St., Easton, PA

Painters on the Lehigh River, Easton, PA

Centre Square, Easton, PA

Old Passenger Train Station, Easton, PA

Fall in Easton, PA, Route 611

Toll Bridge, Route 22, Easton, PA

Group II

Lower Manhattan from Governors Island

One WTC from the South

Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

St Francis Xavier Church, 16th St., Manhattan

Group III

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Montclair, NJ

Presby Gardens at Mountainside Park, Montclair, NJ

Gardens at Van Vleck Estate, Montclair, NJ

Ticket Windows at Hoboken Terminal

Apple should make a Mac Book/iPad Hybrid

On Tuesday Apple announced that they were introducing new Mac Book Air models with faster chips and a $100.00 reduction in price for each model across the line. That was welcome news, but nothing to get really too excited about because Apple is just making slight improvements to the MBA. I loved the groundbreaking design of the MBA when it was introduced and I still think it is very cool and best in class, but it is now three years old and I think Apple needs to introduce a radically new design which can complete with the new crop of Hybrid Laptop/Tablets which run Windows 8 and Android.

Not too long ago, when the spectacular new iPad Air was introduced, I put up a post on this blog praising the new tablet and noting that the ever-increasing capabilities of tablets such as the iPad were making them viable replacements for laptops. I stated that I thought I could see myself just using a tablet and a desktop computer in the future and not purchasing traditional laptops in the future. Now that Microsoft Office is available for the iPad it is an even more attractive laptop substitute. When the iPad Air hit the Apple Stores I took a trip to my local Apple Store to see it in person and I must say that the Air lived up to my expectations. As usual, the build quality was excellent and although I seen pictures of the Air and knew the spec’s prior to seeing it in person I was still surprised by just how light, yet sturdy, it felt.

In recent weeks I have also spent a lot of time looking at the some of the latest tablets running Windows8 and Android being sold at stores here in San Diego, including our local Microsoft Store. I have to admit I was also very impressed by Microsoft Surface tablets, particularly the Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 2, which runs on the Intel i5 chip, is really a full blown computer in the body of a tablet. It remains fairly a expensive device, with 128 GB model at $999.00 and the 256 GB model costing $1299.00, which is more than many laptops with comparable spec’s, but the Surface has redefined the capabilities of tablets in ways that even the iPad has not in some ways.

At least one company, Asus, briefly produced laptop that ran Win8 and had a detachable screen that could function as an Android tablet. However, it appears that neither MSFT or GOOG was very happy with that machine. I checked the Asus website and it appears that Asus no longer sells this laptop so they must have been pressured to discontinue it. Too bad, because I think that would machine have appealed to many people, because Android is regarded as a better OS for mobile devices and Windows is clearly superior to Android as a conventional computer OS. However, I can understand why MSFT and GOOG were not supportive of that type of hybrid because, ideally, they don’t want users to have split loyalties. Asus still offers hybrid laptops, but it appears that they only run Win8.1 now.

I think Apple should copy the dual OS concept and build a Mac Book that runs OS X with a detachable screen that could function as an iPad running iOS. High ranking Apple Executives have indicated that there are no plans to merge the Mac’s OS X and the iPad’s iOS into one OS a la Windows 8. Apple thinks OS X and iOS are perfectly suited for the type of devices that they run on respectively and I understand that position. A new Apple OS that combined OS X and iOS might indeed be advantageous in some respects, but might not provide the same performance or user experience that OS X and iOS provide for the devices they are specifically designed for.

I’m not sure if Apple could produce such a Mac/iPad hybrid at a competitive price, but if various PC makers can produce hybrids of this type I don’t see why Apple could not. Various tech blogs have run stories within the last year that suggest Apple may indeed be working on such a hybrid device, but who knows? Maybe they are and they are keeping it under wraps. We know that Apple is set to introduce a new 12 inch Mac Book Air that is rumored to feature a new lightweight design. Is it possible this new laptop will be hybrid? Probably not, I suspect an Apple hybrid is not quite ready yet, but I really look forward to the day that it is. Mac and iPad users would love it. It would indeed be the best of both worlds.

iPad/iPhone App reviews

Gee, I haven’t posted an iPad app review in long time, but there are a few apps that I have used recently that I would like to post brief reviews of because I think they are quite good. I use these apps on a regular basis and I gave all of them a 4 or 5 star ratings on iTunes. So, here they are:

1) City Maps 2Go – $1.99 *****
This app enables you to download maps of large and midsize cities across the U.S., as well as in other countries. The maps are very well detailed and useful, especially when you go offline. I discontinued my ATT service for my iPad well over a year ago and I go wifi only now, so this app is particularly useful to me now. Are the maps as good as Google maps or Mapquest? No, but they are definitely detailed enough for you to find your way around with.

2) Hotel Tonight – Free ****
This app is a specialized app that provides the user with discounted hotel rates in select cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe (although primarily in the U.K. at this point). However, the rates provided by the app are only for same day/night that you access the app. For example, if you traveled to Los Angeles or New York tommorrow morning and had to stay over for between one and five nights the app would show you hotels that have rooms available at discounted rates for any where between one night and five nights. The hotels would rather rent the rooms at a discounted rate than let the rooms go unoccupied. Of course, there are other travel apps that enable you to make same day reservations, but I like this app because the rates seem to be as low or lower than other those displayed on rival hotel apps and it simplifies the decision process a great deal because the number of hotels featured is usually limited to a fairly small number of quality hotels. I haven’t actually made a reservation with the app yet, but I still look at the hotel listings in the app on a regular basis because I find their hotels descriptions and photos interesting. The company that runs the app only features hotels that members of their staff have stayed at. The descriptions are concise and witty. Hotel locations are provided via Google maps.

3) Snapseed – Free *****
This is an image editing app from Google. It is similar to Photogene and other popular photo editing apps. It has some nice filters like Instagram. It enables you to share photos in a variety of ways and integrates well with Google+. The iOS version of this app was recently marked down to free from $4.99, so you really can’t complain about the price. I really didn’t need this aap because I already have Photogene and Diptic, but when it became available for free I had to give it a try. I like it a lot. The interface is very clean and easy to use.

4) Chart IQ+ – $22.99 *****
The app is designed for professional and advanced stock chartists. I have been a student of technical analysis for a couple of decades and I have used a wide a variety of PC based technical analysis programs and I think this app is compares very favorably to other charting apps and web based charting sites. If you are a professional trader/investor or an individual trader who has a serious interest in technical analysis this app is well worth the price in my opinion. The app integrates with StockTwits and enables you post charts directly to Twitter or post a link to a chart that you have constructed to another site, such as a blog. Real time quotes are available for an additional fee.