Current Location: Cafe Rosita, Leon, Nicaragua
Price of beer in a bar: I paid US$0.59 last night to split a liter of Tona 4 ways. That’s about 8.5 ounces of beer though, and if I do the math 12 ounces would have been about US$0.84.
Song currently stuck in my head: Smoke Alarm (Carsie Blanton)
I’m traveling with an Iphone 4 that my friend found on the roadside in Boston (Apple gets to name their stuff, but we don’t have to use their bullshit capitalization any more than we’re required to type “Dell” in blue or “Sony” in caps with a serif font). It appeared to have been run over, the glass on the back was shattered but the front was mostly intact, a testament to Apple’s famed build quality. The hardware seemed entirely good to go, including both cameras and the wifi antennae. He offered it to me when he couldn’t crack the password, so I thought for a second, remembered that passwords had only recently become mandatory on these devices, assumed the previous owner treated this solely as an annoyance, and tried to imagine what password would offend me the most if I found a friend or relative were using it. I guessed it on the third try; 0852, straight up the numpad. My previous experience with IOS was limited to irritation from afar, but I have to say the device has been a godsend. I’ve loaded up Dropbox, which stores my pictures and other files on a remote server so they won’t be lost when the device is stolen or rendered unusable by rain, sand, collision with a tile floor or what have you. Google maps has proved surprisingly well informed with regard to locations in Leon, succeeding in finding everything I’ve asked it to. A currency conversion calculator is a handy if you’re crossing a lot of borders and/or horrible at math. I’m using Google Voice to sms my friends back home, skype(out) for video (and voice) calling (though these services are available for free from Google), some apps for email, the included camera for pics, the podcasting app for entertainment, the WordPress app to stay in touch with commenters here, the flashlight app (which uses the LED rather than the screen and thusly sips battery power) and Airbnb regularly. Where I not given to typing missives like this I wouldn’t need a laptop, and even then I could probably get by with an add-on keyboard, though editing on a 4″ screen seems unpleasant.
My biggest gripe is the camera placement. This is typical of Apple’s “don’t do what seems natural or reasonable or well established, do it our way, we know best” approach to hardware and software (“trust us, you don’t need usb ports/DVD drives/floppy drives/cooling fans/full screen apps/etc, and to prove it we’re denying you the option”). I’m not sure how they expect me to hold this thing securely without obscuring either the camera lens or the screen with my finger; certainly not like every point-and-shoot (and many smartphone cameras) that everyone already knows how to hold. No, Apple “Think[s] Different.” So you’ll see the ghostly specter of my out-of-focus finger haunting the edges of some of these photos. The only conclusion I can reach is that this thing is built for one handed selfies and laid out to make sure you don’t obscure the Apple logo when you take them; a narcissistic, codependent feedback loop that would defy belief if it weren’t so consistent with their brand.