So I need some advice… after some thinking and a random comment my folks made the other day I’ve been thinking about stuff related to the house purchase decision. One suggestion my parents had was that instead of buying a house and land, or buying land and building a house, that I look at buying the land I want, getting a trailer on it and then building a house later on.
This is something I’ve previously avoided due to the thought of trailers as being far less desirable, but I’m definitely considering this more and more lately. I’m definitely trying to spend more time outdoors rather than indoors, and this would allow me to get not only more land that meets what I’m wanting long term, but into the country sooner, have room for a horse, pole barn, shop, and other things that I could do relatively cheaply in the short term.
I know some folk have looked at this, actually done this, or just considered it, etc. – what problems have people encountered? Am I crazy for considering this? Are there other better options? Thoughts or suggestions?
And on a different note, sorry for the few readers I’ve got left regarding the long time since a post – I’ve been crazy busy with life, but I’ll try and get some more details posted sometime soon.
I use the term start of course loosely – as change never really has a start or end, it is continuous. Actually the day things STOP changing is the day I’ll worry. With that said, some of the changes in the last month have been very very good.
First, and probably foremost, I’ve been reliably attending mass, and delving back into my faith life. This really didn’t come up for any specific reason, it’s just something that has happened over the last number of months. I’ve been steadily focusing more and more on my faith and doing my best to follow god. This not only has included regularly attending mass again, but other things such as being better about praying, spending time praying the rosary, and other activities. With the start of lent, I’m doing my best to intensify that growth. I’ll be going on the first retreat I’ve been on in perhaps 4 or 5 years. It’s a scary thought for me, and it’s… a struggle? in a lot of ways, as it feels like I’ve made a mistake and am now working on correcting that mistake. And that mistake is painfully obvious – not focusing enough on god and my faith. SO, I ask for prayers for all as I re-adjust my life in that sense.
Some other big changes – regarding my health. I’ve now hit the one year mark since I quit smoking. For those who didn’t know I ever did smoke, well, now you do. For those who did and have been trying to get me to quit – thank you all for encouragement and your patience and support. For those who don’t care – why are you reading this anyways? 😉 It took me a LONG time to quit smoking – as many of you know. This last year I’d decided to change my life. Some of this led to my faith changes as specified, some of it the quitting smoking, but mostly it’s about changing my life for the better in every way I can. I started horse back riding – a long time dream, I’ve been taking care of my house and cleaning a LOT more. I’ve been doing a lot to try and get my life more on track.
Last and probably the least of the changes in importance, I did buy a new truck. It’s an F-350 instead of an F-250, dually, and overall a MUCH nicer truck. No, I’m not compensating for anything – it was more along the lines of my old truck though nice was an 03. It would have lasted many more years, but I also wanted something I could pull a horse trailer with comfortably, which is leading me towards the thought of a gooseneck trailer. Additionally, I wanted something with a bench seat in the back, and a few other things that this new truck has. It’s definitely nice, and I’ve got photos on my gallery if people wish to see it.
I’ll finish off with some pictures of a recent trip to my grandmothers. It was a beautiful day, and it reminds me so much of past trips, and of the things that really have an impact on my life, that I don’t know that I have the words which which to describe such feelings. It’s more a matter of it IS part of my life. Being out in the country, in the woods, digging in the dirt or running through back woods. A lot of my life has been spent on air force bases, but even more of my life has been spent out in the country. I spent 10 years living outside of city limits, and even though I live in the city right now – it’s not home, and never will be. The country is where my hear
t is and where it belongs. If it’s not my grandmothers farm, then it will be my own someday – but it has to be where there’s a lot more trees than people.
There’s other things I could relate, but I’ll leave off with pictures of my grandmothers, and this request – just a request for prayers for me, as I do my best to straighten out my life, and turn it in a direction facing God and where he wants me to go with my life.
Hrmm, and yet again, it seems I can’t post but once a month at the best, often every other month. But, considering the whirlwind that has been December and January, I’m amazed I’m posting at all! SO, let’s drill down to the details of the last few months.
First, I know have 3 very young, very cute kittens in my life. The story of how this came to be was as unexpected as it was tragic. It started off with a typical late night for me – walking Malcolm after playing some video games and getting ready for bed. It continued that night with the sounds of mewing coming from an empty unit in my duplex area. Specifically, the shed of an empty unit at the end of a row of empty units – in a place where being empty (can I use empty a few more times?) there should be no reason for mewing to be heard. Needless to say, I was most curious and being the guy I am, I investigated. Of course I investigated after knocking on the door repeatedly to try and make sure it really was empty (as well as glancing in the back window to further confirm this fact). After ensuring said unit truly was empty, I opened the shed door, which was stuck shut. Note by stuck, I mean it took some effort to really get it open. It’s doubtful that the wind could have shut it so forcefully. Further indication that there was something wrong with the situation was that there was a box inside the shed with 3 kittens, about 3-4 weeks old.
Now, I’ll admit, I was sorely tempted to walk away, and say it’s none of my business. However, the next night it was supposed to be down to 15 degrees or so, and that day it was a balmy 45-50. As such, if I didn’t do something, these 3-4 week old kittens would be dead 3-4 week old kittens. I couldn’t just sit by and do nothing. Thus, the next day, I called the property manaagement folk to confirm that yes the place really was empty, and that I could take care of the kittens. Then, lunch that Monday, I became the property of 3 very hungry, very tiny, but so adorably cute kittens. They’ve been with me since, and have taken a definte role in keeping me active, forcing me to keep the house clean and maintained much more so than in the past. It’s amazing what responsiblity can do to a person!
SO, that’s the big event of the last few months. Aside from that Christmas was lovely, and flew by without too much to denote it as anything beyond the typical christmas. New Years was a blast, with a rodeo and a dance, and the intervening time has been occupied with work, keeping these kittens in a reasonably happy state, and related activities.
Now, the side note to all of this though it’s not really a side note with the menagerie I’ve developed, is that I’ve a puppy dog who’s really not sure what his take on the whole situation is. On one side, I think he enjoys the fact that the house is pretty clean, and that I sleep mroe regularly. On the other side, I think he definitely is NOT liking that he’s no longer the only furball in the house and thus the only one receiving attention. However, that’s life and he seems to have adjusted pretty well to it, all things considered.
There’s other news of course, but I think I’ll save that for another post. For now, the kittens are calling, as is my pillow, blankets, and the promise of sleeping in this weekend!
It’s been a bit since I’d posted anything, and though not a huge amount has changed recently, I thought I’d toss in a few things. November is rapidly approaching a close, and there’s at least a few newsworthy events in life that are of worth noting.
First, Malcolm is very close to getting a sibling, as I’ve been debating heavily getting another dog. There are a lot of reasons for and against that, mostly dealing with expense and whether or not I’ll be staying where I’m currently living. However, I do think Malcolm could use someone to hang out with when I’m not around. He’s not getting any younger, and having someone to play with might help him stay active and young. I went to the humane society the other day, and there are some gorgeous dogs there… the trick is picking just one and not taking home 4 more! Hopefully more information will come regarding that soon, as no decisions have been made yet.
Second, my brother may be leaving me soon as a roommate, leaving me on my own for the first time since I first moved out of my parents house. I have had a roommate continuously for the last 7 years and this will be a major change in my life. I do think it will be a good change for me, and hopefully a step towards my long term goal of home ownership, but I also wonder about the side effects. It can be pretty lonely living on one’s own, and I don’t actually talk to that many people anymore anyways. I don’t go to the bars all too often, and aside from work, I don’t have a large amount of interaction with people. Hopefully that will change in the upcoming months, but it’s still someone concerning to see how I do with no one around all the time.
I’ve talked in the past about buying a house. Here recently, I made a decision to wait and instead focus on paying off my truck. I want a house, 10 acres of land, and to be outside of the city limits, and that is expensive and with the truck payment, more debt and such than I want to consider at this time. I know there are cheaper options if I wanted to live closer to Columbia or not have so much land, but I’ve been riding enough and doing enough thinking lately that that’s the kind of life I want to lead. Don’t get me wrong, I like cities, and being close to people on occasion, and I know I’ll miss being able to hop over to Wal-mart at 12am because I ran out of something or other. On the other hand, being out in the country where I have my own house, no neighbors partying and smoking and such until wee hours of the morning, well, that will be priceless.Of course, with 10 acres, I can have a party and bonfire and not worry about disturbing the neighbors, which will be even more awesome!
SO, the goals I have for the next year at this point are to get my truck paid off, purchase a horse saddle (western seat, roping), and probably a horse trailer, and maybe a horse depending on finances. I’m getting the saddle and trailer out of the way, as I can use those now, and those are one-time purchases (hopefully!). If all goes well, and I continue to like horse back riding and the things I’m doing, the horse will come later next year I hope! Then, once that’s all taken care of, I can look at the house and 10 acres, though I must admit, I do browse the real estate guides occasionally, and man there are some nice houses available!
There’s a number of other things going on in life, related to all of the above, but I think that’s enough of an update for now 😉 More importantly, it’s time to eat. Malcolm is complaining very loudly about his food bowl being empty, and I have more cleaning and organizing to do. Take care all, and god bless!
Hrmm, how crazy the last year has been. Regardless of the level of activity I should have posted something sooner, but I really just haven’t had the energy or drive to do much outside of work this past year. SO, I apologize to all my readers (whoever is left) and here are some updates.
First, I’m still working at Carfax and am past the 1 year mark now. It’s going pretty well, and I am in a slightly different group than where I started that has really challenged my abilities. I’ve been able to deal with everything from VMS to low level byte manipulation to performance tuning to threading issues – it’s been a fantastic ride thus far, and I’m looking forward to the future working for Carfax.
Aside from work, I’m still living in the same place, and am trying to get my truck paid off before purchasing a house. I came close to a few places earlier this year, but never saw anything that really caught my eye, and with the economy being unreliable, I’ve been pushing off the house purchase until I was sure I found something I wanted – I intend to stay around for a long while, so I don’t move fast on something like this. I’m still not sure whether I want to buy land and build, or just buy something already built with land. I’m definitely sure I want at least 10 acres of land though – I’ve started horse back riding this year, and it’s one of those things I’m loving, and intend to continue.
This segways nicely into other activities over the last year. I’ve not managed to take any major vacations, but I have managed to visit parks and other places locally pretty regularly. I’ve been to rock bridge a ton, my grandmothers place out in the country, finger lakes, and a few other places off and on. I’ve been horse back riding now for about 2 months (something like that I think, I’m losing track), and that’s keeping me pretty active.
Aside from horse back riding, my home life is interesting. For the first time in perhaps 8 years, I may not have a roommate shortly, as my brother is looking at going back into the military. It’s going to be an interesting switch for me, and I’m not 100% sure yet what I think of that. I’m still waiting to see what happens though, as nothing is confirmed as of this time. Malcolm is steadily getting older, and he’s losing his eye sight, and I’ve also noticed that he no longer jumps up on the bed like he used to, and overall just has slowed down immensely… It worries me a lot, but I’m doing my best to just enjoy the time I have with him.
In other news, it’s now been about 8 months since I quit smoking. That’s been a MAJOR improvement on my life and something I’m very glad I did. Other improvements and changes in my life, well, I’ve been eating better and not eating out so much, watching a lot less tv, and trying to read more, but that’s pretty normal stuff for me. One more … major? change is my views on religion and life.
Over the last year, and a lot of introspection, I’ve discovered that I’m very Catholic in MANY ways. I dated someone earlier this year, and I think I realized after dating her just how Catholic I was, in how I looked at so many things regarding my faith. My views on the saints, communion, love, marriage, birth control and so many other aspects has really been affected by my religious views. This fall, I’ve been doing my best to be more active in the church, and to really follow that path in my life.
There’s a whole lot of other small things I could relate, such as how I’ve been doing a number of DJ gigs, that I’ve been trying to clean my house every weekend and keep things neater, but overall, life is just that – life and it’s going and I’m doing my best to just keep living each day and praying for God’s guidance and direction.
I realized the other day that it’d been a year since I’d posted ANYTHING on my blog… I’m thinking it’s time to start posting stuff again 😉 And, I also need to start posting more pictures of the trips I’ve been taking! SO, stay tuned for new content! In the meantime, here’s a few photos from earlier in the year 😉 They’re on my gallery page if anyone wishes to look at some of the other photos (again, more to come soon!)
There are times where life seems to be very crazy, and times where it seems just sorta crazy. The last month has been one of the VERY crazy times for me. For the first bit of news, I've accepted a position at carfax.com as a programmer. This means that after 8 years of working for the University of Missouri, I'll be leaving. This is a BIG change in many ways for me, as I'll be moving into the private sector, working for a major internet firm (though it's far more than an internet firm), and entails a number of changes in my life. I'm in some ways VERY excited about the new position, as it entails a lot of opportunities for both personal growth as well as my professional career as a computer programmer. Carfax seems like an amazing place to work (of course, I'll know more once I actually start), and it looks like a very big step forward for me as a future position. I'm still a bit nervous however, as it's the first "real" job I've had since I was an undergraduate. For those who weren't aware of my job history, I started working at my current position while an undergraduate as a full time developer, and continued with school part time. During that time, I managed to finish my degree, and go through a number of major life decisions. I've learned a lot through my time at the University, and it's not without some regret? or perhaps just some sentimental thoughts, that I'll be leaving. I know I'll always look back on MU with some nostalgia, as well as with many fond memories. Of course, I'll have a lot of not-so-fond memories, but I'll generally think of my time here very fondly. Now, with all of that said, I'm NOT leaving Columbia, nor is much else in my personal life changing. It's a change of jobs, which though VERY major in many ways, shouldn't affect too much in my life at home. I'll actually be working much more "fixed" hours in many ways (yay no more 3am phone calls of the AC failing in the server room), and so should have a very fixed schedule. There's not much else to say on my new job at this point in time, other than I'm looking forward to it, hoping it works well for me, and glad to be moving forward in the world. Please expect more updates about this change over the next month or two, particularly once I start and get acclimated to the new working conditions.
In other news, people at my current position are starting to realize I won't be around in a couple of weeks, and are starting to panic. I've gotten a few comments such as "please don't leave", "we're really going to miss you" and related correspondence. The other side of things is I've been pretty busy with getting some things finalized before I leave, with several meetings cropping up that involve quite a bit of work, a number of changes that have required a lot of evening and weekend work, and overall just a lot more pressure to get some things taken care of "now" instead of the earlier plan of "eventually". So in addition to a massive upswing in workload since it was announced that I'd be leaving, I also managed to catch a rather nasty cold that left me pretty dead to the world over the weekend. This of course interrupted any activities such as getting out of town to relax, or do anything other than take lots of nyquil/dayquil and pretend to be something other than a complete zombie (which failed pretty miserably, I was a major zombie all weekend). I'm doing better today, but I can tell I'm still not fully recovered yet, and I'm definitely feeling sluggish. It's good that this happened before I took my new position, but bad that it hit on a weekend (well, bad for me) and bad for my house which really needs cleaning and organizing.
Despite the major change of having a new job, and the pain of being sick, there are some other things that bear a bit of commentary. First, thankfully the weather has changed to a gorgeous temperature range that's MUCH cooler than the 95 degree weather previously common. It has actually been cool enough where I feel the need to wear a coat and jacket, and I'm starting to pull the winter clothes out of the closet! Add to this the wonderful time of year that is college football season, halloween and other holidays coming up, and it's looking like the next few months are truly going to be amazing!
There's so much coming up to look forward to, ranging from the change in weather, football, the new job, and just overall a lot of life changes which I hope will be all for the better. This fall definitely proposes to be a VERY interesting time of year for me, much more so than has been the case in the last few years, and I'm looking forward to it more with every passing day. I just hope that things all turn out as well as my expectations, or if nothing else, that life continues to go so well!
Let me start off by stating that I AM a mac user. I've got a MacBook Pro, and intel iMac, and having been using macs almost exclusively for the last 6 years. Now, with all of that said and all of my great love of Apple and Apple products (most of the time anyways), Apple is really messing up in one VERY key segment of the market, and it's a strong reason why they won't progress into the mainstream. Quite simply, they've got all in one systems, such as the iMac, and they've got their fancy Mac Pro towers, and on the low end they've got the MacMinis. The trick is for most people, none of those are things people are interested in. Let me explain:
My brother a while back asked me to price out a gaming machine for him. I looked around, and tried to convince him to go to an Apple product, due to ease of use, a number of features that were far better, reliability, amazing design, and quite simply – I won't support windows machines anymore unless I absolutely have no other alternative. SO, note to those asking for windows help from me – here's the advice I'll give now, go get a Mac. If you won't follow that advice, here's the next and final bit of advice: get FireFox, don't install software off the net because often you are downloading a virus/spyware (no, they don't really love you), don't open attachments you receive via email even if it says PDF or "You've won a milliion dollars" or "Naked chicks here", close yourself off into a box and disconnect your internet, and otherwise realize you're dealing with a horrible OS that drives me nuts due to how much frigging breaks in the thing.
Anyways, off of the rant, I finally gave in and specc'd out a windows box for my brother, and it was then that I realized why Apple was going to fail. I've known some who say Apple will fail because it doesn't have the developers, or because they're overpriced, or because windows is what the whole world uses, or any number of other reasons. Let me tell you now, that NONE of those reasons will really matter, because quite simply, those aren't the people who drive the market, who drive innovation, who get dear ol' Mom & Dad using computers. It's little Jimmy begging them for a game system. It's the college kid building his own computer so he can play the latest game at full resolution with all the settings maxed out. It's the home guy who just wants to play around and build a cheapo system that has a max'd out video card, or to customize it to his hearts content. You can't customize the Mac's to any decent extent, and the price of the system where you CAN replace your video card puts it out of the range of any home user, or kiddo's, or people like my brother who want a gaming rig and not a processing rig. The iMac's though beautiful don't have the greatest video card in them, and the Mac Mini's… well, don't get me started on those things.
SO, the end result, was when I was pricing out a system for my brother, with a near top of the line video card, a GeForce 8800gt, it came in under $1k. Even adding the crappy windows OS onto that system still didn't increase the price that much, and since he had a monitor, keyboard, etc. already, the 20" iMac didn't really appeal – particularly since at that time, it had a slower processor, and a MUCH slower video card in comparison. THIS is why Apple will fail to ever break windows. It's not because the major University uses Exchange for mail and calendaring, it's because home users want systems they can customize, at least somewhat, which are gaming systems.
The solution for Apple? There's a simple solution, but I don't expect them to do this, because it would be a change of emphasis, and require a bit more mobility in development and product support. Apple needs to drop the MacMini, or turn it into a DVR type box, perhaps specialize it in some way, or make it an ultra cheap, not an entry level box, because at the price they're asking it's not all that great of a system. Then, they need to release a "desktop" system, that's got virtually the same specs hardware wise as the iMac, but with upgradable harddrives (doesn't take much, two bays at most for drives), and an upgradeable video card with a decent selection of video cards, with a max of 4gb of memory (4 slots total available) using standard DIMMS. I tell ya now though, Apple won't do this for one simple reason – this would kill their MacPro systems. Though the MacPro's are truly amazing boxes, with the number of CPU's they support, etc., I DO think a lot of people buy the MacPro's just so they can get extra harddrives and upgraded video cards, and having a lower end machine where you could have that would eat into that market segment. Of course, I also think that if they did so, that lower end market segment would skyrocket, but I'm biased obviously
SO, this is my "wish" from apple – a low end, gaming Mac, that can use someone's already existing Laser Mouse and 20" LCD monitor that they've been using for gaming (not to mention head sets, game pads, and other gaming devices.) This is what drives the market, and what could drive Apple to expand their market share. Will it happen though? Probably not, but I can definitely hope, cause my brother isn't the only one who likes gaming machines!
Just saw that it was the 100th anniversary for Boy Scouts – a big congrats on an AMAZING program that has helped many kids over the years. I remember being in the scouts during the time I lived in Hawaii and even younger, and have very fond memories. I learned a LOT during those times, and definitely plan on having my kids (whenever that happens someday) be in the scouts as well. Anyways, a big congrats on 100 years, and may the scouts have another 100 amazing years ahead.
Well, I've had the iPhone for a while now, so I figure it's about time I said a few things regarding what I think of the phone, it's software, interface, etc. There are some things I love about it, and some things I'm steadily coming to hate. SO, without further ado, here's a few of those:
First, let me start out with the things I love.
- The interface: GOD IS IT GORGEOUS. I mean, of all the mobile devices I've ever owned, it is drop dead gorgeous. The way things zoom, slide, pan, or how opening an application sorta glides into view, it's just amazing to look at. I love how much attention to detail there is.
- The internet: This is the first phone/pda I've ever owned where the internet is actually usable on the device. My old Treo 650 worked for browsing the net the same way a unicycle works for getting one to and from your job. It's annoying, often doesn't work very well, if it rains your hosed, and honestly, it's a measure of last resort. The iPhone is like riding a BMW to work – it's comfortable, smooth, and enjoyable in almost every aspect.
- The hardware: The whole thing is solidly built, difficult to damage, scratch resistant, etc. etc. etc. It has some amazing specs and support for such a small form factor.
- The weather/clock applications: I've used a number of different clock applications on PDAs. Let's just say this is the first set of applications that have wowed me. I used a program called bigclock or something like that on the Treo, and a number of other applications that are out there to try and do alarms and time tracking. The clock application is the first of them that seems to work, REALLY well, and does exactly what I want and need. A simple example – yesterday I needed a reminder to do something later that night. In the past, I've just given up and created a calendar entry, even though that really wasn't what I wanted, and made me jump through more hoops that I wanted. I can use the clock to set an alarm for later that evening, doesn't repeat, is easy to setup, can be custom labeled, etc. ABOUT FRIGGING TIME someone did this as well as Apple did. The weather widget is very similar in my view – it's the first weather app that I've really enjoyed – it's simple, fast, and gives me the exact information I want. My only wish now is if I could somehow combine the two a bit, so when an alarm goes off, the weather opens and displays the info, similar to TreoAlarm. But, we'll see what happens in the future.
- The iPod: Simply put, I've had an iPod for years and years and years. Actually, I've got a 2nd gen 40gb iPod up for sale if anyone's interested (it even had the battery replaced recently). I've always loved having all my music with me whenever I travel, but it has been a headache to have multiple devices to carry, such as pda, phone, and music player. I've managed to get down to the Phone with integrated PDA, and a music player. I think finally, for most purposes, I'll be down to just one device for the majority of times. Sure, with the limited storage, I can't fit all my music onto the device, but it works more than well enough for a lot of the times where I'm just wandering around. And, the headphones being compact are relatively easy to bring along (although, still trying to find a case that takes the phones along, protects the phone, and does this in a way that doesn't interfere with my movement or actions. The case I've got has a holder for the headphones, but snags too often on my clothes).
- Video Playing: The first time I watched a video on the iPod Video, I thought hey – that's actually not too bad quality and viewability. Let's just say if you thought the Video iPod was ok, the iPhone will blow you away – it's gorgeous, and actually has an amazing screen, making watching videos (particularly wide screen videos) definitely a doable task. It's no comparison to a TV, but for times where I'm on the go, or in random places without a laptop (not often I'll admit), this is something that would work more than well enough for me for watching video. Add to that the YouTube support, and it's one heck of a video player.
Now, those are the big things I love, and they're all great things. But, there are some major gripes too about this device. Let me go into just a few of them, and let me also say this – I really do wish I could have waited 6 months to see what software updates were available that might fix some of my issues, but for right now, the iPhone though amazing in many ways, is really a crappy device for most uses, and I'd recommend against getting one, until at least SOME of these issues are fixed. For an example of other requested changes, take a look at a Macworld article where they talk about some of these. And, having looked at their annoyances, here's some of mine:
- The Interface: Yes, I mentioned this one above, but it's also a major gripe. I love the interface, but it also can be somewhat buggy at times.
- The Internet: Yet another plus and minus – no flash, no java, no plugin support, and let me tell yas – trying to go to a page that's a bit on the "heavy" side can be VERY problematic. i.e. I crash the browser problematic. The iPhone just doesn't handle large pages very well at all.
- Crashing the system. After about a week of use, I noticed that the system was going slower and slower and slower. To the point where I could get it to answer phone calls or do much of anything with any decent speed. I eventually had to power the whole thing off and start it up again. I think this is why they don't want non-apple apps created, due to REALLY poor memory management (I'm guessing memory management, it could be something else, but it's danged annoying).
- No 3rd party applications. This annoys me to no end, because frankly, the web browser doesn't work all that great for a lot of things. Sure, some games run in it, but getting things like SSH, Remote Desktop Connection, or other work applications working is a ROYAL pain. The web is NOT the most optimal development environment for such things. There IS a need for custom, thick applications – anyone who says otherwise hasn't tried doing anything that requires graphics. PARTICULARLY since there's no java plugin, a decent SDK is a major MUST HAVE for this thing to be anything other than a web browser in a small screen.
- The external connector for audio: The recessed connector, though great for some things, royally sucks if you're trying to use standard cables. It's recessed, so most plugs won't go all the way into it, making it very difficult to use a lot of standard headphones, audio connectors, etc. etc. There ARE adapters, but this is one annoyance that should never have been an annoyance, and just speaks of rather poor thinking in my view. I can understand why they did it, as it makes the iPhone more aesthetically pleasing but it makes it less pleasing for actual use in real life.
- Sound levels: The speaker phone is pretty well useless, honestly. Connect an external system, you'll have better luck, but oh yeah, external stuff is a pain due to that recessed connector, URGGHhhh.
Overall, the iPhone is a GREAT device. Don't get me wrong, I love the convergence of devices into one centralized device, as it's a lot less to carry around. Further, the size and weight are phenomenal, but it's got a ways to go. My only hope at this point is software updates fix a ton of the issues I've seen. A simple easy one would be a way to customize the thing, even if it was simply a bookmark on the main screen so I could jump to a specific web page (i.e. install a game this way, direct link to other applications, etc.). Now, it's a waiting game to see if some of my gripes are fixed with future updates.