At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: New York City

Why Face Masks and AirPods can Make a Dangerous Pair

If you’ve returned to your commute, you may need to consider how to properly arrange what you wear on your face and ears. Here’s why.

I’ve been enjoying my new AirPods 3 on my Metro North commute to Grand Central Terminal.

Not only am I a new AirPods user, but I’m also a new subscriber to Apple Music. (I took advantage of the six-month free trial membership offer I received as part of my AirPods purchase.)

So as you might imagine, my commute has become a more immersive experience of motion with music.

Walking with AirPods
That said, I’ve been a real baby about walking through the streets of New York City while wearing my AirPods. Why? I’m worried that one of my wireless wonders will drop out as I weave my way to work.

I know that’s silly, especially as I pass hundreds of people every day happily sporting their own AirPods.

If you’re wondering, I deliberately did not buy the more securely-fitting AirPods Pro, because I didn’t like the way they felt when I tried on a test pair at the Apple Store a couple years back.

But I’ve been studying the faces I pass, and plenty are not wearing the Pro model.

And I don’t believe there’s an epidemic of people dropping their AirPods on New York sidewalks and lunging about to rescue them.

So, after a couple of weeks on training wheels, I decided it was finally time to do a proper test drive.

Losing my Left AirPod
Of course walking with them in my ears was fine. Until it wasn’t. That’s because there’s one variable that AirPods were not designed to handle.

Face masks.

When I arrived to work and walked out of the elevator, I simultaneously reached up to remove my mask. It’s become something of an automatic gesture that I don’t think about anymore. Plus, I was rushing.

And that’s a mistake.

An AirPod didn’t just drop out. I did better than that. I literally launched one out of my left ear.

My mask’s cord caught the AirPod and transformed into a rubber band catapult.

My AirPod became a little projectile and ricocheted like a pinball onto the marble floor of the elevator hallway. The sound was excruciating.

I lunged after my AirPod as another elevator door was about to open… possibly releasing a crowd of crushing feet. (I had a flashback to that “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” scene where the little antidote bottle was kicked about the dance floor.)

I finally caught up with my AirPod and jammed it back in my ear. (No, I didn’t consider the hygienic consequences.)

I stood up and looked around. The elevator hallway was still vacant.

Nothing to see here.

And then I walked away.

Damaging my AirPod
Of course I tested my naughty AirPod when I arrived at my desk. Thankfully, it worked fine.

But the next morning on my commute, it was completely silent. Yes, it had juice. Was it dead?

In a bit of panic, I researched the problem on my iPhone, and Apple suggested I reconnect my AirPods and charging case to my iPhone. So, I quickly did that Bluetooth reset.

…and my left AirPod came back to life.

Hmmm.

So did I damage my left AirPod? It can’t be a coincidence that it needed to be reconnected the very next day following the ‘incident.’

Well, it’s been working fine for the past couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s out of the woods.

AppleCare to the Rescue
If you sometimes wonder if you need to buy the extended warrantee on your tech, my advice is to always get it when it comes to Apple products. That’s because they’re mostly moving about with you. And life happens.

Yes, of course I bought AppleCare for my new AirPods. I may be clumsy, but I’m not oblivious.

Learning to Adapt
And that’s my cautionary tale. File it under ‘the art of wearing your face mask.’

Sure, it’s a no brainer being more careful when removing a mask while wearing AirPods. Clearly, I just have to master that little maneuver.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the need to wear face masks is going away any time soon.

Trapped by the Radio City Rockettes

What do you do if the Rockettes magically appear in front of you outside of Radio City Music Hall? Be ready to capture the moment. Here’s what I saw…

I was hoofing it to work in midtown Manhattan when I almost walked into a man wearing a black shirt and headset. (He had that stagehand look.) He put up his hand and politely asked me to cross over to the opposite sidewalk.

I didn’t think twice as there are any number of reasons to temporarily close off a street in New York City. As I crossed, I realized that I was near Radio City Music Hall. Maybe I’d see a movie or TV show being shot.

Of course, I peered up the street to try to figure out what was going on. I spotted several photographers standing about. Suddenly a door swung open, and the Radio City Rockettes began pouring out.

Photo Opportunity in Front of Radio City Music Hall
In a bit of organized confusion, the dancers in full costume were quickly ushered across the street by security. Within seconds, all were congregating on the sidewalk fifty feet in front of me.

What was going on?

I slowed down as my path forward was blocked by the famous dancers. I couldn’t really reverse course as I found myself boxed in by the photographers and what appeared to be a dozen hand-picked members of the public. Perhaps they were contest winners to celebrate the opening of Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular show?

Then, the Rockettes effortlessly morphed into three rows and took the perfect pose. Cameras began to click away. Of course, I inched forward and took out my own camera to join the moment.

Then, the sparkling group broke apart to take multiple selfies with their fans. Finally, the Rockettes began taking their own selfies using the same fan smartphones.

Three minutes later it was all over, and the Rockettes vanished through another door. I put my camera away and continued my trek to work.

As I walked, I tried to process my surreal experience. No, I wasn’t supposed to be a part of that little fantasy. But I had, in fact, been inadvertently directly to that exact spot. And nobody seemed to mind. It was definitely a New York moment.

Don’t Drop the Camera!
So I didn’t take my pictures with my iPhone. Instead, I used my compact Panasonic Lumix LX-10, which I happened to have in my jacket pocket.

Not that I couldn’t have relied on my iPhone. But using my Lumix’s better grip and wrist strap, allowed me to safely stretch my arm high to frame some of my shots. (You don’t want to drop your delicate smartphone onto a New York City sidewalk no matter what kind of case is protecting it!)

Always be Ready for Street Photography
And why did I conveniently have my Lumix in my side pocket? Recently, I’ve been packing it with the plan of walking a tad slower during my commute so I can pay more attention to my surroundings. And if I spotted a picture-worthy moment, I’d be ready.

I love it when a plan comes together.

You never know what you’re going to see on the streets of New York.

Slowing Down in New York City on a Sunday

Moving through Manhattan doesn’t always have to be a huge rush. If you take a moment to slow down while you walk the streets, you can actually take in some relaxed weekend energies. Here are a few New York moments I spotted.

When I visit my father on a Sunday afternoon for lunch, I’ve gotten used to walking from Grand Central Terminal to the Upper East Side. Of course, taking the Lexington Avenue subway is faster, but during the pandemic I’ve preferred outdoor spaces. I usually do a power walk to minimize the extra time required for my two-mile trek. But more recently, I’ve tried something new…

I just don’t walk so fast, and I pay more attention to my immediate surroundings. And I keep my Panasonic Lumix LX-10 camera in my right hand as I go.

Don’t Look Away
I know it’s not a revolutionary idea, but having grown up in Manhattan and spent many adult years walking its streets as part of my commute, I’ve learned to tune out much of the dynamic and sometimes chaotic environment.

But on a Sunday, life on the streets of New York is a bit less intense. And there’s more of an opportunity to enjoy the moment. Everyone seems to have slowed down, if just a bit.

So, I recently traded in my speed-walking strategy for the opportunity to stroll to the Upper East Side and look around for moments that might be interesting to photograph.

Here are a few that I spotted.

Sunday Joy
Beyond my little photographic exercise, I think some might say that I was also being more ‘present’ in my surroundings. It felt good.

Plus, add in a nice lunch with my 88-year-old father, and I’d call that a really good Sunday in New York City!

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