How to make sure your iOS update goes smoothly

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…or, what to do while waiting for your new iPhone.

If you’ve ever tried upgrading your iOS device over a weak wi-fi connection, without access to iTunes, or with a nearly-full device, you know how frustrating it can be. While there’s still a little time before Wednesday’s release of iOS 8, here are some tips to make your upgrade go relatively more smoothly.

iOS 8 iconFirst off, make sure your device will even run iOS 8. If it’s not listed below, you’re out of luck (and outdated):

  • iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 2
  • iPad 3rd generation
  • iPad 4th generation
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini
  • iPad Mini with Retina display
  • 5th-generation iPod Touch

Make room

If you’re planning ahead and preparing your device to update while you’re at work (and away from iTunes and your computer), you may need more free space on your device than you might expect. If the iOS 6 > 7 upgrade is any indication, you’ll probably need 3GB of storage to upgrade to iOS 8 without using a computer and iTunes.

Clear off apps that you don’t use frequently, especially apps that store data in the cloud, since you can install them again after your upgrade and not lose anything at all.

Back that app up

Even if you normally use iCloud to back up your device, connect to iTunes and do a wired backup. Since you deleted some apps in the previous step, the backup should go more quickly than usual.

Do the update

Let iTunes do the download and update by syncing your device. If you’re not able to connect to iTunes, let your device download and update the OS within your device.

What’s next?

If you’re getting a new device, and you’re going to sell the old one, unlock it. Why? Check the going rates for comparable iPhones on eBay, and you’ll see that unlocked devices command a higher price. Unlock your AT&T iPhone online, or call 1-800-331-0500, but the web form is simple—just remember that the form is asking for the account-holder’s information, not the information for the person who uses the device (the email address is only used for receiving instructions). For Verizon, call 1-800-711-8300 and ask for a SIM unlock.

After you’ve activated your new device, transferred all your date to it, and unlocked the old onet, wipe all data from your old iPhone before you send it off to a new buyer.

You’ve Been Ghosted

I was recently “ghosted,” and had never seen such a tradition. If you come to find that you’ve been ghosted, it’s your duty to make a couple copies of the poem and ghost door sign, make a couple goodie bags, and deliver them to two households of your choice. They should each then do the same, multiplying the ghostings until the whole neighborhood has been ghosted.

Some traditions call this being booed, booing, ghosting, or being ghosted.

As a graphic artist, I couldn’t simply photocopy the sheets given to me. There wasn’t really anything wrong with them, I just felt like making something new. Who knows, maybe some original design might inspire one of the kids it reaches to become an artist.

Feel free to use the PDF to print your own “You’ve Been Ghosted” poem and door ghost sign.
You've-Been-GhostedYou've-Been-GhostedYou’ve Been Ghosted Poem and Ghost Sign (PDF)

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Hoak’s Restaurant – Fish Fry Review

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When it comes to Hamburg, NY, Kate has pretty much one thing to say about it: “Hamburg is mysterious.” So, when Siri decided that we must take the Buffalo Skyway to get there, mysterious was the least of Kate’s worries. You see, the Skyway is one of the most treacherous stretches of pavement in existence. It’s also elusive. I think I had to circle the on-ramp twice before trying my approach from an alternate angle. We finally made it on the Skyway, and after passing 9 million acres of industrial wasteland, we reached our destination.

Hoak’s Restaurant is a fairly unassuming little place on the shore of Lake Erie, and after cruising through the stench of factories, it’s quite welcoming to be greeted with the delightful aroma of deep fryers full of fish. This place was recommended to me by my good friend, Chimo, who called it “the Paula’s Donuts of fish fries.” Those are some big shoes to fill.

Although there was a parking lot full of cars, we only had to wait a few moments for a table for two—that includes waiting for the hostess to finish her conversation with some mommy who must have been one of her students who is sad to hear she’s retiring from her day job as a teacher. (I’m making some assumptions and filling in some gaps here, but I think that’s what was going down.)

We were shown to our table in what must be the back sun-room of some sort, which had a fantastic view of the icy waters of Lake Erie. Shortly after being seated, a 7-year-old boy dropped off some bread. I’m only half joking. He was 14, but it was still a bit surprising.

We ordered our fish fries, which our waitress explained were not beer-battered. Hoak’s fish fry is battered and breaded. Say what? Yes, you read that right: battered and breaded. That leaves a lot to the imagination, so we didn’t know what to expect.

Our dinners arrived very quickly, and looked much more “fancy” than I had in mind. The fish was encased in a thin, crispy coating of a slightly salty batter and covered in a cornmeal breading. Very unique, and quite tasty. The fish itself was more “fishy” than other fish fries we’ve had, but not in a bad way—it seemed fresh. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, albeit more tangy than others. Perhaps made with the tangy zip of Miracle Whip. I had a baked potato, which was average, and Kate had French fries, which were crispy.

Overall, a truly unique experience.

Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House – Fish Fry Review

20130308-211519.jpgDo not get a fish fry from Sorrentino’s Spaghetti House. Is that clear enough? Do you need some more explanation? Fine. Read on.

If you like a delicious, crisply fried, beer-battered fish fry, Sorrentino’s is sure to disappoint. What they offer is deep fried haddock, coated with Italian-style breading. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not terrible, it’s just nothing like the traditional fish fry that you’re seeking.

The specifics

We ordered take-out—so we can’t speak for their dine-in experience—and had very high hopes, because like some of Buffalo’s best fish fries, Sorrentino’s came in a Styrofoam box. We should have been more skeptical, because rather than being served with the usual sides, the Sorrentino’s fish fry comes with soup, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and your choice of French fries, potato salad or pasta. (We’re assuming when they say “pasta” without the word “salad” after it, they mean an actual side of spaghetti.)

The sides

The coleslaw was finely chopped, like Gino’s, and served at 100°F. Needless to say, we stopped eating after a regrettable first forkload, for fear of botulism. The minestrone soup met a similar fate. It had a distinct flavor that can only be described as “Irish Spring Soap.” We opted for French fries, which were crinkle-cut, and only moderately decent.

When it comes to the lack of beer-batter and the use of Italian breadcrumbs on a fish fry, Kate summed it up best. “If I wanted chicken cutlets, I would have made them myself.”

Curry’s Restaurant – Fish Fry Review

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On the insistence of some friends, we broke down and gave Curry’s a shot. Now, unless you’re hanging out at St. Joe’s for some reason, Curry’s won’t be your nearest restaurant for a fish fry. However, unless you’re driving in from Juno, Alaska, your drive will probably be shorter than your wait for a table. That won’t be a big problem, though, because you’ll probably run into some old friends who are also waiting for a table. Especially if you’re with your Italian mother who grew up on Buffalo’s west side—in which case you’ll run into Dolly, who she hasn’t seen in a decade, then other friends of hers will show up shortly thereafter, and while you’re eating dinner, the family’s personal undertaker will be in attendance—I’m not joking.

So, this place must be pretty good, right? Well, yeah, it is.

After our 45-minute wait, we were seated in the bar area. Our waitress promptly took our order, and returned with our drinks, accompanied by three slices of rye bread (one for each of us, we presume).

Our fish fries arrived quickly, and I dug right into the side items. The macaroni salad was dressed perfectly (no one likes sloppy, soupy macaroni salad), and had a touch of tuna fish. The coleslaw was fresh, sweet, and seasoned enough to taste great, while allowing some cabbage flavor to peek through. Not being a huge fan of french fries, I opted for a baked potato—which was good enough that I ate nearly half of it before it dawned on me that I hadn’t even touched the main attraction of my meal.

The fish itself was a bit dry, and the coating could have been crispier. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, and if we found ourselves in the neighborhood at dinner time again, we’d certainly drop by Curry’s again.

But, when it comes down to it, the fish fry at The Shannon Pub was better.

Some notes:

  • Curry’s doesn’t take reservations on Fridays
  • Their fish fry is served daily
  • Don’t expect to park in their parking lot—try the lot across the street
  • The prices on their website are presumably from 1993

The Shannon Pub – Fish Fry Review

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We had been to The Shannon Pub a few years ago, and not much has changed. Perhaps the carpeting is a bit darker—but it’d be hard to compare “greasy dark green” to “greasy very dark green,” so we can’t be sure. The decor hasn’t changed, either. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s just the right environment for rearing a delicious beer-battered fish fry.

Wait. We’re sensing a pattern here. A good fish fry is not likely to be born in a sterile laboratory-like kitchen. When asked where to get a good fish fry in the Buffalo area, several of our friends recommended places that are poorly lit and unpretentious. The Shannon Pub fits right in, so what sets it apart?

From start to finish, every aspect of the meal was perfect. The foot-long slab of fish was coated in what might be described as some sort of fluffy crispy beer-infused pancake batter. The macaroni salad was the best Kate has ever had: not loaded with mayonnaise, and nothing added that doesn’t need to be there (read: tuna fish). The coleslaw could use a bit more seasoning—or whatever goes into coleslaw other than cabbage—but that’s being very critical. Kate opted for French fries, which are of the battered (seasoned?) variety. The kind that Burger King uses now. Pa Ingalls went with salt potatoes, which were…well…four tiny potatoes with some butter and salt. What else would you expect to be served on the Prairie?

Some notes:

They do not take reservations on Fridays. When we called, we were told to expect a wait of 30 minutes. However, we arrived at 6:40 and were seated within 20 minutes. If you arrive later into the evening, your wait will probably be shorter, but at the risk of being there when the band goes on at 8:30.

Gino’s Pizza Place – Fish Fry Review

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You might not expect to get a good fish fry from a pizza shop, and you certainly wouldn’t expect to get a great fish fry from one, either—or would you?

When we decided to review some fish fries this Lenten season, the first place that came to mind was Gino’s Pizza Place. Why? Because when their fish fry is good, it’s quite good. You not only get a giant slab of Icelandic beer-battered Haddock, you also get 4 breaded shrimp, a small bucket of coleslaw, steak fries, a wedge or two of lemon, and the equivalent of a 6-inch garlic and cheese sub (if such a delicious sub existed on any menu).

The only problem with Gino’s fish fry is the unpredictability. It’s a $10 gamble that can either net a delicious meal for two, or a collection of utter disappointment served in a 12-inch pizza box. In our experience, Gino’s fish fry is best at the beginning of the season. And by “beginning,” we really mean beginning. By the second week of Lent, you might be too late. What begins as the best fish fry in Western New York seems to quickly taper off to a greasy chunk of salty breaded meat served with some even saltier McCain crinkle cut fries. The shrimp may go from being battered to being breaded, or it may be missing altogether.

Tonight’s serving proved to be a perfect example of Gino’s at its best: completely edible, yet random. The fish was expertly fried, but rather than steak fries, we were given shoestring fries. Not a big deal, but not what we expected. The coleslaw was flavored just how we like it: sweet, a little tart, and wet but not too juicy (there’s gotta be a few puns in there). The problem? They chopped the cabbage into pieces so small you’d think they chewed the coleslaw for you. On the other hand, the battered shrimp was remarkably tasty, and the garlic bread was loaded with 14 sticks of butter and 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese (and that’s not something we’re complaining about).

All in all, Gino’s didn’t disappoint, and kicked off our season on a positive note, with what turns out to be a pretty great fish fry. Next stop? We haven’t decided. Feel free to tweet some ideas to us: @GoodAndSneaky.