Friday, May 15, 2015

Apple Watch II: The more reviewy review

Most useful watch-face
So, I guess this is the "real" review. Brad complained that I needed more details in that last post. Fine. The squeaky wheel gets the something, something...

18 Days in. This isn't meant to be exhaustive. These are things that stand out for one reason or another.

In a nutshell? I love this watch. I missed having a watch and this is so much more. I would probably be quite happy with almost any of the smart watches on the market. I considered buying quite a few of them. I waited and waited for this one and I think it was a good decision.

I use my phone a lot less now. A lot less. I have been keeping track and instead of going to my phone every few minutes it is now often an hour or more between times when I unlock it. I love that.

On the watch face to the right, I can touch any of items on the screen to get more information and I can (and do) sometimes change those fields for different sorts of info...

Works (for me)

Time. There seem to be complaints out in the world that the time should be visible constantly. Stupid. That's just convention. You don't have your phone screen on all the time and yet it's a pretty awesome way to check the time. Enough that it killed traditional watches for a lot of people. I love that it is off most of the time (especially when a notification comes in).

I'm not much for texting. Having it on my wrist makes it AWESOME. So fast to respond. This is how it was meant to be.

I tried to kill the battery this day. Fail!
Battery. Lasts all day. I'm happy with that. I could, if I chose wear it all night and charge it while I have breakfast and coffee. Instead I charge it at night, while I'm sleeping.

"But, my Rolex, Casio, Timex, etc... lasts years--nay DECADES without replacing the battery."

Great! You don't want this watch then. Instead of using the classic watch as the standard, let us compare more directly. Apple Watch is a modern computer. What computer do you take everywhere with you that runs for more than a day without charging? Electric car? Nope. Laptop? Nope. Cell Phone? Nope. Tablet? Nope. Calculator. Yes, but you don't carry one anymore. Let's be honest.

The only example that I can come up with is the Pebble Watch. I was close to buying one. In the end, I decided to wait for the beauty and refinement that Apple would inevitably provide. Pebble is a fine device. I'm not telling you what to get. This is my experience.

Fantastic. I'm forgetful and constantly program appointments and reminders into my phone. Sadly, I miss quite a few reminders on my phone. On the watch, the notifications are subtle and insistent at the same time. I hate having my phone vibrate while sitting on a table or when I'm with others in a quite space. My Apple Watch uses a vibration that feels more like a tap on the wrist. I can just hear it if my ear is right beside the watch, but there is no fear that it will be noticed by others.

At the same time, the tapping is pretty distinctive. I can miss the tap if I am running or jumping around, but I notice them FAR more reliably than I ever did on my phone. If I do miss a notification, a small dot shows on the watch face next time I look at it.

I love quick access to calendars
Pretty flawless. It occasionally hangs and I have to dismiss and restart the query. Not much different than on my phone.

Calendar Integration.
Great. Pulls all the calendars that are available on my phone and lets me see the next event on the watch face along with the time.

Paying for stuff.
Currently, in Canada, I can't use Apple Pay. That should come in November. When that happens, I will feel liberated from the tyranny of my wallet. For the time being I am quite happy paying for Tim Hortons and Starbucks from my wrist (yes, Brad, I am using a strong and unique password).

Appeal (form, comfort, touch-ability).
There is no arguing with individual taste, but I love the look of it. It feels amazing on. The band is comfortable (even when sweating profusely). Touching the screen makes smudge marks. That makes me want to cry. I'm waiting for a solution to that ;)

I use this face when running the tower stairs

Doesn't Work (for me)

I love that I can read email snippits in Gmail  and Outlook and the whole email in Apple Mail. But, I won't be happy unless I can dictate a reply to an email the way I can while texting.

Move/Exercise/Stand rings. (Sort of)
"Move" isn't really about moving. It's about calorie burn. "Exercise" is really about a particular (and unchangeable) threshold of exercise. Stand doesn't really measure if I am standing. It seems to discern if I am moving (wouldn't that make it part of the "move" ring?) around a lot or if my heart-rate is up.

So the names are misleading and/or wrong. That said, I love to be measured. Even if your measurement system is a bit flaky. It definitely encourages me to do better from day to day and attempt to "close" my rings or beat last weeks record. The most useful data here is still my step count and my calorie burn.

"Hey, Siri" (sort of)
This feature is laggy. I raise my wrist and say, "hey Siri," followed by a query. It misses quite a bit. I mostly ignore the feature now and invoke my ghostly assistant by holding in the "digital crown" (it's a button that can also spin).

3rd party apps. (Almost without exception)
Very few have failed to frustrate me. There are only a couple that have it right. Currently, I don't know whether to blame Apple (for limiting what the apps can do and how they are loaded) or the developers (for rushing their apps out before they are useable).

I mostly don't care. If there is extra functionality to be had down the road, that will be nice. But, I am very happy with the core functions of this device.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Apple Watch: It's About F-ing Time

I'm writing this to you from the future and reliving the past

This was my first tech love. Well... if you don't count Meccano, or the Colecovision...

I don't remember the exact year. I was 11 or 12 and this was one of my Christmas presents. A digital watch with AM radio and headphone jack. The reception wasn't perfect, but if I held my arm just right while I was delivering the PA Daily Herald to my customers on 4th St E, I could listen to Billy Jean by MJ and Maneater by Hall and Oates.

It was heaven. Sadly, it was chewed into submission by our family dog after, what I remember as, all too short a season :(

There have been many gadgets between then and now.

My first MP3 player was in 1998, the year Leo was born. It allowed me to travel with music of not much better sound quality than my beloved radio watch--only now I could choose the songs and the order. By '98, I was far more mature in my musical stylings. I listened to Surprise You're Dead and Zombie Eaters by Faith No More.

1999 saw the Palm Pilot 3x and a folding keyboard--what?!? The future seemed so close. There were a few little steps. The Sony CLIÉ, my first cellphone...

Then I waited a long, long time.

No, you can't get that time back ;)
Sure, In Y2K, I lost another favourite watch. I loved it because it could run 3 timers (that you could name with 6 letters), a stopwatch and tell the time in two time zones... all at the same time! I still miss that watch. I'm not sure why it stopped working?

It was nice enough, but those were heady times. I expected so much.

Shape Lock adventures -- Take 6
I've had a couple of watches since then. A fat stop watch that I used to loan to Leora for long bus rides. It didn't survive it's second battery replacement. Then there was a digital Casio that I found in a field. It worked for a couple of years. before the screen when inexplicably dim. None of them captured the magic of the greats.

Those of you who know me are aware of the strange preferences that I have exhibited over the years with my various cell phones. I've tried every configuration I could think of and nothing really worked just right. I've probably crafted 6 or 8 different holsters, holders and magnetic attachments to try and get my phone into just the right place.

I've had my Apple Watch Sport for 15 days. I'm listening to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift and Ramble On by Led Zeppelin. I no longer care about the maturity level of my listening. How I missed having a watch.

By now, you have figured out that this isn't a review. I didn't buy it for any logical reason. And I can't trust anything that I might tell you about it. It does some things really well and some are a bit frustrating. Make no mistake, though. It's magic. If you want to know more about it, give me a call. When I'm answering on my watch... if I hold my arm just right, you might be able to hear me talking from the future:

"It's about F-ing Time!"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mike's World

It seems that we haven't spoken since February. Typical.

There is a lot going on in this post. don't try to understand it or put it in order. Let it wash over you. The bad writing and glaring inconsistencies in the "narrative" will be less obvious this way.

Naturally, the first thing I did upon arriving home from New York was to turn my travels into a great storytime for the preschool kids and parents that I get to read to every other Tuesday. There was some reading, a lot of jumping and falling as well as a cautionary tale regarding 5-year-old children flying planes. The kids loved it.

Celebrating winning free coffee at a Huskie Basketball game
Watching the Huskie women play basketball has become a tradition for us, ever since Anwyn has been playing for their Jr. developmental team.

We began watching the women play as support for Anwyn and to allow her to see her coaches excel. Typical parenting move. Strong women... leadership roles... blah, blah, blah.

Thats fine, but it turns out that I actually prefer watching them (as opposed to the men's team). More passing and running plays. Less one-on-one.

The important thing is that it has taken me 3 years of attempts to win the Tim Horton's 'tweet to win' coffee package. In this case, victory is definitely best served hot!

Adventures in Engineering (U of S Campus)
When not sick with one of the dragging colds I've had this spring, I have continued to be physically active. James and I have continued to run stairs and 5kms together.

Occasionally we also do a little exploring. We haven't been picking any locks lately. I guess nostalgia will have to take the place of past glory, for the time being.

We have also twice managed to spend a chunk of Sundays (which are pretty slow on campus) playing a cool hybrid of tag and hide and seek. It involves cell phones, a deck of cards and ID tags. Our teens seem to enjoy it and I'm only a little sore after an afternoon of sprinting on stairs while crouched and texting.

It's safer than it sounds... no, really ;)
 However, very much in the "current glory" phase is my pizza fetish. We had a pretty early spring in Saskatchewan. And while it may have not been balmy, there was enough sun and warmth for me to fire up my outdoor pizza oven and bang out several masterpieces.
First Outdoor pizza (Feb 27)
Second Pizza (Apr. 17th)

Third (May 1)
Of course, spring is always exemplified by Quest New Year on March 17th. This year James and I managed to play some hacky sack, race toothpicks and toboggan into pools of icy water. How lucky that there was, afterwards, coffee and great company long into the evening.

...and are rewarded for our efforts in an entirely different way.
Posted by James Diakuw on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Apex Trampoline. I was very sore the day after this one :)
1905 Gerhard Heintzman
Finally get Rosanne's Greenhouse back together

And lest you think that I am slacking... let us not forget kite flying, trampolining, piano disassembly and second greenhouse (it's like second breakfast without the calories).

Did I mention that our nephew, Matt lived with us for a couple of months? I'll say the least about that, even though it meant the most. I could probably write a book about those 8 weeks.