Apple Music’s Killer Feature

The killer feature is that it works with Siri. Just wake up Siri and have her play an artist or song.

"Play some Rolling Stones"
"Play Madonna"
"Play Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone"
"Play Hotel California"

Just Add Apple Watch

The Apple Watch also works as remote for the iPhone, which allows you to go hands-free. Anyone stuck doing the after dinner cleanup will appreciate this feature. A twist of the wrist and say:

"Hey Siri, play some U2"
"Hey Siri, next song"
"Hey Siri, pause music"

Of course, Siri isn’t perfect. I can’t get her to play “Kashmir by Led Zeppelin”.

Finally, I have to say that I like using Siri as a remote so much that now I wish I could use her to control my Apple TV.

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Why Everyone Should Love Windows 10

If you’re a Windows user, Microsoft looks like they nailed it with Windows 10. It’s fast, the Start Menu is back, it includes a much improved browser with Edge, and Cortana comes to the desktop. Throw in that perfect free price for Windows 7/8 users and it’s a no brainier.

If you’re not a Windows user like myself, that Edge browser should stick out as something important. Microsoft ditched legacy IE and made a great modern web browser. You might not use it, but you’ll eventually benefit from it. Legacy IE litters hundreds of millions of computer. Developers are forced to support IE8, IE9, IE10, and IE11 browsers. This usually results in websites that are limited by the features and performance.

So, if you know any nontechnical users with legacy Windows, it’ll be in your best interest to lend them a helping hand to upgrade.

In the Future Everyone will Wear a Smartwatch

There has been much discussion on the need for smart watches like the Apple Watch.  People have a hard time believing that a large market exists. I can’t say with certainty that you’ll be wearing an Apple Watch a decade from now but you’ll definitely be wearing a smart watch from Apple, Google, or some new kid on the block.

The short answer is health and safety, both of which are priceless. We’d give anything for a bit more of either one, and future smart watches will offer plenty of both.   I’ll briefly summarize each below.

Health

In the first generation Apple Watch, we have heart rate and daily steps monitoring.  Future devices, from Apple or Google, will likely add  blood pressure, skin temperature,  in short, we’ll be better able to monitor our bodies.

Safety

Many of us can image being in a scenario where we might need quick access to a phone, say a car or skiing accident, or perhaps after slip and fall, for example.  Futures watches will keep our lifeline to help on our wrist. Your slow or irregular heart  could be a signal for your watch to automatically dial for help, transmitting your location.

In summary, you might not be wearing an Apple Watch but you will be wearing someone’s smart watch.

My Notes on Ergonomic Keyboards, RSI, Programming by Voice, and Standing Desks

No one seems to know what causes repetitive stress injuries when typing. It could be bad posture, too much typing without sufficient rest, or possibly it’s psychological. Perhaps they’re all issues. The only thing that seems to definitively work when my hands start to hurt is to simply rest them for a while.

Anyway, I’ve been collecting and organizing URL’s on RSI so I could try a few tricks whenever I get a flare up. I want to share my list so others can get a quick head start should a problem occur. The first bit of advice most people will give is to go to a doctor. This might be a good idea, but as you read through many of the stories, you’ll see that it usually doesn’t help.

I’ve also collected a lot of information on ergonomic keyboards, mice, standing desks, etc.

I’m now keeping my notes on Github: Ergonomic Notes

My first two weeks with the Apple Watch

I held out on buying the Apple Watch until two weeks ago (July 6,
2015). To me it seemed like the first generation iPhone where you could see a lot of potential but you know something much better is coming out in a few years.

The really cool Apple Watch that really impresses and makes
you wonder what life was like before it existed will be the third
version. Being well aware of this, and after repeatedly debating with myself, I decided I didn’t want to wait 5-6 years. I’d rather begin now and get the future I was promised in small
doses.

Of course, we’ve all read the complaints that the Apple Watch
doesn’t do anything, except tell time quite well [1]. After two weeks I’m happy to report I don’t have buyer’s remorse and I’m actually quite happy with my watch (42mm Sport, space gray). I thought that I would summarize how I regularly use it for others who may be evaluating a Watch purchase.

Here are my top 3 uses:

  1. As a remote for music and podcasts
  2. As an activity monitor (health)
  3. As a phone.

Remote for Music and Podcasts

When I’m walking I usually carry my phone in a pocket, and when I’m
driving the phone is sitting in the center console.

In these instances, the Apple Watch is useful as remote for Music and
Overcast, my podcast app. It lets me skip to the next song. With Overcast on the Watch, I’m able to skip forward 30 seconds. This is useful if I want to skip a commercial or a part that I don’t find interesting.


Overcast


Music

Activity Monitor

When I set my Watch up in the Apple Store, I chose Moderate Activity, which although is only 30 minutes of activity, it requires me to take about 13,000 steps if walking is my only activity. On the last two Saturday nights, I’ve been a 150 calories short at 10pm, which required me to take a couple of late night strolls.

The heart-rate monitor is also a nice feature. What would make it perfect is if I could set a minimum and maximum heart rate then have the Watch monitor my heart rate to keep me in my training zone.

The Standing Goal is also surprisingly helpful. There’s always one time every day where I’ve needed to reminded that I’ve been sitting for over an hour. And on a lazy Sunday, I find that I need to be reminded several times throughout the day.

Here the iPhone app is showing me that I’ve met my goal for 6 of the last 7 days:

And here my standing goals are shown, along with my awards. Apple put a lot of effort into gamifying your daily activity:

As a Phone

The first couple times I used my watch as a phone, it felt like a gimmick. Basically, I just wanted to try it out. However, there have been several times when I was relaxing on the couch and my phone was charging in the kitchen, or simply out of reach. It was nice to be able to see who was calling and answer the call with my watch.

Maps and Apple Pay

I’ve used both maps and Apple Pay once. I couldn’t decide how useful maps on the watch was in practice. I do use maps on the phone and I still might prefer that. If I drove more often, being able to simply say “Hey Siri, give me directions to …”, assuming it works as desired, might come in handy. As we all know, Siri can be both impressive and frustrating.

As for Apple Pay, it’s definitely easy to use. Double—press the button to enable it. Unfortunately, McDonalds is the only place that I’ve been to that has it available.

Future Uses

My next watch task is to try some watch specific apps from the App Store to see what other ideas people have dreamt up. Hopefully, Health and Fitness becomes a big category. Should be an easy sell. Apps are cheaper than hiring a trainer.

I’d also really love to use my Watch as my front door key but I don’t want to build my own.

Finally, I’m already thinking of ways to help teach French, Spanish, and Italian on the Apple Watch.

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Dangerous Drones Daily

Ok, we are not quite up to daily drone problems. It’s more like monthly but that title doesn’t sell news. Anyway, it’s only a matter of time before someone using a drone causes a serious accident and kills someone. That young man will be sorry for his actions and apologize, saying that he didn’t realize that drones were dangerous, and he never meant to harm anyone.

Below are some of the headlines. I’ll try to keep it up to date.

In other news, readers of Hacker News have voted their favorite movie as Groundhog Day

August 12, 2015

Drone almost hits medical helicopter carrying patient to Fresno hospital

August 10, 2015

4 Commercial Planes Report Drone Encounters at Newark Airport: FAA

August 5, 2015

Drone hits Great American Tower, breaks glass

August 1, 2015

2 airliners fly within 100 feet of drone above New York

July 21, 2015

Lufthansa flight has near-miss with drone near Warsaw / Hacker News discussion

July 18, 2015

Above spectacular wildfire on freeway rises new scourge: drones /
Hacker News discussion

June 30, 2015

Woman Knocked Unconscious at Parade by Falling Drone / Hacker News discussion

May 29, 2015

Jetliner dodges possibly ‘catastrophic’ collision with drone in NYC /
Hacker News discussion

May 26, 2015

Drone crashes on parade spectator in Marblehead

Nov 20, 2014

Pilots Report Drones Flying Near JFK Flight Path

July 8, 2014

Drones nearly collide with NYPD helicopter, two arrested