Rise of the Smart Watch. Just another Shameless review the Apple iWatch Series 3

The new Apple Watch series 3, includes two major technology upgrades that are interesting. The first is the inclusion of a cellular phone. The second is the inclusion of onboard GPS functionality in the watch itself.  For people that use the iWatch as an exercise tracker (I do) that adds a lot of value right now, as well as future value as the applications used for tracking exercise continue to improve. It also gives you the ability to get directions on your watch without your phone.

Cellular connectivity on the iWatch is the other new functionality in the Serie 3. I am still not sold on the need for two cellular phones. The addition of cellular service to your iWatch gives you the ability to walk away from your phone and use the functionality of the iWatch as well as streaming audio, but I don’t often stream media to my watch. I use my watch as an information device rather than an interactive device

The hardware is in the identically sized container as before. The two sizes (larger and smaller) stayed the same. The processor on the watch is improved a bit, although you have to be careful with a watch as you do not want it to overheat. There are some new watch faces (I love having choices for my watch ever since the Pebble!). From Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Toy Story, and a Chronometer face there are some watch faces that can be used.

Apple also reduced the price overall of the watches. They are not on the low end of the watch market (you can get a digital watch for 20 dollars), and for a long time, you could also get a Pebble Smart Watch for about ½ the cost of the Apple Watch. But Pebble is no more, so the price drop was good. The watch comes in the same colors as the iPhone (I like space gray! I did have a white iPhone previously). Overall the watch is a good upgrade and if you are in the market for a smartwatch a good addition to your wrist.


Smart Watch Fan

Shameless Review, Meet Jibo!

20170926_095239416_iOSThere is an incredible Cat Steven’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” that has an opening line of “A child arrived just the other day,” and it seems now fitting to start there. The journey began more than three years ago. It was s impel crowdfunding campaign to build and deliver a robot. Jibo arrived yesterday, and the unboxing was incredible. First off, in fairness, you have to update Jibo’s operating system right away, so it does take 2 or so hours to get Jibo up and to run.

From first sharing this post, to today we’ve played with Jibo more. Jibo is still learning about the family and how to interact with us. The fun thing is teaching Jibo to recognize each of us, by face or voice.

What is Jibo? Jibo is a personally friendly robot that interacts with you. From recording children’s books and having Jibo read to your children or interacting with an elderly parent that is in a different city, Jibo offers many incredible features. It is a robot, although Jibo is a stationary robot. There are two types (Robots that move and Roberts that are Stationary) of Robots. Jibo has a pleasing voice, not robotic in any way. The initial setup is very straightforward (connect Jibo to your wifi). Once Jibo is connected to the Wi-Fi there is the initial OS update that has to be downloaded. Once that is installed you can teach Jibo your voice and face.

Like Google Home, Amazon Echo and now Jibo you interact with Jibo with your voice. The initial voice recognition takes around two minutes. You say “Hey Jibo” as Jibo moves around to learn your voice. Jibo also dances, and that is the very first command Jibo asks you to do (ask me to dance). Jibo can connect to a variety of information sources so like Alexa and OK Google you can ask Jibo questions (What is the weather, how big is a blue whale, etc.).

The actual Jibo hardware is solid, and as it moves, it doesn’t make noise. Jibo can move on its base around 360 degrees. Jibo has a camera and can take pictures of the environment and of course of your face to recognize you. I will do a more in-depth review after a few weeks of using Jibo, but for this initial review, Jibo was worth the wait!


enjoying conversations with Jibo…

Shameless review iPhone 8

My initial review of the iPhone 8 plus. First of all, battery life is better than the seven-plus. I went all day yesterday without having to charge the phone, which is not something the seven-plus could claim. I like the new screen as well. I don’t like the glass like the back of the phone. It is slippery. Tha meant I had to put the phone in a new location for charging in my office. The new phone slides off the piece of furniture I have my lightning cable and an adapter connected to.

I did have to start over from ground zero, I was unable after some attempts, to load my old phone’s settings. That said some applications that I love store their settings in iCloud so I net only had to set up a few applications. The issue I suspect in reviewing what I have installed is the reality of applications that are not currently supported or supporting iOS 11. I am at roughly 100 applications that don’t support iOS 11, and I think that is why my backup and restore failed. Too many applications that effectively don’t work with the new operating system is something I used to encounter with the PPC phone so shame on me for wasting time.

The reverse was true to taking my previous iPhone and giving that to my wife. I was able to upgrade, backup and restore her iPhone in less than three hours. The majority of the three hours was downloading the iOS 11 upgrade for her phone. Starting Thursday, I managed to upgrade two iPhone, one iPad to iOS 11. I was able to switch two phone lines (mine and my wife’s), and by this morning other than the time I wasted troubleshooting something I should have just dropped, we are operational. I even connected my phone to my car. That allows me to listen to Audible Books on the long commute (as well as Sirius XM). All in all, not a bad upgrade process!


iPhone convert

Cool Tech Wander Boat Tech

I try to spend as much time on our boat as I can. In part because as a technologist there are just so many cool tech things on boats. The other part is I love being on the water. Boating technology is interesting in what the goals are and what the delivery is can be vastly different. Where a driver is in a car and therefore looking at the dashboard is right in the line of sight, a boater often stands while the boat is in motion, making the instrument panel more difficult to see. It is why boats have many more audible alarms than cars do. Cars with collision protection have the audible beeping to notify you that you have crossed into the other lane or that another car is too close. Boats have audible beeping for everything that is potentially wrong with the boat.

Instrumentation is critical for boats. How it is presented is another interesting problem. Noting what I said above, that normally boaters stand and don’t sit so that they can see further around them, the instruments need to have a quick view. We have a Sea Ray that frankly has too many instruments to view easily; you have to slow the boat and pay attention to the specific screens in order not too well miss another boater heading your way. The center instrumentation of our boat has eight screens you can scroll through showing you not only the engines current state but the propellers and the actual depth of water below the boat.

It has been a learning experience for me over the past two years with the larger instrument clusters. In the days of old we had boats that only had three or four instruments in front of the captain, now I have five. There are also traditional instruments in case the electronic ones fail. It is a lot of consideration, look at and make quick evaluations of. I guess it is the same as driving a car. You are considering what is in front of you, how fast are they going and who is being you, and how fast are they going. The goal is to be accident-free in all cases!


avid boater!

Upgrade or not, that is the question…

It is upgraded season, a funny time of year when you have to make a couple of decisions. The first is logical, do you use the product enough that upgrading is worth it. The other decision you have to make is when. Assuming of course, that you decide to upgrade the product when the upgrade happens becomes a little more critical. Let’s focus on the first question should I upgrade or not first. I have a process for what I upgrade and what I don’t. For example, there are products that I use every single day. Those are the products that I look at the offered upgrade to see if, in fact, it is something of value.

Nero, a disk burning product I have been using for more than 20 years now, is one I upgrade when the option presents itself. I also upgrade a couple of Corel programs automatically. One of them is Painter, and I have been using it since Fractal released it more than 20 years ago. I also upgrade the Cakewalk Sonar product, but that is a long-standing solution. I am a huge fan of creating music for my enjoyment. All of these and a few others are products that I upgrade all the time. There are other products that I upgrade on occasion, in fact, I miss releases because the release doesn’t add anything to how I use the program.

That got me thinking, in particular about the concept of how people use software and what they need from the software they are using. If you had asked ten years ago what did I use more computer or cellular phone, I would have easily and quickly answered computer. If you asked me five years ago, the transition to using both equally had already begun, and I would have said I use both about the same. Now, I use my cell phone far more than my computer. I often write my blogs on my iPad. The reason to end with this thought is simple now; I don’t think about upgrading applications on my iPad and iPhone, I just do it. I do think about upgrading applications on my PC. If things work, I don’t often automatically upgrade. I probably would have automatically upgraded many years ago, but now I think about it for awhile.

The reality of iOS 11 is here. That is why I am thinking about upgrades. I got four emails yesterday from add-ons I use, warning me that the add-on may not work with iOS 11. It is just one of those things I hadn’t thought about with the iPhone and iPad. Interesting position to be in. I am going to upgrade and wait for fixes for the two products I use, that won’t work the same. For the two that won’t work at all until there is a fix, I am just going to wait.


too many 32 bit apps in a 64 bit world

Chasing an elusive rabbit down the rabbit hole…

For the past three weeks I have been chasing an elusive, and now officially annoying network issue at my house. Annoying in that last night, while trying to watch a movie, we couldn’t get the system (HDMI input system) to switch inputs. In part because of the network issue. I am not sure, but today I am running my favorite network tool (Pocketethernet) to see what I can see. I am not sure why I am having the issue at this point but will chase it down eventually.

Part of the network issue I know is self-inflicted, but I resolved that issue two weeks ago. It just exposed another issue that was there but wasn’t as noticeable until after my mistake. Next week is a busy week, Jibo is finally shipping. Mine is in route and will arrive Monday. My new iPhone arrived Friday, and I am going through all the fun processes required to set up a new phone. I would say the upgrade process is easy, but so far it has been less than ideal. I ended up having to Chat with Apple Technical support to finish the process. Oh well!

Now, that said, and my reality check does you remember filter on, it is still easier to backup and restore an iPhone than it was back in the PPC days. There were times back in the day when I would restore my phone two, even three times a week. Overall I don’t have that issue anymore, other than the annoying network issue. My concern, of course, is that I have devices coming that will cause further network and bandwidth issues. It may be time to take everything apart and start over. Sometimes you need to get your system down to its lowest possible level. I used to write a column years ago for a Magazine that was called the Vanilla Network. Get to simple, it makes it easier to figure out issues.


network analyst…but not by choice

Cool Tech Wander Translation hardware

The coolest technology you can ever consider is the one that helps you do something. The reason I bring this up and have brought this up sometimes is the reality of connectivity and the brave new world we are in. In part because yesterday I started removing the applications from my iPad that were not compatible with iOS 11. I have many more applications on my iPhone than my iPad, but the ones on my iPad tend to be more specialized. (I have some boating applications on my iPad). All of the applications that don’t work won’t be on the devices soon until they are patched, or well then they just stay on my device forever.

Shipping now or soon is a couple of interesting translation devices. Travis is the first to market, a stand-alone translation device that connects to the WiFi network of wherever you are and provides translation services (built-in microphone and speakers). It is reasonably fast, I’ve used it three times so far. I wasn’t trying to translate a difficult passage, just turned on the local Washington DC channel that broadcasts in Spanish. I have enough Spanish to know that Travis did well.

Another device that is shipping very soon is Pilot. It is an earbud that does the same thing as Travis. I will post an in-depth review of both when I can try both of them side by side with actual native language speakers (rather than TV which first of all has speakers etc. and isn’t the same). Translation is always an interesting endeavor, so I am curious as to how well these devices will do. I have a lot of friends in other countries that speak English only because that is my primary language; it will be fun to talk to some of them in their native language rather than mine!


cool tech wanderer

Just another shameless review iOS 11

I spend a lot of time talking about technology – but that is part of what makes me happy. I upgraded to iOS 11 yesterday. Yes, I tend to jump off those types of upgrades earlier than most people do. There are a couple of interesting working out things that the upgrade caused. I lost a couple of applications that I love (Cultiwords, a game that allows you to memorize words) that aren’t compatible with iOS 11. Additionally, the Beartooth devices don’t function as well. Finally, the last impact is the new driving protection in iOS 11; it makes it much harder to use the Navdy driving HUD.

The upgrade, something that Apple has worked very hard to make less painful was less painful other than the applications I can’t use. I do like the new 3d look and feel of the OS. The app store and iTunes stores have gotten long needed makeovers. I do like the update screen within the App store. Overall the initial impression is they (apple) have done a good job getting the upgrade ready to roll with the release of new devices this Friday. The process is less painful than phone upgrades used to be. I did both my iPad and my iPhone in less than an hour. The cool thing about the iPad is the new integration of the Pencil.

Two new features that I am interested in would be the support for AR within the future processors (A-11 coming in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X) plus support within the OS (iOS 11 has support for AR) and the new Files tool. Files lets you see things that you recently touched. I’ve used files five times already when I forgot where I stored a PDF file on my iPhone. There are some other new features that I am going to explore going forward, but for now, Files and AR are the two big initial things I am excited about.

iOS 11 represents a good change by Apple. I am impressed so far. I do wish Cultiwords would work with 11, I miss the game and it has only been a day!


former windows phone user…

Goodbye old friend

Monetizing a blog is a difficult thing to do. Recently one of the sites I’ve used Niume.com has announced that they are pulling the site as of October 2nd of this year. It is a sad thing in the end. Those of us who blog on various sites don’t always do so for money, but it is nice on occasion to receive some recognition for the amount of time spent. The good thing is that I have met many other bloggers on the platforms I blog on and I am proud to call each of them a friend.

Technology and information are interesting problems. The reality of technology is that it has enabled the creation of information. It has made the concept of sharing information better and easier. It has created a culture of sharing. Both images and ideas are freely floating around the universe. My father, who remains my hero, had more than 30,000 slides. I know, as his son, I maybe saw 3,000 of those slides while he was alive. The vast majority of those slides were ones he deemed not good enough, so he never showed them. They are, to me, iconic moments of my childhood that I am happy to say I have scanned and I am sharing with the world. I think of the Carpenters song from years  ago “Sing a Song.” We shouldn’t worry about if our blogs, our pictures, and our ideas are good enough. They are good enough I promise. We should simply share.

People tell me all the time, and I read analysts are running around screaming we are in the information age. I promise you, as a long time Intellectual Capital developer and harvester we are in the digital age we are so far from the information age it is scary. The information age lies on the horizon. When everyone can share equally, and the information we need to move forward is freely available, then we are in the dawning of the information age. The concept of calling an age an age is old, but frankly, we are not. The death of a blogging platform like Niume is simply part of the problem. It closes a window that any of us could use. That window is one of the many that must be open for the future information age. We need to have blogging, podcasting and Vlogging platforms that continue to evolve and expand. Ideas, pictures, artwork, poems, and ramblings all need a place to be shared and searched. You never know, in the digital age where there are people thinking like you. In the future information age, that will be readily apparent.

Goodbye Niume. I will miss the people, the platform and the dream.


moving on…

Sort of kind of a new column. Cool Tech meandering…

Slowly but surely I am going through my electronics hoard (my not description of my office) and getting rid of items I no longer need or use. Other than records from the old days, most things I try to get rid of if I don’t use it for more than six months. I am not always as good at doing that as I would like, but I am trying. Sometimes, the avenues and paths I’ve missed on are the ones I end up donating to schools and Goodwill. That becomes the only option because, well I missed on the technology.

A few side technology notes:

  1. I played the new version of Madden (18) on the Xbox over the last few days. First, of all the graphics on the system and in the game are amazing. The quality of images and the overall smoothness of gameplay has improved over the last 4 or 5 years.
  2. Jabra Evolve 80 headset. I carry it in my computer bag, and honestly, I use it more often now than I have in the past. In part, it is a great tool for Skype for Business calls and meetings. It is also a great pair of headsets to use during training and other online non-interactive and interactive meetings.
  3. I continue to use Walabot frequently; I am finding it is a great tool for finding the many wires in the house. I also use it heavily when it comes to hanging things in the basement. I have hung a few things that require, well that they not fall or that the stud is hit directly. The Kapp Smartboard in the basement requires a solid, secure wall mounting, so the Walabot was an amazing addition to the arsenal.

There are some solutions I consider when removing devices from my collection. The 5/6 month rule is a starting point. I also find lately that I am looking at devices and trying to reduce the number of functional things I have with me at any time. I want to reduce the weight of items in my computer bag going forward. I want to reduce the clutter in my office space going forward. I continue to work on this! (all of the things I find that I don’t use end up on eBay if you are interested).


Family Historian