Monday, March 13, 2017

So Long my Twitter Teen

There was this fun little movement a couple of years ago called #followateen - with the idea being that old fogies like me would follow a random teenager on Twitter to understand what the kids these days are up to. I jumped on board and started following this random HS Junior.
Six years later? Holy moly, this kid is graduating from college this year, but sadly his Twitter account got hacked last week. He has been retweeting also sorts of promotional content - much of it is in Russian and Chinese. Fun times, but I think the adventure has ended. It was a good run.
What did I learn from my six years following a teen? I watched his account slowly become less and less active over that time - I assume it was because Twitter got replaced for these kids by Snapchat and other closed-network ephemeral messaging systems.
My generation came online and passed down the warning, "everything you do online will be seen by your parents, your employer, and your children. Post safely." The younger crowd saw that warning and said, "none of that!" and went on to find ways to bring the casualness back to interaction through services that aren't public and that expire. Let a silly in-the-moment event be lost with the moment and not catalogued forever.
It's funny that this culture hasn't bubbled up. I want to be hip like the kids, but no one in my social circles of old kurmudgen technologist wants to move on to the slick newness of it all. Heck, we're barely one step away from using a private IRC server for our communication.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Ramen Bar

I am quite a fan of ramen, but it's a little tricky to eat when going out with the family, because having a couple of little kids makes it a bit tricky/scary to have a bowl of scalding hot liquid on the table with everyone. Seems like a natural choice when I head into the workplace to grab ramen for lunch, but lunchtime in the financial district is a trainwreck of lines everywhere.
A couple months ago I discovered "The Ramen Bar" near work and it so wonderfully meets all of my lunchtime ramen needs. It's in 101 California, which is the first building I worked at after college and that just brings back wonderful nostalgia every time I go. Much more importantly, they have an app for my phone where I can order ahead of time, pay with Apple Pay, and then just walk in and grab my food to go. Now my office workers ask, "do you just get ramen every time you come to the office?' Yes. Yes I do.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Really Mr. NFL Player?

Do you get a lot of email meant for someone else? I am alway surprised how much people sign up my email address for various services on the internet. I assume these are subscription farms paid to increase active user counts - they just go through the process of signing up known good email addresses.

I share the name with a NFL football player. For the most part, this doesn’t matter, why would it? Yet over the last weekend this NFL player apparently on some interview or his twitter account or whatever, asked people to send him their favorite stories about his NFL team and presumably provided them his email address. His email address and my email address seems to be similar, because I receive around 600 emails from people telling me their favorite stories about their team. That was fun.

I am totally proud of the four people who sent me an iMessage tied to that email address. Way to go! And you one very brave person who did a couple Facetime calls to me? You’re now blocked, but I love your gusto!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Upgrading the Apple Watch

While I always think the idea of leasing a car is CRAZY, I realized that I generally lease all of my technical gadgets. I have had awesome luck upgrading devices and then selling the old ones on eBay. I just upgraded my Apple Watch from Series 0 to Series 1 and it was a dream! I bought the Series 1 for $210 on Target’s black Friday sale, and sold my old one on eBay for $180. That’s what I the perfect upgrade price.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ways to Make Coffee

During my annual holiday shopping for friends and family, I always find stuff to put onto my wish list. This year I saw this amazing 2-cup coldbrew bottle over on ThinkGeek and I was so excited it by that I couldn’t wait for someone to buy it for me. I just bought it—also because ThinkGeek sometimes completely sells out of things forever.

All that Mrs.Chaos could say is, “don’t you already have a cold brew system?” Sure, but that is for brewing an entire pitcher of cold brew, this is for brewing 2-cups overnight! “Don’t you have enough ways to make coffee?” I guess the answer is no?

I have the drip brewer, the espresso machine, the cold brew pot, a french press, an Aeropress, and now a cold brew double-cup. I still need a Chemex, eh? I’ve been having stare downs with those.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Light Goes Really Fast

This is a huge moment for home automation. - Tim Cook
My HomeKit setup has been running pretty well these days, but sometimes I think about what is actually happening and it is insane.
I lift up my  ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ and say, "Hey Siri, open the garage door." What is actually happening? The  ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ is sending that audio through Bluetooth to my iPhone, which sends it up through my AT&T LTE connection to iCloud.  iCloud processes the audio and sends it back down, through my iPhone to my  ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ. My  ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ will then use handoff to pass the command back over Bluetooth to my iPhone.
Now my iPhone processes the HomeKit command and once again sends the HomeKit request up through AT&T LTE to iCloud.  iCloud is going to send it down through my AT&T U-verse connection, to my Apple Airport Extreme* which passes it via WiFi to my Apple TV which is serving as my HomeKit hub.
AppleTV relays the message over WiFi back through the Airport Extreme's wired ethernet connection to my macOS server which is running Homebridge. Homebridge then uses MyQ Chamberlain APIs to ask the garage to open - so that means a message is sent off the macOS server back out of my home to the MyQ server.
The MyQ server pushes the request back down into my house through the WiFi over the MyQ garage door module which then sends the standard radio waves to my garage door opening and the garage opens.
This amazing process takes about 1 second.  Light goes really fast.

* Technically I have two Airport Extremes to extend the network, so there's yet another handoff going on.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Repairability 1/10

Unforeseen consequences of adoption decisions really can reach far into the future. - Tom Hollingsworth
My work computer is a 15” Mid-2012 MacBook Pro Retina display - it was released 4.5 years ago, about one week before I joined my current company. As part of my initial onboarding process they asked me what computer I wanted, and I asked for the brand new MBPr completely maxed out. Now it’s getting close to five years and I am still running the new computer.
When macOS Sierra was released, I was *SUPER* excited that I would be able to unlock my computers with my Apple Watch. I installed the betas, and did the the dance to upgrade from two-step verification to two-factor verification (don’t ask) and then on my person MacBook Air, the “Unlock with Apple Watch” check box appeared, but not so on my work MacBook Pro. Then, there is was on Apple’s website, not supported until the 2013 MBPr.
I waited with patience along with my fellow fanboys to see Apple release new MBPr and they did! That TouchBar looks pretty cool, but worked asked me a hard question - “Do you want this computer? You’re going to be using it for the next five years.” Sadly, there isn’t enough of a jump that I think this is the computer I need for the next five years. I passed.
I was sad that I couldn’t unlock with my watch, but then I read a story that the REASON it doesn’t work is because unlock with Apple Watch requires the 802.11AC so it can use the timestamp field of time of flight calculation. My MBPr only has 802.11 N. But a new Airport Extreme (Broadcomm) chip is like, $35. So what would happen if I upgraded my internal BCM4331 module with a newer BCM4360 that came with the Mid-2015 MBPr?

The answer? Totally worked. Unlocking with Apple Watch!
One of the things I've found interesting as I often read about the lack of upgradability of these computers is that I have done a TON of upgrading of various MacBook laptops owned by myself and family members.