Sunday, August 30, 2015

#followanotherteen

I just want you to know, it is kind of creepy. - Mrs.Chaos
When the #followateen thing happened, I jumped on the bandwagon, and found myself a nice random kid in highschool to follow. That kid was a Junior in HS at the time and I watched them finish off their last couple years and go through the first year of college. It hit me recently, that kid, isn't a kid. That kid is an adult in college.
So today I did what seems like the obvious next step. I started searching twitter for "hate summer reading" and found a high school sophomore that just started the school year. Yep - I'm following a new teen. I know it's a little weird, but I do think it's kind of cool to be able to watch how a random teen talks about the world and interacts. So this is, um, science? Yeah, I know it's a little creepy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Free Cloud Backup

I just realized that Google is offering free cloud backup for the normal person. Google Drive (15 GB), Google Play Music (50,000 songs), Google Photos (unlimited). Consider your data usage and I bet that’s enough.

My mother? My father? My siblings? All of them could backup their entire digital life in the cloud just using those three services. Me? I bet I could do it too - but I’d also add Github into the mix.

And yet, the thing about it is, no one in my family is going to trust all of their data to The Google. Some would fear Google doing inappropriate things and others would fear that once it is in the cloud the terrorists (or government) could grab it willy nilly. Who knows what they would do with it?

Ironically they would trust their backup to a backup service (Backblaze, Carbonite, Moze, etc). Strange thing, eh? Anyway, I’m excited by the idea that the layman can get free cloud backup for all their stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Watch Changeover

Back in November of last year the Pebble went on sale and I bought myself one as an apertif in preparation for the Apple Watch coming into my life. Six months later my Apple Watch arrived, so I set down the Pebble and switched over. During my first couple of days with the new watch, I missed my Pebble a lot. Why? Two reasons.

The main thing I did on my Pebble was home automation - Nest Thermostat, TCP Lights, WeMo Fan, etc. The apps just aren’t there on the Apple Watch yet. I suspect this is because HomeKit still isn’t complete and launched and so Apple isn’t allowing other home automation apps onto the watch just yet. I did realize that IFTTT Do has an Apple Watch companion app so I was able to get a few things setup on it: Turn on Bedroom Fan, Turn On/Off Nest. This is going to go away with time.

The second thing is that the Pebble has four physical buttons to do anything and can leave an app up and running that is really awesome. A whole lot of features of the Apple Watch require swiping and tapping on the screen. The main time I want to use the watch is when I’m taking care of the baby (often holding him in my arms) which makes swiping and tapping impossible. I like to play music (or podcasts) and then use the watch to pause/unpause the stuff playing. On the Pebble there was a nice easy physical button to do it. On the Apple Watch I have to wake the watch, swipe down to glances, and tap to pause/play. Super annoying.

Give it six months and I won’t be holding a baby all the time, HomeKit will be complete, and the watch app ecosystem will be a lot more robust. We might even have native watch apps by that point.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Future of the Workplace

A little over ten years ago, the place I was working closed the San Francisco office and I became a work-from-home employee. It was a cool deal to be without a commute and I made sure that all my teammates in Denver, Boston, and Dehli had webcams so that when we did our meetings we could all see one another. I’ve pioneered making remote employees not be second-class citizens and three separate companies since then.

I thought highly distributed teams would be the future of working. Everyone will just work out of their home office, or a coworking office across the street, with their teammates throughout the world and when you need have meetings you’ll use video conference or holo-conference. It seems like that’s where we’re going to end, but I would have expected a lot more tech companies to already be there. In the real world, people are still pushing for offices.

If self-driving cars were a thing today I’d probably go into the office every day. I’d hope in the car at 8am and be hard at work on the phone, video, etc, rolling into my office around 11am. After a few hours doing the face-to-face, I’d jump back in the car at 2pm and be home for dinner putting in a full eight hour work day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Waiting for the Watch

I’m a weak, weak man. - Casey Liss (in reference to the Apple Watch)

On a good note, I slept really really well on Thursday night. On a bad note, I set my alarm incorrect and didn't end up pre-ordering my Apple Watch until around 2am. My watch Apple Watch Sport 42mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band isn't shipping until June. I think it's the first time since the original iPhone I've missed getting a device on the first day. I mean, I preordered on the first day, it just won't arrive at the soonest time.

I had a friend comment that they wanted to get the watch because they will be able to discreetly check all their phone alerts and it won't be socially awkward. Yeah, no. I wonder how many people are under this false pretense. When I started carrying a Palm Pilot lots of people asked me if it helped me be more organized and I always told them "NO!" A digital organizer can help an organized person be more efficient, but it cannot help a disorganized person become organized.

So, slave to your phone? Well instead of checking you phone every 30 seconds, you'll be checking your watch every 30 seconds. It's not going to make you less engaged with your phone and more engaged in the moment. The other this is that frequently looking at your watch is WAY more socially awkward then frequently looking your phone. Go figure.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Windows.Toggle V2

Like the quest for perfect weather itself, looking for the perfect weather app can sometimes feel neverending. - Serenity Caldwell

After I got my Nest last year I wrote a fun little script that checked the outside temperature (Forecast.io) versus the inside temperature (Nest) and told me if it was a good idea to open my windows. Nest didn't have a public API at this point, so it was using hacks against the website URL to make it happen. Since then, Nest released a real API and I got around to updating the script.

I had to think through how I wanted to write it. What I wanted to do was write a Swift script to make the updates, but with both kiddos in my life I have a hard time imagining when I'll find time to figure out how to write a Swift app. So instead I busted out Perl, my old faithful, and go to work. It only took a few days to make the updates.

Now it's all working beautifully. It pushes Growls to my computer which pushes Prowls to my phone which pushes to my watch. Wonderful.

Check it out on Windows.Toggle on Github and read about the awesome home automation devices I've been wiring up.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Hub Situation

When I sit down at my desk with my computer I plug in a lot of things. I really plug in. I plug in power. I plug in a USB keyboard (which has a USB mouse and USB scanner attached). I plug in a Thunderbolt display. I plug in a Thunderbolt ethernet adapter. I plug external speakers into the headphone jack. I plug a second display into HDMI. I plug a dongle for wireless headphones into the other USB port. The only port I’m not using is the SD Card slot.

I have been having been looking hard at the Thunderbolt hubs out there because I could replace ALL of those connections with a single Thunderbolt connector—pretty darn slick.  Sitting down at my desk and walking away from desk would mean that I only needed to plug in two cables (power & thunderbolt hub). The problem is that the hubs are very expensive (think $250 - $300). It’s a lot to pay for convenience, but it was probably going to be my next buy (as soon as I have enough mullah after buying the  Watch).

Then Apple came out and released a new computer that only has the USB Type-C connector on it and I became paralyzed with fear. Am I about to plop down a bunch of money when the Thunderbolt port is on its way out from the tier of laptops that I use? That is a lot of money if it’s only going to be a around for a year or two.