Tag Archives: iPhone

I broke up with Verizon for 1 reason only


And not even so much because they won’t be doing roll over data (which i find insulting as a customer. Even ATT found a way to do it that they liked, and wasn’t out of line with their goals). But the attitude of that executive.

“If you want better treatment for the money you spend, we don’t want you as a customer, go fuck off and die”

In the past changing networks was a nightmare. I remember number porting taking as much as 48 hours, this time it took 10 minutes. I remember when porting wasn’t an option at all, now it’s tremendously easy, the new carrier can do it all, i didn’t have to call Verizon, didn’t have to go into the store, etc. A few bits of info, and we were AT&T Customers.

I overlooked Verizon’s transgressions because their support was always very nice (except in store, where I was lied to twice at two different locations) and helpful. Their twitter support team is amazing, and single handedly kept me a customer a few months ago when i was ready to leave.

It’s one thing (not a good thing) to pull crap like the super cookies, etc. While i think that’s lame, it wasn’t so lame I couldn’t live with it. The network was strong, i had bars where ever i needed them.

But to come out directly with the attitude that me and my $187 a month were of no value because how dare I assume the data I pay for should be mine to use the next month. Yeah that’s new, i wasn’t expecting them to jump right in and was prepared to wait months for it, if they had said it was coming. But the attitude of that executive, was the final straw.

So now me and my 3 devices are AT&T subscribers. We also save $57 a month, which ain’t bad either. If you’re Verizon, I highly suggest you leave. You’ll get better prices and a network (whether you choose T-Mobile or AT&T or even one of the more fringe players) that wants your business and appreciates it.

Bye Verizon.

A bit more on Smart Watches


1. NFL updates are cool, if you’re into that

So I’ve been two timing my Pebble the last few weeks, with the Metawatch Frame. I could see my Pebble being second string really fast. This isn’t an in-depth review of either, more of a quick comparison of them.

The Frame is way nicer than the Strata which i kickstarted, and really didn’t like the look of. it was ok, but a bit too sporty. The Frame is damn nice looking, has a bit of weight to it like a real watch (real being the dumb variety) Nicer than pebble by far, even when using a fancy watch face :)

I’ve talked about Pebble vs. Metawatch before, and really, i think if these two companies merged, it’d be the perfect storm of non Apple smart watches.

I love that Pebble has a pretty active community making faces and apps. I love that Metawatch ships with some neat apps (if you’re a football fan, the NFL widget is pretty freaking awesome, i tried it last sunday just to see, See Pic 1).

I hate that Pebble uses Apple’s new notification center hooks, which basically push all notifications to the watch. I hate that I have to choose what goes to the watch by choosing what I see on the phone. Two very different use cases and experiences.  Very not fun to set up.

I LOVE Metawatch’s smart filter. Rather than bork around in the settings app, it simply watches every notification that passes through it and gives me a toggle to no longer see those. It’s quite nice.

I love that Pebble packed a ton of sensors into their device, i wish Metawatch had done that. I still flick my wrist to try and see the time, and nothing happens with my Metawatch.

I miss the apps like tabata timer, and camera button that Pebble has (third party), and will likely miss the things they’ve got planned like Yelp and Foursquare and the like. Metawatch from what I can see just doesn’t have that support yet(?) from third parties, which i think is a really big deal. I had hoped that in coming back to Metawatch after almost a year, the manager would be overflowing with widgets and watch faces, and that’s just not the case.

One of the things I think Metawatch does great is you get 4 screens to load up. It’s nice to switch between so much info so easily.

Some are neat, like the NFL stuff which does me no good. Some are (to me) pointless like the chinese lunar calendar stuff. Stocks, AND stock twits stuff, which again im sure cool if you like that info on your wrist. There’s still only three watch faces, one of which is useless unless you can read chinese (not sure which dialect or anything)

I’ve been thinking about what widgets i’d like; and really don’t have many, but here’s what I came up with.

  • watch faces, Pebble is dominating this, i miss LCARS, i miss all the ones i had that i used to cycle through.
  • full screen calendar.
  • full screen weather
  • Call log (full screen or half, something more than missed call counter)

I’m guessing it’s not possible, but copying Pebble’s flick to light would rock, the biggest downside of Metawatch is it’s choice of display. in certain lighting you can’t see the display at all, but with it’s backlight you can, having to push a button to do that is the pits.

So yeah I’ve now played with both devices for a good bit of time, Metawatch currently is enjoying wrist time, and likely will for a while. It definitely needs more but is a nice watch. I’ve been tempted to tap into my child of the 80’s roots and sport two watches, but well i haven’t yet.

iWatch Review: Pebble

Nice little touchI really hope Apple takes a while to deliver on their iWatch, at this point I have far more than I can wear without looking like i fell out of the 80’s with a few watches on my wrists. (Yeah I admit, i did that)

I backed the Pebble watch the moment i saw it, in fact only like 3500 people out of the 76,000 that backed it, backed it before i did.  Ok On to my thoughts.

It’s pretty damn awesome. the delays in shipping it (was supposed to ship in early September 2012) were worth it. Not only is it really polished, but they added a ton of things to future proof it. Accelerometer, magnetometer, etc. Things it didn’t need right now, but can’t be added once shipped.


Overall the experience is really nice. The display is crazy readable no matter the lighting. A flick of your wrist turns on the back light, which is kinda cool. There’s a setting to make it automatic, but i didn’t see it working. I assumed that would mean it was just on all the time in the dark, and that isn’t what happened, so i set it back to wrist flick mode. The thing I like the most (which i liked the most about the iPod nano as a watch too)  is the cool variety of watch faces. I really liked the fuzzy time face. Kinda nice to have time in the same terms we usually give to people when asked for the time. In the end I went with the big time face which takes up the whole face with 2 rows of numbers. Hour and Minute.

Physically the watch is quite nice, falling somewhere in between sports watch and out to dinner in a suit watch. Dressing up, pick a more elegant watch face. The charging is really nice. A nice magsafe style connector on the left of the watch body. The connector just snaps on. There’s four buttons, the two on the top and bottom right are up and down, middle one is “select”

IMG_8301OS wise my two main complaints are 1. There’s no concept of just exiting the settings. I have to go and re-pick my watch face. I’d rather just press the top left button to go “home”, home being watch face. That’s what happens when you’re reading a text message. 2. the present faces (I assume the watch Face SDK will expose more things soon) are bare bones. I’d love a face that included the date, maybe the phone’s battery status or the watches battery status for that matter. I’m not actually sure if there’s a way to see the watch battery level, maybe way down in settings somewhere.

Reading Text messages is really easy. the font is user selectable; Large or Small. It’s really easy to glance down and read the message.

One thing that I found interesting, and awesome. You can answer or decline a phone call. The Metawatch doesn’t do that that I noticed. YOu can see the Caller ID, but i never noticed buttons for accepting or declining the call. It’s pretty handy.

The one thing i noticed that’s drastically different from my Metwatch (I’ll do an actual compare and contrast post soon) is that the Pebble stays connected to my phone way more reliably. What’s nice is the iOS app knows when it’s not connected and will bring up an alert that re-connects the watch. Even from the lock screen. so you’re never left wondering if you’re still connected. That’s really nice.

IMG_8387The iOS app itself is really basic. Which is good and bad. Good in that there’s no fluff, bad in that the UX is all kinds of crazy. Views slide side to side, top to bottom, it’s like a labyrinth. Right now it’s ok, there’s only 2-3 other screens, moving forward it could get goofy.

That said, what’s there is nice. You can see which faces you’ve installed, and browse those that are available for install.


The only other screen is the connection/update screen. From this screen you can quickly see if the watch is talking to your iPhone. What I like is that this is where software updates are displayed as well. Under that green bar would be an update bar. Firmware updates are delivered of BT to the phone. It’s really q nice experience.

The Home screen of the app has two buttons (which do the same as swiping up or sideways)

a status light. Green is connected, Red is update available or not connected, and the watch face store. (i don’t know what you call it, and presume that’ll be the central repo of faces and apps and such). As things like twitter, facebook, etc integration roll out the UX might change to handle more settings, but for now it’s simple and nice. Kinda Apple-esque in only showing you what you need. I’m a fan of more detail, but oh well.

Pebble app home screen

Pebble app home screen

Over all I’m really liking the Pebble. It’s not as bulky as the Metawatch, but offers less handy info at a glance. I got really used to Phone battery and weather right there with time.

It’s a more attractive watch with easier to read display so that’s a big plus. It is water resistant, showers ok, not sure how far you can take it. I don’t wear watches in the shower usually so not something I care too much about.

Overall the Pebble does a ton of things right. Like the Metawatch, it’s not a complete package, and whether it will be or not is up to both Pebble and the developer community. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime it’s a great watch to wear and looks good on your wrist.

iWatch Review: MetaWatch

IMG_7994So a while back I did a review of my first iWatch (actually this was the first, but it was temporary). It was an ok watch, i had hoped for new features, and in the end the only firmware update that ever came out while adding new watch faces, didn’t do a ton more to make it an awesome iWatch. Of course now that form factor is dead and the new model is not “watchable” at all, so there’s that.

Now I have a proper iWatch, just no i. I’ve had the Meta Watch Strata for a while now, it’s a very cool smart watch. It’s more in the sport watch area, but they do sell a more dressy model. It connects over Blue Tooth Low Energy to the phone and shows you phone battery level, SMS messages, Caller ID, and… well right now that’s all. They’re still working out the bugs, so the emphasis has been on connectivity. I’m trying the latest beta firmware, and it’s come a long way from what shipped.


Right now it tells you just the basics, but when some of the coming soon features roll out, it’ll be great. I’m hoping i can create rules around some of it, a buzz for every email would suck, a buzz for emails from my wife, or a conference sponsor, handy. Ditto twitter DMs and @ replies. Some i care enough about, others less so.

It has been really handy to glance at my wrist to see incoming SMS’s without digging my phone out of my pocket.

TheIMG_7995 calendar widget has been pretty handy too since you can have two; today and tomorrow. reading a busy day isn’t easy. I suspect future updates will include more readable fonts, or more configurable widgets.

As Smart Watches get more and more popular the differences in approach emerge. MetaWatch uses a central connected app to push data to the watch. App Developers will write their apps, and they’ll reside in the MetaWatch Manager app, giving the user a single place to control it all.

Others like Pebble (I should have mine in another 9 weeks or something) from what I understand, push the apps to the watch. The example shown at CES was pushing watch faces. If you’ve read the other reviews, you know watch faces is one of the things I most loved about the iPod Nano. Pebble made it a front and


center feature as well. MetaWatch seems to have gone a different direction, at least to start. If you choose to have a full face watch face, you have A choice.

It’s not ugly, but I’m not really a fish person. I’d love to see more, and suspect as time goes on and developers begin releasing things for MetaWatch, we’ll see more clever faces.

Overall I’m really happy with the Strata. The Smart Watch space is still very much in it’s infancy so there’s a lot of room to grow for everyone in it. MetaWatch is clearly serious about it, since having the Strata they’ve gone from 1.0 firmware to 1.2 (yes three releases) but that’s in maybe 3 months?

Pros: Geek cred. pretty handy for basic stuff, way more handy in the future. Doesn’t make a noticable impact on phone battery. It’s connected so definitely does use battery, but not so much I’m carrying a car batter around.

Cons: Not much you can do with it right this second. Weather and phone battery at a glance are cool, and I find them quite handy, but that’s it. Unless you love stocks, it does ship with a stock widget.

A few more pics below just so you can see the MWM app etc.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.


Configuration screen for widgets

Configuration screen for widgets

Currently available options for apps

Currently available options for apps

Where future apps will live
Where future apps will live


Life with Nest

So My friend Tom gave me a Nest. Which is good because no matter how much I tried, Nicole wasn’t that keen on the idea… actually the expense. A Nest ain’t cheap. I definitely think it’s one of those products that once installed and in use for 6 months to a year pays for itself or at least shows the potential to, but until then it’s an expensive thermostat.

Photo Nov 03, 10 18 08 AMInstallation was pretty easy, though I did end up having to give in and call Nest support (which was awesome!) because my homebuilder was a moron. For whatever reason there was an entire extra wire bundle connected to the old thermostat. Nest support was great, I’d email them a pic and he’d immediately know what to do. Once he and I got that part tackled, viola!

(please ignore the gouges above the Nest, they were there already hidden behind the old thermostat.

Photo Nov 03, 9 27 22 AM

Once installed it walked me through the set up process on screen. Downloaded a new firmware update that was waiting, and showed me what I needed to know to get going. You can do all the programming and such on the device, but I found it quite a bit easier to do via the mobile app. (see the pics below)


Once you get things like a basic schedule setup (I set ours just like the old thermostat) you can start letting it learn. Since our Nest is located in the dining rom, I’m not using the auto-away feature.  We rarely eat in the dining room and since it’s a nook, we don’t pass thru it. So I don’t want the Nest trying to learn our patterns that way. I’d rather it learn from our adjustments.

Photo Dec 17, 1 46 49 PM

Our basic schedule. This was the starting point I wanted the Nest to work from.

Photo Dec 17, 1 46 21 PM

The main screen of the iOS app. Super simple and easy to use.

We’ve only had it about a month and a half or so, so I’m excited to see the results on our energy bill down the road. Especially in the use case of vacations. Before we’d have to remember to turn the old thermostat off or heat or cool the house when we’re not home. Now with the push of a button on our iPhones we can tell it we’re not there.

The other feature I really like is the leaf. There’s the training we’re giving the Nest, and then there’s the training it’s giving us. Now when I crank up the heat it tells me that it’ll be 25 minutes before I get there. I grab a sweater.

Photo Dec 17, 1 46 54 PM

The energy report. Over time this will be more insightful to me, but even now it’s cool to see how we’re doing.

All in all, i’m happy to have a Nest. For one thing it’s much more attractive than our crappy looking honeywell dumb thermostat. And since we’re always looking for ways to save a buck, i think in the long run the Nest will be more helpful in that goal.




Why I moved to Mail.app

I’ve been reading the news and opinions about Sparrow’s acquisition (good for them!) It’s funny how these cycles go, and it’s almost always the same.

First is the news of the acquisition and almost always death of the much loved product.

Then there’s the “OMFG I Hate them, they sold out

Then there’s the “You entitled pricks are pricks and aren’t owed shit

Then there’s the  “We aren’t owed things, but there is a sort of unspoken contract

I think all three are valid. Some folks just felt mad they paid money (whether the amount is significant or not is in the eye of the spender) for abandon-ware. Some  like to take the enlightened I’m-smarter-than-you approach and some like the look at things objectively. Each has it’s merits.

This is an interesting post as well on the subject, especially on the topic of money.

My initial reaction (as tweeted) was good for them, bad for me. I loved sparrow. I bought it. I bought the iOS version, though without push I never used it. I bought it because I think the only opinion that matters is my wallet. I bought it to show the developers that I supported them. Maybe that kept the lights on 10 minutes, who knows, but I’d guess the volume of us showing our support kept the lights on a lot longer. I also bought both versions because I wanted to support and encourage updates. I was ready to buy the iPad version as well.

It’s that last point that’s the reason I moved to mail.app. As someone said to me, Sparrow works just fine as is. Yes, yes it does. But why invest another minute of my time on something that will become more and more outdated? That’s why I stopped using tweetie. It was fine, but slowly got left behind in features. Why would any user of any product (ok, except cars) want to continue to use a product that is done with, dead. Yeah it’s fine now, it’ll be fine in six months. If you want nothing more than what sparrow does right now, you’re fine, use it for 10 years. If you want new features, like push in the iOS apps, the teased  iPad app, dropbox integration, etc you’re out of luck. What it is today is what it will always be. Enjoy

Do I hate the sparrow team? no I envy them, I’m happy for their success. If someone came to me and offered me a bag or two of money, I’d take it, we’re all lying if we say we wouldn’t. Am I bummed I didn’t get more mileage out of my spend? Yes, very much so. I agree and disagree with Matt that for $10 bucks or whatever Sparrow cost, you have no right to be mad. Money is money, i’d have paid $30 for sparrow. They set the price, so really what I paid is what they wanted. It’s a slippery slope argument about some mysterious point at which the amount you spent on a product entitles you to an opinion.

Whether it’s $10 or $50 every spend means something, every spend has an opportunity cost, I could have supported another indie developer with that money.


I liked Rian’s post because really that’s why I buy most of my software. Two things come into play. Is it good or can I use it? and does it support an indie developer. If both answers are yes, I buy it, shoot, even if the first answer is no, I buy it. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on apps I’ll never use because the purchase supported an indie developer. So in that respect it feels on a not-conscious level like a betrayal of my support. I supported you with my money, because you’r indie and rocking it and not only do you get acquired, but you let the acquirer kill the product that everyone loved and supported you by purchasing. It’s kind of a chicken an egg thing. Sparrow wouldn’t have been acquired if the app sucked and didn’t do well. If the app sucked and didn’t do well none of us would have bought it. The didn’t suck, and did do well, and made sparrow an attractive acquisition.


So yeah. Good for Sparrow, they made a great app and someone rewarded that by acquiring them. Bummer for those of us that voted with our wallets and supported Sparrow because it was awesome and had tons of potential, and now we’re left with no future updates, and a few unfulfilled promises.

Oh yeah and the reason i moved to mail.app…. I know the odds of it becoming abandon-ware are next to nil, and it’s always going to get some improvements, even if only incremental.

Screw OEMs

So yeah Microsoft is finally jumping into the tablet market. I mean technically they tried with the courier but they killed it before it ever went to production… Good move? who knows. Anyhow, they’re back in again and doing it right.

Oh yeah, Google is too, and they’re doing it right as well.

Right? Yeah they’ve finally taken a look at what’s working for Apple and followed suit. Sure there’s a lot that works for Apple, but a big one is controlling the hardware.

MS has long let others build the hardware their software would run on. This post on Pando Daily does a great job explaining why that’s a terrible idea. It’s funny, a friend had to return his netbook because the trackpad never worked right with windows. Go figure.

Google has done the same thing, even letting OEMs tweak and hack and (IMO) ruin their OS, while making hardware. During the Google/IO keynote this year I had to LOL when the presenter made a jab at OEMs during the Nexus 7 announcement. “This is the Android Google intended” (I’m probably paraphrasing).

I’m glad both companies (more MS than Google since Asus is building their tablet for them) have realized that while OEMs help get your product out to a wide audience, they’re not your allies. They’re at best the enemy you tolerate to attack the larger enemy (Apple?). They use cheap plastic crap to make laptops and devices with custom drivers that bog the OS down.

Both companies now have a chance to let their OS shine, which is the important thing. Had MS decided to throw their Tablet OS on every cheap Chinese device there was, it’d tank. Sure some would sell, Android isn’t doing terrible with this model, but they’d never have a solid, stable user base. They’d have what Google does. Angry users with thousands of devices, waiting for custom builds of apps specific to each device.  (just ask Imangi Studios how launching Temple Run for Android went.) Google may feel that fragmentation isn’t an issue, but that’s likely because they’re not using Android.