Tag Archives: iPad

I’m Slowly Adding HomeKit Automation to our Whole House

With HomeKit finally being pretty robust, and widely supported I’ve slowly started adding automation to the house. It started with replacing our Nest with an Ecobee, which has been awesome! Then recently I added a iDevices Outdoor Switch to the rooftop. We’ve got some nice patio lighting up there, that I hate plugging and unplugging. I used to just leave it on all the time, which is kinda wasteful during the day, but easier then going over to the plug and fiddling with the cover to turn it all on, etc. (yes, laziness rules the day)

img_0093With the Outdoor Switch not only can I just tell Siri to turn on or off the ‘rooftop lighting’, but also now the lights are on a schedule; sundown, on, 10pm off. Definitely makes it easy and more energy efficient.

The setup wasn’t super smooth, there’s an app from iDevices you use to get everything connected, and that’s a bit finicky, and you have to make sure the device is in wifi range, the phone is on the wifi you want to connect (2.4gHz only of course) etc. but once set up, it’s pretty straight forward, and then you can just use the Home app in iOS 10.

I changed my wifi password and that caused some havoc. About an hour later and many many cryptic errors, i was able to reconnect the switch. I basically (YMMV) had to completely remove it from my “home” and erase it’s existence, then fuss with the iDevices app a few times to get it back to connected, then all was good. I’m not sure there’s a better way than that either, which is a bummer.

If you’re looking to upgrade your outdoor lighting controls, etc, especially with holiday light season coming, I can’t recommend the iDevices switch any more highly! Set up hurdles aside once it’s set up, it’s great and reliable.

HomeKit with an Ecobee3 Thermostat

I’ve had a Nest for several years, it was great. It’s still great, but my confidence in Nest as a company is waning, as is my interest in non HomeKit… Kit. As much as I dislike Silo’s I’m very much in the Apple one, so things that can’t talk to my gear just aren’t useful.

I knew I’d eventually have to replace it, HomeKit requires a special chip so there’s no path forward for older tech. I hadn’t put much effort into finding a replacement yet, since HomeKit has been so poorly executed.

EcoBee3 menuNo longer. Well, soon to be ‘no longer’ iOS 10, which goes live in the fall, has vastly improved HomeKit. So… Time to start looking.
I’d had my eye on the ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat for a while, it’s very nice to look at, the earlier model had great reviews, and since our thermostat is located in a part of the house we don’t frequent, the additional sensor unit was a great add. My biggest complaint about our Nest was that it was in a place that had very different temperature swings than the floor above it, where the home office is. The AC/Heat would cut out long before we in the office were comfortable.

The additional sensor (You can add several to one unit) allows the EcoBee to know that even if the downstairs is “just right” the office needs a few more minutes. It’s wonderful.

Siri and HomeKit

Siri and HomeKit integrationThe real killer feature isn’t the clean lines and nice UX of the device. It certainly isn’t the app, which while better than Nest’s has many failings. It’s HomeKit and Siri.

When I go to bed,  I can tell my phone, or my watch, “Good night” and HomeKit takes care of the rest, and I get a cute reply from Siri, as you do.

Apps

The ecobee3 app is actually pretty nice, especially the iPad version. The one thing I miss from the Nest app (which only went live in the last six months) was multi user. Why anyone making smart home devices defaults to a single user model is beyond me. While I’m sure plenty of single folks are buying smart home kit, I have to assume that number pales in comparison to families and couples, so why make things harder for them?

So for now, my wife is logged into the app on her phone in my account. I’m not sure how that will work long run, since the Ecobee has geofencing, and HomeKit, etc. which are all hung off my Ecobee iPhone AppiTunes account. We’ll see. I’d love to be able to tell my Phone “I’m leaving” but if my wife is home it’ll know that and not turn the AC off on her, etc.

Overall the apps are clean and pretty easy to use, you can quickly see the temp, and adjust it.

The iPad app makes for a nice kind of control center for managing the thermostat, as well as the HomeKit setup.EcoBee3 iPad app

In iOS 10 the HomeKit app (which never existed prior) is still a bit rudimentary, but it’s also the first Developer Preview, so there’s a lot of time and room to improve before it’s live in the wild.

Overall I’m really happy with our ecobee3, it’s been a great addition to the house, it looks nicer (to me) than the Nest, and it’s much easier to check on the house from afar, by simply asking Siri.

Managing HomeKit scenes from the Ecobee app

Managing HomeKit scenes from the Ecobee app

Managing additional Sensors is easy in the EcoBee3 app

Managing additional Sensors is easy in the EcoBee3 app

Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase

I love Tom Bihn, this is my 3rd overall bag from them. This one is more utility than the others.

I have a Ristretto for walking around when i don’t need a laptop with me. It’s awesome. It’s not very portable as a secondary bag though, it’s bulky and takes up space in luggage. It certainly doesn’t fit well in my backpack.

I’ve been looking for something that would fit in my backpack, for when I’m traveling or just at the office, but want to go out and about but don’t want to lug my whole backpack around. The Ristretto could work, for my iPad, but not my laptop. Plus, like i said, it’s bulky doesn’t really fit in my laptop bag.IMG_1336

Enter the daylight. It’s the right size for a macbook air, an iPad, a few other things like chargers or a notebook. It holds my 3DS, and a few other bits, and is easy to carry around.

The best part is that it folds up nice and small. I can roll it up and shove it in my backpack and it can live there all the time until i need to IMG_1335run to a meeting, and only need my laptop or iPad and notebook.

It folds and rolls up and leaves plenty of room in my bag still.

I got the idea for the daylight from a blog I read.

I’ve taken a few trips where the Ristretto was just too big to bring and had to lug my entire laptop bag around, or do with out any gear. The worst of both options for sure.

I’m really excited for future travel and even office days.

360|iDev 2015, What an amazing thing we did.

So i just finished my big event of the year, 360|iDev and wow. What a rush (as always).

TL;DR; So honored to share a room with so many awesome people being awesome. Making amazing things, being parts of amazing teams, etc. I honestly feel this event not only has a positive impact on my life each year, but also does on others, which is humbling to say the least.

There’s an amazing photo pool here.

Now the long form.

I start planning 360|iDev the moment the preceding event ends, so yes, I’ve already begun work on next years event.  A 4 day conference with 55 speakers, 400 attendees and a handful of sponsors isn’t something that comes together in a few weeks.

There were a few good, and one bad thing this year. One of the things I like about doing 360|iDev is that we bring about 400 people into Denver, more than 85% of whom aren’t local to CO. Many who aren’t local to the United States. Sure when compared to city wide events, that’s nothing, but to me it’s a big damn deal.

360|iDev is my bread-n-butter. It keeps enough money coming in, my wife hasn’t forced me to get a job… yet, LOL. I get to see people from around the world that i may only see once (maybe twice if I’m lucky) a year. I get to show off my home town (by claim, if not birth), and show everyone why Denver is so awesome, why it’s where I’m where I am.

There was a lot of great stuff this week, much of it conference specific, so I’ll talk about it on the conference blog, but some of it more personal and Denver specific.

Lunch (good)

Last year we ate lunch outside the hotel because yeah $50/person for conference lunch is stupid and well hotels are often stupid. One place however can’t handle 400 ppl, no matter what they think or say. Lunch last year wasn’t awesome. Long lines, long waits, etc. As experiments go, it failed.

This year I had 3 (4 on Tuesday because of Civic Center eats) options for attendees. Lunch tickets were available for each place, people picked what they wanted to eat. It was awesome to see groups form on the fly each day to explore someplace new. We spread the lunch tickets, so no single vendor had more than 150 people a day. So far (bills are still coming in) it looks like i spent half as much this year as last, and had 3x more options for people. That’s awesome!

The only thing that went a bit sideways was my failure to account for vendors not being open on weekends. Out of 3 only 1 was open on Sundays. Oops.

Local Community (good)

One of the things being downtown has afforded was the opportunity to spread some money around vs. bottling it up in a hotel chain. This year we spread about $18,000 to local restaurants in the downtown area. I think that’s pretty awesome, i know i’m not a rain maker, but i think any time I can give money to local businesses, that’s a great thing. Not only am i not paying for over priced hotel food, but I’m boosting (in a small way, sure) the local economy.

While small, i think every dollar helps. I think as a conference organizer, it’s my job to not just dump money into the pockets of a massive hotel chain. It’s my job to better the city that is hosting my event. Whether that’s financially or even just from exposure like not keeping everyone indoors all day and night.

Police (Bad)

During lunch on Tuesday, the attendees ate lunch at Civic Center Eats. A few attendees were enjoying their meal on the grass when some Denver PD officers came over. Sadly instead of assuming these folks weren’t criminals, vagrants or some type of malcontents, they treated a group of international visitors to Denver like criminals, demanding they all present ID while telling them they were sitting in the wrong grass. Not cool Denver PD, not cool. I get we’re trying to revitalize the grass in the park, but maybe wrap that section in tape, vs. the handful of tiny ass signs. Also maybe, just maybe assume people (wearing conference badges, even!) aren’t trying to kill the grass or break the rules and start with “Hey guys, can you move elsewhere, this grass is off limits for now.” vs. oh i dunno, accosting people eating their lunch, making them all present ID before letting them go.

back-side-black-textAs someone who brings people from around the world to Denver, i’m not super thrilled that happened. Small incident, yes? bad experience for people in Denver the first time ever, yup. In the end we all joked about it, but is that really what Denver wants people to remember about it?

I have much respect for law enforcement, I know their jobs are hard, but that’s not an excuse. Be better please Denver PD.

If you’re one of this years’ attendees, thank you, really, truly, thank you. Being able to do this event, and make even a small living is huge! I can’t thank every single speaker, sponsor and attendee enough for being a part of something so truly amazing. Conferences are hard, harder still when balancing making a living, with making an awesome experience. I already can’t wait until next year.

Why I backed the Pebble Time

Say what you will regarding Apple potentially/likely/already dominating or otherwise killing all competition in smartwatches, Pebble found 50,830 people (at the time I’m writing this) to contribute over 11 mil to the next Pebble. And no matter how you slice it they can’t all be “Apple Haters” or even “just android people”

In fact most Pebble owners I’ve met have been iPhone owners, many i know backed Pebble Time as well.

I think the success (I suppose 11mil, and 50 thousand plus backers is as good as any metric) of the Pebble Time is definitely in part due to Apple. All the rumors, sneaks, and baseless guesses, and all around hype around the Apple Watch have brought smart watches much more into the public eye, that’s good for everyone in the space.

Will Apple sell buttloads of watches, of course they will. Developers will all want one or two, because they’ll need devices to test on, whether they wear it or not who cares. Those who buy everything Apple makes will also buy one or two. Lots of others will flock to buy this amazing new watch (or gadget, depending on perspective)

I’d guess many of the 50,830 Pebble Time backers will also buy an Apple Watch. I won’t be (immediately) among them, but many will I’ve no doubt.

First why I bought a new Pebble. I’ve got a Pebble now, in fact I backed it the first time. I love it. I love watches, unlike so many sudden new watch wearers, I’ve worn a watch since i could tell time. I own a dozen watches, my most expensive easily cost more than the mid level Apple Watch. I don’t buy or wear shit watches. The Pebble isn’t the most pretty of things, but it’s a good watch. Tells time, date, weather (depending on face) and when I’m in more social settings and grabbing my phone isn’t acceptable, it tells me there’s something I should see (after lots of tweaking with notifications to get it right), or who’s calling without grabbing my phone.

The Pebble does most of the things I want, and it looks like will be adding the last thing I need. More interactive notifications. This assumes Apple exposes that API in WatchKit, I haven’t looked. Being able to send a few canned replies to things is a great feature. If I was a voice memo person, the mic would be cool, maybe it’ll be cool for Siri things, I dunno. Color E-Paper is awesome, color with 7 day battery life, very awesome. One of the things I love about my Pebble is not worrying about nightly charging. When I first saw “color” I thought, ok one color at a time or something else, but the fact that it’s many, is impressive. From the pics and video it’s not as vibrant as the AppleWatch, but that’s fine with me.

Pebble has also done an admirable job of future proofing. The first gen Pebble will get many of the features shown in the Pebble Time kickstarter video. Not all, but many. The current model has things that at launch weren’t active, but are now, like an accelerometer. They team behind Pebble has made sure that the watch i bought in 2012, not only is functional in 2015, but is still getting features. That’s kind of important in watches. Watches aren’t a buy-n-replace annually thing. My Hamilton is over 10 years old, and runs great, looks awesome. It needs a new battery every few years. My Citizen eco drive, is almost 15, runs like the day i got it. I’m not certain (at least for gen 1 and 2) that AppleWatch will have that ‘feature’.

Detractors often complain about the Pebble’s non classy looks, i can’t argue that. I have much MUCH nicer watches in my collection, and was tempted by the Pebble Steel just for a nicer appearance, but wasn’t ready to commit the funds for the same Pebble as I own, but wrapped in metal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eventually want an Apple Watch. Despite my overall love of things Apple, I’m not often pulled in early, and frankly the first gen gear is usually sub par.

First iPhone, not amazing and quickly surpassed by the 3. I didn’t buy a used first gen until we moved from iPhone OS, to iOS.

First iPad, not amazing, and quickly surpassed by the 2. Not terrible at all, but meh. I got mine on the first day, waited anxiously, and was done playing with it in 30 minutes. Things got better FAST, and I love my iPad Air 2. But in hindsight, should have waited for iPad 2.

Is there any reason to think the watch won’t be the same? That the first model will not be very powerful (we already have rumors the battery will be lucky to last a day), or very water resistant. Do I want to buy a new device for another $300-$400 in a year? Do I want a device that in 2-3 years (if that) won’t get new features? By the second or third year of the Apple Watch, it’ll be something to truly want.

Also, (of course this is speculation) the Apple Watch won’t have a ton of things I care enough about to warrant it over a Pebble. Sending morse code messages to people… cute. Useless unless my friends or wife have an Apple Watch.

health sensors, neat. I’m sure I won’t hate that info, but at the same time i don’t care that much. I care about steps, active minutes each day, all data I get from lots of sources.

Don’t get me wrong either, I’ll want to see and touch my friends first Gen AppleWatches. I’ll want to play with them and see how great they are, but I’ll be happy with my Pebble (and then Pebble Time) for a few more years I think.

I’d say my Pebbles will be welcome additions to my watch box, but in 7 days they’ll be powered down husks…

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

One more Stylus review

So I’ve done a few of these. Right now (and this one may be the one) I’m in love with the Dotpen stylus. It’s really nice!

IMG_0622The thing that drew me to it initially was the tip. I can’t stand those big nubbin stylii that have a nub that obscures what I’m doing. My other stylus has a fine point as well, and the Dotpen has a finer point!

On top of the fine point, I liked that the point was protected by a cap, like a pen, and that there was a shirt clip. Not that I’ll be clipping it to a pocket, but in my bag it’s easier if the stylus is clipped in. The cap is a nice feature as I tend to obsess about the fragility of the point. IMG_0624

 

 

The other plus (yes there’s more plusses than minus’) AAA batteries!!! The thing I hated the most about my True Glide, it takes AAAA batteries. I didn’t even know those existed, and they’re rare enough that they cost a fortune. Well a relative fortune for batteries. I can get a few eLoop AAA’s and be all set.

There’s only two draw backs to this great stylus.

The power button is right where you grip the stylus. I’ve accidentally turned it off a few times. It’s not a major issue as it just clicks on and off (this isn’t a BT enabled stylus, those are nice, but I’ll take universally useful over app by app useful).

The second draw back is a bit more severe. It’s noisy. My True Glide Apex has a soft rubber nib, and the Dot Pen uses a hard plastic. For casual use it’s not really that big a deal, but for taking notes, it’d be a deal breaker. I’ve more or less come to terms with not taking hand written notes on my iPad so that helps, LOL. However the little bit of art doodling I’ve done, it’s pretty clickie. Not terrible, but you’ll notice the sound and hear it.

Noisy nub aside, this is a very nice stylus, and works great on the iPad Air 2. If you’re in the market for a nice fine point stylus that isn’t a “smart” stylus, I definitely recommend the Dotpen