Singing with Confidence

When I listened to this weeks Accidental Tech Podcast there was a discussion on why Tim Cook hardly mentioned the Apple Watch Edition and why he wasn’t as passionate and enthusiastic about it compared to the lower priced collections and almost brushed it aside. I personally think that the Edition Watch is in many ways as important as any of the other collections. A watch as Apple has often described is very personal as it is something that is on show and very visible. To some the Apple Watch is as much about fashion as function hence why Apple is targeting it to both the fashion and tech media while also having so many customisable options.

In my late 20’s I had a very quiet speaking voice and a friend suggested to me to have singing lessons to help improve my confidence both with speaking and singing. I always remember one bit of advice my singing teacher gave me was to go all out for those scary high notes. He said 99% of the time I would hit them and it will sound far better than taking the safer way out and sing quietly hitting all the notes but without the passion and excitement. I was afraid to do this for fear of not hitting that high ‘C’ but when hearing both versions of myself on tape my teacher was absolutely right that being confident with those notes made such a difference to my performance.

So my personal opinion is that despite the risk of getting some negative press from some quarters (which happened anyway) maybe that ‘awkward’ part of the Apple Event would have worked better if Tim Cook sang more confidently about it.

Let me PAY for Podcasts

Over the past 3 years I have (almost) become a tech podcast addict. They are a huge escape from my problems and often make me smile. (No easy feat for someone suffering with depression).

So before I go on please let me say a huge Thank You to the following ones:

IMG_3068IMG_3069IMG_3070

The amount of work, time and effort that must go into making each one so entertaining, informative and unmissable must be monumental.

I have a problem though… I am beginning to hate the adverts. They interrupt the flow and I dread hearing the words “Lets take a moment to thank our friends over at”. I can pretty much guess who those friends are because I listen to so many of them and in the tech podcast world it seems to be the same sponsors alternating between all my favourite awesome podcasts. Over the past months I feel guilty as I now have resorted to fast forwarding through them and feel like someone pirating music (which I have never done).

In a way there is some similarity with the App Store. There is a belief that for an App to succeed it has to be free which is such a shame. The big difference is to support/monetise an app there are usually options to remove the ads or in app purchases for extra features like Overcast does so brilliantly. I wish there was a way to pay to subscribe to podcasts. I gladly pay to watch Netflix. Can you imagine House of Cards with adverts? I have no idea whether it is possible to implement a sort of paywall or in app purchase to listen to a podcast free of ads

Am I really the only one that would not only pay but wants to pay to subscribe to listen to a 2 hour podcast to remove the adverts and to support the great podcasters I listen to?

I will know doubt get much anger and hate from expressing these controversial views. I think I am ready to take the flak in the hope that one of these podcasts/networks tries something different and takes a risk in trying a different approach to make podcasts even better both for the listener and hopefully in turn financially better for themselves.

Convenience

How often do you have your phone next to you with your laptop on the table 3 feet away and you receive a notification be it an email, Twitter notification, Facebook message etc? I would imagine quite often for many people.

What device do you reach out to to reply to that notification? I would wager that a large percentage of people respond to that notification on their phone even though they might be have a better experience using their laptop with a bigger screen and full size keyboard.

This was my take of what Ben Thompson articulated so well during this weeks episode of Exponent.

I have been using a Pebble Smartwatch for almost 2 years now and for the most part really like it. Why? For exactly the same reason that I reach for my iPhone before going to my Mac. Convenience.

When I first started using the Pebble I used to walk for several hours a day. I would have my headphones on listening to music or podcasts with my iPhone in my jeans or zipped up in my jacket pocket. If a message came in or my iPhone rang I could make a quick decision as to whether to unzip my pocket if that notification seemed important. If it didn’t I just carried on with my walk and dealt with that notification when I got home.

Last year when I was in hospital for several months I relied on 3 devices that helped me through the days and nights. My iPad to watch Netflix, my iPhone for speaking/interacting with my family and friends as well as keeping up with what was happening in the world and surprisingly my Pebble. I’m surprised how important the Pebble was to me when I could hardly move and at times breathe while bedridden and almost immobile. The reason the Pebble was so useful to me was that my iPhone was often out of reach or at least difficult to reach without causing a lot of pain. Because for the most part my Pebble was always on my wrist I knew who was trying to contact me and if that notification looked important I could either try and summon the strength to reach out for my iPhone or ask a nurse to pass it to me when they came in.

I am now out of hospital and walking again and the Pebble still is a device I choose to wear. Yes I am a tech nerd, I have no fashion sense and in all honesty don’t care what people think of my appearance. For me function is for the most part more important than form. The Apple Watch is something I will be pre-ordering on April 10th not for style though I think all the models look gorgeous but because it offers more functionality and interaction than my trusted Pebble Watch with my iPhone. I appreciate that there are many reasons and limitations on Pebble to tap into the Apple ecosystem and think that there is still a future for it and the whole Pebble platform particularly with Android.

I’ll be sad to banish my Pebble in my drawer of old wires and adapters as it really has been a useful device for me. I will miss the long battery life but one annoyance I have about the Pebble is never knowing with any accuracy when it’s going to need charging. With the Apple Watch I will get in to a habit of always charging it every night like I do with my iPhone and assuming that it does last for a day there shouldn’t be too many times when my dependable Apple wearable won’t be at my convenience just like my iPhone.

Update

Just for clarification this isn’t an Apple Watch vs Pebble Watch post. I am aware that the Pebble has some watch faces that have a battery metre and also do provide notifications when I am running low on battery. I still find that I get in a position for various reasons when it runs out of juice and would rather have a device like my iPhone where I out of habit charge it every night so I am rarely caught short the next day.

I have very small wrists and had to add an extra hole in the leather strap. Trying to get the watch back on after charging is a nuisance and this is a big factor as to why I put off charging the Pebble until I have to. Admittedly maybe I am an edge case but a watch as is often stated is personal and this is my personal opinion. The Pebble has served me well. Who knows if the Apple Watch will be in every way a better fit for me but I want to give it a try. If it isn’t the Pebble will be back on my wrist.

This is the battery indicator.

IMG_3065

Does this mean I have 3 days? I don’t know and I am guessing it also depends on how many notifications I get. I am not saying it’s any worse than any smartphone battery indicator. The difference is that I almost ignore it on my iPhone as I know to charge it every night.

Never judge a book by its cover…

Without sounding like Jack Bauer the last year has been the longest and hardest of my life. I will spare you most of the details but I have battled with both Empyema and long standing depression and Anorexia. I have found it so hard to communicate with my friends and have isolated myself off from most people. That has been my default for the past 25 years and while I know it isn’t helpful it is a hard habit to change and I feel guilty and ashamed that I haven’t been there or responsive to those people reaching out to me. I am truly sorry for that.

I have been interested in technology and in particular Apple for over a decade now and when I am able to I try and keep up to date with the latest rumours, news and product reviews. At times it is the only thing that can distract me from my suicidal thoughts which I am preoccupied with so much of the day and night. I listen to tech podcasts and find that more therapeutic than listening to music. (Radiohead are my go to band but their songs aren’t the most uplifting even though I can relate so much to many of the lyrics).

A couple of years ago I started sending tweets to a certain Jim Dalrymple the well known Apple Blogger at The Loop. He responded to a few of my tweets and a year ago I asked him if he would consider publishing an article in his magazine about male anorexia which I have suffered with from when in my teens. Much to my surprise he in his usual way emailed me back with a yep! That article was published back in March and since then he has continued to link to this website and retweet some of my thoughts on mental health. He has been so supportive to me and probably doesn’t even know it. He may not be a ‘friend’ of mine or someone I will ever meet or speak to on the phone but sending a 140 character tweet to someone across the pond is easier than picking up the phone and speaking to someone that knows me. If you follow Jim on Twitter you may think he is a larger than life figure who is often angry and abrupt. Underneath that beard though is a really kind and decent human being. So thanks Jim and I hope I haven’t damaged your street cred!

How would you feel?

I was admitted to the Priory Hospital on Monday for help with my depression. I was both very anxious and terrified of being an inpatient as had previous bad experiences there before but because I was desperate and fortunate to have health insurance I felt it was worth a shot. I felt I had nothing to lose and was running out of options for help, support and needed a place of safety.

I cannot fault the accommodation or the admission staff who were very kind to me.

What is inexcusable is what followed after I had been shown to my bedroom. I was seen by a registrar to go over my long and complex medical history which in itself is daunting. He introduced himself and apologised in advance that he would be typing up my answers to his questions. So picture the scene…I am perched on a bed while he is at my desk typing away on his laptop asking me very personal questions with his back facing me.

Would you feel comfortable answering the following questions with someone’s back to you with no eye contact, no body language and therefore not able to show any degree of empathy or understanding?

How long have you suffered with depression?
Have you been physically or sexually abused?
Do you feel suicidal?

I didn’t and just answered his questions yes or no and discharged myself 3 hours later.

If I went to a restaurant and a waiter or waitress took my order with their back turned to me I would either think it was a practical joke or just plain rude and walk straight out.

I understand that Dr’s have to take notes but for crying out loud not with their back turned to you on a laptop!

A simple solution that is commonly used is to write notes down while sitting opposite and facing their patient thereby maintaining eye contact. If those notes have to be typed out then they are done after that meeting.

Technology can be great but please let’s not lose the human touch.

To Risk…

This poem was shared to me by someone who cared for me when I was in a very dark place over 20 years ago. It still carries a place in my heart and dreams today.

To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and
dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because
the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing, is nothing.

by William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

via Art of Manliness

Depression from the inside

Great insight by Annabel Giles on what it is like to suffer with depression.

“Poor Robin Williams. A long-term solution for a short-term problem. That’s what they say, isn’t it? ‘They’ being people who’ve probably never had to live with depression.

I’ll come straight out with it. I’ve struggled with depression all my adult life. And anxiety. And life. For people with a brain chemistry like mine, the whole bloody business of just being alive is dangerous and difficult. Continue reading

Depression

One of my favourite quotes about depression.

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

Stephen Fry

Taken for granted

Most of us take electricity, running water, the internet for granted. We come to expect that when we switch on a light switch boom the light comes on. We don’t get excited by this, as for most of the year it is the norm until god forbid there is a power cut . That seems to be the only time we appreciate just how much rely on our electricity and wait until normal service is restored. Then when everything is working again within hours we go back to taking it for granted once again.

As some of you know who have read my blog or article in the Loop Magazine I have suffered with Anorexia and depression for over 20 years. For many years I have had very little quality of life, cutting myself off from friends and family, not being able to hold down a job due to chronic laxative abuse. I am not looking for sympathy. I watch the news everyday and see so much suffering which both upsets me and makes me feel guilty for not appreciating what I do have in my life. One area in my life I have got pleasure from is walking, albeit power walking to burn up calories to appease the guilt of eating. Nevertheless walking gave me a purpose each day. So what has this got to do with taking things for granted? Continue reading