Remember the White iPod headphones? 

I’m writing this not to scaremonger or to try and jump onto any potential  __gate after a new Apple product is launched. I made the switch from my trusted Pebble to the White Apple Sports Watch and am thoroughly enjoying it. As an early adopter it reminds me of when I got my first iPod back in 2002. It’s not yet perfect but in my opinion it’s worth its weight in gold aluminium. I remember those halcyon days in my late twenties listening to Coldplay on my way back from work on the London Underground with those striking white headphones in my ears and my iPod hidden in my pocket. A year later that innocence came to bite me when I was mugged for my iPod. Admittedly I was an easy target being 158cm, of very slight build and carrying a £400 music player that was being ‘advertised’ by those white headphones.

shutterstock_173595590

Once I got over the shock of being mugged it was a hassle getting my insurance to pay out for a replacement but a few weeks later everything was sorted and after putting my music back on the new iPod I was very careful about where and when I used the iPod. If memory serves me right I used a cheap pair of black headphones to disguise the fact I owned an iPod like many others in the years ahead. Bringing this back to my Apple Watch I am beginning to feel scared of people seeing me while I’m out walking. The weather in London is warming up and there are days that it’s even t-shirt weather making my Apple Watch permanently visible. I want to check notifications as well as finding out whether I have hit my activity goal but I feel more of a target now I am wearing this expensive and desirable ‘fashion’ tech accessory. I never had this fear with the Pebble for 2 reasons. I didn’t perceive it as an attractive gadget worth stealing and crucially it didn’t contain any of my data.  Is it Apple’s fault that there are unscrupulous people in the world that may target me or anyone for any number of reasons? Of course not. Do Apple have a responsibility to make sure that in the event that my iPhone or Apple Watch gets lost or stolen that my personal data on it is safe? I would argue yes and with Activation Lock Apple pretty much made it pointless in stealing an iPhone which led to a huge reduction in iPhone thefts around the world. I now don’t feel as scared about taking out my iPhone out of my pocket when I am out walking but one of the main selling points of the Apple Watch is to get rid of the friction and annoyance of taking your iPhone out of your pocket to check a non-urgent notification. I read and pondered over John Gruber’s take on Daring Fireball that wearing an Apple Watch it is no different to wearing any other watch. My feeling it is different. If money were no object would I buy or more importantly wear a Rolex watch? I actually wouldn’t for the fear that I would be more vulnerable to being mugged again. I do agree with his reasoning that it is more difficult to figure out a way to implement Activation Lock on an Apple Watch and that Apple are probably working on a way to implement this security measure or something similar. Right now though this doesn’t give me the peace of mind when I am out walking with a product that has garnered so much attention from the media since its huge unveiling last September. I actually feel more vulnerable from being mugged now as when any in demand product is hard to get hold of by nature it is more desirable to thieves and that makes me feel like a walking target. So for the  moment I’m just going to wear long sleeves and be discreet when checking my taps.

Apple Watch and iCloud

So much has been written over the past few years that Apple’s Web Services were their weakest link most notably iCloud. I am fully invested in iCloud and the improvements particularly over the past year are worth highlighting. As an example I received my 38mm Apple Sports Watch last Friday and as I wrote after 10 hours with it I made the wrong choice for my size wrist by going with the smaller size model. An hour ago I received the 42mm version and followed Apple’s instructions on how to restore from a backup and as I am writing this everything is in sync. All my apps, glances, notifications, watch faces and most importantly for me all my activity data. The investments Apple is making in renewable data centres around the world is definitely paying off. If you ever need to get a new Apple Watch or a replacement here’s how to restore it.

1. Unpair your previous Apple Watch (this also provides an instant backup (stored locally on your iPhone)*

2. When you set up the new device it gives you the option to pick from one of the latest backups.

3. Select the backup you want to restore from and you’re good to go. This process took less than 30 minutes for me.

Here is the more detailed documentation from Apple.

* I wrongly assumed that the backup was stored in iCloud but John Gruber kindly corrected me that they are in fact stored on your iPhone.

Update

I have had some feedback as to how I was able to get hold of 2 Apple Watches so quickly and what the exchange/returns process is. Here is a brief summary: I originally ordered the 38mm Space Grey Sports Watch at 08.02 on April 10th UK time via the Apple App which arrived on the 24th much to my surprise with it seemingly being a popular model as well as the well documented supply constraints. I knew when I put it on my wrist that while it looked great and fitted me well that the touch screen was just a bit too fiddly for my liking and immediately placed an order for the 42mm White Sports version with a June dispatch date. I deliberately chose this option due to my feeling that the Space Grey could take longer to get to me and the Blue model could also be in short supply with it being offered to some developers. I then spoke to someone I have dealt with for a couple of years at Apple’s Customer Relations Department in Cork to discuss my options and a possible return process. (I have received a lot of assistance from him over the years for certain orders but am not a business customer or even a particularly high spending Apple customer). He advised me that it may be possible to process an exchange when I received the 42mm but couldn’t promise. I was willing to take a risk and if need be sell my original watch on eBay etc. Over the past week I had actually got used to the smaller 38mm model and was surprised last night to get an email from Apple that my order for the 42mm Watch had shipped and was being delivered to me today. I do feel guilty for all those people that are still waiting for their orders to be shipped and are constantly checking the Apple Order Page to see if their order has moved from Processing to Preparing for Shipment etc. I guess I was just lucky and as kind as the Apple Representative has been to me I don’t feel like I got any special treatment or that he was in a position to move my order along and push it ahead of other orders. That wouldn’t be fair to the thousands of other people who are patiently waiting and it is not how Apple operates. In summary I will be speaking to him tomorrow to arrange a return for my 38mm Watch and hope that it is in good enough condition for me to get my money back for it. I will update this post again in the next few days to let you know how the return process went.

Haptic Feedback Tip

I realised at the weekend that I was missing some haptic (tap) notifications from my apps on my Apple Sports Watch.
I figured out that in order to have these notifications alert you either by sound or tap you need to have the sound setting switched on in the notification settings on the iPhone Settings Menu as shown below.

IMG_3144

Once this was enabled I got all the taps coming through that I wanted to my Apple Watch assuming there is a sound setting available in the iPhone App Setting Menu which not all Apps provide.

Why do men get Anorexia?

Why do men get anorexia?  The simplest answer I can think of is: why not?

The following is both a personal account of what it is like to be a male sufferer, and my thoughts on why it’s so difficult for the growing number of males developing what was once thought of as a female-only illness, to get the help they need.

This isn’t an easy article to write. Partly because it contains some very personal information about my life with anorexia, and also because right now I ‘should’ be pounding the streets trying to burn up calories, instead of sitting down at my Mac Book, writing this. I am determined to fight the proverbial monkey on my shoulder, even as it screams at me that I am lazy and greedy for having that piece of toast and apple. For once I am not giving in, as I need to write this.

The definition of anorexia is ‘lack or loss of appetite for food’(1). However, in the 25 years of suffering with it and mixing with many other sufferers, this definition doesn’t even begin to come close to explaining what anorexia is, why it happens, and what it is like to spend day after day battling it. I tried in vain to figure out what caused it, in the hope that if I knew, then maybe I could beat it. Alas, with a mental health illness – it isn’t that simple. Continue reading

10 Hour Verdict

Some of you may have read my earlier post about why I wanted to give the Apple Watch a try to replace my beloved Pebble.

Well here is a no frills, no video verdict after 10 hours of it in my possession.

Initial thoughts and reasons after unboxing the 38mm Space Grey Sports model were not good..Pebble coming back to my wrist.

  • Couldn’t get the sports strap on my wrist.
  • Screen tiny.
  • Decided not do the initial sync to play around with it first and couldn’t find a way to redo the sync without erasing all content etc or doing a manual sync of all the apps.
  • UI just too fiddly and more akin to android with all the settings to configure.
  • Despite all the reviews I have read and how to’s it just didn’t feel natural to use and felt complicated unlike any other Apple device.

So all in all I was not impressed and to be honest I really felt disappointed as I had been looking forward to it since the big announcement last September and in March.It is the first time I can remember not feeling wowed like I always am with a new Apple product.

Weird thing is that after 10 hours of getting my head round it I am getting used to it and really enjoying it. It is already becoming easier to use than earlier today. Yes if I am honest despite my tiny wrists I think I made the wrong size choice but I am coming round to it being smaller than I thought it would and it does look so sleek on my wrists and the display is stunning.

  • The haptic feedback is incredible…as has been mentioned so often it doesn’t feel like a vibration because it isn’t. It’s a nice gentle tap that feels intimate if that makes sense.
  • Siri works so well. I can’t remember using Siri this year my iPhone but boy has it got good.That Gruber guy was right!
  • Now I have tailored the glances and kept them to just a few it is so useful.
  • Loving the gorgeous custom watch faces. So much choice and customisation. I hope there aren’t crap watch faces infiltrating the app store anytime soon.
  • Digital Crown is just silky smooth and a joy to use.
  • The side button is so useful for sending messages, heartbeats and more to my close friends and bank :-)

I could write more but right now I want to carry on using it, discovering new things and actually getting off my backside to test the activity and workout modes.

So in summary my pebble won’t be back on my wrist anytime soon and I now have the weekend to make up for the lost steps and calories burned from todays shocking stats.

A little bit of perseverance goes a long way.

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!