AppleWatch first impressions

I received my AppleWatch (the “developer special”, 42mm blue sport band) Friday, and so far I’m happy with it overall.

For the last year, I’ve been wearing a Pebble Smartwatch and I’ve gotten used to receiving notifications on my watch. I got into the habit of keeping my phone in my pocket most of the time and just looking at my wrist when I get a notification.

The Pebble & AppleWatch notifications are very different. With the Pebble, the phone still makes a sound & vibrates, and then a few seconds later I’d feel a vibration on my wrist and it would appear on the Pebble. The Pebble often disconnected or would stop receiving notifications every few days. The AppleWatch notifications are more subtle and a lot less annoying – instead of vibrating, it makes a soft ‘ping’ and taps me on the wrist. While the Pebble always presents all enabled phone notifications, the AppleWatch only presents notifications when the phone is locked. The AppleWatch also gives you a lot more control over which notifications are presented.

I find that “activate on wrist raise” isn’t always reliable. I’ll often activate it unintentionally, and many times it won’t activate when I want it to. Hopefully future software updates will let you adjust the sensitivity.

I’m very happy with the AppleWatch’s battery life. After a day of normal use, the battery is usually at 50% or more, and I charge it every night before I go to sleep. The Pebble claims 5-7 days between charges, but I found about 4 days is more realistic.

Applications on the Pebble are an afterthought and are inconvenient to access, requiring navigating through the menu. Apps are a central feature on the AppleWatch and are a lot easier to access, by pressing the digital crown, although the app screen is cluttered and can be difficult to navigate. Hopefully the UI will improve in later software updates.

Glances on the AppleWatch make applications easier to access and launch, although having many glances enabled means swiping through a long list of items to get to the one you want. My favorite use of a glance is the Transit app, which can instantly show me the next departure time of the two nearest MUNI lines.

I was hoping the AppleWatch would replace my FitBit One, which I lost on several occasions and I often forget to put in my pocket. This is one area where the AppleWatch doesn’t quite measure up. I still use the FitBit for sleep tracking, and the AppleWatch doesn’t let you enter meals and doesn’t measure flights of stairs, like the FitBit does. I also find that the AppleWatch and FitBit report different numbers of steps and distance traveled.


Still alive

It’s been over a year since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then. I can’t promise that I’ll start blogging more regularly, but I’ll try to post more than once a year.

Since my last post:

* I left Klip last June because I was getting tired of the commute, which was over 3 hours a day. Working with Alain Rossmann and the rest of the team there was one of the best experiences of my life. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get a big enough audience to monetize, so they shut down at the beginning of this year.

* For a few months I worked at a startup that was building a new social network, but I soon realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Although they’re great people, it wasn’t a service I actually wanted to use and I started to hate seeing the same tired memes and corny quotes posted repeatedly by our users. I also found the commute to a really bad part of SOMA even more unpleasant that commuting to Palo Alto.

* Since December I’ve been working at Line2. I’m really excited about working on an Apple Watch app, which we recently released.

* Cody died suddenly of an unknown infection in early March. He’s been immortalized in Cole Garage’s pet mural.

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Happy 30th Birthday, Macintosh!

Thirty years ago today, on January 24, 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh. I bought my first Macintosh about a week after it was introduced, and since then I’ve owned many other Macs. Here’s a more or less complete list of the Macs I’ve owned:

  • Mac 128
  • Mac 512
  • Mac SE/30
  • Mac IIsi
  • PowerMac 6100
  • PowerBook 100
  • Duo 270c
  • StarMax clone
  • Blue & White G3
  • Original iBook
  • White iBook
  • 12” Aluminum PowerBook
  • “Yikes” G4 tower
  • DTK (first Intel Mac for developers)
  • Several 15″ MacBook pros
  • 13” MacBook
  • 27” iMac
  • Mac Mini
  • 2012 MacBook Air
  • 13” Retina MacBook Pro
Although I was programming before the Mac, I’m not sure what I would be doing now or where I would be if the Mac didn’t exist.

A whole new city

As long as I’ve lived in San Francisco and for all the years I’ve been visiting here, I’ve spent most of my time downtown and around the eastern part of the city. My last apartment was in SOMA, which was very convenient when I worked in that area. I could easily walk to most places downtown and I especially enjoyed walking to Chinatown.

Although it was very conveniently located, SOMA is not a very nice place to live. The traffic is pretty bad, especially when there’s a game at AT&T Park and the streets aren’t very pedestrian friendly. The rents are among the highest in the city, and it’s one of the filthiest neighborhoods.

I recently moved to Cole Valley, a neighborhood near Golden Gate Park & Haight-Ashbury. Until a few months ago, I was unfamiliar with the western neighborhoods, but as soon as I saw this place I fell in love with it. Instead of heavy traffic, garbage, and characterless high-rises, there are tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian homes. This is the San Francisco I love, and it feels like a completely different city.

I can no longer walk to Chinatown, but I can walk to Golden Gate Park & Haight-Ashbury, and it’s only a 15 minute train ride from Downtown.

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Karma Wi-fi

I commute several days a week via Caltrain to Palo Alto, so I like to work during my commute. Unfortunately Caltrain doesn’t have Wi-fi and I easily go over my data limit when tethering my iPhone, so I found a much better solution: Karma Wi-fi

Karma provides a portable 4G hotspot like many others, but what sets them apart is their business model: Every time someone connects to your hotspot, you earn free data. Their basic contract-free plan gives you 1GB of data for $14, but every time someone connects you earn 100MB of data. Since I’ve had mine, I’ve earned 1.66GB of data.

The coverage is good in San Francisco & Palo Alto, but unfortunately there are a couple of dead spots along the way, most notably around Bayview & San Mateo. Outside of those spots, the 4G speed is excellent.


I’ve been a very active user of Google Reader for a long time, so I was very disappointed when they decided to shut it down. After trying several replacements, I settled on Feedly as my replacement. I prefer to read news on my Mac and Reeder was my favorite desktop newsreader. Unfortunately they’ve been neglecting their Mac app and haven’t updated it to support alternatives to Google Reader.

ReadKit looked like an attractive Mac newsreader, but until a few days ago, it didn’t support Feedly. Since they added support for Feedly with their latest update, it’s now my favorite newsreader. In addition to reading RSS feeds through Feedly, Fever, Feedbin, FeedWrangler, and NewsBlur, it also supports bookmarking & article saving services like Instapaper, Pocket, Pinboard, and Delicious, so I’m using it as a substitute for Pocket’s Mac app as well as my news reader.

Catching up

I missed the energy & excitement of working at a startup, so I left Fuzebox in May and I’m now working at Klip. It’s a small company but we have a great team led by a member of the original Mac team. 

Detective 1.1 is now available, 50% off through WWDC

Detective 1.1 is now available. This was a major rewrite to support Twitter’s 1.1 API and handle changes to Twitter’s authorization. Rather than asking you to log in to Twitter with a login window, it will now ask your permission to use your Mac’s Twitter accounts.

To celebrate the release, it’s now 50% off (0.99) through the end of WWDC on June 15.

For more information, visit the Detective page or download it here.

Detective update

Twitter recently changed some of their rules for app authorization using OAuth, so as a result, when a new user tries to start Detective, they will get an error when authorizing Twitter. However, if you’re already using Detective it will continue to work as long as you don’t log out of Twitter.

Detective uses MGTwitterEngine, which no longer seems to be actively maintained and which still uses Twitter’s deprecated 1.0 API. As a result, at some point it would stop working when Twitter shuts off that API. I’ve looked into a few options and I’ve determined that the best way to move forward is to use Mac OS X’s built-in social framework. Rather than asking you to log in to Twitter, it will now use your Mac’s twitter accounts. However this means we will no longer be able to support any Mac OS X version earlier than 10.8. I hope to have an update available soon.

A great loss

Today’s news that Aaron Swartz committed suicide hit me hard. I’ve known him from the days of Radio Userland when we exchanged many emails and chatted about scripts & features. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but he was someone I respected.

Aaron was only 14 when he contributed to the RSS standard, which is the basis of blogging. Aaron’s work with Demand Progress helped revolutionize online political activism and was one of the reasons Obama was elected.