Saturday, July 17, 2021

Macbook: The Next One May Not Be A Huge Leap But Expect Apple To Stay Ahead of Everyone Else

  Source:  AppleinsiderMacworld.

Do you compare yourself to others or just your previous self?  I'm not a fan of the former but I am fine with comparing myself harshly but fairly against myself a week ago, a month, ago, a year, ago, and even five years ago.  And sure, once in a while, I'll question what I am doing and how I am doing compared to others in similar positions.  I still favor self comparisons and evaluations.

So, when Apple's latest M1 chip currently powering its lower end MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and 2021 iPad Pro was released late 2020, there were benchmarks after benchmarks that compared Intel-based MacBooks and Windows laptops against the M1 Macs.  And Apple was the clear winner in many if not most of the tests. However, time for those comparisons are over and we should be focusing on the next chip from Apple and how they match up to the M1.  It'll be faster, running cooler, and maybe even smaller but how will it compare to the M1?  That's the comparison we like to see.

More at On Apple.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Go Ahead, Leave Your Phone At Home

I have an Apple Watch with cellular support that I have been using for about nine months for emergency purposes or when someone really needs to reach me when I am out without my iPhone.  I have been doing more and more of that lately and I find it very liberating.  It’s not easy coming from a tech enthusiasts like me but if I can do it, so can you.  Now, I’m not suggesting forgoing tech completely.  I’m just suggesting that perhaps we do not need to have it around us as much as we think we need it.

You know letting go is like.  Here is something that we might all understand.  Facebook.  It’s toxic and maybe of us have gotten rid of it.  In the beginning, it might have been difficult.  You vow never to use it but then a week later, you find yourself logging back in but you tell yourself just this once because you’re bored.  Then another week past and you’re back on it.  But hey, it has been a week.  And perhaps, you fell off the wagon a bit and got sucked by Facebook’s addictive algorithms.  You’re wondering if anyone of your hundreds of friends missed you or if your past update had received comments or emoji reactions.  Or if that one friend seems like they’re on a perpetual vacation.

Then you find yourself sick of it again and you start all over.  Eventually, you succeeded.  Two weeks goes by before you log back in. And then a month and finally you’re like me - no more Facebook and it’s liberating.  

Well, I’ve left my iPhone on and off in the past six months, sometimes on purpose and other times I just forget.  And I’m loving that I’m forgetting to bring it.  In the beginning, there was anxiety.  Some are warranted and some are not.  

  • Did anyone call me?  Work or family emergencies?  That still happens but it is what it is with life.  Things either happen or not and most are out of our control.  While I’m out, I’m going to enjoy myself or dedicate myself to whatever chore I’m out and about for.  
  • How are my online games doing?  Oh yeah, Clash of Clans, anyone?  I still play it because a few close friends and I are in the clan and it’s our social network - we chat about college sports, birds (a couple of us have bird/hummingbird feeders), fitness, and of course, WAAARRR!!!  I’ll be sure to bring my phone with me if there is an ongoing war but that’s about it.
  • Photos - what if I miss an interesting opportunity to capture a memory with my love ones?  Honestly, I have yet to truly go back and look at the tens of thousands of photos I’ve taken since the original iPhone.  Most recently, I went to Disneyland and took a few photos.  While I was looking at them, I came across other Disney photos I took while I was there two years ago and found that I took almost identical photos or at the same locations.  Creature of habits I guess.  
  • Important thoughts while I am without my phone.  There are times when I think of something and by the time I get home, I forget what it was.  For a while, I thought with my mobile device with me, I can type them into my note taking app.  But then I realized I should really make an effort to remember things.  I’m sure we all have had times when we have thought of something brilliant (not quite eureka moments) or just remember something you have to do.  Again, it is what it is and we just have to try to remember them somehow.
This past weekend, I went to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.  I got there often and 9 out of 10 times, I bring my iPhone with me to take photos.  I did not this time.  I had my Apple Watch with me to record my health stats (steps, calories) and to close the circles (it’s Apple’s way of allowing watcher wearers achieve daily goals).  I was totally fine.  The gardens mostly look the same and I’ve taken thousands of photos there.  The trees too.  Nothing new since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago.  And I found it to be very liberating.  As a said above, my watch has cellular service but for some reason, it was not working while I was there the whole time.  When I finally managed to get it to work, only one message came through from a local store offering a discount on their pizza.

And no anxiety whatsoever while I was enjoying the evening stroll there.  Six months ago, I think I would be anxious about getting home to see what I miss or if I had an important call during that time.  Afterwards, instead of going straight home, we went to get gas for the car.  Then we came back and parked it and went out to get ice cream.  Six months ago, I might have made an excuse about how I need to use the bathroom to go inside and check on the phone.  Not this past weekend.

Try it.  It’s okay.  We are not so special that if we miss a couple of calls or texts or app notifications that the world will fall apart.  The world does not revolve around us and your world certainly should not resolve around your phone.  Just remember to bring a small notebook and pen for when you have important thoughts you like to write down.  Not recommended for showering though.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Apple Watch Can Benefit With Nap Tracking (Sleep)

As someone who can easily fall asleep, I do not have an understanding of people who have difficulty falling asleep are unable to get a good night’s sleep.  I was not always like this.  When I was young, falling asleep did not come easy for me.  Now that Apple Watch has had sleep tracking since WatchOS 7, it is perhaps one of the most undervalued features that I think most users ignore.  On weekends, I do like to nap and maybe it is a feature Apple should add in future OS upgrades.

As I said above, sleeping comes easy for me.  I keep pretty much alert as anyone else during the day.  I prep for bed around 10 and hit the pillow by 11.  I set my watch to wake up around 6 AM but I tend to get up around 4:30.  It’s not a full 7-8 hours of sleep.  During COVID, I did not sleep longer because I do not save time commuting since my work is within a 10 minute walk.

As you can see here, my sleep is quite consistent.  Oh yeah, the Apple Watch mentioned as much.  On weekends, I like to nap if I happen to be at home with nothing to do.  During this July 4th weekend, my Saturday was very free.  I had gone for a run in the morning, the house was cleaned last week, and I did not have a lot of chores.  Sitting on the couch after lunch, I dozed off for a good two hours.  

If I can go back and add some sleep minutes, that would be a nice feature to have on the Apple Watch or have it automatically ask if I had been napping based on my heart rate and lack of movements of my body.  

It’s too late for WatchOS 8 to have a napping feature.  However, Apple has gone step further with sleep tracking in the upcoming OS.  Now, sleep tracking includes respiratory tracking through the Apple Watch 6’s ability to track movement and oxygen rate in the blood.  

I’m still trying to understand now sleep tracking helps people get a better night’s sleep.  It’s a subject I would like to study a bit more in-depth.  As someone who would like to get the most out of my waking hours, if I can use the sleep metrics to help me do that, I would be very interested.  

I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Coding Adventures - Coding A Choose Your Own Adventure App

 Update on my coding adventure:

It's been busy. Good busy but even that can get a little much at times.  So, I've started a process that I use for my personal life and work for my adventures into learning to code and coming up with something  remotely useful.

First, Python.  I did lessons on variables, strings, booleans, and loops. I am still chugging along.  I’ve done list else where and touched on functions. With the long weekend coming (BTW, happy Fourth of July, everyone and stay safe), I have plenty of time to hack away at beginner projects.  And I like writing so I thought I would try a basic text adventure.  

It has not been easy for me since I’m juggling work, family, and trying to work on the garden and yard, not to mention other projects.  I’ve been using a personal 10-minute rule.

So, the 10-minute rule is where I stop all work early before the end of the day and I write down important points and I need to do the next time.  It has been quite effective and I find myself lost if I go too long without doing this mental exercise. I do it for my personal/family life and I do it for work.  

I’ve started doing one just for coding and the last couple of days, I find myself being able to hit the ground running when I get back into it. Right now, I’ve given myself 150 days to really do some damage, if you will, in the coding world - really put what I learn into it.

Swift - this has been going slower because I just have not put in the time to do it.  Honestly, it’s about me being too comfortable and complacent. 

With iPadOS 15 beta, I read that Apple will allow coders to submit apps to the App Store.  I’m frankly very excited about this on so many levels.  First, there is a future when a Mac is no longer needed and users only need an iPad to do development.  And second, I’m more of an iPad fan and there is simply no hard choice on that front.  Even now, I only use my MacBook for work because of Excel.  And third and lastly, I enjoy the mobility the iPad provides.

I just installed iPadOS this week so I’m very excited about the new features, particularly Playground and Swift.  I’ll be back to report on my progress.

If you’re interested in joining me on your own coding adventure, it’s never too late to start.  

Monday, June 14, 2021

Apple Watch - Rethinking Challenges and Goals

 I've been an Apple Watch user stating with the 2nd generation.  It is Apple's first mobile device that I did not jump on right away - I was an enthusiastic user of the original iPhone and iPad.  For some reason, it just was not for me.  And the second generation was not for me but I got it as a gift.  Before that, I was a Fitbit user if not a happy Fitbit user.  But I decided to give Apple Watch 3 a go and I'm now a believer.  It is largely due to the more mature apps, especially the fitness app and features.  It has been a while since Apple has made changes to the rings of goals and I'm hoping Apple will do that soon.

I look at the Fitness app on the Watch every day that I have the watch on my wrist.  And probably a few dozen times a day to see where I am.  It's great.  I am comfortable setting my goals at 700 calories, 30 minutes of workout, and getting up 12 times a day.  It took a while for me to decide this is what works for me - it is achievable, it makes me work for it, and it also makes me struggle a bit especially at the end of the day when I am still coming up short.  But there are two additions I like Apple to add to this.

I like another ring to be added.  And this ring can be set by the user.  Certainly, there is enough room on the watch for Apple's developers to add another ring.  Even two.

See that middle of black space within the blue ring?  That nothingness?  Apple can certainly make the rings thinner for another ring and a features to fill out the middle.  Maybe like solid circle that fills up as the user gets closer to that goal.  

And what would users like to use these custom goals for?  I like a steps per day goal.  I'm sure by now, everyone knows about the arbitrary 10,000 steps per day goal.  My goal is around 11,000 steps a day (I'm around 11,500 days a day average so far this year).

Perhaps, the number of stairs per day is a worthy goal to pursue.  Hours of sleep, ounces of water intake, minutes of mediation, or workouts.  These are just some that I easily thought of that I think many users would be interested in. And smarter readers like yourself could certainly think of other things that I have not considered as goals that would be of interest to users should Apple ever allow users to determine goals for additional rings.

One other thing about the Apple Watch I like is the ability to challenge other users.  Here are some thoughts about this I would like to see Apple implement.  A couple of weeks ago, I was challenged by someone.  And what Apple used to determine the winner is the how many percentage points is earned by the user at the end of seven days.

I like to see more challenge features.  

  • Allow users to set the number of days.  The current seven-day challenge is prety good but that mgiht be too long for some users or some users might want more days to go up against another.
  • Ability to challenge yourself.  This might not be as much as a challenge as a need for Apple to help users track how their fitness and workout is progressing or lack there of.  Some of the data are in the Health app on the iPhone which makes it not easily accessible for any use other than for me to see how I did last week, last month, or the past year.  All that information should be made available for use like a self-challenge game.  I'm doing a lot of tracking on my Numbers sheet but it would be a nice feature use that info so can instantly know how I'm doing against myself.  
  • Having a friend who you can challenge is great.  So is the self-challenge above. I like to see challenges expanded to data collated by Apple against someone in my age group, sex, and similar physical activity.  Make this available on Game Center would be neat as well.
We are still in the infancy of the wearable revolution and Apple will likely evolve and update the Apple watch fitness app with more features with each passing year.  I think all the features I would like to see are really low hanging fruits that Apple can easily implement.  And perhaps, Apple has other features in store that will blow away any of these features I want. Either way, I would not want to miss this boat with each watch and WatchOS update.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Coding Journey: Start Simple But Aim Higher Than “Hello, World” and Other Important Lessons

 My coding journey is still ongoing.  And I’m close to writing an app beyond what I’m learning on online classes and tutorial apps.  One lesson I learn is that patience is very much needed.  A lot of patience. And if you keep at it, you will have a breakthrough in terms of speaking the code language.  And while patience is paramount, make sure to aim higher than doing exercise on playgrounds.

Everyone starts with “Hello, World”. We all get pass that and then things could get complicated from there if you approaching learning to code incorrectly.  That’s right.  Expect a lot of time trying to figure things out even in the beginning.  

Here are a few lessons I picked up:

  • You’ll be asked to write something like “print(“Hello, World”).  Go beyond that.  Between the quotations, writing anything other than “Hello, World”.  What city do you like to move to?  Country?  Replace “World” with Los Angeles or Seattle or the Shire.  This quickly makes the code yours.  It’s a small step but take it because it’s something more real.
  • I don’t want to rehash what I have learned but you know you have gained knowledge when you’re ready to pass it on.  I’m not a computer scientist so I’ll speak the language of a commoner.  If you can rethink or rephrase what you just learn into a language you speak, you get it.
  • Go back again and again. You have no idea how many times I’ve watched some lessons over and over again.  Go back over the lesson you just went through 
  • Exercises are important.  I’ve done all that I need and sometimes it’s not enough so I do google and see what other examples that are out there that I can incorporate into what I just learn. 
  • Prepare to invest a vast amount of time into learning to code.  Look, I’ve read and heard about people who have no coding experience coding an awesome app within a month.  I’m not saying that its impossible but I’m saying that it will not be the case for most of us.  Those folks who developed new apps that Apple brought on to demo likely got a lot of helps from Apple engineers.  You and I likely do not have access to those kinds of resources. We have online courses, maybe books, and, oh, search engines.
  • Don’t give up.  More importantly, do not let too many days and certainly not weeks pass before going into the next lesson.  You’re going to forget things and be forced to relearn things because you’ve forgotten.  Last week, I did go through four days between lessons. During that time, I went over in my head things that I learned so I do not have any sort of set backs. 
  • Ask for help,  I had a chance to corner a software developer friend and asked all sort of questions in person.  The wonders of all of us being vaccinated.  I learned a lot but I also learned that I knew squat.  Not quite squat but there is a lot I have to learn.  
Why am I doing this?  Personal enrichment is at the top but certainly with coding to add to my resume, it could not hurt.  More importantly, I think coding is certainly indispensable regardless of which field you work in.  Finance, law, the sciences, liberal arts, or you working in a mine or serve drinks at a bar.  Many of us cook (sort of) but we are not professional chefs.  It’s like that.

Next, I’ll be back with more detailed progress on my coding adventure.  If you’re going to join me, please do and let’s share our experiences and move forward together.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

My Coding Journey - Cannot Wait For The Snowball Effect

 I am waiting for the snowball effect for when I need to solves a problem, I can fire up the Python IDE or Xcode and hack away. From what I’m reading online, that is about 4-6 weeks away is I continue at the pace I’m on. For now, I’m experiencing a different snowball effect: really doubling down on learning how to code and hope this will expand my skill sets for work but, more important, personally.

For the last week, I put in time for Python with online contents, exercises, videos, and experiments with what I’ve learned. I find Python easier than Swift for the moment. What I’ve realized is the importance of having a fundamental understanding of coding. That will cut back on a lot of growing pains later on and avoid wasting time. 

I am giving self self 14 days until I start writing own own apps. I think I can do it sooner. 

Anyway, back to work. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Twitter Should Charge Users If They Don't Want To Be Targeted, But Not Through Super Follower Feature

 Source:  ZDNet.

Twitters offers an indispensable service, much more so than Facebook.  Sure, Twitter has its issues with hate, sexism, fake news, and a source for foreign interference into US elections.  Facebook does as well only much worse.  And during its worst days, it maximizes these dark elements in order to maximize profit.  I use Twitter on a daily basis as a source for information and following tweets more reputable sources and none of them are political in nature.

Now, Twitter is looking allow users to be charged for following certain tweets or other users. The "Super Follower" tool is what will allow that to happen.  

We'll have to see how it goes once it is implemented and how it will be utilized after Twitter modifies it over time.  

I will still be daily Twitter users but I do not see myself follow someone and paying for tweets.  

I think it is better for Twitter to monetize users by offering added features and promising privacy.  I certain can see myself paying for that instead of paying for tweets from certain accounts.

Friday, March 12, 2021

What Are The Killer Features for 2021?

 2020 is about two and a half months past now.  But time is time and no amount of artificial partitions we put on our time here on earth matters much in the grand galactic scheme.  Still, we are little transient creatures with incredibly limited time as individuals and as a species.  Having said all that, what is in the offering for 2021 as far as killer features for 2021? Because I did not get any killer feature in 2020.  My guess is we probably will not get much in the way of killer features for almost anything.

It has been a while since anyone has used the term "killer feature".  And it has been a while since I read or heard "iPhone killer" or "Tesla killer".  Maybe that is because both the iPhone and Telsa are doing quite well and previous killers of these products amounted to nothing.  

Personally, I do not see anything on the horizon that would be considered killer features for the tech market in general.  Most of the products slated to be released this year are likely incremental improvements on existing products or features.  

iPhone 12 will go to iPhone 13.  Tesla's killer feature may be lower prices for the Model 3 and Y as it battles new electric vehicles coming to the market.  Facebook will be Facebook - it will continue to suck the soul out of society and copy features that someone else comes up with.  If there is a killer here, it's Facebook stealing and trying to kill off the competition.  

There are a couple that could be considered killer features but I went ahead and googled the words "killer feature" and I found some.  Some might be close to being killer features but I think the rest are mostly an attempt at click baiting. 

In no particular order,

  • Spotify getting lossless audio.  Meh.  I listen to most of my music on my Apple earbuds, AirPods Pro, and on the phone speaker.  I don't know how others do it but I imagine a vast major of music lovers are more like me than not - higher audio quality will not matter too much.  Have you tried to listen to music through Alexa?  Right.
  • Quick sharing in Windows - In the Apple world, it's called AirDrop.  The new feature will allow Windows and Android to share files and links with each other.  Unfortunately, that's likely limited to Windows 10 and people who use Samsung's Galaxy devices.  No go for others.  I'm surprised Google or even Microsoft, you know, the people who brought us Windows, has not developed an AirDrop like feature yet.
  • Google Pixel phones will offer some biometric features - reading heart rates and breathing.  This is being done not through new hardware but what is already on the devices - the camera.  I've used this before on the iPhone a few years ago.  I don't know how accurate it is but I was amazed at how well it worked as I timed my heart beats the old fashion way. It was close enough.  
  • Google Maps will allow users to pay for parking through the maps app.  I hardly call this a killer anything and more of a convenience feature.  The maps app itself is a killer app, back in 2007.
  • Windows Edge will get vertical tabs.  I think this is close to being a "killer" anything but not a deal break.  Essentially, instead of having the tabs accord horizontally like all browsers now, Edge will display them horizontally on the left.  Maybe you can move them to the right if that is your preference.  As it is now I've got two columns of white spaces on both sides, wasted space.  More information will be displayed as a result.  
  • Android Auto to get shortcuts.  I know what shortcuts are.  Control-C.  Control-V.  But the shortcuts for iOS and Android are more complicated and helpful if you know how to use them.  I barely do as I think most people are.  So, it's good for folks who are well versed with shortcuts and creating them.  Nice to have but not a killer feature.  In general, mobile warriors should use shortcuts more often or start to learn how to use and create them.
  • Samsung Internet to gain new privacy features.  People do not give Samsung enough credit but it is a large developer of apps.  And this shows that Samsung continues to invest a lot of time and effort in making the Android experience better, Samsung style.  Privacy will be front and center for Internet 14.  I am sure Google and Samsung takes privacy seriously and not allow Apple to hog all the attention when it comes to privacy and tracking.  But between Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samung, or another company, I put my trust with my privacy with Apple until someone else proves to me that they will take privacy as seriously as Apple or more. 
Any of those look like killer features to you?

Look, coming up with real killer features or apps is not easy.  I just think the phrase as been over used to the point that any new upgrade is being advertised as a killer feature.  As sad as this is, the ability to maintain a customer's privacy is a killer feature.  The rampant and reckless tracking all over the Internet and apps has created disaster after disaster with user data being misused or leaked.  Apple clamping down on that with the upcoming iOS 14.5 has had seismic effort across social media and the advertising industry with Facebook crying foul.  

Half way through March already, we are getting into the new releases season for many tech companies.  If there are killer features or apps, we should see them soon.  All the low hanging fruits on the killer feature trees have been plucked.  Where are the killer features going to come from?

To my mind, Apple has not released a killer anything since the Apple Watch which itself is doing a number on the traditional watch market.  Speaking of the Apple Watch, health technology may be where we see a lot of killer features in the months and years ahead.  

Privacy and health.  If what I think the trend is going, wellness and peace of mind is going to be important for users and tech companies should do well to consider this when they develop new products.  I would not mind a plethora of killer features, devices, and apps to keep me and my family healthier and feel safer.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Looking For the Mac to Follow the iPhone and iPad - Trickle-Down Effect - Powerful and Cheaper

  Source:  Apple.

In November, Apple released new Macs based on its own chip, a move way from Intel forever, that has long-term disruption to the Mac market for years to come.  Essentially, the M1 is based on the design that has been powering the iPhone and iPad for years now.  The difference is that the M1 was designed for the Mac.  The late 2020 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini is just a taste of what is to come.  And judging by media coverage, reviews, and general excitement, people are loving what they see. 

 Overlooked is what it means for the Mac market in the long term.   These new Macs were barely on sale before fans are talking about the M1X, presumably the next M1 upgrade that may power MacBooks with bigger screens and the iMac.  Oh, and you have to throw M2 into the mix of what Mac fans are excited about.  

M1, M2, or M5.  Consider this.  Whenever new iPhone comes out, Apple has kept around some of the previous year's models around to take up lower price points while the newest models take up the current price points (or higher).  That is the same with the iPad.  The iPhone has a price range from $399 to $1299. And when the iPad came out, it was priced at $499.  Today, the cheapest iPad is $329 and the iPad Pro topping off at $1499.  

The cheapest M1 Mac is the MacBook Air at $999.  The most expensive Mac with a M1 chip is almost $2000 while the Intel MacBook Pro is even higher.  What will happen when the newer M-series chip come out to power the Mac?  Will Apple stop making M1 Macs and only sell the M1X or M2 ones instead?

It could. The PC market is different from smartphone or tablet markets.  However, Apple may be interested in capture a larger share of the PC market if it can lower the prices of the Mac, to say around $600.  In a few years, Apple may be able to sell a $599 MacBook with a 10" screen that can complete more effective with PCs in that range.  Right now, Apple is giving up a lot of sales to underpowered and cheap Windows and Chrome laptops.  By spending just a little more, users can buy MacBooks that are powerful running the latest OS X.  

This would represent a seismic shift in the PC market - tens of millions of users will suddenly be able to afford Macs that were previously priced out of the range they were willing to spend.  And as years pass, features and speed of the Mac that was previously available to only to the higher end Mac would begin to trickle down these more consumer and school friendly Macs.  

If Apple takes up this strategy, do not be surprised if it sucks an even larger share of the dollar spent in the PC hardware market but also increase sizably in the number of units sold as well.  

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Year of Pandemic - Social network, Mobile Warriors, and What Will Be (New) Normal

 It has been a almost year since the start of the pandemic for Americans.  There really is no anniversary.  For California, the stay-at-home order came on March 19.  For New York, its first case was March 1, 2020.  And for Washington state, its first case was in January and the a statewide lockdownissued on March 23rd.  However, you looked at it, the first official COVID-19 case was recorded on January 19th (Source: History), so maybe that is the start of the pandemic.  No matter how you look at it, it has been a year like nothing we have seen in the past.  We lived it, witnessed it, and there will be a large amount of tweets, photos, videos, and books about it.  

Having said all that, the question is that we are still in a pandemic but we are wonder just how long before we return to life as we knew it.  Or will we ever?  Or will be there be a new normal from now one - masks for a number of us who want to play it safe (

Here are some questions I have:

  1. We lived online during much of the pandemic - will more people spend less time on the timeline and begin to spend time with each other in person (provided we get the virus under control).
  2. We learned that Facebook was instrumental in spreading fake news - about COVID-19, potential cures, and other social issues associated with the pandemic.  Setting politics aside, will the government finally address it?  
  3. When will we no longer be required to wear masks when we go to the market or a business?
  4. When will companies begin to require or allow their employees to return to their offices?
  5. Will we need booster shots annual like we do now for the flu?  
  6. Will COVID testing continue?  
  7. Will there be ever be more stay-at-home orders?  We had another one during the winter months in California.  I can tell you that it was not as much people were following it as we did with the March order.  Governments can require restaurants to ban indoor and outdoor dining but even now, people are flocking to malls, beaches, and parks as if things are fine.  It's unlikely future stay-at-home orders will having any effect like the first unless things become worse.
  8. When will indoor dining be allowed again?  Will outdoor dining go away.  
  9. Will social distancing go away?  During the first lockdown, I often go for walks and we would cross from the sidewalks into the streets whenever we pass someone else coming in the other direction.  We are still doing that but it appear more people are fine walking by or past each other at less than six feet.
  10. Are we ready for the next pandemic?  SARS was in 2002.  The Swine Flu was in 2009.  COVID-19 in 2020.  We could be looking at another pandemic within the next decade. 
In 18 to 24 months, we may conceivable return to pre-COVID norms.  That is what we al hope.  Or we could continue to be living with masks on as cases rise and fall as new COVID strains gain footholds.  A lot can and will happen that chart which path we take.  

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Is There Nothing We Can Do To Protect Our Data?

 Source:  NPR.

Your data, mine included, are all over the Internet and in databases at data centers all over the world.  And now, our genetic makeup are up for grabs. Countries, who are competitors at best and enemies at worst, are angling to get more.  

Case in point here:  a genetics company with backing from the Chinese government and military have been collecting the DNA of tens of Americans.  And this same company has made inroads into other countries like Australia.

Perhaps it's for profit but with the Chinese Communist Party involved and their desire to create their own hegemony, you 

The bottomline here is money and greed.  And moreover, it is the failure of the government to cultivate homegrown industries that can do the same thing these foreign companies at a competitive price.  

Of course, this is an on-going subject of concern to all of us. It's obvious that the federal government is not doing enough and companies are constantly pushing the limits of what they can get away with. And when caught, companies such as this either have a government mouthpiece in Beijing protesting them as lies by Western media.  And in situations like Facebook, they pay an in consequential fine and hope their other transgressions never see the light of day.  

What can we do about it?  Is there anything we can do?  Or is there nothing we can do at this point?  I don't think we are at the point where we collectively throw up our hands and say "it's too late.  They know everything about me already".  Apple is a company that has pushing privacy as a right and a feature but it is a company that is trying to maximize profit.  You still cannot trust that Apple truly has its customers' best interests at heart.

We are looking to buy a scale for ourselves.  It would be nice to have something that connected to an app on our phone.  I did some rudimentary research on this.  I knew that some companies would be collecting the heath data that are generated by connected scales.  And it was pretty bleak.  At the end of the day, I will likely end up with a good old fashion scale and record my readings on a spreadsheet.

Between hostile governments, our own inept government, and companies that are sucking up as much data as they can in order to monetize us, we really have our work cut out for us to keep as much of our data private.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

After Covid and Getting Back to the Starting Point - Tech, Routine, and Willingness Follow Through

As you know, I got the corona virus just after Thanksgiving (I till don't know how exactly I got it.  I didn't go anywhere prior to that except Home Depot looking for Christmas decoration and picking up Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving at the Grove in Los Angeles).  And it's been heck trying to get back into shape.  I have made progress and I gave myself a generous timeline to do that.  And while I had hoped to "under promise and over deliver", it may look like I need that amount of time to get back to where I was - assuming there is no lingering issues that some recovered Covid patients reportedly experienced.

I jokingly gauged where I was post-Covid based on age - I felt like I was over a hundred by how I was walking in the house.  I would have to rest after getting up from the couch to the kitchen.  Washing dishes required that I pause to ease the pressure off my back.  I had issues breathing through the masks for a few days (I panicked when I though I suddenly was no longer taking on air).  Seven days after showing no symptoms, I felt I was closer to 80-90 range. I was walking better but still had to rest and take naps.  And two weeks later, I was closer to about an average 75 year old.  I was able to take a couple flights of steps but I felt like I was walking on mud.


During this time, I kept my progress with my Apple Watch and my iPhone and a spreadsheet.  How many steps I took, my heart rate, temperature (not through the watch), and distance I walked, and my blood oxygen level.  I am still doing that now.  It's become a routine for me and I've added other tasks to it as well.  As a matter of act, I've set a goal to create a routine app based on my experience by the end of the year.

Right now, I am starting to run.  I likely lost 10-15 pounds during that time and have gained it back rather quickly.  So, I'm now trying to force myself to get back to where I was pre-COVID-19.  During the month of November, I had ran at least 1 mile per day.  I am trying to get back into that.  

The Tech

Since this is a tech blog, I have to really note how helpful wearable technology is today.  The Apple Watch with its health sensors, especially with the oxygen sensor, was critical to my time while I was sick and the recovery period.  It's not perfect.  Health features in wearables, regardless of weather it is the Apple Watch or Fitbit devices, are in the early stages.  And I'm happy to note that there are other companies in this realm and that our choices will not just be Apple and Google.

The Follow Through

Beyond tech and building a routine, what is required to make it all work is the will to make it all happen. I am proud of how I have decided to make sure I recovered completely and get back to my pre-Covid level and surpass it.  A few friends and I do an annual guy trip that involved participating in an official 5K or 10K run before the pandemic and we will do it again after it is all over and I want to make sure I hold my own.  

It is not simply that I have said to myself "I need to get my health back" or "I want to get back to my physical level" but that I carrying it out and making it happen.  Just have to do it.  

If you're like me or just have a desire to get somewhere, physically or mentally, I suggest you do this next.  Whatever it is that you need or want to do to make it happen, go do it now.  Starting doing burpees, clean your room, or just get out of the house.  That'll be your day one.  And let's see you follow through with day 2.  Sounds simple but it is not.  It is going to be different for everyone.  Get an app or use a calendar and start logging your progress.

Just start on something.