Wednesday, July 28, 2021

By Denying Climate Changes, Corporations and Politicians Are Cancelling Me From Buying or Utilizing Their Goods Or Services

 Sources: The Verge, NY Times.

My family has bought about three generations of Toyota vehicles.  By all account, we are a Toyota family. A lone Honda and a Lexus from other family members stand out like weeds that need to dealt with.  Both of the non-Toyota cars were bought by black sheep family members. So, there you have it. However, with reports that Toyota has been lobbying members of Congress to roll back support for electric vehicles, increase in fuel efficiency, and greater hostility towards  fuel efficiency, it is Toyota that has cancelled not only me but a large segment of the American public.

All this has been a huge surprise to me.  This is Toyota.  For the most of my life, the Japanese car brand has been synonymous with affordability, efficiency, and reliability.  That has been before even the Prius came to dominate the fuel efficient hybrid market.  It largely still is but you can see things have changed at Toyota. When you think hybrid, you likely think Prius.  (Maybe the Insight?)

These days, the consumer clean vehicle rage is dominated by the likes of Telsa, old world car companies like GM, Ford, BMW, and even companies that have yet to release their own cars yet like Fisker. Toyota's Japanese competitors like Honda and Nissan are plowing ahead.  Toyota is nowhere to be seen in the next five years.

Perhaps this is why Toyota's EV plan consists of obfuscating the efforts of others using Republican anti-science politicians who do not believe in climate change to blunt efforts by the Democratic efforts to remake the US economy including promotion of green energy and sales of EV.  

To be fair, Toyota is not simply saying no to cleaner cars.  It simply suggests that its solution of hybrids and even hydrogen fueled vehicles are the way to go.  But that argument means little as Toyota has also dropped in fuel efficiency.

In the long run, tt could be right about hydrogen but its hybrid options are simply a band-aid solution at this point.  Toyota has dragged its feet with regards to hydrogen by releasing only one car while doing almost nothing to establish a network of hydrogen stations.  EV companies and their partners have spent years dotting the US with charging stations.  Where I live and places I am most likely to go are surrounded by charging stations. For hydrogen, I would be forced to take a 20 minute drive to fuel up.

It is never too late for Toyota to get back into the game and perhaps even lead the industry again.  It has the brand clout as well as the financial muscle to make that happen.  However, current market leaders in the EV market are not simply going to roll over for the auto giant.  Toyota will be fight to against battle tested companies like Telsa and even new entrants like Apple or Google in the next few years.

Meanwhile, Toyota decided to go low and decided that the only way it can stave off the competition and keep from falling further behind is to create political and public policy barriers.  My next vehicle is going to be an electric car.  I'll be making that purchase to replace my 15 year old car in the next year or two.  That means not buying a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. It means others like myself who are tech enthusiasts and want climate friendly policies find ourselves being cancelled by Toyota's underhanded and closed door political dealings.

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.  

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...