Apple Watch Series 3 and Watch OS 4


L and I have been wearing the Apple Watch "Series 0" (The original version) since it was released.  They have become a welcome part of our daily wardrobe. We use them for notifications, workouts, controlling the lights, using Apple Pay, and even telling the time.  They are a second more intimate screen for our phones.

Every OS release for the watch has added new features and fixed issues and annoyances with the older versions.  Every release has also left the original watch feeling a little slower and little less responsive.

Series 3 

We chose the non-LTE Aluminum Series 3 this time around. The same sizes as before, but without the space-grey finish.  I got the 42mm and L again got the 38mm.  We can use all of the watch bands from the older watch.

Why no LTE?  The extra upfront price for LTE combined with the $10 monthly fee per watch just weren't worth it to us.  We don't find ourselves wishing we could use the watch to make calls or play music in situations where we do not have our phone with us more than a few times a year.  I think we can disconnect for a few hours without missing this feature.  I'm sure this will be a great feature in the future.

Water resistance is a great feature that we are happy to have.  Not worrying about a rainstorm or a trip to the pool will be nice.

The speed and responsiveness of the Series 3 is night and day compared to the original watch.  Everything is faster.  This is all the justification needed to update.

The battery life of the Series 3 is amazing.  I can easily got 2 days between charging now.  With Watch OS 4 I was just making it through a day with the Series 0.

Watch OS 4

Watch OS 4 brings a number of refinements that remove confusion and simplify the watch.  There are welcome improvements to the heart rate monitoring, workouts, and list view for the awful application grid.

The new Siri watch face has promise, but it needs 3rd party app integration. The Toy Story watch faces are cute, but not something I'm likely to use.

The new Now-Playing screen now lets you change the volume with the crown.  Finally! Much easier way to the adjust the volume. I use this every time I cut the grass and I have no idea why it was not this way from the start.

Wants and Desires

Watch OS 4 does a better job of showing the watch face when I turn my wrist. But, I still wish there was a subdued always on time.  You can find this feature on competitors devices. Apple just needs to find a way to do this with the Apple Watch that maintains the great battery life.

Custom Watch Faces.  I expected Apple to release a Watch Face API by now.  There could be a whole section of the Watch App Store dedicated to this.  I know there are issues with managing intellectual property theft here. But, it just makes so much sense to allow people to design and sell their own watch faces.


L and I both very happy with this upgrade.  It was worth the wait and we have very few complaints.  Time will tell if we will regret not getting the LTE version of the watch.

New Apple Products - Quick Take

Apple Watch Series 3 with Optional Cellular

I love my Apple Watch, but I still have the "Series 0" Apple Watch. I'm ready for a new watch and I'm very happy to get the faster processor and the water resistance. I don't think the cellular option is for me, I don't use my watch in situations where I don't have my phone and need to get phone calls.

The new Sport Loop bands are super comfortable BTW.

Apple TV 4K

I know it's more expensive than other 4K streaming devices, but I'm very excited to get this upgraded Apple TV. We use the Apple TV everyday. It's the primary way we consume content on the TV.  We do have an HDR capable 4K TV already.  Anyone want to by a 4K Fire TV box?

iPhone 8 and 8+

I would have already ordered the 8+ except for the existence of the X.  Faster processor, better camera, and wireless charging. All reasons I would have bought this phone.

4K video at 60 frames per second will make your video look great on the new Apple TV.

iPhone X

Face ID looks good, I expect it to be as good as Touch ID in every way except for a few cases. Like using Apple Pay. But, thats something I do more on the Apple Watch.

The OLED screen looks good in video, but I bet it's stunning in person. Every OLED screen I have seen has been great.

The Notch doesn't bother me. Developers can work with it, and will surely create some interesting interfaces that deal with the notch and the curved edges in new and surprising ways.  The Notch seems to really bug some people, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. It will likely go away in a future phone, but I don't hate it.

Both cameras have optical image stabilization.  This will make a big difference with low light images.

Plus everything I like about the iPhone 8+.


I recently tweeted a link to this great NPR interview with K.D. Lang about the 25th anniversary of Ingénue. It is really worth a listen, especially if you have an appreciation for this album or any of Lang's work.

I finally got the 25th anniversary edition and it's worth every penny.

I've been in love with this album since it was originally released.  I didn't think there was anything wrong with the album. But, this remaster is so full and vibrant, making an album I already loved even better.  The 2nd disc is a MTV Unplugged performance of most of the songs. It's a great companion to this wonderful album.

I know and like people that don't like this album. It's ok for them to be wrong.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Remix)

Sgt. Pepper's was recorded 50 years ago at the beginning of June.  To commemorate this a stereo remix was released.  AHHHHHHHHHHH!! WTF Why?  Well it turns out, we should have been listening to the mono version all this time.  The original stereo mix was done hastily and with the idea that it was a novelty.  Things have changed quite a bit over the years.  But, don't take my word for it. Listen to this great interview on All songs considered with Giles Marten.

This is an amazing  gift for anyone that likes this amazing album.  Everything you thought you knew about the album is fresh and new.  You will discover things about the music that you never heard before, and your appreciation of this album and amazing band will grow even more.

iOS 11 Beta 1 and the iPad Pro

I took the unrecommended step of installing the iOS 11 beta on my iPad Pro last night.  I normally wait till the 3rd or 4th beta before taking a look at whats new. This time things are different.  I could not wait to give the dramatic changes to the OS a try.

A small disclaimer first, do not try this at home, i'm what you call a professional. This is an early beta and I have already experienced a few unexplainable crashes. It was entirely likely that my iPad could have turned into an unresponsive block of aluminum. There were multiple reports of developers being unable to use their devices after the install.


Here are some of my initial impressions.


The iCloud Drive app is now a part of a new application called Files. This is a major change by Apple that will vastly improve productivity on iOS.  It's still an early beta though and there are some issues with knowing where a file you save is going.  I did not see a way to control where saved files go first? I also do not understand how the new "On my iPad" section works. Hopefully this will become clear as new functionality is completed and bugs are fixed.

The Dock

Big changes to the dock, functionality was intuitive. Seems to work very well without any apparent bugs.  One of those changes that seems obvious after you see it.  I could see some variation of this coming to the iPhone in the future.

Multitasking Improvements

This works in conjunction with the new Dock, but it took me a bit to figure out how to use the new multitasking gestures. I ended up having to Google it. Overall I think these changes make it easier to use multitasking on the iPad. However, I think there may be some ways to make things easier to discover, maybe a tutorial video that you can watch when you first update?

Drag and Drop

This is another tent-pole feature that should have been here from day one. This will help to increase the number of people who are able to use an iPad as their primary computing device. Works like you would expect, drag selected text, images, etc... The applications have to support it, but I'm sure every app will as soon as possible.

Apple Pencil

I don't have the new iPad Pro yet, so I can't see how the new refresh rates impact drawing and writing responsiveness yet.  The new markup features in the Notes app and in multiple other locations are big improvement. I'm sure these changes will make the Apple Pencil a required accessory for anyone trying get work done on the iPad. It's not just for people that want to draw or take a few hand written notes.   

Being able to search for hand written notes is a game changer for me, and may drive me back to the notes app from Notability.  I hope they are able to take advantage of some of these features.

I can't wait to explore the other changes in iOS 11. I was already using my iPad daily. These changes make it an even more important tool for me.  Now, if they can figure out how I can to desktop style development tasks on an iPad without feeling like I have one hand tied behind my back...

The Element

Since I switched to the Fostex T50RP headphones, I have been having an issue with my "at work" DAC / AMP the Aune X1S. The Aune is just not powerful enough for the T50s.  These are seriously power hungry headphones and maxing an AMP out is never a good idea.  The Aune is great amp/DAC combo, but not for this usage.

So, I switched to JDS Labs The Element. More than capable of powering any pair of headphones you throw at it. There is something addicting about the large volume knob on top of The Element.  It's a good feel interface that is superbly made.  I also love that the DAC remains active with the power switch off.  So my externally powered speakers can make use of it when I'm not using the headphones, and I do not have to unplug them.

Here is a review of The Element by user ZeosPantera. This should cover what I have not.

I'm starting to agree

I have been doing more JavaScript programming over the last few years that I would ever have imagined.  Node JS and React have really changed the way I think about programming.  I can honestly say I would prefer to create a web application with NodeJS, SailsJS, EJS, and React over Java, Spring, and JSP.   Know there are other options and variations on these. But, the JavaScript based stacks is just more enjoyable, and more importantly quicker for me.   Realizing and acclimating to this new reality is an on going process.

I was just sent these two articles today. I should have already been aware of.  If you haven't read them yet, give them some attention, there are some interesting ideas to mull over.

The Two Pillars of JavaScript - PT 1,  and PT2.

Chromebook Solution

I decided to get another Chromebook to "play" with.  The first one I had was impressive, but I gave that one away.  When I heard that google was bringing Android apps to the Chromebook platform I decided to give it another go.

I got the Acer Convertible Chromebook R11. It's plastic, small, cheap, and more importantly it feels fast and responsive.  I'm not sure I'll use it in tablet mode much, but having the touch screen will be nice when the Google Play Store is added.

For many people a Chromebook would be all the computer they need.  Email, browsing, social apps, messaging, and basic productivity tools are all available. With increased security and the ability to reset the device at anytime and you have a nearly perfect machine for most normal computer users.

If you are a developer who needs more out of a machine then you still have options on the Chromebook.  You can put it in "Developer mode" get to a shell and install linux via crouton.  It can really be fun to embrace the limitations of this platform and try to get work done with different tools and in different ways.  Limited memory and storage are probably the biggest problems you will have to deal with.

Overall, I'm really happy with this device.  I'll keep it to goof around with and to take on trips when I don't want to risk taking my macbook.  I would also highly recommend this or another version of Chromebook to anyone looking for a new computer for normal daily use.  they are simple, fast, and easy.

Headphone Wishlist

Not saying I'm going to buy these anytime soon, but if money were no object these would be on the top of my list.

  • Sennheiser HD 800 S: I have always loved the clean Sennheiser sound, and these are some of their best.
  • Mr Speakers Ether C: Closed Planar Magnetic. These would be a replacement for the Alpha Dogs. They would also probably be the only headphones I would need.
  • Stax SR-009: Electro Static headphones often called "The Best Headphones".  You could also say the most expensive.  They even require a special amp to play them. 
  • Sennheiser Orpheus: I would just like to hear these. I'm not sure I would ever buy them, even if money were no object.