Angry Robot

How I Got My Attention Back

Certainly the present day online environment is not conducive to sustained attention, but it’s a hard trick at the best of times (see: concept of monkey mind). Going offline helps! But the attention muscle must also be exercised.

Northern Ireland Unity Government Crumbles, Faces March Vote

meanwhile, in non-Trump news

Donald Trump inauguration: Scottish newspaper previews ceremony as Twilight Zone episode

The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible.

How Jokes Won the Election

Great Emily Nussbaum thinkpiece (thanks, y). That Triumph election special where he called Trump a shock comic was prescient.

Nintendo Switch!

This Switch thing coming from Nintendo is interesting. Here’s the full announcement video for reference:

Some random thoughts now that we have some more details on the thing:

The ‘Impossible’ Veggie Burger: A Tech Industry Answer to the Big Mac

“The cow is never going to get better at making meat,” Mr. Brown said. “It was not optimized for beef. It did not evolve to be eaten. Our burger was. We’re always getting better.”

Nintendo Switch launches worldwide March 3, $299 in US

with the new Zelda alongside it.

More Meta

Ok! In terms of this redesign: now we are cooking with fire! White-hot blogfire, I would say. The feed should be working right; so too the search and the contact form.

Also, I’ve reanimated the long-dormant Angry Robot Twitter Parrot Bot and it should be squawking out whatever gets posted to the site. In addition, there is now an Angry Robot Facebook Page that should also link to everything here. So if you prefer reading web sites without actually going to the web, you have options now!

That should be the last of the meta posts for now – now back to our regularly scheduled Angry Roboting.

Apple Watch: The Pretty, The Bad, and The Pretty Damn Cool

Ed. Note: this is my first post in a series on the Apple Watch. I mostly wrote it in September, in the weeks after I first got the watch. My views have changed somewhat since, but rather than rewrite this whole damned thing I’m just posting it as-is. It’s still got some good points.

I sat out the first incarnation because it sounded bad. Slow, mostly; too fussy; unnecessary.

I started to change my mind with reports of speed and interface improvements in WatchOS 3. And with the new hardware announced at the event last September, I decided to pony up.

I got the “Series 1” model, because price is an issue, and I don’t need full waterproofing or GPS, not being a swimmer or a jogger. (What they’re calling Series 1 has the same processors as the Series 2 models.)

Pretty Things

I always liked the look of the things in the abstract, but was surprised at how striking the hardware is in person. My plan was to swap out the strap with third party (read: cheaper) ones anyway, so I got the rubber strap, which I really like. It feels and looks great.

The “rings”, the visualization of physical activity, are inspired design. They fit into a tiny complication, they can be understood at a glance, and they match the general iconography of timekeeping in a way a straight step or calorie count number doesn’t. Closing one’s rings feels like a physical act itself.

apple watch rings

The outside ring is active calories burned, the middle is minutes of exercise, and the inside is times you've stood for a minute each hour.

Bad Things

Pricey, sleepy, and needy. The three worst dwarfs, and also the problems with The Watch. It costs a lot. I think the numbers may not be that bad in the US but in Canada they seem really high for something that doesn’t really do anything your phone can’t do. They would sell a lot more if you could get in for like $200.

The screen doesn’t always stay on. I understand why, but I don’t like it. “Raise to wake” means you have to do a big, pantomime stage-acting I AM LOOKING AT MY WATCH gesture. Or you can tap it. But you can’t discreetly glance at it hoping to see how long the meeting is dragging on for. This makes it worse than a normal watch in a significant way. Hopefully at some point soon they can squeeze out enough power to let it stay on indefinitely, perhaps at low brightness.

Needy as in, this watch needs an iPhone to work. Things will get more interesting once it has its own cell modem and one has options to maybe not bring a phone, maybe to not even have a phone.

Pretty Damn Cool Things

This watch may be unnecessary, but it is still a pretty awesome gadget. Paying for things with your watch is strictly baller behaviour. Same goes for controlling your TV, lights and speakers with it. And people seem to love the idea that you can answer phone calls with it (more than I find it useful, certainly).

As a fitness tracker, and a fitness encourager, it works really well. Not having used a FitBit I don’t know which is better. But I know I like the way the Watch works for this.

Siri is a little bit hit and miss but I’m still using it and there is definitely something cool about responding to a text by speaking into your wrist, Kirk-style. Phone-siri doesn’t work properly in my car, so it’s nice to be able to ask wrist-Siri to play whatever song it is my kid wants to hear.

The Watch is in some ways the anti-phone. One of its greatest strengths – and one it is difficult for Apple to highlight in marketing materials – is how it saves you from having to fuss with your phone too much. This is mostly about sneaking a peek at incoming notifications without having to do anything more than look at your wrist. When you think about this it’s more useful the more active your are, as if you’re already looking at a screen at that moment it won’t help you. But when you’re out, active, and maybe holding groceries with your other hand, being able to triage notifications with a glance is a big help.

I love complications. Basically the idea is your different software watch faces have little areas for customizable data display slash quick links to open apps. A simple example is having a date display that when tapped opens the calendar app. The different faces have spots for three to five of these things.

What’s really cool is with the latest OS, it’s easy to switch between watch faces, which means you can set up different faces for different modes of your day. I have one face for the morning, which shows weather in detail, plus sunrise, the date, the next calendar appointment, and a link to a transit tracking app. Once I’m out of the house I have a moving around face that has activity rings, weather, the workout app and transit again. At work I have a different one that features OmniFocus, and for home later on I focus on a timer, the AppleTV remote app, and something to control the Sonos system. For timers alone this thing is really handy – I use them a lot when cooking and that’s also when I tend to have wet/dirty hands which makes using my phone a little awkward.

That’s it for now – next I’m going to write up how I’m currently using watch faces, and which apps I use the most. Beyond that – third party bands! Totally obsessed!

Trump ‘compromising’ claims: How and why did we get here?

Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file – they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was “more than one tape”, “audio and video”, on “more than one date”, in “more than one place” – in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg – and that the material was “of a sexual nature”.

Apple reportedly wants hit TV dramas of its own

Starting a Netflix-style service that would be bundled with Apple Music.

Why I’m an (Almost) Everyday Apple Watch Wearer

Good albeit too-detailed rundown of how the Apple Watch comes in handy through its complications and watch faces. I have a bunch of drafts about the watch sitting around that I will get around to posting soon.

Why open offices are bad for us

spoiler: they are loud, distracting, and don’t improve collaboration

App Extensions Are Not a Replacement for User Automation

by Sal Soghoian, legendary AppleScript master who is no longer at Apple.

Why Do Canadians Say ‘Eh’?

Even in the use of “eh” as a criticism or a command, the word seeks to find common ground. If I say “you’re an idiot, eh?”, what I’m saying is, you’re an idiot, but you should also think you’re an idiot, and our understanding of you as an idiot finds us on common ground.

Why Would Apple Release a 10.5″ iPad Air?

Testing

Trump Intelligence Allegations

These are the memos

These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia

The memos in question are attached at the bottom of this article

Trump Received Unsubstantiated Report That Russia Had Damaging Information About Him

Wow.

Final Fantasy 7: An oral history

Robert Scoble – Exclusive news: Apple and Zeiss working on Augmented Reality Glasses

I mean, what are the odds that Apple ISN’T working on AR glasses?

Moved

Well, that took a while. This site is now on wordpress. Most things should be good. (all the old posts are moved over! even all the old comments, but they’re not being displayed! but they exist!) Some things are still broken. That I know of:

You will also be seeing the new design. Not that different. But here are the highlights:

Any issues or comments, try me on twitter @dsankey, or you could try the new contact form on the contact page? Maybe it even works!

Hupdate

Alright so I have been not posting a lot because I’ve been labouring away behind the curtain here hupdating this ol’ blog to work with this thing they call the wordpress. Also, I’ve been redoing the design. Actually you’ll probably LOL at how much it looks like the current design! Hey man when you achieve perfection there is no reason to set it alight in the name of novelty amirite? You know I am.

So anyway. This is just to say that should the site be unreachable, or visibly upset, or basically in ruins the next time you visit, it’s (hopefully) because I am in the process of making the move-over final and things will be back to normal right quick. Theoretically. Cross your emoji fingers for me.