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✓ My Apple Watch Review

I have now had the Apple Watch for three weeks. I thought it would be good to jot down some thoughts about it. You know, for posterity.

Getting Used to a Watch Again

I haven't worn a watch since the band on my favorite Vostok watch broke. It has been about 10 years since I wore a watch daily, and as soon as the Apple Watch was on my wrist, I immediately went back to checking my wrist for the time. A lot of people have complained about the display taking a little bit of time to load, and that hasn't really been a problem for me. I have noticed it, but it doesn't really bother me. I just look at my wrist after it is raised, and the display is there.

Apps

The apps that are out there are not that interesting to me so far. A good example is Marco Arment's awesome podcast app Overcast. Once he had the watch, he was able to see what it was like on his wrist, and he redid the app to make it work in a way you would want to wear it.

I am excited for apps to be announced that will be worthwhile for the watch itself. Another good app is Instapaper, which reads the articles to you (from your phone, controlled on your wrist).

I am not interested in reading on my watch. It is horribly uncomfortable and I deleted Feedly immediately. If Feedly did what Instapaper does, that would be amazing. There is an app that reads your RSS feeds and I haven't checked if they have a watch app yet.

Load Times

Oh, man! This is brutal. Anyone who says that want an Apple Watch so they don't have to pull their phone out to do stuff will likely not say that after having the watch. It takes so long to launch an app that you really don't want to launch an app unless you know it will load quickly (see above Overcast app redesign).

Watch Straps

I'm a little surprised at how small the watch straps are. The M/L sport strap is almost too small for what I thought were my slender wrists.

It seems that my wrists are too large for the Milanese Loop. I was hoping to buy that band because I love how it looks.

The sport strap is too tight on one setting, and a little too loose on the next setting, which seems to be a problem that could be solved by the Milanese Loop.

Complications

My current watch face and complications.

My current watch face and complications.

I'm having a hard time settling on which complications I want for my watch face. The built-in ones are not that useful to me. I know it is always raining, so I don't need the weather one that much. Now, if I could have Dark Sky (if it worked here) tell me in how many minutes it would rain, that would be pretty awesome. That would require 3rd party apps to have access to complications, which is probably unlikely, at least in the near future.

If not 3rd party complications, I'd like to have more choices for Apple apps. Having my latest heart rate on there would be pretty nice. It looks like the watch is checking my heart rate every 10 minutes. Having that up in the corner would be nice. Another good complication would my steps (maybe that only matters because I used a Fitbit for a long time).

The activity is there, but I haven't found that too interesting to me personally.

Heart Rate Monitor

I am fascinated by the idea of monitoring my heart rate. I love the app Pedometer++ and I would love an app like that for heart rate. The health app really stinks for viewing the heart rate history.

Notifications

The notifications on my watch are only worthwhile if I can act on them. It is interesting how meaningless some notifications are now. I have removed a lot of notifications and feel that I am not as distracted as I may have been.

Solar Watch Face in Alaska

The sun sets late in April.

The sun sets late in April.

This one is pretty cool, and will be even cooler when I get up north this summer where there won't be any midnight.

Conclusion

Do I need the Apple Watch? No. Do I like it? Yes.

I have always loved watches, though I have been too poor or cheap to buy them.

This is the most expensive watch I have ever bought, and I bought the cheapest version.

The Best Feature

This may seem like a small thing, but the alarm tones are perfect for waking me up in the morning. PERFECT! They are just loud enough, and they are a pleasing sound. I have completely stopped using my iPhone alarm, and I only use my watch. The alarm wakes me up, but not my wife (or the kids who sneak into my bed at night).


5 Things App: A To Do App that Helps You Become Someone

This is a review about a new app that I just love. Before I get to the app itself, I need to share a personal story about why this app means so much to me.

Making goals is hard work. Making realistic goals is also hard work. Sticking to and fulfilling those goals is even harder. But it is so worth it. I read a book a while ago called "Write it Down, Make it Happen". The premise of this book is that if you write something down, it can happen. I took that advice in 2002, and wrote down some goals for the next 9 years. I didn't know about Zig Ziglar's Wheel of Life, yet, and so I did my own modified version, which included the following:

  • Mental - Complete Master's degree program
  • Spiritual - attend the temple monthly
  • Career - be a school principal
  • Financial - make at least $70K (I'm in education, so that was lofty!) and be out of debt (except for my personal goal).
  • Personal - Own a home
  • Family - Have four kids (and be done having kids)

Now, I know a lot of my friends had much more lofty goals than I did. I will be honest, these were big goals for me. I had just returned from my mission to Russia. I was starting my second year of college (after I had failed a class before Russia), I was taking out a bunch of student loans, hadn't met my wife, yet, and I was making $6.03 an hour, working 20 hours a week.

I wrote all these goals down in my journal, and reviewed them regularly. They guided my life for the following nine years. Even though I did stray from them a couple times in that time period, they were still what kept me grounded. I kept coming back to them time and time again.

I met every goal by my deadline (except for the debt one, which was a couple months late). I believe we can do anything when we put our minds to it.

5 Things

5 Things rests on the belief that you can be successful if you focus on five areas of your life. It is simpler than Zig Zigler's Wheel of Life, which I really like. The idea is that you review your five goals daily, and make a note when you accomplish something. You create short term, medium term, and long term goals in 5 areas.

The 5 areas of growth. 

The 5 areas of growth. 

Now, I can review my goals daily and stay focused on what I need to do to become. I can also jot notes about things that I did that contributed to success on that goal. When the pentagon under the goals is full, you have done something in each of those areas.

You can jot simple notes, like "Sat quietly for 15 minutes", or you can be more in-depth and record longer entries like a journal.

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The app is beautifully simple, and is a modern-day way for me to track the goals that I need keep focused on.

The app is available on iOS App Store for $4.99. One dollar per goal that you are much more likely to accomplish is well worth it! Actually, it is free right now, so buy it before it is out!


How to Not Let Your Child be a Victim

Damara Simmons:

A sharp pain cuts through my heart. “No,” my brain screams, “This can’t happen. I won’t let it happen. They can’t tear down my son!” I picture myself marching into the school and telling those students and teacher off. I shake the thought from my mind, “What can I do? How can I protect him?”

Later I remember what author Brene Brown said about how she handles the critics and rude comments. “That’s it! I can teach that to my son so he can protect himself.” Hope surges through me.

Click the title to see her strategy. It is great. Very simple. Remember the people who really matter. Ditch everyone else.


Want Cleaner Bathrooms?

Curtis Newbold:

In an airport in Amsterdam a few years back, officials wrestled with this very problem. Without spending enormous amounts of money on research and the design of a new toilet, they wanted to know what they could do keep that annoying (and disgusting) mess off the floors. An economist that worked for the airport had a brilliant solution: etch a little housefly into the bowls and give the guys something to aim at. And you know what the result was? An 80% reduction in spillage! (I’d hate to be the guy who had to research the before-and-after statistics on that).

I LOVE this idea. Public restrooms for men are awful. This is a brilliant, simple solution. Just the kind that I like.


Watch Apps

Marco Arment:

Every time the interface loads or changes, the Watch and iPhone communicate round-trip over Bluetooth. Whether due to wireless flakiness, 1.0 OS bugs, or (most likely) both, WatchKit is frustratingly unreliable. Apps or glances will sometimes just spin forever instead of loading, and even when everything’s working perfectly, apps still take so long to load and navigate that the watch’s screen often turns off before you’ve accomplished anything.

This is by far the biggest annoyance with apps on the watch. More often then not, the screen turns off before the app finishes loading.

This article is about the podcast client I use every day. It is an amazing app, and is now much more worthwhile on the watch, too.


Students Fixing their Mistakes

Brad Gustafson:

An elementary student was empowered to help engineer a new joystick using our school’s 3D printer.  She worked with Mr. Hinnenkamp to create a tiny joystick sleeve that fit over the broken drone remote controls using a design program called Tinkercad.  Everything works as good as new now, and our students had the opportunity to experience authentic innovation and learner empowerment.

This is precisely why we feel it is critical to put students in the center of their learning (even if it means things get messy or broken every once in a while).  Kids have the capacity to innovate, engineer, think critically, and solve a myriad of real problems; they don’t require worksheets to do so!  All students deserve the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology in a safe and supportive learning environment.  If the first time students have the opportunity to innovate and invent using real-world tools is high school or college, then we will have failed them.

When kids are at the center, they can be empowered to fix their mistakes and learn from them.


Givers

William Parker:

I guess the answers to those questions may depend on the teachers you ask. I would imagine many of them would speak to the intangibles that make teaching worth it. Like parenting, you don’t always show up because it’s required or even because you always like it; you do it because you believe it’s a calling.

Let’s shoot straight: it’s not easy to clean up spills on your classroom floor or break up a fight between angry boys and then turn right around and keep smiling while you teach essay writing, solve equations, or finish grading papers!

As always, thoughtful post from William Parker. Thank a teacher today.


Getting Feedback

Jennifer Gonzalez:

It’s possible that you think you’ve been asking for feedback, but you have been doing it in a way that isn’t producing results. Maybe you occasionally mention something general to your staff like, “Hey, if anyone ever has suggestions or feedback for me, just let me know.” Or in your start-of-the-year speech to the faculty, you mention that you have an open-door policy — teachers should feel free to talk to you any time they’re having a problem.

Asking for feedback is hard, but very vital. When people have concerns, it is so important that they are able to talk about it. I've asked teachers to give me feedback in the format that we use for my actual evaluation and teacher's evaluation. There is some power in anonymity, but that also leaves room for potshots. A very healthy system is needed for that anonymous system to work. There need to be high levels of trust going both ways.

I agree with Jennifer, in that you really need to go out of your way to get feedback, regardless of what you say at any given point. You really need to go out and give people a chance and method for giving feedback.