Apple One

Another new product was just released that combines all of Apple’s services in one, cost-saving bundle for me. I opted for the $30 a month, everything package which includes the soon-to-be released, Apple Fitness service. Paired with an Apple Watch it will automagically track your workouts and display stats on screen.

All six services work out to $5 each and includes Apple Music, TV, Arcade, News, Fitness and 2 TB of iCloud storage.

Apple Watch Series 6

I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch for the past three years starting with the series three and recently upgraded to the series 6.

I’ve been holding off on purchasing a new Apple Watch and making the most of my Series 3 the last couple of years. As this things usually go, the 3 started to run out of storage space quickly and there are new features being released with each iteration. So a week after it was released, I upgraded to the Series 6 Space Grey Aluminum 44mm with cellular capabilities.

I’ve been wearing it for almost a month and there is a lot to like about it.

The first difference is the upgraded dual-core S6 chip on the A13 Bionic processor used in the iPhone 11. So it is absolutely faster than my series 3. With the always-on display, I’m averaging about 16 hours of battery life. Less than the previous watch, sure, but there is a lot more going on under the hood too.
Also new is the always-on altimeter to track elevation changes and compass- great for hiking.

A new sensor in the 6 that can measure blood oxygen levels is pretty neat. It works by shining infrared LEDs onto the blood vessels in your wrist and measuring the amount of light reflected back. The Apple Watch then calculates the color of the blood, which indicates how much oxygen is present (bright red blood is well oxygenated). It does this in the background, and can also be trigged using the new Blood Oxygen app.

New watch faces allows me to customize and personalize. I prefer a classic chronometer as a standard and for special occasions I can switch to something more whimsical.

The Watch is designed specifically for your health and has even saved lives with the built in EKG meter. It will prompt you to breathe, stand up after periods of sitting, and remind you that yes you can walk a specific amount of steps per day. Two new exercises include a sleep tracking app and hand washing apps (timely feature during the pandemic.)

Is the Apple Watch Series 6 Worth the Upgrade?

If you have the Series 3 and lower, then yes, absolutely. If you have the 4 and up, not so much.

As with my recent iPhone 12 Pro upgrade, this new series 6 Watch is future-proof. There is not too much more that Apple can do to upgrade more than the current device so I will enjoy this one for quite a long time. And did I mention the design is gorgeous?

iPhone 12 Pro

This is the first year I purchased the newest iPhone on launch day since I converted to iPhone over Android six years ago. It was a thrill to open that box and see the premium stainless steel, glass back, the ceramic shield screen and that third camera lens I have been drilling over for the past year ( I skipped the previous first release.) As first impressions go, this was love at first sight.

No, I have not raced out to test the latest HDR video, nor the Dolby Vision but it is clear to anyone that has one in their hand that this is the most premium iPhone ever and it is built to be used. My only cause for frowning is that the edges pick up and enhance my fingerprints. Well that is easily solved with the slim Otterbox shell I encased it with. I don’t want a case on it because it hides the design but concurrently, I want this device to last for more than a few years. It is going to get protected. And yes, for the first time in forever, I am content.. This is what I have waited years for, a device that is gorgeous, and future-proof.

I won’t go into all the technical details and design specifications, I’ll leave that for others to write about, but they are impressive. The processing chip and memory are faster, more than most laptops, including the Mac I am using to type this.

The three camera system in the iPhone 12 Pro deserve their own article here, and I am positive that will happen once I make the time to do a proper photo shoot with them. The 12 Pro has the ultra-wide lens, wide and telephotos lenses for various uses and sometimes, you can shoot with all three. Add on the Lidar scanner to offer true depth for my photographic subjects and compares with your basic DSLR camera and lenses. Truth be told, these cameras make up the number one reason why I have upgraded.

The second reason is the high speed 5G capability and those data speeds. My carrier lit up their network here a few weeks ago in anticipation for this release and I couldn’t be more pleased. Downloads are fast, streaming is uninterrupted and thanks to unlimited tethering to the hotspot, I am second-guessing the need for home internet service. The home service speed is maxed out at 50MBs whereas the iPhone 12’s 5G capabilities here are double, sometimes triple. If I lived in a larger city, make that 10 times the speed.

I can’t wait to discover more of this iPhone as the weeks go by, especially that camera system. More later on that, of course.

Back In Cyberspace

Screenshot of this website in an RSS feed

Cyberspace- A long time ago, before we allowed ourselves to bottlenecked into a few social platforms, fed into massive surveillance machines, mined for our attention, and controlled by algorithms, there was an idea about internet freedom. Cyberspace.

We allowed cyberspace to become dominated by a few large companies. It was unregulated, free. We created things and shared ideas and we didn’t need anyone to do it for us. We just did it.

Web 2.0- We became lazy and enticed by centralized/connected web applications. Back in 2005, I became hooked into the Google platform thanks to Gmail. Flickr was new and exciting way to share photos. In 2006, I was one of the first users of TWTTR (now Twitter) and I even had a MySpace account and then Facebook. We then coined the phrase “social media” and it was good. The internet became a cesspool of ads, trolls, marketing and algorithms after that.

Social Media- No Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Thanks to the massive digital footprints I’ve left behind, you can still find some references to my usage but I am off of social media. The Flickr account I subscribe to is not social. It is an online repository and cloud backup to my photo archives. I have an Outlook account from Microsoft but that is residual and for using their services (which I am weaning off of.) No more. Most of us rely on those corporate platforms that decide what they think you need to know. Facebook news feeds anyone? Google search, anyone? Controlled by algorithms designed to keep you hooked and sedentary inside their apps.

I’ve spent the past year winding the clock backwards and starting over again. I have fully reclaimed my little hub here in Cyberspace. My domains are secured again. The website is self-hosted. Email domains are mine.

Since the early 2000’s most of us have used and since then forgotten two brilliant tools to consume information; E-mail and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

With E-mail and RSS we control what we want to focus our attention on. For either information or for pleasure. I’ve slowly re-introduced E-mail subscriptions to informative websites I trust. They use it as communicating ideas, just like we did in cyberspace a long time ago. They won’t sell my information and they won’t spam me. When/if they do I’ll simply unsubscribe.

Since I first discovered RSS back in the early 2000’s, I was hooked. I’ve relied on it almost daily as an information resource. Here’s why: every website or blog has a feed attached to it. Once you set up or subscribe to these feeds in a feed aggregator like Feedly (free), you could read articles from your favorite websites without visiting them all. No ads, no tracking, no algorithms and in one central location.

I am in control of what I see. No one else. Now, that does not mean I won’t visit the web, far from it. I still use it for research purposes like everyone else but those websites are prevented from tracking me thanks to ad and content blockers. I use a secure browser called Firefox Focus which blocks them. I use Duck Duck Go to perform searches on the web. They don’t track or sell you anything. Pretty soon I will purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that masks my internet provider’s information.

There is a lot of cyberspace out there still. The corporate platforms and strict governments haven’t completely taken over it, even if they do fancy themselves as masters of the universal internet.

I do not advertise and will never have advertisements here. I will never spam or sell anyone’s information. Ever. If you’d like to add my website to your feed aggregator it is [https://chrisdenbow.com/rss].

Productivity(?)

Over the past few weeks I have slowly acquired some tools in an effort to find some way to get my scattered thoughts out of my head and into some format that makes sense enough for me to pick it back up when I need it. See there? Longest run-on sentence ever. Scattered.

I have pen and paper, including the Pentel Energel and the new Grids & Guides hardback in black. Now I’m afraid of using it for the same reason people are afraid of getting their new shoes dirty. Weird.

Things- Promises to help me “focus on what matters” by seeing calendar events and to-dos together. Collect my thoughts, get organized, plan my time? One can hope!

GoodNotes- This was an automatic buy for me when I upgraded the iPad and Pencil. It allows me to take my handwritten notes in digital form. Handwritten notes & PDF markup? Crazy cool.

MindNode- A brilliant mind mapping tool that allows me to diagram and parse my thoughts visually and helps me brainstorm ideas. I’m using it for story plots and arcs.

Day One- A digital journal app. But Chris, don’t you have a blog? Well, yeah, duh. But sometimes you want to keep your personal shit just that. Personal. Private. DayOne allows me to add text, audio or photos. It automagically logs, location, date, time, weather and even the song you have playing on Apple Music. Why are these important? Because looking back on your thoughts and wondering why without context or surroundings can be futile. And while I’m thinking about it…

Apple Music- No, it isn’t as good or as user friendly as my favorite, Spotify, but Apple Music is just as strong and has exclusive content. And it works beautifully with other apps because it is integrated. Built in. Less shenanigans means more productivity right?

Bear Notes- Elegant writing and note taking. Because the built in Notes is functional but the interface is simple, boring. I am anti-boring.

Ulysses- Promises to be the ultimate writing app. I think that is gratuitous but I bought into it anyway. I shared a little bit about it on the last post and will probably mention it again in the future.

WordPress- You’re reading this article on my website using the WordPress engine on my own server. It was time to take control again.

Will any of these help achieve the desired results? I don’t know but I am looking forward to finding out.

Re-tooling

Lately I have been rethinking my writing workflow and trying to find some right solutions. I want to simplify and minimize tasks and tools. And I want them compatible with all my devices.

I’m looking at purchasing a refurbished MacBook Air really soon and selling the Windows machine. That’ll be that once and for all. I’ll be all-in on the Apple ecosystem. Finally.

In preparation for that, I am discovering new tools to assist me but the new workflows are elusive. How can I make the best use of Bear notes, Things tasks and Ulysses writing app? I’m writing this post in Ulysses iPad right now instead of the native WordPress editor. When it is finished, I will send it to WordPress and it will publish automagically for me.

Oops, had to step away. Now I’m writing this in the iPhone app. Easy syncing through iCloud. Love it.

Part of me loves to tinker and play as I discover new workflows and increase my writing productivity. Another part of me just wants it to work with out thinking about it.

Okay, that was false. I’m enjoying tinkering with my new tools so far.