Living with an Apple Watch

When the Apple Watch first came out, I was intrigued but chose not to buy one. I always wear a watch, and while I have tried a number of so-called smart watches over the years I was not that impressed.

A few weeks after the initial launch I was walking around a Mall outside Boston early one morning, and happened upon an almost deserted Apple store, so I popped in and got a hands on demo of the watch. I looked at the different cases, straps and played with it and came away unconvinced. It was nice, but I didn’t see it as a must-have accessory. To me the case of the watch is okay, but the materials didn’t seem that special, and frankly I was disappointed with the straps. But it did have potential.

A couple of months later Apple opened a new store on Madison Avenue in New York, just a couple of blocks from my apartment. And that did change things a bit. Now I was walking past the store while walking our dog after dinner a few times a week.
It’s always nice to window shop. For my wife it’s dress and jewelry shops, for my dog it’s lamp posts and fire hydrants and for me its tech stores.

So every few days we would find ourselves going for a post dinner walk in the evening and perusing the Apple store. After looking at the same counters over several of these walks, my good lady was getting bored, and “forced” me to actually buy one. As I wasn’t really convinced that I’d make good use of it I choose the lowest end model, dark grey with a rubber strap. And so started my journey into apple watch-dom.

The strap was horrible but the watch grew on me quickly. I don’t think Apple gets watch straps. The way they clip onto the watch itself is masterful, a little slidey magnetty thing that is a massive improvement over the usual pins that have been on watches for a hundred years. But the actual straps themselves are not great. I’m sure the materials they have chosen to use are high enough quality, but the clasps are silly, and the metal, leather and rubber models are all below top end styling.
I was able to pick up a third party anodized metal strap that matches the grey metal of the watch from Amazon for $40 that is superior to all the models that Apple sell (and at a fraction of Apples cost). It looks better, has more heft (that I like) and has a high end style clasp this is easy to use and looks good.

So what about the watch itself. Well I’ve had absolutely no issue with the battery life, I wear it every day from 6am to midnight and the battery has never run out. But the charge cable that comes with the watch has a six foot cable, which is just far too long.

The actual apps on the watch are useful, and over time I’ve found a number that I really like. The texting app is brilliant, with simple pre-defined and customized replies along with the voice to text option, I am able to respond to texts far less intrusively than via my phone.

Making and ending calls on the watch and using the speaker/mic to chat is a function I’ve used maybe six times in total, it’s a gimmick, but fun to have.

Getting news updates and sports updates is really good.

Emails on the watch, is less valuable. Emails need a bigger screen to be of any value.

I’ve used Apple Pay once.

The menu structure is fine, but nothing special.

But I’ve surprisingly liked the activity tracker, and the hearth rate monitor. It’s nice to see how long I’ve been sitting each day.

I really like the music play controls. I use a Bluetooth headset, and it is great to be able to control things on the watch, such as play/pause and volume.

Oh and it tells the time, which is nice. I’ve configured the watch face to show me time/date, temperature (based on the weather app), calories burnt, and a second time zone.

So from what I know now, would I recommend the watch to anyone else.
In a word – NO

I Love the watch, it’s become very useful, and I wear it now every day, but there is an issue:

It’s even less social that having a phone with you at dinner. It’s rude to check your phone all the time, and since the watch is even easier to check, it’s even easier to be really rude. I therefore now don’t wear it at social gatherings (I’ve broken this rule a few times, and it’s clear to me that it’s just socially really rude).

Should you buy an Apple Watch? Don’t rely on anyone else’s opinion, if you want a gadget that further assimilates you into your own digital content world, go for it, but I don’t want to be accused of encouraging anyone else to further disassociate with those they are physically in a room with.

It’s quite possible that robot historians in a thousand years’ time will mention the Apple Watch as one of the defining moments in the rapid decline of the age of man. The culmination of the so called “smart phone zombie culture crash”, that led our (soon to be sentient artificial intelligent) robot overlords to realize that we were not worthy of running things – power to the mighty googleplex and Apple Infinite Loop, may their solar powered electric empire rule for infinite cycles.


The HP Way

When Carly Fiorina became the CEO of Hewlett Packard, she came into a company steeped with great ideas (both at a cultural level and in terms of long term strategy), an amazing history and some of the most creative people in technology. Things were far from perfect, but the company generally had a strong business model, mostly well respected products and an incredibly loyal and talented workforce.

To say that Carly did not take the time to understand the strengths of her company would be an extreme understatement.

I got to meet her a couple of times and got to see her present many times, and the feeling I came away with from each interaction was the same; It’s not that her ideas were terrible (they were not), but an ability to get her subordinates to follow her direction was almost non-existent. Great leaders always spend the time to understand what it will take to make change, and this always starts with trying to understand the motivation of those that you need to change. I don’t care if you are Stalin or the Dali Lama you need a plan, either to convince or bully.

Carly did neither, she would state her idea, and just blindly assume that it was accepted. And I saw general manager after general manager blatantly ignore her, and just do what they wanted without any consequence.

This lead to massive fragmentation, with different parts of the company doing entirely different things. At the time, I thought this was weird, now I know (from decades of experience) it was the expected result of very weak leadership. I’ve seen other weak leaders since then, but none who were is such a high position.

Growing through merger and acquisition is fraught with issues. In a large percentage of M&A situations the result of one plus one is close to one. In other words the resulting merged company ends up being no bigger than the biggest of the merged parts. To me this is the definition of failure. If you merge two companies and reduce the joint workforce to the size of the previous largest part, and you lose customers and talent such that the resulting revenue is about the same as the largest of the two previous companies and your ability to do new things is about the same as the previous largest of the two companies, then you have failed.

In the case of HP and it’s Fiorina-tenured M&A strategy this is what I believe happened. Billions were wasted, and lead to increased debt that the new business has to service. Less people had jobs, customers were pissed off, and the resultant new company was far less cohesive (split cultural ideas).

In my view Carly Fiorina was a disastrous CEO for HP. I know she doesn’t see it that way, but speak with those who were there at the time, that’s exactly how it seemed to us.

So when she stands up and says she has the talent to be POTUS, and she uses HP as her one and only proof point, it doesn’t work for me.

She needs to apologize to the memory of Bill and Dave


There must be a better way

Every day I get a dozen calls from sales people I don’t know, who try every technique they can think of to get past my receptionist and into my voicemail box. And by the very volume of these calls, the receptionist has now become real world trained to identify every trick in the book.

• The “I was asked to call at this time” gambit fails 100% of the time
• The “we have a scheduled meeting” play only leads to the receptionist calling me and confirming that it is bullshit.
• The “I was passed to you by xxx in your company” just doesn’t cut it.

Look sales people if you want to reach me, try something really new, try sending me something of value first, like an example of what you can do for me. Don’t call me or email me, send it in the post, that gets my attention and doesn’t waste my time, it just appears on my desk and I do look at it. Then if I like what you send “maybe” I’ll call you.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but how many services so you need to buy the same stuff. If I need something I do what everyone else does, either google it or ask someone else what they are using.

The worst though has to be the spam emails.
I get several hundred of these every week. The ones offing penis enlargements and requesting help to get large amounts of money out of Nigeria get picked up quite well by the anti-spam tools, but about 20 of these every day are from companies trying to sell me contact lists, website development services or reporting tools. I may actually update my email autoreply to external people to say “btw I already have a web team, great contact lists and a BI team, so if you want to sell me any of these things, consider yourself updated I DON’T NEED THEM”

If you want to send me an email don’t, send me something of value, there are loads of things I don’t know, so tell me some of them. I , like most busy people respond well to those who take the time to think through the situation and provide something interesting.

Robot-calls, spam quality emails, cold calls along with pop-up ad’s on webpages, or unrequested requests on social media are dead to me.


Your ignorance is NOT as good as my knowledge

Isaac Asimov once famously said “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

The processes that are slowly but surely turning the news reporting and news publishing services into a continual flow of restating the opinions of others with absolutely no reference to actual facts is making this point of view more valid than ever!

It doesn’t matter if you follow MSNBC, Fox news, CNN or any of the other news services or news aggregating sites (such as the huffingtonpost or drudge report), the content is based on restating the most outrageous statements of every mouthpiece on every channel. The goal is not to report the news but to get eyeballs on the gaps between the news, by trying to tickle the interest enough of already biased consumers so that the stay on the channel across the ad breaks. And showing the latest shot of some oversized body part of a mostly naked vacuous plastic twenty something who is famous for only being famous is seen as more valuable than an analysis of some currently critical world event.

Why do political parties think it’s important to collect huge sums of money for their cause? Do robot-calls, surveys, print and TV ads actually influence peoples voting behavior? Or is the lucrative publicity machine using elections as a revenue stream and generating self-perpetuating statistics to “prove” their value to their customers.

When people give large sums of money to political causes, they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, they expect something in return. And people who can afford to give to political parties generally want something big, such as a return in excess of the expenditure they are making. Why would anyone think that it’s a good idea to allow government to be influenced by money? Well it seems that politicians are becoming part of the richest class in history.

Politicians should be paid for their work, and if they don’t break anything and find ways of doing what’s required without spending in excess of the available funds, they should be rewarded with some ongoing remuneration. But if they screw things up, get us into wars that should have been avoidable, spend money we don’t have or raise taxes beyond a very tiny amount, then they should get nothing.

And hey politicians and wannabe politicians let’s be clear on a number of things:

1. If you get us into a war, you have failed! War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy, if you can’t outsmart our enemies with words, and sneaky behind the scenes manipulation then you are the wrong people to lead.

2. Poor people need more help than rich people! Your job is to sort out education, healthcare, and a social net to ensure that this place is filled with happy, healthy, well educated, clean people who don’t need to live as an underclass, do that and everyone wins, and it can be a hell of a lot cheaper than a massive prison complex and millions of unemployable (mainly) minorities.

3. Balance the books! Stop spending half of everything on overpriced military hardware and services, that’s just a way of paying off your buddies (war profiteers), instead either pay a lot less for the military hardware you buy or buy less of it. That’s the only area of government that needs to be tweaked for the budget to balance, every other item is just a rounding error in comparison.

4. Tax religion! Religious organizations are trying hard to be political, it even says “In God We Trust” on the cash. Tax religions and you will have more money than you know what do to with, and it will just make us smile.

5. Education is NOT a way of making money! The blatant screwing of public schools, and the idiotic volume of testing is killing a generation, and charter schools are going to be the same at a higher price. Local county taxes for schools are killing people’s income and the huge cost of student loans is going to kill generations of spending power.

6. Science is key, we need well educated and highly motivated scientists to make a world of seven billion plus people function; otherwise we’re looking at a Mad Max future.

7. Infrastructure – We need better trains, roads, power, communications, water, and airports. We need better than everywhere else in the world, stop being stupid about it.

8. Stop worrying about difference. Everyone is different, and it is absolutely the government’s job to stop any and all levels of discrimination, there are no acceptable levels. Skin color, ability, sexual orientation, left or right handed, fat, thin, tall, short, blind, deaf, man, woman, race, religious affiliation, country of decendency, whatever criteria you can think of. If you don’t like someone else, tough, difference is just a fact of existence live with it!

9. And stop saying and doing stupid things. They say power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately, but COME ON, we’ve had Cigar-gate, Darth Vader, client number 9, dick picks, email scandals, selling senate seats, toe tapping in toilets, married men taking girlfriends on fuckaways on government jets, undeclared corporate gifts, leaks every which way you could ever imagine and so much more, isn’t in clear yet it’s not worth it. If you want to be a politician, take some bromide while you’re in office, and stock up on Viagra for when you get thrown out, and use it then and not before.