Author Archives: Christopher

About Christopher

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

The Cordless Generation

Entertainment apps on the Amazon Fire Tablet via Amazon.com

Entertainment apps on the Amazon Fire Tablet via Amazon.com

If you’re the parent of a kid between the ages of, oh, 5 and 13, you’ve probably experienced this scene:

SETTING: A living or family room. A kid is curled up with a tablet in their lap watching videos. An HDTV sits unused just feet away.

You: “You know there’s a TV right there with a much bigger screen.”

The kid Looks up.

Kid: “Yeah, I know.”

The kid looks back down at the tablet. You wander off muttering incoherently to yourself.

I know my wife and I have each had this scene play out with our geekling multiple times each. And, in our case, there’s a high definition projector near him while he’s glued to a 7 inch tablet watching Netflix or YouTube.

According to The Next Web this is not usual anymore, at least in the UK. They cite a survey by Childwise that recently found that Netflix is the most popular “channel” for kids in the UK. Related to that, the BBC declared last week that time “online” has overtaking time watching traditional TV for kids. Now, I know that’s the UK, but I cannot imagine it is much different in the U.S. or other developed/affluent nations.

When I was a kid, it was a big deal to jump from four channels (ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS) to cable TV which added access to some independent channels from Chicago. After school, I still turned on the TV but I had a handful, about three, new choices of reruns/cartoons to watch daily. Then, we got HBO…one channel of HBO, but that was huge. (R rated movies! Richard Pryor and George Carlin uncut!) But, even then, the Big Three Networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS, still ruled viewership and they were later joined by Fox. But, change did come, slowly over the last three decades TV viewership has continually fragmented as hundreds of channels now dot the cable/satellite TV landscape. Over the last few years, the “Big Four” networks have been usurped by channels like HBO, FX, USA, AMC, TNT, SyFy, A&E, and TBS which all field top notch scripted programming. And the “upstarts” are getting recognition in the form of Golden Globe and Emmy awards, formerly the domain of the “Big Four” networks. Cable and Satellite have clearly disrupted the old broadcast model. But, articles like the one above by The Next Web clearly show that the disruptors are now the disrupted with younger viewers moving to streaming options and away from traditional TV.

What’s stunning to me is how quickly this has happened. But, if you look at what has happened in cell phones, social media, and on demand entertainment over the last decade, you can see where the groundwork was laid for the “Cordless Generation.” In the early part of the last decade, cell phones with texting began to pull the attention of kids away from TV, and everything else. My older kids, now in their 20s, like any other kid their age could text like demons on those little numpads. Then, cameras became ubiquitous in cell phones. Camera phones made it easy to take videos constantly and YouTube and social media allowed kids to share all of those videos with their friends easily. By the beginning of this decade, Facebook/social media and texting were both pulling kids away from traditional TV and getting them used to their preferred content being portable. Cable and Satellite TV countered lagging viewership with DVRs to record hundreds of hours of programs and “on demand” downloading of some content. Viewers could watch on their schedule, not the network’s. They could also skip commercials. This transitioned viewer habits from “watch when it’s on” to “watch when I want to.” (Only live events like sports, news and such can still pull in some people, but even ESPN is now shedding viewers badly.)

Not In Front of the TV + Portable + On Demand + No/Few Commercials = streaming content. Netflix made its initial success from cheap DVD rental by mail. But, their long term plan was to move to internet delivery of content via streaming of the same movies and TV shows they rented on DVD. Looking back on it, it seems obvious where all the trends were pointing. YouTube was already streaming user created content, Netflix just upped it to content from Hollywood, and other, studios. Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and others have followed. Watch what you want when you want and WHERE you want. But the online services just had recycled content from broadcast TV, cable TV, and movie studios. They had to share revenue with them. TV/movies were still the originators. And the cable channels and movie studios began to see they were losing eyeballs to the Cordless Generation so they wanted better deals in exchange for licensing content to Netflix et al. So, Netflix took the next, logical step: they created their own content. And, shows like House of Cards were a hit. Netflix had created the Cord Cutter. Or, they’d finished the creation, at least. Amazon quickly followed and Hulu and others are getting into the act. It’s even gone full circle: you can get HBO sans cable/satellite bill over the internet via HBO Go and the newly announced Star Trek series for 2017 is slated to appear only on a streaming service from CBS.

Which brings us back to my Geekling. Ten plus years ago, his older siblings were getting their texting on, but they still sat in front of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. Later, they graduated to traditional TV shows. Their baby brother started the same way watching Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer, etc., on TV, albeit via DVR. Ten years later, their baby brother is 11 and he watches some traditional TV shows but he’d rather watch reruns of older shows on Netflix. He’s a classic binge watcher, consuming entire runs of everything from Shaun the Sheep to Digimon to Young Justice to The Suite Life of Zack and Cody in a matter of days. If he does watch “newly created” scripted shows, it’s most likely the shows created by Netflix (Puss In Boots, Dragonriders of Berk: Race to the Edge) or Amazon (Annedroids). These “kid shows” are at least as good as anything on Nick or Disney. And, his older siblings? Well, the ones that have their own apartments do not have cable or satellite TV, but they watch a lot of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

None of this addresses the elephant in the room: YouTube. YouTube predates all of the other streaming services. It started off just as a way for users to publish whatever video content they created from goofy cat videos to dance recitals to home made music videos. Of course, TV and movie clips, and entire movies, are also uploaded which causes studio lawyers fits. But, the cat videos have largely moved to Facebook and such. YouTube has found other niches, two of which keep my Geekling’s attention when he’s not watching scripted content from Netflix, etc.: “How To” videos and game streaming.

YouTube has become the place to search when you do not know how to do something. Everything from cooking to electronics to coding to game walkthroughs and much more are on YouTube. And, if you look up how to connect or use some appliance or consumer electronic, it’s likely that the maker put its instructional videos on YouTube. YouTube has really begun to fulfill the long promised future of online, on demand learning. For someone like my Geekling, if he gets stuck in a video game or has trouble building a Lego kit, he goes to YouTube and the answer to his dilemma will be revealed.

Game streams are his real passion on YouTube, though. Older adults might wonder at video/computer games becoming spectator sports, but the kids get it. Ever heard of “Pewdie Pie?” What does he do? He posts videos of himself playing games. He has 41 million followers on YouTube, his videos have been viewed over 11 billion times, and he made Forbes’ list of Most Influential 30 Under 30 along with Adele, Ed Sheeran and the cast of the new Star Wars movie. He earned over $12 million last year alone from his video efforts and, in fact, the top 10 YouTubers earned a collective $54 million! Not all of them are game streamers, but many are. Geeklings like mine will sit for hours watching gamers, usually older than him up to their 20s, playing games like Minecraft. He learns about Minecraft mods, game strategies, and new games. It’s scary as a parent, of course: this stuff isn’t rated like TV for content and you have to try to keep an ear/eye on what the kids watch. (I’m sure I miss stuff, but I’m guessing he hears worse on the school playground or from his older siblings.) And, if he doesn’t want to watch recorded game streams, live game streaming via sites like Twitch is also popular. YouTube is even branching into a live game streaming section called YouTube Gaming to compete with Twitch. Game broadcasting is huge and even I would rather watch game streams or an episode of Wil Wheaton on Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop instead of most of the dreck on TV. (I may rant on my own disatisfaction with TV in a future post.) People who play sports like to watch others on TV who play sports. This is really no different. And, unlike watching a millionaire professional athlete play a sport,  you can watch someone stream a video game and turn around and play the same game or mod on your own console or PC and maybe even at the same ability level. Call it geeky, but… did I mention Pewdie Pie has 41 million followers on YouTube???

The Cordless Generation is real. There is a ton of stuff to watch online in every niche, interest, sport, hobby, or genre. “TV” is not the end-all be-all of our free time as it was even just 10 or so years ago. And everyone from the TV makers to Hollywood is going to feel it.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

On Things Not Done But Not Giving Up

So, have you ever had that sort of mental list of “things I’ll get around to” floating in the back of your brain? You know, things like cleaning the garage, writing the Great American Novel, or watching every episode of every Star Trek series in order? (I’m actually working on that last one. Finished all 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise a few weeks ago.) Well, I have too many of those “things I’ll get around to” items… my collection of unread books scattered about the house attests to that. And, writing on this blog is another one. I just looked and my last post was last May in 2015!

What the heck? What have I been doing? Did I forget how to write? Am I dead?

No, not dead. No, still know how to write, although not terrible well. But, 2015 did turn out to be a busy year. Our oldest girl got married and we welcomed our first grandchild. So, 2015 turned into The Year of a Wedding and a Baby. We, also, made our annual trip to Gen Con and I still do the website for and help organize our local game convention, FlatCon. Add in work and “life” and this poor blog just sort of got forgotten.

But, I didn’t completely stop writing! Over the summer, my lovely bride challenged my geekling and I to play one, different game a day of the many neglected board, card, and other games we have at home. (Another group of “I’ll get around to” items.) We accepted the challenge and, mostly, succeeded. I decided to blog about THAT at http://asummerofgames.com/ where I listed every game we played in order. I, also, did little write-ups on the first 16 games or so and I always intended to write the rest. (Yeah, I know. There’s a theme here.) But, at least, I was still writing in the summer, but it started to feel like an obligation, a chore, that I had daily. When it becomes “work” I sort of mentally rebel and stop doing it. (Even the summer of playing a different game every day became a bit of a chore and I started to dread it a little.)

But, I’ve taken a break for a bit and recharged some. I’ve got some things on my mind and even if no one reads these entries, I’m still going to write them down. And, with no additional grand babies, weddings, or other big projects on the horizon, I’m hoping to write a bit more regularly…

Or it’ll be 6 months until the next entry. We’ll see!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Two Weeks With the Apple Watch Gives +10 To DEX Checks

Apple Watch iMessage reply options via Business Insider

Apple Watch iMessage reply options via Business Insider

So when the Apple Watch was announced, I wrote a post explaining I want one because I fail DEX checks often. (For you non-RPGers, “DEX” refers to “dexterity.” “Failing a DEX check” means, basically, I drop things…. A lot.)

In the post, I described how a device attached to my arm or wrist, either a phone itself or a device wirelessly tethered to one, solved several accessibility, safety, and convenience issues related to having low strength and coordination as well as the inability to walk due to Cerebral Palsy. I listed several benefits such as a reduction in phone drops as I use it or transfer to my driver’s seat in my van, not missing calls due to fumbling the phone and canceling the call, easier controlling of media playback in my van and elsewhere, and the added safety of my phone literally being attached to me should I fall out of my scooter, etc. (I have literally done the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” thing. Had to be rescued by two passing soccer moms once. Not fun.)

I planned to try a friend’s Apple Watch to make sure I could manipulate the physical buttons, use the interface, and simply strap it onto my arm. At my 50th birthday party, my dear friend let me test his newly acquired Apple Watch and I did try it. I had no problems using it! So I figured on ordering one to be delivered in June. Later that night, as the party wound down, the same friend handed me a bag and said, “I got you a special gift.” HE GOT ME MY OWN APPLE WATCH SPORT!” Speechless I was. I asked him what he planned to do if the testing of his had shown I could not use it. He said, “Tell you to sell it on Ebay before the June batch hits!” I’m still floored by his generosity two weeks later.

Apple Watch iMessage and Emoji via Apple.com

Apple Watch iMessage and Emoji via Apple.com

After two weeks with my Apple Watch Sport, the bigger sized one, I feel like I’ve had it long enough to make some observations:

  • Getting started: Setup was fairly easy, although you do most of it from the Watch app on your iPhone, not the Watch. I did watch a few how to videos for setup tasks I was not getting and how to choose music sources on it. But, I was up and running with it quickly.
  • Comfort: The larger Sport does not feel heavy on my arm at all. It feels like a watch. And Apple included a smaller strap you could swap onto it so it fits on my scrawny arm without a long tail of strap hanging. The closure mechanism was awkward for my gimpy fingers but I am adapting. I may get something easier later.
  • Interface: Once you spend some time with it, using the Apple Watch is not hard, but it is different than other iOS devices and you do have to adapt to it a bit. Using the digital crown to click to the home screen or scroll and zoom works well and you learn to try Force Touch, a hard press and hold, to bring up secondary menus on most apps and for customizing your chosen watch face.
  • Phone calls: Answering calls is easy and the speaker phone on the Watch is sufficient in most non-noisy places. If I cannot hear it well in noisy environs, I simply pull out my iPhone and pick up the call in progress. I may invest in a Bluetooth earpiece if I can find one I can actually put on myself. The Watch has no dialer that I have found. If the person I’m calling is not in my Contacts, I can’t call them from the Watch. So, I do need to get out my iPhone for that.
  • iMessages: Upon receiving a text or iMessage, you simply swipe downward to read it. You can dictate a reply and send it as audio or text. Or, you can reply with several replies prepared by the Apple Watch based on the previous conversation. You can also simply send an emoji. If the recipient is another Apple Watch user, you can also send a little drawing you create on the screen. The only thing you cannot do is type a reply on the Watch.
  • Watch functions: The included watch faces are adequate. I chose Modular and customized the color to a dark blue and tweaked it to display the time, date, temperature, next alarms set, battery percentage and the next calendar item. The Apple Watch has a Wrist Raise feature where the face lights up when you raise your arm. I turned it off because it I wear it to sleep and it lit up every time I moved. I just tap it to wake it.
  • Haptics: the default haptics appear to be sufficient to vibrate and let me know I have a call, a message, etc. I actually turned off the sound notifications and ringers on both the Watch and my iPhone 6 Plus. No more embarrassing ringing in meetings, at movies, etc. The alarm haptic reliably wakes me in the morning. This was something I wanted because, thanks to my CP, rolling over in bed to kill an alarm on the nightstand is a slow, process. My poor wife always gets awakened as the alarm beeps as I roll over to it. Now, the Apple Watch wakes me only and setting the alarm is as easy as pressing and holding the crown to activate Siri and saying, “Set an alarm for 6 in the morning.”
  • Battery Life: After two weeks my normal usage has not brought it below 40% by the time I get out of bed in the morning. I charge it while I shower, etc. in the morning and it’s back at 100% by the time I’m dressed and ready to start the day. It takes maybe an hour or two to charge fully. I have heard from a friend that the smaller Sport is not holding up for him but I do not know his usage habits. I use it for phone calls, basic info/weather checking, running music and podcasts from my phone, and simple message replies. I never “disconnect” the Bluetooth tether to my iPhone.
  • Media Playing: Once I figured how to force it to play music directly stored on my iPhone instead of the Watch (hint: Force Touch) I was set. I carry about 25 Gigs of MP3s on my iPhone and I’m too lazy to select only 2 Gigs to store directly on the Watch. Start the iTunes Watch app, Force Touch it and you can choose your iPhone or Watch as the source. You can also set the current song list to Shuffle and Repeat or not. Again, try Force Touch on every app! Podcasts are an addiction of mine and the app I was using had no Watch version. The buddy who gave me the Watch came to my rescue by suggesting I try OverCast which already has a Watch app. It works slick and plays every podcast I love. Now, I need Audible to make a Watch app for my other addiction: audio books. But, in the meantime, I can download the book as an MP3, put it in iTunes and play it that way. It will do for now.
  • GPS/Nav: I found the Maps app to be problematic. It does not speak directions like it does on the phone and the screen goes dark quickly to save battery. Since I use hand driving controls, I cannot keep tapping it to wake it up. I will need to bring the iPhone to the driver’s seat with me when I need nav help.
  • Health Apps: I muted all of them. Every time it told me to stand up and stretch I decided it was mocking me. I may play with the heart rate app when I watch my beloved Dallas Cowboys this NFL season, though.
  • Security/Safety: The Watch stays on my arm and the iPhone stays securely in my scooter bag for most mundane tasks. I do not drop my iPhone when answering it and I do not accidentally cancel incoming calls. When I transfer into my van’s driver seat I leave the phone in my scooter bag and now have both hands free for transferring. That improves safety right there. If I do fall out of my scooter, the Watch is right there with me. I actually feel nervous and incomplete now when it is charging and not on my arm.

Overall, I’m happy with it. Does everyone need one? Heck, no! But, for my situation the Apple Watch adds convenience and safety I want.

Apple Watch Faces

Apple Watch Faces

An additional note: the friend who gave me the Apple Watch happens to be blind. Apple is far ahead of Google’s Android in accessibility and screen reader technology for users who are blind. The vast majority of blind users of smartphones and tablets use iOS devices. (And, forget about Blackberry and Windows Mobile.) The combination of Siri and the Voiceover screen reader make iOS devices very accessibly to blind user right out of the box. Usually, folks who are blind need someone to set up technology for them before they can use it. As my buddy said on Facebook, he just got the Apple Watch out, activated the shortcut for VoiceOver and he was using it. Done. No help needed. So, if I am any sort of Apple Fanboy, there is why.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

via the Verge: You can play nearly 2,400 classic MS-DOS games for free right now

Back in November, it was announced that the Internet Archive was making 900 classic coin-op arcade games available on their site for free. Now, they’re doing it again. The Verge reported today You can play nearly 2,400 classic MS-DOS games for free right now. According to their post, the games run in your browser and include:

That includes the likes of id Software’s Commander Keen, the apocalyptic RPG Wasteland, the original Prince of Persia, early FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D, and many more. There’s even Mario Teaches Typing.

They report the whole thing is in beta so it may be buggy and there are no instructions for each game. Call it an added layer of challenge in playing these old favorites! Personally, I’m looking forward to revisiting Caveman Ugh-lympics, Harpoon, and Dragonlance: Champions of Krynn! Use this link to get to the archive.

Image from Wolfenstein 3D

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

via TechCrunch: Tesla Working On Robotic Tentacle Charger Arms

According to TechCrunch today, electric car manufacturer Tesla is working on robotic tentacle arms that will snake from the wall and plug into your Tesla automobile to recharge it. This may seem a little quirky and not really important, but imagine the value to someone like me with a severe mobility disability! Driving a gas vehicle, and with the vast majority of gas stations being self serve, getting my vehicle refueled required help from someone else. I’ve often thought an electric car I charge at home would be easier. But, can I plug it in myself? Tesla may solve that. Now, can my ridiculously expensive and complicated driving controls be installed in a Tesla and do they make a minivan?

 

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

via MacStories: 50 Must Have iPhone and iPad Apps

MacStories editor-in-chief Federico Viticci is known for his “must-have” app and software lists for all things Mac and iOS. I’m not a Mac user but I see some interesting and usable choices in his latest lists for both iPhone, My Must-Have iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition, and iPad, My Must-Have iPad Apps, 2014 Edition. He breaks them down into seven categories:

  • Work Essentials
  • Social
  • Audio and Music
  • Photos and Screenshots
  • News
  • Health
  • Utilities

Some of the apps are Mac-centric, meaning you have to also be a Mac user to get the benefits he touts, but most are not tied to working along with a desktop computer. If you got a new iPhone or iPad recently, check out his lists.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Uncharted 4 wallpaper via Forbes.com

Nathan Drake Will Make Me Get a PS4

I like to play a few video games. I’m not terribly good at console games what with being almost a half century old and a little thing called Cerebral Palsy, but I like to play anyway. Online shooters are almost an utter waste of time for me. There’s no way I can compete. My son could waste me in most games by the time he hit 6 or 7. So, I do mostly solo or co-op games where either ridiculous dexterity is not needed or the difficulty can be dialed down. If it’s an adventure game, I love good stories and cinematics. The best series for fun, story, acting, and visuals I’ve ever played is the Uncharted series.

Three years ago, I bought a PS3 just so I could play DC Universe Online and Uncharted 2. After a few hours of playing treasure hunter Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2, DCUO was pretty much forgotten. If you’ve never played, Drake is a modern day cross between Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, although a bit more violent at times than either of them. Developers Naughty Dog have created a series of games with wonderful characters and dialog, beautiful locations, and awesome action but easily accessible to even casual thumb stick jockeys. I was totally sucked in to Uncharted 2 and immediately bought its predecessor upon completion. A year later, Uncharted 3 came out and I tore through it as well. At the end of “U3,” the character of Drake was going to settle down and quit trying to get himself killed chasing his fortune. And Naughty Dog said they were done making Uncharted games as well so they could work on other things. There has been persistent talk of an Uncharted movie with Matt Damon attached, although fanboys really want Nathan Fillion instead or the real Drake voice actor, Nolan North. But, to date, nothing has come of the movie rumors. I figured I was done with Drake for good, sadly.

And, then, a few months ago, a reveal video came out depicting Drake waking up in a jungle a bit worse for wear, as usual. The video is accompanied by a voice over conversation between Drake and his mentor/sidekick Sully. Drake is asking Sully to help him get “back in the game” because he has “no choice.” Check it out:

I showed it to my son and we were overjoyed!

And then, today, I spotted articles about the Playstation Experience convention in Las Vegas and how Sony showed 15 minutes of actual gameplay video of Uncharted 4 from a PS4. The audience was so jazzed by it, that everything that followed in the presentation paled in comparison. It was like going on stage after Led Zeppelin. It is absolutely gorgeous! The game play and combat are reminiscent of The Last of Us, also by Naughty Dog. And, just like the other 3 games in the series, Drake is still just as acrobatic and sarcastic as ever as he jumps, swings, shoots, and punches. It looks fantastic!

One problem: I don’t own a PS4. I’ve always said I won’t get a next-gen console until there’s a game I absolutely want that only appears on one. Neither Xbox One, Wii U, or the PS4 have had that game. But, come later in 2015, Nathan Drake will be back. And, Daddy’s going to need a PS4.

Honey, don’t blame me. It’s Drake’s fault!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

via IO9: On Agents Of SHIELD, Revenge Is A Dish That Only Tastes Good To Psychos

IO9 has a nice spoiler filled review of last night’s Agents of SHIELD episode. We had to DVR last week’s episode and didn’t get to watch it until last night. So we got to watch both episodes as a sort of 2-part movie.

The Ward brothers have a chat (via IO9.com)

The Ward brothers have a chat (via IO9.com)

I agree with IO9 that the episodes this season are far superior to season 1. The story arcs are better. Ward’s creep factor is off the charts. Kyle MacLachlan is a delightful combination of psycho and funny. (Why doesn’t this guy get more work?) And, Director Coulson is hitting his stride again. (“You want pain? Come and get some.”) Awesome.

Anyway, if you’re all caught up on Agents of SHIELD, read the IO9 recap and make sure to read the very lengthy analysis by commenter “Cool Breeze.” It’s a nice pick apart of details and possible tie-ins to Avengers 2. (Anyone else notice Ward’s name drop of “Strucker?”) And, I agree with Cool Breeze: I’m not convinced that Simmons isn’t brainwashed. I think she may turn out to be “happy to comply.”

And, I don’t trust Bobbi either.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Why I’m Getting an Apple Watch: Because I Fail Dex Checks

The Verge has a nice summary of 11 ways the Apple Watch works and what developers may be able to do with it. I am getting an Apple Watch. It is a foregone conclusion. I upgraded my iPhone 4S to a 6 Plus because the 4S will not work with the Apple Watch. (I also wanted the bigger screen for my old man eyes.) But, I’m not getting the Watch because I’m an Apple fanboy per se. I don’t own a Mac and I love my Microsoft Surface Pro 2. It’s because I’ll be able to answer the damn phone with the Watch. If any of the Android watches or the Pebble Smartwatch had let me just answer the phone, I’d have switched back to Android last year.

Apple Watch photo (via qz.com)

Apple Watch photo (via qz.com)

I have Cerebral Palsy and holding any phone to my ear is possible but I have a good 30% chance of dropping the phone if I fail my Dex check. There’s a 45% chance I’ll accidentally cancel an incoming call as I grab my phone and 55% chance I’ll simply not get the phone wrangled in time to catch the call. Happens all the time. (No, I can’t show you the stats that produce the percentage chances above. Your brain would melt.)

For years, I have tried various straps and contraptions to attach a phone to my wrist. I’ve done it with flip phones and smart phones. It looked dorky, but it worked. However, the straps were invariably difficult for me to put on and they were uncomfortable. And, with a smart phone, I have to unstrap it to pick it up to take photos. With the Apple Watch, I’ll be able to answer the phone without fear of dropping the phone and the iPhone itself remains physical free for photos, etc.

There’s another benefit, although this one could be attained with one of the other smart watches on the market for Android or the Pebble. When I drive my modified van, my phone is not just my phone, as with most people and smartphones, it’s also my media center via bluetooth stereo playing music, feeding my podcast addiction, or one of dozens of audio books I’ve listened to on commutes over the years. But, I have to hold onto the phone as I transfer into my rotating powered driver’s seat from my scooter. While doing the transfer, I have to be careful so I do not drop the iPhone. I then place it in something secure to hold it. (I do not talk or text while driving. It’s dumb for everyone. Plus, I use hand controls.) Did I mention how often I fail my Dex checks? A phone connected to a wrist device means I can leave the phone in my scooter but still have it available for running my entertainment (while stopped at traffic lights/stop signs). If I can make calls from the Watch, then I have my phone on me in case of vehicle trouble.

Apple leads in mobile device accessibility to users with vision impairments and other issues. For example, Apple’s Voice Over screen reader blows Android’s Talkback away. I know they may not have intended it, but by making the Apple Watch able to answer the iPhone, Apple solved one of my personal accessibility hurdles I’ve been wanting to fix for almost a decade. Thanks, Apple.

And, I want to be this guy:

Dick Tracy and wrist TV phone

Dick Tracy and Wrist Phone. Copyright Tribune Syndication.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Via IO9: Vice Magazine Just Started Publishing Science Fiction Online

One of my daily visits online for SF, comic and general geek-pop news is IO9.com from Gawker media. (Yes, I know. Gawker’s not all evil. I think.) Amidst the usual news on movies, TV shows, comics and the danger of cats getting telekinetic powers, today I spotted an intriguing article about the online site VICE publishing SF stories online in a new magazine called Terraform. I won’t reiterate the whole article here, but I want to point out the unusual way VICE is going about it. They are purposely publishing stories that they hope will sort of go viral and get shares along in the various social media feeds we all have. They’ll try to do this by, well, being topical to whatever the big topics are of the day. As the IO9 article says:

“How are they going to do this? By “seiz[ing] upon and play[ing] off the zeitgeist” — so if everybody is already freaking out about drones, they’ll publish a story that has to do with drones, and become part of the conversation. This is a tremendously ambitious idea, one which would presumably require having a lot of stories in inventory waiting for the right news cycle — but if it works, it could make science fiction part of our discussion of technology and science in a new way.”

It’s an interesting idea that I hope catches on. I love seeing new venues for authors to get their work read that don’t rely on “old media.” Let’s see how this little experiment goes.
The firs issue includes stories by Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and Claire L. Evans. They plan to publish a new story a week and are seeking submissions. They want 2,000 words or less and pay $0.20 per word. And, stories can be in many types of style, but they prefer stories topical to issues today. In other words, more “believable” sci-fi than epic space opera. Try Terraform here and maybe whip up some stories to submit. I know I’m thinking of some…

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.