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Missing my DSLR Camera

I love photography. My love for taking photos is an ebb and flow. I’m not sure what exactly affects the arbitrary direction of those currents other than the nature of my brain. I still take a fair number of photos but sadly they’re only with my iPhone 6 Plus as of late.

I have a fair amount of camera gear, centered around my Canon 40D from a few years back. I was seriously proud when I bought that digital SLR. I also have a number of pieces of studio lighting equipment and related paraphernalia. I enjoy the whole concept of being a full time photographer – but for some reason I just peter out and lose interest. I’ve been pondering why lately and this is sort of my mental dump on the subject.

I miss my DSLR because it forces me to take the extra moment to compose the shot and find the right way to convey the emotion and special effect on my being at the time. I’m not sure I miss my film-based SLR as much but this effect is definitely amplified when it’s not easy to see the results immediately on a screen.

Carrying around the iPhone/3G/4/5/5S/6 Plus over the years has made photography more accessible to me. (Well, to the world actually)  I find carrying around the gear is not super easy but it is definitely the mark of a photographer. I’ve tried smaller bags and those help but then I discover soon I left a particular lens filter in the larger bag at home and I get all crabby. Having the iPhone in your pocket means you can take a picture whenever the need arises. The other huge improvement a smartphone gives you is you can put it away to enjoy the moment easier.

How many times have you been to a serenely beautiful place and can’t help yourself but take a large number of photos and videos? What we’re trying to do as photographers is capture that moment so well so we don’t forget it and then we can share it. With large memory capacities, high frame rates, auto-bracketing, effect filters, etc we start to reduce the quality and forethought into a photo and replace it with quantity. Being worried about getting the right shot from every angle and a slow motion video of all the movement can ruin the moment. Don’t forget to just sit … and watch … and compose the photos in your mind as well.

 

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UIKit Dynamics – Turning on Debug Mode

In iOS 9 Apple has introduced a number of new shiny things for UIKit Dynamics. One of them is UIFieldBehavior which describes magnetic, electrical and spring fields of influence. Fields are hard to debug (even in real life!) so Apple decided to provide a debug mode on UIDynamicAnimator. The trick is the debug mode isn’t published in the headers. Why? Who knows. They mentioned it quite plainly at WWDC 2015 and said you have to turn it on in the LLDB debugger.

I found an easier and more straightforward way. Just use key-value coding! UIDynamicAnimator still inherits from NSObject so the KVC helper methods are still there.

Easy!

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Pinocchio
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Biggest Lie To Your ADHD Self

Most of my journey the past couple of years with coping with attention problems is increasing my self-awareness. I am my own obstacle and I must hack my own consciousness to work the way I need it to.

It’s easy to slip into old habits and totally forget the tools you’ve put in place. All it takes is one of those well-known “ooh shiny” moments and you’re off track for an hour reading about nuclear testing instead of solving the problem for work.

One of the tools I use is keeping a log of things I’ve accomplished in the day/week. The log gives me a complete picture of what I’ve been able to focus on and lets me easily reflect on the past week. I tend to find the holes this way – places I’ve let tasks slip through. This seems to work much like the effect looking at photographs lets you recall and retain memories. The problem I have is I don’t remember to write things in the log all the time. Then I forget about the log.

I’ve discovered one of the biggest lies I keep telling myself even with all of these tools and practices. What is that lie?

I’ll get to it [the task] in a few minutes.

Yeah, it never happens. Ever. I always forget or something more important on the signal to noise ratio scale eclipses it. My goal is to stop letting this little lie derail me. If the task takes a few moments to complete, DO IT NOW.

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Data from Star Trek playing a violin with a thought bubble containing "Unlimited?"
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Limiting Data While Tethering on a Mac

Using Too Much Data

Being a remote worker, I tend to work at home a lot. I also like to roam around to coffee shops and coworking spots on occasion in addition to traveling to meet up with my coworkers. This means I tend to tether quite often and use mobile data.

One of the biggest annoyances I have with Mac OS X is that in 2015 it isn’t aware of tethered vs. (relatively) unmetered connections. I wish there was a mode in Mac OS X that would intelligently back off autoupdates, file sync, and other expensive data operations while on specific connections. This includes when you’re tethered to your iOS device using the iCloud automatic tethering option and WiFi access points you’ve specified as being metered connections.

I’ve never gone over my data allotment but I’ve also probably been way too careful and not been as productive as I could have been. I just want this to be somewhat automatic.

Limit Your Data

I was delighted to discover TripMode recently. TripMode is the missing piece of the operating system to block connections when you’re on a metered data connection. It sits in your menu bar up top and remains inactive until you turn it on or when you rejoin a WiFi network previously marked as metered.

TripMode screenshot

You can turn off individual applications and known services (like iCloud). Each application shows the current usage for the session/day/month depending on what you’ve selected at the bottom of the popover. So far it’s worked well in my limited testing. I hope to report back positive results after the one week trial is up.

TripMode is a kernel extension and therefore isn’t available from the Mac App Store. They promise to not collect specifics about the connections and apps you are making but rather gather general stats about volumes and usage.

Still Check Your Device

After all is said and done, TripMode isn’t the end-all indicator of your current data usage. Your cellular carrier will be able to provide you the most accurate measurement of the data used in your current billing period. iOS does provide usage statistics in Settings > Cellular with tethering being one further deeper in System Services under Use Cellular Data For:.

Please be aware that even iOS can be wrong about the total amount of data transferred. Your cellular carrier’s method on determining bytes transferred may differ from how your phone sees it. Its also possible from tower to tower the algorithm may differ. Ultimately the billing system from your carrier is responsible for the total usage. Usage while roaming or on partner networks can also be delayed for up to a month. Most carrier don’t apply that delayed usage to the month it actually occurred in but rather the month it hits their billing system.

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Treadmill Macro View
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The Downside to Treadmill Desks

Just Published

The New York Times just published an article on their Well Blog entitled “The Downside of Treadmill Desks”. It’s an interesting read.

The article mentions a study performed by two groups at the Brigham Young University in Utah and published to the PLoS One Journal in April. After studying 75 individuals it was determined that while there is a significant positive health impact on using a treadmill desk, productivity and cognition decreased.

My Thoughts

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been using a treadmill desk since February of this year. Personally I’ve seen a huge increase in concentration and cognition when using the treadmill.

I average about three hours of use today, sometimes up to five. I tend to use the treadmill in the morning the longest, then stand midday and revisit the treadmill at the end of the work day. I’ve found in the morning the treadmill boosts my concentration more than a cup of coffee would. I almost always forget I’m even walking on the treadmill.

My experiences may differ than the study because I have ADHD. The treadmill, it seems, busies the part of my brain that likes to derail my concentration. My original goal for using the treadmill desk was not for the exercise/calorie burn but rather the assist with concentration.

Observations & Realities

I think the reality of treadmill desks at a normal office job present the following limitations:

They’re Loud

You’re going to be walking on a machine. The machine can be loud and your hooves smashing down on it are going to be loud. You’re going to want to reduce the noise as much as possible (if you’re considerate) which means slower speeds and potentially an unnatural gate.

I’ve found speeds below 2mph aren’t effective for my needs. I need to be at 2.5mph or greater for me to see a real attention benefit – and then anything over 3.2mph usually causes too much sweat.

Humans Perspire

You’re going to sweat. I don’t care if you use a fan (which adds to the noise mentioned above) you’re still going to sweat even at 1mph. Those dress pants and undershirt are going to be really pretty after walking six miles.

You can try to keep cooler by using a fan, changing clothes, taking a shower. All of these things modify how you’re going to work and walk. Worrying about not sweating too much will ultimately reduce your speed which will keep you from hitting the right speed (if your speed is anything like mine).

If your office isn’t equipped with a shower or a place to change that’s convenient, your coworkers may not want an afternoon meeting with you.

You’re Vulnerable

When you’re on a treadmill desk, you’re vulnerable. How so? You’re walking, sweating, breathing hard and wearing workout clothes in front of your coworkers. I’m sure the whole office isn’t on treadmills (huzzah if they are!). This will unavoidably single you out. Until you really get comfortable with the treadmill and the way you’re integrated into your workplace you are going to feel like a weirdo.

Weirdos can’t concentrate well. You need to realize you’re not a weirdo.

It Takes Practice

The study specifically mentions typing ability deteriorates when using the treadmill desk. This is an obvious side effect of walking while typing. But like with most things in life, it takes practice.

I was a hot ass mess trying to type and walk the first couple of weeks using the treadmill desk. I couldn’t find the right height for the monitor, keyboard, speed to walk at. All of those things will eventually gel together and you’ll find the right combination. I’m typing at my normal rate of words per minute and my accuracy is just fine.

Believe What You Want

The huge flaw in this article and the abstract of the journal article is this – it doesn’t indicate how much time the participants were given. If you don’t give someone a chance to adapt to the new situation it’s obvious they’re not going to be productive!

You’re going to have to find out if a treadmill desk works for you. Don’t believe everything you read and don’t assume the variables apply to you. Don’t assume I’m right either. A lot of the reasons the treadmill desk works for me has to do with working remote at home and my brain’s specific issues with ADHD.

All I can suggest is give it a whirl!

 

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Is your Apple Watch Digital Crown sticking?

I noticed a couple days ago that the Digital Crown on my Apple Watch wasn’t turning quite as easily as it had when I got it. Of course I immediately thought it was a defect since it visually looked clean. Turns out it was needing a bit of maintenance. 

I use a treadmill desk and even with the 3mph speed I sweat a bit. The Watch was designed to handle fitness scenarios but apparently it can get gunked up without some maintenance. Simply wiping down the exterior is not enough. 

Apple has realized this too. They even published a support document specifically about the Digital Crown and their recommended process to remedy it:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht204639

It was a little unnerving putting the Watch under running water, but it worked. Now you know. 

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Apple Watch Sport Ion-X Glass Easily Scratched

 

I committed an act of such shame that I have a hard time even talking about.

 

Okay it wasn’t that horrible and I knew this was going to happen eventually – just not on day two. I scratched the display of my Apple Watch Sport edition.

Apple Watch Sport in Green with a scratch in the displayI thought I was babying the thing. I was taking it off when I knew it could get damaged but somehow I managed to still scratch it. I called Apple and talked to a super nice tech on the AppleCare team. I e-mailed him photos and he forwarded them onto engineering. I got a call back and was simply told, it’s cosmetic damage.

I know it’s cosmetic. But really, should a $400+ watch scratch this easily? I have watches costing in the $10-$30 range with scratches much less visible than this and some with no damage. I’d expect the glass to withstand at least a brushing against a non-diamond-encrusted surface.

I guess Apple has other expectations on the durability of their glass.

 

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