What 3 Words

What3words logo files previewHere is an interesting way to identify a specific location.

If I wanted to give you directions to meet me at a specific location I could give you a street address or a GPS location.
The street address works if the location is in a city – it should get you close enough.

But what if we were going to meet someplace that does not have a street address. It could be a location in the wilderness, a spot in a park, connecting at a festival/concert, etc. The current solution would be to send you the GPS address – 37.4223918,-122.1376213,19.71. Something that is easy to remember and communicate – NOT.

Well now identifying a location is as simple as 3 words.
What3Words has broken the world down to 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigned each of them a unique 3 word identifier. I would go to the app or website, find my location, and send you the 3 words.
If you go to their app or website and enter the 3 words you get a precise location of where to find me.

So telling you to meet me at wisdom.moons.tube is simpler than a long GPS coordinate pair.

Will this replace GPS – probably not. But it is an interesting way to identify a location.

WWDC 2018 Thoughts

Wwdc 2018This week is Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and the keynote was on Monday.
The keynote is an opportunity for Apple to share what is coming from the Software teams this year. This year there were updates on iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS – no hardware was presented this year.

Here are the things that stood out to me and my thoughts after one viewing of the Keynote:

iOS
Siri Shortcuts – Now we know what the Workflow team that Apple bought awhile back has been working on. The current versions of Workflow or IFTTT give users the ability to string together a bunch of commands/actions do to automation – but is not simple and there is a steep learning curve. One that the average user probably does not try to tackle.
Shortcuts are Apple’s take on making automation simple for the masses. The challenge will be having simple samples that someone new to automation can use to see the power of the tool and then get started making their own.
Oh – and it needs to be reliable and predictable. I am excited to try it out.

News – Meh, starting to use the current version to become familiar with it and see how relevant it is to me, but it is not my primary method to get news – RSS feeds are.

Do Not Disturb – Liked the new features. Looking forward to having finer control over who can break through Do Not Disturb. The ability to deactivate Do Not Disturb after a set period of time or when leaving a location sounds great – but demos always sound great, I need to see how does it work in the real world.

Notifications – Liked the recommendation feature identifying notifications to deactivate – and then ability to modify the notification rules right from the notification. Also the grouping of Notifications and the ability dismiss multiple notifications at once is a time saver.

Memoji – Meh. Seems like something you do a couple of times because it is cool/fun, then never to use again. I have used animoji maybe 2-3 times. I don’t see myself using Meoji – not that vain 😀. Also feels like a copy of Samsung’s personal emoji that they introduced awhile back. Different style and maybe more granularity when creating your Memoji, but similar feature.
New animoji are meh.

Group FaceTime. I don’t ever see myself participating in a FaceTime call with 32 people 😉 , but could see using for calls with my parents, siblings, and/or kids. Not often but a possibility.

watchOS
New activities – Like the new hiking activity

Workouts – Like the idea of automatic workout detection and the ability for it to ‘remember’ what you had already done and apply it to the workout. And also the ability to auto end the workout. But when ‘automations’ meet the real world they don’t always perform as expected. I am hopeful this works as presented, but need to see how accurate and consistent it is.
Alerts to start and end workout give you the choice to start/stop based upon what it thinks it wants to do. They seem not as challenging to implement so they may be more accurate.

Walkie Talkie – Great demo and a feature that sounds great at first but I have some questions. Can anyone ‘walkie talkie’ you at any time? Do I have the option to accept the audio before it plays? I can see the audio going off in less than optimal times. Need more details on this one.

Siri – The ability to raise your wrist and just talk is pretty cool talk. I know not having to say two words – ‘Hey Siri’ – does not seem like much, but every syllable counts. 😏

Podcasts This one I am really excited about. I listen to lots of podcast using Overcast. Overcast had an appleWatch app but it was pretty much useless – so much so the developer removed the feature.
But if the new apis give the developer the ability to significantly improve the experience – adjust volume, sync podcasts, stream podcasts – this is a huge win.
Currently if I go walking and I want to listen to podcasts I have to take my phone – no more if this feature delivers. 🤞

tvOS
Zero sign on – Awesome if you provider is supported – which Comcast is not. So will not be able to take advantage of this feature.

Screen saver – They are now identifying the locations of where the screensaver was shot. It is a question I always have when I see a cool scene. There are websites that tell you where they were shot, but the ability to get the info while you are watching the scene is handy. And the new Space Aerial videos look really cool. Sometimes I just sit and watch the scenes unfold – now there are even more scenes to watch.

macOS
Dark Mode – Not sure why I like dark mode so much – maybe because it is easier on the eyes? But I really like the feature on a number of the iOS apps that I use. Having that functionality brought to macOS is great. But (you knew there was a but coming) how pervasive across the system and 3rd Party apps will it be. Having it work in some apps but not all of them can be jarring, especially if you are working in the dark and all of the sudden you get a bright white screen.

Screenshots – Taking screenshots is something I do almost daily. Any improvements to the flow are much appreciated. Like the ability to markup the screenshot without having to go to a separate app (Preview) to make the edits.

iOS apps on macOS – There were lots of rumors about this feature. We now have 4 apps ‘ported’ from iOS to the Mac – Stocks, Notes, Home, and News. I am not a bigger user of these apps so I might check them out. Interesting to see how the development tools handle the ‘merging’ of iOS and macOS.

Those are what caught my attention. What did you see that you liked?

Mike Rowe’s thoughts on the Boys Scouts of America

BSA LogoMike Rowe, an Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Eagle Scout, shares his thoughts on the current state of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

His experiences as a scout mirror my experiences – I very vividly remember playing British bulldog, learning First Aid, shooting rifles, tying knots (I can still a bowline one-handed with my eyes closed), and lots of hiking and camping. The fact that our experiences are similar should not be a surprise — he is only 2 months older then me.

Reading his thoughts got me thinking about todays role of the BSA.

Some background –
I am an Eagle Scout, my dad is an Eagle Scout, my dad’s brothers are Eagle Scouts, my brother is an Eagle Scout, and one of my sons is an Eagle Scout.
I spent 4 summers working at Scout camps.
My Grandfather served as Scoutmaster of Troop 40 in Hartford, NY for decades, my dad was Scoutmaster and spent years as a volunteer, and I was Cubmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster for my boys Pack/Troop.
So you could say I have some history with the BSA.

It is challenging to sum up Mike’s thoughts in a couple of snippets, but my take aways are that he believes that

our country’s current obsession with “safe spaces” is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.

And

if Scouting could somehow recapture that combination of risk and wonder and pride and personal accountability – I believe their ranks would swell with the sons and daughters of millions of anxious parents, desperate to expose their kids to a program that prepares them for the real world.

All Baby Boomers remember riding our bikes around the neighborhood with no one watching us, walking to school or the store by ourselves, playing sports and not being given a ‘participation’ trophy, having free rein of the fields and farms around where we lived, getting punished for pointing an unloaded air gun at a passing car (if that seems pretty specific it is because it happened ‘to a friend’ of mine), or getting hurt playing, getting patched up, and back at it again.

The world has changed since I was a kid, but I think we have gone too far and are to protective of our children – scared by what we see and hear on the news of all the bad things that could happen.
I don’t deny bad s#!t can happen, but we should not be paralyzed by fear.
If kids are not pushed out of their safe spaces by their parents — how do they grow and be confident adults. And if the BSA is not willing to fill that role — who will be?

We need to teach boys (and girls) the life skills they will need as adults and challenge them to help them grow — aka push them out of their safe zones. I think the Boy Scouts of America is a great resource for that challenge.

Since I was a scout we have seen significant changes in the BSA. Two that come to mind are the policy changes regarding gay leaders and scouts, and the recent news regarding the expansion of programs for girls.
I think these were positive changes and show that the BSA is aware of the cultural changes in the 21st century and is trying to adapt. The challenge BSA leadership has is how do they adapt to societal changes but not lose the core of what they are – an organization

to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

You know you are getting old when …

Lightbulb
Was taking out the trash and noticed the light by the back door was burned out.
Headed back inside to get a new bulb.
Stopped in the kitchen to get a drink.
Got to the back of the house (where lightbulbs are) but could not for the life of me remember why I was there. I knew it was something important but was drawing a blank.
I figured if I went back out to the area I was in previously I would remember.
And sure enough when I got outside and noticed the light was (still) out – THAT was what I was doing.

Getting old sucks some days.

Auckland to New York – the long way

1200px Boeing 314 Clipper croppedGreat article about an around the world trip in a Boeing 314 (a Seaplane) at the start of WW II.

the Boeing 314 was (and remains) one of the largest aircraft ever to take to the sky

The adventure started in San Francisco and was supposed to end in Auckland. But then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and it was not safe for them to return to San Francisco via Hawaii.

the crew of Pan Am flight 18602 were forced to do something almost impossible: return to America the long way round.

Their adventure took them across Australia – a risky move considering you have no landing gear.

To the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia),

To Trincomalee, Sri Lanka,

To Karachi, Pakistan,

To Bahrain,

To Khartoum, Sudan (requiring a river landing),

To Leopoldville (requiring a river landing),

Across the Atlantic to Natal, Brazil,

And then up the Atlantic coast of South America and the US to New York City

Quite an adventure considering Pan Am did not have a presence in most of South Asia – so no maps, no radio info, no maintenance support, no refueling stations, etc. for a good chunk of the trip.

The article is 3 parts and a medium long read – but so worth it. IMHO.