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Using It For Exercise Mostly

I’m using it for exercise mostly.

That’s what I’m telling people when they ask me why I needed an Apple Watch. It is as good an answer as most at this early stage. I have this feeling like I am standing at the perimeter of something big but unaware of where the edges are, let alone what shape they might take.

The “notification thing” is really no big deal. The people who said, in early reviews of the Apple Watch, that they are “drowning in notifications” seem like people who don’t understand how technology works. That might sound harsh but I don’t have any other explanation for it. 1 Tuning your notifications is a pretty simple task and the Apple Watch app puts focus on it so if you are “drowning” in notifications, it is your own fault.

If you used to ignore someone you were talking to just to see if your phone has something more important going on, you will likely still do this with your Apple Watch and, yes, you are still an asshole. The watch doesn’t make you less of one and, in some cases, ignoring people while looking at your $600 watch to avoid taking the even-more-expensive phone out of your pocket makes you more of an asshole.

Third party apps are, at this point, almost too slow to bother with. Glances can be very useful but, if you have too many, it adds another layer of frustration as you scroll slowly through each page to get back to the one you want. Keeping your Glances down to the barest minimum is a key to Apple Watch happiness.

Battery life has been a non-issue. I go to bed after a long day with 35-50% battery left and can’t ask for more than that given how much I’m using the watch. That generally includes an hour of exercise in the form of an outdoor bike ride as well.

The actual function as a watch has been great. Even a slight flick of the wrist activates the screen and there are no complaints there. In almost every case, it is akin to magic. I was showing it to an Android Wear person yesterday who nodded in reluctant acceptance that it was, indeed, quite good. He so badly wanted a reason to roll his eyes and sniff in the way Android users do but the Apple Watch didn’t give him the chance. For now he’ll just have to console his despair by side-loading some malware or whatever Android users do for fun.

The landscape the Apple Watch defines right now is wide and its edges unknowable. For those having trouble coming to grips with how to use the watch, my advice is to turn off almost all of the extras for now. Use one or two Glances. Disable all but the most important notifications. Basically, use it as a normal watch. As time goes by, you’ll think “It’d be great if I had {SUPERCOOLTHING} on my watch.” and then you go activate that thing and see if it is as great as you thought it might be. If it is, keep it. If not, turn it off and keep learning.

The more time you spend using the watch the clearer the landscape becomes but there’s so much more it will be able to do as developers come to grips with how to extend its usefulness. However it shapes up, it will always be hard to describe to someone else how the Apple Watch has become useful to you because the things that are providing value sound trivial and inconsequential. But at a personal level, those things are pretty great and despite doubting the point of such a device for months, I have to admit Apple created a device that can do some pretty neat stuff right out of the box and I am even more excited about where this thing is going.


  1. Other than maybe to create a link-bait-worthy controversy which is always possible in the “awesome” world of tech blogging. 

Silence to Noise Ratio

I couldn’t agree more with Gabe’s last piece on notifications.

I also use the Do Not Disturb feature of iOS liberally. Whenever I walk into a meeting I toggle off the world. It’s a hugely underrated feature and easily accessed on iOS 8. Learn these settings. Browse the Notification settings in iOS too. Remove as many as you can get away with. It’s unlikely you need a notification at the exact time a package is delivered. It’s unlikely that your text editor has anything urgent you need to know. Avoid the constant and unnecessary pain created by too many green toggles.

Spot on.

Nerds on Draft 026 - Alfred Workflow Follow-up

I have gotten a few questions from listeners about my Alfred workflows in reference to episode 026 of Nerds on Draft. For those curious and intrepid souls, here is how I set them up.

For quick entry of Home-related tasks, I created an Alfred workflow that looks like this:

Then I added the following python code.

with file('/Users/<username>/Dropbox/<folder>/tpHomeProjects.taskpaper', 'r') as original:    data = original.read() 

with file('/Users/<username>/Dropbox/<folder>/tpHomeProjects.taskpaper', 'w') as modified:
modified.write("    - {query}\n" + data)

The home and work workflows are very similar. Just change the file names and the Alfred trigger.

To use these, just activate Alfred and type “wtodo” or “htodo” (or whatever you set to your default trigger work) and follow that with the text you want to add to your taskpaper file. It takes less than a second to run and I use it all day long.

Good luck and keep the questions coming!

Nerds on Draft 026 - A Task Management Discussion

Gabe and a few friends went to Asheville, North Carolina last weekend for a brewery tour trip and we ended up releasing the latest episode of Nerds on Draft a little late. Sorry about that.

I think this episode was worth the wait because it is a topic that I have been thinking a ton about for the last few years.

Gabe and I dip into productivity porn, going deep with task management touching on how we use Sublime Text, PlainTasks, Drafts and some of the scripts we use to manage the things we have to do. All of these disparate parts have come together to craft fully-functioning workflows that are very different from the more-self-contained OmniFocus workflows we have been using for years.

It has been an interesting system to play with but I like the whole Taskpaper/Sublime Text thing a lot. The beer was great in this episode too.