Apple Watch: A Nice Accessory


“After six months of trying to log my runs with my Apple Watch, I finally gave up and bought a dedicated GPS running watch.”

Source: Why I’m cheating on my Apple Watch | Cult of Mac

For people like me, who just want to gamify their workouts, and roughly track steps and miles, the Apple Watch is just fine.  For serious runners, like my wife (who has been holding a “gift card” for an Apple Watch for months), it just doesn’t cut it.

I like my Apple Watch, but only for workout-tracking lite, as described above, and for quick notifications.  I never- and I mean never- use any apps.  They just aren’t fun.  Sure, updated apps are doing the best they can, but even native apps are limited by the lack of a GPS on the watch.

I keep waiting for it to get better, but I’m starting to think it will be a couple of hardware updates and several years before the Apple Watch becomes an indispensable tool instead of an optional accessory.

Runkeeper’s Apple Watch App Tracks Runs Without Your iPhone

“The team behind popular fitness app Runkeeper on Thursday launched a hotly anticipated native Apple Watch companion app that lets users track runs without lugging around a paired iPhone.”

Source: Runkeeper’s new native Apple Watch app tracks runs without iPhone.

This and Fitbit (maybe) being hackable may lead to the end of my dual fitness tracker days.  I’ve got years of data invested in my Fitbit, but it’s only a matter of time.  Fitbit can integrate with my Apple watch and maybe keep its spot in my pocket.  Or it can compete with my Apple watch, in a drawer somewhere.

The Saint of Dry Creek

I’ve mentioned the StoryCorps podcast a time or two before.  I listen to podcasts all the time when working out, and occasionally in the car.

I continue to think the StoryCorps podcast, whose mission “is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives,” is a national treasure.  I’ve gotten to the point that I only listen to it when getting my workout on lightly traveled country roads, so people won’t wonder why the old, bearded man is running down the road with tears in his eyes.

Occasionally, the StoryCorps crew will create an animation for one of the interviews.  They use the actual interview and create very clever animations to help tell the story.  Here is an example of one, in which a farmer in the 1950s demonstrates that back then, as now, there are progressive people beyond the city limits.


Reclaiming Southern Pride


“Symbols matter, but the South as a region is far too nuanced to be fittingly represented by a Civil War battle flag with a contentious history. Southerners who agree have a responsibility to move into a new era, and to reclaim “Southern pride.” Because if the Confederate flag is my only means of displaying my Southern pride, then the South has already lost me.

Source: Reclaiming Southern Pride—Without the Confederate Flag – The Atlantic (a very, very good article).

Amen.  I love the south, but show me someone who displays the confederate flag in 2015 and I’ll show you someone who may or may not be a racist, but is definitely acting like one.

I agree with Steve Earle.

There are lots of reasons to be proud to be from the south.  But hanging on to a symbol of the past that simply cannot be reconciled with the present is not one of them.

New Steve Forbert Record

Everybody has songs that serve as the soundtrack to parts of their lives.  I’ve got a lot and one of them is Steve Forbert’s Romeo’s Tune from 1979.  That song will forever remind me of my sophomore year of college, including a road trip to Orlando for the 1979 Tangerine Bowl.

“Bring me southern kisses from your room.”  Yep.

I’ve heard most of his records and seen him live a time or two.  So it’s always news when Steve does another record.  He’s about to release his 16th studio album, Compromised, on November 6, 2015.  Recorded in Woodstock and Cape Cod, it was produced by Forbert along with John Simon, who produced Jackrabbit Slim, the excellent 1979 record that included Romeo’s Tune.


I received a review copy of the title track, and it’s pure Forbert.  An excellent song that sounds a bit like a look backwards at the ups and downs we’ve all had in the decades since 1979.

Compromised collaborators include bassist Joey Spampinato (NRBQ), drummer Lou Cataldo (The Freeze), pianist/trumpeter Kami Lyle, and keyboardist Robbie Kondor, the latter of whom played on Forbert’s classic 1978 debut, Alive on Arrival.  “I recorded with the band that did the Arrival and Jackrabbit anniversary tours with me in 2013 and 2014,” Forbert says, “where we played those albums in their entireties.  It just seemed natural to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to rehearse for this tour — but let’s record an album together, too.’   And it was great reconnecting with John Simon again after all this time.”

Look for a full review as soon as I get my hands on a complete copy.

New Apple Gear Coming Soon

Those who have been conscious today know that Apple announced a bunch of new and updated products this morning.  Updated iPhones, a bigger iPad, an updated iPad Mini, some new Apple watch bands, and a new Apple TV.  You can get all the details elsewhere, so here are my thoughts on the new stuff.

New iPhones

I like the better camera, and I think 3D Touch (think of it as a right-click for an iOS device) will be useful at some point.  I’m not sure Live Photos is more than a gimmick, but it might be.  Faster chips and graphics would be nice, but I don’t use my iPhone for much that taxes it.

I know I always say this and then change my mind, but I don’t feel a compelling need to upgrade from my 6+ to the new model.

iPad Pro

I am all about bigger screens.  I have a 27″ iMac and a 15″ MacBook Pro.  I think a larger iPad makes a lot of sense, but the whole time I kept thinking I was watching Apple invent the Microsoft Surface, a tablet I once stupidly bought on impulse and sold a few weeks later.  Adding to the confusion was the fact that the best part of the demo, and one of the coolest things overall, was the Microsoft Office apps.  The new iPad has an optional stylus (something I never thought I’d see) and a magnetic keyboard/cover combination.  Crazy.

I use my iPad every day, but much more for consumption than creation.  If I did a lot of work on an iPad, I would almost certainly buy an iPad Pro.

iPad Mini

The updated specs for the littlest iPad seemed like a tossed-in afterthought.  I have an older iPad Mini that I rarely use, so I don’t need another one.

Apple Watch Accessories

I don’t know anything about Hermes, and I buy my clothes at sports and farm supply stores.  So I literally couldn’t care less about designer watch bands and exclusive watch faces.  Apple seems to be marketing the high-end Apple Watches as a way for insecure rich people to show the rest of us how awesome they think they are.  In sum, zzzzzzzz.

I am interested in the updated watchOS, however, because without native apps, my Apple Watch continues to be more about potential features than actual working features.  I am sold on the Apple Watch, but it is very much a work in progress.

New Apple TV


Now, the best part.  I had high hopes for the new Apple TV, and Apple mostly satisfied me.  I’m not a big gamer, so the gaming angle is lost on me.  I like the idea of other apps on the Apple TV.  I was happy to see a new unified search, but it badly needs to search more than just iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO and Showtime.  Hopefully it will as other content providers create apps, but I’m a little concerned there aren’t more sources out of the box (do those sources have new Apple TV apps already?).  For the Apple TV to work as my only streaming device, it needs Amazon Prime, and the major broadcast and cable networks.  I’m still hoping Apple can pull the rabbit out of the hat with a cord-cutting content package before I’m too old to care.

I’ll definitely buy one- and probably two- Apple TVs on launch day.


They talked about Macs (my very favorite Apple product) for exactly zero seconds today.  Bummer.

Stay tuned for more as I dive into these new products and updates.