Moving to Apple – Six Months Later

I moved back to Apple’s tech silo, err ecosystem or whatever to hell you want to call it last October and wanted to reflect on the process or should I say my progress a little.

When I decided to move to the world of Apple it was using my:

• iPad Pro 10.5 • iPhone 7 • The wife’s PC – albeit grudgingly • Garmin 230 GPS watch – just to screw with things

This setup relies on IOS as my primary operating system and in some instances IOS is not quite there when it comes to being the daily driver OS. Unfortunately there were and still are a couple of compromises that I have to make to use my iPad Pro as my primary computer.

Which is not ideal, but it has not stopped me. 😉

Even so, I am comfortable with the direction that I am heading with my move to the Apple tech silo.

So Why Apple?

I have lived with a fragmented computing lifestyle for many years both personally and professionally.

To be honest the fragmentation and all the different tech silos, products and biases makes using technology/computers/Internet more difficult, while at the same more interesting and yes, diverse. There is some sort of solution out there for just about anything, even the things that we don’t think or know about sometimes.

Over the past few years, like many people I have used a mixture of Google, Apple, Android, Chrome, Microsoft, Linux based devices — along with a vitual mishmash of various (productivity, entertainment, work related, games, etc.) apps, software and all the different social media sites. Oh yeah, I can’t forget about the many cloud based services and solutions that have sprung up.

Needless to say they often do not play well together.

Really what I ended up with is a fragmented shitshow that confuses, frustrates and makes you at times to want to throw things against a wall – usually not good for the device that hits the wall.

After retiring in June 2017, by October I had enough of the shitshow, frustration factors of competing technologies, hardware, apps, software, OS, philosophies and decided to move to one tech silo. The time was right since I was no longer tied to any one silo, hardware or software and had the opportunity to chose one that I wanted to use – not something that someone else choose for me.

Looking back, I had had good experiences with Apple’s products, when I was teaching and while they do collect mountains of data from their customers, they have not as yet monetized that data collection. The idea or at least the perception that I am still the customer, not the product, to me is still a big deal.

When you look at Apple’s hardware, the apps/software and the level of integration that their products are moving towards (they are not there yet), it made a lot of sense for me and how I see things in the technology world, to move to the Apple tech silo.

My Experience

Honestly, moving back to the World of Apple, with the devices I chose to make this journey on, was the path less travelled. It has not been without more than a few bumps, a steeper than anticipated learning curve, some straight-up swearing at my devices and/or Apple, a few creative work-arounds and finally leaving some things to worry about for later.

My biggest issues were IOS’s limitations and overcoming Apple’s history of keeping the iPad as a complementary device and not someone’s primary computer.

The other part I gotta admit that I sort of enjoyed, even if it was frustrating at times. The part where I experimented with different settings, trying too many apps, workflows and weaning myself off Google/Microsoft/Linux ways of doing things.

Over the past six month I have found that often less is more and often “good enough” is good enough, when it comes to keeping things simple and as stress free as possible. Since that is the main purpose of this change — to keep life and technology as simple/efficient as possible.

Keep working on the K.I.S.S. Principle – it works.

The best part is that I am continuing to learn new things all the time about my devices, IOS and the apps I am using. Which means I do foresee a few tweaks here or there as I get more sophisticated, with my knowledge of Apple’s realm.

What are some of the particulars that stick out in my mind about switching over.

Hardware

I love my iPad Pro 10.5, iPhone 7 and how they complement one another.

However, if my iPad Pro did not have a keyboard and I would be looking at some sort of a Mac to take its place.

I ended up with the Zagg Bluetooth keyboard because it provided the best combination of protection and versatility for my iPad, a keyboard that I liked, plus it was on sale at the time.

iPad Pro 10.5

Part of my problem is that I think that until recently Apple tended to look at the iPad as a “nice to have” device. The iPads were not initially designed to be your primary computer – it was more a peripheral device, like a smart phone that was there to complement to your main computer.

Although this perspective seems to be changing with the iPad Pro models, there are still too many instances where the “official” way to do things is to plug your iPad into a “real” computer – which is a pain in the arse when it occurs and should not be the “answer”.

Even with all that I would not trade my iPad Pro 10.5 straight-up for a similarly spec’d MacBook, MacBook Air or some other OS laptop computer.

Yeah, I like it that much.

iPhone 7

Simply the best phone I have used.

IOS

It is nice to not have to think in terms of multiple operating systems and figuring out how to get my primary devices to work well together, where the commands are hidden that I want/need to change and then worrying about the update cycles, who does them, how they will effect compatibility moving forward. All that kind of stuff I worried about when attempting to get different operating systems to play nice together.

I don’t worry about that stuff anymore – two devices, one operating system, things just blend together nicely so far and with each update that Apple does, the iPad is becoming more of an “independent” computer and less a peripheral device.

Productivity

Apple’s apps do most everything that I want to do and/or I can find an app that will in the App Store. However, Apple’s apps/software do things from a slightly different perspective than Microsoft’s or Google’s similar apps/software do, so there was a learning curve.

As I use iWork and Apple’s other apps more, the less I like the other ones. I find Apple’s offering most intuitive for me, but not always as powerful or feature heavy – more minimalist, but more than good enough to get what I want done.

Browser

I like the Safari browser in IOS on the iPad, but don’t do much browsing on the iPhone – unless I have to. I prefer to browse the Internet on a larger screen. Unfortunately there are too many sites that do not render correctly in Safari i.e. Garmin Connect among others for it to be my only browser.

So I do need to have another browser to see those sites correctly – I am using Chrome for now, since I am still in Google Drive for my photos and have used it for several years. Although I am thinking about moving to the new Firefox and seeing if that works out okay.

In IOS I do not live in my browser like I did with Google or even with Windows, at first that was a bit of a jolt, but now I have gotten more used to it and actually like it better.

Email

After many years of bouncing between multiple work emails, personal Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail/Outlook or back in the day AOL, I have finally taken the leap to move my primary personal mail account to .icloud.com.

Eventually, I plan to retire all but the iCloud accounts – it will take some time, but I think it will be better for me in the long run.

I really did not realize how much email I actually receive at my legacy mail addresses. I am finally figuring out where some of the “junk mail” is coming from, now that it doesn’t automatically go to the junk mail folder since I separated the old email accounts in Apple Mail.

As a part of this change I have also setup an alias .icloud.com account for subscriptions or websites that require a email address that I do not want to use my personal email address. Which acts as a filter that helps me identify people/important stuff versus “stuff”.

Over the past few weeks, I have unsubscribed from literally 100’s of lists, promotional crap and old sites that I signed up for and haven’t been back to for years.

Like I said it will take time.

Music

I recently subscribed to Apple Music and am liking/using it a LOT more than I thought that I would. I was getting tired of Pandora, never really liked Amazon Music or Google Music and disliked iTunes even back when I had to use it when I had a Mac and an iPhone.

It was also a pain in the arse getting my personal music collection into my Apple account (and it still is not all there) and finally I had to use iTunes on my wife’s PC to get most of it on my iPad Pro.

This is the biggest reason why I went with the Apple Music subscription – I just didn’t want to deal with iTunes.

I had not planned on getting Apple Music, but now that I have done it – well I am happy with how it is working for me. The bad part is that the subscription price is higher than what I can really justify based on how I see me actually using it.

We will see on this one.

However, I am finding old songs that I haven’t heard in years – Sugar, Sugar by the Archies brought back more than a few smiles and thoughts of years gone by.

Photos

This is probably the biggest area of frustration that I have had with moving to the Apple ecosystem – the difficulty…well near impossibility without owning a Mac.

I simply am looking for a simple solution to get my scanned family photos from Google Drive/Photos to iCloud and on my iPad. My iPad Pro has plenty of space for all my photos, but getting them on it has not happened yet.

After way too much time attempting to figure this one out, the best advice I got was to download each one individually and put it in my library that way. Nope, not with almost 40 gb of photos that I want to move to the iPad.

It ended up being easier to keep much of that “legacy photos” in Google Drive as my archive and to start mostly fresh with Apple Photos.

The bad part was that it took me almost a month of wasted effort to come to this realization. That was frustrating as hell.

Files

I still have to work on learning the new file management system in IOS and how it relates to iCloud, other cloud services and how I can use it. When I do that some of the issues I have with moving stuff to my iPad should be taken care of.

It might even be as simple as getting the “camera dongle” at some point or an Apple lightning thumb drive.

The reality is that

Moving back to the Apple ecosystem has been a good, but bumpy experience at times that is taking me in the direction that I want to go.

One tech silo for my computing and online needs.

My iPad Pro is my daily driver for 95% of everything that I do on a computer and my iPhone 7 is a great companion device. Once in a while I still find that I have to use my wife’s PC to do something, but that seems to becoming more rare as IOS becomes more mature.

Looking at the way things are right now, if someone offered me a similarly specced Windows, Chrome, Linux based laptop computer or even a Mac, I would be hard-pressed to take them up on their offer.

I like the way my iPad Pro 10.5 and iPhone 7 complement one another and how this combo meets most of my now fairly basic computing needs very nicely.

However, it does mean that I know that I will have to update my devices within 3-4 years, in order to keep current in Apple’s ecosystem, as they will at that time have limited support for my “old” devices.

As long as I continue to be their consumer and not their product, I have a feeling that I will deal with the higher prices in exchange for that little extra slice of privacy that I imagine that I have inside Apple’s tech silo.

However, as I have said for almost 20 years, if you or your computer can connect to the Internet, you really do not have any privacy, it is more how the big corporations that already have, will continue to have our data and how they use it.

Who knows maybe Apple will stay to the high road.

Now if only Neverwinter Nights or Neverwinter Nights 2 were on IOS, I would be very happy :-).

Book Review – Chi Running

I just finished my first reading (but not last) of Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. Which I got as one of those Christmas presents I choose while browsing (err shopping) at the Maine Running Company in Portland, but TheWife paid for and wraps for you to get later.

Why would I want a book on Chi Running when I have run for – well let’s just put it this way a long damn time? Quite simply I watched myself run in a video I took earlier in the month and let’s just say that my form sucks.

After seeing myself in action, I did some research on different ways to improve my form and Chi Running was one of three methods that really interested me.

So how was the Chi Running the book?

The Good

Chi Running had some great ideas that I want to add into my running:

  • I can see the importance of the 4 Chi Skills and know that I need to go back and really work on using them:
  • Focusing
  • Body Sensing
  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • the idea that correct posture is very important to better running form
  • getting everything moving in the same direction – forward. i.e. my feet instead of running with my feet at about 45 degree angles have them as straight as possible
  • keeping my arms at 90 degree angle and not cross my body
  • creating a column
  • using gravity to propel you – I haven’t got this down yet, but think I am close
  • having a lean to help gravity propel you and changing the lean to change your speed.
  • I am very intrigued by his method of going uphill and want to try that out
  • back in the early 80’s I was introduced to the metronome method of running and used it for a while, so I understand its usefulness to maintain a certain turnover rate, just do it when no one else is running with you.
  • his ideas on how to avoid or aid in healing certain injuries warrants a closer look

I have just touched on a few things that really jumped out at me, the book has a wealth of knowledge, that I believe I will find very useful when I can wrap my head around all the information that it has about changing to Chi Running.

Scratching my head

  • Some of the terminology had me scratching my head, which left me frustrated and overwhelmed that I wasn’t understanding what they were trying to say especially in Chapters 4 & 5.
  • How to level my pelvis is still escaping me
  • I still don’t have a clue what peeling your foot off the ground really means or how to implement it. I think it means lift your foot straight up or something like that – once I get this piece a lot of the others will fall into place.
  • Some other things I just had trouble wrapping my head around should be clearer when I go back through and do more than just read that section.

It almost seems as though just enough information is given to really make you want to go buy the CD that is a companion to the book or attend one of their running workshops. The book attempts to spell out how to begin Chi Running, but in a couple of sections I did get frustrated and overwhelmed with the information being presented and voiced that on Twitter.

Some Chi Running advocates graciously provide links and watching videos of people using Chi Running on YouTube explained a few of the areas I was really having difficulty with. One time through the book, does not give me a lot of confidence that I could completely implement Chi Running to my running yet and the Dryers warn you in the book that you will probably not be able to after only reading the book once and that it will take time to fully implement Chi Running.

Warning

I completely agree with that warning and that there is simply too much information being presented to understand Chi Running after one time through their book. It will take a lot of time and effort to completely get a handle on the changes the you will need to do to become proficient in Chi Running.

Need to attend Chi Running Training

When I was complaining about being overwhelmed on Twitter by what was in Chapters 4 and 5, the biggest suggestion that I got on Twitter was that “I should go to one of their full days sessions” and after that I would really understand the power of Chi Running.

Unfortunately, as great a suggestion as this might be and as much as I might want to go to an all day sessions someplace – that is not an option for two reasons,

  1. there are not any local Chi Running training sessions going on in my area that I could find in the near future and travelling is not an option. One of the disadvantages of living up heah in Maine is that we are kind of off the beaten track for a lot of things.
  2. the costs associated with one are simply not in the budget for the foreseeable future.
Re – Read Important Sections

Hopefully after I have gone through the book’s sections that give you the action instructions a few more times and practiced the drills, I will understand better what they are talking about and will be able to make the changes as I go along.

If I decide that Chi Running is what I am looking for in how to change my running form, I will end up buying the CD and when I have some extra cash someday, I will try to find a training session within a days drive to attend. Until then I will muddle along through the book a few more times and watch YouTube videos to help me understand what it is trying to tell me.

Change isn’t easy

Changing a running form that you have had for several years is not going to be easy and I don’t expect it to be. I expect to work hard learning how to run with a better form/style and that I probably won’t get “it” overnight. At the same time I have to wonder a little, if I am overwhelmed now by some of the terminology or expectations that you need more “stuff” to understand the practice of Chi Running, will Chi Running meet my expectations of K.I.S.S.

Worth It

I think that Chi Running has a lot of potential to help me become a better runner and I am looking forward to learning more about Chi Running – it has certainly piqued my interest.

With the little knowledge that I have gained in reading and underlining the book once through, I am starting to consciously run differently than I did before reading the book. I know that I am attempting to use some of the techniques described in the book while running and while I haven’t gotten the knack of how to do circular feet yet – I am making positive progress.

Chi Running is worth looking into a lot further, if you are looking to change your running form. I won’t say it will be for everyone, but it is definitely worth reading the book to see how it meshes with your expectations.

FTC Disclaimer: I have not been provided any compensation or free samples of products as part of this review, they are simply my thoughts on something that I have purchased .

I Will Be Running Without the iPhone

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...Image via Wikipedia  //
Since I returned to running on June 15th, I have used my iPhone and several running apps (see my Three iPhone Apps for Runners Review post) to track how my running is going and to see which one I liked best.

I love being outside and hearing the sounds of nature when I am running.  I prefer to focus on the run and know what is going on around me, than tuning out to the tunes.

To be honest, the more that I run with my iPhone outside, the less that I like it for that purpose. It is too big, bulky and heavy for me while I am running, whether it is in an armband, on my waist, it just doesn’t feel comfortable bouncing around.

When you add in not being able to easily see the screen when it is sunny or because it is not easily visible, it made it difficult to use for running. All the runner apps I used were very “busy” and you had to go through multiple screens with most of them to get to the main tracking screen and then use the data functions.
The main reason that I was running with an iPhone was for the GPS function of these apps, so I would “know” how far I was running each time. None of the runner GPS “apps” (including ones that I haven’t reviewed here but have used) have been all that accurate. They each had their strengths and weaknesses, but there wasn’t one run or app that had the same distance, on the same course, which defeated the purpose of using GPS to track my distance accurately.

I liked some of the functions and how they sync with a website, but none of them are I what I would consider indispensable to my outdoor running program.

In fact I was so disappointed in how the iPhone worked for me while running today, that I went out back of the garage this morning and dug around for my old Nike Triax wrist watch/heart beat monitor. I found the Triax in my old gym bag and discovered it had kept perfect time and was even on the correct date.

This was very surprising since the watch is over 3 years old and still on the original battery. It is just a lot simpler to use than any of the iPhone runner apps I have tried, a lot lighter and has the added advantage of tracking my heart rate if I choose to wear the chest strap.

I have a feeling that I would feel this same way with every “smart” phone and its runner apps. The size of the phones are probably the major reason and not being able to easily see the screens figures in prominently also.

However, I am intrigued by the Garmin Forerunner, but that is even rather large and I wonder how accurate its GPS would be compared to the smart phone apps. For me to be happy it would have to be about the size of the new iPod with a wrist strap and reliable/accurate GPS functions.

Many times we make things more, no a lot more complicated than it needs to be when we try to incorporate too much technology into what we do. The iPhone is great for working out in the gym, “just in case” I need to call home or some other emergency while running.

However, based on my experience over the past few weeks, I think I will go back to just using a watch while running outside and carry the iPhone in my fanny pack if I am going for a longer run or on a trail.

Technology is not always the answer to everything we do, sometimes we just have to do it and keep it simple. In my opinion it is more important that we need to enjoy what we are doing, instead of worrying about how to set this app up, stop that or if it is accurate or not.

I guess not using my iPhone (or other smart phone) for running is another one of those things that I am doing to simplify my life.