Proofreading TipTuesday, June 16, 2015
  • Spell checker works great for catching a misplaced letter in a word. We’ve all seen the bright red squiggly underline; it’s hard to miss. But what is hard to miss is a correctly spelled typo. For example, you meant to type “customer” and entered “costumer” instead. Spell checker didn’t notice, and a read-through might not catch it either. I read through all of my posts and never catch every mistake, so I use a neat trick to proof read my posts to ensure they’re (mostly) error free. Macs and iDevices offer text-to-speech, so I have my laptop read my post back to me. Hearing my words read back, a misplaced word really jumps out. Also, I use the British voice so my words sound much smarter.

    On the Mac, highlight a block of text, right click, and select “Speech”, then “Start Speaking”. On the phone (or iPad), highlight a block of text and tap “Speak”. (The iPhone requires a couple of steps to enable text-to-speech: open the Settings app, General > Accessibility > Speech, enable Speak Selection.)
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    Re: Redesigning Overcast's Apple Watch appThursday, May 14, 2015
  • I've previously talked about Overcast as my favorite podcasting app, and was excited about it being an early Apple Watch app. Since I primarily use Overcast while driving, it makes sense for it to be a frequently used Watch app. John Gruber mentioned on his podcast that Overcast was the best app on the watch so far, and I full heartedly agreed... until Marco Arment updated it. Both Jason Snell and John Gruber have praised the update, but I think the update is a major leap backwards. 

    Marco's post goes into a lot of detail about why he made the decisions he made on the updated watch app. 

    I'd arranged the play/seek controls in a spaced-out triangle to minimize accidental taps on the small touch targets. [...] My triangular button arrangement, which was very costly in screen space, proved unnecessary. Apple's media glance uses a three-across button layout and it's fine. 

    Except that it's not fine. I've been completely unable to start a podcast from the updated watch app since he moved the position of the play button. I can't tell if the touch target is too small or too close to the bottom of the screen, but I tried to start a podcast 10 times this morning, and finally had to pull out my phone to start it. Testing it further in a more controlled environment (i.e. not trying to navigate through San Diego traffic), I found I had a 33% success rate. 

    In practice, I just don't like navigation hierarchies on the Watch. They feel even slower than other WatchKit UIs, and tapping the tiny Back buttons or swiping back from the edge are frustratingly error-prone. 

    I never had an issue swiping or tapping the Back button. In fact, I feel that the swipe-to-go-back gesture is even more useful on the Watch than it is on the iPhone. But the revised setup is ridiculously frustrating and cumbersome. Force Touch brings up a menu with an option for “podcasts”. Tapping this provides a list of podcasts, and tapping a podcast name provides a list of available episodes. Logical so far... but once I'm in the list of episodes, there's only one option if I decide I want to go back: a Cancel button in the top left corner which dumps me back to the Now Playing screen. There is no Force Touch or Swipe option on this screen, which completely goes against Marco's argument about tapping the tiny buttons cause more errors. 

    One final (minor) annoyance with the update is the Up Next container. On the Now Playing and the Glances view there is space dedicated to showing two podcasts which are queued up to play after the current podcast. But since this only works if I'm using the smart playlist feature, all I ever see is blank space covering two-thirds of my screen. 

    This is a new platform, and I appreciate the work and thought that Marco is putting into his app. He closes his post admitting that there's a lot of learning to do, so I expect to see many more iterations of Overcast. 
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    God is Not MockedTuesday, April 28, 2015
  • Calvary Chapel of Chino Hills is one of several churches struggling with a new California mandate in regards to health coverage... 
    The congregation is challenging a decision by the California Department of Managed Healthcare that forces all employers, including churches, to provide coverage for elective abortions in all health insurance plans. 

    “I felt violated; I felt forced,” Hibbs said in response to the abortion mandate. 
    This is the problem we find ourselves in when we don’t follow the Word of God. Hibbs will blame the state for the position the church is in, just like the Israelites blamed the Egyptians when they were enslaved and the Babylonians when they were taken into captivity. The Bible tells us that God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (Galatians 6:7). For hundreds of years we’ve turned a blind eye towards God’s plan for the church. God is patient, but how long do we think God will allow us to completely ignore Him? The church looks nothing like what scripture says it should be. The church was never supposed to employ dozens of people. The church was never supposed to be a state-recognized corporation. The church is reaping what it has sown. 
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    Apple Watch: Initial ImpressionSunday, April 26, 2015
  • On April 10, Evan (my 16 year old) and I stayed up until midnight to preorder the Apple Watch. I ordered a 42mm stainless steel for myself and a 38mm sport for the wife as a surprise anniversary present using the Apple Store app. (It was ridiculously fast and painless, by the way.) Evan had trouble with the website so I did a third preorder for him using the app; a 42mm sport. On Friday, Evan's watch and Shannon's watch both arrived. Mine did not. That helped with the anniversary surprise, but now it means I can't do a very thorough review yet. 
    Unboxing 
    I was at work when the watches arrived, so Evan had already put the watch through its paces before I got home. But since Shannon thought the second box was for me, I got to watch her open her anniversary present. It was awkward because, ever since the iPod photo, I've never not been first to get a new Apple product! The wife was gracious and offered to let me open hers, but that would be rude. So I just watched with envy. 
    When you consider the watch is so much smaller than the phone, the box seems ridiculously large and it's heavier than you'd expect. (Not the watch, the packaging.) But in typical Apple style, the packaging is amazing and perfect. You feel like you bought something much more expensive. This is just one of the ways Apple knows how to make you feel valued. 
    Quality 
    One area I don't think non-Apple people get about Apple products is the absolute attention to every detail Apple pays. In the software you can point out how if everyone in the room has the Mickey Mouse watch face, his foot taps at the same time on all the watches. Sure that's silly, but no one besides Apple thinks of these things. But even after a few iPods, several iPhones, a couple of iPads, plus a few laptops, I was truly impressed with the build quality and the physical device. 
    The build quality is so perfect you really feel like you're holding a watch worth much more than you paid. The sport band is the cheapest one available, but it feels amazing. There are no ugly mold lines, the rubber isn't stiff and unwieldy. The mechanism to release the band from the watch is smooth, easy to do, yet solid and secure. The way the glass meets the aluminum is so precise and smooth, you find yourself wanting to touch the watch constantly. There's no better way to describe it than to say it just feels good! 
    The digital crown may sound gimmicky, but I think it's easy to underestimate just how genius it really is. And the feel of it scrolling is downright pleasurable. This "innovation" is very much like the scroll wheel on the iPod. Competitors didn't get it, but users sure did. 
    The 42mm watch is smaller than I thought it would be. I have several large face watches and I like the clunky look. I expected something like that, but it's no where near big and clunky. Evan has really small arms so the watch looks a bit big on his arm. (He says the 38mm is a girls watch, so he went with the 42mm.) On my wrist it looks very natural and feels very comfortable. 
    I tend to agree with Evan that the 38mm seems like the "girl's watch". I'll be curious to see how many kids will have Apple Watches soon. That said, the 38mm is noticeably smaller but never seems too small. I don't feel like Shannon got a lesser watch at all. 
    I can't tell a huge difference in weight in the two sizes. The watch doesn't feel heavy but at the same time it doesn't feel so light that it feels cheap. It feels very solid. 
    Battery Life 
    I don't think battery life is a problem. Neither Evan nor Shannon have run out of battery yet. And trust me, Evan is on his all the time! Sure, charging it every night is more of a nuisance than a standard watch, but the same can be said for smartphones vs old-school cellphones that could skip a night of charging. The two devices aren't even in the same league. 
    The Software 
    Evan gave me a quick tour of what the watch can do out of the box and how the interface works. It is everything you expect from an Apple product. Apple excels at subtle transitions and interactions. For example, how menus transitioned on the very first iPod, or the way the iPhone introduced "rubberbanding" when you scroll past the top or bottom. There's never gratuitous animations or transitions, just intuitive effects. 
    When you use the watch, it just makes sense. The only exception I could see was the force touch. In certain instances (like to modify your watch face) you have to press down hard to get customization options to appear. It's not that the force touch is hard to do or counter-intuitive, but it's a new way to interact with your device. We've never had the option to force touch on our phones or iPads, so it's easy to forget that's an option on the watch. (I'm convinced it will be in the next iPhone by the way.) 
    Third Party Apps 
    An app on the watch is really more like a remote control for an app on your phone. For example, if you use the Uber app on the watch, it's actually running the app on your phone and displaying the results on your watch. I was really worried about the speed and reliability of this. I didn't need to be. If I didn't know how they worked, I wouldn't believe you if you told me. Some apps take a second to get started, but I never felt the delay was any longer than the time apps take to open on the phone. 
    The number of third party apps available on day one was staggering. This is an area where Android people should be angry. I feel like every watch before this one was a notification device. It was designed to let you know when to get out your phone, whereas the Apple Watch prevents you from having to pull your phone out of your pocket. 
    There are definitely some silly apps (Evan downloaded a racing game that was very reminiscent of the old LCD games from the 80s), but a ton of the apps are really smart. 
    Remember when the iPhone came out and the naysayers were arguing that it's nothing special because there's already been touch screen phones? Welcome to 2007 again. 
    In a nutshell, I'll just say I am insanely jealous. I really cannot wait to get my watch. If Evan hadn't been patiently waiting four months to get his Christmas present, I think I'd just take his! 
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    Did Jesus Discriminate?Thursday, April 16, 2015
  • Brian Klawiter, owner of Dieseltec: 
    I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.) 
    While his explanation of why being gay is wrong is quite funny, it bothers me to think I am compared with this guy when I call myself a Christian. This is not at all what I was suggesting in my earlier posts on the topic. 
    A Christian by definition should follow Christ’s example. What was His example? Jesus fed 5,000 people and did not turn away anyone in the crowd that may have been dishonest or immoral. (Judas was there, remember?) When Jesus healed the paralytic, He first forgave him of his sins and then He healed him. That means Jesus knew the man was a sinner and still healed him. Most importantly, Jesus didn’t die for the moral and honest. He died for me. 
    Imagine if Jesus only did business with people who were perfect. Now I don’t know Klawiter, but I suspect he wouldn’t have made the cut. 
    Assuming Klawiter is sincere, he is doing more to hurt the rights of business owners than to help. There is a huge difference in what he is doing versus refusing to promote a cause you don’t agree with. 
    It’s simple really. If I make a game like Flappy Birds, anyone who wants to spend a buck has a right to download it. But if a gay bar requests that I make an app for their establishment, I should have the right to decide this is not the right project for my business. Same can be said for a marijuana distributor, a democrat presidential candidate, or even a mega-church. I wouldn’t just be selling a generic product or service, I’d be promoting their cause. 
    Frankly this isn’t uncommon. All the while they complain about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the blogs and podcasts doing the most protesting are actively being selective with who they will or will not allow to advertise on their site. They are not going to help promote a cause or business they don’t agree with. 
    While Jesus would feed or heal all who came to Him, He never promoted the causes of the Pharisees, the Scribes, or the sinner.
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