• WWDC 2016 Wishlist

    WWDC 2016 Wishlist

    It’s almost June so that means that Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference is right around the corner. That means it’s time for my WWDC 2016 wishlist.


    I don’t have an Apple Watch, but I’m very strongly considering buying one whenever the second generation comes out. That said, I’m not incredibly familiar with the operating system, but from what I’ve read I’m hoping for an update to watchOS that adds some speed , plus makes the Apple Watch rely less on the iPhone being around.

    I’m also hoping that Apple gives developers more freedom and APIs to develop apps for the Apple Watch. Apps are what makes the iPhone and iPad so great, and this will continue on the Apple Watch.


    I love my Apple TV. Well, the last generation one. The latest (4th) generation got a brand new operating system and remote. I really think Apple missed the mark on this generation of the Apple TV. The remote is crap. It’s incredibly difficult to navigation with it, and I’m always having connectivity issues with it so I end up using the iOS remote app (which isn’t a great app itself).

    I’m hoping Apple pushes out more updates to refine the Apple TV experience, because it has taken a device I loved using and turned it into something that causes me nothing but frustration.

    OS X 10.11/ macOS

    Many people think that the OS X name is going away and will turn into macOS. That could be very possible as OS X is over 15 years old. Granted, there have been major overhauls in those 15 years, but a name change is probably due. Calling the desktop operating system macOS would unify Apple’s OS names across all products which is great for marketing. I’m surprised Apple didn’t go for this in 2014 with their 10.10/Yosemite update. A design refresh would have been the opportune time for a name change.


    Every year I have one big want for the desktop OS, and that’s Siri on the Mac. Siri has been built into the iPhone since 2011. Five years later, Siri is long overdue on the Mac. Hell, she’s long overdue on the Apple TV, too. I want my god damn J.A.R.V.I.S. in my home. From the rumors going around, it seems like this year may be the year for Siri on the Mac.


    I’d also love to see a brand new iTunes from the ground up. Apple did make some pretty decent UX changes in the last update a month ago, but more is needed with iTunes. Let’s take the apps for the iPhone and iPad out of iTunes. I’d wager to say that most people download apps and iOS updates over the air now. I’m sure Apple has the analytics for that. If iOS truly need to be on the desktop they should be on the App Store on the Mac. iTunes needs a fresh overhaul. Optimize it for music, TV shows, and movies. Make it easier to play music in your library.

    I have an older iMac (mid-2010) so I don’t have some of the features from OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) like handoff, and I’d expect that trend to continue with any huge releases in 10.12, including Siri. I’ve already decided that I need to upgrade my iMac this year, so that’s a little bit more of an incentive.

    iOS 10

    The iPhone is the big daddy for Apple, and where I have the majority of items on my wishlist.

    iCloud Storage

    One area that Apple is still a pain in the ass with is backup storage space in iCloud. Never mind the fact that their entry level phone is still 16GB (way too small – I opted for the 64GB iPhone 6S and love the extra space) – the included 5GB of iCloud storage is too small. The base level should be whatever the smallest hard drive size they sell in a phone to allow for full backups.

    3D Touch

    Last year’s introduction of 3D Touch was interesting. It’s a cool feature, but I don’t think it’s being used enough. 3D Touch should be added to everything, such as the settings app for most commonly accessed settings available right from the home screen. This would be even more powerful in Control Center as shown in this video still from MacStories. Below you can see how activating 3D Touch on the wifi icon gives you some options: toggle wifi on/off, or join nearby networks. This saves a lot of taps getting into the wifi settings in the main settings app.

    3D Touch Improvements

    In this screen shot they even show how third party apps would look in Control Center. Something I would most definitely like to have.


    Messages and the iMessage protocol is probably one of if not the most widely used app on the iPhone, and there is a lot of room for improvement here. Here’s another screen shot from the MacStories article I linked above that has a lot of what I want in Messages. Rich text and media previews of links you send, easier to find (search) emojis, and granular read receipts.

    Messages improvements

    Rich Text and Media Previews

    A lot of chat apps, like Slack, will pull in a media preview when you post a link. If it’s an image or a video like YouTube it will display image or video inline. This reduces the need for Messages to open up a different app to complete a task which isn’t always needed. Messages shows photos and videos you send via iMessage or SMS, and this would be extending that functionality.


    Emojis are fun to use, but if it’s an emoji you don’t use very often and isn’t on your Frequently Used list, good luck finding it. A search field, or shortcut structure (with predictive capabilities similar to Slack) would be perfect.

    Granular Read Receipts

    I like having read receipts on for messages with my wife and family, so they know that I saw their message but may not be able to respond immediately, but I know they saw my message. However, I may not want all of my friends or coworkers to know I saw their message and haven’t responded yet.

    Platform Enhancements

    Having the ability to respond to not only iMessages on my Mac, but also standard SMS (text) messages is great, although not always flawless. I would love to see some improvements there. If I’m out of town for an extended time, or if my Mac is off for longer than a few hours, it takes forever for Messages to catch up and load in all the messages that the machine missed while it was offline. These should load faster, and silently in the background.

    Night Mode

    I’ve come full circle on Night Mode. I’ve seen people ask for it for years, but I didn’t get it. However, a lot of apps now build the feature in, and now I’m a believer. If an app offers it, like TweetBot (see screenshot comparison), I use it. I find Night Mode easier on the eyes at all times during the day.

    Light mode vs dark mode

    I think Apple should implement this in iOS 10 with a system wide on/off switch for available apps, (and make it a requirement of any non-game apps).

    Enhanced Security

    In a post-Snowden, post FBI vs. Apple world, I want everything encrypted. Apple does a great job of this with iMessage, but there is still some work to do, and it sounds like Apple is working on it, which is awesome. The more privacy is protected, the better. I love that Apple is taking this stand for our rights. It’s also a sad that we need a corporation to protect us from our own government. Our elected officials and judges don’t understand technology, (and/or don’t care how it works and write something that would outlaw something completely harmless) which would allow our Constitutionally protected rights to be trampled over by bad legislation (or attempts at writing the legislation) or clearly wrong court decisions that force people to self-incriminate.

    Sorry, I got on my soap box there for a minute, but it’s an important topic, and one I care deeply about. Privacy must be protected at all costs. The government should not be snooping on us, and corporations like AT&T and Verizon should not make it easier for the government to spy on its citizens. Thankfully Apple is standing against them.

    Siri Improvements

    Siri yet again is the big ticket item on this list. Apple has a lot of catch up to do with Siri to meet Google Now and Alexa.

    Siri doesn't listenNumber one, I’d like Siri to do what I ask, and what she hears. Siri will also often play Pink or Daft Punk when I ask for punk music, which is not even close. She clearly understands the command, which you can see in the screenshot, but chooses to ignore it for some reason.

    APIs for Siri would be huge. The rumor mill is strong on this, but it is every year. Telling Siri to complete a task in a third party app would be game changing for the interface.

    Misc. Items

    • Hiding stock apps like Tips, Stocks, etc.
    • Force apps/websites to handle animated gifs as animated gifs and not videos that take over the device audio
    • Contextual alerts for holidays and alarms for upcoming holidays – For example, Siri should ask you, “Next Monday is Memorial Day, should I turn your 6:30 am alarm off for that day?”
    • “Clear all” functionality in Notification Center
    • Better location privacy options

    That’s it for this year’s predictions. Hopefully I can cross a lot of these items off, especially ones that have been lingering for a few years.

  • Best of 2015


    Another year come and gone. Some big changes for the Rastiellos in 2015, namely I said goodbye to my friends at LyntonWeb and joined Rackspace.

    On top of that, we traveled to Arkansas, Chicago, and Memphis, and New Jersey twice (not to mention several road trips within Texas). We saw my youngest sister get married, and our awesome niece and nephews grow even more awesome.

    We celebrated Ali’s 40th birthday, and my mom’s 60th.

    We saw a ton of concerts, including Foo Fighters (twice), Faith No More, Ben Folds, Sarah McLachlan, Leon Bridges, and we’ll be closing out the year with The Suffers at the Houston House of Blues on New Years Eve.

    I also opened up The Restorative, a store on Etsy that has been pretty successful for the short time it has been live.


    2015 was a great year.

    Last year I started doing a year in review, and this year I’m making it a tradition. 2015 keeps on giving! Some categories remain, others were dropped. It’s my website and I’ll do what I damn well please.

    2015 was a stacked year, so there are multiple picks for some of categories. Again, my website, damn well please.

    Best of 2015

    Best Game(s)

    The Room 3

    The Room series of games are awesome. You are essentially trapped in a room (or series of rooms), and need to find objects and solve puzzles to move through the room to escape. The graphics are amazing. The puzzles are fun and challenging, and is great for multiple replays. Apparently there are different endings depending on what you do. I haven’t replayed yet, but I will do so soon.

    The Room 3

    ($4.99 on the App Store)

    Domino Drop

    Domino Drop is a great casual game for when you have a few free minutes and need to take a break from what you’re doing. Very easy to play, match the colors/numbers to clear them out and don’t run out of room (similar to Tetris, but you can’t rotate the pieces). It’s a paid app, but there are no in app purchases that hinder play of the app.

    ($1.99 on the App Store)

    Shooty Skies

    This game is super fun. Shoot your enemies, and dodge their various projectiles. Very easy to learn, and play, but watch out for those projectiles! This is a free app with in app purchases, but the in app purchases are unobtrusive and by no means necessary to play the game.

    (Free on the App Store or Google Play)

    Best Comic Book (Series)

    Fight Club 2

    Fight Club 2DC has really let me down. I’ve dropped so many DC books from my pull list. Marvel was in a transition period for most of the year. One of their series, Secret Wars: Civil War was really good, but not good enough for this list.

    Fight Club is one of my favorite books and movies, so it goes without saying that I was looking forward to this book ever since I first heard about it.

    The story picks up about 10 years after the book. The narrator (who currently goes by Sebastian in the comic) and Marla are married and have a son. Sebastian is medicated, and Tyler is gone. Until he isn’t. And then Tyler kidnaps Sebastian and Marla’s son.

    Plus there are amazing covers by David Mack who I gushed over in my Daredevil post a while back.

    Best Music (tie)

    Wow, what a year for music.

    New Faith No More, Modest Mouse, Foo Fighters, Beirut, and two from Beach House and so much more.

    Coming Home, Leon Bridges

    One of the best weekly newsletters I receive is the music newsletter from NPR (this particular week was a great week for new music). NPR’s music stuff is awesome, check it out if you never have. I’ve discovered so much great music through it, and the best artist, by far, is Leon Bridges. It only took one listen of the song for me to go purchase the few he had available on iTunes, and then pre-order his debut album.

    Leon Bridges is a young soul singer who sounds like he’s from the 60’s. Just an amazing voice. Ali and I saw him in concert in November and it was so much fun.

    I’ve told everyone who will listen to me about Leon Bridges.

    The Most Lamentable Tragedy, Titus Andronicus

    Titus Andronicus is a punk band from my home state of New Jersey. I found them through a thread on Reddit a few years ago listing out great Jersey bands (also check out Lifetime if you’re into punk or Streetlight Manifesto if you’re into punk/ska). I didn’t know the album was out until a few weeks after the fact, and I immediately tracked it down. The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a pretty epic 90 minute rock opera that deals with themes of the lead singer’s experience with manic depression. It’s pretty intense.

    Best TV Show (Comedy)

    Life in Pieces, CBS

    It’s very likely Ali and I wouldn’t have found this show if it wasn’t for being at her parent’s house and them watching the terrible Big Bang Theory. I about peed my pants with laughter when we first watched it. It’s probably my top two or three comedies right now, with Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Mindy Project.

    Life in Pieces tells four stories of a family. Sometimes they are connected, sometimes they aren’t. But they are always hilarious. I can’t do the show justice, so here are some clips:

    Just do yourself a favor and watch the damn show. Or watch more clips here.

    Best TV Show (Drama)

    Mr. Robot, USA

    Mr. Robot came out of no where. I heard some people talking about it who like geeky things like me, so I decided to check it out. The lead character works for a cybersecurity company by day. By night he’s a hacker who hacks into the online lives of people he meets in real life as a way to connect with them. His hacking leads him into a group of hacktivists who are hell bent on taking down E Corp and erasing the world’s debt.

    It’s part Matrix, part Fight Club, and total mind fuck. This sneak peek doesn’t even begin to show the roller coaster ride that this show is. It was picked up for a second season before it even aired on TV.

    Best Movie (2 way tie for runner up)

    Ex Machina

    Ever since I saw Inside Llewyn Davis two years ago I’ve been a huge Oscar Isaac fan, and I love sic-fi so this was an easy sell. Ex Machina tells the story of a person similar to the founders of Google. Oscar Isaac’s character founded a search engine company, and is now tinkering with building an artificial intelligence. He recruits a member of his staff to test the AI to essentially see if the AI could pass a Turing Test. Typically with AI movies, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. They all tell the story of becoming aware and killing all humans. Terminator, I, Robot (the movie, not the book), The Matrix, and so on. But Ex Machina breaks the mold and tells a really dark and compelling story.

    The Martian

    I don’t know what it is, but I really like watching movies where people are really good at their jobs. They come together to solve an impossible problem, like Apollo 13.

    The Martian is about an astronaut, Matt Damon, who is stranded on Mars after his team had to escape a vicious storm. His crew thought he was dead, and they had no choice but to leave him behind. Matt Damon was in fact not dead, and had to try to figure out not only how to survive on Mars for five years (how long it would take NASA to get back to him) but to notify NASA that he was still alive.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Ultimate movie of the year)

    I had this post queued up before The Force Awakens had opened, so I have to add this addendum. Star Wars is definitely the movie of the year for me. The previous two were really great, but The Force Awakens blows them away. I am, however, leaving them on the list.

    Since the movie is still so new I won’t post anything so I won’t spoil it, and I’ll only say that it blew away every one of my expectations.

    Here’s one of the trailers:

  • The Restorative

    I’m a hobbyist. I jump from hobby to hobby all the time. Photography, electronics (briefly), now I’m crazy into collecting and listening to records.

    But my latest hobby, has been making things. We had a garage in our house in San Antonio, and it was at that point when I was able to build a workbench and start buying a few power tools and begin making things in a little workshop in the garage.

    Workbench in the old garage

    At first I started with making small things, like Christmas ornaments for the kids, but it’s grown since then.

    Superman Christmas ornaments

    This is really when the bug bit me. I wanted to keep making things like these.

    When we were building our new house in New Braunfels, I had to make sure that our garage had plenty of room for a workshop. It’s the main reason I insisted on adding 4 feet to the length of the garage. Now I have a bit more space to work, so I’m really pumped.

    Workbench in the new garage

    I’ve always wanted to make things and sell them, so I started thinking about what I could sell. My photos were definitely on that list, and by far the easiest thing for me to sell. But I wanted to actually make something, so I started keeping my eyes open when we’d go to antique stores, craft stores, and really, every where.

    Texas Christmas ornament by The RestorativeWhere we live is filled with antique stores. We’re also close to a ton of small Texas towns like Gruene, Johnson City, Blanco, all of which have a lot of antique shops as well as Texas gift shops. And that was my inspiration and starting point, Texas gifts. I started with Christmas ornaments and photographs and I kept running with that theme.

    I’ve slowly been adding new products like coasters and signs, and I’m always thinking of what else I could add.

    New York City tile coasters by The Restorative

    The biggest hurdle for me was the name and branding. I was making things before I even had any of that in mind. I’m big on names and branding (hi, I’m a marketer), and the name for this had to be perfect. The name is what has held me back for so long. It had to be a strong name that would reflect what I would make and sell. Quality products with a vintage flair.

    But not just the name, the look of how I would present my products and my store. I probably drove Ali nuts with this back and forth on the name, but one day on a drive back to New Braunfels from Houston I had her trapped in the car for two hours and I was adamant that we’d have a name when we got home. After an hour or so we had a list, with one definite option.

    As soon as we pulled in the driveway I ran into the house and set up the store name on Etsy. I began working on a logo and branding. It needed to be simple, bold, and timeless. The packaging also had to reflect the store’s brand, and I think I did just that.

    The Restorative packaging

    I haven’t been promoting the store at all while I was adding more products and trying to make sure everything was perfect. However, people starting finding and favoriting some items here and there. After a few weeks I made my first sale, and I was ecstatic. Since then I’ve managed to sell a few Christmas ornaments and tile coasters without really announcing to my circle of the Internet that I embarked on this project. I had something in the back of my head that I had to be “finished”. I needed to have all the products that I had in my head on the store before I started promotion. Well, that’s crazy. I’ll never be done, so I was just delaying this because I’m a crazy person.

    But not anymore.

    Now I’m ready and very excited to cut the digital ribbon on The Restorative.

    The Restorative

    Vintage inspired designs and creations using wood, fabric, photography, and a little blood, sweat, and tears. And maybe some slight cursing. Also, whiskey.

  • Daredevil – The Man Without Fear


    Thanks to Marvel Unlimited I’ve read about 11 years worth of Daredevil comics over the past few months.

    I had started reading Daredevil monthly in 2009 or so, but shortly after Daredevil premiered on Netflix, one of my friends suggested that I go back and read everything starting from Volume 2 (from 1998) which was about 133 issues. I’m glad I did. I don’t know if I have ever read, or will ever again, read a series so consistently well written and illustrated.

    Volume 2 starts out with an eight issue series written by Kevin Smith called Guardian Devil, but the series picks up majorly when David Mack, and later, Brian Michael Bendis come on board (who wrote 60 some odd issues). Ed Brubaker came on after Bendis and continued the epic run.

    The whole series pretty much deals with the mob and gangs in Hells Kitchen. No crazy alien invasions or world threatening events. Just a blind lawyer with enhanced senses who is a skilled fighter/ninja. He has a few superpowered friends who show up from time to time including Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Spider-Man. Also, later there are ninjas. Of course.

    Throughout everything that happens to Matt Murdock and Daredevil (and quite a bit happens) his secret identity is published in the press and Matt fights nonstop to prove he’s not who they say he is (but he totally is, guys).

    I don’t want to go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil any of the story for people, but I urge you to read this series.

    David Mack’s artwork early on is stunning, and how he uses it to tell a story is amazing. There is so much detail on every page. It really is beautiful.

    Daredevil by David Mack

    Beyond the prominent text there is so much more detail on each page that adds layers and layers to the story and characters. Mack’s origin story of Echo (Daredevil #51-55) was a great story enhanced by Mack’s art. Echo is deaf, and learns how to mimic behaviors and activities by watching someone doing them once and being able to replicate them expertly. Hence her name, Echo.

    Then Alex Maleev takes over on art and his style is so perfectly suited for Daredevil. The darkness and grittiness of the artwork is intense. You can feel the emotion in every panel, on every page. More so than most artists I’ve ever seen.

    Daredevil by Alex Maleev

    While reading Daredevil I couldn’t help but think this is what Batman should be like.

    Red BatmanOver the years Batman has been turned into Bat-god. The superhero who can do it all and take on any villain (or hero) and win handily. Batman’s just a guy. He has no powers. He’s an expert fighter in marital arts and a world class detective. But lately his comics have been getting further and further away from him being the world’s greatest detective. He’s taking on gods in Apokolips, and in the movie, taking on Superman (which come on, Superman would destroy Batman so fast).

    I loathe Joker, and think he is so overrated as far as Batman’s rogues gallery goes. My favorite Batman stories are where he’s dealing with the mob in Gotham, where he is the detective and protector of Gotham. Stories like The Long Halloween for example. Even the first to Dark Knight movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (which has Joker in it, but still).

    Bendis, Mack, and later in the run of volume two, Ed Brubaker write Daredevil perfectly. The conflicts between Daredevil and “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock and the press and public hounding him about his secret identity, and the fallout of both arcs and everything in-between made for such compelling reading that I could barely pull myself away.

    Reading through these back issues I came to the realization that Daredevil may have become my favorite Marvel character. He has such a great origin, and story. The best part about him is he patrols and protects Hell’s Kitchen, an area roughly one square mile in size. Not an entire city, region, or world. This keeps Daredevil grounded and realistic (as far as superpowered heroes go, that is). Sure he’s gotten involved in the big Marvel events, but he’s a street level hero, fighting to protect his neighborhood. His secret identity as a lawyer is also great because it can enhance his stories and give so many additional layers to those stories.

    I’m glad Marvel made a serialized version of Daredevil on Netflix instead of making a movie series for him. Daredevil is a great character and I’m sure they’d make an incredible movie series around him, but they can do so much more with this character on the small screen. And they did. The first season of Daredevil was amazing. Probably one of my favorite things Marvel has done with their cinematic universe.

    Daredevil, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist by David Mack

    Daredevil is well worth the price of a Marvel Unlimited subscription ($9.99 a month) for this series and any other series you want to read. Though they do hold back new comics six months, so something published this week wouldn’t be available until February of next year. That’s bad if you want to catch up to read something current, but it’s better than buying trades which will cost a lot more and come out just as long.

  • The Last Episode of The Daily Show

    Jon Stewart

    Last night was Jon Stewart’s last night of hosting The Daily Show, something he had done for the last 16 plus years.

    I watched The Daily show here and there when Craig Kilborn was the host, and sporadically when Stewart took over, but Ali and I became faithful viewers during the year before the 2008 election. We’ve watched almost every episode for over seven years, and next week without the show is going to be very weird.

    Stewart changed direction of The Daily Show on their first day back after the September 11th attacks with this emotional monologue:

    After that night, Jon Stewart turned The Daily Show into our checks and balance on not only the government, but the media reporting on the government.

    The Daily Show called out all politicians, the cable news networks and their anchors on their misinformation and lousy reporting. He would shame them when the cable news networks would rush to report on a story to be first, while seldom being right.

    There were no checks in place to make them accountable on their faulty reporting because as soon as we learned the facts they (the media) had already moved on to the next story. With Stewart around, he could call out CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC when this happened. And he did, often.

    The Daily Show launched spinoffs such as The Colbert Report, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (who puts all their clips on YouTube), and while Colbert will be moving on to replace David Letterman this fall, these shows were just as important as The Daily Show. Specifically Last Week Tonight which does a weekly format show with a deep dive into one topic. Many credit his show on the topic of the FCC and Net Neutrality with introducing the topic to a large audience after it went viral online. This awareness helped push the FCC towards fully supporting Net Neutrality much to the chagrin of Internet service providers and Republicans in Congress.

    Last night, Jon Stewart had one last monologue, and it was about bullshit.

    This is his legacy. Don’t accept things as they are presented by politicians or the media, because somewhere, someone has tainted the story to fit their needs, views, or advertisers.

    Then, in the only way Stewart could end his last episode of The Daily Show, he introduced Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to close it down with. The song Stewart requested? Land of Hope and Dreams off of the incredible Wrecking Ball album.

    Land of Hope and Dreams by Bruce Springsteen

    Grab your ticket and your suitcase
    Thunder’s rollin’ down this track
    Well, you don’t know where you’re goin’ now
    But you know you won’t be back
    Well, darlin’ if you’re weary
    Lay your head upon my chest
    We’ll take what we can carry
    Yeah, and we’ll leave the rest

    Big wheels roll through fields
    Where sunlight streams
    Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

    Well, I will provide for you
    And I’ll stand by your side
    You’ll need a good companion now
    For this part of the ride
    Leave behind your sorrows
    Let this day be the last
    Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
    And all this darkness past

    Big wheels roll through fields
    Where sunlight streams
    Oh meet me in a land of hope and dreams

    This train…
    Carries saints and sinners
    This train…
    Carries losers and winners
    This Train…
    Carries whores and gamblers
    This Train…
    Carries lost souls
    This Train…
    Dreams will not be thwarted
    This Train…
    Faith will be rewarded
    This Train…
    Hear the steel wheels singin’
    This Train…
    Bells of freedom ringin’
    This Train…
    Carries broken-hearted
    This Train…
    Thieves and sweet souls departed
    This Train…
    Carries fools and kings
    This Train…
    All aboard

    This Train…
    Dreams will not be thwarted
    This Train…
    Faith will be rewarded
    This Train…
    Hear the steel wheels singin’
    This Train…
    Bells of freedom ringin’

    This Train…
    People get ready
    Don’t need no ticket
    All you gotta do is
    Just get on board

    On board this train

    This song so echoes Stewart’s message after September 11th. The dream of America is not lost. We can achieve it by helping each other out. We’ll get there.

    You can watch Jon Stewart’s last Daily Show in full here.

  • WWDC 2015 Wrap up and OS X 11 and iOS 9 Previews


    WDDC came and went two months ago and I never did my follow up post because I was busy and lazy, but mostly lazy.

    Right off the bat, Apple TV was a no show, but there are rumors it may show up next month. So we don’t need to discuss these items but I do hope that Apple includes the items on my wishlist for it.

    OS X 10.11


    I liked the name Mojave, but Apple went with El Capitán. Very fitting since it is a big refinement update, so like the Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) update to Leopard (OS X 10.5) they went with El Capitán, the granite monolith in Yosemite National Park (Yosemite being the current code name of OS X 10.10).

    Unfortunately Apple demoed OS X 10.11 (El Cap) without showcasing Siri on the Mac. They could still announce it as a surprise feature when the operating system comes out this fall, but that’s doubtful. So my biggest wish for OS X lives on for another year.

    What Apple did demo in El Cap was a big overhaul with much needed improvements and refinements. Some of these improvements were mentioned, but not really worth me going into since smarter and more technical people have tackled these items.

    There were some new features released, such as split view, allowing you to put two windows side by side easily (something Windows added back in Vista), an updated Mission Control, and they also gave Spotlight a much needed update. Apple also revamped Mail, Maps, Photos, and other apps. You can check out more on Apple’s site.

    I’m currently running the public beta of El Cap and it’s pretty solid. I like the pinned tabs that they added to Safari (a feature I sorely missed from Chrome). However, I don’t like that every new Safari window that you open has those pinned tabs. This may just be the way that I work, but I have one main Safari window open all the time. When I’m working on something, or if I know I’m about to open a ton of new tabs for researching something, I’ll open a new browser window. Well right off the bat there are my pinned tabs cluttering up the view. I’ve submitted feedback to Apple on this. Hopefully others feel the same way and have submitted similar feedback.

    Other than a few other bugs in the beta of El Cap that I’ve reported I’m incredibly happy with the operating system and can’t wait for the full release this fall. Even without the addition of Siri.

    iOS 9

    First off, I want to say I’m super impressed that iOS 9 will support so many old devices.

    iOS 9 Supported Devices

    I’m also annoyed because some of those iPhones and iPads are very old, and the technology in those devices are incredibly dated. The iPad 2 (which will never die) came out in the spring of 2011 and iPhone 4S came out in the fall of 2011. As far as technology goes, especially technology as small as these devices go, are very old. I have an iPad 3 and it’s incredibly slow while doing very basic things like switching the screen orientation or sliding to unlock. I find myself using it less and less because of this. Maybe the iOS 9 update will breathe some life into it, but I’m looking to upgrade to the newer model that Apple is sure to release later this year.

    As for features in iOS 9, Apple didn’t disappoint and did a nice upgrade to Siri. They didn’t incorporate my “conversation mode” or having the “Hey Siri” listening function turned on all the time, but I have a feeling that may need more powerful technology that is most likely coming in the next year or two.

    searchSiri got a major upgrade along with Spotlight (search). If you swipe all the way to the left you’ll get a new search screen with contacts to connect with often, apps you’ve used recently, and at the bottom, current news. The coolest part of this screen is the “Nearby” module that shows you a few categories of things to do around you. Since I took this screenshot at 7pm, it’s showing me restaurants and movies in the first two tabs because iOS 9 knows at this time during the week I’m likely going to be going out to dinner, or to the movies. During the morning it may be showing me coffee houses or breakfast places.

    But what about your privacy? You don’t want Apple knowing where you’ve been. Well, neither do they. All that information is compiled on your device and never sent to Apple or other services.

    Apple updated the Multitasking pane on iOS, and it’s something I use a lot. I’m also running the iOS 9 beta, so I can say I like the look of the updated iOS 9 multitasking pane, but I’m not loving the experience with it. Apps slide away too fast for my liking. Hopefully this is still being refined.

    deep linking in apps

    One of the things I love a lot, and it’s an incredibly geeky thing, is deep linking. What that is, is that if you click on a link from search, Messages, email, whatever, you’ll see a “Return to {previous app}” message in the top left of the screen, making it easy to get back to the previous app once you’re redirected to Safari, the App Store or whatever.

    Apple beefed up a bunch of apps like Notes, Maps, Music (though technically that came out in iOS 8.4). The one I am most excited about is News. I used to be a huge fan of the app Flipboard, but over the years the developers have really stripped out what makes the app so good, and that’s content from good, reliable sources (however maybe it was the content creators that pulled their sites and content from the app). I used to be able to get news from respected online news sites, but now it’s all clickbait articles and the same listicles over and over again. The app is useless, and I deleted it. In the beta, News seems like it will be a great replacement.

    Here are some of the publishers that will be on Apple News for the launch:

    Apple News Publishers

    The best parts about iOS 9 are the boring things that no one cares about because they aren’t sexy. iOS 9 is more secure, more stable. You’ll may not notice these when using your devices, but they are definitely there and a lot of these upgrades will help Apple roll out great stuff next year in iOS 10.

    For a complete run down of everything iOS 9 check out this article on iMore.

  • Mac OS X 10.11 / iOS 9 Wishlist


    Apple’s annual developer’s conference WWDC is right around the corner and it’s time to bring out my annual pre-WWDC predictions and my OS X 10.11 and iOS 9 wishlist. But before I get to that, I want to talk about one of my favorite devices in my house and its possible future.

    Apple TV

    Apple TVIt’s speculated every year that Apple will release a new Apple TV and every year comes and goes without one. The Apple TV was last updated in 2013, and while that is old for an electronic device the third generation Apple TV still runs very well in my opinion. Ali and I use ours almost every day, and sometimes all day on some weekends. The only issue we have with the device is that it needs to be restarted once in a while, but so do all computers, phones, whatever. The Apple TV could stay as is and still be a great device.

    However, some upgrades would definitely make it the incredible product that people want and set it apart from the competition.


    Adding a microphone and speaker to give Siri a voice in your living room is my number one wish for Apple TV. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into too much detail, but putting a Siri enabled device in your living room would really put Apple in the center of people’s lives. But it needs to go beyond searching for content like the Amazon Fire TV does. Having the Apple TV read off baking instructions, or putting on a certain song or album that I call out, and other normal Siri tasks would be so great.

    However it needs to have its own speaker. If I need to flip the TV over to the Apple TV input to hear Siri talk back to me, it’s useless.

    Also, it would be cool if Siri on the Apple TV knew who was talking to her. If I ask Siri on the Apple TV to remind me to do something in a few hours, Ali shouldn’t get a reminder set on her phone for that thing. However, it would be cool if I could tell Siri to remind Ali to do something, or vice-versa. That’s probably still a few years off, though.

    More Channels

    Apple does a good job of pushing out new channels, but they aren’t always something I’m interested in. I know that’s not their fault, but I hope they can convince more content providers to come on board, especially with the successful rollout of HBO Now.


    The current Apple TV remote is okay but it can definitely be improved. The remote app for iOS is decent, but takes too long to reconnect when you close the app or your iPhone locks. Whatever remote is made, it should be Bluetooth, not infrared like it is now. The remote for the Amazon Fire TV build quality isn’t great, but it connects to the device over Bluetooth and it never misses a button click. Hopefully this article from the New York Times is correct about a new Apple TV remote.

    Apple dropping the price of the Apple TV earlier this year is a strong indicator that a new Apple TV is coming, hopefully with some of the above features added in.

    OS X 10.11

    No speculations from me on the name, but I do like Mojave as an option. So there’s that.


    Yeah, Siri again. I want her on the Mac. I don’t know why this hasn’t happened yet, but it really needs to. I want to be in my office and be able to tell Siri to add something to my calendar, start an email for me. Siri is a digital assistant and it’s time for the app to work that way more on every Apple device.

    Volume Control

    This has been a feature on Windows since maybe Vista but definitely since Windows 7. On Windows this feature lets you set a master volume system wide, but also lets you turn down the volume on all running apps. That means if you are watching a video on YouTube that has very low volume and you crank up the computer’s speakers so you can hear it you won’t go deaf when when an instant message or new email notification sound goes off.

    That’s it for OS X, just like last year. Performance enhancements and bug fixes are other things I’d like, but I am very happy with OS X.

    iOS 9


    SiriSiri improvements will be on the top of my wishlist every year, and Apple should never stop improving Siri. To their credit they have been, as slow as it may seem. She’s getting better at simple tasks, with less errors, and they are adding new features every year. Keep it up, Apple.

    Siri’s voice could definitely be improved. Both the default female voice and the male voice are still very robotic sounding. Both Microsoft and Google are ahead in this department.

    I love using the “Hey Siri” feature that was introduced in iOS 8. This is especially helpful in the car. I can call out the command while the phone is charging while driving and get directions to where I’m going, or to set a reminder to do something. However, I’d like to use this feature to be available all the time, not only when your phone is plugged in.

    However this would lead us to a big problem. Imagine saying “Hey Siri” in a coffee house. Do you know how many phones would instantly be awaiting a command or question? Apple needs to find a solution so things like this don’t happen. Perhaps the solution is allowing users to customize the name. The feature would be called Siri, but you could change the name to something of your choosing. This would cut down on that problem.

    Another way to improve the “Hey Siri” feature would be “conversation mode”. That would mean once Siri is active, she stays listening to you until you dismiss her by saying, “thanks, Siri”, or after a few seconds of silence.

    For example, if I ask, “Hey Siri, what will the weather be like tomorrow morning?” After she tells me, I may still want to ask other questions on this, or another subject. So, after I ask her about the weather in the morning, maybe I want to know how the evening will be. However, at that point I need to wake her back up to ask the question.

    Delete/Hide stock apps

    Crapple AppsThis is a carry over from every other year, and I feel like this one is never coming, but it’s the biggest thing I want and I see so many other people asking for it year after year. There are at least 8 useless apps on my phone from Apple that I’d like to hide. The clock, calculator, and weather aren’t the best apps but they are tied into core functionality in the phone, so I’m okay with those being in a junk folder, but Tips, Podcasts, iBooks, Apple Watch, and Stocks apps are useless to many people and could easily be hidden without being missed.

    I know Apple can do this, they do it with Nike + iPod, but some of the apps I listed above are revenue streams for Apple so we may never get this.

    Notification Center improvements

    A few weeks ago I went through and turned off almost all of my notifications on my iPhone and iPad. Those dings and boops for every little thing are so annoying and distracting. Now the only time my phone shows me a notification is if someone is trying to communicate directly with me. That means phone calls, FaceTime, text/other direct messages (like Twitter mentions), and email. I don’t care if someone checked in at a coffee shop in town, favorited one of my tweets on Twitter, or if someone added a new board on Pinterest. Things like this have no impact on my life and I don’t need to know about them as they happen.

    It may sound like a little thing, but it means I am more in control of my attention, and that my phone gets less of it so I can focus on other things I’m working on.

    I really like what Apple has done with Notification Center. Simplifying it to two tabs really improved the interface, and the widgets on the Today tab are super helpful. The biggest improvement I would like here is an easy way to clear all notifications in the Notifications tab.

    Control Center upgrades

    There should be a way to open the Music app from Control Center.

    It would also be great if you could customize the shortcuts. The timer shortcut has little use to me, but the alarm clock definitely would. I don’t need easy access to Bluetooth, so maybe I would want that to be a shortcut to the Music app.

    Also, the ability to tap and hold on an icon to get to the settings would be great. This would be mostly helpful for WiFi and Bluetooth.

    location-optionsLocation privacy

    This isn’t a sexy wish, but I feel that it’s really important.

    All apps should have three options for location services:

    1. Never
    2. While Using the App
    3. Always

    Foursquare (image to the right) has all three of these, which is great. I don’t want Foursquare running in the background. There’s no need for me to have it running in the background all the time killing my battery just for it to send me a notification that there is a great burger place near where I am, or that I’m close to a record store or other item I’ve listed as a favorite in the app.

    Other apps have only two options:

    1. Never
    2. Always

    That’s a battery killer. The NHL app has these two options only. Why does the NHL app need to know where I am 24/7? I understand that they may need my location if I am trying to watch a game through my premium NHL account. They need to make sure I’m not in a blackout area for the game, but the times I’m not watching games? There’s no reason for Gary Bettman to know where I am.

    These apps having only the two options is very creepy, and frankly, I have privacy concerns. If any of these apps are hacked, all that data could be accessible to hackers. I don’t like that I can’t control or opt out of that data being collected.


    • If I am on my home network (or a trusted wifi network which I’ve previously specified and confirmed with my Apple ID and security passcode) and I’ve authenticated myself in the last X hours, don’t ask for Touch ID/passcode or App Store password.
    • An easy way to clear app cache, one of the biggest reasons you see that “storage almost full” warning.
    • Better pop ups modules for volume and screen brightness. These are just annoying and stay on the screen too long often times covering what you are trying to watch.
    • Fix AirPlay. We use AirPlay a lot and it’s buried on the Control Center tray instead of on the video player. It’s just not as accessible as it previously was.

    That about wraps it up for my 2015 wishlist. Some carryover from last year, but hopefully these will all be addressed.

  • Copyrights and Fair Use


    A week doesn’t go by where I don’t see someone on /r/Photography on Reddit posting about how their photos are being used online or in print without being attributed properly, or even worse, being used without being paid.

    That prompted me to check out some of my most popular photos on Flickr by doing a reverse Google Image search. I found that quite a few of them are being used online in various blogs, websites and in advertising and marketing. Sites ranging in size from personal blogs all the way up to WBUR’s (Boston’s NPR affiliate) show Here & Now (which I am a huge fan of, by the way), KUOW (Seattle’s NPR affiliate), and SB Nation, a sports blog owned by Vox Media, a prominent blogging network.

    Here’s another photo of mine on The American Scholar, which has very many notable writers and scholars appear such as Aldous Huxley, Carl Sagan, John Updike, Albert Einstein, Aaron Copland, amongst others. Great company to be featured with, huh?

    french-baseballI even found my photo of a glove full of baseballs used to advertise a baseball championship series in France (see image).

    The copyright on all of my photos is a creative commons license and states that if you use one of my photos, you must attribute the work to me (which most kind of did in one way or another), not edit it in any way (which the French baseball poster clearly is), and be a non-commercial entity (which they all are). Both NPR sites credit me (without linking back to Flickr), but both have ads on their pages. SB Nation credits me, and links back to my Flickr page, but they have ads on the page and are clearly selling ads. And the American Scholar sells ads on their site and magazine subscriptions. They’re all making money.

    When I was living in Houston and was more involved in the Houston Flickr community there were a few Houston blogs that would use my photography on their sites, which was awesome. I added the best of the best photos I took in Houston to their Flickr photo groups and every once in a while they’d get used in articles. Each time I saw my photo I was ecstatic, but in this situation I gave permission for them to use the photos by adding them to their Flickr groups. There was a clear benefit there for me. I actually did get exposure to my photos and through it met a few like minded photographers in the Houston area.

    Exposure. That’s one of the things people promise you when they try to justify asking someone to do work for free, or at a severely cut rate. I’ve been there and been burned by it so many times.

    Is it worth the time and effort to find all these photos of mine that are being used and send messages to the site owner to take them down? Part of me says yes, but in the long run? Probably not.

    I’ve sent take down notices before. Sometimes the site owner complies and takes the photo down, or adds credit and a link if I ask. But a lot of times they don’t care and don’t reply. I could make myself crazy doing this. Or I could never post another photo that I’ve taken online again. But that’s crazy.

    I don’t intend to make money off my photography. If I do here and there, hey, that’s great. But it’s a hobby for me, and I enjoy going out and exploring the world around me and showing off my best shots on my Flickr photo stream. If I didn’t want to show them to any one, why else would I do it?

  • Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Interacting With Your Computer


    If you’ve ever watched a sci-fi show or movie you’ve probably seen a scene where a person has interacted verbally with a computer, and the computer spoke back to the person like a conversation between two people. This is artificial intelligence, or AI.

    The computer can even be a character, like J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man and Avengers movies.

    How cool would it be to have something like J.A.R.V.I.S.?

    Iron Man’s heads-up display (HUD) is totally bad-ass, too, and what Google Glass could possibly be in the future. Except no one wants to wear those dorky glasses (and no one wants to be around the people who do want to wear them).


    However, that’s the goal we’re heading to, in one form or another. We’re on the doorstep of it now, with services such as Siri on iOS, Google Now on Android, and Cortana on Windows Phones.

    But those are on our phones and tablets. What about in the home or car?

    Well, Amazon has recently introduced a home device called Echo.

    It looks cool, but unless you use Amazon’s music and movie service (which not a lot of people do), it’s strictly an encyclopedia and calculator that answers simple questions for you. Which isn’t an entirely bad thing, but that’s a far way off from Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S., or what Siri or Google do for you now. Initial reviews of Echo haven’t been great, especially when compared to Siri. That’s not all that shocking with this being a first generation product. However it is still cool to have a device in your house that will respond to any question or command that you call out to it.

    Starting in iOS 8 you could interact with Siri by saying “Hey Siri”, but your phone has to be plugged in for this to work. This is a cool feature, but my phone is really only plugged in at night, or when I’m driving. That leaves a lot of time when the “Hey Siri” feature doesn’t work.

    Microsoft recently announced that they are bringing Cortana to Windows 10, which is pretty awesome. I’ve been wanting Siri on the Mac (along with everyone else in the world) since the feature was released on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Hopefully this announcement lights a fire under Apple’s ass and they roll out Siri for OS X, and even Apple TV.

    Having Siri on my Mac, and Apple TV would be awesome. My Apple TV is in our living room in our house, which is easily accessible from the kitchen with our open concept house.

    Imagine having Siri being able to dictate your favorite recipe while you are cooking, interacting to your commands without having to touch a cookbook or app on your iPhone or iPad with sticky or wet fingers. Or calling out to your Apple TV to put on your favorite playlist as you wash the dishes without leaving the sink.

    These are pretty non-trivial tasks, but this is only the beginning of the things that will shortly be possible with the AI on our phones and shortly our computers, or entire homes.

    For a geek like me it’s painful to be so close, yet so far away. We’re on the cusp of a brand new and exciting world. If you’re a geek like me, any way.

    kent-brockmanHowever, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk have all warned of the dangers of AI. Also like, every science fiction writer, every movie relating to AI computers and robotics.


    I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords. I just hope they don’t kill all humans too quickly.

    Also, if you are a time traveler and go back into the past, don’t embarrass yourself while trying to interact with ancient tech.

  • The Changing Face of TV

    Old media's death spiral continues

    Earlier this week the Golden Globes were on. Ali and I love watching the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Oscars since we are big TV and movie nuts.

    As we were watching Ali and I were of course live-tweeting because we are big dorks. One of my Twitter friends made an interesting comment, and I responded to him.

    The TV and movie landscape is changing so much, it’s a radically different landscape today than it was just a few years ago as Netflix started to roll out their streaming service.

    Amazon Prime show “Transparent” won both “Best Series, Musical or Comedy” and “Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy” (Jeffery Tambor).

    We haven’t seen the show, but we have been meaning to check it out. Actually right after Tambor won, I ordered an Amazon Fire TV stick so we could easily watch it (and other Amazon shows) on our TV (I hate watching shows/movies on a computer or tablet).

    Amazon, who really only became a player in the original programming game in 2013 won two major awards in their first year of eligibility.

    Kevin Spacey won for “Best Actor on a TV Series, Drama” for the Netflix show “House of Cards”.

    That’s three major awards for two streaming services.

    Back to Bruce’s tweet. Streaming services are starting to usurp the big cable players like HBO, and AMC (who were both absent from the winners) were doing to the broadcast networks earlier in the 2000’s.

    Moving forward there will be much more competition. More and more streaming services are popping up, like Crackle, Yahoo! Screen and more will start to produce more and more original programming that either the networks and cable pass on, or are too afraid to make and air (or don’t know how to promote, like NBC with Community and its move to Yahoo! Screen).

    It’s a great time to be a fan TV, because the options are growing and growing every day. There are more and more quality shows being produced and more and more ways to watch them.

    View all the 2015 Golden Globe Winners here.

    Image courtesy of mag3737