Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the greatest service *ever* is reborn

In the late ’90s, in the heady days of the dot-com boom, there was one service which promised to be lifechanging. Kozmo.com promised to deliver anything in 1 hour (well anything they stocked). No more having to go out and brave bad weather, no more being stuck at the last minute when you need something. Laziness and sloth could prevail in a way never previously possible.

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LG G Watch R – 2 weeks into it

Have some decent time under my belt with this… some more thoughts:

  • The GPS navigation implementation is utterly and completely terrible. It is seriously a hazard and will definitely get someone killed. There is no good way to look at the small display on your wrist while driving safely. I pretty much rely on the spoken instructions from my phone. The vibration on my wrist is somewhat useful tho.
  • This leads me directly to my next observation about Android Wear in general… things are done because you can, not because you should. A lot of the apps are “hey look at how cool this is” and not “hey that is really useful”. I think Apple is much better about this which is why their usability is generally considered so good. Will be interesting to see how the Apple watch plays out
  • My interaction with the watch should be limited a few quick glances and maybe a swipe or two to dismiss. However, I find i spend all of my time just swiping away notifications! Weather, weather, time to someplace random, voicemail, stocks, email, facebook… argh! Thing is, I don’t care about most of those things (or at least care about them enough to see them on my wrist constantly). Also, and probably more maddeningly, after I have dismissed a notification, it shouldn’t come back, at least not for a long time. To repeatedly have to dismiss notifications (wanted or not) is adding insult to injury
  • While it seems I can tell notifications from different apps to not come back, I can’t seem to do this for Google Now cards, even to the extent I can on the phone
  • Also because of the constant notifications, there is always some notification peeking out on my watch… this really calls out the watch as a smartwatch. The face alone can pass for a normal watch, but with a notification there it obviously advertises itself as more. I have gotten many comments “hey what is that watch anyways” because of that. I find this annoying because i got the G Watch R *because* it did look so much like a normal watch and not a nerd watch
  • As I think of it, part of the reason this is so annoying is that to make a notification go away is a 2 step process – click on the screen to make the notification appear then swipe to make it go away. The Pebble is a single button press. It may seem trivial, but for something you have to do this often, it is important
  • The buttons on the Pebble seem very responsive and tight in a way that the touchscreen on the G Watch R does not. Not sure if there is slight lag or what, but the experience just doesn’t feel as good
  • This may be trivial, but i really like changing the faces on the watch. On the Pebble this was trivially easy, requiring a single button press to cycle faces. On Android Wear it is much more cumbersome – requires a long press to go into change mode, then swipe to the new face in preview mode then tap it again to see it in full screen If you decide you don’t actually like it, repeat. This is silly, I know, but I like it.
  • Another funny thing, for as much as I have raved about the display on the G Watch R, I actually like the selection of watch faces on my Pebble better. Not sure if it is people being forced to do more with less but all of the Android Wear watch faces all just kind of look the same. They all feel like variations of the same thing. There are lots of dumb/hideous pebble faces too, but there are many which I like and they all look very different from one another.
  • The watch face on LG really is kind of big, I didn’t really bother me at first, but compared to my Pebble (and frankly my “regular” watches), it is feeling big
  • The other comment on the display is related to the backlight. It is increasingly annoying, mostly at night and at the movie theater. It really shines out as a beacon and depending on how I am sleeping can be shining right into someones eyes. There is a “theater mode” but entering it is annoying and takes too many steps

Irony

We saw this store the last time we were in Houston.

I am very amused by this. This to me is the definition of irony – you have to go inside to experience Outdoor World. This looks like a ride you would see at Disney World or maybe Las Vegas or even Dubai.

Outdoor World

The GPS in my car is just awful

I don’t know why I even bother to use the GPS in my car anymore. The maps are out of date, the directions are just terrible and it generally behaves like an idiot.

Case in point:

CIMG0486

“Quick” is not the quickest route. I guess it is just a relative statement. And what value does the “Alt” route have?? “Hmmm, let me show you 2 routes which get you to your destination and a third which just takes your wandering.”

Finally, why wouldn’t they have just spelled out Alternative instead of abbreviating it? Seems like there is plenty of space on the button for it and this is a fixed environment.

I can’t wait for proper Android Auto or Apple CarPlay implementations because the auto manufacturers have proven themselves incapable of properly implementing electronics.

LG G Watch R – Day 7

Notification Hell redux

Now the damn thing is starting to show me travel times to random places. And I can only dismiss them… at least on the phone I can tell it to “not give me directions to that place.”

LG G Watch R – Day 6

Some more thoughts:

  • The apps aren’t as useless as they are on the Pebble. Still waiting for some truly compelling functionality though.
  • Navigating a device on a screen that small isn’t easy and it seems Google wants to simply that process by making it voice-centric. Thing is, don’t know if I am in the minority, but I just feel like a huge dork talking into my wrist. Unless I am alone in the car or perhaps at home with my 5 year old (who gets a huge kick out of me talking to my gadgets) I am just NOT going to do this. That being said, there are some really good third party launchers available in the app store which address a lot of this issue. I am actually impressed at how quickly something this polished is in the Play Store.
  • The general difficulty in launching apps combined with the limited screen real estate for usable interfaces confirms my thoughts that watches are not going to be good for much more than notifications as the primary value-add. Am sure this will change as the market matures and app developers come up with novel ways of interacting, but in the near term, this is not something likely to change fundamentally.
  • The watch looks good indoors but it’s just too damn cold for me to go outside and see how it looks in full sunlight. Am curious about this.
  • One really big win this watch has over my Pebble is that in addition to telling me who is calling, it allows me to very easily send a SMS reply instead of answering. I can’t figure out how to customize the messages though. It seems like it should take the auto-messages which I customized on my phone but it doesn’t.
  • This brings me to (what seems to be a continuing series), notification hell – oh my god, how many times is it going to tell me the damn weather?? Seriously, it seems to flash me the weather cards every hour! And I’m in Austin, I don’t give a damn what the weather in Round Rock is (or vice versa). Seems like it should be a pretty fix to only show me the weather in the location I am in. On the phone, showing me both all the time is fine as I can easily see and easily scroll past it. Here I have individually swipe each away… constantly. On the phone you can easily scan the small icons at the top to know what new notifications you need to pay attention to, here the card on top peeks out, dying to be selected. You can’t ignore it!

LG G Watch R – Day 5

Ok, I definitely slept through the alarm. The vibrate is really weak! So much so that this almost feels like a show stopper for me. The Pebble had an alarm which could wake the dead. I liked being able to set an alarm that wouldn’t bother the wife or 2 year old.

It’s interesting how the watch is able to maintain the claim of “all day battery” and “always on display”. While there are many good looking, slick and shiny watch faces, it goes into a simplified (largely) black and white version of said face most of the time. Only when you touch the face (or supposedly lift it up to look at it – this worked marginally well and was slow when it did) did it give you the full color version. So the net effect is, most of the time you are looking at a monochrome display. While the resolution of the display is obviously better than the Pebble, the overall effect is actually not that much better.

It does charge quickly tho, I can go from 0 to 75% in maybe half an hour.

Notification Hell

Ok, these notifications are getting really annoying. Google Now on the phone works really well because you can easily scan many cards quickly and zero in on the important one with relatively little effort. It is a very cool effect delivering you very important/relevant information quickly. Not so much on the watch. There is no easy scanning of multiple notifications quickly, you have to scroll through and swipe away each one separately. This is damn annoying. One of the the key things I liked about my Pebble was that it was strategic to not overwhelm and only show notifications which were actually important (not sure if this was intentional or unintentional due to limited app/OS support – in any case, it was good).

WordPress, all the cool kids are using it

Despite my best efforts, the posting robot who has infiltrated my blogger account continues to make posts from hot chicks asking me out on dates, links to “private photos” and this persistent chick who has “got big boobs, and big butt… and know how to use them” (she does think i am cute tho… I think I may have a shot!). That combined with the fact that in the 3 years that SalimsWorld.com has been down, blogger doesn’t seem to have changed/evolved at all. There are no new features or site capabilities and the templates are largely still ugly as sin.

Since I am pretty much starting over, I am going to move the site to WordPress. Once the DNS changes percolate, the next time you will see this is at our new hosting home!

LG G Watch R – Day 3

Ok this is annoying, I was *sure* that I set an alarm for this morning on the watch but not sure if i did it wrong or just slept through it. Will need to play with this.

Not sure what the issue was yesterday, but I finally got it connected to my phone (just had to “forget” the connection then reconnect).

As I mentioned previously, I love getting my phone’s notifications on my watch… but let me tell you, man there are a *lot* of notifications showing up here. Should be better after I cull the useless ones.

The battery seems to last about a day and a half to two days. The funny thing is, I wish it was a little longer (obviously) or (more realistically) am ok if it was a little shorter. After a day’s use, I have ~75% life left, which makes me think that I can let it go another day before charging. This is not correct, after the night and the next day i am dead by noon. It definitely can’t go 2 days even though it seems like it should (initially).

Stepping into the world of wearables, the Android Wear LG G Watch R

I have always been a “watch guy.” I like the convenience of being able to look at my wrist for the time. Having to pull out my phone for the same task has always seemed like waay too much work for a simple task. I am also a huge nerd so obviously wanting to tech-out my watch is desirable. I tried the Fossil Abacus back in the day (think Palm Pilot in a watch) but the technology wasn’t anywhere near good enough to make this any more than a toy.

(Much) more recently I picked up a Pebble, which I love. It looks good (albeit a little casual) and the battery life rocks. It is all about the notifications, bringing information from your phone to someplace easily accessible. It is a fantastic effect and fundamentally changes the way I interact with my phone. It has gotten to the point where I rarely wear my “normal” watches anymore because I miss the interaction. And while it does have some apps, they are largely useless/cumbersome/hard to use (well, the music controller is nice). The utility does largely come from the notifications.

However, now that Google has stepped into the ring, I have been wanting to try our their new offerings.

The Moto 360 has always caught my eye as a damn fine looking watch but the mediocre reviews (especially at first) put me off a bit. But when the LG G Watch R was announced, it seemed like it had the same good looks and round watch face but fewer drawbacks (bad battery life, could last day with the “always on” screen enabled, no “flat tire”). So I got it… it just arrived… before I get into first impressions, I have to take a brief moment to discuss, the name.

Seriously, WTF is up with that name?? LG G Watch R? I work at Dell and while our model names are bad, this takes it to a new level. What is a “GWatch”? Google Watch? Nobody (including Google) calls it that. And the R… obviously stands for round but completely esoteric and non-sensical out of context. And starting with a company named LG, you would think that they would be even more careful to not make their names sound like alphabet soup. Are they marketing this to robots or people??

In any case, some first impressions:

  • I love the display – full color, bright and high resolution. It’s by far the most striking thing about it (especially when coming from a Pebble)
  • The face is a little big (wide), but still seems reasonable on my wrist (and i have a pretty spindly wrists)
  • It’s also a touch thick – it seems like it will get caught in a shirts with tighter fitting sleeves
  • I couldn’t get the damn thing to connect to my phone – it’s getting late and I have little people to tend to so I don’t have time to monkey with this now… will have to play more either tonight or tomorrow