Boston / Cambridge Trip

Here are some photos from our recent trip to Boston/Cambridge. We had a wonderful time being tourists and averaged 10 miles per day on foot! It was a wonderful mix of history, excitement, and fantastic weather.

It was neat being in such a densely populated city where people really take pride in their surroundings. Most of Boston was incredibly clean and well kept. The locals were very friendly and far less "afraid" to come up and talk to a stranger than people in the mid-west, it was quite refreshing!

In short, if you haven't been, I would definitely make the trip.

Apple Watch

Screenshots taken from my device.

So here we are, almost exactly 1-year from the launch of the Apple Watch and I am just putting one on my wrist for the first time.  I really wasn't excited about the watch at launch because I am not a big wearable guy and I was pretty turned off by the price. With the recent price drop (which resulted in a great opportunity for me to grab one) and my desire to start tracking my resting rate more religiously, I became very interested.

Out of the box:

In all honesty I didn't know exactly what to expect when I took it out of the box and fired it up but I was really pleased with the outcome. All notifications that come through as push notifications on the phone come through the watch by default which is great. Gone are the days of pulling my giant 6S+ out of my jeans to see who is IMing/texting/tweeting/etc. The built-in Siri capability is great, especially for reminders. I frequently set short-term reminders for things and being able to do it from my wrist is really slick.  

The weather app that ships with the watch is great and is perfect to add to your "glances" apps. Apps that you add to "glances" allow you swipe "up" on the watch and see the app right there. You can customize which apps show up here and the order in which they show up in from your iPhone.  

At this point my "glances" go like this: Heart -> Weather -> Music -> Battery -> Settings.

Apps:

The biggest complaint I have heard from Watch users is the speed of apps. Many of them will spin for a bit on start up which can be annoying.  After doing a bit of testing I cannot make a blanket statement that apps are slow. There are some that absolutely take forever while others (Music, Remove, HeartWatch for example) are wicked fast.  This tells me that developers are just now starting to get the hang of optimizing code for these devices and that we will only see things improve from here as opposed to going the other direction.

By far and away my favorite app that I have purchased so far is HeartWatch. It is an absolutely beautiful iPhone/Watch app that greatly improves upon the heart tracking provided by Health Book.  In all honesty I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Apple try to acquire this app, it's that good. If you own an Apple Watch and care about the heart tracking feature this app is a must.

The Remote app is fantastic if you have AppleTV's around the house. Being able to control them from your wrist is both a cool novelty and also really useful when you can't find your remote... and seriously who doesn't lose their AppleTV remotes all the time?

The other apps that have stood out to me as being useful are: FourSquare, Mint, Smart Things, Stocks, and Swarm. There are many others I still want to play with and if I find any particularly interesting I will do a follow-up post.

Summary:

The Apple Watch performs very well in the key areas that I was interested in (activity, heart, notifications) and has some great features that I wasn't expecting to enjoy. I have the Sport version of the watch and from what I have heard from others who have both models, the Sport is the way to go. The display is easier to read, the price is much more affordable, and the device is a lot lighter. I went ahead and bought some bands from Amazon which is definitely the way to go. Apple is charging $50 for the silicon bands which is absolutely insane. I bought them for $11.99 from Amazon and they fit just as well as the Apple one that came with the device.

If you are an iPhone user who is interested in looking at their phone less, tracking their health, and geeking out via their wrist, you won't be disappointed in the Apple Watch.

STEAM/STEM Night

Zachary's school recently hosted STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) night which brought out a ton of families and a lot of great projects. Minecraft was clearly a theme this year as we saw a lot of projects that leveraged it in some fashion but we also saw multiple confetti canons, a really neat volcano, a physics project with a focus on athletics, some coding projects, and even a series of experiments of the effects of different liquids on teeth.

Naturally being the geeks that we are, Zachary and I went the 'Technology' route and built a website using Squarespace. Our family is a huge fan of the Timberwolves so we set off to build a Timberwolves themed website with photos, charts, historical facts, and more. It gave me the opportunity to share some web design/development concepts with Zachary while also providing him with a great opportunity to use the internet to do some research. He used a variety of sources for the historical facts, the chart/graph data, and other content. It served as a good preview of what research papers will be like in middle school next year.

Zachary presenting his project to a group of students. 

All-in-all, the school did a great job of providing equal parts education and entertainment all while promoting the STEM/STEAM initiative.