Tag Archives: mobile

Forgotten Smart Watch

Two years ago I bought a Pebble smart watch. For the first week or two I wore it constantly, to get the sleep tracking data. That was cool, but not cool enough to keep it up, and it was uncomfortable to sleep with, so I started taking it off at night.

I kept putting it on every morning for maybe eight months, using it for step and heart rate tracking, alerts, music control, and of course time. Plus the kid loved using the app to change the appearance of the watch face. People had come up with some really whimsical designs!

The watch kept working after the company went under. Fitbit bought what was left and agreed to keep the cloud services up for a year or so, and they updated the firmware and phone app to reduce the watch’s dependency on those services when they finally shut them down.

After a while, though, I got out of the habit of putting the watch on in the morning. I misplaced the Pebble, found it again, wore it for a few days, and forgot it again. Repeat.

What Do I Miss?

I do miss having the time available at a glance, but I can dig out a plain watch for that. The calendar reminders were helpful too. But I don’t miss having other alerts on my wrist, even after paring them down to the essentials, and the fitness tracking was really only a curiosity for me. Then outside of its core functionality, it was too clunky to use for, say, to-do lists or games.

Only a narrow range of the watch’s capabilities really appealed to me, and it turns out they weren’t enough to keep me using it.

Repurposed

Every once in a while, the kiddo would ask about the Pebble. I finally found it again and charged it, and decided to pair it with an old phone and give it to him instead of wearing it myself. He’s been wearing it 24/7 for a week now.

It’s basically a watch and fitness tracker only right now. Fitbit shut down the Pebble services over the summer, and I haven’t been able to get it working with Rebble (the volunteer group that’s put together a replacement server), so the marketplace with apps and watch faces aren’t available. And I only put limited apps on that phone, so there’s not much in the way of alerts. But he likes the step/heartrate tracking, and having a buzzing alarm that he can set.

Though he’s somehow learned to sleep through the tactile version of “Reveille” already! 🤦‍♂️

Airplane Mode: Battery Saver!

I keep one of my old phones as a spare and for tinkering (to the extent that you can do that). I upgraded it to LineageOS and used it for a few days when my most recent phone died last month.

13 days ago I charged it, put it in airplane mode and put it in my laptop bag. Today it’s still at 34% charge. On a 5 year old battery.

Obviously it didn’t last that long with actual usage, and wouldn’t even just sitting in the bag with wi-fi and data sync. But I’m still impressed!

The Lesser Evil of Selfie Sticks

I’ve known about portrait distance for a while, and often thought that was a downside of using fixed-lens phone cameras for portraits. To frame someone’s face in a phone you have to either zoom (losing detail) or hold it close enough that the viewing angles distort the face. I prefer using my phone for long shots and using a camera with an optical zoom for portraits.

Unexpected consequence: Selfies are now a major source of young people’s self-image…which is distorted, leading them to feel worse about themselves and even seek out plastic surgery.

The researchers looked specifically at selfies taken from 12 inches away — a common distance for someone snapping a selfie without the assistance of a selfie stick. In a selfie taken from that distance, men’s noses appear 30 percent wider and women’s noses appear 29 percent wider than they actually are.

I think we can all agree that selfie sticks are a lesser evil than unnecessary cosmetic surgery!

Update: From the Facebook comments, here’s a link to a series of portraits taken at distances ranging from 2 meters down to 20 cm, demonstrating how different your face looks at each distance.

More on Facebook Re-Engagement: Accidental Post by SMS!

Facebook, like Twitter, has offered post-by-SMS for ages. That’s how you posted from your phone in the days before everyone had smartphones, before the mobile site was reliable, and before the app launched. And even after those options were widely available, it still takes a lot less bandwidth if all you want to do is post a short status.

Anyway, people are running into problems with it because…

  1. Facebook sends two-factor authentication-by-SMS from the same shortcode.
  2. They’ve has started sending re-engagement notices* via SMS to people who only wanted to use SMS for 2FA, not notifications.
  3. Hardly anyone remembers that Facebook does post-by-SMS.
  4. Everyone’s used SMS bots that react to “STOP” commands.

Replies to those re-engagement notices are going to the number used for post-by-SMS, so people are accidentally posting “STOP” (and the occasional more angry statement) to their profiles.

🤦‍♂️

Update (Feb 19): Facebook plans to deprecate post-by-SMS as a result of this fiasco. I wonder if they plan on keeping SMS notices for people who don’t want the app but do want alerts? ‘Cause removing that could also be a sneaky way of pushing holdouts to use the Facebook app instead of the mobile website + SMS notifications. (Hmm, can websites send notifications in iOS yet?)

*Facebook has always let you choose to get notices by SMS. Again, in the pre-app days, it was the only way you could get mobile notifications. Even now, if you don’t want to run the app on your phone for privacy or other reasons, but you do want notices for replies such, it’s a good fallback. But it sounds like Facebook has started sending extra notices as part of their win-back messaging.

Android Oreo Won’t Stop Vibrating

I finally discovered why my phone has been vibrating on most incoming messages since upgrading to Android Oreo, even when sound is on: It’s now a per-conversation setting, so even though I have Messenger set to sound only, that only applies to new senders. I had to go through my saved text messages and turn vibrate off in every. single. saved. conversation.

Deleting a conversation also makes it use the default setting the next time that person sends a message, so if you don’t want to save the existing texts, deleting them is faster.

Not terribly convenient, Google.

Of course, that only fixes it for Messenger.

Notification settings are per-app now, and it seems Oreo assumes you want it to vibrate along with the ringtone unless the app turns it off. And of course not all of them let you turn off vibration independently from sound. They haven’t needed to until now, after all.

Ironically, this includes Chrome. I’m trying out Mastodon (find me at @kelsonv@mastodon.social for general conversation and @kelsonv@photog.social for photos), and for now I’m using the embedded Chrome app. And I can’t fine-tune the notifications because Google’s own flagship browser doesn’t include the options it needs on the new version of their OS! 🤦