October 2017

Best video from The Verge in a long time

by Volker Weber

A very different iPhone

by Volker Weber

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There will be quite a few formal reviews of the iPhone X today and my guess that many of them will center around Face ID. People are curious if it works as well as Touch ID, but I am confident that it will, if not better. There will also be lots of experts claiming it is completely unsafe and can be fooled easily. And then you will never hear of any actual situations where it happened.

Since there is no home button on the iPhone X you will have to learn how to actually use it. Your muscle memory will make you look for the button for lots of things like Siri, going to the home screen, taking screen shots or even restarting your iPhone. None of that works as you are accustomed to.

Here are some of the new ways to make things happen:

To turn the display on you just raise the iPhone or tap anywhere on the screen.

Apple scheint nervös

by Volker Weber

Nachdem Samsung ja schon Casey Neistat und andere Youtube "Creators" -- hier ein etwas simplerer Zeitgenosse -- im Sack hat, musste sich Apple der zweiten oder dritten Garde bedienen, um vorab ein wenig Aufmerksamkeit bei der simpleren Zielgruppe für das iPhone X zu ergattern. Ein paar Beispiele:

Sonos One :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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Sonos One is the new PLAY:1 with Alexa built in. Same dimensions as the older speaker with a new top. There is a microphone array under the circle at the top to pick up your voice from a distance. The physical buttons get replaced by a touch panel in the middle, which works the same as on the 2nd gen PLAY:5. Tap to pause/play, tap on the left for volume down and on the right for volume up, swipe left to right for next track and right to left for previous. There are two LED indicators. The smaller one is lit when the microphone is on, the larger one is similar to the regular status light on Sonos, which means it can be turned off. It also comes on when Alexa wakes up.

A Sonos One is preferrable to a PLAY:1 combined with an Echo Dot, because both speakers default to playing on their own. If you have an Echo Dot, you have to tell it to control the Sonos speaker. Having said that the Echo Dot's software is more advanced. There are many Alexa features that work on the Echo Dot, but not on Sonos One. It won't play the news summary and you cannot play from Spotify, both of which work on the Echo Dot. All of that will eventually come, but currently Sonos One is lagging behind. The hardware is done, the software is still in development.

Comparing just the farfield voice recognition of the Sonos One and the Echo Dot I find the Amazon speaker to be superior. It's easier to wake up from a distance and it seems to understand better. But when it talks back to you, the Sonos One is in a league of its own. Amazon does not have a speaker that rivals the Sonos sound.

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Sonos One is a good upgrade for the PLAY:1. There are only three reasons to prefer the PLAY:1: it has a thread for a wall mount which the One is missing (see above), physical buttons are easier to operate in the dark, and you cannot pair a One to an existing PLAY:1 for surround sound or as a stereo pair. I prefer the all white or all black design of the Sonos One over the metal grille of the PLAY:1, but I like the old top better. It was purposefully designed to hold small items bedside.

Sonos One has the new link button you will also find on the second gen PLAY:5 and the PlayBase. Which remains to be the only Sonos player I don't have.

init - der Wochenausblick: Ali, Luther, Microsoft und noch mal iPhone X

by Volker Weber

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Ein Brückentag, ein Feiertag und dann nur noch drei Arbeitstage, schwupps ist die Arbeitswoche um. In London aber blickt Microsoft mit 14.000 Teilnehmern in die Zukunft. Und wir denken auch an den Größten aller Zeiten.

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Passport was my best smartphone. And a complete failure.

by Volker Weber

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If I had to choose the best smartphone ever, it would be the BlackBerry Passport. This thing was rock solid, had great battery life and cell reception. It was both a phantastic messaging device as well as a perfect phone. Its screen was square and you could read everything with ease. When scrolling you did not even have to touch the screen because the hardware keyboard doubled as a trackpad. Its software let you easily view business and personal content without ever mixing them up.

Unfortunately BlackBerry 10 never took off and the Passport did not sell well.

Notes :: A bitter-sweet analysis

by Volker Weber

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I always need a bit of time to think before I can form my own opinion. Executive summary: it's the best scenario for a Notes endgame.

Notes has been an exceptional success story. There is no other application platform that has lived and prospered for so long. It has pioneered many technologies we enjoy today but it never set the standard for those. Notes was always on its own and has adapted to the changing world around it. And Notes has always polarized. Some people loved it, some people have hated it.

I am writing this in the past tense since Notes has been on the decline for at least ten years. Customers have moved away and the winner is Office 365. Notes applications have proven to be difficult to migrate and the platform will survive in some pockets because of them. One way or the other, revenue from Notes is on the decline for IBM, as it is for many of its businesses. The reaction to the shrinking business is cost cutting. People have been let go at an alarming rate in 2017.

What do you do when you run out of funds to maintain an expensive platform? Nobody is going to give you a budget for a wholesale renovation. Your targets are to maintain as much revenue as you can while spending as little as you can. You aren't even running a cash cow business, since the cost of maintenance is just too high.

Enter HCL. They bring money to the table. They take over your development and support, lock, stock and barrel. Developers get transferred, away from your payroll. And you are making money doing so. Your revenue goes up, your cost goes down. What do they get in return? A long-term maintenance business. They get the know-how to run this business. If they can retain the developers for two years, they can replace them with less expensive people down the road. At this point they already recovered their investment. And to keep the customers from walking, they need to demonstrate faith in the product. If they succeed they will make big profits for a very long time.

That is what is happening now. It's a good endgame. Instead of running Notes into the ground due to lack of funds, you change the business and make it sustainable. This will give Notes a few more good years at its old age.

But it is not a new beginning. If you think it is, you are delusional.

So sieht IBM den HCL-Deal

by Volker Weber

Thomas Zeizel freut sich:

IBM behält bei den Collaboration-Lösungen die Rolle des Motors und HCL Technologies wird der neue Bi-Turbo. Gemeinsames Ziel ist die Beschleunigung und der Ausbau der Weiterentwicklung.

Ich bin gespannt, ob die Kunden das auch so sehen.

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IBM schiebt Notes, Domino und Sametime ab

by Volker Weber

Sinkende Umsätze, Sparmaßnahmen und Entlassungen brachten das IBM-Kollaborationsportfolio immer mehr in Schieflage. Nun übenimmt HCL die Entwicklung und den Service, Vertrieb und Marketing bleiben bei IBM.

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From my inbox

by Volker Weber

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Genesungswünsche aus München. Ich soll jetzt Meister werden. Dankeschön!

What if the iPhone X isn't the best iPhone?

by Volker Weber

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Three days from now you may have preordered the iPhone X. Deliveries start ten days from now. And I am really curious about it. It's the first major redesign of the original iPhone concept. It will be a huge upgrade from an iPhone but not necessarily from an iPhone Plus.

What you see above is the top of the line for iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus. They come with 256 (or 128 GB) of storage. Either way, more than you will probably fill up. And since they are in scale you can see that the 5.5" screen of the Plus is actually larger than the 5.8" screen of the X. They all have dual cameras and the X is of course much smaller. But when you are watching video, it will be letter boxed on the X. Since the screen is narrower in portrait mode, text will be smaller or lines will run shorter. The Plus models look kind of old fashioned when everybody else goes for small bezels. But I like this design.

While the X gets all the attention, as a customer you will be getting a very powerful iPhone, whether you are spending 1319 or 879 €. The real hot deal is a 128 GB iPhone 6S. No dual camera (neither on the 6S Plus). It's still a current model, it still has a 3.5 mm headphones jack, and it is another 250 € cheaper than the 7 Plus with the same storage capacity. You can get two of those for a single X with money to spend on cases.

init - der Wochenausblick: BlackBerry, Microsoft tagt, das iPhone X kommt

by Volker Weber

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Ab Freitag ist das iPhone X vorbestellbar. Am Montag vor sechzehn Jahren hätte man allerdings statt des ersten iPods besser Apple-Aktien erworben. Was die Woche außer der dunklen Winterzeit noch bringt, zeigt wie immer der Wochenausblick.

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What made me go to the doctor?

by Volker Weber

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I keep getting asked the same question: how could you possibly tolerate the pain for so long? This is a hard question to answer. It's a combination of many factors and I am not going to try answering it. The more interesting question is why I decided to no longer tolerate it. The answer is easy: I could see that my body was failing.

Look at the two graphs above, both taken from Apple Health. The data originates from the heart rate sensor of my Apple Watch. I have been wearing it for years, 23 hours a day. That means I have a lot of data to compare against.

The left graph shows how my resting heart rate went from 62 to 85 over the course of only a few weeks. There is no good explanation. Your resting heart rate goes down over time as you exercise and your heart becomes stronger. Mine isn't particularly strong. I walk a lot but I have little cardio fitness. 62 is pretty good for my fitness level and my age, but it should not suddenly go up, especially not continously. My heart was not allowed to rest, not even during sleep.

The right graph shows my heart rate variability. In simpler terms: how steady is the heart beat. I average about 25 ms. At 62 bpm that means I miss the heart beat by about 2.5 hundreds of a second. And this one freaked me out. It suddenly went to 250 ms. (Graph only shows median.) A thousand percent increase! My heart was clearly in distress. Time to seek immediate help.

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Now my resting heart rate is down at 62, the beat is steady at 9 ms and I can see myself getting rid of some of the other meds I still need in the not too distant future. I am very thankful to my doctors and I attribute my strength and ability to heal to my exercise regime and healthy diet over the last four years.

#dontbreakthechain

Alex und Kira :: Eine ganz persönliche Perspektive

by Volker Weber

Alles passiert jetzt. Gestern war nichts, was morgen ist, weiß ich nicht. Ute liefert mich vor dem Alice-Hospital ab und fährt weiter zur Arbeit. Ich bin schwach, alles schmerzt. Ich habe seit Tagen nichts gegessen, viel zu wenig getrunken. Nichts geht mehr. Aber ich will diesen Weg mit eigener Kraft gehen. Ich greife meinen Beutel mit Wäsche und ein paar Stromkabeln und gehe hinein ohne mich umzudrehen. Ich muss jetzt vorwärts.

Der Aufzug bringt mich eine halbe Treppe bis auf die Empfangsebene. Ich gehe den langen Flur bis ans andere Ende des Hospitals zur Patientenaufnahme. Dort fängt mich die stellvertretende Leiterin auf. Sie nimmt meine Versicherungskarten und erledigt allen Papierkram für mich. Mein Finger steckt in einem Pulsmesser. Piep, piep, pieppiep, ..., piep, piep, ..., pieppiep. Mein Herz schlägt, aber nicht regelmäßig. Der Blutdruck ist vorbildlich. Die Frau lässt mich den Aufzug zur Station nicht selbst nehmen. Sie setzt mich in einen Rollstuhl und fährt mich bis zu meinem Bett. Alles tut weh. Alles. Weh. Keine Luft.

Dann kommt Kira. Lange blonde Strähnen, ein bisschen verschmitzt, bestimmend aber sanft. Ich bekomme einen Venenzugang, sofort eine Flasche Paracetamol, danach Wasser, viel Wasser. Trinken darf ich nicht, wegen der OP. Aber jetzt ist das kein Problem mehr. Ich habe ja diese neue Lebensader. Alles wird gut, die Schmerzen sind weg. Ich kann wieder atmen. Ich soll mich auf die Operation vorbereiten. Ich ziehe alles aus, wasche mich noch einmal, lasse noch mal allen Urin ab und ziehe mir das OP-Hemd über. Kira zieht mir die Kompressionsstrümpfe an. Ich kann nicht mehr.

Das Rollkommando kommt und bringt mich zum OP ganz nach oben. Ich werde auf den OP-Tisch umgebettet und festgeschnallt. Es geht in die Schleuse. Jeder fragt mich das gleiche. Wie heißen Sie, wann sind Sie geboren, was machen wir mit Ihnen? Sie wissen es, aber sie wollen es noch einmal hören. Nur damit sie niemanden verwechseln. Zwei Menschen bereiten mich weiter vor. Ich werde verkabelt. EKG. Blutdruck. Mein Chirurg kommt und begrüßt mich. Ich frage ihn, ob er mein Anästhesist ist. Er lacht. Nein, er ist mein Chirurg. Ich erkenne ihn nicht. Er hat sich vermummt. Dann kommt meine Anästhesistin. Wie heißen Sie, wann sind Sie geboren, was machen wir mit Ihnen? Ich erzähle ihr was mir wichtig ist. Und dann gebe ich mich in ihre Hände.

Licht aus.

Licht an. Ich weiß nicht wo ich bin. Nicht im OP. Nicht bei Kira. Aber ich fühle mich geborgen. Ich bin in einem halb dunklen Raum. Einem riesigen Raum, hinter mir Maschinen, die röcheln und schnaufen. In meiner Nase steckt ein Schlauch, der mir wunderbare Luft spendet. Sauerstoff. Mein Finger steckt in einer Klammer, die schaut, ob genug davon im Blut ist. Immer wieder pumpt sich eine Manschette an meinem Arm auf. Der Blutdruck. An meiner Lebensader hängt lebensspendendes Wasser. Mein Monitor piept. Ganz gleichmäßig. Piep, piep, piep, piep, piep, piep, piep, piep. Das Herz scheint erleichtert.

Ich bin nicht allein. Ich heiße Alex. Herr Alex? Nein, einfach Alex. Ich will seinen ganzen Namen wissen. Alexander Bruccoleri. Alex meint, das könne sich niemand merken. Er hat keine Ahnung.

Alex ist mein Leben. Er hält es in seinen Händen. Er hegt es, er pflegt es. Er entschuldigt sich, wenn er mal weg muss. Ich bin so froh, wenn ich ihn sehe. Jede Stunde befreit er mich von dem Monitor, hängt meine Drainage um und bringt mich zum Klo. Als nach Stunden immer noch kein Wasser kommt, hilft er mir. Ich frage Alex nach meinem Telefon. Er meint ich dürfe es hier nicht benutzen. Aber er holt es mir, macht es ganz sauber und gibt es mir. Ich schlafe immer wieder ein. Wenn ich wach werde, ist Alex da. Alex ist immer da. Er ist mein Leben.

Ich frage Alex, ob Ute kommen darf. Sie darf. Alex passt auf, dass sie absolut sauber ist. Mein Chirurg kommt und erklärt mir, dass das nicht ganz einfach war und dass ich erst mal hier bleibe bei Alex. Ich bin zufrieden. Hier fühle ich mich sicher. Alex und seine Maschinen passen auf mich auf.

Alex besteht darauf, dass ich etwas esse. Ute öffnet mir ein Joghurt und nimmt den ersten Löffel. Das macht sie immer so. Es gibt noch ein zweites, mit Erdbeergeschmack. Ich bin satt. Ich kann schlafen. Endlich. Schlafen.

Kira kommt. Sie hat mein Bett mitgebracht. Die Maschinen brauche ich nicht mehr. Sie fährt mich alleine wieder zurück in mein Zimmer. Der Aufzug fährt abwärts. Nanu? Kira schiebt mich auf meinen Platz, wo sie mir einen Tag zuvor die Strümpfe angezogen hat. Die Sonne scheint mir auf den Bauch. Das Leben in mir erwacht wieder. Alex hat mich zurückgebracht. Das Gefühl für Zeit kommt zurück. Ich kann mich frei bewegen. Erst ganz wenig. Und dann mehr. Immer mehr. Immer weiter. Kira sagt, ich soll mir was ordentliches anziehen. Na, das sieht doch ganz sportlich aus! Ich muss gehen, gehen, gehen. Und Luft holen und ausatmen und einatmen. Und dann: RRRROOOOAAAAAAR. Ich bin wieder da.

Sonos One needs serious b/s detection

by Volker Weber

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Today I switched my b/s detector back on, and boy was it off the charts reading about the new Sonos One. In many reviews it comes across as a premium mix of Sonos and Alexa. And it clearly is not. So what is it anyway?

Play One looks like a Play:1 Tone Limited Edition when viewed from the side. It's either pure white or pure black. That is a good choice. The top has changed. There are no physical buttons. You control it via a large touch panel. You also no longer have the recessed top that would keep small items like earrings from wandering around your night stand.

Now things become difficult. Sonos One's claim to fame is that it can be controlled by voice. But that part isn't finished. It's "in beta" as Sonos likes to say, but I only call feature complete software as beta. What we have today is software "in development". Before we get to that, there is hardware involved. Sonos One has a microphone array that lets it pick up your voice from the room. And when that microphone array is on, it is hardwired to a white LED on top of the new touch panel, that cannot be turned off in software. This is to ensure the custoner that Sonos One is not listening when the light is off. It kind of kills usage in the bedroom, since that light is going to be on if you want to make use of voice control. In contrast, Amazon Echo speakers switch a light on when in privacy mode. Amazon rightfully assumes you want to use the product.

How does voice control work? The speaker is in continous listening mode. It puts the data in a buffer and analyses what it hears, quickly deleting the data until it finds its wake word. For now that wakeword is "Alexa". As soon as it discovers the wakeword, it streams your room sound to a server process in the cloud which tries to figure out what you are saying. Today this is an Alexa skill. What makes the software "in development" is that it is incomplete. Echo speakers can play from Spotify, Sonos One can play from Spotify, but you cannot tell Sonos One via voice control to play from Spotify. Neither from Apple Music or Google Play. Nor from your own library. Echo speakers have lots of features that Sonos One doesn't. And Sonos does not add any. Example: you cannot group or ungroup speakers via voice.

Digging deeper you will find that voice control on Sonos wants to be independent from Alexa. It will add Google Assistant next year for instance. That means it has to do its own wakeword detection and while you can call Alexa on Echo also with the wakewords "Amazon" or "Computer" the Sonos One only hears "Alexa". And it's a bit hard of hearing. More false positives and negatives. It will more often wake up when not called or not wake up when called.

I am sure this will get better over time. This product ships in time for the holidays, but not before software development is nearly done.

This is by no means a concise review. Example: you cannot pair a PLAY:1 and Sonos One.

Restart completed

by Volker Weber

Thank you all for your positive messages. They helped me pull through these difficult days. What should have been a routine surgery unveiled a much bigger monster. I had trusted my fate with skilled medical professionals and they saved me. After the first 24 hours it was on me to dig myself out of this hole and I had more strength and courage than I would have thought. Within 48 hours I was on safe ground and now I am completely restored.

The crisis is over. I am coming out much stronger than I went in.

From my inbox

by Volker Weber

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How I’m dealing with my long-term project

by Volker Weber

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#dontbreakthechain means you don’t skip your daily routine because you are lazy or the weather is bad or you don’t feel like it. However, if you have a medical emergency, that does not mean you are breaking the chain. You are watching your body with respect. The counts may go to zero, but your spirit does not.

I won’t get my rewards for October, but I am already picking up the pieces.

Dramatische 24 Stunden

by Volker Weber

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Es begann mit meinem Freund und Hausarzt Dr. Rainer Müller, ging über den klaren und kurzentschlossenen Internisten Dr. Andreas Niedenthal, den phantastischen Chirurgen Dr. Norbert Runge bis zu meinem exzellenten Intensiv-Pfleger Alexander Bruccoleri. Diesen Menschen verdanke ich mein Leben.

Twitter updates from last 24 hours:

Tissue can have many colors. Black is not a good one. You already started dying.

init - der Wochenausblick: von Moskau nach Kuba

by Volker Weber

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Ein riesiges Innovationsforum in Moskau, mindestens zwei wegweisende Highend-Smartphones, den Rollout der neuesten Windows-Versionen mit passenden Headsets und reichlich Erinnerungen. Die neue Woche hat viel zu bieten.

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#dontbreakthechain einmal ganz anders

by Volker Weber

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Am Freitag schickte mir Thomas einen Artikel, der eine unglaubliche Leistung beschreibt. Der 84-jährige Joses Hein aus Solingen hat 66 Jahre in Folge das deutsche Sportabzeichen erworben, zunächst in Bonze, dann in Silber, Jahrezehnte in Gold. Eine Ehrennadel für 65 gab es nicht, deshalb bekam er vom DSB einen Pokal.

Den Artikel dazu gibt es online bei der RP.

Respekt

by Volker Weber

Fünf Jahre lang saß Murat Kurnaz im Lager Guantánamo, heute ist er Sozialarbeiter in Bremen. Mit einem Appell wendet er sich an Migrantenkinder, wie er selbst eines war – und an junge Flüchtlinge.

Durch die Hölle und zurück. Und (wieder) in Deutschland angekommen. Eine bewegende Geschichte.

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How do you say iPhone X

by Volker Weber

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Last night I started this Twitter poll to find out how many people say 'iPhone 10' vs 'iPhone X'.

Apple reps are trained to say 'iPhone 10' and they will even correct you when you say 'iPhone X'. It's a fun game. You can try it as often as you like and they always respond with 'iPhone 10'. I did this recently in a briefing and then I confessed I was trolling them. We had a good laugh and one admitted it took her a while.

We have been there before with OS X, which followed OS 9. Apple went through 12 versions (10.0 to 10.11) until they called it macOS again. It is going to be interesting to see how Apple brands the successors to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

PS: Best comment was from Scott:

My initial reaction was to think "but they're both pronounced the same!" I guess Roman numerals are a bigger thing in the US than in Germany. :-)

Apple trying to make Germans say 10 seems futile. For Americans it's completely natural. The 51st Super Bowl was called Super Bowl LI and Americans have no difficulty decoding this as 50 plus 1.

Speaking of numbers: about one in ten people who saw the poll voted on it. And the results are stable after about 50 votes.

Surface Pro :: It's my preferred computer

by Volker Weber

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Ten months in, the Surface Pro 4 is my preferred computer. I have quite a few of them and rotate them to keep them updated. But I am always going back to the Surface Pro as fast as possible.

I would not be using Windows 10 without this hardware. I have yet to come across any other machine as pretty and as usable. It has it all: a beautiful screen, lightweight, touch, ink, great keyboard and trackpad.

I had a good laugh when Nadella proclaimed he wanted people to love using Windows. Yeah, fat chance. Hahaha. And here I am, it's not getting in the way. Dare I say I love it? Nope. But I do love this machine.

Declan #dontbreakthechain

by Volker Weber

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This is Declan. Last week he completed the first 500 days of #dontbreakthechain. I have known Declan for many years but I would only have recognized him by his voice. Below are earlier photos of Declan showing his progress.

My heart-felt congratulations, Sir. And keep it up.

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Apple Watch :: LTE is a game changer

by Volker Weber

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Ten days in I am pretty sure that LTE is a game changer for the Apple Watch. I have worn an Apple Watch for two and a half years and have been hooked on the activity tracking feature. That's why I never took it off.

Notifications were always nice to have, since I did not have to fetch my iPhone for unimportant updates. But I still had it on me, no matter where I went. And this has changed.

I often leave the iPhone behind when I leave the house. I still have my notifications, I get all my WhatsApp or Signal messages, and I can keep conversations going in iMessage or reply to emails via Siri Dictation. I get my phone calls and I place phone calls in a pinch.

I probably would not leave for a full day without the iPhone, but it is a perfect solution for dog walks, bike trips, running errands or going out.

Motion: BlackBerry Mobile stellt zweites Android-Gerät vor

by Volker Weber

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Bild: BlackBerry Mobile

Am gestrigen Sonntag hat BlackBerry-Lizenznehmer TCL nach dem KEYone ein tastaturloses Touchgerät gezeigt, das zunächst nur in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten angeboten wird. Weitere Märkte sollen folgen.

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init - der Wochenausblick: von Rock bis Rock

by Volker Weber

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IBM besteigt in Frankfurt ein kleines Watson-Gipfelchen, Microsoft bereitet die Developer auf das Fall Creators Update vor, ebenfalls in Frankfurt folgt die Buchmesse und in Nürnberg die it-sa. Eingerahmt wird alles von der Musik alter Männer.

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How I learnt to loathe England

by Volker Weber

A Dutchman reflects on what he’s learnt by living in Britain for the last six years - it isn’t pretty:

The Tories are seared by Europe, as they have been for a generation, only now with more intensity; Labour looks incapable of overcoming its own divisions on the question. Neither party dares to speak the truth to millions of people who have voted for a "have your cake and eat it" option that was never on the menu. How to carry out the will of the majority when the majority voted for something that does not exist?

This is a tough reading. The future does not look bright for England.

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Weathered leather case and gold iPhone 8 Plus

by Volker Weber

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This is a powerful combination.

Sunday morning treat

by Volker Weber

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Gregor made these from scratch. Yummy.

Navigating the Sonos 8.0 app

by Volker Weber

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The apps have been redesigned to look more like the iOS 10 Music app and they only use black & white with some red accents. At first I was completely lost in the Now Playing panel until I learned you have to use these two carets to get in and out. You can also swipe the panel up and down.

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If you tap the room name in the Now Playing panel, you are not taken to the rooms screen. Instead another panel appears where you can select which rooms the music should play in. This makes it easier to transfer music from one room to the other.

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When you tap and thus select a room in the Rooms panel the Group button uncloaks. To get to the room you have to tap the room again. If you tap the group button the same sheets appears that you get when tapping the room name in the Now Playing panel. This is redundant.

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There is a very simple fix to make this design so much better. Instead of showing More ... on the main tab switcher, replace it with Now Playing. Then you don‘t have to hide the bar in the Now Playing panel and it becomes much easier to move around. You can then hide the leftovers behind a caret in the upper left.

When marketing and engineering collide

by Volker Weber

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This is Sonos One. It looks like the PLAY:1 special editions from 2015 in pure white and black. And it has the new top with touch controls and the microphones for voice control. It has been in production for a while and needs to ship in time for Xmas. And it needs to ship before too many people buy the Apple HomePod. Unfortunately the software isn't ready.

When Sonos was still the only serious player it would not have shipped. PLAYBAR for instance did not ship before February because it wasn't ready.

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Times have changed and software can be fixed later. 90% of my music is from Spotify, the rest is from my library. Guess what other sources Alexa cannot play from? Apple Music and Google Play. I run into bugs at every turn. This morning I started to play the a-ha MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice concert via Spotify Connect in the Bathroom and later moved it to TV. Now TV is gone and is only recognized as Bathroom.

Eventually this will all be resolved. February looks like a good target date.

Airplay auf Sonos für kleines Geld

by Volker Weber

Ein Raspberry Pi kostet nur ein paar Mark fünzig und braucht nicht viel Strom.

In dem folgenden How To möchte ich euch zeigen wie ihr ein Raspberry Pi als Airplay Relais für Sonos benutzt um euere Sonos Lautsprecher Airplayfähig zu bekommen. Alles was ihr dazu braucht ist ein Raspberry Pi 2 oder 3, Airsonos und ein paar Linux Kentnisse.

Und schon können alle Eure Sonos-Player Airplay.

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So many threes

by Volker Weber

All3s

My Twitter profile today. Not going to last long.

Apple Watch Edition

by Volker Weber

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When you buy an Apple Watch, you have to make one big decision: 38mm or 42mm. Rule of thumb: girls buy 38mm, boys 42. Having a bigger display is always helpful but you don't want the watch to be too big for your wrist. This one decision will set the size of your arm bands. Trust me, you will have a collection that lasts longer than one Watch. At the entry level you also have to decide whether you want LTE or not. It's an option. You can buy it but you don't have to use it right away. That's where you can stop spending. You have multiple choices for colors and bands, and many of them cost the same.

Since buyers want choice and vendors also like to charge as much as the buyer wants to spend, there are more expensive options. You can buy a steel case in two colors instead of the standard aluminium one. You can buy multiple leather bands or steel bands. As soon as you decide for a steel case, LTE becomes standard.

Beyond that we enter the luxury sector. With the original Watch Apple tried to sell a really expensive gold case, but customers weren't too interested. Then they partnered with Hermès which contributed fancy leather bands and exclusive watch faces. This worked much better. And with Apple Watch Series 2 Apple introduced a white ceramic case and called it Watch Edition. Watch Edition Series 3 also comes in grey.

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This is a Watch Edition 3 in white. I always liked to wear white bands on the original Stainless Steel Watch, and even on the space grey Series 2 aluminium watch. For Series 3 I wanted to go back to stainless steel, although I never made a scratch into the softer aluminium case. But then ... what the heck. Go all the way. Now it's white bands only. And it's very pretty. This is not the original band. It's the white Nike Sport band and it's by far my favorite band.

To those who don't know about Apple watches, Edition actually looks cheaper than Stainless Steel. At first you might thing it's glossy plastic. Only if you look closer you understand it is ceramic. And it does not scratch. It is however a coating. And that means the case is slightly larger and so is the digital crown. It's not as ribbed as the Steel one. And since the body itself is larger, the screen doesn't quite flow so smoothly into the case. There is a noticeable ridge. I find it pretty because it adds a little extra shine to the white body but others may be disappointed.

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With Edition you don't just get the Watch, a band and the 2m inductive charge cable. There is bedside charging dock which I like a lot more than I expected, an extra Lightning cable for the dock and a shorter 1m inductive charging cable for your travel. This is something that Apple could improve in the future. You need this special cable. Watch Series 3 does not charge on Qi chargers. Yes, I tried.

As I said, customers want choice. In the luxury segment I prefer Edition White over Grey and also over Hermès because I do not like leather bands. I prefer the Stainless Steel case over the black one. And at the entry level I find the space grey option nicer than gold or silver.

No matter what you prefer, it is always an Apple Watch, and they do the same things. And please, don't buy a Series 1.

No sleep today

by Volker Weber

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Not entirely true. I did get some rest. But I was up every single hour of the day. I will behave better tomorrow.

Android Wear is gone from the Google Store

by Volker Weber

17 0905 FAMILY RENDER CEMENT CASE ANTHRACITE MUSE FPO1 SIMP (1)

Go to store.google.com and try to find any reference to Android Wear. They disappeared yesterday. You have to be very ignorant to not understand what that means.

It was nice meeting you, Alexa

by Volker Weber

IMG 1129

Jul 6, 2017, Sonos:

... you’ve asked to get on the Alexa beta. I’ve denied this request for now ...

October 5, 2017, vowe:

Good luck sorting out your edge cases for multilingual customers.

I may have a second look once it goes out of beta.

Google Pixel 2: aus eigener Kraft mehr wie Apple sein - ein Kommentar

by Volker Weber

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Mit dem Nexus One führte Google einst das pure Android-Gerät ein. Mit dem Pixel veränderte Google den Kurs in Richtung integrierter Premium-Anbieter. Der Erfolg blieb aus. Jetzt legt Google nach – und kann dabei auf eigene Stärken bauen.

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Airplay 2 not coming to all Sonos speakers

by Volker Weber

Sonos Airplay 2

Airplay 2 can be implemented in software, as long as you have enough memory. And apparently not all Sonos players do. This has yet to be confirmed by Sonos, but the current situation looks like this:

We also don't know if you can target a group where one player is capable. 2018 is near, but also long. We don't know when Sonos delivers. I hope they are not planning on the IBM calender which always had a 62 day December.

Sonos & Alexa: Hilfe!

by Volker Weber

Ich habe seit mehr als zehn Jahren Sonos. Seit Anfang des Jahres habe ich einen Echo Dot und kann mit dem auch einiges machen. Aber jetzt bin ich verloren. Ihr müsst mir da mal helfen.

Ich habe in der Alexa App auf dem iPhone den Sonos Skill geladen. Darin habe ich mich mit meinem Sonos-Konto angemeldet und danach mit dem Amazon-Konto. Alexa hat mein Haus durchsucht und alle meine Sonos-Player gefunden. Und weiter komme ich nicht. Egal was ich Alexa erzähle, stets kommt alles nur aus meinem Echo Dot. Radio-Sender, Playlisten, alles spielt über den Echo Dot. Die Sonos Player kann ich schlicht gar nicht steuern. Nicht einschalten, nicht ausschalten, keine Musik starten. Nichts. Null. Gar nichts. Und Alexa ist halt strunzdumm. Wenn man die Kommandos nicht kennt, dann macht sie einfach gar nichts.

Ich frage mich, was die Betatester da geraucht haben. So eine Katastrophe darf doch nie gar nicht aus Closed Beta in Public Beta übergehen. Sowas habe ich bei Sonos in zehn Jahren noch nicht erlebt. Die haben Play:5 und Playbar ewig verschleppt, weil sie noch nicht gut genug waren. Und nun das.

Also, was kann ich sagen? Konkrete Beispiele bitte.

Sonos startet öffentliche Alexa-Beta und präsentiert neuen Lautsprecher

by Volker Weber

Sketch

Durch ein Software-Update können Anwender aus USA, UK und Deutschland nun Sonos mit jedem Alexa-Gerät verbinden. Dazu gibt es einen neuen Sonos-Player mit eingebauter Alexa. 2018 will Sonos Apple Airplay 2 und Google Assistant unterstützen.

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Without a little help from my friends

by Volker Weber

Sonos has scheduled an event today in New York at 10am local, 16:00 CEST. That is very close to the Google event around the Pixel 2 et al, which will create a small Tsunami of news. But Sonos is macho. They are not afraid. It's their biggest event of the year. And despite their best effort to hide the URL and the password for their live stream, I managed to obtain that information. Even their agency was only coming forward with the info that press releases will not be sent out before 17:00.

Nevertheless, I will be covering their news for heise online. That is a news outlet in Germany, in case you are wondering.

I can't sit around all day waiting for their show to start. After all, this is a different timezone. And since I cannot be trusted with any information, I shall prepare some remarks about the challenges Sonos is facing.

Update: Press release was in at 19:10, right in the middle of the Google keynote.

Fitbit Ionic :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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Ionic is the first real smartwatch from Fitbit. It's much nicer than I thought it would be just by looking at the pictures. I don't like to read Fitbit on the front, much like I did not like reading Pebble. There are some really good features. But in the end it fails spectacularly for me. But first things first.

Ionic has a touch interface and three buttons. Your main interaction is swiping: left for apps, right for settings, down for music player, up for notifications. Yes, up for notifications, which is completely backwards since every other platform has notifications from the top.

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I wore the Ionic on a regular dog walk and it logged the same 7000 steps my Apple Watch saw. It came to completely different results for the calorie burn. Where it recorded 600 Cals burned, my watch only awards 300. Which does not really matter, since I take these numbers only relative to each other. I set a 600 Cal goal and if that means two walks, it shall be two walks.

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Fitbit has customers who love the product and everything related to fitness tracking is as good as on other Fitbits. The heart rate sensor appears to be even more accurate.

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The biggest advantage of the Ionic is battery life. It only needs a recharge every five days. That is some Pebble heritage here. On the Apple Watch I recharge every day and that is completely routine. You can do the same with Ionic, but when you are travelling, you don't need to take care of the watch for days.

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Smartwatches differentiate from fitness trackers by supporting apps and notifications. And it is notifications where Ionic fails for me big time. You can't really do anything with them. You can't reply, you can't keep a conversation going, and when you return home, they are still all on the phone.

But that is just my personal preference. I know somebody who wants it exactly this way. Bill, I am looking at you. This might be your perfect watch.

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And then there is the whole ecosystem. Ionic is more like Samsung Gear S3 than Android Wear or Apple Watch. It just doesn't tie as closely into the platform. There isn't really much software and there is little interaction. It has its place but it does not come close to my Apple Watch.

Morten Harket

by Volker Weber

Stellt Euch einfach vor, wie Morten Harket und seine Fans 32 Jahre seit diesem Video gealtert sind. Und dann schaut in diese Augen. Sie lieben ihn noch immer.

init - Der Wochenausblick: Nobelpreise, Pixel und Blade Runner

by Volker Weber

2017-10-02

Trotz Brücken- und Feiertag hat diese Woche einiges zu bieten. Besonders am Mittwoch ist der Bär los. Dazu gibt es jeden Tag Nobelpreisträger.

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Ceci n'est pas un blog

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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