First Foray into Smart Homes

I started to explore smart home technologies a few years ago starting with the Wink but found myself sorely disappointed. The idea was neat but not practical; it’s always easier to get up and turn off the switch than to look for a phone, search for the Wink app and turn off the appropriate lights. A few weeks ago, I got my hands on the Amazon Echo Dot and it’s made a significant difference. Here’s some details of my setup.

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Apple Macbook 2016 Review

I had been struggling with my Apple Macbook Air for a few years now. I was really excited when I started to read about Apple was likely releasing a new Macbook Pro this year. There had been rumours about having a new LED bar. However, by mid August, it was seemingly clear that Apple was unlikely to release a new Macbook Pro by September.

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Nexus 5X – Initial Review

I’ve been eagerly waiting for the Nexus 5X to replace my HTC One M8 that was getting long in the tooth. I was very excited when I finally received in on October X and have been using it as my primary phone ever since. After a few weeks of use, I figured that this would be a good time to write a review about it.
Nexus 5X Photo. Click link to go to full unboxing photo album
The summary of my thoughts on the phone is that it is a mid-range phone that is under powered for my use. Read on for more details

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What’s in my bag – the daily version

My daily needs is geared primarily towards my commute to work and the time I spend around the office. With most of my recent roles, it’s really rare that I’m at my desk. Also, the commute on the subway is the rare time of my day where I have to myself to read, write, code and sometimes just listen to music while I doze off. Since this is a daily commute version, I wanted to carry what would be the absolute essential and nothing more as weight becomes an issue very quickly as I’ll be lugging this in my bag daily

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My thoughts on Android Wear after some months of use

I thought it’d be appropriate to write about my Smart Wear experience after the release of the Apple Watch news. To re-cap, I bought my LG G watch when it was first released and I still love my LG G watch. In fact, I feel naked without it on my wrist unlike the Pebble which I would remove for days and not worry too much about it. Here are some highlights of my experiences

It’s an extension of my phone

There’s much debate in the community about how the early Android Wear devices were not similar to a watch and how that was a detriment to the experience. I haven’t worn a watch since 1996 which is almost 2 decades ago. The key attraction for me was that it did more than my watch. If I need the time, pulling my phone from my pants is typically pretty quick and I don’t have to check for the time all too often during the day. However, not needing to pull my phone from my pants for every beep or buzz is a really nice thing. I can quickly flick my wrist to check the notification and dismiss it from my watch and carry on what I’m doing.

Google Now integration is REALLY useful

I used to think that Google Now voice recognition feature on my phone and tablet was useful in particular for task list integration. It’s significantly more useful when it’s part of the watch because my watch is always attached to my wrist and my watch is connected to my phone. I find that I’m using this feature significantly more now that it’s attached to my wrist.

One day’s worth of battery is enough if you can rapidly charge the battery

I actually get more then a day’s worth of battery on my LG G watch. I typically charge my watch just before I get to bed and then pick it up again in the morning. I don’t have the need to wear my watch overnight. However, there was a day when I forgot to charge my watch and when I woke up, there was 16% left of battery on it. I put the watch on the cradle, did my usual morning routine and picked it up again as I was leaving the house. The battery charge was up to 76% and lasted me until I went to bed the next night.

You can install apps on the watch

While the watch is primarily an extension of the phone, you still can install apps on it. The early apps such as Flappy Bird seemed ridiculous. However, something like WearBucks is a very practical use case of an app that works well without being tethered to a phone. In general, apps that act as a remote control for the phone work really well. Here are some apps I installed on my watch:

  • Wear Mini Launcher – gives you easy access to your apps and settings by swiping from the top left of the screen
  • Phone Finder – Allows me to find my phone when I can’t find it and locks my phone when the phone is out of range
  • WearBucks – Starbucks on my watch
  • Wear Hotspot – Turns on my phone hotspot without me having to take it out of my pocket

There is still some quirks and lots of room for innovation

The LG G watch is really a simple device. It’s a device connected over Bluetooth LE leveraging Google Play and Google Now services using a touch  and voice interface. Google really didn’t add much more capability then that. It’s still very much a minimum viable product which in many ways is a good thing. It’s shockingly simple to use and understand. A lot have been left to the development community to innovate on it. In general, I find apps that act as a remote control for the phone or provide quick and easy access to information seem to work really well as a general use case. One idea in particular surrounds the integration to the Internet of Things; there are more and more connected devices out there. The watch seems like a practical interface for things that can be done quickly such as opening a door remotely for a friend – Thanks, Roberto for the idea 🙂

After about 3 months of use, I still really LOVE my LG G watch. I love the simplicity and pragmatism of the watch.

LG G Watch – an initial review

I have to admit that I entered into this foray with very low expectations. Reviews at the time when I ordered the watch, which was the first day it was made available for public release, was very thin to say the least. The devices that most reviewers were using had limited functionality as they were only set to demo mode during Google I/O 2014. I remember telling a friend that I ordered the watch which I thought I would hate the least with the mindset that I would likely replace it with a Motorola 360. For some context, I already own a Pebble watch which I acquired during their Kickstarter campaign which I liked a lot. My test for the LG G Watch to use it for my summer vacation in Europe. I wore the watch everyday. I was on the go a lot and I was in a mixed environment of having internet access and was rarely in a position where I could charge the watch.

Here are some of my photos on Google+

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Smart Launcher Pro Review

The ability to use the non-standard launcher is one of the huge differentiating features when comparing Android to the iOS platform. Lately I find myself using the Smart Launcher Pro 2 as my default launcher. I happened to stumble over it while surfing through the Google Play Store. As switching launchers is rather easy, it’s easy to try something different every so often and yet go back to an old one if it doesn’t pan out.

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