Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nest Protect

4:51 AM: I'm woken up by the sound of a loud chirp.  I roll over and pretend I didn't hear it.

4:52 AM: No luck, it's a smoke detector chirping from low battery.  Why can't this happen in the middle of the day?

I lay in bed for a while pretending that I can fall back asleep and ignore the chirp, I start thinking about the four Nest Protect systems I purchased and installed and how much I wish I had replaced all of my smoke alarms.  The only reason I hadn't replaced all of them is they are $99 each and I wanted to give them a test run before I completely replace them.

4:55 AM: I'm out of bed standing in the hallway at a strange angle hoping that on the next chirp I can determine which room has the chirping smoke alarm.  It's one of three because the hallway and one bedroom both have Nest Protect units in them and "they don't chirp!"

4:56 AM: The chirp comes from in front of me so it has to be the other bedroom.  I open the bedroom door, hear my teenage son stir and wonder how he can sleep through the chirping.  I open the battery compartment, yank out the battery, test it on my tongue (it seems strong) and then hear another chirp coming from behind me.

4:57 AM: I have opened every smoke detector on the floor and removed the battery because I simply want to get back to bed.  I will deal with this in the morning.

Then I heard another chirp.

How is that possible?  I don't have any more of these "old school" smoke detectors that chirp.  Is there something else in my house that makes a sound like that?

I stand very still and wait for it.


It's coming from the other bedroom.  The bedroom that has a Nest Protect in it.  I walk up to the door and crack it open trying not to wake my other son.  I look up at the Nest Protect unit on the ceiling and I'm stunned.  It chirps again.

Why am I stunned.  Let me quote from the Nest Protect website (italics added):
What is Nightly Promise?
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because your smoke alarm was chirping? Nest Protect has a better way: Nightly Promise. Each night when you turn out the lights you’ll get a quick green glow which means the batteries and sensors of Nest Protect are working. It also means no dreaded chirps at midnight so you can sleep safe and sound.
 I pull the unit down and disconnect the power and tell my son to go back to sleep.  I take it in my office and it chirps again.

Problem Reported in my Phone

I decide to look at my phone and see that the Nest app has an indicator.  Above is the message reported for the Next Protect in that room.

5:05 AM: I find a phillips screwdriver, take apart the Nest Protect and remove the batteries.  

The chirping has ended and I can go back to sleep.

From Nest's website:
"We all know why smoke alarms are torn off the ceiling or missing batteries – because every time you make stir-fry, the smoke alarm cries wolf. Or just as you’re falling asleep, you hear a low-battery chirp. They’ve become annoying."
Nest Protect torn off the ceiling AND missing batteries

I have contacted Nest to send me a replacement unit.  What else can I do, it says right in the app "You need to replace Nest Protect".  Well, it's only a few months old but has a two year warranty so I'm assuming they are going to replace it.  I'll updated this entry when I find out.

I really do like these units.  I like how they talk to you when there is an issue (it's happened a couple of times with some kitchen incidents) but I have to be honest.  When it really comes down to it, there are only two reasons I purchased these very expensive smoke alarms.

1. I never wanted to wake up to a chirp again
2. I wanted the unit to notify me on my phone what was wrong.

(note to Nest: you failed both of these)

Am I going to replace the rest of the smoke alarms in my house with Nest Protects?  I don't know, we'll see how they handle this situation and I'll probably continue my evaluation another year and see how they do before I spend the money.

UPDATE:  I contacted Nest and they sent me a replacement unit.  I have it installed.  I sure do like the way these work when they do work.  We'll see how it goes for the next few months.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple Pay vs Google Wallet

Apple released Apple Pay yesterday with the iOS 8.1 update.  Randy and I went out at lunch to try it out and compare it to Google Wallet on his OnePlus One Android Phone.  We visited three locations: Maverik, McDonald's, and Macey's Grocery.  Both phones were able to make payments without any network connection however the Airplane mode on the OnePlus One also shut off the NFC radio.  The iPhone 6+ was able to pay even in Airplane mode.

Here are the steps to pay on the two phones:

Apple Pay
NFC Payments
  • Place the iPhone up to the payment terminal
  • Use Touch ID to authorize
  • Done
Google Wallet
  • Unlock your phone
  • Place your Phone up to the payment terminal
  • Enter your 4 digit Google Wallet PIN
  • Done

The steps above look about the same but what isn't mentioned there is it took a while to figure out how to make Google Wallet work.  If I were to write the steps it took the very first time we tried Google Wallet they would look like this:

Google Wallet (the first time)
  • Place the Phone up to the payment terminal
  • Wake the phone up and then try again
  • Unlock the phone and try again
  • Wave it around for a little bit hoping the people behind are not getting too upset
  • After a few seconds, finally enter your PIN in Google Wallet to unlock it
  • When no network is available, get a confusing message that sounds like the payment didn't work when in reality it did.  It was trying to tell you it cannot show the details yet because you are not connected, but it sounds more like the payment failed.
What's the point?

You may ask why even bother with the stuff?  Why is this easier than just using my credit card?  Last week I was mailed new credit cards.  I didn't ask for them but they were issued along with a letter about how Home Depot was compromised and these cards were sent to protect me.  Had I been using Apple Pay or Google Wallet every time I went to Home Depot, it wouldn't have mattered.

When you set up a credit card in Apple Pay a unique card number is generated that will only work with that iPhone, and only with your finger print.  When you shop at a store, the only number they get is the one generated for your phone.  To use that number someone would have to have your phone and your finger print.  When Home Depot or Target are compromised in the future, no useful information will exist on their insecure systems.

Look for the NFC Payments logo (above) and it's likely that you'll be able to pay using Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

-- Just a quick followup...  We went to lunch today at JCW's.  They had the NFC Payments symbol.  I was able to pay with Apple Pay.  Randy tried with Google Wallet and it wouldn't work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why I pay full non-contract price for phones

I read an article today about how expensive the new iPhone 6 will be if you buy it off contract.  I admit, it's a lot of money but it's actually less money than what you'll pay if you buy it with a contract.

I recently switched back to AT&T from Verizon because they introduced a new plan called the Mobile Share Value plan that offers non-subsidized pricing if you own your phone.  There are two rates for each line on this plan. If you own your phone the rate is $15/month for the line.  If you buy a "contract price" phone that rate is $40/month for the line and you have a 2 year contract.

In case you didn't get that, they will charge you and extra $25/month for 2 years to pay for the rest of that phone.  Over 24 months that ends up being $600.
With that, here are the actual iPhone 6 Plus costs:

Contract Prices:
iPhone 6 Plus 16GB: $899
iPhone 6 Plus 64GB: $999
iPhone 6 Plus 128GB: $1099

Non-Contract Prices:
iPhone 6 Plus 16GB: $749
iPhone 6 Plus 64GB: $849
iPhone 6 Plus 128GB: $949 

The other thing to consider is with non-contract plans you don't have a 2 year contract.  I know that seems obvious but let me just say it once again... you don't have a 2 year contract.  You are free to terminate your service any time you want with no cancellation fees.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Back on my iPhone

I have posted a bunch of times about switching between phones.  Because I develop apps I have various devices and switch between them depending on what I'm working on.  I like to test out the software I'm currently working on.  Last night I switched back to an iPhone 5s from a Samsung Galaxy S4.  If you properly set up your "cloud" data it's fairly easy to switch between devices (how I do that probably deserves it's own post).  I was really surprised this morning when I took Toma for a walk at the quality of picture difference between the two.  Look at the full resolution version of that picture (at the leaves).  I have never been able to get a photo like that out of the Samsung!  Toma's face in the photo isn't as clear but he was moving.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wake Up Alarms

I use my phone as my alarm clock and I have to wonder what the people were thinking when they designed the screens to turn off the alarms (shown above on an iPhone 5 and a Droid RAZR M).  For the benefit of the younger and less experienced readers (I'm starting to find some sick pleasure in saying that) I'd like to explain the problem here.  As you become older, or as Brian my youthful employee likes to say "become more brittle", you'll find that you need corrective lenses for almost all you do.  I'm now to the point that when somebody hands me something to read I find myself pulling a "Dr. Gaisford" move where I hold the item at arm length from my face so I can actually read it.

There is a reason why most alarm clocks have a single physical button on the top of them to turn them off.   Simply slam your hand down on the top of it and you'll most likely hit that button and turn off the alarm.  At 5:30am when I am suddenly thrust out of my deep sleep into a very dark room lit only by the seemingly ultra-bright screen on my phone, it is very difficult to make sense of these screens.  The iPhone screen is not as bad as the Android screen because the slide at the bottom of the screen is fairly easy to do.  Of course when the room it pitch black and I'm groggy from sleep and I don't have glasses on the screen looks more like this (except it hurts your eyes more and there is a loud sound that won't stop):

Most of us could probably figure out how to turn the alarm off even when the screen is that bad.  How about the Android screen:

Now imagine having my vision being half asleep squinting as hard as you can to make out the text on that screen (which I never could due to the extreem brightness) trying to turn off the alarm.  A few days ago I hit what I thought was the right button because it went silent.  When I turned off the water from the shower I could hear it going off again.  I obviously guessed wrong and hit the snooze button by mistake.  That or I guessed correctly but since the two buttons are so small and right next to each other I may have actually hit the wrong button.

I would suggest that a wake up alarm screen needs to have two simple large buttons, one to snooze and the other to indicate I'm up.  Here is a very quick and dirty mockup adjusted to my early morning perception:

This is by no means a perfect and beautiful, but for the purposes of turning off my alarms at 5:30am, I don't need perfection, I need function!  Note that the two huge buttons are on opposites ends of the screen so you won't make a choice and hit the wrong one.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Pigs Fly

I was chatting today with Boyd and he discovered he hasn't blogged anything since January 1, 2009.  The shocking part came when we realized that was four years ago.  While it hasn't been that long for me, I've been pretty inconsistent and most of my recent entries have been about biking.  Since I can't bike right now (27˚F) I thought I'd write about some technology.

A little more than a month ago I began work on Todo Pro for Android.  I have a very limited working version that I can use and syncs with the Todo Pro service.  BTW, the answer is no you can't have it yet, only I know how to tip-toe through it so it doesn't have problems.  

Just before Christmas I decided I needed to really experience life with an Android phone so I went shopping.  I was limited to the Verizon models available and spent half a day researching and going to the Verizon store to play with the devices.  The first device I was shown was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.  I stick with my first observation in that this device is not a phone.  It is a very small tablet that works to make phone calls and is only good for Women who can place it in their purse.  As if calling something this large a phone isn't enough entertainment, it comes with a stylus!  

For the benefit the younger and less experienced reader, a stylus is a stick that looks like a pencil that you use for input on a device.  It's sort of how you use your finger on your iPhone, but think Soviet Military from the 80's.  Steve Jobs was right.  My top desk drawer tends to collect items at the back of it that were useful in their day but have now been replaced.  Under a collection of foreign money not worth the time or effort to exchange and an old wallet I never used is my old worn out collection of styli from devices years ago.

Back of my Desk Drawer
Lost Styli Revealed

The thought of going back to a stylus is frightening, but the sales guy at the Verizon store assured me the Galaxy Note 2 was the most advanced phone made.

Samsung Galaxy S III
I spent a lot of time looking at the various Android phones available and even called up Android users I knew and asked their advice.  The Galaxy S III seemed like a logical choice.  It's Verizon's most popular phone from what I could tell and it had the best Calendar App (an exclusive app to Samsung) of all of the devices.  I use my calendar a lot!  It also had great specs and I was fairly confident it would get the next few Android updates which would prolong it's usefulness to Appigo.  I bought the phone and had them connect it to my plan replacing my iPhone 5.  That night I went through all of the apps on my iPhone 5 and downloaded the Android versions of them.  Dropbox, mSecure, Mint, Chase, Dictionary, eBay, Kitco, Gospel Library, LDS Tools were all available for Android and I had them up and running quickly.  I of course also had Todo Pro!  All of my calendars and contacts were in iCloud so I found an app called SmoothSync for Cloud that will sync iCloud calendars and contacts to Android.  I was amazed at how easy it was to still have access to everything on a completely foreign device.  I didn't need the Reeder app since Google Reader is available for Android and I could get all of my notes from Appigo Notebook directly from Dropbox.  Dropbox on Android is more like Dropbox on OS X.  It syncs even when it's not running and will let you edit files and upload them.

For the first time I was actually beginning to think I could switch to Android and be happy about it.  My previous experience was with a Nexus One from Google and Android has certainly come a long way since then.

Twelve days later I was back in the Verizon store returning the Galaxy S III.  It took just over a week for the novelty of this shiny big new phone to wear off and I started to focus on it's faults.  

The first fault I noticed right away but it took a week for it to really frustrate me.  It was the location of the power and volume buttons on the phone.  They are directly across from each other on opposite sides of the phone.  It's not apparent why that's a problem until you wake in the middle of the night and reach over to turn on your phone to see what time it is.  The Galaxy S III is so wide you have to stretch your hand out and squeeze both sides to turn it on.  When I would do this, I would always, always, always turn the volume up on the ringer and it would make a noise.  Of course I want the phone silent at night so I would then have to fumble and turn it back down all the way.  Then I noticed this volume changing was happening all them time when I would try to turn the phone on and off.

The next fault I also noticed right away but it took me longer to figure out what was happening.  Actually, it took me going skiing for several days in a row.  The lift going up the mountain at Sundance is not exactly what I call quick so there is some time to burn.  I often will pull out my phone and keep in touch with people.  Well, it's also cold so I one hand operate my phone.  No reason to get both hands cold unless of course you bought one of Samsung's new ginormous Galaxy Note 2 phones.  You can barely hold that phone in one hand let alone use it.  Well, turns out the same is true of the Galaxy S III.  It's too big for one handed operation.  Every time I would try to reach my thumb to the top or bottom left of the screen, my palm would touch along the right half of the screen and "palm-launch" an app.  It was also precarious to handle when sitting on a ski lift thirty feet above deep soft snow.  I decided I needed to return it and either go back to an iPhone 5 or find a smaller phone that didn't have the power and volume buttons on either side.

When the woman at the sales desk in the Verizon store found out I was returning a Galaxy S III she looked like I was calling her baby ugly.  She was stunned.  "I have never had anyone return this phone, I don't understand" she said.  I tried to explain the button thing and the one handed stuff on the ski lift but she was not very understanding and still stunned I was returning it.

Motorola Droid RAZR M
I replaced the Galaxy S III with the Droid RAZR M from Motorola.  The only thing I liked better on the Galaxy was the calendar app but I'm making due with the default Android calendar app.  The M is nearly identical in size to the iPhone 5 and one handed operation is excellent.  It also has the power and volume buttons on the same side so there is also no volume changing when turning the phone on and off.  I've had it longer than I had the Galaxy S III and I still like it.

Todo Pro for Android running on my Droid RAZR M

I showed Jack Young that my new phone was an Android on Sunday.  He looked shocked and asked me if he should make an announcement from the pulpit.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Road and Mountain Bike Rides back to back

Boyd and I gave everyone the afternoon off at Appigo and went on a bike ride.  We couldn't decide between road or mountain bikes so we tried both.  First we did a 19 mile road bike ride up South Fork Canyon and then we switched to mountain bikes and climbed up to the altar below Timpanogos.  It was fun but at the end we decided next time we'll focus on one only!  Here are the results:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Running Again

A couple of months ago I pulled a muscle in my left calf and haven't been able to really run. I decided to stay off it for a couple of weeks and rely on biking, swimming, and other activities. Earlier this week I went for a light 5 mile run and it felt really good. This morning I did a normal 5 mile run and it still felt great. I'm quite happy to have running back in my rotation. Here is my run this morning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Returning to Health

It's been 9 weeks since we started the "Biggest Loser" contest at work and I weighed in at 263.4 lbs. This weekend I weighed less than 225 lbs. That's 38 lbs lost in 9 weeks. A lot of people are asking me what I'm doing so I thought I would share it here along with some interesting health information.

While the weight loss is a big part of this, I was very encouraged to find other aspects of my health have improved as well. The last blood test I had done before starting 9 weeks ago had the following results:

(normal ranges)
Cholesterol 267 (140-199)
HDL Cholesterol 52 (35-80)
LDL Cholesterol 165 (0-129)
Triglycerides 248 (0-150)

As you can see I was in pretty bad shape. Not only was I very overweight, I was at risk for a number of other serious problems. On July 22 (only one month into my new routine) I had more blood work done and these were the results:

Cholesterol 164
HDL Cholesterol 60
LDL Cholesterol 93
Triglycerides 53

I was thrilled to see such an improvement and it was all done by changing my diet, exercise, and sleep. Those three items are critical (IMHO) to weight loss and good health. I thought I would share what a typical week is like for me now so you know what I am doing to make such a turn around in my life.

Diet (what I eat)
I'm putting this under diet although I wouldn't say I'm on a diet. If anything, I feel like I eat more food and eat it more often than before. I follow "The Man Diet" but I thought I would get more specific about what a typical day's food is for me.

Breakfast is typically two packages of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (I like raisins and spice). I eat that after I exercise and many times not until I'm already at work at my desk (around 8:30am). I typically bring into work a lot of snacks to eat throughout the day. On a typical day I bring in a banana, grapes (Costco grapes are awesome) about as many as you could hold in two hands, blueberries - about as many as you can hold piled high in one hand, a small handful of almonds, two apples (medium sized), and sometimes I'll have some melon too. I normally have my fist snack at 9:30am and another at 11:00am. It varies depending on how busy I get.

Lunch is typically a salad or a sandwich. Wendy's makes a pretty good Cobb type salad but I only use half of one of their salad dressings on it. I also like the Turkey-Bacon-Avacado (6 inch) at Subway with no cheese and no mayo, but lots of mustard and all of the veggies. My other favorite is the Voodoo Chicken Salad at Rumbi Grill (and I use ALL of the dressing on that one). In the afternoon I polish off the rest of my snacks at my normal 1 1/2 to 2 hour interval.

Dinner is whatever the family is having but my wife is awesome at preparing healthy meals that won't interfere with the man diet. I typically try to eat dinner before 7pm, after that it's only water. I find it's easier to get up and work out if I don't eat much after 7pm.

On top of that I am drinking nearly 100oz of water every day (or more). I have a 20oz Rubbermaid water bottles that can be washed in the dish washer. I drink two in the morning, two in the afternoon, and one or two at night after work. Yes, I go to the bathroom A LOT!

Having lost a lot of weight before I was already aware of what it took. For me there is no substitute to long sustained workouts. When I say long I mean at least 1 hour. This is a typical week for me (and I had to work up to this but it didn't take long). I work out 6 days a week if I can. I try to rotate through different types of workouts so my body doesn't get accustomed to what I'm doing. A typical week would be 22 mile bike rides Mon, Wed, Fri and a 5 mile jog Tues and Thursday. Saturday I reserve for longer adventures like losing myself on single track Mt. Bike trails for 4 hours. It's not typical but I've been on rides for 4 1/2 hours and burned around 3500 calories. Most of my work outs take place early in the morning. I get up at 5:45am to make sure I'm done in time to get to work. I find morning work outs are more difficult to get used to, but they are also most effective. My morning work out generally molds my day and keeps me eating what is good for me. After riding for 22 miles nothing sounds good but some fruit and oatmeal. Any greasy fast food would probably make me sick. I've tried to also introduce swimming but I HATE swimming. It's incredibly effective but just as boring. Still, I try to go swimming at night on occasion in hopes I'll somehow find a way to like it. When I say I go swimming that's one hour of swimming laps doing freestyle and breast stroke.

Finally I must talk about sleep. I cannot stress how important sleep is. I'm typically in bed by 10:30pm and some nights earlier. My body doesn't function well on a routine like this with less than 7 hours and most nights I need 8. If you stay up late you are doing to eat junk to stay awake (I know because I've done it a lot).

I will just add a few other thoughts. The first two weeks of this was not easy. The first few mornings I got up I wondered how long I would last. It got a lot easier after a few days and I was used to it after week. Now I crave the morning workout and always look forward to them.

I hope that was informative and not too boring.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Road Biking at Bear Lake

This morning I went on a bike ride with Joe Morton and Scott Peterson. They were on road bikes and I was on my mountain bike. I was able to keep up with a lot of drafting behind Joe and Scott. It made me really want a road bike.