Sometimes I’m the blue bubble and sometimes I’m the green bubble

iOS SMS vs iMessage

As an iOS user, I understand quite acutely how people can tell if I’m using my real phone number or my Google Voice number. The difference comes into play most obviously when I’m texting friends or co-workers. Currently I have 3 different phone numbers that I use at any given moment. 2 of them will provide the blue bubbles since my personal and work phones are both iPhone 7’s. However, I do use my Google Voice number quite a bit as well. When I was with my former employer, I tried going to one phone but I realized that I didn’t want people at work calling me at all hours of the night using my personal number. If I don’t recognize the number I generally don’t answer it on my personal phone and let them leave a message. As a work around I started to give out my Google Voice number which I use with Google Hangouts. That meant that sometimes I was the dreaded green bubble when texting people that had iPhones which turned out to be quite a few co-workers.

For most things, I still try and not give out my real cell number, I don’t like getting robo calls or spam calls on it (even though I still get spam and robo calls on it). I like to give out my Google Voice number. The Hangouts app doesn’t make management of phone numbers that I can block easy, I need to manage it using the website but its a good alternative to giving out my real number. The Hangouts app lets me send text messages and make phone calls as long as I have a data connection so that masks the number that I’m calling from. It’s not as good as a burner number but I can at least see when someone is calling me on my Google Voice number.

Where I think people start getting confused is if I’ve used a blue bubble and a green bubble when texting them. There are a few people that I’ve done that to but then I get confused when they respond to me and I have to react to it. Where it gets really complicated is if I start using other messaging apps with people and then I have to start answering them on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, or some other messenger that I have installed or have used in the past with that person. One of the things that I’ve found amusing are some articles and YouTube videos on how people have said “I don’t want to message you because you don’t have a blue bubble” or some study they did at a company where most people chose an iPhone because they didn’t want to be the “green bubble” when texting co-workers. I’ll admit that its nice to see the blue bubble when texting but its not a deal breaker for me. As long as I can communicate, thats enough for me.

There is an added benefit I think of using my Google Voice number, I can use any web browser, log into Hangouts, and send text messages to people. Technically you can do the same thing on WhatsApp but my current job doesn’t allow that so instead of reaching for my phone, I just use my computer sometimes. What would be cool is if Apple let you use iMessage with just an iCloud account and be able to send messages through the web and sync it all up on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac (whatever flavor you have). I doubt they will do that since it won’t lock you into the ecosystem of buying all of their devices but I think it would make communication that much easier for those of us that have to use a PC for work and don’t have a choice in using a Mac. I personally have been trying to find a way to use a Mac for work and I think I almost have found a way to do it but the thing about email is what is preventing me from pulling the trigger.

So there you have it, some days I’ll be the blue bubble, and other days I’ll be the green one. It just depends on who you are and if I want you in my inner circle of knowing what my real phone number is.i

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Multi-Profiles in iOS please Apple?

WWDC is upon us tomorrow and I’ve watched all the leak videos on YouTube from most major Apple followers showing off the neat new things like dark mode, new emoji’s, and other blah blah blah that really doesn’t have a lot of impact on my use of iOS. I’ll admit that if some of the leaks are true for iPad, it will make it a ton more useful for me when I’m just surfing around and doing stuff like writing or taking notes for work. I know that they always say during the keynote, they’re not going to merge iOS and MacOS and thats fine, I don’t care about that stuff either. What I want is multi-user support.

This is not a hard concept, user profiles have existed since the 90’s when Windows 95 and even before was out. Granted you could just hit ESC on your keyboard without putting in a password and get into the computer but if you did it would load up your settings. Computers are more advanced now and they segregate data and all that jazz when you use a new user profile. I think this is something that could definitely be done on an iOS. The base of the OS is Unix which already supports multi-user profiles (hello MacOS!). There is security built in to protect the data of each user unless you’re the admin and therefore have God power on the machine and the OS.

Having multi-user profiles would be awesome to have in iOS. Even if it was just an iPad feature that would be the step in the right direction. A lot of schools share devices and admin’s are always looking to lock things down so having an admin account and a user account would make sense in education and in business. Personally I use my iPad sometimes for work and I really don’t like mixing my personal life with business but the ipad is really convenient sometimes when you’re running a presentation on your computer but still have to take notes during the meeting. There’s also the question of MDM profiles that corporations load onto the device which limits your options which totally sucks! If you had a work profile, the MDM could be loaded on it and keep the work apps and info segregated from the personal. Then the personal aspect would give the user full control over everything like it should. This would reduce the number of devices that need to be carried around and you could reduce the number of devices needed since there could be work and personal segregation.

Thats my wishful thinking though, I don’t think its ever going to come to iOS but I can always imagine the possibilities. For a phone it would be so awesome! Especially now that the iPhone’s support dual sim. One profile for your personal number and apps, the other profile for your work number and MDM restrictions. No more bringing along 2 phones (well I do this since I don’t want to be bothered by work during weekends). This would be true innovation on Apple’s part and differentiate it form Android phones. But I’m sure this idea has been kicked around already and its been decided that having multiple users for an iOS device doesn’t make sense. Although when you think about families, having a profile for the kids and another for the adults would be so awesome. You wouldn’t have to worry about the kids looking at your bank account and asking why you can’t afford that Nintendo switch they wanted for their birthday or something weird like that.

WWDC is tomorrow at 1PM. I’ve blocked time off on my calendar for work so that I can watch it. I’ve shifted my lunch break to that time too just to be on the safe side. Let’s see how many of the tech bloggers on YouTube are right.

Real Point and Shoot or GoPro Hero 7 Black?

Panasonic Lumix TS2
GoPro Hero 7 Black

I’m going on a trip for work and it just happens to be in Europe. I’m going to have my cell phones with me which is an iPhone 7 that takes awesome pictures but since its my lifeline, I don’t want to risk losing it or getting it taken from me. I have 2 options though for taking pictures while I’m on my business trip, one is the old Panasonic Lumix that I bought a few years back that has 14 megapixels and is a dedicated point and shoot or I can try and use my GoPro Hero 7 Black that I got last year but is really more for taking vids and not photos.

The Lumix is a pretty awesome camera but I kind of forgot about it since I got an iPhone 6 way back when. The battery and everything still works and I used it on vacation too when I needed an underwater camera. The issue I might come into is that the battery is kind of old and it won’t keep the charge for very long, especially if I’m out all day touring around and taking photos. The cool thing about the camera is that it has optical zoom as well as digital zoom and even though I know nothing about camera settings, it also has different photo modes that I can use too.

The GoPro Hero 7 has some very good features going for it. Just like the Lumix, its water proof and has a camera mode. The really neat part is that it has voice commands and it also connects to my iPhone so I can control it that way remotely. What I lose is the optical zoom which is nice to have and I don’t think it takes pictures as fast when hit the shutter button or tell it “GoPro take a photo”. Also the GoPro might be more prone to be stolen mainly because it is the latest version and it has a big “7” on the side. There’s also the issue that a lot of the images will have a fisheye view, linear is ok but its not as great as using a real camera. A bigger plus though is that I have 3 batteries for the GoPro so I’ll never run out of juice.

At the end of the day I might end up taking both cameras if there’s enough room in my bag for it. I can do the still shots with the camera and use the GoPro for videos. Maybe I’ll experiment with the cameras today or later this weekend and see which one I want to take with me for photos.

No new tech to blog about…..

I’ve come to the point where I’m not acquiring tech in a regular interval (I used to get something new every few months) but I think I’ve stabilized on just a few different platforms rather than trying new things out. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the entire family is locked into the Apple Eco system when it comes to mobile devices (iPhones and iPads) but we’re not upgrading as fast as I used to. The family has an iPhone 7,8, and 6S Plus as well as 2 iPad Pro’s from 2017 and a newer iPad mini 5. That keeps things pretty simple in terms of getting apps and support and also reducing the complexity for syncing phones with music and videos. I personally use a MacBook Pro at home (very little though since my iPad Pro pretty much can do a lot of the things that I normally used my MacBook for)

I am becoming a little less reliant on computers in general (the traditional kind) and have simplified the things that I install and try to keep things vanilla. I still buy my computers with massive hard drives (at least 1TB and on SSD for speed). Thats just my old school thoughts on storage for computers but a lot of my audio and video files have moved over to the NAS and the NAS runs 24×7 unless I shut it down. I’ve also embraced more cloud storage with my main cloud storage providers being Box and Google Drive. I have more than enough storage in both accounts that I don’t have to keep a lot of “stuff” on my laptop. My MacBook Pro is a 2017 and its maxed to the gills but I don’t use nearly all the power that I could since I was originally going to use it for videos for the family but I’ve been able to do that on my iPad.

I’ve also consolidated my camera platform to just using my iPhones and GoPro’s. I don’t know how long GoPro is going to be around but they are pretty solid and they do what I need when I go on vacation. I haven’t bought a GoPro since 2018 but it does what I need it to do and the image stabilization is wonderful. It’s not as fast as a point and shoot camera but its good enough for what I need for it to do. All other devices have kind of fallen away. I still watch lots of videos about different kinds of hardware that seem cool, especially about Android phones like the OnePlus stuff but when I consider the ecosystem I’m in, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to switch over.

The last reason that I don’t have a lot of tech to talk about these days is that I’m just hanging on to my stuff a lot longer. I’m still sporting an iPhone 7, it still seems to work pretty well and it hasn’t slowed down. I’m not really missing any feature that I consider “must haves”. The only thing that I’m really waiting for is 5G capability but I think those will come with the 2020 iPhones so I’m going to skip this generation again. The GoPro Hero 7 Black is good enough the way it is, its just really there to take videos during my ski trips and for soccer games but I think I start using it as a point and shoot too which would be cool. I have lots of extra batteries for it too so I know its going to last a while during the day. iPads will last a while too as long as there are software updates, again nothing really earth shattering that I need. They all work with the first generation Apple Pencil and frankly it works great, I don’t see a need to get a whole new iPad just for the Apple Pencil 2.

Maybe in the next few months I’ll find something compelling enough to upgrade to but in the mean time, I’ll have to look for something else to blog about.

GoPro Hero 7 Black Frame Mount FAIL

The frame that holds my GoPro Hero 7 Black recently broke when I was trying to put the camera in it. I would have thought these things would be way more durable. I haven’t even had the camera for a year and already I’ve had to buy a replacement part. I bought a cheap one on Amazon that is compatible. It doesn’t provide as much protection all the way around but it does let me charge the thing without having to take the mount off which is a huge plus in my book.

So I lose the cool Black 7 on the side of the mount. The camera has had some other problems that I think are software related. It won’t accept all my voice commands and sometimes the camera freezes while recording. It might be due to my taking the camera to cold climates all the time to record skiing or other stuff. I would have thought the camera would be more durable and be able to resist the cold. I think it would be awesome if they would upgrade the Hero Session. I still have my Hero Session 4 and the only thing that I really want for it is image stabilization similar to the Hero 7 Black and the voice controls. I know there is a Hero Session 5 but the camera is old and could use an update. That thing was really versatile and would be perfect for my daughter to use on vacation.

Oh well, I need to accumulate more points to get my next GoPro. This one was free with all my Amex points so it breaking or freezing isn’t a big deal since I technically didn’t even pay for it.

Music on the slopes

If there’s one thing that helps me ski better (at least in my crazy cranium) its having music while I go down the slope. When I was younger this wasn’t very practical because its hard to bring a Sony Discman in your ski jacket and not have the songs skip while you’re shredding down a mountain. More recently in the last 2 years I’ve taken to using my iPhone to listen to music. I find that listening to music while going down the slope makes it more enjoyable and since I ski alone a lot its better than just skiing in silence.

Sony Car Discman

I already have AirPods for my iPhone but I’ve found that they aren’t that great when you want to listen to music while skiing. I think the newer v2 AirPods would be better than my current ones since it has built in “Hey Siri” but you’ll get some crazy stares from people on the chairlift by yelling “Hey Siri!” to change the volume, playlist or song. I also have this fear that my AirPods will fall out of my ears and since they’re white, I’ll never find them again in the snow. I also wear a helmet so using my Bose QC35’s are also not an option. I need to hear the environment around me since there are definitely a lot better skiers and boarders out there passing me and I need to hear when they say they are coming up behind me. The solution that I’ve found the best is actually the EarPods that came with my iPhone in the box. Yes its archaic since its wired but it has a control on it so that I can change the music, pick up phone calls, and change the volume all without having to yell at Siri. I’m able to wear them ok with my helmet on, I still have the feeling that they’re going to pop out of my ears but at least I know its tethered to my iPhone that’s in my ski pants pocket so the probability of losing them is pretty low. They sound decently good and it lets me hear what’s going on around me so both of those requirements are met easily.

Apple EarPods

A few people at Vail used a different solution. They decided to use the UE Wonderboom to play their music. The problem with that is most people don’t want to hear my crazy music while they ski. They want to either listen to their own tunes or just ski in silence. Granted it was a bunch of teenagers that was blasting Post Malone on the lift up to the top but I could have done with out. I did see one woman on the slopes go all out on the expensive gear for having music and call capability for her ski helmet by using a Sena bluetooth system. I have one of those for my motorcycle helmet and they’re not cheap; around $200. The sound is pretty good and it gets loud but that might be a little too much for skiing. I have considered it though but its too much trouble to disconnect everything from my motorcycle helmet and then putting it in my ski helmet.

UE Wonderboom
Sena Bluetooth Receiver

Best Ski Boots Ever – Surefoot Lange RX 100

Surefoot Lange RX 100

If there has been one gripe I have with skiing its that its really hard on my feet. I have plantar fasciitis which means that the muscle that connects the bottom of my foot is normally really tight and causes me problems when doing things on my feet for long periods of time. Skiing is one of those sports that require you to be on your feet a lot but I love the sport and don’t want to give it up. Since I started skiing again, I’ve been renting the whole ski package; boots, poles, and skis. While in Breckenridge last season, my wife convinced me that we should get our own ski boots. We saw the Surefoot store in town and decided to check it out and see what they could do about custom fitting some boots for us.

Surefoot takes measurements of your feet and selects a boot that will probably be your best fit. That sounds pretty common except they craft inserts for the bottom of the boot so that it fits your feet better which is what I do now with my shoe inserts for all of my other shoes. As an additional step, they pump in foam while you are wearing the boot so that the inner liner conforms to your foot for a better fit. The whole process took a while since there were two of us doing it. Whats cool is that for the next 2 years I’m allowed to get adjustments or new boots if the fit isn’t just right.

I skied a little bit of Breckenridge and Whistler with these boots and they felt better than the rentals except for an issue I was having on my left foot. It felt like the injection foam wasn’t right. When I went to Vail this spring I decided to go to Surefoot to get an adjustment. It turns out that it was just the crease in the inner part of the boot just needed to be smoothed out. After that was done the boots felt great for the rest of the trip. These are easily the best boots that I’ve had compared to the rental boots that I’ve had and the other boots that I’ve owned.

I recall that I used to use some Solomon rear entry boots back in the 90’s that were really popular back then. There were two adjustment knobs on the boot to manage the fit and only one buckle. I guess the industry thought that wasn’t good enough and most of the boots went towards front entry. I had some Nordic’s after that but they never really felt right but its what I had. The Lange RX 100’s that I have now are pretty comfortable except for the the first couple of runs where my feet need to get used to being trapped in a ski boot. As the day wears on, I try and tighten my boots a little bit more so that I can ski the harder slopes and to get more control of my skis. Now the issue I have is transporting these things everywhere I go. They require their own checked luggage for me to bring them skiing which is unfortunate but I definitely need them.

Apex XP Antero

One boot that definitely intrigues me is the XP Antero. Instead of being a regular ski boot, its actually an eco-skeleton that you put something similar to a snowboard boot into. Snowboard boots are way more comfortable than ski boots for sure. The premise is to release yourself from the exoskeleton and then you should be able to walk around in a nice comfortable boot for when you’re having lunch at the ski lodge. Unfortunately I just found this boot and I paid a lot of the boots that I have already. When its time for me to upgrade my boots I might consider this system. If the boots are interchangeable with snowboard bindings I might just take up snowboarding too so I can snowboard with my daughter. In the mean time, the Lange’s are my new best friend for skiing.