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Nerds on Draft Episode 003

Nerds on Draft continues rolling along with each week bringing new opportunities for tasting good beer and saying stupid things in public. Episode 003 is an exploration of Belgian beer and an examination of how you get to a place where you can comfortably say a project is “done”.

“Focus on the details” has become a meme lately and so has “say no in order to say yes to the right things”. Both have their merits but neither address the discomfort of putting something you are excited about into the world. The thing you made is the conglomeration of thousands of choices. Once you ship, each one of those choices is there to be judged and pored over by anyone with a comment box or Twitter account.

The conversation this week is circuitous and rambling but at least we have the Orval and the Rochefort 8 to keep us somewhat on track.

My iPhone 6 Mini-Review

While I love the smooth, rounded edges of the iPhone 6 and the screen is great for looking at things, it is simply not a convenient phone to actually use. The bottom line for me is that the size of the phone makes interacting with it frustrating and it annoys me in various ways throughout the day.

The iPhone 6 is a huge phone1 and, it turns out, I’m not a huge fan. I tried to like it. I really did. At the same time, I had expected this would happen so I shouldn’t be surprised. I have been bemoaning the impracticality of a bigger phone since the rumors first surfaced. While it was an interesting novelty during the first few days, as time wears on, I dislike the iPhone 6 as my main phone for a variety of reasons.

Despite my misgivings about the phone’s size, it certainly has a better “feel” than the Samsung Galaxy S5 (which leaves you with the impression of it feeling like a cheap, plastic piece of crap). And while the iPhone 6’s size remains a major obstacle to my enjoyment and its utility, the inconvenience extends to the app interfaces themselves. Developers will need some time to come to grips with how to adjust their app designs to suit the larger form factor. What was surprising to me, however, is that apps like Mail still have critical controls along the device’s top edge. To reach any top edge interface elements requires two hands or two extra taps (for the ridiculous but sometimes necessary Reachability feature).

The placement of the Power button on the right side of the device is awful. With practice, I am getting better at not adjusting volume whenenver I turn off the display but it still happens far more times than I’d care to admit.

When the phone is lying on my desk and I want to turn off the display, I have to adopt a curious spidery grip in order to hold the phone firmly enough to depress the power button, yet not depress the area where the volume buttons are. Since these buttons are directly opposite each other, your natural instinct is to hold the phone on opposite sides and press. On the iPhone 6, this makes the volume go up and only delivers enough of the remaining pressure on the button to turn the screen off 50% of the time. Despite my complaints about the size, power button placement is the thing I hate most about the phone.

If ApplePay is really the panacea they are making it out to be, it may be enough of a reason to stick with the iPhone 6. However, if ApplePay ends up being another Healthkit (a whopper of a disappointment so far), I may end up going back to the iPhone 5S. I guess that makes me a contrarian. There are worse things to be.2

I will also hold out hope that next year Apple will introduce a new 5S-sized phone to compliment the 6 and 6+. I would love to have a 5S styled like the iPhone 6. I won’t hold my breath though since the trend is bigger and not smaller. I fear we all may be shopping for bigger pants by next year.

  1. The iPhone 6+ is a ridiculously gargantuan phone and I really don’t get the appeal of it at all. The box should read “Hammer Pants Required”. 

  2. Like a guy with really stretched out pockets, for instance. 

Introducing Nerds on Draft - A Podcast

Gabe Weatherhead and I have conversations. Topics include technology, software development, project management, new apps, Apple, family stuff, travel and beer – you name it, we babble about it at some point over the course of a week.

It was during one of those conversations that Gabe suggested we turn all of it into a podcast. The seed of the idea is simple – we get one or two beers that both of us have on hand, open them up and talk about what we think of them. Then we let our conversation range far and wide.

If you don’t like beer, don’t worry. The beer talk is a bookend on the proceedings. If you really only like beer, skip the middle parts.

The whole thing is what we call “Nerds on Draft”, an open and honest conversation about the things that make up our lives in a way that I hope interests you.

iTunes Link - RSS Feed Link

Custom Keyboards - No Thanks

I think Gabe hits this one right on the head.

Despite what I notice as a strange communal sense of relief that custom keyboards have finally come to iOS, when I look into how they work all I see is another vector of attack or misuse of personal data.

For example, if Swiftkey were to get bought by Facebook or Google 1, These companies would potentially gain access to a treasure trove of your information – basically everything you’ve ever typed. And even if Swiftkey were simply storing data about how you write and what you type to help your typing accuracy, having your writing tendencies in Facebook’s possession would provide major assistance in tuning the content (read: advertisements) on your Activity Feed.

Maybe I’m paranoid but giving a company that kind of trust seems like a recipe for disaster.

As a consumer, when you look at the custom keyboards available on the App Store it’s hard to know what they’re doing behind the scenes. As Gabe mentions, we willingly put ourselves in the position of relying solely on the App review process to protect our data and privacy. Since we have seen Apple reviewers allow the release of Pokemon knockoffs consisting of a few screenshots, I worry that they don’t have a tight enough grip to give us an airtight bubble around our personal data. Some of that responsibility falls to us.

Because allowing something to watch what I type isn’t risk free, I’m not going to take the chance.

  1. It would be a match made in heaven. 

iPhone Home Screen: September 2014

I am trying something new with my homescreen this month. It is mostly in anticipation of a new, unwelcome larger iPhone1 the thoughts of how to actually use a phone with that much screen space has been on my mind. After using the Galaxy S5 for a few weeks, the point was driven home – I need to tailor the layout of the icons on the home screen to effectively use the dimensions of the device.

These considerations sound elementary but I consistently see home screens laid out in a way that will require some gargantuan thumbs (or two hands) to operate with a bigger phone no matter what messy interface hacks Apple adds to assist with navigating these massive devices.

Since I keep my phone in my back left pocket, I tend to use the phone with my left hand. The apps that get used most often have their icons closest to the bottom left corner. Launcher apps like Launch Center Pro and Contact Center have their icons arranged that way as well. While this makes my phone very left-hand-centric, when I am in a hurry or have my hands full, this set up helps. By orienting things this way, apps that I need the fastest access to (TV controllers, phone or contact apps, peripheral controllers, Netflix, Touchpad, etc. are right under my thumb when I activate the phone.

All that said, here’s what I ended up with.2

Row One

Fantastical remains my favorite calendar app. I like the presentation across all of my devices and it fits in well with my workflow. I wish they provided a way to view my whole day but I can get that elsewhere (like Omnifocus’s Forecast view or Tempo) so its not a showstopper.

Editorial on the iPhone is hands-down the best text editor on iOS, especially when dealing with Dropbox-based markdown documents. It uses TextExpander snippets, has a very smart keyboard, and supports user-created workflows, writing statistics and tons more. It’s a tour-de-force of iOS development and well worth whatever Ole is charging these days.

The folder is my overflow for things that I’m trying out or have fallen out of favor. If I want to see if I can live without a particular app for a while, I stick it in here.

Tempo has a great day-view as well as a nice week view and unique two-week view for all of my calendar events. I use this to get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on mainly to get a sense of how full my calendar is on a given day. I don’t use many of Tempo’s more innovative features like the phone/contact helper or email data mining because I find it doesn’t do a great job of parsing the phone numbers for the myriad conference call formats I need to commonly use. Fantastical handles it a bit better but I put common conference call numbers into my Contacts app (replete with pauses and menu commands3) and then map them in Contact Center for quick dialing.

Row Two

1Password has become more important than ever given the security issues we have had lately. Gabe told me about Vault sharing and I’ve been using that to share passwords that my wife might need to know in a pinch. With iOS8 on the horizon, integration with 1Password gets even better and one of the biggest excuses most people hold up as an impediment to using 1Password – inconvenience – will evaporate.

VSCOcam has the best filters and the best photo editing capabilities of any iOS app. That said, I stopped looking at new ones once VSCO hit my homescreen because it did all I needed it to. Maybe something better has come along since then but given the width and depth of features that have come to VSCO in recent years, I somehow doubt it.

You Need a Budget is my home budgeting and money management app. The iOS app helps with on-the-spot entry of new transactions and it’s really well done. My wife and I use it every day to keep our accounts up to date and knowing where all the dollars and cents are going has removed a weight of stress that has been on my shoulders for years. I regret not using it sooner.

Awful is where I keep up with the somethingawful forums on beer, homebrewing, Destiny, the Playstation 4 and Buddhism.

Row Three

Tweetbot remains my favorite Twitter client but Twitter itself is on my shit-list. Their dumb decisions in the name of creating a social network I have no interest in will ultimately ruin for those who choose people to follow based on what they actually say, not what Twitter allows me to see them say. A curated feed will mean I stop using Twitter. Once Twitter’s algorithms control what I see, its not what got me to use Twitter in the first place. It has me wondering if we were too quick to abandon ADN or if I need to use a social platform at all.

Slack, o Slack, how I love thee. I mean it. Slack is the best chat and collaboration service on the planet. Finding Slack changed how I collaborate with people on some important projects and it has custom emoji. What more can you ask for?! How about file storage, app integrations, a stellar iOS client, a full featured Mac client, private and public channels, one-on-one chat with other collaborators? If you want any or all of those things, Slack is what you have been looking for.

Pushpin is a great Pinboard client. I use it every day and, other than occasional crash, it does what I ask of it. There are a lot of great Pinboard clients out there but I like this one quite a bit.

Overcast is an interesting animal. I didn’t want to like it and seriously doubted that anything would unseat Downcast as my favorite podcast app but I find that Overcast finds a sweetspot between features and usability that Downcast sometimes lacks. The Smart Speed and Voice Boost options are worth the price alone and I find the web page integration for playing podcasts while on my Mac is adequate. It isn’t perfect but it does a good job and I’ve been using it since release. It has unseated Downcast. Unbelievable.

Row Four

The Phone app is there for convenience and to display voicemails or missed calls.

OmniFocus has just gotten an iOS8 facelift and it remains my go-to GTD task manager. Despite my misgivings with some of their recent decisions, Omnigroup still makes the app that best suits my needs for getting things done.

Dark Sky still works its magic with uncannily accurate hyper-local weather forecasts. I recently used it at a barn party (yes, this is something I do now) when people were wondering when the rain would arrive. When Dark Sky predicted it to the exact minute, I am sure the folks sold a few more copies.

Mail is a necessary evil. I use the stock mail app for work Exchange email. By segregating it from my personal email, it allows me to use any innovative email app I choose for things like Fastmail.

Row Five

Contact Center is a new addition. I’ll admit I was confused when Contact Center was released – is this like Launch Center Pro Lite? The answer is “not quite”. It uses the same interface ideas put forth in LCP but focuses squarely on making things easy to keep in touch with your friends, family and colleagues. Adding a contact “folder” makes an icon for them in the app and when you tap that icon, it opens up options for ways to contact them – iMessage, phone, Facetime Audio, etc. I tried to recreate this using LCP but found that it was much harder and more time consuming that I wanted to deal with. Buying Contact Center added an icon to the Home screen but it has quickly become one of my most-used apps.

Safari. It’s great and made even better with Duck Duck Go integration. I’m no longer using Google in any facet of my phone use and it feels pretty good.

TapCellar is an interesting project that exists and this is a beta of the app. More on that later.

Dispatch is not really perfect for how I handle my email these days. Using Sanebox for dealing with my email has really kept me sane and using it has meant that my Inbox actually contains email that I should read. The downside of Dispatch is that I can’t quickly see the Sanebox subfolders and their item counts like I can in Boxer. Unfortunately, Boxer doesn’t play well with the iOS8 beta so I’ll stick with Dispatch for now. It has some great features but that folder issue is a real bummer.

Home Row

Launch Center Pro is great and it’s spot in the bottom left on the Home row should make it clear that it is something I go to often for important functionality. It’s the Swiss army knife of apps and once you build the muscle memory, you will come up with all sorts of ways to integrate it into your app use.

Messages is easily my most-used app. There are anecdotal tales of people having an awful time with it and I have friends who can’t get it to work consistently. That said, I still find it incredibly useful and I am relieved to report that it works fine for me. There isn’t really a chat client that comes close to it in terms of convenience. The next app on the Home row comes close though.

Trillian is my platform agnostic chat client for people unfortunate enough to be using Android phones or using Windows machines at work. Lately however, Skype has been in use more than Trillian so Trillian might lose its spot on the Home row if the last two or three contacts I chat with move over to Skype or iMessage as well.

Drafts is an app I should probably use more. I understand that it can shuttle text into most apps that I use and I can just type everything there and ship it off where it needs to go but I don’t use it that much. I’ll use it to note locations, jot down quick things that I’ll need in a digital format later (since the Field Notes have taken over a lot of things that get jotted down quickly). Drafts waxes and wanes in usefulness for me but it still is used often enough and ubiqitously enough that it seems stuck to my Home row for good.

* * *

A lot of apps have changed but iOS 8 is going to change everything. With the ability to extend apps to interoperate with other apps, the field will once again be wide open and ripe for innovation and I can’t see how things change over the next few months.

  1. I can hear you asking “Then why get one?” The short answer is that I use iPhones for work. We need to test and use the latest versions and get a feel for the UX and how it relates to our app. And, yes, we’ll have a few iPhone 6Pluses taking up large tracts of desk space too. 

  2. That is, indeed, a Field Notes background – Shelterwood Edition. 

  3. When editing a contact on the Contact app’s editing screen, hitting the key with the ”+ * #” opens up the doors for solving this particular dialing dilemma. The pause key will insert a comma into the text field collecting your digits which represents about a 1 second pause. The asterisk and pound/hash do what they say on the tin – they will insert those at the appropriate moments in the conference dialing script. 

Field Notes Every Day

I never pictured myself becoming the kind of person who carries a Field Notes notebook. I hate the thought of not having all my information at my fingertips all the time. The main idea behind my workflow with nvALT, OmniFocus and Dropbox was a focus towards making things searchable and ubiquitous. Plain text and markdown furthered that goal as well.

Another issue with writing things down was that my penmanship is terrible. I mean really terrible. My handwriting is a mish-mash of cursive letters, printed letters, cramped shapes and scribbles. Moving some of my note-taking to a written medium meant addressing how badly I expressed thoughts on the page. It was a project I didn’t want to deal with and have been effectively avoiding since high school.

Introducing a physical medium to gather my thoughts meant that I would now have multiple places to search when I wanted to find things I had written down unless I copied each page to one of my text files which, given how little time I have these days, was unlikely to happen. It all seemed like a lot of hassle and the last thing I needed was another workflow to forget.

So about two years ago, when the whole Field Notes thing blew up (at least in the circles I ran with), I decided that keeping notes electronically in plain text solved a lot of issues. I could easily search my notes for scraps of remembered text, I could avoid horrid penmanship and I would have my notes in one place in a format that was more or less bulletproof from a backward compatibility perspective. As things like markdown and plain text editors started to grow in popularity, it became clear that I had chosen well and I never looked back.

“That’s a relief. No need for pens or Field Notes or more pocket clutter.”, I thought. Bullet dodged.

+ + +

After seeing a buddy’s Field Notes and Fisher Space Pen being useful on a recent trip, I noticed there were some advantages to go along with the disadvantages of having to lug additional crap around.

For one, I tend to remember things visually. Often it is the shape of my notes on the page or the formatting of titles that jog my memory more than remembering the actual content. That’s why outlines and mindmaps work so well for me. They play to the strengths of how I remember things on the page or screen. Sketchnotes is something that intrigued me because it was a way to take note-taking to its visual endgame. A way to showcase your remembered facts in a visual way rather than worry about getting all of the words down in the right order.

Second, I liked the way Field Notes books look. There are Tumblrs and Flickr groups devoted to their aesthetic appeal and they appeal to those enjoy a joining of form and function. Can you get by with a few folded 3”x5” cards? Sure. But wouldn’t you rather pull this out of your pocket?

The other thing that Field Notes books did for me was make small writing notebooks less precious. I had been given various Moleskine books over the years and never made a dent in them because I was too precious about the empty pages. Poised with pen above paper, I would second guess myself. Is this thought really important enough to capture on paper this nice? With that thought, the pen cap would be replaced, the book would be closed and the pages would remain unused. I was a sucker for a well-made blank notebook but I had learned my lesson – buying them was a waste of money and desk space with the evidence of this fact being a handful of empty notebooks littering the bottom of a desk drawer.

Field Notes, on the other hand, are forty-eight pages of dot grids (my personal preference) on thin (but high quality) paper. There is nothing intimidating about them. Fill one up, move to the next. I am as apt to use a page to write down a take-out order as I am to write down a design idea. Sold relatively-inexpensively in packs of 3, using a page here or there for a doodle doesn’t have the gravitas of sullying an acid-free, archival quality notebook page from a book of fifty.

+ + +

So where does that leave things on the “analog technology” front? Well a more comprehensive post will cover that, but for this post, I’ll sum up by saying I’ve been carrying around Field Notes and a Space Pen for about two months now. I have filled up three books and I am about to start a fourth and they have proven useful in ways I hadn’t envisioned before I started this little experiment. Given that I use them so freely, I decided to buy a Field Notes COLORS subscription so I have a deep supply of new books to write in.

I needed to expand my Field Notes supply because my wife has started using the books too. She’s doing garden layouts and planning in her Arts & Sciences edition book (she wanted the Science one, dammit!) and she loves the form factor. I still think the Arts & Sciences books are too big for my purposes. Portability is king for me and the Arts & Sciences books are just too big to carry around with me. They are confined to my desk and I use them to do larger form designs but that’s about it.

That said, I am using my Field Notes books every day and that’s more than I can say for most things. We will see how this experiment unfolds but for now I’m enjoying hauling out these little books to get things done.

App Developers, The Sky Is Not Falling

Unread is a really nice RSS reader for iPhone. I eventually bought it after Newsblur support was added and found that the app is designed with some really nice features that set it apart from its peers. I’ve enjoyed using Jared Sinclair’s apps (like the stellar Riposte) and bought Unread more out of a desire to support Sinclair’s development efforts than my need for an iOS RSS app. I suspect many who appreciated Jared’s previous work did the same thing.

Sinclair recently wrote a post with some revealing data about Unread’s earnings along some details about its design process and some decisions involving the app’s App store distribution. As his blog post made its rounds on the echosphere, developers and pundits alike were pounding out stories about how the App economy is dead since Unread, by all accounts a fantastic app, couldn’t earn above poverty wages.

I think the premise behind many of these pieces is flawed. They take a surface look at the App economy through the lens of an app that, while serving a fairly large overall market1, was ultimately targeting a niche market2 inside a niche market3 inside a niche market4 inside a niche market5.

We can’t know all of the decision points that pushed Sinclair to explore the RSS app market as his next target after Riposte and Whisper (both top shelf apps). While he did talk about some of his thought process in his visit to the App Story podcast (episode 4), we don’t know what type of competitive analysis he did or if it even mattered to him that he was entering a market in which the winners and losers were largely already decided. Doing a cursory look in the current RSS reader market, you can find many capable RSS apps that have been used on iOS devices for quite some time. Some of these apps are free and all perform the common functions of an RSS reader.

- - -

When Google Reader shutdown last July everyone who used the service was forced to decide where they were going to land on the RSS reader front. It caused quite a shake-up since many people were using Google Reader, including me. Some decided to ditch RSS altogether and stick with Twitter, some decided on Feedly, and others decided on NewsBlur among others.

When Unread launched, it didn’t support all of the services that people had flocked to. I know when I saw its original release and noted that it didn’t support Newsblur, it meant that if I wanted to use Unread on my phone I would also need to switch RSS services. Since I had just signed up for a year-long Newsblur subscription, that didn’t sound like a solid idea either.

Sinclair also faced the difficulty in selling a reading app for the smallest iOS device, the iPhone. While he may have built a lot of innovation into the controls for managing feeds and reading one-handed, the truth is I tend to not read RSS on the iPhone, instead opting for a bigger screen which allows for richer navigation and visuals.

When I look at the things stacked against Unread doing well (RSS war fought and won on many fronts months before, readers generally wanting to read longform articles on larger devices, other capable free apps on the market, $5 price tag) I actually thought Unread sold fantastically well. It doesn’t really serve as the best example for why it is hard to make a living solely by publishing apps on the App Store. And as the man once said, “If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it.”

  1. As of 2013, RSS readers number in the 200-250m range. 

  2. Tech nerds who like opinionated software. 

  3. People who haven’t yet found an RSS reader they liked a year after the Google Reader shutdown. 

  4. People who want to read RSS on a small iPhone screen. 

  5. People willing to pay $5 for an app. 

Smaller, Not Larger, Phones

Here’s a good piece by Clark echoing many of the same thoughts I have about the seemingly-inevitable larger iPhone. The gist is that I would prefer a more efficient, smaller iPhone. The thought of a giant, pocket stuffing smartphone is annoying and goes against my goal of minimizing what I carry around every day.

Basically, I want my phone to disappear in my pocket, not fill it.

What I Am Carrying Lately

I have been trying to trim down what I carry around with me for a while now with mixed success. I have trimmed it down as much as I’m willing to and I’m OK with what I currently haul around in my pockets. It isn’t minimal but here it is.

iPhone 5S

I use this thing all the time, obviously. It is one of the greatest inventions ever.

Strider SMF Lego

This is a geniuinely serious folding knife and an amazing one at that. After hearing a lot of opinion back and forth about Strider knives, I eventually decided the only way to know for sure how good these knives are is to buy one and try it out. It has barely left my pocket ever since. There was a break-in period for both the pivot and the lock but it is incredibly smooth now. I have abused this knife and it just shrugs it off. It is a tank. Given how expensive this knife is and its fairly large size, it shouldn’t be at the top of everybody’s list but it is a solid piece of gear and I couldn’t be happier with it.


I hate noisy keys. I bought the Keysmart and now my keys are no longer noisy. Yup.

Atwood Atwrench

This little multitool was what I bought instead of the Gerber Shard and I actually use it a lot, especially the prybar/standard head screwdriver and the little wrench slot. It is quite possible that it is used it to open a bottle of beer now and then.

Fenix LD01 Flashlight

This little flashlight runs off of a single AAA battery and is quite bright. Connecting the Atwrench and the flashlight together with a rubberband further reduces noise.

NiteIze Slide-lock

I like the Slide-lock because I can lock both halves of the carabiner and never have to worry about losing my keychain or my keys. Before the Slide-lock, I had a few circumstances where my keys would get detached from my old carabiner and I got lucky that it was never a disaster.

Fisher Space Pen

This is the smallest, most reliable EDC pen out there. I am not sure why you’d carry something other than this handy little thing. It is awesome.

Field Notes - Pitch Black Edition

Gabe showed me how useful Field Notes could be on a recent trip and I bought a few packs when I got home to try them out. So far they’ve been coming in handy at the weirdest times. I got a few packs of the Field Notes Pitch Black books so I don’t get precious with them; I always tend to do that with Moleskine books given to me as gifts over the years.

My configuration does change now and then. I do have a Bellroy slim wallet that makes it into a front pocket, and I have a large and annoying car keyfob that gets hung on the Slide-lock as well. I try to keep things trimmed down the just the essentials but I use the items above all day long1.

  1. The Strider stays in my bag when I am at my normal job but outside of work, I tend to use it quite a bit. You do have to be sensible where and when to carry a knife, folks! 

Smartwatches I Have Known

When I was a kid, we used to look through the Sears catalog for our Christmas presents. They even called it a “Wish Book” and it worked like a charm. I would dog-ear the pages as flipped back and forth between all of the things I craved and the anticipation was terrible as well as fun. The pictures made the items look so good and it was easy to get swept up in them, ignoring the reality of what they represented.

One day, after reading some vintage Dick Tracy comics, I became fixated on the idea of wrist watch that could do amazing things. It just so happened that, in the Sears catalog, was a “Spy Wristradio” that looked like it would fit the bill. It has knobs and dials and a grill on the face that housed the speaker. I imagined hiding out in spots around the neighborhood picking up interesting radio stations all on my wrist. As Christmas approached I grew more and more excited about the prospect.

Christmas arrived, the presents were unwrapped and there it was. An alarmingly large box with the picture on the side that matched the one in the Sears catalog. I ripped open the package and looked on in horror as the sleek and high tech Dick Tracy wristwatch was replaced with the reality of a large plastic radio mounted on a gargantuan strap. It used four AA batteries and had no antenna to speak of. The power drained quickly as I spent hours listening to static while I turned the knobs patiently looking for any sign of life. I still remember the look on my parent’s faces when we both simultaneously realized that they spent their hard-earned money to buy me this piece of shit and I had been wishing for a Christmas dud all along.

That was my first smartwatch.

Back in 2004, before I contemplated ever owning an Apple product, I was a dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft nerd. I was building computers, playing PC games, running home servers (the hard way), and putting my Windows machines to use for both work and fun. As an unabashed gadget nerd back then, the holy grail was a working computer on my wrist – one that would tell the time as well as give me a full calendar, display upcoming appointments and, importantly, let me know when a critical email hit my inbox.

I already had the latest and greatest handheld device, the Palm Treo, so in reality the watch was redundant but when I saw the Microsoft Fossil at Best Buy, I got a little excited about it. This thing looked like what I expected from a smart device.

I bought one, at a dear cost, and spent the afternoon setting it up. It was a gigantic disappointment. The phone was need to be rebooted often, the battery drained as I watched and would need to be connected to a charging cable often, the communication was carried out via a nascent wireless service called MSN Direct which was still a bit too nascent to actually work. After three days of having to explain the ridiculous thing on my wrist to co-workers, the watch started to rattle and then eventually stopped working altogether. I wrote to Fossil and they sent me an updated model which lasted a few days longer but, by then, I realized that the smartwatch thing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It ended up being another device full of imagined promise but delivering none of it.

At this point, I feel as if I’ve learned my lessons on this whole smartwatch thing. Smartwatch technology just isn’t very useful or interesting and I can’t think of a good, life-changing use for it. The Pebble looks like it “works” but delivers information that’s not important enough that I need it at wrist level. Plus it is ugly.

Nothing that can be displayed on my wrist is important enough to get me to wear anything on my wrist. For now, my phone will remain in my pocket and I will check it when I need to know something but every time I see someone wearing a smartwatch, I’ll be sure to ask them the time so they can enjoy a little jolt of superiority staring at the screen of their future piece of garbage.