Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mid-Life Crisis and Alternate Universes

One of my favorite Onion jokes of all time is "Alternate-Universe James Hetfield Named Taco Bell Employee of the Month". This genius post encapsulates the randomness of the world we live in, since the likelihood of James Hetfield being a guy who does odd jobs, plays guitar in a basement, and loves metal is so much infinitely higher than the odds are that he becomes a rich superstar as the singer of Metallica.

This philosophical view is somewhat similar to Taleb's theories in "The Black Swan" and his other books where, if you did your life over and over, you would get vastly different results and individuals attribute too much of their luck and good fortune to their specific actions and experience. We are all dealing with the "Survivor's paradox", where those who did well get to tell their tale and those who didn't fare so well are essentially erased from the common consciousness.

I saw this car down in my garage in Portland and thought to myself "This is the alternate universe for Carl" which is to just keep my prior job and old way of life and buy a shiny new expensive car (this is a Bentley, I would have bought a new BWM 7 Series, but who's counting) as a distraction. That would have been a fine life, a life I understood, and the car purchase would have been a modest but visible change and distraction from what was otherwise a quite predictable path.



Instead, however, I changed everything, by moving jobs and careers and physically relocating away from my entire ecosystem of family and friends to the Pacific Northwest. This was a vast change, much larger than cosmetically purchasing a new conspicuous automobile. Starting a new job forced me to change everything, from the way I listened and studied, to the way I interacted with the environment around me. I went from walking to work to commuting by car (like 90% of the world) which is a primary negative, although at least I have been listening to podcasts which turn that driving time which was initially pure frustration into at least a positive learning experience.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Windows 10

Recently I updated to Windows 10 on my work computer. I have worked with windows products for decades now, starting with the early DOS based versions and remembering the "Big Bang" of Windows 95 with "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones in the background. What I really thought was cool back in the days of Windows 95 was seeing the Weezer video for "Buddy Holly" through the windows media player since it was installed with the operating system. It was a first glance at actually useful video integrated with the device (or downloaded) rather than played through a CD or ultimately DVD.

I was dreading this Windows 10 upgrade because many of my co-workers were having various problems with it on their devices. These weren't problems with Windows 10 per se, they were tied with the way applications run as we move to more of an online mode. For example, if you are saving data on BOX in the cloud or using Office 365 (run from the cloud), your machine performance is more variable, tied with all the hand offs and routing up and down and depending on your network connection at the time. Many co-workers use tablets and a variety of machine types so there wasn't a lot of common threads in some of the issues. Also, Microsoft now includes the "Edge" browser as default as they try to get rid of Internet Explorer (the worst browser) and many folks seemed confused because the links and bookmarks didn't automatically port over to Edge.

My experience was quite different - I downloaded Windows 10 onto my machine and it worked great, right away. My machine is newer (less than a year old) and perhaps that makes a difference. While you can't buy a personal machine without Windows 10 installed (and couldn't for a while), corporations can buy PC's with older operating systems installed because they want to keep a homogeneous environment and upgrade all the machines in some sort of consistent method.

Gone was the interminable boot-up wait of Windows 7 - my windows machine is almost as fast as booting up my 2011 Macbook Pro. After my outlook email and calendar migrated over (aided by the fact that I haven't been in my job that long; at my prior company my outlook was gigantic) I was able to work without a hitch. As companies migrate more and more systems to the cloud, there is less data per se residing on your machine and you have fewer programs installed locally. It moved over all my internet connections and saved bookmarks and passwords so I was able to continue working right away and they seemingly thought of most everything.

Microsoft tries to integrate some mobile phone / Apple type concepts into the experience, such as embedded news and weather and the like. This is kind of nice and I have a stock ticker and a few things but due to the way the standard internet has been infested with pop ups and the like it is hard to even click on news articles. I'm sure if I spent some time and installed pop up blockers and the like I could figure it out but it is annoying from the get-go. One area in which the Apple system is far superior is the fact that my messages and photos are synced from my phone to my ipad to my Macbook and I can access them from each device. Since Windows doesn't really have any phone integration (I'm sure I could figure it out if I really tried) it pretty much is a work machine for me.

One area in which I miss out with my Mac ecosystem is gaming - I would like to buy some of the newer wargames like "Strategic Command" but they aren't really available on the Mac and I obviously wouldn't install them on my work PC. But this is just as well because they are an immense time suck and I have a lot to learn having started a new job less than a year ago. Some of the games are starting to come to the iPad and I'm sure at some point there will be a more robust ecosystem of quite sophisticated and powerful games on that platform of the strategy type.

All in, I thought I would dread my Windows 10 upgrade, but it was fine. It definitely improves my workday and I really like the fast boot time.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast" is 35 Years Old

I was listening to "Boneyard" the XM Radio station whose one-time motto was "the station of road-trippin' and binge drinking" and they said that "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden was turning 35 years old. In that moment, I felt old, too.

"The Number of the Beast" is the first album by Iron Maiden featuring singer Bruce Dickinson with his soaring vocals. The prior singer, Paul Di'Anno, had a much lower, punk sort of voice range that was a bit less commercially successful. This was also the album that made them giant in the United States, with their videos such as "Run to the Hills" being played incessantly on MTV.



I took a snapshot of the album cover from Apple Music on my iPhone - I'm sure that somewhere there is a cassette, album, and CD of this disc somewhere that I've purchased and lost over the years. This is one of their best covers, with the mascot "Eddie" pulling the strings on the devil (who has his own little Eddie on a string).

After hearing that it was 35 years old, I put the album on the playlist and listened through it again. The album is full of classic songs, particularly "The Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", and "Children of the Damned", although I can pretty much sit through the whole album front to back. These songs are also the cornerstone of Iron Maiden's setlist, being played even today at giant concerts featuring tens or hundreds of thousands of new, younger fans.



This album is routinely cited as one of the top metal and hard rock albums of all time. I was enthralled by the difficult time signatures and prominent bass of songs like "The Number of the Beast", which starts out in 5/4 time and definitely has a different feel to it than most songs I was hearing in that era.

The album also used various voice-overs, such as the beginning of "The Prisoner" and of course the classic intro to "The Number of the Beast". I think I carved that intro into a desk somewhere during an interminable study hall break during high school.

Iron Maiden is one of those bands that you would not think would remain so utterly popular across generations of fans, and yet they continue to fill stadiums and win over new metalheads every day with their live shows and vast collection of albums. At the time when this album came out there were protests over the imagery but nowadays this sort of stuff is tame by any standard.

Put on their classic album and hoist a beer for Iron Maiden! We're old...

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Saturday, March 11, 2017

US Infrastructure Will Be Broken Forever

Recently I visited Cathedral Park in Portland, which lies beneath the St. Johns Bridge.  The St. Johns Bridge is a magnificent structure, built in 1931, during the height of the depression.



Portland is a city of bridges.  These bridges were mostly built long ago, when construction projects were feasible in terms of costs and delivery time frames were measured in years, not decades (when approvals, funding, environmental contingencies, etc... are factored in).

Today the Portland metropolitan area, which includes large Washington communities north of the city, faces severe constraints on traffic and there is widespread local agreement that commute times are growing longer and in some instances intolerable.  I know individuals in Chicago, LA or NYC that would laugh at commute times that aren't 2+ hours but that is little consolation to the locals who previously had been able to drive around the metro area with relative ease.

Many of these bridges need to be replaced for multiple reasons - the Pacific Northwest is an earthquake zone and most of these bridges are not built to survive a quake, traffic on the bridges is soaring and causing delays throughout the system because they function as bottlenecks, and frankly bridges cannot last forever without collapsing.

And yet... it will never happen.  I am confident that we won't be able to raise the billions that it will take to build these bridges and lawsuits and environmentalists would create innumerable roadblocks (with accompanying cost increases and delays) so that even difficult projects will become impossible. There is an utter breakdown in funding, public will, solid execution, and all the fundamental components that make infrastructure possible.  While China has built giant, soaring cities, we can't even replace bridges and roads built 100 years ago.

I would be willing to bet large sums of money that none of these bridges will be replaced over the next decade with actual drivers using the roads and seeing the benefits of the billions that would need to be invested.  There will be a lot of talk and likely hundreds of millions spent on studies and much political posturing and probably some desperate repairs on some of the bridges that will soon be in dire condition.  But it is easy money to bet that nothing new and substantially better will rise through this cacophony and come to fruition.

America would be much better off if we faced the facts that what we could do in 1931 we simply cannot do today.  Then we could ask deeper questions about what happened and how we can truly solve these sorts of difficult questions.  We would need reform in contracting, new productivity enhancements, certainty in our regulations, local industry that was capable and cutting edge, and goodwill with the public to put up with disruptions and compromises that inevitably accompany this sort of work.

Like the failed nuclear power renaissance, which I've chronicled many times, the fact that I know that these efforts will fail doesn't make me a naysayer, just a realist.  Avoiding facts and having beliefs unsupported by tangible evidence and relying on recent events for predictive power is foolish.  We can't tackle our problems unless we address them out loud and accept that we are failing and our processes and systems are completely broken.  Else we are living in a dream world.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Goodbye Deadspin

For our couple of loyal readers - we include updates from some of the blogs we follow on the right side of the screen (if you are in the web version, not the mobile version).  For a long time Dan and I have been fans of the website Deadspin, which covered sports in an irreverent and mocking tone, and broke stories about crazy topics that the old-school sports journalists wouldn't touch.

However, Deadspin recently started including more and more politics in their posts, which is polarizing and stupid because I think most sports fans want to see sports-related content when they go to the site, not the usual "shouting into the toilet" of politics that you find everywhere else.

They also focus a lot of time on soccer, too, which is probably fine for some people but absolutely dead boring to me.

Bye-bye Deadspin.  If you ever go back to covering sports, I will give you a try again someday.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Portland Rainbow

It seems like it has been raining for the past 30 days straight here in Portland but a couple of days ago we saw a beautiful rainbow from our balcony.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Apple Photos

I moved my life over to Apple products over the last few years. I used to use Picasa by Google and Shutterfly for photo books and canvas wraps but over time I've leveraged Apple photos to a greater degree and this post describes my experiences and some tips and tricks.

Apple photos is complicated. For most people, Apple photos is your camera application on your iPhone. With recent iOS upgrades, however, there is a new photos application that is cross platform (I can see my photo stream on my Mac, my iPad, or my iPhone). However, there is a catch. You need to use iCloud and back up your photos to the cloud, rather than just leaving them on your phone.

It took a while to synch up photos across all my Apple devices and I had to google technical support questions a few times and turn on and off iCloud. However, I eventually got them synched up and it has worked great ever since.

There are some great features. One feature is facial recognition. You can select a person and then link them to your contacts and Apple automatically selects all the photos of that individual. For photos where Apple is not sure, they ask you "is this so-and-so" and you can say yes or no, and then it organizes all the photos by individual.

A super-annoying part of this photo recognition, however, is that you have to do it separately for each device. Even though I matched my photos to contacts (individual names) on my iPhone, I still have to do that again for my iPad and my Mac. They should save this meta-data across devices (this is a frequent request in the Apple support section). While this seems like a big pain in the rear, it really isn't a giant deal, it just takes probably a half hour or so on each device depending on how many photos you have loaded in iCloud.

A friend of mine in Portland has an exact twin sister and the facial recognition keeps mixing her photos with those of her sister.  That just shows how powerful the software is!

Not only are the photos organized by person, Apple also uses some sort of machine learning to find objects in your photos.  This post describes some of the items Apple sorts by, from ATM's to ponds to alcoholic beverages (beer, which has 87 possible matches in my photo stream).  Go to albums and type in a letter and you can see all the various options, it is quite humorous and interesting.

Finally, I used to create photo books using Shutterfly but their software became more and more annoying to use until I finally gave up.  This is sad because over the years I've probably made a dozen photo books using their service.

I tried making my first photo book using Apple photos, and it turned out great.  Unlike Shutterfly, which always seemed to offer deals and coupons, Apple did not seem to have specials readily available.  However, the software was easy to use, and they had a lot of great templates to use for photos and you could choose how many on a page, the orientation (portrait and landscape), and whether or not to use captions.  I really like how the book turned out and I would recommend it, even if it costs a bit more than the competition.

I also ordered a canvas wrap of a Portland rainbow and I will let you know how that turns out, as well.  The last couple canvas wraps I ordered from Shutterfly turned out badly so I finally just abandoned the service, along with their photo books, above.  Surprised to see they still have over $1B/ year in revenue.  I still use them for holiday cards but maybe next year I will try Apple or someone cheaper.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sculpture or Alien Invasion?



You decide? A view looking up at the Newmark Theater in Portland.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ethan Russell and Iconic Rock Photos

Growing up I was a big fan of The Who. Since I didn't always have a lot of money for records I tried to "stretch" my budget often times by buying "greatest hits" albums. Initially I thought that "Who's Next" by The Who with the iconic photo of them pissing on some sort of concrete slab WAS a "best of" album simply because almost every track had been played to death on the radio with the exception of "My Wife" by Entwistle (which was a song I liked a lot) and "Love Ain't for Keeping".



Recently I saw a presentation by the photographer Ethan Russell who took that classic cover photo along with an amazing amount of other images you'd recognize instantly, from the pictures of the Beatles on the "Let It Be" album to some great Rolling Stones' photos from their classic late 1960's - early 1970's era. If he comes to your town I would highly recommend that you go out and hear him talk.



I bought a signed print of that Who's Next cover and sent it on to a friend of mine who also was a big fan of The Who growing up. I'm sure he'll like it.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Portland Metal

Recently I went out to lunch at a great restaurant called "Doug Fir" in the Hotel Jupiter on Burnside Avenue on the East Side of Portland (across the river).  At the restaurant was a more than usual Portland-esque mix of folks - tables of 4-6 people that looked like a band with an occasional groupie mixed in, having breakfast / lunch around noon with drinks.  Many of them had shirts and hats or jackets with various band logos and I thought of the "Unreadable Band Logo of the Week" post series over at MetalSucks.net. I was even able to kind of guess which type of band they might be by how they were dressed - doom metal, death metal, or more punkish metal, etc...



Lo and behold - while walking down the street I saw this flyer and indeed - there was some sort of metal band fest in town at the Bossanova Ballroom which was on Burnside right near the hotel. Thus my instincts turned out to be right.

According to one of the local weekly papers (that you typically grab for free out of a paper box on the street, or check online if you aren't old like me), the Portland Mercury, Portland is the most metal city in the country. They adjusted another poll that had Cleveland as the most metal city by noting that Cleveland's metal scene was mostly in the 1990's and those bands were defunct so when adjusted for "live" bands, Portland was #1.

I will have to check out some shows here and let you know.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Where's The Lane?

I recently traded in my old Acura MDX for a new one.  What a long, long way we have come in the 7 years since I purchased a new vehicle.  I now have an air conditioned seat, something I am looking forward to using this Spring and Summer.  I also have a heated steering wheel now, which is great during Winter.  Quite the creature comfort.

It also has a feature called Auto-Idle Stop that you can enable and disable that shuts the car off at a stop to save gas.  The Acura dealer says that is will save a mile a gallon.  At first I didn't like it, but now I am used to it.  I remembered it from when I was in a Prius cab once.  When you take your foot off the brake, the car fires up and off you go.  While you are stopped, all of the climate control and audio/whatever else you have on is still functional.  It automatically turns back on after around a minute sitting there if you haven't moved.  I have no clue how this actually saves you gas but if they say it does, I guess they can't really lie about it.

Outside of all of the comfort things, the new vehicle is a technological powerhouse.  I have had it for almost a month now and am still figuring out all of the features and tech stuff.  It has 16 gig of memory to store music onboard.  I don't use that much since I love my XM, but there it is if you want it.

Of the greatest interest to me are the next steps auto manufacturers have made to get everyone used to the idea of the inevitable autonomous vehicle.  Three things work in concert on my vehicle.  They are Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).  At first I turned all of this stuff off, but decided to one day read the manual (I know) to understand how it all works.  It is interesting to say the least.

ACC is basically "smart" cruise control.  You set your cruise and it will keep the speed, but will also compensate for cars in front of you.  You can set the distance that you prefer between your car and the car in front of you (there are four distances to choose from).  In the city, I choose the closest distance so as not to clog traffic.  The car will actually go all the way down to zero, braking at a light, and will start moving again when the car in front moves forward.  There is a bit of a delay when you re-start, so you may look like you have no idea what you are doing, but to heck with everyone else, you don't have to accelerate or brake and they do.  Oh yes, the Auto-Idle Stop feature works with this as well, but you have to hit the accelerator to resume again if you are Auto-Idle Stopped with the ACC in charge.

LDW is, from what I have figured out, just a warning system.  It wiggles the steering wheel and shows a display when it feels you are out of the lane.

LKAS is where the rubber really hits the road.  When you enable this along with the ACC, the car literally drives itself.  LKAS keeps you centered in the lane at whatever speed you are going.  I have taken my hands off the wheel, but there are apparently sensors in the wheel because after a few seconds, the car says "you have to drive" and shuts down the auto systems.  So just a light pressure on the wheel is all you need and you can let the car do the work.  Sometimes the delay takes a bit and it would seem to the car behind you that you are drunk driving since you are weaving back and forth a bit in the lane.  This typically happens when you are on a curved road.  It isn't perfect, but when the road is straight, it works very well.

But.

The cameras for all of this are only as good as the ROAD MARKINGS.  We had a snow storm recently and my car was caked with snow and ice and the car just said on the display "cameras blocked" and you are on your own.  In addition, I live in rural Wisconsin, just outside of Madison.  In the city, there are much better lane markings.  In the country, the roads have NONE.  No smart driving for you in the country, although the ACC always works wherever you are as long as the camera isn't blocked by snow.  Even in the city, the lane markings deviate and/or are in bad shape in areas, and the car will beep and tell you that "tough stuff, you have to drive", we can't see the lane.  This means that you have to pay attention because at times, you can see the lane markings, but the cameras can't.  There is a part of the display that lets you know if the camera can see the lane markings.  I haven't been on the interstate with it yet, but will soon and look forward to seeing what the car can do in that venue.  I assume it will work great.

All in all, when I figure out everything, this new vehicle will make my hour plus a day in the car a much more pleasant experience.  Without proper lane markings, however, or unless and until we have lightening speeds with GPS, I don't see fully autonomous vehicles coming for a bit.  Which gets me to thinking I should probably look into investing in companies that manufacture lane marking equipment and paint, but that is certainly grist for another post.

Cross posted at ChicagoBoyz.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The End of Accounting Book Review - Part One

Recently I read an excellent book called "The End of Accounting and the Path Forward for Investors and Managers" by Baruch Lev and Feng Gu. I highly recommend this book for investors, analysts, accountants, and those with a general interest in business. The book is very well written and researched in that it:

1. Describes the current situation in depth
2. Aligns the situation across an historical context and with relevant research
3. Makes specific recommendations about how to improve the situation

If you'd like to read more about this topic on your own (will help to frame out these posts), here is an excellent Wall Street Journal article titled "The End of Accounting" (if the link doesn't work because you don't have a subscription you can probably find it elsewhere on the internet). Here is a link from Accounting Today and an interview with the author from CFO magazine.

The first post in this series is going to be my personal insights and journey in the area of accounting information, financial and investor relations analysts. This context is relevant because I, too, have seen the problems that the authors outline in the series and come up with my own "hacks" to attempt to gain better information and insights.

I started out my career as an accountant, and I used to help create the footnotes that you see at the end of the financial reports. This wasn't creative work per se - you would start with last years' footnote as a template and insert new numbers, unless it was a new requirement, in which case it was a lot of work and we would turn to specialists. At that time (20+ years ago) there were only a few footnotes and the financial statements themselves weren't that long; you would be able to read from the Chairman and CEO's letter all the way through to the last footnote in a couple of hours.

This was also before the internet; we would go into the company library and look at microfiche sometimes to do research or you'd pull up the hard (printed) copy from the files. At that point an annual report was also somewhat of a marketing document; companies put a lot of thought into the cover, for instance.

At various points in the history of accounting there has been a focus on the balance sheet (assets and liabilities), the income statement (earnings per share and price / earnings ratio) and on cash flows (cash generated from the business). Each of these views are important and have their merits and their drawbacks. The statements were generally the "GAAP" view which focused on financial statement presentation and used taxes at official rates (many companies pay almost nothing in taxes in actuality by deferring them indefinitely) and held assets at historical costs. Both of these assumptions made the financial statements less useful for certain types of companies and industries.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Great Concert - SRV at Champaign IL 1987

Dan is much smarter than me and he holds on to all the ticket stubs for concerts and sporting events that he's attended over the years.  He recently sent me a rug and a coffee mug that he created based on the ticket stub for a special concert we attended almost 30 years ago when we were at the University of Illinois.  The show was Stevie Ray Vaughan at Foellinger Auditorium.


At the time I was in college and had almost no money.  I saw that Stevie Ray Vaughan was coming to campus and thought I would get up early and stand in line to purchase tickets before class (I rarely got up early in those days when I could avoid it).  Alas, the line was already long and I pretty much gave up right away.  There was a guy who was scalping tickets, however, so I went up to him and bought two tickets for what I remember was about $50.

The tickets were up front in the first couple of rows as it turned out but way, way on the left side of the stage.  Dan and I got rip roaring drunk before the show (which was the custom, back in the day) and we headed to Foellinger.  Note that Foellinger was a lecture hall and I had many classes in that room - the room had bolted-down desks with the fold out panels that you could write on, so it was kind of odd that they had concerts at that same room (I also saw the punk band Husker Du in that same lecture hall, which seemed even odder).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Autos and Disruption

Prior to moving to the West Coast, I had little need for a car because I walked and / or took public transport to work (or a cab if I was lazy, back in the days when you could hail a cab on the street).  Thus I typically invested the minimum amount I could in a reliable car that could fit 4 passengers with a full size trunk and also squeeze into a narrow parking garage.

The cars that "fit the bill" for me were the older model Nissan Altima which I drove for a decade and then a Jetta which I picked up in 2011.  Each of these cars cost about $17,000 "out the door" and contained a reasonable level of equipment (the Altima was my first car with air bags, the Jetta was my first car with ABS and traction control) - they weren't completely stripped down models with manual transmission, for instance.  These cars have both turned out to be highly reliable autos - and the old Nissan Altima is still driving today, almost 20 years later, as a starter car in my extended family.

The average age of a car on the road today is 11.5 years (nowadays you don't even have to "link" to sources - Google just brings in the data from Wikipedia as a search response when you ask a common question) and that seems long to me.  For every new car on the road, for instance, there is a late 90's model still driving to offset it in order to get back to an average of 11.5 years.

My theory today is that the total package of "functionality" or "value" that you could obtain from a new Jetta for $17,000 would be comparable to autos that cost far more for 99% of the scenarios in which you would plausibly use that auto.  These scenarios include 1) commuting to work 2) running errands around town 3) going on a trip and putting luggage in the trunk.

That's not to say that there aren't scenarios where it doesn't make sense to have a more powerful or capable auto.  In Oregon we went to visit a friend who lives up in the hills and I had 4 people in the car and gravel had been newly laid on an uphill slope (which, as it turns out, means that it is very slippery).  As a result our car couldn't make it up the hill and we slid sideways into a ditch and had to have a friend hook up a rope and give us a pull from their big pickup truck to get us back on the road.  If I lived up there, for instance, then this car would be completely inappropriate.  But that isn't a common "use case" for my auto.


When you look at the "true cost" of owning an auto, there are a lot of factors to consider, and whole web sites to calculate it in various ways.  Instead, I am going to make the general statement that if you buy a new car at around the $17,000 price point and drive it for perhaps 7-8 years before selling it you are probably going to pay about $150 / month for that car (net of what you receive on resale).

Friday, December 30, 2016

Updating Apple Products Part II

In a recent post I discussed the spate of updates that have occurred in my Apple products including a new iOS for my work and home phone, a new iOS for my iPad, a new iOS for my Apple Watch, and a new operating system for my Mac.

Apple Watch

Let's start with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is an evolutionary product and the jury is out on whether or not it will be a giant part ("move the needle") of the Apple portfolio. Personally, I find the Apple Watch to be very useful because I can get notifications when big events occur (for instance, I was the first to say "Prince is dead" in a big meeting) or just to be reminded when texts happen and I don't have my phone on. It also is good for sports score notifications and tracking workouts. Finally, you can also always know if someone is calling you even if the ringer on your phone is off, and you can answer it "Dick Tracy Style" on your wrist (if you want to annoy everyone around you).  Here is my review of the Apple Watch from 2015 when I bought it.

Apple Watch iOS 3.0 is OK. The watch seems a bit faster. They made it easier to utilize some popular apps like the workout app and incorporated some other improvements here and there. I can't take advantage of all the iOS 3.0 features because my older Apple watch doesn't have some of the features like the built in GPS that comes with the new watch.

Mac OS Sierra

There has been a lot of noise in the press about Apple not updating their core computers and even letting Microsoft steal their thunder with the new Surface tablet.  However, Apple deserves immense credit for making their OS upgrades work effectively even on older model machines - for instance the Macbook that I am writing this blog post on is from 2011 (my friend Brian installed an SSD and more memory which I documented here).

The most important elements from my perspective are the continued integration of the Mac OS with the iPad and iPhone devices.  With this upgrade I now can easily share a single photo stream (which will get its own post since it is so complicated), use Apple music easily across devices, and use key apps like messenger, notes, ibooks, contacts and Facetime (mostly) seamlessly.  Siri also works on the Mac now which is fine for most people but I don't use Siri much so it is irrelevant to me.