Dec 222012
 

Vacation’s starting today and I’ll get around to a post I wanted to do a while back.  These screenshots I took show that I’m around two weeks late…

And though I think this will prevent a lot of stinkeye, this is also a plug for the stuff I work on.  You’ve been warned.

In iOS 6, we introduced VIPs to Mail.  It’s a way to let users mark folks they’re in contact with as VIPs and they get a little star by them in the message list to make their email easier to find when scrolling.  There’s also a folder with just your mail from VIPs.

If you get a lot of email but want to have the email from people you care about highlighted, this is a great way to sort that out.

This list of contacts is also synced across your Apple devices too – iPhones, iPads, Macs…

But what really made this feature a lifestyle changer for me was that we set it up so only VIP mail gets on your lockscreen. Why is that useful?  Well, folks have gotten in the habit of checking email to see if anything important or urgent has come up.  Sometimes there is info that trumps whatever meeting you’re in, or lunch.  And folks tend to work even when they’re not in the office.  All of that is fine.

Except that it is a tough habit to stop.  When you’re having dinner with others, it’d be great if you didn’t check your phone at all, but it’s a bit nicer if when you do it, you can do it quickly and without getting too distracted.

If you set up your VIP list right and you set it up so any VIP mail is on your lockscreen – you can just turn your phone on and if there is no mail from your VIPs, your lockscreen will have no mail items.  Done.  Now get back to dinner!

When I talk to people though, lots want it, but no one has known about it, much less, how to set it up.

Here’s how you do it.

  • Tap on a email from someone important to you.  Tap on the blue dot around their name.  You should get a contact card for them, and at the bottom, the option to add them to your VIP list.  Tap that.  (It’ll turn into an option to remove them from your VIP list if you change your mind later on…)  photo 1-1
  • Now that they are added, your messages from them will be starred.  That’s great.  Your VIP folder will include mail in your inbox from them.  Super nice.
  • The finishing touch is to go into settings and tweak our notification settings for mail to make messages from VIPs (and only VIPs) pop up on the lock screen.  Start in settings, choose “Notification Center” and then in that list of apps, find Mail.  How you have things set up right now will determine where your Mail item is.  Mine was in the “Not in Notification Center” section.photo 1
  • Tap on Mail.  You’ll get a list of your accounts and then a section at the bottom specifically for VIPs.photo 3
  • Choose the VIPs section – its settings override all the others, so we don’t need to mess around with those.  In the VIP section the top switch (not pictured) determines if you want your VIPs in Notification Center or not.  I choose not to. Next you choose what type of alert you want from VIPs.  I choose banners.  So if I get mail from a VIP while I am playing Carcassonne, a little banner will roll at the top of the screen letting me know that.  Sometimes it can be more important than the Carcassonne game.  Sometimes.  If you want your unread count to be on the Mail icon, have “Badge App Icon” on.  You can choose a sound for when new VIP mail comes if you want that.  I choose none.  If you want a preview of your mail, you can enable that.  And the most important thing comes last.  Enable “View in lock screen”. That puts the banners of your new mail in your lockscreen while you are enjoying dinner.photo 2
  • Now, your lockscreen will light up only when you get mail from VIPs in your mail life.  Perfect.photo 3-1
  • And if you want to jump directly to one of those messages, instead of sliding the slider at the bottom, slide the mail icon next to the message you want to open up.
    photo 4

Hope this helps and that you have a good holiday, with less stink eye from those that you should be paying attention to, even if you’ve heard that story they’re telling before.

Especially if it is my story…

Aug 012009
 

Last month, Sandy was telling me about Ethan’s soccer dilemma.  Does he stay at camp to play in the 2nd day of the all-star game (already played in the first day) and miss class, or does he leave the camp early (as planned) and get to class.  It’s some summer business class at the community college, versus getting recruited by a college team and a potential scholarship.

I said goto class. He made the all-star team, so they know he’s got skills and then by going to class and being dedicated to his summer courses, he shows a maturity that would be appreciated by coaches when offering a scholarship.  It helps answer some of the questions about character when one has priorities set like that.

Then yesterday, I get a meeting invite for a team dinner Tuesday night.  The product and engineering leads from around the world are gathering here and having our first team dinner.  I’ve also got an indoor soccer game to play at 7:45.  I missed our first game last week cause I was working in Santa Monica.  What to do?

Well, given my limited career opportunities and the fact that I haven’t yet established myself as a starter on the team, its pretty easy, isn’t it?  I’m going to soccer.  We already know I have character issues. Plus, it seems kind of lame to be meeting to talk about a World Cup soccer website and pretending to be a fan of the beautiful game while abandoning one’s own indoor soccer team, doesn’t it?

Though, I do have reservations about the game.  I kind of have already lost, before even playing, as somewhere along the line, I’ve been quoted as saying that soccer is my “best” sport.  This frustrates people that play basketball with me cause my height advantage overshadows their skill/speed advantage.  So, I think there are expectations for my game that I will not be able to meet, and I will get harrassed regardless.

Though that’s not enough to make me goto dinner.

But it did make me think about my advice giving techniques.  Sean was bringing up how he heard through the grapevine that soccer was my sport.  He’s a leading scorer on the team right now (3 tied at 1) and so he can be cocky.  I went on to explain that it wasn’t my “best” sport, but the sport I am the most trained in.  I’ve had years of organized soccer while I’ve had 1 trimester at JV basketball as far as coaching goes.  And our coach spent most of the time trying to figure out how to hit on our female classmates.  Which was educational as well.

So I went on to say that with soccer, at least, I know how the game should be played and that Sean should expect me to yell at him about how to play.  That would be the main difference.  I won’t be any better, but I’ll think I know more.

He told me I already yell at him.  Which made me feel bad for a moment…

“Well, then I guess I’ll yell at you more in soccer.”  I hide my feelings pretty well huh?

May 062007
 

Catherine asks why I put the picture of Sal looking all dopey with his shoes on his blog. I like the ones where you don’t look quite right – and considering that most of my own end up that way, I guess that’s why I like them. Though now, this group that I’m trying to do some side work for wants a photo for their “staff” page and I’m kind of at a loss for one of those “professional” looking photos.

People make fun of the photo on my work badge. And the Top Coder image as well. And man – if you wanna laugh, take me on a trip out of the country so you can get a glimpse of my passport pic. I’m surprised they have let me back in the country a couple of times.

Anyway – enough about my vanity. On today’s bike ride, we saw some kids playing soccer. None that good but the field was kind of crummy too. And there was this play where they drive a long ball, and the offensive player stopped to watch the defensive player trap the ball and return the ball. I was reminded of probably some of the best advice my father has given me in my life and I am looking forward to the conversations with Sal where I get to relay the advice.

What was his advice?

Assume they are going to miss it.

I remember arguing the point a little bit with my dad – like what if they don’t and blah blah blah. His points back were – that it doesn’t really cost much if they don’t miss it – you run a little extra and that is that. But if they do miss it, then it’s just you and the open field. And besides – they’re kids. They miss it pretty often.

It was that last point that really got to me. They’re kids. I was a kid too – but at the same time, we were kind of using that domain knowledge to gain an advantage. I wasn’t necessarily better or faster or stronger or smarter than them – I just had a different plan. I liked that approach.

To be honest – I don’t remember if that plan ever really worked out for me. In the Hollywood version of this story, of course I’d score the championship winning goal on that advice while my dad, in a wheelchair watched on. As it is, it probably worked out for me a couple of times. Let’s say I scored a goal or two that way. Afterall, they’re kids. They miss pretty often. AKA – I never got good enough to play with kids that didn’t.

Anyway – I started thinking about other bits of original advice I could give him. I noticed one team had a big oafish center defender. Don’t fear him – he’s slow and clumsy. Flop when you’re playing near him – they always call the foul on the big guy near a little guy. And though it looks like he can kick really hard, he probably can’t. Occasionally there’ll be one that can kick hard and when you run into that guy and take a hard shot to he head, I’ll get us an ice cream after the game.

Yeah – it needs some polishing.

Aug 072006
 

It is a constant nag from my father. Whenever Salvador wants something and we give it to him, whether it be water, to be held, a toy he’s just thrown down on the ground, corn on the cob, the paper wrapper to a straw, or just attention, my father will say “He’s really trained you.”

It is annoying to me in several ways:

My father knows it is annoying and keeps doing it. But I do stuff like that too, so I can’t fault him completely, except for that fact that if I didn’t pick the habit up from him, I’d probably have more friends, so maybe I can fault him for that.

We’ve asked him to stop and he doesn’t.  But we ask a lot of him.  Actually, this same joke seems to please him quite a bit – more than it annoys us now (probably not at the beginning, but we’ve habituated to it) and so since he enjoys it more, it’s probably a net gain in global “happiness” points.

We just don’t agree on that methodology of raising Salvador. We haven’t gone through the trouble of trying to teach him sign language just so we can ignore the signs he makes.

I don’t really take my father’s advice very seriously anymore.  I used to. And there was a nice little chain email I saw maybe a month ago, that talked about how we go from listening to our parents, to not listening, to going back and listening again.  Which got me back to wondering if I’m late for that last stage.

But to take parenting advice from him now seems odd. Granted, he’s learned a lot more about raising others since he’s owned dogs.  But right there, how he started to care about raising others when he got the dogs – well, that says something, don’t it?

Though his heart is in the right place. When Salvador gets in his arms, he melts away and makes silly faces and babbles with Sal and will make up games to play with Sal and will get whatever Sal’s pointing at (wait till he sees Sal’s aggressive “please” sign!) and he’s just as “trained” as the rest of us for those moments when he’s in Salvador’s reality distortion field. And he’s happy doing it. And Salvador’s happy right back. Which in our book right now, is all that really matters.

Reading Baby Minds, which we just got today brought all this back – as it goes through attachment parenting and how there’s really no use in withholding anything at such a young age because the babies simply don’t make the connection.  (Wait till you turn 18 months old Salvador – there’s a rude awakening waiting for you!) And again when they went on about how one of the authors was going to treat their granddaughter without any female biases. Then went on to call her a little princess within minutes after she was born. Their point was – you might feel you know all these things, but when it comes down to it, what you really feel comes through. Just can’t fight it.

But still, in a 5 minute conversation on the phone with him today, as he asked me how Sal’s doing, he couldn’t help himself and wanted to throw in a little “Look how he’s got you trained!” but the wording got mixed up and he actually said “Look how you got him trained!” which then lead to an awkward silence and the question – “Did I say that wrong?”

Well, the answer to that question is where we disagree.  

He said he’ll come up next weekend or so – let’s see how well we’ve got him trained.

I bet we can get him to tell us we’ve let Salvador train us…