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 272012
 

I still battle with learning Outwitters and removing regret from my play. They have a ladder system so as you get better you play better people. Maximizes frustration with the game and my lack of development. Sal is encouraging though – optimistic that I can climb the ladder to the top.  He’s only seven – too early to let him get disappointed with my abilities.

Went on a team paintball session last week.  Was fun. But was left with some regret.  They had a game called Terminator – one guy is the Terminator and everyone else is the resistance. Humans (the resistance) are killed once and out of the game.  The Terminator goes on until he opts to self destruct.

Our ref scared me out of the game because he said he would only consider it of he was wearing a hoodie.  I was in a short sleeve jumpsuit.  He compromised and introduced us to Zombies, where 3 guys are zombies, only killed by head shots and the humans once hit, become zombies too.  I have a smart team and the humans in this game realized that a headshot would be difficult. They decided to just maximize pain and shoot up the zombies as much as possible. If the head was hit, cool, but it wasn’t an objective for them.

This became clear to me when I saw guns shoved around a corner blindly shooting at me.  And my torso getting lit up with paint.  Good strategy and one that makes me think that life as a Terminator would be painful. But, it would have given me the chance to shoot each of the guys on my team.

Legitimately at least.

Cause I did shoot them all, just some of it was friendly fire…

Mar 022012
 

I love local competitions among my friends and coworkers.

But even more than the competition, I love the handicapping.

And I love seeing how everyone handicaps differently.  So when my fellow Apple co-workers, who are new to this process, asked me about the odds for the fitness challenge, I was excited to say that we weren’t doing odds, since that would require one unbiased person to handicap.  Instead, I was going to show them all how to expose their biases.

Out of the 9 rankings, 3 people have me finishing first.  One person has me finishing last.

My wife, was not one of the 3 people that has me finishing first.  She went on a little rant about how I’m not in as good of shape as I was last year.

Which is fair – I’m turning 40 this year.  Each year, I’m a year closer to dying.  (Health care workers don’t like hearing that when they ask you how last year was, by the way.)

But it’s all good fuel for the fire.

I just wish I didn’t have some sinus issues that put a sharp pain in the back of my head when I climb a fight of stairs.

Still, the show must go on.

And of course, I’d love it if you’d sponsor me.

We’ll see if I can represent for the nearly 40 crowd tomorrow…

Jan 292011
 

There’s a group at work that has found me recently.  They have ideas on how to optimize some things.  They have simulations and Poisson models and charts and graphs.  And they have a passion for solving the problem they’re faced with.

But it is an easy problem in the lab and not so easy a problem in the real world.  In the real world, from their software, people expect a certain reliability.  Some consistency.  Not some sexy algorithm that is “under the covers” doing the “smart thing” for you.  Because every now and then, the “smart thing” won’t be so smart.  On average, it could be smarter than the dumb reliable thing, but every now and then it’s dumber than the methodical, steady approach.  And if the user ever catches the algorithm behaving poorly, trust is lost.  And once you lose a little trust, and then a little more, you eventually have lost too much.

But for researchy types, that’s not so bad.  You can rationalize it and such so that the pros outweigh the cons.  They can confidently say, too much trust will never be lost.

Though for me, it’s easy to tell that we’ll never try their algorithm.  Mainly because of the trust factor, but also because of the development time.  I’d rather spend it doing something else that has bigger potential gains.  You should have seen their faces when we did the math on the charts they were presenting me. They were showing me big savings of this and that and it sounds really good.  They should have sold me a car at the same time.  Why wouldn’t you want these types of huge savings.  Until you divided by the hours in a day and then calculated how much the average user would save in a day.  Less than a handful of opportunities to optimize.  Not going to spend our time on it.  Much easier to just give the user more choices about how they want to control it…except…that’s also usually a waste of time. Always give them fewer bullets to shoot themself with.

So then, it is just a matter of how kindly I let them down.  I remember being a researchy type.  I remember what it’s like to care about something so much I couldn’t see how wrong I was.  So I’m trying to let them down nicely.

I did feel bad about crushing their ideas.

And I did feel bad about enjoying crushing their ideas too.  It was fun.

Now though, now that I’m thinking through some intern projects that are a touch researchy, I’m getting excited about it, and I can feel that swell of energy and emotion that comes from thinking about a “good idea”.

But I catch myself too…and wonder who’s going to enjoy crushing my dream.

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Jan 092011
 

Recently, I’m in a meeting in a smaller room with some folks.

And midway through, I notice a certain scent in the air. It’s not completely unfamiliar, so I have a strong feeling it’s me.  Looking around the room, I’m wondering if anyone else notices it, or recognizes it, or would be able to trace it back to me.  It’s a mostly Indian room, with 3 Indian men and one woman.  And a chinese guy.  And me.

I think the odds of tracing the scent back to me are pretty high.

Then I wonder, as we’re debating some debugging methods, if my technical credibility takes a hit because I’m using Buzz Lightyear Intergalactic Berry shampoo…

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Jun 282010
 

During halftime of the soccer game yesterday morning, there was a Droid ad on TV.  Sal asked why that iPhone looked different and we talked about how they were different phones and they were our competition.

I asked Sal if he liked the Droid better.  He said “No.  I like the iPhone better.  Actually, iEverything is better, right?”

Who am I to argue with his logic?