Cutting The Audio Cord

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My laptop is my only computer I have. After having a desktop and a laptop it’s really nice to just have a single computer, but one thing that annoyed me was having to unplug the audio cable every time I wanted to work from somewhere other then my desk. I know it sounds stupid, but my speakers made this pop and hum when unplugged. So I went in search for a solution.

Solution 1. Airport Express – $99

The Airport Express allows you to Airplay audio to any set of computer speakers you decide to plug into it. But it has a horribly delay. On average it’s a good 5+second delay to start and stop/pause the audio. Even when listening to music there are also many hiccups where the audio would drop out for a few seconds here and there.

Solution 2. Beats Pill by Dr Dre – $199

So I gave up on Airplay and switched to Bluetooth audio. I mostly just listen to talk tech podcasts, so I figured a smaller speaker would be plenty. But the constant issues with pairing, drops in audio and low crackling sound drove me crazy so I returned the unit after 5 days.

Solution 3. Big Jambox by Jawbone – $299

I figured if I was going to give Bluetooth a shot I should drop another $100 and go with what I have heard others in the tech community praise. It did have better pairing support, but sadly bluetooth audio is just awful no matter how much you decide to spend on it.

Solution 4. The Winner – $118.27

During this 5 month process I found out that the Apple TV didn’t have the delay and as many hiccup issues like the Airport Express. So I switched my gears back to Airplay. I bought the items below and hooked up the speakers I already had and it’s great. No delay very few hiccups and it’s Airplay so all my Apple devices can easily send audio to it with ease.

Here is a list of everything I bought to make it work:
Apple TV – $99
Optical to analog audio converter – $15.98
Stereo Female to RCA Male Cable – $1.71
Optical Cable – $1.58

I know the other more expensive options are more portable, but my needs were just going wireless. I am not a high standard audio person, but like I said I mainly just listen to tech podcasts and even then the bluetooth quality drove mad, so personally I recommend staying away from those options.

Wearable Fitness Devices – Some pros & cons

So wearable fitness tracking devices are getting more and more popular and more companies are throwing their hats in the game, but as of now there are still just 3 main competitors: Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike. I’ve been crazy enough to purchase and use them all for 6 months or more and just wanted to list my pros and cons.

Fitbit

They were around before this category blew up. So lets start with them.

Pros

Device Options: In my opinion the biggest pro is the device options they offer. They have 3 devices, , One, Flex. I have used the Zip and it is very freeing after using a wrist option for a year, to not have something on your wrist so you don’t have to be concerned that your not getting your steps when you carrying something in your arms.

The App: The app is definitely the most rounded of them they’ve been around the longest and in that time they’ve built in more features to their app.

Cons

Syncing: I don’t know if it is something they did or something Apple changed, but the bluetooth syncing is awful! It’s sad when I can take off the Jawbone UP and plug it into my phone faster then I can get my phone to even see that the fitbit is ready to sync.

The App: The app looks old. Hopefully with iOS 7 coming we will see a redesign soon.

Rant: My biggest pet peeves is I can’t modify my water intake goal. Why Fitbit, WHY!

Jawbone UP

As far as I know they made the first tracking device for the wrist, if they didn’t they at least made it popular. They had a ton of issues with their first version, but they went back and made it great.

Pros

Vibration Alerts: Love this feature, you can set the device to vibrate if you have been idle for so many minutes. Just to remind you to get up and move around. Definitely helps you when it comes to starting out and hitting your goals.

Sleep tracking: Fitbit also offers sleep tracking, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out since I just have the Zip, but the tracking on the UP is great it gives you all the data you need and the vibrate to wake up is a great feature to help you wake up easier.

The App: Out of all of them the others I like this app the best. They took the time to make it beautiful and functional.

Cons

The Band: It doesn’t clasps. So it can easily be pulled off by a Baby/Toddler.

Syncing: Out of the 3 companies the one that is known for their bluetooth devices is the only one that requires you to plug the device in… huh?

Nike Fuelband

What else can you say about Nike. Their Nike!

Pros

The Band: It feels great on your wrist it’s secure and it can tell you the time. I know that seems stupid, but since it is already on your wrist it’s much easier then pulling your phone out of your pocket.

Cons

Fuel Points: They make no sense and they don’t put you on an even playing ground, maybe its become of my next con below, but me and my wife could start out on a walk and she would earn way more points then I would doing the exact same activity.

Accuracy: Out of the 3 this one is the worst. Step count is off by 1000s and not 100s. I know it’s on my wrist, but if I can gain more Fuel Points on my 30 min drive to work then I can on an hour of the treadmill something is just wrong.

App Size: It’s huge! 152MBs to be exact, really Nike just get rid of those stupid videos in the app they get annoying after the first or second time anyways.

And the winner is…

Honestly, I have no clue. I am currently wearing both the UP and the Fitbit Zip. I sold my Nike Fuelband, even though I like the hardware the best I am in it to be more active and inaccurate data just doesn’t motivate me. I love the accuracy of the Zip, its not on my wrist so it is always counting my steps, but I also love the vibration alerts of the Jawbone (which the Fitbit Flex doesn’t have, it just does a sleep alarm”>Zip. So for now I wear both.

[]: http://www.fitbit.com/flex

Time To Make My Own App

I’ve made one iOS app that wasn’t for a client. It was the first app I created as a way to learn iOS development back in late 2009. It was an app to scare your friends that posed as a simple tap the red dot game (stupid I know). I finally took it off the App Store late last year. I think I made a whopping $1,500 or so off of the app in the two years it was a paid app before making it free.

So the app didn’t make me rich, but it opened doors. Three months after it hitting the App Store, I started getting client work. Not a bunch, but enough to make learning iOS programming more then just a hobby. In 2011 one of those clients was ChoreMonster, which I now have the pleasure to work for full-time.

But it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve created an app for the App Store that was all mine. I’ve created a few little apps here and there to learn stuff or make my own life easier, but nothing that I thought would be App Store worthy.

I (like many others) feel iOS 7 is the best opportunity since the first SDK was released. I’ve been using it since the first beta on my everyday iPhone (stupid I know) and overall I love it and I am ready to make an app that requires iOS 7 from day one.

Sadly, I can’t say anything about the app just yet. I still need to repurchase an Apple Developer Membership so I can secure the name. I will say that I feel the name, I currently have planned for it could ruin it, but it’s direct enough that I am still fighting myself for it. Right now all I have is the domain name and the apps initial structure, but thats more then I had earlier this week. And I (probably) have a couple months to make it great.

Needless to say I’m excited and my goal is to post more about the app as it comes together.

Flying with a baby (or toddler)

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in your seat on the plane and then they walk in, that person with a baby. Why! Why did they have to pick my flight to bring this soon to be(or already) crying, screaming, annoying little baby! This is going to be the worst flight ever! I’m not going to get any rest or anything done and I’m going to have a biggest headache in the world after this flight, which means my entire day is ruined!

Fast forward a few year and you may find yourself like me, on the other side holding that baby. Now instead of being worried when I see a baby getting on a flight. I am worried days in advance of how my kid will do on the flight and then get to board the flight with a bunch of people looking at me thinking the things I mentioned above. Trust me when I say my kid crying and/or screaming on a plane is a lot worst for me then it is for you, because rather then just focusing on one person (the baby) being annoying when or if it is crying/screaming. I am focusing on the entire flight of people the entire time even before my kid makes a peep.

So keep that all in mind the next time you see someone with a baby/toddler get on a plane and give them a smile. A less stressful parent could mean a less stressful baby and a lot better flight for all.

Now, that all being said my son (now about 2.5 years old) rocks at flying. He has been on 8 or more planes rides(counting layovers), first one being at 2 month old, which was crazy stressful for us (even though he slept about the entire flights both ways). Usually someone around us complements on how well he behaves for such a long period of time.