recreational programming with F#

I haven’t done much recreational programming this year. I had some spare time this week though, so I dove back into F#. I picked back up on F# for C# Developers and Real-World Functional Programming, and made a little progress in both. I started reading F# for C# Developers in April 2014, but put it aside when it didn’t seem like I was really understanding it.

In 2014 & 2015, I managed to read all the way through The Book of F#, which was a lot easier to get through and made more sense to me.

I picked up Real-World Functional Programming in December 2015, and made some progress through it in December and January, but then I put it aside and hadn’t had a chance to get back to it until this week.

So my education in F# has been really hit or miss. I’ll mess around with it for a few months, then drop it for a few months, then come back to it. I haven’t been able to use it for a real project at any point, though I’ve used it to solve a few Project Euler problems. (Speaking of which, I see that the last Euler problem I solved was in April 2015, so I haven’t done one of those in a year.)

F# itself seems to be doing well. This Happy F# Day post from Scott Wlaschin links to a lot of the recent developments in F#, including what he calls the “mainstreaming” of F#. So continuing to learn F# doesn’t seem like a waste of time. I should really find a good practical project to use it on though.

Rovi Buys TiVo

A company named Rovi just bought TiVo. This wasn’t unexpected, and hopefully won’t affect my TiVo Bolt, which is a really great DVR and streaming media box. I hope the combined company does well. I don’t think this deal will affect the TiVo hardware or service at all, at least in the near future.

I think that, if I ever have to give up my TiVo, I’ll probably take that as my cue to give up on cable TV altogether.

Evernote Essentials

I just finished rereading Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials. I first bought it and read it in 2014. He released an updated version recently, so I thought I’d download it and give it a quick reread. It does have some updates since the last version I read, but nothing that I wasn’t already aware of. If you’re new to Evernote, and want to get up to speed quickly, it’s a good book to read. He’s now selling it in three versions; one is just the book, then there are “plus” and “premium” versions with extra content, including video and audio content. I can’t really imagine needing the extra content, though I’m sure it’s good, if you’re really into Evernote, and don’t mind paying for it.

I’m still getting a lot of use out of Evernote. They’ve updated the Mac and Windows clients recently, with some interesting new features. In the recent past, updates to the desktop software were sometimes more annoying than useful. They’d add non-removable buttons for features I don’t use, like “Work Chat”. But lately, they’ve actually been adding useful features and capabilities, such as the new Cmd-J feature on the Mac.

yet more Apple Watch stuff

I know I’ve written too many posts on the Apple Watch recently, but here’s one more, with a few links and random notes.

First, my watch suggested a new “move” goal, as expected, this morning. So now my goal is 450 calories instead of 560. I actually did hit 560 yesterday (Sunday). I was in NYC and did a lot of walking. But I don’t think I’d ever come close to that on a normal day. The new goal is a bit closer to reasonable. I got to 400 calories today, and could have gotten more if I wasn’t tired all day. (I don’t think I slept too well last night.)

I haven’t paid too much attention to the link between the phone and the watch. I know it normally uses Bluetooth, but can also use wifi. I usually have my phone close at hand, so it’s not a problem. But today I was unexpectedly called into a meeting, and left my phone at my desk. I was surprised to see that the watch was still connected to the phone, via Bluetooth. The conference room isn’t too far from my cubicle, but I wouldn’t have thought it was in Bluetooth range. But I guess it is. So that’s a plus, if I get called into a meeting again and don’t bring my phone.

I’m still stumbling across some interesting “one year with the Apple Watch” posts, including this one from M.G. Siegler and a lengthy write-up from Ars Technica.

I’m also seeing more speculation about the next Apple Watch. I’m not sure what’s actually going to happen with that. I’ve seen some reports that the next watch will be thinner, and that’s about it. And others that say they’ll add a cellular radio. And I’ve seen speculation that it might come out in the fall, or that it might not appear until early next year. So who knows what’s going to happen there. Regardless of what they do, I doubt I’ll trade mine in any time soon. A thinner watch would be nice, but not necessary, and a cellular radio would probably mean one more monthly device charge on my Verizon account.

a little more on Apple Watch

Yeah, I know I should probably stop blogging about the Apple Watch for a while, but I stumbled across a couple of interesting links.

MacRumors reported this week on a change in Apple’s policy on developing Watch apps. I’m not sure if this will lead to better apps in the short term, but it’s interesting. And I’m curious about what Watch-related news will come out of WWDC in June. (Maybe a second-generation watch.)

And Casey Liss wrote a good blog post recently about his continuing use of his Apple Watch. I’m curious about how many people who bought a watch at the launch, a year ago, are still actively using it. Looking at eBay, watch prices are still pretty high, with the lowest-end Sport Watch still going for about $200 used, minimum.

Apple Watch follow-up

I’m just about at the end of my first week with an Apple Watch, so I thought I’d post a few thoughts.

First off, of course, Best Buy has the Apple Watch on sale this weekend. The 42mm stainless steel watch with sport band is $200 off, bringing it down to $399, which is only $50 more than I paid for my aluminum 42mm Sport. But that’s fine, since I don’t really care whether I have the aluminum or stainless steel, and I wouldn’t have been able to use my Apple Store gift card at Best Buy. But, all other things being equal, if I hadn’t had that gift card, and if I hadn’t bought the aluminum watch last weekend, I’d be tempted to get the stainless steel one this weekend.

The weather has been great this week, so I’ve been doing a lot of walking, and keeping track of that with the Activity app and Workout app. The Activity app is kind of fun. I’ve hit my 30-minute exercise goal, and the “stand” goal, every day, no problem. The “move” goal, though, got set at 560 calories, and I never hit that number. Maybe 400, tops. I think the watch is supposed to suggest tweaking that number after a week of use, and I imagine it will suggest lowering it. So we’ll see what happens there. Either way, I’m not one of those people who feels like I’ve failed if I don’t hit some arbitrary goal, so it’s fine.

I haven’t found any third-party apps for the watch that are terribly exciting. I’m using Dark Sky and Fantastical, but I haven’t found them to be that much better than the stock weather and calendar apps. I’ve also installed Drafts and Evernote. The Drafts app is basically useful for capturing a quick note via dictation. And the Evernote app allows you to do that too, and is good for taking a quick look at recent notes.

I’ve found that the watch affects my iPhone battery life a bit. If I still had my 5s, I think the watch would have just killed it, given how far gone the battery was on that. With the new SE, I’m a lot better off, but the watch is clearly draining 10-20% of the iPhone battery every day. The fact that I’ve just been fiddling with the watch and the phone so much this week may be contributing to that too. Once I settle down and stop fiddling with things all the time, maybe it won’t be that bad.

I’m still getting used to the effort required to get the sport strap on every morning. It’s still kind of awkward. Once it’s on, though, it’s very comfortable and it fits well. It’s definitely more comfortable than the Swatch Sistem51 that I’d been wearing previously.

I’m using the Modular watch face. It’s easy to read both the time and date, and I’ve added complications for Fantastical (in the large middle area), Dark Sky, Activity, and sunrise/sunset. I think that’ll work well for normal day-to-day use. I might switch to something more fanciful, like Astronomy, on weekends.

One thing I was a little worried about is that people would notice it, and I would get comments. (And that would make me feel awkward, because I’m the kind of guy that feels awkward when people talk to me…) But apparently it’s either common enough now that it’s unremarkable, or maybe the black watch with black strap doesn’t really call attention to itself. (Maybe I should have gotten a neon green strap.) I do notice other people’s watches, and I haven’t really seen a lot of people with Apple Watches, or any kind of smartwatch, so I don’t think it’s that common, but it has been around for a year now, so it’s not really new.

So, overall, I’d say that it’s more comfortable and useful than the Swatch that I’ve been wearing recently. And I can read the date on it without taking off my glasses and squinting. Of course, it requires more “care and feeding” than the Swatch, and it’s a good bit more expensive. And, given that the battery isn’t user-replaceable, it won’t last as long as the Swatch. But it’s fun, and it’s useful, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep wearing it every day for the foreseeable future.

2 Art Worlds: Flush MoMA, Struggling Met

The [Met] will undergo a 24-month financial overhaul that it said was likely to include staff reductions, reduced programming and a concerted effort to increase revenue in its restaurants and retail operations.

Source: 2 Art Worlds: Flush MoMA, Struggling Met

I love both the Met and MoMA, but if I had to pick only one to support, it’d be the Met. I’m much more a fan of the older stuff at the Met than the newer stuff at MoMA. Reading this article, I feel kind of bad for throwing out the annual appeal letter I got from the Met this week. On the other hand, I see in the article that they spent $3 million on their recent “rebranding”, which I really think was completely unnecessary.

As to MoMA, I won’t feel bad about throwing away any supplemental appeal letters from them, since they just got a $100 million donation from David Geffen.

Earth Day electronics recycling

My company is holding a recycling event on Friday (Earth Day) at our HQ. It’s being run by Guardian Data Destruction, which is apparently a company we partner with in some way.

I have quite a lot of electronics that I need to get rid of. Somerset County does have an electronics recycling program, but I never manage to get around to bringing my stuff in on one of the designated Saturday drop-offs. I also haven’t been as good at selling or giving away old electronics as I used to be.

So I’ve got a lot of stuff piled up. I’ve got an old TiVo, Nintendo Wii, DVD player, HD-DVD player, MacBook, Dell Inspiron, iPod, an old UPS battery, a few random hard drives, and various accessories. I’m not sure if they’ll take the UPS battery, but I’m pretty sure they’ll take everything else.

They say that they’ll be shredding all hard drives, but just in case, I’m running DBAN on my old Dell Inspiron. I could probably run DBAN on the MacBook hard drive too, but I had already done a full OS X reinstall when I retired that MacBook, so I don’t think there’s much trace of my old data on it.

I feel kind of bad about scrapping computers that are still, technically, working. In the past, I’ve always managed to sell or give away my old computers. But the MacBook and Dell were both purchased in 2007, so they’re nearly ten years old. And, in a world where you can buy a new ChromeBook for $150, nobody is going to want a ten-year-old MacBook or Inspiron.

Conlin’s Cafe

There’s a new cafe/bakery in Somerville, across the street from my apartment. It’s in a storefront that’s been vacant for a few years, and had previously been used for a succession of three or four bagel shops. These were all traditional NJ bagel shops, and all of them were pretty good. Since the last one closed, there really hasn’t been a good place in Somerville to get a fresh bagel. (This may have actually helped quite a bit with my weight loss over the last few years.) Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have bagels, of course, but they’re not really bagels, if you know what I mean.

I’ve been to the new place once, and had a sandwich and cappuccino. They were both OK, but not amazing or anything. I need to try their bagels and see if they’re any good.

There are now three places in town that could reasonably be described as “coffee shops”: Starbucks, Dragonfly, and Conlin’s (the new place). There was an interesting article in The Guardian recently about how coffee shops have become a signifier of urban change. Something does seem to be happening to Somerville, with new, expensive, apartment buildings going up, and fancier stores on Main Street. I guess I can’t complain about any change that allows me access to better coffee. But I hope my rent remains affordable.

Night Coffee

After having, I think, a bit too much coffee on Friday and not sleeping well, I stuck with decaf over the weekend and slept pretty good on Saturday night and very good last night. I woke up at around 5:30 this morning, and feel pretty good about it. Here’s a relevant Diesel Sweeties comic. (My “night coffee” on Friday was supposed to be a decaf cappuccino, but I suspect they might have screwed up and given me a regular.)

I’m feeling kind of optimistic this morning, which is really unusual for a Monday morning. Maybe it was all the fresh air and exercise I got over the weekend. I should really get more of that.