Kyle Seth Gray

My blog on anything I find relevant, but leaning more and more towards health and fitness.

Google Photos

Since I bought my iPhone 6, I’ve been using Google+ as a bonus backup system. I had a free terabyte in Google Drive, so I thought I might as well put it to use. and Google’s photo features have always been super fun, with things such as Auto Awesome, and the stories and mini movies it creates. Being able to take a series of photos along a coastline or a big view and knowing Google+ will automatically stitch it into a huge panorama is also a big plus (ha) as well.

Google’s photo solution has also always, always, been faster and better than iCloud. I’ve had many times where I’ve taken a photo on my iPhone, and I want to do something with said photo on my Mac or a computer at school, and Google Photos has been way faster than waiting for on the Mac or to load.

Now, I am fully invested into Google’s new photo solution: Google Photos. After being renamed/revamped/remade for the umpteenth time, I really think Google has it down. And, since my 1 terabyte of storage has expired and I’m only on the 1.99/month 100 GB plan, I don’t have to worry about paying for more data, since Google is backing up photos up to 16 megapixels, which I think is plenty, for free.

Google Photos isn’t my only solution at the moment, as I use it alongside iCloud Photo Library. But the things Google does with your photos, and the amount of ‘machine learning’ features it has that allows it to do stuff on its own, such as tagging faces automatically, learning locations, making movies (all features of the apps formerly known as iLife, but without the part where you have to manually make them) make it a killer photo solution. And since its free, it’s a product I think a lot of people should use.

Complaints about Complaints: The Watch

It’s been two weeks since I got my Apple Watch, and although I don’t think I’ll be writing a review of it anytime soon, I felt like I should post some thoughts I have about the device.

The Apple Watch has been a great and fun device. It changes a lot of things, helps you manage notifications just a bit better, and the fitness tracking aspect of it is great. When I had my Fitbit, there were some of the same “goals” with the device: Move a certain amount every day, and make sure some of that amount is exercise. With the Fitbit, however, it seemed any consecutive activity over a few minutes was counted as exercise, whether it be walking for ten minutes, or actually running for twenty, either of these counted toward the “globally recommended 30 minutes per day”. To me, it just seemed too easy, and although it did encourage me to be more active over the two years I had the Fitbit, it seemed like I was able to make that goal every day.

Enter Apple Watch and an actual heart rate monitor. The Apple Watch does the usual ‘count your steps’, like every other fitness device, but it does it differently. It doesn’t focus on the 10,000 steps as a goal for you to obtain, rather, it focuses on your active calories, and your minutes spent actually exercising. These encourages me a lot more than the simplicity of gaining a certain amount of steps in a day. The best part is how the exercise ring actually challenges you. I think it calculates your VO2max from the personal data you enter, and uses that to estimate what your heart rate should be for exercise to actually count. Personally, I love this feature; it pushes me more than my Fitbit ever did.

This is where I’ve seen a bunch of complaints. A lot of people seem to think that anything like walking, jumping up and down, or putting a lower effort in should be exercise, or that the Apple Watch is inaccurate because it doesn’t count a long walk as exercise. These complaints, to me, seem unwarranted. I bought the Apple Watch so I could be more active, not drag along and think that the regular things I did every day would help count towards the exercise goal.

And yes, in this next little bit I’m going to complain about some other complaints people have had about the Apple Watch. Sure, I’m an “Apple Fan”, an apologist, and have no opinion. Cool.

But some of the complaints I’ve seen along twitter have just been ridiculous. I’ve seen people complain about the Stand function bugging them, when, it only bugs you if you haven’t stood, and you can easily prevent that, or turn it off. I’ve seen people complain that the Watch didn’t “automatically” track their run or bike ride, when it never said anywhere that it does so automatically. People complain about the straps, the small screen, or how there’s certain features that don’t seem to benefit them therefore shouldn’t exist at all. Or how the Apple Watch use/UI paradigm should be changed completely to fit their needs.

And the biggest thing I’ve seen is people complain how much the Watch isn’t like their phone. How buttons may be different, or the home screen isn’t a home screen, or the fact that the Human Interface Guidelines for a device that goes on your wrist aren’t similar to the Human Interface Guidelines to the pocket computer that has a ginormous screen.

It’s a different device. It’s a new platform. It’s not an iPhone on your wrist, it’s meant to be something different.

I am ok with the fact that it’s a different device. I knew when I bought it that it would take some getting used to. And I’m okay with that. It’s just such a weird thing to see people, and most of these people fans of technology like me, refuse to try and learn about a new platform, or think that it needs to change for them. (Spoiler: it probably won’t. I’m sure many people complained about the iPhone home screen layout, yet here we are.) Apple never forced you to buy this device, and if you won’t learn how to use it, or RTFM, Apple won’t care.

In conclusion, I get that it’s a new device, and Apple is some super amazing company that never does anything “Un-Apple Like” (Which they do, like all the time. Who even defined what is Apple-like and what isn’t anyway?) Things change, and just like the iPhone wasn’t similar to the Macintosh when it came to many of its features, the Watch is meant to be different than the iPhone, simply because it is a new, and completely different device. But just because a device doesn’t function how you want it to doesn’t mean the device is a failure, or that it’s “extremely difficult” or Un-Apple. It may just be the user.

MacBook Teardown

iFixit, speedy as always, has posted a teardown of the new MacBook. It shows the details that went into it, as well as more of the craziness that is a super super thin product from Apple.

I was able to interact with this machine over the weekend, and boy is it a beautiful one. The part about it I’m most interested in is the new keyboard, which is very different, but in a great way. I liked the comparison some have made it to typing on an iPad screen, which it kind feels like.

Another feature that everyone has been talking about is the new Force Touch trackpad. (Force Trackpad?) Instead of having a manual clicking mechanism, the trackpad has sensors and electromagnets that make it feel like you're pushing the trackpad. This allows for better trackpad usage, and it reminds me of the switch from the traditional two-piece trackpad to the multitouch trackpad all over again. It makes any computer feel inferior, especially when you attempt to click on the top most part of a trackpad. And while it definitely feels like you’re clicking, it’s not difficult to tell the difference between it and a normal trackpad in the MacBook Air or Pro. When I was at the Apple Store, one of the employees actually showed how, if you turn the machine off, it doesn’t feel like you’re clicking at all. It just feels like you're hitting the palm rest.

While I believe it would take some time to get used to, and there’s the usually “wow this machine is underpowered” whining from some people, I think this may be my next machine. I’m really glad Apple also finally (I know) brought back some color options for the MacBook. Reminds me of my old Black MacBook from 2008, which was my first MacBook ever.

Even though this machine may be underpowered, and sure I would miss running things like Starcraft or even Minecraft, I think it would be the perfect machine for any college student. I expect to see them popping up all over my University in the coming year.

And come on, how could you watch this video and not want it.

Slo-mo Makes Anything Funny

Sometimes I record video of the most random things.

Other times, I take that video and make it funny.

NASA SLS Rocket Test

Last week, I had the great experience of being able to participate in the NASA SLS Booster test.

Miles away from any city, town, or place to buy breakfast, Orbital ATK tested the Space Launch System booster that is meant to eventually bring humans to Mars.

If you hadn't heard I was able to go the NASA Rocket test that took place on March 10th and 11th.

I took a lot of photos, and learned a lot, so I compiled it all into a photo essay over on Medium. It's less of an indepth read about the technology, and more an overview of the event itself.

Give it a read and let me know what you think. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I'd be super lucky to attend another one of these.

Can't Sleep

Being a complete nerd and Apple Fanboy™, I can't seem to sleep tonight. We already know about the watch, although more features and obviously pricing are going to revealed tomorrow. It's strange, not knowing a lot 6 months after the announcement.

I'm beyond excited for tomorrow. As I've stated previously on different platforms, I've been a watch fanatic as long as I can remember. I don't even have all the nice watches with me up at college, but I'd post a picture of all of them. I've always enjoyed collecting them, finding limited editions, or getting watches that told time in a unique way.

And, obviously, the Apple Watch fits perfectly with my obsession. It's a watch made by my favorite tech company. It's something does so much more than tell the time. But, for some odd reason, I'm still simply excited to be wearing a timepiece made by Apple on my wrist, simply for the look and feel, and the fact that it'll probably be one of the best watches I own.

I can't wait until the event.