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The personal site of Jamie Knight, a slightly autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Things I use my Apple Watch for.

I have had my Apple Watch a little over two weeks. I’m really impressed with it. I’m using pre-release software so i can’t review the watch yet, but once the final version is released i will probably do a more in depth review.

For now, here is a general overview of how i am using the watch.

Daily or more.

Here are the top things I use my watch for daily or more.

Calendar – i store my routines in the calender and they show on my watch face. To make them more visual and memorable i use emoji of keywords (eg, a bath at bathtime etc)

Heartbeat logging – It’s been useful to have a quantitive measure of how stressed i am in certain situations. It’s helping me to plan days which stress me out less.

Apple Pay – Paying for things at the cafe without needing my phone is neat.

Bank Balance – I use a dedicated account for my spendable money each months. Being able to see that balance has been very useful. Helps me to keep within my budget.

Music playback – listening to music on the watch rather than my phone means my phone battery last longer.

Activity tracking – i didn’t expect to use this much, however it’s proved to be really useful.

Triage Notifications – I route important notifications to my watch, i often silence my phone and rely on the watch to interupt me if needed.

Most days.

And thing I find useful most days days:

Two Factor Authentication – many things i sign into send me a code via a text message before allowing me. Seeing these codes on my watch saves me finding and fussing with my phone.

Email (!) – being able to quickly check subjects etc of emails is useful. I have VIP emals set up to notify me too.

A few times a week.

And the things I use a few times a week.

Timers – useful when baking with my freind.

Workout tracking – I time my walks and keep track of them that way. Its satisfying to see the data about how much i walk each week

Proloquo4Text (speech app) – the watch app just shows text, but its handy, i’ve used it to order food in the cafe a few times.

Remote controls for audio – means i can leave my phone in my bag when listening to podcasts.

Reply to messages – being able to OK something or send a thank you from my watch in two quick taps is handy.

Final words.

I think the Apple Watch is a great bit of kit. I am excited to see how it evolves over the next few years. I’m also working on my own apps which will hopefully make my day to day life a little simpler.

Published: 4 July 2016 | Categories: , Permalink

WWDC 2016

Tomorrow is the start of Apples worldwide developer conference. Traditionally the event starts with a keynote speech full of announcements.

Here is my Wishlist!

New MacBook Pros.

First and foremost, the time is ripe for new MacBook Pros. They have been rumoured for a while. At a minimum I’d be looking for updated internals (skylake, thunderbolt 3) but really a hardware design refresh is also due.

The rumoured designs with the OLED touchscreen above the keyboard sounds great to me.

USB-C only would be a bug bare, but if there are 4 of them as rumoured that won’t be too much of an issue.

Retina Thunderbolt Display.

I’m going to be sticking with my iMac for now, but I would love to see a 4K or 5k external display from Apple. This would mean that in 12-18 months when I might be looking for one I can get a bargain in the refurb store.

Mac mini.

I don’t think we will see the return of the quad core Mac mini. So please could we have something innovative on size. Perhaps a core m powered Mac Stick or even something Apple TV sized.

I’d even be curious for an ARM Mac Mini for use as a home server. Perhaps running a variety of iOS.

Everything else.

New software is cool and renaming Mac OS X to macOS would be neat but I care far more about hardware. Almost the entire Mac range is looking dated so it’s time for a refresh. Here’s hoping.

By this time tomorrow we should know what Apple has planned.

Published: 13 June 2016 | Categories: Permalink

My Mac Setup Process.

Okay, this blog post is mostly for “future me”, hopefully its useful to others but i wanted to document this mostly for myself!

For contect, i am an autsitic developer / writer / public speaker, who is currently unable to speak. My Mac is everyting from my typewriter to my voice.

Here’s how i configure everything!

iCloud

The first thing i do on a new Mac during setup is enable iCloud. I use almost all of the iCloud services apart from “Back to my Mac”. I’ve never needed remote access so i dont enable it.

I enable iCloud first as it takes a while to download my iCloud Drive (30gb or so). It also has all my passwords for everything else!

iCloud keychain sit in input fields, this is one of the reasons i hate clever “reveal the password” buttons inside text input boxes… they should not overlay, i own the text input, not the designer…. leave it alone, i need that space!

Speech.

The next thing i do is enable speech output in the Speech & Dictation settings screen. I use the default shortcut of alt + esc. As i cannot speak, my Mac is my voice much of the time, and this is how i use it. I write what i want to say in a text editor, then i highlight it and hit alt + esc to get it too read it aloud.

I also use this system for reading long documents etc! Its marvolous.

Zoom.

Next I go into Accsessbility settings and zoom. I enable “use scroll gesture with modfier keys to zoom” which allows me to zoom in and out using the track pad. I then set alt + cmd as the “modfier keys”…. in other words, if i hold those keeys and swipe up and down my screen zooms in and out.

I do this both to help me see things better, but also to reduce the visual clutter within my view. I read very slowly, so random extra stuff in the user interface steals my focus. If i zoom in on what i am doing, all the other distractions are removed!

App Store.

Next, i grab the following apps from the app store:

Development tools.

I install dev tools as and when i need them. Within a few days that means i will need Coda etc, but i can afford to hang back and wait. Not every Mac in my life will be used for coding and i cant be bothered to do the serial key dance every time.

Published: 5 June 2016 | Categories: , Permalink

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