Darke blog

A look into my personal interactions with technology, by Jon Lewis-Darke; Design Director @mybuilder, founder @EveryInteract, podcaster @_PerspectiveFM

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Workouts and fitness in 2019

Last year I dedicated myself to improving my workout regime, having seen a marked improvement in my fitness in 2018. It was going to be a challenge to better my previous years efforts, but improve them I did.

My headline stats for 2019 were as follows…

All workouts
The number of recorded cycling workout numbers are a little skewed, as I changed how I was recording my daily cycle commute (footnote if you’re interested in that). The important numbers to focus on are time and calories.

TLDR; I increased the amount of recorded calories burned from 102,024 in 2018, to 180,970 in 2019 - an increase of 77%. More impressive to me is the fact I burned 2.5x the number of calories in 2019 compared to 2017!

2019 workouts total.png

I went the extra mile with the breakdown this year to show how the major workouts types I record breakdown by calories burned. I first got the Brompton in April 2018 which is why there...

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2019 year in review

I started what I hoped would become a tradition last year with a 2018 year in review. The topics I summarised allowed me to write a series of dedicated posts going into more depth on each, helping me fulfil a desire to write more in 2019.

Well, it succeeded. I wrote 8 posts off the back of this review, and about the same number again on topics covering a series of interests I felt compelled to write about. In light of the success of this exercise, I’m repeating it again this year.

So here are the highlights of 2019 I’d like to mention and possibly write about in a dedicated post.

Getting married
Obviously this is a massive life milestone. Clover and I have been together for over a decade now and in 2019 tied the knot. We had two amazing ceremony’s - a Buddhist ceremony in the UK, and the main ceremony in Jamaica. They were both truly amazing experiences that we’ll treasure forever.

...

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Apple Watch series 5

I’ve been a wearing the new Apple Watch series 5 for just over a month, and I have some thoughts about how it compares to the previous generation.

The biggest change is, of course, the always-on watch face. This has fundamentally changed the way I use the watch. Any Apple Watch wearer will tell you that you needed to perfect the gesture of rotating your wrist just enough to activate the watch until now in order to see the time. With the series 5 a cursory glance from any angle is all that is required. It’s surprising how long it takes to de-programme this action from your brain for simple time reads. Even harder, you now need to differentiate between a glance to simply tell the time and wanting to react to a notification. You have to think in advance what you want from your watch when you look at it and change your physical reaction to get the desired result. Not a big problem by any...

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A review of Lightwave RF smart light switches

I never thought it was a very good idea to put smart home smarts in a consumable item. Philips Hue bulbs are a nice low-bar entry into smart lighting, but it’s not scalable, and when that bulb eventually dies you’re throwing away circuits and radios that aren’t present in dumb bulbs. It’s wasteful.

When I first started experimenting with smart home tech I’d only recently replaced the majority of my home bulbs with LEDs. I also did the math to replace just the 30-something down-lighters which came in at thousands of pounds of investment in Philips Hue bulbs. I needed a different solution.

I thought it made more sense to put the smarts in the more permanent light switch.

My research into smart light switches led me first to an American company called Lutron. After purchasing a test switch I quickly realised the US in-wall housing is dramatically different and to install these would...

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My Mac history

I’ve been a Mac owner for 18 years now, and have been using them for 26 years. Although I did a lot of design work on Commodores, Amiga’s, then PC, no computer inspired me to work more than a Mac. The amount of attention poured into every little detail gave me confidence in the machine to do what I needed it to do. Macs encouraged me as a creator. Understanding that talented people who care about what they do created the tools I use to create, inspires me to do better and put as much attention to detail into my own work. This is why I love Macs.
My Mac history.jpg

I owe a lot of my Mac heritage to my friend James. His father was a graphic designer back where we grew up, and James, like me was arty and interested in design. James’s house was always full of Macs in the 90’s - his father upgraded frequently (as most computer owners in the 90’s had to) and the previous years models ended up at home. While I...

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WWDC 2019 keynote

Apple were firing on all cylinders this year. Clearly all that hiring they’ve been doing is starting to pay off. The keynote rolled out at breakneck pace and almost everything announced was impressive and highly anticipated. In many areas they went far beyond expectations, and despite there being a large number of leaks this year, the sheer number of announcements meant there were many surprises to enjoy.

I’ve not been this excited at a WWDC for many years.

There were a few standout announcements that for me made this special, below I’ve singled out my personal top-10 announcements. I’ve not tried any of these features myself yet, but I will in a few weeks when the first public betas are released. I rely on my iPad too much to risk installing the developer betas.

iPad OS

Finally the iPad gets treated like a first class citizen. This forking of the OS (albeit subtle for now) will...

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The best headphones I’ve ever owned, sound the worst

I’ve always been a bit of an audiophile. I used to be obsessed with the quality of what I listened to. I spent years building a collection of great gear, decades later I still have and use most of it. I even have a few items from my father’s youth.

But I love technology in equal measure, and when the wireless personal audio revolution began I was all on-board. It started with the gym where the wire-free benefits are obvious, and expanded to replace all wired headphones in my life.

I’ve owned a total of 9 Bluetooth head/earphones over the years ranging in price from under £20, to over £250. But there’s one pair that over the past 4 years I use 98% of the time; AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction headphones.

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These headphones are unique as they do not go in or cover your ears. Instead they rest on your temples and vibrate your skull to translate sound directly into your inner...

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Hoarding old Apple keyboards

Keyboards. It’s hard to use a computer without one. Apple have been controversial of late with their keyboards, particularly in laptops. Marco Arment put it best on Twitter:

Marco Arment, 17:11 8/4/19

I hope Apple has learned their lesson that we don’t really need them to revolutionise keyboards.

They unnecessarily revolutionised themselves into a world of pain, making massive regressions in the most important functional areas, all to solve problems we didn’t really have.

I personally find keyboards with lack of travel much harder to type on. I’m not a touch typist, or even a good typist. My error rate has always been relatively high, but my rate of error seems to increase with a decrease in key travel. I know some people prefer the slimmer keyboards, and even prefer the butterfly switch keyboard in the new laptops, despite their issues, but not I.

So I thought I’d buy myself a...

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Using my Mac on my iPad with Luna Display

I recently wrote about what my iPad is missing to allow me to use it as a near-full time computer for my work. Luna display is something that is helping me bridge the gap.

Luna display is a tiny dongle (in USB-C or mini display port flavours) that plugs into your Mac and convinces the OS it’s a monitor. Software then beams the screen from the Mac to the iPad over your local network. By launching the Luna Display app on the iPad you essentially have a MacOS app running in iOS. The pencil works as a cursor, touch input works as does the keyboard. The system iOS keyboard shortcuts override as you’re still in iOS, but you can work around that. You can also use Luna Display the other way around as a wireless external display for your Mac, but this is not a use case I currently need.

I learned most if the tricks to getting this working well from Federico Viticci’s fantastic article on Mac...

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Why I can’t switch to the iPad Pro full time, yet

The new iPad pro is incredible, I want to spend a greater percentage of my working time using it. The thin bezels, face ID, the power, the screen, keyboard and pencil - all amazing.

I’ve always been an iPad lover. I had (and still have, working!) an iPad 2, then an iPad Mini, and a Mini 2. These were my commuter computers for many years. Then I started buying the Plus-sized phones, which were close enough to the Mini for me to take over the role of commuter computer. I skipped the entire Air generation, and then was totally sold on the iPad Pro 12.9". I’m now on my 2nd iPad Pro with this new generation.

My phone (an iPhone X at this point) had continued to be my commuter computer, and the iPad has evolved into my new home computer. It more or less lives in the living room and it’s responsible for the vast majority of my home computing.

With the new 2018 iPads Pro I was convinced...

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