Playing Jackbox Games with Remote Friends

Jackbox Games are hilariously fun. The games are designed to be played with all of the players in the same room. We have great friends who live far away, so I set out to find a way to play with them remotely. For this to work, you’ll need:

  • 2 computers
    • Computer 1 – video game and google hangouts host
      • The Jackbox Games. I bought mine through steam.
      • Google hangouts account #1 – this account will share it’s screen (the Jackbox video game)
      • Use either VB-Cable or Loopback to get the game audio into the google hangout. You’ll probably need to adjust the game audio to be way lower.
    • Computer 2 – regular computer
      • Google hangouts account #2 – this second account will be where you, the host, interact with the other guests via your webcam and
      • headphones
        • We either share a earbud each, or use a headphone splitter

Your friends will need:

  • A computer
  • Headphones
    • We either share a earbud each, or use a headphone splitter
  • Google hangouts account

Once you have everything setup, all you need to do is start a call between your two computers. Computer 1 will be sharing its screen. Computer 2 is just your webcam. Invite your friends to the call. You’ll have to jump between the two computers to interact with the game, but once the game is started, you’re good to go. We had a blast doing this, and the lag is very minimal with google hangouts. I tested other streaming options, and there was too much lag, even though the quality of the stream was better.


Apple Watch Wishlist

Here are some features I’d love to see on the Apple Watch.

  1. Goal Completion Goal – When you start a new workout, you can either set a goal for Calories, Time, or an Open Goal. One of my favorite things to do is close my goal, so I’d like to see an option for Complete Ring or Complete Goal. I think this might motivate people to complete their goals.
  2. Alert and Ringtone Options – Adding options to change how alerts and ringtones sound would be great, especially if you have multiple devices that ring. Right now they ring with all different ringtones, which sounds awful and dissonant.
  3. Sleep Mode and Night Brightness – I’ve been using Sleep++ to track my sleep with my Apple Watch, and I’ve used Theater Mode to keep the watch from lighting up at night. It could be better, though. During your bedtime, the overall brightness should be lower, and a native way to track sleep can only improve results and encourage others to get better sleep.
  4. Find my Watch – I’ve forgotten where I put my watch once, and it seems like a chore to fire up Find My iPhone just to make it play a sound, especially since you can use the Apple Watch to find your iPhone really easily.
  5. Forgot Phone – If I leave the house and my watch is on, but my phone is still at home, it would be great to get a notification on my watch to know that I’ve left the phone behind. This could also help if your phone gets stolen.
  6. Exercise & Stand Streak – Apple Watch already tracks your Move Streak, so why not your Exercise and Stand Streak?
  7. Sleep Goals and Streak – iPhone has a Bedtime feature, and it makes sense for a report on how often you reach your goal, and your streak for nights of good sleep.
  8. Forgot Watch and Unlock Reminder – I have a passcode on my watch, and sometimes I forget to unlock it. I’d love to see my phone let me know, or my watch to nudge me to unlock it.
  9. Change Nightstand Appearance – Nightstand mode is nice, but can I choose a different color or brightness?

Ultra-Lightweight SD Card Backups on the Road

When I travel, I bring my DSLR. When I have a DSLR, I shoot a lot of photos, usually hundreds a day. I wanted to find a way to back up my photos while I was travelling, with minimal equipment. I think I’ve found the smallest, cheapest, best way to do this. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Kingston MobileLite G3 – $25
  • An iPhone or android phone that is supported by the MobileLite G3 (you probably have this already)
  • A USB drive (you probably have this already)
  • A DSLR that saves images to SD cards (you probably have this already)
  • SD cards that need to be backed up (you probably have this already)

Here’s what the workflow looks like:

  1. Take photos on DSLR, saving RAW images (JPEG works, too) to SD card
  2. After a day of shooting, turn Kingston MobileLite on, connect to its WiFi on your phone, launch their MobileLite Wireless app
  3. Insert SD card and USB drive into MobileLite, refresh File Explorer in the app to show both USB and SD media
  4. Tap on SD card in file explorer, go to the folder (or image) you want to copy, tap on “…” then tap the copy icon (looks like a page with a dotted page behind it), then tap USB Drive
  5. I like to make a new folder by tapping the folder + icon, name it that date and card (like 20181220 Card1 for December 20, 2018), then tap on the new folder and tap OK at the bottom to choose that folder as the copy destination
  6. Optional: Repeat steps 3-5 if you have more than one SD card to backup
  7. Wait until everything has copied over, then eject your SD card and unplug your USB drive

Is it perfect? No, but it is the cheapest way I can backup my SD cards on the road without bringing my laptop and without spending too much money. I’ve tried backing up CF cards and the MobileLite won’t recognize more than one USB device at a time, so this method only works if you’re backing up SD cards to a USB drive. I tried using a USB hub, and it can recognize a CF card reader, but as soon as I plugged in the USB backup drive, the CF card was replaced in the app’s list by the USB backup drive. Maybe someone could fix this, though, because the source code is available! You could also backup the files to your phone, then copy to a USB drive.

For my specific gear, I’m using:

  • Kingston MobileLite G3 (duh)
  • iPhone X
  • OWC 1TB SSD Mercury On-The-Go USB 3.0
    • formatted to exFAT
    • Master Boot Record scheme on macOS
    • You’ll need the power adapter to use this with the Kingston MobileLite (I think the MobileLite is slightly under powered in Amps). USB thumb drives work perfectly, but I wanted more capacity.
  • Nikon D7100
  • Lexar Professional 1000x 64GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 Card

If you have an android phone that supports USB On The Go (OTG), you could save even more money by buying this USB Hub for $10, which would replace the Kinston MobileLite.

I’ve also found really small SSDs recently like the Samsung T5 and the Teyadi SSD, but I don’t own them and haven’t tested them in this setup. They should work fine as long as they don’t draw too much power.

Lastly, if you have an iPhone or iPad and you don’t already have the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, you should get one. It’s super handy to be able to pull an image from any SD card in a few seconds.


John Gruber on the Apple Watch Series 3 →

There’s no way to review this watch without mentioning the red dot on the digital crown. All cellular equipped Series 3 watches, including all the stainless steel models, the ceramic Edition models, and the Hermès models, have this red dot. I don’t get it. It’s not that it looks bad in and of itself, but it draws unnecessary attention.

I’m just glad to see I’m not the only one who is confused by the red dot.


The Year of iOS in the Car – WWDC 2017

During Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California on June 5, 2017, Apple announced a few features in iOS that will make using an iPhone in the car much nicer. Here they are in random order.

  1. One-handed zoom in Maps
  2. New Siri voice
  3. Lane guidance
  4. Time away from locations in QuickType
  5. Indoor maps for malls and airports
  6. Speed limit
  7. Do not disturb while driving
  8. ARKit (more on that in a bit)

One-handed Zoom in Maps

Google Maps and other map apps have had this feature for a while. The idea is that you can double tap and hold, then swipe up or down to zoom in and out, instead of pinching to zoom. This is a well-welcomed feature for map use.

New Siri Voice

When you are using Siri in the car, a natural voice will be easier to understand. Since Siri is using machine learning to make the voice better, we can hope that street pronunciation will improve.

Lane Guidance

When driving, knowing what lane(s) are part of an exit is extremely helpful, especially on highways and interstates and other multi-lane roads. Again, Google Maps has had this for a while, and is very welcomed.

Time Away from Locations in QuickType

In iOS 11 you’ll be able to say how far you are from locations in QuickType – the gray bar of suggestions right above the keyboard. The example given in the keynote presentation was someone asking “how long until you get home?” and a suggestion showing “8 min, home” as a suggestion. I used to have a Workflow set up for this exact reason.

Indoor Maps for Malls and Airports

When driving to a mall or airport, specific drop-off or entry planning can be tricky. This will allow you to find the best spot to start walking, and will make your trip easier once you’ve left your car.

Speed Limit

Apple Maps will now show the speed limit in the top left corner, under the main navigation. Helpful for unfamiliar areas, or when that police car appears.

Do Not Disturb while Driving

If you’re looking to be safe while driving, you know a phone alerting you with notifications can be a distraction. This setting allows you to go dark while driving, and the feature is enabled once you start moving quickly or connect to a car’s bluetooth. I’ll try this feature out, and can do so safely since people can text and see you’re in driving mode, but still able to alert you by replying with  “urgent”. I’m curious to see how it pairs with Apple Watch, since that is how most of my notifications are presented to me.

ARKit

One of the features of iOS 11 is ARKit which is for augmented reality – putting rendered graphics on top of a video feed. ARKit can recognize surfaces (roads) and rectangles (signs) and can place images on top of the real world, including realistic shadows and lighting. Imagine a real video feed being overlayed with images to help you find the entrance to a complicated area. Imagine your phone being able to understand what you’re seeing and help pass that info on to you, like what a sign said. Who knows, but I think this could be a feature we see soon.


ToneBands Review

Overview & Disclaimer

ToneBands are Apple Watch Sport Bands that have a pin that matches the black Apple Watch finish. The pin is the metal part that connects the two ends of the band. Each band is available for sale for $18. They offer 38mm and 42mm sizes, both coming in small/medium and medium/large lengths. You can buy all three available colors, white, gray, and lavender, in the Spring 2017 Collection for $38, a savings of $15 if you were to buy all three bands separately.

I know and have worked with the founders, Jon Becker and Cameron Banga. This review is about the bands, and I’ll do my best to form an unbiased opinion.

Color

The colors for the Spring 2017 Collection are white, gray and lavender. The white is very white, the lavender is nice and subtle, and the gray is every so slightly red to my eye. The gray is gray, though, don’t let me confuse you.

All of the watchbands in the Spring 2017 Collection have black pins. The pins match either the Space Gray or Space Black Apple Watch.

I really like the white and gray. The white is by far my favorite band. I’m not crazy about the lavender, but that’s ok. It is still a great color.

Texture

The ToneBands feel velvety to the touch. The Apple bands feel a bit tacky (in the sense of stickiness, not quality) and smooth. I find the ToneBands to be more comfortable than the Apple bands. The ToneBands seem to have less resistance to bending compared to Apple’s. The Apple band is just a bit firmer. On the wrist, the feeling of the ToneBands disappear. I barely notice the feel of them on my arm.

Thickness

I measured the thickness of my Apple Sport Band and all three ToneBands. I took two measurements. The first measurement was by the pin, the second was near the last hole.

  • Near Pin:
    • Black Apple: 3.50 mm
    • White ToneBand: 3.43 mm
    • Gray ToneBand: 3.45 mm
    • Lavender ToneBand: 3.46 mm
  • On Strap:
    • Black Apple: 2.51 mm
    • White ToneBand: 2.49 mm
    • Gray ToneBand: 2.43 mm
    • Lavender ToneBand: 2.51 mm

As you can see, the bands are very close to the same thickness as the Apple band. Since the ToneBands feel different, the seem thinner.

Experience

Ordering the ToneBands was easy. They arrived quickly and were packaged nicely. The envelopes were sealed with wax, which was a nice touch. The price was reasonable, and definitely cheaper than Apple. For bands that I prefer, I’d say it’s a great deal. If you’re interested in matching your watch band to your watch, ToneBands is a company to keep your eye on.


The Mac Pro is Important to Every Apple Customer

I hate Formula 1 racing. I don’t find it enjoyable to watch in person. I understand why people enjoy watching it, though. I understand the benefits it brings to the rest of the automobile industry. The whole point of Formula 1 racing is to shave every second off the time it takes to go around a track. Teams of engineers sweat every little detail. They will do anything they can to make the car go faster, all to win a race. These engineers solve problems that automobile companies have no incentive to fix. Why should your car manufacturer care if your car gets 1% better fuel economy. You’ll find a much less important reason to pick a different car. But since they have spent so much money on finding these solutions, they’ll pass the benefits on to you.

The same exact thing is true for many industries, including electronics. My three-year-old laptop still runs great. A great product makes it easy to be complacent. When Apple decides it makes sense to push their best machines even further, we’ll all win. Apple does a great job of borrowing from themselves. They’re not afraid to share their technical solutions across product lines. I think the new professional Mac line will be great, but I know it will make all the other products even better.

I bring this up in response to the podcast Upgrade 135: Trashed The Can @ 1:11:09. Jason Snell says “for a lot of people, it doesn’t matter and it’s not important”. I agree with Jason here, and I love this episode. I encourage you to listen to the whole episode, even the series. I disagree that it doesn’t matter. I get that most people won’t own a Mac Pro, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about it.


ToneBands – Apple Watch Bands with Black Pins

If you have a Space Gray or Space Black Apple Watch, you got a watchband that has a matching space gray/black pin. If you’ve ever looked at the apple watch band store, you might be disappointed to learn that the only watch band that has a gray/black pin is the one you already have.

Someone should fix this.

Enter ToneBands. Right now, $18 will get you a white, gray, or lavender watch band with a grey/black pin. I’ve had mine for a few days, and they’re great.


Concept: Mac Pro 2 →

The best fake product I’ve seen this month. The only thing I’d wonder is what the airflow would look like.


Favorite Things from 2016

I wanted to expand on my list of favorite podcasts from 2016 with my favorite things from this year. These are in no order or categories because I wrote this as ideas popped into my head, and it’s already 2017, so no time to edit!

Apple Watch Series 2 – I just got this for Christmas but it’s the best tech I’ve gotten my hands on.

Tile Tracker – My wife and I have not lost our keys this entire year. Prevented a major fiasco!

Transcend 64GB JetFlash 710 USB 3.1/3.0 Flash Drive

Guy Rhodes (@guy_rhodes) has amazing photos, and also the best Instagram Stories I’ve ever seen.

Umami Burger – the best burger I’ve ever had. It melted in my mouth.

Pineapple and how to slice it in a couple of minutes

CaptainDisillusion – a great YouTube channel that debunks fake videos.

SmarterEveryDay – I learn something every time Destin uploads a video.

1Password – How my entire family manages strong passwords. I can’t live without this, and it helped me recover from an attempt to log into my Apple ID.

You Suck At Cooking – a funny but actually good place for recipes.

Tom Scott – great YouTube videos for a curious person like me.

ProZD – funny voiceover actor who has great video game references.

Mike Boyd – watch him learn a difficult task as quickly as possible.

Lectures on Digital Photography – a great, free video course on the technical side of digital photography taught by the legendary Marc Levoy.

Disney Research Hub – a YouTube channel that uploads interesting research done by Disney. I feel like I’m watching future products being revealed.

CG Cookie – where I learn about Blender (free 3d program) and art in general. Great resource.

10-foot lightning cable – My wife and I both have these, they’re especially good for hotels where the outlet might be hard to reach.

NO-AD Sunscreen – the best sunscreen I’ve ever used.


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