Monday, 10 October 2016

Apple Watch 2 vs. Original Apple Watch

42mm Apple Watch 2
Ok, I admit it, I'm an Apple geek. In 1987, I graduated from university without having learned any computer skills. (I had played "Where's Carmen San Diego" on my friend's Commodore 64, and once wrote part of an essay on the same computer before I lost it because I didn't know how to save.)

I was introduced to the Mac after my BA when I studied desktop publishing in order to learn something practical, and I was hooked. Once I mastered the basics (SuperPaint--anyone remember that?, MS Word, and PageMaker), I started expanding my repertoire. I soon considered myself a power user, building HyperCard stacks and fiddling with system settings, like creating custom cursors.

Anyway, when people question how I could pay over $500 for a watch, I remind them that my first Mac cost $3000--second hand!--and had 1M RAM with a 20M external hard drive. My first Apple Watch had 8 Gigabytes of memory. Never mind all the other technical improvements.

And I love my Apple Watch. So much so that I bought a new one when the second generation came out. So here's some comparisons.


I went from the 38 mm to the 42 mm, so I might have some improvement due to the larger size, but the battery life is way better. I bought the 38mm originally because I have fairly thin wrists for a man. However, I found that I usually had the watch on the second loosest setting. I thought I might be able to manage the larger size. With the 42mm watch, I usually have it on the second tightest setting. I also sprang for a third-party strap from Pad & Quill.
38mm Apple Watch original
For a long time, I simply took the watch off to sleep and put it on fully charged in the morning. Most days, I could get through the day without a problem. The days I had problems were when I rode my bike to work, tracking my workout, for over 45 minutes. (Of course, it took another 45 minutes to get home.) On these days, I found the battery dying in the evening before I was ready to go to bed. I don't like taking the watch off because tracking calories burned is important to me, but after 90 minutes of bike riding, I was usually well over my 750 active calorie goal for the day.

A few months ago, I started tracking my sleep as well. That meant I needed to find time to charge the watch when I wasn't sleeping. I could usually manage this during my morning coffee when I wasn't moving much anyway. This worked pretty well, and I would start the active part of the day with a full charge.

The Apple Watch 2 easily lasts the day for me, even with some bike riding or a good 45-minute run. I am usually at about 40% at the end of the day. I take the watch off to charge while I read for half an hour before going to sleep, and it's pretty close to 100% by the time I'm ready for lights out. I track my sleep using an app called Heartwatch. There's not much useful about tracking sleep, except it gives me the incentive to try to get to bed earlier. I'm an early riser, so I don't need a special timed alarm. I'm lucky if I can sleep to my 7-hour goal.


I've gotta admit that I'm not a great fan of Siri. When she works, it's great. But when she doesn't, it's frustrating and I end up doing things manually. Before my Apple Watch, I rarely used Siri. But it's nice to drop an egg in a pot to boil in the morning and simply touch my watch and say "Set timer for 7 minutes." Or, in the bathroom: "Remind me to buy toilet paper at London Drugs." But too often, she can't understand what I want or gives me directions to the wrong place. I was driving on a highway once and asked for directions to Starbuck's, knowing that as I was approaching a city, there would be one ahead of me. Instead, Siri kept trying to make me turn around to go back to the one I had already passed. When I tried to use her to text my beloved, I would say "Text message to Michele" and she would consistently pick the wrong Michele from my address book--one that I had not contacted in years, instead of the one that I text/phone/email every day. I ended up deleting all Micheles except my girlfriend from my address book (which I'm sure my girlfriend appreciated). Also, I don't like talking to technology where other people might watch me. Nonetheless, it's nice to be able to choose a playlist from my phone through my watch when I'm driving. All I have to do is touch the watch crown and say "Play jazz" and I'm relaxing all the way home.


The way I justify the watch to myself is to use it to integrate my workflow. As a full-time teacher and part-time editor, I need to be constantly available to my clients, yet focus on my job during working hours. My Apple Watch helps me do this, and the new one has improved the process.

When an order comes in, I get a notification
Screen shot from Informant Tasks

When an order is placed through my website, I get an email notification. The notification on my wrist ensures that I am instantly aware, regardless of where my phone is.

I've set up a Text Replacement shortcut on my iPhone to send an acknowledgement to my client that I've received the document, so I only have to pick up the phone, go into the email client and type 3 letters to reply.

I use a calendar program called Informant to organize my time and tasks. Purchasing this program allows me to run versions on 3 different MacPro laptops and my iPhone (unlike some calendar programs that make you pay separately for the iPhone and Mac versions). They all sync and sync to the calendar of the school where I teach and three Gmail calendars that I use. I've discovered recently that there is an additional sync function (small extra charge) that allows me to email tasks directly to Informant. So I set up my order processing service to send a copy of each order directly to Informant. Now, not only do I get a notification on my wrist, but I also have a task automatically added to my calendar.


I have to admit, launching apps on the original Apple Watch could be a tedious process. But Watch OS3 was a huge improvement. There's still a noticeable delay on the original Apple Watch, but it's probably less than a second. Rearranging the functions so the dock is available through the side button was a great improvement. I know dock items are running in the background, so they can draw on the battery, but as I said, it certainly doesn't seem to matter on the Apple Watch 2. Unfortunately, very few apps are worth using on the Apple Watch. It's handy to check off completed tasks, keep track of workouts, and record a few things, but if the app simply mirrors the iPhone version with fewer functions, then it's really preferable to use the iPhone.


One of the major problems for the Apple Watch original was that in bright sunlight the face was hard to see. I used to cover it with my hand and try to get as far away from the sun as I could to see it. I can't report on whether or not the new watch is a noticeable improvement because it's autumn here and we won't see any bright sun again for months. On the other hand, the waterproofing could come in hand in our downpours. I thought I had killed my last watch -- a Timex -- after being caught in a Mexican tropical deluge. The watch fogged up and stopped working for a while. It started running after 24 hours, but the fog didn't clear out of the face for a couple of weeks. My Apple Watch original never suffered when I got caught in the rain riding my bike or even kayaking, but when the face got wet, it was hard to operate. (It's still hard to slide to mark a completed workout when I'm dripping with sweat.) In addition, it tended to misunderstand random touches as intended commands. The Apple Watch 2 has both a guarantee of waterproofing and you can lock the screen if it's likely to get wet. I haven't bothered to wear it in the shower, but the "eject water" function is simple enough. I look forward to swimming with it in the summer.


I never thought I would want to have two Apple Watches, but switching is so seamless that it's easy to wear one while the other is charging. Simply change watches, turn up your wrist and the iPhone knows which one you're wearing. It even updates all your activity rings to the one you're wearing. This is the beauty of the Apple ecosystem: things just work.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

How to use Style Sheets in MS Word

 Style sheets are a useful feature in MS Word that can make writing essays and formatting them correctly much easier. APA has strict requirements for headings and body text styles, so by setting your style sheets correctly, you can save yourself a lot of work and improve your essay writing grades.

The first thing to notice is that MS Word has built-in styles. You can see them when you are in the "Home" tab. However, Word usually has Calibri or Arial as the default font for "Normal." Although fonts are not specified in APA style, a serif font such as Times is normally recommended. Some teachers can be more fussy, so don't take a chance. Use Times or Times New Roman for your body text.

To change the settings for any style, right click (control click on a Mac) to pull up the "Modify" dialogue. The "Modify" dialogue will show all the parameters for the style.

You can make life even easier by basing one style on another.

The pop-up menu in the bottom right corner (shows "Format" in the image) gives you access to the paragraph settings. That way you can set indents and spacing as well for the style.

The heading style shown here is the correct style for main headings in APA format. This should be centered, bold (and you write things with upper and lower case).

Secondary headings in APA format are left aligned bold with upper and lower case.

Third headings in APA style are left aligned bold, with only upper case at the beginning and a period at the end. They are followed by body text on the same line. Because MS Word does not allow you to have different styles in the same paragraph, you can't set a head 3 style. Simple write the paragraph in Body Text style and then select the text and make it bold.

Here's a sample showing the correct headings in APA style.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

How to Use Track Changes in MS Word 2016

The latest update to MicroSoft Word has a few changes to the Track Changes function. Here's an update to my blog post showing how to use Track Changes.

As with previous versions of Word, you can find the controls for Track Changes in the Review Tab.
If you haven't explored the tabs, then you really aren't using Word to its great capabilities. If you're a student, then taking the time (when you're not under the pressure of an essay deadline) to learn how to use the various functions of Word is a great idea. If you do this, you will save tons of time when working on your essays.

When you receive an essay back from me or another editor, you will find all the changes marked with the Track Changes tools. I like to do this for both academic and non-academic clients so they can see what I've done. I hope students will review these changes to help them write better. I want my business clients to be able to review my changes to ensure that the document still retains their original meaning.
Changes appear in one color in the margin on the right. Comments appear in another color. If different editors make changes, then each editor will have a different color. MS Word assigns the colors when there is more than one, so the color I see might not be the same color you see.

It's really easy to accept these changes, which means that the document is permanently changed to include the editor's changes.
Look at the second image above of the tool bar. In the REVIEW tab, you will see a button with a check mark labelled "Accept". It has a little down triangle beside it. That means when you click on it, a menu will pop up below it.
If you click on "Accept and Move to Next", you will be able to review each change at a time. If you click on "Accept All Changes", then all the changes will be incorporated into your document. And if you accept "Accept All Changes and Stop Tracking", all the changes will be accepted and the Track Changes function will be turned off. You can also easily turn off the Track Changes function using the button.

Although changes can be accepted in bulk, comments must be deleted one by one. Editors use comments to query factual statements, to indicate where a reference is needed, or to alert the writer to another issue that the writer should address. I try to leave a minimum of comments in the documents I edit, but these are very important communications between the editor and the writer, so please review these carefully before deleting.

In previous versions of MS Word, you could delete a comment by clicking the close box in the upper right hand corner of the comment. In the newest version, you must use (in Mac) Command + click to call up a contextual menu.

On a PC, you would use a right click for this. Simply choose "Delete Comment". Once you have deleted all comments, then the paper is clean and ready to hand in.

I know some editors return a clean version along with a version showing changes. However, I prefer to return only the marked up version because I really want to help writers become better writers. Some struggling writers might be overwhelmed when they see the vast number of changes that happen. But by focusing on just a few errors, you can vastly improve your writing. I find that most writers make the same kinds of errors over and over again, so a little effort to avoid your most common problems might yield a vast improvement in your writing.

Better writers might only have a few changes, so I like to show them that I actually did review the document carefully, even if the changes I made were just a comma here or there and other minor grammar and punctuation errors.