Last year, around this time, after all the hype I bought an Apple Watch Series 2. Maybe I’ve believed the hype, and around that time the watch was still viewed as a complement to iPhone, that you could extend the whole iOS experience into your pulse. I had a friend that was trying to unload his new watch and decided to bought it to try it out.

After using it two weeks, I’ve found it underwhelming. It wasn’t anything like a new computational platform, all the apps felt underwhelmed, I couldn’t reply to some notifications. Everything felt, at the time, half baked. The experience was so bad that after two weeks I ended up reselling the watch to another friend of mime. I haven’t spend much time thinking about it, and seriously, there haven’t been a moment since then that I miss having the watch in my wrist.

Some weeks ago I started looking to buy a fitness tracker. I need to loose some weight and I thought having something tracking my activity would be interesting. I looked around and decided to buy again an Apple Watch Series 3. You might think: “That doesn’t make sense. Its the same device.1“.

Well, changing the approach I’ve taken to the Watch completely changed my experience with it. Approaching as a fitness tracker that is capable of doing some small other stuff, really changes your interaction with it. First of, I ignored the watch faces. Since they have such a predominant gesture (swipe left and right), I assume that Apple thinks that people change their watch face regularly. I don’t. I don’t like change. I want to create a single face that works. Last year I tried to build a face that suited my needs. I failed at it. I couldn’t put a counter of unread emails (which is essential to me since I try to follow a Inbox Zero approach to my email), and there wasn’t a set of complications that made sense to me. Most faces kinda suck, they look like cool demos that you wouldn’t want to wear the entire day. Fuck that. This time I choose the fitness face, changing it only to add the day of the month on the top left corner. I don’t even look at other faces, all I need to know is do I have notifications, and am I closing circles. The only thing I need to extract from this device is fitness data, so I’m more interested on the stuff on the Activity app on the iPhone, the KCal count on the face, and the Workout app on the Watch. Fuck everything else. Apps? Don’t waste your time with that crap. Wanna call an Uber? Use the phone, makes more sense. Want to answer someone. Unless its “OK”, use the phone. You wanna be the glasshole dictating to your wrist in the middle of the subway were you and your group are gonna meet up next? Screw that, use the phone. It’s not this that is going to stop you from looking at the phone the whole day.

That small change in thinking completely change this device for me. Now I’m way more satisfied with it than I was last year. But it leaves me wonder: Since this switch is exactly what Apple is doing with their marketing, didn’t Apple screwed the pooch by selling this as a watch? The whole 10k Edition watch, the nonsense with faces, the apps and so on? Now everyone sees this device as a Watch first and a Fitness tracker second. Had they called it, for instance, Apple Bracelet, I think much more people would have bought into the whole health and fitness space and bought it, than trying to sell it as Smart Watch.


  1. How much it changed from Series 2 to Series 3? Its almost all equal except two things. First Siri answers you back, which is kinda nice when you are making your cup of tea and need a timer. Second I think (feel) the battery lasts longer, but I have no data to support this.  ↩

After started working 7 years ago, this year I was so tired that I really needed an actual vacation, the kind you go to places and don’t think about anything. That means time to read. This was what I was reading:

  • Off Script: An Advance Man’s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, and Political Suicide – A book about the age of optics and how you stagecraft political events, from the days of Reagan to Obama’s campaign. Although it contains quite a lot of interesting information, the writing was so dense that it was almost hard to read. 

  • Partidos e sistemas partidários – This book presents a models to represent political systems on modern multi parliamentary democracies. It also goes deep into how systems and parties are bootstrapped.
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – This is the book behind the movie. It is way easier to understand each of elements that caused the financial system to fail by reading the book. Also the book is way funnier and goes deeper into how this all that was possible. 

  • Liga da Justiça Terra Dois – I needed something else to clean the palate. This comic wasn’t that good (I don’t know what the objective is of doing graphic work that makes you unable to follow the story flow) but I haven’t read a comic in so much time that was nice.

I’ve been fortunate to have been offered an development kit for the Apple TV Gen 4 and have been using one for the past month

The Remote is a Lightning cable, and the box does come with a long Lightning cable, however the Apple TV is a USB-C device, which is kinda odd, giving that it would made more sense to use just lightning since tvOS is just a slim down version of iOS. Maybe this is a stealth plan from apple to prepare everyone to USB-C on an iPhone. Anyway,I was forced to buy a 20€ cable to connect the box into my computer, so I could write apps and reset my Apple TV (a necessary step to upgrade the Apple TV to upgrade to the public version of tvOS and access the App Store).

Writing apps is just like writing apps for iOS but I did find some problems migrating touch code into Apple TV, since you don’t have a multi touch device. In terms of an set top box, is quite nice. Netflix and Plex work great, and apps do make sense when using on a tv. However is the small things that make some tasks on Apple TV annoying. For instance, you have to to enter you password into every service, and you have to use an on screen keyboard that works worse than my Samsung TV one (e.g. you can’t scroll letters past right to loop around to the left most item) but you have the option to set up the TV by touching an iOS device. The remote is undoubtedly a flawed design. You can’t figure on the dark in what orientation is in your hand. If you touch the remote while using another input, the Apple TV will wake up and switch your TV input to it. Games are required to being playable using only the command, however the remote has only two buttons and the touch pad available to apps, making playing games ranging for weird to plain unusable. Siri on your remote may be the answer to a smart TV, but is not available in Portugal, nor you have the chance to use the US version.

Clearly there is potential here (notifications, multiple panels within a video feed), but this is the iPhone 1 of Apple TV.

I’m a great lisp lover, and for years I’ve been thinking about updating common lisp into a more modern idiom. Today, I’ve just saw that someone was working on CL21, a Common Lisp for the 21th century. Here are the things I wish I had.

    • Fluent Data Structures – This is something that I love from Python, JavaScript, or any other script language. You can declare a dictionary or an array as : a = { "elements" : ["one", "two", "three"] } I can’t tell you the number of times this time of syntax allowed me to prototype something. Also, I would like to have slices and comprehensions.
    • String manipulation – This is a big one. When lisp was created, the focus was symbolic programming. Today most of my day is occupied doing some kind of  string manipulation, being JSON or some CSV. String manipulation in Lisp is ridiculous. What in python is done by: a = "foo" + "bar" Is done in lisp by: (setq a (string-concatenation "foo" "bar))
    • The 90’s – This is a simple but hard one. File I/O API that doesn’t feel it was stuck on dot matrix printers times. A standard thread API. A standard HTTP library. Etc..
    • Better package management – I still prefer the namespace method of C++, instead of the package model of Java. But at least something better.
    • Cased programming – Yeah, we now have better character-encoding schemes, can we use Lower and Upper characters?

More than this, what I wish lisp gave me is the simplicity and pleasure I get when using python to do some task. I still do this day can use lisp as a go to language, because all of these small inefficiencies remove me the focus on solving the actual problem.

I’ve just noticed that I’ve called the Apple car thing back in 2011.

Called it! In 2011

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Somehow, I’ve went somewhere.

It felt like the bottom of a well. I don’t know how I got there, I just did. I could see the sky, the clouds and stars, at the top. I could even see the light from bon fires, and the shadows of people going by. At first I hoped that someone would pull me out of there. It was for me logical thing to do, someone would have to miss me. And so I waited floating on that shallow dark water for some salvation. Days passed. Hope turned into hopelessness. And I got angry, like it was the Universe duty to get me out of that well, and it wasn’t doing its job. I kept waiting for help that never came. Anger turned into anguish, life turned darker. If the Universe wasn’t taking me out of that well, maybe that was what existence was supposed to be, a shallow dark well devoid of warmth. Yet I kept waiting for that golden rope, that would take me out of that well instantly. Little by little the well became something that was. Life was defined, and by limited the perimeter of that well. And the rope became just something mythical, that if attained it would put me where I was supposed to be.

Then, one day I remembered that I could stand. It was just well after all. Another day I felt the well walls. Maybe I could climb them. I tried, and fell back dozens of times, trying all sorts of paths. With each try the same hope for the rope salvation kept coming. But with each try, the angriness, the anguish and the hopelessness faded. After a while, nothing else matter, only climbing the well. There was no motivation, no epiphanies, just climbing. Fuck ropes, fuck the universe, fuck everything else. Getting out was the only objective. And just as I was climbing, well walls started changing, like a gradient.

The well never had a top. Its all continuous, so it never existed a place to anchor that rope. And for all that matter, there was no rope. It never was. Unwillingly I got myself into that well, and only I could get out of it. The only tragedy is that there are no life lessons, no prize, no glorious outcome. It just is and continues to be.

Engineers are amazing tools of society. In a puristic world an engineer essentially offer solutions for real problems. But realistically speaking engineers are masters at consensus.

One of my engineering school teachers use to say that “There aren’t really solutions, only compromises.”. For most of my professional life this has has been true. Getting information systems that actually benefit people and societies comes down to compromises, getting the common done, the most agreeable agreed. People aren’t available to chasms of change, and sometimes improving 5% can have huge beneficial improvements

Because engineers need to be managed, as every single person of society, they tend to see this task as a annoyance, or a problem needing to be fixed. It is quite trendy today to say that to say that engineers are great managers. I have a dissenting opinion.

Management does needs fixing. I, has a engineer, have zero patience for things like casual Fridays or team building exercises. I do recognize that teams (even in the army) come out of effort and respect, not from silly activities. I wish I could end this silly activities.

Engineers tend to see management as a problem. The types is activities I’ve mentioned are common because they have effective results. Statistically speaking, if you do these activities in large sets of people they tend to have x% of effect.

I’ve been purview to a lot of engineers middle to upper management. My observations tend to conclude that engineers take the same approach on management that they take on problem solving. They don’t see management actions as definitive but more as compromises. E.g.: We do X now because all stakeholders agree this is the best option.

The problem is that management doesn’t work the same way. The reasoning behind management is more akin to military thinking. Sometimes you do Y now, screwing A, B and C, because you know that in the long run your are getting what you want. Even if this is suicidal. This is different from Cost/Benefit analysis. You don’t always get value for your actions, not even in a predictable future.

Aereo wouldn’t exist in a pure engineering approach to management. It is a stop gap solution to a problem, that has zero diversification chances, and clearly was created to open a breach in the Network control of media on the Supreme Court. This company makes zero sense on the short or long run. However, everyone can see the potential of positive verdict from the SC.

There are more examples as this. See the Apple vs Samsung approach of getting shit done. Apple, doesn’t give you what you want. It gives you what it thinks you may find enjoyable and it finds is best for Apple. Samsung tends to reach a compromise, giving everything that everyone may want, or get attracted to.

More examples, Eric Schmidt vs Larry page. Eric had a engineering approach to problems. It did lots of concurrent products, lacked focus and tried to get everyone on board (vide Android). His management style never seemed defiant, always consensual. Larry’s inheritance is a fragmented company (android and chrome), a bunch of useless products, and lacking core products for the next decade (E.g. Google Plus or if you will, an identity product).

Management, for better or worse is a different beast of engineering. And the same way you can’t ask a bean counter to do your job, an engineer cannot expect to have the same tool set than a manager. Your reasoning is biased to think in another way. There are counterexamples of course. But asymptotically both approaches are clearly incompatible.

05-twitter-founders

I’ve finished “hatching twitter” last night. Is a well written book about the history of twitter. I feel however that the only person to come out of it as a decent human being was Biz. Noah, that everyone touts as being screwed out of  twitter when it was founded, comes out as being unable to cope the pressures of starting a company. Ev as a entrepreneur who can’t make decisions or to have a concise vision for the company, and getting friends a job.

However the person that I think it hurts the most is Jack Dorsey. By the end of the book although he is shown as coming on top, having returned to twitter, having bought as $12M dollar house but without any friends.

Given recent news, both the companies seen as the proof of Jack being heir apparent to Steve jobs are in trouble. And that doesn’t work well for Jack.

First, Square is imploding, searching for a buyer. Given that is a payment company, it doesn’t play to his favor that one of the reasons he was ejected from CEO was his miss handling of twitter finances, according to the book.

Second, Twitter is going through tough times. Low revenue, sign ups down, and their price on the stock market taking a dive, Twitter is going through another rough patch.

The main problem with twitter is and always was the definition of what was twitter. The reason of why they can’t find find revenue or the right focus for the company is the inability to accurately explain actually is twitter. In fact the best description of twitter I’ve heard is “the web nervous system”.

I think twitter is by far different things for different people. for politicians and companies is a way to promote their message. For me is a way to have a low resolution insight to the life’s of people I care, while not feeling completely alone on earth. It can be other things, like self promotion, a pulpit or a theater stage.

What I think twitter should do (and this is me, a person who never founded shit or managed squat) is to focus on the third parties. One of the genius things that Facebook have done is to create a healthy platform where others can live. Twitter should be a intermediary between their network and the huge pool of apps that want to look to their network. Open up the fire hose, allow third parties to attach metadata to tweets or accounts. Focus of what little meaning you can extract from a tweet.

Make people pay for this access, and forget about advertising. Advertising is almost impossible to make it work on twitter. Either I’m following a company or you are forcing me to watch to crap their spew. This may work on Facebook with images and videos. But on Twitter is way too low res for this to work. On my android every “sponsored tweet” comes with a yellow mark that makes me think “fuck off”. I know that Gazprom Football promoted a tweet last week, but I cant remember shit about it. However I do remember on some Facebook ads, as shitty as they were.

Twitter is trying to fight mills that it can’t conquer, and my fear is that it may collapse.

The problem is that twitter isn’t a null value object. It has a intrinsic value. But if the walls come tumbling down on it self, it will be hard to prevent it from going to a sleazy ad network or something like that. Google would eat it up whole, Facebook doesn’t care. Maybe Microsoft or even worse yahoo. Either way would be a former shell of it self. And I guarantee that it will never be another Arab spring if things go under.

Ever wanted to back to the good old days when you opened a web page and an X-Files MIDI file started playing? When the entire web was “Under-Construction”? add this:

javascript:(function(){ var el = document.createElement("link"); el.setAttribute("href", "http://divshot.github.io/geo-bootstrap/swatch/bootstrap.min.css"); el.setAttribute("rel","stylesheet"); document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(el); }());

into your bookmark bar and you can turn every bootstrap site into a geocities page.

From this: Into this: Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 6.52.23 PM

The flaw I described some time ago was true and is being used in the wild.

Some people are such annoying ignorant little bitches.