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Confession: I Have a Drone and I Like It

Last year for our wedding anniversary, my husband came home with a huge case – resembling one of those ominous bomb cases you see in movies. I felt like Gru and Dr. Evil all at once as he popped open the case to reveal a DJI Global Phantom 2 Drone with a GoPro camera attached.

DGI Global Phantom 2 Quadcopter

“WE HAVE A DRONE!” I exclaimed and immediately told all my geeks what an awesome gift I had received for our anniversary. [Posting to all known social platforms; Stat]

After a few days of touting my awesome aerial photos of our neighborhood, I realized that I was WAY more excited than most folks about my new toy.

Most people immediately respond with “why did you get that?” or “what are you going to do with it?”  Some were almost accusatory as if I had an immediate intent to spy on them through their bedroom windows. My “drone-high” was killed after one friend responded that if I flew “that thing” over his house, he’d shoot it down.

You see, the term “drone” sets off a fire in the eyes of the patriotic. I can’t exactly be sure which patriotism they’ll agree on but those who hear the word “drone” and immediately feel deprived of their rights are a growing bunch.  Is it media crazy? People crazy? Why would a camera on a flying device be perceived as a sinister threat? Helicopters have flown the skies for years with cameras, tracking tools, etc., without the same reaction. It could be the attribution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to the US Drone strikes overseas. Sure… I get it. BUT, ummmm.. I’ve got a 2ft x 2ft flying device that can’t hold much more than it’s own GoPro camera. AND IT’S ME! Married Mom of 2, with house and job and all that responsibility and track record of semi-sanity. Why did my posts elicit such a strong response from my friends and followers?

In order to find the truth, I did a little test [completely unscientific]:

1. I posted pictures from the drone of aerial views of my neighborhood where no specific people could be seen in the photos. I didn’t comment that these were ‘drone pics’ and just shared the beautiful view.

2. I posted pictures from the drone of aerial views of an area in upstate NY, again, where no specific people could be seen in the photos. I posted with a comment “new pics from my quadcopter”.

3. I posted pictures from the drone of aerial views of a non-inhabited area of the North shore of Long Island. No houses or people could be seen in the photos. I posted with a comment “new pics from my drone”.

Each posting garnered a different reaction from my friends and followers [responses came in person and online]:

  •  Post 1: [Pics w/ no name attached] Most folks thought it was cool, they were excited and asked me how I got the pictures.
  •  Post 2: [Pics w/ quadcopter called out] Most folks thought it was cool. Most also asked how they could get one too (i.e. the quadcopter)
  •  Post 3: [Pics w/ drone called out] Questions of why, what, who and threats to shoot it down ensued.

Each posting had similar pictures of beautiful landscapes but I used different words to describe them causing an interesting reaction from that weirdly patriotic group [NOTE: I’m not poking fun at the patriotic, just those that tie patriotism to unnecessary things like toys called drones] that think I have interest in spying on them.

I haven’t made up my mind yet.  Should I continue to call it a “drone” to laugh at the reaction or should I do what DJI Global did and remove the word from my vocabulary (notice their site is almost devoid of the term “drone” and they use terms like “high performance aerial camera systems”)?

Well, while I decide, I figured I’d post this confession today and share with you a few of the pics I’ve taken so far.

Confession: I have a drone, and I like it… and here are some pics to enjoy! (I swear, I have no interest in peeking into your windows.)

DCIM100GOPRO

Starting it up…

Check out those cherry blossoms

Check out those cherry blossoms!

drone1 drone2 drone3 drone4 drone5 drone6

Am I Allowed to Review the Apple Watch?

I’m no gadget guru but when new devices are released to the market, I often find a need to do anything and everything to get my own.  I was disappointed when I missed the Google Glass chance and then jumping for joy when a 3D printer was donated to our company game room. Again, I’m no expert but my reaction to new technology is somewhat of a kid in a candy store approach (with the sugar-high and all).

My birthday gift this year is the Apple Watch. At first I was hesitant to commit.  I mean, how would you react when all the Googleites with Android fever were surrounding you spitting on the subject that Apple could come out with a smart watch? But considering I’ve ‘gone full Apple’ over the past 10 years, I figured I could spare a birthday on an overpriced digital watch. So, I first tried to sell my Movado, and only scammers wanted it. Then I decided it was worth the risk to check out the new technology. We scheduled a fitting and marched into the Apple Store to try out the new toy.

I decided on the 38mm, stainless steel case with the milanese loop. I also added a white sport band so it would be more comfortable to run in.  The watch came about a month later and now that I’ve worn it for about 2 weeks, here’s my very basic review:

Likes:

  • Packaging – If Apple just specialized in awesome packaging, they’d make every gift a wonder. I seriously am keeping the packaging to share the experience with others… it was superb.
  • Look – It’s appealing, doesn’t look like a gaudy smart watch and passes as a professional piece. Most people don’t know it’s the Apple Watch until I point it out to them.
  • Fit – I’m happy I went with the 38mm (though I wanted the 42mm) because it fits well on my slightly small wrist. After a few days you get used to the size of the screen so that’s not a drawback. The milanese loop band which I wear most of the time not only looks nice, but fits nice and allows me to resize quickly and easily put it on or take it off. It does loosen a bit on it’s own, but can’t say I want to complain about that as it doesn’t bother me.
  • Alerts – Probably the most useful feature outside of the actual time keeping component is the ability to receive alerts on your wrist. I often forget my phone somewhere and then forget I’m supposed to be at a meeting or on a call, the watch has helped. The ‘heartbeat’ vibration is subtle enough (you get used to it) so that it doesn’t completely distract you from what you’re doing. I like the phone calls, text messages, meeting reminders and alerts from Apps like Fitbit saying I’m behind on my steps.  I recently started liking the Apple Activity Tracker app as it reminds me to stand up when I’ve been sitting at my desk over an hour.  [Wait, I have to stand now.] It’s a good habit maker.
  • Apps – Map My Run is cool, easy to start/stop/see stats during your run. I used it during the Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon last weekend and it worked very well (the screen even worked well in the pouring rain). Customizable home screen is helpful for me to see the time, date, temp, alerts and calendar at once. Clear app works well especially since my husband and I use it to day to track our groceries or lists of to-do’s.
  • Siri – Pretty good at understanding what I’m saying and putting it to text.
  • Phone Calls – Good for quick calls. Anything longer than 1 minute makes your arm hurt and people question your sanity. Noise reduction is good and volume is also good to keep your calls a bit private when in a public setting.
  • Navigation – The scroll works well, the swipe too. Looks like a good design for all that they want the watch to become. Elevating your wrist makes the screen turn on – that’s pretty cool and keeps your watch face private.

Dislikes/Needs Work:

  • I can’t garden with it. It’s too darn delicate and I’m worried I’m going to smash it into a rock or something. I can garden with my Fitbit Charge HR though. (I love my Fitbit)
  • Apps Suck – seriously, it’s as if they all thought about it 2 minutes before the watch launched and just put out 2 features to appease Apple early adopters and to get in the top 10 apps list. There are only like 3 apps that are worth using daily! Get on board app designers! Please! Why can’t Map My Run show me speed/pace?, Why can’t Instagram or Twitter show me more than 5 items total? Why can’t the calendar app show me weeks in advance? And what the heck is the point of the Solitaire app that shows me nothing other than what I haven’t done (no, you can’t play on your watch). It may be all memory issues as some suggest but I think it’s an app problem. Get on it developers! Memory is cheap!
  • Picture Taking is Creepy – my 7 year old was wearing my watch in the other room, I was on the phone and suddenly she’s taking pictures of me. #weird #creepy Give me a watch that takes its own pictures please.
  • Stupid font colors in email make it difficult to read on the Apple Watch. Dark blue on a black background makes me think I need glasses.
  • Text Canned Responses aren’t very nice – why can’t they combine “Ok” and “Thank you” by default? #manners
  • Apps don’t install.  What the heck do I have to do to get all my apps installed? I plug the watch in overnight, but still, there are apps that are partially loaded. I know I could just Google it, but I can’t do that on my Apple Watch!
  • I. Can’t. Google. – why oh why would you offer me a smart watch with no ability to search the web – not even through Siri? What were they thinking?
  • Login to Apps – you have my passwords in my iCloud keychain… take it, apply it to the watch at install and that’s that.  Stop making me sign in via my phone.  Speaking of my phone….
  • What the hell is handoff supposed to do? Well, rather, I know what it’s supposed to do but it doesn’t work. I never see the icon on the lower left of my screen. I have to login to my phone and then find the app. That’s not a handoff – that’s more of a fumble #fail
  • I still need my phone. At most, if not all times. It is not a replacement and I can’t go for a run and expect GPS to work without my phone… so with my phone, Apple Watch and Fitbit on all at once, I look like I’m on display at CES when I’m only trying to go for a run.

My cousin told me the Apple Watch was an overpriced remote control for my iPhone and I have to agree with him. HOWEVER, since I’m still an Apple Champion, I will give them another release to get this right (and to pay off a few app developers in the process). Also, I just want to support this guy – he’s just awesome.

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