Software: iOS “Do Not Disturb” Mode

So, half of the holiday season has come and gone (I hope it all went well for everyone!) and, with the constant barrage of digital ways to stay in touch with everyone, it reminded me of an iOS feature that’s become my favorite in iOS6.

It’s called “Do Not Disturb” and it is wonderful. 🙂

Full disclosure: I absolutely adore the people in my life. I really do.

But, there are some times when we all need a break from those little popups that beep and blip, begging for our attention.

And sometimes it’s not even people! I also have a few weather apps that send along severe weather notifications that, while interesting, aren’t exactly worth being woken up at 3AM for.

So with all of these helpful notifications, how do we block them out when we don’t want them interupting our lives? Well, luckily with the advent of iOS6, we have the ability baked right into our devices.

Cool! So where do I find it?

DND Settings screenshot

Head into “Settings” and, fourth from the top, you will see “Do Not Disturb”. To turn it on, just toggle the switch from “Off” to “On”. A little crescent moon icon will show up to the left of the clock up at the top of your iOS device screen, signifying that it’s activated!

So, how does this work exactly?

When “Do Not Disturb” is switched on, absolutly no notifications will come through. This includes emails, texts, Twitter updates, Game Center updates, anything in notification center, even phone calls.

This sounds great and all, but what if someone needs to get in touch in an emergency and I forgot to turn it off?

DND Settings screenshot

Really great question! If you go into “Settings” and then “Notifications”, you’ll find another “Do Not Disturb” section (which is really un-Apple-like, but I digress). In here, dwells the secret sauce that makes “Do Not Disturb” (I am just going to refer to it as “DND” for the rest of this post) so great. In this settings menu, you can schedule when you want DND automatically turned on and off! For me, this is great because I hate getting disturbed by my phone while I sleep, so I set it for 10PM and 5AM every day. Once scheduled, the DND mode is enabled everyday during that span of time until you opt to turn it off.

DND Settings screenshot

The emergency phone call dilemma is handled with the “Allow Calls From” option. I personally set it for “Favorites” so the folks I have listed as favorites in my “Phone” app come straight through whenever they call. You can also set this to “Everyone”, “No One” (if you really mean business), or you can even set it for a specific group you have setup in your Contacts app. Again, this only pertains to phone calls, all other notifcations from apps still will not come in when DND is scheduled/enabled.

DND Settings screenshot

The last setting is for “Repeated Calls”. When this is turned on, a person will have the ability get through your DND setup if they call twice in the span of 3 minutes. Personally, I LOVE this setting, as I often tell people if there is ever a true emergency, please call us twice repeatedly if we don’t answer the first time. It’s a small thing, but the fact that Apple threw this option in, is just genius in my humble opinion! This way, if for whatever reason, someone important to you is calling from a phone that isn’t theirs, they’ll get through.

Oh yeah! One thing to remember…

When scheduled/enabled, DND mode blocks ALL ALERTS, including third party alarm clock apps! So if you are using one (unsurprisingly, Apple’s “Clock” app doesn’t get blocked) make sure you schedule DND mode to turn off before your alarm goes off. Otherwise you may be late for work and we can’t have that can we? 😉

So that’s it! Go enjoy some quiet time!

We all love being connected (maybe we love it too much), but sometimes the act of unplugging can be a nuisance. With the new DND option, it’s a lot easier. So, turn on DND and take that mid-day nap you’ve been promising yourself! You totally deserve it!

Just When You Thought This Was Turning Into a Diary…

It’s been a while since I did a geek-centric post. Contrary to my last few posts, I’m still very steeped in all things tech. 😉 So, without further ado…

I came across this post in my Twitter travels the other day and it has since stuck with me. It was a post from a fellow WordPress developer and he was talking about a concept that came from the lips of Matt Mullenweg (co-founder of WordPress, an open-source CMS that runs literally millions of websites on the web including the site you are reading right now.) and, though simple, it completely encompasses why I am so into WordPress as a platform and continue to support it in my own small way.

The quote came after an attendee stood up and spoke to Mr. Mullenweg stating that he found WP’s baked in image uploader to be cumbersome at best (paraphrased the hell out of this, but it’s a notorious nitpick. I feel exactly the same way. I back this guy’s complaint 100%).  Most creators of software would first correct you on your assertion and sling some response that was akin to “I hear you, but first, you need to realize that you are doing it wrong…”.

Mullenweg said this:

“The software is wrong, not the people.”

Go ahead, read that again.

The creator of the most popular web platform on the planet, when presented with the opportunity, sided with the users of his software before even considering the situation might be otherwise.

I can’t even begin to talk about how completely against the grain this logic goes in web development. There are a TON of egos in this field, especially amongst the heavy hitters out there. Mullenweg could’ve easily, and publicly it sounds like, made this guy out to be a dunce stating that “other users accomplish things every day with images in WordPress, why can’t you?” and at face value, he’d be right.

But at the core of the issue he’d have been dead wrong. Software in the last few years has evolved into complete UI/UX (user interface/user experience) packages. Gone are the days where software is heralded for what it can simply do. Nope. The lens is now focused on whether or not the software can accomplish it’s task simply and, furthermore, intuitively. The latter has always been the view and goal of Mullenweg’s WordPress project ever since I’ve followed him and his progress years ago. It’s the reason I push WordPress on potential clients and even at my day job today.

You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to stand by an open source project that stands by you.

I encourage you to read the original article by Joe Flood, that this post spawned from. It’s really well written and deserves credit for bringing this small moment at a WordCamp in DC to the forefront.

“Future Shock”

Been listening a lot lately to a hip hop artist out of Minneapolis named Sims.  His solo record “Bad Time Zoo” recently dropped and it is really exceptional.  Not only does it make you want to get your ass out on the dance floor (and I don’t dance, well, I don’t dance well…), but it also makes you think.  The bulk of the lyrics on his new album are mostly critical of today’s society and how we all are tumbling into a technologically desensitized black hole.  But rather than play into the hands of the completely annoying “FML” faction of today’s society, it offers glimmers of hope through out.  And because it is written well, it comes across as more of a dialogue than being preachy.  It’s one of those “wake-up call” albums that meshes raw and polished talent with a well timed message.

Having seen him live, I can honestly say that the message isn’t a marketing ploy, it’s from genuine concern.

His opening track on Bad Time Zoo meshes well with my much-documented love-hate relationship with technology.  It’s called “Future Shock” and I heartily recommend giving it (and the rest of the album) a listen. It’s really, really well done.  You can stream (as well as purchase) the entire album from his bandcamp site found here: http://sims.bandcamp.com/album/bad-time-zoo

Future Shock

I was born in 82
about the time of the Cold War flu
born when the world was small
before we connected the zoo
look at the way we grew
dropped the borders but we kept the walls
the things we made to pull us close push us all
we hear the ring but screen the calls
so close we could almost touch
but so far we don’t speak on the bus
so close I can almost see your breath
but so far I can’t hear your words
I don’t go a day without a button pressed
the years go by in a blur
it’s the time of plenty, inbox full
so why do I feel so goddamn empty?
but look at how connected we are
the whole globe at your fingertips
speed the pace it’s an instant fix
Space Age but I feel boxed in
and it’s wide open
and I’m dying to know
why I feel disconnected
am I dreaming demons, alienated
or do I just get what I expected?
they say it’s greed that keeps people turning
feeds the lonely and the beasts of burden
East of Eden but at least we’re earning
the ice is melting and the trees are burning
reporters all say it’s all but lost
and all we can do is watch
so I walk with my shoulders dropped
watch these blocks stack up with stores
is this what we’re working for?
filling that hole with goods, what’s good?
but the chokehold ain’t local no more
it’s global and closing its doors
it ain’t about right or wrong
what side you’re on
but the things we traded
how many sights for many sights
how is your life?
I was born in 82 but I live in 2000 and now
all the things I thought I knew
turns out they were never around
and all the people I met today
well, they all the same feeling that emptiness
fill it up with Fendi till the trendiness fades
then throw that thing away
I want the one with the new features
until the next one out then
bury it a little deeper
add on to that man-made mountain
you could have it all, the campaign touting
the cars and the champagne fountain
but that pool’s only deep enough to sink
but these fools don’t even stop to think
they just want that bubbly
now they spilling on you
ain’t that lovely?
what a mess since they jumped in
now they scream save me, save me to the public
but we barely know the subject
we’re all out doing for us
in so far, so far in fact
so near so packed we don’t speak on the bus
loss of love, loss of mind
loss of love, loss of mind
running out of time
loss of love, loss of mind
loss of love, loss of mind
damn near out of time

Digital Charity…

I’ve written on several occasions about my “love-hate” relationship with technology with, what I feel anyways, a pretty acute focus on the “hate” part.

This sentiment has been prevalent for last few years, mostly because I’m trying to find my place in this great big world. It’s caused me to question all the ones and zeroes that have enveloped my life and my actions. But, that topic is for another post for another time and it’s not what I want to talk about now. The point that I was meandering towards is that I’ve been wanting to do something digitally for the world. Nothing big, just something on the smallest scale I could think of, that directly involved me, was my creation and was something that could help people out in some way. Without any hope or expectation of reciprocation.

After looking at time, responsibilities and demands I settled on video as my building material for all of this.

I’ve been making video tutorials for my WordPress clients and family for about a year now and they’ve been well received. At first it was a very time consuming process but once I got a workflow down and thoroughly learned the vid capture software I was using, I was able reduce that creation time to something way more manageable. In fact, I spend way more time rendering/compressing the video then I do actually creating them. Which is a good. So once I could accomplish this task in under an hour I got the idea that I should start making support videos for EVERYONE on this crazy planet of ours.

So I did…

At first, this process took me way out my comfort zone. I was on camera, in motion, my voice was there, I’m imparting information, I’m telling strangers what to do, it’s all very, very “not me”.

But after the first couple videos went live, I breathed, forgot about them and moved on. After I realized I wasn’t going to quit doing this (and started getting traffic to the initial channel I setup) I started realizing that this could be a really amazing science experiment utilizing the web that could help a lot more people than I currently was.

So I then challenged myself to see how many more people I could reach around the world. I opened accounts on as many social networking platforms that I could think of, cross posted all the videos I’ve made on them and I simply sat and waited.

The initial stats that came in were a trickle. I was psyched when I got my first 100 views! But as this project got more and more inertia I started reaching the same amount of folks in less than 24 hours. Then I started seeing stats of where in the world people were hitting my videos (all over the globe) and it wasn’t long before I found myself interacting with folks, (I chatted with a guy Saudi Arabia last week). Some of the interaction has been more questions, or critiques, or spam, but for the most part, it’s been a simple “Thank You!” .

And that was the target I was aiming for. To simply help folks. Mission accomplished.

So where do I go from here? Well, the project continues to grow faster each month. In fact, it got big enough to have it’s own home which I finally launched last week. Go check it out if you’d like, it’s at http://www.simplewordpresshelp.com .

I hope it continues to grow, but, if it doesn’t, if it fizzles out, I won’t be bummed. I already achieved what I set out to do. I dropped that pebble in the pond and seeing where those ripples reached has been incredibly rewarding.

When Tech is Fun For Me…

Site: http://www.wordcampraleigh.com Twitter: @wordcampraleigh / #wcraleigh

I know, I’ve spent a good amount of time lately talking about walking the fine line of living a tech infused life and simply living.  Reading my past posts I’ve noticed the somewhat negative tone that’s in them and that’s a little bit of an unfair sentiment.  There are definitely times when my interest in tech has been extremely rewarding and this weekend was definitely one of them!

Starting this last Saturday the city of Raleigh hosted it’s very first Wordcamp!!

Wordcamp is a giant gathering of folks who work with, or are interested in, WordPress (the open source project that Mel and my sites run on). There were all sorts experience levels there from core and theme developers to folks who simply use WordPress in their day to day blogging rituals.  The event was filled with hour long presentations that dealt with the various aspects of a WordPress site like media embedding, plugin development, monetization of your site, integrating other external services, theme development theory, you name it!  It was pretty much covered!

To say it was an out and out IT geek fest would most likely be an understatement, but rarely have I ever been in such a group of said individuals that was so accommodating and interested in what everyone had to say.  There was a real sense of community that wasn’t about the typical belittlement that goes on these types of gatherings.  Sure there were the usual debates about hardware and operating systems (mostly Mac versus PC) but when it came down to talking about WordPress, it’s past, present and future, folks were all business and there was a ton of good sharing going on. I learned some good stuff and can’t wait to apply it to my future creations!   Seriously, it was top notch!

When I started developing sites in WordPress years ago, I was kind of going with my gut, figuring something this intuitive and easy to use would naturally be adopted by the populace. So you can imagine how psyched I was to see the size of the community that an open source project like WordPress has generated in the Triangle area.  The entire even was almost completely sold out!  On a weekend before a long weekend no less!

I truly hope it was successful enough to throw another one next year! I honestly don’t see how it couldn’t have been!

Well done Raleigh!

[geolocation]

On the Fine Art of Periodically Pulling the Plug…

Since my early to mid 20’s until now (34 years), I’ve been a constantly connected individual.

It all started when my first IT gig out of college gave me a bag phone for my car (basically a HUGE bulky cell phone) and then helped me pay for my first laptop (an enormous, yet incredibly well-made Dell Inspiron).

Since then, I’ve been reachable just about anywhere.

And in all honesty not much has changed.  Though I have gotten a lot more cagey in my old age.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the ability to get information from pretty much anywhere.  I love moderating and updating my sites from the passenger seat of a vehicle speeding up the highway to anywhere. I love documenting and sharing my interests with the world at anytime I feel the need to.  I adore keeping tabs on the handful of people very near and dear to my heart.

It’s all become surprisingly important to me.

But it’s also a fine line that I walk, as I already spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week staring at a glowing screen trying to earn a living. Then I come home and sit in front of my screen again, spending much needed time for myself and my interests.  It is  needed, but there comes a time where it becomes entirely too much.  I get cranky and life seems suddenly very cramped.  And before I know it (often too late unfortunately), I realize I need to step away.  Whether I want to or not.

I need to unplug.

My love of info and pixels paints my life into a bit of a corner sometimes and though much of that time is either necessary or immensely fulfilling, a lot of that time is also simply burning up the minutes in a day.  Winter is the worst for this behavior, but now that spring is gloriously here, I find breaking the habit is not only necessary, but it’s also irritatingly belated.  I always realize that I should’ve done it a lot sooner and when I finally do, I find a lot of wonderful things patiently waiting for me.

Like my raised veggie garden beds!

A compost heap in need of turning!

Farmer’s Markets reopening!

The newest family moving into our bird house!

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The local trails…

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A dog that needs more walks (and a brushing).

Live music!

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Books on the bedside table collecting dust!

It’s all of these things that patiently wait for me (sometimes constantly), to shake the haze from a brain over saturated with digitally enhanced brightness and contrast.  I’ll always love digital age, it’s kinda part of my DNA now, but it’s not the most important thing in my life.

As I keep adding years under my belt, I’m learning more and more that life’s about movement.  Getting my hands dirty, using my voice, feeling textures, getting more than a few blisters, holding the door open for anybody, saying “Hi, how are you?” and really meaning it, creating something I can hold, trying to hug your friends instead of shaking their hands….

It’s about feeling the heart beat; from the physical as well as the emotional.

Again, it’s about movement… of you and everything flowing around you.  You simply can’t experience it sitting in front of a glowing screen.  You gotta unplug once a while, or maybe even for good.

A fact I need to be reminded of every once and a while (thanks Mel 😉 )!
—————-
Now playing: Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
via FoxyTunes

The Highs and Lows of Tech…

So sometimes technology is like a big ole lump of clay for me to sculpt and make my own and, when it works, I’m in love with it. Like here for instance.

But sometimes technology is a big ole sack of chaos. Ruled by squirrelly electrical current and a crappy wiring job by the folks that built your house. 95% of the time we fair quite well in this department. Other times we end up with situations much like what I encountered last weekend when the external hard-drive that makes duplicates of all the files we truly care about, ended up sounding like a chirping “something” trapped in a sealed box of glass and sand.

Truly a double edged sword.

And it’s a perfect example of my love-hate relationship with it. It at once fits firmly within my value system (replacing many wonderful, yet wasteful products like books, CD’s, DVD’s etc…) all the while fostering a creativity that I’ve had and loved my entire life. It’s held all of my precious words, music and media for years faithfully, but it’s also turned it’s back on me with absolutely no warning, trashing everything in mere seconds. I’ve truly been devastated by it (I once lost 45 pages of a book I was writing. It wasn’t the whole book mind you, but still…) and I’ve learned a lot from those nutty little losses. But as much as I’ve lost, I’ve gained so much more.

Take news for instance. Because we don’t have cable, my information in life is strictly internet-based and with the apex of RSS feeds (or Twitter for the matter), I get fed only the information I seek. This leaves me to think for myself and find both sides of every story. My hobbies and passions are almost completely electronic now and because of this, I’ve found and read about so much more than I ever would’ve learned about otherwise. It makes a lot of material things seem bulky (physically and spatially) and, for most part, I don’t miss their physical counterparts. Not at all actually.

But (and there’s always a “but” when you talk about such things) even the light weight brain-stimulating zeroes and ones I play and make a living with, could ever replace holding Mel’s hand (or simply looking at her), hiking in the woods, feeling the sun on my face and a breeze between my fingertips, hugging a friend, helping someone in need, using my hands in the garden, scratching my pets behind the ears, looking up at stars, singing, dancing (even if I’m horrible at it), all of it… all those things you carry in your head and heart, right now and down the road. You can’t hold any of it. But that, in my opinion, is what makes up a life that’s worth genuinely smiling about.

These things constantly leave me with the sense of the immense importance of the balance of it all. The importance of unplugging and engaging life with all 5 senses. Being a geek for this tech stuff, it’s real hard sometimes. But those wants and needs aren’t any more important than the other stuff. I hear it all the time but it’s so damn true: life isn’t always fair and sure as hell isn’t easy sometimes.

It’s often sharing a vista with someone you love but it also can be attending a funeral. It’s hearing your favorite band under the autumn stars or helping a loved one through a really rough patch. It’s a life that’s yours and yours to live how you choose. It’s more than the sum of it’s parts.

Broken hard-drives and all. 😉