So I upgraded to Apple’s Mac OS Big Sur. I have to start out by saying that I feel Apple has been slipping in recent years with basic usability. The whole flat UI thing sucks not just in my opinion, but also in usability testing I have done with designs that were “flat”. Also I am not sure who started it, but between Apple, Google, and Microsoft all hiding scroll bars, it’s really a annoying trying to notice when there may be more on the screen. The first thing I look for now when updating OS is the option to force scroll bars to be visible.
Having said all that, I have to say that I generally like the look and feel of Big Sur and also liking some of the new features. The finder windows do feel cleaner and more refined. The new control center is interesting, but I have yet to really use it. There are new privacy and security measures which is good know that they are improved. Overall though it seems just OK. I am not wowed by anything just yet, but also there have been no major glitches as well. I do really appreciate that Mac OS upgrades are free now. If there is anything else that pops out over the next week, I’ll be sure to make note here.
So my company just recently issued iPhones (or Android if preferred) to all employees. The devices were sent direct to our home (or office if preferred), with no IT involved. As part of the setup the devices will be automatically registered with the company and a special company app installed. The only problem is it did not activate with the cellular plan. So now I have a phone with no number that can only connect to wifi and I have no way to activate the cellular because it asks for a SM-DP+Address code which I do not have. It refers to a QR code, but there was no QR code included. I am stuck until I can call in to the company help desk to get this straightened out some how.
[update] So finally got the work phone activated. Took a week for them to send the information to the service provider. The company app is also now installed and has been updated several times now as it is rather unstable. The app is quite poorly designed, which makes me sad as a digital product designer myself. Ah, well things are working and that is enough for now.
Recently, I was given the updated UI for the web version of Facebook. I have long stopped using the mobile version. One nice thing is the new dark mode now. Honestly, that is all that really appealed to me so far. However, one big pain is the comment box is almost completely unusable. There is a noticeable delay typing and there is some strange issue where it adds a double space after every word. I am writing this post just to check that this is not a problem in other web apps and I am not having any of the problems writing this in the WP editor. So this is a FB problem and it is a horrible experience.
It’s been said before, the future is coming faster than we think. This is true now more than ever as the advent of “AI” and robotics automation is beginning to seriously take hold. I put AI in quotes because it is still far from true artificial intelligence. It is because of significant increases in computing power and networking that increasingly complex algorithms can be run. Which gives the appearance of “intelligence”, but the reality is this is not true intelligence yet. While a machine can learn, it still has to be cultivated and corrected and ultimately it is not really thinking.
Anyone who has engaged at length with Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s Siri knows that there are plenty of limitations. As great as they are for somethings you very quickly run into problems for anything that is not yet factored in their algorithms and resources they pull information from. Having said that, they and other AI driven technologies are gaining traction in business. I know that there are many others predicting the same thing I am here…
We take a little side trip to the town of Ito. We are staying at a Ryokan (Traditional) Onsen. Onsen hotels feature hot baths and your stay comes with a very elaborate and delicious dinner and breakfast. Here we relax in the hot baths and then enjoy the meals. The first two days were overcast and rainy so we stayed in most of the time. On the last day it was finally sunny and we were able to walk around the town of Ito. We were even able to see some Sakura trees beginning to bloom along the river.
View of Ito town from the train
We spend the first full day in Japan just recovering from jetlag. The next day we go to visit my Nephew who lives over in Saitama prefecture which is North of where we are at in Kanagawa. Similar to the trip from Narita, this entails a 2 hour bus and train ride each way. Fortunately, Japan has a very extensive train and bus system and it is very reliable.
View of the apartment we are staying at in Yoda
Waiting at the bus stop