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Quick Poll: Do You Think the Apple Watch is Attractive? Yes or No?

A lot has been written about how Apple is targeting the “fashion market” with the Apple Watch. There have been ads in fashion magazines, such as Vogue and others, and the gold version of the watch is targeting the monied. (Even though it’s exactly the same watch, just in a gold body.)

I find that a lot of luxury items are not very attractive: Louis Vuitton bags, Hermès scarves, Burberry raincoats, etc.; all these seem, to me, to be nothing more than logos. But I’m not the demographic who buys something for its logo; I usually buy clothes and shoes that don’t have logos on purpose.

If you buy an Apple Watch, it’s more for what it does, for its usefulness as a gadget. But if you wear one on your wrist, you still want something that doesn’t look bad. (And this is independent of the pricing, which is still unknown, though I’ve made some predictions.)

So, do you think the Apple Watch is attractive? Am I alone in thinking that it’s clunky, and doesn’t look at all like jewelry? Or am I missing the point?

Do you think the Apple Watch is attractive?

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What’s the Reason for the 10,000 Step Recommendation for Fitness?

I’m always skeptical of round numbers; they’re too convenient. I had wondered, recently, about the 10,000 step recommendation that many fitness trackers set as a daily goal, and that, apparently, the World Health Organization recommends. (I can’t find any actually proof of this on the WHO website, but many other sources report that they recommend this level of activity; all the links to their website I’ve seen that claim to support this number are dead.)

According to the Live Science website, the origin of this number comes from Japan.

“The origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren’t exactly scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed under the name “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter,” said Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. The idea resonated with people, and gained popularity with Japanese walking groups, Tudor-Locke said.”

What’s interesting is that, in Japanese and Chinese, 10,000 is in important number. In Daoism, it’s an expression that means “everything that exists,” and in Buddhism and other oriental philosophies, it also has the meaning of “everything.” This is also the case in our culture, yet most people don’t realize it. The word “myriad” means 10,000; it’s often used to mean “countless,” or “an uncountable number,” but it comes from Greek, by way of Latin, where the original word had that meaning.

So, why 10,000 steps? It’s an easy goal to visualize, but it’s certainly not ideal for many people. If you walk to work, and walk a lot during the day, you can easily hit 10,000 steps, yet you may still not be fit. If you walk half that much, you may be fit too. And, steps aren’t even the best way of counting activity: a walked step counts the same as one you run, whereas the latter uses far more energy. (And this is why walking desks – desks with slow-moving treadmills – don’t have anywhere near the effect that walking at a normal speed, outdoors does.)

A 2004 article published in the journal Sports Medicine looked at this number, and said:

“Preliminary evidence suggests that a goal of 10000 steps/day may not be sustainable for some groups, including older adults and those living with chronic diseases. Another concern about using 10000 steps/day as a universal step goal is that it is probably too low for children, an important target population in the war against obesity.”

Some sources recommend a time-based goal, such as 30 minutes a day. This is easier to quantify, but it may be harder to ensure that your 30 minutes meet the criteria some organizations recommend. The Centers for Disease Control counts moderate intensity activity as walking 3 miles per hour or faster, a speed which might not be achievable by all. My own brisk walking is about 5 km/h, or just over 3 miles per hour, but when I walk on my treadmill, I can’t go that fast at all. (It could be that the speed the treadmill displays is wrong.) The CDC also says that bicycling under 10 mph is moderate intensity activity; I don’t cycle these days, but 10 mph is quite slow, and doesn’t even make me sweat. So these guidelines are confusing at best.

Most fitness trackers let you set your own goal, but one company, Withings, doesn’t give you that option: its trackers are set to 10,000, and, while it would be trivial to allow users to change that in their apps, the company doesn’t do so. If you use a fitness tracker, choose one where you can set your goal, and not just for steps; some calculate the intensity of your activity, and record minutes of moderate or intense activity.

So, don’t be intimidated by the tyranny of the 10,000-step daily goal. Set your own goal, based on what you walk now, then increase it, slowly, until you reach a goal that is attainable without too much difficulty. Or use a different goal; steps are easy to count, but they may not be the best way to measure activity. It’s frustrating to always miss a goal, so you can try to stay fit without choosing some arbitrary number as a measurement of your activity.

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How to Fix iTunes, Part 9: Gifting Playlists

(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)

Back in iTunes 4.5, Apple added a music discovery feature to iTunes. Called iMixes, these were playlists that users were able to create, and then publish to iTunes. There was a section of the iTunes Store which grouped them; you could search among them, and preview their contents, to discover the music that other people liked. You could also buy an entire playlist with one click.

To create and publish your own iMixes, you would just select a playlist, then choose Store > Create an iMix, add a title and a description, and it would be published to iTunes. You could even publish your iMixes to the web, to show people what kind of music you liked.

But when iTunes 11 was released, iMixes were gone, and there was no longer a way to gift a playlist. Now, if you want to send a playlist to a friend as a gift, you need to send them an iTunes gift card, and instruct them to download the songs you want them to hear. You also need to tell them the order in which to listen to them, if that’s important. Or, you can gift individual songs. In other words, instead of being able to send a digital mix tape to a friend, you have to give them detailed instructions on how to do it themselves. Obviously, all the romance is gone with this method.

Gift songYou can give individual songs as gifts, but if you have a mixtape you want to send with, say, twenty songs, it’s a bit of a slog to do this. Your friend will get twenty emails, each one with a link to a song, and they’ll have to download them all, then put them in order.

Interestingly, Apple still has some documentation on the web describing iMixes, but designed for those with affiliate accounts (even though it no longer works). It explains the process as follows:

“Using an iMix is a great way to increase your affiliate commissions while providing users the ability to buy multiple songs with a single click. An iMix is a playlist published on iTunes to which you can send your traffic by using an affiliated link. With an iMix, the user can buy each song individually or, with a single click, buy the whole playlist.”

I don’t know why Apple removed iMixes. Perhaps they weren’t interesting enough; perhaps they were too complicated. Perhaps the fact that any songs that were in your library that weren’t on the iTunes Store didn’t show up in a published iMix made it too sketchy a feature.

I’ve gotten a number of emails from readers recently asking about this feature. Clearly there are some people who’d like to see it return. I never used it, but I can understand how some people like the idea. So, Apple should probably find a way to allow users to gift playlists again; if it can boost sales a bit, it’s certainly a good thing. My guess is they won’t; they’ll tell you that you will be able to share a playlist with the music streaming service that they’ll be announcing soon, and that will be enough.

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A Podcaster’s Guide To Noise Reduction — Medium

Speaking with a few people in the podcasting sphere recently, I’ve realised that many people find the aspect of audio effects processing to be mystifying. While I’m no expert, I thought I might write about what I have learnt during my time editing radio shows and podcasts.

So, here it goes, but I apologise in advance if I’m teaching my grandmother to suck on those proverbial eggs.

Joe Nash, who edits the podcast I co-host, The Committed, wrote an interesting article about how he gets rid of the excess noise in our audio files. If you work with podcasts, or any kind of audio, it’s worth a read. There are no complicated techniques, just some simple ways to make sure voices sound better.

A Podcaster’s Guide To Noise Reduction — Medium.

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How Many Models? The Apple Watch Conundrum

In conversations I’ve had recently about the Apple Watch, a number of people express the belief that Apple will sell dozens of different Apple Watch models. Since the Apple Watch will come in three different models, each with two colors, and each with a number of different bands, some people think that Apple will have individual models (or SKUs) for each combination.

Apple has done similar things in the past. They’ve sold iMacs in different colors, and iPods have long been available in a range of colors as well. Currently, the iPhone and iPad are available in three different colors, and in a number of configurations (different storage capacities, and with or without cellular support for the iPad). And the iPod touch, nano and shuffle come in, respectively, five, seven and seven colors, though each model has only one capacity.

So what will happen with the Apple Watch? Let’s start with what we know will be the least expensive model, the Apple Watch Sport. It will be available in two colors (silver and space gray), and with five different colored watchbands. It will also come in two sizes. So that makes, just for the Apple Watch, 20 different combinations.

The plain, mid-range Apple Watch will have six watchbands, together with two colors and two sizes, making 24 different combinations.

And the Apple Watch Edition will be in two colors, two sizes, but an unknown number of bands. On the web page for the Apple Watch Edition, you can see photos of different colored watchbands, many of which are specific to the Apple Watch Edition (because of gold buckles, for example), but Apple doesn’t say how many bands will be available. They do mention “six uniquely elegant expressions of Apple Watch,” but only show five watchbands. So, six “expressions,” times two colors times two sizes, equals another 24 combinations. They don’t show any gold watchbands, and I would expect there to be a couple of them, in addition to the leather and plastic bands.

If you add other bands, which Apple has probably not mentioned, there may be as many as 100 combinations or more. Even with the above, I get a total of 68 combinations. Can we expect Apple Stores to stock them all? I don’t think so. I think Apple will either sell the watch body separately from the band – when you buy an Apple Watch, you choose two items – or will only sell a limited selection in-store, and sell the others online. Managing stock like that is a nightmare, and Apple Stores aren’t really designed for that sort of variety.

In addition, I can imagine that, if the Apple Watch is successful, that watchbands become a coveted accessory, as iPhone cases are now. Assuming Apple allows other companies to sell watchbands (if they have somehow patented or copyrighted the connector), it would be more interesting to buy an Apple Watch with the cheapest band, then go out and buy an add-on watchband that suits your taste.

It will be interesting to see how Apple approaches this from a supply chain perspective. Gauging interest in specific colors and styles isn’t easy, especially for a totally new product line.

Do you think the Apple Watch is attractive? I’ve set up a poll asking that question.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn


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