Apple’s New Accessibility Features - WWDC 2019

Apple's WWDC (worldwide developer conference) was yesterday, June 3 2019, and they introduced some awesome new hardware and software.

Some of what excites me the most hasn't received as much of the praise that the super expensive Mac Pro or the ability to easily convert an iPad app to a Mac app has recieved.

Luckily there has still be a lot of love for accessibility features. These are features that can help users with a variety of disabilities use their devices better.

My favorite is Voice Control which allows you to do exactly what the name says. The video below shows how amazing it is.

There is also some support now for using a mouse with your iPad.

Apple also said they are moving the settings area for accessibility out from the deep recesses of the settings app.

I love seeing the emphasis that apple continues to place on accessibility features.

The Great Hunt: Book Not Review

There will definitely be spoilers and not just for this book but for any of my faulty memories of the entirety of the Wheel of Time. This is not a review, more me revisiting my favorite book series a decade later. I absolutely recommend reading The Wheel of Time series and it was the best book series I read growing up, so anything critical I say is just for love.

Traditionally the second book in a series is one that I like the least. True for Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I did actually like the second Red Rising Book better than the 1st or 3rd one.

Things I was annoyed by:

I felt they spent too much time at the beginning of the book not leaving on their trips. Once they started leaving they spent so much time not accomplishing much at all. They just kept traveling and then Rand used some poorly explained magic. I wish they had spent a little more time in Cairhain and explored the Great Game with the houses a little bit more, because that was much more interesting than the first 2/3ish of the book.

The whole time people keep trying to not accept who they are. I get what Robert Jordan was trying to get across by it, the boys are scared of what an Aes Sedai would do to them. But I think this, unlike much of the rest of the series, is not as well written as I would have liked. Running away from your destiny is a story line that makes sense but can easily get annoying when all the character needs to do is accept it and move on.

The forced fighting between Rand, Mat and Perrin reminded me of the times in Harry Potter when Ron is upset with Harry over stupid stuff. I get that things like that happen in real life, but when the problems can be solved by the characters just saying one thing to each other it gets annoying. I wonder if it would have had a better effect if there was more explanation of Mat and Perrin not understanding and being a little scared of anything semi special about Rand vs thinking he is uppity for wearing nice clothes.

  • Rand's interest in the statue that gets everyone in Cairhain so up panties up in a wad is flimsy and annoying.
  • the overall pace is just slower except right at the end.
  • still not my favorite of the books.

Things I loved:

This book has tons of cool parts that I forgot were in this one.

  • Egwene in captivity (#foreshadowing) is well told and refreshing how quickly she gains power and control of her abilities unlike other characters.
  • The last battle with the Horn of Valere and the heroes is always good.
  • The various fights in the book are a little better as the characters become more competent but their abilities don’t astronomically rise in a completely unrealistic way even though it is fast for normal people.
  • The 3 abilities of the boys keep growing with Rand (One Power), Perrin (wolf things), and Mat (weird ancient connection thingy to the motherland) all having an advantage.
  • The use of them being Ta’averen is helpful with helping the 3 of them becoming more powerful.

My favorite thing is as more point of view characters are added it allows Robert Jordan to hide what Rand is planning. At first the new point of views are just required because the groups have split up, but then they are in the same place so the reader can be hidden from some of their thoughts and plans.

Overall still a good book even though I don’t like it as much. But I’m excited because I know that some of my favorite books are coming up soon.

Climbing Inspiration: Silence

I used to be super into rock climbing in high school. I was never very good at it and my fear of heights always got in the way of anything outdoors or up high. I usually stuck to bouldering. I did have an awesome trip with friends to the New River Gorge in West Virginia where we got terrible terrible sun burns during some white water rafting.

I used to watch tons of videos of Chris Sharma and others sending ridiculous rock faces and making first ascents all over the place.

I haven’t watched anything climbing related or participated in rock climbing in years. Maybe 1 time in the past 6 years or so.

I came across this video from Thomas Frank’s twitter account.

The video can be found here:

It is of Adam Ondra sending Silence with the newest grade of 9c (basically the hardest rock climbing route ever climbed).

The video is shot so beautifully, with great panning shots of the Norwegian vistas, countryside, use of drones for aerial footage and an amazing shot at the end of the video which shows how small Adam is on the rock face, inside a cave.

The music is wonderful and the use of silence with only Adam’s breathing, grunting and occasionally screams.

What was most interesting to me was his use of practice, visualization, use of someone with intimate knowledge of anatomy and physiology who could help Adam figure out how to physical perform movements that should be physically impossible. The video describes figuring out the position that Adam would have to get into and what muscles he needed to use and get stronger and what muscles he couldn’t use due to the fact that they would just be too weak or not useful in that scenario.

The amount of focus, concentration, intensity and repetitiveness of Adam conquering this route is amazing.

Feel inspired by this video.

The traits he demonstrates can be used in anything, and they come together beautifully in one of my favorite climbing movies of all time.

The Eye of the World: Book Not Review

There will definitely be spoilers and not just for this book but for any of my faulty memories of the entirety of the Wheel of Time. This is not a review, more me revisiting my favorite book series a decade later. I absolutely recommend reading The Wheel of Time series and it was the best book series I read growing up, so anything critical I say is just for love.

The first time I read The Eye of the World I read it as 2 books: From The Two Rivers and To The Blight. I had both of them and I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t have immediately read the full story. It is not a good book to split into 2 pieces and it sews everything up into a decent ending. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about that.

Robert Jordan is known for his love of using many many many many many character point of views. But for the start of this monstrous series he starts out with only 1 character point of view, Rand, for 300 pages before he switches to Perrin’s point of view. The character point of views switch around as the characters are separated but return to Rand’s POV after they meet up again. He eases us into the constant switching he is known for later. You are introduced to many of the aspects of the characters long before you have to inhabit their bodies. Basically all of the initial group of characters will be view point characters, you don't have to be thrust into their view point right away.

Many people I know that have tried to read The Wheel of Time think it is slow and boring, but I was surprised how much closer to a thriller pacing the first book can be. It has a relatively slow intro, but then the initial leaving on the adventure is fast paced, frenetic, and each chapter ends on a cliffhanger. You just have to keep reading late into the night (true story). Once the characters split up the pace slows down because every single chapter is a different POV character for a while.

It takes forever to get to Elayne in the story which is a shame, she doesn't feature much in this one. Not a fault of Robert Jordan just she is my favorite character and I am excited to re-read her awesome character development.

I didn't remember that Min had the initial vision of 3 women standing around Rand’s funeral pyre so early in the story. I believe this also happens in Salidar if I'm not mistaken and I'm not looking it up to check, I'll get there whenever the story gets me there.

Speaking of Min, just like Elayne, it is disappointing that she features so little in this book. But that’s what happens when you have such a long series.

Egwene also is a good character in this one but doesn't turn into her badass self until later books. I am always excited to read the parts when she is captured and kept from channeling her full power but is still amazing and just totally rules.

I forgot how much Mat with a dagger from Shadar Logoth annoys me. I understand why he is that way but I just want Mat, the brilliant ancient general who finds trouble even though he just wants to leave and go gamble somewhere. Dang character development, making me wait so long. But I do like how Mat does take care of Rand when he is sick, Mat’s true self is still fighting through the taint of the dagger.

Robert Jordan is usually very good about showing suffering and making us feel how the characters are feeling, like when Rand captured and stuck in a box in later books. But in the first one the various characters go hungry for many days and it doesn’t come through as well how much they are suffering.

Accidentally stayed up a little too late reading which brings me back to my childhood, with a flashlight, pretending to be asleep if I heard my parents in the hallway or coming up the stairs. This time I was just trying to be quiet so my wife didn’t wake up and also feeling the affects of staying up an hour or so later at work the next day.

I had forgotten Perrin talking to wolves and Elyas’ introduction was so early in the series, it's always nice to be delighted by something again. I always hear Of Wolf and Man by Metallica because I listened to it on repeat sometimes while reading later parts with Perrin doing his wolf things.

All 3 boys always think one of the other boys is better with girls than they are. It can be pretty entertaining as a running joke that builds on itself throughout the series as they have actual relationships and not just difficulty talking to a girl.

The end of the story is always confusing to me, which is always the case because it is written in a way that Rand is not supposed to know what is going on exactly. But it is not my favorite of endings as endings go but it is one of the more complete endings in the series, which is nice. Later books sometimes feel like some characters don’t get any satisfying ending to an arc, but this first one ties up nicely. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the publishing schedule and not actually knowing if a second would be written. I will report again in my next few posts if books 2 and 3 have satisfying endings, which I’m pretty sure they do as well.

Amazon Link

The Wheel of Time: A Beginning

I am re-reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. This series was one of the formative series of my youth due to the timing, and that I was there for each release after about book 8. It took me from my pre-teen through graduate school years as the books were finally finished by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan's death. I eagerly awaited the release of each new book with a longing that equaled Harry Potter releases except it was a much more private and intimate sort of longing unlike the mass hysteria that was Harry Potter midnight premieres. Only in the release of the last few books did I share that waiting with my family since I had forced them into reading the series.

I have been looking for a way to relax and unwind recently, but didn't want to pick up video games, sports or much more. I figured a chapter or so a night as a reward for actually studying for my 2 different certifications I'm currently pursuing is a good idea.

Some initial thoughts about the series that I will explore in much more detail later.

I listen to certain songs and think of certain characters. I explicitly listened to Of Wolf and Man by Metallica during scenes with Perrin in them and think about it now every time that song comes on. Probably partly growing up in the 90's and 00's when the few CD's I had transitioned into the iPod. Specific songs still bring me back to the books.

It was my introduction to meditation. The flame and void which is introduced in the first chapter as a technique that Tam teaches Rand in order to concentrate and later is expanded into a way to access the True Power. I will admit to trying this technique many times growing up but being unsuccessful. But from this I think I also was introduced to a form of stoicism before finding actual stoicism teachings in my classical education oriented high school. My interest (and extreme difficulty with) meditation probably started with these books.

I would spend hours re-reading the books in no particular order. I would just open up book 6 somewhere in the middle and read for 30 minutes. I have probably read books 3-8 about 10 times in this way. I don't believe I have ever done that with anything else. The dedication to repetitive learning that I have given this series is quite astounding and probably should have been put to better use with school, oh well. The only disappointment about that is the later books I was in college and did not give quite as much energy to them so don't remember them as well or as fondly.

My favorite character is, of course, Elayne. She is everything I wanted to be growing up. Followed by Mat, the trouble maker and Han Solo character in the books, of course I liked him as well.

I am very excited to start re-reading them and it will take me a long time but starting September 16th, 2018 the 11th anniversary of Robert Jordan's death seems a fitting place to start with the formation of dragon mount and introduction of The Two Rivers. James Oliver Rigney, Jr may you rest in peace and thank you for allowing me to live in your world.

Visit Dragonmount for one of the best fan sites of a series I have ever seen. Also there may be a tv show but I’m not getting excited about it yet.

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin is the best movie of 2018, don’t @ me.

Some small spoilers may follow, so continue at your own risk

I loved this movie so much, probably in a large part because it plays to my childhood nostalgia. But, Christopher Robin has a lot more going for it than pure nostalgia. They are called Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger.

The movie had the perfect balance of explanation of the magical connection between Christopher Robin and the occupants of the Hundred Acre Woods and mystery left to the imagination about how it works. It purposely doesn’t worry too much about the pure explanation and invites you to live in a world connected to a man’s childhood memories. Which are just as much our childhood memories.

I almost cried bunches of times during the movie, but most so during the opening 30 minutes or so when Christopher Robin is leaving his childhood friends behind and journeying into adulthood. He then is thrust into trials of adulthood such as going to war, finding love, and getting a job he hates. He loses all sense of family, and forgets what it is like to play. This is a spear straight to the heart of any adult who plays less than they would like. Charlie Hoehn wrote a great book on play called Play It Away and the importance of play in our life. But, Christopher Robin has forgotten all about that.

Then all of our childhood friends return. And the live action version of the cartoon characters we knew and loved come to life, with personalities true to their former selves and updated for a movie focused on Christopher Robin and his daughter rather than them.

The interactions between Piglet, Pooh, Tigger etc made me cry all over again. It wasn’t tons of crying, just some tears and sniffles that required wiping with a shirt sleeve a few times.

God, I just saw a commercial for it again. Well, at least I’m not crying this time. Maybe.

Just go watch it and see for yourself.