Wednesday, September 02, 2015

September 2015 Photos

I know it's been a while since my last post. Very busy, but here are a few photos until I can get around to a couple of posts I've been meaning to make.

Hold short of taxiway charlie

Well, maybe not that short ...

Playing with EVS

Pinnacles National Park at sunset

Walk into town means crossing the runway. Really?

En route Bellingham

Boiling atmosphere

Over Puget Sound

Interesting weather for CA summer

DA42 Dash 6 near SF Bay

Early morning IFR departure

Stratus and forest fire smoke

Chock it up to experience?

En route KSNA

Dodging TSRA

Passing jet traffic on left, really small

Waiting at St. Louis-Lambert ...

Embedded TSRA

More instability

When FL400 doesn't get you on top ...

Westbound in the flight levels: Headwinds and sunburn

More TSRA ...

More boiling ...

There's a way through or around

Night flight home

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Photos, 2015

I know, I know ... no blog updates lately. Mostly this has been due to time spent on the forthcoming Concise Guide to the Citation Mustang, coming to the iBooks Store by the end of summer. For now, here are some photos that I hope you'll enjoy.

Airport in sight ...

Approaching FERNE

Never realized the Burbank Tower was sooo tiny

Delta sunset

Dazzling sunlight

Distant TSRA

Classic Bay Area Summer

Golden Gate, under there somewhere ...

DA42 wing, 'sall Hollywood ...

Right seat view

Midnight over LA

Bay Area microclimates in action ...

Near Novato

Sunset near Panoche

Look upon the Wx I have wrought and despair!

SoCal flyin'

Young and old

What, you never heard of the Dog Days of Summer?

Monday, June 01, 2015

Watch This

Thanks to the generosity of an instrument student, I recently got the chance to test drive an Apple Watch for a couple of days. There's been a lot of buzz generated around these devices, created primarily by product scarcity and from Apple fanboys to ardent MacOS/iOS detractors, there has been no shortage of predictions and opinions. With devices beginning to dribble out to those who purchased early on, more opinions are undoubtedly coming. So just how does the Apple Watch fit into the cockpit? Is it a useful device or yet another distraction? What I found out in my short two days of use is that the Apple Watch is a mixed bag.


Initially powering on and setting up the device is the standard, straightforward, pretty simple experience Apple customers have come to expect. Prior to my test drive, I had experimented with the Apple Watch at my local Apple Store, but the watches were all attached to a stand. Only when you are able to hold and put on the Apple Watch do you fully realize what an incredible job the designers have done. The Apple Watch is pleasing to look at, the display is quite good, and the finish and tactile experience is about as close to perfect as one could imagine. I confess I had the urge to put the Watch in my mouth to see if it tasted as good as it looked (no, I didn't actually do this). Yes, the design is that pleasing.


It seems that with smartphones, tablets, activity trackers and the myriad of other devices we all seem to be using, we are forever in search of power sources to recharge these devices. While USB charging seems standard, we still end up festooned with a variety of charging cables and sometimes with special charging needs: Have a device that requires 2.1 amps or will just 1 amp do? Lighting connector or mini- or micro-USB? We shouldn't have to care, but we live in an imperfect world.

Let's get this out of the way: To use the Apple Watch you'll need to own a later model iPhone. The Watch is tethered to your iPhone, usually via bluetooth to save battery power. An Apple Watch that has been configured can connect to a WiFi network on it's own, provided the iPhone to which it was tethered was configured to use that network: The Watch cannot configure networks one its own. If you use the Watch this way (without an iPhone nearby), expect a further reduction in battery life. More information here ...

Once the Apple Watch is up and running, you'll need to use the Apple Watch app on your iphone to delve into adjusting various settings to your liking. More on that later.

Let' get another thing out of the way: The battery life is less than optimal. I considered myself lucky if I got 15 hours per charge. What's more, since the Watch is tethered to and essentially an extension of your iPhone, expect your phone's battery life to be reduced, too. Recharging the Watch requires you to take it off and that leads to the next issue: The watch band.

The black, rubber-like watch band on the model I tested was sleek and comfortable, but I found it clumsy to get the watch on and off my wrist. With all the recharging, the watch band dance is one with which you become familiar and, hopefully, accomplished in performing.

Some have complained about the inductive charging device, saying that it's not obvious which side is supposed to be placed against the back of the Watch for charging to occur. Personally, I didn't find this to be a big issue. If you are annoyed, you can get one of many third-party charging stands for approximately 1/5 to 1/3 the cost of the basic model Apple Watch.

Watch This

As a watch, the Apple Watch is limited primarily by dismal battery life. Then there's the annoyance of having to tilt the watch to get the display to wake up. To make up for these shortcomings, consider that you can customize the watch face and define which fields you want displayed. As a pilot, I wanted to have UTC displayed and that is an option, but to have UTC displayed in 24 hour format I had to go to the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, select General->Language & Region settings, and set the Region Format to "United Kingdom." Odd, but in the end it was successful (thanks Phil, for the suggestion!).

As a busy instructor, I found it helpful to have a convenient display of my day's next appointment right on my wrist.


The calendar is a lightweight, but you can display appointments that are coming up right on the watch face. You can also use you voice to dictate a new appointment. The advantage of the Watch is that you don't have to pull out another device or open your computer, plus you have the added advantage of impressing the people around you when you start talking into your sleeve like a Secret Service agent.

Text Messages

Receiving short text messages on the Watch was surprisingly useful (there goes the American English language!) and I found it easy to dictate a response using my voice. Again, this all depends on having your iPhone nearby.

Activity Monitoring

I normally use a Jawbone UP to monitor my daily activity level. I also use Strava on the iPhone with a bluetooth heart rate monitor when I ride my bike. When I tried to use all this stuff at once, Strava on the Apple Watch was DOA. What's more, the heart rate monitor wouldn't connect to my iPhone if the Apple Watch was on my wrist or anywhere nearby. Not sure who's to blame here, given Apple's dismal track record with regard to their iOS bluetooth stack.


If you want to get basic weather information, ForeFlight on the Watch may be of some use to you. It's handy to get a weather overview of nearby airports of or those in your list of favorites. So if you're sitting in a meeting, obsessing over whether conditions will be VFR, MVFR, or IFR for your flight home, you can annoy those around you by constantly looking at your Watch. Would it be useful to use the Watch in the cockpit during flight? Doubtful ...


If cost is no concern, you most certainly will find the Apple Watch interesting, diverting, or, at the very least, a conversation starter. Judging on how the iPhone and iPad devices improved after the first two generations, it seems safe to predict that the same will occur with the Watch. In particular, the battery life issue has to be addressed and it would be nice if the Watch had the option of pairing with an iPad. It's likely that the current crop of Watch apps will grow in number and features. For now, the Apple Watch is an extremely pleasing slice of tech candy with some useful functions. You'll have to do your own mental calculus to see if owning this Watch will be useful to you, but be forewarned that once you actually handle the Apple Watch, touch it, and wear it, you may find it hard to not be seduced. I only handled one for 2 days and already I'm considering purchasing one.