If you’re thinking about trying a new fitness program, you won’t want to miss the well-rounded, multi-perspective review on episode 355 of Geekiest Show Ever! We discuss Elisa’s Apple Fitness Plus experience. Listener Scott shares his thoughts, too. Melissa has a tip for redeeming Apple Gift Card codes. Check out our full show notes here. Do you have questions about what you heard in this episode? Please send us your feedback. You can email us: podcast at geekiestshowever dot com. Follow us on Twitter for additional tips and conversation: https://twitter.com/GeekiestShow. We’d like to hear from you, so let us know which tech topics interest you most. Artwork for this episode is by Melissa based on a photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash. Elisa can be found at https://www.ThreeGeekyLadies.com or https://twitter.com/senseidai and Melissa can be found at https://www.TheMacMommy.com
When you’ve been gifted an Apple Gift Card in a digital format like an email from a friend or from a third party like the one Apple uses for its Trade-In program, follow the instructions found on Apple’s Help Topic page: Redeem your Apple Gift Card. In the case of Apple’s current Trade-In processor, Phobio, they email you a “PIN” which a series of numbers containing spaces. Simply copy this “PIN” to a new note in your Notes app then delete the spaces between the numbers. Copy the modified “PIN” number into the text field where you’re redeeming the code and the “Redeem” button text will now be accessible.
Pricing is $9.99/month or $79.99/year. Apple Watch owners get a one-month free trial.
Apple thought a lot about accessibility when creating Apple Fitness+. All classes are closed captioned and have subtitles for the deaf, which is also helpful for people who do not speak English very well or at all. The trainers use sign language frequently to communicate the beginning and end of the class, hold up fingers to signify how many reps to do, point to the direction you need to move. There are 3 trainers in each class I’ve taken. The lead trainer stands center, with someone to the left and right and slightly behind. The person on the left does the modifications if applicable. One constant for all classes-the trainers want you do to only what you can do. If it hurts, pull back, or adapt to what your body can do. There is no body shaming, strictly positive reinforcement.
The trainers are a diverse group. They range in age from 20s to 60s, and come from various backgrounds-Canada, England, Columbia, Philippines. One trainer has a prosthetic leg, another is pregnant.
And speaking of pregnancy, as of April 19, Apple is adding new workouts to Fitness+. They’re adding pregnancy workouts on Strength, Core, and Mindful Cooldown. Workouts for older adults also begins April 19, and Apple is adding new trainers to the mix.
Check with your health insurance company to see if they offer gym reimbursement. Mine does up to $125, and they told me Apple Fitness+ is included.
If you belong to a gym, Apple Fitness+ is a great way to get a treadmill, rowing or spinning class without having to go to the gym’s classes. You can build your endurance at your pace.
I’d like to see Apple add the ability to create playlists. Sometimes you want to go from one workout to the next, for example, dance to core to mindful cool down. Currently when you finish dance you have to go back to the home screen, find Core, choose a class, etc.
Elisa and Melissa play a pair of TV Critics. You can decide who is Siskel and who is Ebert on Geekiest Show Ever episode 354. First we discuss digitizing medical records and whether vaccine passports are good idea and how they should be implemented. Melissa has found a new bug she’s calling Scream Time because one of her family devices has gone rogue in the Screen Time Settings. Elisa is still working on her mystery bandwidth issues and may be on the verge of a discovery regarding the Spectrum app. Be sure to check out our full show notes for links to the apps we discussed in this episode available here: https://www.geekiestshowever.com/gse354-pandemic-escapism/Follow us for additional tips and conversation on Twitter @GeekiestShowhttps://twitter.com/geekiestshow
Check out this Vox interview withCharmaine Chan, a Visual Effects Artist. I think it’s fascinating how she used green screen and other technologies to achieve the lighting effects we see in The Mandalorian. It’s a fantastic interview if you want to learn more about the geekier side of cinema production. https://twitter.com/charmainesmchan
Brené Brown has a fantastic podcast called Unlocking Us. Last October, she interviewed Jason Sudeikis & Brendan Hunt about Ted Lasso, so if you’re a Lasso Superfan, you simply must hear it.
The Queen’s Gambit
Now that we’ve given you so many media ideas, you’ll want to make a list and organize them. Have we got the apps for you!
We’re doing a future episode on Apple Fitness+ and we’d love your input. If you are a subscriber, let us know what you think of it. And if you tried Apple Fitness Plus and didn’t like it, tell us that, too!
Terrible UI Prize Goes to Vaccine Registration Sites
COVID-19 Vaccine appointment scheduling has been frustrating to say the least, but we are finally starting to feel like we’re making some progress. Elisa has flexed her online ticket-ordering muscles and now has appointments down and underway! I finally managed to get an appointment for one family member and now I must wait my turn.
If you put a Pop-Socket on your iPhone 12 mini case, beware of flash flare. Mine has a white border around its edge. I noticed this back in December when I took some night shots of my Christmas tree and had to remove the Pop-Socket disc to avoid the white flare that showed up in my photos. Get one that has a black edge or run a marker around it to reduce glare.
Reminders App Troubleshooting & Tips
There was recently an update to watchOS and I was disappointed to find that after the update, my problem still persisted when it came to adding personal reminders using Siri on my Apple Watch. When I raise my wrist, it was STILL adding it to my shared Home list instead of my default Reminders list. It just kept frustrating me, so I decided that I would try one more time to see if I could reset the default list by disabling iCloud and unpairing then repairing my Apple Watch. I had tried it once before and it at least changed the default list on my Apple Watch from one of my shared lists to another of my shared lists, so I thought maybe I might get lucky and it turns out that I did.
On my iPhone, first I made a manual iCloud backup. Then I took a deep breath and disabled iCloud just for Reminders. iOS asks if you want to keep or delete a copy of the Reminders on your iPhone so I took another deep breath and tapped delete. Next, I unpaired my Apple Watch, powered both devices off and then re-paired my Apple Watch. When that was complete, I re-enabled iCloud Reminders on my iPhone. Once I flipped the switch back on for Reminders in iCloud, all of my reminders came back onto my iPhone and then eventually they came back on my Apple Watch as well. I wrestled with one or two new lists that got added that were duplicates, but eventually I got it ironed out. Prior to rebooting, I also disabled then re-enabled Siri after erasing Siri history in there for good measure. My Apple Watch is finally back to the exhibiting the expected behavior of putting a personal reminder on my Reminders list as default.
Reminders Tip: Add a Reminder from Another App
Prior to going through that process, I thought I might see if Apple had any new instructions about this issue. While I was researching, I discovered that they recently updated their Help Topic article on March 6, 2021 entitled “Use Reminders on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.” There is a new feature explained near the bottom that tells you how to make a new reminder directly from something else in another app. I never thought to try this before, but I’ve always wanted to because so many times I’ve received a text, usually from a client, and I read it, but then didn’t have time to respond so I end up manually making a reminder the long way so that I don’t forget to reply. Most times I just don’t tap the message and leave the dot there so I know to go back and read it, but then the unread dot makes me feel anxious so then I have to tap it! My teenager taught me that you can long-press on a text to preview what it says without marking it as read, so I may try and train my muscle memory to do that more often. For now, I’m really happy with saying, “Remind me about this in an hour” while looking at the text I can’t yet respond to and hope that it will lessen some FOMO. Here is the link to the article: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205890
I am so proud of the geekery I pulled off last week! I now have the pleasure of citing Siri incantations to perform spells that control the brightness of our living room lamps. At night we now can say “Hey Siri, Living Room Off!” It’s quite fun.
I just have to say that I can not believe there isn’t already an embroidered pillow out there that says “Home Smart Home” on it! Shouldn’t that be a thing?
What I learned through the process of setting up these “spells” is that if you do not craft your incantations to be short, simple, and easy to say, you probably just won’t use them and you might even annoy a spouse in the process. I was trying to make a distinction between bright lights and dim lights when I created mine, but what I really needed was a simple on, off and then another variation. Here are screenshots of the modification I made to the “incantation” we must now speak to make them work the way we like.
On episode 352 of Geekiest Show Ever, we discuss some of the troubleshooting experiences we’ve had over the past several weeks to keep our technology mostly working for us and not so much the other way around. We discuss the methods we use with our password manager to create new accounts more efficiently, how to deal with Keychain or web browser password saving conflicts, and more. Melissa files a bug report with Apple! Follow us for additional tips and conversation on Twitter @GeekiestShowhttps://twitter.com/geekiestshow
Use a password manager to pre-populate the fields on a web form
Instead of just filling out the fields on a website form then trying to take notes later, why not START by PRE-populating the fields in your password manager? This way, as you’re filling out the fields you can copy and paste and it will cut down on errors in data entry.
Elisa recommends using a clipboard manager for storing information to copy and paste. This makes data entry easier and more efficient, too. She also recommends using the password generator tool to help you come up with goofy answers to password reset or security questions. Remember, it doesn’t have to be the CORRECT answer, but “Aluminum-Foil ™” is already taken. 🙂
Here is a screenshot that shows the website form fields you need to fill out when creating a new “mySocial Security” account online. We’ll use this as an example because it’s one of the websites that has created a lot of friction for people when they try to sign up. It has a lot of parts to it. You need to pick: a username, password, three password reset questions, and three answers to those questions. That’s eight pieces of unique information in one go! On top of it, the password you pick must meet a specific criteria which they list in the instructions, but if you’re filling out the form and you make a mistake, you might have to start over in an area or you might forget what questions and answers you chose. It can be frustrating if you do not document everything in a safe and accessible place right away.
You could use this method for pre-populating the login entry in your password manager ahead of time. Here is a screenshot of what it might look like in 1Password:
Foam ear tip replacements for AirPods Pro are really helping to reduce ear fatigue. I forget I have them in my ears when I have the foam tips on. Phone calls are soooo much better now. I don’t dread making phone calls nearly as much as I used to. Now, if only I could get better battery life! Since I forget I’m wearing them, the battery drains more quickly. I have gotten better about putting them back into the case to charge, but it’s a habit one has to learn.
Elisa’s Internet Connectivity Experience
Internet speed and consistency is a problem we all deal with from time to time. After rebooting your computer and trying some troubleshooting techniques like booting into Safe Mode, if the problem still persists, it might be worth taking a look at your modem or router. If it’s more than a few years old, it might be time to replace it. If your ISP supplies the hardware, get the speeds you pay for by keeping your equipment up to date.
Melissa’s AirPods Pro Replacement Experience
My beloved AirPods Pro ended up being a lemon, sadly. The good news is that it was really easy to get them replaced by Apple under warranty with their DIY exchange program. I purchased them back in November of 2020. First there was a case ID support ticket generated where we triaged the issue over the phone. It was determined that a replacement was in order. They put a hold on my Apple Card and sent me the two replacement parts. I put the defective parts into the boxes and shipped them back and they released the hold on my Apple Card. The whole process took only a few days from start to finish. One of the troubleshooting suggestions was to see if I could locate another set of AirPods Pro to test, but that proved futile. After a doctor appointment, since I was already out of the house, I stopped by our local Authorized Apple Repair place as well as a Best Buy, but neither had a spare AirPods Pro set they could use to help me rule out whether it was the case or just the AirPod for the left ear. When I called Apple back and told them, they initiated a replacement by mail. I could have skipped this part altogether, but I was really curious about what a test might reveal. All told, I was only without my AirPods Pro for about a week and I’m happy to have them working again. I really, really missed them while I couldn’t use them. If this happens to you, it might help to know what options you have.
Troubleshooting Siri with Reminders app issue on Apple Watch Experience
It used to be that whenever I’d raise my wrist then speak the phrase, “Remind me to check the washer in 15 minutes,” Siri would tell me she’d gotten it and the reminder would go automatically to my “Reminders” list because that’s the list I have set as my default list. I used that feature all the time until one day, when I glanced at my watch, I noticed that the reminder I’d just set was being put onto a “Finance” list that I share with my husband. I thought, “This is wrong, I don’t want him getting MY reminders showing up on his Apple Watch or iPhone while he’s trying to conduct classes. How annoying!” (I use Reminders a lot.) So, down the rabbit hole I went trying to document the issue and discovered it somehow became a bug since the last watchOS update. I was able to get the issue escalated to Apple’s Engineering department. It was actually fun talking to one of the Engineers and to see the diagnostic process that’s involved in logging the issue with them. Still no solution, but I’m happy to know it wasn’t something I was neglecting to do. I’ll report back if the problem gets fixed in a future update.
Do you have questions about what you heard in this episode? Please send us your feedback. We’d like to hear from you. Let us know about a tech topic that interests you.
Hacking and scamming incidents are on the rise. It’s a sad fact of pandemic life now, but on episode 351 of Geekiest Show Ever, we’re here to tell you that you can take back some control if you know what to look out for and how to implement best practices. We believe that online security should be a regular part of our overall well-being. It’s why we so frequently discuss security issues and using password managers. Tune in to hear us share our field experience for ways to help your loved ones become safer in our digitally connected world. Follow us for additional tips and conversation on Twitter @GeekiestShowhttps://twitter.com/geekiestshow
Miele-LXIV is a free DICOM viewer for looking at images like MRI or Xray on your computer. Your doctor will either give you a disc or a way to get the images onto your computer, but if the program they provide is not compatible, this is a good alternative.
Check in with your loved one and have a conversation about their computer use and habits. Ask them to look at the programs installed on their devices and then ask if any of them look unfamiliar. Another good question to ask is if they have ever gotten “assistance” over the computer remotely by someone they didn’t know well who told them they could help them get money back. It’s an important conversation to have because sometimes the person feels embarrassed and won’t mention it. There are so many remote conferencing apps we use now for managing life in a pandemic. While these apps are really helpful and do serve a legitimate purpose, they can be used to exploit us during our most vulnerable times.
Think about the patterns that most phishing scams follow: a claim is made that convinces you to act because your money is in jeopardy or there is some information about you that has been revealed and you’re urged to check it out. They are targeting us in areas where we feel the most vulnerable: financial security and reputation. Many times those go hand in hand. The hacker will claim that you’ve been hacked and they are there to rescue you when they are actually the hacker!
1Password Families Review
Both Elisa and I have now converted our 1Password single licenses to the 1Password Families subscription service. We discuss how we got set up and how we’re using it with our families.
If you’re using 1Password for Families with young children or older loved ones who are not yet digitally literate, consider setting up a shared vault with their name on it for them and then make that their default vault in the 1Password app Preferences. To set it up this way, click the Vaults tab in 1Password Preferences then look for the setting that says “Always open to” and change it from Private to their [Name] vault. Where it says “Show in All Vaults” uncheck the Private vault and be sure their [Name] vault is checked. This is where you can also check (enable) the vault that is shared by default with all the members of your family for passwords you want everyone to have access to. If you share your Netflix login, for example, that would be saved and synced in the default Shared vault. Then where it says “Vault for Saving” change that from Private to their [Name] vault. Now, each time your child or family member saves a new password, it will be saved in their [Name] vault and you will also have access to it. If they need help populating the fields, you can make those changes or corrections and it will be synced to their device from yours. Many times in the beginning, people forget to change the signup URL to the login URL and then wonder why they keep ending up on a page that asks them to create a new account. It’s understandably confusing! Because you’ll have access to their vault, you could locate the correct URL and then enter it for them from your own device. Sharing vaults like this is helpful for those of us who are tasked with being the family’s Digital Executor.
Be sure to print out your 1Password Emergency kits, but before you do, consider annotating the PDF to include the Master Password. Use a monospace font like Courier (which is available on most systems) that will make the letters and numbers a bit easier to read. Make the text super large so that there’s no mistake reading what needs to be entered when it’s required.
Whenever you’re enrolling into an online account for the first time and they ask you to pick security questions, make up silly answers to store in your password manager! They do NOT need to be correct and it’s even safer if they are harder to guess because your mother’s maiden name is not a hard fact to find out.
Do you have questions about what you heard in this episode? Please send us your feedback. We’d like to hear from you. Let us know about a tech topic that interests you.
Our podcast neighbor from the MyMac Podcasting Network, Guy Serle, is our guest for episode 350 of Geekiest Show Ever. He will educate us about the value of good recording hardware and best practices. Follow us for additional tips and conversation on Twitter @GeekiestShow.
Here are Guy’s notes:
Important Things to Remember About Audio – continued
What kind of connectors do microphones have?
Most common will be XLR. That’s the big round 3 pin connector used to connect to most audio interfaces or mixers
USB. A lot of people use microphones with a USB connector and they can be either dynamic or condenser microphones. They all have a built-in pre-amp powered through the USB connection to your computer and can be a great, easy to use, stand-alone device. The Audio Technica ATR2100-USB is probably one of the best known examples and the newest one (ATR2100-X) uses USB-C instead of mini-USB that was used in the past. Also Blue Microphones make many USB condenser mics like the Yeti or Snowball.
3.5mm or 6.2mm TRS connector. Don’t use or buy this.
Find the quietest part of the house possible to record in. People with children will understand that this is a mythical place that doesn’t really exist and if it did there would probably be fire breathing dragons too.
Record with the least amount of filters and effects. Those you CAN add in post and not stress out your DAW or recording software.
Before buying a microphone, think about what you want to use it for AND (maybe more importantly) where you’ll be using it. I never follow this advice and buy microphones that I think will sound good…even if I never actually use them.
Oddly enough, people will watch bad video with good audio over good video with bad audio.
Learn how to use a noise gate for condenser (also dynamic) microphones.
This is what connects your microphone to other stuff. Except for USB Mics, every mic worth having (remember don’t buy a Mic with a 3.5mm cable. They’re junk) will need to go through some kind of interface. These provide Phantom Power in most cases, a gain knob per input which will typically be an XLR jack. Maybe a -10dB or so pad (if connecting musical instruments like Guitars). I like the Behringer UMC line (22/202/204/404) with their Midas pre-amps.
XLR cables, typically male to female, come in many different lengths. Because the distance from the microphone to the interface is usually less than 6-10 feet, you don’t need to go out and buy gold-plated Monster cables. Nearly any decent shielded XLR cable will be fine.
Desk mount – A lot of mics include them and they’re mostly junk. Any vibrations or bumps go directly into your recording
Boom Arm – NOW we’re talking. Isolates the mic (especially with a shock mount) from your desk and allows you to move the mic closer to you instead of you hunched over for a better position.
A lot of different companies make audio mixers and it’s probably too broad a subject to go into too deeply here, but look at reviews for ones with good, well regarded pre-amps. I’ve used Behringer Mixers and don’t like them as the Xenyx pre-amps are not good. Yamaha and Mackie are probably two of the most common that people use and are well-regarded. I currently have a Yamaha mixer, but I would love to get one of the Mackie ones that have Channel Inserts in their chain for adding additional audio gear like better pre-amps and compressors.
In Line amplifiers
This is only used with XLR dynamic mics and Ribbon mics. In essence, a small device put in series with the microphone and interface that adds around 25dBs of clean gain so the mixer or interface doesn’t have to have their gain turned up so high. Less noise because of it. Cloudlifters are reliable as are Triton’s Fetheads
I talked so much about microphones that I forgot about the other really important bit which is how do you listen to what you’re recording? I’ve been very happy with Audio Technica’s ATH line as well as Sennheiser’s HD-280 Pro I had. I’m currently using the Sony MDR-7506 based on Tim Robertson’s recommendation and they’re very good.