Lyft: My first three experiences

A few colleagues used Lyft from their phones while I was in San Francisco for UserConf in November 2014. However, I won’t count that as my first experience because I didn’t use it on my iPhone.

I worked a couple of shifts at the WordPress booth (by WordPress.com)1 at NAMM 2016 in Anaheim on Thursday and Friday, January 21st and 22nd.

A day or two earlier, I installed Lyft.

Along with my pal, Ryan Cowles, we took public transportation from Pasadena to Anaheim early Thursday morning.2 After arriving at ARTIC (Anaheim), we went to the pickup area, and I requested a Lyft driver. 3 minutes — cool!

The time estimate was accurate, and I also received a text messsage right when we saw the car. Nice. Davey was friendly, and the drive was smooth.

I love everything about the ride history shown in the Lyft app. Davey drove us from ARTIC to Anaheim Marriott Suites in eleven minutes.🙂

Next, I decided to test Lyft’s Lost & Found procedure.

Not.

As we tried to find the place to get our exhibitor badges, it took me about five minutes to realize that I forgot my DSLR camera in his car.3

Doing my best to stay calm, I opened the Lyft app, went to Ride History, and spotted “Find lost item” at the bottom. I described my lost item, entered my Google Voice number, and waited.

Eight minutes after Hideto dropped us off, he returned my call, and said he could meet me where we were earlier. Happy ending! He was super cool about it, too.

With my camera in hands, I was like:

On Saturday morning, the third driver (Joshua) picked me up at Marriott Anaheim Suites for part of my journey back to Pasadena. Really nice person, incredibly gregarious (despite being sleep deprived), and the drive was smooth.

I thoroughly enjoyed my three Lyft experiences. Highly recommended!


  1. I’ll save that for a separate post. 
  2. Ryan took a couple of cool photos: Metrolink, and Track 1 to Los Angeles
  3. Canon EOS 40D + Sigma 30mm f/1.4. 

Nappy time with Binaural for iOS

Binaural works well.

Binaural beats can help you relax, meditate, sleep, or even concentrate.

Binaural is the simplest, easiest to use binaural beats generator. Just pick a frequency, hit play, and it’ll do the rest.

I took a short break before a final hour of work this afternoon. Selecting an alpha frequency and medium rain setting, I placed headphones on my ears, sat in our comfortable bamboo rattan chair (which can lean back and rock a bit), and passed out within a few moments for fifteen minutes.1 After the noise stopped, I woke up and felt refreshed. Incredible, and free. Give it a try.

Aside: I wrote this post a few months ago.


  1. I used the built–in timer in the Clock app. For the option When Timer Ends, choose “Stop Playing”. Binaural also has a timer if you buy the IAP for $2.99. I wrote this before the feature was added on November 12, 2014. 

Review: Abco Tech Bluetooth waterproof speaker

For Christmas last year, Amy gave me an Abco Tech Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker & Handsfree speakerphone for one of my gifts.🙂

Most days, I use it for 10–20 minutes, mainly for 89.3 KPCC. Music sounds good, too.

After a couple of months, it finally needed to be charged because the battery indicator was low.

Solid, great suction, and sounds good (considering the environment and acoustics). I like it.

Review: Glif by Studio Neat

My wife has fun recording time–lapse videos — with an app that escapes my memory at the moment — and taking photos with her iPhone, so I bought her a Glif by Studio Neat. It helps that John Gruber recommends it.😉

Even though since she hasn’t been using it as much, I think I’ll get one for myself soon.

I read while eating breakfast or lunch, and it’s super comfortable when my iPhone is held up with the Glif.

Since I sometimes carry a Bluetooth keyboard, I can also use it for writing in a pinch if I don’t want to take out my laptop.

Custom Roost Laptop Stand for 11–inch MacBook Air

Bryan's current setup

I was stoked to receive a The Roost as one of several awesome Automattic Christmas gifts a few months ago. While it wouldn’t fit my 11″ MacBook Air, I saw Joey Kudish receive one that would fit. After a few pings and a couple of days, a custom Roost stand arrived.

(How am I worthy?!)

Previously, I used a mStand laptop stand by Rain Design. It was okay and stylish, but it didn’t compare to the raised height of The Roost.

Another bonus: I love the portability! Along with my Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, when I venture out with my laptop and backpack, I bring The Roost.

I’m fortunate that I don’t feel shoulder or neck pain, so taking steps like this hopefully means I can prevent it.

To James Olander and Warren Kleban: thank you for making this happen!

Instapaper’s site on mobile is beautiful

While trying to see how many items I saved to Instapaper in my Read Later folder, I loved how everything looked on their site (Safari 7, iPhone iOS 7.1). Super easy to read. The layout has room to breathe, and elements are spaced well.

If you know someone who rarely needs to use Instapaper offline, they’ll love it.

(I enjoy Instapaper for iOS, too. Worth it.)

Another bonus: Instapaper Weekly and Product Updates are opt–in, the way it should be.🙂

I never found my current number unread items, and I’m cool with it. Less stressful.

Track shared data usage for two with DataMan Pro

I installed DataMan Pro on my iPhone on January 2nd. While it was slightly uncomfortable ditching my unlimited (grandfathered) data plan from Verizon Wireless when I upgraded my phone, this app makes it a breeze to track my cellular data usage.

From left to right, and top to bottom:

  1. Current usage from this month
  2. Smart Forecast estimates usage for the rest of the month1, while the Balance displays how much cellular data I can use for the rest of the day.
  3. Stats: Usage by day
  4. Stats: Usage by hour
  5. Settings > Data Plan
  6. Settings > Data Plan > Add Usage
  7. Stats: Usage by month

Setup Tips and Observations

Data Plan — Review a few monthly statements. If your billing cycle starts on the same day every month, use the Monthly plan type. (e.g. 14th of the month)

For Data Cap, I just switched it from 1,000 MB to 1 GB (screenshot not shown) because 1 GB = 1,024 MB. Every bit helps!

Add Usage — To start accurately, log into the account with your service provider to verify your current data usage.2 Add the largest unit byte (whole number), then convert the decimal (probably from MB to KB) to add that last portion.

Multiple people — Amy and I share 2 GB of data, so we’re splitting that in half for each person.

Notifications — DataMan Pro includes push notifications at four configurable thresholds (called Usage Alerts). The defaults are 50%, 70%, 90%, and 100%.

Verizon Wireless can send email or text notifications when you reach certain preset thresholds (50%, 75%, 90%, 100%). I’m going to disable them because they reflect shared usage. We’re only concerned with individual usage.

In context, if I’ve used more data than Amy in a month, it’s up to me to ease up. She shouldn’t stress about it.🙂

Turn off Percentage Badge — If you’ll primarily rely on push notifications, you probably don’t care to see the percentage badge on the app icon, so you can turn that off in Settings > Advanced.

Interesting trends — When I’m home for most of the day, which is usually the case, I don’t use much cellular data.

However, when I’m out and about, Rdio, Day One, and Tweetbot can use up quite a bit if I’m not careful.

I’ve since disabled cellular data for the following apps in iOS 7 (Settings > Cellular):

  • Rdio
  • Day One
  • App Store
  • Netflix
  • Newsy
  • Scanner Pro
  • TuneIn Radio

Quirks

I always forget:

  • Swipe left goes to Settings
  • Swipe up displays your data usage over time.

Conclusion

I’m blessed to be able to work from home with a fairly solid internet and Wi–Fi connection. When not traveling, I don’t need to pay another $10/month for another 2 GB of shared data.

DataMan Pro will help us stay strong or realize when it’s time to fork over some extra cash. I gladly paid $4.99 for DataMan Pro, and will buy a second copy for Amy’s iPhone.


  1. In other words, if I don’t change anything with my service provider or data usage habits (like disabling cellular data for certain apps), I’ll use too much data on my account. With Verizon Wireless, overage costs $15 per GB. 
  2. Note the timestamp. That doesn’t update in realtime, so you may need to check several times and make multiple adjustments with Add Usage until it matches up. After that, DataMan should match exactly with your service provider. Should. ;)