Notifications

(Update 11-19-2015) It appears Facebook started to spam me. It sent an email saying I got a new message, which is not true. It actually sent not just one, but two messages. Also this is the second week of my pager duty. This afternoon Gas Buddy sent me an alert, and it got to my Martian Notifier. The gas price went up at least 20 cents, useful notifications, but not timingly because I don’t want it confused with the real page (text message or SMS).

(Original 10-19-2015) Just survived first week of pager duty (on-call): two sleep deprived nights, and some tense times. On the first night, around 2 am in the morning, the phone rang (paging text message came). Good thing is after validation it seems nothing horrible happened. I tried to go back to sleep, but I could not. One thing I was worried is what if I slept through the page SMS (text message) from the phone. Made sure the ring volume is maximized. I did think about a smartwatch or a wristband (Fitbit like) before starting page duty. Was debating between Apple Watch (about $400) and Fitbit Surge (about $250). Note I already have Fitbit Charge, and I don’t want to have another addictive device like iPhone (Apple Watch), plus the cost associated with it. So I did a little google and found this Martian Notifier Watch. And I ordered it via Amazon immediately when I could not feel asleep. It arrived on Wednesday and I made it work quickly: basically I updated its firmware to the latest via MacBook.

Then I saw something interesting happened: it vibrates not only when a message arrives; but also when I started driving to work or drive my daughter to ice rink/COCA, and when I complete an Apple pay transaction. Of course I know the notification is from iPhone and I went ahead and turned them off yesterday. So today is basically quite because I handed off pager duty this morning, and I turned off the two main notifications on iPhone. The first one is interesting, because it will say how long it takes to work or some other places. So apparently Apple is collecting some information about my behavior (where I go for work, what’s my weekend routine look like). One can say iPhone get a bit smarter (artificial intelligence), or put it another way, Apple is getting sneaky with iOS 9.

Back to the main topic, how much notifications do I really want? I recall when I got my first Blackberry, and have gmail installed on it. I was still excited about the device and the red flash comes with a notification (e.g., a meeting is starting in 5 minutes). So I turned on the email notification. Quickly I found this is excessive, because it will flash very often. So I turned it off. Similar goes to the badge (phone, iOS) notification comes with the Slack app. Once I got distracted, when I got home, I paid attention to that Slack notification, and I left my one year old daughter in the car for a minute and two.

We are living in a post smartphone, smart watch/wrist band world. We increasingly pay attention to the notifications from those devices, while at the same time, potentially ignore other important notifications from real people, both at workplace and home. Attention span becomes shorter and shorter at workplace too, with the instant messaging and the “high importance” emails. On one hand they are notifications, on the other hand they are distractors. Ultimately it’s up to us to decide what is truly important. Get the spam call from telemarketer who notify us “you win a lottery” or “do you want a home security system”, or just turn off all the non-sense.

(Update 11-08-2015) Some friends suggested mi band (or mi 2 band), which is much cheaper (about $16), and it also has those notifications capability. I have not tried and am not sure about the reliability of those. I noticed on my Fitbit Charge, after a while (app or firmware update), and previously paired notifications between my Fire Phone and Charge needs to be re-done. In this sense I feel good about the Martian Notifier, because so far (3 weeks in) I haven’t seen a problem.

Martian Notifier smart watch

Also I looked a bit more into the iOS notifications. Note all the Martian notifier notifications are supported by the master device, in my case iPhone 6. I mentioned earlier iOS seems guessed my routines and intentions well both in weekdays and weekends. For example, we stopped by Starbucks at Olivette on Sunday afternoon when we done with ballet class at coca (u city). The Martian notifier aka iPhone will say 8 minutes to Olivette as soon as I start the car at coca. Similar for the ice skate classes on Saturday. I think I will leave it on on none pager duty days, because I don’t want it to be confused with work related pager. 

Read also About Notifications on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (by Apple)