3 May.

Auto-sleep feature on the Microsoft Band

The title of the blog is actually incorrect, as it’s more of a Microsoft Health feature rather than the Band.

Let me explain, as well as dispel some myths around the feature.

Late last week a new version of the Microsoft Health app was released that introduced the auto-sleep detection feature. Fantastic news, everyone was excited! However after installing the updated app there was no firmware update for the Band. There was a fair bit of chatter about the update not working, or the firmware coming later.

Most nights I sleep about 5-6 hours and it’s enough to get me by. Last week in particular had been a bit exhausting as I’d been in Seattle the week before, had a couple of evening functions and overall was just more tired than normal. I went to bed a few hours earlier on Friday night and thought I’d have a nap, wake up, enable the Band sleep tracking, then go back to sleep.

That didn’t happen. I slept for over 8 hours straight (that’s a big thing for me).

Later that day however when I looked at the Microsoft Health app it showed my sleep for the night before. I noticed though that it said “(Detected)”, as seen in the screenshot below:

So what kind of sorcery is this? The next night I thought I would test it out and didn’t enable sleep mode. When I awoke and checked the Health app I was disappointed to see that it didn’t record the sleep.

I was however wrong. It had recorded the sleep, however takes a few hours before it shows up.

The reason being is that the data is uploaded to the Microsoft Health service where it analyses your movement (or lack thereof), heart rate, and whatever else and makes the assessment that you have been asleep.

I gotta say, this is impressive functionality. I know others have it, but compared with everything else the Band is capable of doing this is shaping up to be one smart device & service!

 21 Apr.

How I deal with email

I get a lot of emails on a daily basis – on average around 100 per day. Nowhere near as many as some of the people I work with at Microsoft, but a fair few. Even though we use Lync / Skype for Business heavily at Paradyne and are also using Yammer for more and more conversations both internally and externally – there is still a lot of email going through my mailbox.

This inspiration for this post came from Jeremy Thake’s post about the how he handles email.

While I actually have 4 mailboxes configured within Outlook (personal, Paradyne, Xstran, Microsoft) and my phone for this blog post I’m going to focus on Paradyne as that is my most active. I generally have Outlook open on a dedicated screen when I’m at my workstation however there are many times during the day when I minimise it or am offline.

I have tried the Clutter feature of Exchange Online when it was released but unfortunately it did very little for me so I went back to my Outlook rules.

In Jeremy’s post (and others linked from it) they have a number of rules set up to filter out *everything* and at the end of the day everybody works different. My setup is simple yet prioritised:

  • Email from anyone with an @paradyne.com.au email address goes into my Inbox
  • Any newsletter, mailing list, email from Yammer, or anything generic goes into the “aGENERIC” folder
  • Anything from a person that isn’t a Paradyne colleague goes into the “aaNew” folder

Effectively this means that my team at Paradyne get priority, any other human being goes after, and the newsletters/etc. are bottom of the list. One of the major benefits of this I’ve found (and part of the reason I did it in the first place) is that the Paradyne mailbox tile on my phone only shows the count of emails in my Inbox – not the total amount of emails that have come through since the last time I checked.

Now while I always strive to achieve Inbox Zero I am somewhat accepting of the fact that it’s not always possible (at time of writing I have 7 in my Inbox (mainly from me), 15 in aaNew, and 5 in aGENERIC).

What I do ensure is that I read every single email that comes in. If I can address it I do it on the spot. If I can’t it remains in my inbox as read until it is actioned. A folder in bold makes me anxious as it means there’s something for me that I haven’t seen yet.

So there you have it. Nothing fancy or amazing. No machine learning. Just a bit of simple filing to cut down on the noise of what I need to respond to.