Feedback to Polar Regarding UI Design

There are many great things I could say about my Polar Vantage M watch. I like

  • it’s clean, rounded physical design (as its an early model it does not ever have any ugly logo on the front),
  • the fact that I can use it with different wrist bands,
  • its battery life,
  • and much more.

But there are also a few things that really bother me a lot. Here are the top two things that I think need improvement and that could be improved easily via a software update

1) UI Aesthetics

Here’s an example that annoys me every day. Have a look at the following two versions of a watch screen.

Look left, look right, look left, look right. Which one feels right, which one feels wrong?

To me its the left one that feels wrong. Sure the icon as a whole, which is a stopwatch with a heart at its center, is centered. However, I think it should be the keyline, the circular outline of the stopwatch, that should be centered instead.

Polar if you are reading this: Please make the screen I see when I press the “Menu/Back” button look like the right-hand side image! Center keylines and not complete icons.

2) UI Inconsistencies

Here’s the most annoying: Cycling through menus workings differently depending on where you are.

When I enter the main menu I can press up to get from the first menu item to the last, which is settings. Once inside the settings sub-menu I can not press up to access the last menu item on that list? Also, the way the list of items is indicated is different (dots vs. just one dot and a line)? Why, oh, why???

Polar if you are reading this: Please let me get to the last entry of every list by scrolling up from the first entry!

The cherry on top: The sub-menu item I use the most (changing the alarm clock) is at the very bottom of the list. Polar: Have you evaluated how your users use the UI, e.g., which settings they use the most? Do you think people access their “General Settings” or their “Physical Settings” as often as their “Alarm Settings”?

Polar, I think you are a great company and you can make this one right by just one software update. Thanks!

In The Wee Small Hours …

… of the Corona Situation, my new Jazz trio project “Christian Schmid’s Kaleidoscope” gets delayed, but at least there is some time for practicing. Here’s the intro to one of the songs we are going to play live, hopefully soon.

Coronavirus – My Social Media Posts

Coronavirus? No need to panic or overreact. Just listen to recommendations derived from numbers and facts: Wash Your Hands and Practice Social Distancing.

Giving Kudos for 30 Days

Just yesterday I (re-)discovered the Kudos function on LinkedIn. As I am one of those people who give positive feedback way too seldom, here’s my new 30 days project: Use LinkedIn’s Kudos function once a day for 30 days.

Kudos go to:

Winter Kayaking in 2020

Still Kayaking. What a better day to start kayaking in 2020 than January 2nd. When everybody has sobered up.

Actually, it was just a trial run for more winter tours to come.

Lesson learned:

  • invest in shoes
  • long johns may prove to be comfy
  • no special kayaking jacket needed
  • plan an extra 15 minutes for set-up and wrap-up
    • mounting the cockpit takes 15 minutes
    • inflatable kayak becomes very stiff at sub-zero temperatures.

Other than that everything went fine. I think we are now ready for more adventures!

Last-Minute Arrangement: O Tannenbaum

Download brass quartet sheet music: O Tannenbaum.

Here’s what it sounds like when played on a piano:

The Story Behind

A last-minute arrangement. No big words needed. By the way here’s a Christmas tree that I made out of peanut shells, rather unconsciously, during a telco at work.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa – Tune

This Thursday there was a Jazz Jam Session very close to where I live. I got home from work at around 7:30 pm. I had a choice of stressing myself, showering and going there right away or taking some time and skipping part of the opening concert. I did the latter and decided to use the time to do a quick lead sheet for the Austrian Christmas Carol “Es wird scho glei dumpa”. I had done a reharmonization of the tune earlier, but in order to be able to allow for solos it was necessary to write a lead sheet.

I still was able to hear 2 pieces of the opening band, and later we had quite some fun playing and improvising over my AABA lead sheet version of “Es wird scho glei dumpa”.

Here’s the complete download including the musescore files of both the reharmonization, the lead sheet, pdfs and much more.

Carol of The Bells

Download brass quartet sheet music: Carol of the Bells.

Here’s what it sounds like when played on a piano:

The Story Behind

Watching “Home Alone” (either 1 or 2, but never both) around Christmas has become a tradition. One of the Christmas songs featured in Home Alone 1 is “Carol of the Bells”.

Here’s why I decided to pick it up next:

  • It’s a tune from a completely different universe, in a sense that it would rarely be sung or played here in Austria. Also, you would not be able to hear it on the radio (no “Last Christmas” status).
  • Still, through “Home Alone” it has found its way into my personal Christmas tradition. Its sound and repetitive ostinato are inevitably linked to Christmas.

As for the arrangement: It starts with a bare-bones version of the tune. As the song was composed by Mykola Leontovych in 1914, it already has a fairly modern feel to it. The repetitive ostinato and the variations with a gradual ascending energy level make the song quite different from the Christmas Carols that I did so far.

With that, I also had to take a different approach for the reharmonization. Harmonics alone would not be enough. – At least not given the four-voice limitation and the need for the ostinato as a continuous reference. Soon I landed on a 7/4 time signature variation of the ostinato as a new anchor. Actually, new harmonies are only introduced from bar 43 onwards. With bar 47 onward offering a new take on the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm. Bar 51 has a Latin feel to it.

In terms of voicings, the idea was to increase the spread, and thus the richness of the cord, towards what I perceive as the climax in bar 55 and to decrease the spread again afterward. The 5/4 bar makes bars 55-58 feel more natural to me, as this can also be heard as barline-defying melody that still fits into two 7/4 bars. After dealing with the nice melody in the 5th mode of the melodic minor scale, the final 3/4 time signature guides back to the original “Dal segno”.

Ottstorfer Buam – March for Concert Band

This weekend we played my first piece for concert band during the annual “Trachtenkapelle Thalheim Herbstkonzert“. I started composing it last winter between Christmas and New Years Eve.

It’s devoted to Martin Roither, the former president of the concert band, who served for 21 (!) years. The march “Ottstorfer Buam” was a surprise for Martin. The title contains a reference to the neighborhood, where Martins coming from: Ottstorf. Here’s a video someone from the audience took, with Martin himself conducting the piece, which is how we ended the concert:

The sheet music can be downloaded here: Ottstorfer Buam.