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iPhone apps that keep me on track!

January 13th, 2011 Comments off

Photo Jan 11, 4 06 11 PMHit my mini-goal of 4 pounds today, moving to next mini goal of 8.  Will try to hit that by Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to put a blog up regularly to keep my writing skills finely tuned should I ever need to write a novel, or a short story.  Because, you should never start a sentence with because, nor do you know when you might by held hostage until a good work of fiction is done!  There, paragraph down and haven’t even mentioned the subject I want to write about. Take that! productivity!

Hey, look at my iphone, look at my Mii, now back to my iPhone, and back to Mii.  Sadly you aren’t Mii. right… on topic!

Ahem.

This is a special page of iPhone apps that I use regularly.  My essentials are along the home row and I use them everyday.  The others are used less often but still good resources to tracking my diet, hydration and exercise.  This post I’ll just highlight the essentials.

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Lose It!: This is my main app to keep me honest.  It is my food diary so I’ll open it at least 4-6 times a day to record my meals and snacks.  The simple functions are easy, a comprehensive food database that include many brand name foods along with a good sampling of many restaurants and even fast food joints.  The database made it easy to start off and as I went I added foods that weren’t in the database.  Once a food is added, you can use it again and again.  The Lose It! plan for losing weight is to figure out your basic metabolism by using your height and weight, adding to that an activity level score to get a baseline for how many calories should keep you at your present weight.  Then you pick a planned amount of weight to lose in half pound increments.  The math works out that if you want to lose 2 pounds a week (7000 calories) your calorie goal will be 1000 calories less a day.  Everybody is different so there might be slight adjustment per person, but that is the basics.  The application is joined by a top-notch web application that syncs with your on phone log and gives you a plethora or reports to obsess over.  Recently, the site has added an awesome social networking layer so you can meet other losers and encourage one another. It’s a free app, and worth every penny!

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RunKeeper Pro! (RunKeeper Free):  This, like Lose It! was on my phone for about a year before I started using it regularly.  Since I’ve used it regularly, it has been three-four times a week app.  It’s core is a GPS tracking application that tracks your route live while you run, along with speed, elevation and all the other stuff that comes with GPS location services.  Much like Lose It!, RunKeeper syncs your runs that you enter on the iPhone with it’s website which provides additional tools to look at your history.  You can enter manual entries from the gym when your on stationary machines.  RunKeeper has a free app, but to get the most from the application, it’s a good investment to get the Pro version ($9.99).  Right now RunKeeper is running a promotion, you can download RunKeeper Pro for free through January.  Even if your not ready to start walking or running immediately it’s a good idea to grab the Pro app now, to avoid the normal fee.  RunKeeper has some additional add-ons, an Elite account ($9.95) will get you additional reports and the ability to track your runs live which is a neat feature when you’re running a race, or a long run to keep your loved ones informed on your location.  They also have Fitness Classes (different fee for each) that downloads a schedule and run intervals to help you train for a fitness goal.  They just pushed out active heart-rate monitoring this past week, or with select Polar devices you can upload your HRM data to the web-site post-run.   Great application, continuing to deliver new features and a good social networking layer to collect Street Teams to keep you motivated.

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Water (Water Your Body): this is currently a $0.99 app (limited promotion, that’s been running since November), and it’s a really nifty application to help ensure your drinking enough water.  It also has some in application awards and badges to encourage you to hydrate.  The app has a reminder badge on the icon to remind you (after you log your first drink of the day, how many more drinks you need to take to reach your goal.  No social networking layer with this application, but it doesn’t need it, it does the one thing it advertises very well.  Good visual representation of the water your drinking, and has a load of factoids about water that was interesting to read through.  There is a free application with advertising by Brita floating around, so if the buck gives you pause, grab the free one.

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True Weight: Another $0.99 cent application and I think this is only really required if you weigh yourself everyday.  A weekly weigh-in over time will show you the progress from sticking to your plan and meeting your goals.  However, if you’re like me and impatient and want to see the numbers everyday, then give your mind and worries a break and lay down the buck for this app.  Our bodies are wonderful machines, but we take in and push out over 14 pounds of “stuff” a day, so our weight is bound to fluctuate day to day.  By recording your weight in this application everyday, it calculates a moving average.  This is great if you’ve noticed a one day jump of a pound and start to worry, and realize it’s still a half pound below your average.  Good for piece of mind for the scale OCD types like me.  Nice graphical interface, and a 1 to 3 month chart keeps me motivated to stay on track.  You can even use the graphs as an instant brag page to friends over coffee.  What’s not to like about bragging.

So there is my essential iPhone app review for weight loss.  You can get in the game for $2 through the month of January, or wait until February and shell out 11.99.  Either way, it’s a bargain for how you’ll feel after shedding that holiday excess (or in my case … YEARS of holiday excess).

Bleeding Dodger Blue with MLB At Bat 2009

April 21st, 2009 1 comment

When I was a kid growing up, I was a big Dodger fan.  I remember listening to Vin Skully in grade school, watching the Dodgers in the World Series against the A’s was an early sports memory.  Crying when the Giants kept them out of the playoffs more than once.  I remember various players, Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey, Billy Russel, Ron Cey is still be dream infield.  I used to fall asleep listening to the broadcast in high school.  I remember reveling when Gibson hit his home run.

Then adulthood, and moving has distanced me from my favorite team. Until now.  The MLB At Bat iPhone app is WONDERFUL.  I can tune in and listen to the broadcasters, with Vin Skully, Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday.  I can track the stats, and see the pitches, see replays of big plays in jaggy (but good enough) video.

I’d like to think the Dodgers’ hot start this season is because they have their biggest fan back to listening and following them (but that’d be too prideful).  I’m loving baseball again.  Screen shots of the app below the fold (tonight game in progress) Read more…

Categories: Sports Tags: , ,

Blog Redesign…

April 14th, 2009 Comments off

I know what you are thinking… what blog.  Well I want to state for the record, my blog and I WERE ON A BREAK.  That thing with Facebook, was just a thing.  I’ll blog again, promise. *ahem*

Anyways, it was time to streamline my blog, and get it working for all the millions of iPhone users that could visit my humble web home.  So I installed the WPtouch plugin, and stripped down the the theme to match it somewhat, and viola, a ready platform to fill with my blather. Woo!

This will be a bit like looking in the mirror at the barber shop, but to show my non-iPhone readers what they are missing, let me display the following screen capture.

dablog via iphone

dablog via iphone

Categories: Blaaawg Tags: , ,

Read: Outliers

March 10th, 2009 Comments off
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Title: Outliers: The Story of Success
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Format: Kindle for iPhone

I bought this book to try out the Kindle application for the iPhone, and also I’m a fan of Gladwell’s other works ( The Tipping Point, Blink).  The hard bound version of this book weighs in at 320 pages, I mention this because the concept of a ‘page’ is somewhat fluid when you’re reading on a portable device. This review will mostly cover my experience with reading experience, and then I delve slightly into the content.

Overall the experience wasn’t bad.  The Kindle application allows the user to select from five font sizes, my eyes are good enough to make out the smallest font and read fairly comfortably, though I read most of the book at the second smallest font (one down from the default).  Page flips are a thumb drag gesture, so its easy to read one handed (a step up from a paperback that requires two hands to turn a page), rarely was there an inadvertant flip, but sometimes had to do the gesture twice because I didn’t use enough pressure.

One fault I found with the Kindle on iPhone (which is apparent in Outliers) is the size of footnote (which Malcom makes good use of and are fairly good reads in the middle of his prose) anchors required many attempts before being able to hit the mark (usually a * or +), while returning to the main story from the footnote was easy thanks to the “return to book” sized anchor.  While its probably more an artifact on how the publisher chose to insert the footnote, a larger anchor area would have been easier to navigate.

The other oddity was with some of the tabular data that is included in Outliers.  Gladwell uses tables in some parts of the book to show relations between dates and birthdays which are fairly well rendered, the Kindle makes columns that are wider than the page navigable via a scroll type functionality on the side bar of the page.  Readable, and for the purpose of the reading it was useable, pouring over the data to glean additional patterns wasn’t really a possiblity.  Again, this is on a very small screen, so this is expected, though being able to open a table viewer that can switch to a landscape mode would be neat, I’m not sure its required.

Which brings up another point, the reader is portait only, and flipping the phone to the side doesn’t change to landscape mode, because there isn’t a landscape mode.  I don’t have a problem with that, because in some situations, reading while lying on my side kept the orientation with my eyes, while an autochanging landscape mode (as in some other apps) would have flipped to landscape mid-sentence and been 90 degrees out for my eyes.

The justification for publications on the Kindle are up to the publisher, and Outliers was published with full justification (straight margins on both sides) which made it like reading a long thin column on a newspaper.  I find justified text fairly easy to read, but there are places where the word spacing was excessively large to make the justification work.  Not horrible, but noticeable here and there.

I read the book over the course of 3-4 days, in a variety of conditions, from completely dark room, to full daylight.  The screen brightness has to be changed outside of the Kindle application, which made for some pauses (don’t want to read a flashlight in my eyes, which is what normal brightness looked like in a dark room).  Full light wasn’t bad at all, the iPhone screen has good performance in daylight.  Best conditions was normal lighting and was very comfortable to read.  I read in different intervals, from a couple of minutes, to upto an hour, and didn’t experience horrible eyestrain.  (I have the joy of looking at LCD screens for the majority of my days at any rate, so reading on the smaller screen of the iPhone wasn’t horrible.  I have no experience with the Kindle’s eInk screen, so I can’t compare.

The nice feature was the ability to open the Kindle app and be returned to the page I left off.  Also reading a footnote then returning to the text was seamless, with one small caveat.  The return jump always had the starting anchor at the top of the screen which changed the position of the lines on the screen, which causes a bit of disorientation, but easily adapted to after understanding what happened.

All in all an enjoyable experience.  At $9.99 for the eBook, I saved ~$5 off the hardbound cover price.  I sort of wish there was a library or a half-price books for used eBooks, as I’m not sure I’ll return to this book over and over.  The content was interesting, but really not mind-blowingly relavatory.  Gladwell’s premise is that people we see as Outliers, people that achieve extraordinary success are often the recipients of inadvertant bias, luck, good timing, and earlier experience.  Sometimes I was left thinking that if everyone had the same experience as Bill Gates the world would be FULL of Bill Gates.  I’m not sure if that was what Gladwell was trying to express, but I disagree with that premise.  Sure, Bill Gates had some extremely lucky things happen to him early in life, but he also put in a lot of hard work and practice to get to the level of skill he showed at the beginning of the PC era.

Outliers is an interesting read, and some of the points made are pertainent to understanding how the world works, but not mind-blowingly relevant to living our lives.  Beyond working hard and making the most of opportunities.

Categories: books Tags: , ,

Kindle for the iPhone

March 4th, 2009 Comments off

Today, Amazon released a free Kindle app for the iPhone. Foe those that don’t follow the gadget world Kindle is Amazon’s entry into the eBook space, with literally thousands of books available in their format. The barrier to entry was the steep 300+ price tag for their reading gadget.

That barrier has been lowered a bit. Since with a iPhone app (and probably a Windows Mobile app right behind) there is an installed base of potential readers ready to read books on a mobile device.

I downloaded the app and bought a book. Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’.

(note: you have to go to the Amazon website to buy a book, can’t do it through the app).

Reading is easy, a thumbflip turns the page. At one click down from the default font I can read about two paragraphs per page. The don’t is easy to read.

Reading more on line, the app will sync with your kindle, so picking up either device you start where you left off.

Things the app can’t do ( yet ) is search or annotate. But for
Just reading it does a good job.

Categories: Gadgets Tags: , ,

iPhone borgness

February 21st, 2009 Comments off

I’ve been assimilated.

Angie, after merciless begging and pleading by me, succombed and allowed me to get my own iPhone.

Then she promptly kicked me out of the house (she was having a smelly scentzy party). I took the boys to the pool while she got high from melting wax.

Categories: Gadgets Tags: