The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020

Murderous Rage on the Anniversary

I’m writing in the new and improved Blogspot editing interface instead of in the WordPress interface today. That subject is one issue motivating my murderous rage. But there are at least two issues, I’ll get to the other one(s) in a minute.

The web host we have been utilizing to put ourselves online for about a decade chose this month to triple the cost of the online hosting that we had set up. Being the cheapskates that we always have been, we decided we could do better. Aside from which the Wife had found a new hosting company that looked good, run by some friendly people that she wouldn’t mind giving some more business to.

I mothballed my writing work and backed up WordPress and the website and waited for the procedure to complete for all the hosted websites that were going to have to transfer.  After a week of struggle with the host she had selected, she was unable to get an account at their place that functioned to her satisfaction. The thing that ended her week’s work with them was when they sent a confirmation email for a scheduled data transfer to the wrong email address.

They sent an email containing usernames and passwords to an address that was not on file with them as being the administrator of the transfer.  Let the enormity of the security breach that error represents sink in for a minute.

It’s the eleventh hour. The account we had at our existing hosting service was scheduled to bill us an obscene amount of money in less than 24 hours in order to keep up the hosting contract for the sites that we maintain for friends and associates, sites that don’t make us any money, and The Wife needed to find somewhere else for all of us to go.  She poked around a little bit and ended up at c|net and an article by written by a security guy (there’s a bit of irony for you) recommending the best hosting services for 2020. She decided well hell, if you can’t trust him who can you trust, right? Wrong. Wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrongness. All kinds of wrongness.

She did do some basic checking. The Wife is not an idiot. The URL registration for the hosting service she selected had been in place since 1998. c|net itself is one of the oldest publications on the web, well respected for the reliability of its information. We hadn’t heard of this particular web host before but we trusted c|net to have done their homework before recommending the service. That was our mistake. We contacted CIS.net.

At CIS.net we were assigned Chris W. to be the account rep. We paid up front for 8 years because the cost savings was going to be great and we were going to be getting a higher level of support for less money. Chris W. asked for the same information that the previously intended hosting company had asked for. Ok. No big deal. It’s just passwords and usernames, right? They will have your data when this is all over. Either you trust your data host or you don’t trust them. If you don’t, why keep your data there?

They moved this blog and its website first (I’m always the guinea pig) and the data transferred with just a few hiccups. The blog looked like it should, just missing a few images. I wasn’t too surprised by this. What I was surprised by was the insistence that I had multiple databases associated with the WordPress installation that I was running and that was why the images went missing. I’ve kept local backups and cloud backups of all the work I’ve done for as long as I can remember. The images are duplicated in at least two places. Image restoration would be a simple thing considering how few images were missing. I was annoyed but not outraged, so the move continued.

The Wife got to work setting up an email server for a customer next (a paying customer. One of the few) It looked great when she finished it even if she did think so herself. Two hours later it all disappeared from CIS.net’s servers. She contacted our account representative to see if there was a backup of the work she had just completed. Chris W. said that they could save and restore all that work she had just done if she signed onto their backup plan. The costs were the same as for other hosting services we’d checked with, but slightly cheaper.

(most of you can probably tell where this is going now)

While waiting for them to back things up and restore the missing mail server she had just set up, we discovered that our previous host would let us pay by the month to keep the service running. We promptly paid them for another month so that at least we could stop worrying about them deleting the data from that end of the transfer. The next day during a check-in she noticed that the mail folders in the restored backup were structured… stupidly. Like someone who didn’t know what they were doing would set things up. This cludgy restoration (not her original work at all) did work, so she got the client’s system and phone returned to them and the we sat down to take a well-deserved break in a hectic week of non-stop data terror.

In the middle of what was just the first of several movies we were planning to watch, the phone rang. Another subscriber for the destination that our data was heading for at that very moment was calling to let us know that CIS.net was not what it presented itself to be. They exchanged emails and we abandoned our movie night. After several hours of rigorous research on the Wife’s part she discovered that our data was being transferred to a honeypot set up to scam fees off of people dumb enough to transfer their data to the host.

Needless to say, she pulled the plug on the transfers. Will get a refund from the credit card servicer for the payments we made to them already. We picked a third host, one we had heard of this time, and we started the transfers again. That was when the fun started. And when I say fun, I mean the murderous red rage. But a fun rage, y’know?

The owners of the honeypot, alerted to our intent to abandon them before they had made a cent off of us, proceeded to transfer all of our domains to their registrar, whoever that was. Then they went in and deleted our accounts and all of the data from our original host (decades of pointless backups made meaningful. Yay, I guess) they changed all the passwords they had access to for the data that had been transferred, they diverted related email addresses and engaged in other assorted assholish moves in order to try to keep us from clawing back our domains and our data. They hoped to make some money off of us. I don’t think they know who they are messing with. If they did they wouldn’t be messing with us. There is no money here to be had. Just pain. Happy to share the pain with them if that’s what they want.

That problem is getting rectified as I type. The WordPress on the new (third) hosting service will be available soon and I will migrate this over there when that task is done. Have migrated it over now that it is available. Migrated the words and expanded on them with some words suggested by the editor-in-chief. I hesitate to write too much here without backing it up because I still don’t know how secure this site is and I won’t know for sure until at least a week has passed (two weeks and I still don’t know. I parked a new domain for the blog today just in case. -ed) This is not helping me find my inner peace. Not helping me get past the rage at having my stuff messed with in this way.

That is the thing causing a murderous rage that I/we can fix. So we are fixing it, because we can. This is not the thing that is causing the most rage at the moment, believe it or not.

Today is our thirty-first anniversary as a couple, the Wife and I. Every year on our anniversary we celebrate our relationship doing the thing we bonded over all those years ago. We go to a theater and we have a movie marathon, two or three movies in a row. We have dinner out as well, but for the last decade or so we have gone to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch our movies, so we get dinner and a movie together. That just makes more time for movies. Win-win.

Not this year. This year the Orange Hate-Monkey has made it impossible to go to a theater and have a good time. He has broken a thirty-year tradition of ours with his bumbling lack of leadership during this coronavirus crisis. He hasn’t managed to kill a family member with this disease yet, but I’m sure he’ll get to that eventually.

To top it all off several friends and the Wife all felt compelled to let me know that the Blue Angels were going to do a fly-over to celebrate the healthcare workers that have risked everything to keep people alive over the last few months. The Blue Angels will be flying over Austin. On our anniversary. Because the Orange Hate-Monkey thinks a patriotic tribute is what we need in this time of crisis.

The fly-overs are his idea of dealing with a pandemic. Not making sure there are enough masks for the essential workers to rely on. Not making sure there is enough protective equipment for the healthcare workers. Not paying them and the rest of the essential workers more money. Not training more people to take the load off of them in this time of crisis. No. His idea is to make us all look up and marvel at our own stupidity in spending so much of our precious blood and treasure on a military machine that cannot keep us safe from the threats we are facing.

This is the next war that we failed to build an army to deal with, to paraphrase an old truism. This pandemic is what a failure of leadership looks like. Man those fighter jets sure look great up there. Too bad all those billions spent making them and training those pilots wasn’t used to research antiviral medicines instead. We might have been able to go out and enjoy the summer, or at least been able to go out and see a movie, have some dinner in a restaurant, if we had spent that wealth a little more wisely. We might have developed a Malaria vaccine, a general Influenza vaccine, who knows what, with that kind of investment.

Instead we are sheltering in our houses hoping the markets don’t run out of food before the summer is over. At least I can write Happy Anniversary to the Wife on the blog now. We got our end fixed. How about it, Donald Trump? Want to try your hand at doing your job now? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The Plane That Never Leaves the Ground

Theness.com

Regenerative braking is used on most electric cars (My 2011 Leaf has them) it is a great idea to try to recapture the energy spent on getting up to cruising speed. However, to make it work for planes or rockets you would first have to figure out how to recapture the expended energy in a form that could then be reused by the machine. I personally can’t think of any way to ‘brake’ a plane or a rocket in such a way that the recaptured energy is worth the weight cost of the capturing device.

…as Dr. Novella says in the article, there is no way to overcome Newton’s laws. If there was, it won’t emerge as something as pedestrian as a plane that flies without refueling. That would be small potatoes compared to what could be done if the second law of thermodynamics didn’t apply.

Gutenberg Editor Bug

The latest release of the WordPress Gutenberg editor has dumbed down the editor to the point that it won’t work properly in the desktop interface. Basically, I can’t manipulate the images embedded in the text of my articles because the handles that show up at the manipulable edges of images disappear after the image is initially placed.

unusualjuggernaut.tumblr.com (I can’t click on this image in the desktop editor. For all intents and purposes, it isn’t in the document. I can go to the shiney-new block navigation hamburger and select the image block from the list. However, I can right-arrow scroll right out of the caption area but cannot left-arrow scroll back into it. I have to, once again, go to the hamburger and select the image block. This behavior could not be more annoying.)

Color me unimpressed with the latest release. I look forward to the next release, when they fix that bug and I can edit properly again.


Gutenberg version 7.8.1 seems to have fixed the image manipulation problem.

Connectivity – Take 1,178

I lost connectivity. It feels like it has been over eleven hundred times. If I’m feeling even more vexed, it will feel like more times. I blame LG for this. This time, number 1178, was definitely all LG’s fault. I have a new phone. A new LG phone. I had an LG phone before last week, but now it is a new, five day old phone.

The new phone required me to take four days off from doing just about anything else other than trying to get data from the old phone to the new phone. A task that proved fruitless to the very end. That is the short version of the story.

The family switched from Ting to T-Mobile sometime in 2019. I liked Ting. I liked it because it was cheap. But then the prices went up, and our usage went up, and the Son started watching movies on his phone at college, and suddenly we were spending enough on cell phone charges that we could probably save money going with a standard carrier instead of a minute and data swapper like Ting. So we bit the bullet and changed to T-Mobile as a family, and I got a new LG phone to replace the Motorola G5 that inexplicably didn’t have NFC capability on it.

That was when the fun started. The first LG-Q7+ was always flaky. It kept giving me operating system errors and crashing at unexpected times. I dutifully tried to troubleshoot the poor thing for several months, tweaking this, changing that, reloading this or that application. No luck. Then one day it decided that it couldn’t take pictures anymore, so the LG-Q7+ that was my first-ever cell phone provided by a carrier’s plan had to be replaced.

Fortunately or unfortunately its replacement was another LG-Q7+. The LG-Q7+ is not a bad phone. Personally, I think it runs circles around the Motorola G5, and that’s just because I can use it to do electronic transactions without having to dig for a card. But because it was another LG-Q7+ I thought that this was a good time to try the LG Mobile Switch software that I hadn’t bothered to use when I changed from the Motorola to the LG the first time.

That first time I set it up? I just fired up the smartphone, selected language and country options, then I told Google it was my new phone, and Google set it all up for me in about a half-hour. It was fast and easy, but I was never certain that letting Google set it up hadn’t been half the problem that the first LG-Q7+ was having with it’s memory.

So, silly me, not allowing something that works stand in the way of trying something new, I loaded up the LG Mobile Switch software and set it to copying and transferring the dozens of gigabytes of data that I have on my phone. I wanted this to be a straight copy from phone to phone, so I didn’t bother to associate the new LG phone with my Google account in advance. I figured it would know it was my phone after it initialized the new installation. This was my first mistake.

After I got the data transferred, the Switch software coughed up an error. It said that it couldn’t transfer Amazon music to the new phone. I figured I’d just install it on my own when I had the new phone up and running, so I pulled the sim card and SD card from the old phone and popped it into the new one.

It started up fine, but then I noticed that some of my data from the old phone didn’t copy. Data that wasn’t in Amazon music. Data that I couldn’t transfer on my own. My Google Fit data, specifically. So I started the transfer process again, thinking it was the error that caused the data glitch. This was my second mistake.

The second data transfer completed without error, but when I looked at the phone records I realized that the data had been duplicated, and the Google Fit data disappeared when I opened the application. This is the point where I should have stopped, reset the new phone, and let Google know that I was trying to set up a new phone, starting the process by accessing my Google account first. Had I done that (this was already two days into the four day torture session) I would probably still have my Google Fit data.

I didn’t do that. Instead I deleted data from the individual applications (!) and started the transfer process a third time. I figured that I was only clearing data from the one phone, it wouldn’t affect the actual data on my old phone. When the process completed the third time, I still didn’t have the data I wanted. What was worse is that when I went to check the old phone, I watched as the data was deleted from it as well.

The weird part was that a phone that wasn’t currently connected to the internet in any way, didn’t even have a sim card in it, could get instructions to delete data and then delete it. My best guess is that the command was transferred during the brief moments that the phone was on the network to do the third transfer, and that the data purge was simply waiting for me to fire up the app the next time, which I did.

I tried resetting the old phone to factory specs and then reinstalling the data from an old backup, but the damage had been done already. The data in the backup had also been deleted; or if it hadn’t been deleted, it was deleted when it was sent to the new installation. What was worse is that the LG Mobile Switch software still hadn’t duplicated some of the other data that it should have copied, if it was actually doing what it promised to do.

So on the fourth day I reset the new phone to factory specs and downloaded the backup from Google to the new phone, just like I had done the first time with the flaky first LG-Q7+. Annoyingly LG Mobile Switch insisted that I allow it to copy data from my old phone, even though the old phone had been reset to factory specs and returned to T-Mobile the day before. I had to figure out how to get the software to stop bugging me to copy data, which meant telling it “yes I want to copy” and then canceling out of the process after it got to the start screen.

It would have been nice if the LG Mobile Switch software had prompted me to log into my Google account as a precursor to starting the copy process, so as to let the dumb new user know that logging into your Google account was going to be required for the process to be successful. That would have been a big help. Not being so willing to try new things just to be able to screw up in new and interesting ways (and then write about the process) would also have kept me from accidentally deleting seven-ish years of fitness tracking from my Google account.

I started writing this on Monday, February 3rd. I got the new phone on Thursday, January 30th and started setting it up that day. As I started writing, I was logging into the last of the hundred or so apps that I have on my phone. What this experience has taught me more than anything, is that I really need to do some weeding of old apps from my phone. Not having to wedge data on to tiny old phones has made me lazy over the last few years. I really don’t know what all those apps do, or why I have them other than I thought “oh, cool” while listening to a TWiT or TWiG or All About Android episode, and then forgetting I installed whatever it was after I finished fiddling around with it. Why is it that everything requires regular cleaning, even the tech?

Looks like I’ll be duplicating the data collection that my doctor requested me to do about two weeks before I changed phones. I had just finished entering the last set of data into Google Fit and just needed to copy it and upload it to his website. If only I had done that first. If only.

It's a Network Problem

Should Facebook and Twitter Stop Trump's Lies?

What do you get when you combine an unhinged president willing to say anything to preserve his power and two massive platforms happy and willing to spread his lies uncritically?A perfect recipe for tyranny.

Posted by Robert Reich on Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Facebook – Robert Reich – Should Facebook and Twitter Stop Trump’s Lies?

Yes. Mark Zuckerberg is a yellow journalist. This is crucial information to understand. Mark Zuckerberg is not Facebook though, and Facebook is a valuable information resource.

Twitter on the other hand is a mud wrestling free-for-all. Twitter should just ban political accounts. More specifically, Twitter should be reserved for journalists. Bloggers. People who are reporting the news, which is theoretically anyone who has a cell phone and is present at a newsworthy event. People who hold political office should simply not be allowed to have a Twitter account. They could have a managed Twitter presence without one anyway.

Facebook should be tasked with verifying ad content. Just like any other intermediary, they should be worried about their own status and reputation enough to make sure that what happens on their platform reflects well on their reputation. If they won’t do their due diligence, then the corporation should be nationalized and/or closely regulated. They have billions to spend. They should spend it on maintaining their reputation. Otherwise, why are they allowed to exist in the first place, and why are we spending so much time on their platform?

…But breaking up a communications network is a joke. Ma Bell was broken up and that did permanently cut the cost of long distance calling. But the network reassembled itself because that is the nature of a communications network, that everyone be on the network somewhere or somehow.

You break up Twitter and then what? We already have that, it’s called Mastodon. The behavior will just go there and we still have the problem of spreading misinformation. You break up Facebook and then what? We already have dozens of variations of alternative Facebooks; and again, the behavior will just go there and still be spread. The behavior is there already, and is being spread there in a more limited capacity.

What is needed is regulation. Law. Law that holds these platforms accountable for the misdeeds conducted with their information services. Otherwise the behavior of the users will just get transferred to another platform. Fix the problem, not make it move somewhere else. Make the platforms police their own user base, or create a regulating entity that does it for them. Fine them when they fail to protect the weak from the strong. It’s either that or we let Western civilization spiral down the drain. Pick one.

Context Menu. Context Problem.

For months I’ve been fighting with search options in the little bar that appears over text on the various Android devices I’ve been working with. When Microsoft came out with the Microsoft launcher and their next big blue E browser, Edge, for Android phones, I thought “why not check it out?” and let it install on my Nexus 5. I fiddled with it a few times and then forgot I let the Microsoft stuff install, and then the Nexus 5 power button broke and it went into a bootloop and I had to have it repaired, and then I had to have it replaced, and then I had to replace the replacement that wasn’t what I was sold…

So anyway. The Microsoft launcher is still on my current phone. I don’t mind it being there, but it is still there and something that it did is driving me nuts now. At some point after I changed phones the first time, the bar over selected text changed. It looks like this now.

Three searches. Three, and two of them are Bing searches, and they don’t say which ones are Bing. Now, I don’t mind the Big Blue E being on my phone. I don’t even mind the amusement of occasionally switching to the Microsoft launcher just to see what Microsoft thinks will sell me on coming back to their operating system on my phone (never mind that it is still at heart Unix/Linux/Android) but what I do object to is the Microsoft launcher and/or Edge changing my search options and not giving me a way to take out the searches that I’m never going to use.

Today I decided that I would humor the Son and I installed the Ecosia search app (it plants trees!) thinking that adding a search engine to the phone would at least allow me to alter the system parameters and I could finally get Bing out of my phone or at least off my search options, but still no dice. I can’t get at the search options in the pop up over a text selection.

So now it’s time to start searching for a solution to this problem. None of the search engines can figure out what I’m asking for. It isn’t a menu; at least, that word doesn’t produce useful search results. Using pop up or popup as a search term gets me results that offer to help me remove malware and unwanted popup advertising. It isn’t a bar. It isn’t a task.

I’m finally reduced to asking the various search engines

what is the thing called that appears over selected text in android

Google Bing DuckDuckGo Ecosia

None of them give me exactly what I want except Google. Google, who has been spying on my searches for the better part of twenty years and so knows me best. DuckDuckGo did offer me this article on Popular Science – 24 hidden Android settings you should know about which was interesting at least, if not what I wanted. Also? I have something hidden that needs adjusting. I don’t know what the name of that thing is, but that thing should have been on the list of things in an article that purports to tell me how to adjust things that are hidden. Quod erat demonstrandum. Clearly there should have been 25 hidden things to talk about.

However. This article,

Online Tech Tips

…offered up by Google, didn’t actually answer the question but it at least gave me the phrasecontext menu. Now I have a name for the thing I want to change. That makes the job easier. Well, I should say, it makes the search manageable. I don’t want to program a new menu so the article on Tutlane.com that is part of the explanation for what a context menu is, isn’t going to help me. But that article gave warning that maybe what I wanted to do wasn’t explained anywhere because it was going to require learning to program in order for me to do it. Using the search string,

“android context menu” change search

I came up with this hit on Reddit in which the solution they found for removing Bing from their context menu was to,

Found a Microsoft launcher that I was testing out a long time ago still installed.

Uninstalled

Resolved

Redditisfun

Pulling the Microsoft launcher from my device did alter the context menu in question. To completely get rid of Bing I have to remove Microsoft Edge too. That’s too bad. I was entertaining using the Microsoft launcher and possibly Edge as well. There isn’t much hazard in doing this now because they are no longer dominant and so no longer the prime targets. At least, not in the mobile computing realm they aren’t. Google and Chrome are the prime targets there. But I’m not willing to put up with Bing search in order to do any fiddling around with alternative launchers for an Android device. Microsoft shoots themselves in the foot once again by forcing me to use Bing as a search engine in the context menu. Context is key.

I don’t know that Reddit is fun, but I finally have to admit that Reddit is useful. So much for the article where I blame Reddit for destroying the Blogosphere. And it had such a good title too.

Save the OA?

A snapshot of my comment spam from today.

Spam Screencap

Among the still-present faux-spy messages there were four of these #SaveTheOA comments sequestered in the spam folder. I had to go look up what The OA was.

Netflix canceled The OA, a science-fiction melodrama with a small fan base so devout it’s bordering on a religious order. Cancellations are relatively rare at the streaming behemoth, so at first fans suspected that the kibosh was a PR stunt.

…After reality set in, fans began a campaign to reverse the decision, petitioning Netflix and plastering pleas on social media.

While the show’s future is uncertain, the intensity of its fan campaign has showcased how much the relationship between fandoms and the stuff they love has changed. This isn’t about simple appreciation anymore; it’s about full-throated advocacy, about the conflation of self-care and entertainment, about the fact that even if Netflix doesn’t renew The OA it now almost definitely has to have internal meetings addressing how to respond to someone staging a hunger strike. It’s a plot twist so bizarre it’d fit right into the canceled show in question’s narrative.

The Ringer

Their spam will keep me from watching the show. Thanks for saving me some time, spammers!

More Than a Step Counter

Fitbit Versa 2

I was gifted a Fitbit Versa 2 for Christmas. I’ve been needing something to track my exercises more accurately with for awhile now, and this was the Wife’s answer to my issues with my Android phone and Google fit not logging my steps correctly. I’ve been kind of obsessed with accurately tracking activity as well as heart rate and blood pressure since the angioplasty that I underwent back in May of 2019.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…I can’t imagine why that is. What I wanted was an implanted monitoring device, but I’m not going to find that tech cheap or beyond the experimental stage in the United States. In the meantime, wearables are the only way to go, and Fitbit is one of the more common activity trackers on the market. The problem starts with my not liking things tied around my wrists. I’ve never worn a watch. I thought it was because I couldn’t afford a watch, but after an in-law gifted me with a very nice wristwatch a few years back, and I still didn’t wear a watch, I knew that it was having something on my wrist that I was objecting to.

We don’t need computers to wear on our head, or wrists, or arms. We need computers that fade into the background. Forget wearable computing. It’s time for disappearable computing.

ReadWrite – Hands Off My Wrists! Why I Don’t Want To Wear My Computers– Owen Thomas
YoutubeNext-Generation Biointegrated Sensors by Profusa

Wisniewski and her colleagues solved this problem by fooling the body so it can’t recognize their sensors as foreign objects. The sensors are smaller than a grain of rice and are made of a hydrogel scaffold that’s as flexible as a contact lens. The researchers also made sure their sensor lacks any flat surfaces, which are a dead giveaway to cells that an object isn’t natural, says Wisniewski, who is at Profusa Inc. As a result, cells and capillaries grow into the sensor’s porous structure without triggering the undesirable immune response. In fact, Wisniewski is announcing today that the first sensors implanted in human volunteers are still functioning after more than four years.

American Chemical Society

There are six other companies listed in this article from Dr. Hempel Digital Health Network that are working on implantable technology, and there is a lot of projected profit in that new marketplace. But that is tomorrow. I need something to work with today.

I found several articles lining out different wearables/hideables and their functionality when I went looking online for health trackers back in June. One of them was this article from Larry Magid at the Mercury-News. He has two Fitbit’s on his list. Then there was The Best Fitness Trackers from Family Living Today. The author lines out twenty-five of the best trackers that she tested in the course of writing the article. Most of those are stand-alone trackers that don’t necessarily sync up with your phone. She has a couple of Fitbits on her list as well.

The article that caught my eye was Hideables: Best wearables and clip-ons for discreet fitness tracking from Wareable. The article there was the oldest of all of the ones I had run across, but it focused on what I was interested in if I can’t just reference my own internal head-up display to see my current health status. There was a Fitbit Zip on that article. However, the Fitbit Zip isn’t on the Fitbit website. That’s troubling. It’s also three times as much as the quoted price in the article on Amazon.com, as of this writing. More troubling. The Nokia device that is mentioned is also not at the link on Amazon or on the Nokia website.

The wife and I talked about the subject of fitness trackers a few times after I went looking for one during the summer. That was months ago. I think I was open to a fitness tracking watch in principle, the last time we spoke, but I didn’t think I had left the impression that I was seriously interested in any one device right then. She just happened to be in the warehouse shopping club a few weeks back and noticed a display for the Fitbit Versa 2 with a price point that was reasonable (less than $100) and remembering that I was looking for a fitness tracker, she bought one.

I have to say, I still don’t like things tied around my wrist. I’m doing my best to ignore that minor irritation. The Versa 2 tracks exercise pretty well. It tracks sleep patterns, and since I’m on a CPAP machine, that seems like valuable information. It records my pulse. Those are the good things. The minimum functions one should expect from a fitness tracker. It doesn’t do blood pressure but that isn’t a deal breaker. The next part might be a deal breaker.

Entering data on the Versa 2 is truly frustrating. If you are trying to do it through the watch itself, it frequently doesn’t apply the data correctly. For example, I decided I would track fluid intake as part of running the thing through its paces. If you enter 32 on the display marked oz, as in “32 ounces” the watch doesn’t add 32 ounces. It adds 1.08 oz to the total amount for the day. Entering weight from the watch adds the number you entered to the total weight that you started with. Not at all what one would intuitively expect. There are posts up for both the water issue and the weight issue in the community forum. Fingers crossed that they get a patch out soon. The work-around for these kinds of issues is to simply enter the data through the Fitbit app on your phone. Makes you wonder why you need the hardware.

Supposedly I can play music with the Fitbit Versa 2. It syncs with several subscription services, none of which are ones I pay for. What about just using a player app on the phone itself? I’ve tried swiping down to access the notifications and settings tab, which is where the music controls for the phone should be if I’m trying to play music from my phone. However, if I tap the music icon it tells me to pair with my phone if the phone is selected as the music source, or it tells me to use the mobile app to download music to the watch if the watch is the source. Never mind getting the source to switch back to the phone if you change it to the watch. Since the watch doesn’t know it is paired with a phone, it doesn’t want to change back to the phone. This is another issue that is represented on the community forum. I’m beginning to think the problem here is Fitbit itself.

On the other side of the ledger, Google doesn’t offer any Fitbit interoperability with their fitness tracking software, Google Fit. Fitbit might be the problem with Fitbit’s internal software issues, but not having the data synchronized through the Android operating system and logged in other fitness tracking software (especially Google’s own fitness software) is major impediment to using anyone’s hardware to do this job. I certainly won’t be buying Google’s watch. Pressure tactics don’t work with me if I suspect I’m being pressured. If I was vulnerable to those kinds of tactics I would have already sold my soul to Apple for the next hardware upgrade and been happy in my Apple rose gold colored hell. Google should make Fit talk to Fitbits and other fitness tracking hardware. Fitbit should make their hardware talk to Google fit. I mean, the two biggest players that aren’t Apple should be willing to work together. It profits no one if you aren’t. I shouldn’t have to utilize a third party programmer (fit to fit) in order to do this. A work-around like that is a security breach waiting to happen.

If I end up returning the Fitbit Versa 2, I’m going to have to conduct some more research looking for another device. The limited amount of looking that I went through in order to write this piece has shown me that the marketplace has completely changed in less than six months. Which is startlingly fast in hardware terms. You can’t even design devices, construct the facilities to manufacture them, and get the product to market in that time. I can’t imagine the hoops that have to be jumped through to get things to market that quickly, only to be onto something else by the time you’ve completed that project.

Tricorder?

Magnetic lines of force … or actually Christmas lights on a canopy making a tunnel over the road? All three pictures…

Posted by Jim Wright on Friday, December 20, 2019
Facebook – Stonekettle Station

Stonekettle Station has a tricorder. Well, almost a tricorder. If the device captured all measurable energy in the recording field and not just the visible light, they’d have a tricorder. The future is now.

In the science-fictional Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a multifunction hand-held device used for sensor (environment) scanning, data analysis, and recording data.

On May 10, 2011, the X Prize Foundation partnered with Qualcomm Incorporated to announce the Tricorder X Prize, a $10 million incentive to develop a mobile device that can diagnose patients as well as or better than a panel of board-certified physicians.[12] On Jan 12, 2012, the contest was officially opened at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.[13][14] Early entrants to the competition include two Silicon Valley startups,[15] Scanadu and Senstore, which began work on the medical tricorder in early 2011.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tiny Christmas Planet. Sowell Farms, Milton, Florida. Private farm that puts up thousands of lights every year for a…

Posted by Jim Wright on Thursday, December 19, 2019
Facebook – Stonekettle Station