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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

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Observations on moreFit Slim Fitness Tracker

After switching to Android late last year and subsequently giving Eliza my Apple Watch Series 3 I have been wanting a simple fitness tracker for playing basketball. In most activities in my life I can keep my phone on me but for basketball I always miss out on tracking those steps.

I wanted to purchase something inexpensive that, if it were to break playing street ball (which it inevitably will), I wouldn’t mind replacing it.

I found the moreFit Slim Fitness Tracker on Amazon. It is undeniably a knockoff of FitBit but that didn’t bother me at all. On the day I was researching these Amazon had a lightning deal on them for $17 so I jumped at getting one.

moreFit fitness tracker

Here are some random observations that I’ve had after using it for a few weeks:

  • It works better than I anticipated. At $17 I thought it wouldn’t work at all or would be a terrible experience but thus far it has exceeded my low expectations.
  • The software is where it lacks the most but for my use I just need the step count to be pushed into Google Fit. Google released an update to Fit that broke this functionality so for a few days I had to enter the information manually. Which wasn’t terrible. I was happy to have the data. Google has subsequently released an update that has restored this feature though.
  • The accuracy is on par with my Google Pixel 2 XL. The numbers are not exact but I cannot say the margin of error matters at all for my purposes.
  • The device also tracks my sleep – which is a side benefit that I didn’t anticipate – so I’ve been wearing it 24/7. It is comfortable. I don’t even notice I have it on.
  • The battery lasts longer than a week in my case. If I let it drain my guess would be two weeks. I use a similar approach to my Apple Watch battery strategy. So I’ve set a reminder for me to pop the band into my computer’s USB port (via a dongle because Apple) every Tuesday for 15 minutes.
  • Tracking my sleep has been interesting. It has caused me to desire a battery quality sleep. I’ll be interested to see if I can somehow improve my sleep quality.

For my use this little moreFit is working just fine. I can see myself wanting a higher quality software experience (and better waterproofing) in the future but for this outdoor basketball season I’ll be just fine.

Best of 2017 as told by me

To create this list I sat down and wrote from the top of my head the things I could remember being awesome in 2017. The list isn’t exhaustive. It is just what made an impression on me as being “the best” in each category.

Best Blog: fuzzy notepad

Evee consistently writes well-researched, readable, diatribes on topics that could otherwise be boring yet are fascinating and I hang on every word. Here are a few posts from 2017 to get you started:

Best blog redesign: Colin Walker

When I awarded this to Jason Santa Maria so many years ago it was due to his use of color, contrast, typography. But design isn’t limited to how something looks but also how it works. Colin Walker has spend much of 2017 tweaking his blog’s features in subtle ways to work just the way he wants it to. I’m sure he’ll continue to fiddle with it throughout 2018 but I think we can all learn from Colin’s iterative approach. Keep tweaking.

Best new (to me) blog: Brand New

I’ve known about Brand New for a long time and have stumbled across a post or two over the years. But this year I’ve been pushing myself to learn more visual design and one way was to subscribe to more blogs like this. I find these posts, and the community, to be an excellent resource.

Best service: Spotify

This year I’ve used both Apple Music and Google Play Music to see if I could move away from Spotify. Spotify is in a league all its own, the other two don’t even compare well. Spotify’s machine learning robots just do an amazing job at surfacing music that I would like. It is so good it is eery.

Notable mention: Google Photos. I’ve switch from Apple iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos and I’m consistently being surprised by how much better it is.

Best book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This was a tough call. I read some pretty great books this year. But the one that keeps coming up in conversations, the one I’m sharing the most is Ready Player One. I think it is the sci-fi novel that I read this year that most feels like it could happen within a few years.

Notable mention: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

Best productivity tool: Bullet Journal

Bullet Journaling has made the biggest impact to my productivity and cognitive load than any other app, technique, or method this year. My “version” is slightly different than the default but I’m loving it.

Notable mention: Trello.

Best phone: Google Pixel 2 XL

I’m cobbling together my notes for a “review” of the Pixel 2 XL in the coming weeks but I can say, unequivocally, it is the best phone of the year. For me. I know the Samsung Galaxy Note8 made many people’s list and of course the iPhone X deserves a mention – but for the price, the quality of the hardware, and the software the Pixel 2 XL is an easy winner for me.

Before I get email, know that I have an iPhone X (Eliza’s phone) and I’ve tried the Samsung models. For me it came down to the camera system (which is actually better than the iPhone X in everything but the second lens), the software (Android 8.1 – Samsung is way behind) and the price. The iPhone X will be better next year and, hopefully, iOS 12 will be much, much better than iOS 11. But, as of today, Google is killing it.

One other side note: Google as a personal assistant is so much better than Siri it is jarring. I may have used Siri a few times per month in the past but today I use Google about 10 times per day with nearly zero mistakes.

Notable mention: Samsung Galaxy Note8, iPhone X.

Best podcast: The West Wing Weekly

If you’re not a fan of The West Wing this choice may not land with you at all. So, for you I would suggest Song Exploder. If you haven’t yet listened to TWWW I suggest starting at the beginning and also watching The West Wing along the way.

Notable mention: Song Exploder / Tim Ferriss.

Best platform: Instagram

When I deleted my social media accounts and didn’t even look at them for a few months the one I missed the most was Instagram. The platform continues to be one of the best and they continue to add great new features all the time while somehow keeping the app’s history in tact. The day may come when they add a feature that is terrible but so far they’ve done pretty well.

Side note: The algorithmic timeline almost pushed this one out for me. It is nearly inexcusable that this isn’t optional. I sincerely hope they find a way to allow users this option this year.

Notable mention: Micro.blog.

Best browser: Firefox Quantum

Perhaps this should be “most improved browser”? Quantum is a great name for the strides Mozilla has made with Firefox. They continue to improve the browser.

Oddly, Firefox is not my “daily driver”. I am using Chrome due to my switch to Android. (I’m ecstatic that I now can choose a default browser) I may, though, give Firefox a try across the board again soon.

Notable mention: Safari for turning off auto-play videos and ad tracking by default.

Best app: Apollo for Reddit for iOS

Though I’m now using Android I have to list Apollo as the best app. If you ever kill time by looking at Reddit (which I do a few times per week) I have to suggest you try this app. It is so well made you’ll wish it’s developer made every app you use.

Notable mention: Snapseed and Google PhotoScan (search App Stores).

Best code editor: Visual Studio Code

VS Code has improved a lot over the last year and has now overtaking Atom as my default text editor and code editor for all projects. While I still build native apps in Visual Studio most of my web work and text editing happens in VS Code.

The shared workspaces are the big feature for me this year. I can combine several code repositories into a single workspace and use Spotlight to launch all code related to a particular project in less than a second. It also has git and terminal integrated so I’m usually able to do all of my work in a single window.

Notable mention: Atom, Visual Studio for Mac.

Best YouTube channel: First We Feast

Specifically, Hot Ones. First We Feast has an interview show called Hot Ones that I just discovered this year and I can’t get enough of it.

Notable mention: MKBHD

Those are all of the categories I wanted to feature this year. Again, I simply pull this list together from the top of my head. Just like all years I saw so many amazing things it’d be very hard to create a real list. I suggest following my blog for all of 2018 because whenever I see something worth linking to I do so.

There are, however, some other companies, people, and products that I think deserve a shout-out. Here they are in no particular order: SpaceX, Khalid, Tom Hanks’ lost gloves tweets, The Last Jedi hype, Chris Stapleton, Joe Rogan’s Powerful JRE Podcast, Amazon Kindle and library loans, letgo, Google Maps, OK Google, Logitech MX Master 2S, USB-C, cast iron pans, Amazon Prime.

See you next year.

 

 

A “fireside” chat with Mark and Jeff Bezos

In this video Mark and Jeff Bezos do what the two brothers do a lot, have a chat. They just so happen to be sitting in front of a large crowd and a few video cameras this time.

It starts off a little slow, but stick with it. It is an enjoyable hour to get to know the richest man in the world.

E16: The Dark Crystal, Netflix, Amazon and more

Danny and I sat down on Saturday afternoon to chat about a few things. Below are a few links relevant to our conversation.

Links

Download MP3

How to: Stop a re-usable Keurig coffee filter basket from overflowing all over your kitchen counter

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Eliza and I have been using a Keurig for a little while but we recently picked up a re-usable coffee filter so that we can use our own ground coffee rather than the K-cups. With it we’d have the best of both worlds… be able to brew one cup of coffee at-a-time while being able to use freshly burr ground beans.

The only problem was that this re-usable coffee filter basket was overflowing all over the place. After doing some research online it turns out many people are having this very same issue and returning the baskets. Well, Keurig should really direct these people towards a comment by J. C. Wallace on a review on Amazon. His solution works and is incredibly easy to do. Here it is, verbatim from his comment:

The overflow has nothing to do with the grind, it is caused by the rubber gasket on the needle. Open up the lid and remove the filter basket, then look at the needle that delivers the water to the basket. You will see a black rubber gasket near the needle tip. Carefully grab the gasket on both sides and lower it until it is almost to the bottom of the needle (do not remove it completely, it is difficult to put back on). Load up the basket with coffee of any grind size and make a cup. With the gasket repositioned, the needle will seat tightly in the hole at the top of the filter basket and you will have no more leaks. Good luck.

There is a very small rubber gasket (or rubber thingy around the needle if you prefer) that simply needs to move down a few centimeters so that it seals the top of the re-usable coffee filter basket. I got it first try. And now I’m a happy camper.

Thanks J. C. Wallace.