A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


The future is here

Just a quick check-in from the year 2012 and a peek at how things work in this wireless digital era.

I'm kind of halfway dieting... begun by a weight loss contest at work I fully expected to win and now reaching that point after the first ten pounds or so where it gets challenging. I've discovered a cool service called MyFitnessPal where you can track your foods, weight, calories, sodium, cholesterol, water intake, and overall nutrition. From a tracking perspective, about a hundred times better than the Hackers Diet, and with dozens more metrics, it's bound to be much more comprehensive.

Oh, and it has apps for every major phone platform. Oh, and all the info you enter is stored online, so it synchs with your phone when you log in to the app. Of course it does. So yesterday evening, in the midst of entering some of the data on my laptop, I realized I needed to head into the kitchen to get the rest. So I picked up my phone and off I went... a real Star Trek moment.

As they used to say in the Ginsu knife commercials... "But wait, there's more!" The app has a barcode scanner too, so all I needed to do was scan the packages and figure out how many servings I had. Zap, done, easy. Almost magic. And only eight calories over my target for the day.

On the road to Grapevine, Texas: the keyboard dock for my Asus Transformer tablet. A column of keys has become very intermittent, annoyingly so, and it acts like a hardware problem. Asus gave me an RMA number so I could ship it back for repair or replacement — it's still under warranty. So I shipped it yesterday... Priority Mail with tracking and insurance. With the tracking number I can follow the package all the way to its endpoint. Which... ok, sure, package tracking is no big deal, and just about every Amazon shipment has some kind of tracking mechanism, but I think this is the first time I've tracked something moving the opposite direction. Naturally it works the same. I was given the option of receiving an email every time the package moves, an option I was more than happy to exercise, and the emails are indeed rolling in. I can't make them fix it faster, unfortunately. But I will know when they've received it so I can shake my fist at them if they drag their feet.

In the saga of repurposing my old Nokia E71x as an mp3 player... it's working very well. The only problems I've encountered are the built-in Nokia music player app is a little flaky reading id3 tags, and 4 GB just doesn't hold enough music for me despite thinking at first it would be fine. Both problems have been resolved. The memory problem was fixed with a 32 GB microSD card, a pretty good deal at $24 (a price which will seem ridiculously high in a few short years). As for the tagging thing, first of all, good luck finding any Nokia apps at all, much less one which addresses this specific problem. With that said, behold FolderPlay, which lets you do exactly what the app's name implies... play a folder of songs in order. As for playing those songs in the correct order, and keeping things organized in general, you simply name your files and folders appropriately, and your file system becomes your primary means of navigating to what you want (as it should be). Let me add that I used the phone's own wireless capabilities (still working fine) to download and install FolderPlay. Even the aging stuff is magic.

These developments have crept up on us in less than five years, and yes, it's all very much like Star Trek (Next Generation of course). I can't even guess what things will be like five years from now, but I will say this much: It's going to be one fun ride.

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