FitBit Evaluation

I received the Fitbit for Christmas and have been wearing it for a few weeks now. I’m not completely sold on the whole thing, but I do think it has some merit. It tracks all your movement using a gyroscope like those in Wii controllers, and is most useful for tracking steps per day and amount of movement during sleep. The site also has a well-designed UI, and has a lot of foods in its database for tracking intake as well.

The FitBit seems to be much more accurate for walking and not so accurate for things like biking (obvious), but you can enter the times between which you were doing “alternative” activities. The thing that I find least convenient is that you have to enter when you are biking, swimming, or sleeping AFTER the device has synced with the base station, which isn’t always feasible.

To sync, the base station has to be plugged into a computer with internet, and you have to be within 15 feet. Sounds easy, but this doesn’t always happen before I go to work or leave for the day. It also makes it as accurate as your memory (which isn’t so accurate for me…). I’d love to have an “event” button that you could push.. Perhaps even the button that is on it already so you can look at the events for the day and then fill in what type of activity it should be.

In any case, this device is probably worth the $99 if only for the tracking of movement and easy GUI on the site. It makes it a great challenge to beat your step count from the day before!

Mac made easy

Before buying the current cute little 12″ G4 powerpc I have toted all over the world, I was known between friends to be the one who thought that Macs were BS. I ended up buying it because it was the right price, lightweight, and small–ideal for carrying along traveling.

At first a bit nervous about all the programs I thought I would be unable to use, I have to say that I fell in love with it within 20 minutes and forgot completely about my mis-informed perception that development for mac is behind that for PC. In fact, I have found every program I need and more… some programs that I use ONLY run on macs simply because the developers refuse to use the inferior Windows OS to develop.

To help people that are just beginning their life-long Mac love affair here’s a list of programs I use–most of which are open source, and thus free:

Firefox–Internet Browser–This is a MUST HAVE for every computer Mac and PC alike… DOWN WITH IE! For a list of good plug-ins see this post on Brendan Nee’s blog. Replaces Internet Explorer.
Jungledisk–Automatic backup–an easy-to-use interface that works with Amazon S3. Replaces CDs and the built-in “Time Machine” which takes hard drive space.
KeePass–Password Database–have 45907 passwords to remember? KeePass keeps them in a secure database. Replaces scraps of paper and dusty corners of your memory.
Adobe Suite CS3–Graphics Tool–this is not open source, and not easy to use unless you know how, but its a must-have for web development and complex photo editing. Also offered on PC.
Skype–VOIP Internet Phone Service–call your friends around the world for cheap over the internet. Replaces the device known as a “telephone”.
Transmission–BitTorrent Client–simple interface and easy to use. Replaces Microtorrent.

Web Development Tools:

TextMate–Text Editing Tool–the best text editing tool I’ve used, free 30 day trial then 39euro, but worth paying for and only for use on macs! Replaces Aptana or notepad.
Transmit–FTP Client–also not free, but worth the $30 for excellent, light-weight UI. Replaces Filezilla.
Xamp–Offline Webdev Tool–this is the same as the PC version. No replacement.

Free and Open Source Substitutes for above programs you have to pay for:
Aptana–Text Editing/FTP–replaces TextMate but is a bit bloated and crashes from time to time.  (Edit:  Aptana Studio is freely available (and open source) for the Mac (Universal Binary) as well as Windows and Linux.. Thanks Paul)
Filezilla–FTP–replaces Transmit, but is not as lightweight or intuitive
Gimp–Photo Editing–replaces Adobe Photoshop, but I have not fully tested its capability

That about concludes my list. I haven’t included a replacement for things like Quicken because I don’t use it, but Buxfer.com and mint.com have features that track personal finances (Quicken does not run on MacOSx). To avoid having to pay for Microsoft Office, you can use Google Docs which has spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation capabilities. Here’s a list of other mac open source programs that is comprehensive but concise.

Most Excellent Journey

While setting up the travel site (3 months ago..) I have neglected this site. To see what my boyfriend and I have been up to the last 4 months, visit our website.. mostexcellentjourney.com which I am proud to say I programmed (with a bit of help from Brendan of course). We have photos, maps, and a blog.. and you can even subscribe to get emails of our new posts! Happy reading.

Travel Blog

I know I promised a blog right when we left for our trip.. well…. it has been a bit harder to get internet than we expected, and I had some problems finding a working computer before I left. BUT I promise that it is on its way!! I am being taught web design as I make this blog, so it is taking a bit longer, but it will be worth it! I will send an email with the URL as soon as its ready.. Hopefully within the next week. =) Hope you all are doing well.

p.s. if you read this and would like to be subscribed to a shortened edition of the travel blog, post a comment here with your email address.