Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Balena Etcher

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Balena Etcher is a free, open-source Windows application that can write CD-ROM images to USB drives. Unfortunately, it is very slow. Writing an image can be a time-consuming task. An image can be large. However, Balena Etcher is slow where it doesn’t need to be. For example, it takes a long time to start up. So long, in fact, that on more than one occasion, I accidentally started a second instance while waiting for the first one to start (thinking that I had not correctly started the program the first time). It is also slow when picking the ISO image to read from and when picking the USB drive to write to.  It also spends a lot of time “Starting” while displaying an advertisement for Balena. Once the long “Starting…” period is over, the writing finally begins and is relatively quick. Worst of all, however, I kept getting the error below:

Balena Etcher Error

I would receive this error despite having a USB drive connected to the system, as I could see physically and through Windows Explorer. That was enough to convince me to use something else for burning ISO images to USB.

Mountain bike route planning

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

My goal is to find an app that I can run on a phone mounted to my bike and that will show me a planned mountain bike route so that I can follow it as I ride.

Recommended: Komoot

I tried lots of possibilities. Here are notes on some:

  • Komoot. Komoot seems to be just the thing I was looking for. It lets you plan a route (a “tour”) dropping waypoints along the way. It will plan a route between waypoints that follows trails marked on the map.
  • MTB Project. MTB Project has a much better (i.e., more correct) map of the trail in my local MTB park that either Strava or Trailforks. Having said that, I don’t see any way to use the app to follow a trail in real time. I guess it does show your location and the trail line in the app. I will have to try it. Hopefully, I don’t have to “record” to use this feature.
  • Strava. Strava has a decent route plotter. In many ways, it is the inspiration for this quest. However, it works better at the scale of roads than at the scale of trails. The more important problem I have with it, though, is that using it seems to require recording your ride on Strava. I don’t want to record my ride on Strava (because I have a Polar heart rate sensor that works better when I record in its app, Polar Beat), so I need an alternative to Strava.
  • Trailforks. I don’t know whether the Trailforks app does what I want. I didn’t even get that far because I went to view the Trailforks map of my local mountain bike park and found that it was wrong. All wrong. Every single route I inspected was labeled for riding in the direction opposite that on the maps permanently installed at the trailheads in the park. Ooops. I understand I could potentially correct the Trailforks maps myself. For a site that is new to me, and which has a major error on the very first map I examine, though, I am not inclined to invest a lot of my time in building reputation and making corrections.

How to block distractions: iOS

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

To do deep work, it helps to block distractions in your environment. Devices like your phone, tablet, and watch are some of the most distracting things in your environment. So how do you block them so that you can get deep work done.

One option is to just turn your devices off or remove them from your environment. Take your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch and put them in the garage, or the basement, or another room, or a closet, or anywhere you can’t see or hear them.

The “out of sight, out of mind” strategy has a downside, though: the devices are actually useful. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have them. For example, you may want to keep your Apple Watch on in order to track activity – or to check the time – even while you are doing deep work. Similarly, you may want to have your tablet or your phone handy to use certain apps for work. Or, you may just want to be able to quickly check notifications in between work sprints, to make sure you haven’t missed an important message from your boss or your ex-wife.

So, what’s the best way to block iOS notifications while keeping your devices close to hand? It is “Do Not Disturb.”

To turn on Do Not Disturb on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings ? Do Not Disturb and set the Do Not Disturb switch at the top to On.

To turn on Do Not Disturb on your Apple Watch, swipe up from the watch face and tap the button with the moon on it so that it is highlighted. This step is not necessary if you have the Apple Watch paired with an iPhone that you have set in Do Not Disturb. The setting flows from the iPhone to the Apple Watch.

To turn off Do Not Disturb, turn the respective switches Off.

HRV apps

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

There are a number of iOS apps that purport to measure heart rate variability (HRV). All of them provide advice based on HRV readings. The advice can be more focused on cardiovascular training or more broadly geared toward general wellbeing.

  • Elite HRV (free, in-app purchases, 4.5 stars on 1.08K users). After I signed up, I was able to connect my Polar H10 heart rate sensor and quickly take a 1-minute HRV reading. Nice. The app allows you to tag your HRV readings. However, integration with Apple Health is not good. It seems it reads some data from Apple Health but does not write your HRV value there. That’s kind of useless for use with apps like Wattson Blue and Welltory, so I stopped using Elite HRV.
  • HeartAnalyzer (free, in-app purchases, 4.5 stars on 4.16K users) uses the Apple Watch. ‘Nuff said.
  • HRV4Training ($9.99, 4 stars on 96 users). Allows you to take an HRV reading using a Bluetooth-connected heart rate sensor. You can configure it so that HRV4Training will write your HRV readings to Apple Health. It only allows for one HRV reading per day and assumes that you are taking the reading in the morning. You can tag your HRV readings in all kinds of ways, although they almost all require manual data entry. (They do not pull data from many other apps, even where the data is naturally available in other apps.)
    • Alcohol (you set, none/a little/too much)
    • Current physical condition (you set via a slider)
    • Diet (you type in the name or description each time)
    • Fatigue (you set via a slider)
    • Illness (you set, yes/no)
    • Injury (you type in the name each time)
    • Lifestyle (you set via a slider, from unstable to routine)
    • Location (automatically set but adjustable, populates altitude/temperature/humidity/wind)
    • Mental energy (mood, you set via a slider)
    • Muscle soreness (you set via a slider)
    • Sleep quality (you set via a slider)
    • Sleep start/end (HRV4Training takes a guess; you edit)
    • Supplements (you type in the names each time)
    • Training distance (pulled from Strava)
    • Training duration (pulled from Strava)
    • Training intensity (pulled from Strava; adjustable)
    • Training main sport (pulled from Strava; adjustable)
    • Training performance (you set via a slider)
    • Training rated perceived exertion (you set via a slider)
    • Training stress score (TSS, pulled from Training Peaks(?))
    • Traveling (you set, yes/no)
  • Wattson Blue (free, in-app purchases) uses the “finger over the camera” method. However, you can manually enter values to get advice about training intensity.
  • Welltory (free, in-app purchases) uses the “finger over the camera” method. I must say, it does look like an interesting app, though, in terms of integrating data from all kinds of other apps to give a holistic picture of wellness.

Reasons not to procrastinate

Friday, September 20th, 2019

There are lots of rational reasons to do things later. Mainly, they have to do with priorities. However, for those of us who have made a habit of doing things later whether it is rational or not, it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the reasons that it is irrational. Here are a few of them:

  1. They might be out of stock. If you wait until the last minute to put in an order for a prescription, the pharmacy might be out of stock. If so, you might wind up missing doses.
  2. You don’t want to have to do this twice (or three times, or four times, …). When you procrastinate in the middle of a task, you often wind up having to redo it from scratch. For example, if you wash and dry a load of clothes but don’t fold and hang it, it will get so wrinkled you will at least have to put it back in the dryer if not wash it all over again. If you stop in the middle of sorting it, the kids will stomp all over it, pieces will fall on the floor, and pretty soon you will not know what is clean and what is dirty. Then you will have to do it all over again. Similarly, if you leave a load of clean dishes in the dishwasher for a few days, they will start to smell, and you will have to re-wash them.
  3. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. This is true in a simple quantitative sense and in a more complex qualitative sense. In the quantitative sense, if work accumulates over time, then the longer you wait to do it, the more you have to do. For example, if you dirty one wash load of clothes in a week, then after two weeks, you will have two loads to do.
  4. The more frequently you do it, the better you do it. With certain tasks, especially cleaning tasks, it is impossible to do a great job in one fell swoop. If you are mopping your kitchen floor, there is that one patch along the sideboard under the cabinet that you are bound to miss. If you are washing your car, there is that one spot in the louvers of the air vent that you don’t notice you haven’t wiped. If you are cleaning your toilet, there is that one… well, it’s best not to go there. If you do these jobs more frequently, though, you tend to even out the spots you miss. The result is a better (cleaner) job. This is more than merely saying that, if you clean more often, your stuff will be cleaner. Because that’s obvious. If grime accumulates at rate x per week, say, then cleaning weekly would ideally remove x grime. It doesn’t, though. It removes x-n grime, where n is some loss due to inevitable inefficiencies in the cleaning process. To get around this, you need to clean more than once per week. If you are cleaning less than once per week, you are losing ground.
  5. Fees. The later you are in paying a bill, the more fees will rack up. Billers tack on all kinds of fees and other charges – late fee, service charge, processing fee, and so on – under the best circumstances. Being late paying just gives them an excuse to add even more fees.
  6. Interest. Everybody charges interest now. As soon as you are late with a payment, the interest starts racking up. Even your dentist and your psychotherapist will charge you interest on late payments.