Withings Activité Pop with Custom Leather Armband

My original Withings Activité Pop silicone armband broke, and while I did want to class it up a mite with a replacement band, I really didn’t want to spend $100+ on an original Withings leather armband.

So I went shopping around and in the end settled on a really nice, very affordable Hirsch1 “Forest” leather band. I paid ~€27 for the medium-sized variant in light/golden brown. I spend about half and hour in the store, checking out different armbands, and while I don’t like all of them (different looks, different tastes) they’re all really nice quality!

It doesn’t have the quick release spring bars, tho — which works for me because I don’t plan on going swimming anytime soon, and there have been no issues during/after my usual Fitstar training sessions.

I’m pretty happy with the end result.

Withings Activité Pop w/ custom Hirsch "Forest" light brown leather armband

Full album over @ Google Photos.


  1. Hirsch’s a good brand from Austria, they’re in the leatherworking business for ~250 years by now, which is a crazy amount of time. [return]

Using Keyboard Maestro to bookmark Chrome URLs in Evernote

Replacing the Evernote Web Clipper Chrome extension with a Keyboard Maestro macro for better bookmarking: with searchable full-text content and full-size screenshots.

I like Evernote a lot. It’s my external memory — I put everything in there, from quick notes to directions to recipes to trip planning to bookmarks. Since I am a heavy Google Chrome user, I am/was using the Evernote Web Clipper extension, Evernote’s official solution to “Collect the best of the web, all in one place. Quickly and easily clip articles, text, and images right into Evernote.”

Unfortunately, up until a few weeks ago, the extension would only function by injecting iframes and scripts into each page I would visit, on the off chance that I might use the Web Clipper on that particular page. This —for me— posed several issues. For one, being a frontend developer I have Chrome’s web inspector open pretty much all the time, and every now and then the extension would log errors that would show up in the console, throwing me off. Irritating, to say the least, especially when I was in the middle of a heavy debugging session.

I’ll spare you the rest of my other niggles with the addon. Don’t get me wrong here, it is both usable and useful, and certainly a boon to most people, but some of its facets I just did not like. For example, the Web Clipper is storing the clip/bookmark on the EN server, from where it would then later sync to my local client. While I understand the technical reasons for this, I think that’s backwards — when I take a note I want to see it without the need to sync first.

Also, even though I was employing it heavily, the only thing I really used it for was for bookmarking pages. I do not have a need for its other features, like cutting pieces of an article or making it more readable or taking screenshots.

Hence, I decided to replace the Evernote Web Clipper with a Keyboard Maestro macro. (If you have no idea yet as to what KM is, check out the link. I’ll wait.)

What the macro does

Once triggered, the macro will get URL, title, meta description and a very simple text excerpt from the current page in the browser. Also, a screenshot of the browser window is captured.

Then, it’ll use these bits to compose a formatted (HTML) note in Evernote.

And to top it all off, it’ll display a notification, using either the excellent terminal-notifier (when installed) or KM’s default notification action.

Bonus: if terminal-notifier was found and used, clicking the notification will open Evernote.

The note is stored locally first, and then synchronized to the remote Evernote server.

What to expect from it

This is what a bookmark made with the Evernote Web Clipper looks like in Evernote (bigger version). The image is the first image the Clipper found on the page (I’m just guessing here):

Screenshot of a bookmark made using the Evernote Web Clipper

This is what a bookmark made with the macro looks like in Evernote (bigger version). The looks can be customized by reworking the HTML string in the AppleScript block:

Screenshot of a bookmark made using the KM macro

The macro

Download the macro: km-bookmark-to-evernote.kmmacros.

Screenshot (bigger version):

Screenshot of the macro

These Amazing 12 Alternatives To The Word "Awesome" Will Stun You IN THE FACE

Awesome. Everything’s awesome. Everybody’s awesome. So much awesome. All the time, 247, maybe more! And I get it: this is the 21st century. All the things are totally amazeballs, without exception. We’re all winners, all of us. Top of the game, thanks for playing, y’all.

Anyways, I see your plight. It’s 20 minutes until that big meeting. You’re about to present your (baking soda volcano / disruptive startup / marriage proposal / weird old trick) to (a pack of super-critical VC’s / traffic cop / an angry axe murderer / the Gods / HackerNews), and your pitch contains 200 instances of the word “awesome” while being 300 words long. That’s clearly less than ideal. Your future (well-being / monies / job / sex life / accommodation) depends on these five minutes.

Fret not. I’m here to help. Take your pick from these fine alternative to the blatantly overused word “awesome”.

  1. “good”
  2. “nice”
  3. “slightly amusing”
  4. “meh”
  5. “alright”
  6. “quite okay”
  7. “jolly”
  8. “fucksticks”
  9. “not butter”
  10. “utter bollocks”
  11. “yo papa”*
  12. “… err, does anyone here know how to use a dictionary? No? Well then. As I was saying…”

At that point, “awesome” isn’t a word anymore, it’s a fucking comma. Making an originally exceptional term meaningless just because we don’t know any words — that’s not cool, you guys.

Please, let us all stop. Thank you for your time.

Review: Weather Timeline (Android)

Ever since I switched from iOS to Android a few months back, I was on the lookout for a usable weather app that

  1. uses Forecast.io’s weather data
  2. is easy on the eyes, with a clean and enjoyable UI.

On iOS, I was very fond of Weather Line — that was the bar each and every weather forecast app had to reach. It was hard for any iOS app to get there, but it was even harder for Android apps for some reason. I gave a number of weather apps from the Play Store a spin, but none really stuck: they were too fiddly, too nerdy, too visually packed, too “lolreally?”.

Until I found the quite enjoyable Weather Timeline, that is. It’s rather accurate due to its choice of supported weather services, pleasant to look at, gives me just the right amount of data, comes with Android Wear support (I don’t care about that, tho) and has a weather prediction mode (based on the past and/or dark magic, I guess).

Pros

  • It comes with a more-than-agreeable price tag of €0.69. (Personally, I think that’s way too cheap for what you get and would’ve paid more.)
  • It sports a very uncluttered UI. After testing a number of different Android weather apps, I think I cannot overstate this point.
  • It makes some good assumptions about what’s relevant to you at the moment and shows you that. Should you desire more information, it’s most likely there, tho. The user experience is just good.
  • It supports three different weather data providers: Forecast.io, OpenWeatherMap and Weather Underground.
  • Follows the school of Material design and, therefore, fits right in with Android Lollipop.
  • Contains several themes (light/dark/customizable).
  • Offers a number of clean and versatile widgets. Personally, I like the simple 1×1 “place + current conditions” widget but if you need a bigger and/or more in-depth doodad, Weather Timeline delivers. They can be customized quite a bit, too (colors, opacity, rounded corners yes/no).

Cons

None, apart from a minor niggle: in the settings screen “Data & Updating” the “Data Source” line tells me about the default, which is Forecast.io. I’d prefer to see the name of the currently set source instead.

Otherwise, I can’t find any flaws with the app. Delightful!

Verdict

I’m pleased by Weather Timeline. This is not something I thought I’d ever say, as I am not a weather nerd. The weather’s an inevitable facet of living on this here rock, and I just want to know whether to put on long underwear and/or pack an umbrella. Nevertheless, the craftsmanship of its author and the obvious thoughtfulness at its foundation are apparent every time I open the app.

1010, would weather again”.

Screenshots

Made on a Nexus 5, running stock Lollipop 5.0.1.

Main screen

Weather forecast, timeline view (collapsed)

Weather forecast, timeline view (expanded)

Weather forecast, timeline view, scrolled down

Weather forecast, next 48 hours (after tapping the "Next 48 Hours card" in the timeline)

Weather forecast, radar view

Weather forecast, graphs

Weather forecasts from the future! The "Time Machine" view.

Main settings screen

Settings: Units

Settings: Interface

Settings: Interface, scrolled down

Settings: Notifications

Settings: Android Wear

Settings: Alerts

Settings: Data & Updating

Available widgets (part #1)

Available widgets (part #2)

Available widgets (part #1)

Customizing a widget

Ich bin Transhumanist

Arbeiten am und Warten auf den nächsten Schritt.

Ich bin Transhumanist. Ich bin davon überzeugt, dass wir uns in unserer Evolution an der Schwelle zu einer veränderten menschlichen Form befinden, dass der “reine” Mensch, also das, was wir jetzt dank natürlicher Auslese sind, nicht mehr lange in dieser Form existieren wird – und dass das nichts ist, vor dem man sich fürchten muss. Diese Überzeugung basiert auf Vertrauen in unsere Spezies, ihre Vernunft, ihren Verstand, ihre Technologie und die Wissenschaft. Ich glaube an die Evolution, und eine (langfristig) bessere Zukunft für die Menschheit. Aber, und das ist ein Punkt, über den man vorzüglich diskutieren kann: ich unterscheide nicht zwischen sog. “natürlicher” Evolution und Technologie.

Einige meiner Bekannten bezeichnen mich als technikgläubig, aber ich persönlich finde den Begriff “Technologie-enthusiastischer Humanist” passender. Technologie in sich beinhaltet kein Heilsversprechen, sie ist lediglich Mittel zum Zweck. Und dieser Zweck ist die Weiterentwicklung und der Fortbestand unserer Art.

Ich sage: Landwirtschaft, Medizin, Straßenbau, Optik, Genforschung, Raumfahrt, Mathematik, Materialwissenschaften, Biotechnologie, Robotik etc. – all das sind wir. Wir erfüllen seit je her unsere Rolle in der Evolution, indem wir sie nach und nach übernehmen.

Unsere entfernten Vorfahren, gerade aus den Bäumen gefallen und über die Savanne stolpernd, begannen irgendwann, ihre weitere Entwicklung in die eigenen Hände zu nehmen. Sie entwickelten Werkzeuge für die Jagd, Kleidung und Hütten als Schutz gegen die Naturgewalten, formten das Land, um ihre Ernährung zu sichern, domestizierten andere Lebewesen, erfanden das Rad, gründeten Siedlungen, veranstalteten das Oktoberfest und besuchten den Mond. (Liste unvollständig.) Griffen sie damit in die natürliche Evolution ein, oder waren sie lediglich Teil derselben? Und wenn all dies Teil der natürlichen Evolution ist – ist dann, was die Menschheit dieser Tage an Forschung und Entwicklung durchführt, nicht nur eine Fortführung dessen, was auch unsere Ahnen schon taten?

Ich glaube, die Technologien, die wir über die Jahrtausende hinweg entwickelt haben und noch entwickeln werden, die unser Leben, unser Wesen und unser Sein vereinfachen, verändern oder bereichern – sie sind ein integraler, durchaus natürlicher Baustein in dem großen Mosaik namens Mensch. Sie sind untrennbar mit uns als organischen Lebewesen verbunden, denn ohne all unsere Kreationen wären wir nicht, wo wir heute sind, in allen positiven wie negativen Ausprägungen.

Wir sind, wo wir sind, weil wir unsere Umwelt und uns selbst eingehend erforscht und auch geformt haben. All diejenigen unter uns, die ein “Zurück zur Natur” propagieren (was ich persönlich nicht ablehne!), würden sicher nur ungern auf z.B. ihre höhere Lebenserwartung (im Vergleich zum Jahr 1014), Zahnersatz, Brillen, Bücher und Penicillin verzichten. All diese Dinge sind direkte Folgen unseres Seins, unserer Neugier, unseres Forschergeists.

Mein Glauben nährt sich aus diesem Wissen. Wir lösen Probleme aus dem gleichen Grund, warum wir auch Berge besteigen: weil sie da sind. Wir Homo Sapiens sind Entdecker, wir sind von Neugier getrieben und selten mit dem Status Quo zufrieden. Wir schauen genau hin, gern auch zweimal. Und unsere Wahrnehmung wird – dank technologischem Fortschritt – immer schärfer. Wir schauen das an, was wir sind; wir schauen das an, was wir geschaffen haben. Und nicht wenige unter uns fragen sich, ob diese scharfe Trennung tatsächlich bestehen bleiben muss.

Wir in unserer aktuellen Version sind nicht so einfach trennbar von unseren technischen Errungenschaften. Unsere Siedlungen würden ohne Elektrizität oder Fahrzeuge kollabieren, viele Menschen wären ohne unsere medizinischen Entwicklungen nicht mehr am Leben oder zumindest gewaltig beeinträchtigt, unsere globalisierte Welt wäre ohne unsere Kommunikationswege nicht denkbar. Wir wären nicht …wir. Aber auch im Kleinen wäre vieles anders: denken wir nur mal an unser Handgehirn, pardon, das Smartphone, das so vieles für uns ist: Kommunikationsmittel, Nachschlagewerk, externalisiertes Gedächtnis, Musikplayer, Fitness-Helfer, Spielzeug, Kalender, etc. Mein Smartphone ist ein externer Teil von mir – ich gebe zu, ich fühle mich etwas nackt, wenn ich es nicht bei mir habe, und da bin ich sicher nicht der Einzige. Und diese Technologie existierte vor 10 Jahren so noch nicht, da brauchte man für all diese Facetten noch unterschiedliche Geräte, und die meisten davon waren (nach heutigem Verständnis) groß und klobig. Was wir wohl im Jahr 2024 alles haben werden?

Mit dieser Frage im Hinterkopf blicke ich auf die Biotechnologie, ein Feld, in dem derzeit sehr viel sehr schnell passiert. Mittlerweile können wir Gene punktgenau bearbeiten; wir erforschen das Hirn in nie dagewesener Tiefe; wir züchten Stammzellen aus Hautzellen, um alles Mögliche in unseren Körpern damit zu reparieren; wir beginnen, Organe und biologisches Gewebe in 3D-Druckern herzustellen; wir haben bionische Augen für Blinde und Exoskelette für Gelähmte entwickelt. Sicher, vieles davon steckt noch in den Kinderschuhen, aber vieles davon war vor 20 Jahren auch noch reine Science Fiction. Ich wäre nicht verwundert, wenn in 20 Jahren Millionen von Menschen mehr Technologie im als am Körper tragen würden. Dabei denke ich nicht an Elektronik im herkömmlichen Sinn, sondern an bionische Sensoren und Systeme, die Teil unserer Körper sind, wie auch immer sie dann aussehen mögen; an gezielte Mutationen, um Krankheiten oder Unzulänglichkeiten zu begegnen; an Nanotechnologie, die uns z.B. längere Lebensspannen beschert. Vieles davon wird zu Normalität werden, ohne wird man sich fühlen wie ohne Smartphone heute. So abwegig das jetzt auch klingen mag: erwähnte ich schon, dass die Forschungsabteilung der US-Regierung (DARPA) aktiv an Neuroprothesen zur Unterstützung des Erinnerungsvermögens arbeitet? Das passiert, jetzt gerade.

Die Menschheit entwickelt sich weiter. In dem Moment, als der erste unserer haarigen Vorfahren ein Werkzeug benutzte, übernahmen wir eine aktive Rolle in der Evolution. Wir waren und sind weiterhin stolz darauf, und sprechen von uns als “Krone der Schöpfung”.

Der Titel ist die reine Hybris, sicher. Er kann und darf uns aber nicht dazu verleiten, auf der Stelle zu verharren.

Post-It #34

The history of the NRA, the future of medicine, the inherent dangers of biotechnology, space funding, and Tesla.

Today’s links are a few months old already, actually. They were sitting in my Post-It Inbox.mmd file for a while and I just didn’t get around to putting them in a post. Well, shit happens. :)


Guns. How NRA’s true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby [Washington Post]: If you want to know where they are coming from (both historically and politically), this Washington Post article is quite enlightening.


Medicine. The Future of Medicine Is Now: Medical Innovations [Wall Street Journal]: A super-exciting rundown of some current1 treatments for cancer or defective organs.


Biotech. Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops [Independent Science News]: The worst part? Humans might be susceptible to the viral gene as well. Terrifying prospects, really.

For all the looking to the future (which I do welcome, mind) man should not forget what this particular bit of the closing paragraph expresses so succinctly.

Biotechnology, it is often forgotten, is not just a technology. It is an experiment in the proposition that human institutions can perform adequate risk assessments on novel living organisms.


Progress. Tesla Is The New Apple [Medium]:

In five or six years, electric vehicles are going to offer 500 miles of range. Assuming solar charging becomes more mainstream over that same period, the proposition for new car buyers will be simple: EVs will have longer range than gas-powered cars, effectively zero lifetime fuel cost, and zero emissions. […] All of this assumes purely linear improvements in the technology — with no radical breakthrough in battery storage.

I kind of suspect that these days, Janis Joplin would ask God for a Model S instead.


Spaaaace! Launch Party: a crowdfunding revolution ignites the next space race [The Verge]: The final frontier is approached with substantial help from amateurs and enthusiasts (like myself).

I have a really, really hard time expressing how exciting I find the current developments in (aero-)space technology!


GIF. And speaking of space, here’s a deleted scene from Mass Effect:

Danger in the cockpit of the Normandy 2


  1. “Current”—in this context—means four months ago, i.e. end of 2012. [return]

Google's authentication-less, on-the-fly image resizing service

Did you know Google runs a free and open image resizing service? I certainly didn’t.

While lazily poking around the Google+ HTML I found an interesting thing: for resizing post images on the fly, G+ uses an open API endpoint. That might come in handy at some point in the future when prototyping this or that, so jotting down some notes felt like a good idea.

If you know more about this API, let me know, please! (See the sidebar for options.)

A word of warning before I progress: I’ve spent ~45 minutes on both my experimentation and this here write-up, maybe an hour. You’ve been warned.

Base URL

https://images1-focus-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy

Parameters:

  • url: original image URL
  • container: must be “focus” (i dunno lol)
  • refresh: time (in seconds) to cache it on G’s servers
  • resize_w: width in pixels
  • resize_h: height in pixels

You can either specify both resize_* parameters or just one.

An example

Let’s resize that big 3964x1492px panorama picture I took in Istanbul last year.

Make it square, 300x300px and cache it for 30 days:

Resized image, 300x300px

URL:

https://images1-focus-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=https%3A%2F%2Fczm.io%2Fuploads%2F2018-10-blick-suleymaniye-moschee.jpg&container=focus&resize_w=300&resize_h=300&refresh=2592000

Make it 650px wide, keep the aspect ratio and cache the result for a year:

Resized image, 650px wide

URL:

https://images1-focus-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=https%3A%2F%2Fczm.io%2Fuploads%2F2018-10-blick-suleymaniye-moschee.jpg&container=focus&resize_w=650&refresh=31536000

Quirks

At least in Chrome, opening the URL in the browser will force the download of a p.txt file (which is actually a JPG). Putting the URL in an <img> tag is fine, tho. Or just use curl to save it locally.

On "evolving languages"

“Awesome” is the new “good”.

“Amazing” is the new “nice”.

“X totally destroyed/killed Y” is the new “Y is slightly inconvenienced by X”.

“The best thing ever” is the new “I’ll be amused by this for the next 2 minutes.”

“A new, fun way to do XYZ” is the new “Let me waste your precious time”.

You fucksticks broke my favourite language.

Post-It #33

Standing up for your truths, videogame movie adaptions, videogames violence, the history of Boing Boing and a paraplegic woman controlling robotic limbs with her brain.

Sanding slippery slopes. “Never Lie About Who You Really Are” by NPR’s Dan Pallotta is a strong essay for not letting things slide. It may be tempting to just ignore stupidity and ignorance coming my way, but ultimately someone has to pay a price, either me (by dying a little bit inside) or someone else (think customer care people having to deal with bugs/oversights in software or some such).

So you’re not gay. You can still develop the strength to stand up for your truths. Stop trying to think outside the box. Start thinking outside the closet.

Do it right, please, or not at all. How Hollywood Should Adapt Videogames: Interesting, lengthy essay about games being turned into movies, with a spotlight on the Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Deus Ex: Human Revolution deals currently in the works.

On violence in videogames. It’s about a month old at that point, but Nathan Grayson’s “Why Aren’t We Discussing Videogame Violence?” is still a timely, really good, important post on the goddamn dead elephant in the room.

If gaming’s detractors say one thing, we say the opposite. Gaming causes violence? No. There is absolutely no problem with the fact that most big-budget games spill enough blood to make the Red Sea’s name literal. None whatsoever.

The history of Boing Boing. FastCompany’s lengthy tale of how Boing Boing came to be is an interesting read. I don’t actively visit BB that often, but I always found their breadth of topics quite enjoyable nonetheless.

From the HOLY CRAP YES PLEASE department: CBS’ segment “Breakthrough: Robotic limbs moved by the mind” is quite the thing. The short version: Paraplegic woman undergoes brain surgery and can now move robotic arms and hands with her brain, with the signals going through two hardware ports in her head.

Seeing this and thinking about it makes my scalp tingle. It’s a great time to be alive.