The Best Activity Tracking Watch

After thinking about smart watches, activity trackers, and similar devices for a while, I bought a Withings Steel HR. My goal was to find a traditional stylish-looking watch with long battery life, heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, and activity tracking. Here’s my experience thus far.

TL;DR: Using the Withings Steel HR has changed the way I use my smartphone. I love how much less distracted I am. I am happy with the health tracking features, and I like the traditional watch styling and long battery life.

Runner

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A Standing Desk On The Cheap

Everyone loves (or mocks) a good standing desk, but most of us don’t love the price. Adjustable sit/stand desks and bolt-on apparatus I’ve seen cost up to $1000 to $5000. I have a feeling if you get something on the cheap end of that scale, you probably will regret it. There are less expensive ones that just sit on your desk, but they seem like abominations I would hate to use.

As an alternative I won’t regret because it’s cheap and minimalistic, I’ve been using a simple but effective adjustable laptop holder for a few years. It’s easy to place on a desktop or counter. At this point there are a few of them at work and one at home. I keep recommending them to friends so I might as well just post it here too.

Furinno Adjustable Laptop Stand

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The Age Of Smart Machines

What will life be like in the age of smart machines? According to a Batten Institute briefing on Innovation in the Age of Smart Machines, up to 66% of the U.S. workforce may lose their jobs to computers in the coming decades. The report points out, however, that humans will always be needed to direct the computers. I’m not so sure.

ZT 0001

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The Ultimate Bargain Coffee Kit

I’ve started drinking coffee over the last few years. Like most things I’ve picked up relatively late in life, I am kind of a snob, in that I want good coffee but I want it to be quick, easy, and cheap. This post is about the gear I’ve settled on for making my morning cup.

coffee

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Installing CyanogenMod on the Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

I wrote previously about how much I was using and enjoying my 9-inch Barnes and Noble Nook HD+. I’m still using and enjoying it, but a few of the things I mentioned in that article—the useless home screen, the schizophrenic updates from two app stores at once, and so on—started to annoy me. I started to fantasize about installing a clean, uncluttered Android operating system on it instead of using the Nook operating system. The best-known general-purpose Android OS is CyanogenMod, and that’s what I was thinking about.

cyanogenmod

Last time I did this, I didn’t like the result. I’ll explain why, then move on to show you how to install CyanogenMod easily on the Nook HD+ and talk about the results. (I’m very happy thus far).

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The Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

I consider myself a very slow adopter with regard to tablets. I’m too picky. I think the iPad is inconveniently large, and there are a lot of devices that have the same screen size, which eliminated many of the popular ones from my consideration. Many of the devices out there are 7-inch screens, and that’s too small. A while ago I tried using a 7-inch device but after a while I stopped using it. Now I’ve found a tablet I really like.

Nook

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A review of Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones

I’ve used active noise-cancelling headphones for over ten years now, and have owned several pairs of Bose, one of Sony, and most recently a pair of Sennheiser headphones.

Sennheiser PXC 450 NoiseGard Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

The Sennheisers are my favorites. I thought I’d write down why I’ve gone through so many sets of cans and what I like and dislike about them.

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More Notebooks and Journals!

Something interesting happened after I published my ultimate notebook and journal face-off blog post a couple of months ago. I received an email from a company called Grandluxe, asking if I’d like to receive some stationery products in hopes that if I liked them, I’d write a review on them. I had never heard of them before, but they’ve been making paper products for 68 years, and apparently are trying to break out of the Asian market into international territory.

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Using the Nook Color as a full-featured Android tablet

I bought a Barnes and Noble Nook Color e-book reader and ripped out the Nook software, replacing it with the CyanogenMod distribution of the Android OS. It’s really, really nice hardware, and CyanogenMod (CM) is really, really nice software. I love them both, and my regular readers will remember that I’m not a gadget guy. Read on for more. I never thought I’d get a tablet, until my phone died and I got a Droid 2 as a replacement.

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How I hacked the HP Media Vault to support OGG and FLAC files

Let me begin by saying “I am so not a gadget guy.” I don’t have an iPhone. Heck, I didn’t have a cellphone at all until April when I joined Percona as a consultant. I don’t ooh and aah over other people’s gadgets most of the time. I don’t have, you know, that kind of envy. I’m sure you see where this is going: I got a gadget and I think it’s really cool.

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How to set up Gentoo wireless networking on AMD64

This is a quick note on wireless networking on Gentoo GNU/Linux with a dual-core AMD 64-bit processor. It’s not hard to do, but the choices for hardware are more limited.

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Firefox vs. Opera on slow hardware

My main computer is a medieval laptop running Ubuntu GNU/Linux. I used to run Gentoo but tried Ubuntu on a lark, and haven’t been motivated enough to change back to Gentoo (or even decide whether I want to, since Ubuntu works fine too). There is one problem, though: Firefox is running more slowly with each release. What to do? The background I’ve been running Firefox since way back when the project got started.

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Review of the iRiver HD340

The iRiver HD340 is a 40GB hard-drive-based multi-codec music player, radio, text reader, and image viewer. I have had mine for about 6 months now. I have found some strengths and weaknesses that do not seem to be common knowledge. As usual, I will try to avoid giving information available elsewhere on the Internet. I use my unit solely to listen to my CD collection and have not used its other functions much.

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