Forts Position

On Saturday I went to visit the Redsand Forts. There are a couple of things I’d like to note for you.

Firstly I use the opportunity to calibrate the altitude on my Garmin Instinct watch. I usually give it a go each month, just to make sure it’s working properly. While out near the forts I used the calibrate with GPS option and I got an altitude of -2m. Initially this confused me but then I realised that I was close to the sea but during low tide, therefore I was likely negative AMSL, so -2m seemed about right.

Garmin GPS
Garmin GPS

The above picture is my position as saved by the Garmin Instinct. I didn’t even know that was an option but I noticed it while I was calibrating the altitude. I saved the position and then was able to display it on my phone. There’s a Garmin app called Explore and I like the functionality.

While out on the sea I also used Google Maps to see where I was.

iPhone GPS
iPhone GPS

I took this screen shot a bit before the Garmin one and so you can see I am slightly further east than the previous picture. I don’t think either of these was taken at the Redsands Forts complex as I was too busy watching.

Setting Up

I have spent part of the last few days setting up my new mobile phone so that all the music is on it and that it works how I want it to work. Given that this is an Apple phone and most of my stuff is backed up to the cloud moving stuff to a new phone is remarkably simple.

In the old days you learnt how the new phone worked by entering all the contact details manually and playing around in the settings menu. Now all you do is enter your cloud details and wait. All the settings transfer over along with contacts and ringtones. While this is an improvement and people now have way too much data the requires transfer it is also a shame as it means most people don’t mess around in the settings menu.

When people ask me how to make a phone or device do a particular thing I often ask “Have you messed around in the settings menu?”. The reply is often “no”. People expect everything to work correctly out of the box and don’t understand how to tweak things or even that perhaps they should tweak things.

The main contents I needed to transfer to the new phone was music. Now, I suspect that within five years this won’t be necessary at all as I will stream all the music that I want. But that time is not yet so I keep “hard” versions of a lot of my music. I could use iTunes to transfer music. However, iTunes hates me. Or it hates my PC. Or it’s just shit. I’m not sure which it is but iTunes often freezes on the PC, fucks up the iPhone or just deletes the entire music content on the phone. I haven’t used iTunes to back up my phone for a few years now and I don’t use it to transfer music. I do use iTunes to import music onto the NAS and also create playlists and keep the folder contents organised to some degree. I have been frustrated with the way that iTunes hasn’t been consistent with the folder structure it uses and so I often delete the xml library file, move the folders around and then get iTunes to scan for new music.

A list of music that is contained within the iTunes folder is on this page: My Music. It isn’t a list of all music on the NAS because there’s also kids stuff, audiobooks, and stuff I rarely play.

I have used CopyTrans to move the music onto the new phone. It’s way more useful than iTunes and far more predictable.

I have used CopyTrans in the past to keep text messages and back those up but I rarely do that now, it’s not needed.

CopyTrans doesn’t hurt the PC in the same was iTunes does. It is a positive experience and well worth looking into if you find that iTunes is unpredictable and hard work on your PC. I have transferred around 7000 songs onto the new iPhone in a few hours. Job done. I’m a happy chap.

Top Ten Played

If you saunter over to this page you can see my iPhone music library. I haven’t been able to find a dynamic music counter that updates this site with a played list. I will admit to not looking too much or far for one though. You may be interested to see this list which [in poor contrast] shows how often I have played certain songs on my phone since I last had to fix the library.

A couple of things to notice. The old car would start music off from the first song in the library so the top two AP songs are possibly a little high in play-count but they are good songs nonetheless.

There’s only some metal in there. :-(. I don’t recall playing Disturbed that much but I am probably wrong.

While driving on my own in the car I tend to listen to podcasts rather than music. It keeps my attention more than music and informs and teaches me at the same time.

For God’s Sake Man It’s Only A Weather App

I recently saw that the Met Office had a new weather app. I think it popped up on the front page of the app store. I was interested as I’m quite fussy about my weather apps. Once you get used to one and the information it gives you it’s quite hard to change. Much like buying a new wallet, which I have to do soon and it fills me with dread. By the way, I don’t like the term “app”, I’m not particularly fond of the term “application”, to me these are programs and always will be.

Here’s the front page of the new app:

The new app had embedded video forecasts from the Met Office – these are not needed, I’m too old to care for video forecasts. Also, video on a phone is antisocial and useless, I can get the same information without the noise and movement. I think this may be a generational thing. I don’t need sound and people to inform me something that I can see in a diagram or map. It could possibly be why I also don’t like the news that is broadcast into our homes all the time [hint: change channel, which I do].

 

Here’s another view of the new app:

I’m not sure I like the days across the top. I think that’s mostly because I the older app [which is still available] had the days going down the screen. The worst part of the new app is the weather alert screen. This screen used to be a map with colours over it.

This is a good weather warning map. It tells me what I need to know. The new app just has text to read. I can’t be bothered to read it. The text is broken down into regions. I can be even less bothered to find my region and then decode the words. Oddly, I do like listening to radio weather broadcasts so maybe I’m just weird here.

One last thing. The new app has done away with proper weather charts. These actually mean something to me and I like them. They give an overall impression of what is really going on in the weather. Here are some examples of good stuff:

Day by day and then lovely extra information if you need it. There’s a page that will give hour by hour predictions too.

Look at these maps. Aren’t they pretty and lovely. They let you know what’s going on. The new app doesn’t have this. Which is a shame. I do get the feeling that sometimes things are “improved” to include lots of new functions but the reality is that they just fuck them up.

A Playlist [and a good one at that!]

So, it has been written within these communications that I have seen Combichrist a few times. , here, here and here. In fact it would be easier just to search Fooyah.net here.

So, out of those four gigs I reckon that the best set was the Old School Set they performed at Electrowerkz. I have now created a playlist on my iPhone and Sonos system that reflects what I think this concert was. I don’t have an exact list but this is close enough and a bloody good list of songs it is too!

OldSchool

iPhone Lock Screen

If you read my communications regularly then you will be aware that I spend some of my time in the Midlands. Mostly the West Midlands but I’m not sure where the divide is.

Way back in May I went with Sally to the Stockton Locks on the Grand Union Canal. Here’s a Wikipedia page about it all. The locks are quite impressive and the pub near them, The Blue Lias, was very nice too.

I also have been to Hatton Locks, which are part of the Grand Union Canal. These are even more impressive. There was a pub nearby but we didn’t go in as we were heading home from Packwood House and it was raining and cold.

I have been very impressed with the industrial history of the Midlands and as much as I knew that existed it is nice to see it in person and appreciate it more.

Anyway, I decided to change the lock screen on my iPhone to a picture of locks. I initially had this picture of Stockton Locks.

DSC_4397
Stockton Locks

However I now have this picture of Hatton Locks as my lock screen.

Hatton Locks
Hatton Locks

I will tell you that every time I look at this screen I chuckle. My lock screen is a series of locks.

Camera Flaws

I love my new Nikon camera. It takes great photos, is easy to use, has brilliant settings and feels great in my hands. It’s a great bit of kit.

I like my iPhone camera. It’s small, pretty much always on my person and, surprisingly, takes pretty good low light photos.

The problem is that my iPhone camera is getting on a bit and has flaws in every picture it takes. Normally these can’t be seen because there’s plenty of detail in those areas. However, when there is a steady area the flaws show up a lot. Just see this photo of Whitby and spot the problem areas.

Taken with my iPhone, hence the finger marks
Whitby

I’m not sure if these can be cleaned away or if they are internal. I also can’t be bothered to find out.

Lightning Port

I had to get my iPhone fixed recently. The charging connector would only fit correctly into the socket at very particular angles. This was a touch annoying and it also meant that I couldn’t play music in the car as I use the cable to send information to the stereo. I could connect via the headphone cable but that’s a pain and I can’t use the car stereo to control the iPhone.

Searching online it looked as though I was going to have to post the phone it off to some company and then wait for it to be returned. I was almost looking forward to spending some time without my phone. It would certainly be a bit weird. I know I rely on it a lot for weather, news, email, twitter, remote control, in fact nearly everything tech-wise. I rarely turn on my PC now because I don’t do a great deal on it. I use the PC when I have to type because I don’t like non-tactile typing on phones [such as writing this website].

For some reason I hadn’t thought of looking for shops in town that would fix my phone. I also had found some instructions online showing how to do this by myself but given the equipment I would have to buy and the time and stress of doing this alone in my dining room it just wasn’t worth it. I would have liked to have tried doing it myself but the phone is a precious thing!

I searched Google and the little map bit in the right came up with some possible places in town where I could get the phone fixed. I gave one a call and they seemed confident they could fix my port and also change the battery at the same time. I enquired about warranties and times to fix etc. I was reasonably happy to let them have my phone.

One morning I took my phone in to town and left it with Mobile Street to be fixed. Customer service was good. They seemed like bright people and confident they could fix my phone. It would take about an hour.

Later, I went to collect the phone, pay my bill which was comparable to the online services, and feel connected again. The technicians had managed to fix my phone charging port, replace the battery and also clean some chocolate that had ended up being dropped in the speaker grill.

The charging port works brilliantly. The battery seems better than previously but I haven’t really been able to test it properly as the phone has had a lot of use. The battery dies pretty quick at work because I work in a building that is almost a Faraday cage and my phone is constantly seeking a signal. At weekends the phone has been used to play games a lot and so it is being used intensively. Maybe one day I’ll try not to do much on the phone and see how long the battery lasts.

I, once again, feel connected to the world.

Logging My Life

I’ve had a request [!] to cover some subject matter on this website! What a wonderful thing to happen. I’m quite excited to use this opportunity to pass on information that might influence others. Mind you, I guess the point of some of my communications is to persuade readers to think and to challenge their current thought patterns.

Since December 2011 I have been recording everything I eat. I did this originally to help me lose mass. I do it now to maintain my mass. I think I have a curious relationship with food, although it’s probably not much different to anyone else’s. Over the last twenty five years or so my mass has varied from around 80Kg to 95Kg. Long gone are the active days of my teenage years where I didn’t have to think about these things. I can still remember going gliding with the Air Cadets at RAF Wethersfield and being asked my mass in pounds, it was 140lbs. I don’t think I could physically get that low any more.

During the first half of 2012 I actively tried to lose mass. The process of this will be covered in another communication. To help this process of losing body mass I logged my food using an iPhone app. This is good for a few reasons. Firstly, you get to learn and understand the calorific values of the foods you eat. Secondly, you realise that it’s extremely easy to over eat. Lastly, you start to see the body as an incredibly efficient food-to-energy machine. It shouldn’t really be a surprise but the amount of food needed to sustain the body is not really that much in comparison to the amount we expect to eat. There is a big social problem in that large portions are acceptable and that people can’t add up. When you learn that walking or running 1600 metres will burn around 160 calories [just under two slices of plain bread] you realise that it’s a lot of effort to lose half a kilo of fat!

I use MyFitnessPal to record my food intake and, early on during my mass loss programme, I used this to record my activity and exercise too.

myfitnesspal

Food can be scanned and the nutritional details are entered automatically. It’s a very handy way to keep track of what you eat. Sometimes you have to guess, especially if you eat out, but over time you get a good idea of how much energy is in the food. I will be a bit more specific in another communication.

To track my exercise I use an app called MapMyRun. It tracks the route that I run and then also converts the information it receives to calculate my energy burn. This app can be used for cycling, walking or logging any activity.

mapmyrun

I have spent quite a while looking up energy burn and calibrating the data I get from the app. I have looked at academic papers about energy use and also looked at information from Australian sports institutes. In very basic terms, if you walk or run 10m you use 1 kCal. I think the apps I use are accurate to a sensible level of accuracy. If there are errors it could be within a 200kCal range and it wouldn’t really affect the outcome. Just by being more aware of energy intake and output you learn to self regulate a bit.

I like the apps I used to log my life as they synchronise with my Up software. This means that all the information I enter cross-pollinates and everything adds up nicely! It saves having to enter lots of data into different apps.

apps which sync

Yes, I do know that I used the term MASS throughout this communication and I am aware that I was actually referring to what most people would call WEIGHT. The problem is that I’ve not been measuring my weight for a few years, if I had the units would be in Newtons. If I use the units of KG then I must be measuring MASS. If you don’t like the use of this term then I suggest you don’t read any more of these communications.

CopyTrans Manager

For quite a while I have found iTunes to be thoroughly frustrating. It has issues with my music collection, randomly adds songs I’ve deleted and doesn’t like updating the artwork on my albums. iTunes also takes an age to synchronise my phone and when it does it fails to update artwork, copy playlists or new songs across to my phone. It seems to be a pretty bad and bloated piece of software. I don’t use iTunes to back up my phone and rely on the cloud for that, which I am thankful for as iTunes probably wouldn’t cope very well with it.

I searched the internet thingy and found a free piece of software called CopyTrans which has a suite of iPhone utilities. I was rather hesitant about using it as it could really mess things up. Would it work with iTunes and my phone and help me do the following:

  • Edit my playlists on my phone without me having to add songs one at a time?
  • Update the artwork on my phone without me needing to delete the songs and then load them again?
  • Copy music onto my phone quickly and efficiently?
  • Actually read my phone database and allow me to edit it (kind of)?

I do still need iTunes but only to manage my playlists on the NAS drive as that is where my Sonos system reads the files. I guess I could use a completely different music manager but iTunes works well as long as I don’t connect my phone to the PC (which is kinda the point of the software).

I downloaded CopyTrans and started it up. The Manager part of the suite is free to use. I was quite wary of doing this. I love my music and have spent ages making sure I have the songs I want and the correct artwork. It’s quite a time investment.

“Connect Your Phone”

CopyTrans wanted my phone. I connected it and waited. CopyTrans read my database and a song list appeared on my computer. I tried to copy some new songs across to my phone.

IT WORKED

AND QUICKLY

I tried editing a playlist – easy. I even tried making sure my artwork was up-to-date (I had noticed two albums only had artwork on the first song), this was really easy and IT WORKED.

The online help files are really good. It all seems so easy.

CopyTrans you have made my life a lot easier and I am thankful. I hope millions read this and use your software, but unfortunately this website only gets ~270 hits a month. More people should use CopyTrans.

Confession –  I have absolutely nothing to do with CopyTrans. I just think their software it worth a mention here.