Anachostic

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Tag Archives: technology

Long Dead Spirits In My Car… With Machine Guns

I’ve got guns in my car and they won’t go; spirits in my car and they won’t go.

I’ve had my car for about 7 years.  That’s a pretty good run.  Very soon after I bought it, I swapped out the stereo and speakers with aftermarket ones.  Then I upgraded to a dedicated amplifier for the front speakers.  This setup has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years.

Recently though, when the temperature gets high, as it does often around here, I get this small issue.  What happens is a rapid popping comes through my speakers at full volume.  It typically scares the shit out of me, but I’ve never been so scared as to be unsafe on the road.  Still, having a machine gun open fire in your car is not the most pleasant experience.

When this happens, I have to turn the stereo off completely.  Muting the speakers doesn’t help.  Moving the fader doesn’t help.  So my diagnostic conclusion is that the problem is with the amplifier I have in my trunk.  The heat must finally be killing it.

Yesterday, I finally had enough of this nonsense, so I went to the trunk and unfastened the amp from the wall.  I waited for the machine gun to start, then I started banging the amp around.  I figured if it was a loose connection, something would change.  Nothing changed.  I then removed and retightened the power lines, in case they were loose.  No change.  Some more banging.  I assume parents can understand this method of troubleshooting.  If something’s not acting right, knock it around a bit and see if it gets better.

I finally give up and disconnect the amp fully.  I go inside and immediately order a replacement.  Not bad, $60 on sale – that’s probably more than half off what I paid originally.  Then I go out to buy groceries for dinner.

POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP – WHAT THE FUCK!!!  Why are my speakers machine gunning again?  There is nothing connected to them anymore.  You can imagine my complete confusion in this scenario.  It’s like a corpse screaming after you’ve done the autopsy. (That imagery is courtesy of a death metal CD over the weekend.)  So, I’m driving and the speakers are blasting at me.  I want to find out how this is happening while I’m still driving, but I can’t take too long because it’s destroying my ears.  My brain runs through any impossible situation.  Could the speaker wires be frayed out and touching a power source anywhere along their path?  Why would that stop when the stereo was off?  No, the speaker wires are dead-ended.

Covering each speaker in turn with my hand, I found the source.  The noise is coming from my center channel speaker and the tweeters in my doors.  But how?  I didn’t connect those speakers.  Ohhhh!  Those speakers are still connected to the original factory amplifier.  That amp doesn’t get an input signal anymore, but apparently, that is the amp that is failing.  After 7 years of (non-)use.

So now, I have an order for an amp that will be arriving Wednesday that I don’t need and I have an amp that deserves profuse apologies.  Today, I’ll be able to disassemble the car and unplug that factory amp and reinstall the aftermarket amp.  While I’m at it, I might as well remove all the Zune integration.  Its time has come as well.

What I Wanted, Not What I Expected

On a thrift store run, I had a disappointing experience searching for CDs – nothing of interest at all.  On the way out, I dropped in to the electronics section of the store.  I scanned the shelves for nothing in particular until a cassette deck caught my eye.  It was totally vintage, probably from the 1980’s.  It had buttons and switches and analog level meters.  Very cool.

I’ve planned to get a stereo for a while and I have picked out the stereo components I want already.  But for a while, I had considered going the vintage route.  Not so much for the sound quality, which could be hit or miss for its age, but for the aesthetics.  It’s an early era of “wow! technology!” that originally morphed into visual insanity before being left behind in favor of minimalistic design (thanks, Apple).

While I was ogling this vintage tape deck, I realized, I didn’t have anything to plug it into.  And, I only had one cassette tape in my house.  So, why bother.  I put it out of my mind and kept on scanning the shelves until my eyes bumped into a stereo receiver – the matching component of the tape deck.  That device was even more vintage looking, with rows of buttons and sliders.  This receiver solved the problem of having nothing to plug the tape deck into.  Soooo, after verifying I could afford all this equipment, I bundled up both pieces, paid for my treasures (a wallet-busting $18), and cheerfully packed them up in the car.

Before I made the purchase, I did a cursory check as to whether the components were even worthy of owning.  The brand is MCS, an acronym for Modular Component Systems, which is a house brand of JC Penney.  The internet indicated a small appreciation for MCS because the components were manufactured by reputable Japanese brands of the era like NEC and Technics.

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The receiver I picked up is an MCS 3237, which seems to be made in 1986 or after.  It’s got a digital AM/FM tuner with 16 presets, seek, and scan. There’s a good number of inputs: phonograph, tape, video, and auxiliary.  It’s got buttons for High filter, Low filter and Loudness, and sliders for Bass, Treble, and Balance.  It can drive two selectable sets of speakers, which is neat.  This supposedly is a 35W amplifier, which sounds weak when you hear about 800W home theater systems now, but owners report a very good sound from those watts.

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The tape deck is an MCS 683-3543.  It doesn’t have any fancy features like auto-reverse and only has Dolby B noise reduction.  But it does support Chrome and Metal tapes, which I would think elevates it above the lowest consumer decks.  However, more research shows that it suffers from poor speed accuracy.  Entry level specs at best.  Luckily it’s not meant to be the centerpiece.  I’m still sticking with CDs.

Without any speakers, this stereo will be used with headphones, which should be a pleasant experience.  I should be able to find a silver-faced vintage CD player to mate up with the system to complete the setup.  I won’t be getting into vinyl, so I have no need for the phonograph input.  With a planned budget of a little under $1000 for my future stereo system (that doesn’t include speakers), it’s kind of ridiculous that I can get some sort of satisfaction for under $20.

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I get the devices home and do a thorough cleaning on them.  They’re in pretty good shape.  I plug them all in and grab a set of headphones.  It took me a while to find the only cassette tape I had for testing.  All systems go!  Wait, no.  One of the channels is dead.  No sound from the left side.  Output meter is indicating nothing.  Also, it seems the tape deck is dropping signal on one channel randomly.  Ugh.

I don’t have electronic contact cleaner, so I grab a can of CRC Mass Airflow Sensor Cleaner and shoot all the switches and dials and buttons.  (MAF cleaner is pretty much the same thing)  The volume knob is amazingly smooth now, but it made no difference to my output problem.  I’m not a person who can troubleshoot electronics, so my choices at this point are pay to have it fixed, or pitch it.

I ran the tape deck through my mixer in my office (I guess I did have something to plug it into) and got no channel drops for the entire duration of my test cassette.  Very odd.  When I was listening though headphones, the output dropped and the VU meter fell, too.

I guess I’ll start with the amp.  At least get a quote and see how much more than $10 I’ll need to have a working system.

Never Let Your Guard Down

Today, I learned I had been “hacked”.  I say “hacked” in a figurative sense because there wasn’t really a whole lot of hacking involved.  I somewhat left the door open and someone just fiddled around and got in.

I have my own email server that manages a few domains.  I have one domain I don’t do anything with, and on that one, I had created a couple of test accounts for, well, testing.  The problem is, I never disabled them when I was done.  It’s been a while since I did that, so either I didn’t think about the consequences or assumed that since I was working on an inactive domain, no one would try accessing it.  You can’t assume that.

Since “hackers” just use a bunch of scripts to automate “hacking”, they can just let the scripts run and go eat some more pizza.  And that’s what happened to me, probably.  A script found my domain, then immediately went to work trying out different common username/password combos.  And although I have security features that will temporarily blacklist an IP address after so many failures, that had no effect.  The script will just wait until the ban is lifted then continue on.  Time is not a concern.

So, once they got some working credentials, then it was time to deliver the spam.  And boy did they ever.  I had gigabytes of log files and 22k email messages queued for delivery.  How I learned I was hacked was by chance.  I happened to try sending an email during one of the spamfests and got the email returned with the message:

DED : You’ve reached your daily relay quota

At the time I got that message, I thought it was being returned by the domain I was sending to.  Later, on a whim, I decided to check my own server and was shocked at what I saw.  I immediately shut down the email service and started clearing out all the trash.  Then I changed all the account passwords and disabled all the unused accounts and restarted the server.  The log files showed someone trying to log in using test2@mydomain.com and failing.  Bastards.

It’s my own fault, for sure.  But it’s terrible that you can’t stop being paranoid for a second on the Internet.  They’re always out to get you.

Leasing Your Life

A couple issues came up around the same time, so of course, I feel like I need to give this consideration to see if it’s a “thing” or not.  It’s all about giving up control for various reasons.

The first item is some recent news that people who bought some home automation system called Revolv are going to find themselves out of luck soon because the company that owns them (Google, pretty sure) is shutting it down.  This is ridiculous.  How and why would you ever want such a critical device dependent on another company.  And why would they make a product that couldn’t function on its own?

This seems to be the promise, that you trust a company and they will take care of you and manage everything.  Why is this accepted?  You aren’t buying a product, you’re buying a service.  Yes, that sounds correct, but I don’t think people really get it.  They purchase a physical device and think they own it, but they don’t.  It only works while you keep the subscription active.  In this specific case, the subscription cost is zero, but it can still be terminated at any time.

Along the same lines, I’ve noticed my employer is getting sucked into more and more subscription services and that bothers me.  Our time clock software runs on some other company’s web servers.  Our printers have been outsourced and are managed by an outside company.  Our wireless network is managed through some cloud-based application.  And I hear we are changing our security badge system soon.  I have a pretty good idea how that arrangement is going to be.

So, how vulnerable is my employer to downtime?  After researching the time clock system, I can’t tell if our time clocks will work if there is an internet outage or if the time clock company is down or hacked or out of business.  It’s obvious that we’re paying a monthly fee for this service, but if they go out of business, we have nothing usable.

The printers may continue to function if their company goes under, maybe not.  I don’t know how new users would be granted access to the printers.  The Wireless system is probably the same way.  If the supporting company closes up, we’d probably be frozen in time until we replaced the system.

That’s a lot of trust to be granting to multiple companies.  Gone are the days where you buy something and run it into the ground.  Now everything is subscription based with an unknown lifespan.  It’s a terrible way to live.

More Phones!

A while ago, I had the idea to take a cheap Windows phone and turn it into a dedicated portable media player.  The prime motivator of that idea was cost.  $30 for an electronic device, especially one with a good touchscreen, is pretty unbeatable.  That experience has been pretty much ok.  There’s a few issues that will hopefully be worked out in the future.  But another opportunity came up and I moved on it.  More phones!

The media player phone is a Lumia 435.  The new deal is a Lumia 640, again for $30.  I bought two.  And I still would be getting back the $60 Lumia 640 from the GF when she gets her Sony fixed.  So that’s three phones of the same make and model.  What could I do with them?

The first thing I thought of was home security cameras, but the first idea I could take action on was a car dashcam.  I looked in the app store and found a few free candidates and a few paid candidates.  So I got the free ones and set out to see what it would do.

I purchased a windshield mount and put the phone up under my mirror.  With that and my GPS on the windshield, it looks a little ridiculous.  But it’s not too distracting (at least not doing the day because the polarized screen just looks black with my sunglasses on.  At night, it’s a little more glance-worthy).  The way the dashcam app works is, the camera is constantly recording and discarding video.  It keeps a certain time period in memory at all times.  When you touch the screen to indicate an incident has occurred, the app saves that piece of video to the phone.

In two days of use, I already captured my first incident.  It was a rabbit.  Now I can replay the horrible thumping sounds as many times as I want!  Viva technology!

Maybe This Is A Problem

It’s probably an indication of a problem that I have more phones than hands to hold them.  No, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but it might be becoming a trend.  I had been really good about not buying things I didn’t need and that’s morphing into buying things that would be useful, then into buying things that might be useful.  It’s only a couple steps from buying things that I have no use for.  So, I’m putting myself on notice.

I have five Windows phones in my house.  The first is my ancient Windows 7 phone, the Dell Venue Pro.  It’s a beefy phone and served me well over the years, but it always suffered from a ridiculously poor camera.  The physical keyboard and vertical slider form factor was something I didn’t think I could live without.  Alas, physical keyboards are all but gone anymore (Hi, Blackberry!).  It’s just being kept for nostalgic reasons.

I still have the replacement for the Venue Pro, the Lumia 810 with the shattered screen.  I really don’t need it as a last resort backup anymore, so it will probably be trashed.  It served me very well over the years I had it.

My current phone and the replacement for the 810 is the Lumia 925.  This is an unlocked AT&T phone that I’m using on TMo’s network without any issue.  It’s a nice aluminum phone with a wireless charging shell.  It’s great and all, but looking forward, it’s not on the official Windows 10 Mobile upgrade list, so it would have to be unofficially upgraded with Windows Insider.  It also doesn’t have the specs to run Continuum, which is going to be a big deal in the future.

On a whim, I bought a Lumia 435 for $30 over the holidays.  This is a TMo prepaid phone that I am using exclusively as a music player.  It’s upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile and has a 128GB SD card in it.  it’s tiny and it could be a backup phone if I ever need it to be.  You see, now we’re at the point of “would be useful”.

Then, the step into “might be useful” got me to purchase a Lumia 640 for $60.  This is an AT&T prepaid phone, so I paid an extra $30 for an unlock code so it could be used on any network.  Do I have a need for it?  No.  But I did buy it for the GF to use while her phone (a Sony Z3) was being sent in for repair.  But when I get it back, what will I do with it?  It’s a nice phone – hardware-wise, it’s as good or maybe a little better than my 925.  It doesn’t have wireless charging, but does have an SD card slot.  It also can’t run Continuum.  I guess it’s just going to be a cold spare, waiting for me to drop and shatter my phone again.

With all these phones, I need to be cautious about falling into the gadget trap.  It’s been at least 20 years since I was into buying toys just to see what they would do.  It’s not yet time to get back into that.

Exact Audio Copy Secure Ripping And Image Files

I made a brief comment on this technique in a previous post, but I’m going to expand on it a little more because I tried a practical test of the technique and the results initially seemed valid.

Ok, so you are using Exact Audio Copy to rip your CDs, and you want to make sure they are good rips, but sometimes, you get “Read Error” and even worse, “Sync Error”.  This means you have a problem reading your CDs.  But you look at your CD and it’s pristine.  What’s the problem?

I had this happen on a few CDs and I thought, what if I copied the CD to a binary file, mounted the binary file as a virtual drive, then ripped it from there?  Well, guess what?  That works!  But the skeptic in me wondered why the disc would read as data, but wouldn’t read as audio data.  It’s still reading the bits off the disc, why would one fail and the other didn’t?

So, I needed to prove to myself that a imaged CD was a bit-for-bit copy of the original.  To do this, I decided to rip some imaged CDs with AccurateRip enabled.  AccurateRip creates a checksum from the read data.  The checksum would then be compared against a large database of other known good rips and it would confirm that the results were the same.

So, I chose four CDs from AccurateRip’s Key Disc list and imaged them to files.  I used Daemon Tools Lite for the imaging.  (If you’re going to do this, go to oldversion.com and get an older version of Daemon Tools that doesn’t have the imaging feature removed.  I used v4.45.4 and disabled updates.)  I imaged the discs at 24x speed to lower the chance of read errors. The file format I used was MDX.  ISO would not cut it.  Then I mounted each disc using Daemon Tools to a virtual drive and used Exact Audio Copy to rip the images to WAV.  There is no need to rip to a compressed file because the checksum is calculated from the uncompressed data.

Part of the ripping process in Exact Audio Copy was configuring AccurateRip.  I had to provide three Key Discs for it to properly set the offset for my (virtual) CD drive.  I had four Key Discs, so I was well set.  Ripping from a virtual drive is pretty impressive.  It rips on my computer at 50x, faster than the theoretical 48x max my CD-ROM would do.

Disc 1 results: 8/10 tracks accurately ripped
Disc 2 results: 10/10 tracks accurately ripped
Disc 3 results: 3/9 tracks accurately ripped
Disc 4 results: 5/10 tracks accurately ripped

Not the results I expected.  However, it was curious that discs 1 and 2 were newer discs and 3 and 4 were older discs.  So I grabbed four more CDs, two new, two old, and tried again.

Disc 5 (old): 8/9 accurately ripped
Disc 6 (old): 0/10 accurately ripped
Disc 7 (new): 10/11 accurately ripped
Disc 8 (new): 1/12 accurately ripped

So, that doesn’t help anything, or at least doesn’t prove my hypothesis is correct.  So, let’s rip the physical media and compare it to the virtual rips.  We’ll do discs 5-8 since they’re in front of me.

Disc 5: Virtual 8/9, Physical 9/9.  The tracks that were accurately ripped between the two had the same checksums.

Disc 6: Virtual 0/10, Physical 0/10.  All tracks had matching checksums, just no matching AccurateRip entry.

Disc 7: Virtual 10/11, Physical 11/11.  Same checksums on all successful tracks.

Disc 8: Virtual 1/12, Physical 12/12.  The one successful track matched on checksum.

So what’s the takeaway from this?  It would appear that imaging a CD to a file is the equivalent of ripping a CD in “Burst mode” (as termed by Exact Audio Copy).  This means you may or may not get the exact bytes.  But, when ripping in Burst mode, AccurateRip is not available.  Doing the rip from an image file can get you AccurateRip results for some of the files and will flag others as not accurate.  This way you sort of get the best of both worlds.

But, what you lose is the re-reading attempts that Exact Audio Copy performs in “Secure mode”.  And in those cases, you may be able to salvage a track that might read poorly in Burst mode or through imaging.  Remember, in burst mode, you get one try at reading the data (with error correction).

The important takeaway for me is that imaging a CD makes no improvement.  It’s not going to make the CD any better.  My new plan will be to use Secure mode to rip all the possible tracks, skipping tracks with Read errors, then re-rip the skipped tracks with Burst mode.  That’s the same result as ripping an imaged CD with Secure mode.

Everything’s A Phone Now

A recent post on a blog I follow informed me that there was a great deal happening on an entry-level, budget Windows Phone – the Lumia 435.  I could pick one up for $30.  That made me pause for a moment.

A brand new smartphone, capable of running Windows 10 Mobile, with expandable memory that can take an SD card up to 128GB.  What if I bought it, never put a cellular SIM in it, maxed out the memory and just used it as an MP3 player?  Huh? What’s stopping me?

Let’s look at some current MP3 players.  They are really dwindling in numbers, because, well, smartphones do everything now.  16GB Sony Walkman – $80.  8GB Sandisk Clip – $35.  160GB iPod – $399.  32GB Zune HD – $275.  This phone – $30.  128GB MicroSD card – $50.  And I don’t even need the 128GB card now.  I have a 32GB card from my old phone.  Consider this a done deal.

So now I have another Windows phone.  It’s going to be my new MP3 player.  And better than other MP3 players, it will do Internet and Bluetooth audio, and games, and whatever else I want (except phone calls).

I began setting it up by installing the 32GB SD card I had around and upgrading the phone to Windows 10.  Boy, what a drawn-out process that upgrade was.  When I was done upgrading, I then uninstalled every app except for the ones I needed – primarily Groove Music.

Ok.  Now, how do I get my music on there?  I keep the music on my computer in WMA Lossless.  That format works with Zune.  But you can’t sync to anything other than a Zune device using the Zune software.  And although I can copy the files right to the phone, I don’t want to use my lossless files since they’re around 25MB per song.  I was dreading the idea of manually transcoding my entire library just to copy it and delete it.  Surely there has to be some software that would automate that.

Enter the old stalwart, Windows Media Player.  This software will not die, nor should it ever die.  Windows Media Player can sync files to another device that is nothing more than a memory card.  And in the process of doing so, it can transcode the files to a different bit rate – Exactly what I need.

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Then you choose what you want to put on your device, and drag it to the Sync pane.  Then Windows Media Player just does its thing.

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So, with my test using the 32GB card, I got about 40-odd percent of my music on there. There’s some stuff I can take off because it’s not really mobile audio stuff.  I also discovered that Windows Media Player encodes to WMA format, so I probably don’t need a high bitrate of 192k.  192k in MP3 is moderate quality, 192k in WMA is very high quality.  Bringing that down a notch to 160k should reduce the space usage.  And I see I also need to get cracking on cleaning up my album art.

But!  Once that’s all done, I will have a pretty sweet MP3 player, that isn’t a phone, but really is a phone, just not being used as a phone.

Behind-The-Curve Savings

There was an XKCD comic a long while ago that made the joke that if you consistently remain behind the curve, technology still advances and is just as impressive, it’s just that the experience is delayed for you.  It doesn’t say anything about the great savings you will have if you adopt this strategy.  For example, I can pick up a Wii pretty cheaply now.  I think I saw a bunch for $30 at local pawn shops.  I’ve not really experienced the games a lot, so it’s still all new to me.

So, last Friday, I was a little clutzy and dropped my phone.  It was fine.  I’ve dropped my phone a few times in the years I’ve had it (photo history looks like I’ve had my Lumia 810 since March, 2013).  It’s always taken the falls like a champ, even if the case back flies off and makes you think the phone has exploded into pieces.  I have never used a case on my phones – never seen a need to.

Later on that night, I dropped my phone, again.  Geez.  This time, it landed on its side on my chair’s base and when I picked it up, I saw something I’d never seen on a phone of mine before.  It wasn’t cracked, it was shattered.  I was shattered, too.  Now, I had to find a new phone and pretty quickly, too.  This phone still worked.  Touchscreen still worked.  Swiping and dragging was a bit more risky since I don’t like cuts all over my finger.  So, I wouldn’t want to be using it more than a couple of days.

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I am a Windows Phone user.  What does that mean for me?  Well, I don’t have the massive selection of devices that Android users have, and I don’t have to pay outrageous prices like iPhone users have to.  I had just read a couple of reviews of the newest Microsoft phones to come out and I was a little surprised at the retail prices.  Over $900!  No, that’s not going to happen.

Saturday, I hit some pawn shops looking for a cheap phone replacement until I could figure out what my plan was.  Surprisingly, no one had phones.  I didn’t get it, they used to have craploads of phones.  When I asked about that, I was told that people were pawning phones that weren’t fully paid for and the phones would get blocked, so the next buyer could never activate their phone.  Damn scammers.

So, Amazon it was.  I was amazed at the prices of Windows phones.  Most were less than $200.  And these weren’t cheap phones, either.  The one I ended up getting was the Nokia Lumia 925.  A phone from 2013, discontinued in 2014.  Windows Phone OS is very lightweight, so older phones have no trouble running it, either.  This new phone will still be an improvement over what I had and was under $200.  I don’t need to spend $500 or $800 or $1000 for a new phone.  That’s awesome.

Since it’s a new phone, obviously I need to buy more accessories for it.  This time, I’m going to invest in Qi wireless charging.  The 925 has an optional wireless charging back in a few different colors.  I picked up a white back for cheap (because discontinued phone, right?) and Qi chargers seem to have become commonplace since when I last remember researching them.

And the best thing is, it’s still all pretty much new to me.

I’m With The Band

Today is the one-week mark of my usage of the Microsoft Band.  It has been on my wanted list for quite some time, and with the recent price drop, I made my move.  This coincides with my recent reawakening in exercise from my trip out west, climbing mountains and whatnot.  I regret I didn’t have the Band then, but you have to start somewhere.

At this point, I’ve used the majority of the Band’s features, including Sleep Tracking, Running (hiking and walking in my case), Workouts, and Guided Workouts.  Next month, I plan to buy a bike trainer stand so I can ride my bike indoors and I’ll make use of the Bike feature then.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever use the Golf feature.

To get grievances out of the way first, there’s a lot of reviews out there that say the Band is big and uncomfortable.  The biggest part for the reviewers is that it’s unfashionable.  I will agree.  However, I think the utility of the device outweighs its appearance.  As far as uncomfortable, that’s a personal thing.  To me, it’s noticeable, but the strap is quickly adjustable for any wrist swells throughout the day.  It’s not a deal breaker.

Does it work?  Yes, and very well.  If the question is does it work for tracking activity?  Yes.  Does it work as a motivation tool? Yes, again.  Does it work as a smartwatch?  That’s difficult to answer because everyone has a different idea of what a smartwatch should do.  The Band is a capable notification center on your wrist and if using a Windows Phone, a simple response device.

The data collection abilities of the Band are impressive, but it would be all for nothing if the software displaying and analyzing the data was poor.  Fortunately, the Band’s mobile application and corresponding website are extremely impressive as well.  I hope Microsoft works with FitBit to allow their devices to log activity into the Microsoft Health dashboard because I believe the insights are great.  And, it would allow me to consider a FitBit Charge HR as a next device.  I’ll have to wait until the Band 2 comes out to see.

After only a week, I have become more aware of my activity.  The argument that the Band is noticeable on your wrist actually works in its favor here.  I am consistent in my walking on work breaks.  I’ve been very annoyed that the constant rain showers here are keeping me from the trails.  I started a Guided Workout using weights that will hopefully improve my chest definition and found the experience to be superior to any prior exercise attempts.  Having someone (or something) say, “Now do this.”  “Rest now.”  “Now do this.” is so much better than having a piece of paper and saying to yourself, “What do I do next?”  It seems like a small difference, but it isn’t.  Self-guided workouts leave you unaccountable; you can stop anytime.  Even having a device guide you is more motivating.  Obviously a personal trainer would be the epitome, but the band is less than $200.

I feel the Band purchase was money well spent.  To be honest, I was kind of at a do-or-die point in my life and I guess I decided to give it one more try to reverse the decline I’ve been in for the last couple of years.