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NC #670 Paintcode, Apple Watch Health Tracking, Stretch Timer, We.Stream, Bellus 3D, Cyber Essentials, Rings

Allister Jenks stands in for a vacationing Allison Sheridan. We have a review of Paintcode, a story of using the Apple Watch to track health in ways other than the Activity app, Allister’s own health app Stretch Timer, two interviews from CES with We.Stream and Bellus3D, some security tips with Cyber Essentials, and a fun casual iOS game, Rings.

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Rings by Kamil Kucma

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UPDATE: Since I wrote this post (and recorded for the podcast) an update for Rings has appeared which claims to fix the in-app purchase bug and also streamlines some other parts of the app.

I’m not a “gamer” by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to while away some time playing logic games – usually ones that don’t have a focus on speed or timing.

I recently came across the game Rings, by Kamil Kucma. The premise is very simple. You have a three by three grid of points onto which you place coloured rings. There are three sizes of ring and each spot can accommodate one of each size. So if a spot already has a large and a small ring, you can still place a medium ring there.

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Cyber Essentials

The management at my work often brings up the topic of training. While for many years it was a hollow promise, in recent years there has been a real push on staff to take training courses, and not just those directly relevant to their current roles. Anything that is relevant to our company is considered a good investment.

A colleague of mine had been stumbling his way through building PHP web front ends to various functions we normally just ran through terminal windows. He recently went through an online course in PHP web development, and so that got me to thinking what I might like to try.

My first thought was an iOS development course, to solidify my own learnings, but it turns out that a decent course that I feel would be worthwhile is very expensive and I know that management’s enthusiasm won’t stretch that far.

A few years ago, Allison encouraged me to look at Lynda.com, who offer many courses in business, IT, software development, media production, design and more. More recently I discovered that I can get free access to all of the courses through my local library membership. Late in 2017, I was looking around for something very specific – I forget what – when something else caught my eye.

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Stretch Timer by Allister Jenks

Stretch Timer iconIn my story about PaintCode, I mentioned I had rewritten an app that I use for timing my muscle stretches. I’d like to tell you about that app now, in a bit of an ‘advertorial’.

I first wrote the app in 2016 when I was having back trouble, and part of the treatment for this involved regular stretching exercises. It was critical, I was told, to hold the stretches for the correct amount of time for them to work properly. While I can fairly reliably count off seconds in my head, also keeping track of the number of repetitions completed can make it easy to lose track, especially if there were also left and right variants to perform. I set about finding the perfect app in the App Store, but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t either difficult to use or overkill for the task. So, I decided to write my own.

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Apple Watch Health Tracking

Since I got my first Apple Watch two and a half years ago, one of my primary uses of it has been activity tracking. Those three coloured rings drive me to move during my day for the payoff of seeing them completed before bedtime. I have been managing over 3000 kilojoules a day (about 717 calories) by extending my daily commute and lunchtime walking. Part of the process is seeing the various reminders during the day – time to stand, and the occasional encouragement to get active. Plus the frequent notifications that friends have completed workouts. I’m looking at you, Allison.

Early in December I turned off all activity related notifications and removed the activity ring complication from my watch face. I did not want constant reminders that I could NOT meet my goals.

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PaintCode by PixelCut

PaintCode iconWhat follows will be a review for some and a propeller-beanie story for others. In true NosillaCast fashion, there is a problem to be solved, but that will become apparent as the story unfolds.

PaintCode is a macOS app with a very specific audience: macOS and iOS developers, although other developers should hang in until the end. If you’re not a developer then this review may not offer you an insight into purchasing, however, if you’re just interested in knowing “how stuff works,” this is a pretty cool story. For this reason, I have aimed this review at a less knowledgeable audience, which should also serve to explain to hobbyist developers, like myself, what value this tool can bring.

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Allister’s Journey from Castblaster to MiX16 Pro

Sitting duck podcast logoThis piece started out as a simple review of one piece of software, but as I began writing, I realised it’s one of those times where a bit of storytelling is in order.

Some listeners will know that I once had a podcast of my own. Technically, I still do, but it’s a pretty rare release these days. I started right around the same time Allison did but instead of tech, my podcast was about music.

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B2 – Affordable Longterm Storage from Backblaze

Allison reviewed the Backblaze cloud backup service earlier this year. In her review she explained why she had decided to abandon CrashPlan and how Backblaze was able to get her backed up in double quick time. I’ve been a fan of Backblaze since I also decided I had to quit CrashPlan. To date I have over 4TB of data in my Backblaze backup.

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NC #620 Apple Watch Swimming, Standard Mac Apps, BrainPort Visualization Through the Tongue, eSight Low Vision Glasses, Non-tech Podcasts, GhostReader, BeatsX

Allister here standing in for Allison this week. I have a miniature review of using the Apple Watch Series 2 for swim workouts, I’ll quickly review 26 Mac Apps you didn’t know you already had, Allison will pop by with two more videos from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, I’ll make some recommendations for podcasts you might want to listen to that aren’t about technology, Terry delivers on his callout from Allison with a review of GhostReader text to speech software, and I’ll finish up with a review of the BeatsX Bluetooth earbuds with Apple W1 chip.


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GhostReader Text to Speech – Guest Review by Terry Vogelaar

GhostReader screenshotI am Terry from Holland and I would like to do a review of GhostReader from ConvenienceWare. Let me start by the problem to be solved. As a graphic designer, I am often the last person to see a text before it is multiplied in a huge quantity. So I need to be very good in proofreading. But whenever I just want to read, I am still scanning for typo’s, punctuation errors and grammar mistakes. It takes forever for me to finish a book. Fortunately, many books are available as audiobooks. But many other books are not. Of course my Mac comes with text-to-speech capability. For example, Pages can read its text out loud. But it is not easy to pause a long text and continue the next day. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn longer texts into an audiobook? Continue reading “GhostReader Text to Speech – Guest Review by Terry Vogelaar”

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