Beware of the Green Check Mark in MyFitnessPal

I just found out about this recently – the green check mark next to food entries in MyFitnessPal does NOT mean that it’s a verified, “official” food.  I found this reddit post today very revelatory!

The green check mark on MFP does not mean it’s verified or guarantee the entries accuracy. from loseit

Click through on the link to read further details, but suffice it to say that the little green checkmarks don’t actually mean that it’s a “verified” entry.  It simply means that is has what MyFitnessPal calls “complete nutritional info”.

This was stunning for me, because all this time I thought that the green check mark indicated it was a “verified” food – that the information was correct and could be trusted.  Now, the post I linked above used some hyperbole (“100% wrong” is probably stretching the truth) but it does mean that there’s room for error.

Still, I think that entries with the check mark is as good as verified, because someone taking the time to enter complete data is probably entering mostly accurate data.  Just something to be aware of when wading through all of the food entries out there.

One Shot Analysis – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I’m trying something new here – not sure if it’ll stick, which is why I’m trying it here and not immediately launching a new blog.

I had the idea, partially inspired by this thread on Twitter examining Empire Strikes Back shot-by-shot, to take a single shot from a movie and analyze it / write something about it.  This took me on a fun trail trying to figure out just how do people get still images from movies, anyway?  It led me to https://www.film-grab.com which is a fantastic resource, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

With that, here’s a scene from the first act of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Image courtesy https://www.film-grab.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s going on in this shot?

Interpreting it in a strict sense, Luke Skywalker is playing with a model spaceship while cleaning up a pair of droids.

In story terms, that’s pretty much the same answer.  This particular shot isn’t doing a lot, plot-wise.

What does it say about the characters?

About the droids, nothing.  C-3P0 is kind of just standing there in the oil bath, and R2-D2 is…watching?  He’s not doing a lot either, probably stewing about his mission being delayed.  I think that it says a lot about Luke Skywalker, on the other hand.

In this shot, Luke is pretty clearly playing around with a model ship while he does his chores.  I almost hate to admit it, but this is pretty much on the level of watching TV / movies while I’m folding the laundry.  Almost.  I think it’s probably closer to playing with toys when I was supposed to be cleaning my room when I was younger.

In this shot, we can see that Luke has no interest in the day-to-day life of the moisture farm.  I wouldn’t say he’s dreaming of adventure in space, exactly, but you can definitely see that his mind is in that spaceship in his hand, flying around with his friends.  (On a side note, it’s almost too bad that the podracing in The Phantom Menace wasn’t a little closer in nature to the T-16’s Luke flies.)

He has no sense of who he is in the larger galaxy at this point – if you put Luke as he is right here in the cockpit of the X-Wing at the end of the movie, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d be one of the casualties in the battle, and Yavin IV would be toast.

What do you see in this shot?  Anything I missed?

Black Mirror – USS Callister

Black Mirror’s season 4 was recently made available on Netflix. This is a show I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to. Peak TV, everyone. Anyway, I heard a bit about the first episode of the season, USS Callister, and decided to at least check out that one episode. I don’t have too many thoughts to write down about the episode, but I have some. Mild spoilers follow, but I don’t think you’ll lose anything knowing a few details before viewing.

Production Quality

The production quality of this episode was amazing. I know that a lot of TV shows, especially those on Netflix, are really upping their game in terms of picture quality, but this one really felt cinematic. I can’t help but be blown away by the quality; the sets aboard the USS Callister were deliberately cheesy, and of obvious lower quality, but it’s still high quality. The scenes in the real world are well shot, and I really enjoyed the sound design in the episode – something that I think is often overlooked.

There were some small, subtle touches as well in the set design. Most of these that I enjoyed were the light technology touches. The apartment door for example, using a display screen to show the apartment number as well as a nice little Christmas wreath. Cell phones appear as sleek devices that are essentially just a screen. The downside to this is that some of the video game equipment seems inappropriately clunky in comparison to the rest of the tech.

Ship In A Bottle

The ending of the episode, which I don’t really want to spoil, reminds me a lot of the ending of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Ship In A Bottle. The open ending of both episodes are really quite similar. Unfortunately since I don’t want to spoil it, that means I’ll have to stop talking about it.

Humour

USS Callister was very hit-or-miss with the humour. Some of it worked really well for me, but other places it felt very flat and didn’t work at all. I think in some parts they were clearly trying to invoke different sci-fi franchises (Star Trek being the most prominent) but stopped short of using copyrighted terms for some reason? I’m not sure why, because it would very clearly fall under the category of parody. For example, when Nannette asks if Daley is going to throw a fireball at her…I was expecting her to ask if he was going to use the Force. I guess the point was to avoid any mention of real life properties in the show?

Another thing – sometimes the humour felt out of place with the rest of the episode, which at times played as a sort of body and psychological horror show. What I mean is that the overall tone of the episode was uneven, leaving me unsure of what kind of message the show was trying to leave about technology. I think they were just telling a cool story they wanted to tell?

Overall Thoughts

I don’t think this episode convinced me to pick up watching the rest of the series. It was good, and I thought it was well-produced, but I don’t think this particular anthology series is for me.

If you want to hear some more detailed, spoiler-filled thoughts about the show, check out Anthology Pod’s bonus episode coverage.

Logan (2017) – Review

I finally had the chance to see Logan, the 2017 film from James Mansgold.  This was a really good movie on its own, but also a great super hero movie entry in the X-Men series.

Logan is based on the Old Man Logan comic books, and is set in 2029 – when mutants are all but extinct (at the start of the movie there are only three we know about: Logan, Charles Xavier, and Calliban).  Oh, and the funniest bit is that Logan is an uber driver, rolling around in a limo.  I thought that was great.

What follows in the movie is not your standard superhero movie plot to save the world from impending doom; instead it’s actually a pretty personal story (for Logan / Wolverine) and about a journey from point A to point B.  Stuff happens along the way, both good and bad.  I have to say that this is probably the best Marvel movie I’ve seen since Captain America: Winter Soldier.

A lot of the buzz about this movie was that it was rated R; the rating comes for mainly the graphic violence and some language.  I think that this movie would have worked without the graphic nature of the violent scenes, but at the same time – Wolverine is a very violent character, so including it seemed to help make the movie fit more with his character.  That said – the action scenes that included most of the violence were shot quick (though not in a blur, like some movies – it was very easy to follow along on the screen), and wasn’t “shocking” the way that violence like this can be (I’m thinking of Game of Thrones, or even one of the more recent episodes of Star Trek: Discovery).

What I think is the greatest move in this was creating a realistic future setting.  It’s only set in 2029 – so just 12 years from when it was released (2017).  It sounds like it’s far away, but it’s not – and the technology reflects it.  Cell phones are recognizable as cell phones, and there are some projections that make sense – driver-less transport trucks, for example.  Beyond that, it was a relate-able world.

Contrast this to a movie like Minority Report; that one was set in 2054, at the time 52 years ahead of the release date (2002).  Apparently they hired some consultants to brainstorm what technological advances we’d see in 50 years, and they came up with a world that mostly operates the same, but with hyper-inflated technology (the cars they were using were a bit much).  Yeah, some of the technology they showed has surfaced in the last 16 years, but watching that movie recently makes me feel like it’s closer to the 60’s vision of the future in The Jetsons.  Suffice it to say I think Logan’s vision of the (near) future is a good portrayal, and one I think you can extrapolate from.

I thought it was also interesting to note that cell phones were used in some plot points in the movie (minor bits), but were not integral to any of the major events in the movie.  I bring this up only because some people think cell phones have ruined movies – that a lot of scenarios can be solved by the main character simply being able to relay information via cell phone.  There were no plot contrivances in this movie that negated the use of a cell phone, it was simply a plot that didn’t need to rely on communication to get out of jams.  I just wanted to point out that it’s possible to do that.

I think Patrick Stewart really stole the show as Xavier.  It was Logan’s movie, but Xavier shined in this.  I’m glad that the trailers didn’t give too much away, because the movie definitely didn’t unfold the way I thought it would based on some of the scenes they showed, and what I knew going in about his character.

Solid movie overall.  I highly recommend it; and you definitely don’t need to have seen the other X-Men movies to follow along.

How to use a Fitbit Charge 2 Like a Smart Watch

I’ve been extremely satisfied with my FitBit Charge 2; I upgraded to it from using a Charge HR, which was also a nice little device on its own. The Charge 2 is leaps and bounds over it. But it’s not a smart watch.

Initially, I was okay with this. I figured that I didn’t need a smart watch – they were a cool thing and probably useful for some people, but not my thing. I was just interested in the fitness tracking aspect of it. That was true until I bought my wife an Apple Watch and got to see how truly cool and useful it was. So, I talked myself into getting a smart watch of my own.

But in the meantime, I decided that I would make the most of my Charge 2 and try to get some smart watch features going on my own.

This guide I’ve put together is something I came up with on my own to make it “smart watch-y”, and relies on using the Android phone OS; I’m sure you could probably get some of the same experience on an iPhone, but some of the things I describe are Android-only.

Notifications

The easiest thing to activate are notifications. This aspect is built into the Charge 2 already, allowing you to be notified on your wrist of incoming calls, calendar events, and select notifications. Out of the box, it only supports text messages and Facebook Messenger. However, if you have an Android device (like me), you can add a few more options here.

For me, I had an extra option showing – AutoNotification. This is a plugin for the automation program Tasker, which I use a lot. Theoretically you could route all your notifications through AutoNotification and then send them that way through your FitBit. This might be the best solution, since you can customize how your notifications appear in fine detail, so this might also improve your experience on your phone at the same time.

But if you’re not really up for fine tuning and customizing to the Nth degree, you should consider the app Fit Notifications. This app is compatible with a few other FitBit devices, and essentially allows you to send notifications for just about every app on your phone to your FitBit. You just need to select Fit Notifications as your notification service for messages in the FitBit app, and then select which apps you want to receive notifications from in the Fit Notifications settings. Simple as that, making it the most efficient method of receiving customized notifications.

My current clock face of choice

Clock Face

The next step is to pick a cool looking clock face. While it would be fantastic if you could create custom clock faces, or import faces from other people, it’s just not possible. FitBit provides a few different faces to choose from – go with what looks good to you. But try to pick something that makes good use of the entire screen.

At the end of the day, this part isn’t the most important change, but helps aesthetically to create the illusion of using a smart watch.

Calendar Notifications

This probably deserves to be grouped under ‘notifications’ in general, but make sure you have your calendar set up in the notifications for your device. To fully utilize this you’ll probably want to make sure you have event reminders set up as well, otherwise you won’t get the notifications for any events.

Again, it’s not a huge piece of the puzzle, but put together with everything else and it helps complete it.

That’s It!

You’re done! I have to do some more research on this, but I think that’s all that you can do to try to recreate the smart watch experience with a FitBit Charge 2. The rest is really already done for you – fitness tracking is built-in, as it’s the primary feature; and you can turn on / off alarms at your convenience in the menus on your device.

It’s not perfect, but it might help you decide whether or not you really need a smart watch after all. Since I haven’t purchased an Ionic yet, this might end up changing my mind. Who knows?