iPhone vs Android Antenna

At the RA.ONE premiere at the Greenwich O2 on Tuesday night, my colleague looked unhappy because he was getting no 3G signal on his Samsung Galaxy SII. I showed him my iPhone 4 with its healthy 3G signal. He wasn’t too happy.

Earlier, he had been talking about his pleasure at finally figuring out how to turn off the annoying camera sound on his phone, having delved deeply into his settings. He wasn’t too happy when I pointed out that this was all available instantly, with no menus of any kind on my iPhone.

My friend was gracious though, and I was gentle. I did suggest that his screen was bigger than mine, and that it would be easier to type on such a large screen, but that’s something we’ll have to put to the test another time.

Oh and he had one game on his phone. I have about two dozen and they’re all excellent and were ridiculously easy to find – without having to pile through dross and malware and fakes. I accept that this is a more provocative and possibly less considered point. I am nevertheless happy with my phone and see no reason to change it for anything else for the foreseeable future.

I’m struck with the notion that over a year after its release, the only phone that’s better than an iPhone 4 is an iPhone 4s.

Semantic Auto-Correct

The interesting developments that led to Siri on the iPhone 4s got me thinking – wouldn’t it be great if we had an auto-correct on iOS that was just a little more semantic?

I often type “ate” instead of “are”. If I write “Where ate you?” into a text message, iOS should really know that I mean “are” and not “ate”. It’s not a difficult substitution to make. Who on earth would ever mean to say “Where ate you?”

Then before the upgrade to iOS5, my iPhone insisted on changing “thr” to “Thr” instead of “the”. No matter how many times I dismissed the change, I always got bloody “Thr” as a substitute, whether I liked it or not. And all because I once allowed Thr to stand as a valid correction. It reminds me of Original Sin – the idea that we are still paying for the sins of Adam. A little harsh.

Let’s have better error correction please, because otherwise the iPhone’s only weak point remains that on-screen keyboard on the tiny screen.

My Walled Garden is Unkempt

Previously in my Apple Walled Garden, apart from single issues that Apple never respond to until they’ve [fixed them][1], things have been pretty rosy. The machines just go on working year after year, the [kernel panics][2] occur so rarely that when they *do* happen, they are genuinely shocking. You’re left trying to remember how many months it’s been since the last kernel panic. I don’t remember the last time. As for apps, well, they are robust and you just don’t seem to lose any work.

For the last week or so, things have not been so good.

The Alarms in my favourite timer app, [Due] [3], have stopped ringing on completion.

iCloud seems to be duplicating and triplicating my iCal entries all over the place. I feel like a parent chasing behind a perpetually messy teenager (actually, I feel that anyway, but that’s by the by) deleting the extra entries that sprout up for no reason. It’s 2011 for crying out loud, you’d think that calendars would be smart enough now not to duplicate entries that are clearly duplicates? If there is an entry for a given day proclaiming the anniversary of a given person’s birth, shouldn’t the Calendar be smart enough to prompt you about spuriously reminding you again on a yearly basis?

Mail has started crashing regularly. I’ll just be adding a new recipient, and as the late, great Steve Jobs used to say, “boom” – and it’s gone. Thank heavens for small mercies though, as a draft of the email is usually saved. It’s still enormously disconcerting though.

And my favourite miscreants, [Evernote] [5], who only just got their acts together and provided a clipper extension for Safari after keeping us paying, praying customers waiting for months, have a clipper on their hands that doesn’t work at all. No updates in sight. Have a look at the nice, empty clipper window below.

Evenote clipper

There are other niggles too. I have had nothing but praise for Flying Meat’s brilliant Acorn image editor, and Gus Mueller really, really cares about his customers, but that too has started crashing on me, losing me work.

Of course, all of these people want me to describe the steps taken that resulted in an [error] [4], but the very reason I use Apples is so that I don’t have to worry about crap like that. I just want stuff to work and not get in the way. That’s why I’m on Apple and not using the PC. I don’t want to be a system administrator, I don’t want to be an engineer, I don’t want to be your bloody beta tester. I have paid for your product and I just want it to work. And if it doesn’t, just give me my money back, OK?

The only problem with such an attitude is that a computer isn’t just a product. It’s an ecosystem of frighteningly complex inter-related pieces of software and hardware. So I have no idea if the fault lies with Apple or with the various software vendors, and they all point the finger at each other. It’s a bit like the gas engineer who points his finger at the plumber, who points his finger at the previous plumber, who points his finger at the water company, who point their fingers at the road people at the council, who point their fingers at the electricity company who…. and you are left with nothing but a puddle on your floor and several holes in your bank account.

(n.b. This post was written using MarsEdit, which supposedly offers Markdown preview, which I set, but it doesn’t seem to work. If you see malformed reference links and asterisks instead of italics, that’s another ugly weed in my walled garden for you)

[1]: “Standard Apple Practice is to studiously ignore all complaints until they’ve managed to address the issue. Meanwhile, us loyal Apple users are left gnashing our teeth in frustration at the wall of silence.”

[2]: “Apple parlance for ‘blue screen of death'”

[3]: “I thought about adding an affiliate link here, but if the app’s not working properly, it’d be bad form for me to make money out of your future misery. And anyway, almost nobody reads this blog compared to the old one I did, which is fine, makes it more exclusive, right?”

[4]: “I used your app. It didn’t work. It’s not my job to fix your app. It’s your job. I pay you for that.”

[5]: “Unlike the brilliant Gus Mueller of Flying Meat, Evernote never respond, certainly not on Twitter, despite my paying them yearly, and in fact, they were pretty rude to their users on their forum about the lack of a Safari clipper for quite a while. They complained about not having the resources to address pre-release software, which is fine, but we are paying customers, and on launch, they had their pants down, advising us to use Chrome or Firefox.


85 Kilos? Done. Ticked. Trophy Awarded.

Sweating, drained and utterly hammered at table tennis over 90 gruelling minutes this evening, I came home and stood on the scales. It’s an unusual time for me to weigh myself, I usually do it in the mornings. I knew it would be special. I knew I’d lost some water, and I just wanted to see it.

I was pleasantly surprised. 84.6 kilos. It’s not my real weight of course. Tomorrow morning it will have climbed to just over 85 as I regain my water, but that figure is as real as the 101 kilos I saw not that long ago. Only two months ago I was at 95 kilos.

The target had been set by my diabetic consultant at around the 8th of August or thereabouts. All I knew was this time, my life depended on it.

So I did what it took and I hit my target in record time. Do I have a slim stomach? Nope. Am I still chubby? Yep. But I look so much better than I did two months ago, it’s shocking. I feel so much better than I did two months ago, it’s shocking. My resting heart rate has dropped from 80bpm to 60bpm. I’m seriously looking forward to seeing my blood pressure results in December, when I’m supposed to check back in with my diabetic consultant having lost 10 kilos.

I can’t wait to see the surprise on her face when she sees I’ve lost 15. That’s right. Between now and December, I’m going to lose, insha’Allah, another 5 kilos.

In honour of Tim Ferriss, whose brilliant book The Four-Hour-Body changed the way I approached my weight attack this time around, I am going to have a cheat meal of disgraceful proportions this Saturday. A Subway, one foot, filled to the brim with the filthiest stuff imaginable. And you know what? I will put on two kilos in two days as a result. Then it will fall lower than before. Ferriss exploits the fact that your body needs to be shocked from time to time out of its complacency. OK, he is far more scientific than that, but what it boils down to, and what you will see from my charts, is that despite a couple (maybe three) cheat days, despite the temporary blip, my weight would keep dropping. And that’s because as you diet-survivors know, if you starve the body, even a little, it will start to fight with everything it’s got to hold on to its fat stores. Subway tells your plateauing body that “it’s all good dude, there’s no situation here, burn that fat”.

There are complications. A diabetic doesn’t just put on a bit of weight on a cheat day, but your blood sugar also goes out of control. There is little you can do about it except measure your insulin doses very carefully. I can’t stress this enough. The great thing about the rest of the time is that my diabetes has never been in better control. I know some of you Type 1s might have been thinking “he’s dropping insulin to drop weight” but I can assure you, I’ve had the complications, and I don’t want to die of them. I have not cheated with insulin. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain later.

In the meantime, just know this:

  • My diabetes has been brilliantly controlled
  • My fasting blood sugars are decent(ish)
  • My energy has been high
  • My table tennis keeps improving
  • My suits keep getting looser
  • People keep commenting on the difference
  • I’m dropping weight by the bucket
  • I’m incredibly happy about it
  • I’ve hit my target a full 7 weeks early.

And from the post after next, promise, I’m going to tell you how I did it, and how you will never be able to do it unless….

You’re Looking Well!

“You’re looking well!”

“You’re glowing”

“You’re a lot slimmer!”

“Is that Shahid?”

“You’re looking sharp”

“You’re setting the standard”

“You’re raising the bar”

I’ve heard all of the above and a lot more these last 7 weeks. As a Type 1 diabetic who’d become obese without noticing, I spent a long time, years in fact, unable to lose weight despite seemingly eating small portions. To start hearing such platitudes from people close to me is quite a pleasant surprise.

Seven weeks ago, my diabetic consultant wanted to put me on more blood pressure medication and once they do that, they’re always reluctant to take you off it again. I’m already on 300mg of Irbesartan for the kidneys, and the last time I tried something, Amlodipine if you must ask, it discoloured my feet and caused my ankles to swell. We soon put an end to that, but the obesity stayed.

The turning point was seeing my reflection in my switched-off-iPad and finding what I saw repulsive. The biggest shock is the incongruence, the moment you come face-to-fat-face with your cognitive dissonance about how fat you’ve really become. Still, all that happened was that I faced the reality, but I took no action.

At the turn of last year, Tim Ferriss’ UK agent was kind enough to send me a preview of The Four-Hour-Body. If you click that, you’ll be able to buy it from Amazon through my affiliate link and I’ll get a tiny kickback, but my mission is not to shamelessly promote Tim’s book. In this series of articles, I’m going to tell you what I loved about it, and what didn’t quite work for me; what I had to adjust and what I was able to aggressively pursue. I’ll also explain why it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and why I am definitely a Ferriss fan. So go ahead, buy the book, because even if you disagree with everything he writes, even if you don’t act on it, you will enjoy the style. It’s compulsive, and it beats reading another God-forsaken misery memoir.

I’ve been tracking my weight on the iPhone, the charts make for interesting viewing:

August weight

After one week of what I’ll call for want of a better term The Four Hour Diabetic plan, I’d dropped from 95 to almost 90kgs. How the hell did that happen, and how did I break the 90kg barrier before the month was out? Did I crash back up in September? What the hell happened on the 20th, or rather, what did I eat on the 19th to make the 20th look like a disaster? Let’s take a look at September.

September weight

Pretty spectacular, right? The trend line does not lie. And at the end of the month, I’m within a Krispy Kreme of my goal weight, which I should remind you, I’m supposed to reach by about December the 6th. Apart from that stupendous peak around the 19th, there is no altering the fact that over the course of the month, I’m dropping about a kilo a week. That’s the upper limit of what you can safely expect, but as Ferriss suggests, go with what works for you. If you’re prepared to break convention, expect unconventional results.

October weight

We’re barely into October and we start with a blip up at the beginning, but the trend line tells me I will beat my goal weight 7 weeks before my deadline. That’s spectacular, and I haven’t been to the gym once. I haven’t run once. I haven’t cycled. I did a few kettle bells, but nothing serious and not since August as far as I recall.

Whatever I’m doing works. Look at the comments at the top of the article. I’m getting into suits I haven’t worn since 2006. People who haven’t seen me for two months are not recognising me. I can tie my shoelaces. I can walk reasonable distances. I can take the stairs.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to tell you exactly what I did, how brutally hard it is and how easy it has become to stay with the plan when the results are so amazing. Dieticians will gasp with horror and conventional wisdom will indeed be damned. I will answer with my renewed vitality, my sense of purpose, my hunger for life, my diminishing gut bucket and the three notches in my belt I no longer need.