Dropbox FTW

I heavily rely on the various cloud services to keep working documents, and helpful things available wherever I happen to be, on which of my devices.

I have a 100G Dropbox account, a 25G Google Drive account, and, being an Apple person, I have an iCloud account as well. All of these do a pretty decent job of keeping files synchronized around my devices.

Dropbox remains king of the cloud storage/sync world.
Dropbox remains king of the cloud storage/sync world.

But, the one that I couldn’t live without is Dropbox. They weren’t quite first to the market, but they started with a strong offering and have enhanced it as time has gone on. Now, if you are using a program that supports cloud file synchronization, it is going to support Dropbox. Dropbox has aggressively opened their platform to developers, and there are now tons of great applications that share and exchange data via Dropbox. This evolution was highlighted last night when I got an email from O’Reilly Media telling me that I could sync my ebook purchases with my dropbox account. Cool. Also, something that I enabled without thinking is that the Dropbox application on my computer will know when I put a camera memory card in, and it will copy all the files to a “Camera Uploads” folder. So, it is like the Apple Photostream feature. Pretty cool option.

Google Drive is in second place. While you can use their service to share data between programs, it is not as straightforward as Dropbox. It is a bit more granular so for about $2.50 a month I get 25G of storage. The fact that it is now the Google Apps repository is nice as well. I do some work for a non-profit, and we often collaborate via Google Docs files, so my Google Drive gets a fair amount of access from that.

Apple is a distant third. I never expected it to replace Dropbox, and I am sure Apple wasn’t planning on that as well. But for apps on my mac and my iOS devices that support it, it is really a pain free to keep your data sync’d. I haven’t explored the options for collaboration, or sharing, and frankly, I will probably use Dropbox or Google Drive for that anyway, since most of the people I work with are PC people.

While I still have a couple of USB thumb drives, Dropbox has pretty much made them irrelevant. I only use them when I need to run a PPT presentation on a computer that isn’t mine. Other than that, they really don’t serve a purpose in my workflow.

Fitness then and now

Back in 2003/2004 I lost a ton of weight. I went from a peak of about 265#’s to ~185#’s where I stabilized for a long time. I did it the old fashion way, by eating less and exercising more. I counted calories, targeting ~ 1,400 a day (give or take). I started exercising in a gym (because I was really out of shape, it seemed the safest way to get serious), but graduated to running and cycling (even completing a 100km fundraising event that summer).

While I kept at that low weight for a long time, the following year we took a two week vacation in France, and I packed on a few pounds (don’t judge me, the food was OUTSTANDING).  Then I turned 40 (and 45) and the weight was harder to take off.  Just cutting my calorie intake wasn’t enough. Throw in plantar fasciitis and it wasn’t possible to do my daily exercise ritual anymore.

Fast forward until now.  I got back up to 232#’s in early 2013, and I wasn’t happy. I decided to get serious about it. Fortunately, there are lots of tools available today that were just not an option in 2003.

Perfect Diet Tracker – Byoni Systems. A great program that helps you set goals, and track your intake. It has an amazing database that users contribute to, and in the event that something is not there, it is trivial to add it to the database from the nutritional label. I can also enter in my exercise, so that I keep a running tally. Setting goals is easy (and it will warn you if you are being too aggressive, or losing weight too fast), and takes the guesswork out of the process. It is reasonably priced, and it is cross platform, so I use it on my mac as well as my work PC to track while I am on the road (it also has a Linux version too). It syncs with Dropbox, so my data is wherever I am at.

Runkeeper – Application on the iPhone. I started using the Nike application, but it was buggy and crashed a lot.  A friend recommended RunKeeper, and I haven’t looked back. It has all the exercise types listed, and tracks your progress cleanly. It also integrates with a heart rate monitor so I can accurately track my cardio work. I use it for walking, hiking, and biking. There is a great website that you can use to review and track your workouts. It shares automatically with Facebook and Twitter. For what I use it for, it is free, but there is a paid version that will help you train for things like Marathons.

BlueWazoo Heart Rate Monitor – A chest strap with a blue tooth sender unit, it pairs with my iPhone and RunKeeper app. Instead of just tracking speed, distance, and elevation, this option adds a real time tracking of my heartrate. Something I am concerned about being a victim of coronary artery disease.

Excel – I take my blood pressure daily, and track it in an excel spreadsheet.  I also daily track my weight (I weigh myself first thing in the morning, and measure my blood pressure before I drink coffee. Excel is a great tool for this, as it lets me graph the results in a variety of ways that are useful to me.

The world has changed, and the technology has made the exercise portion of fitness and the nutritional tracking to be more exact, and relevant to the process.

To date I have lost 22#’s in 2.5 months. A good pace, and I am satisfied.  About 20 more to go.