In The Zone

Weird–apparently the now widely used phrase “in the zone” is a reference to The Twilight Zone tv series.

Quote Investigator: During 1973 and 1974 the top tennis player Arthur Ashe kept an audio diary, and in 1975 he published “Arthur Ashe: Portrait in Motion” primarily based on his daily recordings. The earliest evidence of the phrase located by QI appeared in a diary entry dated February 22, 1974 in which he discussed a match with another prominent player named Bjorn Borg. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

I thought I was playing unconscious, but Borg beat me 6-4, 7-6 tonight, and he is in what we call the zone. (That comes originally from “twilight zone” and translates, more or less, into “another world.”) The kid has no concept of what he is doing out there—he is just swinging away and the balls are dropping in. He has no respect for anybody. Hell, he should win the whole tournament.

From tennis, the “in the zone” phrase spread to other sports and then to the larger culture.

Just How Long Have Human Beings Been Fishing

This image of what are currently the world’s oldest known fish hooks has been showing up in news stories this month.

World's Oldest Fish Hooks

These are about 23,000 years old and were discovered in a cave in Okinawa, Japan. Researchers have been excavating the cave which was apparently used by successive groups of human beings for fishing as early as 35,000 years ago.

As the researchers note, this suggests that fishing technologies were more widely distributed at an earlier date than previously thought,

Maritime adaptation was one of the essential factors that enabled modern humans to disperse all over the world. However, geographic distribution of early maritime technology during the Late Pleistocene remains unclear. At this time, the Indonesian Archipelago and eastern New Guinea stand as the sole, well-recognized area for secure Pleistocene evidence of repeated ocean crossings and advanced fishing technology. The incomplete archeological records also make it difficult to know whether modern humans could sustain their life on a resource-poor, small oceanic island for extended periods with Paleolithic technology. We here report evidence from a limestone cave site on Okinawa Island, Japan, of successive occupation that extends back to 35,000?30,000 y ago. Well-stratified strata at the Sakitari Cave site yielded a rich assemblage of seashell artifacts, including formally shaped tools, beads, and the world’s oldest fishhooks. These are accompanied by seasonally exploited food residue. The persistent occupation on this relatively small, geographically isolated island, as well as the appearance of Paleolithic sites on nearby islands by 30,000 y ago, suggest wider distribution of successful maritime adaptations than previously recognized, spanning the lower to midlatitude areas in the western Pacific coastal region.

KeepTrack for Android Finally Is The Swiss Knife of Tracking Apps

Keeptrack Screenshot I have tried different versions of KeepTrack for Android over past six years, but always ended up abandoning it for one reason or another. The latest version, however, has earned a permanent spot on my phone and warrants the company’s tagline, “The Swiss knife of tracking apps!”

KeepTrack allows the users to set up multiple custom data tracking entries. For example, I was able to use it to quickly set up a widget to track my blood pressure as well as another widget that I hit everytime I drink 32 ounces of water during the day.

When I had pain from a knee injury, I set up a tracking widget to hit ever time I took my pain meds, so that I could look back at anytime and make sure I was taking the medicine at the appropriate intervals.

Data can be entered directly into the app itself, or users can create widgets on an Android homescreen for specific data parameters as well (I have some things I track that I don’t want on any of my home screens due to privacy reasons, for example).

The app itself is free, but there are a number of in-app purchases which are absolutely essential to getting the most out of the app. All of the in-app purchase costs a little over $4 in total (one of those is a 99 cent annual cloud storage backup subscription, which worked as advertised when I switched phones several times in the course of a month).




Galaxy Note 7 Recall Blues

So on Saturday, September 3, 2016, T-Mobile sent me an email that said the following,

Samsung notified us today that they are recalling the Galaxy Note7 due to a battery safety concern.

. . .

You have options:

  1. Sign up and we’ll let you know when the new Samsung Galaxy Note7 is available.
  2. Switch to a new device
  3. Return phone for a full refund

The Note 7 isn’t perfect–the Gorilla Glass 5 is just awful–but it’s still easily the best Android phone I’ve owned, so I opted for option #1. I went online and filled in a form to get notified when a replacement phone was available.

In the meantime, though, more Note7 phones were catching on fire. The video of a Jeep going up in flames supposedly due to a Note7 that was being charged in the vehicle seemed to make Samsung get serious about it’s recall. Where before Samsung had pointedly not made it’s recall official, now it was working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That result in a complete halt of sales of the device and Samsung warning all customers to power down and not use the device at all.

Okay, but it’s my main phone–a device I spend 6 to 7 hours a day using. Moreoever, neither Samsung nor T-Mobile had any information about when replacement phones might arrive. Some reports suggested that replacement stock would start showing up the week of September 12, but the other reports suggested that there might be shortages into November.

So I decided to bite the bullet and just swap the Note 7 for a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

My first stop at a T-Mobile store was almost successful. The salespeople didn’t seem to grasp the serious nature of the defective phone (“are you just being extra cautious?” Umm…did you see that Jeep in flames?), but they were knowledgeable about T-Mobile’s systems and how to do the exchange.

Only one problem–they didn’t have the S7 Edge in black. And no, I’m not going to buy a silver or gold phone because I’m not Liberace. The manager called a store on the other side of town that indicated it did have the phone in black. So off I went.

Except things didn’t go as planned at the second store. The manager there told me that since I had bought the Note 7 online that I could not do the exchange at a T-Mobile store. Instead I had to call customer care and arrange for the exchange with them.

This directly contradicted every single piece of communication I had with T-Mobile up to that point. In fact, T-Mobile was quite clear that when I exchanged the defective Note 7, I would have to do so at a physical location.

I was not happy, but didn’t have time to stick around and argue with the manager or get customer service on the phone.

A quick Twitter search showed a variety of issues–people being told they couldn’t exchange their Note 7 without a receipt or the original box, etc. Clearly there was a lot of miscommunication within T-Mobile about the recall and exchange policies.

Anyway, I also noticed that T-Mobile had updated it’s recall page on Saturday, September 11. Now the page indicated that I could call Customer Care and essentially get any phone in their inventory as a loaner until the Note 7 exchange situation was figured out. Awesome–maybe a bit late in the game, but that’s the sort of resolution I’d expect from T-Mobile.

So I call Customer Care, and … the CSR on the other end has no clue what I’m talking about. He has to put me on hold repeatedly to ask a supervisor about this exchange process. Eventually he tells me that this is so new and outside of normal T-Mobile procedures that there is a separate department that is handling this. He transfers me there.

A nice young woman answers the phone and I explain I’m looking to exchange my Note 7. She also has no clue what I’m talking about. I tell her that T-Mobile’s recall page has been updated with information about the exchange and she puts me on hold to go talk to a manager.

She comes back and gives me the same line about another department handling these returns. I mention I was transferred to her specifically for this, and she is sympathetic. Before transferring me she gives me the phone number of this special department. Except it’s the same number I called that led me to her.

I’ve now passed the 20 minute mark on the phone. She asks me to hold while she talks to another supervisor so she can make sure she has accurate information. Eventually she comes back and is apologetic, saying that she literally just received information about this exchange system for the first time while I was on hold. But she tells me she can indeed process the exchange.

She takes a bunch of information down, and tells me that the black S7 Edge is unavailable. I opt for the silver. And that’s that.

A few hours later I received a promised email with documents I had to electronically sign to authorize delivery of the phone.

Afriji Wants to Create Cheap, Solar Powered Refrigeration

The only thing on Afriji’s website at the moment is a simple statement that,

We’re making refrigeration accessible to everyone by creating an affordable, off-grid, solar powered fridge.

I first ran across the company (?) through a mention in a SingularityHub roundup of Singularity University 2016,

More than a billion people around the world live without proper refrigeration. For many of these individuals, there isn’t an effective and low-cost refrigeration alternative. One dire impact of this is that over a million children die each year due to spoiled vaccines.

Afriji is designing a low-cost refrigeration alternative by creating a core refrigeration module using thermoelectric technology.

The team is working to enhance the efficiency of thermoelectric technology—a technology that is affordable, low maintenance (with no moving parts), and is compatible with many off-grid energy sources.

According to Afriji their module “can be incorporated into any kind of box [refrigeration structure], whether a household fridge or vaccine storage box.”

Interesting idea. Hopefully there will be more information forthcoming about the group’s work.