Five weeks ago, I was innocently getting up from my yoga mat at home when something went wrong with my back. Very wrong. I am always susceptible to lower back problems; usually it takes a few days of bedrest and ibuprofen to get functional again. But this back pain didn't go away so quickly. Instead, it morphed into something even more painful called sciatica. I never had experienced this level of 24/7 pain. It's distracting and exhausting. I wasn't able to sit up and use a computer, and my mind was useless for focusing on anything besides the pain.
So I've missed five weeks of writing and publishing Well-Tempered. Maybe I should have taken a page from the playbook of Jonathan Mann, aka Song-A-Day Mann (from whom I got an awesome hug at XOXO Conference) He has posted a song on You Tube every day for 2127 days. He's never taken a sick day. When he's sick, he still manages to put out entertaining if heart-wrenching videos such as Puking My Guts (#355) or Sick As A Dog (#668).
Perusing Twitter on Monday, I noticed that Fitbit has finally revamped the Fitbit Force.
I really liked my Force and was sorry to return it when it was recalled. After Apple announced its new watch last month, I wrote in Well-Tempered Issue #2 that I was done waiting for Fitbit to reissue the Force, that now I'd just wait for the Apple Watch.
But shortly after I wrote that, I had started to think seriously about getting another Fitbit tracker anyway. Turns out, I really do benefit from the reminder to stay active. Especially now, out of shape from a month of being flat on my back, it would give me encouragement to work up to my former fitness level.
I was on the verge of asking around on Twitter if anyone had a used Fitbit Flex to sell, when Fitbit announced the new Force, now called the Charge. They also announced a Charge HR with heart-rate monitoring and a smart watch called the Surge, both available in "early 2015".
"Early 2015" is when the Apple Watch is slated to debut as well. That could be 4-6 months from now. I've realized that I don't want to be without one of these health-enhancing gadgets for that long. And who knows? I might not even like the Apple Watch when it's available. I do know that I liked the Fitbit Force/Charge.
So I ordered one. And the very next day, I got an email from Fitbit, rewarding me for my patience as a former Force owner with a "first look" at the new trackers and a special 15% discount. Arghhh!
At Smile, when we launched a new product, we might offer our existing customers a nice discount for a short time. But we always emailed the discount notice at the same time the new product went on sale. It is Customer Relations 101: no one likes getting a coupon when they've already paid full price. It's a really good way to piss off your most enthusiastic customers.
Because the Charge is backordered 2 weeks, I could cancel my purchase. I repurchased using the discount, saving a non-trivial amount of money on an item priced at $130.fitbit.com
James Dempsey was a well-respected software engineer and evangelist at Apple for 15 years. One year long ago at WWDC, he decided to bring a guitar on stage with him to perk up the atmosphere at his presentation. He's been entertaining Apple nerds ever since, with a fun repertoire of songs about the travails of writing software. (You can hear a great interview with James on the latest episode of Release Notes.)
James Dempsey & The Breakpoints just released their first album, Backtrace. As one of the reviewers puts it, this is Schoolhouse Rock! for developers. Go to iTunes and buy it now at the reasonable price of $9.99 for 16 tracks. It's even #5 on the Billboard comedy list, joining fellow nerd favorite Weird Al, who is #1.
I was lucky enough to take the one-day iOS Workshop that James taught at CocoaConf Las Vegas. I also got to participate in the Breakpoints jam, a regular feature of CocoaConf at which James invites a few conference attendees to play backup. (That makes me a Conditional Breakpoint.)apple.com
Conferences & Travel
But if I had to pick just one, I'd recommend Jonathan Mann's haunting and funny tribute to his unconventional grandmother.
"My grandma was a certified weirdo and we had that in common."
It's just a beautiful talk. I suggest you have a tissue handy, though.youtube.com
If you want to see James Dempsey in action, you've still got a chance: CocoaConf Boston is coming up November 14 - 15. James will be doing the all-day iOS workshop again, as well as another Breakpoint jam. There are lots of other great speakers too. (I wish I were going to be there!)
CocoaConf has a very friendly and supportive atmosphere. I had a blast in Las Vegas with the attendees and speakers, so much so that I barely left the conference hotel. Several App Camp For Girls volunteers attended CocoaConf in Seattle this month and they all had a great experience. I really appreciate the generosity of organizer Dave Klein, who hasmade it possible for volunteers and even a few campers to attend.cocoaconf.com