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Health Cubby: iPhone App to Track Health Goals

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For the last month, I've been testing Health Cubby, a $9.99 iPhone app designed to track health and fitness goals. This is the first time I've used a computer program (much less an iPhone app) to track this kind of information, and I've been pleasantly surprised -- because I always have the iPhone with me, I find myself actually tracking my meals, weight, exercise, and various fitness goals. After a workout, there's a certain geeky fun in recording it in the app (a quick process) and watching my little "goal bars" fill in. Here are screenshots of a recent week with progress bars (left), and a list view of my cardio sessions (right):

Health Cubby screenshots

Health Cubby lets you track weekly goals, and you choose what's important to you. To get started, I set a modest goal of three cardio sessions and one strength-training session a week. The sessions are open-ended -- you can define how long each session is, and the app counts up your total time spent. Health Cubby also tracks vices, for those inevitable moments when you fall off the wagon and indulge yourself with food, alcohol, or whatever your particular vice may be (you can customize the vice list). I set myself a fairly liberal vice goal (up to four a week!), and have actually found myself checking my iPhone to see whether I have any "vice points" left for the week. Yes, this is nerdy. And yes, I actually think it's helpful. By tracking weight and measurements (so far I'm just doing weight), Health Cubby automatically generates graphs showing you weight over time. To get a graph, just turn the device sideways, and you get something like this:

Health Cubby - weight graph

Even more interesting, you can sync the data to a central server and export your data for use in Excel! So if you don't like the graphs you get from Health Cubby, you can take your data with you and make your own. (The app simply emails a CSV file of whatever data you search for...to export everything, run a search and leave the search field blank.) What's more, you can add friends to your Health Cubby network, and share results with them -- that way you can see when your buddy is losing more weight or working out harder. (You can also hide your actual weight from friends, instead showing just a weight loss percentage. This is a smart feature!) While I haven't tested the social features, they seem useful in concept.

Health Cubby also lets you track meals, taking a simplified approach -- you simply list what you ate, what type of meal it was (breakfast, lunch, etc.), and give it a "star rating" from one to five stars. I like this a lot, as it lets me define what a "five star meal" is to me. Obsessive calorie counters may not like this approach (as the app is NOT counting detailed calorie breakdowns), but personally I've never felt that detailed calorie counting was a great use of my time. I'd rather track general goals and attempt to do better, rather than break down everything by the numbers.

To get started with Health Cubby (without laying down ten bucks), try Health Cubby Lite, a free version that is limited to storing only 10 records. While the Lite version won't get you very far towards your fitness goals, it'll be clear whether you're willing to upgrade to the full version. Personally, I plan to keep using the app, as I've become sort of addicted -- every week I feel compelled to fill in my little cardio bar, not fill in my vice bar, and strive towards "five star meals."

To buy, click: Health Cubby: $9.99 on the iTunes Store. Health Cubby works on both the iPhone and iPod Touch. See also: more info on Health Cubby.

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This 'Smokeless' Fire Pit Promises a More Efficient Burn
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BioLite

For thousands of years, people have gathered around open flames to cook food, find warmth, and share stories deep into the night. Campfires have been around since the dawn of humanity, but what if there was a way to use modern technology to make them even better? The people at BioLite believe they've found one.

The FirePit is the outdoor gadget startup's answer to the recreational, backyard fire. It offers the same benefits as a more conventional product: a space for building wood or charcoal fires, a removable grate for grilling, and metal screens on each side to protect onlookers from embers. But the yellow battery pack is what sets it apart from anything else on the market. With the press of a button, a fan inside the FirePit stokes a hotter, more efficient blaze without producing all of the smoke and soot people are used to.

Couple sitting by a firepit on the beach.
BioLite

"Air injection makes the fire burn more completely," Ryan Gist, one of the lead engineers on the project, told Mental Floss. "So you basically get all the energy out of your fuel." The result is a fire you can enjoy without worrying about your eyes and throat burning, moving your chair every five minutes to avoid a gust of smoke, or having your clothes stink for weeks.

It also makes for a fire capable of burning longer and brighter with less wood. Smoke is made of tiny fuel particles that haven't fully burned up. Using a fan, the FirePit can draw that runaway fuel back into the fire before it has a chance to escape. "It's like when you're stuck on the highway behind a truck and it's got black stuff coming out of the tailpipe," BioLite marketing director Erica Rosen told Mental Floss. "When you see black stuff coming out of a fire, it's the same thing. So what we've done is, we've given fire a tuneup."

FirePit's built-in fan makes the fire easy to control. If campfire gazers want to see big, roaring flames through the box's X-ray mesh, they can turn the air down low. The higher fan setting produces a smaller, more intense burn, which is perfect for chilly autumn nights. Adjusting the blaze can be done remotely with the BioLite Energy app or manually from the control panel on top of the battery pack.

People sitting by a fire.
BioLite

BioLite designed the FirePit for backyards, but its foldable legs make it convenient to carry to the beach, a campsite, or anywhere else where you might bring a cooler of the same size. Once it's cooled down after an evening of grilling hot dogs and toasting marshmallows, the pit fits neatly into its solar panel case, where it can recharge in time for the following night (the battery also features a USB plug for charging indoors).

The FirePit recently debuted on Kickstarter, where it's available along with its solar carrying case for a special deal of $169 (once the first 300 FirePits go, it will be sold for the regular price of $199). To help the campaign reach its $100,000 funding goal, you can reserve yours today with shipping estimated for May of next year.

Skewers cooking on a grill.
BioLite

All images courtesy of BioLite.

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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