Track your Intermittent Fasting with Zero

Occasionally, you come across an app which does exactly what it promises, and does it so well you don’t feel like it should improve in pretty much any way. For me, right now, that app is Zero. It’s free, for iOS and Android. I am not affiliated in any way with the app or its makers.

Now, I won’t go into the merits of intermittent fasting, as that’s not really what this blog is about. However if you do subscribe to that practice, this is the app to have on your phone. The app itself is very simple, consisting of only four tabs.

First, you get to pick the type of fast you’d like to track. You can choose between a number of pre-made ones or make your own. Chances are what you’re looking for is already there.

Then, you have the quite self-explanatory timer itself. Start it and end it together with your fast. Given the type of fast you’ve chosen in the previous screen, you can choose to get a notification when your fast is done, so that you can start to eat again. You can also get one after each hour you fast beyond your initial goal.

I especially like the Apple Watch-inspired “circle” design: there’s just something about closing circles that clicks with me.

One handy functionality is the fact that you can change the starting time of your fast after the fact.1 This is useful, for instance, when you start your fast away from your phone. I’d just look at the clock and remember to edit it later on.

On the “History” tab you can see, well, your fasting history, but more interestingly also a bunch of statistics. You can also set it to read your weight from the Health app, if you wish to see it here too.

Almost all of the stats on this page are designed to nudge you to fast with more regularity. While the app does not “punish” you with aggressive design like red bars and Xs when your fast can’t successfully reach your goal, it does show it as gray on the graph, which is objectively a worse color than green. This, coupled with always seeing your longest fast and streak, makes you want to go faster, better, and stronger.

Lastly, the least-used tab (for me at least) is “Learn,” which contains a number of articles related to fasting and eating well in general. Now that I say it like that, I feel like I should probably start checking it out more often.

And that’s pretty much all there’s to it. That’s why I like it. The elephant in the room, for me at least, is how is this app financially viable? They don’t seem to really talk about it on their website, but one can assume the answer lies in the fact that users need to sign up for a (free) account in order to use the app. Would I rather pay a sum upfront for the ability to use it completely offline and without an account? Definitely. Overall though, the app itself feels smooth, it has an inviting and soft design and, most importantly, got me to fast with more regularity than ever before, which is why I recommend it.

Zero on the App Store and Google Play.

A Gentle Introduction to LaTeX

Are you a complete LaTeX beginner? This post will arm you with the very basic knowledge you need to get started, and little more. My assumption is that you might have heard the word “LaTeX” at least once before, but do not know what it is or how to use it. By the end of this post, I aim for you to be able to create very simple documents and be prepared to further discover the world of LaTeX on your own.

Continue reading “A Gentle Introduction to LaTeX”

A Beginner’s Guide to RSS

A screenshot of the app Reeder in action, showing some articles.

In this post I will tell you what RSS is, why you need it, and how to set it up.

What’s RSS?

Imagine being able to see your favorite blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, news, and any other kind of Internet media from your outlets of choice in one single, solidified, consistent feed. This is what RSS allows you to do. You can think of RSS as a sort of Twitter feed, but instead of only following other Twitter users, you can follow pretty much anything on the Internet.

Indeed almost every blog, forum, YouTube channel, and news source has an RSS feed. What this means is that whenever something is added to their website or channel, if you have chosen to add it to your list of followed websites, you’ll see it pop up as well in your RSS app of choice.

How do I set it up?

The beauty of RSS is that it’s an open format, not belonging to anyone in particular. This means that there’s plenty of choice and a plethora of different apps allowing you to subscribe to and read RSS feeds. My favorite is an app for iOS and macOS called Reeder. On Android, I particularly like the design and usability of Palabre. On Windows, NewsFlow is likely your best bet. For this post I’ll use Reeder on Mac, but all apps are virtually identical for the purpose of what I’m going to be doing here.

After you have downloaded any one of the aforementioned apps, let’s assume you want to add this blog to your reader, so that posts will show up in your feed. Firstly, locate the link to the website’s RSS feed. In this case, it’s in the top navigation bar, and it’s this link. Copy that to your clipboard. Then, navigate to your RSS app and select “Add Subscription,” or that app’s equivalent function.

In the screen that pops up, simply paste the link you copied, and press enter or “Done.” That’s it! You will now see new posts from this blog on your RSS reader whenever you open it. Repeat this process for any website you might want to see.

Here’s some feeds for you of websites kind of like mine but better: MacStories, Daring Fireball, Ctrl blog, David Smith.

Appendix: Syncing your Feed Between Devices

Everything we’ve done so far is cool and all, but it’s limited to one device. In this day and age, where everything is synced between devices, wouldn’t it be nice if we could sync our feed as well? We can! With Feedly.

Quite simply, sign up for a Feedly account. Then, click on the “Add Content” link on the bottom left corner. From there, add RSS links much in the same way we did before. Then, in your RSS app, log in to your Feedly account. Not all apps support this function, but the ones I have linked to earlier do. You’re now set! Whenever you read something on one device, it will be marked as read on another. It’s pretty great.

I hope you find RSS useful. Let me know if there is anything I have missed.

Check Your Mac’s Battery Health with coconutBattery

Back when Apple started throttling devices with degraded batteries, much ado was made around iPhone battery health. So much ado, in fact, that they not only published a very lenghty explanatory page about it, they also added a profusion of battery-related functionality to iOS. Graphs, buttons, statistics: you name it, it’s in the Battery section of the Settings app.

Continue reading “Check Your Mac’s Battery Health with coconutBattery”

How to Effectively Curb Procrastinating on the Internet

You know it. YouTube rabbit holes, Twitter threads, Netflix binges, we’ve all been there. Some, in an attempt to redeem themselves, completely go off the Internet for a while. But that’s like throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water, not to mention that many of us need the Internet in order to do our work.

Continue reading “How to Effectively Curb Procrastinating on the Internet”

The Archive Custom Theme: iA Writer

The Archive is an outstanding piece of software for personal knowledge management, especially of the kind I spoke about in my last post. Among its strengths1 is its custom theme engine, allowing users who are willing to tweak a few .json files to create new color schemes from scratch. Since I love iA Writer‘s design, I thought: why not make The Archive look like Writer? So that’s what I did, and you can download the results.

To download the themes, right-click on the themes you want below and save the files in a place you’ll remember. Then, open The Archive’s preferences and go to the Theme tab. Click on “Open Theme Manager” then “Open Theme Directory.” Move the files you downloaded there.

Dark ThemeLight Theme

I tried to stick as closely as possible to Writer’s color palette, in both its light and dark mode. I highly recommend using one the same fonts Writer uses, which they graciously release for free to the public.

Changelog

  • 1.0: Initial release
  • Dark 1.1: Fixed the unfocused background selection color. Huge thanks to reader Sebastian for the heads-up!