Your Toothbrush Will Know How Long You Brushed For

This is about when your toothbrush will know how long you brushed for, and why someone will make that happen.

Something I read last night made me think of the predictions made in a talk I heard. The talk was Design Outside The Box and it was given in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell.

The video of the talk was part of an online course in gamification that I took a couple of years ago.

If you are not familiar with gamification it is a way of encouraging people to a certain kind of behaviour by giving them the satisfaction that is typical in games – including rules, rewards, and competition.

The rewards can be extrinsic, such as money or discounts, or they can be intrinsic, such as medals or badges, or points.

Or they can be self-satisfaction giving, such as the pleasure of doing well in the game or in the activity around which the game is built. Competition can be against others or against oneself by doing better than one’s previous performance.

A child having to spend an hour playing the piano for an hour a day and getting a reward of an ice-cream can turn into a self-rewarding game when the child gets good enough that the experience of playing the piano and getting better at it becomes its own reward.

If the game is good, people will see it as having value and a character of its own and it will grow organically.

Jessie Schell is a great presenter – really exceptional – and if you want to watch the video of him talking about what I am about to describe, then here is the link to Jessie Schell’s talk.

He says (in 2010 when he gave the talk) – Game designers designed for fantasy, but the new movement in games is towards reality.

And we are primed and ready for reality and authenticity – we are cut off from nature and from self sufficiency – we want to get to anything that is real. We will take somewhat real or nearly real if it is presented as being more real. Put grass and a tree on a wrapper and say it’s natural, and we’ll take it: We are that desperate.

Sensors are what will bring the real world into games and games into the real world. And the key will be price and disposable technology.

Your toothpaste tube will contain a sensor with wifi connection that will detect how many times you squeezed it. Your toothbrush will know how long you brushed for and it will give you bonus points for brushing for the full recommended three minutes. And the points will get you discounts on your dental plan.

And the toothpaste company has provided you with an incentive to use more toothpaste.

Your bus card will know when you took the bus instead of the car and it will reward the help you give to the environment which will earn you points in the community leader board and lower your local taxes.

And your shoes will know when you walk to work and when you walk fast and that will give you points and if you walk every day for a week you will get bonus points and more discounts off your health plan.

Your cereal packet will have an interactive game on it and you will be able to play with your Facebook friends. And all the while you will be staring at the cereal packet and you will buy that cereal the next time because it has the game and because you started at the box for so long.

That was 2010, and on Google News this evening I read that

Insurance company Aetna today announced a major health initiative centered on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which will see Aetna subsidizing the cost of the Apple Watch for both large employers and individual customers.

Well, that’s the commercial side of the equation. On the community side, Glasgow city council has been struggling for a while with how best arrange cycle paths through the city. Traffic is heavy, and the city was not built for cycling.

They realised it would be handy if they knew where cyclists actually cycled. And it turned out that that information was easy to get. Cyclists use apps that track their routes and their performance. So Glasgow negotiated a deal to get the anonymised information to help them plan their cycle paths.


CSS If You Change WordPress Themes

What happens to your custom CSS and CSS revisions if you change WordPress themes? Normally it gets lost.

But not with Jetpack. I have the Jetpack plugin installed but with very few options activated. One option I have activated and which I like is Custom CSS.

Yes, there are other CSS plugins in the WordPress repository, and I’ve used them.

And of course one can always use a child theme.

In fact I am using a child theme of this WordPress theme here at the moment, but I still change CSS with the Jetpack plugin.

One of the advantages of using Jetpack to change CSS is if you mess around changing from one theme to another as much as I do.

The reason is that the Jetpack CSS Revisions module shows previous versions of your custom CSS. Each time you click Save Stylesheet a revision is saved.

That means that if you add some CSS, change themes, and then want to revert back to your old theme, then you can find the custom CSS you added previously and revert to it.

That’s because Jetpack stores the last 25 CSS revisions made to any theme on your blog.

It’s very handy to be able to click on the CSS revisions and look back at the recent changes and revert to an earlier version if you need to, and I use it quite a lot.

Update Feb 2017

In the latest version of WordPress there is now an option to add CSS via the customiser.

A Question About Postmatic Comments

I don’t get very many comments, but I value those I do get. So when spam comments get through it’s a pain.

I use Postmatic for commenting and I haven’t set comments to be moderated. If I were to set comments to be moderated it would slow down the conversation because every commenter would have to wait for me.

This Is How I Catch Spam

I catch spam comments with two plugins: WPBruiser and Akismet.

WPBruiser catches automated bot comments.

Akismet catches almost all of the other spam comments, but it doesn’t catch them all.

When Akisment lets a comment through it doesn’t just appear on the site but in genuine subscribers’ email inboxes.

I think the annoyance factor is magnified by that and if you think so too, then I have to decide what to do.

So a quick question – do spam comments appearing in your email inbox annoy you?


I could upgrade to Postmatic Pro. Then Postmatic would analyse comments for content and hold those about which it is suspicious.

However, the cheapest subscription level for Postmatic Pro is $50.00/month, so that is not an option.

That leaves me with either dropping Postmatic completely and moderating comments or keeping Postmatic but moderating comments.

If you are a genuine subscriber and you are seeing these spam comments, just know I am watching it and will decide what to do over the next week or two.

To help me, would you let me know whether spam comments appearing in your email inbox annoy you?

The Bulging Inbox

Written in response to complaints often heard that there are too many emails.

What’s the problem? Bulging inbox? Can’t handle so many emails?

Well how many of them are one-to-one emails from people you know? I bet a lot of them are ‘one-to-many’ broadcasts from organisations.

Organisations know that the inbox is a precious place. It is yours and yours alone. It is not a room you go to where you share space. It is yours.

On the downside, it can get lonely, all alone in your inbox. Especially if no one comes to play.

But you know, the room you go to has its problems too. It is ‘somewhere else’ on somebody else’s turf. So while it might be fun, it’s like going to a club or a pub – there comes a time when you just want to curl up on the sofa and read.

How did it come to this?

Part of the problem is human nature: Give an organisation a website and it will make a sign-up page.

But who could have foreseen ten years ago that every organisation would have a website where the sign-up page could be put?

You want solutions? You can’t go to the organisation’s website to view everything. Organisations are wise to that. They don’t put everything on their sites.

They put the special stuff in emails, and only in emails.

Therefore you can’t look at everything by doing a circuit of the websites or in an RSS reader.

You can unsubscribe, but then you’ve got nothing.

Here’s a solution: Use a different email for all your sign-ups. At least use it for the ones where you are unlikely to want to reply to as ‘you’.

Visit your second inbox when you feel like curling up on the sofa with a good book.